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.

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.

3 years to go for Adyar to turn pristine: CHENNAI: The Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust (CRRT), a state agency , has submitted to the government the detailed project report for Phase 3 of the restoration of Adyar creek and estuary. This phase will cover the river's source at Adanur tank (Kancheepuram) to the mouth at Pattinapakkam, a distance of 42km. "Phase 2 of the restoration will end in a month and Phase 3 is expected to take four years to complete," a CRRT official told TOI on the sidelines of the threeday event, Chennai Water Forum. "We have short, medium and long-term plans for the restoration and have given it a timeline. The long-term plan is maintenance," the official said.

Environment ministry panel suggests tighter green rules for Alang-Sosiya yard: New Delhi: The world’s largest ship recycling yard at Alang-Sosiya in Gujarat is set to get an upgrade with a top panel of the Union environment ministry recommending environment clearance for the same. The ministry’s expert appraisal committee (EAC) wants the yard to meet additional requirements on the environment front for the upgrade which will expand the yard’s capacity by 50%, minutes of the committee’s 21-22 September meeting show. The ministry will now take a call on granting the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance for the Rs1,630 crore project.

Corruption culture spawning illegal aquaculture: Kakinada: Fertile lands in the Konaseema region of East Godavari district are being turned into illegal aqua tanks by their owners, in violation of regulations. They are spawning prawns on thousands of acres on the banks of River Godavari. As a result, the groundwater is turning salty. Chemicals, being used by the land-owners, are affecting the environment. Emboldened by the government turning a nelson’s eye to their illegal activities, the land-owners are now attempting to divert the river water flow and convert sand quarries and small islands on the river bed into aqua tanks in collusion with corrupt officials. These activities have rendered the Coastal Regulation Zone regulations and also the permissions of the District Aqua Authority ineffective confining them only to files. These tanks have materialized overnight in IPolavaram, Inavilli, Maramalla, G.Mulapolem, Thallarevu, Kesanakurrapalem, Yedurlanka and Mummidivarm areas of Mummidivaram constituency while the concerned authorities conspicuous by their absence. These aqua tanks have been dug even on patta lands given to the poor by the government and those leased out by the endowments department in Mummidivaram mandal.

Arabian Sea at Mazgaon now a creek, say builders: Mumbai: If the Union environment ministry permits, the Arabian Sea at Mazgaon on the city's eastern waterfront could be redefined as 'creek', a move that will benefit builders whose plots are currently locked because of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms. The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) last month wrote to the ministry for "guidance" after a city builder developing a prime plot in Mazgaon submitted a proposal to remove CRZ classification of its land.

NITI Aayog may usher in sweeping reforms at CEZs: NEW DELHI: The government’s premier think tank, NITI Aayog, may consider sweeping land and labour reforms at the proposed coastal economic zones as its replicates the Chinese model of growth for boosting India’s manufacturing sector and giving push to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India. The Aayog has sought wide ranging cooperation from its Chinese counterpart — National Development and Reform Commission — to help develop coastal economic zones.

State looks to set up sand dune parks: Panaji:The Goa State Biodiversity Board on Wednesday decided to recommend to the government to set up India’s first sand dune parks at the protected turtle nesting sites of Mandrem, Morjim, Agonda and Galgibaga.The decision was taken at the 27th board meeting of the GSBB held on Wednesday.The meeting, which was chaired by Environment and Forest Minister Rajendra Arlekar, decided to send a proposal recommending to the government to carry out a feasibility study as well as identify more beach stretches for sand dune parks. Sand dunes are significantly natural protective depositional landform, and a very good hurdle that protects inland environment from damaging sea waves, surges, tsunamis and storms.Also, the sand dunes reduce wind velocity.It must be noted here that the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority at its 127th meeting held in April this year had given its approval for setting up of such parks asking the government to notify these beach stretches as sand dune parks.A board official said that at the Wednesday’s meeting board members deliberated on a proposal submitted by expert member and former NIO scientist Dr Antonio Mascarenhas on notifying beach stretches of Mandrem, Morjim, Agonda and Galgibaga as sand dune parks.

No construction in coastal regulation zones: High Court: The Madras High Court on Monday made it clear that no construction activities can be allowed in the areas declared as Coastal Regulation Zones. The First Bench of Chief Justice S.K. Kaul and Justice R. Mahadevan made the observation on a PIL petition moved by Anand J. Danani, a resident of Singapore who owns property in Muttukadu. He sought the court to direct the authorities concerned to restrain any person from undertaking any construction activity along the shoreline. When the PIL came up for hearing, the Bench directed the Local Planning Authority of Tirupporur to file a site plan of the Muttukadu area, setting out the different lands and the ownerships and as to what is permissible and impermissible in the Coastal Regulation Zone.

