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HIGHLIGHTS: *World’s largest solar park launched in Karnataka *Data shows corporates are consistently favoured over rural India *Two-thirds poultry farms in India use antibiotics to boost growth *Arctic changes point to onset of climate tipping points *South Africa votes to confiscate white-owned land without compensation *Peru moves to create huge new indigenous reserves in Amazon


India’s joblessness reaches 3.1 crore, or 7.1% of those seeking jobs, highest in the last 17 months: CMIE
The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), which India’s leading business information consultancy firm and think tank, has estimated that the unemployment rate in the country has reached 7.09% in the week ending February 25, 2018, the highest in the last 71 weeks. Exactly a year ago, on February 26, 2017, the country’s unemployment rate was just 4.35%. A CMIE report by the consultancy firm’s managing director Mahesh Vyas, even as pointing out that this is “the highest unemployment rate in the last 15 or 16 months”, says, “The unemployment rate has been rising steadily since July 2017.”

World’s largest solar park launched in Karnataka
The Economic Times
The world’s largest solar park set up at an investment of Rs 16,500 crore at Pavagada in Karnataka’s Tumakuru district was launched by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. The 2,000 MW park, named as ‘Shakti Sthala’, spans across 13,000 acres spread over five villages and is a benchmark in the unique people’s participation in power model put on ground, according to officials.

98.87 Lakh Metric Tonnes Of Minerals Illegally Mined In 5 Rajasthan Districts In 5 Years: CAG Report
A whopping 98.87 lakh metric tonnes of minerals were illegally excavated in a period of five years in five Rajasthan districts, says a latest Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report, which highlights rampant unlawful mining and gross violations in the desert state, including flouting of Supreme Court orders pertaining to the Aravalli hills. The CAG report, tabled in the state Assembly on Tuesday, claims that apex court directions regarding Aravali hills were not followed by the state’s department of mines as mining leases falling within the mountain range area were granted and renewed. Even the Union ministry of environment and forests granted clearance for mining leases despite the area falling under the Aravali hill range, it adds.

Water Woes Are Already Knocking Rampur’s Door in Bundelkhand This Year
The Wire
Rampur has faced water shortage for almost 70 years now. Come summers and people are forced to drink water from potholes. But this year people are facing the heat of water scarcity right from January. As a result, the winter crop too has been severely affected and now fetching water for drinking, bathing and cooking has become a herculean task. As the pradhan says, “Since the time people settled here, there has been no source of permanent water in this place. But it was better because it was all dependent on the season and the lakes and wells didn’t use to dry up.”

Data shows corporates are consistently favoured over rural India
Down to Earth
A recent analysis has revealed a shocking injustice being done consistently to rural India by the government with corporates getting subsidies at its expense. The Inclusive Media for Change, a New Delhi-based non-profit has analysed the last seven Union Budgets. It has found that indirect subsidy, termed as “tax expenditure” that was given to corporate tax payers was around 60 per cent of the expenditure incurred by the Union Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare (MoAFW) and the Union Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) put together in that year. The report also found that indirect subsidy given to corporates had been consistently increasing. From Rs 61,765.3 crore in 2011-12, it had increased to Rs 85,026.11 crore in 2017-18

NPCIL’s stand on spent fuel riles environmentalists
The Hindu
The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) has sought another five years’ time from the Supreme Court to set up an ‘Away From Reactor’ (AFR) facility to store the spent nuclear fuel from the operations of Kudankulam units 1 & 2. Earlier this month, the NPCIL filed an application before the Supreme Court after it failed to meet the five-year time given by court to set up the AFR in its judgment of May 2013. The deadline ends in May 2018.

Onus on govt for land acquired
Kanchi Kohli, Civil Society
When people’s movements and researchers welcomed India’s new land acquisition law in 2013, it came with one caveat. The colonial 1894 law had allowed the government to exercise its powers of eminent domain only for public purpose, whereas the new law made it possible for the government to do so for private companies too. A recent judgment of the Gujarat High Court brings out a very interesting facet of the 1894 law. Moreover, the observations of the court have a significant bearing on those seeking repatriation of land that has been acquired but has remained unused for five years or more.

Forest Rights Act being jeopardised in Himachal Pradesh: Manch
The Tribune
Himachal Van Adhikar Manch today condemned the state Forest Department for violating the provisions of Forest Rights Act 2006, which recognises the individual and community claims of Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwelling Communities on forest lands. In a statement issued here today, Akshay Jasrotia, convener of the manch, said the department was violating the Act by continuing with its eviction drive on so-called forest encroachments using the Public Premises Act. “These eviction drives are illegal and are leading to loss of livelihoods of thousands of occupants who are not ‘encroachers’ but ‘right holders’ under the Forest Rights Act 2006”, he said.

Two-thirds poultry farms in India use antibiotics for growth promotion
Down to Earth
A new study led by researchers from the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP), published in Environmental Health Perspectives, finds high levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in chickens raised for both meat and eggs on farms in Punjab. A similar study conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment in 2014 found the use of antibiotics in the feed of poultry animals. The finding of the latest study reiterates that the status quo has not changed and rampant misuse of antibiotics continues.

