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NEWS UPDATE #130


The New York Times reports: India’s rapidly worsening air pollution is causing about 1.1 million people to die prematurely each year and is surpassing China’s as the world’s deadliest, a new study shows. India has registered an alarming increase of nearly 50 percent in premature deaths from particulate matter between 1990 and 2015, it says.

Supreme Court directs Centre to preserve over 2 lakh wetlands
Amit Anand Choudhary, The Times of India
In a major direction to preserve ecologically crucial wetlands threatened by encroachment in many parts of the country, the Supreme Court directed the Centre on Wednesday to frame a policy to protect wetlands by June 30. The court’s direction will cover over 2 lakh wetlands across India which were identified through satellite imagery by ISRO and the Centre has been asked to draw up a phased plan of action to conserve the water bodies.

Thermal power plants may get more time to meet emission norms
Economic Times
Power Minister Piyush Goyal today said the Environment Ministry is on board to consider extension of December 2017 deadline for coal-based thermal power plants to meet stricter emission norms. “I don’t want that we import equipment (to meet deadline for meeting emission norms). We realised after discussions that it would put more burden on the consumer and they will have to pay more for electricity,” Goyal told reporters at an NTPC conference here.

Public money wasted, not a drop of Ganga cleaned: NGT
Hindustan Times
“Not a single drop of river Ganga has been cleaned so far,” the National Green Tribunal on Monday observed, rapping the government agencies for “only wasting public money” in the name of the cleaning project. The tribunal asked the government agencies about how they were executing the Prime Minister’s ambitious ‘Namami Gange project’ and said it does not want the “drama” regarding complaints between the Centre and Uttar Pradesh to go on.

Gujarat farmers’ rally “attacked” after protesters demanded Narmada waters near industrial hub Sanand
Counterview
In a development which is likely to go a long way to politically hurt Gujarat BJP rulers’ pro-Narmada image, the police on Tuesday allegedly attacked protesting farmers from 15 villages of Ahmedabad district, exploding teargas shells and beating up many of them up with batons for demanding Narmada waters for irrigating their fields. The farmers were taking out a rally took near Sanand town, which attracted national attention following shifting of the Tata Nano plant from West Bengal with the direct financial support of the Narendra Modi government of Gujarat. (Related: Apprehensions fly high: 5,000 Narmada dam oustees to be forcibly evicted after July 31 by Madhya Pradesh govt)

The Power Of A Ho Ritual Against A Steel Plant!
Sourya Majumder, The Citizen
In the aftermath of the 2006 firing, the Government of Odisha appointed three separate inquiry commissions to look into the incident. The last of these, led by retired High Court judge Justice P.K. Mohanty, was appointed on September 9, 2009. Its report is yet to be tabled in the state legislative assembly. As per a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between TSL and the Government of Odisha on November 17, 2004, 3,040 acres in Sukinda and Danagadi blocks in Kalinganagar acquired by Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO) were to be transferred to TSL in a phased manner.

Chronic exposure to commonly used insecticide causes diabetes
R. Prasad, The Hindu
A study by scientists at Madurai Kamaraj University, Tamil Nadu, has found evidence that chronic exposure to organophosphate insecticides induces diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance in both humans and mice. The researchers found that organophosphate-induced diabetes was mediated by gut bacteria. The results were published in the journal Genome Biology.

Sikkim’s organic revolution at risk as local consumers fail to buy into project
Vidhi Doshi, The Guardian
There is evidence of the state government’s efforts to raise awareness about organic produce. Huge posters hang at market stalls, and an annual organic festival has been launched. Organic farms receive special certification from state authorities, helping them to market their produce. “It’s supposed to be better for you, but the imported vegetables are better and bigger,” says one shopper. Another says: “The organic vegetables are more expensive, and I have a family to feed.”

Even scientific studies show that Bengaluru needs its trees more than a steel flyover
Ierene Francis, Scroll.in
Citizens in Bengaluru are gearing up for another fight against the government over a steel flyover that has been proposed to connect the heart of the city to the airport. While the National Green Tribunal is still hearing arguments in the case, the city’s municipal authority, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike has indicated that it will start preparations for building the flyover by cutting down 112 trees in Jayamahal, a neighbourhood close to the city-end of the flyover. Citizens across the city are busy signing petitions and sending in written objections to the BBMP to stop the action.

Solar power breaks a price barrier
The Hindu
In another barrier-breaking development, the auctioned price of solar photovoltaic (SPV) power per kilowatt hour has dropped below ₹3 to ₹2.97 in Madhya Pradesh, providing a clear pointer to the future course of renewable energy. The levellised tariff — factoring in a small annual increase for a given period of time — for the 750 MW Rewa project over a 25-year period is ₹3.29, which is less than half the rate at which some State governments signed contracts in recent years. The progress of this clean source of energy must be deepened with policy incentives, for several reasons.

