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NEWS UPDATE #102


Catch News reports: Flash floods brought on by a cloudburst have killed at least 30 people in Uttarakhand, and washed away many homes. At least seven people are missing. Although termed flash floods, they didn’t come out of the blue. The Met department had predicted heavy rainfall, yet, the state appears to have been unprepared.

Another flood, more tragedy: hasn’t Uttarakhand learnt any lessons?
Catch News
Flash floods brought on by a cloudburst have killed at least 30 people in Chamoli and Pithoragarh districts of Uttarakhand, and washed away many homes. At least seven people are missing. The victims include people living along the river Mandakini in Chamoli. Alaknanda, another tributary of the Ganga in the state, is flowing past the danger mark. Although termed flash floods, they didn’t come out of the blue. In a press note issued on 30 June, the Met department had predicted heavy rainfall of about 65-115 mm, spread “fairly widely” over 51-75% of Uttarakhand. Yet, the state appears to have unprepared for the floods. (Also read: Water resources ministry: No more dams on Ganga in Uttarakhand)

India set to start massive project to divert Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers
The Guardian
India is set to start work on a massive, unprecedented river diversion programme, which will channel water away from the north and west of the country to drought-prone areas in the east and south. The plan could be disastrous for the local ecology, environmental activists warn. The project involves rerouting water from major rivers including the Ganges and Brahmaputra and creating canals to link the Ken and Batwa rivers in central India and Damanganga-Pinjal in the west. The minister of water resources, Uma Bharti, said this week that work could start in a few days. The project will cost an estimated 20tn rupees (£207bn) and take 20 to 30 years to complete. (Related: ‘Climate change, erosion pushing new generations to poverty along Ganga’)

Tribal ministry retreat on forest rights
Nitin Sethi, Business Standard
Reversing the stand of his subordinates, and existing regulations, the secretary, tribal affairs ministry, has said forest land can be diverted for mining and other industrial purposes if no claims have so far been lodged for community ownership by tribals and other forest dwellers under the Forest Rights Act (FRA). This view of Shyam S Agarwal, the top official of the ministry meant to guard tribal rights, view could lead to large tracts of forest land, till now off-limits, being opened for mining and other non-forest activities. For, a study says 98% of the potential community rights area by tribals and other forest dwellers across the country remained to be settled, as of mid-2015. (Also read: Fiasco of the draft forest policy)

‘A stark nude body wrapped in plastic’: What happened to a young woman in Chhattisgarh
Malini Subramaniam and Kamal Shukla, Scroll.in
The police released a photo that showed the body of Hidme splayed on the ground. She was wearing a crisp, ironed Maoist uniform. The outsized pants had been rolled up neatly around the ankles. For many who saw the image, it did not look like that of a Maoist who had gone down fighting. There were no visible holes in the uniform that the bullets would presumably have made. Convinced that her daughter had been raped and tortured before being murdered, Lakshmi petitioned the Chhattisgarh High Court at Bilaspur on June 20. Taking a favourable view, the High Court issued an order the next day for Hidme’s body to be “exhumed in the presence of the petitioner and other family members”. (Related: Soni Sori: “In Bastar, A Man Dies Once, But A Woman Dies Twice”)

Murders, Violence Over Water Rise as Rural Areas Remain Parched
Shuriah Niazi, The Quint
After almost 10 years of below-average rainfall and consecutive years of drought, the region’s rivers, lakes, reservoirs and wells are drying up. Disputes are a common problem in many places in India that face water shortages. But the police reports that the fight is getting more frequent and bloody. In many parts of the country, neighbours, friends and family are turning on each other, desperate to protect what little water they have left, police records suggest. Last month, in Alirajpur district of Madhya Pradesh, 13-year-old Surmada, her brother and her uncle used a neighbour’s hand-pump, without permission, to get water for the family’s house guest. According to police, the owner of the pump and his son attacked them with arrows. One pierced Surmada’s eye, killing her. (Related: Danger of drought looms over Chhattisgarh, June records 59% deficit rain)

The Narmada River Valley: Imminent Disaster In The Making
S.G. Vombatkere, Countercurrents.org
Today, and very urgently even as I write, with the monsoon about to break, the people of the Narmada River valley are in imminent danger of being flooded out of their homes and lands or drowned, due to the rising waters in the reservoirs behind the hundreds of small, medium and large dams, which have been constructed on Narmada river and its tributaries over the years. In particular, the SSP dam at its finished height of 138.68-metres with the sluice gates installed, threatens the lives of around 40,000 PAFs in Madhya Pradesh. Clearly, there is a disaster-in-the-making; India urgently needs to do something now. (Read/Sign petition: Prime Minister of India: 40,000 families are at stake. Do not close gates of SSP Dam)

Second unit of Kudankulam Nuclear Plant gets approval from AERB
Gireesh Babu, Business Standard
The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) has fetched the approval from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) to start fission process for the second 1,000 MW unit. According to reports, the matter has to go through the consideration of the Ministry of Environment and based on its report to the Supreme Court, the plant can start the fission process. The decision on when the plant could be taken to criticality has to be made by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL). The report is expected to be ready soon and the unit could go critical in a few days, said a report.

