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NEWS UPDATE #79


The Times of India reports: Distress conditions forced about 6 lakh people from Rayalaseema, where the major crop is groundnut, to move to cities in 2015. It works out to migration of around 1,600 persons per day last year. Although the rate dipped in November and December due to the ongoing cultivation, the trend continues.

Drought Forces 6 Lakh From Rayalaseema To Migrate To TN, Kerala, Karnataka
The Times of India
Farmers across the state have no option but to abandon their traditional vocation thanks to the cultivable land decreasing each year. More than 18 per cent of the total area over which groundnut was once sown has remained idle in the last two years, as per statistics supplied by the agriculture department. The distress conditions forced about 6 lakh people from Rayalaseema, where the major crop is groundnut, to move to cities in 2015 alone. It works out to migration of around 1,600 persons per day last year. Although the rate dipped in November and December due to the ongoing cultivation, the trend continues. By the time you finish reading this article approximately 17 residents of rural areas would have gone to work in metros.

No more ‘droughts’ in India, says IMD
The Hindu
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has officially expunged the word “drought” from its vocabulary, months after it struck a contrarian note and correctly forecast one of India’s severest monsoon deficits last year. According to a circular issued by the department last Thursday, the move is part of a decision to do away with or re-define terms that are not scientifically precise. Beginning this season, for instance, if India’s monsoon rainfall were to dip below 10 per cent of the normal and span between 20 and 40 per cent of the country’s area, it would be called a “deficient” year instead of an “All India Drought Year” as the IMD’s older manuals would say. A more severe instance, where the deficit exceeds 40 per cent and would have been called an “All India Severe Drought Year,” will now be a “Large Deficient Year”.

Tribal ministry relents over Forest Rights Act
Business Standard
Setting a precedent for the entire country, the Union tribal affairs ministry has revised its views to re-interpret the Forest Rights Act (FRA) and allow the Maharashtra forest department to get control back over forest management and a grip on the lucrative trade worth crores in forest produce such as tendu leaves and bamboo. The ministry had previously concluded that only tribals and other forest dwellers had rights to manage their forests under FRA. But after a meeting in November at the Cabinet Secretariat between the environment and the tribal affairs ministries, the latter has made a turnaround and re-interpreted the legal provisions of FRA to give the state government control back over the forests with some conditions

Nagpur Union launches world-wide campaign against much hyped water privatisation
Swati Bansal, India Water Portal
Despite failure and also irregularities, city’s water privatization model has been hyped in the nation and also at international level. To expose the hype and also impacts of water privatization, one of the trade unions from the city– Nagpur Municipal Corporation Employees Union has launched a world-wide campaign with the help of internationally acclaimed organizations. A petition will be filed with World Bank demanding not to promote water privatization and hype city’s faulty model. (Also read: How has water privatisation affected Chattisgarh?)

False cases against adivasis in Central india: The Crux Of The Matter
Vani Xaxa, Countercurrents.org
There are some 20,000 permanent warrants issued against the adivasis in South Bastar (Dantewada, Sukma, Bijapur) alone; 10-15 warrants slapped on a person. The charges are mostly under the different sections of the IPC (146,147,148,149, 302,307); Arms Act(8), Chhattisgarh Special Public security Act(CSPSA) 2005 and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 1967. It is to be remembered that the sections under IPC 146-149 are basically rioting; rioting against whom and why do not seem to be required an enquiry. The Arms that the police sieze is mostly the implements which are used for daily purposes—axe, knife, agricultural implements and are considered dangerous weapons. The latter two Acts have been used by the State government for its own end—silencing of voices which are being raised in the process of assertion of rights.

Fragile Western Ghats paying price of development
Nikhil M. Ghanekar, DNA
Some of the most fragile districts in ecologically sensitive areas (ESA) of Western Ghats have been heavily cut to size, according to a detailed dna analysis of state government reports on physical demarcation of the region.
The demarcation has largely been found in Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka, which are looking to tap in to the tourism and commercial potential of the region. The reports also revealed that private companies, such as Lavasa Corporation Limited and Supreme Petrochem Limited, had written to the state government, asking for exclusion of ESA villages that fell in their project site.

