• Do not let Bullet Train run over 1.5 lakh precious mangroves
    UPDATE: 1. The Environment Ministry has given the green signal for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train to go ahead. 2. The implementation agency has asked the Indian authorities to increase compensation to those (particularly farmers) who will be displaced as a result of the project. The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) has given the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) a clearance on its proposal to go ahead with the ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project. This means the latter has been given a thumbs up to raze an estimated 150,000 plus mangroves along the coastal belts of Thane, Navi Mumbai and Palghar. As things stand, the files have been moved to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Climate Change (MoEFCC) for a final nod. It is estimated that this project will adversely impact 131.30 hectares of forest area, including 150,752 mangroves spread over 32.43 hectares. Plus a part of the proposed project falls under the protected area and eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary and the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. All of this despite, the fact that the Bombay High Court has very recently ordered the protection of mangroves and wetlands saying: “The destruction of mangroves offends the fundamental rights of the citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. In view of the provisions of Articles 21, 47, 48A and 51A(g) of the Constitution of India, it is a mandatory duty of the State and its agencies and instrumentalities to protect and preserve mangroves.” This project will impact the leopards, and all the forest species in SGNP and also the migratory visitors - the flamingos. In addition, it will wipe out 150,000 plus mangroves, which serve as a nursery for juvenile fish and slow down the waves from the sea, thereby protecting the shoreline. This turn of events has been a complete surprise given that only late last year, the MCZMA had mentioned to the court that it could not allow the mangroves to be cut down for this project. While a number of organisations and individuals have raised an alarm, we as citizens of India urge you to ensure this project does not see the light of day. References: 1. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/thane-navi-mumbai-mczma-nod-to-remove-mangroves-make-way-for-bullet-train-project-5632850/ 2. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/navi-mumbai-greens-oppose-killing-of-54000-mangroves-for-bullet-train-project/articleshow/68502494.cms
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  • Save 1,70,000 Hectare of Forests in Hasdeo
    The Union environment ministry has given environmental clearance for open cast coal mining in Parsa in Chhattisgarh’s dense Hasdeo Arand forests span more than 1,70,000 hectares, total forest land which would be diverted for the various coal mines. This is one of the very few pristine natural forests in the country which cannot be replicated through plantation forestation. The coalfield covers a total area of 1878 sq km. of which 1502 sq km. has forest cover. Around 80% of this is covered by good quality forest (approximately 1176 sq km has a canopy cover of over 40% while an additional 116 sq km has a canopy cover of over 70%) Parsa Open Cast Mine, a unit of The Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Ltd(RVUNL) with Adani group as mine developer and operator is going forward to clear this dense forest for purpose of coal mining impacting several villages and wiping out the densest forests in Central India. In 2009, the entire area was termed as a “No-Go Area” or mining because of its rich forest cover(1) by Ministry of Environment and Forest(MOEF). The current order is in direct violation of the MOEF’s own report to cut through these dense forests. This decision could have far-reaching consequences for forest cover conservation in India. The repercussions of these decisions are being borne by the tribal and non-tribal people residing in and around the Hasdeo Arand. Since January 2018, there have been several incidents of human-elephant conflict in the region, which has resulted in both death and the destruction of property. If these proposals are granted, the conflict will only increase(1). Minutes of the forest advisory committee’s meeting highlighted that a section of the 841 hectares to be diverted for the mine lies in very dense forest(1). There is no mention whether the consent from gram sabhas was taken for the project(3) or on the impact to the communities in the area. RVUNL mentioned they do not have forest clearance(3). Apart from pending legal issues and procedural lapses, the grant of approval completely goes against the precautionary principle that is the need of the hour. Initiating mining will fragment one of the last remaining contiguous forest patches in central India, violate forest rights and increase human-wildlife conflict. Let us stop the government from destroying the Lungs of Central India. Sources: 1. https://thewire.in/rights/chhattisgarh-coal-mining-hasdeo-arand 2. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/adani-closer-to-mining-in-green-zone-in-chhattisgarh/story-uVIKz0aK8Lk8NH7C09x4bI.html 3. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/centre-s-nod-for-mining-in-170khectares-of-forest/story-F60Pb7W8ybegHntaQ9YBwK.html 4.https://www.greenpeace.org/india/en/issues/environment/1012/elephant-in-the-room/
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  • Don't let red tape affect implementation of solar policy in Gurugram
    In 2016, the Haryana Government announced the solar policy making it mandatory to install solar panels in homes across the state with an area of 500 sq yards or more. So far only 850 connections have been installed. Gurugram has been able to only harness close to 10% of its actual potential. The problem is of red tape in installing these solar panels(1). To incentivise solar panels, subsidies were offered but only 107 people have been able to avail these subsidies(1). According to a resident, subsidies take one to two years through a cumbersome process of going through various agencies. The installation costs are very steep and nonavailability of subsidy has been a major issue for residents. Additionally, the non-availability of net meters is a major deterrent for the people of Gurugram to install and use clean energy to power their homes(2). Since September 2018 no new connections of grid-connected rooftop solar panels have been installed since the Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (DHBVN) has not been able to release net meters — a key component that gets the system started(2). With the installation of solar panels, customers not only reap the benefits, but the excess power generated can be fed back to the distribution company. It is time that DHBVN acts promptly and makes the process of solar panel installation more streamlined and not let red tape come in the way of harnessing solar power. Sources https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/whats-more-powerful-than-the-sun-the-invisible-red-tape/articleshow/68445691.cms https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/Gurugram/rooftop-solar-plan-hits-roadblock-as-net-meters-unavailable/articleshow/67401897.cms
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  • Save Aravalli hills!
