Activists up in arms against the plan to cut down deodar trees for the widening of Char Dham roads
Nearly 6,000 deodar trees will be felled in the ecologically sensitive Bhagirathi Eco-Sensitive Zone to expand the Char Dham all-weather road. Activists and villagers are opposing this decision because it will negatively affect almost 25 streams in the Gaumukh glacier.
While authorities have guaranteed that the chopped-off trees will be transplanted, environmentalists contend it is a challenging exercise since deodar trees require specific temperature levels and soil conditions to survive, so the survival rate of transplanted deodar trees is not promising.
Activists also claim that the actual number of trees to be cut down is much higher than 6,000. (The Times of India)
Sand is the most exploited resource on Earth after water: UNEP report
A recent UN Environment Programme (UNEP) GRID-Geneva team report, Sand and Sustainability: 10 Strategic Recommendations to Avert a Crisis, reveals that with 50 billion metric tonnes of sand harvested annually to build highways and apartment complexes, it has become the most exploited resource on Earth. Considering that the current extraction surpasses natural sand replenishment rates, extraction of sand along oceans' shorelines as well as riverbeds must be capped to limit damage to fragile ecosystems and shield coastal communities from storm surges.
According to UNEP research, if governments introduced progressive legislation, it would be possible to eliminate unsustainable sand harvesting while also supporting the adoption of environmentally friendly alternatives. (The Weather Channel)
Kerala state disaster management authority denies having data on landslides, environmentalists disagree
The Kerala state disaster management authority (KSDMA) responded to a right to information request by stating that it does not have data on past landslides in the state from 2000 to 2021, but the data can be obtained from the Geological Survey of India (GSI), Kerala unit.
Environmentalists find this response shocking since KSDMA is the state's nodal agency for disaster management. Moreover, they suspect the agency is withholding the data because if it is shared, the question of mining will naturally arise.
KSDMA will have to reveal the data on quarries too, and will be required to say that the area is sensitive and that quarries should not be allowed, so it is easy for it to claim they don't have details about the landslides, informs Dr V S Vijayan, environmentalist and former member of Kerala Biodiversity Board. (The Times of India)
Cyclone Asani intensifies into severe cyclonic storm
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has reported that cyclone Asani has intensified into a severe cyclone with wind speed of 75-95 kmph. Although it is unlikely to make landfall, it has brought extremely heavy rains to some parts of Bengal. As the cyclone continues on its northwestward path, heavy rainfall can be expected over isolated coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal over the next three days. Northeast India is likely to experience fair to widespread rain and thunderstorms, with isolated heavy rainfall over Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura.
Both Odisha and Bengal governments have put in place disaster management plans, and the former has made arrangements to evacuate 7.5 lakh people in 18 districts if necessary. (The Weather Channel)
Chennai rivers receive heavy loads of raw sewage daily: Study
As per a study by Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB), about 250 million litres of raw sewage enter the city rivers every day. Several sewage treatment plants (STPs) in the city are operating below capacity or are at just 50 percent capacity as a result of illegal connections to drains and lack of pipelines under narrow lanes. The Metrowater is planning to increase sewage treatment capacity by 450 MLD so that it can address the 145 MLD of sewage water that remains untreated.
According to Jayaram Venkatesan, convenor of Arappor Iyakkam, an anti-graft NGO, the actual sewage entering the water bodies is five times greater than what is estimated by the board. (The Times of India)
This is a roundup of important news published from April 19 – May 5, 2022. Also read policy matters this fortnight.