• Save Bengaluru from a Greenocide!
    Bengaluru trees are under threat! Once again, BBMP has floated tenders to cut close to 500 trees on Jayamahal-Bellari road. BBMP is determined to launch the project again after a five-year delay due to transfer of rights of the land(1). Citizens and activists have been asking for a tree census for years now and yet it has not been conducted citing bureaucratic hurdles. The road widening project will also pave way for the ill-conceived elevated corridor project as the road is being widened to bring in a standard width for the median to support the elevated corridor project. In fact, in 2016 more than 8000 people formed a human chain to protect the future of these trees(2). Time and again citizens of Bengaluru have told the government that elevated corridor cutting through the city’s green heritage is not the solution to the traffic woes. Instead, the government should focus on developing a holistic public transport system. More importantly, there has been no public consultation regarding the project which is in direct contradiction to environmental laws of the country. Sign this urgent campaign demanding that the BBMP hold a public consultation before passing such arbitrary laws. 1. https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/civic/greenocide-to-start-in-february-in-bengaluru/articleshow/73146530.cms 2. https://www.deccanherald.com/city/bengaluru-infrastructure/jayamahal-road-widening-to-claim-100-trees-770701.html
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  • Penalise polluting power plants for not sticking to the December 2019 Deadline
    According to a recent Right To Information (RTI) application, 33 highly polluting, coal-based Thermal Power Plants (TPPs) will continue to severely pollute the NCR region all through December this year. The NCR is the most polluted part of the country and is surrounded by a number of TPPs. These plants were supposed to have been retrofitted by December 2019 to help bring down pollution levels considerably, but these plants will miss the deadline and continue to pollute for at least a few more months to a years! The particulate matter levels across the country are seriously high, causing serious lung-related ailments among other chronic ailments, particularly among the most vulnerable sections of society. The NCR already is grappling with the highest levels of pollution. One of the biggest polluters when it comes to air pollution is coal-based TPPs, which are concentrated in the region. While other attempts are being made to bring down pollution levels such as the use of green firecrackers or compliance with the odd-even scheme, the bigger polluters seem to be getting away scot-free! This is the second time that the deadline to retrofit the plants and adhere to the diluted but stricter norms have been missed. The MOEFCC had notified emission standards for both nitrogen and sulphur oxides in December 2015. It had also made particulate matter emission norms stricter. The first time around, the Ministry of Power lobbied the MOEFCC and pushed the deadline to December 2017. This time again, the RTI reveals that the majority of the plants have not even gone as far as signing the tender to have the plants retrofitted with the new Flue Gas Desulphurisation systems, which would help filter out harmful SO2 gas which is one of the main contributor to PM2.5 levels in Delhi. If this is done, the pollution levels from the plants can come down from as much as 40-48 percent. This is shocking and unacceptable. While individuals are made to toe the line and make changes in their everyday life, the Ministry of Power has been given over four years to take action on the TPPs in the NCR region. Clean air is a fundamental right, which is being violated by the Ministry of Power. As citizens of India we urge you to ensure that the tenders of all the 33 plants in the NCR region are signed by December 2019, and the power plants are penalised for not sticking to the current deadline. Additionally, non-complying power plants should not be allowed to operate during times when air quality exceeds the ambient standards. And the MoEFCC should ensure that all other plants across the country are on track with respect to retrofitting the plants. References: https://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/ncr-s-thermal-units-to-miss-deadline-for-curbing-pollution-this-winter-rti-119101600742_1.html https://act.airalert.in/petitions/300-thermal-power-plants-allowed-to-flout-emission-standards-for-the-next-2-5-years
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  • Leave Aarey forest alone
    UPDATE - Sept 2, 2020 After years of struggle by environmentalists, tribal communities and citizens, the Maharashtra government said that the 600-acre land in Aarey would be reserved, and subsequently conserved, as a forest. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that it would be the first instance of a "huge jungle" being conserved at the centre of a megapolis. He also said that the rights of adivasis in the area will be safeguarded. UPDATE - Nov 30, 2019 On his first day of office, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray put a stay on the construction of the Metro car shed in Aarey colony. This indicates that he cares about Mumbai's last green lung and we must now get him to declare it into a Forest, and commit to preserving its biodiversity. CONTEXT Step 1: Cut trees for Mumbai Metro car shed ✅ Step 2: Cut trees for Zoo Step 3: Cut trees for Metro Bhavan This is going to be Aarey Forest's fate, if we don't act soon. It was never just about 2,700 trees for the Mumbai Metro car shed. Many more will go under the axe for an upcoming zoo, and the 32-storey Metro Bhavan in Aarey. 