TRINet Newsletter May 2011


This month we have the story so far on the controversial pesticide Endosulfan; how military debris threatens our oceans; about new digital maps of the Indian coast; a look at Vedanta and POSCO; nuclear tipping points; how India's new mineral policy is letting down adivasis; about sanitation in cities; a talk on the ancient ingenuity of water harvesting; open sourced blueprints for civilisation; a BBC Horizon documentary on What Darwin didn't know and much more.


Cashew fruit
The End of Days for Endosulfan
India is the world's largest user of endosulfan, and a major producer with three companies—Excel Crop Care, Hindustan Insecticides Ltd, and Coromandal Fertilizers—producing 4,500 tonnes annually for domestic use and another 4,000 tonnes for export. The pesticide has been banned in two states - Kerala and Karnataka and this Friday, the ruling Left Democratic Front in Kerala called for a hartal across the state to press for a national ban of the pesticide. This month, TRINet looks at the history of the endosulfan controversy in India and the struggle by civil society and environmentalists seeking for a ban on this controversial generic pesticide. (more)

Military Debris Threaten Oceans 
Military debris dumped into the world’s oceans are hazardous to coral ecosystems, reefs, fish and marine wildlife, say experts, who also warn - in light of the recent tragedy in Japan - that earthquakes and tsunamis could disturb this debris and even wash it ashore.

Govt to prepare digital maps of coastal belt
The government today signed an agreement to prepare digital maps of the country’s seven km wide coastal belt from Gujarat to West Bengal as part of its efforts to delineate the hazard line for coastal regions.

MoEF to lift ban sand mining in non-coastal zones of Maharashtra

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has decided to lift the ban on sand mining in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts of Maharashtra to provide relief to the realty sector. The districts do not fall under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ).

Press pause on Jaitapur says Jairam Ramesh

Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh said on Saturday that the issues and concerns raised by villagers who have been protesting against the nuclear power project in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district were "rationally justified" and the government must delay its plan of going ahead with the project.


Tamil Nadu cracks down on polluting dyeing factories

With the Madras High Court ordering closure of over 700 dyeing units in Tiruppur a couple of months ago for pollution, the Tamil Nadu government  has started cracking down on such factories that have sprouted in neighbouring districts.

No green court fee for now

The environment minister withdrew the controversial rule that would have required victims pay 1% of the compensation they sought from polluters as fee to the National Green Tribunal.

Vedanta and Posco: A tale of two projects

Why was the POSCO project treated so differently from Vedanta? One was given clearance, with conditions, while the other was rejected, despite the fact that both were found to be in violation of the Forest Rights Act and other laws. Is it realpolitik that guides these decisions, asks Pradeep Baisakh.

Nuclear tipping points

Nuclear fission has attracted dissent from the time of its inception. But the Fukushima disaster has pushed the nuclear industry into stormy waters worldwide. Local resistance and anti-nuke pressure will result in cost escalations for new nuclear power plants, possibly halting the current nuclear renaissance.

India's new mineral policy will usher in gloom for Adivasis

India’s new mineral policy is long on ways to maximise the benefits of mining for “the economy” but short on measures to alleviate the social and environmental destruction that mining activity inevitably brings in its wake


Mendha Lekha is first village to exercise right to harvest bamboo

Mendha Lekha in Gadchiroli district, Maharashtra, will become the first village in the country to exercise its community right to harvest bamboo under the Forest Rights Act.

Sanitation: reaching the unserved in cities

The failure in India is the major reason why the UN cannot meet the Millennium Development Goal of halving the 2.6 billion in the world without sanitation by 2015. South Asian countries resolve to try harder. Darryl D'Monte reports. 

Kerala waits for Relief from Endosulfan tragedy

Ajith, a nine-year old boy from Badiyadukka village in the southern Indian state of Kerala, waits patiently for his mother to return from the market and take him to the toilet. His bones are so deformed, he is totally immobile.

India Resists Ban on Deadly Pesticide 

Will India, the world’s biggest manufacturer of the pesticide endosulfan, and also the biggest victim of the toxic pesticide, persist with opposing its ban globally?

Disaster Management:

NDMA bats for disaster management plan for every district
The NDMA today said that state governments should consider its guidelines while starting any new project and disaster management plans should be prepared for every district."The NDMA has prepared a 27-point questionnaire and while starting a new project, information based on these questions should be collected," Joint Secretary of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Amit Jha said. 

Learning from Japan -- Himachal gets serious about disaster management
Taking early warning lessons from the tragedies in Japan, Himachal Pradesh, which falls in a critical seismic zone, has got into serious business to formulate disaster management plans at district levels.

AP launches Rs 771-Crore project for Cyclone Prone Districts
The state government today launched a disaster mitigation project for nine coastal districts of the state prone to cyclones, to be funded by an interest-free loan of Rs 771.5 crore from the World Bank.


Anupam Mishra: the ancient ingenuity of water harvesting
With wisdom and wit, Anupam Mishra talks about the amazing feats of engineering built centuries ago by the people of India's Golden Desert to harvest water. These structures are still used today -- and are often superior to modern water megaprojects.

Open-sourced blueprints for civilization
Using wikis and digital fabrication tools, TED Fellow Marcin Jakubowski is open-sourcing the blueprints for 50 farm machines, allowing anyone to build their own tractor or harvester from scratch. And that's only the first step in a project to write an instruction set for an entire self-sustaining village.


What Darwin didn't know - BBC
The theory of evolution by natural selection is now scientific orthodoxy, but when it was unveiled it caused a storm of controversy, from fellow scientists as well as religious people. They criticised it for being short on evidence and long on assertion and Darwin, being the honest scientist that he was, agreed with them. He knew that his theory was riddled with 'difficulties', but he entrusted future generations to complete his work and prove the essential truth of his vision, which is what scientists have been doing for the past 150 years. Evolutionary biologist Professor Armand Marie Leroi charts the scientific endeavour that brought about the triumphant renaissance of Darwin's theory. He argues that, with the new science of evolutionary developmental biology (evo devo), it may be possible to take that theory to a new level - to do more than explain what has evolved in the past, and start to predict what might evolve in the future.

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