Wednesday, 29 June 2016

JUNE 2016: 16-30 (FORTNIGHTLY)



JUNE 2016: 16-30 (FORTNIGHTLY)
  (15-30)  JUNE 2016 (पाक्षिक)
              World Day to Combat Desertification (June 17)

GREEN      FEATURES

                                                     - जलवायु संकट, पारिस्थिकी
                                     - प्रदूषण                
                                             - आदिवासी विमर्श
                                              - कृषि और किसानी
                                        - जल दर्शन
                                                    - देशज ज्ञान और स्वास्थ्य
                                     - विविध




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विषयवस्तु

जलवायु संकट:
·        Marathwada: Environmental disaster in the face of climate change
·        Biggest US coal company funded dozens of groups questioning climate change
·       Greenland Hits Record 75°F, Sets Melt Record As Globe Aims At Hottest Year
·        Odisha gets its 1st 100% solar-powered village
·        Centre’s draft forest policy moots green cess

प्रदूषण:
·               In the Pits: the Ganga River, dredged to death

कृषि और किसानी
·        दो करोड़ हेक्टेयर भूमि सिचाई के दायरे मे लाएगी केंद्र सरकार
·         खाद्य पदार्थो मे छिपे खतरे
·         Customs officers to replace experts to ensure imported food safety norms at airports
·        हक के इंतज़ार मे किसान 


देशज ज्ञान और स्वास्थ्य:
·        BHOOMI STORIES: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU KEEP A PROMISE MADE TO THE LAND
·         Tackling water salinity in Mewat, Haryana


विविध
·        वन्य जीव विशेष
·        FOOD
·        Second unit at Kudankulam to reach criticality ‘very soon’
·        Human trial of Zika vaccine to start soon
·        Not all is bright and shining with LED light: Study
·        Small is smart for this A.P. village
·         Image : पर्यावरण संरक्षण के लिए संगीत


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जलवायु संकट

Marathwada: Environmental disaster in the face of climate change
Marathwada is a classic example of environmental disaster due to climate change which can get worse in the absence of sincere and planned action

Marathwada has been witnessing severe drought over the last few years. This year has seen the worst with many farmer suicides reported [1]. The article--Agriculture is injurious to health-- published in Economic and Political Weekly, May 7, 2016 warns that Marathwada is a classic example of an environmental disaster in the wake of climate change. Vidarbha, too, is undergoing similar changes.
Farmers here are finding it very difficult to go on with farming with many of them slowly migrating to the cities and taking up new occupations. In fact, the paper argues that these days, agriculture has become injurious to health and the outcome of farming in India is death. Despite no formal acknowledgement of this truth, the increasing cases of farmer suicides stand testimony to it.
Lack of planning and poorly designed agricultural policies
The article questions the lack of political will at the central as well as the state levels to draw up systematic action plans for agricultural research and disaster mitigation in the face of climate change. This is reflected in the lack of adequate research and efforts made for better weather and rain-prediction mechanisms, developing climate-resilient agricultural products such as heat-resistant wheat varieties successfully used in certain African countries or crops that can withstand water stress, in spite of India coming second on the climate-change vulnerability index.
The agricultural policies, too, do not provide any security to the farmers. In fact, they seem to have been designed to increase the insecurity of farmers. For one, there is reduction in the fertiliser subsidy. The increase in the minimum support price of agricultural produce by a mere 4-5 percent, as compared to 15 percent earlier, have led to the increase in the cultivation costs. This, despite the fact that the income generated from farming has not improved substantially.
The compensation for crop loss given by the state government to farmers is a cruel joke as it is much lower than the cost of cultivation which leaves the farmer with nothing in his hand for the next sowing which needs to start within 35 to 50 days, in case of crop failure. The lack of economic security often forces farmers to approach moneylenders who charge interest rates between 48 percent to 100 percent per annum, as nationalised banks do not help farmers. The farmer then gets caught in a spiral of debts.
In fact, understanding this situation, the Swaminathan report recommends loans to farmers at a simple interest of 4 percent, along with crop-insurance and health-insurance schemes [2]. It also suggests setting up state commissions with the help of farmers’ representatives and centres in disaster-prone areas to help them along with the establishment of a 'special agricultural zone' like the 'special economic zone' that can cater to the needs of agriculture and farmers. None of this seems to be taken into consideration in the policies.
Climate change adaptation as a window of opportunity
The article ends by warning that the Marathwada region is undergoing major socio-economic changes. The young and the healthy who migrate to other places for opportunities leave behind a population dominated by the old. This sends out a strong signal of things to come if the issue of climate change is left unattended to. The other region in the state, Vidarbha, too is not far behind with increasing cases of drought-related death and devastation. This calls for immediate action.
Climate-change adaptation offers an opportunity for innovative approaches to boost the stagnant rural economy. In the absence of sincere and planned action, however, Marathwada is most likely to be ravaged by droughts even more frequently and face socio-economic devastation on a gigantic scale.
Source:



