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NEWS UPDATE #129


Disclose TV reports: Unimaginable disaster: Japan declares crisis due to unprecedented events at the Fukushima nuclear reactor. Officials have said that the damages at the reactor are “far worse than previously thought”. They have now found that melted fuel has contaminated underground water and melted core appears to have spread out over an “extensive area”.

India’s Wheat Imports Rise Above 5 Million Tonne, Biggest in Decade
Naveen Thukral, The Wire
India has bought more than five million tonnes of wheat since mid-2016, already its biggest annual purchase in a decade, after it began an import campaign to meet a supply shortfall left by two years of lower production. The country is slowing down imports ahead of the harvest in April and purchases in the months ahead will depend on production this year, two traders told Reuters on Wednesday. “There will be more deals signed in the coming months,” said one Singapore-based trader. “It will not be more than 200,000 to 300,000 tonnes as the domestic harvest is expected to replenish supplies.”

Department of Atomic Energy seeks nod for 12 more atomic power projects
The Economic Times
The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has prepared a proposal for building 12 nuclear reactors to ramp up power generation in the country. In a written response to a question in Rajya Sabha, Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office said, of the 12, 10 reactors will be indigenous Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR) while the other two will be Light Water Reactors (LWRs) of Kundakulam units 5 and 6 of 1,000 MW each. The DAE comes under the PMO.

Data linking death with air pollution inconclusive, says Indian minister
Michael Safi, The Guardian
India’s environment minister has been accused of playing down the health risks of the country’s extremely polluted air by claiming, contrary to research, that there is no conclusive data available linking “death exclusively with air pollution”. The environmental group Greenpeace released a report in January citing Global Burden of Disease (GBD) research that estimated nearly 1.2 million Indians die each year due to high concentrations of airborne pollutants such as dust, mould spores, arsenic, lead, nickel and the carcinogen chromium. (Related; Bad and good news: While India ranks ninth in most polluted nations, it’s second in its use of renewable energy)

A severe water crisis looms over Bengaluru as dam levels drop drastically
The News Minute
The Bengaluru, Mysuru and Mandya regions of Karnataka may soon face severe water shortage as the water levels in the Krishnaraja Sagar dam and the Kabini reservoir have dropped drastically. The water level on Monday stood at 78.96 ft, while the maximum capacity of the dam is 124.8 ft. The live storage level of the dam is 1.955 TMC ft, after which the government will have to ask the irrigation officials to draw water from the dead storage, a TOI report states. (Also read: Food production in Karnataka may drop 40% this year)

80% fall in mangrove destruction in 1 year, says study by Maharashtra government
Badri Chatterjee, Hindustan Times
According to a state government report, there has been an 80% drop in cases of mangrove destruction in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) from 2015 to 2016. However, activists have criticised the survey, pointing to the fact that no one has been convicted of destroying mangroves since 2013. The report, by the Mumbai Mangrove Conservation Unit, a body constituted by the Bombay High Court that works under the state mangrove cell, says that in 2015-16, there were a total of 103 cases in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane.

Chennai coast chokes on oil
Seetha Gopalakrishnan, India Water Portal
Disaster struck two nautical miles off Ennore’s Kamarajar port just before dawn on January 28 when two cargo ships–LPG-filled BW Maple bearing the flag of the UK’s Isle of Man and MT Dawn Kanchipuram loaded to the brim with petroleum oil and lubricants–collided due to poor inter-vessel communication. The LPG tanker, on its way out of the port, suffered a major dent. The incoming Dawn Kanchipuram was left with two holes that tore through it. Pregnant with oil and lubricants, the cargo ship released a considerable amount of the stored oil into the surrounding sea. (Related: Mysterious bird deaths, an oil spill: Two eco disasters last week that were barely reported)

Coca-Cola is in troubled waters (again) for a factory it was forced to shut down 12 years ago
Anand Kumar, Scroll.in
Kerala police last month filed a fresh First Information Report against Coca-Cola under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The case has been registered at Meenakshipuram Police Station against the company’s all India head at Noida, Regional head at Kochi and the local head of the Plachimada unit, on a complaint lodged by Plachimada Samara Samithi. The Coca-Cola unit, which has been shut since 2004, has been accused of having depleted the water source, exploited and “wilfully polluted” the ground water of the Scheduled Tribes community called the Eravalas, at Plachimada, in Palakkad district, Kerala. (Related: Censor Board Refuses to Clear ‘Political’ Film about  farmers’ protests against bottling plants owned by Coca Cola)

Battleground Punjab: The story of the missing farmers
Subodh Varma, The Economic Times
In Punjab as a whole, estimates of farmers’ suicides range from a few thousand to tens of thousands. A study by three universities estimated that between 2000 and 2011, nearly 7,000 farmers committed suicide, most of them because of debt. A new study for 2011-15 by the same three universities, is in the final stages of data processing. Balwinder Singh Tiwana, professor of economics at Punjabi University , Patiala and one of those involved in the survey told TOI that 3,000 to 4000 farmers committed suicide in this most recent period. (Also read: The crisis in sugarcane is shaping politics in western UP’s Jat belt)

Development And India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Colin Todhunter, Countercurrents
Dr Deepak Pental, lead researcher into the crop at Delhi University, has now conceded that the GM mustard in question has not even been tested against varieties of non-GM mustard for better yields. That seems very strange given that the main argument for introducing GM mustard is to increase productivity in order to reduce imported edible oils (a wholly bogus argument in the first place). All of this should in itself provide sufficient cause for concern and have alarm bells ringing. It raises the question: what then is the point of GM mustard? (Related: 1) From Nature.com: India’s first GM food crop held up by lawsuit 2) New ‘super yield’ GM wheat trial gets go-ahead)

