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NEWS UPDATE #157


The number of hungry people in the world has increased for the first time since the turn of the century, a new UN report has revealed. The increase is due largely to the proliferation of violence and climate-related shocks, according to the report, which also identifies India as home to 23.4% of the world’s hungry.

INDIA

India home to 23.4% of world’s hungry, 51% women are anemic: UN report
Live Mint
Data from the report showed that India is home to 190.7 million of the world’s undernourished people—a 14.5% prevalence of hunger vis-a-vis its total population. The data further showed that 38.4% of children under five in India are stunted, while 51.4% of women in reproductive ages are anemic. The report defines stunting as the result of long-term nutritional deprivation which may affect mental development, school performance and intellectual capacity. (Related: Half of Canada’s monitored wildlife is in decline, major study finds)

States stare at drought as 59% of India get deficit rainfall, food output at the lowest
Hindustan Times
Around 59% of India has received substantially less rainfall as compared to previous years, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) data shows, raising apprehension that poor agriculture output could adversely impact the economy. The latest economic growth, measured by the gross domestic product, grew by 5.7% in the first quarter of 2017-18 as compared to 7.9% in the same quarter a year ago — slowest since the National Democratic Alliance government came to power in May 2014.

I-T dept busts Nashik onion cartel that made India weep
DNA India
Income Tax raids on seven largest onion traders in Nashik has busted the cartel that was controlling India’s onion trade. Lasalgaon, near Nashik, is the center of wholesale onion trade in India and controls the retail rate of the vegetable widely used in cooking. High rates of onion are known to trigger political defeats, and therefore government agencies are now closely watching the market here. The agencies noticed an abnormal rise in the prices of the root vegetable at the wholesale market and found that a few traders purchased the onions at lower rates and then sold them at four to five times that rate.

SC Pulls Up Centre Over Decision to Reduce Eco Sensitive Zones by 100 Times
News 18
The Supreme Court has said that the Central government’s decision on reduction of eco-sensitive zone from 10-kilometres to 100 metres looks like a ‘prima facie arbitrary’ decision, with the court deciding to examine the validity of the Centre’s policy. In a statement having severe ramifications on residential and commercial projects across the country, the top court is questioning the government’s move and while examining the validity, will specifically look into whether the Environment Ministry could have exercised such a power when pitted against environmental interest.

Air pollution in Delhi: Breathing capital’s deadly air is robbing you of 6 years of life
Hindustan Times
It is well documented that poor air quality impacts health, for the first time the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute (EPI) has developed an Air Quality-Life Index (AQLI) to measure by how much. If India met its own air quality standard for only PM 2.5 (40 µg/m³) every Indian would live an average 1 year more. If India met the more stringent WHO standards for PM 2.5 (10 µg/m³) Indians would live on average 4 years longer. National Capital Region residents are losing out on almost 6 years of life because of the dangerous air pollution levels. If WHO standards were met in NCR, people would live 9 years longer. In Kolkata and Mumbai better air quality would translate into almost 3.5 year longer life spans.

Public interest lawsuit filed calling for investigation into Adani Group
The Guardian
Public-interest litigation has been filed in Delhi’s top court asking for a special investigation into claims the Adani Group and other energy companies inflated coal and equipment prices to siphon money from India. According to Indian customs intelligence documents from 2014, the Adani Group was accused of inflating the cost of electricity equipment for two power projects in Maharashtra state using fraudulent invoices. Authorities valued the alleged scam at nearly 15bn rupees (£177m).

Andhra Pradesh farmers get a raw deal in exchange of land
Down to Earth
Between June 2014 and February 2015, over 13,000 hectares of agricultural land was “pooled” from over 25,000 landholders in 28 villages. The land acquisition Act requires the government to take consent of 70 per cent of the total affected families for undertaking a public work on agricultural land, but under the Land Pooling Scheme, the government can negotiate the terms of transfer with individual landowners. Almost the entire population of the 28 villages where land acquisition is being undertaken belongs to the Kamma caste, the caste of Chief Minister Naidu. Experts say playing the caste card helped the chief minister convince people to give away land.

Forest cover increasing but forest land degrading, top official says
Hindustan Times
Planting trees is not enough, Siddhanta Das, director general of forests emphasised during at a conference in Delhi, highlighting the problem of degraded soil in India’s forest lands which increases the probability of forest fires and leads to depletion of groundwater resources. India’s forest and tree cover increased marginally between 2013 and 2015 (about 0.64%) but the quality of the forests the soil is deteriorating so we have frequent forest fires the rampant problem of soil erosion.

Bullet train will need 100 trips daily to be financially viable: IIM Ahmedabad study
India Today
The proposed bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad will have to ferry 88,000-118,000 passengers per day, or undertake 100 trips daily, for the Railways to keep it financially viable, says a report by Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A). Report states that if the Railways set the ticket price at Rs 1500 per person for 300-km drive, then fifteen years after the operation it will have to ferry between 88,000 and 110,000 passengers every day to ensure that it repays the loans with interest on time.

70% of Gujarat’s resettled Narmada oustees not happy, 54% want to go back, 82% don’t have pucca houses: Study
Counterview
A London School of Economics and Political Science research, carried out by two Indian researchers, SA Ayiar, an economic journalist with the Cato Institute, and Prof Neeraj Kaushal of the Columbia University, has suggested 70% of the Narmada dam oustees who were sent packing to resettlement : colonies in late 1980s and early 1990s may still not happy with their living conditions. The study, sponsored by the International Growth Centre (IGC) of the prestigious London School, says that says that on being asked whether they would “prefer returning to their old villages” from where they were uprooted, “around 54% said yes” and only “30% said no”, while the rest refused to answer. (Related: Ahead of Modi’s birthday bash, Narmada waters rise to 128.5 metres in valley, enter Rajghat, Nisarpur, other villages)

India ranks worse than comparable BRICS countries in achieving UN development goals, better than Pak, B’desh
Counterview
A high-profile study, carried out by well-known international health journal, “Lancet”, has calculated that India’s health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) ranking is a poor 127th among 188 countries it has analyzed to find out how well are different countries across the globe are doing for achieving the United Nation’s goals.

