Posted by: Bittu Sahgal on
Aug 07, 2010
Coal, bauxite, lignite and uranium mines are ripping my country apart and burying tigers, elephants and butterflies in their depressing debris. Yet, even in my darkest moments, I remind myself we neither have the luxury of cynicism nor despair. The sad thing is that our battles are largely being lost because, as in the story of the Trojan Horse, it is 'crooks on the inside' that are unlocking our forest gates. They are the ones encouraging marauders to turn vital, life-saving ecosystems into cash for 30 awful pieces of silver.
Fighting such people has occupied my life for 30 and more years and I have consequently made many enemies from among project promoters and their employees, the legions of consultants who falsify EIAs, scientists that falsify satellite data to hide real forest loss, 'expert' committee members who falsify trip reports to hide inconvenient truths and many forest officers whose loyalty to coal miners and project proponents is greater than it is to their country. Included in this sad list are quite a few field biologists I was forced to expose for not having the courage to state even the most obvious truths -- dams and mines harm do wildlife, poisons do harm coastlines and rivers, highways do harm tiger reserves.
These guys will ultimately be recognised for the damaging role they played. For now, however, with crooked politicians working hand in glove with crooked NGOs, crooked scientists and crooked bureaucrats... the other side is winning the war against India. Which means we must fight even harder.
Our only real hope is that we who feel the way we do about wild nature can somehow find the will to hang together to fight the dismal ones. If we cannot do this, all will be lost.