Skip to main content

Govt of India "dismantling" eco-protection laws, dubbing those opposing development projects as "anti-national"

By V Suresh*
June 5 is celebrated globally as World Environment Day, a day to remind everyone about the fragility of the environment caused by human agency, to sensitise people about the urgency of citizen action to counter environmental degradation and to get all of to rededicate ourselves to preserving nature and wildlife, protecting environment, safeguarding natural resources and persuade and push governments globally to halt environmentally destructive, polluting and hazardous industries, development projects and uncontrolled urbanization.
The theme for this year's `World Environment Day' is "Connecting People with Nature". This year, we in India, have experienced the worst effects of climate change – we've had some of the hottest periods in the last many decades; many regions are experiencing continuous droughts; there's no predictability about rains and seasonal variations are an pressing reality we can no longer ignore. While many countries in the world are gearing themselves to counter the negative effects of climate change, many policy makers and researchers in India are denying the reality of climate change!
Across the country, many regions are suffering from unimaginable pollution of air, water and land caused by highly polluting industries. Environmental oversight and monitoring bodies like the Pollution Control Boards and other expert bodies have majorly failed citizens and nature, by persistently allowing polluters to escape liability and responsibility for running environmentally destructive, hazardous and polluting industries.
As though this were not enough, the Central Government has been steadily following a policy of dismantling all environment protection legislations on the plea that existing environment laws are proving a hindrance for international industries and capital to come to India.
What is worse, any community, group, organisation or person opposing a development project or an industry on environmental grounds is dubbed to be `anti-national', `anti-development' and an enemy of growth. The end of this logic is dubbing environmentalists and the green movement as 'eco-terrorists' carrying the real threat of persecution and prosecution.
Numerous examples exist including the coercive action against Greenpeace soon after the present central government came to power in 2014. Ironically the State, irrespective of whether it is the Central or State government, instead of implementing the Constitutional mandate in Art. 48A of the constitution that "the state shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife in the country", governments have been competing with each other to stress that they will not tolerate any criticism or demand for accountability of existing industry or proposed industrial project.
It is in this context that we thought we should focus this issue on the state of environmental protection in the country today. Space limitations limit us to include only a few issues from across the country. We, however, hope to be able to carry more such critical articles on the state of environment in different states, in future issues. We invite readers to contribute articles. Before signing off, the articles carried in this issue make a striking point: that citizens need to be highly vigilant if we need to safeguard and protect our ecology and wild life, our commons and resources.
For more than at any time before, all these are under tremendous attack by forces of industrialization and urbanization. While the challenges are huge, and the difficulties seemingly insurmountable, we need to derive strength and inspiration from the people of Dhinkia and its surrounding villages in Odisha who steadfastly opposed the POSCO steel project despite massive police action, which company after facing unrelenting people's struggle for 12 long years decided to drop the steel plant project.
The successful struggle of the Dongria-Kondhs against the Vedanta project in Niyamgiri and the victory of the villagers against the proposed nuclear power project in Mithi Virdi area in Gujarat are stories to inspire (Ironically, the victory of residents of Mithi Virdi has been offset by the invitation of the AP government to set up the same nuclear power plant of Westinghouse in Kovada in AP. But that represents the actual nature of environmental threat across the country). We salute all the brave people who have fought and are still fighting for environmental justice and human rights.
---
*Editor, PUCL Bulletin (June 2017)

Comments

TRENDING

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

Not just Indian women engineers, men too face sexual harassment at workplace: US study

By Rajiv Shah
A recent research, carried out jointly by two US-based non-profit organizations, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Center for WorkLife Law (WLL), based at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, has found that 45% of women engineers as against 28% of men engineers complained that it was perceived as “inappropriate when women argued at work, even when it was work-related.”

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

Poser to Modi: Why is Gujarat not fulfilling Constitutional obligations to minorities?

Counterview Desk
In an open letter, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), a Gujarat-based civil rights organization, has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi on infringing upon MCC activists’ constitutional right to protest. Nafees says, they had no other demands except that the Gujarat government should move towards fulfilling the constitutional obligations towards minorities and international treaties to which India is a signatory.