Dear Reader,

India is in deep waters. The World Bank predicts that if India consumes water at the rate it is doing now, in less than a decade, the country will be left with half the quantum of water its citizens need to survive. Describing the situation as “precarious”, India Development Review's podcast series, ‘On the Contrary’, discusses the complexities, the challenges and what multiple stakeholders can do to find viable and sustainable solutions.

Last week, on March 21, we marked the International Day of Forests. On the occasion, the Forest Survey of India, under the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, brought out its biennial ‘State of Forest Report, 2021’. The Report announced that India’s ‘forest and tree cover’ had increased by a remarkable 2,261 sq km in just the last two years. However, experts and activists, as The Probe says, are unconvinced. This unprecedented spurt was achieved, they contend, by counting monocultural plantations as forests -- agro and commercial forestry masquerading as forest cover.

More than three decades ago, a plant species, the Senna Spectabilis, was introduced into Kerala’s Wayanad as part of a social forestry programme to quickly afforest parts of the district. However, the plant, seen as a blessing then, has proved to be a curse threatening indigenous species and the ecosystem of Wayanad. TrueCopy Think reports that the species has encroached on 123 Sq Km of the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, even as the forest department battles to uproot the scourge.

And, India’s criminal justice system runs on the basis that capital punishment is reserved for the ‘rarest of rare’ cases, as laid down in the landmark 'Bachan Singh judgment' of the Supreme Court in 1989. However, as ThePrint points out, in the last few years, the apex court’s guidelines and precedents seem to have been turned on its head by an unrestrained resort to death penalties by the trial courts. Last year saw a record 165 death sentences with the number of prisoners on death row rising to 539, the highest in 17 years.

For more such stories from the grantees this week, please read on.


Sunil Rajshekhar

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Is India going to run out of water?

India Development Review's podcast examines the state of India’s water security and the urgent but sustainable solutions needed through adoption of both technology and traditional wisdom.

Listen Here

International Day of Forests 2023: Manipulative Forest Report Masking India’s True Forest Cover Story?

The Forest Survey of India has reported a more than two thousand square kilometres expansion in India’s forest cover. Is this too good to be true? The Probe dwells into the veracity of the figures.

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മൂന്ന് സംസ്ഥാനങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് ഭീഷണിയായി ഒരു മരം

TrueCopy Think brings us the story of how the Kerala Forest Department is battling to uproot Senna Spectabilis (called Manjakonna locally), a plant species which was introduced in the 1980s as part of a social forestry effort in Wayanad. The unbridled growth of the plant now threatens indigenous species and the local ecosystem.

Watch Here

Are courts awarding too many death sentences? 539 convicts on death row in 2022, highest in 17 yrs

ThePrint analyses the rising death penalties being handed down by the trial courts, sometimes in utter disregard of the guidelines spelt out by India’s Supreme Court.

Read Here

More from the grantees
India’s Geo-Economic Foreign Policy
As India helms the G20, The India Forum looks at the expansion and scope of India’s diplomacy and the several challenges it faces in navigating the world.
Lure of resorting to illegal crops high, as deprived farmers of Manipur’s Phalee village struggle for survival
Despite hard work and good crops, lack of roads and marketing infrastructure is depriving farmers of Phalee village of Ukhrul district in Manipur from earning a living. Imphal Free Press reports.
RTI: Where’s The Data On Kisan Drone Yatra?
The Centre says that over Rs 129 crore have been disbursed for ‘Kisan Drones’ to enable the spraying of pesticides, digitising land records, and crop assessment. However, multiple RTI queries by MediaNama failed to elicit details of the use and efficacy of these drones for farmers.
Looking for Bengaluru's Missing Namma Clinics - Mojo Ground Report
‘Namma clinics’, ostensibly on the lines of the ‘Mohalla clinics’ in Delhi, were launched by the Karnataka government last month. However, Mojo Story found that in Bengaluru the citizens are largely unaware of the new facility, which itself, at best, is in a skeletal state.

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