• No Film City: Don't destroy Roerich Estate
    On Sunday, September 15, Karnataka Chief Minister B.S.Yediyurappa announced a severely problematic plan. He proposed that a film city be built in Roerich Estate, off Kanakpura Road. Roerich Estate is a lush 460-acre green lung in Bengaluru. Of this, 100 acres belongs to the Forest Department and is a part of an elephant corridor between Bannerghatta and Savandurga. Elephants rest at the estate for a day or two before proceeding on their path. The estate is also home to several leopards, peacocks and barking deer. The biodiversity in this area will be under severe threat if the proposed film city comes up. Furthermore, activists believe that proposals like the film city are just a ruse to destroy green areas by allowing for real estate encroachments. On the other hand, artists are also against this proposal. The government has been trying to privatise Venkatappa Art Gallery, a legendary art space in the city. Amidst that, they are further neglecting art by turning Roerich Estate (made in the honour of painter Svetoslav Roerich and actor and his wife, Devika Rani Roerich) into a commercial venture. A similar Roerich estate exists in Naggar, Himachal Pradesh that has now fully developed into an arts hub. However the estate in Bengaluru hasn’t received the same support from the government. The worst part of this proposal is that several departments of the government, including the State forest department, had no inkling about this before the Chief Minister announced it on Sunday. Since the idea is still in its early stages, it’s the perfect time for us to get together and show our dissent before it materialises into a concrete plan. Sign this petition now and let’s ensure Roerich estate is not destroyed, and work towards preserving the environment and art in our city. Sources: 1. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/yediyurappa-proposes-film-city-at-roerich-estate-greens-oppose-move/article29426061.ece Image source: The Hindu
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  • Do not axe 350,000 trees in Palamau Tiger Reserve
    Jharkhand’s water resource department has planned to axe close to 3.5 lakh trees in Jharkhand’s Palamau Tiger Reserve in Madhya for the North Koel project, also known as Mandal dam. Palamau, notified a year after former PM Indira Gandhi announced Project Tiger in 1973, is one of the oldest among such reserves in India. The Tiger Reserve is replete with biodiversity and an important carbon sink, which will be lost to the dam. We live in a climate stressed world, and need to ensure we take all measures to safeguard these forests, which sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Even though there have been conflicting reports about tigers being seen in the areas earmarked for clearing, the benefits of the fragile ecosystems go way beyond their boundaries. And we cannot afford to lose them. The water resource department has already received the permission for felling of trees in 2017. Further, it claims to have deposited Rs 461 crore to the forest department for the purpose. However, given that the proposed reservoir falls under the purview of the Forest Department, it requires a formal No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the state forest department. Wildlife conservationist Prerna Bindra in her statement to Mongabay said that “diversion of land from tiger reserves is a betrayal to the sacrifice of forest staff for reviving tiger population and of the communities who have been voluntarily relocated from those areas as well.” It seems like within weeks of India collecting virtual accolades for its increased tiger population, is making way for projects such as this to fragment the habitat of this flagship species. Moreover, India (and the world) cannot afford to lose this green cover and biodiversity, which acts as an insurance against climate change. We as citizens of India urge you to ensure this project does not see the light of day. References: 1. https://www.hindustantimes.com/ranchi/over-3-44-lakh-trees-to-be-cut-in-jharkhand-s-palamau-tiger-reserve/story-c1ldPUezEqw6VemMOGygsK.html 2. https://thewire.in/environment/palamu-tiger-reserve-3-44-lakh-trees-felled-north-koel-reservoir 3. https://thewire.in/environment/indias-national-animal-loses-to-national-interest 4. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/survey-indicates-tiger-presence-in-palamau-tiger-reserve-in-jharkhand-1577785-2019-08-06
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  • Send your objections against the Indian Forest (Amendment )Act, 2019
    Earlier this year, the Union government proposed an overhaul of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. The colonial-era Act was imposed by British rulers so they could exert autonomy over India's forests. While revising the old law is important, some of the key amendments proposed by the MOEF&CC are extremely worrying and can lead to significant loss of biodiversity and degradation of forests. Two examples are given here. The definition of non-timber forest produce has now been expanded to include soil, sand, rock, humus, bamboo, etc. This can lead to rapid extraction of these key elements of ecosystems upon which a number of plant and animal species are dependent upon. Also, one cannot rule out large-scale exploitation of these critical elements for commercial purposes. Another new chapter is proposed allowing ‘production forests’ which would mean creating monocultural plantations in biodiverse forest areas. This again would mean loss of biodiversity and reduction of ecosystem services like water harvesting as it has been proven globally that biodiverse and natural forests are far more effective in providing ecosystem services than managed forests. This petition is to highlight these serious concerns to the Ministry and request them to drop some of these amendments and to alter some of them. SIGN UP now to safeguard India’s forests and biodiversity as well as to avoid exploitation of forests by commercial interests. We have until August 7 to register our objections. SIGN THIS NOW to safeguard India’s forests, and also to stand up for the rights of the indigenous communities of the forests!
