Blog Posts by author Sunita Narain | Centre for Science and Environment

Blog Posts by author Sunita Narain


Sunita Narain

Director General of CSE and publisher of Down To Earth, an environmentalist pushing for changes in policies and  practices and mindsets. More>>

31 August 2008

That we need ‘green’ technologies—wind, solar or biomass gasification—for future energy security is no longer a matter of debate. The critical question, now, is: under what conditions can these emerging technologies be introduced into the market? The answer is not so simple. Most innovation and manufacture in these new sectors lie with private players. At the same time, the creation of ‘favourable’ conditions for application is at the door of government and public policy.

15 August 2008

In Sikkim, bowing to local protests, the government has cancelled 11 hydro-electric projects. In Arunachal Pradesh, dam projects are being cleared at breakneck speed and resistance is growing. In Uttarakhand last month, 2 projects on the Ganga were put on hold and there is growing concern about the rest. In Himachal Pradesh, dams are so controversial that elections were won where candidates said they would not allow these to be built. Many other projects, from thermal power stations to Greenfield mining, are being resisted.

31 July 2008

The Prime Minister has released India’s national action plan on climate change. For those engaged in the business of environment and climate, the plan may offer nothing new or radical. But, as I see it, the plan asserts India can grow differently, because “it is in an early stage of development”. In other words, it can leapfrog to a low carbon economy, using high-end and emerging technologies and by being different.

15 July 2008

We were standing in Sarova village, not far from Raipur, the capital of mineral rich Chhattisgarh. All around us we could see some black stuff scattered on the ground. The villagers told us that the sponge iron factory owner was giving this away as a ‘gift’ and would even transport it to their lands. They refused to say if they were being paid to dump this reject on their land. But they did whisper to me that the land on which we were standing, laden with black reject belonged to the brother of the sarpanch.

30 June 2008

After much vacillation and prevarication, the government has finally done the inevitable—raised the price of petroleum products—by doing a little of everything. But the bottom-line is that even after the cut in customs tax, reduction in excise duty, a ‘modest’ increase in the cost of petrol, diesel and cooking gas for all and a further request to states to slash their taxes, the oil companies are still left with massive deficits in every litre or every cylinder sold. It is a job half done at a time when the burden of the task is spiralling.

15 June 2008

In the first week of April this year, a group of men came and stood outside the Centre for Science and Environment (cse), New Delhi. They carried placards with offensive slogans directed at me. We understood the ‘protesters’ were ostensibly from an ngo we believed was a front for the pesticide industry. We also understood the picket to be the latest in a dangerous pesticide industry mindgame.

31 May 2008

Look out of the window the next time you travel by road or by train anywhere in India. Hit a human settlement, and you will see, heaps of plastic coloured garbage apart, pools of dirty black water and drains that go nowhere. They go nowhere because we have forgotten a basic fact: if there are humans, there will be excreta. Indeed, we have also forgotten another truth about the so-called modern world: if there is water use, there will be waste. Roughly 80 per cent of the water that reaches households flows out as waste.

15 May 2008

Did the Nobel Prize committee make a mistake when it gave the 2007 Peace Prize to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and former us vice president Al Gore? I wonder. My disquiet is not because the prize recognized and put climate change at the centre of global debate. It stems from the fact that the Nobel Prize has held up, as champions, an organisation and individuals that are cautious, conservative and play strictly by the book when searching for answers to tackling climate change. There is nothing wrong in being so.

30 April 2008

My colleague Pradip Saha has been filming in Ghoramara, an island in the Sunderban delta, to understand why, in this zone suspended between land and water, people talk of nothing but subsidence. Savita’s narration captures the mood. Two years ago, rising water tore into this housewife’s life, taking away her land, source of livelihood and her dignity. She wasn’t compensated. She then moved further landward, paying a landowner to build another home. But now the water’s grasping at her tiny house again: she shows the camera deep gashes in the ground just outside.

15 April 2008

India has added two more swanky symbols to bolster its first-world ambitions: the Rajiv Gandhi international airport in Hyderabad and the gleaming Bengaluru international airport in our software capital. But look beneath this glitzy façade and you will find another instance of development on the cheap. We refuse to admit that our dream of world-class infrastructure is not grounded on the hard reality that we are a rich and poor country at the same time. As a result, we do not think differently and plan for solutions that suit our needs.

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