In Pics: Suffering in the town powering India’s nuclear dreams

Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Haradhan Gope (20) helping his father in a paddy field, suffers from a facial deformity. Photo by Subhrajit Sen.

Uranium is a vital mineral for India’s ambitious nuclear power programme. Out of the seven states with uranium reserves, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh have currently operating mines. In Jharkhand’s Jaduguda region, which has India’s oldest uranium mines, local communities narrate stories of suffering due to degrading health and the environment. The government, however, denies any ill-impact of uranium mining on people. The Indian government is...

माटी मानुष चून : क्या गंगा एक मानव निर्मित नदी नेटवर्क बनने वाली है ?

Sunday, September 6, 2020
ये एक महान नदी के तिल तिल मरने की कहानी हैं

ये एक महान नदी के तिल तिल मरने की कहानी हैं। वह नदी जिसे  इस देश के करोड़ों लोग अपनी माँ कहते हैं। वह नदी जो एक पूरी भाषा, एक पूरी संस्कृति की जननी है, क्या आप मान सकते हैं कि मर रही है? ये किताब उस लम्हे को बयान करने की कोशिश है कि जब गंगाजल सिर्फ गंगोत्री में बचेगा, बनारस में नहीं। बाकी जगह सिर्फ पानी होगा, गंगाजल नहीं, जिसके बारे में कहावत थी कि गंगाजल कभी सड़ता नहीं । इस किताब को हमारे तथा...

How Draft EIA 2020 will impact environment

Thursday, July 30, 2020
EIA regulates impact of development projects on surrounding ecosystem.

Environmental Impact Assessment sets in place a legal framework for regulating activities that impact the natural resources and people. Many environmental activists call the draft detrimental towards protecting the already deteriorating environment. The draft allows a freer reign to industrial projects while limiting public consent and interference. Some of the major changes include post facto clearance which means industries can start...

Vizag Gas Leak: What we know

Friday, May 8, 2020
Gas leak in Vizag underscores threat of industrial disasters again. Source: Pixabay

In 2018, the factory had submitted a Rs 168 crore proposal to the Union Ministry of Environment to expand its production capacity by another 250 tonnes per day (tpd) -- from the current 415 tpd. This permission was recently granted. Acute (short-term) exposure to styrene in humans results in mucous membrane and eye irritation and gastrointestinal effects. Long-term exposure results in...

Birds across India are going down, thanks to cities

Sunday, April 12, 2020
Peacock is one bird species which is increasing. Source: Shiv's fotografia/Wikimedia Commons

Birds are declining significantly with 52 percent of species showing clear declines over the past decades, said a new report State of India’s birds 2020. The report analysed 867 bird species from over 10 million observations collected by over 15,500 birdwatchers across the country. It also identified 101 species with high conservation needs. The take-home message is that urbanisation is the...

कोरोनावायरस, पर्यावरण और हम 

Sunday, May 10, 2020
Image by Mohamed Hassan/Pixabay

बीमारी और पर्यावरण का सीधा नाता है। प्रकृति का संतुलन बनाए रखना हमारे अस्तित्व के लिए ज़रूरी है, यही आज की आपदा का संदेश है, भविष्य के लिए। कोरोनावायरस से पहले ऐन्थ्रैक्स, जीका, ईबोला और निपाह जैसे वायरस पिछले कुछ सालों में फैले हैं। यह सब वायरस जानवरों से इंसानों में आए हैं और वो भी सबसे ज़्यादा जंगली जानवरों से । कईं जानवरों के शरीर में वायरस  और बैक्टीरीआ घर बना लेते हैं उन्हें बिना नुक़सान पहुँचाए पर इंसानों में यही वायरस महामारी का रूप...

Waterways spell disaster for Gangetic dolphins

Tuesday, February 25, 2020
The Gangetic dolphin. Image by Arati Kumar Rao

Whales and dolphins are especially vulnerable to underwater noise as they depend almost entirely on pulsed and tonal sounds for long-distance communication, finding food, navigation, and sensing their environment. Dredging for waterways in Ganga can lead to stress among river dolphins by physical and bio geochemically disturbing riverbed sediment and impacting fish prey. Dolphins show a...

Why Punjab failed to douse farm fires this year

Wednesday, January 8, 2020
Farmers burning straw in Punjab. Source: Neil Palmer Wikimedia Commons

Paddy stubble burning in Punjab is often blamed for air pollution in north India. The government has been introducing alternatives over the years but these are yet to make a substantial impact on the ground. High operational cost of machines weighs heavy on the already indebted farmers. Additionally, lack of training in machine-use results in higher input cost and lower production. Local solutions and traditional...