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  • Scrap the Koradi power unit expansion
    Thirty-five organisations and individuals in Nagpur are opposing the proposed expansion of Koradi Thermal Power Station (KTPS), and the setting up two more units of 660 MW at Koradi. KTPS is less than 10 kilometres away from Nagpur city limits, that has a densely populated area with over 10 million people(1). A recent report assessing the potential impacts of Koradi power plant suggests than 10 kids under the age of 5 will die annually if it comes into force(2). In the current times, the entire world is moving away from the polluting coal-based thermal power plants, the decision for expansion of coal energy is in contradiction to India’s commitment to resolving the climate crisis. Pollution levels in Nagpur have already been on an upswing and activists suggest that the city is turning into a ‘cancer capital’ due to the high number of power plants in the area(3). The water crisis of Vidharbha region which is a leading cause of farmer suicides and agrarian distress would get intensified with the diversion of water for power generation. Additionally, 71 per cent of power is produced in Vidarbha whereas only 11 per cent is consumed rest is transmitted to western Maharashtra. Vidharbha region has suffered enough due to lack of prioritisation from the consecutive state governments. This has to stop now! This project was announced without any public hearing, despite protests from locals. When the lives of so many residents are at stake, a public hearing should be mandatory. 35 organisations in the area are already opposing the expansion of Koradi power plant. We must join the movement against this polluting thermal power plant that will have devastating consequences. Sources 1. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/high-so2-emissions-create-hurdles-for-koradi-power-units/articleshow/69964831.cms 2. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/analysis-reveals-10-kids-under-5-may-die-annually-after-2-units-are-added-to-koradi-power-plant/articleshow/70216955.cms 3. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/nagpur-activists-oppose-expansion-of-koradi-thermal-power-station-5838731/
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  • Don’t dilute the Forest Rights Act, 2006
    Update - July 25, 2019 The SC did not hear the case against the Forest Rights Act. As the eviction order is still on hold, forest officials still try to continue to evict people on the basis of this suspended order. Both the Central and State governments need to implement and defend this historic legislation. History In December 2006, the Parliament passed the Forest Rights Act to address the historical injustices meted out to tribals and traditional forest dwellers, and to recognise their rights over forest lands. The Act was hailed the world over as a step forward for conservation and justice. Using this law, forest communities across the country have been resisting monoculture plantations, protecting wildlife habitats, challenging pollution of soil and water sources, and opposing forest destruction from commerce and industry. Cut to 2019, the Central Government is now attempting to dilute and violate the act, denying tribals’ their rights and disempowering them. Here’s a quick timeline of what transpired: -- On February 13 2019, the Supreme Court passed a controversial order directing states to evict 2 million forest dwellers, after the Tribal Affairs Ministry pointed out that the process of settling their claims left a lot to be desired. -- After widespread protests from activists and environmental collectives, the SC temporarily suspended the implementation of the order on February 28. -- It asked state governments to submit detailed information on whether due process was followed; if tribals got a fair opportunity to present their claims; and also file appeals against the rejection of their claims. -- The next Supreme Court hearing is on July 24. As Mr Xavier Kujur of the All-India Front for Forest Rights Struggles (AIFFRS) put it, instead of implementing the Forest Rights Act, the government is attempting to take back the rights of Adivasis on forests. Conservation and livelihood are both important when it comes to the governance of India's forests. Forty three organisations fighting climate change, from 24 countries (Peru, France, Vietnam, Nepal, Malaysia, South Africa, UK) around the world, believe that the government is threatening the fight against climate change by attacking the rights of tribals and forest dwellers. “The protection of local communities’ rights over forests and land is a crucial weapon in the fight against climate change,” said the organisations in a statement. This campaign calls upon the Government to refrain from such steps, to vigorously defend the Forest Rights Act in court, and to ensure that all legal and policy changes strengthen the rights of local and indigenous communities rather than weakening them. Sign this campaign now. Sources 1. https://forestrightsact.com/2019/07/22/two-days-before-supreme-court-hearing-groups-from-24-countries-say-government-undermining-fight-against-climate-change-by-attacking-forest-rights/ 2. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/supreme-court-stays-its-feb-13-order-directing-eviction-of-11-8-lakh-forest-dwellers/articleshow/68199017.cms?from=mdr
