World Toilet Day 2020: Safe fecal disposal key to sustainable sanitation

Fecal sludge management key to safe sanitation (Source: CS Sharada Prasad)
Fecal sludge management key to safe sanitation (Source: CS Sharada Prasad)

UN emphasises the need for safe faecal disposal this WTD2020

Every year, 19 November is celebrated as ‘World Toilet Day’ to create awareness about the 4.2 billion people, who are living without ‘safely managed sanitation’. The day marks the need to take stock of the actions undertaken to tackle issues around sanitation. In its proposal for this year’s ‘World Toilet Day’, the United Nations has stated that the rising impacts of climate change are threatening sanitation systems and sustainable sanitation along with clean water and hand-washing facilities are the key to a healthy world. UN has also suggested that the toilets built should capture human waste in a ‘safe’, ‘accessible’ and ‘dignified setting’. (The Print)

Only 83 birds of seven species recorded at India’s largest saltwater lake

A year after the country’s first avian tragedy, the Sambhar lake, that is spread around  240 sq kmts, has recorded only 83 water birds of the seven species this season. As per the ecologist T K Roy, the lake is approximately 75 percent dry with the least number of resident birds observed this season while the migratory birds too are negligible in number. However, more than 1,000 water birds have been found at other fresh waterbodies on the periphery of the lake that have plenty of water. According to Om Prakash, a local resident and bird conservationist, locals pump out water from the lake on a large scale, causing disturbances to the migratory birds that visit the lake. (The Times of India)

Rising temperatures could  decline water recharge in major river basins

According to a new study conducted by India’s IISc and Australia’s University of New South Wales, rising temperatures worldwide are expected to adversely affect the global water cycle in major river basins, including the Ganga and Brahmaputra. The study, based on Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite observations, also revealed reduction in water recharge, pointing to a clear association with diminished vegetation growth in the river basins. Being the first of its kind, the study found that 23 out of the 31 major rivers around the world investigated for the study showed reduced recharge with increase in temperature. (The New Indian Express)

Fire douses completely at Baghjan nearly after six months

On May 27, the Oil India Ltd gas well from its Baghjan oil field in the Tinsukia district in Assam experienced a blow-out of uncontrolled gas emissions. The oil spill fire has been doused completely after burning for more than five months and required coordinated efforts from experts in India, the U.S., Singapore, and Canada.

Although the company continues to deny any long-term impacts from its spill, the Wildlife Institute of India says that the incident could lead to long-term effects on the environment, as pollutants can leach into the ground and contaminate water. The locals in the vicinity have lost their houses and livelihoods to the fire and the oil blowout also poses a threat to the health of locals. (The Swaddle, The Times of India)

Eight countries unite to safeguard the Hindu Kush Himalayas

Recognising their fundamental and common dependence on the Hindu Kush Himalayas, the governments of eight countries-- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan—have agreed to speak in a united voice to safeguard the ecosystem of the region at the Hindu Kush Himalaya Ministerial Mountain Summit 2020 held in October. At the virtual summit, the eight countries came up with a call to action that has identified ‘six urgent actions’. The emphasis was given to work together on climate action to foster climate and disaster resilient communities in the mountains, downstream and beyond. (The Thirdpole)

This is a roundup of important news published between November 6 - 16, 2020. Also read policy matters this week.