Biggest US coal company funded dozens of groups questioning climate change
Analysis of Peabody Energy court documents show company backed trade groups, lobbyists and thinktanks dubbed ‘heart and soul of climate denial’
Monday 13 June 2016 11.00 BST

Peabody Energy has funded dozens of groups that question climate science, analysis shows. Photograph: Jeff Roberson/AP
Peabody Energy, America’s biggest coalmining company, has funded at least two dozen groups that cast doubt on manmade climate change and oppose environment regulations, analysis by the Guardian reveals.
The funding spanned trade associations, corporate lobby groups, and industry front groups as well as conservative thinktanks and was exposed in court filings last month.
The coal company also gave to political organisations, funding twice as many Republican groups as Democratic ones.
Peabody, the world’s biggest private sector publicly traded coal company, was long known as an outlier even among fossil fuel companies for its public rejection of climate science and action. But its funding of climate denial groups was only exposed in disclosures after the coal titan was forced to seek bankruptcy protection in April, under competition from cheap natural gas.
Environmental campaigners said they had not known for certain that the company was funding an array of climate denial groups – and that the breadth of that funding took them by surprise.
The company’s filings reveal funding for a range of organisations which have fought Barack Obama’s plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and denied the very existence of climate change.
“These groups collectively are the heart and soul of climate denial,” said Kert Davies, founder of the Climate Investigation Center, who has spent 20 years tracking funding for climate denial. “It’s the broadest list I have seen of one company funding so many nodes in the denial machine.”
Among Peabody’s beneficiaries, the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change has insisted – wrongly – that carbon emissions are not a threat but “the elixir of life” while the American Legislative Exchange Council is trying to overturn Environmental Protection Agency rules cutting emissions from power plants. Meanwhile, Americans for Prosperity campaigns against carbon pricing. The Oklahoma chapter was on the list.
Contrarian scientists such as Richard Lindzen and Willie Soon also feature on the bankruptcy list.
So does the Washington lobbyist and industry strategist Richard Berman, whose firm has launched a welter of front groups attacking the EPA rules.
The filings do not list amounts or dates. But the documents suggest Peabody supported dozens of groups engaged in blocking environmental regulations in addition to a number of contrarian scientists who together have obstructed US and global action on climate change.
The support squares up with Peabody’s public position on climate change. The company went further than the fossil fuel companies and conservative groups that merely promoted doubt about the risks of climate change, asserting that rising carbon emissions were beneficial.
Just last year, Peabody wrote to the White House Council on Environmental Quality describing carbon dioxide as “a benign gas that is essential for all life” and denying the dangers of global warming.
“While the benefits of carbon dioxide are proven, the alleged risks of climate change are contrary to observed data, are based on admitted speculation, and lack adequate scientific basis,” the company wrote in the 24 March 2015 letter.
The company agreed in November to make fuller disclosures about global warming risks under a settlement deal reached with the New York attorney general. Peabody had been under investigation for misleading investors and the public about the potential impact of climate change on its business.
Even so, the full extent of Peabody’s financial support for climate denial is unlikely to be revealed until the completion of bankruptcy proceedings.
“The breadth of the groups with financial ties to Peabody is extraordinary. Thinktanks, litigation groups, climate scientists, political organisations, dozens of organisations blocking action on climate all receiving funding from the coal industry,” said Nick Surgey, director of research for the Center for Media and Democracy.
“We expected to see some denial money, but it looks like Peabody is the treasury for a very substantial part of the climate denial movement.”
Peabody’s filings revealed funding for the American Legislative Exchange Council, the corporate lobby group which opposes clean energy standards and tried to impose financial penalties on homeowners with solar panels, as well as a constellation of conservative thinktanks and organisations.
These included the State Policy Network and the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, which worked to defeat climate bills in Congress and are seeking to overturn Environmental Protection Agency rules to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, as well as the Congress for Racial Equality, which was a major civil rights organisation in the 1960s.
The filings also revealed funding for the George C Marshall Institute, the Institute for Energy Research, and the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, which are seen as industry front groups.
The names of a number of well-known contrarian academics also feature in the Peabody filings, including Willie Soon, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Soon has been funded almost entirely by the fossil fuel industry, receiving more than $1.2m from oil companies and utilities, but this was the first indication of Peabody funding.
Soon and the Smithsonian did not respond to requests for comment.
Richard Lindzen and Roy Spencer, two contrarian scientists who appeared for Peabody at hearings in Minnesota last month on the social cost of carbon, were also included in the bankruptcy filings.
Peabody refused to comment on its funding for climate denial groups, as revealed by the bankruptcy filings.
“While we wouldn’t comment on alliances with particular organizations, Peabody has a track record of advancing responsible energy and environmental policies, and we support organizations that advocate sustainable mining, energy access and clean coal solutions, in line with our company’s leadership in these areas,” Vic Svec, Peabody’s senior vice-president for global investor and corporate relations, wrote in an email.
Over the last decade, fossil fuel companies distanced themselves from open climate denial. Much of the funding for climate denial went underground, with corporations and conservative billionaires routing the funds through secretive networks such as Donors’ Trust.
But the sharp drop in coal prices, under competition from cheap natural gas, and a string of bankruptcies among leading US coal companies has inadvertently revealed the coal industry’s continued support for climate denial - even as oil companies moved away from open rejection of the science.
Earlier this year, bankruptcy filings from the country’s second-biggest coal company, Arch Coal Inc, revealed funding to a group known mainly for its unsuccessful lawsuit against the climate scientist Michael Mann.
The $10,000 donation to the Energy and Environment Legal Institute (E&E) was made in 2014, according to court documents filed in Arch’s chapter 11 bankruptcy protection case.
Last October, court filings from another coal company seeking bankruptcy protection, Alpha Natural Resources, revealed an $18,600 payment to Chris Horner, a fellow at E&E.

