[दीवान] Western Ghats:lessons in protection-CSE's News Bulletin, March 18, 2014

CSE cse at equitywatch.org
Wed Mar 19 04:44:18 CDT 2014

CSE's Fortnightly News Bulletin (March 18, 2014)

An interesting and varied package awaits you this fortnight. Sunita
Narain's post-script on Western Ghats kick-starts the latest edition of
Down To Earth, while municipal management of solid waste in two
forward-thinking cities hogs the cover. India Environment Portal brings you
a spread of interesting infographics, and on climate change we bring you
current updates on the negotiations in Bonn (check out on

Read on, scroll on, and get a hang of all this and much more....

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EDITORIAL: Western Ghats: lessons in protection
by Sunita Narain
Madhav Gadgil and K Kasturirangan are both scientists of great repute. But
both are caught up in a controversy on how the Western Ghats--the vast
biological treasure trove spread over the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra,
Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu--should be protected. First the
Ministry of Environment and Forests asked Gadgil to submit a plan for
protection of the Ghats. When this was done in mid-2011, the ministry sat
on the document for months, refusing to release it even for public
discussion. Finally, court directed the government to take action on the
recommendations. The Kasturirangan committee was then set up to advise on
the next steps.

In April 2013, the Kasturirangan committee (I was a member of it) submitted
its report, evoking angry reactions. Ecologists say it is a dilution of the
Gadgil report and, therefore, unacceptable. Political leaders and mining
companies have joined hands to fight against the report. A virulent
political agitation, led by the church and communist party leaders, was
launched in Kerala.

The debate on the two reports has been personal, messy and uninformed.
Instead, we need to understand the differences and deliberate what has been
done and why. As I see it, there are three key differences between the
Gadgil and the Kasturirangan report. First is on the extent of the area
that should be awarded protection as an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ). The
Gadgil panel identified the entire Ghats as ESZ. But it created three
categories of protection regimes and listed activities that would be
allowed in each based on the level of ecological richness and land use.

The Kasturirangan panel used a different method. It removed cash crop
plantations like rubber, agricultural fields and settlements from ESZ. It
could do this because it had the advantage of using a finer remote sensing
technology. It also made the distinction between what it called cultural
landscape and natural landscape deliberately. The purpose was to remove
already modified areas under private control from protection as governing
these areas through permit and fiat systems would lead to unnecessary

In this way, the Kasturirangan report's area of ESZ is 37 per cent of the
Western Ghats--still a massive 60,000 ha but much less than 137,000 ha
proposed by Gadgil. What should concern us is that so little of the
region's natural area remains and the ways to conserve it.

The second difference is over the list of activities permissible in the
protection regime. The Gadgil committee's recommendations on this are
comprehensive, from banning pesticide use and genetically modified crops in
agricultural areas to decommissioning of hydropower projects and gradual
shift from plantations to natural forests. It is perhaps exactly the right
formula for this region, declared a natural heritage of humankind by UNESCO.

The Kasturirangan panel had already removed substantial areas of humanly
modified lands from protection, so it decided to impose restrictions on
what it called highly interventionist and environmentally damaging
activities in the ESZ area. All mining, including quarrying; red-category
industry, including thermal power; and buildings over 20,000 sq m would be
banned. In the case of hydropower projects, the panel set tough conditions
to ensure adequate flow in rivers and distance between projects. Our
reasoning was it would be very difficult to take decisions on such complex
and conflicted issues across the 60,000 ha.

The third difference concerns the governance framework. The Gadgil panel
had recommended a national-level authority, with counterparts at the state
and district levels. The Kasturirangan panel argued for strengthening the
existing framework of environmental clearances and setting up of a
state-of-the-art monitoring agency. But beyond the two reports, more
serious questions need to be raised for policy. I have serious misgivings
about the capacity and ability of governance systems (new or old) to
regulate protection through permit and prohibition.

The Gadgil report summarises the poignant case of a strawberry farmer and
rose cultivator in Mahabaleshwar, notified as ESZ. The farmer was not even
allowed to build temporary sheds or cowsheds, whereas large constructions
came up illegally. Similarly, in the eco-sensitive zone near a sanctuary,
poor tribals were stopped from using kerosene lamps for lighting--the reason
given was that the use of artificial lights disturbing wild animals is
listed as a prohibited activity. Will such a regime based on rigid
bureaucratic controls and combined with weak institutions of governance not
be easily subverted and work against the interests of the poor and the

That is why we need different ways of governance in the coming years. The
Western Ghats are inhabited even in the areas categorised as natural
landscapes. It is not possible to plan for Western Ghats only as a
fenced-in wilderness zone. This is the difference between the natural
landscapes of a densely populated country like India and the wilderness
zones of many other countries.

