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How government is subverting forest right act

By: Richard Mahapatra, Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava, Sumana Narayanan, Aparna Pallavi Two tribal villages in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra—Mendha Lekha and Marda— savoured victory when they won community rights over their forest resources in August last year. The rights conferred under the Forest Rights Act of 2006 include the right to collect and sell minor forest produce (MFP). These include tendu leaves used in beedis, and bamboo that have high commercial value and were under the forest department’s control. Winning the right to manage these resources meant economic liberation to the two villages.

How climate ready are we?

By: Sunita Narain The world can shape the debate on climate link in two ways. One, it can argue endlessly about the scientific veracity of the link between human-induced climate change and the floods in Pakistan. Two, the world can agree that even if a single event—like the Pakistan floods that drowned a fifth of the country— cannot be ascribed to climate change, there is no doubt that a link exists between such events and climate change. The Pakistan meteorological department’s data shows the country received 200 to 700 per cent more rainfall than average. Rains came in cloudbursts in ecologically fragile mountainous areas and led to natural dam bursts and floods downstream. Rains were incessant leading to more floods and greater devastation.

Brown oil and silvery sheen

By:  Dahr Jamail Erika, who is a photographer, and myself, headed out in a boat from Fourchon, US state Louisi ana’s southernmost port. We had four co-travellers: Jonathan Henderson, Randy, Craig and guide. It was August 16, the day several of Louisiana’s fisheries were reopened for catching shrimp.

Cloud view clears up

By: Smriti Sharma Origin of aerosols dictates cloud shape How cloudy is it outside? The answers may depend on the level of atmospheric pollution in one’s region. Cloud-forming microscopic particles, called aerosols, absorb and reflect solar radiation. These particles have the ability to modify cloud formation and encourage or suppress precipitation. They can be released from manmade sources like vehicles, industry, agriculture, and natural sources like sea salt, volcanic dust, sulphates from biogenic gases.

Go wild

By: Tiasa Adhya Ashwagandha occupies a prominent position in traditional health systems like Ayurveda. In India the medicinal plant is cultivated on 4,000 hectares, mainly in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. But when it comes to being the most effective, a group of researchers claims, it is the wild variety.

Butterflies heal themselves

Insects too believe in self-medication. Monarch butterflies can cure themselves and their offspring using medicinal plants. Researchers found that certain species of milkweed, which the larvae feed on, can reduce the threat of a deadly parasite. They also found that parasite-infected female monarch butterflies prefer to lay eggs on plants that will protect their offspring from illness. This behaviour in butterflies is trans-generational. The study is one of the best evidence to date of insects using medication.  

Little harvest, less land to till

By: Tashi Morup Leh farmers face losses as flood debris rendered land uncultivable Two months after a cloudburst and floods destroyed their crops and land, hundreds of farmers in Leh are struggling to make a living. Farmlands in the district of Ladakh are covered with thick layers of dried mud and boulders. This has led many Ladakhi family suffer as their source of livelihood has shattered. It has taken Leh several decades back.

Fix what is broken

By: Sunita Narain The high corridors of the nation are abuzz with talk about how much food should be given to the country’s poor as a right. Then they worry who should get this right to food. All who are poor, the very poor or the poor but not so very poor? This haggle over the below poverty line (BPL) and above poverty line (APL) seems to miss two crucial points. One, that the government does not know how to enumerate its people in terms of poverty. Two, there is no fixed and absolute line dividing the poor and not-poor.

A fish moves west

By: Kaushik Das Gupta Ten years ago Bangladesh’s rivers were deeper and hilsa plentiful. But silting, dams and pollution pushed the fisher into deep ocean and resulted in shifting of their homebase. The Bangladesh fish wholesaler’s loss became Gujarat’s gain as increasingly hilsa from the Tapti and the Narmada feed the Kolkata market.

One man, 22 years, a road

Fed up of state's highway fixation, villagers connect themselves to the world by Alok Gupta, Gaya Shaking hands with Ramchandra Das is like clasping a stone. His hands are callused by 11 years of cutting a hill to build a road all by himself. Das’s only companions were a hammer and a spade.