Aerocity catalyst for Little Andaman plan

Airport development features heavily in a plan for tourism-oriented megaprojects on Little Andaman Island, the southernmost island of the Andaman archipelago. Graphics below, from the 58-page ‘Sustainable Development of Little Andaman Island – Vision Document’, show: Zone 1, on the eastern coast, featuring an Aerocity, housing an international airport, envisaged as ‘the catalyst for development of the district’; Zone 2, on the southern coast, including a Leisure Zone and Tourism SEZ (special economic zone) with casinos, theme park and beach hotels; Zone 3, on the western coast, a Nature Zone containing super-luxury resorts and hotels, with an airstrip for private charter flights.

  • Little Andaman plan
  • Little Andaman plan indicating 3 zones
  • Map of Zone 1 of Little Andaman plan. The Aerocity is the catalyst for developmen

Sudden news of the plan, in January 2021, alarmed conservationists. The ‘Vision Document’, thought to have been finalised a few months previously but not in the public domain, is included in ‘A MONUMENTAL FOLLY: NITI Aayog’s Development Plans for Great Nicobar Island (An evolving archive of reports, information and documents)’, compiled by Panjaj Sekhsaria and published by Kalvpavriksh Environmental Action Group. The total project area is nearly 240 sq km, 35% of the island; the three zones would take up 107 kilometres of the island’s coastline. Development of this scale would have major impacts on indigenous people and the island’s unique biodiversity and forests. Little Andaman is home to the Onge tribe, living on the island for more than 50,000 years, the population dwindling since 1900. Now numbering an estimated 125 people the Onge tribe is categorised as one of India’s Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG). According to the plan the Onge Tribal Reserve would be reduced by 31%; the Vision Document states that steps would be taken to relocate and protect Onge people but no detail is given. An anthropologist pointed out that bringing areas where Onge, with nomadic origins, do not live into the proposed development would still impact them, saying “the Onges have a close attachment with their territory be it inhabited or not”.

The Divisional Forest Officer of Little Andaman raised concerns that the major diversion of forest land for the project would cause irreversible damage to the island’s forests, entailing the loss of more than 2 million trees. An official source said there are over 2.4 million trees in the “vast tract of forests” in the areas where development is proposed. Removal of trees would cause topsoil erosion and reduce rainfall, impacting on the small area of the island with cultivable soil. Uprooting more than 2 million trees for the Little Andaman plan would also result in carbon emissions and carbon stock losses. Carbon pools were calculated for the four forest types in the development areas: nearly 136 sq km of Evergreen/Semi Evergreen and smaller areas of Deciduous, Swamp/Mangrove and Plantation forests. A study estimated that implementation of the ‘Sustainable Development of Little Andaman – Vision Document’ would result in carbon stock loss of 2,996.286 tonnes from five categories of carbon pools: 55% from woody debris and soil organic matter, 32% from above ground living biomass, 9% from below ground biomass, 3% from dead mass of litter and 1% from dead wood.

Nesting sites of Giant Leatherback Turtles, the world’s largest turtles growing over 6 feet in length, with many populations in precipitous decline, are threatened by the Little Andaman plan. South Bay and West Bay on Little Andaman are both high-intensity nesting sites and among the most important in the entire island chain. Along with other nesting beaches on the islands, the two sites are specifically mentioned as ‘Important Marine Turtles Habitats in India’ in the National Marine Turtle Action Plan. There are fears that implementation of the ‘vision’ would push the leatherback turtles to the brink of extinction. A 2019 report on a long-term monitoring programme at Little Andaman island identified previously unknown migratory routes of Great Leatherback Turtle nesting in the region, highlighting their dependence upon foraging and nesting sites that are thousands of kilometres apart. Nine tracked turtles traversed much of the Indian Ocean, as far southeast as Western Australia and towards the eastern coast of Africa. The turtle travelling the furthest, close to the western coast of Mozambique, covered 13,237km in 266 days; it was also the fastest, travelling an average of 49.8km per day.

More information about the Little Andaman plan has been published on EJatlas, the world’s largest, most comprehensive online database of social conflict around environmental issues: Little Andaman Development Plan

Scientist group condemns detention and harassment of fisherfolk in Bulacan, seeks probe by CHR and DENR

AGHAM - Advocates of Science and Technology for the People

Photo: AKAP KA Manila Bay

AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People vehemently condemns the detention and harassment of fisherfolk and youth in Malolos, Bulacan, and urges government agencies, in particular the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), to investigate human rights violations related to the construction of San Miguel Corporation’s 2,500-hectare New Manila International Airport (Bulacan Aerotropolis).

