Environmentalists and human rights activists have long been concerned about the use of toxic chemicals and compounds in electronic equipment. Companies often use compounds such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) in their electronic equipment to make them safer for the user, but they are very toxic materials that cause human health and environmental issues in areas the electronics are disposed of.
In 1990, the Indian government and Tehri Hydro Power Corporation began planning to dam the Bhagirati River at the Himalayan foothill town of Tehri in Uttar Pradesh. Plans indicated that it would be the fourth largest dam in the world. Damming the river at this particular location would lead to flooding of the town and the displacement of up to ten thousand of its residents. Scientists also protested the construction of the dam because of its proximity to the central Himalayan Seismic Gap.
In the early 1970s logging companies increased in Northern India. Forests in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh quickly declined due to the expansion of the industry and private investment of entrepreneurs interested in the newly accessible resource.
Subsistence farmers, whose livelihoods were dependent on the forests, faced the consequences: massive erosion and landslides, reduced fertility of the soil, reduced access to firewood, degradation of fresh water supply and increased flooding.
Coal is the main commercial energy in India and the government launched an internal improvement program in the early 2000s to bring energy to the hundreds of millions of people in the country without technology and other modern conveniences. Andhra Pradesh was the most ambitious state in this endeavor, as it proposed for 7 major and 30 smaller coal-powered power stations.
After the Indo-Chinese border conflict ended in 1963, access to the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, a region encompassing eight different districts in the Himalayas, was greatly expanded. The money for this expansion, including highway building, generally came from logging companies that wanted access to the vast timber forests in this area of the country. Poor forest management led to increased erosion, depleted water resources, lower agricultural yields and greater flooding.
The Bishnoi faith is a religious offshoot of Hinduism founded on 29 principles, most of which promote environmental stewardship. Bishnois strictly forbid the harming of trees and animals. The religion was founded by Guru Maharaj Jambaji in 1485 AD in the Marwar (Jodhpur) desert region of western Rajasthan, India. Jambaji witnessed the incessant clear-cutting of trees during times of drought to feed animals, only to see them die eventually as the drought continued.
From 1916 to 1921, villagers in Kumaon in northern India set hundreds of forest fires to protest the colonial British state’s increasing regulations of the natural environment.
Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) forces end of World Bank funding of Sardar Sarovar dam, India, 1985-1993
After the country won its independence, India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, began calling for the construction of dams to aid in India's development. Many of these dams were proposed on the Narmada River, which flows through the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra. In 1978, the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal approved the Narmada Valley Development Project, which included 30 large dams, 135 medium dams, and 3,000 small dams. The most controversial dam was the Sardar Sarovar Project in the state of Gujarat.
The Ganges River is a sacred river in Hinduism and an important aspect of India’s cultural history and current society. Most of this river is already polluted or dammed for electricity. There is a 125-km stretch at the beginning of the river, part of the Baghirathi tributary, which was mostly untouched. In 2008 the Indian and regional Uttarakhand governments had plans for 6 hydroelectric dams in this stretch of the river, some of which were already in construction.