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Periphery of the Western Ghats, Maharashtra. 2018.

The Forest Survey of India has satellites passing over India 6 times a day, reporting in real-time forest fires. The current season reflects a dip in fire alerts, likely due to a reduction of careless mammals (humans) roaming the forest floor….but with many forest department officials under lockdown, the fires that do catch run the risk of running wild.

Biswajit Mohanty, secretary of the Wildlife Society of Odisha, had this to say a few days ago, “The first one hour is critical to control it before it develops into an inferno.”

I’m not sure if he was speaking about forest fires or Coronavirus.

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Jindal Steel Works at Dolvi, Maharashtra. April 2018.

Nestled on the banks of the Amba River is JSW’s Dolvi plant, which houses one of the steel conglomerates four blast furnaces in India. According to media reports, this blast furnace, like much of humanity, has been shut down — a magnanimous feat I wrote about last week.

While India’s lock-down lingers on, the idea of a ‘lock-in’ has gained traction. Aman Sharma of the Economic Times had this to say on 13 April 2020, “PM Narendra Modi is said to have suggested a “lock-in” for factories with workers staying onsite and maintaining social distancing. …

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RanchiRural Jharkhand Tube-Well. 2016.

When I visited Ranchi in 2016, little did I know she was in the midst of an affair with water scarcity that would linger for years. The relationship is ongoing as of early 2020, and trust me, it is complicated.

But for this sodden piece, let us look beyond urban Ranchi, to rural Jharkhand.

Writing in the Hindu BusinessLine last year (November 2019), Tina Edwin reported: In rural Jharkhand, 1.7% of households have access to piped drinking water.

Handpumps and tube-wells are the primary sources of drinking water for many rural households in these States and that essentially means these people are drinking untreated and often unsafe water.”


Urbs Indis

Robert Stephens

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