Dear Reader,

There is a growing perception that the vaunted Right To Information Act, 2005 – the vanguard of transparency and accountability in governance – has been sought to be steadily diluted.

The recently introduced Digital Personal Data Protection Act, is seen as yet another stab at the heart of the RTI provisions. The Supreme Court Observer laments that this erosion of the right to information through legislative sleight of hand, executive encroachment and procedural inertia has not attracted judicial scrutiny and the enforcement that it deserves. And, the RTI Act is degenerating into a pale shadow of what it once was.

This penchant for executive overreach through the legislative route on critical issues was once again evident in the new forest law passed by Parliament in August. The Forest Conservation Amendment (FCA) Act, unfortunately, seems to pave the way for the fragmenting of the forest corridors for wildlife. As Article 14 points out, the government’s own institution has asserted that these corridors are critical for conservation and ensuring “genetic exchange through dispersal”. They further assert that the tendency to give in to the pressures of urbanisation at the cost of ecology should be fiercely resisted.

Unfortunately, it is not only the forests and wildlife that unbridled urban growth takes a toll on. The Citizen brings you the story of how Dehradun - hitherto a haven for education, research and military institutions - is now equally notorious for pollution, urban decay and overcrowding. The story also looks at what can be done to rescue it – including a metro rail network.

And, in Kashmir, Kashmir Observer reports that while ‘Cannabis’ invokes images of haze, intoxication and a ‘high’, it also has the potential of being a “wonder drug”, that can unleash a new world of healing. The story tells you how the Council of Scientific Research-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine in Jammu has initiated the ‘Cannabis Research Project’, the only one of its kind in India, which explores the “healing properties “of the plant beyond its hallucinatory aspects.

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


Sunil Rajshekhar

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Restricted Information: Six significant judgements from the last decade

The RTI ecosystem, seen as the edifice of transparency and accountability in governance, is now being perceived to be steadily emasculated. The Supreme Court Observer examines how judicial coyness and executive overreach have impacted the citizens’ right to know.

Read Here

Govt Reports Warn How India’s New Forest Law Will Accelerate Fragmentation Of Critical Animal Corridors

Laws governing the forests in India are being increasingly loosened by legislation to the detriment of conservation and ecology. Article 14 looks at how the forest corridors for animals are being diminished.

Read Here

Dehradun Seeks Solutions To Transport Chaos

Dehradun, Uttarakhand’s capital, once a tranquil and sylvan paradise, is now beset with urban decay. The Citizen reports on the issues, and looks at what can be done to pull the city back from the edge.

Read Here

From Taboo to Treatment: How Cannabis Research Project by CSIR-IIIM Jammu Is Breaking Many Myths

Kashmir Observer reports that the Council for Scientific Research, in Jammu, has launched a project to map the healing properties of cannabis.

Read Here

More from the grantees
തുക നൽകിയാലും തീരില്ല നെൽകർഷകരോടുള്ള അവഗണന
In Kerala, a debate rages on about the non-payment of dues to cultivators for the rice procured by the state-owned SupplyCo. Keraleeyam Masika examines the issues and the challenges faced by the farmers.
कटिहार: दशकों से एक सड़क के लिए तरसता कदवा का सबनपुर गांव
मैं मीडिया reports from Sabanpur village, in the Kadwa block of Katihar district in Bihar, on the absence of a road for decades, depriving the villagers access to essential services.
ग्राउंड रिपोर्ट: सिंगाराम एनकाउंटर मामले में 14 साल बाद भी नहीं मिला इंसाफ, पीड़ित परिवार निराश
The struggle for justice for the tribals killed in the Singaram encounter in 2009, recently faced a setback when the Chhattisgarh High Court rejected both victims' plea for compensation, and for a CBI probe. Janchowk reports from Bastar, Chhattisgarh, on how justice remains elusive for these marginalised communities.
क्या सूखा से निपटने की बिहार की कोई तैयारी है?
As Bihar alternates between floods in one part of the state and draught in the other, Democratic Charkha reports that the state is not up to dealing with either. With a severe shortage of urea, no pumps to augment the paucity of water and no compensation, the farmers are particularly hit.

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