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NEWS UPDATE #168


In a gazette notification released by the ministry of environment, forest and climate change, the Modi government has decided to completely disregard environmental clearances required for hydro-electric and mining projects, in addition to relaxing stricter laws implemented during the UPA-2.

INDIA

Modi govt dilutes environmental clearances for hydro-electric and mining projects  
National Herald
In a gazette notification released by the ministry of environment, forest and climate change, the Modi government has decided to completely disregard environmental clearances required for hydro-electric and mining projects, in addition to relaxing stricter laws implemented during the UPA-2.

National programme formed to tackle air pollution: Govt
IndiaToday
The government has formulated a national clear air programme to tackle increasing air pollution across the country in a comprehensive manner, Parliament was informed today. Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha said that the Centre has formulated the National Clear Air Programme (NCAP).

Modi govt plans bold move to fix rural distress
Live Mint
The central government, in consultation with states, proposes to launch a new price support scheme for farmers to prevent distress sales at prices below the minimum support price (MSP). Under the proposed “market assurance scheme”, states will be free to procure all crops from farmers for which MSPs are announced, except rice and wheat, which are already being procured by the centre for the public distribution system.

Centre Maintains Silence on Progress of Law on Dam Safety
The Wire
Despite acknowledging that half of the country’s 5,300 dams did not meet contemporary safety standards and that 195 of them were over 100 years old, the Union Ministry of Water Resources is yet to send the Dam Safety Bill to the cabinet. The Bill was first mooted by the Manmohan Singh government in 2010. Water resources minister Nitin Gadkari recently submitted before the Lok Sabha that as per the National Register of Large Dams maintained by the Central Water Commission on the basis of information received from the state governments, as many as 195 dams were over 100 years old.

Climate change will cause more cyclones in Arabian Sea
India Climate Dialogue
Continued manmade forcing will further amplify the risk of cyclones in the Arabian Sea, with corresponding socio-economic implications, the researchers said. They cited another recent study, which showed that manmade black carbon particles and sulphate emissions might have increased the intensity of storms over this sea. Among other causes, one possibility is that the Arabian Sea surface becomes warmer than other seas during this period. Second, due to the interplay of global warming, climate variability and weather changes, the winter northeast monsoon circulation has been weakening over the years.

Gujarat govt “destroyed” 150 salt farms in Rann of Kutch, Narmada water release created agariyas vs farmers situation
Counterview.net
Salt farming in the Rann has a history of 600 years. When Narmada water is released in the Rann, it washes away their salt farms, leading to a situation of manmade disaster. Recently, in the heat of elections, huge quantities of water were released from the Kuda minor canal of Narmada in Surendranagar district. It washed away 150 salt farms completely, while an equal number got partially affected.  Each of the salt farmers had spent around Rs 1 to 1.25 lakh by taking advance from traders with the promise to sell salt. However, due to this calamity, caused by Narmada water, they have now returned to their native village, leaving the Rann.

What’s darkening Brahmaputra: Landslide, not Chinese machines

Indian Express

Massive landslides caused by a series of earthquakes in Tibet is darkening the Brahmaputra waters, satellite images show, and not Chinese construction activity as raised by a BJD MP in Lok Sabha.

The accumulating debris has caused partial blockages at three locations, forming natural dams on 6 km of the river across a 12-km stretch in China. The worry for India is that these three dams may merge and eventually give away to result in a deluge downstream.

NGT puts a stay on Environment Ministry notification exempting real estate projects from green nod

Scroll.in

The National Green Tribunal has directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests to re-examine a notification that exempted real estate projects between 20,000 to 1,50,000 square metres of built up area from obtaining prior environment clearance.

10 crore people drinking contaminated water in India
Economic Times

To deal with the problem, the central government has released Rs 800 crore so that community water purification plants could be set up, Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation Narendra Singh Tomar said during Question Hour. 
About 10.06 crore population living in 12,577 habitations in different states and union territories are getting drinking water with excess fluoride 

India’s ‘deadly’ coal-power plants continue to defy air pollution norms; push nationwide PM2.5 levels 34% in last 5 years

First Post

Over the five years leading up to 2017, thermal power plants – among India’s chief polluters – pushed nationwide levels of sulphur dioxide (SO2), a toxic gas, by 32 percent and fine particles called PM 2.5 by 34 percent. Despite agreeing to a two-year compliance period, these plants ignored a 7 December, 2017, deadline and a 2015 law promulgated by the environment ministry to clean up. Now the same ministry is arguing that so many power plants cannot go offline and is urging the Supreme Court, which will hear the case on 1 February, 2018, to push the deadline to 2022.

 

834 factories across Maharashtra shut down in 2 years for causing pollution: MPCB

Hindustan Times

In response to an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act filed by citizens’ group Watchdog Foundation, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) released a statement that it has shut down 834 polluting factories over the last two years. These factories, located in Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) area, were asked to shut down after investigations by the MPCB revealed that they had violated the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.

 

Govt imposes 30% import duty on gram, masoor to support farmers

Live Mint

Following up on a string of pro-farmer trade policy decisions, the centre imposed a 30% import duty on chana (gram) and masoor (red lentil) to support domestic growers. Earlier, both these pulse varieties could be imported freely.

The latest decision follows a hike in import duties on edible oils like palm oil and soybean, and on pulses like yellow peas announced in November, besides freeing up exports of all varieties of pulses.