The big question is how policy can incentivise, indeed promote, development
that is sustainable in the cultural and natural landscapes. Until we answer
this we will have smaller and smaller areas to conserve.

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Lessons from two cities
Pune aims to become a zero-landfill city by 2015. Bengaluru, on the other
hand, is forced by a High Court order to do what Pune is already doing. A
comparative analysis.

Special Report: Moily bats for GM trials
After he revives regulatory body for GM crops, industry demands removal of
state clearances

Special Report: Hill of death
More than 200 people in 14 villages near Roro hill in Jharkhand are dying
slowly because of an abandoned asbestos mine

Special Report: Bully among birds
A college campus in Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary flouts wildlife norms

News: UPA announces poll sop for tribals
Centre promises 150 days of work to tribal households under MGNREGA

Features: Junk stops here
Meet bureaucrat Yishey D Yongda, determined to turn Sikkim into a
zero-waste zone

Features: Water stress
With about 4 per cent of the water resources of the world, India should
have been a water-adequate nation. However, in 2011 India turned into a
water-stressed nation. Why?

Science and Technology: Powerful strings
Muscles of polythene, nylon strings open new possibilities

Science and Technology: Nanotherapy for cancer
Nanoparticles wrapped in polymers effectively kill cancer cells

Science and Technology: Urban heat islands dot Delhi
Temperature hot spots found in seven of 11 weather stations in the national

Interview: GM crop benefits are all in future
In conversation with  Marc Van Montagu, professor emeritus at Ghent
University, Belgium and founder-chairperson of the university's Institute
of Plant Biotechnology Outreach, and a firm proponent of genetically
modified (GM) crops

Crosscurrents: Shutter bugs
Irresponsible wildlife photography runs counter to conservation

Patently Absurd: Patently hollow claims of the US
Global organisations and academics defend India's IP laws and call for US
to back off

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International Women's Day special: Water Walkathon

Photo Gallery: Man vs elephant

Blog: The national local elections
Bangladesh loses an opportunity to revive its most important local
government--upazilla parishad--as competing national parties turn local polls
into fierce political one-upmanship

On India Environment Portal
New features on the India Environment Portal that you must see
A. Interactives/Infographics
* How much water you consume - interactive
What if you realise that you eat and drink 3,496 litres of water. Click and
scroll to see. http://bit.ly/1cpRP9N

* Measure climate change in your lifetime
Use this interactive guide prepared by Duncan Clark and based on data from
IPCC climate change report (2013) to find out how hot the planet will
become in your lifetime.
Click and enter your year of birth to see the changes for yourself.

See more interactives and infographics at http://bit.ly/1omfKXl

B. India Environment Portal Weekly Newsletter
India Environment Weekly Newsletter brings to you top environment
developments, studies, reports, conflicts that you may have missed during
the week.
See the newsletters: http://bit.ly/1pYQpGH

C. SIGN-UP and get connected with the India Environment Portal
Subscribe for alerts and services from the India Environment Portal to keep
up with the state of environment and development.
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For more details or any assistance, contact Kiran Pandey at
kiran at cseindia.org, kirandwi at gmail.com

Courses offered by Anil Agarwal Green College
Capacity for Change: Understanding the Renewable Energy Scenario in India
Date: April 28-May 9, 2014

Course content:
- Overview - Renewable Energy Debate -Setting the context
- Scenario Today in India - Need and Sustainability
- Energy Access - Issues; Grid; Off-Grid; Minigrids - the best option today
- Opportunities - the way forward - renewable energy options for your homes
and office; hands on how to set it up. What are your job options?
- Group presentation of what you have learnt. How can you be the change

For details, please get in touch with Sharmila Sinha at
sharmila at cseindia.org / cseindiasharmila at gmail.com/+919818482018
or visit http://cseindia.org/node/5272

Training Programme on Policy, Planning and Design for Sustainable Mobility
Date: March 25 -27, 2014

Course content:
- Understanding the challenges of urbanization and motorization
- Planning for NMT inclusive transport
- Public transport planning and management
- Travel demand management strategies

For details, kindly contact: Priyanka Chandola at priyanka at cseindia.org/Tel:
+91 (011) 40616000 (Ext.236)/M: +91 9810414938 or visit