Anna Hazare hits out at PM Narendra Modi over Smart City program
The Economic Times
Social activist Anna Hazare today launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Smart City Mission, saying it was against the Gandhian philosophy of village-centric development and would lead to environmental catastrophe. In a letter to the Prime Minister, Hazare also noted that even after two years in power, the government was yet to appoint Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in the states. The urban development was producing more and more carbon dioxide which was leading to illness, overcrowded hospitals, and the rise in temperatures which presents a threat to the very existence of all living things, it said. (Related: More than ‘AMRUT’, Indian Cities Need Nature-Based Solutions to Revive Themselves)

Twenty Four Groups Write To The World Bank: No More Destructive Development!
Various Indian civil society organisations
Twenty four groups working on environmental, labor and human rights wrote to the Executive Directors of World Bank not to dilute the environmental and social safeguards as the President of the World Bank visits India to explore new financing opportunities. India has been the largest recipient of World Bank loans in the history of World Bank. This also meant that many of the World Bank projects caused severe displacement, environmental destruction and social fragmentation. These include the much debated Sardar Sarovar Project in the Narmada river, the Mumbai Urban Transport Project and very recently the Tata Mundra MEGA power coal project.

Forget 2°C, countries’ emissions could lead to 3°C rise in global temperatures
Down to Earth
There are gross shortcomings in emission reduction pledges made by countries towards the Paris Agreement, according to a new assessment. The study, published in the journal Nature, has found that the pledges will lead to a global temperature rise of 2.6 to 3.1°C by the end of the century, missing the 2°C target by a wide margin. The study, conducted by researchers from the Austria-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), states that the entire carbon budget required to limit warming to 2°C would be exhausted by 2030. The researchers made projections about the temperature rise based on the assumption that emission reduction efforts would continue at the same rate after 2030 which marks the end of the pledge period.

As World Burns, Richest Nations Can’t Decide When to End Fossil Fuel Handouts
Common Dreams
The world’s richest nations have failed to agree on a deadline to phase out fossil fuels subsidies—a commitment energy ministers made in 2009—stirring new fears over the impact of the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars that go toward keeping dirty energy afloat every year. Energy ministers from the Group of 20 (G20) met in Beijing on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss bringing those subsidies to a close after the Group of 7 (G7), the world’s seven wealthiest economies, last month committed to eliminate “inefficient” fossil fuel handouts by 2025. A report published in 2015 by the climate group Oil Change International found that the combined G20 subsidies for oil, gas, and coal production amounts to roughly $444 billion a year.

Thousands to march against coal plant threat to Bangladesh’s Sundarbans forest
The Guardian
Thousands of Bangladeshis will march from the country’s capital, Dhaka, to the world’s biggest mangrove forest next week in protest at plans to build two coal-power plants on the edge of the World Heritage-listed forest. The organisers of the so-called long march on 10 March hope to persuade the Bangladeshi government to drop its backing for construction of the plants near the Sundarbans, an area of rice paddies, shrimp farms and vast mangrove forests. Both the proposed 1,320 MW Rampal coal plant and the 565 MW Orion coal plant will sit within 14km of the Sundarbans, a 10,000 sq km (3,860 sq miles) forest listed as both a Unesco World Heritage site and a Ramsar-protected wetland. The great forest is split between Bangladesh and India, but the bulk of its lies in the former.

 

US, Canada and Mexico pledge 50% of power from clean energy by 2025
The Guardian
Barack Obama, Justin Trudeau and Enrique Peña Nieto will commit to a new regional clean power goal at a summit this week in Ottawa, the White House has said. The leaders of the US, Canada and Mexico, meeting on Wednesday at the so-called “Three Amigos” summit, will pledge to have their countries produce 50% of their power by 2025 from hydropower, wind, solar and nuclear plants, carbon capture and storage, as well as from energy efficiency measures. It is a jump from the current collective clean power levels of about 37% and will require the most work from the United States, which produces about 75% of the countries’ power. (Related: China to generate a quarter of electricity from wind power by 2030)

UN report confirms corruption is biggest threat to ivory, as wildlife officials arrested across Africa and Asia
Survival International
A new UN report has confirmed that corrupt officials are at the heart of wildlife crime in many parts of the world, rather than terrorist groups or tribal peoples who hunt to feed their families. The reports’ findings have coincided with a wave of arrests of wildlife officials across Africa and Asia, raising concerns of a global “epidemic” of poaching and corruption among armed wildlife guards who are supposed to be protecting endangered species.