190 acres of land in Aarey has been allocated for the zoo, which is poised to have a jungle safari and captive breeding programme (THE HORROR) as its 'attractions'. Construction of the Metro Bhavan has already begun and at least 70 trees will be felled according to news reports. Let's be clear about one thing -- Aarey is a 'Forest'. What else do you call an expansive green area that's home to 77 species of birds, 86 kinds of butterflies, 13 species of amphibians and even nine leopards. In fact, Aarey is an eco-sensitive zone and also serves as a floodplain. More importantly, it's a catchment area for Mithi river and multiple reports have highlighted how encroachments in Aarey will lead to flooding in the city. At a time when climate change has become one of the most defining crises of our times, we not only need to bring in more environment-friendly policies, but also work towards safeguarding our existing resources. Trees not only filter the air we breathe, but also play a larger role in regulating temperatures and water tables. While we have lost a significant portion of Aarey Forest's trees for the Mumbai Metro car shed, we have not lost the battle. The idea is to now ensure that Aarey is protected from all encroachments and development projects, and this can only happen if the area is declared as a Reserve Forest. The next hearing on the Supreme Court is on October 21, and we must continue to keep up the public pressure to ensure Aarey is left alone. Let's put in our collective efforts, and voices, behind this movement -- Leave Aarey forest alone! Sign and share this campaign. References https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/maharashtra-govt-gives-financial-nod-for-international-standard-zoo-6067658/ https://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/metro-bhavan-work-begins-at-aarey-greens-fume/story-nzWx0m5u9ZQnN5eGODOE4I.html
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  • Do not allow any ‘temporary’ events within our forests
    The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has in a recent move allowed ‘temporary’ activities within forests across India! These could include but are not limited to weddings, exhibitions, concerts, film shoots and other events of a temporary nature inside forests without the need of any prior permission from the Centre under the Forest Conservation Act! This is disturbing! Not only has the nature of the ‘temporary’ events been left open to interpretation, but by nature would cause serious damage to the forests and disturb the wildlife within the region. As is only 23% of India’s over 700,000 sq km of forest cover falls in the protected category. Moreover, without any oversight from the Centre, this could become open to all and sundry who will create a ruckus in our forests, and disturb adivasis and wildlife alike. Irrespective of whether the activity is for a few hours or a few days - such as photoshoots and exhibitions, it will cause irreversible damage to forests across India. The Art of Living exhibition in 2016 is a case in point. While the Ministry argues it is only reissuing the order that was originally laid down in 2014, the fact remains that our past learnings should get us to reconsider this order and not allow any disturbance within or close to any protected areas. We citizens of this country are becoming increasingly aware of the need for our forests to remain standing and our wilderness to remain undisturbed. Our forests are sanctuary to forest-dwellers and biodiversity and together they form a crucial insurance against climate change. References: https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/temporary-activities-inside-forests-won-t-require-centre-s-permit-anymore/story-FxMaCtfv2Qx9bUZkowwZSL.html
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  • Electric buses need to be ‘electric’
    A few days back, in a viral video, a PMPML bus was seen getting charged using a diesel generator. While PMPML blamed the driver for the incident, this episode brings forward the larger issue of the need for proper infrastructure for charging of e-buses in the city (1). In February this year, PMPML launched 25 electric buses in Pune and added 50 more to the fleet in August. These electric buses have been applauded by Punekars and resulted in an increase in overall ridership of buses. (1) This was a welcome move. Electric buses are better for the environment as they do not emit particulate matter and the cost of running is significantly lower as compared to diesel and CNG buses. E-buses are the future of public transport in the country. let us hold PMPML accountable to ensure there is requisite infrastructure to run e-buses and does not depend upon environmentally unsustainable alternatives to keep the fleet running, which goes against its very purpose. Sources: 1. City’s electric buses seen guzzling diesel- Pune Mirror 2. Electric buses are a hit among PMPML users - Pune Mirror
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  • Extinction Rebellion in Jaipur
    Climate emergency is a reality and it’s high time the governments declare it one. Following the footsteps of Extinction Rebellion (XR) group, Jaipur is striking for climate change and sustainable government policies. In solidarity with the UK-based climate pressure group, youth from various parts of Rajasthan will gather at Albert Hall Museum on 20 October 2019. XR Manifesto is as follows: Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2025. Government must create, and be led by the decisions of, a citizens' assembly on climate and ecological justice. If you believe that your voice can bring in the change that is needed to save this planet, be there! Suggestions, ideas and even song jingles -- it’s an open forum to pour your heart out for our Planet Earth. See you there!
