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NEWS UPDATE #82


Decision On GM Mustard Deferred *Mining interests and tribal rights on collision course *Former atomic energy regulator says India needs to pause nuclear plans *Lesser water recorded in Indian reservoirs than last year *Sikkim Organic Mission: We Need To Dig Deeper *Hydro dam boom threatens freshwater fish *Radioactive Water From Fukushima Leaking Into the Pacific

Decision On GM Mustard Deferred
Business Standard
Amid unprecedented attention, protests by activists and a notice for contempt of Supreme Court orders, the environment ministry’s Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) deferred a decision on allowing commercial cropping of genetically modified (GM) mustard. The committee met on Friday for appraisal of GM mustard crop after a sub-group had submitted a report assessing the biosafety test results but deferred a decision. (Also read: India may decide on GM food as China makes big leap with Syngenta buy)

In Chhattisgarh, mining interests and tribal rights on a collision course
Raksha Kumar, Scroll.in
In villages such as Rohindargra, Chhote Jaitpuri, Dangra, Bhaisangaon and Gondbinpal in the Rowghat region, through which the rail line is planned to pass, felling of trees has already begun in clear violation of the FRA. According to the Act, no tribal can be evicted from forestland unless the recognition of forest rights is complete in that region. As it stands, however, residents of these villages will now be evicted without discussions on rehabilitation or resettlement. They have been given monetary compensation of Rs 30,000 per acre, but the villagers point out that their land is worth at least three times more.

Former atomic energy regulator explains why India needs to pause its nuclear power plans
Nityanand Jayaraman, Scroll.in
“Germany shut down eight of 17 functioning nuclear plants immediately after Fukushima. In May 2015, the French parliament approved a bill to reduce dependence on nuclear power from 75% to 50% by 2025. Many other countries have paused [their nuclear programmes]. The cost of nuclear is rising exponentially. But we seem to act as if we have an enormous store of money. When you look at history and how we got here, we can understand. There is a commonality between UPA [the United Progressive Alliance] and this government. Both are close to companies (foreign and Indian) that want to make money.” (Also read: ‘India Has Agreed on a Site for Second Russian N-project’)

Lesser water recorded in Indian reservoirs than last year
Down to Earth
The Union Ministry of Water Resources on Friday released data pertaining to water storage in India’s reservoirs. The survey has revealed a dip in the country’s water reserves as the current levels amount to just 78 per cent of the storage levels during the corresponding period last year and just about 3/4th the average storage achieved over the past 10 years.

Why the 75% Drop in Global Oil Prices Isn’t Reaching You
Abhishek Waghmare, IndiaSpend
Record production in the United States (US), weakened demand from the Eurozone and emerging economies like China and Brazil, and Iran’s entry into the international market have effectively slashed the price of crude oil for India, from $106 per barrel in July 2014 to $26 in January 2016 — a 75% drop over 15 months. So, why are you not seeing evidence of this price-cut at your local petrol and diesel station? The answer: As global crude prices reach a 11-year low, the Centre and state governments steadily increase excise duties and value-added tax, shoring up their revenues and keeping fuel prices high for retail consumers. Indian consumers of petrol and diesel now pay about double the global rate.

Sikkim Organic Mission: Why We Need To Dig Deeper
Varun Santhosh, Huffington post
There’s been a lot of buzz recently about Sikkim becoming a completely organic state. The state government has won kudos from many quarters, from being featured on the popular TV show  Satyamev Jayate to being effusively praised by PM Modi. While there is no doubt that Sikkim is one of better governed small states in India, a more balanced view has been missing from the general discourse.

Nabard thinks Mumbai needs 50% of agri loans
Alok Deshpande, The Hindu
Bristling with glass towers and commercial districts, Mumbai is unquestionably the financial capital of India. The most greenery an average Mumbaikar can hope to grow is a few herbs in window flower-pots. Which is why it seems strange that the city will the biggest beneficiary of agriculture loans, as projected by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) for the fiscal year 2016-17.

