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The mind’s river: How a life along the Cauvery stilled my anxieties

Wildlife biologist Nisarg Prakash writes: After a flare-up in my depression and increasingly erratic behaviour, I was shunted out from a landscape that I once knew like the back of my hand. It was here that I’d retreated to the land, to the hills, valleys and streams as a poultice for the cuts and bruises.

Why the Forest Rights Act is yet to achieve major milestones

G. Seetharaman reports: Activists say one of the biggest hurdles for FRA is that even states like Maharashtra, among the better performers, and Odisha are introducing policies which will help the forest department retain control of forest resources through joint forest management committees or similar bodies, which will dilute the powers of the gram sabha.

Special: Ten years of the Forest Rights Act

The Forest Rights Act of 2006 was widely hailed as a landmark legislation, one that sought to empower some of India’s most disenfranchised communities– the Adivasis. Ten years later, only 3 percent of forest dwellers have their rights recognised, and the Act itself is increasingly being undermined by the present government. Here’s a closer look.

Video: Beyond the Red Lines – System Change Not Climate Change

From the lignite mines in Rhineland, to the streets of Paris, the struggles for climate justice are fought at more and more fronts. This film documents the story of a growing movement that says “Enough! Here and no further!” and commits civil disobedience taking the transition towards a climate just society into its own hands.

Ashish Kothari: The search for radical alternatives – key elements and principles

Can there be a collective search for paradigms and pathways towards a world that is sustainable, equitable and just? How can such frameworks and visions build on an existing heritage of ideas and worldviews and cultures, and on past or new grassroots practice? This note attempts to layout a few thoughts towards such a process.

Nandini Sundar: Militarization of the imagination

In her new book, The Burning Forest: India’s War In Bastar, anthropologist Nandini Sundar provides a harrowing narrative of the toll this ongoing conflict has taken on the lives of Bastar’s Adivasis. Sundar demonstrates how the institutions of democracy have failed to address the human tragedy in what has become one of India’s most militarized regions.

Bookshelf: The Burning Forest: India’s War in Bastar

From Juggernaut publishing: There’s a hidden war going on in central India away from the headlines — and Bastar is at the centre of it. Sociologist Nandini Sundar, who has written about Bastar and its people for nearly three decades, has now authored a gripping account of the war between the Maoists and the State.

In Gadchiroli, the mining of another adivasi god

Javed Iqbal reports: Months have passed quietly with allegations of day-to-day violence and repression. Throughout the summer, say locals, many adivasis were caught and humiliated by the C60 – Maharashtra’s special anti-naxal force. In interviews, they detailed how they were deliberately humiliated by being beaten on the soles of their feet and on their buttocks.

Spotlight: India’s adivasis and the web of indifference

India is home to about 700 tribal groups with a population of 104 million, as per 2011 census, constituting the second largest tribal population in the world after Africa. Down to Earth magazine examines the many grave threats they face from government, corporations and phenomena like climate change, and our continuing indifference to their plight.

Draft National Forest Policy sets up another battle over Forest Rights Act

Nitin Sethi reports: The government has made public its draft National Forest Policy, to replace the existing one crafted in 1988. Incorporating consequences of climate change but entirely ignoring one of the three forest related laws, the Forest Rights Act, the policy brings new focus to plantations, growing trees outside forest lands and wood industry.

From floods to forest fires: a warming planet – in pictures

Droughts, floods, forest fires and melting poles – climate change’s impacting Earth like never before. From the Australia to Greenland, photographer Ashley Cooper’s work spans over 30 countries. This selection from his new book shows a changing landscape, scarred by pollution and natural disasters – but there’s hope too, with the rise of renewable energy.

Bookshelf: Blood Red River: A Journey Into The Heart Of India’s Development Conflict

In this excerpt from his new book, published by Hachette India, Rohit Prasad looks at the roles of the different players in the battle between Adivasis, Maoist rebels, corrupt bureaucrats and hungry corporations, concluding that the situation is one of “cooperative plunder”, where two apparently antagonistic forces align for the purpose of siphoning away resources.

Video: In Defence of Life: Stories of community resistance to mining

In Defence of Life follows the struggles and triumphs of four rural communities resisting large-scale mining projects in Colombia, Philippines, South Africa and Romania. Courageous environmental and human rights defenders from these communities describe how they have suffered and why they are standing firm to protect their families, land, water and life from destruction by mining.

For 10 Years, Niyamgiri’s adivasis have resisted a takeover of their land by the government and Vedanta

Susmita Mukherjee writes: The Supreme Court has scrapped a petition filed, yet again by the Odisha Mining Corporation, challenging the resolutions of the Gram Sabhas of Niyamgiri Hills. For ten years, the Dongaria Kondhs have been looking beyond the education facilities being offered to them by Vedanta and continue their struggle to protect their land.

Recent victories by people’s movements show democracy is thriving

Ashish Kothari writes: Unlike the representative form that most countries have adopted, a series of recent events point more to a direct form in which people on the ground have the primary power of decision-making. From Chhattisgarh to Odisha, people’s movements against large development projects have brought out the real power of democracy in India.

Bastar: Conservation in the time of conflict

Madhu Ramnath reports: Unknown to the rest of the country, a small group of adivasis from the forested villages in central Bastar have been busy doing work that would make conservationists proud. People from Sandh Karmari, Kakalgur, Kangoli and nearby villages have been gathering native seeds and raising them in nurseries in fairly large numbers.

Anti-mining activist Deba Ranjan Sarangi on the alarming situation in Odisha

Activist, filmmaker and writer Debaranjan Sarangi, actively involved in the struggle of adivasis in Odisha’s Kashipur to protect their lands from bauxite mining, was arrested on March 18, 2016 on the basis of a 2005 case. In this interview with Countercurrents.org following his release on bail, he describes his experiences and the present situation in Odisha.

Development is for the people: A talk by Madhav Gadgil

The full text of a recent talk given by prominent ecologist Madhav Gadgil, a former member of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India and the Head of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) of 2010. It tries to explore the significant issue of when and why people turn against conservation.

How Goa’s mining lobby, government and media ganged up against a young tribal activist

Nandita Haksar writes: Ravindra Velip, a 27-year-old tribal activist fighting mining in Goa, is facing the combined might of the state government, the mining lobby and a complicit media. A founding member of green activist group Rainbow Warriors, he was arrested and placed in judicial custody. When he was assaulted in jail, it went unreported.

NEWS UPDATE #88

Nihar Gokhale reports: Rainfall across India in March has been 300-500% higher and often were accompanied by hailstorms. As a result, winter crops across six Indian states – Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra – stand destroyed. Rain and the accompanying hail has damaged upto 60% standing winter crops across the country.

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