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.

For more than a month now, Ennore has been in the news continuously. First, we had the floods, then the oil spill and now the gas leak. Hundreds of villagers in Ennore have been protesting for two weeks against the industrial pollution that has been taking a heavy toll on their livelihood and health for nearly five decades. Located in the northern part of Chennai, the Ennore Industrial Cluster has two thermal power stations, ash ponds, two ports, fertiliser manufacturing industries, pharmaceutical companies, oil storage terminals, coal storage yards and cement manufacturers. Once a quiet and verdant locale, the Kosasthalaiyar…

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Mumbaikars may have briefly felt better as pollution levels dipped with the unseasonal showers last week. But it may not last long and that persistent cold and cough might just return as temperatures fluctuate and pollution levels rise again.  Mumbai, the most densely-populated city, and in the throes of infrastructure projects and other construction, has had worrying pollution levels in the past few months. Data now shows that Mumbai has recorded a 38% increase in the PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels over the past five years. The data was analysed by Climate Trends and Respirer Living Sciences, and presented…

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'Slow motion Bhopal' — this was the title of the public hearing held recently to hear grievances of Ennore residents after the ammonia gas leak incident. As the title rightly points out, the episode was reminiscent of the horrors that people endured in the Bhopal gas tragedy. In the wee hours of December 27, residents in several areas around Ennore rushed out of their homes gasping for breath. Many complained of irritation in their eyes and throat, while some had blood oozing out of their nose. Few others, especially the elderly, fainted on the streets. All this happened after ammonia…

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For years, the residents of Ennore have grappled with the health and livelihood issues arising out of living in a toxic environment. The recent oil spill in the Manali area of Chennai, the ammonia gas leak on the night of December 26, 2023, and the events that followed have been nothing short of a nightmare. At a recent public hearing organised on January 1 at the Ennore Vyabarigal Sangam Thirumana Mandapam by the Ennore Makkal Paathukaappu Kuzhu (Ennore People’s Protection Committee) — a campaign front bringing together representatives of all 32 villages/localities in the Ennore/Ernavur region — people living in…

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Ever wondered why a lake has so many fish kills, algal blooms, or worse yet, a lingering stench that will make you cringe when you pass by? They are a result of the absence of certain assets, which are essential to keep the lake body clean and healthy. The issue of foam-covered water that has made Bellandur lake and Varthur lake infamous remains unsolved and is essentially a result of untreated sewage water and industrial waste being released into the lakes and not treated properly. The current scenario  A news article revealed that 201 lakes in Bengaluru city are under BBMP’s…

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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,…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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