CSE's short-term EIA training programme on mining projects
Date: March 24 - April 4, 2014

Course content:
-Environmental clearance process and mining legislations
Mining technologies, mine exploration and best practices
* Data interpretation (for analyzing the impacts of miningprojects)
* Understanding the ToR (Terms of Reference)
* Tools and thumb-rules to evaluate environmental and social impacts
* Effectiveness of assessment methods
* Mine closure plans and best practices in reclamation
* Addressing civil society concerns in the public consultation process
* Emerging sustainable tools and best practices
* Developing the ability to review and assess EIA/SIA reports and mine
closure plans
* Developing the ability for post-EIA monitoring
All this brought to the participants through lectures, class exercises and
site visits

Swati Singh Sambyal,

Tel: + 91-11-29955124/ 6110, Extension: 281, |
Fax: + 91-11-29955879 Mob. No.: +91 9910496283
E-mail: swati at cseindia.org

Or click on

Agenda for Survival
Date: June 2-30, 2014

Course content:
-  State of India's environment: An overview
-  The environmental movement in India
-  Poverty and the biomass economy
-  Ecological rights & natural resource management
-  Land and its use: Agriculture, food security
-  Conservation & conflict: Wildlife management debate
-   Urban growth challenges: Water & waste management, air pollution &
-   Sustainable industrialisation & public health concerns
-   Climate change & global environmental governance

For details, please contact Sharmila Sinha at sharmila at cseindia.org/
cseindiasharmila at gmail.com or visit

Media Fellowship Briefing: Urbanscapes: how sustainable are our buildings
and cities?
New Dates - May 1-2, 2014
Casuarina Hall, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi

We invite journalists to participate in the two-day workshop which will
demystify the realty sector and its impacts on environment.
To apply, write to papia at cseindia.org or visit

Blueprint for a legislation on waterbodies
CSE has been researching on the state of waterbodies in India. The research
findings have been published in Excreta Matters: The seventh State of
Environment Report. It is clear from the report that there
is no clear law for the protection of waterbodies and their catchments.
CSE's research in South Asia also showed that there is no umbrella law for
protection of waterbodies in South Asian countries.
CSE has come up with a draft framework legislation that can be presented to
different law making authorities in the South Asian countries (including
India) which has taken care of the loopholes of the
existing laws and policies related to the protection and conservation of

The draft is up on the website for comments (send in your comments to
sushmita at cseindia.org directly).


Citizen's survey -- Take the test for a better future!
CSE invites you to participate in a citizens survey to understand the
challenge of air pollution and transportation crisis in your city and
identify the way forward. The city assessment is to
map out the nature and extent of the problems and will help to inform
public opinion and policy action.

We look forward to your support and participation to find solutions to one
of the most critical public health and mobility crisis facing our cities


Rainwater Harvesting Technical Support

Every Friday between 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm, CSE provides detailed technical
guidance to interested individuals, RWAs and institutions to implement
rainwater harvesting. This technical assistance is provided at CSE s office
at 41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi.

For details, see

Technical Advice: Decentralised Wastewater Treatment Systems

Every second and fourth Friday, meet our experts at CSE, 41, Tughlaqabad
Institutional Area for guidance on planning and designing these systems.

For details, contact Deblina at deblina at cseindia.org or call her on
The CSE Store
- Down To Earth Annual Issue - State of India's environment, 2014
CSE brings together a set of well-reasoned and crisply-written analyses,
reportages, reviews and overviews on some of the most significant
developments of 2013 in fields ranging from water, mining and agriculture
to governance, forests and climate change. The annual comes with a year
planner pin-up

- Good News & Bad News: Clearing the air in Indian cities
The book captures action taken by cities for clean air, public transport,
walking and cycling, intermediate public transport, and car restraint
initiatives and where they fail.
To know more about the book and buy online visit:
For Indian Store: http://csestore.cse.org.in/books/good-news-bad-news.html
For Global Store:

- Junk Food Busted
A handbook for the young.

- Climate Change in South Asia: A Book of Activities 2

- Paryavaran Shiksha Par Aadharit Kriyakalaapon Ki Kitab (Hindi)

- Mera Pados Kitna Hara-bhara Hai? Aao, Khud Pata Lagayein

For more details on these books or for placing an order, please visit us
at: http://csestore.cse.org.in/
or contact Ramachandran at 9810641996/rchandran at cseindia.org

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