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16-31 JULY, 2016

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01Cover final.indd 3

Subscriber copy, not for resale


Amitav Ghosh's
new book The Great
INTERVIEW: `We are teetering at

the edge of a new era'

11/07/16 12:17 PM

August 8-12, 2016
Environmental issues like climate change, water
availability, pollution, waste generation and disposal
are commanding considerable global attention.
Industries, as a major user of raw materials
and energy and source of pollution and waste
generation, have a major role in addressing current
and emerging environmental issues. Environment
managers in industry have a challenging task to keep
industry clean, competitive and compliant with
national and international rules, Acts and treaties.
Centre for Science and Environment (CSE)
had been conducting training programme to build
capacity in industry for the past two decades and has
trained hundreds of environment managers. This
year a five-day training programme is scheduled in
August, 2016 in New Delhi.

Rs 20,000

The takeaway from this training programme includes

improved understanding for participants in:
1. Identification of legal requirements under current
Acts and Laws related to the environment;
2. Roles and responsibilities of environment managers
to comply with such legal requirements and
strengthening self regulation mechanism;
3. Processes and procedures to obtain environment
and forest clearance, Consent to Establish (CTE),
Consents to Operate (CTO), authorization for
hazardous wastes and other clearances/licenses;
4. Compliance monitoring and performance monitoring
of pollution control equipment and Continuous
Emission Monitoring System (CEMS);
5. Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Management
System and its implementation;
6. Use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Market
Based Instruments (MBI) for pollution prevention
and control;
7. Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), Cumulative
Impact Assessment (CIA) and Social Impact
assessment (SIA) and
8. Implementation of sustainability management system
and sustainability reporting as per GRI G4 guidelines.


August 8-12, 2016
9.30 am to 4.30 pm
CSE, 38, Tughlakabad Institutional
Area, New Delhi 62
July 30, 2016
Industry professionals such as
Environment Managers; Health
Safety and Environment Experts;
Environment Auditors; Environment
Consultants and Environment
For details contact: Nivit Kumar Yadav, Environment Governance Unit
Centre for Science and Environment
41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi-110062
Ph: 91-11-2995 5124 / 6110 (Ext. 251); Fax: 91-11-2995 5879
Mobile: 9968023535 Website:

02Environmental Managers Training ad (August 8-12, 2016).indd 2

08/07/16 3:42 PM





HE CAUVERY evokes strong emotions. It brings angry

people to the streets; chief ministers fast demanding its

water. And why not? This water brings life to millions.
From mega cities like Bengaluru to industries and farmers across Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and even Puducherry
and Kerala, all want a share of its water.
Where is this water coming from? Kodagu, formerly known as
Coorg, is the region in the Western Ghats where the river originates.
This land of forest, coffee, spices and paddy brings some 50 per cent
of the rivers water. What I learnt on my recent travel to Kodagu tells
me that it is time we thought long and deep about the origins of our
rivers. Their birth is our life.
This region provides us a mosaic of natures best. Here, unlike
in many other parts of the world, natural landscapes are made productive by human intervention. The extensive coffee, pepper and
paddy plantations improve recharge and keep the
river alive. The question environmental activists are
asking is whether this will change as new developments creep into this bit of paradise. But the question I am asking is different: what is the development
model that will work in this ecological hot spota
way in which we value the river but can develop and
grow to meet new aspirations and challenges?
One major change that was pointed out to me
was the switch towards sun coffee. Let me explain.
In this region coffee is traditionally grown in shade.
The best coffee plantations are those with 30 to 50
per cent shade. Trees are grown between coffee plants
to provide shade. On these trees, spices like pepper are grown. This
brings farmers extra income. But this practice of shade coffee cannot compete with sun coffee, where no trees are grown and all the
land is used for plantation. I learnt from coffee planters in Kodagu
that while sun coffee farmers can get up to 1.5 tonnes of coffee per
acre (0.4 hectare), shade coffee productivity is lowersome 0.75
to 1 tonne per acre. The productivity of organic coffee is even less at
0.5 tonne per acre. The premium paid for organic coffee does not
make up for the difference, so farmers are switching to sun coffee.
The delicate mosaic of coffee and trees is breaking apart.
But sun coffee is not the only reason. Our lack of appreciation
of this natural-human system also brings disruption. When I was
in Kodagu I chanced upon a newspaper article about a strict warning from the forest department to the plantation owners that they
would not get permission for trimming or felling trees for the next
four months of monsoonsa time when they need it most. Why?
Because the forest department is short-staffed and will be busy
planting trees. Instead of recognising and rewarding a system that

16-31 JULY 2016

03Editors.indd 3

plants trees, this forest-style red tape is clearly the worst disincentive. Then the forest department says the permission can be given if
the tree is exoticmainly silver oakbut not if it is indigenous. So,
what would you do as a farmer? Another opportunity to build natures wealth is lost.
This is not all the disruption. Farmers, particularly lowland
paddy growers, are finding it more lucrative to sell their land for
housing and tourism projects that are fast taking over in the region.
The ideal balance for the Cauverys birth is to keep the mosaic of forests and coffee at 30 per cent each, and paddy at least 15 per cent.
Then there is the matter of other development projects from roads
to railways. All disturb this balance. Farmers troubles are exacerbated by the success of forest and wildlife conservation. All across
the region, I also heard of how elephant attacks were making workers flee and lands unproductive.
So, what can work? Environmentalists suggest
a payment for ecosystem services Kodagu provides.
In other words, farmers would be paid for maintaining the mosaic that keeps the river alive. This would
create the economic incentive for the forest-coffeepaddy mosaic to thrive. I agree. This clearly is one
way ahead. In addition, steps must be taken to improve the productivity of this mosaic itself. This is
where tourism can play an important (and not destructive) role. If well-managed and regulated, tourism can work within this mosaic and add to farmers
income. It means deliberately promoting homestead
and nature-friendly tourism, which does not pollute
or degrade the environment. Instead it builds on its intrinsic beauty and adds to our knowledge of nature.
This becomes even more important in the age of climate change,
which is bringing extreme heat and other weather variations to the
region. Coffee is particularly touchy about extreme heat. This year,
Vietnams coffee productivity is down by 30 per cent because of extreme heat and drought. This is where shade coffee will survive.
Thats why this biodiversity-rich shade coffee should be promoted and indeed celebrated.
So next time you smell your coffee, think of this shadethe
trees, the spices, the butterflies, birds, bees, honey and all the other
biodiversity. It will keep the Cauvery flowing.

@sunitanar 3

11/07/16 1:41 PM


Down To Earth

Anil Agarwal

EDITOR Sunita Narain


Richard Mahapatra

Vibha Varshney, Archana Yadav, S S Jeevan


Anupam Chakravartty, Jitendra Choubey,

Kundan Pandey, Rajeshwari Ganesan,
Shreeshan Venkatesh, Karnika Bahuguna.
Jigyasa Watwani

Snigdha Das, Rajat Ghai, Jemima Rohekar,

Aditya Misra, Rajit Sengupta, Deepanwita
Niyogi, Aakriti Shrivastava, Priya Talwar,
Subhojit Goswami

Chaitanya Chandan, Shri Krishan,

Raj Kumar Singh, Tarique Aziz, Ritika Bohra
PHOTOGRAPHER Vikas Choudhary
WEB TEAM Rajendra Rawat, Jaidev Sharma


Farmers demand their dues

Last month, non-profit Kisan Ekta
Manch organised the third National
Convention of Farmer's Organisations
in Shimla. Down To Earth travelled
to the venue to meet the leaders
of various farmers' movements,
who had congregated to discuss a
national agenda for farmers in the
country. Minimum support price and
guaranteed income to farmers topped
the agenda of the leaders, who said
farmers should be allowed to control
proceeds from their produce.



Rakesh Shrivastava, Gundhar Das


Srikant Chaudhary, Rakesh Nair

Bhaskarjyoti Goswami, Sunny Gautam

Kiran Pandey team

Chandra Bhushan, Anumita Roychowdhury

Vol 25, No 3; Total No of Pages 68
Editorial, subscriptions and advertisements: Society for
Environmental Communications,
41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area,
New Delhi 110 062,
Phone: 91-11- 29955124,
29956110, 29956394, 29956399
Fax: 91-11-29955879.
2005 Society for Environmental Communications.
All rights reserved throughout the world. Reproduction
in any manner is prohibited. Printed and published by
Richard Mahapatra on behalf of Society for Environmental
Communications. Printed at International Print-o-Pac
Limited, B-204, 205, Okhla Industrial Area, Phase I, New
Delhi-110020 india and published at 41, Tughlakabad
Institutional Area, New Delhi 110 062.
To subscribe, sms 'dte Subscribe' to 56070
or visit

Jyoti Ghosh

K C R Raja

Down To Earth editorial does not

endorse the content of advertisements
printed in the magazine


04Web & Credits.indd 4

On web

A little understood disease

Down To Earth speaks to

Pradeep Das, director of
Patna's Rajendra Memorial
Research Institute of
Medical Sciences, on the
complexities of treating

Post Kala-Azar Dermal

Leishmaniasis (PKDL). Das
says more people are now
reporting the skin disease
but its exact cause remains
unknown. It develops in
some patients who have
recovered from kala-azar or
as a reaction to drugs given
to combat it. There is social
stigma attached to PKDL
since it resembles leprosy.




As Down To Earth enters its

25th year of publication, we
bring to you glimpses from
our archives

In a hurry

The Union government

recently launched a web
portal for online submission
of environmental clearances
of mining of sand and other
minor minerals, aimed at
bringing in transparency
and fighting the sand mafia

Highlights of 2016 Unicef

report on the state of the
world's children

On Facebook
World Bank to lend
US $1 billion to the
National Solar Mission

On Twitter
Beijing is sinking due to
excessive groundwater

menace. Three years ago,

when India had a different
government in power, the
urge to grant clearances was
the same as it is now. Quoting
an analysis by the Centre for
Science and Environment,
Down To Earth's special
report, Clearance rush (115 July, 2013) noted, The
rate of granting clearances
has increased by 42 per
cent compared to last year.
Clearly, a regime change
makes no difference to the
the environment as much as
authorities' agenda: exploit
you can.

16-31 JULY 2016

11/07/16 12:18 PM


Porcine menace
This refers to the editorial Redefining gender issues & conservation on the
problems faced by women farmers in Uttarakhand (16-30 June, 2016). As a
resident of Kausani, it is my opinion that the
wild boar menace in the state is far worse
than the monkey problem.
I can recall visiting a village in the Nayar
Valley of Pauri Garhwal in the early 1990s
and hearing of ravages caused by wild pigs
there. Another village called Bemru had
high stone walls around fields to protect
them from the pigs. In Kausani though, I
had never heard of these animals. However,
slowly, I began to hear reports about their
destructive behaviour in the villages near
Kausani town, and in the past few years,
they have even visited my gardens at night,
digging up roots.
I recently heard another disturbing
account about wild pigs. Bhagartola, just
north of Jageshwar, is renowned for its
vegetable production. However, farmers'
produce is not reaching the local market
any more. This is because wild pigs have learned to charge poly houses used for
growing vegetables and make a hole in the polythene to enter and destroy the
vegetables. Whereas collective action can be taken against monkeys during the
day, farmers are helpless against wild pigs coming at night. Clearly, wild boars are
far more harmful to farmers in Uttarakhand than monkeys.

Dread packaged foods

Down To Earth welcomes

letters, responses and
other contributions from
readers. Send to Sunita
Narain, Editor, Down To
Earth, 41, Tughlakabad
Institutional Area,
New Delhi - 110062. Email:

16-31 JULY 2016

05-07Letters.indd 5

The article Dread thy bread

(1-15 June, 2016) highlights
Indians' utter infatuation with
consumerism. The necessity
apart, we have blindly taken
to packaged food. Not just big
cities, even small towns and
villages have been infected
with this fad. Attractive
advertisements on
the television and
colourful displays
in print media

have helped the packaged

food industry spread its
tentacles deep into the
Indian household, urban and
rural, rich and poor alike.
Packaged foods are not only

unhealthy to consume; they

also unnecessarily add to
domestic waste.

Amazing work, DTE

I offer my hearty congratulations to Down To Earth (dte)
for entering its 25th year of
publication. The dte team
is doing excellent work. I
have been an avid reader of
the magazine for the past

11/07/16 12:18 PM


10 years. How the DTE team

manages to collect, submit and
publish so much authentic data
on politics, the environment
and health every fortnight is
a cause of amazement for me.
By providing graphs, cartoons,
maps, photographs and
abstracts, you have not only
improved your presentation,
but also made it easier for the
readers to zero in on stories
they want to read. Keep up the
good work.

Be vegetarian
This refers to Veg mute!
in the science bytes section
(16-30 April, 2016). Cornell
University's findings, which
state that a vegetarian diet
over generations among
Indians can lead to a mutation
that could increase the risk
of heart disease and colon
cancer, seem misleading.
Non-vegetarian food is not
the sole source of Omega-3
and Omega-6. Vegetarians
can avail Omega-3 from
cauliflower, walnuts, flax
seeds and soybean. Similarly,
soybean, rapeseed, sunflower,
safflower and canola are


sources of Omega-6. These

food items find a place in a
vegetarian Indian diet.
Besides, a vegetarian
diet has high fibre content
as compared to a nonvegetarian one. More fibre in
one's diet only lowers the risk
of developing colon cancer.
It is also strongly believed
that there are lesser heart
problems in vegetarians as
compared to meat-eaters.

Farm forestry:
another view
This refers to the article Open
for takeover (1-15 April,
2016). While it is true that
corporate greed will manage
to exclude people from forests
more effectively than the
forest departments have
ever been able to, there are
huge chunks of forest land"
classified as undemarcated
protected forests. These
are patches of virtually
Not at all. We Indians have the power to destroy
every sensitive area we visit...whether done
intentionally or not.

Do you think
Indian tourists
and the Indian
tourism sector are

05-07Letters.indd 6

Indian tourists do not adhere to cleanliness

norms. They litter the places they visit with all
types of waste, including most damagingly,
plastic of all types.

I have been to a number of tourist places in

India. And the state of affairs in each of them is
sad. With increasing commercialisation of

tourism, such areas are coming more and more

under pressure due to the activities of both tour
managers and tourists.

Indian tourists are loud, boorish and ignorant.

And they think they own the places they visit.

For me, the greatest harm by tourists comes

from their vehicles. There has to be some kind
of restriction in tourist vehicles' movement,
especially in eco-sensitive areas.

16-31 JULY 2016

11/07/16 12:19 PM


treeless land that have now been almost

fully infested with invasive species like
lantana. Because of the lantana blanket
over these lands, people cannot use
them for anything, including grazing. In
the foreseeable future, it is unlikely that
these lands can be brought under tree
cover by forest departments alone even
under the virtually defunct Joint Forest
Management programme, given the way
they work and carry out plantations. In
this context, perhaps it may not be such a
bad idea to lease out some percentage of
these useless patches to private players.
Also, the plant species being grown under
farm forestry at present are mainly those
that depend on plenty of irrigation made
possible through free electricity. In forest
lands, it would mostly not be viable to

grow such species and obtain the sort of

economics that sustains farm forestry.

India's ecology is facing a crisis as a

consequence of decades of uncontrolled
degradation of forests. Against this
backdrop, it is time that the Central
government and the Union Ministry
of Environment, Forest and Climate
Change refrained from applying different
yardsticks to prevent degradation.
Moreover, as environmental degradation
threatens the livelihood of poor and tribal
people dependent on forest produce, it is
imperative that the Centre strictly adheres
to restrictions in order to safeguard
forests and other natural resources by
preventing mining and exploitation by
corporates and multinationals.

In the article Stops, too many (16-30
June, 2016), it is mentioned that in 2015,
an estimated 88.27 million vehicles were
added to the roads of the Indian capital,
according to figures from the Union
Ministry of Transport. The figure should
have been 8.82 million vehicles. We regret
the error.

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11/07/16 12:19 PM



`MGNREGA losing
Delayed flow of funds is making MGNREGA
ineffective, says government report

The government says it does
not have the power to fine
Adani for the damage at


Moral twist
Exclusive excerpts from
Amitav Ghosh's new book on
climate change, The Great
Derangement. Also:
interview with the author

Leprosy is still

Thought to be eliminated 10 years

ago, the debilitating disease is
spreading fast and has become

08-09Contents.indd 8

Who's a
Jharkhand residents
ask the government
to amend its new
domicile policy


A forest drought

Severe dry spells in Indian forests have hit the

livelihoods of more than 100 million people.
Yet nobody is acknowledging the crisis




Madhya Pradesh's latest

attempt to reclaim the
ravines will fail without
community support


16-31 JULY 2016

11/07/16 12:21 PM



Too soon to
Bio-toilets are gaining
ground. But emerging
challenges could defeat
their very purpose


is the best



Tilting the balance

The use of artificial light
during night has led to early
onset of spring in the UK

Residents of
know how to
their region

Piracy's upside

Piracy may cause copyright

violation of artistes' work,
but it also brings in fame
and popularity


On the edge
Climate change will hit
farmers in more than half
of the country by 2050


Gauging GDP's
A new book tries to evaluate
whether Gross Domestic
Product is a true and accurate
measure of growth
and prosperity


Modern medicine and

clinical trials have been
male-centric. The trend
is now changing


Time to bid adieu

Around 20 per cent of India's coalbased power plants have completed
their life. It is time to shut them down





perks of GI tag
Will Protected Geographical
Indication for Darjeeling tea
act as safety-net for small
growers in times of crisis?




