Environment

Extensive coverage of urban environmental issues and the climate crisis as experienced in our cities through a combination of reports, analyses, interviews and commentaries. Focus areas include waste management, air and water pollution, protection of open spaces and water bodies, and the overall impact of climate change on urban communities. The articles explore solutions from a policy as well as citizen engagement angle.

Crude oil, reportedly from a public sector refining company, has leaked into the Kosasthalaiyar river to the north of Chennai, the biodiverse Ennore creek, and the Bay of Bengal, thereby polluting the ecosystem and rendering the waters unfit for fishing. As many as 2,301 fisher families have been affected, and 787 boats remain damaged. In the absence of fishing opportunities, fishing communities struggle for the basics and say that the compensation provided is insufficient. As the oil has also impacted the mangroves in the region — an essential breeding ground for fish and a crucial part of the marine ecosystem,…

Read more

Here is the deal with water and Bengaluru, and it makes no sense. We have had a year of poor rainfall and there is water shortage. Our reservoirs are running low, and our groundwater is already over-exploited. We have had a rainfall deficit. Also, overall, the city is experiencing much more rainfall. And, every time it pours, it floods. But when there is no rain, we start needing tankers. We are the land of lakes and the land of lost wastewater potential. By now my editor will be groaning, so I will stop. But to make sense of my stream…

Read more

On the afternoon of 26 November, 2023 a group of about 50 people gathered for a unique meeting at tribal activist Prakash Bhoir’s house at Mumbai’s Aarey forest. Members shared anecdotes, recalled incidents as they came together to commemorate their nine-year-long fight to save Aarey forest from concrete urban projects, especially the 33 hectare-Metro 3 car shed.  Dafli in hand, Prakash, a prominent tribal face from Mumbai now, sang a song he wrote on Aarey. He recalled the night of October 4, 2019, when his wife Pramila Bhoir was arrested for opposing the massive tree cutting.  “We were just going…

Read more

Researchers from Azim Premji University, in a rapid Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report, has observed the environmental impact of the proposed Ejipura Flyover project, which has been delayed for six years now. The study--conducted by Harini Nagendra, Seema Mundoli, Vidya Ramesh, Vivek G and Soumi Das-- highlights that more than 200 trees are under threat due to this project. The study was undertaken on the 1.4 km stretch where the flyover is proposed. In this stretch, they counted 207 trees of 24 species from 11 families. Of the 207 trees, 51 are rain trees. The report includes the assessment about the…

Read more

International Mountain Day is celebrated on December 11th as a response to call by UNCED (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development). The aim is to raise awareness about the importance of the fragile ecosystems and to come up with different ways to sustain and prevent them from destruction of any kind. Forest, hills, plants and animals are my life. I was fortunate to grow amidst nature, wild animals and birds. Being a pahadan (the one who lives in the mountains), hills and mountains are in my blood. When I came to Kharghar in 2016, the hill, simply called the…

Read more

A recent report by the Environmental Management & Policy Research Institute (EMPRI) finding heavy metal contamination in vegetables sold in Bengaluru markets has sparked concern among the city’s residents. The report, which was written in November 2022, was featured by the Deccan Herald in October this year. The report found that 10 common vegetables, including tomatoes, onions and spinach, were found to have unsafe quantities of heavy metals. We look at the main findings of the study. What are heavy metals? Heavy metals literally refer to metals that are dense or heavy in terms of their atomic weight. These metals…

Read more

As autumn creeps in and festival season begins, the quality of air in our cities grows murkier than usual. And then, as we move towards winter, the situation only becomes progressively worse. The air pollution menace in urban India is probably the greatest threat to health and well-being of the people as things stand. According to a 2021 study, unsafe levels of PM2.5 lead to approximately four million premature deaths annually, across the globe. Of this, 25% occur in India. And contrary to what many might deduce from the usual talk around air pollution, it is not only the large…

Read more

A once iconic bird in Bengaluru’s lakes is now a rare sight. Spot-billed pelicans, which are fish-eating water birds, were common, especially in large lakes across the city. Huge flocks of over a hundred birds would occupy lakes like Madiwala, Hebbal and Jakkur. But today, birdwatchers celebrate even sighting a handful of these birds. The decline in the city is linked closely to mass deaths of the species in their breeding sites in the Mysuru-Mandya region. But the exact reason is a mystery. Spot-billed pelicans or Pelicanus phillippensis are one of eight species of pelicans in the world and are…

Read more

● With a rise in sea surface temperatures on account of climate change, heavy rainfallareas extend to greater distances (>300 km) around cyclone centre● Ocean warming has not only altered SSTs but also their pattern● El Nino indices (Nino 3.4) have crossed 2°C for the first time since February 2016,after the super El Nino of 2015● 2.9 million people in Andhra Pradesh are vulnerable to cyclones as 3.3 million peopleare located within 5 km distance from the coastline.● In the past 40 years, there may not have been a single year when Andhra Pradeshdid not experience either a storm, a…

Read more

Part 1 looked at the details of the Bengaluru Climate Action and Resilience Plan (BCAP), its objectives, focus areas, resource planning, etc. The Government of Karnataka has tasked Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) with the primary leadership and responsibility for this initiative. While plans on paper seem comprehensive, the ground reality, however, leaves much to be desired. The challenges are many. The government needs to put in place a governance structure to execute them, considering that BBMP, entrusted with the primary leadership responsibility, hasn’t had an election for over seven years! What does sustainable and healthy living-an objective of BCAP-mean for…

Read more