Wetland Habitat Destruction at Sonnapura, near Chikkaballapur, Karnataka

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There is heavy digging and destruction of the ecologically-important wetland habitat in Sonnapura, near Bannikuppe, just east of Chikkaballapur town in Karnataka. Two JCBs (diggers) are working in the area.

The exact location can be accessed here. 

Several concerned citizens wrote to the district administration and the forest department immediately. The memo is attached on the right and is downloadable.

It seems the digging is for a park with walking / jogging track, a water body and boating, and a … Read More

Precious Amrit Mahal Kavals are not Wastelands

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Amrit Mahal Kavals are semi-arid grasslands in Karnataka that were set aside several centuries ago, during the Vijayanagara empire, and protected as grazing grounds for a sturdy local breed of cattle known as Amrit Mahal, which was once highly prized as a military draught animal. The protection of these grasslands was continued by subsequent rulers, including Hyder Ali, Tippu Sultan, and the Maharajas of Mysore, as well as the British during their colonial reign in India. Although these grasslands … Read More

Ecologists urge MoEFCC to revoke the EIA draft notification, 2020

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On 11th August, 2020, a group of 20 wildlife biologists/ ecologists submitted their comments and objections against the draft notification for Environmental Impact Assessment 2020, to the Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC).

The letter brings to fore incidents involving recent environmental catastrophes ranging from the Baghjan oil blow-out and locust swarms to the global impact of zoonoses such as COVID-19 and the importance and need for laws that ensure scientific and social evaluation of impacts … Read More

Withdraw the EIA 2020 Draft Notification

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In March 2020, a draft notification for Environment Impact Assessment 2020 was issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC). This is an important notification, since all new infrastructure projects – and expansion of existing ones – such as, roads, mining projects, factories, and power plants, are required to conduct a mandatory Environment Impact Assessment and submit a report to the Ministry.

An EIA report assesses how a project will impact the environment and is the basis … Read More

Baghjan OIL Spill, Inferno Ravages Wildlife and Communities in Assam

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On May 27 2020, an oil rig operated by the public sector unit Oil India Limited (OIL) in Baghjan, Assam broke out into a fire, and a consequent raging inferno on 9th June, 2020 after leaking oil and gas uncontrolled, for 12 days. The disaster has caused irreversible damage to the region’s fragile ecology and wildlife, and acutely impacted the livelihoods of communities that rely on the wetlands and forests.

Drone image of oil well no. 5 at Baghjan

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India’s Savanna Grasslands: The Unsung Tale

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Close your eyes and think of the wilderness. What do you see? Chances are that you visualized a forest or a wooded area. While that is not incorrect, it does not present a complete picture. We live on an immensely diverse planet, with a range of environmental regimes or biomes. Biomes are distinct areas of the planet that support certain types of plants and animals based on the temperature, soil type, light and water available. Forest biomes cover a third … Read More

Park in Peril — Proposed Highway Through Pakke Tiger Reserve, Arunachal Pradesh

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The future of the Pakke Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh is threatened by a proposal to construct a two-lane Highway through it. The proposed road, from Seijosa, Pakke Kessang district to Bhalukpong, West Kameng district would form part of the 692 km long East-West Industrial Corridor project that seeks to connect towns/villages in the foothill areas of Arunachal Pradesh, from Kanubari in the east to Bhairabkund in the west.

In Phase I of the proposed project, the developers / state … Read More

India’s Fake Forests

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A tweet from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) reads – “Did you know? The total forest cover of India is 807,276 sq. km which is 24.56% of the geographical area of the country!” 

When forest diversion and tree felling for development projects – roads, dams, mining, real estate and other infrastructure, are everyday news headlines, how could India continue its chest-thumping over forest cover, one wonders. Yet, every two years, there is a miraculous increase.

Imagine … Read More

A Bullet to the Lungs: Mumbai Set to Lose More Forest to High-Speed Railway Line

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Will development once again take precedence over conserving India’s natural wealth?

India’s forests are quietly disappearing to accelerated infrastructure development. During the past three decades, approximately 15,000 sq km of forests have been diverted for development projects. Among them, 5000 sq km for mining, 1,600 sq km for defence projects and 1400 sq km for hydroelectric projects (http://data.gov.in). As of 2019, government data shows that 15,19,167.19 hectares of forest land have been diverted for non-forest use cumulatively across … Read More

Goa’s Marine Mammals in Danger

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Skipping the Important Details — What About Mormugao’s Marine Mammals?

The coast of Goa has a rich variety of coastal and marine habitats which, besides supporting a lot of biodiversity, also sustains the tourism industry that forms the state’s economic backbone. All of this is now on the verge of destruction, with the latest developments proposed by the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT), in association with Jindal SWPL, Adani and Vedanta.

This plan, to expand the port and develop a large … Read More

Missing the Grass for Trees — Planting Trees Where They Don’t Belong

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It may not be an overstatement to say that grasses underpin much of human existence. From sustaining wildlife that fed early hunter-gatherers to eventually becoming food itself, grasses have contributed to the development and flourishing of human civilisations. From present day cereal crops, to even elegant furniture, grasses serve multiple uses in human societies, from the functional to the aesthetic. Yet, when it comes to judgement, the larger urban public and a range of government bodies tend to view grasses … Read More

Great Indian Bustard — The Way of the Dodo?

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On the afternoon of 15th September, a farmer in the Karamba village in Solapur, Maharashtra was grazing his cattle when he noticed a large, severely injured bird on the ground, its wings singed. Hovering by, helping death to strike were a few feral dogs. As he edged closer, he saw a black mobile like device on the prone creature. He knew the bird, a frequent visitor to his fields from the adjacent Nanaj sanctuary, and immediately informed the forest department. … Read More

Saswad Grasslands near Pune in Danger

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20 km to the Southeast of Pune lies the Purandar District with its headquarters at Saswad. As we leave the semi-urban environs of Saswad behind, we enter a unique habitat – a mosaic of grasslands interspersed with agricultural lands and human settlements. This human dominated semi-arid savannah landscape harbours unique and threatened faunal diversity.

These areas, historically labelled as ‘wastelands’, have long been ignored by environment policy makers due to the cryptic nature of diversity which they possess. As the … Read More

Growing Oil Palm Threat to India’s Biodiversity

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Oil palm is one of the fastest growing agricultural crops in the world. Oil palm is a highly productive crop, and palm oil is not only cheap but also extremely versatile, and is put to diverse uses as biofuel, lubricant, cooking oil, and as an additive in the food and cosmetic industries. The amazingly rapid expansion of this crop, however, comes at an immense ecological cost – despite the availability of large tracts of unproductive land available for oil palm … Read More

Bleeding the Chambal Dry

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Reckless water hoarding, diversion, sand mining and fishing are killing a pristine river that once used to recast its vast ravines every flood. Jay Mazoomdaar on the curse of the Chambal.

This article originally appeared in Tehelka, 8 March, 2013.

In a culture where rivers are worshipped, the Chambal, by all means mightier than the Yamuna, would be slighted as a tributary of the latter. Unsurprisingly, no great cities or shrines came up on its banks. This traditional isolation fostered … Read More