Greenland Hits Record 75°F, Sets Melt Record As Globe Aims At Hottest Year
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/06/15/3788651/greenland-record-globe-hottest-year/






CREDIT: NASA
Last Thursday, Greenland’s capital hit 75°F, which was hotter than New York City. This was the highest temperature ever recorded there in June — in a country covered with enough ice to raise sea levels more than 20 feet.
It comes hot on the heels of the hottest May on record for the entire globe, according to NASA. As the map above shows, May temperature anomalies in parts of the Arctic and Antarctic were as high as 17°F (9.4°C) above the 1951-1980 average for the month.
And this all follows the hottest April on record for the planet, which followed the hottest March on record, the hottest February on record, and the hottest January on record. NASA says there is a 99 percent chance this will be the hottest year on record — even though the current record-holder for hottest year, 2015, had blown out the previous record-holder, 2014.
Some might note a worrisome pattern, driven by ever-rising levels of heat-trapping carbon dioxide. Dr. Stefan Rahmstorf, Head of Earth System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, tweeted:


Greenland in particular has been shockingly warm this spring. Here, for instance, is “land surface temperatures for April 2016 compared to the 2001–2010 average for the same month” from NASA:




Greenland temperatures for April 2016 compared to the 2001–2010 average for April (via NASA).
NASA reports that some parts of Greenland were 36°F (20°C) warmer than “normal” — and remember, in this map, the new “normal” is the 2001–2010 average, which means it already includes a century of human-caused warming.
As we reported in mid-April, rainfall plus scorching temperatures over the country jump-started the summer melt season weeks early. On April 11, a remarkable 12 percent of Greenland’s massive ice sheet was melting — “smashing by a month the previous records of more than 10 percent of the ice sheet melting,” according to the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI).
The record temperatures in June also led to an unusually high ice melt — covering nearly 40 percent of the ice sheet:
Greenland holds the second-biggest chunk of land-locked ice in the world (after Antarctica), and its melt, by itself, could raise sea levels 20 feet.
Moreover, recent studies have suggested human-caused climate change is acting to melt the ice sheet faster than previously expected. An April study “found that the climate models commonly used to simulate melting of the Greenland ice sheet tend to underestimate the impact of exceptionally warm weather episodes on the ice sheet.”



A May study, “Has Arctic Sea Ice Loss Contributed to Increased Surface Melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet?” was equally worrisome. Last month, co-author Professor Jennifer Francis of Rutgers, summarized the findings this way:
Our new study does indeed add to the growing pile of evidence that amplified Arctic warming and sea-ice loss favor the formation of blocking high pressure features in the North Atlantic. These blocks can cause all sorts of trouble, including additional surface melt on Greenland’s ice sheet (the primary focus of this study) as well as persistent weather patterns both upstream (North America) and downstream (Europe) of the block. Persistent weather can result in extreme events, such as prolonged heat waves, flooding, and droughts, all of which have repeatedly reared their heads more frequently in recent years.


Odisha gets its 1st 100% solar-powered village
Jaideep Mazumdar | TNN | Oct 4, 2015, 06.00 AM IST

BARIPATHA (Odisha): October 2 this year marked a life-changing transition for the 350-odd dwellers of Baripatha, a tribal village about 25 km southwest of Bhubaneswar. It made history by becoming the first village in the state to be powered entirely by solar energy.

Many solar projects elsewhere in the country have floundered and failed but Baripatha is different. Its model is low-cost, low-maintenance and community-owned - elements that are missing in other solar-powered projects. "This model can be replicated all over Odisha to provide power to its nearly 3,900 villages," says senior IPS officer Joydeep Nayak, the prime mover behind this initiative.

