• 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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  • National Climate Emergency
    WATCH the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZUiFwTjrJw?showEmbed=true UPDATE: June 25, 2019 The current water crisis in Tamil Nadu is a wake-up call. Nearly two lakh cattle in the state have been reported dead for want of water. Acute water shortage is a reality in many Indian towns, and the crisis is now reaching mega cities. The UK, France, Canada and Ireland have formally recognised a climate crisis. Sydney's council recently declared an emergency too! It's time the Indian Government follows suit and declares a National Climate Emergency. Context: Inspired by Swedish student and climate change activist Greta Thunberg, lakhs of students and youth across continents went on a climate strike in March '19, demanding urgent climate action from their national governments. India is a signatory to the historic Paris Agreement, an international treaty to combat climate change and limit rise in global temperatures through Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Special Report has sounded an undeniable warning call to nations to collectively limit the rise in global average temperatures to well under 1.5°C. [2] - India’s INDC has yet not fulfilled the commitment of renewable energy generation. - Thermal power plant companies missed the 2017 deadline to reduce emissions (now extended to 2022), - The government has now commissioned more plants resulting in a 1.4% parallel rise in emissions - Funds from the National Clean Energy Fund was improperly diverted making them unavailable for clean energy initiatives. -The INDC also aims to create an additional carbon sink by increasing forest and tree cover by 2030 yet the decades-old national target of 33% forest cover has not been met under successive forest related policies. - Hasdeo Arand is one of the largest, continuous stretches of very dense forest in Central India. Once declared a no-go area, has now been given environmental clearance to expand the coal mining.[5] Air pollution and climate change are fundamentally inter-linked! There is an immediate need for India to phase out fossil fuels through an efficient exit strategy and supply all energy demands through renewable energy. It is hereby demanded that a National Climate Emergency be declared to bring climate justice to the forefront of national policy agenda. This can be done through strict implementation of India’s international and national obligations under the Paris Agreement to attain the IPCC goals. Join the global movement for climate justice. Let’s act now before it is too late to save our planet. References: https://fridaysforfuture.org/ https://www.ipcc.ch/2018/10/08/summary-for-policymakers-of-ipcc-special-report-on-global-warming-of-1-5c-approved-by-governments/ https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/india-commissions-more-thermal-power-plants-despite-pollution-concerns/story-SLb6uQTD2q3KnR3XLbwoPJ.html http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=128403 https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/centre-s-nod-for-mining-in-170khectares-of-forest/story-F60Pb7W8ybegHntaQ9YBwK.html
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  • Safeguard Pune's health: Implement Parking Policy
    Are you aware that amongst all the sources of air pollution, vehicular emissions have the highest adverse health impacts? The main hazardous pollutants among these are particulate matter (PM), sulphur dioxide (SO2 ), nitrogen oxide(NOx ), carbon monoxide (CO2), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and greenhouse gases. Out of these, the fine and ultrafine PM 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’s population is 35 lakhs, the number of registered vehicles has crossed 38 lakhs. This explosive growth in vehicular population has meant increase in vehicular emissions, and hence increased air pollution. Reducing the usage of private vehicles will reducevehicular emissions to a large extent, thus mitigating air pollution. A parking policy can play a big role in controlling the number of vehicles on the road. Vehicular parking on roads has become a menace in the last few years. Currently, there are no parking charges levied anywhere across the city. Parking spots are occupied (longer than they should) leading to indiscriminate and haphazard parking that creates traffic blocks and congestion. This in turn amounts to vehicles being on the road longer, thus emitting more pollutants. When a parking policy mandates high parking charges, people are encouraged to reduce personal vehicle trips and use alternative methods of commute like pooling, using public transport, walking or cycling, or in some cases avoiding the trip altogether. To facilitate this, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) approved a parking policy in March 2018. The main highlight of the policy was to ensure parking charges for on-street parking for all vehicles based on the space occupied by the vehicle, and as per demand (higher rates in high demand areas or during peak hours). The decision of the ruling party (BJP) at the time of passing the policy was to form a committee headed by the Mayor which would select five streets on which parking would be implemented for six months on a pilot basis, before applying it all over the city. A year and a half later, the committee is yet to decide these five streets, thus effectively stalling the policy. The Mayor, Nayana Gunde, has failed in discharging her duties and it is time for the Municipal Commissioner, Saurabh Rao, who yields the power to do so, to take some firm actions and get the policy implemented. Parisar, a civil society organisation working towards making Pune city more liveable with a focus on sustainable urban transport, had in fact urged the Commissioner to look into the matter but no action has been taken till date. Parisar, in collaboration with Jhatkaa is demanding the Municipal Commissioner of Pune to implement this long pending parking policy without any further delay. Support us by signing this petition which is a huge step towards achieving the long-term goal of clean air and a congestion-free Pune.