Indian policy in times of climate strike

Sunday, October 20, 2019
A climate strike in progress. Source: Extinction Rebellion India

Under the Paris agreement of 2015, 196 countries came up with nationally determined contributions (NDCs). India’s NDCs, however, fail to make any big commitments and may trample upon people’s rights over natural resources. India said that coal will remain our main source of energy and gives no limit or target date by which the peak emissions will come down. It also says that 40 percent of...

'Uniqueness value of forest is irreplaceable'

Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Valuation of ecosystem is gaining ground.

A recent study by IIFM found that 10 select tiger reserves of the country provide economic benefits worth Rs 5.96 trillion. Globally, efforts are being made to assess the benefits of conservation on economy and various methods and formulas have been devised to evaluate these aspects. Critics, however, believe that ecosystem valuation can lead to commodification of nature and its sale to the highest bidder. ...

किसानों और जंगली जानवरों का लफड़ा क्या है

Wednesday, September 25, 2019
क्या सच में किसानों का लालच हाथियों के घटते रहवास के लिए जिम्मेदार है? Source: Need

ये सच है कि जंगल साफ़ करके खेत बनाने की प्रवत्ति किसानों में बहुत पुरानी है। आदमी और जानवरों की लड़ाई भी बहुत पुरानी है। लेकिन इस सब में हम ये भूल जाते हैं कि बहुतायत भारतीय किसान अपने उत्पादन का अधिकतर हिस्सा घरेलू जरूरतों के लिए इस्तेमाल करते हैं। लेकिन औपनिवेशिक काल के ये उद्योग किसकी भूख को ध्यान में रख कर बनाये गए थे, क्या इसमें हमें कोई हिस्ट्री क्लास चाहिए? जिस औद्योगिक नीति से...

How India's tiger conservation plan works against people and forests

Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Silent Valley National Park in Kerala. Photo by S. Gopikrishna Warrier/Mongabay.

Increase iin number of tigers is a cause for happiness, but it has come with high social, economic and ecological costs for the tribal communities that have been living in the forests for generations. Forest management that relies on no intervention is not necessarily the best practice, since it can lead to changes in the forest structure, spread of invasive species and increased human-wildlife conflict. Forests have been appropriated from...

How Borewell Restoration Is Helping Farmers Repay Their Loans

Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Irappa Saugli grows 80 types of crops on his organic farm thanks to recharged borewell.

In 2013, there were 2.6 million deep tubewells and/or borewells (deeper than 70 m) in India irrigating 12.68 million ha of land. However, around 12% of these borewells had either dried up or supplied less water than expected. Expenditure on borewells is one of the reasons for mounting farm debt. This is why artificial recharge of aquifers is essential. But exhaustive awareness campaigns...

In Bihar, shared solar pumps solve irrigation trouble

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Increase in farm area and replacement of diesel with sun are major benefits. Source: AKRS)

Agriculture in Bihar has languished primarily because of high input costs, especially that of energy due to inadequate grid electricity supply and a high price of diesel. Rural electrification through grid supply is not happening in Bihar due to lack of public investment. Also, the existing groundwater markets are neither increasing irrigation nor achieving equity. So, there is a need for an alternative. The Bihar government launched a scheme...

Hilsa fishers driven to the edge by overfishing

Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Fishermen getting ready to fish hilsa. Source:  Dhruba Das Gupta)

The hilsa fishermen of Howrah district in West Bengal are struggling against declining catch, stiff competition from mechanised trawlers and non-traditional fishermen entering the lucrative occupation. ​The hilsa fishermen get about six months to fish hilsa, considered a delicacy in West Bengal and Bangladesh. Mid-July to mid-September is the season for larger hilsa that fetch high prices....

Plunder of the Aravallis risks lives in north India

Thursday, November 22, 2018
The lush Aravalli range of Rajasthan over a decade ago. Photo by Nataraja/Wikimedia Commons.

Fourteen years ago, in 2004, a Supreme Court order had banned mining in many parts of the hill ranges, but it was blatantly violated by illegal miners with the connivance of the government that turned a blind eye. The systematic plunder of the Aravallis continued despite numerous government reports documenting it. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s report earlier this year had...

How Kerala floods can push for protection of Western Ghats

Friday, October 26, 2018
Suggestions by Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel were ignored. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The entire Western Ghats was proposed as an ecologically sensitive area (ESA) with a graded or layered approach to conservation. These concerns were largely ignored by the governments of six states, including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, that come under Western Ghats. Several protests were held and private funders lobbied against the report. The Union...

