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NEWS UPDATE #127


Business Standard reports:  The NDA government changed regulations meant for protection of tribal rights and forests in order to ensure that more than 130 mines do not face fresh auctions and are instead retained by existing miners. Documents show regulations were changed in a coordinated manner by the environment, tribal affairs and the mines ministries.

Chhattisgarh: Social activist Bela Bhatia’s house attacked, asked to leave Bastar in 24 hours
Scroll.in
A group of unidentified men on Monday attacked scholar and social activist Bela Bhatia’s rented house in Parpa village in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar area. The men threatened her with dire consequences and gave her a 24-hour deadline to leave. The goons, who came in an SUV and several motorcycles, barged into Bhatia’s house. “They threatened to burn the house, kill her dog and also threatened the landlady,” economist Jean Dreze told NDTV.(Related: Chattisgarh cops handing over activists’ personal info to “anti-Naxal” vigilante groups: Rights group PUDR)

Tamil Nadu’s anti-nuclear stir all set to spread to Andhra Pradesh, civil society plans agitations in February-March
Counterview
Anti-nuclear protests against the proposed Kovvada nuclear plant in Andhra Pradesh are all set to acquire a new momentum in South India following the decision of the local people to join hand with national-level activists of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), National Alliance of Anti-Nuclear Movement (NAAM), Human Rights Forum and Sanjeevini Paryavarana Seva Sangham.

Gujarat govt rejects 60% of tribal land claims, disallows protest rally in Ahmedabad: Tribal rights activist
Counterview
A well-entrenched Gujarat tribal rights group, Ekalavya Sangathan, has said that the state government has so far recognized just 40.42% of the tribal claims for land out of a total of 1.83 lakh applications okayed by tribal village councils for regular (Related: Tribal land rights implementation poorest in Gujarat’s backward Dahod district: Representation to chief minister)

SC to hear plea seeking compensation for drought victims
Business Standard
The Supreme Court will on Tuesday hear a plea seeking proper compensation to those people affected by drought. The plea was filed by a Delhi based Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Swaraj Abhiyan seeking directions from the apex court to the Central and State Governments to provide timely and effective relief to drought affected people in several states.

Urban India’s air quality deteriorated by 13% in 2010-15; China improved by 17%, US by 15%, European Union by 20%
Rajiv Shah, Counterview
In one of the sharpest critiques of air pollution in the recent past, a fresh report has said that air quality levels in urban India between 2010 and 2015 deteriorated by 13% at a time when these improved by 17% in China. The pollution levels improved in the US by 15%, and 20% in European Union (EU), it reveals. “In 2016, severe air pollution has disrupted everyday life, especially during the winter”, the report notes, insisting, “In 2015 air pollution (PM2.5) levels in India increased in a rapid manner overtaking even China.”

NDA changed regulations on tribal rights to prevent 130 mines from auction
Nitin Sethi, Business Standard
The NDA government changed regulations meant for protection of tribal rights, forests and environment in order to ensure that more than 130 mines do not face fresh auctions and are instead retained by existing miners. The changes were made to several regulations in a coordinated manner by the environment ministry, the tribal affairs ministry and the mines ministry over a period of more than one year, show documents. The NDA government had passed an amendment to the Mines and Mineral Development and Regulation Act, 2015 in order to facilitate auctioning of mines that would generate revenue for the state exchequer.

Govt begins process to move water to concurrent list
Pretika Khanna, Live Mint
The Union ministry for water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation has begun the process to make water a part of the concurrent list, moving it away from being a state subject. The move follows the rising number of disputes over access to water arising between states across India. The ministry is holding consultations with states to work on a solution without taking away the rights of the states. (Related: State firm on linking rivers in North Andhra by June: Uma)

India’s renewable energy targets short-circuited by poor infrastructure, lack of cheap financing
Shreya Shah, Indiaspend.com
India’s solar capacity targets are equivalent to 44% of the world’s 2015 total solar capacity – 227 GW. Over the last quarter of 2016, the government auctioned fewer projects than needed to match its renewable energy goals, according to a report by the Mercom Capital Group, a US-based energy research and communications firm.

NDA considers Universal Basic Income for all citizens
Elizabeth Roche, Live Mint
The Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government seems to be considering the idea of a “Universal Basic Income” or a regular state payment to all citizens regardless of their employment status. According to a report on the Business Insider website, dated 3 January, the move aims to provide a safety net for all citizens and remove inefficient benefit systems currently in place.

India gets new weather prediction model for better forecasts
Down to Earth
A new, advanced weather prediction model was made operational on January 16 by the Ministry of Earth Science for more accurate forecasts. The very high resolution (12 km) global deterministic weather prediction model has been on trial since September 2016. The model, as per the ministry, has shown significant improvements in skill of daily weather forecasts. The new model replaces an earlier version which was responsible for predicting the path and intensity of Vardah cyclone and the North Indian cold wave.

