Sabyasachi Patra

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 6 Issue V

IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 6 Issue V

Newsletter-May-2014 (5.0 MB, 876 downloads)

Green Agenda in Politics

The election campaign by various political parties serves as a big reality check about the importance of environmental issues to political parties and the masses in general.

The general perception is that environmental issues never appeal to people as much as issues like jobs, farming, corruption, industrialisation etc.

A large corporate was accused of getting vast swathes of land at rupees one per square meter due to favour from Gujarat Government. The owner of the corporate in question claims that the land given to it was barren land and they in turn developed it. However, no one has come out to refute the claim that it was not barren land. Perhaps it is too much to expect our traditional media to do some ground work to expose this barren land.

The corporate in question, Adani group, has been accused of blatantly destroying the mangrove ecosystem to set up its Mundra SEZ.

Mangroves destroyed

Mangroves destroyed

The MoEF (Ministry of Environment and Forests) was forced to take notice and they sent a Deputy Director to do a field visit. The report of the Deputy Director of MoEF can be assessed from the MoEF site: http://moef.nic.in/downloads/public-information/site-visit-Mundra-OPG.pdf

The MoEF site visit revealed that Mundra SEZ of Adani group had blatantly dumped debris and had engaged in large scale reclamation of the mangroves behind the West and North port site. A dredging disposal pipeline has been laid in the inter tidal area carrying the dredged material to the landward side of the port to reclaim the land area on the West and North port side. This pipeline has been obstructing the tidal flow due to which the mangroves stretch on the western and northern port side have been affected and at several places they have dried up.

Disposal pipeline has been laid in the inter tidal area

Disposal pipeline has been laid in the inter tidal area

The report further mentions that the Mundra SEZ of Adani Group has illegally constructed Samundra Township by reclaiming land from the creeks. They have also constructed a hospital within 20 metres of the creek.

SAMUNDRA township

SAMUNDRA township

Unfortunately, though this report is in public domain, our traditional media didnt think it fit to report these blatant destruction of the mangrove ecosystem and land grabbing. Perhaps mangroves is not a high profile subject for them. This ecological vandalism is perhaps acceptable in the name of development for our politicians and mainstream media.

Who is to be blamed?

The masses dont understand the impact of mangrove destruction. Not many would have ever seen or heard about mangroves. Such is the importance of environment in our education system.

The mangrove ecosystem is a life saver for many. A study conducted after the 1999 Super Cyclone in Odisha (Das, Saudamini et al. 2009) found that villages with wider mangroves between them and the coast experienced significantly fewer deaths than ones with narrower or no mangroves. For further details: http://www.indiawilds.com/diary/indiawilds-newsletter-vol-5-issue-x/

Mangroves

Mangroves

Our masses also need to be educated that our mangrove ecosystem helps in stopping the erosion of our coastline. They absorb excess nutrients like phosphates and nitrates and improve the water quality. The mangrove ecosystem helps in absorbing sediments and is good for fishes. That is why destruction of this mangroves will result in directly pushing the local fisherfolk into poverty. So it comes as no surprise that it is the local fishermen association by the name Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS) who protested against the Adani Group and brought these blatant destruction of the mangrove ecosystem to the notice of the outside world.

There are people who try to justify such environmental vandalism as they feel it is resulting in more jobs. In the name of development, we have been sacrificing large number of people. When we construct dams, we dont consider the interests of people in the downstream and leave them to doom. People displaced due to industrial activity are often pushed down to below poverty level as their home and source of income is snatched away from them. We pride ourselves as a democracy. If the Government is not just and fair in its actions and cannot protect all sections of people, then social unrest cant be far behind. Social unrest often follows such large scale uprooting of people. No society and country can progress by trampling on the dreams and aspirations of some of its members.

In an era where climate change is hitting us hard through cyclones, heat waves, drought etc, such environmental vandalism ought to be exposed. We have to raise the level of awareness about the need to preserve our environment and wildlife. India today has about 800 million voters. However, one need not get discouraged by the 800 million number as the winning party with two thirds of the seats was achieved by a total of 17 crores or 170million votes which is about 31% of the total number of votes polled. Since the next elections is only five years away, to bring about a significant sift in perceptions about environment and wildlife one needs to only target about 90 thousand people a day. This can easily achieved if all our conservationists, naturalists, wildlife enthusiasts and environmental activists can start spreading the message to 50 people each. Even if the total number of converts is just a quarter of it, there would be a good number of environmentally conscious member of parliaments who can make their voices heard in the parliament to protect the interests of environment and wildlife which in turn helps in saving us by providing good quality of water, air as well as saving us from the vagaries of climate change.

I hope our members can rise above political affiliations and fight for the larger goal of saving our environment and in turn making our country and planet a better place to live in than it is today.

 

Change of guards and fate of MoEF

The 2014 parliamentary elections brought a change in guard in the centre as the Congress led UPA Government gave way to the BJP led Government. Due to the unprecedented hype created about development during the run up to the elections, one expects a huge change in the way of overall Governance and hence a change in the way the environment and forests ministry functions.

