From Mainstream Weekly: Dr. G. D. Agrawal (now Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand) is one of India’s most distinguished environmental engineers, who served as the first Member-Secretary of India’s Central Pollution Control Board. Fasting for almost 100 days now to save the river Ganga, he’s now on his sixth, and in his own words, final “fast-unto-death”.
To the shock of greens everywhere, Indian PM Modi, whose government has absolutely the worst environmental track record in the country’s history, has been declared a UN “Champion of the Earth”. However, coming from Erik Solheim, the UN environment chief facing a string of corruption allegations himself, this ‘honour’ may not be all that surprising.
From The Indian Express: The residents of St. Estevam say they took to farming more due to fear of gated communities encroaching upon farmland. Nine months after the idea was mooted at the community level, this pilot project is now being tracked by the state government, which plans to take this experiment to every village.
Aseem Shrivastava writes: Tagore’s play Mukta-Dhara foretells the manner in which people across the country have been losing their freedom— those uprooted by development quite obviously so, those ‘benefitting’ from it (mostly living in cities) more subtly and invisibly. This is the ecologically fatal price of ‘progress’, which Rabindranath anticipated in much of his work.
On August 28, 2018, some of India’s leading land and human rights defenders were arrested or had their homes raided on charges of conspiring to assassinate the PM Narendra Modi, among other things. Here, we present their profiles and some selected writings/talks, as well as a video dossier of the draconian UAPA law, courtesy TheWire.in
From Mongabay: It was the worst flooding in Kerala in nearly a century, with all 14 districts on red alert. With over 445 dead, a million still in relief camps, its impact will last for years. But the future can be more climate-resilient if grassroots communities realise start working for the conservation of fragile ecologies
Rarely do Indian environmental discourses examine nature through the lens of caste. Mukul Sharma shows how the two phenomena are intimately connected, and compares Dalit meanings of environment to Neo-brahminism and mainstream environmental thought. Here, he argues that the Ambedkarite vision is relevant for environmental sustainability, and it is Indian environmentalists who have marginalised Ambedkar.
In 1964, renowned filmmaker Satyajit Ray was asked to create a short film for a TV-showcase by American oil company Esso. Asked to write and direct the film in English, Ray opted instead to make a film without words. The result is a poignant fable of modernity and ‘development’, which remains just as relevant today.
Pancheshwar Dam, kingpin of the river-linking project, will be the Himalayas’ largest reservoir. It’ll be located in one of india’s most seismically active areas, yet the project has been marred by shockingly poor environment appraisal. With little chances of it being economically viable, the project is nothing but a lucrative, contractor-friendly pipedream, writes Himanshu Thakkar.
Shashank Kalra writes: We have a vivid vision of a thriving urban space; but what would a thriving rural space look like? This was one of the key questions I went with in this Gramya Manthan, a rural immersion-programme. Here, I shall bring up some of the subtler issues, which aren’t ‘rural issues’ but all-pervasive.
From Asian Age: Just as one wonders if one has reached a dead end, a new wave of environmental politics is emerging. The struggle against the Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi stands is a major symbol of these movements. The politics of environment and the battles for livelihood become a microcosm for the democratic struggles today.
Kanak Mani Dixit, founding editor of ‘Himal Southasian’, writes: When ‘organic environmentalism’ rises from the grassroots and makes state authority accountable, South Asia and its peoples will be protected. At that point, no force will be able to stop activism across the frontiers and South Asia will begin to tackle pollution and dislocation as one.
J.C. Kumarappa was a stalwart of India’s freedom movement, Gandhian economic philosopher, pioneer in the development of village and cottage industries and advocate of a decentralised, localised economy of permanence and freedom. Yet, he remains practically unknown to the present generation of Indians. A tribute to Kumarappa by Pranjali Bandhu, editor of his collected writings.
Nanduwali in east Rajasthan started flowing again when the villagers decided to work with nature and not against it. There was a time when they believed that crops grow only with rainfall -lacking knowledge about the underground movement of water and how it can be enhanced. Today, the revived river is a lifeline to them.
Grown over a million acres of farmland, the HMT rice variety – developed by Dadaji Ramaji Khobragade, a small cultivator and self-trained plant breeder – brought a measure of prosperity to several hundred thousand farmers in Maharashtra and neighbouring states. Bharat Mansata pays tribute to the legendary farmer and seed saver who died on Sunday
Bayer’s $66 billion takeover of Monsanto represents another big click on the ratchet of corporate power over farming and food. With the ‘Big-Six’ of global agribusiness now set to turn into the ‘even bigger three’, farmers and consumers face more GMOs and pesticides, less choice, and deeper price gouging. Agroecology has never looked more attractive.
From Climate Home News: Perhaps the most egregious fix, given the prominence of the issue and its consequences for Indians’ health, is the Modi government’s attempts to defer a December 2017 deadline for air pollution standards for thermal power plants. Without these, India’s hopes of reducing deadly air pollution from its electricity sector are nixed.
Dam’ned, a documentary by filmmaker Saraswati Kavula, takes a closer look at how the Polavaram Dam project affects the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people, with dubious benefits expected. Despite increasing evidence of the destructive consequences of big dams across the world, why do our governments keep pushing for these mega projects, she asks.
From PARI: The people of Aarey find their eviction and ‘rehabilitation’ absurd. Prakash Bhoir, 46, who lives in Keltipada, says, “We are Adivasis [he is a Malhar Koli]. This land is a source of income and survival for us. Can we do cultivation in those high-rise buildings? We just cannot live without soil and trees.”
The 900km, all-weather road enhancing connectivity between four major Hindu pilgrimage sites is PM Modi’s pet project. It will not only displace hundreds of people, but create a massive rush of pilgrims, putting untold pressure on the delicate Himalayan ecology. Experts say it’s also ill-conceived, given its location on the ‘floodway’ of the Ganga basin.