Reported features

Explore a featured selection of my writing work across national and international publications below.

Climate change is real: Severe drought hits Assam’s wet regions

Never seen a drought of this magnitude, claim farmers; paddy crop affected Climate change is real. Droughts in the rainy state of Assam are not unheard of anymore. Warmer temperatures have affected the state’s tea gardens for a decade. Now, places recently experiencing unexpected and longer dry spells are catching the eye. “Never before have I seen drought in this region,” said Dipantor Soh, a 28-year-old farmer from Mirigaon, a village under the Sarupathar revenue circle. The Assam government

In Assam, ATMs purify arsenic-laced water

At least twice a week, Monika Deka makes a trip to the 30-foot-tall, bright blue water ATM on the border of the villages of Kothora and Barigaon in Assam, northeast India. Rubbing sanitiser over her hands, she swipes a prepaid card on the screen of the water-dispensing machine. A firm push of the button, and 20 litres of water flows down from one of the three outlets into a container she has brought. “I cannot do without this water. I even carry it with me while visiting [others],” said Deka, w

There’s no stopping these women mountaineers scaling the Everest

For Sikkim’s 36-year-old Manita Pradhan, climbing Mount Everest has always been a dream—but incredibly difficult. Caught by gale-force winds and heavy snow caused by cyclones, Yaas and Tautkae, her trip from the base camp was thwarted twice. “In my first attempt, I returned from Camp 3. The second time, I turned back from Yellow Band,” Manita recalls. Yellow band—a steep, pale yellow-brown limestone rock—is the first rock a climber touches enroute the Everest. Finally, after climbing nine stra

Enter Palm Oil in Northeast India : Centre, Patanjali, Godrej Bet Big

Last year’s forest fires in Indonesia caused more emissions than the Amazon fires “Whenever I buy any product with palm oil content, even if its an ice cream, I ask myself whether its the result of a sustainable means of production or the decimation of rainforests,” says Arundhati Ghosh, an independent horticulturist. Ghosh lived half her life in Australia, where there is extensive documentation of orangutan extinction in Malaysia and Indonesia due to the cultivation of palm oil, most of i

Assam Elections 2021: Are the poll promises made to protect Assam's environment viable?

Experts pointed out that most of these promises are riddled with loopholes and are not holistic solutions It is election-season in Assam: the first phase of polling is on March 27. All political parties in the fray are at it, trying to convince the voters. But has this political heat taken into the heat of a different, more literal kind? Assam, like most states in the North East, has been sensitive to climate change. Deluge, deforestation and depletion of groundwater have disrupted lives and s

Robotic Innovations Pick Up Speed In India

GUWAHATI, India — In India’s northeastern state of Tripura, where sometimes finding a right adapter means scoping out a dozen shops, Harjeet Nath was determined to build a robot against all odds when Covid-19 struck. Last year, Tripura was declared ‘coronavirus free’ with only three confirmed cases having fully recovered by April. Only to have a pandemic emergency a month later, first with the outbreak of over 100 cases in the Border Security Force battalion in the Dhalai district followed by a

Why North-East Is India’s Worst Cancer Afflicted Region

Guwahati: Farhan Ali’s husband, in his late 70s, was unable to gulp any water as the cancer growing out of his stomach spread to his mouth through his throat. Earlier, being a muezzin in his village, Kalgachia, meant her husband was used to summoning his followers for daily prayers. “Even villagers from nearby Goalpara and Bilasipara villages would gather to hear his soulful azaan,” Farhan recalled. A 113-km round trip to Guwahati costs them around Rs 3,500 a day. After a year-long chase of thr

Where Cancer Cases Abound in India's Northeast, Medical Attention Is Rare

Guwahati: At the Dr Bhubaneswar Borooah Cancer Institute (BBCI) in Guwahati – the sole full-fledged cancer care centre in India’s northeast region – patients and their families wait anxiously for their turn to meet the doctor. Dilip Das (34) from Barpeta has been in the building for a while now. “They say my father’s gallstones aching the belly might have spread too far,” Das told The Wire Science. “He has been on oxygen support in the ICU for 7 days.” His anxiety pushes him to ponder death. Be

An Unforgettable Trek to the Swamimalai Temple

It took truly agonising words spoken by the person I loved heartily to start an inconceivable journey – a journey to recover debris of lost esteem and self-love. My mind had been abuzz with bitter thoughts when he yelled at me: “I had the pleasure of knowing the most toxic person on this planet. And it was you.” It felt like my life was unravelling like an ‘unsinkable’ Titanic; his words felt like a menacing chunk of ice And then, one night, I missed my train and boarded another. No one I kn

In Meghalaya, the Umngot River Keeps Tribal Livelihoods Afloat. A Dam Project Threatens That Balance

The Umngot River is touted as India’s cleanest river, with the bottom of its rich, blue-green expanse sparkling in naked display. But the Umngot Hydroelectric Project, conceived by the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL), is set to change that forever. The project aims to address Meghalaya’s acute shortage of power, but if the dam’s 210 MW of energy does so, hundreds of lives, forests, and livelihoods in the riverside villages will be destroyed. Mired in financial issues, with unrecov

In Meghalaya, the Lukha River's Brilliant Blue Masks a Darker Truth

Ashwani still remembers his first glimpse of the Lukha river. “I was in awe of the colour of the river,” says the Delhiite, who visited Meghalaya at the end of 2020. He posted a photograph of a creamy-blue river reflecting the azure skies, girdled by the lush green Jaintia Hills on Facebook, so others could be in awe, too. Instead, it was there, on Facebook, that his idyllic vision of the river shattered. A comment on the photo pointed out the image of pristine perfection was a misleading one: