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Turning a blind eye to cell tower radiation risks

By Darryl D'Monte

The Maharashtra government has finally accepted that nearly half of Mumbai’s cell towers are illegal. However, the government is still not admitting the health risks posed by these towers

cell tower radiation

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Acting globally and locally

If internationally climate change is tackled with the fig-leaf of annual global conventions, India is doing its bit by setting up endless committees and sub-committees, writes Darryl D'Monte

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Softening the diesel blow

Those who protest the government’s long overdue moves to hike the price of ‘dirty diesel’ on grounds that it will turn the screws on the poor ought to remember that 600 million Indians do not buy any form of commercial energy whatsoever, and the subsidies mainly benefit the middle classes and rich, writes Darryl D'Monte

hike in diesel prices

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From ‘Garibi Hatao’ to ‘Garib Hatao’

By Darryl D'Monte

What are the implications of the decision to allow the Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) to fast-track clearances for infrastructure projects worth more than Rs 1,000 crore?

Garib Hatao

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Deluge of delusion

By Darryl D'Monte

Despite a battering from Superstorm Sandy and subsequent economic losses of $33 billion, the US still prevaricates on the connection between a cataclysmic hurricane and climate change

 Climate change

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In defence of ‘green terrorists’

The India Today cover story ‘Green Terror’ indicates that mainstream media have now joined industry, bureaucracy and politicians in proclaiming environmental activism the major obstacle to 8% growth. Whatever happened to the basic journalistic principle of presenting both sides of the story, asks Darryl D'Monte

 Environmental journalists

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Towering infernal radiation

By Darryl D'Monte

Mumbai is possibly the city worst-affected by radiation from cell phone towers, with roughly 80% of its 10,000 towers allegedly illegal and unsafe. An aggressive campaign by citizens has finally brought attention to the serious health risks and the transgressions of the law

Towering infernal radiation

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Biting the fuel subsidies bullet

A new set of studies make a convincing argument for reducing fossil fuel subsidies, writes Darryl D'Monte, and demolishes the claim that raising diesel prices will impact the poor most and send inflation spiralling

Reducing diesel subsidies

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How much do Indians consume?

By Darryl D'Monte

While India's per capita material consumption is still low, a new report reveals that in 50 years India’s consumption of fossil fuels increased 12 times, construction materials 9 times and industrial materials and ores 8.6 times. How will India support its growing economy sustainably?

Ecological Economists

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Prising open official reports

By Darryl D'Monte

In a decision with important implications, the CIC has forced the MoEF to upload the report of the Western Ghats Ecology Experts taskforce headed by Madhav Gadgil, ruling that information must be put in the public domain as decisions are being made, not after

Dr Madhav Gadgil Right to Information Act

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A price tag on nature

TEEB estimates that every year the world loses $2-4.5 trillion worth of natural capital. Does it make sense to put an economic value to our natural resources? Darryl D'Monte explores

giant squirrel natural resources

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Gloom and doom unlimited?

Three recent reports underline once again the impending global ecological crisis. Will Rio+20 this June help us arrest the race to catastrophe, asks Darryl D'Monte

Climate change

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Linking rivers: Tragedy of errors

The river-linking project needs to be given a decent burial, says Darryl D'Monte, but instead, the Supreme Court has exceeded its brief and asked the centre to implement it

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The high costs of poor sanitation

Despite the Total Sanitation Campaign launched since 1991, just 30,000 of 600,000 villages are free of open defecation today. The economic impact of poor sanitation in India is Rs 2.46 trillion or 6.5% of the GDP, writes Darryl D’Monte

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Exit endosulfan

By Darryl D'Monte

India manufactures 70% of the world’s endosulfan, which explains why there has been such a strong lobby against its ban, despite evidence of its health hazards. But India has finally dropped its opposition to a ban on endosulfan, thanks largely to the campaign against the pesticide by Kerala’s people and government

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Making sanitation as popular as cricket

By Darryl D'Monte

700 million Indians have cell phones, but 638 million still don’t have access to proper sanitation. At this year’s South Asian Conference on Sanitation, social solutions to the problem were discussed, including “naming and shaming” and the CLTS programme which gets villagers to map the open areas where they defecate

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Rethinking fossil fuel subsidies

The government has proposed direct cash transfers instead of subsidies on essential items including kerosene and diesel to the poor. The country certainly cannot permit the huge losses from subsidies any more, says Darryl D’Monte, but it remains to be seen whether cash transfers or a coupon system, or even a combination of such reforms, will work

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Small green hope in India's burgeoning construction industry

By Darryl D'Monte

Most of India’s construction industry mimics the energy-inefficient glass-and-steel buildings of the West. But with the introduction of two green rating systems for buildings, the revival of traditional architecture and 30 architecture/engineering colleges introducing green certification courses, the country is slowly building up capacity to construct green buildings

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Ecological illiteracy regarding Mumbai

By Darryl D'Monte

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh recently increased the floor space index in Mumbai’s coastal belts. It’s a move doomed to fail; and will only add to the city’s cup of environmental woes, writes Darryl D’Monte

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Renewable energies as big business opportunities?

