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NEWS UPDATE #185


HIGHLIGHTS: *India Facing Worst Water Crisis In History: NITI Aayog *Delhi’s air pollution literally off the chart *40,000 Indians evicted for ‘conservation’ in 2017 *India gets first biodiversity museum * BP’s global data for 2017 shows record highs for coal and renewables *Antarctic ice melting faster than ever *China testing roads paved with solar panels

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INDIA

India Facing Worst Water Crisis In History, Will Get Worse: NITI Aayog
NDTV
India is facing its worst water crisis in history, a NITI Aayog report said today. The report said that currently 600 million Indians face high to extreme water shortage and about two lakh people die every year due to inadequate access to potable water. The water crisis will get worse, as the country’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply by 2030, the report added. This means that hundreds of million of people may face water scarcity and the country will suffer a loss of up to 6 per cent of the GDP. (Related: Groundwater falling by 7 feet every year in Mohali)

Delhi’s air pollution is now so bad it is literally off the chart
The Guardian
Smog more toxic than can be measured by monitoring devices has blanketed the Indian capital this week, months before the start of Delhi’s traditional “pollution season”. A thick haze was visible across the city from Tuesday and some government pollution monitors have recorded concentrations of 999 – the highest they can measure – as dust storms kicked up in nearby Rajasthan state blanketed the region. Air quality in Delhi usually begins to plummet in October when slower winds and cooler temperatures trap pollutants closer to the ground.

India: Almost 40,000 people were evicted in the name of conservation in 2017
Conservation Watch
In 2017, government authorities in India destroyed almost 8,000 homes and forcefully evicted nearly 40,000 people, in the name of conservation. That’s more than 20 homes destroyed and 109 people evicted every day. The figures come from a report release last month by the Delhi-based NGO Housing and Land Rights Network, which describes the evictions as “an alarming national crisis”. In 2017, in India a total of 53,700 homes were demolished and more than 260,000 people were forcefully evicted.(Related: International Union for Conservation of Nature cheers one protected area and raises concerns for six)

Ministry of Consumer Affairs says India 57,676 tons of foodgrain damaged in five years
The New Indian Express
About 57,676 tons of foodgrain stored in Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns have got damaged and become useless for human consumption in the past five years owing to pest attack, leakage in godowns, exposure to rain and floods, procurement of poor quality stock etc.This amount was sufficient feed more than 1.15 crore people for a month, according to a report by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs. Some amount of foodgrain also gets wasted during transportation in trains and trucks.

Summer agony in monsoon season: heat wave persists in several states
Down to Earth
On Monday, Kolkata witnessed the hottest day of the season when the mercury touched 40.6°C. It was 7°C above the normal mark and also the hottest day in June, at least since 2005. Bankura, Purulia and Burdwan districts recorded 42.4°C, 40.7°C and 41.8°C respectively. Situation is neighbouring Odisha is worse. It continues to reel under an intense heat wave. On Monday, Bhubaneswar recorded maximum temperature of 42.2°C along with Baripada. Down south in Andhra Pradesh, Visakhapatnam witnessed a temperature of 41.4°C.

A recent study attributes increasing surface air temperature over India between 1956 and 2005 to anthropogenic factor
Down to Earth
Greenhouse gases (GHGs) released by human activities are solely responsible for warming climate in India, according to the latest study by scientists at IIT Delhi. The team looked at temperatures from 1956 to 2005 when average temperatures have increased by as much as half a degree. Interestingly, the study finds that the warming caused by GHGs across India was more than three times of what was actually observed during this period. However, it was restricted to 0.5°C due to the cooling effects of pollution. (Related: In a first, a thermal power plant decides to use DSI technology to curb Sulphur Dioxide emission)

Rs 7,410-crore question: Jharkhand amended energy policy to buy power from Adani at higher price
Scroll
Adani Power Limited, which is part of the Adani Group, is constructing a 1,600 megawatts coal-fired thermal power project here. But the electricity won’t be for local use: it will be supplied across the border to Bangladesh. Under state policy, Jharkhand is legally entitled to buying 25% of the electricity generated by thermal power projects built within the state. Adani Power Limited has said it will meet this requirement, but from another source, which it has not specified. The power won’t come cheap. Government documents accessed by Scroll.in show that Jharkhand has amended its energy policy in 2016 to allow the company to charge a higher price than what other thermal projects bill the state. (Related: Adani Power: Australian Coal to Produce Power in Jharkhand and Sell to Bangladesh)