    Update - July 9, 2019 A July 2019 news report states that the amendment to PLPA will be sent to the Supreme Court for approval. The apex body had put a stay on the amendment in March 2019, calling it "obnoxious" and "contemptuous". Context: AirVisual, an air quality monitoring company recently released a list of most polluted cities in the world. In the first place, beating every city in this world, was Gurugram.1 Despite this, the Haryana government has gone ahead and amended the Punjab Land Protection Act, an Act that prevents the destruction of green hills. Why did they do this? To start unnecessary construction activities in the Aravalli hills. Haryana has the lowest forest cover in India and Aravalli hills is one of the oldest and last remaining green hills in Gurugram. With this amendment, more than 60,000 acres of green cover can be replaced with more dusty and polluting construction. Air pollution has caused 27% of heart attacks in our country and it is reducing our life span by 5 years.2 While the global community is focussing on greener, renewable and sustainable ways of living, Haryana is going backwards and putting India to shame. Sign the petition to save our Aravalli hills.
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  • Save Goa's 200-year-old trees: Say no highway through Colvale
    MILESTONE! A few days after the campaign was started, transport minister Ramkrishna Dhavalikar spoke up for the preservation of these trees: "Some of these trees predate our grandparents. We will not permit anyone to touch those trees, neither engineers nor contractors nor consultants." In the mid 90s, we learnt that a highway would run through Colvale, our village. At the entrance to Colvale (when approached from Mapuca town) were a group of mango trees that formed an archway. The then stray bus or car went under the trees to enter the village. These mango trees are like welcoming umbrellas in our part of Goa. The welcoming canopy also exists in nearby villages Tivim and Assnora. When we heard that the over 150 to 180-year-old trees were due to be cut, my father and I protested. We managed to save those trees and convince authorities to make the highway go around the trees. Now, we have learnt that these trees may be felled as part of a highway expansion project (Patradevi to Karaswada project). Not just that, the century-old St Anthony Chapel is also set to be demolished. The chapel is still a place of worship for us and we hold Novenas there. Isn’t this against Supreme Court Orders that no religious structures over 100 years can be demolished? In a game of smoke, mirrors and lies, the PWD and state Government are not telling us Colvalkars the real plan and fate of our village. From a chapel to the trees, we are left in the dark. Doesn’t the Forest Department care for old trees? Doesn’t the Goa Government care about its own villages and villagers? We must battle to save our village. We cannot allow such scams and public violations in the name of development and progress.
