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December News Digest +  

December News Roundup
Bombay HC stays proceedings against JSW’s Alibaug steel plant: The Bombay High Court, in an interim order on Wednesday, stayed the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) proceedings following a notice to the JSW group’s Alibaug steel plant alleging it of violating the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms. A bench of Justice VM Kanade and Justice Nutan Sardessai have also asked JSW to file a reply of its arguments.
'Dead zone' found in Bay of Bengal The Bay of Bengal (BoB) hosts a 'dead zone' of around 60,000 square kilometers almost devoid of oxygen, a new multi-national study has shown1. The findings point to implications on global nitrogen balance. Marine 'dead zones' contain no oxygen. Until now, there have been only three major identified dead zones – two in the eastern tropical Pacific (off Peru/Chile and Mexico) and one in the Arabian Sea. The newfound dead zone in BoB joins this list, according to a joint study by National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa, India; University of Southern Denmark and the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen, Germany.
Centre nod needed to clear reduction in CRZ limit: Former minister Vinay Kumar Sorake has said that the Environment Directorate at the centre has cleared the recommendation for decreasing the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) limits to 50 meters as against the existing 500 meters. The proposal is currently under consideration with the Prime Minister, he said. At the general body meeting of taluk panchayat, the MLA said that if the Prime Minister approves the proposal, the new policy of CRZ would come into existence all across the coastal borders of the country. He said prior to CRZ, which came into existence in 2006, residents were permitted to stay within the 500 meters periphery and if they had valid documents prior to 1991, they were ensured title deeds.
Find out how India's vastly unexplored 7,500 km coastline can generate millions of jobs: In many ways, India looked a gift-horse in the mouth. And the gift was water. For centuries, India ignored the seas. It has a 7,500 km long coastline which it did not bother about very much. True, the government built 12 ports (government owned ports are called major ports). But it forgot to promote coastal development and coastal tourism. As a result India has a coastline that is largely uninhabited, leaving it open to incursions by smugglers and terrorists. India forgot the old adage that the best type of security is eyes on the ground.
IMS asks Odisha govt to study impact of climate change: Bhubaneswar, Dec 21: The Indian Meteorological Society (IMS) today suggested the Odisha government to start a study at a pilot site along the state’s coast to access impact of climate change. “A pilot site along the Odisha coast may be taken up for the study of impact and assessment of climate change on various sectors such as water resources, farming, health, infrastructure and ecosystem,” the IMS said in its recommendation after its four-day National Symposium on Tropical Meteorology (TROPMET-2016) which ended today. The theme of the symposium was ‘Climate Change and Coastal Vulnerability’
Kapil Sharma booked for ‘destroying’ mangroves near his home: Acting on a court order, an FIR on Wednesday was registered against popular stand-up comedian Kapil Sharma under Environment Protection Act for allegedly destroying mangroves due to illegal construction near his bungalow in Andheri. The 35-year-old comedian was booked under relevant sections of the Environment Protection Act, the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, and also IPC Section 187 (omission to assist public servant when bound by law to give assistance), police said.
Coastal Shipping: Still a long way to go; VPT gearing Up: After decades of lull in the domestic waterways, the country’s major ports are gearing up to promote coastal shipping thanks to the Sagarmala project and focus of the NDA government. Major ports including Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT) have started taking measures including offering incentives to boost cargo transportation using coastal shipping. ICC Shipping Association observes the legislation changes and processes but infrastructural issues are yet to be addressed properly as practised in China, Japan, EU and the US. India still faces a shortage of containers, maintenance support and policy push, said the industry body. Organisations such as Food Corporation of India (FCI) have taken measures to transport food grains using coastal shipping.
Why Tamil Nadu's Enayam port is the need of the hour: Ever since the Union government anchored a Rs 27,000 crore container transshipment project at Enayam – a hamlet on the west coast of Tamil Nadu – it has drawn a mixed response. The objective to build the port is to get a share in the global transshipment pie by attracting mother ships carrying cargo meant for India that now dock at Colombo or Singapore or Port Klang in Malaysia.
47 of 68 fish species in India under threat, says study: MUMBAI: More fish species on the east coast, especially in the waters off Odisha and West Bengal, are highly vulnerable to climate change, according to a first-of-its-kind assessment by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI). That vulnerability stems not only from changes in climate but from fishing pressure and lower productivity. Overall, 69% of the 68 fish species studied were found to be vulnerable to climatic changes. They include Bombay duck, tuna, sharks, various shrimp, pomfret, and catfish, among others. "The west coast also has high fishing pressure but is richer in fish so it is a bit less vulnerable," said Dr P U Zacharia, CMFRI scientist and lead author of the report.
Kerala HC fines DLF Rs 1 cr, spares building: Kochi, Dec 21 (IANS) Real estate major DLF on Wednesday got a major reprieve as the Kerala High Court as the Kerala High Court ruled that while it need not demolish its multi-storied apartment complex here but slapped a Rs 1 crore fine.