Uttarakhand High Court puts stay on construction of dams, roads
The Indian Express
The Uttarakhand High Court on Monday ordered that all construction activities along river banks, including construction of hydroelectric power projects, and road construction projects in the state, be stayed till suitable muck disposal sites, for discarding the muck generated during the construction activities are identified and are made operational. The court order came when the Division Bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Lok Pal Singh was hearing a PIL that was filed by Himadri Jan Kalyan Sansthan, an Agastyamuni-based NGO, in 2015.

Sulphuric acid leak in Sterlite plant: 50,000 litres to be shifted to a safe destination
Down to Earth
A sulphuric acid leak was detected in one of the storage units of the sealed Sterlite copper plant in Thoothukudi on the evening of June 17. This copper plant of Vedanta group was sealed permanently on May 28, following a prolonged protests over the plant being responsible for polluting nearby environment. A special team, including District Environment Engineer of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and officials from fire departments, inspected the site after the plant’s security staff spotted the leak the previous evening.

Adivasi Forest Movement leader Sukalo arrested
CJP
Sukalo Gond, the treasurer of AIUFWP, along with Kisamati Gond and Sukhdev Gond were arrested in a clandestine manner from Chopan station, Sonbhadra, UP just as they were returning after a meeting with the state forest minister, Dara Singh Chauhan and Forest Secretary in Lucknow on June 6. Sukhdev Gond is resident of village Lilasi and was first beaten up by SO SP Singh Muirpur. Kismati Gond is the new secretary of Forest rights committee, she too was badly beaten up by police The police had entered homes and reportedly assaulted Adivasi women and children on May 19 when Sukalo was in Lucknow at a training workshop. (Also read: Activist Piyush Manush arrested, he was against expansion of Salem airport)

An Unapproved, Genetically Modified Cotton Seed is Being Planted Across India
Yale Environment 360
Indian farmers are planting unapproved, genetically modified cotton seeds created by the agrochemical giant Monsanto, violating environmental laws and risking arrest, according to Reuters. Indian state officials are attempting to crack down on use of the seeds, forming inspection teams and seizing 12 million rupees-worth ($178,000) of the herbicide-tolerant seeds in recent months, enough to cultivate 25,000 acres. Despite its unapproved status, the latest Monsanto GM seeds have been found in farms in key agricultural states such as Maharashtra and Gujarat in western India and Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in the south.(Related: Pro-GMO Activism And Smears Masquerade As Journalism: From Seralini To Jairam Ramesh, Aruna Rodrigues Puts The Record Straight)

Making Certification Mandatory for Organic Foods is Going to Hinder the Spread of Organic Farming in India
Eternal Bhoomi
With effect from July 1, 2018, Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is making certification mandatory for organic foods, and hence effectively for organic farmers.While it might limit fake organic to an extent, it will also throw out common consumers and small farmers from the organic market, which will have deleterious effect on the health of the public and the environment. These consequences will follow because both the available systems of organic certification – third party certification as well as Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) of quality assurance – are beyond the reach of a common farmer, especially those farmers who do not have any NGO, or government agency or private company supporting them. (Related: RTI query reveals pesticide residues in organic produce)

Rs 1.44 lakh crore: That’s the record bad loan write-off by banks in 2017-18
The Indian Express
Weighing down by huge losses and non-performing assets (NPAs), banks have written off a record Rs 1,44,093 crore of bad loans in the financial year ending March 2018 — up 61.8 per cent from Rs 89,048 crore in the previous year. The total loan write-off by private and state-owned banks in the last 10 years since 2009 has touched a whopping Rs 4,80,093 crore as on March 31, 2018 – 83.4 per cent of this amount, or Rs 400,584 crore, was from public sector banks, according to figures compiled by rating agency ICRA for The Indian Express. Of the write-off for 2017-18, Rs 1,20,165 crore loans were written off by public sector banks. (Also read: Centre rejects Niti Aayog’s disinvestment proposal for reducing the Centre’s stake in non-strategic public sector companies to below 50%)

Lavasa: Indian billionaire’s paradise has now become a hell on earth
The Print
Modeled on the cotton-candy harbor of Italy’s Portofino, Lavasa is a typical example of a large-scale infrastructure project gone bad. This onetime hilltop paradise is becoming for some a hell on earth. The days of zero crime are over. Garbage collection is sporadic, so litter soils the man-made lake. Storefronts are vacant. Signs of neglect are everywhere: maintenance is late or nonexistent. And that’s for the construction already done. For the unfinished building works—i.e. most of it—there is little happening.