India Will Exceed Its Renewable Energy Targets: Climate-Change Expert
IndiaSpend
Laurence Tubiana, 66, was among those instrumental in negotiating the Paris Climate agreement. She has been a champion for climate change action since the late 1990s, first as the environmental adviser to France’s former prime minister Lionel Jospin and then as France’s climate change ambassador from 2014-16. She spoke to IndiaSpend about the reasons why India might overachieve its ambitious renewable energy plans, what makes for successful negotiations, how countries can ramp up climate ambition and how unprepared the world is for some climate-change impacts.

Isha Foundation Video Misrepresents ‘Waterman’ Position Against River Interlinking
The Wire
The Isha Foundation published a short video on Facebook yesterday, containing an endorsement by India’s ‘waterman’ Rajendra Singh of its ‘Rally For Rivers’ campaign. When asked if sections containing Singh’s opposition to river interlinking were edited out, Rahul Dubey, a volunteer for ‘Rally for Rivers’, responded, “This is a baseless assumption. The video has not been edited. In fact, in his video message, lauding Sadhguru’s efforts and the ‘Rally for Rivers’ campaign, Dr Rajendra Singh has said that this is a positive effort to revive India’s rivers.” When pressed for a response on why Singh’s mention of river linking was not accompanied by a clarification against river-linking, Dubey said, “Dr Singh’s position is well known. He is opposed to interlinking. There is no need to restate it.”

WORLD

‘Alarm bells we cannot ignore’: world hunger rising for first time this century
The Guardian
The number of hungry people in the world has increased for the first time since the turn of the century, sparking concern that conflict and climate change could be reversing years of progress. In 2016, the number of chronically undernourished people reached 815 million, up 38 million from the previous year. The increase is due largely to the proliferation of violence and climate-related shocks, according to the state of food insecurity and nutrition in 2017, a report produced by five UN agencies.

White House denies US is planning to remain in Paris climate accord
The Guardian
The White House has denied reports that it planned to stay in the Paris climate agreement, saying its position on leaving was unchanged, and that it would only stay in if it got more “favourable” terms. The Trump administration was forced to make a statement on Saturday after reports emerged as ministers from more than 30 countries held talks in Montreal this weekend preparing for the upcoming United Nations climate summit in November. (Related: Pentagon Moves Ahead With Obama-Era Climate Preparation Plan Despite Trump’s Orders)

Brazil Launches Investigation into Alleged Massacre of ‘Uncontacted’ Indigenous Tribe
NBC News
A federal prosecutor in Brazil’s Amazonas state has launched an investigation into a reported massacre of at least 10 members of an “uncontacted” indigenous tribe by gold miners. Brazil’s indigenous affairs agency, Funai, released a statement confirming that there is an investigation into the murder which allegedly took place along the Jandiatuba river, near Peru’s border. If confirmed, the murders would be one of the largest massacres of ingenious people in Brazil since 16 Yanomami indigenous people were killed in 1993.

Greek oil spill forces closure of Athens beaches
The Guardian
An emergency operation is under way to clean up an oil spill from a sunken tanker that has blackened popular beaches and bays in Athens’ Argo-Saronic gulf. What had been thought a containable spill is being described by officials as an ecological disaster after thick tar and oil pollution drifted toward residential coastal areas. By Thursday, four days after the 45-year-old Agia Zoni II sank off Salamína island, mayors in suburbs south of the capital were forced to close beaches, citing public health risks.

Environmental Groups Sue USDA for “Barbaric” Killing of Millions of wild animals
Newsweek
Several organizations are joining to sue a government agency that kills millions of animals each year. The stated goal of the USDA Wildlife Services agency is to “resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist.” Sometimes that involves educating people or scaring birds away from airports. Other times, the agency employs people to kill wildlife, including 2,726,820 animals in 2016.

Red list: ash trees and antelopes on the brink of extinction
The Guardian
Native ash trees, abundant across North America, are on the brink of extinction as an invasive beetle ravages forests, according to the new red list of threatened species from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The list now includes more than 25,000 species at risk of extinction and the scientists warn that species, such as the American ashes and five African antelopes, that were thought to be safe, are now disappearing faster than they can be counted.

Hurricanes may be getting more severe – do we need a whole new category to describe them?
Down to Earth
Hurricane strength is measured on the Saffir–Simpson scale, ranging from one (the lowest) to five (the highest) based on the hurricane’s wind speed and estimated potential damage. This takes into account parameters such as whether the hurricane uproots trees or removes roofs from houses, and whether the destruction could last for days or months. Initially, Hurricane Irma was rated as a category five (it is now losing energy), with winds moving at 175mph – destroying homes and causing power failure in the Caribbean. But given that Irma’s power has made some islands “barely habitable”, is category five really sufficient? Is it time to introduce a category six?

Deforestation long overlooked as contributor to climate change
Science Daily
When it comes to tackling climate change, the focus often falls on reducing the use of fossil fuels and developing sustainable energy sources. But a new study shows that deforestation and subsequent use of lands for agriculture or pasture, especially in tropical regions, contribute more to climate change than previously thought.

 

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