This week brings a heartening development: Legal Initiative for Forests and Environment (LIFE), headed by lawyers Ritwick Dutta and Rahul Choudhary, are recipients of the Right Livelihood Award 2021, also known as Alternative Nobel Prize for their amazing work on empowerment of the communities through environment defense. This is much deserved recognition for the exemplary work of this group for over 16 years not only through the legal cases in National Green Tribunal (& its predecessor NEAA etc.), High Courts and Supreme Court, but also influencing the government policy and project decisions and also effective training of government officials in environmental matters.
LIFE is one of four organisation to get this award this year. The Swedish Right Livelihood Foundation, which awards the prize, said that in the face of the worsening climate crisis, powerful governmental and corporate interests, and even a terrorist threat, the 2021 Laureates prove that solidarity is key to a better future for all. The 2021 Right Livelihood Laureates are leaders in advancing the rights of women and girls, environmental protection and reclaiming Indigenous rights through mobilising communities and empowering grassroots initiatives. “Hailing from Cameroon, Russia, Canada and India, this year’s change-makers show that lasting change is built on communities banding together,” it said.
Continue reading “DRP NB 4 Oct 2021: Congratulations to LIFE for much deserved Right Livelihood Award 2021”
(Feature image: Protesters hold placards during a demonstration against the killings of 13 protesters in Tuticorin. Photograph: Arun Sankar/AFP/Getty, Source The Guardian report. )
In a remarkable refreshing order, the Madurai bench of Tamil Nadu High Court has held that protest against environmental violations like that of Sterlite factory is a fundamental duty of citizens. The Madurai bench has reasoned that the duties of the state in protecting the environment are basically the rights of the people. The bench relied on Article 51-A (g) of Part IV-A (Fundamental Duties), which deals with the duty to protect and improve the natural environment, including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures. A liberal interpretation of Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the constitution enabled the bench to hold that right to environment, free of danger of disease and infection is inherent in it.
Continue reading “DRP NB 27 Sep 2021: TN HC: Protest against environment violations fundamental duty”
Open Letter to the Prime Minister, Minister of Environment and media on 09/09/2021:
Restarting seven under-construction hydro projects in Ganga Himalaya unjustified
Recently the MoEF&CC has recommended restarting the construction of seven under-construction HEPs in Uttarakhand namely Tehri II (1000 MW), Tapovan Vishnugad (520 MW), Vishnugad Pipalkoti (444 MW), Singoli Bhatwari (99 MW), Phata Byung (76 MW), Madhmaheshwar (15 MW), and Kaliganga II (4.5 MW). The news came as a shock to citizens, devotees and environmentalists who have been struggling since over a decade to preserve our national river Ganga and the Himalaya. The deeply felt concern over the fate of these two pivotal ecological systems and defining symbols of Indian culture, compel us to write this letter. Not the least, as a citizen, it is also our constitutional duty ‘to protect and improve India’s natural environment’.
Continue reading “Open Letter to PM on Uttarakhand Hydro in Sept 2021”
A landmark Global declaration titled “RIVERS FOR CLIMATE” was launched on Sept 21, 2021, endorsed already by 300 organisations from 69 countries calling on governments and leaders attending COP26 (Conference of Parties meeting 26) to protect river ecosystems and stop using scarce climate funds to finance false climate solutions such as hydropower. Representing the views of civil society, peoples movements, Indigenous Peoples’ organizations, scientists, and conservationists, the declaration called out the proliferation schemes being peddled under an erroneous pretense of sustainability.
“Hydropower is not clean energy. We’re at an unprecedented moment in history; facing the triple threats of a runaway climate crisis, large-scale biodiversity loss, and a global pandemic,” said Chris Wilke, Global Advocacy Manager for Waterkeeper Alliance. “We simply cannot waste time, funding, and scarce resources on false solutions that distract us from what is really needed to address the multiple crises we face.”
Continue reading “Don’t Use Climate Funds for Hydro Projects: 300 organisations from 69 countries to UN & govts at COP26”
Recently, when the government of India certified that cities like Indore, Surat, Hyderabad, Vizag, etc are Water Plus, it raised a number of questions including the credibility of the claim, lack of credit worthy independent assessment, how sustainable are the claims, etc. The author of the following article rightly raises the question if the cities are at all Water Plus. They are clearly not. While recycling and reuse of 30% of treated sewage and full treatment of waste water is welcome in view of the current pathetic status of city water management in cities, this achievement, if it is real as assessed by credit worthy independent assessment & judged against a set of well-defined criteria of sustainability among others, is worth appreciating, but it certainly does not deserve Water Plus City label. To achieve that label, a lot more and a lot different kind of achievements will be required.
