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Ignorance and arrogance make for good floods

This year, for once, the devastating floods of Bihar seem to have touched us. Last year, when the same region was reeling under what was said to be the worst floods in living history, we simply did not know. Media had flashed a few images, but it was more of the same: rivers flood this region every year, so what’s new? What’s there to say?

A con game called ‘clearance’

Venue: CSE Office, Core 6A, Fourth Floor,
India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road

Day and date: Thursday, September 22, 2011

Time: 2.30 PM

  • In the last five years, the Union ministry of environment and forests has given forest clearances to coal companies to extract at least 583 million tonne of coal per year. 

Front Page Teaser: 

Date: September 22, 2011

Green politics for green technologies

That we need ‘green’ technologies—wind, solar or biomass gasification—for future energy security is no longer a matter of debate. The critical question, now, is: under what conditions can these emerging technologies be introduced into the market? The answer is not so simple. Most innovation and manufacture in these new sectors lie with private players. At the same time, the creation of ‘favourable’ conditions for application is at the door of government and public policy.

The mean world of climate change

The Prime Minister has released India’s national action plan on climate change. For those engaged in the business of environment and climate, the plan may offer nothing new or radical. But, as I see it, the plan asserts India can grow differently, because “it is in an early stage of development”. In other words, it can leapfrog to a low carbon economy, using high-end and emerging technologies and by being different.

Stink of India’s steel frame

We were standing in Sarova village, not far from Raipur, the capital of mineral rich Chhattisgarh. All around us we could see some black stuff scattered on the ground. The villagers told us that the sponge iron factory owner was giving this away as a ‘gift’ and would even transport it to their lands. They refused to say if they were being paid to dump this reject on their land. But they did whisper to me that the land on which we were standing, laden with black reject belonged to the brother of the sarpanch.

Frugality is not poverty: lessons in energy security

After much vacillation and prevarication, the government has finally done the inevitable—raised the price of petroleum products—by doing a little of everything. But the bottom-line is that even after the cut in customs tax, reduction in excise duty, a ‘modest’ increase in the cost of petrol, diesel and cooking gas for all and a further request to states to slash their taxes, the oil companies are still left with massive deficits in every litre or every cylinder sold. It is a job half done at a time when the burden of the task is spiralling.

'SLAPP'ed but will not submit

In the first week of April this year, a group of men came and stood outside the Centre for Science and Environment (cse), New Delhi. They carried placards with offensive slogans directed at me. We understood the ‘protesters’ were ostensibly from an ngo we believed was a front for the pesticide industry. We also understood the picket to be the latest in a dangerous pesticide industry mindgame.

From water to water

Look out of the window the next time you travel by road or by train anywhere in India. Hit a human settlement, and you will see, heaps of plastic coloured garbage apart, pools of dirty black water and drains that go nowhere. They go nowhere because we have forgotten a basic fact: if there are humans, there will be excreta. Indeed, we have also forgotten another truth about the so-called modern world: if there is water use, there will be waste. Roughly 80 per cent of the water that reaches households flows out as waste.

Change must be championed

Did the Nobel Prize committee make a mistake when it gave the 2007 Peace Prize to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and former us vice president Al Gore? I wonder. My disquiet is not because the prize recognized and put climate change at the centre of global debate. It stems from the fact that the Nobel Prize has held up, as champions, an organisation and individuals that are cautious, conservative and play strictly by the book when searching for answers to tackling climate change. There is nothing wrong in being so.

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