• 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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  • 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 100 sq km of Bannerghatta National Park!
    The eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) in the Bannerghatta National Park has been reduced from 269 sq km to 169 sq km! Vested mining interests have taken over a green space. Thousands of trees will be cut down to dig out and drill into the earth. Bannerghatta National Park is the only green lung left in the city. We cannot afford to lose it. Here is a list of problems with this change: 1. Mining right next to the park means increase in pollution and disturbance to animals and people living in the park. 2. Cutting down forest area increases the chance of animals entering the city and causing harm to life and property. This has already happened several times in the recent past. 3. Bannerghatta National Park is the only green space left in the country. This is the beginning of our only remaining forest disappearing. Sources: 1. http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2018/mar/25/karnataka-to-send-draft-on-bannerghatta-national-park-eco-sensitive-zone-1792184.html 2. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/bannerghatta-parks-eco-shield-cut-down-by-100-square-kilometres/article25457824.ece 3. Photo credit: The News Minute
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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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  • Karnataka Government, your turn to declare Western Ghats as an ESA!
    The Western Ghats is a mountain range spanning across 6 states. It is home to hundreds of plants, animals and birds. In the wake of the devastating Kerala floods, the Centre will soon issue a draft notification declaring Western Ghats as an eco sensitive area (ESA) In 2014, the Centre had issued a draft notification declaring the Western Ghats as an ESA but Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka objected this. Now, Karnataka is the only state raising objections to the new draft. Claiming it will “affect the State’s economy”1, Karnataka government is rejecting a petition that will ensure the prevention of mining and red category industrial activities, which includes polluting industries like pesticides and petrochemicals, in the Ghats. An official from Karnataka’s forest ministry has disclosed that ministers in the state government have mining interests in the ghats2, hence refusing to abide by Centre’s draft. Vested political interests shouldn’t stand in the way of preventing further disasters like the ones we saw in Kerala and Karnataka just two months ago! Sign the petition asking Karnataka CM, H.D.Kumaraswamy to declare Western Ghats as an eco sensitive area. Sources 1. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/karnataka-oppose-centres-notification-declaring-western-ghats-eco-sensitive-88822 2. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/karnataka-rejects-centre-s-plan-to-declare-western-ghats-eco-sensitive-area/story-Zwb6n4vQpYSKsR6mA6kBsM.html
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  • Send your objections against tree cutting at Aarey Colony
    Aarey Colony in Mumbai is the city's last remaining stretches of tree cover. Now, 2700 trees are being felled to accommodate a car shed for the Mumbai Metro - III project. Though the National Green Tribunal recently dismissed the petition against the cutting of trees, the case is pending in the High Court. The public hearing is scheduled for October 10. Over the past weekend, around 120 trees were chopped by MMRCL (Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited) officials, without the presence or permissions from any tree officials. When activists protested, they were detained by Aarey Colony police. This completely unacceptable! We have until October 10 to send in our objections and suggestions to the BMC. These complaints will then be forwarded to MMRCL. Sign now to send in your objections against the merciless axing of trees at Aarey Colony. Sources: 1. http://www.freepressjournal.in/mumbai/mumbai-for-metro-32700-trees-to-be-cut-in-aarey-colony/1365118 2. https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/mumbai/other/aarey-locals-protest-tree-cutting-detained/articleshow/66011691.cms
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  • Lakhwar Dam – Another big nail in Yamuna’s coffin
    The Yamuna river is strangulated with dams. It is also one of the most critically polluted rivers in the country. The river has already been stressed out by demands of water for hydropower, irrigation and drinking in North India; and now, yet another high dam is set to be constructed on this river just 120 kms downstream of the holy shrine of Yamunotri in Uttarakhand. This proposed dam will restrict the flow of the river from 1400 kms to just 75-80kms! 50 villages will be affected by the dam’s submergence area and many more will lose access to the river downstream. Apart from killing the flow of the Yamuna, a stretch which is rich in the endangered Mahaseer fish will be affected and more than 3 lakh trees will be axed for this dam. The environmental and disaster impact assessments of the Lakhwar dam are inadequate and three decades old. The Lakhwar project has been challenged in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) due to these violations and environmental concerns and the court is still hearing the matter. Yet this project is being blindly pushed. All this is being done in the name of providing water to Delhi. It’s acknowledged that Delhi’s water crisis is not caused by scarcity of water, but because of serious mismanagement. The devastating floods and landslides in the mountain states of Uttarakhand and Himachal speak volumes about the fragility of the Himalayan region. Much has already been documented about the negative impacts of large dams, especially in ecologically vulnerable areas. But looks like our government has failed to learn any lessons from disasters like the one in Kerala. Delhi’s citizens took to the streets to save 16,000 trees from being cut.Let’s use the same energy and dedication to prevent further destruction of our rivers and forests! Sign this petition and save the Yamuna and ourselves! Sources: 1. