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First Food and Locavores +  

 One evening, I found a large package waiting on top of my mailbox as it would not fit in. I opened it and found a copy of “First Food – A Taste of India’s Biodiversity”, a surprise gift from a friend who shares a curiosity about traditional foods. Intrigued, I turned the pages of this large format book packed with glossy photos and I could not put it down till I had skimmed through the book. Skimmed because it is not really possible to absorb the extent of information that has been presented. And that is only a small fraction of what information is actually available.

TRINet Newsletter September 2013 +  

 

Government issues new guidelines to protect sharks

The ministry of environment and forests has issued a 'fins naturally attached' policy requiring fisheries to land sharks in coastal states with their fins intact. The policy is a strong tool in the fight to end shark finning, a cruel practice that occurs when fishermen catch sharks, cut off their fins and throw the still-living animals back into the water where they die slow and painful deaths.


 India Playing Risky Games at Nuclear Parks

Bhagwat Singh Gohil frets for the future of his bountiful orchards in Mithi Virdi village in western Gujarat state’s coastal district Bhavnagar. “After contending with droughts, rough seas and earthquakes we are staring at the possibility of a man-made disaster in the shape of a nuclear power park.”

 

TRINet Newsletter August 2013 +  

Conception-Connection-Contestation +  

 

Years ago, I heard a lecture on the Laws of Ecology by Barry Commoner. When I opened Prof Mayerfeld Bell’s book on environmental sociology, this line leapt out, “Everything we do has environmental implications, as responsible citizens recognize today". However, it is not enough for citizens alone to recognize this – it has to be recognized at the policy level too. The biggest problem is probably the strong dividing line between sociology and natural sciences (and engineering sciences too) and the complaints about hiding behind jargon which must be overcome if we are to succeed in our plans for sustainable development.

TRINet Newsletter July 2013 +  

 

About 40 vessels are apparently stranded off Indian coasts, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said in Mumbai on Thursday.



PIL alleges illegal mineral mining in coastal areas

After the issue of large-scale illegal granite quarry operation in Madurai, a public interest litigation (PIL) against the illegal mining of minerals in coastal areas, including Koothakuzhi village in Tirunelveli district has been filed before the Madurai bench of the Madras high court.

Climate Change in the Gulf of Mannar +  

On 20th May, the world carbon dioxide levels breached the 400 ppm mark for the first time in some 2.5 million years. About a month later, on 18th of June, 2013, a workshop was held at Chennai on Climate Change and Livelihoods in the Gulf of Mannar, Tamil Nadu. The workshop attracted a packed audience including government officials, members of the fishing community from Gulf of Mannar, scientists and academics as well as members of the civil society. The highlights were presentations on scientific data and people’s perceptions in the Gulf of Mannar about climate change based on studies carried out there. It was interesting to note that overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and climate change were considered, in that order, as the major threats in the region.

TRINet Newsletter June 2013 +  

Kerala coast vulnerable to tsunami inundation

The entire stretch of the Kerala coast could be vulnerable to inundation caused by tsunami waves originating from different sources, a numerical modelling study of tsunami propagation in the South East Arabian Sea (SEAS) has revealed.

EBA and Climate Change +  

 The trend is increasingly towards holistic assessments of the environment; more specifically we are focusing now on ‘Ecosystem Based Approach’ and ‘Ecosystem Based Management’. These are not really new . The famous systems ecologist Dr Howard T. Odum in his 1950 Ph.D. thesis gave a novel definition of ecology as the study of large entities (ecosystems) at the "natural level of integration". He used an analog of electrical energy networks to model the energy flow pathways of ecosystems with feedback loops that kept the system in various degrees of equilibrium. This is also something that is being considered in current approaches, though rather difficult to detail or model. Most important of all, for the present discussion, H.T.Odum viewed humans as playing a central role within the processes on earth.  He said that the "human is the biosphere's programmatic and pragmatic information processor for maximum performance"[1]. This tenet becomes increasingly important as we try to understand that when we talk of environmental management, we realize that we are actually talking about the way we interact with natural systems and that socio-economic-ecological interactions are of primary importance.

TRINet Newsletter May 2013 +  

Maintenance Requires Effort +  

The coastlines of the world have undergone extensive alteration, generally due to the impact of human activities and most often because of human settlements. Coasts have drawn people from inland for a variety of reasons, from trade-related opportunities to equitable weather (compared to the hinterland). Human settlements have been expanding as human population has increased but till not too long ago, the focus was on using locally available material for construction of houses. Vernacular architecture at different levels generally tended to merge with the landscape as well. This has changed considerably with the focus on stronger ‘multi-hazard-resilient’ buildings that resist the forces of water and wind and the belief that reinforced cement concrete (RCC) offers the best solution in this regard. When the tsunami destroyed thousands of houses along the coast in 2004, a decision was taken that when houses were re-constructed, they would be made resilient to multiple hazards, for after all, the tsunami is just one of the many hazards that coastal communities face – the more common being cyclones and the associated wind, flooding and storm surges.

How good has the idea of RCC houses been? The best way to find out is to study the condition of the houses after a few years of exposure to elements as well as being lived-in. Such a study was conducted a few months ago in Nagapattinam district where approximately 20,000 houses were built in 88 locations. The study evaluated the current status of the constructed houses and the impact of relocation and reconstruction on community livelihoods. A quota sampling method was used to select 240 households in fourteen reconstruction sites to ensure that sampling was inclusive – that different communities as well as locations were sampled.