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Development

What goes down

Issue Date: Sep 30, 2004
The stinky spectacle of hill-stations getting buried under their own garbage is turning more real. Look down the slopes and you will see mounds of coloured plastic bags, and tourist staples such as empty packets of potato chips and plastic water bottles. All of which is mixed with vegetable waste and debris, making the piles taller by the day.

High risk

Issue Date: Sep 30, 2004
Evam Piljain, an 80-year-old Toda who's spent all her life in Ooty, feels distraught at the sight of her hometown. "I cannot sit in the verandah anymore," she says. She moves to her drawing room and gazes wistfully at a photograph of Ooty taken in the early part of the twentieth century -- green, picturesque. But outside, hill after hill is chock-a-bloc with concrete buildings.

View from the top

Issue Date: Sep 30, 2004
Planning is non-existent for India's hill-stations, admit hill municipalities. In the absence of a master plan, a free-for-all situation prevails where one constructs wherever one finds free space; if there is lack of space, one can simply add another storey to one's house. There is no tourist plan, which becomes amply clear when total chaos prevails during the peak season.

Imagining IEDP

Issue Date: Jul 31, 2004
The Union government hired the Indian Institute of Planning and Administration (IIPA), New Delhi, to chalk out an 'indicative plan', a proposal submitted by the government to the World Bank to launch formal negotiations, which the department of economic affairs took up with the Bank in 1994.

Lost in transit

Issue Date: Jul 31, 2004
Nimati Domohini village in the west of Buxa Tiger Reserve, West Bengal, is on a highway where a side road breaks off and leads to the reserve's Nimati range office seven kilometres away. But the village is miles away from realising the dreams dreamt by its 331-member eco-development committee (EDC) set up in 2001. Each committee member was allocated Rs 10,000.

Conserve or pickle?

Issue Date: Jul 31, 2004
Both the Forestry Research Education and Extension Project (FREEP) and its later, larger avatar, the India Eco-development project (IEDP) had a single objective: conserve biodiversity. What also made it a different form of rural development, quite unlike anything government had hitherto done, was the equal emphasis on improving the lives of people in tandem with the forest.

After dosage

Issue Date: Jul 31, 2004
IEDP's larger monitoring mechanism, too, seems to have been primarily meant for the government or Bank consumption. The Bank sent its supervisory missions and its supervisors wrote 'aid memoirs' on whether project sites conformed to project conditions. Their memoirs were not made public, and shared only with the government.

Hold tight

Issue Date: Jul 31, 2004
There exists a document called Linking Biodiversity Conservation and Rural Livelihoods. It is the Indian government's initial salvo for a new eco-development project, expected to begin late 2005. It will cost approximately US $48 million (Rs 220 crore), with beneficiaries putting in US $2 million (Rs 9.20 crore).

Development is not a road

Issue Date: Dec 15, 2003
Reportedly, bjp senior leader Arun Jaitley has contemptuously labelled Digvijay Singh's Madhya Pradesh government as " ngo -style". Why? Because it spends more on social development -- education and health -- and not on roads or electricity.

"Massive assault"

Issue Date: Apr 30, 2003
On the Vietnam war: No war in the 20th century has seen as massive an assault on the environment. Some 70 million litres of Agent Orange, a herbicide and defoliant, and other toxic chemicals were rampantly used by us armed forces. It completely destroyed about 10 per cent of forests in South Vietnam, including a third of coastal mangroves -- the lifeline for fish stocks and crucial to sustaining coastal ecology.
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