The Rs 7-lakh project, co-funded by ECCO Electronics (a solar products manufacturer) and Jakson Group (a diversified power solutions provider), has put individual solar units with two lamps in each of the village's 61 households, along with a central one-kilowatt unit that powers eight street lamps, and an LED television set and a TV set-top box for the community centre.


"Till now, in all rural solar projects, central units would supply power to households. Often, the exposed cables would be tapped by some, while others would draw more than their shares. This would cause the central unit to overload and trip," says Jakson's executive vice-president Sandip Ghosh. By providing individual units to each household, these problems have been resolved.

"The entire village has been involved in the planning and execution. Village mukia Narayan Hisa along with a local ITI diploma holder, Epil Kumar Singh, are responsible for the maintenance," says ECCO CEO Vivek Bihani. "The only maintenance required is regular cleaning of the solar panels and, in case of the central unit, ensuring that the water levels in the batteries are at the optimum mark. It is actually zero-maintenance."


Two multipurpose LED lamps were handed over to each household on Friday by NALCO chairman and managing director T K Chand and various state officials. "They cost Rs 2,650 and Rs 1,750 each and villagers can get them on easy instalments through micro-finance," says Bihani. Nayak says NALCO and other companies are willing to subsidize these lamps as part of their CSR.


The central solar unit has eight big panels that can be folded in just two minutes to protect them from cyclones and high-speed winds that hit Odisha frequently. This central unit can also operate a one-horsepower irrigation pump.

Centre’s draft forest policy moots green cess
NEW DELHI,
The Environment Ministry has proposed a new policy for the management of forests that among other things proposes a green cess to promote “ecologically responsible behaviour” and called on the government to promote the sustainable use of wood.
“Wood has a significantly lower carbon footprint than many of the substitutes that consume fossil fuels in their production. Use of wood also has the potential to create new green jobs by giving a boost to indigenous manufacturing using locally grown raw material. Thus promotion of wood use, obtained from sustainably-managed forests and trees, would play a positive role in mitigating climate change and ensuring sustainable living. Governments and stakeholders must …shift from regulating to promoting cultivation, harvesting, transportation and marketing of wood,” the policy added. This even as the forest policy also emphasises that the government “must double tree cover, outside forests, within a decade.”
While open to public comments until the June 30, the National Forest Policy, 2016, prepared by the Ministry of Environment and Forests’s Indian Institute of Forest Management, says governments must “switch focus from forests to landscapes, from canopy cover to healthy ecosystems, from substituting wood to promoting sustainable wood use, from participatory approaches to empowerment, from joint forest management to community forest management and from qualitative policy statements to a results-based policy framework.”
It proposes a national implementation framework to be in place within six months of the notification, and exhorts States to draft their state forest policies and prepare an implementation framework.
“Environmental cess, green tax, carbon tax etc. may be levied on certain products and services for facilitating ecologically responsible behaviour, garnering citizen's contribution and supplementing financial resources,” the policy adds.
India has set an ambitious target of bringing a third of its geographical area under forest-and-tree cover within a decade, up from the current one-fourth.
The policy acknowledges it but recommends that this be done by replenishing these lands with native species rather than “introducing exotic species.”
In a nod to the Union government’s controversial decision to declare certain animals as “vermin” and implicitly sanctioning the slaughter of nilgai, wildpigs and monkeys in certain States, the forest policy recommends mitigating human-wildlife conflicts by taking up habitat enrichment, providing adequate and timely compensation in case of injury or loss of human life, property, crop damage or livestock casualties and developing teams of well-equipped and trained forest personnel. An independent expert said promoting the use of wood outside forests could incentivise forest dwellers to not gather firewood from forests.
“Overall the policy deserves a cautious welcome because it talks of diverting forest land as a last resort and replenishing degraded forest,” said Praveen Bhargav, Trustee, Wildlife First.




प्रदूषण

In the Pits: the Ganga River, dredged to death

  Posted on June 21, 2016 by SANDRP




Guest Blog by Nachiket Kelkar (rainmaker.nsk@gmail.com)
When human beings fall into manholes or die in traffic accidents on a highway they are all over the news. We pity and fear such news, and feel sad for the deceased, just because the whole event is so unfortunate. We are angered by the condition of traffic – that continues to remain appalling despite having six-lane highways that look deceptively magnificent. We wonder if these cases could have been avoided. It is therefore even more disturbing that not a single news item has covered a series of major accidents that have happened right in the middle of the Ganga River National ‘Waterway’ (India’s National Waterway No. 1; see Dams, Rivers & People: Feb-March 2016 issue: p. 1-7, 2016 for details[i]) in the last six months.

