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NEWS UPDATE #92


The Hindu reports: Water levels in major reservoirs of the country are alarmingly low, weekly data released by the Central Water Commission shows. Data from CWC, which monitors live storage status of 91 major reservoirs in the country, show that only 23 per cent of capacity is available, and this is well below last year.

Water levels in 91 major reservoirs alarmingly low
Samarth Bansal, The Hindu
Water levels in major reservoirs of the country are alarmingly low, weekly data released by Central Water Commission (CWC) shows. Central Water Commission data on live storage show that only 23 per cent of capacity is available, and this is well below last year. CWC, a technical organisation under the aegis of Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, monitors live storage status of 91 major reservoirs in the country.

Over 25% of India’s population hit by drought, Centre tells Supreme Court
The Times of India
A staggering 33 crore people, or more than a quarter of the country’s population, are in the grip of drought and consequently face drinking water shortage and agricultural distress, the Centre informed the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The government said it was releasing money to the affected states from its disaster fund to tackle the crisis. Additional solicitor general PS Narasimha, who submitted the data before the court on the basis of figures furnished by 10 states, said Rs 7,321 crore was released on Monday under MGNREGS in addition to Rs 12,230 crore disbursed earlier this month. (Also read: In 5 maps: The southern states are already on the boil and summer’s yet to set in)

Bundelkhand famine: 18 lakh people migrated to Delhi alone in 1 year
Rupashree Nanda, News 18
Unable to bear the famine at least 18 lakh people have migrated out of Bundelkhand to Delhi alone during the past one year, sale of train tickets from the region suggest. Figures available from ten major railway stations in drought-hit Bundelkhand showed, that between April 2015 and March 2016, nearly 18 lakh people — which is about 10% of the population — bought tickets for unreserved compartments in trains going to Delhi from drought-hit Bundelkhand. (Also read: Farmer Suicides Averaged 9 a Day in Parched Maharashtra)

A Drought of Reporting
Dhanmanjiri Sathe, EPW
We are all aware by now that India is reeling under one of its worst droughts and this is true of Maharashtra also, where the drought is still unfolding itself. For those who routinely read newspapers in two languages—usually one in English and the other in any of the Indian languages—it would be a familiar experience to find that the first-page headlines are quite distinct in both the papers. While the focus and investigative content may differ due to regional priorities, quite often what is central news in one daily is not even mentioned in the other one. This is indeed baffling.

Farmers’ meet demands law to guarantee income
The Hindu
The three-day Kisan Swaraj Sammelan, which concluded here on Sunday, has called for an income guarantee scheme for farmers. The meeting, attended by farmers’ representatives and non-governmental organisations, from 25 States in the country, demanded that the Union government must bring out an Act to ensure minimum incomes for farmers. In a declaration announced at the end of the three day convention, the conference called for enactment of a Farmers’ Income Guarantee Act that ensures dignified life to farmers and their kin. It also demanded an Income Commission for farmers on the lines of Pay Commission appointed periodically to revise salaries of government employees.

‘Baiga Chak is a watershed moment in history of tribal India’
Manu Moudgil, GOI Monitor
The Baiga tribals of Madhya Pradesh got the best new year gift they could have thought of. The tribals living in Baiga Chak area of Dindori district, have become the first community in India to gain habitat rights over forest land under the Forest Rights Act (FRA). The administration will not be able to undertake any development work in this area spanning 9,308 hectare without their consent.

Government’s draft wetland rules draw flak from environmentalists
Mayanak Aggarwal, Live Mint
Environmentalists have raised concerns over proposed rules on wetland conservation that avoid mention of a national regulator and do not list specific activities prohibited in these ecologically sensitive areas… However, the Draft Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules 2016 released last week prohibit only reclamation of wetlands and conversion for non-wetland uses, any diversion or impediment to natural water inflows and outflows of the wetland and any activity having or likely to have an adverse impact on the ecological character of the wetlands. The Union environment ministry has invited comments from all stakeholders and experts by 6 June.

Ganga waterways project raises hopes and fears
Alok Gupta, The Third Pole
Ministers from Bihar are up in arms against a plan by the central government to build 15 small barrages on the Ganga as part of an ambitious waterway project. Just a few days before the Indian Parliament passed the National Waterway Act, ministers from Bihar decided to protest. The water resource minister from Bihar, Rajiv Ranjan Singh, addressing the state assembly, said that the plan not only ignores environmental norms but also adds one more major flood threat to the state.

In Goa, a small tribal village is a big hurdle in the mining industry’s road to revival
Pamela D’Mello, Scroll.in
As mining activities in Goa slowly pick up after a 19-month ban was lifted in late 2014, the sector is waking up to a new reality. Sections of tribal communities in new mining areas are no longer willing to stay silent and accept the small payouts they get for crop damage. Instead, they are gearing up for an economic and political challenge to the groups that have traditionally controlled mining extraction and transportation. In the small tribal village of Caurem in Sanguem, an overt challenge has spilled over onto the streets in the past month. In mid-March, five young tribal leaders of the Caurem Adivasi Mukti Sangram mobilised the village to block the transportation of ore – auctioned online – that was moving out from mines in the area.

