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Showing posts from February 9, 2017

Are we losing the war on dengue, chikungunya and mystery fever?(downtoearth,)

Dengue spreads its tentacles                                               More than 28,000 cases of dengue have been reported in the country, and it is not even October. This vector-borne disease has reached alarming proportions in Kerala, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. With 24 deaths reported so far, West Bengal is the worst-affected state. Last year, the death toll was 14. Already, 5,600 cases have been reported. The number of cases will increase in the coming six weeks before the incidence of the disease is expected to fall. Casualties have been higher in areas where stagnant water is a perennial problem. The civic agencies are being blamed for the alarmingly high number of dengue deaths this year.

Uttar Pradesh, which has seen a three-fold jump in dengue cases as compared to last year, suffers from the same problem: stagnant water, especially at construction sites. As many as 2,173 cases have been reported till September 12 as against 731 in the corresponding period i…

Mission Tiger will make an emotional appeal to poachers to save the big cat'(downtoearth,)

As we mark International Tiger Day today, conservationists around the world are gloating over the number of wild tigers that has gone up to 3,890, from the 2010 estimate of 3200, according to the World Wildlife Fund and the Global Tiger Forum. This is a 22 per cent increase in the population of big cats in the wild, and India has the biggest role to play in that. While in 2010, the tiger population in the Indian forests was estimated at 1,411 adult tigers, the report released in 2014 showed that the number has shot up to 2,226, making India the country with the highest number of tigers in the wild.

While conservationists and the forest department in the country deserve accolades, the film industry is also doing its bit. T R Bijulal, a Divisional Forest Officer (Nainital), is releasing his debut film—Mission Tiger—today. The film stars popular Bollywood actor Vijay Raaz in a pivotal role. It has been directed by Dipu Karunakaran, who was the assistant director to filmmaker Priyadarsha…

Sounds of silence: a forest that survived 'development'(downtoearth,)

Silent Valley National Park reinforces the fact that forests and their resident biodiversity are our greatest wealth

Since the day I was assigned to write about Kerala’s Silent Valley National Park, a 90-sq km stretch of tropical evergreen forest tucked in the Western Ghats, I have been asked a question over and over again: why is it called Silent Valley? It is a peculiar name in a country like ours. There are more than 100 national parks in India, most of them named after either a physical feature like a river or a mountain; a historical or mythological place or character; an animal; or a former prime minister. Only two names inspire the imagination: the Valley of Flowers National Park in Uttarakhand and Silent Valley.

In a booklet titled “Storm Over Silent Valley”, senior environmental journalist Darryl D’monte notes its widely accepted etymology. The valley was originally known as Sairandhri, another name for Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas. And the river flowing through it is …

Centre likely to dilute emission norms for thermal power plants, relax deadline (downtoearth)

In yet another case of shifting goal posts and diluting strict norms, the Centre has reportedly decided to relax the December 2017 deadline for more than 400 thermal plants in the country to comply with the new emission norms notified in December 2015. It has also decided to dilute the standards it had set.

Since the new norms were notified more than a year ago, none of the thermal power plants has managed to comply with them, even though a recent study by the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment revealed that coal-fired power sector was one of the most resource wasteful and polluting sectors in the world.

See: Green Rating of Coal-based Thermal Power Plants

This non-compliance doesn’t echo the optimism Finance Minister Arun Jaitley expressed during his budget speech last week about promoting clean energy.

What’s the excuse for non-compliance?

In December 2015, the Environment Ministry had laid down emission norms for Nitrogen and Sulphur oxides (NOx and SOx) for thermal pl…

Again, Centre puts on hold decision on bringing parity in MGNREGA, minimum wages (downtoearth)

The Union Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) puts on hold the consideration of bringing parity of MGNREGS wage with minimum wages of states as its proposal has not got an in-principle approval from the Finance Ministry.

According to the MoRD, the finance ministry has called for further deliberation over this issue before its implementation.

According to one estimate, it will create an additional burden of around Rs 10,000 crore per year on state exchequer.

Earlier this year, the MoRD had sent proposal for the implementation of S Mahendra Dev committee recommendation to bring parity between MGNREGS wage and minimum wage of the state.

Then UPA government constituted a committee under S Mahendra Dev in 2013 which had recommended a one-time parity between MGNREGS wages and consumer price Index-Agriculture labourer (CPI-AL). Later, parity would be shifted to consumer price Index- rural labourer (CPI-RL). The panel suggested yearly revision of MGNREGS wage as per CPI-RL.

Currently, MGNR…

Committee to speed up Namami Gange formed a day after NGT questions outcome (downtoearth),

A day after the National Green Tribunal said that not even a drop of Ganga had been cleaned and public money had been wasted, Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti announced setting up of a Committee of Secretaries to speed up Namami Gange Programme on February 8. The committee will meet once every fortnight.

In the first meeting of the empowered task force, Bharti expressed dissatisfaction over slow progress in obtaining NoCs from various states. The minister also said that she will form state and district level Ganga committees.

Giving an overview of Namami Gange’s progress, Bharti said that 42 sewage infrastructure with total capacity of 327.93 million litres per day (MLD) projects are under execution. Of these, eight will be sewage treatement plants which will cost Rs 348.76 crore. As per the minister, treatment capacity of 33 MLD was created till December 2016.

On the action against industrial pollution, the minister added that on…