The previous ministers for MoEF in the UPA regime had passed many controversial projects allowing opening up of biodiversity rich and environmentally fragile areas for mining, roads builing and other infrastructure projects. Even then Jairam Ramesh who had controversially passed projects to handover dense forests and critical elephant corridors like the Chiria mines in Saranda forests to SAIL for mining, was kicked up and made a Cabinet minister and divested of the MoEF portfolio when he was perceived as a hindrance to even minor projects. There was an effort to curtail his successor Jayanthi Natarajans powers by referring project clearances by a group of ministers to which she had vehemently protested. Later, during the runup to the elections, the current PM Mr Narendra Modi had targeted the previous MoEF minister Jayanthi Natarajan and had accused her of blocking projects forcing the congress party to suddenly sack her. This also resulted in strengthening the perception that project proposals were unnecessarily delayed without a clear approval or rejection making the project proponents vocal.

The UPA Government had continued to support the Sethusamudram project despite its huge environmental impact as well as questionable direct cost savings. The UPA regime had also steadfastly supported nuclear powerplants despite popular opposition to those. The activists were also branded as traitors fomenting trouble with the support of foreign powers. Along with clearances to Lavassa project, Navi Mumbai airport, trashing of Madhav Gadgil report on Western Ghats and many others, the UPA regime could never be the bench mark for environment protection. So a change of guard especially in a scenario where the previous regime was accused of non-clearance of projects – though in reality many environmentally fragile areas were opened up brings trepidation to the hearts of many environment and wildlife supporters.

Interestingly Smt. Maneka Gandhi who has had experience of handling the MoEF as a minister in the VP Singh Government as well as Vajpayee Government, had voiced her opposition to the river linking project a couple of days before the swearing in of ministers. She said that she had opposed the river linking projects even in Vajpayee Government. However, despite her prior experience with the environment and forests ministry, she was not given charge of environment and forests and was made the Cabinet minister in charge of Women and Child Development. Mr. Prakash Javadekar as a Minister of State has been given independent charge of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, along with independent charge of Information and Broadcasting. He also has charge of Parliamentary affairs under the overall jurisdiction of Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu. Whether the current minister for environment, forests and climate change can cope up with the additional work load of I&B and parliamentary affairs ministries and still do justice to the environment and forests ministry is yet to be seen.

Since the BJP campaign was actively supported by industries, it is expected that large infrastructure projects having a deleterious environmental footprint will also get cleared. However, except for a few unscrupulous industrialists, the rest would expect a transparent regime where clearances or rejections of large projects are expected in a time bound manner. This ensures that the project proponents either modify or abandon their business plans without incurring costly project cost over runs.

The common man would also expect that the BJP would bring in good governance as promised during the elections and that would include clean air to breathe in without falling prey to health hazards due to polluted air, clean and pure water, forests to be protected so that there is adequate rainfall as well as carbon sequestration by these forests and steps to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change.

With an absolute majority in the parliamentary elections, the BJP government can hopefully write a nice chapter in the environmental history of this country.

 

Other Conservation News:

New Night Frog Species Discovered in Western Ghats

http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?14389-New-night-frog-species-discovered-in-Western-Ghats

Yunnan Nuthatch | A new addition for India

http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?14397-Yunnan-Nuthatch-A-new-addition-for-India

Over 8000 Turtle hatchlings released

http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?14403-Over-8000-turtle-hatchlings-released

Equipment Discussions

MeerCat miniature HD broadcast camera by Camera Corps

http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?14423-MeerCat-miniature-HD-broadcast-camera-by-Camera-Corps

 

Natural History

COUNTRY NOTEBOOK: M. Krishnan: The Brahminy Kite : By Saktipada Panigrahi

http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?8852-Country-notebook-m-krishnan&p=68070#post68070

Airforce V/s Army by Rajan Kanagasabai

http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?14320-Airforce-v-s-Army

Cobra V/s Viper by Jerin Dinesh

http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?14353-cobra-vs-viper&p=69289

 

Wildlife Photography

Gaur-I have back up! By Shyamala Kumar

http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?14228-Gaur-I-have-back-up!

Raining Elephants by Rajan Kanagasabai

http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?14314-Raining-Elephants

A pair of male Indian wolves, scanning for the kill by Subhash Srivastava

http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?14322-A-pair-of-male-Indian-wolves-scanning-for-the-kill

Yellow throated Marten by Pralay Lahiri

http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?14350-Yellow-throated-Marten

Pelican by Jitendra Katre

http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?14306-pelican

Yellow-billed Blue Magpie by Abhishek Jamalabad

http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?14354-Yellow-billed-Blue-Magpie

Brahminy Kite by Sucheth Lingachar

http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?14283-BrahminyKite-With-Fish-Bangaluru

A colony of blue tail Bee-Eater By Vipin Sharma

http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/showthread.php?14336-Corbett-Diary-Apr-14

 

 

I look forward to your inputs and support in preserving the last tracts of wilderness and wildlife left in our beautiful country. For other interesting articles and images check - http://www.indiawilds.com/forums/

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Regards,

Sabyasachi Patra

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Newsletter-May-2014 (5.0 MB, 876 downloads)
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Sabyasachi Patra

Sabyasachi is an award winning Cinematographer and shoots for international broadcasters, feature films and corporates to make a living. He is a passionate wildlife filmmaker and photographer and has won awards and accolades for his documentary 'A Call in the Rainforest'. He has been striving to make his films and photographs full of life and emotion and write articles to educate and evangelise the need for conserving the last tracts of vanishing wilderness and wildlife in our country. He hopes that his wildlife films, photographs and writings force people to pause, look, ponder and ultimately take action.
Sabyasachi Patra
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