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  • No amendment to Delhi's Master Plan
    Delhiites, this needs your urgent attention! Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has proposed a modification to the Delhi Master Plan - 2021 (MPD) to make it more transit-oriented. Basically, this modification will cause great harm to Delhi’s already depleting green cover, prioritising more unnecessary concrete buildings. One of the major flaws in this plan is its blatant disregard of the environment. It considers dense, green areas like Sarojini Nagar and Yamuna floodplains as ‘underutilised’. The massive scale of construction under this plan will worsen Delhi’s air quality and will also lead to much lesser green cover. The proposed green cover under this plan is 20%, with its definition ranging from wild grass to fully grown trees. Furthermore, this modification goes against Delhi’s master plan. The capital is reeling under alarming environmental hazards, which is causing severe health issues amongst its citizens. Adding needless malls, offices and other buildings at such a time will prove to be expensive for the city’s near future. Citizens’ voices are growing in unison to stop this modification. DDA has asked for comments on their modification before April 23, 2019. Add your voice to this by signing the petition. IMPORTANT: Don’t forget to add your name, email address, phone number and contact number at the end of the email. Image source: Times of India
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  • Make NOTA accountable
    Their is a huge percentage of people who don’t vote cause they really don’t feel like voting for any party for reasons like corrupt candidate, corrupt parties or any other reason where they don’t see that the elected representative will do any good, hence they prefer not to vote at all , Secondly because NOTA voting is allowed but it doesn’t have a significant value, rather than wasting a vote, People cast a vote for the next best option, just for the heck of it. Once you give power to NOTA then even the political parties will think twice before making false promises & will focus on letting their work do the talking, Once NOTA is made accountable and people are educated about it, It will prove the true mandate of the people of this country & It will result in a governance by the people & for the people. Just as written in the constitution.
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  • Stop the draconian Indian Forest Act, 2019 from coming into force
    This is bad news, and needs your urgent intervention! Earlier this year, our Union government proposed an overhaul of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. This colonial-era law was imposed by the British so they could exert autonomy over India's forests. Replacing this much criticised act is a welcome move. However, the draft law that the government has proposed in its place is worrying. It has enhanced the policing and quasi-judicial powers that forest officials enjoyed under the original act and gives them some more. For instance, the power to shoot people without any liability. Basically, the forest department can shoot at citizens, search and seize property and arrest people even on mere suspicion of committing a crime. Doesn't this remind you of something? Yes, this draft law is much like the Armed Forces Special Protection Act (AFSPA), in that it gives forest officials the same legal protection as soldiers in disturbed areas. In addition, it will reduce and restrict tribals' and forest dwellers' access to forest produce, relocate people against their will, hand over forests to private companies for afforestation and diminish the role of gram sabhas by letting forest officials have the last say. The law has currently been shared with state governments for consultations, for them to share their suggestions and recommendations. States Governments must take a united stand against this draconian act, that threatens the livelihoods of marginalised communities. Together we can put pressure on the Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, and consequently the Union government, to scrap the draft Indian Forest Act, 2019. Sign this petition now. Source 1. https://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/centre-drafts-stricter-alternative-to-colonial-era-indian-forest-act-1927-119032001071_1.html?fbclid=IwAR0t6neo_E6RjbI10vWwDfPs0krq1YJyIYgY1hDNM2WFspqcoTqk11SOKyI 2. https://forestrightsact.com/2019/03/22/bjp-govt-wants-to-declare-war-in-forests-are-tribals-and-forest-dwellers-the-enemy/
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  • Do not let Bullet Train run over 1.5 lakh precious mangroves
    UPDATE: 1. The Environment Ministry has given the green signal for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train to go ahead. 2. The implementation agency has asked the Indian authorities to increase compensation to those (particularly farmers) who will be displaced as a result of the project. The Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) has given the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) a clearance on its proposal to go ahead with the ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project. This means the latter has been given a thumbs up to raze an estimated 150,000 plus mangroves along the coastal belts of Thane, Navi Mumbai and Palghar. As things stand, the files have been moved to the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Climate Change (MoEFCC) for a final nod. It is estimated that this project will adversely impact 131.30 hectares of forest area, including 150,752 mangroves spread over 32.43 hectares. Plus a part of the proposed project falls under the protected area and eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary and the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. All of this despite, the fact that the Bombay High Court has very recently ordered the protection of mangroves and wetlands saying: “The destruction of mangroves offends the fundamental rights of the citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. In view of the provisions of Articles 21, 47, 48A and 51A(g) of the Constitution of India, it is a mandatory duty of the State and its agencies and instrumentalities to protect and preserve mangroves.” This project will impact the leopards, and all the forest species in SGNP and also the migratory visitors - the flamingos. In addition, it will wipe out 150,000 plus mangroves, which serve as a nursery for juvenile fish and slow down the waves from the sea, thereby protecting the shoreline. This turn of events has been a complete surprise given that only late last year, the MCZMA had mentioned to the court that it could not allow the mangroves to be cut down for this project. While a number of organisations and individuals have raised an alarm, we as citizens of India urge you to ensure this project does not see the light of day. References: 1. https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/thane-navi-mumbai-mczma-nod-to-remove-mangroves-make-way-for-bullet-train-project-5632850/ 2. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/navi-mumbai/navi-mumbai-greens-oppose-killing-of-54000-mangroves-for-bullet-train-project/articleshow/68502494.cms
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  • Save 1,70,000 Hectare of Forests in Hasdeo
    UPDATE: On 14 October, the villagers from Tara in Surajpur district under the banner of Hasdeo Aranya Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, started an indefinite sit-in protest at against the coal mining project in Hasdeo. Land has been acquired unlawfully for the Parsa Coal Mining Project without the consent of the Gram Sabha. Adivasi communities have been protesting about it, not celebrating the festivals but coming together to fight for their Land, Forest and water. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Union environment ministry has given environmental clearance for open cast coal mining in Parsa in Chhattisgarh’s dense Hasdeo Arand forests span more than 1,70,000 hectares, total forest land which would be diverted for the various coal mines. This is one of the very few pristine natural forests in the country which cannot be replicated through plantation forestation. The coalfield covers a total area of 1878 sq km. of which 1502 sq km. has forest cover. Around 80% of this is covered by good quality forest (approximately 1176 sq km has a canopy cover of over 40% while an additional 116 sq km has a canopy cover of over 70%) Parsa Open Cast Mine, a unit of The Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Ltd(RVUNL) with Adani group as mine developer and operator is going forward to clear this dense forest for purpose of coal mining impacting several villages and wiping out the densest forests in Central India. In 2009, the entire area was termed as a “No-Go Area” or mining because of its rich forest cover(1) by Ministry of Environment and Forest(MOEF). The current order is in direct violation of the MOEF’s own report to cut through these dense forests. This decision could have far-reaching consequences for forest cover conservation in India. The repercussions of these decisions are being borne by the tribal and non-tribal people residing in and around the Hasdeo Arand. Since January 2018, there have been several incidents of human-elephant conflict in the region, which has resulted in both death and the destruction of property. If these proposals are granted, the conflict will only increase(1). Minutes of the forest advisory committee’s meeting highlighted that a section of the 841 hectares to be diverted for the mine lies in very dense forest(1). There is no mention whether the consent from gram sabhas was taken for the project(3) or on the impact to the communities in the area. RVUNL mentioned they do not have forest clearance(3). Apart from pending legal issues and procedural lapses, the grant of approval completely goes against the precautionary principle that is the need of the hour. Initiating mining will fragment one of the last remaining contiguous forest patches in central India, violate forest rights and increase human-wildlife conflict. Let us stop the government from destroying the Lungs of Central India. Sources: 1. https://thewire.in/rights/chhattisgarh-coal-mining-hasdeo-arand 2. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/adani-closer-to-mining-in-green-zone-in-chhattisgarh/story-uVIKz0aK8Lk8NH7C09x4bI.html 3. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/centre-s-nod-for-mining-in-170khectares-of-forest/story-F60Pb7W8ybegHntaQ9YBwK.html 4.https://www.greenpeace.org/india/en/issues/environment/1012/elephant-in-the-room/
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  • Don't let red tape affect implementation of solar policy in Gurugram
    In 2016, the Haryana Government announced the solar policy making it mandatory to install solar panels in homes across the state with an area of 500 sq yards or more. So far only 850 connections have been installed. Gurugram has been able to only harness close to 10% of its actual potential. The problem is of red tape in installing these solar panels(1). To incentivise solar panels, subsidies were offered but only 107 people have been able to avail these subsidies(1). According to a resident, subsidies take one to two years through a cumbersome process of going through various agencies. The installation costs are very steep and nonavailability of subsidy has been a major issue for residents. Additionally, the non-availability of net meters is a major deterrent for the people of Gurugram to install and use clean energy to power their homes(2). Since September 2018 no new connections of grid-connected rooftop solar panels have been installed since the Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (DHBVN) has not been able to release net meters — a key component that gets the system started(2). With the installation of solar panels, customers not only reap the benefits, but the excess power generated can be fed back to the distribution company. It is time that DHBVN acts promptly and makes the process of solar panel installation more streamlined and not let red tape come in the way of harnessing solar power. Sources https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/whats-more-powerful-than-the-sun-the-invisible-red-tape/articleshow/68445691.cms https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/Gurugram/rooftop-solar-plan-hits-roadblock-as-net-meters-unavailable/articleshow/67401897.cms
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