Faith in the forest: How sacred groves function

Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Such temples dedicated to local deities are spread all over pasture, forest lands of south Rajasthan.

With certain rules around extraction of resources, including ban on cutting of trees, these sacred groves contribute significantly to wildlife protection, soil conservation, groundwater recharge, and as a good source of herbs, fruits and other economic resources to local people. But practices around these spaces differ with location and may not always abide by the concept of unaltered,...

‘Farmers and wildlife will suffer if Mhadei’s water is diverted’

Sunday, July 9, 2017
Mhadei or Mandovi river is a lifeline of Western Ghats. Source: Pixabay

The beautiful Mandovi or Mhadei river is a bone of contention between Goa and Karnataka for last over 15 years. The rivers flows for the first 35 kilometers through Karnataka and enters Goa through a pristine forest range of Western Ghats. While Goa calls it a lifeline which keeps the salty sea water away from the agriculture belt, Karnataka wants to build 12 dams to divert water, claiming it will serve its dry central region where farmers...

How Kinnaur is dealing with climate change

Thursday, June 1, 2017
The dusty snow on lower reaches of Kinnaur.

As the Himalayan Region warms up faster than other places of the world, erratic weather puts geographically-vulnerable places such as Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh at greater risk. Rains are increasing, snowfall is declining, and temperatures are rising, which all have great impacts on an area prone to landslides and fed by glacial melt. On April 16 this year, Kinnauris woke up to a snowfall which had a dusty tinge to it. While a few experts...

To conserve tropical forests and wildlife, protect the rights of people who rely on them

Tuesday, May 16, 2017
 Footbridge over the Coapa River in Chiapas, Mexico, which supports local silvopasture (forestry and livestock grazing). Lameirasb/Wikipedia, CC BY-SA

India is celebrated as a democracy, but its environmental policies are controlled by a centralised bureaucracy. Forest-dependent people are shut out of the policy process and cannot hold India’s bloated and ineffective bureaucracy to account. As a result, agencies engage in maneuvers such as categorizing urban gardens and commercial tree plantations as “forests.” This disguises losses of natural forestland and exaggerates the government’s...

Projects with scant regard for environment

Friday, March 31, 2017
A drain emptying raw sewage. Source: Daniel Bachhuber/Flickr

The recent audit report on environmental clearance and post-clearance monitoring lists many such instances of violations from development projects across India. Inadequate environmental impact assessments, irregularities in public hearings, not meeting promises and unregulated use of natural resources are just a few of the points raised by the audit team. Companies also routinely went back on their promises made during public hearings whether...

नदी की धारा सा अविरल समाज

Thursday, June 30, 2016
एक मन्दिर और छोटा सा सरोवर नांडूवाली नदी के उद्गम स्थल को चिन्हित करते हैं.

यह कल्पना करना मुश्किल है कि एक समय था जब यह नदी और जंगल सूख चुके थे। कुओं में कटीली झाड़ियां उग आई थी। बरसात के पानी से जो थोड़ी बहुत फसल होती थी, उसमें लोगों को गुज़ारा करना मुश्किल हो रहा था।  पैसों की कमी के चलते लोगों को गाय भैंस का चारा खरीदना भारी पड़ रहा था, इसीलिए वे उन्हें बेच कर बकरियां रखने लगे। वहीं रोज़ी रोटी के लिए लोगों को मजबूरन यहां से पलायन करना पड़ रहा था। लेकिन आज यह इलाका न केवल प्राकृतिक रूप से समृद्ध है बल्कि आर्थिक रूप से...

Anupam Mishra: The Gandhian I know

Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Image Source: TED talks

Going by his fame, I had imagined somebody with people running around him, at least a couple of computers on display and cell phones caroling frequently. But here was a man working without a cellphone or a computer, surrounded by letters people wrote to him. A couple of wooden almirahs adorned with old postcards and images of famous personalities from Gandhi ji to Sunita Narain, stood in his room. Gandhi Marg, the bi-monthly periodical Anupam...

A Rosetta Stone to environmental law

Friday, October 28, 2016
Diversion of forest land is one of the biggest concerns for villagers dependent on forests.

This document is a valuable resource that comprises important legal changes and events of last three years with reference to previous laws. Written by well known practitioner Kanchi Kohli, the e-book lists down steps that can be taken to secure people’s rights over land, forests, water and biodiversity. And all this is explained through instances where common men and women explore the nitty gritties of environmental laws. So, we have Sarita...