Return of the
black fever
Treating kala-azar,
or visceral
leishmaniasis, is
becoming difficult due
to new complications
16-31 JULY 2016

08-09Contents.indd 9 9

11/07/16 5:45 PM



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08/07/16 3:43 PM



`MGNREGA losing credibility'

a huge demand for
works under the Mahatma Gandhi
National Rural Employment
Guarantee Act (mgnrega), but it fails to
benefit people due to delayed flow of
funds, says the first report of Common
Review Mission (crm), set up by the
Union Ministry of Rural Development
to review rural development schemes.

16-31 JULY 2016

11-15The Fortnight.indd 11


Due to lack of funds, workers at many

places have not received wages even
a year after completion of the work;
suppliers are also unwilling to provide
material for additional work. The
crm team says mgnrega can be made
effective by merging it with schemes
and funds from line departments,
such as horticulture and agriculture.



The number
of trees
needs to grow
to absorb the
volume of CO2
it releases

Source: Gujarat forest department 11

11/07/16 5:43 PM


1 ,0 0 0 WO R D S


FLEEING DROUGHT Delhi's Sarai Kale Khan flyover has become a temporary home of sorts for Suraj, 36 (in the foreground), his wife, child and two
brothers. Suraj came to Delhi in early June, fleeing drought in his village in Madhya Pradesh's Damoh district, which falls in the arid Bundelkhand
region. But life remains tough. In the past one month, Suraj has managed to get work only for five to six days. There are at least eight other families
from Suraj's village camping under the flyover. Bundelkhand, comprising 13 districts across Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, has faced drought 13
times in the past 15 years. Currently, it is one of the worst drought-affected regions in the country along with Marathwada.

F O R M E R U N I O N Rural Development Minister

Chaudhary Birender Singh has said at least six states,
including Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Karnataka,
would become open defecation-free (odf) in the
next one year. As of now, only Sikkim has achieved
the odf status. Some states will get the status next
year and this way we will reach the target of making
the country open defecation-free by 2019, Singh
said at an Indian Chamber of Commerce seminar on
Swachch Bharat Mission in Kolkata.
To achieve the target, 120 million toilets need
to be constructed across rural India. But so far, only
19 million toilets have been built, according to the
government data. There has been a 10.75 per cent
increase in households with toilets since the launch
of the Mission on October 2, 2014.


11-15The Fortnight.indd 12

ICMR launches `solar for

healthcare' initiative
T H E I N D I A N Council of Medical
Research (icmr) has signed a
memorandum of understanding
with the Council on Energy,
Environment and Water (ceew), a
policy research institution in New
Delhi, to launch Initiative on Solar
for Healthcare. Under the initiative,
icmr will install solar systems on a
pilot basis at select primary health
centres in three states and evaluate
their impact on healthcare delivery.
Nearly 35 million people in rural
India rely on non-electrified primary
health centres.
The collaboration with ceew
will bring together synergies
between the objective of `time to
care' as mandated in the National


Six states to be free

of open defecation in
a year, says minister

Health Mission and clean energy as

outlined under the National Solar
Mission, Soumya Swaminathan,
Director General of icmr, told
the media.
16-31 JULY 2016

11/07/16 12:22 PM




In development's name

The Union government has decided to amend

the 52-year-old Specific Relief Act,

1963, that deals with infrastructure and
public-private partnership projects, putting
the burden of compensations and penalties on
land acquirers and industry.

An Expert Committee, set up to examine

the Act, submitted its report to Ex-Union
Minister for Law and Justice D V Sadananda
Gowda recommending changes.

Specific Relief is legalese for

performing a contract when monetary
compensation for failing to complete
contractual obligations is not enough. The law
prescribes that in an event where the actual
damage for not performing the contract cannot
be measured or monetary compensation is not
adequate, one party can ask the court

to direct the other party to fulfil the

requirements of the contract. This is
called "specific performance" of
a contract.
According to the Committee, changes are
required so that specific performance is

granted as a general rule and grant

of compensation or damages for nonperformance remains an exception. It
has also provided guidelines for reducing
the discretion granted to courts and
tribunals while granting performance and
injunctive relief.

The move is significant as it comes at a

time when the Supreme Court and several
high courts are hearing petitions filed by
environmentalists and non-profits challenging
proposed ventures on the grounds that they
damage ecology.
16-31 JULY 2016

11-15The Fortnight.indd 13


On June 22, the Jammu and Kashmir High

Court directed authorities to take action
in accordance with law against those who
encroached on kahcharie land (grazing
land) on the outskirts of Srinagar.

On June 22, the National Green

Tribunal (ngt) directed the Delhi
government to revive water bodies
in Delhi's Dwarka residential area
before the monsoon, after a plea
alleged that they were in a
dilapidated condition.
On June 27, the Gujarat High
Court issued notice to the
Surat Urban Development
Authority (suda), based on a
petition by farmers who had
questioned the legality of
suda's Draft Development
Plan-2035 notification. It
proposes including 104
villages in Surat city.
On June 29, the Bombay
High Court sought to know
the amount of rainfall
received by all districts of
Maharashtra, and the
amount of water available in
all dams. The court sought
the information in the
context of the prevailing
dought situation in
the state.



On June 20, the Supreme Court refused

to put on hold three notifications
allowing the culling of nilgai, wild boar
and monkeys in Bihar, Uttarakhand and
Himachal Pradesh and asked the
petitioners to approach the Central
government about the flaws in
its notifications.

Jammu &



On June 27, the Madras

High Court directed the
Tamil Nadu Revenue
Secretary to set up an
expert committee to delve
into unauthorised
conversion of agricultural
land into housing plots in
the guise of urbanisation.



Tamil Nadu

On June 21, the Kerala High

Court expressed concern over
the delay in repairing damaged
footpaths in Kochi city. The court
also ordered repairing potholes
on footpaths and roads on a warfooting ahead of the monsoon.

Total cases on
environment and
development tracked
since January 1, 2016, to
30 June, 2016







HC raps govt for failing to identify

wetlands in Maharashtra
High Court recently came down heavily on the Maharashtra government
for failing to perform its duty of identifying wetlands in the state and instead seeking
modification of a 2013 order of the court banning construction on wetlands. The state
government had filed an application, seeking modification of the March 19, 2013, order.
"When the order was passed in 2013, the government was directed to identify all wetlands
in the state so that it can be marked out in the map. Till date, you have not done that
and have been seeking extension time and again. Now you have the audacity to seek
modification of that order," the division bench of Justices A S Oka and A A Sayyed said.


Compiled by DTE-CSE Data Centre. For detailed verdicts, visit 13

11/07/16 12:22 PM



Global warming to reduce corn yields

C L I M A T E C H A N G E is likely to affect corn yield worldwide,
according to a study by researchers at the University of Leeds
in the UK. The study shows that the duration of producing corn
cropsthe time between planting and harvestingwould
become significantly shorter in some locations by as early as 2018
and in the most parts of Africa by 2031.


The shorter production time would reduce crop yields.

Moreover, corn varieties being developed now would be useless by
the time they are planted since temperatures would have risen. It
takes up to 30 years to improve a corn variety, test it and persuade
farmers to adopt it. The research was published in the journal
Nature Climate Change.

Q & A

40 bn tonnes

The amount of sand used by people around the

world every year

$70 billion The worth of sand-extraction

industry worldwide
24 The number of small islands in Indonesia
that are believed to have disappeared since
2005 because of sand mining

189 million litres The amount of

extra diesel that would be burned every
year by California if the average hauling
distance for sand increases to 80 km
from 40 km

2011-2013 China used more sand in this

period than the US did in the entire 1900s

Centre wants a strong law

W H O : Videh Upadhyay
Member, Committee for Drafting
National Water Framework Bill, 2016
W H A T : The Centre has decided to
have an exclusive law on the Ganga
to speed up its rejuvenation through
effective implementation of the
Namami Gange programme.

W H Y : The Ganga is an inter-state

river, and under the Constitution of
India, only the Central government
has the legislative competence to
draft legislation to govern such
a river. The Centre wants the law
to be strong, with strong civil and
criminal penalties. It wants strong
enforcement action to be taken to
protect the river and prevent
pollution in it. So far, five basin
states of the GangaUttarakhand,
Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand
and West Bengalhave agreed to
abide by the law. But we will have
to see how it pans out because
historically, states have not been
very comfortable with the Centre
formulating such a law.

Himalayan station established to study climate change

set up a research station in the
Himalayas to study the impact of
climate change on glaciers and
the Indian monsoon. A team of
glaciologists scaled over
4,500 metres in the Lahaul & Spiti
district of Himachal Pradesh to set
up the station. The team was led by
Paramanand Sharma from the Goabased National Centre for Antarctic
and Ocean Research. The station




11-15The Fortnight.indd 14

would have several automated

research facilities to detect changes
in glaciers and glacial melt-water.
The scientists will undertake an
integrated study on the health and
fate of benchmark glaciers in the
Chandra basin (part of the Indus
river basin) in Lahaul-Spiti. The
station has been established as
part of the Cryosphere and Climate
project funded by the Union Ministry
of Earth Sciences.
16-31 JULY 2016

11/07/16 3:26 PM



Policy to protect
Aravalli forests
Ministry of Environment,
Forest and Climate Change (moef&cc) will soon
formulate a special, separate policy to protect
and conserve the ancient Aravalli hill range.
Former Union Environment Minister Prakash
Javadekar made the announcement in Juneend, following an aerial survey of Gurgaon,
Faridabad and Mewat districts in Haryana and
neighbouring Rajasthan. There are policies
for forests, but there is a need for a separate
policy to protect and conserve these (Aravalli)
forests. They have protected Delhi-ncr from
desertification and desert storms for ages. It
is important to protect them in their natural
form, he said. The minister added that in the
past few years, several orders had been passed
by courts to protect the Aravallis from real
estate firms. The policy would be formulated
on the basis of these court orders to ensure
a balanced growth and protection of forests.
A large stretch of the Aravallis is recorded as
gair mumkin pahar (non-cultivable land) in
revenue records. The recent Draft National
Forest Policy, 2016 recognises these areas, but
suggests marking only parts of it as forest.



India to conserve dugong

U N D E R T H E chairmanship of Prime
Minister Narendra Modi, the National
Board for Wildlife recently constituted
a committee to develop guidelines
and help protect endangered species.
The committee has selected four
threatened species for preservation in
its first phase. These include the
Great Indian Bustard, the Ganges
river dolphin, Manipur's Sangai deer
and the dugong. The committee has
tasked the Wildlife Institute of India

(wii), Dehradun, with studying and

preserving the dugong, the only
existing species of marine herbivorous
mammal. wii will get ` 23.58 crore from
the Centre to study and preserve the
dugong over a five-year period. India
has less than 250 dugongs left in the
Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Gulf of
Mannar, Palk Bay, Gulf of Kachchh and
Lakshadweep. Fishing and pollution
have reduced their distribution range
by 85 per cent.



Orange and red colours indicate higher nitrogen concentrations in tree canopies, green indicates
higher phosphorus, and blue indicates thicker and tougher leaves
16-31 JULY 2016

11-15The Fortnight.indd 15

For long, ecologists thought
that trees in Peru's rainforests
have a similar growth pattern
as they are influenced by similar nutrients, such as nitrogen
and phosphorous, hydrology
and climate. But a study shows
otherwise. Using a high-fidelity imaging spectrometer, ecologists plotted leaf nutrients in
comparison to leaf mass per
area and prepared forest
canopy maps. It shows each
tree has a different chemical
makeup, depending on the
geology, elevation and climate.
Understanding this will help
predict forest growth under
changing climate conditions.

"In daily life, can

yoga help in
relieving the pains
of high inflation and
Saamna, Shiv Sena
mouthpiece 15

11/07/16 5:44 PM


A forest
no one
is talking
Severe dry spells in Indian forests
have hit the livelihood of more than
100 million people. But India simply
does not acknowledge this drought


16-18Drought.indd 16

OR MORE than five months, residents of Jabarra village

have been foraging the forests for minor forest produce
(mfp). The forest in Chhattisgarhs Dhamtari district is
abundant with more than 200 types of forest produce
and the district is known as Asias biggest trading centre for mfp.
The economy of the residents revolves around produce like tendu
leaf and mahua flower more than it does around subsistence agriculture. But at a time when agriculture has failed due to a severe
drought and the next harvest is still five months away, the forest is
their only source of livelihood.
Every day, the residents spend almost eight hours in the forest collecting mfp and take stock of how much they have collected in the evenings. The drastic decline in their recent collections
has left them overwhelmed. They have enough rice from the government food supply scheme, but that might not be sufficient to
ensure wholesome food for all. More importantly, mfp brings precious cash which is needed for weddings, medical emergencies and
even buying seeds for sowing paddy. With no mfp and no money,
people are staring into an economic abyss.
Fifty-year-old Anjura Ram Sori, who belongs to the primitive
Paharia tribe, has spent most of his life collecting mfp. In April, I
16-31 JULY 2016

11/07/16 12:23 PM



Beehives have
from the forest
Jabarra village
in Chhattisgarh.
Mahua flower
collection is also
dismally low

got the first ominous sign: there were no

honey bees in the forest, he says. This signalled the onset of a dreaded situation
called the forest drought.
As the country was talking about the
worst drought in recent years affecting
agriculture in 10 states, forest dwellers were
being dealt a double blow: first, the loss of
crops and second, the disappearance of forest produce, their crucial buffer economy.
There is no official nomenclature for
forest droughts in India, nor is there any official plan to deal with them. This means
while a farmer can get compensation for
failed crops, forest dwellers do not receive
anything in compensation for their loss of
income from mfp. Anjura adds, Whether
there is any relief from the government or
not, when forests dry up, so do our lives.
The Paharia tribe is the sole collector of
16-31 JULY 2016

16-18Drought.indd 17

honey in the region. In a normal year, they

earn enough from selling 15-20 litres of
honey to cover their cash-based transactions. This year, they simply could not find
any beehives. Tiharu Ram Netam, a local
mfp trader, says, I usually buy 1,000 litres
of honey from Jabarra. But this year, its just
not there.
People have also failed to collect the lucrative mahua flower and tendu leaf.
Erratic weather affected flowering of the
mahua during March-May, much like it affects crops in farms. When Down To Earth
met Anjura and two other families coming
out of the forest in the first week of April,
they were carrying only three kilograms of
mahua flowers, collected after spending
eight days. Unseasonal rains caused the
flowers to drop early. They also caused the
kharif crop to fail, due to which the num-

ber of people collecting mahua flowers increased, explains Anjura.

At the same time, tendu leaf collection
has also dipped in the state: only 21,150
bags of tendu leaves have been collected in
Dhamtari against a target of 31,600. One
bag consists of 1,000 bundles of the leaf and
has a minimum support price of R1,500.
Down To Earth tracked 10 drought-affected states and found that of the 254 districts affected by drought, 100 have significant forest cover and are inhabited by
almost 100 million forest dwellers. And
they seem to be losing their battle for survival. Annually, mfp worth R6,000 crore is
traded in India. mfp contributes up to 40
per cent of the annual income of forest
dwellers and is a source of food for 80 per
cent of them.
It is clear that drought relief has focused
entirely on the loss of crops and neglected
the impacts on mfp. A recent survey in the
six poorest districts of Odisha by non-profit Action Aid India shows that while the
drought has wiped out income from agriculture, the dip in collection of mfp has made it
worse. There is a decline of 40 per cent in
collection of mfp and this has led to scarcity
of food during the rainy season when people
collect edible tubers and leafy vegetables for
consumption, says Ghasiram Panda of
Action Aid. Migration for work is also not an
option as all construction and brick kiln activities halt during the monsoon.
In most parts of Nuapada district of
Odisha, mahua and char collection has reduced this year. Some families have had to
resort to taking private loans at an interest
rate of 50 per cent to meet wedding expenses and other social responsibilities. Many
other families have had to defer social obligations due to reducing incomes from forests. For instance, they have skipped kuna
bera, a ceremony that involves marrying
daughters to a mahua tree before they
reach puberty.
Retired professor and social worker
from Nuapada, Fanindam Deo, says a person with 20 mahua trees is better off financially in a drought-prone area than a farmer with two to three hectares of farmland.
But the policy and programmes of the government are paddy-centric, which keeps a
large number of people out of drought
management plans, he says. 17

11/07/16 12:23 PM


Low on supply
Drought has affected the availability
of minor forest produce

Uttarakhand |
74,000 hectares in
seven hill districts with
45% forest cover
declared drought-hit

Drought-impacted forest areas

Drought-affected regions

Pradesh | In
Mandla district, tendu
and mahua production
has dipped by 30% and
25% respectively
| In Wayanad
district, honey
collection has
declined by up
to 90%

Odisha | 40% dip

in collection of forest
produce in six poorest
Chhattisgarh | In
Dhamtari district,
tendu leaf collection
has reduced by 33%

Why we should worry about

forest droughts
Almost 220 million Indians are dependent
on forests; most of them are among the
country's poorest
Their livelihood depends largely on minor
forest produce (MFP), a I6,000-crore
informal economy
MFP contributes 40 per cent of their
annual income and 25-50 per cent of their
food requirement
Drought impacts earnings from
agriculture; a forest drought drastically
reduces MFP collection
Government drought management policy
neither recognises forest drought nor
compensates loss of income from MFP
Climate change is further changing forest
ecology, disrupting growth of MFP

Source: Government of Uttarakhand, April 2016; Indian Institute of Forest Management, 2013; IGSSS, 2015

Absent from policy

Science of forest droughts

There is no mention of forest droughts in

either the Crisis Management Plan for the
current drought or the countrys Manual
for Drought Management, even though
most official committees set up to manage
droughts have representation from the forest department. An analysis of the Agriculture Contingency Plan of states and districts shows that even in states with
significant forest cover and a high number
of forest-dependent people, there is no policy on mfp.
According to the director of the
National Institute of Disaster Management, Anil K Gupta, droughts experienced
in forest areas have a direct impact on the
hydrology of the region. As droughts impact both forest and non-forest areas, there
is no separate classification, he adds, admitting that signs of a drought first appear
in forests. Former rural development secretary at the Centre, N C Saxena, has stated
the urgent need of bringing this source of
livelihood into formal drought management plans in his paper on the economy of
mfp. Despite extreme fluctuations in production, the declaration of drought conditions is not linked to low production of mfp,
though, in many places, almost half of the
forest dwellers income is derived from forest produce, he says.

