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

Religious Festivals Inside Protected Areas

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CI recently received this very pertinent question (in our ‘Ask CI’ section) from Suraj Kumaar of Coimbatore: “I would like to know what kind of rights for worship are provided to tribals and forest dwellers (villagers) inside PAs? We have been recording the temple festivals inside Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary over the last two years and the situation is one of absolute mayhem. Between 70,000 to 1,50,000 visitors, over 700 buses, trucks visit two temples deep inside the sanctuary. One temple, Read More

Going Nowhere? Roads and Conservation in India

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The ongoing controversy about widening National Highway 7 (NH7) has highlighted the inevitable trade-offs in conservation and development. Conservation groups and National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) have been at logger-heads. The former contend that widening the parts of NH7 that pass through Kanha and Pench Tiger Reserves will further fragment an important wildlife refuge and corridor. NHAI opposed the high costs of wildlife-friendly mitigation measures, and agreed to build underpasses and overlays only after the Supreme Court’s intervention. Nonetheless, … Read More

Oil Palm Should not be Expanded in Arunachal Pradesh

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Arunachal Pradesh has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Ruchi Soya Industries to plant 25,000 hectares of oil palm in four districts – East Kameng, Papumpare, Lower Subansiri and West Siang. This brings the total area earmarked for oil palm in the state to 45,000 hectares (or 450 sq. km.). Oil palm is a highly productive crop – more than any other oil crop in the world – yielding up to 6 tons of palm oil per hectare of … Read More

Otters in a Famous Tourist Destination

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Beaches and sunsets are what come to mind when most people think of Goa. This small state in western India has earned its reputation as one of the most favoured top tourist destinations. But very few know that Goa also has a rich diversity of flora and fauna. Much of the eastern rim of Goa falls within the Western Ghats (a global biodiversity hotspot). Goa has an area of 3,702 sq.km with several rivers spread across the state, all of … Read More

The Wolf and the Sheep: Concerns about the Proposed Purandar Airport in Pune

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There are growing conservation concerns about the proposed greenfield International Airport in Purandar taluk, Pune. In addition to local people’s opposition, which led to arrests and subsequent talk of land compensation packages, there is little information on the status of environmental clearance for airport construction. Approved by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), the airport is meant to be fully functional by 2020. Purandar was chosen by AAI after considering other sites in the Chakan-Rajgurunagar area. Various players including top … Read More

Small Dams, Big Problems – Join the Campaign

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Small hydropower projects (SHPs) or mini hydels are propagated as an environmentally friendly and socially beneficial option to meet our rising energy demands. Hence, according to the EIA notification, SHPs (capacity not more than 25MW) do not require an environmental clearance, and are legally exempt from environmental impact assessments and public hearing in India. In fact, the government usually grants substantial subsidies and financial incentives to such ‘green initiatives’. However, this notion of SHPs having minimal or no adverse impacts … Read More