 

WORLD

 

Judge orders biggest corporate bribery trial in history against senior Shell and Eni bosses

The Ecologist

Shell and Italian oil giant Eni have been ordered to stand trial in Milan on charges of aggravated international corruption for their role in a 2011 $1.1bn deal for Nigerian oil block OPL 245. Mrs Justice Barbara handed down the ruling today and set March 5 as the date for the trial to begin.

Claudio Descales, Eni’s current CEO, Paolo Scaroni, the former CEO and Roberto Casula, the chief operations and technology officer,  were also ordered to face trial alongside four former Shell Group staff members, including Malcolm Brinded CBE, former Executive Director for Upstream International and two former MI6 agents then employed by Shell.

 

France bans fracking and oil extraction in all of its territories

The Guradian

France’s parliament has passed into law a ban on producing oil and gas by 2040, a largely symbolic gesture as the country is 99% dependent on hydrocarbon imports. No new permits will be granted to extract fossil fuels and no existing licences will be renewed beyond 2040, when all production in mainland France and its overseas territories will stop.

 

Some extreme weather events in 2016 would never have happened without human-caused warming: studies

Down to Earth

A new research report “Explaining Extreme Events in 2016 from a Climate Perspective” has been published recently in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) on December 12, 2017. This annual report has been produced continuously for the past six years by scientists and this is the first time that they have found that some of the extreme events could not have happened without human-caused warming.

 

New York City and State plan to #DivestNY’s $390 billion pensions from fossil fuels: “an undeniable victory for the global divestment movement”

350.org

After over five years of community campaigning for New York to divest from fossil fuels, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Governor Andrew Cuomo each released separate proposals to freeze all current fossil fuel investments, divest New York’s public pension funds fossil fuel companies, and reinvest in renewable energy. Together, New York’s pension funds are among the largest in the world, representing a combined $390 billion.

 

Victory for indigenous rights in brazil as court revokes license for the belo sun mine

Intercontinental Cry

In a powerful victory for indigenous rights in Brazil last week, the Toronto-based company Belo Sun Mining had its license to drill revoked by a federal court, dealing a significant setback to its efforts to gouge a mega-mine into the banks of the Amazon’s Xingu River.

 

Greenpeace launches campaign to create ‘largest protected area on Earth’ – as Antarctic nations fall short on marine protection

Greenpeace

Following a failure to agree strong marine protection in the East Antarctic [1], Greenpeace has called for governments to show “greater vision and ambition” in the coming year and create the largest protected area on Earth: an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary.

The Antarctic Sanctuary would be five times the size of Germany, in the Weddell Sea, next to the Antarctic peninsula. 

 

Antarctic Modeling Pushes Up Sea-Level Rise Projection
Climate Central

Global average sea level is expected to rise by one foot between 2000 and 2050 and by several more feet by the end of the century under a high-pollution scenario because of the effects of climate change, according to the projections in the new peer-reviewed study. It shows 21st century sea-level rise could be kept to less than two feet if greenhouse gas emissions are aggressively and immediately reduced, reflecting a larger gap in sea-level consequences between high and low emissions scenarios than previous research has indicated.

 

California wildfire becomes largest on record in the state

Reuters

The so-called Thomas fire has blazed through 273,400 acres (110,641 hectares), surpassing the previous record of the 2003 Cedar fire in San Diego County that scorched 273,246 acres and killed 15 people. The Thomas fire was 65 percent contained as of Friday evening and the natural spread of the blaze had been virtually halted days ago by fire crew.

 

Is Another Debt Crisis On the Way?

Projectsyndicate.org

Economic growth is accelerating across most of the world. Yet the world’s total gross debt-to-GDP ratio has reached nearly 250%, up from 210% before the global economic crisis nearly a decade ago, despite post-crisis efforts by regulators in many important economies to drive the banking sector to deleverage. This has raised doubts about the sustainability of the recovery, with some arguing that a rise in interest rates could trigger another global crisis.

 

The Vatican is holding a contest for climate change startups

Grist.org

The 2,000-year-old church agreed to host the challenge at the behest of Silicon Valley venture capitalists, who just named a first round of finalists. The nine winning startups (out of 300 applicants) received $100,000 grants to pursue their ideas, which range from apps to help communities clean up waste to solar light bulbs.

 

New Zealand gives Mount Taranaki same legal rights as a person

The Guardian

Mount Taranaki in New Zealand is to be granted the same legal rights as a person, becoming the third geographic feature in the country to be granted a “legal personality”.

Eight local Māori tribes and the government will share guardianship of the sacred mountain on the west coast of the North Island, in a long-awaited acknowledgement of the indigenous people’s relationship to the mountain, who view it as an ancestor and whanau, or family member.

 

Big Ag salary guide: Dow, Monsanto, ADM lead the way

Big Ag watch

Over the past three years, these companies have on average paid their executives and directors more than $100 million, according to a Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting review of financial filings. The median was $94.5 million.

The companies have averaged a net income of $8.2 billion over the three-year period. The median net income was $7.2 billion.

 

The Niger Delta Avengers are back — and they’ve got big oil in their crosshairs

CNBC

The Niger Delta Avengers resumed their campaign of sabotage on Tuesday, potentially kicking off a return to the serial bombings the militant group carried out earlier this year.

Those attacks sent Nigerian crude output to a more than decade-low and deepened an economic crisis in the Western African nation brought on by persistently low oil prices. 

 

 

 

 

 

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