CHAPTER 2

THE ESSENTIALS: Resources that can facilitate impactful reporting on corporates

  • This chapter will equip journalists on how to find and use information related to land, environment and wildlife from multiple sources to report effectively on businesses and their practices.

💡Pro Tip: We suggest you open the websites that have been hyperlinked and explore them simultaneously while following the directions mentioned under each section. Or you can use the corresponding chapter from the video book to guide you. This step-by-step guide complete with examples of how this information can lead to a good story has been compiled by journalists and researchers for whom  this is daily practice.

Currently the chapter can be downloaded as a PDF document in English. We are working on translations in other Indian languages.

The constitutional framework of India has put various regulations and restrictions on companies for the protection and conservation of the environment and sustainable use of natural resources. Companies and industries are mandated to take necessary environmental clearances from the government before they expand their operations that can cause high environmental pollution or impact biodiversity and local communities. Principle 6 of the National Guidelines of Responsible Business Conduct very clearly explains that ‘Businesses should respect and make efforts to protect and restore the environment.’ 

“India has laws which are quite strong. They have their faults, obviously. The problem starts when laws are not implemented well, or when they’re outright broken… At the end of the day, it depends on how much implementation there is, how many people who break the laws are actually penalised and how much outright disregard there is for these laws. What is affected are local communities, its wildlife. So, if you know what exactly is not being met, whether its emission norms, or the number of clearances that have been given for environment and wildlife, it’s a good starting point to dig,” says Rishika Pardikar, independent journalist, who covers wildlife and climate change.

There are many government and independent organisations that track clearance proposals, analyse and report corruption and non-compliance of environmental laws by industries and companies.

Here is a list of sources that can help you find data and information to report effectively on land, environment and wildlife conflicts.

Parivesh is a website of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) to monitor and manage proposals for environment, forest, wildlife and coastal regulation zone (CRZ) clearances.

The portal can be used to track data on

  • status of environment, forest and wildlife clearance proposals and projects.
  • terms of reference of the advisory committee.
  • agenda and minutes of meetings.
  • gram sabha documents.
  • information on the forest and environment rules and guidelines.

⚙️ How-to Guide 

  • Go to parivesh.nic.in
  • Scroll down to the Approvals section. You will see three boxes – environment clearance, forest clearance and wildlife clearance.
  • Click on the Environment clearance icon to check statistical and analytical reports of applications submitted by companies for clearance from the ministry.

🏗️ Environment Clearance Section

  • Dashboard Tab
  • Under the Environment clearance section, click on Dashboard.
  • It opens a page with different search bars. You can search by year of submission, state, project sector. 
Screenshot of Dashboard tab under Environment Clearance section
  • The result will be displayed in the coloured boxes. It gives data on the number of applications in the following category – not accepted, accepted, pending, under process in ministry, recommended by EAC (Expert Appraisal Committee) and applications granted environmental clearance.
  • The above mentioned categories can be viewed in two ways. You can click on the EC (environment clearance) tab to see details or you can click on the TOR (terms of reference) tab.
  • Highlight the box you want and click on the more info arrow.
  • A new window on Environment Clearance Status Query Form opens. The portal has data only on proposals submitted on or after 4th July, 2014.
  • Select category, year, state and type of project and search. It opens details of all the proposals in that particular state submitted in the year searched.
Screenshot of ‘Environment Clearance Status Query Form’ where it shows proposal details
  • Details on proposal number, proposal name, file number, location, date of submission, company/proponent and attached files come up.
  • You can click on the image button to open the attached files.
  • This opens a pop-up page with:
    • risk assessment
    • cover letters by companies
    • EC document
    • PH or public hearing document
    • certified monitoring report by ministry
    • EC report 

💡Pro Tip: The EC report includes public hearing documents or gram sabha/village meeting documents. They can be used to verify reports from the ground.

Screenshot of ‘View Attachment Files’ under ‘List of the proposals’ table

Analytics Tab

  • On the main Environment Clearance menu, the Analytics tab can give a comparison view from the dropdown field.
  • A new page will open with search bars to search with time period, sector and state. 
  • It will give a bar chart of Environmental clearance (EC) granted for your search.

💡Pro Tip: Click on the index icon on the extreme right of the chart. There are options to download and export data in various formats. 

