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India Green News: Himalayan glaciers on the retreat due to climate change, while Indian Supreme Court mandates new enviro regulatory agency

Kristina Johnson

Posted January 9, 2014

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January 8th, 2014

India Green News is a selection of news highlights about environmental and energy issues in India

Climate Change

Himalayas lost 13 per cent of glaciers in forty years

Amid controversy and debate over the precise impact of global warming on the Himalayas, glaciologists analysed a massive cache of data on the mountain range and have concluded that it lost 13 per cent of its glaciers in just four decades.

Approximately 443 billion tonnes (Gt) of glacier ice was lost in this timeframe, says a new research paper published in Current Science. It estimates the total glacial water stored in the Indian Himalaya to be around 4,000 Gt.

“This loss is significant considering the amount of water stored in the glaciers of the Indian Himalayas” say authors Anil V. Kulkarni and Yogesh Karyakarte of the Divecha Centre for Climate Change at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc).

The scientists reviewed information on 11,000 sq km of Himalayan glaciers — from existing field investigations, satellite imagery, inventories of the Geological Survey of India, scientific papers and maps — and conclude that in fact “most of the Himalayan glaciers are retreating.”

(Times of India, 1/9/2014)

Scientists to Study Climate Change Impact in Sunderbans

KOLKATA: Researchers from India, Britain and Bangladesh are studying the impact of climate change on livelihoods of those living in Sunderbans mangroves, the world's largest mangrove forests.

More than two-thirds of the forest lies in Bangladesh, the focus of the study, and the rest in West Bengal.  Under the ongoing Ecosystem Services For Poverty Alleviation (Deltas) project, as many as 50 experts from the three countries are investigating the impact of climate change on ecosystem services (benefits derived from ecosystems by humanity) and the health and well-being of the community. 

(Times of India, 1/7/2014)


First National Wind Energy Mission to begin by mid-2014

NEW DELHI: The government will launch its first wind energy mission this year to give a boost to the renewable source and putting it in the same league as the high-profile solar mission. The 'National Wind Energy Mission (NWEM), which would be launched around the middle of the year, would give incentives to invest, east land clearances and regulate tariffs. But unlike the flagship 'National Solar Mission' it would not involve projects for bidding. It would act as a "facilitator", officials said.

"We wish to coordinate separate lines of action in the wind sector and involve all the stakeholders. Wind energy led to the establishment of renewable based power in the country but lately it has been marred by several issues," said Alok Srivastava, joint secretary (wind) in the ministry for new and renewable sources of energy.

(The Economic Times, 1/8/2014)

Environmental Health & Governance

Supreme Court breathes life into environment regulator proposal

A National Environmental Appraisal and Monitoring Authority will be created before March 31, 2014 following a Supreme Court order on Monday. The industry would be soon queuing up before a new autonomous agency to seek environment clearances under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

The NEAMA, planned during Jairam Ramesh’s tenure as Union Environment Minister and at times referred to as National Environment Protection Authority within the Ministry, was envisaged as an autonomous body, partly inspired by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency and that of autonomous authorities in India such as the Securities and Exchange Board of India. A Cabinet note asking for the same was circulated for discussions but never made it to the Union Cabinet for a final decision.

The proposal was then buried within the Ministry even though the Supreme Court had passed an order in 2011 — referred to very often as the Lafarge judgement — ordering such an authority.

The Ministry’s interpretation remained that it was only a recommendation and not an order of the court but the Forest Bench of the apex court on Monday ruled otherwise.

(The Hindu, 1/7/2014)

Dusty roads give rise to sale of masks

VARANASI: Broken, dug up dust-covered roads of the city have added to city pollution to such an extent that people are now opting for masks to prevent respiratory problems. However, the experts say that the masks available in the market are not viable against the current status of pollution in the city.

Due to digging of roads for various projects and lack of maintenance the city remains covered in clouds of dust for most of the time. Finding no end to this problem people, especially bikers, are going after dust masks available in market.

(Times of India, 1/8/2014)

Travel chaos as dense fog descends on India

NEW DELHI: North India is experiencing its worst fog since 2010. It has severely affected road, rail and air traffic in New Delhi.

Some 150 flights were diverted on Sunday. The capital was engulfed in a dense blanket of fog and air pollution that causes breathlessness, skin and eye irritation in some people. Car emissions account for about 75 per cent of New Delhi's pollution.

(Channel News Asia, 1/6/2014)

For more news on the issues we care about, visit our India News archive or read our other International blogs.

This compilation of the India Green News was authored by Kristina Johnson.


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