• Save Alappad from sand mining
    UPDATE(23 July 2019): Taking note of excessive sand mining in Alappad, a coastal village in Kerala, the National Green Tribunal has formed a committee to determine compensation to be recovered for damage to the environment by unsustainable illegal 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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  • 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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  • No firecrackers this Christmas!
    Even after Supreme court orders this Diwali, there were gross violations and air quality hit ‘Severe plus Emergency’ by 10 pm in the Delhi on the night. The air quality even after a month has not improved and continues to be in ‘severe’ category. For Christmas and New year, the time window for burning crackers is only between 11.55 pm to 12 am. Two years ago, a petition was filed by three children, which made the SC ban the sale of firecrackers in the NCR region. But in September 2017, the ban was suspended and a “graded approach” initiated a month later, leading up to the latest order. Which allowed burning of green crackers, which would have lower emission of particulate matter and lower emission of sulphur dioxide. But Green firecrackers might not be available this year, according to the Union Minister for Science and Technology, Harsh Vardhan. The firecrackers have been sent for testing to the Petroleum and Safety Organization (PESO). There are no reports available on the safety of these firecrackers. Central Pollution Control Board(CPCB) has allowed burning of green firecrackers for two hours and has allowed the sale of green firecrackers. The CPCB, in its notice to the DMs, observed that in Ghaziabad, 45 temporary licences were issued for sale of firecrackers."However, no verification or compliance status of licence conditions have been reported," as mentioned by CPCB Chairperson, S P Singh Parihar. Therefore it is an important act on/ penalise those who have a blatant disregard for the air that millions of people are breathing. District Magistrate of Delhi, Noida and Ghaziabad you must act soon.
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  • Mahul is a polluted hellhole: Govt must shift residents immediately
    Update - April, 2019 The Bombay High Court ordered the BMC to offer monetary compensation to the residents of Mahul or relocate them. The BMC subsequently moved the Supreme Court. The residents meanwhile continue their silent protest, that they started in October last year. Context: Mahul is an industrial zone, located in the eastern suburb of Chembur in Mumbai. It's one of the most polluted areas in the city, and is surrounded by chemical refineries, fertiliser plants petroleum companies and other indutrial units. Clearly, it's unfit for residential purposes. Except, thousands of project-affected persons (PAPs) were forced to move to Mahul in 2017. Given the toxic air in the region, these residents have been battling respiratory diseases like asthma, tuberculosis, rashes and a range of skin allergies. They moved the Bombay High Court in March this year, and the HC issued an order in August asking for them to be moved till a solution was found. According to activist Medha Patkar, more than 125 people have died from pollution-related illnesses in the last 18 months. There was also a refinery blast in August, just 20 metres from the rehabilitation site. The residents continue to live in fear, and have been silently protesting for over a month now, camping at Ambedkar Nagar in Vidyavihar. In November, Housing Minister Prakash Mehta promised the protesters that they would be rehabilitated by shifting them to Kurla HDIL. The official notification never came. Later Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said it would not be possible to provide homes for 5,500 families in Kurla. Along with Patkar, residents are now threatening to march to Mantralay on December 15 if non-communication from the govenrment continues. Mahul is a polluted hellhole, and 5,500 families residing there need to be rehomed immediately. Stand up for them by signing this petition. Sources: 1. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/mumbai-5500-families-to-be-moved-to-kurla-from-toxic-mahul/articleshow/66598280.cms 2. https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/mumbai/civic/medha-patkar-gives-cm-10-days-to-respond-to-mahul-residents/articleshow/66902554.cms
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  • Save Nagpur's Trees: Don't allow the construction of this alternate road
    UPDATE: The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has taken suo motu cognisance of the letter submitted by activist and wildlife warden Jaydeep Das, protesting the cutting of 500 trees. The matter will be treated as a PIL. CONTEXT: According to a recent World Health Organisation report, Nagpur is the most polluted city in Maharashtra, and ranks 24th globally. Its PM2.5 (the nasty particulate matter that directly enters the lungs) levels are over EIGHT times the permissible limit. Despite these conditions, the Nagpur Municipal Corporation is going ahead with the construction of a road that will lead to 500 full-grown trees being axed. The civic body, along with Maha Metro, recently received clearance of nearly a hectare of land for the construction of this road, between Bharat Nagar Square to Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran office. This follows the temporary closing of a road in front of Futsala Lake, which has been sanctioned for redevelopment. The new road is being proposed as an alternative, for diverting traffic, even though the Futsala Lake road will be functional after a year. In fact, there are five roads around from the proposed one that can be used by used to divert traffic. According to environmental activist and wildlife warden Dr Jaydeep Das, no environmental impact assessment studies were conducted to see the feasibility of constructing such a road at the cost of 500 trees, many of which are over 40 years old. Besides, the area is a lush green land home to a large number of birds (including the endangered Grey Hornbill), monkeys, peacocks and more. Trees are one of our only natural insulaters against air pollution and at a time when the effects of climate change are being felt all across the world, the construction of this road will spell disaster for the city's already ailing air quality. Sources 1. https://m.dailyhunt.in/news/india/english/nagpur+today+english-epaper-nagpure/vikas+or+vinash+do+we+really+need+the+alternate+futala+road+by+killing+500+trees+ask+environmentalists-newsid-102421797 2. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/nagpur-most-polluted-city-in-maha-17th-in-country-says-who/articleshow/64006520.cms
