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Rainwater harvesting training programme for municipal functionaries: October 18-21,2011

Sustainable Urban Water Management: 2011- 2012: Policies and Practices

Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a New Delhi based research and policy advocacy organization has been working on water issues since the early 80s. The Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India has nominated CSE as a Centre of Excellence in the area of “Sustainable Water Management”.

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Date: October 18 – 21, 2011

Remembering Kalinganagar - Will cheap and dirty industrialization work?

From the highway the gravestones were visible. Thirteen headstones, rough and blunt, carved with names of each dead tribal. Each stone was placed so that together they formed a semi-circle looking down at us. In front of the 13-stone platform was a fenced area with scattered burnt sticks lying as if for the picking. I realized I was looking at a cremation ground. I also realized in shock that this must have been the place where the tribals killed in police firing were consecrated to fire and that the place has been left intact as a grim reminder.

Bali: the mother of all no-deals

The Bali conference on climate change is over. But the fight against climate change has only just begun. The message from Bali is the fight will be downright brutal and selfish. Let us cut through the histrionics of the Bali conference to understand that as far as an agreement is concerned, the world has not moved an inch from where it stood on climate some 17 years ago, when negotiations began. The only difference is that emissions have increased; climate change is at dangerous levels. Only if we drastically cut emissions, will we succeed in avoiding a full-blown catastrophe.

The laboratory of development

How will vast regions of India, where highly unreliable rainfall makes the difference between famine and sustenance, cope with climate change? Over 85 per cent of the cultivated area in this country is either directly dependent on rain or depends on rain to recharge its groundwater. Seasonal rain provides water for irrigation, drinking and household needs. It provides water to livestock and is necessary to grow fodder for animals. The question is how will these regions cope as rainfall becomes even more variable with climate change?

In credible India

Sometimes, a fortnight can mirror a year. With the year-end approaching, a flashback is usually in order. But recent events have made completely clear to me where we are and where we are headed.

Tigers and tribals

Tigers or tribals? Tribals versus tigers. This is how the discussion on the tribal forest rights act is being framed. The law, which was enacted by parliament a while ago, is aimed at conferring land rights on people who already live in forested regions. The government says it wants to correct a historical wrong against people on whom rights were never settled when forest areas were earmarked for conservation. Quite right. But these homes of the poorest also house the country’s magnificent wild animals, like tigers.

India: be the party pooper

US President George Bush played host to a party of the top polluters of the world called to discuss climate change. He exhorted his guests that the world needed to act and called for a “new approach” to reduce emissions. But if you think that he has changed his mind about the science which has established the reality and urgency of climate change, think again.

Floods: blacked out but real

I read newspapers and I watch the news unfold on scores of television channels. But in spite of these sources that keep me informed about current affairs, I would not know that floods are still ravaging vast parts of India. I would not know that over 2,800 people have died in these disasters, which have been termed as the worst ever in living memory.

We don't smell the air

I smelled the air of Bangalore last week. It was foul. I remembered how in the late 1990s, when Delhi’s air was dark and dirty, we had run an advertisement in the newspapers: “Roll down the window of your bullet-proof car, Mr Prime Minister, the security threat is not the gun it is the air of Delhi.” Since then Delhi introduced compressed natural gas, it increased the number of buses, it got better quality fuel. With all this, the air got less dirty and less toxic.

The China affair: what it means to us

A journalist recently called me to check if I thought that India had the same food-consumer product record as China. He wanted to know if we face the problems that are plaguing Chinese exports of late: tainted pet food, toxic toothpaste, lead-paint in toys, chemicals in textiles.

It got me thinking: of China and of India and more importantly, about the phenomena we call the market.

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