The Uttarakhand forest fire in April this

year highlights the severity of drought in
forests. Experts say more than the economic losses of forest fires, the country should
talk about the ecological changes the forests
may have undergone and the impacts on
mfp. There is at least some serious research
and discussion on the impacts of ecological
changes on agriculture.
A study by the Indo-Global Social
Service Society (igsss) states that climate
change, marked by long spells of drought
and extreme rainfall in different parts of the
country, has caused substantial impacts on
forest ecosystems. This is causing shifts in
vegetation types, phenology and reproductive biology of various trees, shrubs and
herbaceous plant species.
R K Chaturvedi of Centre for Ecological
Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science,
Bengaluru, says in a forested area of 69 million hectares (ha), only 8.35 million ha is
categorised as very dense forest. Here, climate impacts such as drought or extreme
weather are not felt as severely as in other


16-18Drought.indd 18

MFP collection has declined

by 40 per cent. This has led
to food scarcity during the
rainy season

forests. He calls for restoring the diversity

of forests. As of now, more than 20 million
ha of forest is monoculture and more than
28.8 million ha is fragmented (open forest)
and has low tree density. Low tree density,
low biodiversity status as well as higher levels of fragmentation contribute to the vulnerability of these forests, he adds.
In 2011, the Indian Council of Forestry
Research and Education (icfre) revisited
different forest types. The mega study was
carried out by 1,800 scientists for more
than 18 months. The study shows that forests in temperate region in the Himalayas,
central and western India are turning xeric
(devoid of moisture); forest vegetation is
getting affected; and drier conditions are
prevailing, says V K Bahuguna, former director of icfre who led the survey. He
blames the over-exploitation of mfp by people and the lack of foresight among foresters in planning afforestation programmes
as reasons for the changes in forest vegetation and biodiversity.
The massive exercise has, however,
come to naught. The report is gathering
dust at icfre as successive governments
have not taken it seriously. Meanwhile,
communities rummage through their forests, hoping to find something that can sustain them in the coming months.
16-31 JULY 2016

11/07/16 12:37 PM


An environmentalist's
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19 SN book ad.indd 47

08/07/16 4:42 PM




A fine argument
The government says
it does not have the
power to fine Adani for
the damage at Mundra.
But it hints the company
may still end up
spending more than the
recommended penalty

| new delhi


20-21Environment.indd 20

ORE THAN three years ago, an

expert committee had recommended that Indias largest
private multi-port operator,
Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone,
should pay ~200 crore for causing environmental damage at Mundra in Gujarat. Today
it is set to expand its operations but has not
paid a paisa for the damage.
The Union environment ministry had
set up the expert committee in September
2012 to look into the complaints of violations of the environmental clearance and
coastal regulation zone conditions, and the
damage to the coastal ecology of Mundra.
Farmers and fishers organisation Kheti
Vikas Sewa Trust, along with fishers group
Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan,
had complained about the severe impact of
Adanis port development activities in the
Kachchh region. These included blocking of
creeks, destruction of mangroves, misman-

agement of fly ash from Adanis thermal

power plant, groundwater pollution and
loss of livelihood of the fishing communities.
In April 2013, the committee report
based on a review of official documents, field
visits and meetings with the community and
company representativesnoted that the
Adani waterfront and power plant project,
which has been granted clearance in different phases beginning 1995, has led to massive ecological changes with adverse environmental impacts (see Adanis violations).
It recommended that the ministry should
impose a substantial deterrent for noncompliance and violations through the creation
of an Environment Restoration Fund, or
erf, for the area. It determined an amount
of ~200 crore for the fund, or 1 per cent of
the project cost, whichever was higher.
Recently, Kheti Vikas Sewa Trust
and the community at Mundra brought it to
the attention of Down To Earth (dte) that

16-31 JULY 2016

11/07/16 12:24 PM

with Adanis argument that there is no noncompliance or violation of environmental
clearance (ec) conditions. The ministry said,
The violations of specific conditions of all
the ecs and coastal regulation zone (crz)
clearance should be proceeded with the provisions of the Environment Protection Act,
1986, independently.
The community suspects that Adani has
used the September 2015 order as an excuse
to refrain from payment. Naran Gadhavi of
Kheti Vikas Sewa Trust and Bharat Patel of
Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan
expressed the same fear.
No response could be obtained from
Adani despite several calls.

NGT route is open

Mundra Port
in the Kachchh
region of Gujarat
is one of the
biggest in India

Adani is yet to pay the money for the restoration fund.

Limited by the law

The ministry says it has not withdrawn the
demand for the fund, but the fine was not
backed by any law under the Environment
Protection Act and was not legally correct.
It also hinted that the company may have to
spend a bigger sum than the recommended
fine. The government has directed for more
stringent conditions with open ended financial commitment for restoration and conservation, the ministry said in a statement.
In September 2013, the ministry had issued a show-cause notice to the company,
based on the committee report. In response
to the notice, the company requested that
the Ministry should reconsider setting an
erf for 200 crores which has been subjectively arrived at. Two years later on
September 18, 2015, the ministry issued an
order, noting that the existing legal provisions under the Environment Protection
Act, 1986 do not provide any authority to
impose erf by the government.
However, the ministry did not agree
16-31 JULY 2016

20-21Environment.indd 21

Experts say the Environmental Protection

Act does constrain the government on how
it can impose a fine. DD Basu, former additional director of the Central Pollution
Control Board, points to Section 15 of the
Act, which outlines penalty provisions, but
stipulates a specific amount of fine.
Another limitation is that for the provisions of the Section 15 to be followed, a complaint has to be filed before a judicial magistrate, says environmental lawyer Ritwick
Dutta. However, the penalty as suggested by
the committee can still be imposed. The
government can approach the National
Green Tribunal (ngt) to take the penalty
forward, suggests Dutta. He notes that unlike the upper limit of penalty in the
Environmental Protection Act, the ngt Act,
2010, does not have any upper limits fixed
for stipulating an amount for relief and
compensation of environmental damage.
Sanjay Upadhyay, an advocate with the
Supreme Court, agrees, saying, There are
provisions under the ngt Act for directing
payments for causing damage to the environment and ecology.

Adani's violations
committee report
observed that the development of
the waterfront project and Special
Economic Zone at Mundra severely
affected the ecology of the area. Some
of the major environmental violations it
observed are:


Mangrove destruction: 75 hectares of

mangroves have been lost in Bocha

Island, a conservation zone, which
should have been safeguarded.
Blocking of creeks: No precautions

were taken by the company to

guard against blocking of creeks
because of construction activities;
satellite imagery shows signs of
deterioration and loss of creeks near
the proposed North Port.
Water pollution: The company has not

taken stipulated measures to ensure

that the water intake and outfall
channels of the thermal power plant
and storage tank are lined so that
there is no salinity contamination
of groundwater. Prevention of soil
and groundwater pollution was a
clear condition set at the time of
Fly ash management: The company

was found to be wanting in

maintaining an inventory of its fly
ash utilisation and disposal.
Non-serious approach on reporting:

The company has been less

than serious about reporting on
compliance with the conditions
set at the time of clearance. In
many cases, non-compliance with
reporting conditions was observed.

Adani wants to expand

Undeterred, Adani has proposed expanding
its 4,620 megawatt (MW) thermal power
plant in Mundra. Adani Power Limited has
proposed to add another 3,000 MW in an
ecologically fragile area. In May 2016, the
Expert Appraisal Committee (eac) of the
environment ministry observed that the
proposed site for expansion is situated very
close to a network of estuarine (creek) eco-

system and mud flat forests. The proposed

expansion will also encroach on more than
200 hectares of Siracha-Danderi Reserve
Forest that serves as a shield to prevent silting of creek ecosystem complex and helps
in maintaining its high productivity, said the
eac. For now, Adani has been asked to look
for another site.
@sresthab 21

11/07/16 5:44 PM

Ravines around Bhindwa
village in Morena district.
Ravines along the Chambal
river are expanding and
becoming deeper

At a blind bend
The Madhya Pradesh
government has over
and again failed to
reclaim the ravines of
Chambal Valley. Will it
succeed this time?

| morena , madhya pradesh


22-24Conservation.indd 22

URROUNDING THE temple of Baba

Devpuri in Morena district, nearbarren hillocks and steep gorges
stretch in all directions as far as the
eye can see. The only aberration in the landscape is a streak of blue at a distance. This is
the infamous badlands along the Chambal
river. It seems improbable that the unforgiving ravines could have ever been inhabited
by people. But the priest informs that the
temple once adjoined Piprai village, now located two kilometres from the site.
We were forced to relocate, says Dwarka Singh, a village elder. It was in the late
1950s, when ravines started appearing in
the form of small cuts on our farmland. Over
the next few years, all the land in and around
the village turned into deep pits, he recalls.
Today, ravines are once again on Piprais
doorstep, and the residents are preparing
for another exodus.
Such tales of repeated displacement are
common across Bhind, Morena and Sheopur districts of Madhya Pradesh, where unusually deep ravines are gobbling up villages
and wasting away land. They are spreading
faster than before (see Geological wonder).
After 60 years of chase and failure to
check the spread, the state government has
embarked on an ambitious drive to reclaim


the ravines. It plans to convert 68,833 ha of

ravine area in Bhind, Morena and Sheopur
into farmland. This involves flattening a
massive 18,000 ha of deep gorges and hillocks. Named Integrated Approach for the
Reclamation of Ravines in Chambal Region
of Madhya Pradesh, the project will be implemented by the departments of forestry,
land resources and agriculture, horticulture
and animal husbandry over five years. The
government has sought assistance of `900
crore from the Centre and the World Bank
for the `1,100 crore project, and plans to
raise the remaining by roping in farmers and
industrialists, who will be later allotted the
reclaimed land. The project, though
launched in January 2015, is yet to take a final shape. Experts, however, say it may face
the same fate as the previous ravine reclamation projects.
Since 1955, the state and Union governments have tried several strategies, right
from afforestation projects, bunds, check
dams and drainage systems to aerial seeding, to make the ravines suitable for agriculture and industries. But they have had little
impact on the regions landscape. In fact, the
attempt to vegetate the area by sprinkling
seeds of hardy plants, such as babul and
Prosopis, from aeroplanes backfired. The
16-31 JULY 2016

11/07/16 5:45 PM

seeds were often dropped inadvertently on
farmland. Farmers are still trying to get rid
of the weeds, says Dwarka Singh.
So far, only a few bio-fuel companies
have set up production units in the region,
which is otherwise lying completely waste,
says Rajesh Rajora, principal secretary in
charge of the state departments for agriculture, horticulture and food processing.
Analysts say containing ravines is not an
impossible task. The problem lies in the way
the government implements the projects.
It requires sustained efforts which can
be possible only by involving local people,
says a senior forest official in Morena. The
success of community-driven projects can
be seen at Morenas Jabrol village. To protect
their farmlands from advancing ravines,
Jabrol residents built a three metre-high
mud bund around the village. Such bunds
usually give way in a year or two. But at
Jabrol, it works well even after three years
due to regular maintenance by farmers.
Analysts are particularly sceptical about
the governments latest strategy to flatten
the ravines. It is expensive and offers only
short-term benefits, says Moni Thomas,
professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi
Vishwa Vidyalaya, Jabalpur. Besides, the
Chambal ravine system harbours a sensitive
ecology (see Haven in the underbelly, p24).
Flattening it will not only destroy the ecology, but will loosen the top soil, making it
prone to erosion and susceptible to more
gullying, he says. We have seen flattening
backfire in some sites in Morrocco and
Spain, and the Chambal ravine system is
more complex than these, says Padmini
Pani, assistant professor at the Jawaharlal
Nehru University, Delhi, who has worked on
the Chambal ravine system.
But people in the valley are desperate.
With soaring land values, they are now reclaiming land wherever possible by levelling
the jagged terrain, says S K Verma, professor at Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia Krishi
Vishwavidyalaya in Gwalior. One can see
dozers and jcbs razing the stretch from
Morena to Jaunpur, along Morena-Agra
highway. A study based on satellite images,
published in the journal Environmental
Earth Sciences in February 2016, shows that
the ravine area in Chambal valley has reduced by about 20 per cent between 1970
and 2010. The reduction is over 60 per cent
16-31 JULY 2016

22-24Conservation.indd 23

Geological wonder

What makes Chambal ravines unique

Ravines are formed by deep erosive
action of water on the alluvial soil.
However, unlike ravines elsewhere in
the country, those in Chambal Valley
are massiveup to 10 metre deep
and 30 metre high. Worse, they are
spreading fast. Studies show farmland
availability per person has reduced to
0.20 ha from 0.29 ha in Bhind, Morena
and Sheopur in the past three decades.
This is because of two reasons. One,
ravines in the Chambal are hundreds of
thousands years old. Their origin can be
traced back to a geological process, the
last thrusting event in the Himalayas.
As sediments in the upper Siwalik
region were uplifted 500,000-700,000
years ago, a peripheral bulge acted in
the south, around the BundelkhandVindhyan plateau. It forced the
Chambal river to incise and find a new
equilibrium of flow. As the flow of its
paleo-channels got disrupted, they
started eroding the land and giving rise
to ravines. The other factor is that the
alluvial soil in the valley is loose, has
high sand content of up to 95 per cent
and extremely low organic content. This
makes it further prone to erosion.

Changes in ravine area (in hectare)














Sources: October-December 2015 issue of Jawaharlal
Nehru Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya Research Journal

in Bhind, Morena and Sheopur, shows another analysis of satellite images, published
in Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya Research Journal in 2015. There is a
catch. The reduction is more likely as one
moves away from the Chambal; the ravines
closer to its banks are expanding and becoming deeper, notes the Environmental Earth
Sciences paper. Containing these massive ravines would require an intelligent approach.
Its time the government learnt from communities who have reclaimed land along the
Chambal and are benefitting from it.

