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Kaval: Forest Ministry agrees with contentions

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The Ministry of Environment and Forests on Wednesday agreed with the contentions raised by the National Green Tribunal (NGT, South) in Chennai that the Amrit Mahal Kaval grassland ecosystems in Challakere, Chitradurga district, constitute a critical habitat for the Great Indian Bustard, a ‘critically endangered species’.

Following the applications submitted by the tribunal constituting Justice M Chockalingam and Prof R Nagendran, the ministry said that the Kavals constitute “a potential habitat of Great Indian Bustard.”

The tribunal on August 21 had ordered a status quo on all project activities proposed in the Kaval.

In March, after the government handed over more than 10,000 acres of Amrit Mahal Kaval to science institutions such as Defence Research Development Organisation, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Indian Space Research Organisation, Indian Institute of Science, Sagitaur, activists Leo F Saldanha and Arthur Pereira, requested the NGT to direct a detailed study of the socio-economic impacts due to these projects.

They also sought directions to the State and Central governments to ensure that grasslands are protected and steps are taken to recognise the rights of dependent communities like local tribals and the removal of civil construction on that land.

Courtesy: The New Indian Express

Kudankulam n-plant stops power generation

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Chennai: The first unit of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) Tuesday night stopped operations due to a feed water problem, states a report Wednesday.

The 1,000 MW unit, which was resynchronised with the grid Oct 25 night was stopped at 8.03 p.m. Oct 29 due to feed water problem and is expected to re-start operations Nov 1, according to a Power System Operation Corporation Ltd. report.

Power System Operation Corporation operates the power grids – regional and national – and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd.

According to the report, the plant fed at an average 161 MW to the southern grid Tuesday down from 200 MW that was fed Oct 28.

This is the second time the plant stopped operations after it was synchronised to the grid this month.

On Oct 22, the 1,000 MW capacity KNPP unit was synchronised for the first time with the power grid at 2.45 a.m., and generated 75 MW of power.

The power generation was subsequently increased to 160 MW and nearly two hours later, the unit tripped due to reverse power.

On Oct 25 at 9.43 p.m., the unit was reconnected to the grid and generated around 160 MW.

Senior officials at KNPP were not available for comments on the latest stoppage.

The power (infirm power) generated by KNPP’s first unit will be supplied to Tamil Nadu as the unit has not started commercial generation.

Only when the unit is declared as commercially operational, will the power generated be shared with other southern states, officials added.

India’s atomic power plant operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) has been setting up two 1,000 MW Russian reactors at Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district, around 650 km from here. The total outlay for the project is over Rs.17,000 crore.

KNPP is India’s first pressurised water reactor belonging to the light water reactor category.

The first unit attained criticality July 2013, which is the beginning of the fission process.

In August, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board gave its nod to KNPP to raise the reactor power levels to 50 percent and for synchronisation of the unit with the power grid.

The NPCIL earlier said it would connect the first unit to the grid end-August, generating 400 MW power.

But that did not happen due to issues with the equipments, whose sorting and the testing took time.

According to NPCIL officials, the power at the first unit of KNPP will be increased gradually and by December this year, the unit is expected to touch its rated capacity of 1,000 MW.

Courtesy: sify news

Lessons on adapting to climate change

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Representatives from 20 cities from across South Asia will come together in Kochi on Wednesday to learn from each other on the issue of adaptation to climate change at the seminar on Asian Cities Adapt: Learning Exchange, co-organised by ICLEI South Asia and Kochi Corporation.

The two-day workshop, will present an impressive line-up of high-level local representatives from India, the Philippines, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Nepal, who will discuss solutions on how cities can adapt to climate change, together with climate experts and other practitioners from India, Southeast Asia and Europe. The civic representatives from other cities include Male city (Maldives) Mayor Maizan Ali Manik, Mongla Mayor Zulfikar Ali, and Singra (Bangladesh) Mayor Shamim Al Razi, and Shimla Deputy Mayor Tikender S Panwar.

“With the recently released fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment confirming that climate change is a reality and an increase in temperature and sea-level is therefore unavoidable, cities in Asia – one of the regions most vulnerable to climate change – must act, and must do so fast,” warn experts.

According to them, many cities attending the workshop have already witnessed the impact of changing weather patterns – the workshop will provide them with lessons and other approaches and experiences to understand consequences and identify suitable local responses better.

