Honouring the legacy of late Hon’ble Mr. Justice N K Patil (retd.)
Environment Support Group extends its heartfelt condolences on the demise of the late Hon’ble Mr. Justice Naganath Kanteppa Patil (retd.), former judge of the High Court of Karnataka, who passed away on 11th December, 2023.
Justice N K Patil’s legacy of dedication to justice and his contributions to the legal field will be remembered with profound respect. He has especially been the beacon of hope for ESG and all environmental & lake activists in the city.
In the long drawn court battle to reclaim and rehabilitate our lakes and water commons, Justice Patil has played a pivotal role by chairing the committee that was mandated with proposing steps to restore lakes as biodiversity-rich and healthy wetland ecosystems. Taking keen and deep interest in the matter, Justice Patil produced two reports, one proposing comprehensive guidelines for lake protection and rehabilitation, and the second on why the policy of privatisation of lakes should not be persisted with. These reports continue to be the guide to ecologically-wise rehabilitation of lakes, and are being implemented across the State. ESG has had the privilege to work closely with Justice Patil in implementing these reports to protect our water systems for posterity. Justice Patil will always be remembered for his simplicity and humility.
Our thoughts and sympathies go out to his family, friends, and the legal community during this time. He leaves behind an indelible mark, and we join in mourning the loss of a distinguished jurist. May his soul rest in peace.
Updates from ESG
Consultation with the Landfill-Impacted Community at Mavallipura
On 16th December, 2023, ESG held a consultation with the landfill-impacted community at Mavallipura, Bangalore North as part of the ongoing efforts to develop a participatory and ground up climate action plan for Bengaluru. The discussion brought to light the various challenges posed by climate change on communities that are already facing the generational impact of the two decades-old landfills at Mavallipura. These challenges encompass social, economical, health and nutritional impacts. The consultation also resulted in the identification of multiple strategies to reduce the climate impacts in these specifically marginalised communities which includes provision of basic facilities such as clean water, nutritious food, functional and accessible PHCs, health camps, child care facilities, restoration of farmland, and other strategies. Read the detailed report of the consultation here.
Consultation with the Community of Sex Workers
Similarly, on 18th December, 2023, ESG conducted a consultation with the community of sex workers, in collaboration with the Sadhana Mahila Sangha, SIEDS and Gamana Women’s Collective. The interactive discussion revealed the multitude of challenges faced by individuals within a profession that is deeply stigmatised. The women not only live their daily lives in unsanitary environments without basic facilities, but also live with constant fear over their health and safety, and continue to face harassment and violence as an outcome of the deep-rooted stigma for the profession. The discussion revealed how climate change is further exacerbating their difficulties in simply making a living, and led to the identification of various strategies that would alleviate the impact of climate change. Read the detailed report of the consultation here.
Participation at the We20 Summit
In August 2023, ESG participated in the We20 Summit held at New Delhi which served as a platform for uniting progressive representatives, social movements, human rights defenders, and organizations supporting vulnerable groups, to emphasize dissent and democracy. Read the report of the We20 Summit here.
Outcome of the COP28
As the COP28 negotiations unfolded, a historic agreement was reached on the first day – to establish a Loss anDamageFund. Even with the introduction of the Loss and Damage Fund, challenges loom large. Richer nations continue to evade responsibility for their emissions, invoking the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities. The new fund, while a positive step, lacks obligations for historic polluters to pay for their emissions, leading to concerns about its scale, agency for affected groups, and adherence to human rights obligations.
Environmentalists have raised alarms on the misdirected focus on new carbon capture technologies which diverts attention from the urgent need to eliminate fossil fuel burning which is the root cause of the problem. Behind the scenes, leaked documents unveiled UAE’s subverted plans to use COP28 to set private discussions with 15 nations on potential fossil fuel deals!
Regarding agriculture and food security, discussions at COP28 culminated in the Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action. While the declaration received appreciation for addressing food insecurity, critics argued that it lacked specificity and failed to effectively tackle issues stemming from industrial agriculture, instead concentrating on small-scale, unregulated sectors.
22 countries signed a declaration calling for a tripling of nuclear power generation capacity between 2020 and 2050. Over 60 countries signed up to a so called ‘cooling pledge’ with commitments to reduce the climate impact of the cooling sector, that could also provide “universal access to life-saving cooling, take the pressure off energy grids and save trillions of dollars by 2050.”
Amidst the bustling activities at COP28, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled India’s “Green Credit initiative” which is similar to the existing carbon credit system, a system that still has no set rules and regulations.
Of the major declarations that culminated at COP28, India chose not to sign the Declaration on Climate and Health as well as the Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge, which aims to triple RE generation capacity by 2030 and halt new investments in coal. Further, while India welcomed the Dubai Consensus document and its focus on methane reductions, it did not join the consensus as a signatory, due to potential impacts on agricultural practices and patterns in the country.
Safeguarding our Green Commons
Several research papers have emphasized the need for community involvement in forest management and restoration. But rather than focusing just on planting trees, current research shows that strong local community decision-making authority—such as formalised community forest management with local participation in governance—leads to effective management and regeneration of forests.
However, in a blow to forest conservation, the Supreme Court of India, in a recent Public Interest Litigation (PIL) initiated by 13 public officers, declined to stay the recent amendments made to the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. These amendments effectively remove large tracts of deemed forests from the protection of the Act. This decision raises concerns about the increased vulnerability of ecologically sensitive zones and Adivasi lands that were previously safeguarded.
Adding to the environmental challenges, the Union Environment Ministry disclosed data indicating the diversion of 90,000 hectares of forest land for non-forestry purposes in the last five years!
Climate Disasters on the Rise
The recent havoc wreaked by Cyclone Michaung in Chennai has thrust the vulnerability of Indian cities to climate-induced disasters into the spotlight. The aftermath exposed the inadequacies of urban centres in dealing with the impacts of flooding, sea level rise, and coastal erosion. Notably, megacities such as Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai are identified as having an increased risk of flooding, raising concerns about the potential submergence of over a dozen coastal cities within the next century.
The threat extends beyond coastal areas, reaching into hilly regions where indiscriminate development and mining activities have destabilized ecosystems. The story of Chennai’s inundation serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for comprehensive and sustainable urban planning, emphasizing climate resilience as a cornerstone for the future.
Legal Developments on Environmental & Social Justice
In a series of impactful developments, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), has reached a historic settlement over financing a palm oil company’s violent land-grabbing campaign in Honduras. This marks the first time an international financial institution has settled a lawsuit filed by an injured community.
In the UK, the Advertising Standards Authority, an advertising watchdog, has banned two Toyota adverts for promoting environmentally irresponsible driving practices.
On the legislative front, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU have agreed to cease plastic waste exports to non-OECD countries, addressing concerns about the harm to environment and human health.
Bengaluru in Focus
In Bangalore, recent developments highlight the intricate challenges faced by the city, prompting a reevaluation of urban policies. The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) faced resistance from over 50 street vendors in Banashankari, leading to the retraction of its decision to evict them.
The government’s proposal for costly tunnel roads and elevated corridors prompts concerns about economic justification, transparency, and adherence to the recently launched Bengaluru Climate Action and Resilience Plan. Bangalore lags behind Delhi in park numbers, raising questions about the city’s commitment to biodiversity and community well-being amidst pressing urban challenges.
[This issue of EJM has been compiled by Vidita Govindachari of GNLU, Pranjali Gupta of APU, Sarvesh S of Christ University, and Nidhi Hanji & Yashaswini Sundar of ESG]
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