Wisdom in hardship
One such community is in Morenas
Bhindwa village. Ravine is the result of accelerated surface erosion. So we regulated
the flow of water, says Gabbar Singh, a resident. They built a 100 m-long concrete retention wall on a slop next to their farmland.
The wall has a 13 m-wide conduit at the centre. As the rainwater flows through the conduit, its erosive force is reduced. The soil
eroded gets deposited on the farm-side of
the wall. The result was beyond imagination. In five years, gorges have filled up and
hillocks have shrunk. We have reclaimed
100 ha of fertile land, says Singh. It has been
distributed among 18 families who built the
wall at an expense of `10 lakh.
In Morena, non-profit Sujagriti Seva
Sanstha is trying to improve soil strength by
reintroducing a thorny shrub, guggul
(Commiphora wightii) in 10 villages. The
plant, which was once endemic to the valley,
is known for the medicinal use of its resin.
But it takes three-four years to fully take
root. During this period, they require regular supervision, says Zakir Hussain, president of the non-profit. Hussain persuaded
people to take care of the plant by explaining
its economic value and by training them in
tapping the raisin. Since the project began
in 2006, guggul plants have taken root
across 100 ha of community land.
The forest department has to plant
guggul over 300 ha as part of 12th Five
Year Plan. Morena District Forest Officer
P P Tittare says poor survival of the plant is
a stumbling block in achieving the target.
Maybe he can follow Hussais strategy. This
will protect the region from ravines and provide additional income to people.
@shreeshanV 23

11/07/16 12:56 PM


Haven in the underbelly

Myths and dacoits have proved to be a blessing for the wildlife of Chambal Valley

spectacle of this
landscape was far beyond what I
had expected. The view from top
of these ravines swept me off my
feet, literally. These clay mounds
are extremely fragile and start
crumbling from the edges once you
step on them. As I was enjoying the
view, Hanuman, a young village
wildlife watcher of Ranthamborebased non-profit Tiger Watch
who was my guide in this desolate
terrain, spotted some movement in a hole on the wall of a clay
mound; it was a monitor lizard.
As we walked on into the afternoon, I realised why this area is
considered hostile. The blistering sun literally burns through the
skin while the damp mounds exude moisture, making it humid.
Water is squeezed from your body in the form of sweat. On my
way, I was continuously being educated and entertained by the
knowledge and stories Hanuman was sharing about the ravines.
The Chambal is probably the only river in the country which
is considered unholy. The curse spelled upon it is believed to have
spread to its banks, making the land infertile. But it seemed that
the animals were not aware of the facts that these ravines have
been classified as wasteland. The landscape looks hostile and
inhabitable, but the diversity of animals in these ravines is no less
than in places that are classified as forests or protected areas.
I got to spend a good five days in these ravines and sighted
Indian fox, jackal, wild pig, hyena, gharial, mugger crocodile,
around 110 species of birds and numerous invertebrates. Then
there were canines like wolf and desert fox. Among the felid
species were jungle cat, desert cat and leopard. Even tigers are
known to use these ravines as corridors to move from one forest
patch to the other. But the real king of this habitat is the striped
hyena. They make this habitat their own. Being scavengers,
they are not dependent on hunting down large prey but rely on
dead cattle and other small prey, such as grebs, rodents and
scorpions. A detailed record of the diversity of vertebrates in
the Chambal and its ravines has been documented by Tarun Nair
and Y Chanatya Krishna, who published their paper in Journal of
Threatened Taxa in February 2013.
The soil type and isolation of these ravines as a result of the
myths and dacoits have proved to be a blessing for these wildlife.
The undulating terrain and the deep gullies, which are covered
with thick undergrowth, provide an ideal hideout from the blazing
sun during the day. The clay hills are apt for denning animals like
wolves, foxes, hyenas and honey badgers. The ravines are also
home to many other mammals, reptiles and birds that are interdependent on this unique ecosystem for survival.
The ravines along the Chambal act like a protective wall for
its waters, and are one of the reasons that its waters are not as
polluted. They ensure that the human waste does not enter the


22-24Conservation.indd 24

Striped hyena: The king of Chambal ravines

river. They also provide a secure nesting ground for reptiles like
crocodiles and gharials.
The area which was once referred to as the badlands and land
of dacoits is now frequented by vehicles that illegally mine sand
even in broad daylight. They make their presence felt through
the deafening music coming from the large speakers fixed on
board to keep the workers entertained. Rampant sand mining is
destroying the crucial nesting grounds for gharials, crocodiles
and turtles. Other than sand mining the hydrology of the river
itself is undergoing drastic change because of extraction of water
for irrigation and flattening of the ravines. The governments
of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh are further
adding to the pressure by impounding the waters through various
irrigation projects.
It's time we saved the ravines that are yet to be razed. But
it is difficult as they do not have a lot of green cover and are
hence classified as wasteland. In fact, the government is actually
supporting and facilitating flattening of these geological wonders
under wasteland development programme for agriculture and
industry. Now that the government is formulating the third
National Wildlife Action Plan (2017-2031), it should reconsider and
redefine "wasteland". Considering the faunal diversity of this area
and the various environmental impacts of flattening the ravines
there is an urgent need to focus on conserving this area, before it
is too late.
Rakesh Kalva works on conservation issues in Eastern Ghats

16-31 JULY 2016

11/07/16 12:24 PM


37 JUNE 1-15 2016

25Ambuja Cement Ad.indd 37

08/07/16 3:47 PM


Debate over domiciles

The announcement of a
domicile policy by the
Jharkhand government
has triggered protests, and
a debate on how to define
natives of the land

| ranchi

HE ISSUE of who is a tribal resident

of Jharkhand and who is not has
come to haunt the first non-tribal
chief minister of the state. This is
the first time since the formation of the state
in 2000 that a national party, Bharatiya Janata Party (bjp), is in power. And right since
the time of its formation, there has been a
demand for a domicile policy. The last time
there was an attempt to define domiciles was
in 2002. But the Jharkhand Vikas Morchaled coalition, under the then chief minister
Babulal Marandi, had to withdraw the policy following violent confrontations between
the tribal and non-tribal populations.
The present government, on April 6,
passed an order that said all people living in
the state before 1985 are domiciles. But the
order has ruffled more feathers than it has
soothed. Regional parties have expressed
their opposition to the policy and organised
state-wide protests in the past two months.
Considering that bjp gets most of its votes
from the urban centres of the state and from
non-tribal populations, the electoral calculations of easing up the process of obtaining
the domicile of the state is evident. But the

state government seems to have miscalculated the significance of the domicile issue in
rural Jharkhand, where the majority of the
population lives.
Domiciles of any state are entitled to certain privileges that are denied to other residents. For instance, reservation in government jobs. In Jharkhand, all grade 3 and
grade 4 jobs are reserved for domiciles. The
fear is that as per the new definition (see
Who is a Jharkhandi) these jobs, which
should go to the tribal (adivasi) and nontribal natives (moolvasi), would be taken up
by people who have moved to the state in recent times. The rights of indigenous people
across the state are being snatched away
with this policy. So far, all definitions of
domicile were based on either the 1932 land
registry (khatiyan) or the 1964 Bihar land
survey. But this new 1985 cut-off seems arbitrary, says T N Sahu, who heads Sadaan
Manch, a moolvasi coalition.
Protesters say the policy is an attempt to
gain votes. It seems suspicious that our chief
minister, a non-tribal from Chhattisgarh
who moved to Jharkhand in the 1970s, has
set a qualification of 30 years of residence to


26-27Governance.indd 26

13/07/16 11:50 AM

claim domicile. How will this policy help the
natives who fought for the creation of the
state and have the first right over its natural
resources? asks Arjun Samadh, a Jamshedpur-based activist belonging to Ho tribe.
It was a similar discontent that led to the
formation of the state, say experts. Jharkhand holds a significant part of Indias
mineral wealth and has always had tribal
and non-tribal indigenous people in the majority. Though the number of adivasis has
fallenfrom two-thirds of the population in
the 1950s to one-fourth, as per Census
2011the combined population of tribal
and non-tribal natives is still around 70 per
cent of Jharkhands 31.9 million residents.
The situation is such that government
offices at all levels are filled with officials
who are not from Jharkhand. At least the
tribal population has the protection of reservation, but the moolvasis have no such
safeguards and stand to lose the most from
the influx of non-Jharkhandis, says Sahu.
Jobs are not the only reason people are
protesting. What the policy entails is actually an attack on the identity of Jharkhand,
says Salkhan Murmu, a tribal activist who
leads a popular movement for adivasi
rights, the Adivasi Sengel Abhiyan, and represents the Jharkhand Disom Party.
There are multiple languages native

"The domicile
policy was
to guarantee
the rights of
local people.
This policy has negated the
purpose of creating the state"
Salkhan Murmu, a tribal activist who leads a
popular movement for tribal rights, the Adivasi
Sengel Abhiyan, and represents the Jharkhand
Dishom Party

Louis Marandi, minister for social welfare,


Who is a Jharkhandi
Jharkhand has set 1985 as the cut-off year for claiming domicile
Those who have resided in the state

for over 30 years and acquired

property, and their children
Those who have been registered

in the 1932 land registry, the 1964

Bihar survey or those with ancestors
registered in the land records
Those who were born in Jharkhand

and have matriculated from the

to this land. Yet our official language is
Hindi. It a vicious cycle perpetuated by policies such as the current domicile policy, explains K C Tudu, who heads the department
of tribal and regional languages at the
Ranchi University.
What the protesters want is not a withdrawal of the policy but an amendment.
The demands are basically twofold. One, a
change in the cut-off year from 1985 to 1965
to ensure that the required residence for
domicile is 50 years. Two, distribution of jobs
at the block level instead of the district level,
with 90 per cent of the posts being filled with
recruits from villages.

Loss of trust
Protesters are
demanding that
the cut-off year
for domicile be
changed from
1985 to 1965

"This policy
is good for
the people of
It does not
weaken the
position of adivasis and
moolvasis but strengthens
it. It would encourage
integration with non-natives"

For the first 14 years of its formation, Jharkhand had tribal chief ministers from regional parties. People expected them to be sympathetic to the local demands. But no
domicile policy was formulated. The situation we find ourselves in is because of years
of failure on the part of regional leaders.

state board or equivalent board

within Jharkhand
Those employed with the state/

Central government, state

institutions or holding constitutional
posts, and their children
The landless, identified by their

language, culture and tradition by

their gram pradhans
They enjoyed power and could have formed
a domicile policy beneficial to the natives,
says Samar Bosu Mullick, a Ranchi-based
activist. Regional parties, however, refute
the allegation. Despite the short time we
had, we created a draft which would have
kept the native interests at the forefront. But
unfortunately we did not have the time to
implement it, says Jharkhand Mukti
Morcha chief secretary Binod Kumar
Panday, referring to the 14-month stint of
party chief Hemant Soren as chief minister
before the 2014 elections.
Though there have been reports of discontent among state bjp members on the implications of the policy, the government has
not reacted. Of course, there is some dissatisfaction but the policy was made in consultation with several stakeholders. If a solid
case for change is made, the policy could be
amended. But as far as the party is concerned, it is good for the people of Jharkhand, concludes state social welfare minister Louis Marandi.
@shreeshanV 27

26-27Governance.indd 27

11/07/16 12:25 PM


28-37Book.indd 28

11/07/16 12:25 PM



In the face of an unthinkable wall of ignorance,

should climate change be debated in the realm
of morality? AMITAV GHOSH in his new book,
The Great Derangement, makes a passionate
attempt to find the answer. Exclusive excerpts
Paintings by RAJ KUMAR SINGH

28-37Book.indd 29

13/07/16 11:51 AM


N THE AFTERNOON of 17 lence. When at last I climbed out of the balcony, I was
March 1978, the weather confronted by a scene of devastation such as I had
took an odd turn in north never before beheld. Buses lay overturned; scooters
Delhi. Mid-March is usu- sat perched on treetops; walls had been ripped out
ally a nice time of year in of buildings, exposing interiors in which ceiling fans
this part of India: the chill had been twisted into tulip-like spirals. The place
of winter is gone and the where I had first thought to take shelter, the glassblazing heat of summer is fronted doorway, had been reduced to a jumble of jagyet to come; the sky is clear ged debris. The panes had shattered and many people
and the monsoon is far away. But that day dark clouds had been wounded by the shards. I realized that I too
appeared suddenly and there were squalls of rain. Then would have been among the injured had I remained
there. I walked away in a daze.
followed an even bigger surprise: a hailstorm.
Long afterwards, I am not sure exactly when or
I was then studying for an MA at Delhi University
while also working as a part-time journalist. When where, I hunted down the Times of Indias New Delhi
the hailstorm broke, I was in a library. I had planned edition of 18 March. I still have the photocopies I made
to stay late, but the unseasonal weather led to a change of it.
of mind and I decided to leave. I was on my way back
30 Dead, says the banner headline, 700 Hurt As
to my room when, on an impulse, I changed direction Cyclone Hits North Delhi.
Here are some excerpts from the accompanyand dropped in on a friend. But the weather continued to worsen as we were chatting, so after a few min- ing report: Delhi, March 17: At least 30 people were
utes, I decided to head straight back by a route that I killed and 700 injured, many of them seriously, this
evening when a freak funnel-shaped whirlwind, acrarely had occasion to take.
I had just passed a busy intersection called Mau- companied by rain, left in its wake death and devasrice Nagar when I heard a rumbling sound some- tation in Maurice Nagar, a part of Kingsway Camp,
where above. Glancing over my shoulder I saw a grey, Roshanara Road and Kamla Nagar in the Capital.
tubelike extrusion forming on the underside of a dark The injured were admitted to different hospitals in
cloud: it grew rapidly as I watched, and then all of the Capital.
The whirlwind followed almost a straight line
a sudden it turned and came whiplashing down to
. . . .Some eyewitnesses said the wind hit the Yamuna
earth, heading in my direction.
Across the street stood a large administrative river and raised waves as high as 20 or 30 feet. . . .
building. I sprinted over and headed towards what The Maurice Nagar road . . . presented a stark sight.
seemed to be an entrance. But the glass-fronted do- It was littered with fallen poles . . . trees, branches,
ors were shut, and a small crowd huddled outside, wires, bricks from the boundary walls of various inin the shelter of an overhang. There was no room for stitutions, tin roofs of staff quarters and dhabas and
me there so I ran around to the front of the building. scores of scooters, buses and some cars. Not a tree was
Spotting a small balcony, I jumped over the parapet left standing on either side of the road.
and crouched on the floor.
The report quotes a witness: I saw
The noise quickly rose to a frenzied
my own scooter, which I had abandoned
pitch, and the wind began to tug fierceon the road, during those terrifying moly at my clothes. Stealing a glance over
ments, being carried away in the wind
like a kite. We saw all this happening
the parapet, I saw, to my astonishment,
that my surroundings had been darkaround but were dumbfounded. We saw
ened by a churning cloud of dust. In the
people dying . . . but were unable to help
them. The two tea-stalls at the Maurice
dim glow that was shining down from
Nagar corner were blown out of existabove, I saw an extraordinary panoply
of objects flying pastbicycles, scootence. At least 12 to 15 persons must have
ers, lamp posts, sheets of corrugatbeen buried under the debris at this spot.
ed iron, even entire tea stalls. In that
When the hellish fury had abated in just
instant, gravity itself seemed to have
four minutes, we saw death and devasbeen transformed into a wheel spintation around.
ning upon the fingertip of some unThe vocabulary of the report is evDERANGEMENT
known power.
idence of how unprecedented this disAmitav Ghosh
I buried my head in my arms and
aster was. So unfamiliar was this phePenguin Random House
lay still. Moments later the noise died
nomenon that the papers literally did
India | 276 pages | ` 399
down and was replaced by an eerie sinot know what to call it: at a loss for


28-37Book.indd 30

16-31 JULY 2016

11/07/16 12:25 PM


So unfamiliar was this phenomenon that the

papers literally did not know what to call it: at a loss
for words they resorted to cyclone and funnelshaped whirlwind
words they resorted to cyclone and funnel-shaped
Not till the next day was the right word found.
The headlines of 19 March read, A Very, Very Rare
Phenomenon, Says Met Office: It was a tornado that
hit northern parts of the Capital yesterdaythe first
of its kind. . . . According to the Indian Meteorological
Department, the tornado was about 50 metres wide
and covered a distance of about five km in the space
of two or three minutes.
This was, in effect, the first tornado to hit Delhi
and indeed the entire regionin recorded meteorological history. And somehow I, who almost never
took that road, who rarely visited that part of the university, had found myself in its path.
Only much later did I realize that the tornados
eye had passed directly over me. It seemed to me that
there was something eerily apt about that metaphor:
what had happened at that moment was strangely
like a species of visual contact, of beholding and being beheld. And in that instant of contact something
was planted deep in my mind, something irreducibly mysterious, something quite apart from the danger that I had been in and the destruction that I had
witnessed; something that was not a property of the
thing itself but of the manner in which it had intersected with my life.