प्रकृति मेरे द्वार   

Sunday, November 9, 2014
गांवों में लोगों ने स्थानीय सामग्री का प्रयोग करके, वहां की जलवायु को समझते हुए आवासों का निर्माण किया है

विश्वव्यापीकरण के नक्शेकदम पर चलते हुए हम अपने शहरों को अगला शिंघाई और दुबई बनाने में जुटे हैं और इसके चलते हम अपनी मजबूत सांस्कृतिक पहचान पीछे छोड़ते जा रहे हैं। वास्तुकला में यह बदलाव परंपरागत, अनूठे और उस जगह की जलवायु के हिसाब से बने हुए से लेकर आधुनिक, नीरस और सामान्य घरों के रूप में पहले के मुकाबले अब तेजी से हो रहा है। उदाहरण के लिए अगर हम पहले के समय को देखें, जब आंख बंद करके दूसरों की नकल करने की बजाय हम अपनी खुद की अद्वितीय...

Chennai gets another chance at waste management

Monday, July 11, 2016
A scene outside the ever-crowded Kottur Market in Chennai. Source: India Water Portal

The Chennai floods of December 2015 had little to do with nature’s fury and more about city’s flawed urban planning and decades of improper garbage management. Chennai generates between 4,500- 4,800 tonnes of waste every day, and about 1.8 million tonnes a year. However, the city seems to be learning its lessons pretty quickly, and the effort of some responsible citizens has culminated into the Plastic Waste Rules 2016, and the Solid Waste...

‘सिर्फ मंशा से नहीं बदलेगी यमुना की काया’

Saturday, June 18, 2016
एक अस्थायी बेड़े पर यमुना से प्लास्टिक के थैले इकठे करता यह आदमी एक महत्वपूर्ण काम कर रहा है । Source: Koshy Koshy/Flickr

यमुना एक्शन प्लान गंगा एक्शन प्लान पर आधारित है। और समस्या दोनों प्लान में एक ही रही है, कि उनकी स्थिति को समझे बिना उनका हल ढ़ूंढ़ने का प्रयास किया गया है। आपने नदियों को समझा नहीं और बिना समझे उनकी सफाई में जुट गए। नदियां कोई नहर नहीं हैं। वे जीवित तंत्र हैं। जब तक आप उसके जीवन को वापस नहीं लाएंगे, नदियां वापस नहीं आ सकतीं। मात्र एसटीपी (सीवरेज ट्रीटमेंट प्लांट) बना देने से या फिर सीवरेज को नदियों में गिरने से रोक देने से नदियां साफ नहीं हो...

'Chennai is not water-starved any more'

Friday, June 10, 2016
Dr Raghavan at the Rain Centre.

It's not without reason that the Third World War is predicted to be triggered by water scarcity. The numbers themselves give us enough reason to be worried- by 2025, 60 per cent of India is expected to be living in towns and cities. Bore wells are getting deeper, urban areas brimming with population, and some already suffer from water shortage. However, success stories of humble organisations like the Rain Centre in Chennai let the results...

'हमने पानी का स्वभाव ही बदल दिया'

Monday, January 25, 2016
वाराणसी में गंगा नदी. स्त्रोत: इंडिया वाटर पोर्टल

नदी का विज्ञानं क्या है और बढ़ते जल प्रदूषण , बाढ़ और सूखे के संदर्भ में यह कहाँ बैठता है? बता रहें हैं प्रसिद्ध पर्यावरणविद् और लेखक अनुपम मिश्र। यह व्यख्यान उन्होंने 28 नवंबर, 2015 को नई दिल्ली में जल नीति विशेषज्ञ स्व: रामास्वामी आर अय्यर की स्मृति में दिया । ‘सबको पानी’ के नारों से ले कर बड़ी वाटर वर्क्स की योजनाओं तक, अनुपम जी पानी से जुड़े सभी सामाजिक और राजनीतिक आयामों को छूते हुए नदी के अविरल स्वभाव को चित्रित करते हैं 

जलवायु परिवर्तन और कांच की बोतल

Saturday, January 30, 2016
एल्यूमीनियम के डिब्बे के मुकाबले एक कांच की बोतल के उपयोग में केवल 10 प्रतिशत ऊर्जा की ही आवश्यकता होती  है

जिस पेड़ की शाख पर बैठे हो उसी को काटने की मूर्खता करते व्यक्ति की कहानी लगभग सभी ने बचपन में पढ़ी है।  वर्तमान परिदृश्य में, इस दुनिया के लिए यह कहानी सच प्रतीत होती दिख रही है। काल के इस पल में मानव एक बहुत ही खतरनाक दौर से गुजर रहा है जिससे उसका अस्तित्व ही खतरे में आ गया है । यह संकट स्वनिर्मित है । जलवायु परिवर्तन की पृष्टभूमि पश्चिम की औद्योगिक क्रांति के साथ शुरू हुई पर आज बढ़ते उपभोक्तावाद के दौर में भारत (7%) भी ग्रीन हाउस गैसों के...