Continue reading “DRP NB 13 Sept 2021: Misleading claim of Water Plus cities”
(Feature image: Rani Pokhri bridge on the Dehradun Rishikesh highway collapsed near Dehradun, August 27, PTI https://www.thequint.com/news/india/uttarakhand-rains-bridge-on-dehradun-rishikesh-highway-collapses-no-casualties#read-more)
Data published this week (see below) shows that disasters are going up almost five fold in the Himalayas (data from Uttarakhand, HP below, but this is not different in rest of Himalayas), nationally and even globally. The data from UN report this week shows that the disasters are up five fold in recent years. Damage is up even more. As the data of landslides due to Char Dham High way and hydropower projects show, the contribution from these projects to the disaster is clear. So much so that even the editorial in The Hindustan Times this week asked to stop these disastrous projects. While it is unlikely that the governments or politicians would wake up to this reality anytime soon, one expects the judiciary, media, civil society and academics to take up this issue on urgent basis.
Continue reading “DRP NB 6 Sep 2021: DISASTERS GOING UP in Himalayas, across India & Globally”
(Feature image Wildlife Along Indian Rivers by Green Humour:- http://www.greenhumour.com/2017/09/wildlife-along-indian-rivers.html)
Aquatic freshwater biodiversity has seen the maximum decline over the years and yet has the least protection under law. In fact fish is not even considered for protection under the Wildlife Protection Act. Fishing cat, Mahseer, Otters, Trout fish, Hilsa fish are all at top of the food chain in freshwater sources, like the tiger is in the forests, but none of them have the legal protection. If we have any serious intension of protecting this important source of biodiversity, we urgently need measures, including policy, legal and institutional measures to recognize and protect this biodiversity.
Continue reading “DRP NB 30 Aug. 2021: Why no protection for aquatic biodiversity?”
This week (23-28 Aug 2021) it is Stockholm World Water Week (SWWW) with a 30 year history. The organisers say: “World Water Week 2021 is unlike any other week in our 30-year-old history.” But provide no clear reasons why they are saying that. Their possible explanation: “In 2021 people across the world are really beginning to understand the gravity of the situation we are facing – within a decade we must halve carbon emissions, restore the degraded natural world, and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. This will require massive transformations of all sectors of society. World Water Week 2021 is entirely focused on the role of water for these transformations and on developing real solutions.” https://www.worldwaterweek.org/news/join-the-most-important-world-water-week-ever
Continue reading “DRP NB 23 Aug 2021: World Water Week: 30 years long enough for stock taking?”
The numerous landslides this monsoon in Kinnaur and other districts of Himachal Pradesh and other Himalayan states have been literally deadly, killing hundreds of people this monsoon. Mindless “development” projects including Hydropower projects, indiscriminate building of roads in mountains, blasting, tunnelling, mining, dumping of waste into the rivers and valleys, deforestation, building townships, all without any credible impact assessment, public consultations, appraisal, monitoring or compliance. While climate change (another anthropogenic factor) leading to more frequent events of high intensity rainfall is worsening the landslide potential of the area, what we are doing in the name of developments is multiplying the disaster potential several fold. The governments at centre and states and judiciary can continue to be blind to this realities, but local people cannot. The local communities in Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti have been opposing such projects strongly and such protests are bound to increase and spread. One hopes this pushes the governments and judiciary to act urgently.
Continue reading “DRP NB 16 August 2021: Landslides in Himachal worsened due to mindless “development” projects”
A huge landslide[i] took place near Nalda village under Udaipur tehsil in Lauhl Spiti blocking the Chenab river flows in early hours of August 13, 2021. The exact location seems to be the left bank of Chanab River at Leh Baring site just upstream of Nalda Village Bridge and opposite Jundha village. The Tanda-Kishtwar NH 26 runs along right bank of the river.
The incident occurred when huge portion of hill slipped into Chenab blocking the entire channel completely. Within hour, the formation of Landslide Lake started submerging huge part of areas upstream.
Continue reading “Landslide DAM on Chenab River in Himachal Pradesh”