Amid fear of gau rakshak attacks in Rajasthan, cattle sale at fairs has hit an all-time low
The Wire
With strict regulations on cattle fairs and a growing number of attacks on dairy farmers transporting cattle in Rajasthan, the arrival of animals in the state livestock fairs fell by 63% between 2012-13 and 2017-18, according to the data of the state animal husbandry department. Due to this, the cumulative income of cattle owners in 2017-18 declined to Rs 24.20 crore from Rs 73.01 crore in 2012-13, and the state income dropped to Rs 1.04 lakh from Rs 7 lakh in the corresponding years.

Adani’s Wealth Rises By 109% In 1 Yr, India Ranks 3rd In The Number Of Billionaires: Report
The Logical Indian
The Shanghai-based Hurun Global Rich List, 2018 has listed about 2,694 billionaires from 68 countries and 2,157 countries. The total wealth has increased by a record-breaking 31% to $10.5 trillion, which is equal to 13.2% of global GDP. The top spot on the list is taken by Jeff Bezos who is the CEO of Amazon. India has reclaimed the third position in the list. India has added 31 billionaires to the list, taking the tally to 131.

Residents of Yavatmal come together to solve their drinking water problem
India Water Portal
The motivated residents, along with Prayas, an NGO working in Yavatmal, worked hard towards the mission to revive the Nilona dam to improve the drinking water situation in Yavatmal. In their bid to desilt the dam, the enthusiastic volunteers of the group began meeting various officials of Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran, a government body, and other government departments. But unfortunately, the rainy season arrived and the desiltation was stalled for a while. There was another hurdle, too: Reviving Nilona needed funds.

NGT Directs Uttarakhand to File Action Plan to Treat Eye Infection in Himalayan Blue Sheep
The Wire
The National Green Tribunal on Thursday directed the Uttarakhand government to submit an action plan to address the issue of eye infection among the endangered Himalayan blue sheep, locally known as ‘bharal’. A bench headed by justice Jawad Rahim said the state government has failed to take proper action to prevent and control the disease which is causing death of the animals. The green panel directed the state government and the state bio-diversity board to jointly file an action plan within a week to address the issue and warned that in case of failure, they would be liable to pay cost of Rs 1 lakh which shall be recovered from the salary of the concerned officer.

Mumbai’s iconic buses are in dire straits. How can the BEST fix the problem?
On August 7, Mumbai’s iconic BEST buses stayed off the roads as more than 36,000 of its staff went on strike. They were protesting chronic delays in their salary payments, the scrapping of bus routes and buses, constant traffic congestions and the many other problems that have come to define bus travel in Mumbai today. The city’s public bus service remains steeped in troubles and an unprecedented debt of Rs 2,500 crore – a crisis situation that has transport rights advocates increasingly worried.


Freezing weather in Europe linked to soaring temperatures at North Pole, say scientists
The Telegraph
While Britain shivers in the “Beast from the East”, scientists say temperatures have risen above freezing repeatedly at the North Pole, reaching as high as 30C above normal for the depths of winter. The cause is a “warm air intrusion” bringing mild and moist air. It is a common feature of Arctic weather systems but this year has been deeper and longer than normal, according to meteorologists. The disturbance is responsible for displacing a blast of chilly Arctic air, sending it streaming over Europe. (Related: Climate change: 70% of king penguins could ‘abruptly relocate or disappear’ by 2100)

Onset Of Climate Tipping Points
As is well known to students of the history of the climate, once a temperature threshold is breached, abrupt events follow due to amplifying feedbacks, even within a few years, examples being (1) stadial[i] freeze events which followed temperature peaks during past interglacial peaks due to influx of cold ice-melt water into the north Atlantic Ocean[ii]; (2) the Dansgaard–Oeschger warming events[iii] during the last glacial period; (3) the Younger dryas stadial freeze (12,800–11,600 years- ago. Right now, Arctic climate tipping points are manifest, as indicated below. (Related: Arctic spring is starting 16 days earlier than a decade ago, study shows)

‘The time for reconciliation is over’: South Africa votes to confiscate white-owned land without compensation
South Africa’s parliament has voted in favour of a motion that will begin the process of amending the country’s Constitution to allow for the confiscation of white-owned land without compensation. The motion was brought by Julius Malema, leader of the radical Marxist opposition party the Economic Freedom Fighters, and passed overwhelmingly by 241 votes to 83 against. According to Bloomberg, a 2017 government audit found white people owned 72 per cent of farmland in South Africa.

Number of Cities Powered Mostly by Renewables Has Doubled Since 2015
Yale Environment 360
More than 100 cities across the globe get at least 70 percent of their energy from renewable sources, roughly double the number in 2015, according to new research by the environmental data group CDP. The analysis examines energy use data submitted to the CDP from 570 cities on six continents. Forty-three cities, from Reykjavik, Iceland to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, are currently powered 100 percent by renewable energy, including hydropower, geothermal, solar, or wind. Brazil, with its extensive dam system, has more than 40 cities on the list, nearly half of which are 100 percent powered by hydro.