Screenshot of ‘Comparison Views’ menu option of the Analytics tab

Committee Tab

  • Go back to the Environment clearance tab and click on the committees tab.
  • It opens a list of sector names like coal mining, industrial project 1, 2, 3, infrastructural and other projects.
  • Click on the arrow icon in front of any of the sector names to see a list of committee members with their names, addresses and role in the committee.

💡Pro Tip: This might be helpful if you want to address an RTI application to  a specific committee member.

💡Pro Tip: Reach out to committee members for  official minutes that have not been recorded, as minutes of meetings go through a series of edits.

EAC Tab

  • Click on the EAC tab. The dropdown options will have meeting schedules and agenda, archives of meeting schedules and agenda, minutes of meeting, and minutes of meetings of old proposals.

💡Pro Tip: Use meeting schedule and agenda option to see a list of scheduled meetings with details of the expert committee, meeting date and remarks. 

💡Pro Tip: You can also view the agenda document. It will have a description of the proposals submitted by companies for clearance and composition of the committee. You can use it to question company authorities or track any conflicts of interest.

🌳 Forest Clearance Section

Dashboard Tab

  • The dashboard tab opens a page with different search bars. Search by year of submission, state, project sector. 
  • There are two ways to read this data: Form type (Form A2 (ii), Form A2 (iii), Form B and Form C) and Proposal type (Under stage – I proposal and Under stage – II proposal).

💡Pro Tip: The form types are proposal forms that every user agency has to submit to use any forest land for non-forest purposes.

Screenshot of ‘Dashboard tab’ of Forest Clearance Section
  • Click on the desired option. Hover on the coloured boxes and click on the more info text.
  • A new window with a list of proposals submitted online by user agencies opens that has details of proposals submitted on or after 15th July, 2014.
  • Print or download the data in excel format by clicking on the excel sheet icon on the extreme right.
  • The lens icon allows you to view the related report. 
  • Swipe left on the list to view more options like timeline details, other related documents and whether FC (forest clearance) is required for that particular project.
  • The clock icon under the timeline has the date and details of proposals received at each stage. 

💡Pro Tip: The page has details on the name of the project for which the forest land is required, short description of the proposal and project/scheme.

  • Click on the highlight date given under part ‘B – TimeLine’. It opens a page with EDS (Essential Details Sought) details related to the proposal.

💡Pro Tip: Use timeline details to find information to track progress of the proposal date and history of essential details sought.

Search FCA Projects Tab

  • This opens a list of options to search – all proposals received on or after 15th July, 2014, all proposals received upto 14th July, 2014, all mining proposals received on or after 15th July, 2014, search division-wise proposals or district-wise proposals. 
  • When you click on any of the options, a list of proposals submitted in that period will appear.
  • You can further refine your search according to form type, year, region, project category, state and status of proposal. 
  • You can click on the lens icon to check attached files like gram sabha documents, FRA documents, cover letter, letter of authorization, etc.

💡Pro Tip: This could be used to see the proposal status of industrial projects in your area and compare it with reports from the ground. This section has all the documents submitted by the proposal proponent. These can be easily saved and included in the story.

🐯 Wildlife Clearance Section

Dashboard Tab

  • This opens a page with different search bars where you can search by year of submission, state, project sector. 
  • Hover your cursor on the coloured boxes and click on more info text. A new window with a list of proposals submitted online by user agencies will open. 
  • Refine your search by selecting details under proposal year, state, category, and put the proposal number, if you know it. 
  • If you click on the search lens icon under the view report of part I & II column, a new window with the wildlife report opens which has:
    • project details
    • details of user agency or company details
    • details of person making the application
    • details of land acquired under the project
    • maps of protected areas
    • justification for locating the project in protected area and details of alternates examined
    • employment likely to be generated
    • displacement of people due to the project, if any
    • status of environmental clearance
    • whether proposal is for investigation/survey

💡Pro Tip: Click on hyperlinked text in blue under these categories to check the document related to your story. 

💡Pro Tip: Go back to the previous window, and click on the 🕐 clock icon to see timeline details of the proposal. Some of the timeline reports have their dates highlighted if there is  an attached document. 