By Darryl D'Monte

Biomass and biogas are the cheap, decentralised renewable energies to choose for India. But the ministry of renewable energies -- and the technocrats and entrepreneurs surrounding it -- appear to favour hi-tech solutions such as grid solar power, with only a few exceptions such as the project to produce power from rice husk in 10,000 villages in eastern India

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Backgrounders

Agriculture And Food Security : Background & Perspective

Agriculture And Food Security : Background & Perspective

By Devinder Sharma

Pre-Independence India suffered repeated famines, drought and food shortages. But following the Green Revolution in the '60s, yields and foodstocks rose manifold. Now, 30 years later, Indian farmers have realised the follies of their tryst with intensive agriculture. Despite 70 per ...

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Analysis

The organic foods divide in India

The organic foods divide in India

By Rahul Goswami

The divide between farmers growing and selling organic produce in India and the major organic foods and beverages retailers is widening, to the detriment of organic farmers. This was evident at Biofach India 2013 held in Bengaluru

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Features

Ragi over rice

Ragi over rice

By Ananda Siddhartha

As in the rest of India, in Pavagada taluka of Karnataka, ragi is losing out to rice, groundnut and other cash crops. Until 15 years ago, it was the reverse. What are the market and policy pressures that have caused this reversal, and what are its consequences on health and nutri...

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Books & Reports

Vertical farms

Vertical farms

By Sudhirendar Sharma

A new book by Dickson Despommier posits the farm of the future as a vertical farm over 30 floors in any city centre. Powered by renewable energies a vertical farm could meet the food needs of 50,000 people, consume 70-95% less water, restrict the use of harmful agro-chemicals and...

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Punjab Series

Nation's food bowl in crisis

By Anosh Malekar

When the state that was the country's biggest agricultural success story in the 1970s tops the list of indebted farmers, it is obvious that there is something very rotten in the state of agriculture in the country. A three-part series that looks at the agriculture crisis in India's fo...

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News

Stories of change

Nalbari farmers resume cultivation after 25 years

By Ratna Bharali Taukdar

Thousands of farmers in Borigog-Barbhag block, in lower Assam’s Nalbari district, joined hands to dredge a 15-km stretch of a water channel that had blocked and flooded farmlands across 50 villages. For 25 years, farmers had abandoned work on their waterlogged lands. No...

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Changemakers

Urban poverty and the food crisis

A grain in an empty bowl: Government services in the urban context

By Maheen Mirza

Anganwadis, ICDS and PDS are huge government programmes meant to cater to the health and nutritional requirements of the poor. Yet 72.4% of urban poor children in Madhya Pradesh are underweight, 60.4% are undernourished and almost nine out of 10 are anaemic. The fifth and final part o...

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Backgrounders

IT And Development : Background & Perspective

IT And Development : Background & Perspective

By Aditya Dev Sood

What use can a computer be to someone earning less than a dollar a day? What use is information technology in a country that has a low penetration of telephony and computers, where even electricity is not assured, and where millions are still illiterate? These are standard questions...

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Analysis

Free culture for a free society

By V Sasi Kumar

What is it that prompts a group of people in Calicut to start the Chamba Swatantra Cinema Project? How did the world move from copyrights over knowledge, introduced in the 16th-18th centuries and codified as the Statute of Anne, to free software, free knowledge and free culture? And w...

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Features

Do you want to be watched?

The new rules for surveillance under the IT Act are an assault on our freedom. They also seem misguided, says Sunil Abraham . How many terrorists or criminals will be arrested in India thanks to the new ID requirements at cybercafés or a ban on public wi-fi? Intelligence work cannot be replaced...

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Changemakers

Stories of change

The people's voice

By Sherna Gandhy

Every citizen in this country has a right to be heard. But what happens when you live in an area where no mainstream media organisation bothers to penetrate, and when you speak a language no media organisation knows or understands? CGNet Swara uses mobile telephony to break through th...

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News

India turns to ICT for better delivery of welfare schemes

Bihar will become the first state in the country to videograph the distribution of PDS coupons to weed out ineligible recipients. And the Union human resources ministry proposes to use a cheap, indigenously made tablet PC to record BPL and caste data

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