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The Aranmula Boat Race takes place on the Pampa River, near the site of the proposed airport. Photo by Arun Sinha/CC BY.

The Aranmula Boat Race takes place on the Pampa River, near the site of the proposed airport. Photo by Arun Sinha/CC BY.

ELAW partners in India have sent good news! The Chennai Bench of the National Green Tribunal has shelved plans for a private airport in Kerala that threatened key wetlands.

ELAW partner T. Mohan represented community members in a David and Goliath battle that included a 100-day strike by local community groups opposed to the airport.

Mohan and Devika wrote to thank ELAW Staff Scientist Mark Chernaik:  “Many thanks to Mark who provided critical input on the Environmental Impact Assessment, deciphering google maps. His comments proved to be the death knell for the clearance.”

Conversion of rice paddy fields to make way for the airport threatened wetlands and fisheries in the Pamba River basin. The company says it will appeal.  We will keep you posted about this case.

Read more here:

National Green Tribunal judgement

Kerala Govt backs out of Aranmula airport project

Green Tribunal cancels environment clearance to Aranmula airport

Maggie Keenan
Communications Director &
Fellows Program Coordinator
Rizwana Hasan

Rizwana Hasan

The Rana Plaza factory collapse has brought attention to the low-cost formula that has made Bangladesh the world’s second-leading clothing exporter. Jim Yardley quotes ELAW partner Rizwana Hasan in this report in the New York Times:

Bangladesh Pollution, Told in Colors and Smells

“All of the natural resources have been severely degraded and depleted,” says Rizwana, a Goldman Prize winner and Chief Executive of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA).

Amidst the doom and gloom, ELAW is inspired by Rizwana and her organization’s fortitude challenging polluting factories and protecting wetlands. ELAW has worked with BELA for 15 years.

The Daily Star reports on BELA’s latest victory, protecting the Savar wetlands on the outskirts of Dhaka. A developer had filled the wetlands to make way for a luxury housing development. The Supreme Court ordered the wetlands restored within six months.

ELAW Staff Scientist Mark Chernaik submitted an affidavit describing how filling these wetlands would exacerbate flooding in Dhaka and runs counter to international best practices put forward by the United Nations Inter-Agency Secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.

Congratulations Rizwana, and everyone at BELA, for your hard work and perseverance under extremely challenging conditions.

Maggie Keenan
Communications Director &
Fellows Program Coordinator

Wild ThingsDonna Matrazzo’s Wild Things: Adventures of a Grassroots Environmentalist shows how a small group of committed advocates can protect a valuable natural area for future generations.

Sauvie Island, 10 miles northwest of downtown Portland, Oregon, was threatened by a developer’s plans to build a tournament level golf course on farmland.  Sauvie Island is accessed by a sole bridge and the prospect of golf tournament traffic and other threats to the island’s’ wildlife inspired community members to band together and Just Say No.

It is hard to find undisturbed wildlife close to big cities (Portland has more than a half million people), so Sauvie Island is a rare treat.   The Sauvie Island website says:

As you cross the bridge a serene vista of fields, trees and a wide expanse of the Cascade Range spread out in front of you. If the day is clear, you’ll be able to spot five mountains which bejewel the Range; visible from north to south, they are Mt. Rainer, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson… Nearly 12,000 acres of the island have been preserved as the Sauvie Island Wildlife Area… a premier hiking, biking, bird-watching, hunting and fishing location.

Prospective buyers eventually backed away from the golf course project because they feared too much opposition.  In the process, the Sauvie Island Conservancy grew stronger.

The efforts to preserve Sauvie Island are very similar to what ELAW partners from Dhaka, to Kathmandu, to Budapest are doing to make metropolitan areas more green and livable.  Wild Things includes lessons that can be spread around the world – and is an enjoyable read.

Maggie Keenan
Communications Director

Local news station KEZI did a great story about the ELAW Annual Meeting  trip to the West Eugene Wetlands.  Neil Bjorklund, the City of Eugene Parks and Open Space Planning Manager, told the tale of the development of the wetlands plan and then showed ELAW partners some of the areas which have been protected and preserved.

Here’s the link to the KEZI story (they don’t have it set up so we can embed it directly…)

wetlandswalkthrupic.jpg Environmental Leaders Converge In Eugene For Annual E-Law Meeting

By Paris Jackson
February 24, 2009
Eugene, Ore–Eugene is known for its environmental sustainability efforts. So it’s no surprise that environmental leaders from all over the world have converged on Eugene to attend the 2009 Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide meeting.

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