November News Digest +  

Assessing Water Quality Worldwide +  

Water pollution and poor water quality of surface waters is something all of us have come to accept as the norm. Rapidly growing populations and the consequent rise in the water demand has created terrific stress on both surface and groundwater systems. Today’s increasing concern is not merely the organic load that gets dumped untreated, or at the most partially treated, into receiving water bodies, but also the discharge of harmful chemicals such as hormone disruptors. What is the status worldwide? Read more
UNEP has brought out a new report titled: A Snapshot of the World’s Water Quality: Towards a global assessment.
Some of the main points summarised in the report are:
People and ecosystems require both an adequate quantity of water as well as an adequate quality of water. Therefore, it is urgent to assess where water quality is inadequate or under threat and to incorporate the need for good water quality into the concept of water security. This report focuses on water quality and its relation to development objectives such as health, food security and water security. To make this connection, the report reviews important water quality problems in surface waters including pathogen pollution, organic pollution, salinity pollution and eutrophication. The focus is on three continents: Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
• Water pollution has worsened since the 1990s in the majority of rivers in Latin America, Africa, and Asia
• Severe pathogen pollution3 already affects around one-third of all river stretches in Latin America, Africa and Asia. The number of rural people at risk to health by coming into contact with polluted surface waters may range into the hundreds of millions on these continents. Among the most vulnerable groups are women and children.

October 2016 News Digest +  

October News Round-up

UNEP Marine Litter Toolkit Provides Overview of Legislation, Recommendations for Preventing Waste: The toolkit suggests that a circular economy approach can stop the production of plastic and other sources of marine litter at its source. The toolkit states that a circular economy can design durable products that can be repaired, recovered or recycled at the end of their productive use, therefore preventing waste generation and preventing litter from entering the marine environment. The toolkit also highlights the concept of a "waste hierarchy" that suggests preferred orders of action to prevent, reduce and manage waste, explaining that the European Union (EU) and its Member States use both a circular economy and a waste hierarchy to address marine litter and other waste challenges. http://nr.iisd.org/news/unep-marine-litter-toolkit-provides-overview-of-...

Nellore coast under strain due to severe erosion: Nellore: Latest studies prove that Nellore shoreline is indicating seaward advance due to rise in sea level, which poses threat in the form of floods and submergence during natural disasters that might possibly hit tourism revenue. A research by scientists of Andhra Pradesh Space Application Centre (APSAC), Hyderabad revealed that about 24 per cent of the entire shoreline in Nellore that spreads in 160 km experienced erosion, while 18 per cent has stable coast in the district and the remaining have mostly accreted. http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Andhra-Pradesh/2016-10-06/Nellor...

Assessing Climate Adaptation Needs +  

‘Annadaata sukhi bhava’, was my grandmother’s unvarying statement at the end of every meal. Growing up close to the producers, part of a farming family, she knew the effort that went in to grow crops and keep stomachs fed. With agriculture becoming increasingly difficult with water and labour shortages, the coping capacity of farmers has steadily been eroded. Yet, only a detailed assessment can show up what exactly needs to be done to improve resilience. One such study is “Climate Adaptation and Resilience in South Asia” focusing on the use of the Climate Change Score Card (CSSC) – a tool that connects livelihoods, governance and climate variations and provides results based on the field research. The study was the collaborative effort of three think tanks in South Asia— Public Affairs Centre, India (PAC), Center for Science, Technology and Policy, India (CSTEP); and Institute for Social and Environmental Transition – Nepal (ISET – N).
This study was carried out in the Cauvery Delta by PAC in partnership with DHAN Foundation. Initial surveys highlighted the reduction in the intensity and frequency of the south west monsoon (May to September) and delay in the north east monsoon by 20-30 days, affecting the traditional cropping cycles. The increase in spatial and temporal variations in precipitation has made villages completely dependent on ground water. This, however, has resulted in farmers increasing their cropping intensity (from two to three crops per year). The consequence is salinity intrusion and reduced productivity – both pushed up by increased fertiliser usage. A further consequence is large scale migration of labour to towns and cities in search of better livelihood options.

