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Digging Deep: Agriculture Issues before the National Green Tribunal, India by Rita Brara, Delhi University

Jun 18, 2015 04:00 pm to 06:00 pm
Karl Jaspers Centre, Room 112

What is the impact of thermal power plants on agriculture? Can farmers be compensated for pollution of groundwater by a chemicals factory? Can we stop burning crop residues? The depth and width of agro-environmental issues is poised to revitalize agrarian studies.

Fine-grained agrarian studies with an ear to the ground and an intensive focus on a region often overlook the wide range of emergent agro-legal issues that show up when a country is taken as the unit of analysis. By bringing together agro-environmental cases that have come up for hearing before the National Green Tribunal, India in the last four years, it is possible to obtain a multi-sited picture of developments spread across diverse ecologies and spanning rural-urban divides.

Investigating these decisions reveals the possibilities for enviro-justice through monetary compensation that has emerged in relation to the degradation of agricultural lands by industrial effluents and emissions. It has also led to a call for vernacular science to explore the impact of injurious gases upon locally grown crops. On the other hand, legal constraints have sought to be imposed upon agriculturists in the quest for cleaner and healthier cities by restraining the burning of crop residues that drift as particulate matter to city atmospheres and the ban upon the selling of vegetables that are farmed on sewage water. At the same time, the old legal problems pertaining to land still remain. For instance, encroachments by agriculturists on forest lands are the staple for evictions and land acquisition, especially by the state, continues to mark its presence on the legal register.