“Researchers from internationally-renowned institutions as well as expert agencies like German Cooperation Agency (GIZ ), Cities Development Initiatives for Asia (CDIA) and BBC Media Action will offer different perspectives on the issue, presenting the latest research findings and current initiatives at the seminar,” according to a release.

The workshop is organised as part of the ‘AsianCitiesAdapt – Impacts of Climate Change in Target Cities in India and the Philippines and Local Adaptation Strategies’.

The project was launched to formulate policy and practice to help four cities in India, including Howrah, Madurai, Visakhapatnam and Kochi and four cities in the Philippines like Baguio, Dagupan, San Fernando, Tuguegarao to take the first steps towards developing an appropriate adaptation strategy.

The project was implemented with the support from the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), Government of Germany, through their International Climate Initiative.

Courtesy: The New Indian Express

Top countries threatened by climate change

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(CNN) – Nearly a third of the world’s economic output will come from countries facing high risks from the impact of climate change with 12 years.

Those findings are published in the Annual Climate Change Vulnerability Index, produced by UK-based risk analysis firm Maplecroft.

According to the index, Bangladesh was the most-vulnerable country and its capital Dhaka the most vulnerable city.

The area is susceptible to flooding, cyclones, and landslides, and doesn’t have strong institutions in place to address the problems.

Four other cities categorized as facing “extreme risk” from climate change impacts are also located in Asia, Mumbai and Kolkata in India; Manila, in the Philippines, and Bangkok, Thailand.

Coal fire – 1: Three Tata Group firms under CAG spotlight

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More than a year after the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) tabled the coal block allocation report in Parliament, indicting the government for a notional loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore while allocating coal blocks, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed 14 First Information Reports (FIRs) against private sector companies, and more are in the offing. Tata Steel, Tata Sponge and Tata Power are among the 57 private sector companies which, according to CAG, have benefitted at the expense of the exchequer.

Tata Steel has been allotted two semi-coking coal blocks — Kotre Basantpur and Panchmo — in Jharkhand with combined reserves of 250 million tonnes. The Ganeshpur thermal coal block, linked to a power project, with reserves of around 137 million tonnes in Jharkhand, was allotted jointly to Tata Steel and Adhunik Thermal Energy.

While Kotre Basantpur and Panchmo were allotted on August 11, 2005, Ganeshpur was allotted on May 28, 2009. However, years after the allotment, the blocks are still non-producing, primarily for want of clearances. (THE COAL TREASURE MAP)

Tata Steel did not respond to questions. Its managing director, H M Nerurkar, had said last year there was no scam in coal allocation. “There was a policy and people have followed the policy. Coal is just a pass-through. If coal prices increase, it would be reflected in power rates. What is the scam? Lots of figures are coming up, but there are many issues like lease issue and mine and environment clearances,” Nerurkar had said in August last year.

Tata Steel officials had said in earlier interactions that the public hearing for the Ganeshpur block was over, but some of the procedures were still pending, before the block was handed over to the companies. On the other hand, the legal formalities for the Kotre Basantpur and Panchmo had been processed by the state government and the central government’s nod was awaited. The lease for these two blocks, linked to Tata Steel’s expansion of old plants at Jamshedpur, was originally with Coal India and the transfer took some time. That’s Tata Steel’s version.

However, on November 4, 2010, the coal ministry sent a show-cause notice to Tata Steel over the inordinate delay in developing the Kotre Basantpur and Panchmo blocks. The coal ministry’s letter to Tata Steel said that in the review meeting held on June 22 and 23, 2009, the company had assured production in December 2011. “However, in the review meeting held on July 20-21, 2010, it was noticed that no serious efforts have been made by the company to develop the coal block, even after repeated assurances tendered by the company during the period,” the letter read. The company was asked to respond in 30 days’ time, failing which the ministry had said it could face de-allocation. Tata Sponge, in which Tata Steel has a majority stake, has already drawn flak for not meeting milestones. Its bank guarantee in respect of Radhikapur (East) jointly allocated to Tata Sponge, Scaw Industries and SPS Sponge Iron, was recommended for deduction last year. The inter-ministerial group deliberated on the presentation made by the companies and decided against deallocation of the block, but felt the bank guarantee could be deducted because of shortfall in production. Another Tata group company whose name is doing the rounds for not meeting milestones is Tata Power. It has a joint block with Hindalco Power in Jharkhand, which was allocated on August 1, 2007. The block has reserves of about 190 million tonnes and is non-producing, according to the CAG report.

