April 9, 2015
On April 6, a unique State Environment and Forest Ministers’ conference took place in New Delhi, the first of its kind under the Narendra Modi government. The Prime Minister, Ministers of State for environment and forests and other officials discussed agenda items related to the environment, and worked towards finalising proposed changes to India’s environmental laws. These agenda items, in the Ministry’s terms, included clearances, ease of doing business, and development.
While there has been a lot of rhetoric in the past few months over ‘balancing’ environment and development, the acid test for this complex issue is still in the making. Perhaps one of the most classic trials is unfolding in the backyard of Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh: the playground for Rudyard Kipling’s man-cub Mowgli, the site for one of India’s most impressive tiger landscapes in India, and the location for the proposed expansion of a newer, wider, National Highway (NH). The question is: who gets to cross the road: a truck, a tourist car, or a tiger?