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  • Do not approve sterilization of animals without assessing the impact on biodiversity
    The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) has launched a project to undertake ‘immunocontraceptive measures’ for population management of four species of wild animals — elephant, wild boar, monkeys and Nilgai(1). Currently, there is a court injunction for using immunocontraception on elephants(2). The Ministry is trying to overturn the order and go ahead with the plan. The Asian elephant, once prevalent throughout India is now listed as an endangered species & included on the IUCN(International Union for Conservation of Nature), Red List! Out of the 40,000-50,000 Asian elephants in the wild, India is home to around 25,000 to 27,000 wild elephants. The Human-wildlife conflict has been a result of the loss of habitat. Instead of focusing on the conservation of their natural habitats, the government wants to eliminate animals from the wild. The government’s decision has come without assessing the long-term impact on biodiversity, especially sterilisation of keystone species like elephants, which have been considered nature’s guardians for centuries(3). We humans, are responsible for the loss of habitat of the wild animals. Let us not first take their homes and then their lives just for our convenience. Sources: 1. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/environment-ministry-plans-to-use-immunocontraceptives-for-wildlife-population-management/article28307106.ece 2. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/flora-fauna/SC-pulls-up-West-Bengal-for-planning-elephant-sterilization/articleshow/41565790.cms 3. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/10/10-selfish-reasons-to-save-elephants
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  • Send recommendations on Delhi parking policy
    Are you sick of Delhi’s traffic troubles and the pollution levels, which are only compounded by vehicular emissions? You need to know this. The Delhi Government has recently released the final draft of the Delhi Maintenance and Management of Parking Places Rules 2019. These rules are intended for all public parking spaces owned or managed by public authorities. These changes directly affect the life of every citizen of Delhi. There has been a significant increase in the number of vehicles over the last few years. With limited space , increase in private vehicles has led to serious traffic management issues like persistent jams and lack of parking spaces. As a result , air pollution levels in the city are soaring. Infrastructural developments like malls, high-rise buildings, etc. compulsorily require Environment Impact Assessment but the government hasn’t followed this,to the utter dismay of environmental activists. Currently, Delhi govt does not seem to realise that it not the lack of parking spaces, but a surplus of vehicles on the roads that is the real reason behind the city’s traffic, parking and environmental problems. Short-sighted solutions will only aggravate the problems and won’t have any tangible and lasting impact. Send this letter to demand that the omitted clauses of base parking fee on public spaces as under Rules 2017 be restored in the final draft of Delhi Maintenance and Management of Parking Places Rules and the same be implemented effectively.
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  • Send your objections to Save Aarey, Mumbai’s Green Lung
    The Tree Authority in the BMC recently issued a public notice inviting suggestions from citizens in Mumbai on the issue of felling 2238 trees for the construction of a car shed in Aarey Colony. The last date to send these is one week from now, July 8. In October last year, over 14,000 Jhatkaa members like you had sent in their objections against the cutting of these trees. At the then public hearing, thousands of angry citizens had shown up, and taken the BMC to task for their flawed decision-making process in felling the precious trees in Aarey Colony, Mumbai’s green lungs. The Bombay High Court has now lifted the stay on the Tree Authority, and we have just about a week to send in our objections before the public hearing on July 8. Mumbai’s pollution levels and temperature are regulated because of the limited green cover we have, including the lush Aarey Colony. We have put together this email that contains observations and objections directed at the Tree Authority. All you have to do is sign it, and an email will be sent in your name. Feel free to add your thoughts in the email. Environmentalists, tribals (who reside at Aarey) and citizen activists have been commitedly fighting against this indiscriminate tree cutting. Let’s add our voices to this movement, and show the BMC what strength in numbers looks like. Sign and send this email NOW!
