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NEWS UPDATE #128


Common Dreams reports: The symbolic Doomsday Clock inched closer to midnight on Thursda.. For the first time in the 70-year history of the clock, “the BAS board has decided to act, in part, based on the words of a single person: Donald Trump, the new President of the United States,” according to a press statement.

SC issues notice to Centre, states, UTs, RBI to look into farmer suicides
Satya Prakash, The Tribune
The Supreme Court on Friday issued notices to the Centre, states, union territories and the RBI asking them to suggest measures to deal with situations created by natural calamities and indebtedness that often force farmers to commit suicide. A Bench header by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar asked them to file their responses in four weeks. The Bench expanded the scope and ambit of a 2013 PIL that had sought the top court’s intervention in Gujarat where between 2003 and 2012, 692 farmers had allegedly committed suicide.

Farmers hit hard as import of pulses surge, despite record harvest
Sayantan Bera, Live Mint
While farmers in India are forced to sell pulses below government announced minimum support prices (MSPs) following a record harvest, imports in the past three months surged nearly 30%. During October to December, 2016, India imported nearly 2.45 million tonnes of pulses, up from 1.9 million tonnes imported in the same period in the previous year, shows data from the Indian Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA), an industry body.

Don’t let studies delay projects: Environment minister Anil Madhav Dave to experts
Jay Mazoomdaar, The Indian Express
Don’t delay project clearances by repeatedly asking for different studies. That was Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave’s message to non-official expert members of the ministry’s appraisal committees. He urged them to work hard to clear the bulk of pending processes over the next three months. Around 40 expert members from all over the country were invited to an “interaction and lunch” which was followed by a closed-door meeting with the minister at the ministry headquarters on January 5.

New experts’ panels fast track dirty energy projects
The Times of India
The new Expert Appraisal Committees (EAC) on coal mining & thermal power, which was constituted recently, is on a clearance spree of projects for dirty energy. New EACs under the Union Ministry for Environment Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) were constituted in December 2016 under the chairmanship of Dr Navin Chandra, former director of CSIR-Advanced Materials and Processes Research Institute (AMPRI). As soon as they were constituted, EAC (coal) met on December 27, and EAC (thermal) on December 28. Without sharing agenda with members 15 days before the meeting, the environment ministry seems to be rushing to clear projects.

Why India’s Canals Could Help Fast-Forward Its Solar-Energy Plans
Mukta Patil, IndiaSpend
The canal-top solar panels were installed in India’s sunniest state in 2012 and now offer hope for a country three times as densely populated as China, at a time when India aims for almost a nine-fold increase in solar capacity between between 2017 and 2022 to fulfil global climate-change commitments and reduce its dependence on coal-fired power plants.

Pay farmers for providing ecosystem services; make agriculture attractive: experts
Deepanwita Niyogi, Down to Earth
Payment to farmers for providing ecosystem services can ensure guaranteed farm income, make agriculture an attractive option for those who are deserting it and pave the way to sustainable agriculture. In an interview to Down To Earth, Rob Vos, strategic programme leader in FAO’s economic and social affairs division, had earlier said that to engage more youths, agriculture has to be made more “attractive and remunerative”.

Sharp rise in inequalities main reason behind shrinking democratic space in India: Well-known rural journo Sainath
Counterview
Speaking on “Shrinking Democratic Spaces and the Role of Civil Society”, doyen of rural journalism in India, P Sainath, has said that a major reason for dwindling democratic values is astonishing growth in inequalities in India. He was giving a public lecture at the Centre for Environmental Education (CEE), Ahmedabad, to mark the 30th anniversary of premier non-government organization (NGO), Janvikas. Sainath said, way back on November 25, 1949, Dr BR Ambedkar, while handing over the draft constitution to the Constituent Assembly for finalization, had warned that while India had achieved political democracy, there was still no democracy in society and economy.

 

Narmada dam oustees: Madhya Pradesh govt suffers setback, as High Court insists on land compensation
Counterview
In a major setback to the Madhya Pradesh (MP) government, which had been offering cash compensation against the land lost by the oustees of Gujarat’s Narmada dam, the High Court’s Indore bench has ruled that those who had received the first cash installment would be entitled to land compensation. Termed special rehabilitation package or SRP, the cash-for-land formula was worked by Gujarat government bureaucrats more than a decade ago in order to speed up completion of the Narmada dam.