Why fishermen fear Netravati river diversion
India Water Portal
Conservationists, water experts and locals in the Netravati basin have opposed the project from the get-go. They allege that what the state claims as a project for water supply, is actually a diversion for power generation. Over five years, there have been 18 massive protests across Dakshina Kannada and Sakleshpur of Hassan district, with farmers, fishermen, green activists, civil society and politicians participating. They say the diversion can destroy the highly sensitive Western Ghats, and leave the locals without enough water for industrial or personal use. (Also read: Beas river pollution: Livelihood of hundreds of families takes a hit as fish sale dips)

10 mining companies facing Rs 80 crore penalty to be shut in Bannerghatta
New Indian Express
Cracking down on irregularities in mining operations of the state, 10 mining companies in Thammnaikanahalli, located in the Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) of Bannerghatta National Park (BNP), will be closed by Tuesday evening. They also face a huge penalty of approximately Rs 80 crore. Earlier in April, the mining operations of five cos in Shivanahalli were closed, however, the penalties are yet to be worked out in their case.

India gets its first biodiversity museum in a 19th century boathouse in Kerala
Happy Trips
The museum boasts of a 50-seater 3D theatre, scale models, interactive kiosks and LCDs. Galleries inside the museum display themes related to biodiversity and informative panels on the types of Keralan traditional rice, marine diversity and marine life. The winning feature of the museum will, however, be the Science on a Sphere (SOS) system; it has been fixed with the help of the US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

WORLD

BP’s global data for 2017 shows record highs for coal and renewables
Carbon Brief
Renewable energy grew by the largest amount ever last year, while coal-fired electricity also reached a record high, according to new global data from oil giant BP. However, set against continued rapid rises in energy demand fuelled by oil and gas, renewables were not enough to prevent global CO2 emissions rising significantly for the first time in four years, the figures show. This was partly because cyclical economic changes had flattered progress in previous years and, last year, cancelled out some of the slow, continuing shift towards a lower-carbon energy, BP says. (Related: Leaked UN draft report warns of urgent need to cut global warming 2)  Ex-Nasa scientist James Hansen: 30 years on, world is failing ‘miserably’ to address climate change

Antarctic ice melting faster than ever, studies show
The Guardian
A report led by scientists in the UK and US found the rate of melting from the Antarctic ice sheet has accelerated threefold in the last five years and is now vanishing faster than at any previously recorded time. A separate study warns that unless urgent action is taken in the next decade the melting ice could contribute more than 25cm to a total global sea level rise of more than a metre by 2070. This could lead eventually to the collapse of the entire west Antarctic ice sheet, and around 3.5m of sea-level rise. (Related: Flooding from sea level rise threatens over 300,000 US coastal homes – study)

How global warming is causing ocean oxygen levels to fall
Carbon Brief
Direct measurements show the amount of oxygen in the global oceans has decreased by around 2% over the past 50 years. Climate change is thought to be a principal cause of this “deoxygenation”, affecting how much oxygen seawater can hold and the circulation patterns that carry oxygen-rich water to the deeper ocean. In a new review paper, published in Nature Geoscience, we assess the scientific literature on the direct and indirect impacts of rising global temperatures on ocean oxygen levels, and the threat this poses to marine life. (Also read: New index finds many of the world’s largest meat and fish MNCs failing to measure or report emissions, despite accounting for 14.5% of greenhouse gases)