Over twenty people have died by drowning at the Barari Ghat (Image 1) at Bhagalpur in Bihar in this period. Offering prayers, taking dips, or lunging in for a calm swim, these people have slipped away as their feet have lost the ground all of a sudden. The river, scouring off the silt from under the concrete, has been catapulting their bodies into the deepening abyss on the fringes of the ghats. Many bodies have not even been found. Family members of many, whose bodies were found, must have never suspected that they would have to carry back their kin’s corpses. What made the same Barari Ghat, which people traditionally visited for years, so dangerous suddenly?


 
Image 1. Barari Ghat at Bhagalpur, November 2015. Photo: Vikramshila Biodiversity Research & Education Centre (VBREC), Bhagalpur, Bihar.
It is for the first time that Bhagalpur’s people are seeing signboards shouting ‘khatarnaak ghat’ and ‘ati-khatarnaak ghat’ (dangerous and extremely dangerous ghats) displayed by the river. Inflatable boats of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are patrolling the river occasionally. Local fisher folk said that around 20th November 2015, at around the same time when dredging was continuing in the river, and large ships were routinely plying, 5 bathers/ pilgrims died at the Barari ghat when they accidentally slipped off into the river. Our research team (the Vikramshila Biodiversity Research and Education Centre, a civil society organization) saw the NDRF teams searching the area in the inflatables for 2 days, in vain. Finally, the fishers discovered 3 bloated bodies at Rajandipur 4-5 km downriver. In February 2016, villagers reported two more deaths within a few days that followed dredging at Bhagalpur. In March 2016, after a week of intensive maintenance dredging by the Inland Waterways Authority of India, seven people were reported missing or dead from Bhagalpur Ghat, according to Bage Lal Mahaldar, a fisherman from the adjacent Barari village who fishes in the river every day. A few other stray reports from nearby ghats took the tally to over 20 in six months. This is likely a conservative estimate, at best. After hearing these reports, our research team decided to identify what likely mechanisms related to dredging would have caused these sudden accidents. Maybe people had just been careless? Or snakes bit them? Maybe they were killed elsewhere and thrown in the river by armed dacoits who brutally rule the diara region (floodplain) with their signature violence. But multiple evidences indicated otherwise. Bage Lal explained that the river channel close to the ghats where people bathe had deepened a little too much after dredging – and the people who got taken away must have entered this deep chute inadvertently. We had been conducting boat-based depth-profiles of this channel periodically to estimate flow volume, that data also indicated something unexpected.






Image 2. Dredging going on near Kahalgaon (note the rocky islands and NTPC towers in the background) in Bhagalpur district, Bihar. Photo taken on 15th March 2016, by Subhasis Dey (VBREC).
Before going into the details, it is important to first describe what dredging was trying to do. Dredging involves removing bottom sediment from the river mid-channel at locations where vessels do not have the LAD (Least Available Depth, usually greater than 3 m) to ply through. Owing both to the natural variability in flow pattern (e.g. accretion near river bends) and the existing flow volume available in the river (after abstractions upstream), the depths might be shallow at some sections in the channel. So the dredger machines, working like large bulldozers, have to scrape out the bottom sediment, typically in bouts that last 3 to 4 hours at each section (Image 2). After being extracted, the dredged sediment needs to be flown down the river from the mid-channel, and it eventually gets deposited downstream at some location where the flow is low.  
For our depth profile, we recorded river depth along predetermined transects (cross-sections of the river) using a hand-held acoustic depth sounder from a rowing boat. After a dense grid of measurement points was obtained, these were interpolated using geo-statistical methods, and a depth surface generated. The grid encompassed areas around the ghats, and about 1 km upstream and downstream of the locations used by the bathers. We also recorded depths in the dredged area and area immediately downstream of that. These measurements were systematically conducted in November 2015 (start of dredging) and March 2016 (peak intensity of dredging). We found that the river depth had reduced in the mid-channel, but increased at the river edge, i.e. at the ghat, creating a rapidly flowing and deep channel of water flow very close to the locations used by people regularly at the ghats (Image 3). In normal circumstances (without dredging), depths should have reduced throughout the cross-section, so that the river depth mid-channel should have still been greater than near the banks. We inferred that the sediment flown down by the dredging operation must have been deposited in the mid-channel as a plug, in turn forcing water to carve out its path along the ghat edge. This appeared to have created the danger zone (Image 3) where the unsuspecting pilgrims had slipped and been dragged away in the current.