107 Nobel laureates sign letter blasting Greenpeace over GMOs
The Washington Post
More than 100 Nobel laureates have signed a letter urging Greenpeace to end its opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The letter asks Greenpeace to cease its efforts to block introduction of a genetically engineered strain of rice that supporters say could reduce Vitamin-A deficiencies causing blindness and death in children in the developing world. The letter campaign was organized by Richard Roberts, chief scientific officer of New England Biolabs and, with Phillip Sharp, the winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for the discovery of genetic sequences known as introns.

Business calls on governments to ratify the Paris agreement on climate without further delay
The Climate Group
The second Business & Climate Summit – convened by a network of partners that represent over 6 million businesses worldwide – today called for swifter government action on climate and the ratification of the Paris Agreement without further delay. UK Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, Amber Rudd MP addressed the Summit earlier in the morning, reaffirming UK leadership on action against climate change despite vote to leave the European Union. She said: “Climate change has not been downgraded as a threat. It remains one of the most serious long term risks to our economic and national security […] as investors and businesses, you can be confident we remain committed to building a secure, affordable low carbon infrastructure fit for the 21st Century.”

Climate Change And Food Waste: First Global Standard To Measure Discarded Food Aims To Keep Calories Out Of The Trash
Maria Gallucci, IB Times
Roughly a third of the world’s food spoils or is thrown away as it moves from farm or factory to grocery store or dinner table, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated. In wealthier countries, consumers often grab more than they need, tossing out leftovers and dumping expired produce. Grocery stores strive to keep shelves heaping with glossy fruits and vegetables, discarding bruised or blemished goods. In developing countries, poor refrigeration in homes and stores, as well as slow trucking routes, can lead to food rotting on the shelves or in transit. Nestlé recently tested a first-of-its-kind standard, unveiled Monday, that aims to help companies and countries crack down on food waste by improving efforts to store and transport fresh produce, meat, dairy, packaged snacks and anything else that tends to wind up in the trash or compost bin.

Switzerland Follows Iceland in Declaring War Against the Banksters
Isaac Davis, Waking Times
Iceland has gained the admiration of populists in recent years by doing that which no other nation in the world seems to be willing or capable of doing: prosecuting criminal bankers for engineering financial collapse for profit. Their effective revolt against the banking class, who drove the tiny nation into economic crisis in 2008, is the brightest example yet that the world does not have to be indebted in perpetuity to an austere and criminal wealthy elite. In 2015, 26 Icelandic bankers were sentenced to prison and the government ordered a bank sale to benefit the citizenry. Inspired by Iceland’s progress, activists in Switzerland are now making an important stand against the banking cartels and have successfully petitioned to bring an initiative to public referendum that would attack the private banks where it matters most: their power to lend money they don’t actually have, and to create money out of thin air.

Brexit and the energy equation
Kurt Cobb
When a special kind of hydraulic fracturing made new oil deposits available in the United States, only prices near $100 a barrel made them economical (as we can see by the widespread bankruptcies among those companies reliant on such deposits in the recent low-price environment). It’s those high prices which I believe have slowed the economy making oil now seem temporarily plentiful. If we don’t go into a major recession or depression, a rise in demand could send prices soaring and put further pressure on overall productivity growth while increasing energy bills for households. That would set the stage for more discontent among those who believe that increased economic global integration is hurting rather than helping them. (Related: Why Brexit is bad news for climate change)

Brexit & The Crisis Of Capitalism
Charles Hugh-Smith, OfTwoMinds blog
What few if any commentators present is the idea that Brexit is a symptom of the Crisis of Capitalism. The current global version of Capitalism is characterized by these overlapping dynamics: 1. Replacing stagnant real growth and income (and thus taxes) with debt. 2. Replacing investment in real-world productivity with speculation (i.e. financialization) 3. Replacing “everyone must have skin in the game” free-market capitalism with protected, privileged Elites crony capitalism in which the few benefit at the expense of the many. 4. Replacing local, decentralized democracy and ownership with central planning. 5. Using “extend and pretend” financial trickery to mask insolvency, impaired assets/ collateral and non-performing loans rather than address the debt overhang directly via write-downs and liquidations of impaired assets.

 

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One Response “NEWS UPDATE #102”

  1. 30th January 2018 at 4:45 pm

    Hi Sir,
    Thanks for sharing a very good article.

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