India’s Water Woes: Large Scale Desalination of Sea Water in the Offing
Sputnik News
India’s National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) has tested and demonstrated the Low Temperature Thermal Desalination (LTTD) technology devised by the government funded Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and the government intends to set up desalinations plant based on the technology in many coastal areas. Dr Jitendra Singh, Union Minister looking after the Department of Atomic Energy informed the Parliament recently that a sea water desalination plant will soon be set up in Coastal Odisha in the country’s east.

Behind the Hype of E-commerce
Rahul Varman, Aspects of India’s Economy
The driving force for e-commerce is corporatisation-monopolisation of disaggregated services like retail and taxi through information technology. Technology is being deployed to make the real relations of capital vis-a-vis employees, customer, and state, invisible. The State exists primarily for disciplining labour and not disciplining capital. The commanding heights of e-commerce for all practical purposes belong to finance capital. In spite of such powerful forces promoting e-commerce, it is mired in the structural constraints of the larger Indian economy.

India’s Air Pollution Rivals China’s as World’s Deadliest
Geeta Anand, The New York Times
India’s rapidly worsening air pollution is causing about 1.1 million people to die prematurely each year and is now surpassing China’s as the deadliest in the world, a new study of global air pollution shows. The number of premature deaths in China caused by dangerous air particles, known as PM2.5, has stabilized globally in recent years but has risen sharply in India, according to the report. India has registered an alarming increase of nearly 50 percent in premature deaths from particulate matter between 1990 and 2015, the report says.

Antarctic sea ice shrinks to smallest ever extent
Reuters
Sea ice around Antarctica has shrunk to the smallest annual extent on record after years of resisting a trend of manmade global warming, preliminary US satellite data has shown. Ice floating around the frozen continent usually melts to its smallest for the year towards the end of February, the southern hemisphere summer, before expanding again as the autumn chill sets in. This year, sea ice extent contracted to 883,015 sq miles (2.28m sq km) on 13 February, according to daily data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). (Related: 1) Could a £400bn plan to refreeze the Arctic before the ice melts really work? 2) (Related: Melting glaciers: The Arctic and Himalayan regions can (and should) help each other)

One of the food world’s most controversial mergers just got the biggest cheerleader of all: Warren Buffett
Chase Purdy, Quartz
The second-richest person on the planet has signaled support for the controversial $66 billion merger of Bayer and Monsanto. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway announced yesterday that it had purchased 8 million shares—valued at more than $800 million—in Monsanto in the fourth quarter, after the proposed acquisition was announced in September 2016. If the merger is approved by US regulatory authorities, it would forge a marriage between two of the world’s top suppliers of farm pesticides and seeds.

In China’s Ningxia province, water shortage is so severe that the government is relocating people
Kang Ning, Scroll.in
The Third Pole presents a detailed report on how western China, already semi-arid, is struggling to deal with water shortage and the impacts of climate change. In Ningxia province, the government has launched an ongoing mass relocation project, one of world’s biggest movements of “climate migrants”. This is of particular interest to the countries in the Himalayan watershed, given that South Asia hosts 25% of the world’s population, but has only 5% of its fresh water supplies.

Trump Named Climate Villain Number One in Landmark Youth Suit
Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams
Youth plaintiffs suing the federal government for failing to act on climate change have a new villain in their cross-hairs: U.S. President Donald Trump. The 21 plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States filed a notice in federal court on Thursday amending their landmark suit to substitute Donald J. Trump for former President Barack Obama.

Adani Group “seeks to change” Australian law to obtain Native Title nod for $16 billion coal mining project
Counterview
In an interesting move, the India’s powerful Adani Group is said to be lobbying to bring about a change in the Australian federal government’s Native Title law in order to enable it to go ahead with its highly controversial 16 billion dollar coalming project in the Queensland state of the country. Bringing this to light, the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council, who have been fighting against one of the biggest coalming projects of the world, said they would “resist industry push for amended Native Title Act to secure Carmichael mine proposal” and “seek court order to strike out” the move.

How Innovation Could Bring Us to Peak Oil by 2020
Libby MacCarthy, Sustainable Brands
Energy companies are grossly underestimating low-carbon advances with a business-as-usual approach says a new report co-authored by the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London and the Carbon Tracker Initiative. The report also points to the falling costs of electric vehicle and solar technology as having the potential to halt the growth in global demand for oil and coal from 2020, challenging the wisdom of backing fossil fuel expansion.

Five big mysteries about CRISPR’s origins
Heidi Ledford, Nature
Today, much more is known about the clustered, regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats that give CRISPR its name and help the CRISPR–Cas microbial immune system to destroy invading viruses. But although most in biomedicine have come to revere the mechanics of the system — particularly of a version called CRISPR–Cas9 — for the ways in which it can be harnessed to edit genes, Mojica and other microbiologists are still puzzling over some basic questions about the system and how it works. How did it evolve, and how did it shape microbial evolution? Why do some microbes use it, whereas others don’t? And might it have other, yet-to-be-appreciated roles in their basic biology?

 

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