Why Diverting Yettinahole River is Both Ecologically Damaging and Economically Unsound
Meghna Krishnadas & Suman Jumani, The Wire
Diverting the west-flowing Yettinahole towards Bangalore is an ambitious project with an estimated cost of Rs 13,000 crore. The project proposes to divert nearly 24 TMC (or 672 billion litres) of water from the head-waters of the Netravathi river towards the water-scarce districts of Kolar, Ramanagara, parts of Hassan, Tumkur, Chikkaballapur, Bengaluru Rural and Devanahalli Industrial Area, – besides augmenting water to T.G. Halli and Hesaraghatta reservoirs near Bengaluru city.

The Countdown Begins For Tamil Nadu’s Beach Sand Mining Cartel
Sandhya Ravishankar, The Wire
What the Tirunelveli district authorities have now suddenly discovered under their very noses, however, is only the tip of the iceberg. The mining of beach sand is big business in Tamil Nadu’s southern coast. Amidst allegations of loot, corruption and official connivance, as well as bitter internal feuds, one family has built a business empire that holds a monopoly over beach sand mining not just in the state but in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh too.

Myopic Goa Regional Plan lacks solutions to tackle climate change
Paul Fernandes, The Times of India
Although the warning signs of climate change and rising sea levels are already being seen and felt, activists claim the Regional Plan (RP) 2021 is far from proactive when it comes to measures to tackle these phenomena. Goa, like other coastal states, will be vulnerable to the impact of sea level rise and other future events in the sensitive Indonesian region. The state’s coast was affected by cyclonic storms in Arabian sea in the past, with cyclone Phyan in November 2009 being one of them. The rapid urbanization and decrease in green cover due to construction and other activities are worrying environmentalists and others. ”

HDFC Bank cuts 4,581 jobs in third quarter because of improved efficiency
Live Mint
It can be noted that there has been a greater degree of automation in banking with algorithms making it easier to reduce dependence on employees and also doing the same work much faster. Accounts are being opened over the counter courtesy Aadhaar, loans are getting cleared in minutes and technologies like blockchain are reducing human intervention in operations.

Antarctic Tipping Points for a Multi-Metre Sea Level Rise
David Spratt, Climate Code Red
The Amundsen Sea sector of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has most likely been destabilized and ice retreat is unstoppable for the current conditions. No further acceleration in climate change is necessary to trigger the collapse of the rest of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet on decadal time scales. Antarctica has the potential to contribute more than a metre of sea-level rise by 2100. A large fraction of West Antarctic basin ice could be gone within two centuries, causing a 3–5 metre sea level rise. Mechanisms similar to those causing deglaciation in West Antarctica are now also found in East Antarctica.

Thanks, Trump – Doomsday Clock Now Two and a Half Minutes to Midnight
Common Dreams
The symbolic Doomsday Clock inched closer to midnight on Thursday, and we have President Donald Trump largely to thank for the ominous development. At the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Thursday morning, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board moved the hands of the iconic clock 30 seconds closer to “midnight,” or the end of the world. For the first time in the 70-year history of the clock, “the board has decided to act, in part, based on the words of a single person: Donald Trump, the new President of the United States,” according to a press statement. (Related; ‘Hostile Takeover’: Oil & Gas Industry Now In Charge of US Foreign Policy)

Five ways to take action on climate change
The Guardian
The Paris agreement is a truly global commitment, spanning developed and developing countries around the world. Yet for many developing and least-developed countries, in particular, contributing to the fight against climate change requires taking targeted actions while also prioritising economic development and poverty reduction. Here are five areas in the energy sector that offer such a win-win. (Related: Five Ways The Paris Agreement Can Address Oversupply Of Fossil Fuels)

Six Mega-Trends that Could Shape the Future of Energy
Maritime Executive
Ten years ago the energy industry was focused on peak oil, while the shale gas revolution in the U.S. had yet to start. As 2017 begins, what are the mega-trends that will shape the upcoming decades? BP’s head of long-term planning Dominic Emery identifies what lies ahead, from the rapid growth in renewables to changing demographics. (Related: BP predicts “peak oil” will hit between 2025 and 2040)

Finland’s “100’000-year tomb” for nuclear-waste storage is gaining the world’s admiration
Tom Turula, Business Insider
Next to climate change, nuclear waste storage is one of the biggest generation-spanning issues facing the world. The stakes are high; world powers like the US and the U.K get a fifth of their power from nuclear plants, while in France the share is 40 percent. This reliance makes the need for safe and sustinable storage obvious. But it’s a country with merely four plants that is pioneering long-term storage: Finland.

 

 

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