on what it will take to clean the ganga

Till now, India has followed a relatively simple approach to clean up the Ganga—or, for that matter, any of its rivers. It has acted on the assumption that preventing pollution is sufficient to restore the river. Accordingly, India has been setting up effluent and sewage treatment plants, which clean up waste water before releasing it, along rivers like the Ganga. The outcomes of the Rs 20,000 crore spent shows this approach has not worked.

this is a very quick and dirty story. it was done in less than a day. but even the secondary research shows the shambles environmental governance in india is in. for one, there is hardly correlation between the size of the problem and the env gov architecture’s response.  it is almost as though the two are existing independently of each other. for that and more, see the story.

ps – till now, i have linked to the online version of my stories in the et website. this is the first time i am linking instead to the pdf. if you want a link to the onlive ver of the story, click here.


on how the upa’s development initiatives might fare under the nda

out today, a story on the possible outlook for the upa’s major development initiatives — aadhaar, cash transfers, npr, rights-based legislations, the proposed environment authority, the land acquisition bill — once the modi government takes over. 

the strange case of the missing 2013 forest cover report

A crucial appointment and general elections have delayed the biennial government report on the state of Indian forests. This report, which was due in 2013, was first delayed because the Forest Survey of India (FSI), which conducts the survey, was headless for six months. And then, the ministry of environment held back the report, citing elections and Election Commission approval.

While the ministry plays down the delay — just a few months, I was told — this story argues that any delay has significant impacts, and that this latest instance of indifference only underscores the urgency to overhaul how India calculates — and vastly over-estimates — her forest cover.

on land, bjp, congress and the fine art of selective mudslinging

For weeks now, Congress and the BJP have been clubbing each other over land allotments.The attack started with the Congress alleging that the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, had given large tracts of land at dirt-cheap rates to infrastructure tycoon Gautam Adani, an industrialist Modi is widely perceived as close to. The BJP rubbished these allegations. Raking up, among other things, Robert Vadra’s land deals. As for Adani, he gave a series of interviews saying the value of the land went up due to the investments he made made.
However, both sides are being economical with the truth. Here is what neither is telling you.

Given that both the Congress and the BJP are blasting each other for dubious land deals, this story takes a look at two states, the Congress-ruled Haryana and the BJP-ruled Gujarat, and finds that both have a lot of explain as land transactions go.

on the CBI’s decision to start filing closure reports…

in the past few days, india’s central bureau of investigation (CBI), one of the country’s apex investigating bodies, has closed some of the FIRs it had registered while peering into the captive coalblock allocations. the reason it cited was ‘insufficient evidence’. more recently, unnamed CBI officials have been giving interviews saying that there is no corruption in coal, that it was merely an administrative lapse.

today’s story, which examines the CBI’s grounds for making such claims, makes two large points. first, it says, the CBI’s logic for wanting to close cases citing insufficient proof is based on the argument that misrepresentation is not always cheating — especially since the allocation framework was poorly defined. both of which, as defences go, are flawed. second, large parts of the process followed for coal block allocation have not been scrutinised by the CBI. like the ‘Inter Se’ — comparision sheets created by the coal ministry to judge relative merits of coalblock applicants — recommendations that were rarely followed.

for that and more, see today’s story, here. you might also want to see this composite link containing the stories by my colleagues john, avinash, supriya and me on coalgate.