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NEWS UPDATE #149


From IndiaSpend: A new report has analysed the impact of environmental hazards on global health across 194 countries. These deaths –avoidable if governments and citizens adopted sustainable environmental practices– accounted for 30% of all deaths in India that year. In comparison, 25% and 23% deaths, in Pakistan and Bangladesh, respectively, were attributable to the environment.

INDIA

Indians Killed Due To Climate Change In 2012 = Population Of Lucknow
Delna Abraham, IndiaSpend
The March 2016 report titled Preventing disease through healthy environments analysed the impact of environmental hazards and risks of climate change on global health across 194 countries. These deaths–avoidable if governments and citizens adopted sustainable environmental practices–accounted for 30% of all deaths in India that year. In comparison, 25% and 23% deaths, in Pakistan and Bangladesh, respectively, were attributable to the environment, according to the Global Health Observatory (GHO) data.

Is hectic highway building in Arunachal Pradesh leading to more landslides?
Arunabh Saikia, Scroll.in
Torrential rains are not new to Arunachal Pradesh, and the eastern Himalayan region has always been prone to landslides. However, the damage caused by them has steadily increased in the last few years, with settlements starting to mushroom in risk-prone areas. Apart from unplanned urban expansion in and around the capital city of Itanagar, including Papum Pare, mega development projects in the state have exacerbated pressures, say experts.

Coal India, World’s Largest Coal Producer, Scraps 37 Mines Due to Plummeting Solar Prices
Enviro News
On June 10, when the country’s government-owned Coal India Limited announced it would close 37 unprofitable coal mines. Coal India is the world’s largest coal producer. It dug up 554 million tons of the black rock last year alone. Coal-fired power plants currently account for 63 percent of electric generation in the country, which still has 300 million people without electricity at all. There are 370 new coal plants being planned to close that gap – but it now looks as if many of them may not be built. (Related: Seven charts show why the IEA thinks coal investment has already peaked)

GST of 18% on tendu leaves: how it will impact tribals
Down to Earth
Tendu leaf, a Minor Forest Produce (MFP) used to roll beedi, is the financial lifeline of the forest tribes of central India. However, from July 1, as India entered a new system of taxation, the Goods and Services Tax (GST), a centralised tax was imposed on tendu leaf for the first time. The GST on the leaf is set at 18 per cent. The 18 per cent GST is made up of 9 per cent central GST (CGST) and 9 per cent state GST (SGST). Central tax on the leaf was earlier zero. (Related: Can anything justify reduction of minimum support price for minor forest produce?)

Hubballi-Ankola railway project moves ahead, environmental concerns remain
The Hindu
The much-delayed, controversial project to provide a railway line — connecting Hubballi in the plains and Ankola on the coast — that cuts through the dense forests of the Western Ghats has taken its first step towards fruition. The environmental cost, however, remains high: More than 1.73 lakh trees in 1,472 acres of forests will make way for the railway project, apart from fragmentation of two tiger reserves.

NGT sends notices to THDC, pollution control board on coal-fired power plant in Uttar Pradesh
Down to Earth
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has sent notices to the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPCB), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Ltd (THDC) in an ongoing case against setting up of coal-fired power plant by THDC in Khurja, Uttar Pradesh. The power plant, which received environmental clearance on March 30, has been taken to the Tribunal by the Uttar Pradesh-based non-profit, Social Action for Environment and Forest (SAFE).

Govt Spent Over Rs 4800 Cr on Ganga Rejuvenation Since 1986
Outlook
The government has spent a whopping amount of over Rs 4800 crore on rejuvenation of river Ganga and its tributaries since 1986 till June 30 this year. The Ministry of Environment and Forests told the apex environment watchdog ,  the National Green Tribunal, that Rs 6788.78 crore was released by the government for the Ganga Action Plan (GAP) since it was launched by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on January 14, 1986.

Oil spill along Gujarat-Maharashtra sea? Environmentalist notices coastline slowly getting polluted by tar balls
Counterview
MSH Sheikh, who heads the environmental organization, Brackish Water Research Centre (BWRC), operating from Olpad, Surat district, has found that the coastline along the Valsad district “is being hit by oil spill”, with 50 km sea shore “slowly getting the tar balls over the last several days.” In a representation to the Gujarat Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA), Sheikh has sought its urgent intervention as the “deposition of tar balls are increasing, which shows oil spill in mid sea”, pointing out that it is all set to cause “pollution in coast as well as in the sea.”

Rural landless doing better than the landed, says HSBC report
Live Mint
India’s rural landless dependent on wage earnings did better than landed farmers for whom rising wages in a record crop year pushed up costs, while falling crop prices took a toll on earnings, said an HSBC research note on rural distress released on Tuesday. Since 2014, farmers’ real debt has been rising at a rate faster than their real incomes, the report said, adding that the sustained fall in headline inflation over the last few years had increased farmers’ real indebtedness. This has led to a growing clamour for loan waivers by farmers although such waivers spoil the credit culture and erode macro-stability, as states’ quality of spending falls, it said.

Punjab aims to make farmers power producers
The Economic Times
Punjab government is planning to exhort farmers to install solar power run tubewell and supplement their income by sale of power. Punjab power minister Rana Gurjeet Singh has urged power utilities Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) and Punjab State Transmission Corporation Limited (PSTCL), to initiate a feasibility study to convert every farmer from power consumer to power producer.

With color-coded warnings, Ahmedabad gets serious about dirty air
Reuters
Ahmedabad, in the western state of Gujarat, has among the worst air pollution in the country. But it is the first to install an air monitoring and warning system. The Air Information and Response (AIR) plan, launched in May, involves the creation of an air quality index that measures daily pollution levels in eight locations. Giant LED screens display five color-coded alerts of the levels, and their related effects. An early warning system also alerts people to days when pollution is likely to reach the “very poor” or “severe” level.