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  • STOP 3500 Trees Being Chopped Off For Goa Highway Expansion!
    UPDATE: Bombay high court has ordered a stay on the Thane municipal corporation’s tree authority’s decision to cut down over 3,000 trees in the city. PETITION Following the first meeting of the Tree Authority (TA) of Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) headed by the Municipal Commissioner post elections, over 3,500 trees have been marked for being chopped off. All this for the expansion of the Goa Highway from a 4-lane highway to a 6-lane highway. Moreover, a number of the trees are over 200-years old and most of these are fruit-bearing trees. And includes a 300-year-old Banyan tree in Thane. The six-seven fruit mango trees in Colvale, for instance, that will also bear the brunt of this expansion forms a critical landmark for the village. What is really unfortunate is that only earlier this year, a few days after Jhatkaa.org launched the campaign to save the mango trees, 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." And now the same trees are likely to come under the axe, along with over 3500+ others! All this when a diversion can easily be considered. The Tree Authority of TMC was formed earlier again this year after the Bombay High Court's directions of constituting the authority as per the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975. Concerns by locals and experts have fallen on deaf ears. What is concerning is that all the proposals have been made by private parties such as Piramal estates, Lodha group, Pradeep Kamble etc. and it appears that none of these have been rejected. And neither are any alternatives being proposed to prevent the trees from being chopped off. While development is necessary, if it is at the cost of the very environment on which we depend, this so-called development is of no good to anyone. Trees are ecosystems in themselves, and can’t be replaced by merely replanting them. The Government and the Tree Authority need to reconsider their approval and must think long-term for the environment and the people before all else. References: 1. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/3577-trees-to-come-under-axe-for-patradevi-to-bambolim-highway-expansion/articleshow/68040208.cms 2. https://www.asianage.com/metros/mumbai/250519/tmc-ready-to-approve-axing-35k-trees.html 3. https://act.airalert.in/petitions/save-goa-s-200-year-old-trees-say-no-highway-through-colvale
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  • Bangalore is not prepared for Monsoon
    Memories of the flash floods in Bangalore in July 2016 and inundation of low-lying areas in August and September last year are still fresh. At a time when pre-monsoon showers are flooding the city, civic agencies are underprepared to tackle the issue...yet again. Over the past few weeks several areas of Bengaluru have been suffering power outage. The Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) has identified 246 low-lying areas where even a brief spell of rain sees flood water entering homes(1). This has been handed to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) andso far the action taken is fairly limited. Deputy Chief Minister and Bengaluru Development Minister G Parameshwara had set the deadline for end of May to finish all preparatory work for the monsoon(2) --the work is yet to be completed and Bengaluru struggles with the chaos of the aftermath of pre-monsoon showers. Accumulated silt causes clogging of the stormwater drains and results in flooding in low-lying areas. Currently, less than one-third of stormwater drains have been cleared(3). It is imperative that the entire 842 km stretch of stormwater drains are de-silted and encroachment over drains are taken care of before the beginning of monsoon season. Additionally, KSNDMC also suggested the installation of water sensors in all 246 vulnerable spots and so far only 25 water sensors have been installed(3). This needs to be done as soon as possible for better mitigation of stormwater accumulation in the city. Waterlogging in Bangalore results in the city coming to a standstill and we cannot let this happen year after year. It is time that Bangalore city council and BBMP are held accountable and the city is better prepared to tackle heavy rainfall. Sources 1. https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/dy-cm-reviews-bbmps-rain-preparedness/article26934179.ece 2. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/bengaluru-infrastructure/are-civic-agencies-complacent-about-monsoon-733247.html 3.https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/civic/bbmp-scrambles-to-get-city-rain-ready/articleshow/69151326.cms
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  • Increase ridership of Pune buses by 2020
