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NEWS UPDATE #105


The Washington Post reports: The temperature in Mitribah, Kuwait, surged Thursday to a blistering 129.2 degrees (54 Celsius). On Friday in Basra, Iraq, the mercury soared to 129.0 degrees (53.9 Celsius). If confirmed, these incredible measurements would represent the two hottest temperatures ever recorded in the Eastern Hemisphere, according to Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters.

Indian glaciers melting at 5 to 20 metre rate annually: Environment ministry
Mayank Aggarwal, Live Mint
Most Indian glaciers, including Gangotri, are melting at a rate of 5 to 20 metres per year — at least one of them for over two decades — the union environment ministry revealed on Tuesday. “The studies carried out by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation), Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), Dehradun and others institutions have revealed that majority of the glaciers are retreating (melting) at varying rates from 5 to 20 metre per year,” said the Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Anil Madhav Dave in reply to a question in the Lok Sabha. “Gangotri is one of the largest glaciers (30 km long) of Uttarakhand followed by Satopanth glacier (14 km),” he said, adding that both are retreating but not at an alarming rate.

India witnessed 55% rise in forest fires in 2016: Anil Madhav Dave
Mayank Aggarwal, Live Mint
India witnessed a near 55% increase in forest fires in 2016, compared to the previous year, with over 24,000 such fires reported from across the country. Union environment minister Anil Madhav Dave, while replying to a query in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, revealed that a total of 24,817 forest fires were reported across India till June compared to 15,937 forest fires in all of 2015. The number of forest fires in 2014 and 2013 were 19,054 and 18,451, respectively.

Afforestation Bill stalled
Nitin Sethi, Business Standard
The Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Bill could not be taken up in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, with the Congress blocking proceedings in the house till a vote was taken on the private member bill for special status to Andhra Pradesh. The Bharatiya Janata Party accused the Congress of denying benefits to tribals and others which it claimed would get from the passage of the CAF Bill. Environment minister Anil Madhav Dave, said, “In the Rajya Sabha today, the House did not function due to Andhra Pradesh issue being raised by Congress. However, while raising the issue of Andhra Pradesh, the Congress is at the same time blocking funds to Andhra Pradesh and other states to the tune of thousands of crore of rupees.” (Also read: Green Activists, Realtors On Collision Course Over Environmental Clearances)

The CAMPA Bill Will Scuttle The Forest Rights Act
Countercurrents.org
The Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) Bill is now being considered in the Rajya Sabha. Civil society organizations are greatly concerned about the implication of this bill on the rights of forest dwelling communities. The Bill in the present form is fundamentally opposed to the Forest Rights Act by not addressing the legal rights of Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers (OTFDs) recognized and vested under the law and by not requiring the consent of the Gram Sabhas for implementation of compensatory afforestation on their customary lands. (Related:L Petition sent to RS on forest rights concerns with CAMPA bill). (Related: Women farmers oppose Campa bill, demand amendment)

Six years in waiting: NGT orders government to notify wetlands
Nihar Gokhale, Catch News
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) today gave a big push to saving India’s wetlands. It directed the Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority (CWRA) to meet once every month and begin notifying wetland areas in the country – a job that the central and state governments have been avoiding since 2010. Wetlands are areas like lakes, ponds, marshlands, mudflats, etc. and these play an important role in supporting many livelihoods and varieties of birds and fish. Most of the winter migratory birds that India hosts, fly here for the wetlands. (Related: No states have responded to NGT order on notifying wetlands)

K’taka is destroying Western Ghats’ biodiversity: Goa CM to PM
The Times of India
Goa Chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to direct the ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) to demarcate an area of at least 10km around sanctuaries on the Karnataka side as an eco-sensitive zone. Parsekar, in the letter, said Karnataka should be directed to demarcate an eco-sensitive zone around the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary on its side, including for the Bhimgad sanctuary where the River Mhadei originates. MoEFCC had notified a one-kilometre buffer zone for Goa.

A.P. set to be country’s nuclear power hub
Suhasini Haidar, The Hindu
Weeks after the government announced that U.S. company Westinghouse’s Nuclear Power Project (NPP), planned in Gujarat’s Mithi Virdi, is being moved to Andhra Pradesh, sources confirmed to The Hindu that Russian-owned Rosatom will build its next phase of six reactors in Andhra Pradesh as well. With other States like Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Maharashtra facing local protests over NPPs, the government is now pinning its mega plans for generating the ‘clean’ energy on coastal Andhra Pradesh. In fact, if all the projects under consideration from Russia, the U.S. and NPCIL were to actually go through, NPPs in Andhra could account for more than 30,000 MW of the Modi government’s goal of 63,000 MW installed capacity by 2031.