According to AKAP KA Manila Bay, two armed men detained around forty fisherfolk, including six minors, from Sitio Balot, Brgy. Pamarawan, Malolos, Bulacan around noon on October 29 [1]. The fisherfolk were brought to the military detachment in Sitio Dapdap, Brgy. Taliptip, Bulakan, Bulacan. The armed men threatened to destroy the fisherfolk’s boats if they wouldn’t come to the military detachment. Due to this incident, the fisherfolk were not able to catch fish that day and were not even allowed to…

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New Research: Airport projects responsible for human rights violations and ecological destruction around the world

Map of Airport-related Injustice and Resistance

Interactive map documents 80 cases of airport-related injustice and resistance

A new interactive map documents cases of airport-related injustice and resistance around the world. All across the globe airport projects are generating serious conflicts and social and environmental impacts: land acquisition, displacement of people, destruction of ecosystems, local pollution and health issues. A new map based on scientific research presents 80 cases as detailed examples of the conflicts generated by airport projects around the world. The research also identified more than 300 cases of airport projects where there is evidence of conflict, that merit further investigation. Research began in 2018 and has been jointly conducted by the EnvJustice project of the Environmental Science and Technology Institute at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) and the Stay Grounded network. 

In many countries, airport planning, construction and expansion continues, in spite of the steep decline in air traffic since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. All aviation expansion, wherever it takes place, contributes to the global problem of climate destruction. Aviation, being fossil fuel dependent and intensive, is a major and growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. By documenting a multitude of local struggles against airport projects the Map of Airport-related Injustice and Resistance contributes to a broad and diverse global movement for degrowth of aviation and transition to a just and sustainable mobility system.

Communities around the world struggle against eviction from their homes and farmland for aviation expansion, and to protect forests, wetlands and coastal ecosystems, our research shows. Our interactive feature map, the first of its kind, documents a multitude of airport-related injustices and inspirational resistance movements,” say Sara Mingorría of EnvJustice (ICTA-UAB) and Rose Bridger of Stay Grounded.

Many of the cases documented and analysed involve affected communities opposing  land acquisition for airport projects. In about half of those cases studied there were problems of land dispossession (50%) and displacement (47%). Many communities resisting displacement have suffered human rights violations and state repression: forced evictions, harassment, intimidation, arrests, imprisonment and violence. In around a third of the cases studied there were problems of repression (30%), militarization (29%) and the conflicts reached a high level of intensity (35.5%).

Site clearance for many airport projects also obliterates wildlife habitats and biodiversity. In 48 percent of the cases analyzed, problems of loss of landscape were registered, 41 percent involved deforestation impacts and 32 percent loss of biodiversity. 

“Exploitation of ecosystems and local communities for airport infrastructure must end. The current slump in air traffic provides the opportunity for a just reduction of air traffic. For this, a moratorium on new airports and expansion of existing airports is necessary,” says Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded.

The Map of Airport-Related Injustice and Resistance is a joint project by the EnvJustice (ICTA-UAB) and Stay Grounded. Information has been contributed by organizations, journalists, activists and academics. The research project is co-founded and coordinated by Rose Bridger (Stay Grounded/Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement-GAAM/EnvJustice ICTA-UAB) and Sara Mingorría (Stay Grounded/EnvJustice ICTA-UAB); Yannick Deniau (Envjustice/GeoComunes) and Mira Kapfinger (Stay Grounded) joined the coordination team during the project. The 80 published cases are just the beginning of the mapping project. The research team anticipates that many more conflicts will be documented on the map as the project continues.

EJAtlas is an online database and interactive map documenting and cataloguing environmental conflict around the world. It started in 2011 and counted on the collaboration of hundreds of researchers and organizations. It is now coordinated by the ENVJUSTICE project at ICTA-UAB.

Stay Grounded is a network of more than 160 member organisations from all over the world, among them: NGOs, climate justice groups, indigenous organisations, labour unions and civil initiatives against airport noise and expansion. Together, they fight for climate justice and a fair reduction of aviation.

See the airport injustice cases on the Feature map

For more information see Voices from affected communities and overview of cases.

