Environment

Halfway through our interview, vegetable vendor Rekha asked me point blank, “Isse kya hoga,” and at that moment, I could not think of an answer. She was right and had every reason to be hopeless. Much has been written about air pollution and much energy has been spent on expert committees and political debates and yet nothing has changed.  “Hum toh garib log hai, hum kisko jakar bole, hamari sunvai nahin hoti” (We are poor people, to whom do we go, nobody listens to us),” says Rekha Devi, who sells vegetables in the Keshopur Mandi. Keshopur is a large retail…

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The Central Pollution Control Board and the State Pollution Control Boards are the primary custodians for preventing and controlling all forms of pollution in our country. Despite their significant role in environmental protection, the public is mostly unaware of the functions of these regulatory bodies, due to insufficient research. Therefore, we at Citizen consumer & civic Action Group (CAG) have attempted to understand the functions of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), through a study titled ‘The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board in Retrospect: An Examination of Selected Parameters from 2017 to 2022.’ Read more: Fisherfolk lament as environmental…

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October 2023 was a shocker for Mumbai. The coastal city has historically recorded lower AQI levels as compared to Delhi, which is notorious for its poor air quality. But the tables turned in October 2023, with AQI in Mumbai reaching dangerously high levels of up to 300, surpassing Delhi for several days. This led to a slew of respiratory ailments, more so among the vulnerable populations. PM2.5 levels have, in fact, seen a consistent increase in Mumbai over the past three years. Dr Jui Mandke, a paediatric surgeon practising in Mumbai, says, “In October 2023, we encountered the maximum number…

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Ottupattarai, once marred by the unsightly accumulation of waste in the picturesque hill town of Coonoor in Tamil Nadu, has undergone a remarkable transformation. This was possible through the dedicated efforts of Clean Coonoor, a city-based NGO. Nestled in the highest part of Coonoor, amidst the tea gardens of the Nilgiris, the waste dumping site in Ottupattarai has metamorphosed into a thriving garden that serves as a community space for residents. The makeover journey began in 2014 when 15 dedicated volunteers established Clean Coonoor to initiate sustainable waste management practices in the town. Beginnings of a journey In 2019, Clean…

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Summer in India has been abnormally hot this year and will continue to be so till June 2024, warns the India Meteorological Department (IMD). As reported by The Wire, in a virtual press conference on April 1st, IMD director general Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said that in the months from April till June, most of India will witness temperatures above normal. IMD's caution comes at a time when the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation also recently warned that 2024 will likely face worse summers after global heat records across the world.  “During the 2024 hot weather season [April to June (AMJ)], above-normal maximum…

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The river Yamuna enters Delhi from a village called Palla and travels for about 48 km. There is a part of the river, approximately 22 km long, between Wazirabad and Okhla, which is severely polluted, but for the remaining 26 km of its course, the river is still fairly clean. The surroundings serve as a habitat for a large number of trees, flowers, farms, birds, and people who have been living here for as long as they can remember. They are the urban farmers of Delhi-NCR, and they provide grains and vegetables for people living in the city. Although farming…

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A collective of 34 civil society organisations and more than 200 individuals from Tamil Nadu and across the country have written to the Thiruvallur District Collector, Additional Chief Secretary of Environment, Climate Change and Forests, Chief Wildlife Warden, and the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Cell to protect the Pulicat Bird Sanctuary for ecological and social reasons and settle the rights of people without reducing the sanctuary's boundary. The voluntary groups have urged the government to initiate the settlement of claims of local communities residing in the 13 revenue villages within the Pulicat Birds Sanctuary boundary limits. Excerpts from the letter:…

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Part 4: The plague of the ‘asuras’ Lesson learnt: None yet for we don't know from where or rather how so many caterpillars descended on us! In the second part of the series, I described how the Muplis beetles had invaded our home. As if we didn’t have enough on our plates with the beetles turning up every year. For a few seasons we had the added joy of seeing caterpillars contend with the Muplis for the top spot of insects we never wanted to see again. And these are not butterfly caterpillars, which I discussed in the third part…

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It’s summer, and did we forget about the yearly floods again? Last December’s disastrous tryst with monsoons and flooding is not new to the city but often washed away with the city’s other priorities. Throughout its history, Chennai has faced a range of disasters, both related to climate and other factors. Over time, the incidence of such calamities, particularly floods and droughts, has escalated, significantly impacting the city and its people, economy, and infrastructure. What the city needs is strategic urban planning, efficient water management and collaborative governance to mitigate flooding. Chennai must also be prepared to effectively respond to…

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I’ve lived in Bangalore since 2005; whenever visiting friends want me to take them to Bangalore Palace, I chuckle and confess I haven’t been there myself. We’ve all experienced living in a city whose joys and woes we haven’t fully explored. Guided walks can help us connect more deeply with our cities when familiarity might have bred contempt or, simply, blindness. It was to help residents deepen their understanding of Panaji, Goa’s administrative capital, and to visualise possible futures for Panaji, that Transitions Research, in collaboration with the Travelling Dome, organised guided walks on Friday, 15th March and Sunday, 17th…

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