Forest in my soul

Saturday, November 7, 2015
The film follows the Kondhs through their lives and engagements with the forest. Source: Top Quark Films

If you frequent villages, ‘Jal, jungle, zamin’ is the commonest refrain you hear. While we city dwellers are acquainted to land and water, forest often remains a distant resource for us. But in many places of the world, there are people who are one with the forests. India is home to many such tribes who treat trees and shrubs as their extended family. The film, “I cannot give you my forest’, gives a glimpse of such a tribe, the Kondhs of...

Small & Sustainable: Power to Pico

Friday, May 1, 2015
a pico hydro unit in operation.

The devastating impacts of big hydel projects, including submergence of habitats, alteration of river ecosystem, and displacements, are well known. Alternatively, India has been harnessing hydropower through small, community-based set ups which range from traditional water flour mills of the hills called gharats to the modern projects which generate power between 0-100 kw. These plants, being decentralised and community controlled, offer a...

Movement in the woods

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
FRA gives powers back to the people.

Forest Rights Act proposes to do away with historical injustices done to those living in and around forests. It might be a tribal sourcing out forest foods and cultivating the land or a non-tribal using the wood for building own house, the Act gives powers back to the people not only for using the resources but also for conservation and protection. But there's still a lot of ground to be covered and we should not miss trees for the wood. Here...

Deceived: The water carriers of Kangra

Wednesday, December 24, 2014
The distance between community and its resource leads to disaster in the long run.

Man has always been on quest of building new things. Even when there were no big machines and qualified engineers, the world had expert builders who shaped the earth into various forms to meet needs of the society. Kuhls of Himachal Pradesh are one such example of engineering brilliance. Kuhl is name given to a channel which carries glacial melt through gravity from nearby streams to the fields thus making irrigation possible even on steep...

From field to CFL , how biomass energy is lighting up India

Thursday, December 18, 2014
Biomass resource can overcome energy deficit. Source: Ramjar/WikimediaCommons

Around a thousand families of Thalangi tribal hamlet in Coimbatore district received free television sets from the Tamil Nadu government in 2006. But these were of no use as the houses had no electricity supply. Kerosene was the main source of lighting. Today, it is interesting to see how the hamlet has met all its energy needs and also attained complete sanitation through a biodigester. Though biodigesters have conventionally been used to...

While the sun shines

Saturday, July 26, 2014
Solar panel lighting up the traffic lights. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Last month, Delhi Metro launched its first rooftop solar power plant at Dwarka Sector 21 metro station, which would generate enough energy to meet the requirements of the station and is the largest rooftop plant in terms of capacity in the national capital region. DMRC plans to expand such installations to other stations in order to meet its requirements and reduce its carbon footprint. In Bihar, Patna has the world’s biggest off-grid solar...

Ugly sins of Kanpur

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Ganges river and traditional Hindu Swastik, symbolises how the river is worshipped in India. Source:  Nilesh Shintre/Wikimedia

In 1801, a city was born on the banks of the oldest and purest river of India- Ganga. The city went by the name of Cawnpore back then. Untouched by the cruel hands of industrialisation, the people prayed and used the pious river in minimal ways. There was an order, and it was good. It is not good now. It has been more than two hundred years and the city stands as the largest in the state, second largest in northern India. But all this...

Turtle relocation or turtle poaching plan?

Saturday, January 18, 2014
Sarnath turtle

Rajkumar needs no urging to talk about Sundari. She is evidently a favourite of his. When we met, he regaled me with stories of her beauty, her smartness and her incredibly sweet nature. When he finally brought her out to meet me, I failed to see any signs of a winning personality or of towering intelligence. "Well," I rebuked myself, "you've only met her for two minutes. Rajkumar knows her since she was an egg." The Sarnath turtle hatchery...

On the knees to nature

Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Such temples dedicated to local deities are spread all over pasture, forest lands of Rajasthan. Source: GOI Monitor

Visit Mata Karni Devi Temple at Deshnoke village near Bikaner and you won't be surprised by the rats scurrying freely in the shrine's precincts. Travel shows, including those on Discovery and National Geographic channels, have already covered the uniqueness extensively. The rodents, regarded as reincarnations of

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