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Environment Planning

India moving towards Low Emission Development

The Narendra Modi government is moving towards low emission development by pushing for more efficient appliances in agriculture and residential sector.


Let’s Plan for better health environment

Every dollar spent on better treatment of anxiety and depression produces a return of $4 in better health and ability to work – a big boost for countries’ development and economic growth, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.
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In this village in Madhya Pradesh children are climbing down wells to scoop out water

Children risk their lives, climb down an almost dried up well in a village in Dindori (MP) to fetch water

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Drought-hit states asked to utilise 10% of central funds: Birendra Singh

Union minister Birendra Singh on Tuesday asked the states reeling under severe drought to utilise 10% of the central funds lying with them for mitigating the problems like natural calamity even as the Centre was extending support to them.

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NASA Just Opened Up Access To 2.95 Million Images Of Earth

For the past 16 years, a Japanese-built instrument aboard a NASA research satellite has been quietly gathering data about Earth’s changing surface.

Those changes include everything from volcanic eruptions and massive wildfires to the worst North Korean drought in a century. NASA made the data publicly available on Friday for free — including more than 2.95 million images. (The data was previously accessible for a small fee through Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.)

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Rs 2,000 fine for washing cars, watering plants in morning

To check misuse of water during the summer, municipal authorities here have decided to impose a fine of Rs 2,000 on anyone found washing cars or watering plants in the morning hours.

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70% of Urban India’s Sewage is Untreated

There are four years left for the government target of ensuring all Indians use toilets, but in urban India alone, no more than 30% of sewage generated by 377 million people flows through treatment plants.

The rest is randomly dumped in rivers, seas, lakes and wells, polluting three-fourths of the country’s water bodies, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of various data sources. An estimated 62,000 million litres per day (MLD) sewage is generated in urban areas, while the treatment capacity across India is only 23,277 MLD, or 37% of sewage generated, according to data released by the government in December 2015.

Further parsing of this data reveals that of 816 municipal sewage treatment plants (STPs) listed across India, 522 work. So, of 62,000 MLD, the listed capacity is 23,277 MLD but no more than 18,883 MLD of sewage is actually treated. That means 70% of sewage generated in urban India is not treated. While 79 STPs don’t work, 145 are under construction and 70 are proposed, according to the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) Inventorization Of Sewage Treatment Plants report.

India’s towns and cities contaminate their own water, with no improvement over the years. Sewage generation in India from class-I cities (with a population more than 100,000) and class-II towns (population 50,000–100,000) is estimated at 38,255 MLD, of which only 11,787 MLD (30%) is treated, according to the Faecal Sludge Management report by Water Aid, a safe-water and sanitation advocacy, quoting a 2009 CPCB report. The untreated sewage is dumped directly into water bodies, polluting three-fourth of India’s surface water resources, the FSM report said. Up to 80% of water bodies could be polluted, the report said.

Operation and maintenance of existing treatment capacity is below par, with 39% plants not conforming to environmental rules for discharge into streams, the CPCB’s 2009 report said. An estimated 75% to 80% of water pollution is from domestic sewage, discharged untreated into local water bodies.

A general, growing shortage of (working) sewage-treatment plants

Of the 522 working STPs across India, maximum are in the northern state of Punjab, which has 86. But no more than 38 work.

State/UT Punjab Maharashtra Tamil Nadu Uttar Pradesh Himachal Pradesh All India
Capacity of Municipal STPs (MLD) 1,245.45 5,160.36 1,799.72 2,646.84 114.72 23,277.36
Total Municipal STPs 86 76 73 73 66 816
Operational Capacity (MLD) 921.45 4,683.9 1,140.83 2,372.25 79.51 1,8883.2
STPs Operational 38 60 33 62 36 522
Non-Operational STPs 4 10 1 7 30 79
Proposed STPs 13 11 1 70

Uttar Pradesh has the most working STPs, 62, followed by Maharashtra (60) and Karnataka (44). About 17 million urban households lack adequate sanitation facilities in India, with 14.7 million households having no toilets, the FSM report said. If you consider five people per family, that means about 85 million people–or more than the population of Germany–are without adequate sanitation in urban India. In terms of rural households, only 48.4% (87.9 million) have toilet facilities as on December 7, 2015, according to a reply in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament.

