September 2013

Plan to develop coastal belt on Mumbai outskirts draws flak

 It’s considered one of the last natural habitats in Mumbai — the coastal belt of Gorai, Manori and Uttan which accounts for a whopping ten per cent of the city’s land.

The coastal belt is an ecologically rich zone with beaches, hills, mangroves and mudflats.

But now, the Maharashtra government is in the process of opening up this 10,750 acre stretch of virtually pristine land for construction. A move that is raising serious concerns about whether it is subverting environmental norms and exposing this region to land sharks.

This belt is located on the outskirts of Mumbai, a city where real estate prices are among the highest in the world. It is virtually cut off from the mainland and is home to fishermen and farmers mainly from the East-Indian community. Its only claim to tourist fame — the Esselworld amusement park and the Global Vipassana Pagoda.

In early September, the State presented its plan for Gorai, Manori and Uttan, which aims to improve its connectivity to the city and open large swathes for development. Once it receives feedback from locals by early October, the State could move ahead to implement it.

Till now, just about ten per cent of this area has been developed. Nearly 90 per cent comes under a No Development Zone (NDZ), where construction is restricted. The only activities allowed are agriculture, amusement parks, golf courses, IT parks and entertainment studios. Seventy-one per cent of this falls in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ), where development is further curbed. Two-thirds of the CRZ land is covered with mangroves where the law allows barely any construction.

Another two islands emerge off coast

 KARACHI, Sept 25: Following the emergence of an island on Tuesday off the coast of Gwadar, two others have emerged along the Balochistan coast, according to sources.

“The two new islands are located a few miles from Bidok and Bal, two villages along the coast of Ormara and Pasni. The information about the islands has been provided by local fishermen and tribal elders,” said Mohammad Moazzam Khan, a technical adviser to the World Wide Fund for Nature.

“The two new islands also seem to have been formed due to the earthquake that hit the province on Tuesday. Detailed information will be available tomorrow when our technical staff will visit the sites,” Mr Khan added.

Meanwhile, a team of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) visited on Wednesday the island which emerged off the Gwadar coast and found methane gas being emitted from various spots.

“The team has collected samples of rocks, water and sediment which will be analysed at the institute’s laboratory in Karachi. Another team will thoroughly examine the site in a few days,” said Dr Asif Inam of the NIO.

He put the island’s size at 50 metres long, 20m wide and 10m above the sea level.

The island, he said, was largely composed of mud and seemed to have emerged in a similar fashion as did Malan island in 2011. The new island was emitting pure methane that was used in households, he added.

NIO Director General Dr Ali Rashid Tabrez said Makran region was seismically an active zone and the coastal belt was reported to have extensive reserves of frozen methane.

“It’s common to see air bubbles at the surface of seawater along the coast. These bubbles are formed when gas is released on account of variation in sea temperature or any other change,” he said.

Scientists say more certain mankind causes global warming

 By Alister Doyle and Simon Johnson
STOCKHOLM | Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:36am EDT
(Reuters) - Leading scientists said on Friday they were more certain than ever before that humans are the main culprits for climate change and predicted the impact from greenhouse gas emissions could linger for centuries.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in a report that the current hiatus in warming, when temperatures have risen more slowly despite growing emissions, was a natural variation that would not last.

It said the Earth was set for more heatwaves, floods, droughts and rising sea levels that could swamp coasts and low-lying islands as greenhouse gases built up in the atmosphere.

Many world leaders called for stronger action to rein in rising greenhouse gas emissions and limit a rise in temperatures to within manageable limits after the report, which estimated that humanity has burnt more than half the available carbon.

The study, meant to guide governments in shifting towards greener energies, said it was "extremely likely", a probability of at least 95 percent, that human activities were the dominant cause of warming since the mid-20th century.

That was an increase from "very likely", or 90 percent, in the last report in 2007 and "likely", 66 percent, in 2001.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the study was a call for governments, many of which have been focused on spurring weak growth rather than fighting climate change, to work to agree a planned U.N. accord in 2015 to combat global warming.

"The heat is on. Now we must act," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the report was a wake-up call. "Those who deny the science or choose excuses over action are playing with fire," he said, referring to skeptics who question the need for urgent action.

'Black holes' of the ocean could curb climate change

Earth has its own black holes. Swirling masses of water in the ocean are mathematically the same as the warped regions of space-time around cosmic singularities. The finding is more than a mere curiosity: these eddies could be helping to slow climate change.

Oceanic maelstroms can trap and carry billions of tonnes of water over long distances, along with debris and marine life. But because the oceans are constantly churning, it was difficult to pick these cyclones out of the chaos. To know how much water they transport and what their impact on climate could be, we needed a way to locate their edges.

Relaxation in IPZ norms to fuel Ecotourism projects in Andaman & Nicobar Islands

 Wednesday, September 25, 2013, 10:00 Hrs [IST]
By HBI Staff | Kochi
The relaxation in Island Protection Zone (IPZ) regulations by Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF), Government of India, late last year considering the plea of Andaman & Nicobar Islands Administration is expected to provide a new lease of life for some of the Ecotourism projects in the Islands, which were stalled since its promulgation in 2011. The IPZ had imposed ‘No Development Zone’ (NDZ) limit of 200 metre in island destinations, restricting any development, tourism or otherwise in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, etc.

