Thursday, February 04, 2016

At 201, India tops in number environmental conflicts, maximum cases relate to "thrust" on industry, mining

By Our Representative
The Environmental Justice Atlas (EJAtlas), ejatlas.org, an online portal claiming to “help” academic and public policymakers across the world in identifying exemplary cases of peoples’ resistance against climate change and environment degradation, has said that India has the highest number of cases of environmental conflicts than anywhere else in the world.
Conceived as Environmental Justice, Liabilities and Trade (EJOLT) project as a European Commission-funded global research project operated during 2011–15 and concluded recently, says that India experienced in all 201 cases of environmental conflict, followed by 201 cases, Colombia with 101 cases.
Other countries with high number of environmental conflict cases are Nigeria (71 cases), United States of America (66), Brazil (63), Spain (56), Ecuador (49), Turkey (46), Argentina (37, Peru (37) and Chile (37).
An analysis of the data provided by the portal by Anup Kumar Das of the Centre for Studies in Science Policy, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, says. “Out of total 1604 cases reported (as on October 24, 2015), 764 (about 47.63 per cent) belong to these top 11 countries, and the remaining cases are reported from 114 countries.”
The stated purpose of the project is to bring “science and society together to catalogue and analyse ecological distribution conflicts and confront environmental injustice”, Das says in an article in "Current Science" (Vol 109, No 12, December 25, 2015), adding, “The Atlas records local or national-level conflicts on account of nuclear energy, thermal power plants, mining, land acquisition and infrastructure, among other parameters.”
A further analysis of environmental conflicts in India suggests that of the 201 cases, as many as 59 relate to the ‘water management’ category, followed by the conflicts in the ‘fossil fuels and climate justice’ category, and 47 cases, ‘industrial and utilities conflicts’ category with 36 cases.
Other categories of conflicts include cases related to mineral ores and building extractions, infrastructure and built environment, waste management, nuclear, biomass and land conflicts, tourism recreation, and biodiversity conservation.
According to VV Krishna, EJOLT project director, and professor at the Centre for Studies in Science Policy (CSSP), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, “One reason for India recording the maximum number of conflicts is the thrust on industrialisation, mining for natural resources and industrial units exploiting loopholes in environmental governance.”
Krishna further says, referring to large number of water-related conflicts, that “water is important and India is known for bad management of water resources”, which leads to water shortage. “There is the appropriation of water sources and channels by industrial units with political nexus," he adds.
Joan Martinez-Alier, professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain, says, "India appears at the top in the EJAtlas, but India is still under-reported — this is the largest country in the world in terms of population, and very likely in terms of environmental conflicts."
Adds Das, "EJAtlas includes the retrospective cases such as the one on the Bhopal gas tragedy. Each of the cases includes a structured detail of information such as description, basic data, source of conflict, project details and actors, the conflict and the mobilization, impacts, outcome, sources and materials, meta information and comments."

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