Stay up-to-date on news related to the environment.

PM calls environmental clearances the new ‘licence-permit-quota raj’

At the Union Cabinet meeting on January 10 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated that environmental clearances have become the new “licence-permit-quota raj”. He made the comment after NCP chief and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar raised the issue of central ministries filing court cases against each other. He was referring to the petition filed by NHAI in the Supreme Court over the delay in forest clearances for road projects.

Environmental clearance

While Greenpeace and other civil society members have been working on protecting forests in Central India from coal mining it is quite clear that the central government views green clearances as the primary reason behind delays in infrastructure projects like roads and power, despite the fact that numerous studies show that over 95 % of all projects recieve clearence.

A Greenpeace India study has determined that coal mining in just 13 coalfields in Central India threatens over 1.1 million hectares of forest- that’s almost twice the area of India's top five metros combined!

Over 9,00,000 people have signed the petition to the PM asking him to protect forests in Central India from coal mining.

Dead Olive Ridley turtles wash ashore in Odisha; Wildlife activists cry foul

Dead olive ridley turtleOver 150 carcasses of Olive Ridley turtles, an endangered species of sea turtles, were found close to their nesting spot at the mouth of River Rushikulya off Odisha's Ganjam coast. Forest officials who recovered the carcasses underplayed their death and said the turtles were decomposed and hence had washed ashore from Puri district where a number of turtles were found dead recently. They added that some of the turtles died of natural causes while others died in the deep sea from other causes.

However, wildlife activists alleged that the turtles died due to the lack of patrolling to protect them by the forest department and overfishing by trawlers. Activists also said that the figures are much higher than official estimates with one activist claiming that over 4000 dead turtles had washed ashore the Odisha coast in the past month.

Black carbon found to cause more global warming than previously estimated

A new study published online by The Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres (hyperlink to study found that black carbon, the primary constituent of soot is the second highest contributor to global warming, carbon dioxide being the first. These particles are mainly emitted through diesel engines and primitive cooking stoves.

Unlike carbon dioxide which remains in the atmosphere for decades, black carbon generally stays in the air for a week to 10 days. So effectively although reducing carbon dioxide levels is of utmost importance, the effects of its reduction on global warming will only be seen way in the future. This is not the case with black carbon and any reduction will have an immediate effect on global warming. 

Phasing out primitive stoves that emit soot and substituting diesel engines with more environmental friendly options will have an immediate positive effect and go a long way in reducing global warming.

Everest glacierEnvironmentalists ask UNESCO to make Everest an endangered heritage site

Environment activists from all over the world urged UNESCO to include Mount Everest in the list of endangered heritage sites because of the risks posed by climate change. Edmund Hillary, the first man to scale the highest peak in the world, along with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay was among the group of climbers, environment groups and concerned individuals who made this request.

Climate campaigners warned that the Himalayan lakes are swelling because of the run-off from the melting glaciers. Lives of thousands of people and the unique Himalayan environment will face the threat of destruction if these lakes swell to the point of bursting.

Images: i) © Dhritiman Mukherjee/Greenpeace, ii) © Greenpeace, iii) © Greenpeace / John Novis.