Image 3. The change in river depth in a period of 4 months (November 2015 to March 2016) is mapped. The location chosen for depth mapping was exactly below the intensively dredged channel area. Darker blue shades indicate an increase in depth, and pale blue shades shows the shallowing of the river channel. A deep-water danger zone has formed right beside the Barari Ghat (see explanation in text above).
Could these tragedies have been avoided? Perhaps yes. In fact, dredging was not supposed to be happening in the Ganga River throughout this period. Taking into its review the adverse ecological effects of dredging, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had stayed all dredging in the Ganga River National Waterway No. 1 to which the Inland Waterways Authority of India had assured compliance (responding to NGT order dated 17.2.2016). Yet, the ground reality is that dredging has nonetheless continued to date. Not just at Bhagalpur, but we have regularly been observing dredging at Munger, Bariyarpur, and Kahalgaon as well, throughout this period. This just points out the indifference and contempt that the waterways authorities seem to be displaying even to judicial orders.
The effect of dredging has made itself felt in an unprecedented manner this season – even as it is just the beginning of works for the inland waterways development program. This effect has been over and above the already poor river flow in the 2015-16 dry season. And it is not that the effects of dredging will go away if there is more water – but having historically low flows certainly worsens the impacts multiple times. Although an above-average flood is expected in this year’s monsoons, how much water will actually reach and stay in the lower Ganga basin is another matter. Irrigation demands and groundwater extraction in the upstream remain insatiable, there is no attempt to optimize or regulate that. Bridges are planned or being built on the Ganga River at Sultanganj, Bhagalpur (a second bridge) and Bateshwar Sthan. During the construction phase of these bridges, upstream dams do not release much water flow down in the river, to reduce on-site risks from flow surges. This has further aggravated the poor dry-season flow already available. Fishers have been dealing with one of the lowest fish catch seasons in recent years – and are now desperately waiting, nay, longing – for the monsoons to arrive. By even scraping off what remains of river flow, dredging is further endangering the lives and livelihoods of local people who have anyway been never included in any public consultations regarding waterways development plans.
Waterways may seem carbon-friendly when seen superficially, but does the ordinary villager who goes to the Ganga River everyday for meeting his/her livelihood needs really care about that? Conversely, does the waterways authority care about these people? Do they know the impacts that dredging might be having on them and the deaths that are happening? Given what is happening at Bhagalpur today, it is worth asking what the purpose of the waterways exercise is if the current conditions are leading to deaths, loss of livelihoods and risking human lives. How is it that whatever social or ecological assessments have taken place (if any), have not taken into account such direct impacts? It is worth demanding urgent answers to all these questions. If not, what is the grounding of these assessments in realities, and what is their credibility in that case? It is worth asking if the government is planning to solve the problem of the proverbial low roof by cutting its peoples’ heads off.
Tomorrow, if such disastrous dredging is continued and encouraged without adequate human and ecological safeguards and democratic decision making processes, there will be more people who will get wrung into paying mounting costs with their lives and livelihoods. People might at least be able to talk, to demand safety from those involved in dredging-to-death, the Ganga River. But there are other denizens of the river and the river itself who will never be able to do that. From their preferred feeding areas near the Barari Ghat, where on any occasion 15-20 Ganges River dolphins would be easily found on any day until last year, just 5 animals remain today – and that too about two kilometres away from the site – after the last few months have seen the already parched river being further dredged. If people are dying now, river dolphins have perhaps already died from this place. But this too need not shock or affect us: it is quite obvious that there can be no life in a river that is being killed everyday
Nachiket Kelkar (rainmaker.nsk@gmail.com


कृषि और किसानी
दो करोड़ हेक्टेयर भूमि सिचाई के दायरे मे लाएगी केंद्र सरकार


खाद्य पदार्थो मे छिपे खतरे



हक के इंतज़ार मे किसान
Source: Dainik jagran 17 June 2016




Source:http://epaper.jagran.com/epaperimages/17062016/delhi/16del-pg10-0.pdf

Customs officers to replace experts to ensure imported food safety norms at airports
Move to ensure ease of business for food importers across 125 locations; FSSAI justifies it despite contradiction of regulations
Nitin Sethi  |  New Delhi June 15, 2016

nstead of appointing full-time technically qualified and trained food safety officials, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has made customsofficials responsible for ensuring the safety of imported food across 125 points of import and clearance as an additional task. The move, which contradicts FSSAI’s own regulations, has been made as part of government’s push for ease of doing business.

In March 2016, these custom officials were designated as what the FSSAI Act calls "authorised officers". Besides undertaking all other custom duty related tasks, they are now additionally in-charge of supervising, taking samples, sending these to labs, reviewing the lab results and approving the safety of all imported food products coming into India against the set standards for more than several thousand products and ingredients that FSSAI approves.

Their appointment comes in contrast to the regulations FSSAI passed this January. Under these norms the FSSAI mandated that the technical qualifications and training of those posted at customs to check safety of imported should match that of ‘food safety officers’ as prescribed by law.