    Are you aware that amongst all the sources of air pollution, vehicular emissions have the highest adverse health impacts? The main hazardous pollutants of fossil fuels-based vehicular emissions are particulate matter (PM), sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide(NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and greenhouse gases. Out of these, the fine and ultrafine PM is able to penetrate the cells of most organs and cause severe respiratory, cardiovascular, neurological illnesses and even premature death, especially in children and the elderly. While Pune city’s population is approximately 35 lakhs, the number of registered vehicles has crossed 38 lakhs. This explosive growth in vehicular population has meant an increase in vehicular emissions, and hence increased air pollution. Reducing the usage of private vehicles will reduce vehicular emissions to a large extent. A robust public transportation system can address these issues and ensure that citizens have an option to use their personal vehicles. Shifting from cars to public transport can deliver a 65 per cent emissions reduction during peak times and a 95 per cent reduction in emissions during off peak times from the commuters that make the shift. *The fuel consumption of a passenger travelling on a bus carrying 40 passengers is 4 times lower than the per passenger consumption of a car carrying 2 persons. * Buses fare way better than cars even in terms of road space. Per passenger road space taken by a bus is 3 times lower than a car. Therefore, congestion increases when cars take up extra road space. * Higher the congestion more is the time spent by vehicles on the road. The vehicle's engines run longer, thus emitting more pollutants. Pune is one of the 102 non-attainment cities that does not meet the NAAQS (National Ambient Air Quality Standards) under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). Under the Pune City Action Plan, as mandated by the NCAP, Pune has committed to improve its public transport, including PMPML's service, as one of the key actions for reducing air pollution. It has now become crucial that the citizens shift from their personal vehicles to public transport. This would be possible only if PMPML provides an efficient system - clean and comfortable buses deployed at regular intervals, with minimum breakdowns, providing a safe and reliable journey to its commuters - thereby increasing its ridership. Has the PMPML shown a rise in ridership? The trend of average daily ridership of PMPML buses over the last few years does not paint a very encouraging picture. The ridership in March 2016 was 10.09 lakhs whereas after three years, the March 2019 ridership dropped to 9.90 lakhs. In this same period, private vehicles (2 wheelers and cars) have shown a staggering increase of 9.20 lakhs! On the contrary, a few months ago Mumbai's bus service, BEST, was being severely criticized for its falling ridership. But with focused planning, and with a substantial reduction in bus fare, they increased their ridership by 9 lakhs in just 10 days! This shows that with some creative thinking and dedicated effort, it is very possible to ramp up PMPML's performance too, and there needs to be a will in the administration to do so. Along with Parisar, a civil society organisation working on making Pune more liveable with a focus on sustainable urban transport, we urge PMPML to commit to double their ridership in three years with a 25% increase each year. There should be an increased bus force, efficient deployment and maintenance of buses and better management of routes to help achieve the long-term goal of clean air and a congestion-free Pune. Sign this petition for a decongested, traffic-free and more environmentally sustainable Pune!
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  • Save Agumbe from landslides!
    Agumbe Ghat is a biodiversity hotspot in the Western Ghats that records the second highest rainfall in the country. It is the habitat of the endangered King Cobra and houses nearly 6000 species of flora and fauna. This biodiversity spot is also home to the Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary, a part of an UNESCO World heritage site. A delicate area like this is meant to be protected and improved. Instead the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has diverted 1000 sq.ft of forest land at Aane kallu for unwanted and illegal road expansion activities. Many areas surrounding Anne kallu and Agumbe itself are prone to landslides. The decades-old trees that hold the soil are being uprooted for this unnecessary road expansion. The landslides in Kodagu in 2018 and the minor earthquakes in Shimoga in February 2019 are enough evidence of the impending doom in Agumbe if this widening continues. NHAI is not only breaching several environmental laws, they are also disrespecting the locals and the sacred beliefs they hold at Aane kallu. Additionally they are putting this biodiverse area, all the species and humans who reside here at severe risk of earthquakes and landslides. Sign the petition before it is too late to save Agumbe.
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