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Government Actions this Week

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How Bengal's Mejia Power Plant is Wrecking the Life of the People

Another example of how India’s public sector is killing the poor.
This author has repeatedly pointed out how the public sector is by far the biggest polluter in the country. It is now protected by lazy bureaucrats and uninformed or dis-interested politicians. A harrowing tale of the great tragedy around West Bengal’s largest coal-lignite power plant.



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Environment ministry dilutes norms for thermal power plants

The gloves are off – thermal power to pollute more and use more water.
It is now fairly clear; the government is not bothering about the environment for now.  Story after story shows how specific actions are being taken that will work against a better environment but may have some short-term financial gains for the government.  Most thermal power is produced by the government, and it is in no mood to increase its own costs.



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India’s coastal law is being altered in public interest, by passing the pub

“Eighth time in the last three years that the ministry has dispensed with the requirement of a public notice.”
Now the environment ministry says that thorium-uranium mining in coastal areas is to be allowed.  Over the last few years that this author has been following the government’s environmental policies, there has been a distinct acceleration in decisions that go against environmental concerns.  It could be that these are temporary, and fears of an economic slowdown are behind this shift, that is the best that we can hope for at this point.



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Supreme Court bans use of furnace oil & pet coke in industry in NCR

Supreme Court bans use of furnace oil & pet coke in NCR.
India’s highest court lashed out at the Central government for not banning the use of furnace oil and pet coke by industry.  Why would the central government not do it?  The government has no extra love for the industry as its other actions reveal.  It could be because government entities are among the largest suppliers of PET coke and furnace oil.  Either that or India’s environment is today controlled more by bureaucratic laziness than political lobbies.



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Telangana govt asks pollution control board to check water quality in 118 w

The Fisheries department in Telangana suspects most water bodies are highly contaminated.
Telangana is not among the most industrially advanced states in India, and when a large number of its water bodies are suspected it is time to take notice.  The fisheries department in the state does not have a good enough water monitoring unit and has to depend upon the pollution control board of the state.  It is time, it got its act together, for worse is yet to come as Telangana attempts large-scale industrialization.



Initiatives


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When Cities Were Nature's Haven: A Tale From Bangalore

How cities and nature lived with synergy.
A fascinating article on work done by the author on India’s urban environment history.  I was fascinated by the author’s take on how a new city was started with the creation of a water tank.  So obvious when you think about it, but we have somehow forgotten the about the beauty of the public spaces that are created around such tanks and ponds and riversides.



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NCR lost 40% of its water bodies in 42 years

Disappearing water bodies.
There was a time when seasonal rivers, ponds, and lakes dotted the vicinity of most cities in India.  Delhi was one such city among others like Bangalore, Pune, and Kolkata.  However, almost all large and small Indian cities have seen a rapid decline in the number and size of their water bodies over time.  In most cases, they were taken over by land mafia and built upon, but in a few simply poor maintenance and cutting off sources did the job.  But it is never too late, new bodies can be developed and old ones re-invigorated.



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Jhelum’s flood vulnerability increases manifold due to shrinking of wetland

The picturesque state is losing its wetlands and ponds.
Economic considerations overpowering the need for leaving water bodies alone.  Traditional communities across India – from Rajasthan to Mizoram and from Kerala to Kashmir rarely let private interests take over water bodies and surrounding areas.  But independent India threw away its honourable traditions in the interest of what it called ‘modernity’.  As the recent floods showed, the economic impact will also not be positive when extreme weather hits.
On a Different Note



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How US beef export to Asia and climate change are linked

A different beef problem altogether.
American cows fed on hormones and chemical-laced cattle feed, backed by subsidized corn not to mention other inputs, is spreading across Asia.  The impact on climate is significant as meat production requires far more water, produces far more carbon than the traditional marine animal based one.  The only solution is controlling the rapid beef-ication of Asian diets, but can we reverse such preferences.



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This startup is training crows to throw away cigarette butt litter

Butts of the cigarette variety can take more than a decade to decompose.  But if crows can pick and deposit them in exchange for a peanut, it’s a win-win for all.  The Dutch start-up is at the experimental stage, but if this works, it could do wonders for clean India campaign.  All those crows and all that garbage that our PM is blaming us for would naturally come together at the cost of peanuts, while municipal workers can be told to go take a hike!  



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