No green nod needed for Metro trains; decision on Mumbai trans-harbour link pending: Metro projects in the city will no longer need to get an environment clearance, with the Supreme Court (SC) dismissing the need when it stayed a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order mandating the green nod for a metro line in Noida a few weeks ago. Authorities said this development will speed up the building of Mumbai’s metro lines — two lines between Dahisar and Andheri and one connecting Colaba- Bandra- Seepz. The SC had dismissed the need for an environment clearance, after the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) told the court railway and metro rail projects did not fall under the purview of the 2006 Environmental Impact Assessment Notification.

VACB reaffirms CRZ violations: About four years after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had indicted builders and individuals for violating Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms on the banks of Kochi’s Chilavannur Lake, a recent investigation by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) has reconfirmed those violations.

Centre initiates plan to free up salt pans: The central government has decided to push a proposal to free up salt pan lands in Mumbai and utilise the Centre’s land to create affordable housing under the Prime Minister’s ‘Housing for All’ mission. The state government has been asked to submit a master plan — which the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has started preparing — detailing the proposed use of this land. The ambitious plan to avail of the Centre’s land was discussed at the 22nd meeting of the Western Zonal Council at the Sahyadri guest house on Friday. The meeting was chaired by Union home minister Rajnath Singh. Once freed, affordable housing can be constructed on part of the 2,177-hectare land in Mumbai and its extended suburbs. The Centre has also mandated the redevelopment of land owned by the railways, defence and other central agencies.

Life in troubled waters: These photos document ravages of pollution, climate change on India's coast: Does an image have the power to bring about change for the better? Cynics might say no, but noted photojournalist Selvaprakash Lakshmanan isn't among them. It is his belief in the power of the image that has promoted Selva to spend the last eight years documenting the terrible effects of climate change, industrial pollution and other natural and man-made crises on the coastline of India. As he delved into the issue, the outline of a larger problem began to emerge. At the same time, he was also selected for a coastal environmental programme at the Swedish institute, Fojo. “The course focused on fishermen’s, environmental and coastal issues; it was very intense,” says Selva, crediting it with giving him a broader perspective that informed his approach to Life In Troubled Waters as well.

Metro’s Line 3 to eat into Mangrove Cover: Mumbai: The Mumbai Metro’s Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ line is set to cost Mumbai large mangroves patches in Dharavi, BKC and Turbhe. According to the minutes of a meeting of the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority, 96,926 square feet of mangrove land will be destroyed near the Income Tax Office at BKC to build a metro station, another 37,000 square feet of land will be destroyed at Dharavi for a metro station and 47,600 square feet of mangrove cover will be removed at Turbhe, where the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation wants to build a casting depot, approval for which was recently granted.

Adani Petronet gets green nod for Dahej port expansion: NEW DELHI: Adani Petronet has received green clearance for the third phase expansion of its Dahej port in Bharuch district of Gujarat that will entail an investment of about Rs 464.32 crore. Adani Petronet (Dahej) Port Pvt (APPPL), a joint venture of Adani Enterprise and Petronet LNG, has developed the Dahej port in a phased manner. The third phase expansion will entail raising cargo-handling capacity to 23 mtpa from 11.7 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) and development of other supporting infrastructure.

Housing project only on 20% of salt pan land, says Devendra Fadnavis: The overall stretch of salt pan land, which would be opened for affordable housing, is unlikely to exceed 435 hectares out of the total 2,177 hectares across Mumbai and its extended suburbs. The state government has urged the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to prepare a master plan of the entire salt pan to map areas under coastal regulation zone, mangroves, private and government land.

Fishermen object to resettlement site: Fishermen of Nalla Thaneer Odai Kuppam (NTO Kuppam) on the busy Ennore Expressway in north Chennai say relocating to Slum Board tenements will mean the loss of their livelihood. NTO Kuppam is the only fishing hamlet that needs to be relocated to complete the 28-km-long Ennore Manali Road Improvement Project (EMRIP). Despite pressure from several quarters, they have been steadfast in their demand for land from where their boats and nets are a few minutes away. “We cannot live in one place and park our boats several kilometres away. If something happens, who is to bear our losses. It is our habit to keep an eye on the equipment at all times. Some of us would always be at the shore mending nets or landing fish or just watching the sea,” said Mahendran of NTO Kuppam.

Indian farmers fight against climate change using trees as a weapon: In 19 years, Ramu Gaviti’s six acres of land have gone from barren, dry and sparsely vegetated to fertile, moist and thick with biomass. Peacocks, wild pigs and rabbits have reappeared and in rejuvenated rivers, boys trap fish in baskets. Gaviti once scratched $29 (£23) worth of millet and grass per acre per year. In bad years he left his smallholding in Jawhar, in the hills to the north-east of Mumbai, and went to mine sand at the coast for construction. Gaviti’s life has been transformed by a model of agroforestry pioneered by an Indian NGO. “If the organisation had not come, we would have had no guiding person,” he says. The NGO BAIF, who specialise in supporting climate-resilient agriculture, arrived in 1997 and worked closely with local people until 2004.