SIA'S CENTRALITY to global warming rests, in the first instance, upon

numbers. The significance of this is
perhaps most readily apparent in
relation to the future; that is to say,
if we consider the location of those
who are most at threat from the changes that are now
under way across the planet. The great majority of potential victims are in Asia.
The effect of mainland Asias numbers is such as to
vastly amplify the human impacts of global warming.
Take, for instance, the Bengal Delta (a region that consists of most of Bangladesh and much of West Bengal).
Formed by the confluence of two of the worlds mightiest rivers, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, this is
one of the most densely populated parts of the world,

16-31 JULY 2016

28-37Book.indd 31

with more than 250 million people living in an area

about a quarter the size of Nigeria.
The floodplains of Bengal are not likely to be submerged as soon or as completely as, say, the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu. But the population of Tuvalu is
less than 10,000 while the partial inundation of just
one island in BangladeshBhola islandhas led to
the displacement of more than 5,00,000 people.
Because of the density of its population, some
of the worlds worst disasters have occurred in the
Bengal Delta. The 1971 Bhola cyclone is thought to
have killed 3,00,000 people. As recently as 1991, a
cyclone in Bangladesh resulted in 1,38,000 dead, of
whom 90 per cent were women. Sea-level rise and the
increasing intensity of storms will make large-scale
inundations more likely, all along the coastline.
Moreover, in Bengal, as in other Asian deltas, for
example those of the Irrawaddy, the Indus and the
Mekong, another factor has magnified the effects of
sea-level rise: this is that delta regions across Asia
(and elsewhere in the world) are subsiding much faster than the oceans are rising. This is due partly to geological processes and partly to human activities, such
as dam building and the extraction of groundwater
and oil. Again, the southern parts of Asia are particularly vulnerable, with the deltas of the Chao Phraya,
the KrishnaGodavari, the GangesBrahmaputra
and the Indus being especially imperilled. The Indus,
on which Pakistan is critically dependent, has been
exploited to the point where it no longer reaches the
sea and, as a result, salt water has pushed inland by
65 kilometres, swallowing up over 1 million acres of
agricultural land.
In India a significant rise in sea level could lead
to the loss of some 6,000 square kilometres, including some of the countrys most fertile lands; many
of the subcontinents low-lying islands, like the
Lakshadweep chain, may disappear. One study suggests that rising sea levels could result in the migration of up to 50 million people in India and 75 million
in Bangladesh. Along with Bangladesh, Vietnam is at
the top of the list of countries threatened by sea-level rise: in the event of a 1-metre rise in sea level, more
than a tenth of Vietnams population will be displaced.
The ongoing changes in climate pose a dire threat
also to the interior of the continent where millions of
lives and livelihoods are already in jeopardy because 31

11/07/16 12:25 PM


28-37Book.indd 32

11/07/16 12:26 PM


of droughts, periodic flooding and extreme weather

events. No less than 24 per cent of Indias arable land
is slowly turning into desert, and a 2-degree Celsius
rise in global average temperature would reduce
the countrys food supply by a quarter. In Pakistan,
1,00,000 acres of salt-encrusted land are being abandoned each year; of the fields that remain a fifth are
badly waterlogged and a quarter produce only meagre
crops. In China, which feeds more than 20 per cent of
the worlds population off 7 per cent of the worlds arable land, desertification is already causing direct annual losses of $65 billion.
Fearsome as these risks are, they are dwarfed by
Asias accelerating water crisis. The rivers that sustain China and South and Southeast Asia rise in Tibet
and the Himalayas; the waters that are stored there,
in the form of accumulations of ice, sustain 47 per
cent of the worlds population: here the water-related dreams and fears of half the human race come together. But this region is warming twice as fast as the
average global rate, and in 2008 it was found that the
Himalayan glaciers had already lost all the ice formed
since the mid-1940s; by some reckonings, one-third
of them will disappear by 2050.
As the melting of the Himalayan glaciers accelerates, the variations in the rivers flow will increase,
falling to unprecedented lows in the dry season and
causing massive inundations in the summer, as in the
Kosi River disaster of 2008 in Bihar and the Indus
floods of 2010. And if the glaciers continue to shrink
at the present rate, the most populous parts of Asia
will face catastrophic water shortages within a decade or two. A quarter of the worlds rivers already run
dry before reaching the sea: many, if not most, of them
are in Asia.
In terms of numbers, the consequences are beyond imagining: the lives and livelihoods of half a billion people in South and Southeast Asia are at risk.
Needless to add, the burden of these impacts will
be borne largely by the regions poorest people, and
among them disproportionately by women.
It is the matter of numbers again that makes Asia
critical to the questions of mitigation, preparedness
and resiliency. Aquifers are drying up in northern
China as well as in Americas Great Plains: but only
2 million people live in the 4,54,000 square kilome-

tres that are watered by the United States Ogallala

Aquifer while the 3,24,000 square kilometres of
north China are populated by 214 million people.
The brute fact is that no strategy can work globally unless it works in Asia and is adopted by large numbers of Asians. Yet, in this matter too, the conditions
that are peculiar to mainland Asia are often absent
from the discussion.

HE PUBLIC politics of climate change

is itself an illustration of the ways in
which the moral-political can produce paralysis.
Of late, many activists and concerned people have begun to frame
climate change as a moral issue. This has become almost a plea of last resort, appeals of many other kinds
having failed to produce concerted action on climate
change. So, in an ironic twist, the individual conscience is now increasingly seen as the battleground
of choice for a conflict that is self-evidently a problem
of the global commons, requiring collective action:
it is as if every other resource of democratic governance had been exhausted, leaving only this residue
the moral.
This framing of the issue certainly has one great
virtue, in that it breaks decisively with the economistic, cost-benefit language that the international climate change bureaucracy has imposed on it. But, at
the same time, this approach also invokes a politics
of sincerity that may ultimately work to the advantage of those on the opposite side. For if the crisis of
climate change is to be principally seen in terms of
the questions it poses to the individual conscience,
then sincerity and consistency will inevitably become
the touchstones by which political positions will be
judged. This in turn will enable deniers to accuse activists of personal hypocrisy by pointing to their individual lifestyle choices. When framed in this way, authenticity and sacrifice become central to the issue,
which then comes to rest on matters like the number
of lightbulbs in Al Gores home and the forms of transport that demonstrators use to get to a march.

Of late, many activists and concerned people have begun

to frame climate change as a `moral issue'. This has
become almost a plea of last resort, appeals of many
other kinds having failed to produce concerted action
16-31 JULY 2016

28-37Book.indd 33 33

11/07/16 12:26 PM


28-37Book.indd 34

11/07/16 12:26 PM


We already know, from the example of Mahatma Gandhi,

that the industrial, carbon-intensive economy cannot be
fought by a politics of sincerity. Gandhi invested himself,
body and soul, in the effort to prevent India from adopting
the Western, industrial model of economy
I saw a particularly telling example of this in a
TV interview with a prominent activist after the New
York climate change march of September 2014. The
interviewers posture was like that of a priest interrogating a wayward parishioner; her questions were
along the lines of What have you given up for climate
change? What are your sacrifices?
The activist in question was quickly reduced to
indignant incoherence. So paralysing is the effect of
the fusion of the political and the moral that he could
not bring himself to state the obvious: that the scale
of climate change is such that individual choices will
make little difference unless certain collective decisions are taken and acted upon. Sincerity has nothing
to do with rationing water during a drought, as in todays California: this is not a measure that can be left
to the individual conscience. To think in those terms
is to accept neoliberal premises.
Second, yardsticks of morality are not the same
everywhere. In many parts of the world, and especially in English-speaking countries, canons of
judgement on many issues still rest on that distinctive fusion of economic, religious and philosophical
conceptions that was brought about by the Scottish
Enlightenment. The central tenet of this set of ideas, as John Maynard Keynes once put it, is that by
the working of natural laws individuals pursuing
their own interests with enlightenment, in condition
of freedom, always tend to promote the general interest at the same time!
The everyday political philosophy of the nineteenth century (as Keynes described it) remains an
immensely powerful force in the United States and
elsewhere: for those on the right of the political spectrum, this set of ideas retains something of its millenarian character with individualism, free trade and
God constituting parts of a whole. But by no means
is it only the religiously minded whose ideas are
shaped by this philosophy: it is worth noting that the
dominant secular paradigms of ethics in the United
Statesfor example, as in John Rawlss theory of justiceare also founded upon assumptions about individual rationality that are borrowed from neoclassical economics.
It is instructive in this regard to look at an area
16-31 JULY 2016

28-37Book.indd 35

of the humanities that has been unusually quick to

respond to climate change: the subdiscipline of philosophy represented by climate ethicists. The dominant approach in this discipline is again posited on
rational actors, freely pursuing their own interests. A
philosopher of this tradition, in responding to the argument that the moral imperative of climate change
comes from the need to save the millions of lives in
Asia, Africa, and elsewhere, might well quote David
Hume: Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my
finger. Climate activists appeals to morality will not
necessarily find much support here.
Last, we already know, from the example of Mahatma Gandhi, that the industrial, carbon-intensive
economy cannot be fought by a politics of sincerity.
Gandhi invested himself, body and soul, in the effort
to prevent India from adopting the Western, industrial model of economy. Drawing on many different
traditions, he articulated and embodied a powerful vision of renunciatory politics; no reporter would have
had the gall to ask him what he had sacrificed; his entire political career was based upon the idea of sacrifice. Gandhi was the very exemplar of a politics of
moral sincerity.
Yet, while Gandhi may have succeeded in dislodging the British from India, he failed in this other endeavour, that of steering India along a different economic path. He was able, at best, to slightly delay a
headlong rush towards an all-devouring, carbon-intensive economy. There is little reason to believe that
a politics of this kind will succeed in relation to global warming today.
Climate change is often described as a wicked problem. One of its wickedest aspects is that it may require
us to abandon some of our most treasured ideas about
political virtue: for example, be the change you want
to see. What we need instead is to find a way out of the
individualizing imaginary in which we are trapped.
When future generations look back upon the Great
Derangement they will certainly blame the leaders and
politicians of this time for their failure to address the
climate crisis. But they may well hold artists and writers equally culpablefor the imagining of possibilities
is not, after all, the job of politicians and bureaucrats. 35

11/07/16 12:26 PM



`We are teetering at

the edge of a new era'
It is very hard to understand why we do not seem to grasp
the immensity and urgency of climate change that is already
unfolding around us, says Amitav Ghosh in an
interview with S S Jeevan
You are returning to non-fictionafter a decadewith climate
change. Looking back, did the tornado of March 17, 1978, spur you
to write this book?
The tornado of 1978 certainly heightened my awareness of extreme
weather events. But my engagement with climate change dates
back to 2000 when I started writing my novel The Hungry Tide,
which is set in the Sundarbans. Even back then, the impacts of
global warming were already being felt in the Sundarbans. Since
that time it has become clear that this is the greatest challenge that
humanity has ever faced.

Why is that, as a collective existence, we are not in the grasp of

such a tragedy? Is it because we are an increasingly unequal societyas climate change affects the poor the most, and usually gets
out of public discourse, which is usually dominated by the rich?
It is indeed very hard to understand why we do not seem to grasp
the immensity and urgency of the changes that are already unfolding around us. This is particularly true of India since ours is a region that will be particularly badly affected.
One way in which inequality contributes to this indifference is
that it helps create the illusion that privilege will provide some protection against the severest impacts of climate change. But this is a
complete delusion: the fact is that climate change will not spare the
middle classes or the wealthy. Consider, for instance, two recent extreme weather events with a climate change fingerprint: the downpours that hit Mumbai in 2005 and Chennai in 2015. Many, if not
most, of the people who live in these cities are privileged in relation
to Indias rural population. But this did not protect them from the
floods. On the contrary, many wealthy and powerful people were
very badly affected. And these very people will be even more severely impacted by future sea-level rise because they have chosen
to live in locations that are highly vulnerable. Nor can there be any
doubt that a great number of middle class people will also be rendered homeless by sea level rise. These are educated people who
are exposed to a wide variety of media; many of them pride themselves on being globally connected. Yet they have chosen to ignore
a threat that is already at their doorstep. How this kind of blind36 DOWN TO EARTH

28-37Book.indd 36

ness arises is exactly the subject of

The Great Derangement.

You say climate change has not resulted in an outpouring of political passion in India. Why is this so,
when the country is witnessing numerous impacts of climate change?
It is simply a fact that climate change hardly ever figures in political
discussions in India. We have only
to open a newspaper, or turn on the
TV, to see that dozens of issues receive more attention than, say, the
ongoing drought, and the agrarian
crisis more generally.
One illustration of this is the recent Lok Sabha session on the
droughtonly a few MPs participated. But the same indifference
is evident also in the wider political spherethe media for instance.

Do you feel contemporary literature is increasingly using development and environmental issues like climate change as the new
plot for storytelling?
I wish this were the case, but unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Consider again the epic downpours that hit
Mumbai and Chennai in recent years. Both these cities are home
to many writers, actors, directors, poets and so on. Needless to add,
they are home also to huge film industries, some of which were badly affected by the floods. Yet, so far as I know there are no films, novels, stories or poems about the floodsnot a single one!

So why is the `unthinkable' happeningcreative writers vacating `thinkable' spaces?

We are teetering at the edge of a new era in which many of our past
habits of thought and practice have become blinders which prevent
us from perceiving the realities of our present situation. Writers,
artists and thinkers everywhere are still struggling to find the con16-31 JULY 2016

11/07/16 12:26 PM


cepts and ideas that will make it possible to engage with the unprecedented events of this new era.

You say religion/religious groups joining the environmental movement may be our last hope to save the planet. Is there an economic-moral code/model that can be arrived at?
The problem in relation to climate change is that the window for
effective mitigatory action is very small and there is very little time
in which to mobilise people. Under the circumstances, alreadyexisting organisations have an important role to playand religious groups can certainly mobilise people in large numbers. This

In India, the dominant

forms of religion have
become completely
enmeshed with consumerism
and neo-liberal ideology
16-31 JULY 2016

28-37Book.indd 37

is evident from the example of Pope Francis who has done more to
bring climate change to the forefront of the global agenda than anyone else. He is a true visionary; a really remarkable thinker and
leader. The Dalai Lama too has spoken eloquently on the issue of
climate change.
A few Hindu and Muslim groups have also taken stands on climate change. But unfortunately in India, as in many other countriesTurkey for examplethe dominant forms of religion have
become completely enmeshed with consumerism and neo-liberal ideology.
Sadly many of those who speak for Hinduism today are gurus and godmen who seem to be mainly interested in marketing themselves and their products. But even in the recent past,
Hinduism has had some leaders and spokespersons who were cast
in a completely different mould. Consider for example the late Veer
Bhadra Mishra, the former Mahant of the Sankat Mochan temple
in Varanasi: he was passionately engaged in environmental issues,
especially in relation to the Ganga. We can only hope that someone
like him will emerge again. After all, treading lightly on Earth is
or used to beone of the core values of Hinduism.
@down2earthindia 37

11/07/16 12:26 PM


Past their prime

Around 20 per cent of India's
coal-based power plants have
completed their life. It is time
these highly inefficient and
polluting units were shut

the emissions from the industrial sector in the country, coalbased power plants account for 60 per cent of particulate
matter, 45 per cent of sulphur dioxide, 30 per cent of oxides
of nitrogen and 80 per cent of mercury. There are several reasons for this: dated technology, poor operating practices, inadequate investments in renovation and low quality of Indian coal.
One of the important reasons is the old age of Indias power plants, which tends to lower their efficiency and worsen their
emissions. A number of old plants use once-through-cooling
(otc) systems that consume a large amount of water. The total
capacity of Indias thermal power plants (owned by the Union
government, states and private players) is 185 GW, of which
34.3 GW comes from plants older than 25 years. This is the
commonly considered useful life cycle of a thermal power plant
(see Done and dusted).
To deal with the problem, the government on December 7,
2015, announced stricter pollution and water-use standards.
As per these, the newer plants will be held to higher standards
while the older ones have to comply with relatively lax standards. However, upgrading older plants to meet even these lax
standards may not be technologically and economically feasible, a fact acknowledged by power minister Piyush Goyal in an
international conference on coal held in Delhi this March.
Heat on Power, a report released by Delhi-based non-profit



NDIA'S THERMAL power sector is extremely polluting. Of all

38-40Analysis.indd 38

11/07/16 3:28 PM


Done and

THE PROBLEM | Of the 185 GW of India's coal-based power capacity, 34.3 GW is contributed
by plants that have completed their useful life cycle of 25 years. Most of these plants are
extremely polluting and use large volume of water

34.3 GW

Performance parameters suggest

that around 23 GW of India's
34.3 GW old power capacity should
be decommissioned

Capacity of plants
older than
25 years

185 GW

India's total
thermal power

32.8 GW


1.45 GW

Privately owned

Why old thermal power plants need to be shut

Cost of generation | 33 per cent of old plants produce

power at over R4/unit while the average rate of power
produced in India in 2012-13 was R3.26/unit


Efficiency | The efficiency of almost 60 per cent

of old plants is below the national average of
33 per cent


Over K5/unit

Less than



below 27%










Of all the
emissions from the
industrial sector in the
country, coal-based power
plants account for 60% of
particulate matter, 45% of
sulphur dioxide, 30% of
nitrogen oxide and 80%
of mercury

Outages | An outage of 15 days/year, or availability of

95 per cent, should be the norm. But a third of the old
plants are unavailable for over 25 per cent of the year


Plant load factor (plf) | A measure of capacity

utilisation, this should be at least 60 per cent. But
40 per cent of the old plants do not meet the criterion


below 65%



over 95%

PLF below


PLF over 90%






High emission | Emission of particulate matter

(PM) from 80 per cent of the old units exceeds the
new required norm of 100mg/Nm3

Number of units
Capacity in GW

26 3.1




PLF 60-75%






15 2.2

4 1
Over 1000

Water withdrawl in billion cubic metres



PLF 75-90%

Water withdrawal | Shutting old plants, a third

of which use once-through-cooling (OTC) system, will
reduce water consumption by over 90 per cent

CT or cooling tower-based plants

OTC or once through cooling-based plants


Current water


Source: Shutting Old Capacity: The 34-GW Question, CSE, 2016

16-31 JULY 2016

38-40Analysis.indd 39 39

11/07/16 3:28 PM



Centre for Science and Environment in

2015, recommended that the old capacity
should be expeditiously decommissioned.
Goyal has also said that coal-based plants
that have passed their useful life should be
shut. Frequent breakdowns, poor efficiency
and excessive pollution were the main reasons cited in the recommendation to replace
the old plants with new supercritical plants
that are efficient and have a lower environmental impact.
In August 2015, the Ministry of Power
asked the Central Electricity Authority (cea)
to prepare a report on retirement, renovation or replacement of 34.3 GW of old capacity with supercritical units. But the report
failed to come up with clear conclusions or
ambitious goals. It said that of the 32.8 GW
owned by the Union and state governments
(the remaining 1.45 GW of the capacity is
privately owned), only 5.8 GW can be retired. The report suggested that this too can
be replaced with 10 GW of new capacity.
Moreover, the report recommended
that plants totalling around 22 GW of capacity can be operated for a number of additional years since some of them have
already undergone renovation and modernisation (r&m) or life extension while others
are planning to do so. However, the recommendation to allow a significant number of
plants to extend their lives in the hope of improvement in performance is impractical.
Indias experience with r&m projects
has been unsatisfactory. In the 11th Five Year
Plan (2007-12), the power sector managed
to complete life extension of only 26 per cent
of what it had planned. In the 12th Five Year
Plan (2012-17), just 18 per cent of the target
was achieved till March 31, 2016. Several

38-40Analysis.indd 40

projects that were executed took significantly longer than planned and the improvement in performance was inadequate. There
are numerous reasons for this. There are
considerable risks in r&m project, especially when inadequate maintenance investments have been made in the past, which is
typically the case with state utilities. Also,
companies do not have sufficient technical
skills and management wherewithal to
oversee the projects. Government utilities
are uncomfortable entering into contracts
because of uncertain risks. These factors
have made contractors wary of taking these
projects, affecting market capacity to execute projects.