Around five million (7.1%) urban households having pit latrines that have no slabs or are open pits, and about 900,000 toilets dispose off faeces directly into drains. Only 32.7% of urban households that have sanitation facilities use toilets connected to an underground sewage network. As many as 30 million urban households (38.2%), of the 79 million households with septic tanks, have no clear method for sewage disposal.

Open defecation remains a major challenge

About 12.6% of urban households defecate in the open. This number is higher for slums, with 18.9% of households defecating in the open. Around 1.7% of households across India defecate in the open despite having toilets, the government informed the Lok Sabha in a reply last month, based on the National Sample Survey report 2012.

In Madhya Pradesh, around 22.5% urban households defecate in open spaces, followed by Tamil Nadu (16.2%), Uttar Pradesh (14.8%), Gujarat (8.7%), Maharashtra (7.7%) and Delhi (3%). As many as 55% of rural households defecate in the open, according to data tabled in the Lok Sabha on May 7, 2015. Odisha tops list, with 86.6% of rural households defecating in the open. In Kerala, no more than 3.9% of households defecate in the open.

The proportion of people practising open defecation globally has fallen almost by half, from 24% in 1990 to 13% in 2015. About 68% of the world’s population had access to improved sanitation facilities, including flush toilets and covered latrines, in 2015, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

However, nearly 2.4 billion people across the world lack basic sanitation facilities, such as toilets or latrines. Of these, 946 million defecate in the open, according to the WHO. The Swachh Bharat Mission, launched by the National Democratic Alliance government on October 2, 2014, aims to make India open-defecation-free by October 2, 2019.

The government plans to construct 2.5 million individual household toilets in urban areas by 2015-16, of which 882,905 were constructed upto December, 2015, according to latest data available. As many as 32,014 out of 100,000 community and public toilets have been built under the Swachh Bharat Mission. The rural sanitation programme, in its first year, saw the construction of 8.8 million toilets, against the target of 6 million.


Planting more trees can reduce UK’s flood risk, research shows

Natural defences can reduce flood height in towns by up to 20%, and should be used alongside conventional defences, say scientists

In a study led by the Universities of Birmingham and Southampton, scientists found that planting trees could reduce the height of flooding in towns by up to 20%.
They found strategic planting on flood plains could help towns downstream reduce the “peak height” of floods.

But the scientists warned that natural flood defences would need to be combined with conventional prevention techniques. The researchers studied a 100km river catchment in the New Forest, upstream of the town of Brockenhurst.

In a bid to better understand natural flood defences such as tree planting, river restoration and logjams – man-made dams – the researchers used a digital model of the terrain.

Planting trees on the flood plain and increasing the number of logjams across just 10-5% of the total river length was found to be able to reduce the peak height of a potential flood in the town by 6% once the trees had grown for 25 years. More extensive river restoration, for example in 20-25% of the total river length, resulted in a reduction in flood peak height of up to 20%.

Dr Simon Dixon, the study’s lead author from the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Forest Research, said: “We believe that tree planting can make a big contribution to reducing flood risk, and should be part of a wider flood risk management approach, including conventional flood defences.

“Tree planting would represent an extra element that helps to slow down the arrival of rain water to vulnerable locations.”

The research, funded by the Environment Agency, is published in the journal Earth Surface Processes and Landforms.

Ben Lukey, flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, said natural flood defences also improved water quality but was not suitable everywhere. He said: “The Environment Agency is already working with partners to use natural flood management measures – such as tree planting – in our flood defence work and have found that they can make an effective contribution when used alongside other, more traditional, flood defences.”

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