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  • Save Theni from Neutrino Observatory
    On March 5, 2018 the Central Government cleared the India based Neutrino Observatory (INO) in Theni, Tamil Nadu. Despite the project being important to Atomic energy, there are significant problems with the location of the proposed INO. Pottipuram in Theni, is a part of the Western Ghats - a UN recognised world heritage site. Over the last few years the Western Ghats are being destroyed for construction, red industries and other commercial activities. Time and again, environmentalists and concerned citizens have tried to keep the Ghats safe by speaking up and acting against its destruction. It is once again time to stand with our ghats. The Neutrino Observatory is being constructed in a fragile spot that will destroy the flora and fauna of Pottipuram. Additionally, the radiation emitted from the observatory will cause severe problems to the residents of Theni, and also release hazardous chemicals into the pristine mountains. In November 2018, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had given clearance for this project. A few days after that, environmentalists led by NGO Pooulagin Nanbargal challenged this clearance and the NGT stayed the project. Despite that, in June 2019 there was news that work at the INO will begin soon. Though there have been no developments since, it is imperative that we pressure the government Sources: 1. https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/india/savethenifromneutrino-trends-on-twitter-modi-forgets-to-act-on-what-world-needs 2. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/science/ngt-nod-for-long-awaited-neutrino-project/article25426942.ece 3. Photo credit: G Karthikeyan, The Hindu
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  • End Bengaluru's Pothole Menace
    Travelling on Bengaluru's streets is a nightmare. The traffic issue is compounded by the terrible condition of the roads, with all the potholes and broken pavements. Road dust also adds to particulate matter in the air resulting in air pollution. Monsoon season has wreaked havoc on the over 3000km of Bengaluru roads that are being dug up(2) by various agencies. It’s the same story every monsoon. Poor quality roads that are ruined with just a few showers! Currently, a case has been filed in the High Court and BBMP Counsel K N Puttegowda admitted that “potholes have afflicted Bengaluru like cancer"(1) during the PIL hearing. Thousands of crores of taxpayer money is spent by the BBMP every year. We need to hold them accountable to it. In fact, the High Court has given BBMP until 21st October to respond to the issue. Thousands of crores of taxpayer money is spent by the BBMP every year. Let us create pressure on BBMP before the next court hearing to fulfil their promise of fixing the potholes in the city. Note: While the campaign grows we are working on exciting collaborations and creative ways to engage citizens in Bengaluru. Stay tuned for more updates! Sources: 1. Bengaluru potholes like cancer, says BBMP- Times of India 2. BBMP is a public-funded terrorist outfit: Citizens miffed over roads in Bengaluru
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  • Maharashtra Elections 2019: We want a Green Manifesto
    UPDATE - Oct 15, 2019 In their manifesto, the BJP said it would create one crore jobs in the state over the next five years and also spend Rs 5 lakh crore on infrastructure. However, there was no mention made of plans or commitments towards environmental concerns and clean air. UPDATE - Oct 12, 2019 Shiv Sena party chief Uddhav Thackeray, along with son Aaditya, released the party manifesto. The manifesto did not acknowledge Aarey, an issue the party has been very vocal about. They have said in the past that if elected, they will work towards declaring Aarey into a forest. The only points about the environment featured in the manifesto are around policy for faster implementation of electric transport, and urban forestation on government land to reduce air pollution in Mumbai and other cities. Oct 7, 2019 The Congress-NCP alliance released their manifesto. CONTEXT In the lead-up to the National Elections this year, three major political parties included 'climate change' in their manifestos. -The BJP promised to reduce crop burning, turn National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) into a mission) and focus on reducing the levels of pollution in 102 mission cities by 35 per cent in five years. -The INC manifesto was more detailed -- one of their 15 key pledges was Nyay, centred around environment and climate change. They spoke about launching programmes for deteriorating soil quality, water restoration and afforestation of wastelands. They also recognised air pollution as a national public health emergency and promised to strengthen the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). -AAP’s manifesto promised the induction of electric buses, vacuum cleaning of roads along with other measures to control air pollution. With the Maharashtra legislative assembly elections in October, we're calling on contesting parties to make a commitment on this front by releasing a 'Green Manifesto.' Apart from promises of infrastructure and development, the manifesto must also include the following: 1. Air Pollution -- We recognise that air pollution is a public health emergency and one of the biggest threats to our children's health. We will no longer be tagged the most polluted state in India. All major sources of emission will be targeted, mitigated and reduced to acceptable levels. 