Media is not merely the fourth pillar of democracy but also a watchdog towards the working of State, however politicization of media, sensationalization of news due to TRP race, numerous elections leading to media involved continuously in election mode leads to neglect of some core issues which are important for public purposes, information dissemination, discussion & debate. To be honest, I do not think 2017 was the best year for mankind. But there were certain instances throughout the year, that showed us that whatever Donald Trump may proclaim, climate change is here, and it’s staring us in the face. Below, I list eight of the biggest news tidbits that the media forgot to mention and highlight throughout the year, that every woke reader must be aware about.
At the very beginning of 2017, in December 2016, 23 workers got trapped under debris at the Lalmatia open-cast coal mine in Jharkhand’s Godda district. The media reported it for a while and then forgot it as soon as the new year came in. The techniques employed by mining sector and related security provisions need a wider debate as repeated accidents put a question mark on India’s development trajectory.
Then, in January 2017, two vessels collided off the Kamarajar Port at Ennore near Chennai resulting in an oil spill at sea. The issue was severe as the amount of damage to oceanic ecosystem was huge, time lapses by local authorities to clear off the sludge were deemed to be worth criticizing and debate on safety precautions by ships was needed.
Moreover, in February, the Maharashtra government decided to conduct cloud seeding experiment in next three year to tackle the problem of frequent droughts in Vidarbha region. The plan is ambitious and the result will be worth analysing in future.
Thereafter, in March, the Uttarakhand HC division bench declared the Ganga and Yamuna living entities, bestowing on them same legal rights as a person. This move needed wider debate as the order at the outset looked ambiguous but if the Rights are extended the move could have greater positive results.
Additionally, in July, a study conducted by School of Oceanographic Studies, Jadavpur University, reveals that from 1986 to 2012, 124.418 sq. km. mangrove forest cover has been lost. India has largest mangrove reserve in the world, and are a biodiversity heritage giving social, economic and environmental benefits to all stakeholders including humans, birds, fishes, etc. The issue needs highlight and public debate.
Also, in 2017, Earth Overshoot Day fell on August 2, the earliest date since ecological overshoot began in the early 1970s which fell on August 9 in 2016. Earth overshoot day is the date when humanity annual demand on nature exceeds what Earth can regenerate over the entire year. The public discourse must turn towards such signals which depict the need to focus on reducing anthropogenic global warming.
Likewise, Parali 1 island (part of Bangaram atoll), one of biodiversity-rich uninhabited islands part of Lakshadweep has disappeared, due to coastal erosion and another four such islands in Lakshadweep sea are shrinking fast. Coastal erosion is both man-made and natural. However, the current pace of erosion is unprecedented and the illegal developmental activities are fastening the processes of erosion.
Further, in October, the NHRC issued notices to the Centre as well as the Maharashtra government, for the death of farmers and after inhaling poisonous pesticide in the Yavatmal district. The issue of pesticide poisoning is serious health impediment to farmers sowing and spraying pesticides and also to humans consuming such food items. Till recent years though, Indian fertilizer usage was on alarming levels, Indian pesticide usage was one of the lowest in the world. However, with growing food demands and low productivity, the pesticide usage has shot up needing a policy intervention.