A MEGA PROJECT IS UNDERWAY IN INDIA’S SMALLEST STATE. Goa, straddled by the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, will soon be a transport hub for coking coal. The fossil will arrive by ships from Canada, South Africa and Australia to the government port at Vasco da Gama. It will be carried by trucks, barges and trains along Goa’s beaches, paddy fields and hillocks and eventually across the majestic Ghats, through its dense forests and waterfalls and into arid northern Karnataka, where the high-grade coal will be used by factories to convert iron ore into steel.

The project involves more than doubling the amount of coal passing along this chain, and so a number of sub-projects are being executed: vast underwater trenches in the seabed to make it deep enough for massive coal-bearing ships; a widened network of highways and railways on beaches and in forests. …

The IPB has been a key player behind drastic changes to the Goan landscape, transcending environmental safeguards and constitutional institution.

The IPB overrides all state, town and village-level laws related to clearing industrial growth, including those formed under the the 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution.

Any firm that wants to invest more than Rs 5 crore in the state, and assures job creation, can approach the Board.

At a speed that will make business lobbies drool, the IPB has cleared 71 projects worth over Rs 7,000 crore in just nine meetings since it was established in October 2014.

In just one meeting on 21 January, the board cleared nine projects worth nearly Rs 1,900 crore, including four five-star hotels on the coast in the Bardez region, and a mall.


Mumbai has moved decisively closer to building a road on the Arabian Sea, along its western coast. Fifty or hundred years from now, how will the city remember this moment?

While the government is selling this project as a solution to the city’s traffic woes, what the project will most likely be is a disaster.

At Rs 11,300 crore, it is way more expensive than any public transport system, including upgrading the existing ones. Yet it will serve only 2% of Mumbai’s population.

Originally published on January 7, 2016. Read the full story:


Did you know that rivers originating in Tibet’s glaciers supply water to 1.3 billion people? That’s equivalent to the entire population of India.

But these glaciers are fast disappearing due to global warming.

Tibet’s sustainability is crucial for sustenance of the world, but this fact is not commonly known. The glaciers are just the tip of the iceberg.

Originally published on October 22, 2015. Read the full story: http://www.catchnews.com/environment-news/5-reasons-why-tibet-s-melting-ice-is-a-disaster-for-india-europe-and-us-1445440135.html

How does a bird go from nearly being chosen as India’s national bird after independence, to almost going extinct today? The Great Indian Bustard (GIB) has found itself on the wrong side of wildlife conservation in India. Where sustained attention and high-decibel campaigns have helped save the tiger, conservation has come too little and too late for the Bustard.

The one-metre tall bird is among the few heavy birds in the world that can fly and is found commonly in grasslands. As such areas have been overgrazed or taken over by agriculture, the GIB population has been driven nearly to extinction. Numbers have dropped from over a thousand in 1980 to just under 200 GIBs today. Read the full story:

http://www.catchnews.com/environment-news/have-you-ever-seen-a-great-indian-bustard-chances-are-you-never-will-1445263284.html Originally published on October 19, 2015

In its climate action pledge to the UN ahead of the Paris climate conference, India said it could generate 63 GW of nuclear power by 2032, if it’s given the right technology.

The figure shocked everyone, even those in favour of nuclear power, who called it a “pipe dream”.

How far fetched is the target? Read the full story: http://www.catchnews.com/environment-news/nuclear-power-can-india-keep-its-tall-promises-1444657330.html

Environment minister Prakash Javadekar declared last week that Indians believe only in “need-based consumption” and shun “extravagant consumption”, thanks to their “value systems”.

The minister said this in Paris at a meeting of climate change negotiators from across the world. This meeting is a prelude to the important CoP-21 climate change conference there in December. He further added: “[Indians] have an ingrained sense of responsibility where wasteful consumption is abhorred.”

The minister’s remarks reflect ignorance of the increasing dominance of carbon-heavy lifestyles in India. Several studies of the country’s resource use in the last decade indicate that our consumption is on the same path as that of industrialised nations. …

August 13 was Earth Overshoot Day. Many have never heard of it. Why is it in the news then? More importantly, how is it different from the deluge of other ‘days’?

The Overshoot Day, unlike the others, doesn’t fall on the same day every year because nobody can know for sure. This is what makes it so important.

It’s the day we have used up all the earth’s resources that we were supposed to have taken the whole year to consume.

It’s a doomsday forged by our own hands, and it has been signalling disaster every year.

Originally published in Catch News on August 18, 2015. Read the full story: http://www.catchnews.com/environment-news/earth-overshoot-day-a-reminder-that-our-world-is-dying-and-we-are-killing-it-1439661823.html/fullview


Nihar Gokhale

I am an independent journalist interested in conflicts around mega-infrastructure projects in India.

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