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  • Save Aravali Biodiversity Park
    Update - May 6, 2019 After a meeting with GMDA in March, the NHAI has revived its plans to build two highways through Aravali Biodiversity park and even contracted consultants to draw up plans. Update - Dec 8, 2018 Gurugram Municipal Corporation (MCG) commissioner Yashpal Yadav submitted a report to the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), asking them to reconsider the road project through Aravali Biodiversity park. The GMDA has been working closely with the Highways Authority for this project. In the report, the commissioner mentioned that the MCG had not been consulted in the planning of this road, and that it was not according to the 2031 Master Plan. NHAI said they would reconsider the proposal. Background Aravali Biodiversity Park is a gorgeous, lush forest in the heart of Gurgaon. It's home to over 400 native plant and 180 bird species, and also animals like nilgai, civet cat, jungle cat, jackal, mongoose and more. Now, this biodiversity hotspot is set to be destroyed to make way for twin link roads, connecting MG Road to NH-48 and Vasant Kunj, as part of the Gurgaon-Manesar connectivity project. The timing of this "development" project couldn't be more distressing. NCR's air quality has been consistently sliding towards the very poor category and air pollution-related illnesses are on the rise. Amidst this phenomenon, Aravali Biodiversity Park has been a massive carbon sink and microclimate stabiliser. Also, Gurgaon has been reeling under a severe water crisis in Gurugram, with groundwater depleting at 5m per year. The park serves to recharge over 320 million (32 crores) litres of water annually. With shrinking green cover across the city, this project will aggravate the already-worrying air pollution levels across the city, besides the collateral impact on the flora and fauna and water recharge potential. Taking away our access to green spaces like this park is a gross violation of our fundamental right to fresh air. It's also massive dismissal on several environmental, moral & civic grounds. It's time we all stood up for our collective health and well-being by protesting poorly planned development projects like these. Sign this petition to Save Aravali Biodiversity Park from total destruction. Sources 1. https://www.ndtv.com/gurgaon-news/gurgaon-residents-protest-planned-road-through-aravali-biodiversity-park-1938797?fbclid=IwAR2tK5rUCl1RmaUq9tX7uu0Wd678CzRv9ePcUDwaE02madtjoclTarWs4bc 2. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/thousands-gather-to-protest-nhais-road-plan-in-aravali-biodiversity-park/articleshow/66407137.cms 3. https://www.hindustantimes.com/gurugram/gmda-ignored-objection-to-roads-by-own-division/story-7sAxKPsycOoa6MFHDVKSiJ.html
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  • Send your objections to save Delhi's district park
    Recent times have seen the air quality in Delhi drop from poor to severe with each passing day. To curb this, we need to focus on creating and maintaining our existing green spaces. Instead, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) has decided to clear out a district park to turn it into their headquarters. The present headquarters was built in 2010 on a grand budget of 650 crores. During its inauguration it was said that “this magnificent building will be a landmark for many many years to come". However in just eight years, the SDMC will use taxpayers’ money again to construct a new headquarters on a park, despite having space in government buildings around the city. Additionally, there is no clarity on the funds for construction or reviewing the Masterplan for the city, according to physical and social-economic indicators as mandated by law. Send your objections to D. Sarkar, Commissioner of DDA and ask him to stop destroying the green spaces in the city for Government greed.
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  • Save 10 lakh trees in the heart of India
    What is the real environmental cost of modern development? HUGE, going by the devastation this coal mining project will unfurl. 843 hectares of forest land is proposed to be diverted for mining in Amelia Coal Block, located in the Singrauli district in Madhya Pradesh, the heart of India. The project will involve the felling of over 10 LAKH TREES -- making it one of the only cases cleared under the Forest Conservation Act involving such a large number of trees. Let’s get this straight -- over 10 lakh trees will be cut to MINE COAL, one of the biggest environmental threats today, which will in turn contribute to climate change. An IPCC report has highlighted how we need to cut down on coal and conserve our forest cover. Do we really need energy generated through coal when renewable resources are significantly cheaper and not harmful to the environment? There’s a huge human cost to this proposed development too. Thousands of people in the Mahan forest area depend on the forest land for their livelihoods -- their culture, community and lives are intertwined with this forest that the corporations threaten to destroy. The area is also an elephant corridor -- there's a steady movement of elephants nearly every year from Baikunthapur going onto Kachan reservoir and Gopad river, back to Baikunthapur. Mining in this corridor has the potential to disrupt the movement and increase severity of human-elephant conflict. In addition, compensatory afforestation in this case is proposed over degraded forest, and not on non-forest land. Given that over 10 lakh naturally grown trees are required to be felled, a very detailed and careful examination of the proposal should have been carried out. The non-forest use of forest land should have been considered only if found absolutely necessary, in public interest and if no other alternative was found feasible. The project is now awaiting a forest clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. We must urge Dr Harsh Vardhan not to grant any environmental clearances for this project. 10 lakh trees -- A whole ecosystem is at stake here!
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