Securing our Coastal Assets +  

Is half a day enough to discuss coastal matters? Perhaps not. But every such meeting brings forth new information and new knowledge which is always helpful to understand a little bit more about problems of the coast. Thus, the seminar organized on 17th October by PondyCAN supported by the Freemasons and the Chennai Chapter of INTACH did bring out some very crucial points. The pity was that not too many people knew about it and it was not reported in the press either.

The programme began with a welcome address by Sri Probir Banerjee, ARGM, Chennai Area Regional Grand Lodge of Southern India. He explained the genesis of the meeting and said that because of motives of profit over environment, local communities are becoming refugees. The objective of the seminar was to get a larger picture of coastal ecology.

 

September 2016 News Digest +  

September 2016 News Roundup

 

Bloating dumpyard sounds death knell for marsh: The Perungudi dumpyard has expanded rapidly towards the western part of the Pallikaranai marshland in the past few years, leading to a gradual blockage of the channel that drains stormwater from the city. The civic body is yet to take action to prevent the dangerous spread of the dumpyard in the marsh. A few years ago, the Greater Chennai Corporation planned to hand over 300 acres of the marsh on the northern portion of the Pallavaram-Thoraipakkam radial road to the Forest Department as part of its restoration. However, the dumping of garbage has increased in the western part of the dumpyard, reducing the gap between it and the marsh to 50 to 100 m. The width of the marsh was more than 300 metres a few years ago, permitting it to carry excess stormwater. Corporation officials said the sudden reduction of the marsh area in the western part was because of the dumping in the interior parts of the dumpyard after residents complained about frequent fires.

 

Floods again +  

Global temperatures have been steadily climbing and after every month, we are told that it was the hottest month in decades. We have been experiencing very hot weather when the temperatures normally start coming down. But it is not the heat that is scaring people as much as bouts of heavy rainfall that cause flooding. While one can, to some extent, escape heat waves by staying indoors, by using coolers and air conditioners, by growing curtains of vegetation and so on, floods are destructive causing lakhs of rupees worth of damage – to homes, to vehicles, to infrastructure. The roads during the floods serve as water channels. After the floods they are totally ravaged and have to be re-laid all over again. Today Gurugram and Hyderabad are in the news for the heavy rain and consequent flooding. We see a variety of vehicles revving through water. Last year, after the floods in Chennai in November-December where hundreds of cars were affected, the service centres simply refused to take on regular service calls saying that they had a long backlog to clear.

August 2016 News Digest +  

Coastal Law Got a Skewed Review – and Now, an Opaque Revamp: In June this year, the Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change disclosed the report of the committee constituted to review the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2011. The environment ministry shared the report after eighteen months of its completion and that, too, on being directed by the Central Information Commission (CIC) to do so. While the ministry’s reluctance to make the report public flouts the principles of democratic decision-making, the process of CRZ review in itself has been opaque, obscure and one-sided.

Reliance Jio gets green nod for AAE-I subsea cable project: NEW DELHI: Reliance Jio Infocomm has received environment clearance for building the Indian part of Asia- Africa-Europe One (AAE-1) submarine cable system at Mumbai, entailing an investment of $6 million. AAE-1, the largest next generation subsea cable system spanning around 25,000 km and linking South Asia to Africa and Europe via the Middle East, is being constructed by a consortium of 17 global service providers. The Indian part of the project will be implemented by Reliance Jio. 

Our Consumptive Habits +  

Populations continue to grow, even though the growth rate has slowed down. But more than the growth of population, it is consumption that is driving the demand for natural resources, despite the slowing down of economic growth. Increased material prosperity can be related to the industrial and urban transformation, especially since 2000. An important report released recently describes the escalating consumption of natural resources. This is of grave concern as it looks at material use and movement in the global economy for the past 40 years showing clearly that consumption is the major driver of material use, much more than population growth.

The report points out that trade has grown faster than domestic extraction. While some countries have increased their net exports of materials over time, it has been the other way for many others. China, India and Pakistan reportedly show an interesting pattern of fast increasing import dependency for the direct trade of materials. What is worrying is that production is shifting from very material-efficient countries to countries that have low material efficiency (including China, India and Southeast Asia), resulting in an overall decline in material efficiency. Globally, more material per unit of GDP is now required.