In the boundless Thar, deemed a ‘wasteland’ by the authorities, miners bulldoze sand dunes guarding life-sustaining water. The Gangetic dolphin, once a thriving apex predator, struggles for survival as its riverine habitat is fragmented by dams and roiled by incessant shipping. Deep in the mangrove forests of the Sunderban, tigers prey on desperate crab-catchers. Encroachments on the Mumbai coastline unleash cataclysmic floods. Along the eroding beaches of Kerala, fishers live in fear of the sea swallowing them whole. As the spectre of climate change compounds these natural and human-induced disasters, India’s most endangered landscapes are pushed to the precipice of destruction.
Arati Kumar-Rao journeys to these marginlands, listening intently to their inhabitants, paying close attention to each fissure, fold and ripple, as she documents the misguided decisions, wilfully ignored warnings and disregarded evidence that have brought us almost to a point of no return. But the land is still rich in ancient wisdom, and its cracks hold lessons that may yet aid us in undoing centuries of slow violence – so long as one is willing to attune their senses.
Combining enthralling nature writing and journalism with immersive art and photography, Marginlands is an urgent, vital work by a passionate chronicler of our environment.