Uttarakhand residents hug trees to protest against smart city project
Hindustan Times
In a campaign that brought back memories of the famed Chipko Andolan in Uttarakhand hills in the 1970s, over 400 locals embraced trees in the Harbanswala tea estate here to register their protest against the proposed establishment of the smart city in the area. The campaign was jointly organised by locals and members of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

Big buildings in Chennai will have to manage their own food waste
The Hindu
With large volumes of food and kitchen waste compounding the solid waste management programme in cities and expanding municipalities, the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority has finally decided to enforce a forgotten mandate for big builders to provide in-house systems to handle food waste. According to officials of the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, from now on any builder who undertakes a project spread over 2.20 lakh square feet area will have to mandatorily provide a decentralised system to convert food waste generated in the building complexes into biogas or compost.

The Last Time Oil Was This Cheap, It Was Expensive
Nicole Friedman, MoneyBeat
Now that oil has plummeted about 70% from its mid-2014 highs, is it time for another paradigm shift? Some analysts say yes. BP’s chief economist Dale Spencer argued in an October paper titled “New Economics of Oil” that due to shale-oil drilling techniques and growing concerns about curbing carbon emissions, “there is no longer a strong reason to expect the relative price of oil to increase over time.” But others argue that low oil prices are only setting the market up for a price spike in 2017 or beyond, as spending cuts made today reduce the amount of supply available to consumers in the future.

Seeking Recourse Against Polluters, Call to ‘Claim the Sky’ as Common Good Intensifies
Common Dreams
The movement to claim the global atmosphere as a “common good” has been building in grassroots battles for years. But in the wake of the COP21 conference in Paris—with international momentum and a new coalition of countries committed to the need for climate finance—the call to “claim the sky” has found new resonance. Last week, an international group including leaders from some of the Vulnerable 20 (or V20) nations sent an open letter encouraging V20 members to establish an Atmospheric Trust, which would help hold polluting industries accountable and shield those countries from the worst impacts of climate change.

The Dirty Truth About ‘Clean Diesel’
Taras Grecoe, The New York Times
In the United States, which has some of the world’s toughest air pollution laws, automakers worked hard to convince consumers that a new generation of “clean diesel” cars were far less polluting. Volkswagen heavily promoted its “TDI” (turbocharged direct injection) technology. We know better now. As anybody who has seen the black smoke spewing out of the pipes of a big rig as it changes gears can testify, diesel has a fatal flaw. It tends to burn dirty, particularly at low speeds and temperatures. In cities, where so much driving is stop and start, incomplete diesel combustion produces pollution that is devastating for human health.

Germany Just Got 78 Percent Of Its Electricity From Renewable Sources
Climate Progress
On Saturday, July 25, Germany set a new national record for renewable energy by meeting 78 percent of the day’s electricity demand with renewables sources, exceeding the previous record of 74 percent set in May of 2014. Renewable sources accounted for 27.8 percent of Germany’s power consumption in 2014, up from 6.2 percent in 2000. The expansion of renewables and another weather phenomenon — a relatively mild winter — led to Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions falling for the first time in three years in 2014, a 4.3 percent year-over-year drop.

Venezuela passes new law rejecting GMOs and seed patents nationwide
Natural News
After fighting a two-year long battle against the approval of transgenic seeds, Venezuela’s National Assembly finally approved a draft Seed Law aimed to protect food security, soil fertility and promoting sustainable agriculture, instead of creating a backdoor for the spread of GM seeds. The new law is a big win for the people, farmers and environmental activists, who have long been on a mission to help pass the law and prevent companies such as Monsanto, Bayer and Syngenta from supplying and controling the seed and food supply in their country.

America’s 20 richest people have more money than these 152 million people
MarketWatch
This statistic might even make the 1% feel humbled. America’s 20 wealthiest people — a group that could fit in one Gulfstream G650 jet — are now worth $732 billion, which means they have more wealth than the 152 million people who make up the least wealthy 50% of U.S. households, according to a report released by the Institute for Policy Studies. What’s more, the “Forbes 400” wealthiest individuals in the U.S. now have a net worth of $2.34 trillion. “There is a growing concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands,” says Josh Hoxie, who heads up the Project on Opportunity and Taxation at the institute.

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