Newer plants underutilised

While the old plants continue to run, the
newer plants, which are more efficient, remain underutilised. Indias coal-based power capacity increased from 71 GW in March
2007 to approximately 185 GW in March
2016. With the increase in power capacity
outpacing the growth in demand, the overall capacity utlisation, or plant load factor
(plf), declined from a peak of 78.6 per cent
in 2007-08 to around 62 per cent in the first
quarter of 2016. Industry experts suggest
plf should be around 65 per cent for a plant
to be viable.
The situation is far worse for the newly
commissioned plants. Around 90 GW of
capacity commissioned between 2009 and
2015 had a plf of just 47 per cent during
2015-16. Ratings firm crisil estimates that
approximately 36 GW of plants that were
commissioned after March 2009 are financially stressed. One practical solution to deal
with this problem could be to reduce the

generation from old, inefficient and polluting plants, and enable the clean and efficient
plants to operate at optimum levels. This will
also help strengthen the power generating
companies, a large number of which are financially strained. The power companies
can invest in future capacity, needed by the
country to meet its growing power needs,
only if existing projects are viable.

Boost state facilities

The cse study suggests that around 23 GW
of Indias 34.3 GW old capacity should be
shut immediately. Indias excess power capacity (in relation to demand from the discoms) gives us breathing room to shut old
plants while new ones are being commissioned. However, most of the plants that
need to be shut are owned by state governments and closing them could become a political issue. To overcome this, the Centre can
incentivise states by providing them additional share of inexpensive power from the
central pool.
Another option is to offer them subsidised loans/equity to build new capacity. As
per cea recommendations, setting up a
10,000 MW replacement capacity would require R15,000 crore of equity (assuming total cost of R50,000 crore and equity of 30 per
cent) spread over five years. This could be
easily financed with coal cess.
The Centre could also eliminate the requirement of environmental clearance or
consent to establish for setting up a new
plant that replaces old unit. The consent to
operate, granted by state pollution control
boards, should suffice. Easy transfer of coal
linkages from old plants to new ones must
also be facilitated.
16-31 JULY 2016

11/07/16 3:28 PM



Utterly safe

Lighting an early spring

The use of artificial night light is causing

spring to come early, disrupting lifecycles of plants and animals

C O N S U M P T I O N O F butter has negligible

association with chronic diseases and
mortality. An epidemiological study analysing
relative risks that combined nine research
studies found that mostly small or insignificant
associations of each daily serving of butter
with total mortality, cardiovascular disease,
and diabetes. The researchers suggest that
butter may be a middle-of-the-road food:
a more healthful choice than sugar or starch.
PLOS ONE, June 29


The treasure beneath

A MONETARY value has been calculated


IOLOGISTS HAVE have found that the use of artificial

night time light is causing spring to come at least
a week early. The study, based on data collected
by citizen scientists across the UK, found that buds were
bursting by up to 7.5 days earlier in brighter areas and
that the effect was larger in later budding trees. This has a
cascading effect on other organisms whose life cycles work
in tandem with the trees. For instance, the proliferation of
the winter moth, which feeds on fresh emerging oak leaves,
is likely to be affected which may, in turn, have some effect
on birds in the foodchain that rely on it for food. The finding
is significant as it may enlighten municipal councils to
manage light levels in a sustainable way. Proceedings of the
Royal Society B, June 29

16-31 JULY 2016

41S&T bytes.indd 41

for the ecosystem services or natural

benefits provided by the Eastern Tropical
Pacific Ocean: close to $17 billion. The
region stretches west from the west coasts
of North and South America. This includes
capture and storage of carbon, which would
otherwise cost $12.9 billion annually. The
calculation will help ocean management
agencies and the public understand the value
of complete ecosystems, as opposed to pieces
of the ecosystems such as certain species of
fish. This assumes importance as agencies shift
towards more ecosystem-based management
that recognises and protects intact ecosystems.
Frontiers in Marine Science, April 27


Smart and flexible

material has been developed that can
change shape on cue from heat or light and
assemble and disassemble itself.
Researchers were able to combine several
smart abilities, including shape memory
behaviour, light-activated movement and selfhealing behaviour, into one material.
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, June 1

11/07/16 12:27 PM


Kala-azar 2.0
Complications and new disease connections
are holding back eradication
JIGYASA WATWANI | saran and vaishali , bihar

INE-YEAR-old Nikki Kumari of Sar-

Leishmaniasis (pkdl), a complication of kala-azar, in which the disease-causing protozoan invades the patients skin cells. These
cases act as reservoirs of the pathogen.
Kumari is a new addition to the kalaazar registry. The disease was supposed to
have been eradicated in 2010. Now, the new
deadline is 2017. The disease is transmitted by

the bite of female sandflies. Though there has

been a decline in the number of casesfrom
25,222 in 2011 to 6,280 in 2015new cases
associated with kala-azar complications are
emerging. In January this year itself, about
340 primary kala-azar cases were reported
in Bihar, a state which accounts for nearly 76
per cent of all cases in the country33 of its


gatti village, Saran district, Bihar,

was diagnosed with kala-azar (also
known as Visceral Leishmaniasis, or
VL) three years ago. After undergoing treatment for 28 days, her fever and weakness began to subside. But in April this year, Kumari
was diagnosed with Post Kala-azar Dermal


42-43Health.indd 42

16-31 JULY 2016

13/07/16 11:51 AM

38 districts are affected. pkdl may not be lifethreatening, but it deserves attention as people suffering from pkdl are reservoirs of the
infection and can hamper eradication goals.
Though not quantified by government,
there has been a steady increase in the incidence of relapse, hiv-vl co-infection and
pkdl cases. About five per cent of primary kala-azar cases develop pkdl, according
to estimates.
We have been focusing on the primary
kala-azar, but not on the medical complications associated with it, says Gaurab Mitra
of Mdecins Sans Frontires (msf), which
runs a kala-azar ward in Vaishali Hajipur
district hospital. We dont understand these
complications as well as we understand the
primary kala-azar, says Pradeep Das, director of Rajendra Memorial Research
Institute (rmri) in Patna.
Worryingly, about 2-3 per cent of pkdl
patients did not have primary kala-azar,
says Das.


Kala-azar was supposed to have been

eradicated in 2010. The new deadline is 2017

Bihar accounts for 76 per cent of all cases in

the country

There has been an increase in the incidences of relapse, HIV-VL co-infection and kalaazar complications

Many patients suffering from kala-azar

complications did not have primary

Most Primary Health Centres are not

equipped to treat kala-azar complications

A patient
afflicted by
the kala-azar
It has been
observed that
nearly all drugs
administered to
treat kala-azar
are leading to

16-31 JULY 2016

42-43Health.indd 43

Hazardous puzzle
The problem with pkdl begins at the diagnosis stage itself. Unlike primary kala-azar,
pkdl cannot be diagnosed by the trademark
rapid diagnostic kits. So a skin snip examination becomes critical. For diagnosis of relapse, a bone marrow/splenic aspirate examination is required. But not all Primary
Health Centres (phc) are equipped with
such diagnostic tools.
pkdl requires a longer course and greater quantity of drugs than primary kala-azar.
At present, hospitals use 100 mg miltefosine
for 12 weeks or a total dose of 30 mg/kg body
weight of ambisome spread across three
weeks by an infusion of 5 mg/kg per day
two times per week, as per the 2012 World
Health Organization (who) guidelines on
diagnosis and management of pkdl. But it
has been observed that nearly all drugs administered to treat primary kala-azar lead to
pkdl. Even the highly-effective single-dose
ambisome leads to the development of pkdl
in 3.3 per cent of the cases, says Das. rmri
is now testing a combination of therapies to
check how many patients develop pkdl.
To counter kala-azar and its complications, state government agencies, along with
several non-profits, are implementing various strategies for early diagnosis and treatment, vector management, surveillance
and social mobilisation. Since high fever,
for more than 15 days in a patient from an
endemic area, is the primary symptom of
kala-azar, most cases are detected by being on the lookout (active case detection)
rather than by patients reporting on their
own (passive case detection). For instance,
phcs pay 300 to health workers to trace
each kala-azar patient. One of the complications arising out of kala-azar is the hiv-vl
connection. The state governments strategy is that all kala-azar patients are now tested for hiv, and hiv patients with symptoms
of kala-azar are tested for kala-azar, says
Mitra. The current treatment for co-infection is the simultaneous use of kala-azar and
Anti-Retroviral Therapy drugs.
In collaboration with msf in Hajipur,
rmri is working on a new treatment method for hiv-vl co-infection. Not many studies have been done on hiv-vl co-infection
globally. This evidence-based treatment re-

port of 120 patients will be sent to the government for consideration, adds Das.
The state government has taken some
steps to beef up its efforts. To contain the
vectorsandflythe shifting from spraying ddt to Synthetic Pyrethroid (SP) has
shown great promise. We observed that the
sandfly had become resistant to ddt, says
Das. Further, rmri has developed insecticide
quantification kits. In this, a scotch tape is
pasted on a wall sprayed with SP and then
dissolved in the solvent. In less than one
hour, the colour of the tape gives an indication of the quantity of insecticide sprayed on
the wall.
SP has allowed for greater coverage because it doesnt smell like ddt and
leaves no stains on walls. People have no
qualms getting their house sprayed with
SP, says Rekha Sinha, a medical officer
at the Bidupur phc in Vaishali. She adds
that spraying of SP had a major role to
play in reducing the number of VL cases in
her phcfrom 18 in 2015 to just three cases
until May 2016. Experts say that the pesticide should be sprayed even outside human habitations. In a paper published in
the journal Parasites and Vectors in January
2016, researchers ran mathematical models to figure out whether kala-azar could be
eradicated from the Indian subcontinent
within the new deadline of 2017. They tested the current control strategies and found
that elimination is feasible only in low and
medium endemic settings with optimal indoor residual spraying. In highly endemic
settings and settings with sub-optimal indoor residual spraying, researchers say additional interventions would be required.
Though half a dozen vaccines are in the
pipeline, only three have passed the clinical trial stage. While researchers are looking for medical solutions, the implementation of multi-strategies to contain the vector
may help reduce the number of cases. What
could also help achieve greater success is
learning from the gaps in the current models and strategies and filling in with additional interventions. Because patients such
as Nikki Kumari need to be saved from the
clutches of a disease that is changing its colour and claiming more victims.
@jigyasawatwani 43

13/07/16 11:51 AM



Fix the problems

Bio-toilets are gaining
ground. But emerging
challenges could
defeat the purpose

An engineer from
the Indian Railways
inspects a bio-toilet


44-45Technology.indd 44

VER SINCE Indias first bio-toilet

was installed by the Defence Research & Development Organisation (drdo) at its Defence Institute of High Altitude Research in Leh in
1994, there has been an unprecedented interest in bio-toilets. The Indian Railways
will install 140,000 bio-toilets in its coaches in the next three years. Lakshadweep has
placed an order of 12,000 bio-toilets. And
in February this year, the National Green
Tribunal made it mandatory for beach camp
operators in Rishikesh to install bio-toilets
(see Dry season...). As the technology gains
traction across different regions and sectors,
many challenges have come to the fore.
Simply put, a bio-toilet is a toilet attached to a fermentation tank containing a
liquid consortium of specially developed
bacteriaaerobic or anaerobic. drdos technology uses anaerobic (psychrophilic or cold
loving) bacteriaspecially brought from
Antarcticaand a metal/fibre-reinforced
plastic fermentation tank. The other technology uses an enzyme along with aerobic
bacteria, which are mostly imported.
But both technologies face immense scientific challenges. drdo has commercialised the technology with a lab study, but they
have not taken into account the field kinetics, which differ from place to place. There is
little clarity as to where it can work or when
it can work. It also depends on the number
of users. Significantly, the regulatory bodies
have not approved both the technologies.
The problem begins with bacteria procurement. A private player manufacturing
aerobic bio-toilets must obtain permission
16-31 JULY 2016

11/07/16 12:28 PM

from the National Biodiversity Authority

(nba), Chennai, to import the bacteria, but
most private players do not have such permissions, or are extremely secretive about
their operations. Take for instance, Bio2, a
company that claims to have developed its
own technology. It uses a bacteria mix, some
of which are imported from New Zealand.
However, the company refused to divulge
details about import permissions from nba.
Or take the case of Iota Engineering Corporation (iec), which is not a drdo licence
holder, but sells its bio-toilets as a drdo
product. We purchase the inoculum from
drdo each time we manufacture a new biotoilet, says Inder Singh of iec.
Stone India, a Kolkata-based company,
which recently bagged an order worth
28.7 crore from the Chhattisgarh government for manufacturing 9,090 bio-toilet
units, has not disclosed where they source
the bacteria from. A company representative first said they source it from nasa, and
later clarified that they source it from Indian
biotech companies. They are yet to disclose
the name of the Indian companies.
Swaranjit Singh, a senior principal scientist at the Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh, says a manufacturer may
use a general constortium for varying climatic conditions, but it will not be as efficient as
an inoculum custom-made for a given climate. For instance, an analysis of drdo biotoilets installed at the Nunwan and Baltal
base camps of the Amarnath yatra in 2012
by the Centre for Science and Environment
(cse), a Delhi-based non-profit, revealed that
the bacteria used was not suitable to the regions temperature. The effluents need to
meet the standards set by the Central Pollution Control Board (cpcb), says D D Basu,
advisor, cse.
A former drdo scientist who does not
wish to be named says drdos bio-toilets installed in the plains dont require psychrophilic bacteria from Antarctica. Instead, cow
dung cakes could be used.
In many cases, usage exceeds capacity.
In West Bengal, drdo installed bio-toilets
for a pilot project. But they are being dismantled because of the restrictions on the
number of usages.
We calculate the size/volume of bio-di16-31 JULY 2016

44-45Technology.indd 45

Dry season... Rishikesh. What ails dry toilets?

10 last year, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned
camping activities on the 36 km stretch between Kaudiyala and Rishikesh, in
response to a public interest petition filed by Noida-based non-profit Social
Action for Forest and Environment, which raised issues of pollution from
camping activities and inadequate sanitation facilities. NGT directed camp
operators to switch to bio-toilets, instead of dry toilets.
The main problem with dry toilets is their location. Dry toilets need to be
located at a distance of 50-60 metres from the river. The Wildlife Institute of
India, which conducted an environment impact assessment on these camps,
found that most bio-toilets were located just 20 metres from the river. A
problem often overlooked is that microorganisms in the soil in a dry pit should
be given enough time to digest pathogens in the faeces before the pit is opened
for re-use. But most camp operators do not follow this. Bindeshwar Pathak,
founder of Sulabh International, says the appropriate time interval is two
years. Pathak recommends using twin pits and switching them every two years,
or emptying them if adequate replenishment time cannot be found.


gesters depending on the number of usages.