Tata Power shares another block with Monnet Ispat & Energy and Jindal Photo, which is also non-producing. The block was allocated on January 9, 2008 and has reserves of 322 million tonnes.

Company State Block Gross reserves (million tonnes) Date of allotment
Tata Steel Jharkhand Kotre Basantpur 148.399 11-Aug-05
Tata Steel Jharkhand Panchmo 101.992 11-Aug-05
Tata Steel & Adhunik Thermal Energy Jharkhand Ganeshpur 137 28-May-09
Monnet Ispat & Energy, Tata Power and Jindal Photo Orissa Mandakini-A 322.796 9-Jan-08
Hindalco & Tata Power Jharkhand Tubed 189.823 1-Aug-07
Tata Sponge & Others Orissa Radhikapur East 183.429 7-Feb-06
Source: Performance audit of allocation of coal blocks and augmentation of coal production

This is part of a series, where we look at companies which are facing the heat from the coal scam and why.

Courtesy: Business standard

Indian President calls for efficient water use

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The Indian President has called on his country to use water more efficiently with the three ‘R’s – reducing, recycling and reusing.

Speaking at the second India Water Forum event in New Delhi, Pranab Mukherjee (pictured, right) said the nation has only 4% of water resources despite being home to 17% of the global population.

“As we grapple with diminishing water resources and escalating water demand, water use efficiency holds great promise,” he is quoted as saying. “The improvement of water use efficiency requires innovative tools of promotion and incentives for efficient water utilisation”, he added.

Mr Mukherjee said water management in the agriculture sector is also crucial for the overall sustainability of the nation’s water resource.

He added: “The 3R strategy of reduce, recycle and reuse has to find application in our farmlands… Our efforts at recycling and reuse of wastewater have to be doubled… Rain water harvesting has to be popularised by dovetailing existing rural development schemes.”

The Government of India had initially set a target to provide water facilities in all urban and rural areas by the end of the decade but due to “financial and other constraints” it reduced it to 90% in urban areas and 85% in rural areas, according to the Ministry of Water Resources.

Courtesy: energy live news

Green Tribunal’s orders to regulate traffic for saving Kaziranga animals

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New Delhi: Kaziranga National Park in Assam had been in news off late for all the wrong reasons due to frequent rhino poaching for its horn coupled with killing of other herbivores by the poachers. Besides poaching the other culprit for death of wild animals is National Highway 37 that traverses through the park on which often wild animals come under the wheels of speeding vehicles.

Taking a serious view of this fact the National Green Tribunal on Tuesday asked the Assam government to put barriers, speed cameras and challan negligent drivers and impound their vehicles to streamline traffic on a stretch of this national highway.

A bench comprising NGT chairperson Swatantra Kumar said, “We are sure nothing has been done. There is no regulatory mechanism. We want barriers points to be fixed, speed cameras to be installed by next date of hearing and challans (of vehicles) be done and show how are you (Assam) trying to protect animals from entering the most vulnerable area of the 20.5 km road passing through the national park.”

The bench passed the order after the state government placed before it a proposal to regulate traffic on the stretch while also contending that “The State government is completely insignificant. The Ministry of Environment and Forests can take charge of the issue and consult the Wildlife Board.”

“Fixing barriers, cameras and challaning vehicles doesn’t need a 30-page report,” the bench remarked.

It also said “the suggestions made (by the state) can hardly be considered in the absence of MoEF which is a necessary party.”

The bench warned the MoEF of adverse orders in case of further non-appearance leading to adjournment of cases.

The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by RTI activist Rohit Choudhury opposing expansion of the NH 37 stretch running through the national park.

During the hearing, the bench asked the state government to show what steps has been taken to address the issue.

When the state said it has put signages on the stretch, the bench remarked, “You want animals to read signages.”

“Show us a single document that you have challaned even one vehicle. We know roads can’t be shut but we don’t have right to kill animals. From photographs before us, it is obvious that vehicles are moving at a very high speed. It is a very valuable wildlife. Why should we shut our eyes to it?” the tribunal observed.

Courtesy: indiLeak

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