• 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 - September 23, 2019 The Bombay High Court directed the Maharashtra government to relocate Mahul residents in 12 weeks, and not to move any new families to the area. The court added that oil refineries and chemical factories near residential premises in the fishing village pose health risks and security problems. 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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  • 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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