If the bio-digester is undersize, there will be
over-usage and the functioning of the digester will be affected, says Ambika Khanna
of Alfa NextGen, a drdo licence holder
manufacturing bio-toilets. On the flip side,
unused toilets can also cause problems. If a
bio-toilet is left unused for many months,
the bacteria feeding on human faeces would
die, and the bio-toilet would have to be fed a
fresh batch of bacteria, which would translate into additional costs for the user. drdos
toilets were tested for shelf-life, by starving
the bacteria for six months, and it was found
that the bacteria had survived without food
for six months. But no tests have been conducted beyond six months.
As compared to anaerobic technology,
the aerobic technology requires repeated addition of bacteria, otherwise it generates a
foul smell and more sludge.
Another problem is portability. A typical
bio-toilet weighs about 100-200 kg. After
usage it tends to get heavy and has to be machine lifted, says Khanna. Yousuf Zaheer,
owner of a rafting camp in Rishikesh, says,
There are additional costs for employing
technical experts who would have to be
flown in to periodically check the parameters
set by cpcb.
A major challenge is the safe disposal or
re-use of the liquid that emanates from a

bio-digester tank. For instance, the effluents

from the drdo bio-digester achieve a Total
Suspended Solid (tss) density between 90
and 120 mg/l. While this characterisation
may qualify for re-use in irrigation and discharge into public sewers, cpcb stipulates
100 mg/l tss for discharge into inland surface waters and marine coastal areas.
Another issue is the safety of the inoculum itself. Bio-toilet manufacturers cannot
bank on the Bergeys Manual of Systematic
Bacteriologyan online repository of bacteria and their characterisationfor a theoretical assessment of the safety of inoculum, as it characterises individual bacteria,
and not the consortium used in bio-toilets.
D V Kamboj, scientist with the Defence
Research & Development Establishment,
Gwalior, however, insists that drdo has done
practical assessments in this regard.
In response to an enquiry by the Indian
Railways, drdos Defence Research Laboratory, Tezpur, did a toxicity evaluation of
the Anaerobic Microbial Inoculum (ami) in
2012, and concluded that no toxicity was observed. The report has not been made public. Bio-toilets are not monitored by the
government. cpcb has stipulated guidelines,
but there is no central authority to check
how well these guidelines are being adhered
to, adds Kamboj.
@jigyasawatwani 45

11/07/16 12:28 PM



Making sex count

In the annals of modern medicine, medical research experiments

have always been sexist. The tide is finally turning

HE BLURRING of sex is one of the enduring dog-

mas of modern medicine. And this reduction is

biased in favour of men, the default sexwhat is
medically true for men, it is assumed, is also true
for women. So for decades, the dosage, efficacy, and sideeffects of a vast spectrum of drugs, including painkillers,
antihistamines, and antidepressants, have been ascertained largely by clinical trials on mice and humans of the
masculine variety. According to an analysis of medical research in the US, male animals outstripped females 5.5 to
1 in neuroscience, 5 to 1 in pharmacology, and 3.7 to 1 in physiology.
The belief is so laughably doctrinaire that even Addyi, the first female aphrodisiac to go commercial
last year, was tried mostly on men!
But research in the last decade
has rendered this sexual parity increasingly precarious, and thereby
shown that it is unjust to women.
We now know that women differ
from men in the way they experience pain, as well as in the way their
bodies respond to medicines, vacTARIQUE AZIZ / CSE
cines, toxics, and pathogens. There
is evidence to suggest that the peculiarities of the female
brain and body might have something to do with the fact
that more women die of heart disease, or that they are
more prone to Alzheimers.
Last month, a University of Tasmania study bolstered this view with the finding that a tuberculosis vaccine given to Gambian infants inhibited the expression
of an anti-inflammatory protein in girls, but not in boys.
Yet another published last year showed that mechanisms
regulating hypersensitivity to pain are different for male
and female mice. Whereas in males, suppressing a group
of immune cells called microglia relieves pain, in females
it has no effect. Assuming this is also true for humans, a
pain drug based only on the response of male mice may
not have the desired effect on women.
A third study that came out last year found that women tend to remember words longer than men. This is sig-


46Hedgehog Tales.indd 46

nificant for Alzheimers research, for it implies that by the

time she forgets them, shes probably worse off than the
man? Is this why Alzheimers is more common among
older women? Worse, this could also mean women may
be missing out on an earlier diagnosis, and hence an effective treatment.
Its becoming increasingly clear that neglecting sex in
medical research is fraught with risks such as nasty misdiagnoses, abortive treatments, and, not to mention, unexpected side-effects, especially for women. We know,
for instance, that heart disease kills
more women than all kinds of cancer put together. We also know that
the nature of their symptoms is also
different. And yet, according to a
2014 report by the Brigham and
Womens Hospital in Boston, women account for just 35 per cent of
subjects in heart-related research.
But the tide has begun to turn.
In 1993, the US National Institutes
of Health corrected gender imbalance by mandating the inclusion
of women and minorities in human clinical trials. And since last
year, even preclinical trials are mandated to include females. While this is a healthy sign, critics say enforcement
is still lax and, as the Brigham Hospital report noted,
Researchers often fail to analyse data by sex or include
hormone status or other gender-specific factors.
Sex differences are an outcome of millions of years of
evolution. So it shouldnt come as a surprise if our brains
and bodies have gendered equations with the environment. In fact, why restrict it to sex alone? Even race, culture and geography may have a bearing on how individual bodies are shaped.
Some of these ideas are taking shape now in the
form of what are called precision medicine and personalised medicine. Perhaps the day is not far when not just
differences between men and women, but even between individuals would determine medical research
and treatment. n
16-31 JULY 2016

11/07/16 12:28 PM


We are turning 25 with a bang!

Celebrate this milestone with us.
Tell us what you want to read about
in the magazine. Or let us know what
topic interests you and we'll organise
a lecture.
Get ready for a year of insightful
reporting, book releases, lectures,
festivals and more. Get ready for a
year of Down To Earth, your way!
Contact at:

11DTE 25 years ad.indd 11

Engage with us at:

08/07/16 4:39 PM


On the edge
By 2050, India is likely to experience a temperature rise of
1-4oC; rainfall will increase by 9-16 per cent. This will have a
detrimental effect on farmers in more than half of the country.
However, severity of the impact will differ from district to
district, depending on the region's sensitivity. Their resilience
will depend on the exposure to extreme events and on their
adaptive capacity


12 states

Very high
Very low

have districts that are highly sensitive to climate change

Sensitivity is the degree to which a region gets affected by
climate-related stimuli, such as climate variability and the
frequency and magnitude of extremes events like cyclone and
drought. It is determined by demographic and environmental
conditions of the region. Most districts in north-western India are
highly sensitive to climate change impacts. Eastern, northeastern, northern and west coast of the country have relatively
low sensitivity.


60% of rural

are vulnerable to climate change

Vulnerability is assessed on the basis of

sensitivity, exposure and adaptive
capacity of an area. Districts in
Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh,
Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra
Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, eastern Uttar
Pradesh and Bihar exhibit very high and
high vulnerability. Districts along the
west coast, northern Andhra Pradesh
and north-eastern states are
relatively less vulnerable
Very high
Very low




districts are



districts are



21 states

Very high
Very low


Adaptive capacity


17 states


48-49Factsheet.indd 48

have districts with low adaptive capacity to climate change

Adaptive capacity is the ability of a region to adjust to climate
change. It is a function of wealth, technology, education, skills,
infrastructure, access to resources, and management capabilities.
Adaptive capacity is found to be very low in the eastern and
north-eastern states, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, peninsular and
hill regions. Adaptive capacity is high in Punjab, Haryana,
western Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

districts are

Madhya Pradesh
districts are
% vulnerable

have districts that are highly exposed to climate change risks

Exposure is defined as the nature and degree to which a system is
exposed to significant climatic variations. It includes parameters,
such as maximum and minimum temperatures and the number of
rainy days. High to very high exposure is observed in the districts
of Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra,
Bihar, Tamil Nadu, north-eastern states and Jammu & Kashmir.
Districts with low exposure are seen in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha,
West Bengal, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

Very low
Very high


districts are
% vulnerable




districts have
low vulnerability

districts are



districts have
low vulnerability

Tamil Nadu


districts are
16-31 JULY 2016

11/07/16 12:28 PM

Jammu & Kashmir

districts are
% vulnerable


Uttar Pradesh
districts are
% vulnerable



Arunachal Pradesh
districts have
% low vulnerability


Himachal Pradesh
districts are
% vulnerable




districts have
% low vulnerability

districts are
% vulnerable


districts are




districts are



districts have
low vulnerability



districts have
low vulnerability



districts have
low vulnerability



West Bengal
districts are
% vulnerable






districts are



Andhra Pradesh
districts have
% low vulnerability

districts are
% vulnerable


districts have
low vulnerability




districts have
% low vulnerability

districts have
low vulnerability

districts have
low vulnerability

districts have
low vulnerability

Andaman & Nicobar islands

districts have
% low vulnerability



Note: Andhra Pradesh was reorganised into Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in 2014 and a part of Khammam district in Telangana was
placed in Andhra Pradesh. This change was not accounted for. *Only states with very high and high exposure and sensitivity districts
have been counted. #Only states with districts that have very low and low adaptive capacity have been counted. **Districts with
very high, high and medium levels have been considered vulnerable. Climate projections are for the period 2021-2050
Prepared by DTE/CSE Data Centre
Infographics: Raj Kumar Singh; Analysis: Kiran Pandey and Rajit Sengupta
Data source: A district level assessment of vulnerability of Indian agriculture to climate change, published in
Current Science on May 25, 2016. For more such infographics visit:
16-31 JULY 2016

48-49Factsheet.indd 49 49

11/07/16 12:28 PM




A new book, The Great Invention by Ehsan Masood,
unveils the genesis of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and
how it shaped the modern economic paradigm. It comes at a
time when a growing number of people are questioning this
flawed metric. Is GDP a true and accurate measurement of
growth? Exclusive excerpts from the book, followed by a crosssection of views on the efficacy of GDP

life, in gdp terms, the air-conditioning group

would come out on top. The wonderful
came, ironically, enough, from Greenbreezes you get up in the northern Vermont
span {Alan Greenspan, former chairduring the summer, which eliminates the reperson of the US Federal Reserve Boaquirement for air conditioning, doesnt show
rd}. This was still some years before the crash of
up in the gdp, Greenspan added.
2008, and the Federal Reserve Board chairman
Greenspan was correct. gdp is neither a
was at the height of his powers and regarded as
measure of welfare nor an indicator of wellthe chief architect and steward of Americas seebeing. That is because it is not set up to recmingly unending run of prosperity. I cannot say
ognize important aspects of our lives that
what the size of the economy will be 1 year from
are not captured by the acts of spending and
today or 100 years from now, Daley joked {forinvesting. There is no room in gdp for volunmer US commerce secretary}. But I can say that
teering or housework, for example; nor does it
when we reach the next milestone$10 trillion
recognize that there is value in community or
will depend a lot on Chairman Greenspan.
in time spent with families. More measurable
Amid the celebrations, however, the FedTHE GREAT INVENTION
things such as damage to our environment are
eral Reserve Board chairman had a warning
Ehsan Masood
also left out, as is job satisfaction. gdp doesnt
for his audience. In the very mildest of terms,
Pegasus Books | 231 pages | $27.95
even measure the state of jobs.
he said that it would be wrong to conflate gdp
Greenspans was by no means a lone voice
with quality of life, and he cautioned that an
cautioning against reading too much into gdp
increase in one did not necessarily mean an
increase in the other. Just because a country such as the United beyond what it says about the state of production, or spending,
States has high rates of economic growth, it doesnt automati- or incomes. From the earliest days, its inventors, including Sically mean it will enjoy a high quality of life, Greenspan said. mon Kuznets and the British economist John Maynard Keynes,
To illustrate what he meant, Greenspan asked his audience to understood that it is not really a measure of prosperity, and
compare how people in the northern states cooled themselves Kuznets in particular become skeptical of the way in which his
during the summer months compared with folks in the South. invention was being used as a proxy for this. As far back as 1922,
While the northern residents were fortunate to enjoy cool sea the English banker and statistician Josiah Stamp questioned
breezes, those down south had to turn up the air-conditioning. why national income did not include the value of housework or
While both, you could say, enjoyed an equally high quality of volunteering and remarked that the trend seemed to be to value
HE ONLY hint of caution that morning


50-52Debate.indd 50

16-31 JULY 2016

13/07/16 11:53 AM

those things that are important to rich people.

Today, such voices have been joined by many more, including the leaders of the developed and developing nations. Together with government ministers and civil servants, academ-

ics, campaigners, and business folk, they recognize that gdp has
strengths but also flaws, and they want change. But they cannot
agree on what could or should change, and they are even less
certain about how change could happen.


Never heard
about GDP

HAVE NEVER heard about

gdp. Our world is confined
to our daily income, which
is decreasing by the day.
In the last 45 days, I could get
work for only seven days, and
earned R6,000.
I live under the Sarai Kale
Khan Bridge along with my
nine-member family, including
three children and three women.
Earlier, only men from our village
worked as migrant labourers to
support the family income. Now
women are also working. Men
are paid R400 per day and
women earn R300 at construction sites in Noida. It is our only
source of income.
We own about 0.8 hectares of
land in our native village. But due
to water scarcity and drought, we
migrated to Delhi. We are eagerly


Migrant labourer from

Tikamgarh, Madhya Pradesh,
working in Delhi
16-31 JULY 2016

50-52Debate.indd 51

awaiting the monsoon, so that we

can return to our village.

It is the least


president A P J
Abdul Kalam was
in the Central
Board of Directors of the Reserve
Bank of India, he posed a
question to the then governor,
Bimal Jalan, during a meeting:
What is this gdp business?
Sometimes it goes up and
sometimes it goes down? Jalan
responded in a lighter vein:
If you hire a maid servant and
pay her salary, the gdp will go
up. But if you get married to
the maid servant and stop
giving her salary, then the
gdp will go down.
gdp is not the perfect way to
measure growth. But among the
alternatives, it is the least
inaccurate method to compute
the growth rate of the country.
Goods and services which
cannot be valued at market
prices are not included. This
is the first major lacuna. Take
for instance the household
services of housewives. They are
not paid for the services, but the
value of the work they are
generating is not accounted.
Lets take the second lacuna.
If the vegetables and fruits a
farmer is growing in his/her
garden are for domestic
consumption, it is not added to
the gdp. Does that mean the

farmer has not added value?

This means all value additions
for self consumption, which
are not put out in the market,
are not accounted in the gdp.
One alternative that has been
much discussed is the Gross
Domestic Happiness (gdh).
It emerged in Bhutan. However,
it is based on an extensive survey
and is a subjective indicator. It
lacks objectivity.

Economist and
member of the
Rajya Sabha

Important to qualify
the GDP

HERE IS a close linkage

between the growth of
output and the growth
of income, but it is not
exact. There are situations where
the two can differ significantly.
For instance, think of a situation
where the energy efficiency of the
production process improves
because of technological
progress. This means that the
same level of output can be
produced with less energy being
purchased. As a result, the
growth rate of output will be
zero, but the growth rate of gdp
will be positive. 51

13/07/16 11:53 AM

simply not possible at the

current state of play.


Country Director,
International Growth
Centre, IndiaCentral Programme.
Former Chairperson,
National Statistical


50-52Debate.indd 52

This distinction is important

in assessing the appropriateness
of gdp as an indicator of growth.
Output in itself does not
necessarily contribute to human
well-being. What does contribute very significantly is the
income generated in the process
of production. The gdp is, by far,
the most comprehensive
measure of income that exists
today, and is therefore central to
any measurement of growth.
Having said this, it should
also be acknowledged that the
gdp gives no indication of either
the distribution or the sustainability of income growth. As a
result, a high rate of gdp growth
can easily be associated with
higher inequality or with serious
degradation of natural resources. There are efforts to address
these lacunae through concepts
such as inequality-adjusted
gdp and green gdp. The
important thing to note,
however, is that in all these
efforts the objective is to qualify
the gdp, and not to replace it.
The only genuine alternative
to gdp as an indicator of growth
is to measure the change in the
asset base of the economy. In this
approach, assets should be
defined not as financial assets,
but in the most comprehensive
possible way, including physical,
natural, human and intellectual
assets. The difference between
the change in assets and gdp is
that the former measures the
potential growth of the economy,
whereas the latter measures
actual income growth.
Conceptually, this is a very
attractive alternative, but its
data needs are formidable and

Dragging ourselves
towards ecological

DP IS a deeply flawed
measure of economic
progress. It has three
large problems: It
miscounts costs as benefits.
Money spent to fix damage, as
from strong weather and human
accident, adds to its bottom line,
though these are costs we seek to
avoid, not benefits we want to
increase. It ignores many costs,
as when it overlooks the
healthcare costs and early deaths
wrought by air pollution or the

every businessperson knows, an

enterprise stands or falls on its
net, not its gross. Because climate
change and other environmental
catastrophes add to gdp when we
spend money trying to fix or
prevent them, if we blindly take
growth in gdp as our goal we can
grow ourselves right into
ecological oblivion.
In contrast, the Genuine
Progress Indicator (gpi) was
designed as an estimate of net
economic benefit. More than two
decades of scholarship, research
and development stand behind it.
Two US states, Maryland and
Vermont, have adopted it as a policy tool and several others actively
support its compilation and make
varying degrees of use of it.
As youd expect theres


Renowned scholar
who developed the
Genuine Progress
Indicator, which has
been adopted by
US states, Maryland
and Vermont
decreased productivity, poorer
health, lost sleep and lost life
pleasure caused by noise
pollution. It doesnt count some
economic values at all, such as the
benefits we get from volunteer
work, do-it-yourself household
production and barter.
Simon Kuznets, the
economist who led the
development of gdps precursor
statistic, Gross National Product,
warned against mistaking it for a
measure of general economic
wellbeing. Its an estimate of the
nations gross monetary
transactions, nothing more. As

usually a gap between gdp and

gpi. Vermont gpi was about 57
per cent of state gdp in 2011. In
Missouri, the gpi was just 27 per
cent of gdp in 2014. This means
that in 2014, every dollar of gdp
growth in Missouri brought only
27 cents worth of actual economic benefit. The rest was cost,
mostly environmental cost.
Interviews by Jitendra
Down To Earth

To celebrate 25 years
of Down To Earth, we
will carry a debate
every month on an
emerging issue

16-31 JULY 2016

13/07/16 11:53 AM


53IFFCO ad A4 HINDI.indd 3

08/07/16 3:49 PM



Udta piracy, but rising popularity

Copyright violation through piracy hurts the film industry
but it also brings in a wider audienceand fame

HE HIGH -octane Udta Punjab has opened up

once again the fascinating debate on film piracy

and its impact on the film industry. For the moment, let us forget the cavalier role of the Central
Board of Film Certification in leaking a print of Anurag
Kashyaps volatile film on drug abuse in Punjab and enabling its free download well before its official release.
There are reports that board chairman Pahlaj Nihalani
wanted to fix the producers after the court overturned the
many cuts he had ordered.
In the event, did the leak of the printeveryone
agrees it was of extremely poor qualityaffect the fortunes of Udta Punjab? The
film industry was angry and
shrill in its denunciation of
piracy with one notable exceptionof Kashyap. His appeal to pirates (downloaders)
was that they should desist till
the film was released officially. The unorthodox filmmaker
has an interesting take on the
issue. Heres what he wrote in
a Facebook post: Piracy happens because of lack of access
and in a world of free internet.
I do not have a problem with
it. My problem is that this time its a case of vested interests trying to demoralise people from fighting for their
rights. He goes on to say that when he has occasionally watched illegally downloaded films borrowed from
friends he has made up for it by buying dvds. However,
it does not apply to others because no one can stop your
right to download a film.
Kashyap, in fact, believes piracy is justified and can
actually help filmmakers. In a candid admission he says
it was pirated versions of his films that made him popular with film buffs when he was not famous. So piracy is kosher with him. Kashyaps rationale is that if people have no access to affordable cinema they will turn
to cheaper, pirated versions. A much earlier champion


54Patently Absurd.indd 54

of piracy was Shekhar Kapur, the maker of the globally

acclaimed Bandit Queen and Elizabeth, who took on
US media giants when they were shrill in their complaints about losing billions of dollars in revenue on
account of piracy in China and India. At a time when
their campaign had reached a crescendo a decade ago,
Kapur was blunt in dismissing their inflated claims.
Since 80 per cent of the people who bought pirated copies of movies in China could neither afford to go to theatres or to buy the legal dvds sold at US rates, the losses were just notional.
With the model of film screening and distribution
changing drastically in recent years to focus on multiplexes in urban centres, fewer
Indians have access to cinema
since tickets are priced high.
If filmmakers want to make
an impact on society either
as purveyors of meaningful cinema or just as producers/directors who want their
oeuvres to become popular,
then a little piracy along the
way could come in handy.
Tim OReilly, ceo of
OReilly Media house, had argued about a decade ago that obscurity was a far greater
threat than piracy for artistes. His contention was that
even the worst kind of piracy would pare just a little of
the profits for well-known artistes but could make a huge
difference to those just starting out. He was, of course,
talking about writers, but as a general principle this rule
could apply to filmmakers too.
We cannot expect Kashyaps scrupulousness
about illegal downloads to be the norm; there is a vast
tribe out there that revels in piracy. And yet, even the
worst of its depredations is unlikely to kill a film commercially. What we need is a new model of cinema
viewing, especially in India where millions of potential
filmgoers are denied access.
16-31 JULY 2016

11/07/16 12:29 PM

Body Burden 2015


Chronicles the impact of the environment on India's health

The theme-based, yearly
publication investigates
how our health is a victim of
environmental degradation.
This year, we will untangle
the web between the
environment and diseases,
both chronic and infectious.