Govt plans to double per capita plastics consumption: Pradhan
Business Standard
Govt is encouraging investments in petrochemical sector and plans to double per capita consumption of plastics to 20 kg a person by 2022, Oil Min Dharmendra Pradhan said. This would require setting up one naphtha cracker every year bringing in huge growth opportunities in employment generation and start of new ancillary industries, among others, the minister noted. In order to achieve the ambitious target, huge investments are required in next 5-6 years in petrochemical sector, he said. Pradhan further said, capital outlays worth Rs 2,00,000 crore are expected to be made in diverse product lines – in polyester intermediates, polyester film and yarn, polymers and other petrochemicals.

Air sucked in by cars in Delhi dirtier than what they emit
Deccan Herald
JLR is among the automobile companies hit hard by the apex court order in December last year banning registration of diesel SUVs and cars above 2000 cc in the entire National Capital Region till March 31. Reuters file photo
In a strong criticism of the ban on high-end diesel car sales, Tatas-owned luxury carmaker Jaguar Land Rover has said the air sucked in by its latest technology vehicles on Delhi roads is “far dirtier” than what they emit. “The latest EU VI regulation schemes have got technical features, which (can) clean the air in Delhi. These kind of vehicles drive like a hoover… The air they suck in is far dirtier than the air which comes out of it,” CEO of the UK-based JLR Ralph Speth told PTI.

Drafting forest policy sans forest dwellers
Pandurang Hegde, Deccan Herald
As stated by UNDP, “A bottom-up, participatory, multi-stakeholder process is a powerful way to develop a national forest policy. It helps to build a sense of joint ownership and ensure its relevance in times of political change”. Ironically, the process of drafting new forest policy has jettisoned these basic principles of participatory approach.

To Break Big Oil’s “Stranglehold,” Obama to Propose $10-a-Barrel Oil Tax
Common Dreams
President Barack Obama is set to propose a $10-a-barrel tax on oil to fund clean energy infrastructure, a move that environmental groups said would bring the U.S. “into the 21st century.” The proposal will be part of the final budget request to be released next week and will include more than $300 billion worth of investments over the next decade in public transportation, high speed rail, and other infrastructure aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Politico reported on Thursday.

Once Unstoppable, Tar Sands Now Battered from All Sides
Ed Struzik, Yale Environment 360
Canada’s tar sands industry is in crisis as oil prices plummet, pipeline projects are killed, and new governments in Alberta and Ottawa vow less reliance on this highly polluting energy source. Is this the beginning of the end for the tar sands juggernaut? (Also read: Collapse Of Shale Gas Production Has Begun)

Hydro dam boom threatens a third of the world’s freshwater fish
The Guardian
One third of the world’s freshwater fish are at risk if dozens of large hydroelectric dams are built in the Amazon, Congo and Mekong basins, aquatic ecologists have warned. Very few dams have so far been built in the basins of the world’s three great tropical rivers because of their remoteness and vast catchment areas. But rising demand for clean electricity in burgeoning tropical cities, and new roads to areas once considered impossible to access, has led to plans for over 450 dams for the three mega-diverse river basins. (Also read: A case against small hydropower)

Radioactive Water From Fukushima Is Leaking Into the Pacific
Dahr Jamail, Truthout
“Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind,” Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Truthout shortly after a 9.0 earthquake in Japan caused a tsunami that destroyed the cooling system of Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan. While this statement might sound overdramatic, Gundersen may be right. This process of cooling the cores has now generated hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of tons of highly radioactive water that then must be dealt with somehow.

Humans will be extinct in 100 years says eminent scientist
Phys.org
Eminent Australian scientist Professor Frank Fenner, who helped to wipe out smallpox, predicts humans will probably be extinct within 100 years, because of overpopulation, environmental destruction and climate change. Fenner, who is emeritus professor of microbiology at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, said homo sapiens will not be able to survive the population explosion and “unbridled consumption,” and will become extinct, perhaps within a century, along with many other species. United Nations official figures from last year estimate the human population is 6.8 billion, and is predicted to pass seven billion next year.

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