Europe Takes First Steps in Electrifying World’s Shipping Fleets
Yale Environment 360
Norway is already a global leader in the adoption of electric vehicles, spurred in large measure by the hydropower that provides 98 percent of the country’ electricity. So moving into the forefront of tackling a major global environmental challenge — decarbonizing the world’s shipping fleet — was a natural step for the country. Other nations — including Finland, the Netherlands, China, Denmark, and Sweden — also are beginning to launch electric ships. Last year, China, for example, commissioned a 230-foot all-electric cargo ship, one that, ironically, transports coal along the Pearl River.

Bosses at world’s most ambitious clean coal plant kept problems secret for years
The Guardian
Executives at the world’s most ambitious “clean coal” plant knew for years about serious design flaws and budget problems but sought to withhold key information from regulators before their plans collapsed, according to documents obtained by the Guardian. The Kemper plant in Mississippi – held up as the global model for a new generation of “clean coal” power plants – was the most expensive fossil fuel power plant in US history, with a $7.5bn price tag. Its owners, Southern Company, boasted it was “going to be the cleanest coal plant in the world”, in the of the CEO, Tom Fanning. (Also read: Adani may sell stake in Australia’s Carmichael coal mine amid funding delay)

The Venezuelan “Petro” – Towards A New World Reserve Currency?
Globovision TV quotes Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announcing the launch of a new cryptocurrency, the “Petro Oro”. It will be backed by precious metals. The launch of the new cryptomoney is scheduled for the next week. No details of the new offering are available at this point. “I do not want to rush things, but we have a surprise regarding the petro and the gold, which will have the same dimension as it has been related to oil, but it is the theme of next week,” the President says. The first public offering, the ‘Pre-sale’ of 38.4 million of the oil-backed “Petro” on 20 February, has raised US$ 735 million equivalent which is considered a great success.

Peru moves to create huge new indigenous reserves in Amazon
The Guardian
Peru is moving ahead with the establishment of two new reserves for indigenous peoples living in “isolation” that together could extend for more than 2.5 million hectares across one of the remotest parts of Peru’s Amazon, along the border with Brazil. If created, they could become the biggest indigenous reserves in the country. The reserves, dubbed Yavari-Mirin and Yavari-Tapiche for short, were formally proposed 15 years ago in Peru’s vast Loreto region but have never been established.

Berta Cáceres murder: ex-Honduran military intelligence officer arrested
The Guardian
Honduran authorities have arrested a former military intelligence officer for masterminding the murder of the indigenous leader Berta Cáceres, who was shot dead exactly two years ago today. David Castillo Mejía, the executive president of the company building a dam which Cáceres campaigned against, is the ninth person arrested for the murder, and the fourth with ties to the Honduran military. Castillo Mejía is accused by arresting authorities of providing logistical support and other resources to one of the hitmen already charged.

Iran urged by UN to respect environment activists after wildlife campaigner death
The Guardian
UN officials have urged the Iranian government to respect the work of environmental activists following the death in custody last week of wildlife campaigner, Kavous Seyed Emami. Emami was buried on Monday, but several members of the organisation he founded, the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, remain in jail and the deputy head of the Environmental Protection Organisation, Kaveh Madani, was detained for 72 hours over the weekend.

Indonesia Scrubbing The ‘World’s Dirtiest River’
Now faced with a health emergency after decades of failed clean-up efforts, Jakarta is stepping in with a seemingly impossible goal: make the Citarum’s water drinkable by 2025. Using this polluted water is a risky calculation for many of the 30 million people who rely on it for irrigation, washing and even drinking water — including around 80 percent of residents in the sprawling capital Jakarta. At nearly 300-kilometres long, the river is also a key source for hydroelectric power for Indonesia’s most populated island Java and tourism hotspot Bali.

Paris wants to build a forest 5 times larger than New York’s Central Park
World Economic Forum
For over 15 years, the city of Paris has planned to plant a new forest on the plain at Pierrelaye-Bessancourt, an outer suburb. But the plan has faced roadblocks as people debate the best use for the land. French politicians are now actively pushing to make the re-greening project a reality. The SMAPP plan calls for 5.2 square miles of trees and plants. For perspective, that’s about five times the size of New York City’s Central Park.

Tiny Canada town defeats oil firm in court fight over drinking water
The Guardian
A small municipality in the Canadian province of Quebec that was facing a million-dollar lawsuit from an oil and gas exploration company has won its court battle, bringing an end to a four-year ordeal that began when residents took steps to protect their water supply. The clash traces its roots to 2011, when the province granted a Montreal-based company, Gastem, drilling permits to search for oil and gas in the eastern part of the province. Construction began on a drilling platform in the township’s territory.


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