1500 families under threat of eviction In Mumbai, to ‘save mangroves’
NAPM, Countercurrents.org
In the span of less than a year, the Mangrove Cell of Maharashtra Forest Dept. has evicted more than 4000 families in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai without providing for any rehabilitation. The Forest Department’s actions are rendering more and more families in Mumbai homeless. Around 700 families will be evicted after 23rd April in Cheeta Camp and 800 in Bheemchhaya, Vikroli, Kannamwar Nagar in the first week of May. The Bombay High Court has passed an order regarding protection of mangroves in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai in the year 2005. The Court ordered to declare mangrove areas and the area in the buffer zone of 50m as ‘protected forests’, disallowing all construction activities in such areas.

With hardly any new jobs created, for whom is India’s economy growing?
Madan Sabnavis, qz.com
The most recent statistics (pdf) – for the July-September 2015 quarter – point to higher employment at first glance. But, in fact, the April-September 2015 period, when 91,000 jobs were added, saw a decline compared to the preceding six months when 181,000 jobs were added. If anything, the July-September quarter has seen the lowest job growth compared to the same quarters in 2009, 2011, and 2013, for which data is available. This fall has been more in textiles and IT, the major job generators. Furthermore, the quantum of contract labour – temporary in nature – has come down relative to direct labour, where organisations employ.

March temperature smashes 100-year global record
The Guardian
The global temperature in March has shattered a century-long record and by the greatest margin yet seen for any month. February was far above the long-term average globally, driven largely by climate change, and was described by scientists as a “shocker” and signalling “a kind of climate emergency”. But data released by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) shows that March was even hotter. The JMA measurements go back to 1891 and show that every one of the past 11 months has been the hottest ever recorded for that month. (Also read Scientific American article: Earth Sees 11 Record Hot Months in a Row)

Humans and El Niño Team Up to Create a Record Jump in CO2 Pollution
David Biello, Scientific American
Remember 2016—it is the infamous year that has already recorded the largest annual change on record in the makeup of the air you breathe. Fueled by people’s pyromania and the El Niño global weather phenomenon, carbon dioxide concentrations reached 409.44 parts per million on April 9 at an air-sampling station atop Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, a rise of more than five ppm since the same date last year. And it could get worse.

Study: humans have caused all the global warming since 1950
The Guardian
A new study published in Climate Dynamics has found that humans are responsible for virtually all of the observed global warming since the mid-20th century. It’s not a novel result – in fact, most global warming attribution studies have arrived at the same general result – but this study uses a new approach. Studies attempting to figure out the global warming contributions of various human and natural sources usually use a statistical approach known as ‘linear regression’. This approach assumes we know the pattern of warming that each source (forcing) will cause, but we don’t know how big the resulting warming will be. For example, we know that greenhouse gases cause more warming over land than water, the most in the Arctic, and more warming in response to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

British Petroleum 2016 Energy Outlook : Reasonable Base Case Assessment?
Roger Boyd, Humanity’s Test
The yearly Energy Outlook publication by B.P.[1] provides a good “reality check” with the enthusiasm of the green growth crowd, while at the same time providing a highly optimistic view of future liquid fuel supplies and the acceptance of natural gas as a climate friendly fuel.

Oil Industry’s Suppression of Climate Science Began in 1940s, Documents Reveal
Common Dreams
A trove of newly uncovered documents shows that fossil fuel companies were explicitly warned of the risks of climate change decades earlier than previously suspected. And while it’s no secret—anymore—that the companies knew about those dangers long ago, the documents, published Wednesday by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), reveal even more about the broader industry effort to suppress climate science and foment public doubt about global warming. (Also read: Australian oil and gas lobby spent millions advocating against climate action: report)

‘Unprecedented’ Youth Climate Case Against Government Moves Forward
Common Dreams
A federal judge in Oregon on Friday ruled that the lawsuit brought against the U.S. government by a group of youths last August can go to trial—a huge victory for the case climate activists are calling “the most important lawsuit on the planet right now.” The lawsuit, filed by 21 plaintiffs ages 8-19, and climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, states that the federal government is violating their right to life, liberty, and property, as well as their right to public trust resources, by enabling continued fossil fuel extraction and use. (More details at the Our Children’s Trust website)

Sit-Ins, Arrests, and Escalation: Student Divestment Movement Springs into Action
Common Dreams
The fossil fuel divestment movement continued its momentum this week as students across the U.S. highlighted the need for their institutions to dump “support of global climate disaster, exploitation, and human suffering.” On Tuesday, for example, four members of Divest Harvard were arrested after staging a sit-in at the Federal Reserve Bank building, where the Harvard Management Company, which manages that university’s endowment, is located.

World’s biggest wealth fund excludes 52 coal-related groups
The Guardian UK
Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s biggest, has excluded 52 coal-related companies in line with new ethical guidelines barring it from investing in such groups, Norway’s central bank said on Thursday. The move was seen as a sign of the growing influence investors wield in the fight against climate change. In June 2015, the Scandinavian country’s parliament agreed to pull the fund out of mining or energy groups which derive more than 30% of their sales or activities from the coal business.

As Climate Warms, How Do We Decide When a Plant is Native?
Janet Marinelli, Yale Environment 360
The fate of a tree planted at poet Emily Dickinson’s home raises questions about whether gardeners can — or should — play a role in helping plant species migrate in the face of rising temperatures and swiftly changing botanical zones.

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