Private dairies to surge ahead of cooperatives in milk procurement by the decade-end
Harish Damodaran, The Indian Express
Private corporate dairies will overtake cooperatives and handle larger milk volumes than the latter within the next five years. In 2015, cooperatives and organised private dairies procured an estimated 15.55 million tonnes (mt) each of milk. By 2020, procurement by private dairies is projected to reach 28.93 mt, ahead of the 23.67 mt of cooperatives, according to the latest edition of the industry publication, Dairy India. (Related: Government of India interference in dairy cooperatives, begun when Modi was Gujarat CM, now turns blatant)

Proposed ‘Canara trail’ illegal, threat to biodiversity; scrap it
B.K. Singh, Deccan Herald
The proposal of the Forest Department to open 270 km-long trekking trail through one of the most pristine forests of Uttara Kannada is a threat to biodiversity conservation. The proposal is to open India’s longest forest trekking and canopy walk from Jog Falls in Shivamogga district to Castle Rock in Uttara Kannada district. The places covered on route are Jog Falls, Kattekan, Garuda Jog, Unchalli, Devimane Ghat, Shivaganga Falls, Ganesh Falls, Bedti river valley, Lalguli, Kali River, Shivapura in Anshi, Ulavi, Kumarwada, Kuveshi, Diggi and Castle Rock.

Meenangadi in Kerala is well on its way to being India’s first carbon-neutral panchayat
T.A. Ameerudheen, Scroll
The town of Meenangadi in Kerala’s Wayanad district is going back to nature in a big way. In the last seven months, this highly bio-diverse region in the Western Ghats has been witness to a plant population census, soil audit, energy audit, organic vegetable cultivation and awareness campaigns against plastic bags. These are all part of efforts to make Meenangadi India’s first carbon-neutral panchayat – an ambitious project with the involvement of people’s representatives, scientists, students and farmers. The project has a target deadline of 2020.

Over a million people affected by drought in Sri Lanka
Down to Earth
Extreme weather is hitting Sri Lanka hard as the island country experiences its worst drought in more than four decades. According to the data released by Sri Lanka’s Disaster Management Center under the Ministry of Disaster Management, over a million people are being affected by drought in 18 districts. To put things in perspective, Sri Lanka has 25 districts, so more than half of the country is reeling under drought. With rain not expected for another two to three months, the government has warned that the situation may worsen.

Trump’s WhiteHouse.gov Scrubs Every Mention of Combating Climate Change
Common Dreams
Soon after Donald Trump took his oath as the 45the President of the United States, the new White House web page for his administration went up. Among the key differences from the previous administration’s—the lack of any reference to the threat of climate change. While climate change was listed as a top issue on the Obama White House official site, the new page now lists ‘America First Energy Plan’ as among the top six issues. (Related: Trump Won’t Stop The Clean Energy Revolution)

China builds world’s biggest solar farm in journey to become green superpower
Tom Phillips, The Guardian
The remote, 27-square-kilometre solar farm tops an ever-expanding roll call of supersized symbols that underline China’s determination to transform itself from climate villain to green superpower. Built at a cost of about 6bn yuan (£721.3m) and in almost constant expansion since construction began in 2013, Longyangxia now has the capacity to produce a massive 850MW of power – enough to supply up to 200,000 households – and stands on the front line of a global photovoltaic revolution being spearheaded by a country that is also the world’s greatest polluter.

Amazon culture clash over Brazil’s dams
BBC News
A battle is under way in the Amazon region of Brazil between indigenous groups and river dwellers on the one hand and big corporations on the other as the latter go ahead with their plans to build huge dams to meet Brazil’s energy needs. The BBC’s South America correspondent Wyre Davies has been to see what is set to become the world’s fourth largest dam, already under construction, and the indigenous area next in line for development.(Also read: Mexican Goldman Environmentalist Prize Winner Killed in Latest Attack on Latin American Activists)

Globalization’s Reality – World Trade Has Increased By Less Than 1% Annually In The Last Decade
Eric Bush, Zero Hedge
According to the CPB World Trade Monitor, the value of world exports (volume * price) has increased by less than 1% annually since making a high on 7/31/2007 compared to more than a 5% annualized growth rate since 1991 (beginning of the data series).

Oceans May Have More Plastic Than Fish By 2050: World Economic Forum Study
NDTV.com
Over 40 industry leaders, including some from India, today rallied here in support of a new plan to recycle plastic waste, fearing that oceans may have more plastic than fish by 2050 if no urgent steps are taken. The plan aims to increase total recycling from 14 per cent currently to 70 per cent of total plastic packaging. The plan, presented here in a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, observed that there could be “more plastics than fish (by weight) in the ocean by 2050 if no action is taken immediately”.

Dramatic decrease in ‘mild’ weather for tropical countries by 2100
Robert McSweeney, Carbon Brief
While climate change tends to be associated with extreme weather events or the long-term rise in global average temperature, a new study takes a different angle by considering what could happen to ‘mild’ weather conditions. The research, published in Climatic Change, find that warm, dry days that are ideal for outdoor activities, construction work and travel could change dramatically by the end of the century. (Related: Ocean data upgrade confirms pace of recent warming)

Inforgraphic: USA v World biodiversity
Down to Earth
While the world’s species pay the price for USA’s extravagant consumption patterns, biodiversity in the country remains largely safe.

 

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