Environment reporting—second only to conflict reporting—carries the greatest degree of threat to the scribe's life.
A compilation of data on crimes against journalists by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)—brought out by The Guardian and Forbidden Stories—says environmental journalists face a great deal of hostility in their line of work, and are even killed sometimes. Environmental journalists and activists in India—often there is a very thin line between the two, with the latter doubling up as stringers in smaller cities—face intimidation and harassment. This is especially true of those working on issues such as land grabbing and illegal sand mining. The CPJ found 13 instances of investigative environmnent reporters killed in their line of work globally since 2009, three of which—Sai Reddy, Jagendra Singh, and Karun Misra, killed in 2013, 2015, and 2016 respectively—came from India. However, local coverage paints a grimmer picture. A report by FORUM-ASIA, for instance, documents 17 cases of harassment, intimidation and physical violence, including murder, against defenders of land and environment rights in India between January 2017 and December 2018.
While issues of land grabbing and illegal mineral mining are not new, the centrality of sustainable use of natural resources to both, mitigating climate change and meeting the goals set under Agenda 2030 has conferred them with greater import. Therefore, the work that environment activists and reporters do has more significance now than ever before, and must be protected. At the same time, the government needs to look at instances where draconian environmental laws spur illegal extraction, even when the extraction itself may not be environmentally damaging, and adopt liberal regulation.