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Slow progress on rail connectivity projects may impact coal production

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It has been a chicken and egg situation for country’s coal mining sector often blaming lack of rail connectivity for shortage of coal in the country. Situation is unlikely to improve in the coming days and in fact it may worsen thereby jeopardizing evacuation of a whopping 300 million tonnes of coal from nationwide coalfields. There seems to be lack of coordination between two ministries and also state governments in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha. 

For example, in case of Tori-Shivpur section in Jharkhand stage-II clearance is still awaited. The zonal Railways had submitted the clearance application to the state forest authority in the last week of October. However, the file has not moved from there to Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for further consideration. 

In case of Bhupdeopur-Korba-Dharamjai railway line, Coal India Limited (CIL), government of Chhattisgarh and IRCON formed a special purpose vehicle (SPV), with an equity share of 64%, 10% and 26%, respectively, and signed a memorandum of understanding at the beginning of the month. However, legal formalities for forming the company are moving at a slow pace. Read more

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Scientists identify 90,000 genes in bread wheat

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Scientists have decoded the genome map of bread wheat to identify more than 90,000 genes, some of which will hold the key to develop salt and heat tolerant wheat varieties in the future.

Bread wheat is one of the world’s most important food crops, accounting for 95 per cent of global wheat cultivation. At present, wheat production is under pressure globally, thanks to climate change and surge in demand.

Creation of superior variants will require better understanding of the wheat’s genetic composition, which is a complicated job since wheat genome is six times the size of human genome and contains six sets of chromosomes.

“When there are three genomes, it is like a jigsaw puzzle where three boxes have been mixed together. It’s far more complex,” Neil Hall, a researcher at the University of Liverpool that led the wheat genome analysis, told Deccan Herald. Read more

Kolkata ranks 7th highest in climate change in coming decades

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Kolkata is a climate vulnerable city and according to a study ranked seventh in the global list of cities facing the highest climate change in the coming decades, British Deputy High Commissioner (Eastern India), Sanjay Wadhwani said on Thursday.

“We know that climate change will impact business and the Kolkata economy in sectors such as buildings, power, water and energy supply,” Wadhwani said, announcing the launch of a study by the Centre for Low Carbon Futures (CLCF) and Jadavpur University.

Backed by the British Deputy High Commission, the study ‘The Economics of a Low Carbon Kolkata as part of the 10 Climate Smart Cities’ would be conducted in the Kolkata Metropolitan Area and would help identify relevant policies to attract investment.

The KMA was chosen for the study because it is one of the 10 largest cities in the world and is growing at a rapid rate. Read more

India throws $15 bln lifeline to world’s iron ore miners

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* With mining and export bans, India turns iron ore importer

* India annual iron ore imports may hit 30 mln T

* Exports seen down to 5 mln T, more China market for top miners

* India Oct exports to China lowest in at least 20 years

By Manolo Serapio Jr and Siddesh Mayenkar

PISSURLEM, India/SINGAPORE, Nov 29 (Reuters) – India’s efforts to clamp down on illegal mining have handed a $15 billion lifeline to global iron ore giants, and there could be more to come.

Steps taken by federal and state authorities to clean up the mining and export of iron ore have shut down output in two key producing states, slashing shipments and forcing steel mills to import a raw material the country has in abundance.

Now the Shah Commission, whose report on top exporter Goa led to the state government’s ban on mining in September, has turned its attention to the last major iron ore producing state of Odisha.

The exit of the world’s third-largest iron ore exporter has been perfectly timed for miners in other countries seeking alternatives for their growing supplies as appetite from top buyer China slows. Read more

Sea level rose 60 percent faster than UN projections, study finds

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Projections for sea level rise in coming decades could be too conservative, experts warned Wednesday, saying they found that the rise over the last two decades is much more than predicted by the U.N. scientific body tracking climate signals.

In a peer-reviewed study, the experts said satellite data show sea levels rose by 3.2 millimeters (0.1 inch) a year from 1993 to 2011 — 60 percent faster than the 2 mm annual rise projected by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for that period.

“This suggests that IPCC sea-level projections for the future may also be biased low,” the team wrote in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

The experts also said the IPCC was just about spot on with its predictions for warming temperatures. Read more

2012 ranks among hottest years ever, U.N. climate agency says

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Meteorologists said this year has ranked among the nine warmest since records began more than 160 years ago.

GENEVA — This year has ranked among the nine warmest since records began more than 160 years ago, continuing a trend for the planet that is increasing the dangers of extreme weather events, according to U.N. meteorologists.

“It confirms the trend towards a warmer planet,” Michel Jarraud, head of the World Meteorological Organization at the United Nations, said in Geneva on Wednesday as he delivered a provisional assessment intended to inform policymakers and negotiators attending the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar.

The final judgment on 2012 will come in March, but Jarraud said that meteorologists were not observing any major events that would greatly alter the preliminary findings. Read more

A Certified Path to Environmental Progress

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The Rainforest Alliance was a pioneer intesting the idea that businesses can prosper by adhering to transparent and science-based environmental standards for the products they grow or make. I became familiar with their work when I first plunged into rain forest reporting in a big way to write my 1990 book on the fight for the soul of the Amazon River basin. They’re still at it, developing projects in sustainable agriculture, forestry, tourism and education. (The education efforts include educating businesses, as in “A Practical Guide to Good Practice for Tropical Forest-Based Tours.”)

Tensie Whelan, the group’s president, sent the following “Your Dot” post reflecting on some recent discussions of certification issues and opportunities: Read more

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