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  • Save Alappad from sand mining
    Alappad, a coastal village in Kollam has become a victim of sand mining. Due to mining by two government-owned companies in the area which started in 1968, villages have almost ‘disappeared’.(1). Alappad, has already faced the brunt of the cyclonic storm Ockhi last year and the Tsunami in 2004. Trying to desperately save their remaining villages, the people of Alappad and nearby hamlets are protesting under the banner of the protest council. They have been on a relay hunger strike at Vellanathuruthu near Alappad since November 2018 demanding a complete halt to the mining activities(2) Some of the facts to consider as per news reports: Ponnama, a village in Alappad Panchayat is now nothing but a pile of sand. Only three families live in the village which was once prosperous(3). Alappad which had an area of 89.5 square kilometres has been reduced to just 8 square kilometres by 2019(2). In Alappad panchayat, activists estimate that more than 6,000 fishermen families have vacated over the years due to beach erosion, drinking water scarcity and lack of fish availability(3). In Chittoor region near Chavara there are open ponds which have been used by companies for dumping chemical waste. The ponds were sources of drinking water. Not anymore. (3). There is no publicly available data about the people who were evicted without compensation. Though activists quote the numbers of families vacated from the region, there is no official data on it (3). Prawns, shell fish and various other small fish were available here in abundance, but now fishermen are forced to leave due to reduction in catch. Locals pointed out that there is a backwater which was identified as a national waterway. But now, the sea will evade these backwaters and damage the paddy fields of upper Kuttanad, which is below the sea level and known as the rice bowl of Kerala(4). Industry Minister EP Jayarajan has to take cognizance of the environmental and social cost that the mining activity is causing. Development cannot take place by sacrificing villages. We cannot afford another man-made disaster in God’s own country. Sources Huufington post: https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/kerala-alappad-could-be-wiped-off-map-if-it-doesnt-fight-off-sand-mining-soon_in_5c383fefe4b045f6768aa38a Indiatimes: https://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/an-entire-village-in-kerala-could-soon-be-wiped-off-the-map-due-to-black-sand-mining-360452.html The News Minute: https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/villages-vanish-keralas-kollam-coast-they-succumb-sand-mining-94762 Business Standard: https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/alappad-a-tale-of-lost-land-to-mineral-sand-mining-119011100385_1.htm
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  • Kolkata for Clean Air: No more diesel vehicles
    Kolkata has been termed India’s ‘Diesel Capital’. This title is not a stretch. The City of Joy has been reeling under an air pollution crisis. Officials from West Bengal Pollution Control Board recently pointed out that the air quality in Kolkata has been exceptionally bad this winter. A few weeks ago, the air quality index at Rabindra Bharati University on BT road touched 500. In November last year, Kolkata’s air touched severe levels, toppling Delhi as the most polluted metro. According to estimates, 99% of commercial vehicles in Kolkata are diesel-driven. A 2016 report by Centre for Science and Environment stated that diesel constitutes 45% of total oil consumption in the city. Besides the high carbon content in diesel, vehicles that run on it also contribute to more suspended particulate matter (SPM) in the air. This particulate matter is toxic -- it causes lung damage and is responsible for many respiratory illnesses like asthma. In November, the NGT stated that auto emissions were the leading cause of air pollution in Kolkata. Unlike cities like Delhi that have had public transport running on CNG for a few years now, there is no alternative for diesel in Kolkata. And the city’s vehicle count is just a fourth of Delhi. It’s clear that for the city’s air quality to improve, phasing out of diesel vehicles is essential. On December 31, the State Transport Department issued a notification banning the plying of vehicles older than 15 years in the city. Together, we can urge Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari to ban the sale of any new diesel vehicles. Sign this petition now. Sources 1. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/piled-up-pollutants-take-aqi-beyond-500-mark/articleshow/67537926.cms 2. https://weather.com/en-IN/india/pollution/news/2018-11-19-kolkata-surpasses-delhi-be-most-polluted-metro-over-weekend
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  • Public consultation before elevated flyover!
    MILESTONE - June '19 The Karnataka High Court put a stay on the contentious project. The government is now prohibited from making any final decisions. The implementing agency, KRDCL, was reported to have been assessing tenders for the project. UPDATE - March '19 Following widespread protests, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy met activists and promised a public consultation of the Elevated Corridor project before proceeding further. UPDATE: Concerned Bangaloreans are protesting the elevated corridor on Saturday, March 16, 2019 at 10am in front of Gandhi statue, Maurya circle (Race course road/Seshadri road), Opposite TCS office. Join us to save our city! More details here: http://bit.ly/2u6fjMZ History: In 2016, Bangaloreans came together and protested to tell our government in clear words that we don’t want the elevated corridor. Despite that, Deputy CM Parameshwar Rao spoke about reviving the controversial elevated corridor project on January 1, 2019 implying that the Government doesn’t care about its citizens’ voice. The project will span across 92 kms and connect the corner most parts of the city through 6 corridors. The entire project is supposed to cost 33,000 crores of taxpayers’ money1! This project has many flaws. It encourages citizens to use private transport over public transport. Bengaluru is already struggling with over 70 lakh cars. More cars means more pollution in the city. This project with cut down nearly 4000 trees and impact 1.2 crore citizens’ health, primarily children. The Government has also gone ahead with this project without having a public consultation or an environmental impact assessment (EIA). To get an environmental clearance, the State government has approached the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA). Such a big project requires permission from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). Activists believe that the State Government can get environmental clearance from SEIAA since a lot of its employees are State government members. The citizens of Bengaluru are asking the SEIAA to not give clearance to this extremely harmful project. We cannot lose our trees and clean air for a flyover that will only increase private vehicle congestion in the city! Bengalureans have always come together for the city -- it will be no different this time. Sign here to ask the Chief Minister to hold a public consultation before proceeding with the project! Sources: 1. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/civic/elevated-corridor-beda/articleshow/65189806.cms 2. http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2018/jul/06/bengaluru-proposed-six-elevated-corridors-revival-leaves-activists-fuming-1839052.html 3. http://bengaluru.citizenmatters.in/elevated-corridor-beda-open-letter-to-hdk-27198