UK pension funds get green light to dump fossil fuel investments
The Guardian
Managers of the £1.5tn invested in Britain’sworkplace pension schemes are to be given new powers to dump shares in oil, gas and coal companies in favour of long-term investment in green and “social impact” opportunities. Government proposals published on Monday are designed to give pension fund trustees more confidence to divest from environmentally damaging fossil fuels and put their cash in green alternatives if it meets their members’ wishes. (Related: 1) U.S. Democratic Party Quietly Adopts Ban On Fossil Fuel Company Donations 2) American Medical Association divests from fossil fuels & supports ban on all assault-style weapons)

Israel to top up Sea of Galilee after years of drought
The Guardian
The shrinking Sea of Galilee, the inland lake where Christians believe Jesus walked on water, is to be topped up with desalinated seawater. A plan given Israeli cabinet approval will pump 100 million cubic metres of water annually by 2022 into the lake in the Galilee region, said Yechezkel Lifshitz, from the country’s energy and water ministry. In 2017 Israel’s water authority said the sea, hit by years of drought, had reached its lowest level in a century.

Fifth of Britain’s wild mammals ‘at high risk of extinction’
The Guardian
The wildcat and mouse-eared bat are on the brink, but deer are spreading and otters bouncing back, according to a comprehensive analysis. At least one in five wild mammals in Britain faces a high risk of extinction within a decade and overall populations are falling, according to the most comprehensive analysis to date. Most at risk are the Scottish wildcat and the once-widespread black rat, while there is only a single male greater mouse-eared bat left. Also falling in number are hedgehogs, rabbits and water voles. (Also read: Climate change is wiping out the baobab, Africa’s ‘tree of life’)

Maasai herders driven off land to make way for luxury safaris, report says
The Guardian
The Tanzanian government is putting foreign safari companies ahead of Maasai herding communities as environmental tensions grow on the fringes of the Serengeti national park, according to a new investigation. Hundreds of homes have been burned and tens of thousands of people driven from ancestral land in Loliondo in the Ngorongoro district in recent years to benefit high-end tourists and a Middle Eastern royal family, says the report by the California-based thinktank the Oakland Institute.

Free Power From Freeways? China Is Testing Roads Paved With Solar Panels
The New York Times
Because roads run through and around cities, the electricity could be used practically next door to where it is generated. That means virtually no power would be lost in transmission, as can happen with projects in outlying locations. And the land is essentially free, because roads are needed anyway. Roads must be resurfaced every few years at great cost, so the installation of durable solar panels could reduce the price of maintenance. (Also read: Move over Elon: global energy prize goes to Australia’s solar guru)

Progressive groups are launching a movement to create a public bank in New York City
Mic
Could the city best known as the home of Wall Street divest from major corporate banks and start its own public bank? That’s the vision that a new network of activist groups hope see in the near future. On Tuesday, a coalition of progressive organizations in New York City gathered in front of the New York Stock Exchange to launch a new effort to get the city to divest from Wall Street banks and create a new public bank for the public good. The new movement, which calls itself the Public Bank NYC Coalition, includes at least 15 different local community and activist groups. (Related: Swiss voters reject campaign to radically alter banking system)

Mammals Are Going Nocturnal in Bid to Avoid Humans
The New York Times
Humans, it turns out, can annoy more than just one another. In fact, some animal populations are escaping their Homo sapiens cohabitants by sleeping more during the day, a new study finds. Mammals across the globe are becoming increasingly nocturnal to avoid humans’ expanding presence, according to the study, published Thursday in Science magazine. The findings show that humans’ presence alone can cause animals across continents — including coyotes, elephants and tigers — to alter their sleep schedules. “We’re just beginning to scratch the surface on how these behavioral changes are affecting entire ecosystems,” said Kaitlyn Gaynor, an ecologist and graduate student in environmental science at the University of California, Berkeley, who led the study.

Rice Becomes Less Nutritious If There’s More Carbon Dioxide in the Air
The Wire
Rice could produce fewer proteins, vitamins and minerals essential for humans in response to rising carbon dioxide concentrations that are implicated in global warming, new research assessments from 10 countries that consume the most rice has shown. The findings not only confirm previously reported declines in protein, iron and zinc levels but also offer additional information on consistent declines in vitamins B1, B2,B5, and B9 and – conversely – an increase in vitamin E in rice produced under higher carbon dioxide conditions.

 

 

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