Stay Grounded – a new international network to counter aviation

Today is the official launch of Stay Grounded, a new international network to counter aviation. Here is the press release. Aviation growth is causing increasing damage to the climate and communities, yet a massive wave of aviation expansion is underway and planned, at least 1,200 construction projects worldwide comprising new airports and expansion of existing airports. Stay Grounded is developing a global map of airport projects which are opposed by communities facing displacement from their homes and farmland, destruction of fishing grounds through land reclamation for offshore projects, deforestation, environmental damage from construction, health problems caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft and noise disturbance. Over the following fortnight there will be a wave of protests raising awareness of aviation expansion and resistance. Stay Grounded has published a Position Paper, shown below, which has already garnered 110 signatories, from civil society organizations in 24 countries. GAAM is pleased to be among the signatories and a member of this new international network.

National Geographic runs article by airline “points expert,” saying air travel is getting “greener”

Flying Less: Reducing Academia's Carbon Footprint

by Parke Wilde

National Geographic on June 20 ran an article, authored by a “points expert” from an affiliate marketing site, making misleading claims for “greener” air travel, with funding from the aviation and defense technology company United Technologies.

The article by Eric Rosen, with the headline “Air travel could get greener even as flights double,” was not marked as advertising, and yet the article seems unlikely to meet the magazine’s usual editorial standards. National Geographic did not respond to my questions about the article.

Misleading claims

Although the headline says air travel could “get greener,” the critical section on environmental impact addresses a much less ambitious goal: “how to prevent a doubling in air traffic from doubling the environmental impact of air travel in the coming decades.”

This section says a new voluntary United Nations program on aviation climate impacts, called “CORSIA,” would have “emissions capped at 2020…

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The FPDT Again Denounces the Intrusion of Machinery with Protection of the Army and Federal Police

Bulldozers supported by a military tank and police entered communal Atenco farmland intent on constructing a highway for the new Mexico City Airport, violating the suspension of the project and the human rights of the inhabitants.

dorset chiapas solidarity

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The FPDT Again Denounces the Intrusion of Machinery with Protection of the Army and Federal Police

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Today, January 22, crews of workers from the companies CIPSA and Pinfra entered the ejido of Atenco with two bulldozers intent on carrying out the construction of the highway Pirámides-Texcoco. With the protection of a military tank and federal police, the companies again violated the definitive suspension awarded against this project that is part of the new airport of Mexico City. This took place one day after sharing testimony of human rights violations against members of the FDPT and of the habitants of the communities on the Eastern shore of Lake Texcoco with a special reporter of the UN.

The ejido members and habitants of the communities went to the place of intrusion to demand the fulfilment of the suspension and the respect of their human rights. They talked with the workers to…

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#StayGrounded at Heathrow Airport

Bicyclating

It’s back on the activism bike on the first day of October, for an action organised by Reclaim the Power called #StayGrounded.

The aim of the action day, part of a wider week of activities around the world, is to highlight the madness of airport expansion at a time when all the available, credible science is not just telling us, but yelling at us: stop extracting and burning fossil fuels!

Yep, a third runway at Heathrow will probably be given the green light this year, as part of this government’s deluded attempts to ‘keep Britain competitive’ and help transform us into a ‘global powerhouse’ post-Brexit (by importing and exporting more stuff to ever further flung destinations).

Oh, and to cater for the growing demand in leisure flights by frequent binge flyers here in the UK, and the swelling global middle class. Because it’s everyone’s right to fly as far and as often as…

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Welcome to La ZAD

Buzz tour

The ZAD (Zone A Defendre or Zone to Defend) in France is variously described as an occupation, a no-go area of radical militants, a resistance community, and the proposed second airport for Nantes.  During my first visit to La ZAD I explored some of the reasons that people have made this beautiful place their home.

Cycling or driving into La ZAD you may be unaware that you have entered it but after a time you may come to a signpost which no longer has a place name, but instead has ‘ZAD’ spray painted pointing in each direction. Or you may come across a road with artistic barricades, a burnt out car with plants growing through it, or damaged tarmac. Whilst now, all is peaceful farmland, gardens and communities of hand-built houses, it’s clear that something big happened here a few years ago. If you want to orientate yourself and begin to explore this special…

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Defending the zad: A new little book about the struggle against an airport and its world.

A book written by some of the occupants of the ZAD (Zone a Défendre) – a site in Western France which has been occupied for over 9 years – in resistance against the construction of the planned Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport. Over 5,000 acres of farmland and wetladns would be destroyed. Evictions and mass protests are documented, and the sustained solidarity which has held the ZAD together for so many years. The ZAD is a ray of hope in the resistance against destructive megaprojects.