Beware the kill switch of agriculture
Prabhakaran Nair, The Indian Express
Why, suddenly, has mustard taken centre stage? GM mustard has begun to stir both the scientific and activist lobbies, the latter vehemently against it, while the former is keeping its fingers crossed. This piece is about the now controversial Dhara GM mustard hybrid-11 or DMH-11, developed by scientists of Delhi University, with former Vice Chancellor Deepak Pental in the lead.

WORLD

The UN Passes The First-Ever Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Worldwide
Science Alert
On Friday, the United Nations passed the first-ever treaty imposing a total nuclear weapons ban. With North Korea openly continuing to test its arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles, each capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, the decision couldn’t be more timely. In a press briefing Thursday, UN conference president Elayne Whyte Gomez said that “we are on the verge of adopting the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons”.

Heat wave breaks 131-year-old L.A. record; Santa Barbara fires growing
Orange County Register
A record that stood 131 years in Los Angeles was snapped when the temperature spiked at 98 degrees downtown. The previous record of 95 degrees was set in 1886, the National Weather Service said. Excessive heat sent Southern Californians flocking to beaches and in search of water, shade and air conditioning to escape the heat. Forecasters warned that triple-digit temperatures up to 110 degrees would be common in some inland areas and could be deadly for the elderly, children and outdoor workers.

US approves oil drilling in Alaska waters, prompting fears for marine life
The Guardian
An Italian multinational oil and gas company has received permission to move ahead with drilling plans in federal waters off Alaska which environmental campaigners say will endanger polar bears, bowhead whales and other marine mammals. Late on Wednesday, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced conditional approval of an exploratory drilling plan submitted by a US subsidiary of the company Eni.

China’s State Council announces 17 new national nature reserves
China Daily
The State Council, China’s cabinet, announced the locations of 17 new nature reserves in seven provinces and two autonomous regions on Wednesday. he provinces of Heilongjiang, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Hubei, Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu will host the new reserves as will the Tibet and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions. The acreage and functional divisions will later be promulgated by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the announcement said.

Aquaculture is main driver of mangrove losses
SciDev
Expanding aquaculture in South-East Asia over the last two decades has been the main driver of mangrove loss in the world, says a study published in PLOS One this month (June). The study, conducted by a team of scientists at Global Mangrove Watch (GMW), mapped the distribution and changes of mangrove ecosystems in the world during 1996 — 2010 using satellite imagery. The team analysed 1,168 mangrove areas in North, Central and South America, Africa, Middle East, India, and South-East Asia.

How local elites earn money from burning land in Indonesia
Mongabay
A “fire economy” has emerged in Indonesia in which the blazes tearing through the country’s land and forests, driven largely by the global demand for palm oil, are lining the pockets of local elites and their patronage networks, according to a new study. “Fire economy and actor network of forest and land fires in Indonesia,” published in the journal Forest Policy and Economics, details the ways in which a variety of people “benefit directly and indirectly from the business of fire, enjoying profits and economic rents at the expense of environmental quality.”

McDonald’s begins closing restaurants across U.S. as clean food movement sweeps America
Natural News
For the first time in decades McDonald’s is struggling and has to close more restaurants than it opens after worldwide drops in sales. According to an Associated Press review of McDonald’s regulatory filings, this hasn’t happened since 1970. Earlier this year the fast food giant announced the closing of 350 underperforming locations, but recently admitted it had to close an additional 350 restaurants in the U.S., Japan, and China.

The Arctic is full of mercury, and scientists think they know how it’s getting there
The Washington Post
The remote Arctic tundra may seem like the last place on Earth human pollution should be causing a problem — yet it’s filled with mercury contamination. That mercury leaks from the soil into rivers and ultimately the Arctic Ocean, contaminating the fish and other sea life that native communities rely on for survival. Now, in a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, scientists have begun to outline how the mercury is getting into and moving through the landscape in the first place. And the short answer is: It’s our fault it’s there in the first place, and climate change could now make that even worse. (Related – Here’s Why Most Most of the Meat Americans Eat Is Banned in Other Industrialized Countries)

130 Italian families threaten to seek asylum in Austria over mandatory vaccinations – activist
RT.com
More than 130 families in the Italian province of South Tyrol are allegedly threatening to seek asylum in Austria, just days after the Italian president signed a decree requiring mandatory vaccinations for school admission. “The parents have already written to [Italian President] Mattarella, to the Austrian [President] Van der Bellen, as well as the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva,” anti-vaccination activist Reinhold Holzer told ANSA news agency. It comes just two days after Mattarella signed a decree requiring children entering school to have 12 mandatory vaccinations, according to ministry sources.

I’ve studied Larsen C and its giant iceberg for years – it’s not a simple story of climate change
Adrian Luckman, The Conversation
We’ve been surprised by the level of interest in what may simply be a rare but natural occurrence. Because, despite the media and public fascination, the Larsen C rift and iceberg “calving” is not a warning of imminent sea level rise, and any link to climate change is far from straightforward. This event is, however, a spectacular episode in the recent history of Antarctica’s ice shelves, involving forces beyond the human scale, in a place where few of us have been, and one which will fundamentally change the geography of this region.

Biofuels needed but some more polluting than fossil fuels, report warns
The Guardian
Biofuel use needs to increase to help fight climate change as liquid fuels will be needed by aircraft and ships for many decades to come, finds a new report requested by the UK government. The Royal Academy of Engineering report says, however, that some biofuels, such as diesel made from food crops, have led to more emissions than those produced by the fossil fuels they were meant to replace. Instead, the report says, rising biofuel production should make more use of waste, such as used cooking oil and timber.

 

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