Under the regulations, at the time of joining, Food Safety officers - a category of specialised officers enshrined in the law -  are supposed to “have a degree in food technology or dairy technology or biotechnology or oil technology or agricultural science or veterinary sciences or bio-chemistry or microbiology or a Masters in chemistry or degree in medicine from a recognised university”. The officer can also have an equivalent/recognised qualification notified by the Centre, and he or she has to complete the mandated training before joining the post.

But the custom officials were not individually identified and checked against these qualifications before the additional charge of food safety was handed over to them. The examiners, superintendents, inspectors and appraisers at these 125 locations were appointed in their ex-officio positions instead. They were also not trained to handle import of food products under the law at the time of handing them this additional charge. 

FSSAI responding to detailed queries sent to its Chief Executive Officer by Business Standardsaid, “The technical qualifications apply only where FSSAI appoints its own (full time) authorised officers at these locations. Obviously not for the custom officials.” It justified the move in entirety as essential for ensuring safety of imported food in India. 

“Their appointment was decided in consultation with the department of customs. The basic idea and premise was to give the ease of doing business and facilitate the importer,” FSSAI added.Business Standard reviewed documents that show the discussion on these and other processes to ensure ease of business for food importers was held with the finance ministry through 2015.

The decision to appoint customs authorities as part time handling food safety instead of specialised full-time officers comes after years of having allowed custom officials to clear food imports in violation of the law, as the government had not appointed specialist safety officers on most of these locations. 

Though the law came into place in 2011, by mid-2015 the FSSAI had appointed only five officers to manage 16 importing locations, its record show. In May 2015, the FSSAI admitted on record that custom officers were permitting import of food on their own, even where FSSAI had its specialists posted and at times even those consignments that had been barred by FSSAI. 

But, when Business Standard asked FSSAI how much food products had been imported in the previous three years from locations that did not have trained and qualified food safety officials, the agency said that data was not available with them. 

Documents show that in 2015 the finance ministry pursued the case for a single window clearance mechanism for food imports and simplifying the process. The FSSAI responded, “It appears that FSSAI may take some time to expand its presence at the major ports of import. Keeping in view that the imports cannot be blocked at all other locations all of a sudden, it is proposed that the names and designations of the officers of the Customs department may be made available to the FSSAI so that they are formally notified as the ‘authorised officers’ under the FSSAI Act, 2006.” In 2015, the intent to expand the network of trained officials was reflected. That changed in 2016. 

A plan to expand the FSSAI’s reach across the country was quietly shelved earlier this year when the government set aside its original draft cabinet note to have a Rs 1,750-crore centrally sponsored scheme for FSSAI and states to ensure food safety. The plan for FSSAI to move out of enforcement of the food safety law was instead set in motion. In January 2016, upon instructions, the chairman of FSSAI wrote in an internal note, “We need not provide personnel for import clearances since this work could be transferred to the customs department. We would, however, have to review whether appeals on import related issues would lie with us or with the designated customs authority and provide for the same in our regulations.” 

FSSAI responded to Business Standard queries to say, “Custom officers were anyway drawing the samples (mandatory for all consignments of food imports). Now they shall have the legal force to ensure safety of all food that is imported under the FSSA.” Appointing trained specialists of FSSAI, the agency said, would become ‘cumbersome’. 

The US, EU and many other developed and developing countries, including those in Africa have dedicated food safety officials across their importing points. In fact the US food safety officials carry out checks of food safety on their own as well as through third party certification even at the manufacturing units of the exporting countries. A hard application of sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards and conditions by developed countries has many times lead to disputes with exporters, including with India. 

The appointment of unqualified custom officials for food safety comes as part of a larger package of the reform through the single window process. In January regulations for safety of imported foods were revised without mandatory public consultations. FSSAI is empowered to use emergency provisions to bypass consultations when there is an ‘urgency concerning food safety and public health’. But, the agency used the emergency provisions of the law for ease of food import business.  

These new regulations also introduced eased norms for testing of imported food products through a ‘Risk based Import clearance System’. While the rules have been applied to ease testing, the system is still a work in progress, FSSAI noted in its April 2016 newsletter. 

In contrast, the FSSAI had recorded some reservations against this risk-based system in 2015.  The FSSAI had told the finance ministry, “It is clear from the above provisions, in particular section 47(5) that the FSSAI does not have the enabling powers to put in place a Risk-based Import clearance system.” But it also suggested that regulations subordinate to the law could be put in place to overcome the limitations of the law. It told the finance ministry, “As a regulator the FSSAI is as much concerned about facilitating the ease of imports, for which, it is proposed to frame ‘Import regulations’ and make enabling provisions in the regulations in this behalf.” 

FSSAI justified this move in its response. “We say that there is nothing provided in the act itself which denies us the right to introduce the risk based sampling. At that point we said that we shall have an enabling provision and that has been provided in the (new) import regulations.”