Superbug From India Resistant to All Known Antibiotics
The Wire
A woman in the US died after being infected by a superbug during her visit to India, say doctors who found that the ‘nightmare’ bacteria was resistant to all available antibiotics. The infection was caused by carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), a multidrug-resistant organism associated with high mortality. While CRE are not new to the US, what was new in this case is that the infection was resistant or non-susceptible to all available antimicrobial drugs, researchers said. (Related: Malaria drugs fail for first time on patients in UK)

EIA needed for real estate
Kanchi Kohli, Civil Society magazine
Just 12 years after building and construction projects first came under the purview of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) regulation there is a major turnaround. In an amendment to the EIA notification of 2006, issued on 9 December 2016, the environment ministry has assured the sector that if “objectives and environmental conditions that can be monitored” are included in the permissions granted to building by-laws and related permissions, then no separate environmental clearance will be required from the ministry.

Why India’s Canals Could Help Fast-Forward Its Solar-Energy Plans
Mukta Patil, IndiaSpend
As far as the eye can see, line after line of solar panels stretch out in the midday sun beating down on the village of Chandrasan here in this eastern Gujarat district, which squeezes in 80 more people per sq km than India’s already crowded average of 441 people per sq km. 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.

Fresh trouble for Adani coalmining project? Australian Federal Court “questions” indigenous land use agreement
Counterview
In a fresh trouble to India’s powerful Adani Group, the full bench of the Australian Federal Court has ruled in favour of applicants of the traditional Noongar people, who had challenged the Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA), which had allowed the Adanis to go ahead with its $16 billion coalmining project in the country’s Carmichael region.

‘A Tide Turns’- Coastal Communities Monitor Shoreline Changes
K. N. Kishore, Clipper 28
Launch of Community Handbook for monitoring shoreline changes (Beach profile Monitoring and sand Grain size analysis) and Reports of data collected by coastal communities of Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu and Karaikal, Puducherry. Community Volunteers received certificates at Tata Institute of Social Science, Mumbai today for completing the Beach Profile Monitoring Programme for one full year. This was followed panel discussion on “Community Engagement for a healthy Indian Coast” which discussed the current status, issues and required system and cultural shifts for stewardship in the context of Natural and Man-made Disasters.

100,000 may have died but there is still no justice over Indonesian air pollution
Elodie Aba & Bobbie Sta. Maria, The Guardian
A number of grieving parents in Riau have taken the brave step of bringing a lawsuit against the police for terminating investigations against 15 companies linked to haze-causing burning activities in 2015. His suit is just one of many uphill legal struggles to seek accountability. But relief is limited. The governments of these countries have rejected the results of the study, citing inaccurate data. Indonesia reports just 24 deaths.

Unimaginable disaster: Japan declares crisis due to unprecedented events at the Fukushima nuclear reactor
Disclose TV
Officials have said that the damages at the reactor are “far worse than previously thought”. They have found that melted fuel has contaminated underground water and melted core appears to have spread out over an “extensive area”. Furthermore, a gaping 2-meter wide hole has been found under the containment vessel. A camera probe was sent in to survey the damage on Monday, and it revealed that part of the grating is missing as well.

‘A Vote for Climate Disaster’: Senate Confirms Tillerson as Secretary of State
Nadia Prupis, Common Dreams
The U.S. Senate has confirmed former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, revealing “just how much fossil fuel industry money has corrupted Congress,” as climate group 350.org put it. “A vote for Rex Tillerson is a vote for climate disaster,” said May Boeve, 350 executive director. “Negotiating oil deals with human-rights abusing heads of state does not qualify you to lead international diplomacy. The fight against Tillerson’s nomination revealed just how much fossil fuel industry money has corrupted Congress.” (Related: Top Trump Aide Calls Environmental Movement ‘The Greatest Threat to Freedom’)

With Norway in Lead, Europe Set for Surge in Electric Vehicles
Paul Hockenos, Yale Environment 360
Oslo, Norway’s capital, like most of the Scandinavian country’s cities and towns, boasts bus-lane access for electric vehicles (EVs), recharging stations aplenty, privileged parking, and toll-free travel for electric cars. The initiative began in the 1990s as an effort to cut pollution, congestion, and noise in urban centres; now its primary rationale is combating climate change. Today, Norway has the highest per capita number of all-electric [battery only] cars in the world: more than 100,000 in a country of 5.2 million people. Last year, EVs constituted nearly 40% of the nation’s newly registered passenger cars.

Why the recent surge in earthquakes?
Shreeshan Venkatesh, Down to Earth
Since mid-October, a surge in seismic activity, with around 15 temblors measuring more than 6.5 on the Richter scale has also aroused interest. At least 400 earthquakes of magnitude 5 and above were recorded in December alone, marking an increase of three and a half times the monthly average (see ‘In continuous motion’,). The bulk of all quakes occurred along the plate boundaries, especially along the Pacific ring of Fire. While the surge is within the normal range, it provides seismologists with more seismic observations to chew over and confirms that the Earth’s crust is active and moving.

PHOTO ESSAY: ‘What should be pristine white is littered with blue’ – Timo Lieber’s Arctic photography
The Guardian
His aerial shots of the lakes forming on the Arctic ice cap are a beautiful but chilling reminder of the impact of climate change

 

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