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CSE’s Fortnightly News Bulletin (August 5, 2010)


CSE’s Fortnightly News Bulletin (August 5, 2010)
An e-bulletin from Centre for Science and Environment, India, to our
network of friends and professionals interested in environmental
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You would be aware of the February 2001 study done by CSE highlighting
the endosulfan poisoning of residents of Padre village in Kasaragod
district of Kerala. You would also recall that after CSE’s study
government run scientific institutions had corroborated its findngs
and endosulfan use had been banned in the state by the Union
agriculture ministry. Over the years several countries across the
world have gone ahead and banned the use of this pesticide. Only last
month, the US Environment Protection Agency too has initiated the
process of phasing out the pesticide.
We have recently come to know of a criminal defamation case that Crop
Care Federation of India (CCFI), a pesticide industry body, had filed
against CSE and others at the Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court in
Bandra, Mumbai in 2006. In 2008 the learned Magistrate rejected their
complaint saying that the specific case was not defamatory. CCFI
challenged this order by filing a criminal revision application in the
honourable Sessions Court. In June 2008, the learned Sessions Judge
also rejected their application saying that CSE’s report was not of
defamatory nature.
It is only after the federation has filed an appeal in the Bombay High
Court that we have been made aware of this case. The Honourable High
Court has rejected CCFI’s appeal for an expeditious hearing and the
case will come up in normal course.
– Sunita Narain
Read more: Endosulfan poisoning in Padre village: Industry’s dirty tactics
* Editorial: See the light (By Sunita Narain)
* From Down To Earth magazine (News, features, opinion)
– Cover story: Choking access to drugs
– Column: Why do judges need to be ‘sensitised’?
– Landholders to get titles
– Strings attached
– India’s nuclear chimera
– Mango resistance
– Upturned harvest
* Web exclusive
– TV DTE: A Patient’s Dilemma
* From Gobar Times: Environment for beginners
– Whats cooking in the Indian streets
– Hot on the spill trail
* Short training programmes
– Course on Domestic wastewater treatment and reuse
See the light
(Editorial by Sunita Narain)
There is no question that India desperately needs to generate more power.
The energy indicators say it all. It has the lowest per capita
consumption of electricity in the world. This when access to energy is
correlated with development, indeed with economic growth.
Let us not dismiss the need for energy as a simple issue of
intra-national equity when the rich use too much, while the poor do
not have enough. This may be true for other natural resources, but
energy scarcity is more or less all around. Data shows India’s energy
intensity has been falling—we do more with each unit of energy
produced. In industry it is down by 2.2 per cent between 2004-05 and
2008-09, and in the agriculture and the service sector by as much as
4.7 per cent annually.
The reason is not hard to see. India has one of the highest prices of
energy and it does pinch industry and the domestic consumer. So saving
is part of the energy game. This is not to say we must not do more to
cut energy use and be more efficient. The point is there are limits to
But why am I stating the obvious? The reason is that even though India
knows it needs more power, it does not realise it will not get it
through conventional ways. It will have to find a new approach to
energy security before the high-sounding targets of the power ministry
are derailed and ultimately energy security compromised.
Just consider what is happening in the country. There are widespread
protests against building major power projects, from thermal to hydel,
and now nuclear. At the site of the coal power plant in Sompeta in
Andhra Pradesh, the police had to open fire on some 10,000 protesters,
killing two. In the alphonso-growing Konkan region farmers are up in
arms against a 1,200 MW thermal plant, which, they say, will damage
their crop. In Chhattisgarh, people are fighting against scores of
such projects, which will take away their land and water. The list of
such protests is long even if one does not consider the fact that most
of the coal needed to run them is under the forests, and the mines are
contested and unavailable.
Hydel projects are no different. Environmentalists are protesting the
massive numbers of projects planned on the Ganga that will virtually
see it dry over long stretches. The Assam government is asking for a
review of the hydel projects in upstream Arunachal Pradesh because it
believes these are resulting in floods. Assam’s 2,000 MW Subansiri
project is in trouble because state-appointed experts say the dam
could have serious impacts in downstream areas. The two
yet-to-be-built nuclear projects— the 6,000 MW Jasapara project in
Bhavnagar and the 9,900 MW Jaitapur project in Konkan—are already
facing people’s enormous anger.
We are not seeing the big picture as yet. We still believe these
countless struggles are a minor hiccup. People’s anger can be
disregarded, paid for or just squashed. But I believe not. As I have
argued in the past, this is the environmentalism of the very poor;
people across the country are fighting for survival. They know their
poverty will only be replaced by more destitution if and when these
projects are built.
It is time we accepted this fact. It is time we accepted that many of
the projects, planned or proposed, will not be built. The availability
of land and water will be the real constraints on growth. So what do
we do?
One, we need a law that makes basic energy a fundamental right of all
Indians, like the right to employment, education and now food. This
will ensure people are empowered to demand energy as a right and that
the state has to share whatever it has with all. This will create real
conditions for generating energy in new and different ways. Generation
could be decentralised and local or even big and grid-connected. This
will give every community a real stake in power development.
Two, India must accept it cannot build all the projects it has
planned. It has to prioritise them taking into consideration the
cumulative capacity of the environment. In other words, it needs to
assess how much water can be taken away for hydel projects while
ensuring natural flow in rivers at all times. It must allow only those
projects that do not compromise the environment and people’s
livelihood. Currently, this is not done. Every stream and every
district is up for grabs. In Arunachal Pradesh, there are 10 projects
on every stream; some 150 MoUs have been signed, adding to some 50,000
MW of power generation (roughly one-third of the country’s current
installed power). Just one block of Chhattisgarh, Dabra, has nine
thermal projects in a 10 km radius. MoUs have been signed for 49
projects in Janjgir-Champa district of Chhattisgarh. This madness must
Three, India needs to enhance the capacity of environmental
regulators, so that they take correct and clear decisions. Projects
need more careful scrutiny, and the assessment must have credibility
in people’s eyes.
We must first realise the need to change the game of development. Only
then will there be light.
Read this online:
Post your comments at:
Down To Earth Magazine
Cover Story: Choking access to drugs
How cheap drugs are being squeezed out
Web exclusives
TV DTE: A Patient’s Dilemma
More news, features, opinion in Down To Earth
Patently Absurd: Why do judges need to be ‘sensitised’?
Frontpage: Landholders to get titles
Frontpage: Strings attached
Special report: India’s nuclear chimera
Special report: Mango resistance
Life and Nature: Upturned harvest
Gobar Times
Whats cooking in the Indian streets
Hot on the spill trail
Short training programmes
Course on Domestic wastewater treatment and reuse (August 24-28, 2010)
Course details:
Course contact: Merajuddin Ahmad,
Water Management Unit
Tel: 91-11-2995 5124, 6394, 6399, Mob: 9899820945
Fax: 91-11-2995 5879
Recent Publications
Challenge of the New Balance
CSE’s landmark study on how India will reduce emissions to combat
climate change.
Order print copy:
Mobility crisis – Agenda for Action 2010
CSE’s latest book in its Right to Clean Air Campaign series.
Order now:
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