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  • BMTC, give us a timeline for inducting electric buses
    UPDATE: We met the BMTC chairperson yesterday and asked him about the promise of inducting electric buses. BMTC chairperson NA Harris agrees that Bengaluru needs more buses and electric buses are the way forward. In the last five year plan of BMTC, by 2019 promised to phase out all diesel buses and induct electric buses. There was a promise of cleaner sustainable fuel. It has been five years. Where do we stand now? BMTC is fighting the case against National Green Tribunal to allow passage of 1200 diesel buses(1). Bangalore was the first city in India to test out electric buses in 2014(2). The BMTC has been dilly-dallying for last five years and has not come up with a plan on whether to lease electric buses or buy them. And because of that, they will lose 78.4 crores of subsidy. Phase one of FAME India (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Manufacturing) will lapse on 31st March 2019. BMTC’s move to induct 80 buses has been delayed because Transport Minister DC Thamanna has pushed for purchase instead of leasing electric buses The BMTC has constantly cited the high cost of procurement of electric buses and a high cost of maintenance for CNG buses as a reason for not rolling out more eco-friendly buses(4) . National Green Tribunal had proposed electric buses on a lease as a more feasible option. Karnataka State Pollution control board (KSPCB) has also asked BMTC to phase out the BSII and BSII buses and induct electric buses. But the BMTC is still not keen to move forward in that direction and rather focus only on diesel vehicles(4). Currently, BMTC is incurring losses of over 384 crores and have not bought any new buses in the last two years. Currently, the bus fleet is about 6000 buses for 2 crore people of the city which is far less than the city requirement causing congestion on Bengaluru roads. Local activists have been demanding an increase in the fleet of buses. These demands have also not been met. This is a great opportunity for Bengalureans to put pressure on the BMTC to replace the existing fleet of polluting buses with a cleaner fleet. This will be a positive step towards clean air in Bengaluru. Let us urge the BMTC to prioritize citizens’ health by having more sustainable modes of public transport in the city. Sources 1. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/bmtc-hopes-get-ngt-nod-add-714260.html 2. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/Bengaluru-to-get-150-electric-buses-soon/articleshow/55023451.cms 3. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/transportation/roadways/bengalurus-wait-for-electric-buses-gets-longer/articleshow/65571472.cms https://www.deccanherald.com/city/bmtcs-proposal-lease-500-693133.html 4. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/bmtcs-proposal-lease-500-693133.html
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  • Karnataka doesn't need a statue : Say no to the Cauvery statue
    In the recent past, Bangalore has already faced a severe water crisis. Experts suggest Bangalore will have ‘Day Zero’ like situation of Cape town(1) in the coming years. Cauvery water is an important source of water, which should not be wasted in building ecologically unsustainable and expensive structures. To add to these woes, Karnataka irrigation minister DK Shivakumar recently quoted saying: “We are just coming up with an amusement park for tourism, like Disneyland. Mysore is a destination for tourism. There is the famous Brindavan Garden and we want to enrich it. We want the world to look at it.” High expected construction cost of 1200 crore and covers 400 acres of an ecologically fragile area around the Dam. Farmers say the proposal is a bid by the real estate mafia to acquire fertile land around the KRS dam(3). Even farmers are struggling to get water for their crop both in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The proposed project will be ecologically damaging, especially since it would draw large amounts of water from Krishna Raja Sagara dam and affect Bangalore’s water intake which has been contested between the state of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Currently, constructions around the dam are already banned and there is a request to restrict visitors to KRS to ensure its safety. Engineers advise that the inevitable blasting required for excavation for the foundation of the 125-ft high statue, and making a deep excavation so close to KRS dam, can endanger the dam structure. Even The Mysuru Travels Association (MTA) welcomed the Disneyland but not around fertile KRS dam (2), BS Prashanth, president of the association, said the body was take out the value that KRS has to offer, The unsustainable and potentially damages from blasting the site for statue construction needs careful hydrological and geological investigations(4). Additionally, environmental impact assessment and social impact assessment need to be conducted and so far the reports of these assessments are not publicly available. While promoting tourism in the state is important, it is equally important to ensure that it is not at the cost of severe environmental and social cost. If enough people lend their voice to the fight against the an ecologically harmful and expensive statue, we can make sure the Chief Minister of Karnataka doesn’t not move forward with construction of Mother Cauvery Statue. The tenders for the Cauvery Statue will roll out next month5. We should ask government to rethink the project and consider the opposition the statue is facing. Sources: 1. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-43252435 2.https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mysuru/disneyland-at-krs-is-a-bid-to-grab-farmer-land/articleshow/66683663.cms 3.https://www.news18.com/news/india/construction-of-cauvery-statue-would-prove-dangerous-mysore-engineers-warn-karnataka-govt-1942209.html 4.https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/perspective/will-statue-save-cauvery-704283.html 5.http://www.indialegallive.com/commercial-news/states-news/amusement-park-up-the-garden-path-59082
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  • Stop widening NH4A!