Price: ` 250

Send the payment by way

of a DD/Cheque drawn
in favour of Society
for Environmental

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41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi 110 062
Phone: 91-11-4061 6000
Fax: 91-11-29955879. Email:
In case of any query, please write to
Ramachandran at:

55DTE Health book ad.indd 79

08/07/16 3:50 PM



The Geographical Indication tag for Darjeeling tea may

have opened a window of opportunities for big estates,
but there are huge challenges for small growers

ORLDWIDE, THE brew is appreciated for its terroir

or the taste of place. So in 2011, when Darjeeling
tea was officially registered under the Protected Geographical Indicationpgi is a type of intellectual
property right under the European Union (EU) that helps market a product based on its place of origin, climate and manufacturing processit came on par with brands like Roquefort, Caf de
Columbia and Champagne.
The name Darjeeling came to be synonymous with the tea from
the hilly district of Darjeeling in West Bengal that boasts of some of
the finest teas in the world. The recognition also protected the regions tea industry against copycats and imposters, for example,
those selling teas grown in Nepal and Terai regions under the brand
name of Darjeeling. But this is just one part of the story.
Our interactions with growers and the Tea Board of India
show that the strict quality standard for the use of the brand name
Darjeeling had defeated the main purpose of pgi. A research paper
published in the Journal of Rural Studies in 2009 refers to pgi as
a way out of the industrial model that challenged established capitalist exploitative norm, while addressing concerns such as environmental degradation, poverty and sustainability. This means a
pgi should protect the product, in this case tea grown at an elevation between 600-2,100 m in Darjeeling hills, and all its producers. But in reality, only 87 estates that grow and process Darjeeling
tea and are registered under the Tea Board of India were allowed
to use the brand name.
This had become a sore point among a large number of small
tea growers who grow tea in the same geographical area, but would
not be able to use the brand name Darjeeling from 2016. Many of
them sell the green leaf to larger estates who own processing factories. Their produce accounted for a significant portion of the profits earned by these larger estates. But with the implementation of
pgi, the quality of Darjeeling tea has become so monitored that they
could not sell their produce to processing factories.

Of late, the Tea Board of India

has recognised the growing discontent among small tea growers and
the possible economic setback that
the Darjeeling tea industry might
face. It has undertaken an initiative
that would benefit small tea growers. It is conducting surveys to recognise them and assess their tea production, and is providing them with
smart cards that hold details of the
grower, such as name and landholding.
The grower can use the smart card to
avail subsidies, partial funding and logistics for
shifting to organic tea cultivation through standard production methods. This is being viewed as a historical achievement for small tea growers while being espoused
as sustainable. Though groups such as the Darjeeling Orthodox
Small Tea Growers Welfare Society, who still grow the Chinese tea,
Organic Ekta and Mineral Springs, are happy to be included by the
Tea Board of India, they may not have fully grasped the finer details
of this arrangement. As the long-term benefit of being part of the
pgi remains ambiguous, they are yet to find out if this recognition
will act as a safety-net in times of economic or environmental
shocks in the future.

Markets and sustainability

The volatility of markets has always resulted
in rude shocks in the past. Price and currency crashes have often had far-reaching
impacts from which growers have taken time
to recover. For instance, since Darjeeling tea is exported to a number of countries in the EU, Britains
exit from the EU could impact tea exports.


56-57Opinion.indd 56

16-31 JULY 2016

11/07/16 12:30 PM

Since Darjeeling tea is exported

to a number of EU countries,
it remains to be seen how
Britain's exit from the EU could
impact tea exports

With much of the world celebrating this revolutionary move

as a symbol of rebellion against existing neoliberal economic policies and elitist structures, it still remains to be seen how the dynamics within the EU will affect the Darjeeling tea industry. How
will the industry survive? Will the impact be differential, for different types of people dependent on this region?
With the shift in demand for ethical products and legal obligations surrounding environmental impacts and the quality of a
product, many tropical cash crop growers of tea, coffee and cacao
have started adopting sustainable agricultural practices. For instance, they are adhering to certification schemes to ensure that
neither livelihood nor profit is impacted in addition to being a pgi.
There are several international standards that offer economic
incentives to growers while ensuring social and environmental justice by encouraging them to shift from conventional agriculture and
follow farming technologies such as permaculture (agriculture that
is sustainable and self-sufficient). Organic, Rainforest Alliance and
Fair Trade are some of the well-known certifications that encourage
growers to follow a set of best practices and promote the product in
a way that its value is not just associated with its terroir, but also the
ethics of justice and sustainability. This provides the growers an opportunity to earn premium profits while also acting as a safety-net.
The Darjeeling tea estates have evolved from a conventionally grown monoculture system to more diversely managed systems
that have invested in various certification schemes to penetrate
niche markets. These include adoption of different labels and certifications, each of which are considered popular symbols of environmental sustainability and social justice. Recent interactions
with tea growers showed a trend towards a complete shift towards sustainable methods in the region.
Given the disproportionate nature of environmental
burdens and benefits, it seems to show a positive picture
where most estates embracing one set of practices may
have the desirable outcomes for everyone. While the pgi
and eco-labels may help market products exclusively, it
still remains to be seen what it may actually mean for aspects such as environmental justice, conservation and
other crucial aspects of human wellbeing within the region. When measures are adopted to make agricultural landscapes biodiversity friendly and environmentally
healthy, the crop yields decline significantly. The economic costs of transitioning from conventional agriculture to
organic easily outweigh the monetary benefits during the
early years. This reduces the incentive to embrace sustainable practices on the part of farmers. A study says solutions in
developed countries, such as the US and the UK, include coupling of legal obligations with agricultural subsidies for sustainable agriculture to become a reality. However, this may not
be the case in developing nations, where agriculture is labour-intensive. So the solution lies in the implementation of non-state governance approaches and certifications.
The authors work with the Ashoka Trust for Research in
Ecology and the Environment, Bengaluru 57

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11/07/16 12:30 PM




Bundelkhand's bravehearts

For villages that survived recurring droughts,

the economic-ecological connection makes more sense

UNDELKHAND HAS developed a fatigue from

the endless sermons on protecting the environment. Discussions on environmental degradation seem to have reached the nadir for this region, which comprises 13 contagious districts of Uttar
Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh that have suffered 13
droughts in the last 15 years. Local communities, who
have endured an unprecedented human crisis, perceive
a disconnect between their own problems and the solutions being thrown at them.
I was travelling through the region recently, not as a
reporter looking for crisis stories,
but as part of a team that was assessing villages that were not affected by drought. There are many
such villages in Bundelkhand. The
villagers did not have to apply rocket science. Just common economic and ecological sense. They harvested water through traditional
tanks, enforced community regulation over water usage and abandoned water-guzzling crops.
When I spoke to the local residents and community leaders on
the formula for such a feat, the anSORIT / CSE
swer was unequivocal: dont teach
us environmental protection; for us it is all about our
economy. They pointed out that too much focus on approaching drought from an environmental perspective
had weaned away people from drought management.
Why do you need to preach water conservation to people
who are forced to migrate due to water scarcity? Rather,
one village leader said, one should approach the problem
from a purely economic point of view.
The villages that have fought drought successfully
have approached the problem from this perspective. So, a
check dam idea was not sold as a water conservation tool,
but as an instrument of economic insurance. Many told
me that the moment water conservation ideas are resold
as lucrative investment options, they are instantly bought


58 Last Word.indd 58

by the people. For example, many farmers have dug farm

ponds on their own land, not bothering about the loss of
farm size that otherwise would have been used to grow
crops. More villagers were convinced about the economic logic, rather than the ecological argument of conserving water. Assured water in a small pond could irrigate
about 1-2 hectares of farm, thus increasing the income
from the same farm.
I met a goshala owner taking care of 200 abandoned
cows. At the drop of a hat, he spewed venom against those
sending cows to abattoirs. He admitted to raids on vehicles taking away cows for slaughter. But when I asked him how he was
managing such a large number of cows
when fodder was expensive, his answer was simple: dont get sentimental
about cows; treat them as an economic
asset. Notwithstanding his strong religious reservations over cow slaughter, he had devised a business model:
he offers cow dung to farmers in exchange for any food suitable for his
stock. Farmers are excited about this.
I sold them this idea not as a Hindu
propagating cow conservation, but as
an economic exchange, he said. Cows
cant be saved just because they are sacred. They too need to live, and for that, they need fodder.
We need to redefine our approach to environmental
crises like the current drought. The simple message of
saving water, it seems, has lost traction with local communities. Rather, linking their economic desperation to
water conservation and the subsequent promise of economic turnaround helps strike a chord.
This could be the reason the governments targetdriven model of creating thousands of water harvesting
structures has not been wholeheartedly accepted by local communities. It is time the critical link between the
economy and the ecology finds resonance in droughtproofing policies.
16-31 JULY 2016

11/07/16 12:30 PM

59Building Sense ad.indd 79

79 JAN 15, 2015

10% on course fee for participants (Up to 25th July,
2016) Additional 10% for group registrations (four or
more participants applying together).

This includes course material, lunch, beverage

breaks, eld visits and one year free subscription for
Down To Earth science and environment fortnightly
Accommodation can be made nearby the training
centre, would incur extra charges.

`9,500/- for professionals.
`8,000/- for academicians, NGOs and researchers.
`5,000/- for students.


August 5th, 2016

The course fee should be paid in advance by
demand draft/cheque in the name of CENTRE FOR
Delhi. Registration form can be obtained from the
contact given and can be posted/faxed to CSE.

Date: August 24th - 26th, 2016
Timing: 10.00 am to 6:00 pm
Venue: Centre for Science and Environment
38, Tughlakabad Institutional Area
New Delhi- 110 062

This course is open to students, young professionals, academicians, NGOs and researchers
from eld of environment, engineering, architecture & planning.

The programme will be conducted by eminent architects, energy and building experts and CSE

The interactive modules are designed to encourage participants to acquire a 360 degree
understanding and hands-on experience to look for their own solutions for designing better buildings.
The programme will be conducted by eminent architects, energy and building experts and CSE

The itinerary includes more than 15 sessions including classroom lectures, site visits, group
exercises etc. The course would cover an array of aspects which explore real sustainability
by deconstructing the green building sector; design, technologies and equipment options for
energy efcient buildings; intelligent water management; emerging building related policies
and regulations and more. The nuances of these aspects would be elaborated through case
studies and examples from across the country. To enable rooted learning across the table, the
participants would be presenting and sharing their learning and perspectives based on the visits
and lectures.


Centre for Science and Environments Sustainable Building and Habitat Programme is organizing
Building Sense, a certicate course on sustainable buildings, from 24th to 26th August, 2016.
The programme aims to enable participants to adopt a common sense approach to green
buildings, one that blends traditional wisdom with modern science.


Inderjit Ahuja
41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi - 62
Phone: +91 (011) 29955124/125 (ext. 309)
Fax: +91 (011) 29955879
Mobile: 9958168487

Resource efciency: Construction and demolition waste

Excreta matters: Waste water treatment techniques and management in buildings
Waste management: Solid and hazardous waste management practices in India
Green building tour of CSE: Visit to DWWT and RWH system in CSE
In search of sense: Site visit to green building in Delhi-NCR
Class room exercise: Group presentations on classroom exercise


Sustainable architecture: Learning through design principles and case studies

Building technologies: Green materials and high performance envelope
Energy efcient technologies: HVAC and lighting
Operational efciency: Ground realities of operational energy in buildings
Water efcient technologies: Rain water harvesting and water efcient xtures
Let there be sun: Basics of solar energy use
Green rating: Assessment of green rating of buildings
Movie: Film on net zero buildings

08/07/16 3:51 PM


Green buildings environment connection: A big picture

National Building Code: A new approach to Sustainability
Energy Conservation Building Code: Towards performance based approach
EIA for buildings and townships: Making it deliver on sustainable principles
Affordable housing: Policy and practice in India
Hands on exercise: Assignment discussion



24th 26th August, 2016

Training programme of Centre for Science and Environment

Building Sense:
Sustainable Building Policies, Practices and Performance

R.N.I. NO. 53588/92 POSTAL REGN. NO. DL(S)-17/3109/2015-2017

ISSN 0971-8079. Licensed to Post without Pre-payment U(SE)-44/2015-2017 at Lodhi Road HO,

New Delhi-110003. Published on 14-15 every month. POSTED ON: 16-17 of the same fortnight.

programme on
Rs 15,000 for developers, government
officials and consultants,
Rs 10,000 for academicians, NGOs and
researchers, Rs 7,500 for students
Note: Accommodation can be arranged
nearby the training centre, would incur
extra charges
29th August to 2nd September 2016
10.00 am to 5.30 pm
CSE, 41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area,
New Delhi 62
August 15, 2016
SIA practitioners, officials from state land
department, municipality, district collector,
sub-divisional magistrate, developers,
academician, students, NGOs

Selection will
be done on first
come first

entre for Science and Environment recognises Social Impact Assessment (SIA) as
an important tool to inform decision makers, regulators and stakeholders about
the possible social and economic impacts of a development project. To be effective,
SIA requires the active involvement of all concerned stakeholders. CSE has developed a
five-day training programme aimed at giving practical exposure to participants on SIA
with specific reference to infrastructure, mining and other industrial projects.
The programme is designed based on the new Act, The Right to Fair Compensation
and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013,
and will be relevant and effective for SIA practitioners, officials from state land
department, municipality, district collector, sub-divisional magistrate, developers,
academician, students, NGOs etc.
The objective of this programme is to build a cadre of trained professional who can
conduct and review SIA reports. The programme will also impart understanding of
the issues and challenges in land acquisition, enhance skills in socio-economic surveys,
public consultations, data collection, planning land acquisition and rehabilitation and
resettlement plan. The course would also discuss applicable central/state laws such as
Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA), The Forest Rights Act, 2006,
and the Companies Acts, 2013.
What participants will learn
1. Land conflicts, land classification, land rights and governance
2. Better understanding of SIA
How to make Term of References (ToRs)
Reconnaissance and baseline survey data need, data collection, collation and
Development of tools and instruments to conduct SIA surveys
Effective assessment and reporting methodologies
3. Filling the Socio-Economic survey questionnaire
4. Asset evaluation
5. Preparation of entitlement matrix
6. Review of SIA reports
7. CSR framework, its reporting and case studies
8. Post monitoring.
All this would be covered through lectures, exhaustive class exercises, discussions and role plays

For registration:
Kindly email at:
For details contact: Digvijay Singh, Sr. Research Associate, Industry & Environment Unit

Centre for Science and Environment

41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi-110062
Ph: 91-11- 40616000 (Ext. 204); Fax: 91-11-2995 5879
Mobile: +91 9891921959 , +919899676027 Website:

60GRP SIA Course October 5-9, 2015 (Saumya)_Layout 1.indd 57

July 30, 16

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