Hydropower station at Sardar Sarovar becomes operational
The Indian Express
Six main power-generating turbines of Sardar Sarovar Dam at Kevadia in Narmada district of Gujarat have become operational since July 12, producing electricity at its full capacity after 65,000 cusec of water was released from the dam in Madhya Pradesh due to heavy rainfall in the catchment areas. “All the six units of riverbed power house of 200 MW each have been generating power at its installed capacity because of the high flow of water in the river since a week. The totalled installed capacity of the riverbed power house is 1200 MW,” an official of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) said. (Related: All Party Fact Finding Report in Sardar Sarovar Submergence Zone – A Report)

India takes first steps to join the utility scale energy storage club
Bridge to India
In a ground-breaking step for the Indian solar market, Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) has announced that it will soon release tenders for solar project developers to install storage solutions along with their projects. In the upcoming tenders for 100 MW capacity in Andhra Pradesh and 200 MW in Karnataka, each 50MW project would be connected to a storage capacity of 2.5 MWh. The primary commercial objective of these particular tenders would be to showcase India as an upcoming market for utility scale energy storage solutions. From a technical standpoint, the need for energy storage technology is plain obvious in a scenario where grid penetration of renewables is increasing rapidly. India expects to get 15% of all power from renewables by 2022 as against about 5.5% today.

Can the new Environment Minister Anil Dave save our rivers?
Nihar Gokhale, Catch News
Anil Madhav Dave is probably India’s first minister for environment, forest and climate change, who was known as an environmentalist well before taking charge. Dave has written a book on climate change and has spoken out on environmental issues. But what he is really known for is his work on the Narmada. He has circumambulated the Narmada in a Cessna aircraft and he has rafted down the 1,312 km-long river. Even the village Dave has adopted under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, is near the banks of the Narmada. So will Dave save our rivers?

Feather in the cap: India home to 12% of world’s bird species
Shiv Sahay Singh, The Hindu
A group of ornithologists have come up with the first definitive checklist of Indian birds, putting the number of species across the country at 1,263. With that figure, India accounts for 12 per cent of the total number of bird species in the world, amounting to 10,135. “A Checklist of the birds of India”, authored by Praveen J, Rajah Jayapal and Aasheesh Pittie and published this month by the journal Indian BIRDS, has painstakingly compiled the list of all avian fauna and categorised and standardised them by their English names, scientific names and modern taxonomy. Among the 1,263 species, Himalayan Forest Thrush (Zoothera salimalii) is the newest species discovered to science, while White-browed Crake Amaurornis cinerea is the latest entry to the country’s bird list.

 

The need to save Chamundi hill
Bhamy Shenoy, Deccan Herald
It was way back in 1929 that the Chamundi hill in Mysuru was gazetted as a reserve forest. At that time, the science behind environmental protection was not well understood. Neither was it a high priority. As a result, a small village around the Chamundeshwari temple on the hill was excluded from the reserve forest. Such an oversight is fully utilised today by the Karnataka government to ‘develop’ the hill. The government plans to spend Rs 80 crore to construct a commercial complex for 116 shops, a queue line, toilets, a well-laid road and a multi-level parking building for 600 cars.

Objections altered to give World Bank clean chit: Dunu Roy
Anubhuti Vishnoi, The Economic Times
Well-known ecologist and activist Dunu Roy, who was engaged by the World Bank for inspection of the 444 MW Vishnugad-Pipalkoti hydro-electric project in Uttarakhand that it partly funded, has alleged that his adverse findings have been “radically altered to give a clear chit to the Bank” in the final report. Anubrotto Kumar Roy, better known as Dunu Roy, confirmed to ET over email that he had sought withdrawal of his name from the inspection panel’s report. The Inspection Panel was set up in 1993 by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors to investigate complaints by communities that believe they have been harmed by a World Bank-funded project. This complaint was also taken up by the Panel.

Why Is The TN Government Scared Of An Environmentalist On A Tricycle?
Rahul Garg, The Citizen
It is perhaps the people-oriented work that Piyush Manush has devoted his life to that has brought him in direct conflict with the state in Tamil Nadu. In 2008, Manush took on the mining companies in Tamil Nadu, educating and mobilising the villagers to protest. His hard work paid off, and a stay was put on the project. In 2010, Manush was arrested for his involvement with the Campaign for Justice and Peace, which was fighting against human rights violations in Chhattisgarh. He was charged with sedition. It was in this year that Manush founded the Salem Citizens Forum, with the organisation taking on a host of environmental tasks — including cleaning and restoring the Mookaneri Lake. Manush’s arrest, therefore, is politically significant. (Related: ’30 people beat me in jail’, says social activist Piyush Manush)

Jamui farmers to get Bihar’s first solar cold storage
Pranava Kumar Chaudhary, The Times of India
To enhance negotiating power of farmers on their produce in a remote Maoist-infested Kedia village in Jamui district, Greenpeace India is crowdfunding for a first ever solar-powered cold storage system which costs around Rs 12 lakh and other installation related costs. This kind of cold storage will be first for Bihar. Supporters across the country are contributing to get the solar cold storage installed in Kedia. Kedia is a small village of Jamui where farmers have adopted ecological farming practices in the last two years.