    2018 saw severe strain on the Western Ghats with floods and landslides. Despite this being a wake up call for the Government, many factions of it continue to disregard the Western Ghats. There are 3 routes that connect Belgavi to Goa. None of these 3 routes see excessive traffic. Despite that, the national Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has started widening National Highway 4A (NH4A). Here are some problems with the widening of the Highway: It passes through the sensitive Western Ghats and will cut through thick forests which are largely responsible for the healthy rainfall in the region. Cutting this down will result in water scarcity in the area. An estimated 22,000+ trees will be felled. However, since some of the land that will be cleared for this forest falls under Eco I class, it is believed that nearly 1 lakh trees will be cut. The proposed road widening will cut into the habitat of tigers, bisons, king cobras and other animals. This will result in an increase in man-animal conflicts and roadkill. In 2012, Forest officials asked the Government not to give their approval for this road widening unless the implementing agency provides mitigation measures such as trenches and underpasses for animals. The tree cutting has already begundespite NHAI not providing any of these measures. Trees are our only hope in a world congested by concrete and dust. Losing such an important part of the Western Ghats will spell doom for us. Sign this petition to let NHAI know that you object to the widening of NH4A. Sources: 1. https://www.deccanherald.com/state/over-22k-trees-be-felled-700569.html 2.http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/karnataka/2018/nov/04/karnataka-environmentalists-cry-foul-over-nh-4a-widening-felling-of-over-1000-trees-1894160.html 3. Image credit: Deccan Herald
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  • CRZ notification, 2018 will spell doom for India's coastal ecology
    UPDATE On January 18, 2019, the Environment Ministry released the CRZ notification, 2018, opening up the coastline of the country for construction and tourism activities. BACKGROUND On December 28, the Union Cabinet approved the vehemently opposed Coastal Regulation Zone, 2018 notification, much to the dismay of lakhs of fisherfolk in the country. This notification is unwelcome, and will ring the death knell for India's coastal communities and its fragile ecosystem. Here are some of the problems with the notification *By reducing the “No Development Zone” in some areas to a mere 50m from the high tide line, coastal areas have been thrown open to commercial interests like tourism, real estate and industries *It permits activities like reclamation of land for eco-tourism and big infrastructure projects, throwing open fragile eco-sensitive areas for built out. *It violates article 51A(g) of the Indian Constitution that mandates the protection and improvement of the natural environment, including forest, lakes, rivers and wildlife. *It encourages densification of population and investment on the coast. A 2018 report by the United Nations Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that close to 50 million people living in coastal India are prone to be affected due to climate change-induced sea level rise. Activities that are detrimental to our coastal ecology, affect livelihoods of local fishing communities and affect the biodiversity have been granted positive approval. This notification also regularizes the violations to CRZ and opens the way to further destruction of our coastal ecology. In April last year, the ministry had released the draft notification and invited suggestions and comments from the citizens. Over 900 Jhatkaa.org members had sent an email to the ministry with their suggestions. Unfortunately, the cabinet has approved the notification without considering any of those suggestions. It's time we came together again to remind the Government of their duty to ensure our environment is protected and the traditional livelihoods it sustains are not destroyed. Sign this petition asking the Environment Ministry to denotify the CRZ Notification, 2018.
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