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/environmentalists-up-in-arms-against-lakhwar-byasi-dam-project-on-yamuna/articleshow/65583804.cms 2. https://m.dailyhunt.in/news/india/english/the+wire+english-epaper-wireng/india+revives+massive+yamuna+dam+project+despite+environmental+concerns-newsid-96694051 3. https://sandrp.in/2013/04/22/lakhwar-dam-project-why-the-project-should-not-go-ahead/ 4. https://thewire.in/environment/india-revives-massive-yamuna-dam-project-despite-environmental-concerns 5. https://sandrp.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/major_hydro_projects_in_yamuna_basin.pdf
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  • Fix Bangalore's roads, BBMP
    Travelling on Bangalore's streets has become a nightmare. The traffic issue is compounded by the terrible condition of the roads, with all the potholes and broken pavements. The dust also adds to the particulate matter in the air, leading to increased levels of air pollution. On Wednesday, the Karnataka High Court asked the BBMP to fill all the potholes (over 3000) in the city in a day. The BBMP claims it has fixed 899 potholes and are working on the rest. The High Court has extended the deadline to Monday. Sign the petition to get the BBMP to make Bangalore's roads motorable again. They should also provide a mechanism for citizens to file complaints against the shoddy condition of the roads. References 1. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/civic/fill-potholes-by-thursday-morning-high-court-to-bbmp/articleshow/65878008.cms 2. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/karnataka-hc-gives-bbmp-3-day-extension-make-bengaluru-pothole-free-88704
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  • Prevent future floods: Save Western Ghats
    In 2015, more than 500 people were killed and over 18 lakh were displaced in the Chennai floods. In 2018, over 200 people have died in the worst floods Kerala has seen in several decades. These are painful reminders of how “development” is harming us. And these reminders are only going to increase in frequency over the next few years. In 2011, a landmark report by the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (also known as Gadgil committee) had detailed measures for the preservation of the natural environment of the Western Ghats. The report had recommended that the entire Western Ghats, spread over six states, including Kerala, be declared ecologically sensitive. The committee had strongly recommended a ban on certain new industrial and mining activities in the area, and called for strict regulation of other ‘developmental’ work in consultation with local communities and gram panchayats. The report met with resistance from the governments of all six stakeholder states. A new committee later formed severely watered down the recommendations of the Gadgil panel, suggesting that only a third of the Western Ghats be identified as ecologically sensitive. Of the area that was finally notified, only 9,993.7 sq km was in Kerala. The floods and landslides in Kerala are a result of the unmitigated development activities like illegal excavations and stone quarrying that were being done for over a decade. Noted ecologist Madhav Gadgil, who headed the panel, said that irresponsible environmental policy was to blame. Gadgil has now warned that Goa may face the same fate if it doesn't take environmental precautions. The 2011 report made several significant recommendations -- no new hill stations and special economic zones, banning conversion of public lands to private, regulation of tourism and no issue of mining licenses, dams, thermal power plants and other large-scale wind power projects in ecologically sensitive zones. It’s time the MoEFCC formally accepts the Gadgil report, before another disaster takes place.
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  • Stop garbage burning in Bangalore
    Bangalore is one of the few cities in India whose civic agency has a dedicated department for waste management. Despite this “organised” approach, burning of garbage is rampant in the city, especially in Whitefield, KR Puram, Bellandur, RR Nagar and Jayamahal. Most incidents happen at night and at the hands of illegal contractors. Besides the mess it creates, the fumes that emanate from such reckless burning are toxic and cause serious respiratory ailments like asthma. Garbage burning is also a leading cause of air pollution. It doesn’t help that in the past few years with rapid urbanisation, increase in the number of vehicles and construction activities, Bangalore’s air quality has dipped severely affecting the health of residents. Two years ago, Jhatkaa.org started a campaign to end this menace and after mobilising thousands of citizens, got Sarfaraz Khan to issue a notification against open burning of garbage. However, penalties and fines are not being enforced and the practice continues. The National Green Tribunal and Karnataka Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) have also prohibited garbage burning, with fines up to Rs 25,000. We’re tired of the BBMP indifference in curbing this problem, and cannot afford to have citizens falling prey to burning-induced health conditions. We want to be Garden City, not Garbage City. Join this campaign to tell the BBMP to hold offenders accountable and strictly enforce penalties for garbage burning in Bangalore.
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