Silent Valley – A People’s Movement that Saved a Forest

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Long before the Internet era, a remarkable people’s movement saved a pristine moist evergreen forest in Kerala’s Palakkad District from being destroyed by a hydroelectric project. The battle for the now famous Silent Valley raged for over ten years and involved thousands of people who did not even live in the vicinity of the area that was to be destroyed. Although the campaign did not have any centralized planning, it was highly effective. The sustained pressure exerted on the government Read More

Hydropower Development in the Indian Himalaya — The Flipside

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Indian Himalayan basins are earmarked for widespread dam building. However, the aggregate effects of these dams on the ecosystems are unknown.

Maharaj K. Pandit & R. Edward Grumbine investigate the impact of the ongoing and proposed dam construction in the Himalayan basins of India based on spatial analyses, geographic distribution of dams, species loss and land-cover change. We highlight the most important findings from their paper in Conservation Biology, 2012.

  • These findings are the first indication of the dire effects
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Eco-tourism in a Fragile Habitat

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This was photographed near the Banasurasagar Dam, in Wayanad, Kerala. The Banasura Hills and Aralam Forest area shown in this picture are a catchment area for the Karamanathodu stream — a major tributary for the Kabini River. Latest developments in the name of eco-tourism have cut down a lot of trees in this fragile habitat. The Kerala government says this is an eco-friendly hydro electric project. This dam is the largest earthern dam in India and the second largest in … Read More

Framing Ecologically Sound Policy on Linear Intrusions Affecting Wildlife Habitats

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In the 20th meeting of the Standing Committee of the NBWL held on 13 October 2010, it was discussed that linear intrusions were a serious issue and a sound policy needs to be framed consulting various experts. The Chairman requested the member of the Standing Committee from the Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore, to prepare a background paper that could be discussed at the next meeting to move towards the formulation of a policy on linear intrusions at the national level. … Read More

The Manipuri Brow-antlered Deer (Sangai) Habitat Facing Degradation

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The Manipuri Brow-antlered Deer or ‘sangai‘ or ‘dancing deer’, a critically endangered species of deer, which lives in a unique floating habitat is facing a threat of extinction as the floating biomass (or ‘phumdis’) on which it walks has been steadily decreasing in buoyancy and thickness over the last few years. As a result, Sangai face death from drowning as the phumdis may not be able to support its weight. This has also restricted the mobility … Read More

Manas and Kaziranga National Parks at Risk From Dams

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Manas National Park, which recently regained its World Heritage Site status continues to be at risk from hydel projects. The Kurichu hydro electric project (60 MW) and the Mangdechu hyrdro electric project (720 MW) in Bhutan are deemed likely to threaten Manas. The Kurichu dam has already flooded Manas once in 2004, killing large numbers of wildlife. Release of water from the dam has been reported on several occasions in the last six years creating floods in the Manas Biosphere … Read More

Unrestricted Plantation Activity Destroying Lion-tailed Macaque Habitat in Nelliyampathy

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Unregulated plantation activity is destroying the lion-tailed macaque habitat in Nelliyampathy. There are 13 troops with around 200 individuals in the area. This is the second biggest population of the endangered primate in Kerala. Silent Valley hosts around 250 individuals. Nelliyampathy has a fragmented ecosystem for these primates due to coffee and tea plantations, as well as hydel projects. Two-thirds of the evergreen forests in Nelliyampathy was cleared for plantation around 60 years ago. There are forests in the south-west … Read More

Jairam Ramesh lifts Stop-work Order on Maheshwar Hydel Project due to Pressure from PMO

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The stop-work order on the Maheshwar Hydel Project in Madhya Pradesh which was put in place a year ago has been lifted by Union Minister Jairam Ramesh. The stop-work order was enforced as the promoters had not taken care of relief and rehabilitation of those affected by the project. Mr. Ramesh’s narrative on the lifting of the order cites multiple letters written to the PMO by MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and former Chief Minister Digvijay Singh. The PMO … Read More

Sikkim Ecology Threatened by Hydroelectric Projects

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A coordinated set of hydro electric projects may soon come up on the Teesta river in Sikkim. The proposals to harness around 3635 MW of power along a 175 km stretch of the Teesta river, go back to 1998. Various factors, such as concerns from ethnic tribal communities and concerns over carrying capacity have over the years ensured that no real approval has been given by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for the Teesta river projects. However, in … Read More

Protests against mini hydel projects in Bisle forests in Karnataka

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A protest was held by various environmental groups against two proposed mini hydel projects across the Addahole and Girihole streams. The Karnataka Renewable Energy Ltd. has cleared the projects each with a capacity of 24 MW. The protesters alleged that the projects would divert the streams which provided water to wild animals. The Bisle forests are home to endangered species such as the Lion-tailed Macaque.… Read More

Athirappilly Hydroelectric Project in Kerala Threatens Great Hornbills

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The 163-MW Athirappilly hydroelectric project proposed by the Kerala State Electricity Board could wipe out Great Hornbills from these unique low-elevation (180 m MSL) riparian forests. The Athirappilly Falls is situated on the Chalakudy river, which originates in the upper reaches of the Western Ghats. Many endangered and endemic species of flora and fauna are found in the forests of the Athirappilly-Vazhachal area. This area is the one of the few places in the Western Ghats where all four endangered … Read More

The Kudremukh Saga — A Triumph for Conservation

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December 31st, 2005 was an environmentally historic day that went virtually unnoticed, even by most environmentalists.  It was the day on which a landmark judgment of the Supreme Court of India took effect, bringing the curtain down on a mining operation that was causing havoc in the Western Ghats of Karnataka.  The Supreme Court’s order was all the more remarkable because what was closed down was no two-bit operation but a massive, government-owned, export-oriented, profit making mining operation of the Read More