Job creation down by ​over ​two-thirds during Narendra Modi’s reign
Aman Malik, VC Circle
Ever since Narendra Modi-led government won a landslide victory in May 2014, job creation, especially in the manufacturing and core sectors, has been its top priority. Recent data released by the government, however, show that there has been a drastic decline in job creation in the country since the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government took office, a little over two years ago. Data released by the government in response to a Parliament question on July 20, show that in the calendar year 2015 (also, the government’s full year in power as against 2014 when it got the reins in its hands only in May), the total number of jobs created across eight core sectors went down by more than two-thirds in comparison with the year 2013.

Two Middle East locations hit 129 degrees, hottest ever in Eastern Hemisphere, maybe the world
Jason Samenow, The Washington Post
The temperature in Mitribah, Kuwait, surged Thursday to a blistering 129.2 degrees (54 Celsius). And on Friday in Basra, Iraq, the mercury soared to 129.0 degrees (53.9 Celsius). If confirmed, these incredible measurements would represent the two hottest temperatures ever recorded in the Eastern Hemisphere, according to Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters and weather historian Christopher Burt, who broke the news. It’s also possible that Mitribah’s 129.2-degree reading matches the hottest ever reliably measured anywhere in the world. Both Mitribah and Basra’s readings are likely the highest ever recorded outside of Death Valley, Calif. (Related: Hot Hot Heat: New Data Shows World is Baking in 2016)

China’s coal peak hailed as turning point in climate change battle
The Guardian
The global battle against climate change has passed a historic turning point with China’s huge coal burning finally having peaked, according to senior economists. They say the moment may well be a significant milestone in the course of the Anthropocene, the current era in which human activity dominates the world’s environment. China is the world’s biggest polluter and more than tripled its coal burning from 2000 to 2013, emitting billions of tonnes of climate-warming carbon dioxide. But its coal consumption peaked in 2014, much earlier than expected, and then began falling. The economists argue in a new paper on Monday that this can now be seen as permanent trend, not a blip, due to major shifts in the Chinese economy and a crackdown on pollution. (Also read: The city of Paris, host to international climate talks, set to miss COP21 commitments)

Unconventional Coal Technologies ‘Could Blow the Global Carbon Budget’
Common Dreams
While tar sands and fracking have been cited frequently for their climate and environmental impacts, a new report puts the spotlight on how two unconventional coal technologies are “a leap in the wrong direction” as they “damage and delay the transition to a low carbon world.” Released Monday by Friends of the Earth International (FOEI), it uses case studies from Australia, China, South Africa, the U.S., and U.K. to show how these two technologies are bad news for the climate. “If exploited these technologies could blow the global carbon budget, and in doing so spell certain catastrophe for our planet,” Jagoda Munić, chair of Friends of the Earth International, says in the report’s foreword.

Greenpeace: ‘Extremely High’ Jump in Post-Fukushima Radioactive Chemicals
Common Dreams
Greenpeace Japan reported Thursday that waterways in the Fukushima district have hundreds of times more radiation now than before 2011, when the nuclear disaster that forced the evacuation of at least 160,000 people occurred. Looking back at the past five years, the environmental group’s new report finds that the hazardous chemical cesium-137 was present in the soil on the banks of the Abukuma, Niida, and Ota rivers. “The extremely high levels of radioactivity we found along the river systems highlights the enormity and longevity of both the environmental contamination and the public health risks resulting from the Fukushima disaster,” said Ai Kashiwagi, energy campaigner at Greenpeace Japan. “These river samples were taken in areas where the Abe government is stating it is safe for people to live. But the results show there is no return to normal after this nuclear catastrophe.”

This year’s monsoon floods are the second-costliest on record in China
Angela Fritz, The Washington Post
Months of torrential monsoon rainfall have led to some of the worst flooding China has experienced in modern history. It is now the second-costliest flooding on record in China and the fifth-most destructive weather-related disaster for non-U.S. countries. At least 75 people have died just since Monday, the Associated Press reports, which brings the year’s death toll thus far to 576, according to the Chinese government. Beijing has been slammed with monsoon rainfall since earlier this week, which has flooded streets and led to the cancellation of hundreds of flights and trains. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated.

 

EPA ruling on aircraft emissions paves way for new regulations
The Guardian
The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday declared that jet engine exhaust endangers public health by contributing to climate change, a key milestone as it works to develop regulations that will cut carbon emissions from commercial aircraft. Large commercial jets account for 11% of all emissions from the global transportation sector. Aircraft emissions are expected to grow by 50% by 2050 as demand for air travel increases… US-based aircraft are responsible for 29% of all greenhouse gas emissions from commercial aircraft worldwide, according to the EPA. (Also read: Solar plane makes history after completing round-the-world trip)

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