Environment Undone

With plans to transform India into a $5 trillion economy by 2024, the current government is keen to approve new infrastructure, energy, and industrial projects that can help spur national growth and ‘development’.

Environmental safeguards are seen as a barrier to growth. The Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change (MoEFCC) is therefore focused on improving the “ease of doing business” for companies, speeding up the rate at which it grants clearances and rejecting few project proposals. As a result, land is being diverted towards extracting natural resources, felling forests to make way for mines, dams, roads, and railways and displacing local populations—all with increasingly less oversight.

This multi-part and data-driven series dives into how some of India’s poorly-conceived infrastructure projects are damaging its environment and how weakened legal safeguards are unable to stem this damage. Reporting from central India’s coal mining areas, the 1,600-km long Western Ghats, the rivers of Bundelkhand, and coastal Karnataka, this reporting shows how the projects also have little or no benefits for locals.

When the Data Doesn’t Match the Ground Reality

How can someone adequately protect their land, if on paper they don’t even exist? Disha Shetty and Tish Sanghera detail the challenges behind their Environment Undone reporting and how infrastructure projects in India manipulate data and coordinates.