Wildlife Projects Tab

  • Search WL projects tab and the All wildlife clearance proposals from the dropdown field will open with a list of proposals submitted online by user agencies.
  • Select proposal year, category like disputed settlement claims, irrigation, mining, state, status of proposal. The enter value of search box can be used if you have the proposal number. It opens a list of proposals in that area with proposal number, state, username agency or company name, proposal status, reports and timeline details.
  • You will find a pdf of related reports.

The Forest Survey of India is a nodal agency for collection, compilation, storage and dissemination of databases on forest resources.

On the FSI portal, you can find data on

  • forest cover
  • forest fires
  • thematic maps and aerial photographs of forest areas

⚙️ How-to Guide 

Forest Fires 

  • Go to fsi.nic.in. The forest fire tab has a dropdown menu with options of Focus Areas, FSI forest fire porta. You will find
    1. Forest fire management related initiatives of FSI
    2. Near real time (NRT) forest fire alerts
    3. Forest fire pre-warning alerts 
    4. Burn scar studies i.e. assessment of forest areas impacted by fire
    5. FSI Forest Fire Alert System

💡Pro Tip: The number of forest fire alerts disseminated in each state of the country by FSI (2004-2018) is available in the NRT tab, click For Forest Fire Alerts disseminated by FSI.

Source: giphy.com/news

Near Real Time monitoring of Forest Fire 

💡Pro Tip: Sign-up to receive SMS and email alerts with geo-coordinates of the fire location as well as a weblink to view it on their browser. 

  • Scroll down to the section Search Fire Points. You can search fire points year or state wise or via sensor source i.e MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) and SNPP (Suomi-National Polar-orbiting Partnership – Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite).
  • A new page opens with exact fire points in the selected state and time period.
  • You can print or export the data in excel.
  • Click on the highlighted latitude and longitude number to see the exact fire point on the map.
  • Similarly, you can explore other features of the FSI Fire Alert System.

💡Pro Tip: This section can be used to collect data to report on forest fires in the country.

Screenshot of FSI Fire Alert System page

State of Forest Report Tab

  • Go to fsi.nic.in.
  • Click on the state of forest report. The dropdown field has a list of the years from 1989-2019.

💡 Pro Tip: Some years’ tab directly opens a list of content and index of the report, while others open a page with the report in English and Hindi. The contents page has chapter names hyperlinked to the pdf. 

💡Pro Tip: The reports can be used to study land use patterns, decadal change in water bodies within forests, carbon stock in forests and forest cover within and outside Recorded Forest Area (RFA).

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs looks after policy planning and coordination of programmes for development of Scheduled Tribes.

On this portal, you can find data and reports on different divisions of the Ministry like:

  • Livelihood
  • ST Welfare Grant
  • Forest Rights Act
  • NGO scheme

⚙️ How-to Guide

FRA tab

  • Click on the divisions section under the website name.
  • Select FRA from the dropdown menu. It opens a page on the Forests Right Act.
  • Scroll down to the resources box on the LHS. Click on monthly progress report 2020 which opens a box with monthly progress reports from 2017-2020, also available as pdf.

💡Pro Tip: This is a monthly status report of implementation of the Scheduled Tribes & Other Traditional Forest Dweller (Recognition of Forests Rights) Act 2006. It gives information on the state-wise number of claims received, titles distributed and the extent of forest land for which the titles were distributed.

Land Conflict Watch is a data-research project which maps and analyses ongoing land conflict in the country. The site can be used to explore conflicts related to infrastructure, industry, power, mining, land use and conservation and forests.

⚙️ How-to Guide

Conflicts Database

  • Click on the Conflict Database section. A page opens with different cards of conflict cases and sidebar to filter cases. The page gives information cards on the ongoing conflicts in different states, how it impacts stakeholders and what law it falls under.

  • The Filter cases sidebar on the LHS can be used to select state/union territory, sector, laws involved and type of land.
  • A card will pop up with the conflict in the area selected.
  • The card title has more conflict details like a fact sheet, legal data, resources.

Story Examples

📌 Government, Industries Nationwide Dodge Law, Take Over Forest Land Without Consent Of Tribal Communities, Manira Chaudhary, India Spend.

📌 Barely Regulated Thermal Power Plants Use Up More Water Than Permitted, RTI Data Show, Rishika Pardikar, India Spend.

📌 Govt Ignored NTCA Warning That Sagarmala Plan Is Bad For Western Ghats Biodiversity, Nihar Gokhale, The Wire.

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