After the continuous plea by Andaman & Nicobar Administration, National Coastal Zone Management Authority under the MoEF had relaxed NDZ to 50 metre in ten big islands in Andaman & Nicobar. This relaxation would enable the local administration to create tourism infrastructure.


 New York, Sep 24 2013 6:00PM World leaders at the United Nations today inaugurated a High-level Political Forum that aims to inject new energy into the global effort to boost development for all the world’s peoples in a manner that is sustainable for future generations.

The Forum replaces the UN’s Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), which concluded its work on 20 September. The Commission was formed after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to generate action on a range of issues, including energy, oceans and sustainable consumption and production.

At the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development – known as Rio+20 – Member States called for the change from the CSD to the High-level Political Forum to ensure that sustainable development tops the agenda of the highest levels of government and is embraced by all actors.

Countries at Rio+20 agreed that progress in prosperity and social well-being – and simultaneous protection of the environment – had not been sufficient at a time when many global challenges threaten to roll back successes in fighting poverty and severe environmental threats such as climate change loom.

At the inaugural launch today, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the establishment of the Forum is a significant step towards realizing the vision adopted by Member States at Rio+20.

“Your forum is a key platform for examining today’s challenges in a holistic and integrated manner,” he said. “This forum can be the catalyst for a strengthened global partnership for sustainable development, providing political leadership grounded in solid science,” he added.

Focus on keeping beaches clean

Coast Guard personnel and volunteers collected one tonne of litter in a clean-up drive from the Thumba beach in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday.
The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) personnel and some 450 volunteers removed one tonne of litter from Thumba on Sunday during a beach clean-up drive organised as part of International Costal Cleanup Day.

The drive here was organised by the ICG Station (ICGS), Vizhinjam. The volunteers were from the Thumba Parish Church, including 200 children of the Sunday school and their teachers.

They were joined by volunteers from the Trivandrum Social Service Society and the Theradesha Jagratha Samithi.

The litter collected from the 300-metre stretch included tattered fishing nets, discarded liquor bottles, plastic carry bags and cups, and decomposed wood. Commanding Officer, ICG Vizhinjam, Commandant A. Athinarayanan spoke to volunteers of the need to protect the beaches from litter.

Deputy Commandant Sivaprasad S., Commanding Officer, ICGS C-150; parish priest Steanislaus; and secretary Marcos Fernandes also spoke on the occasion.

The volunteers took a pledge against dumping waste/litter on the beaches and to work towards clean beaches.

A Chetak helicopter from the ICG Air Squadron, Kochi, was stationed nearby as a search and rescue standby unit to deal with any eventuality.

The litter collected was taken to the ICGS, Vizhinjam, for disposal.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has identified marine litter as the main thing plaguing oceans/waterways. One of the largest voluntary events in the world, the cleaning drive, is organised to educate and create awareness on the need to protect the sea and the coast. The ICG is the nodal agency which coordinates and conducts the event across the country.

Goa state coastal zone management authority issues notices to 11 hotels in CRZ areas at Mandrem, Morjim

PANAJI: The Goa state coastal zone management authority (GCZMA) issued show-cause notices to 11 hotels and resorts in Mandrem and Morjim villages for violating CRZ regulations.

The show-cause issued by GCZMA member secretary Levinson Martins sought to know why action should not be initiated against the hotels or resorts with regards to the CRZ violations. GCZMA had called representatives of hotels and resorts for a personal hearing next month. The notices have been issued on the directions of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The decision taken during the personal hearing would be conveyed to the NGT, a GCZMA official said.
Notices have been issued under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, read with sub rule 3(a) of Rule 4 of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, delegated to the GCZMA. The GCZMA directed 11 hotels and resorts, located at Mandrem and Morjim to remain present before the authority, in order to submit their say and to show-cause as to why the establishment and the construction should not be ordered to be demolished as the same has been constructed in violation of the provisions of the CRZ notification, 2011.

'Failure to appear before the GCZMA for a hearing will compel the authority to initiate stringent legal action against your establishment, including orders for demolition without any further notice,' Martins said in the notice.

On September 11, an NGT bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar directed GCZMA to issue notices to all the defaulters and violators within one week and to complete the entire proceeding and pass an order in accordance with the law within four weeks thereafter.

Probe into port pollution

 The Lok Ayukta of Andhra Pradesh has appointed a single-member commission to conduct a probe into the pollution caused by the Visakhapatnam Port, following a petition filed by Chaitanya Sravanthi, a service organisation, its president Shirin Rehaman informed on Saturday.

The single-member commission has to visit Visakhapatnam for the inquiry and submit its report by December 24, Dr. Shirin Rehaman said at a press conference. Chaitanya Sravanthi organised a siege port programme in the past as part of its agitation against pollution caused by the port. She alleged that several residents of old city, adjacent to the port, had died due to pollution and hundreds were suffering with pollution-related diseases.

While the national ambient air quality specified that pollution level could be up to 60 micrograms for a micro cube of air, it was between 89 and 119 and was increasing every year. AU Professor S. Bala Prasad was present.

Make exception for PAP land: Cidco

NAVI MUMBAI: The City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) will ask the PM for an exception to the CRZ notification on the land allotted to PAPs in Dronagiri at the scheduled meeting on Monday.