2. Coal Plants -- Maharashtra is committed to a cleaner, greener and cheaper energy mix through an accelerated transition to renewable energy. No new coal plants will be commissioned in the next five years. All existing coal-fired power plants will comply with emission norms. 3. Public transport -- Clean, modern and convenient public transport services, focused on frequency to handle numbers, will make sure our cities offer the highest quality of life. 4. Solid Waste Management -- Every city in Maharashtra will adopt the best practices from Pune’s exemplary efforts in solid waste management. Waste pickers will be equal stakeholders, waste management decentralised, and waste will be segregated and treated as wealth instead of being sent to landfills. 5. Forests and Coasts -- Commit to preserve Maharashtra's forest and coastal zones, and ensure any amendments to existing acts/ policies are sustainable and inclusive, keeping the interests of local communities in mind. 6. Focus on solar -- The solar feeder programme will be extended across Maharashtra. Farmers will fully control electricity for their pump-sets, and have a second source of income. 7. LPG -- Ensure that every house in Maharashtra can purchase LPG at affordable rates and use it as primary cooking fuel Making a commitment in the manifesto will set the tone for the party's work in the years to come, and also allows citizens to hold them accountable. We must exert collective pressure to make this happen. Sign this campaign now!
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  • Do not allow mining in 43,000 ha. of the biggest sal forest in Asia!
    The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) be looking at opening up 43,000 ha of pristine forests in Jharkhand for mining! The areas being considered for iron ore mining are the no-go areas in Saranda and Chaibasa in West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand. This happened after the Jharkhand Government reached out to the MoEF&CC asking them to revisit the no-go status conferred to these pristine parts of Jharkhand’s forests. Things have moved very quickly following that request. In fact, the MoEF&CC has already written to the State Secretary suggesting that the study for this reconsideration be carried out by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education with representation from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, and Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad. While the Chief Minister Raghubdar Das claims this has financial implications on Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), the fact is there are proposals from SAIL, JSW Group, Vedanta Ltd and others waiting to exploit the region that spreads of 43,000 ha of pristine biodiverse-rich forests. The no-go area was the result of the Management Plan for Sustainable Mining (MPSM), which was finalised in 2018. The MSPM divided the Saranda forest into three zones — mining zone I (approximately 10,670 hectares), mining zone II (approx 2,161 ha) and conservation zone/no-mining zone (approx 43,000 ha). Saranda forest is the biggest sal forest in Asia. Forests are critical to sequester Greenhouse Gases (GHGs). Whether it is the Amazon in Brazil or the Congo in Africa or the forests of Indonesia, we need to safeguard all the standing forests on planet Earth if we are really committed to fighting climate change, which the Indian Government seems to have reiterated at multiple occasions since it has come to power. Based on where it is placed geographically, and the socio-economic distribution of its population, India is more vulnerable to climate crisis than a number of other parts of the world, and should do everything in its capacity to keep global temperatures from rising above 1.5℃. And we as citizens of this country need to drive this message loud and clear. References: 1. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/mining/centre-may-open-43-000-ha-of-jharkhand-s-saranda-forest-for-mining-66569?fbclid=IwAR1ksvp2CH9UjuXC9JkwxSr2XCOnaEyA54nfzZWJJAUK5imviRwWD0nT1QY
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  • 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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