While FSSAI in one part of its response had said it did not have data on total volume of food products imported without its approval in previous years, in another part of the response it also claimed that almost 90% of the imports came in from two ports at Chennai and Mumbai that it has specialists deployed at. 

This raises the questions of why government did not designate the rest of 10% imports to be also routed through these ports and instead deploy officials at 125 other custom locations.  FSSAI claimed in its response that India had all kind of importers – big and small – and some of them preferred other locations. 

Contradicting the FSSAI claim, the DG of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics data says that in February-March 2016 the total food item imports from across the country were worth Rs 20,198 crore while those coming through Chennai and Mumbai were only Rs 2,364 crore - 

FSSAI’s April 2016 newsletter said FSSAI cleared food products worth only Rs 7,111.91 crores during the two month period.  

FSSAI said it now has 21 of the key entry points for imported food covered by few officials. It also said that with the single window online clearance system in place it was anyway able to monitor all imports. But the task of taking samples from consignments and checking them physically for labelling, ingredients and safety through lab tests now lies with the custom officials doubling up as food safety officers at 125 custom points.

Rubber sector in for new crisis
The Hindu; June 27, 2016 


Source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/rubber-sector-in-for-new-crisis/article8777648.ece

Centre lowers import tariff for a slew of rubber products under trade pact with Malaysia
The rubber economy in Kerala is heading for a new crisis, with the Centre slashing the import tariff for a slew of rubber products.
In a notification issued on June 21, the Central Board of Excise and Customs had provided deeper tariff concessions for goods imported under the India-Malaysia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (IMCECA). Official sources said the revised tariff would lead to a spree of imports, flooding the market with cheap goods from Malaysia.
According to the notification, the import tariff for new and retreaded tyres for cars, buses, and lorries will be brought down to five per cent from June 30, while that for aircraft tyres and agricultural and construction machinery has been done away with.
The other zero tariff items listed in the notification include sheath contraceptives, surgical gloves, floor coverings, erasers, hard rubber products, synthetic rubber of various types, waste and scrap rubber, camel back strips for retreading rubber, tubes, pipes and hoses, and conveyor belts.
Industry observers said the tariff reduction would have serious repercussions for a State like Kerala. “It has the potential to cripple the domestic rubber industry and push rubber farmers into a deeper crisis” said an official.
Greater risk
“The tariff cut represents a danger signal for Kerala,” said K.N. Harilal, Professor, Centre for Development Studies. “It is clear that the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) was only the tip of the iceberg. By signing free trade agreements with individual countries, we have exposed ourselves to greater risk.”
He said the latest tariff cut would trigger stronger demands from Indian manufacturers for a level playing field, by allowing the import of natural rubber at zero tariff.
K. Krishnankutty, MLA, who had chaired the expert committee for the preparation of Kerala’s agricultural policy, said the situation highlighted the failure of successive governments to check the import of cash crops such as rubber and coconut.
“Kerala can cite livelihood issues to get rubber listed as a sensitive item, failing which the State will be left to grapple with a series of crises triggered by FTAs,” he said.

National Centre of organic farming, Ghaziabad Dr.Krishan Chandra

Waste decomposer 20gm decompose minimum 200 MT of waste materials within 30 days besides disease control , soil improvement
     Link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZAFikBnDvU

देशज ज्ञान और स्वस्थ
BHOOMI STORIES: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU KEEP A PROMISE MADE TO THE LAND


Recently I read about the Indian Institute of Science Campus which is said to be 2 to 2.5 degrees C cooler than the rest of Bangalore City - a great boon in these times of ever warmer summers. While the IISc. Campus is huge with over 112 species of trees, there is a story worth telling here. In the 1880s a team at IISc. led by Dr. T.V. Ramachandra had planted about 500 saplings of 49 species of trees from the Western Ghats in 2 hectares of degraded land. What is remarkable about this is that this area has become wild and lush like a rainforest, certainly nourishing to the soul and spirit, more than the rest of the 400 acre campus which is looks more orderly and man made.
This news item has prompted me to tell our little Prakriya-Bhoomi story, the story of our campus and the trees that give it life. We began with degraded land and very little water too. We too were keen on indigenous species, although a few trees like spethodias and Jacaranda have come into the campus. And today, many people who visit us tell us that our campus is cooler than its surrounding area too. But it wasn't so a couple of decades ago.

When we first got the land for the Prakriya - Bhoomi campus in 1998, there was some parched land, 7 acres of Eucalyptus trees which had to be removed and precisely 5 young Honge trees. There were no butterflies or birds that I could see, although sometimes a few crows would stop by inquisitively, to see if we were giving them any leftovers. The first promise to the land that I made was that we will plant at least 108 species of trees and that no building would be taller than a tree nearby. And we made the Honge our mascot-tree, the school tree which has pride of place on the stage of our open air theatre.
As you enter the school, we have the Panchavati to the right, with the five sacred trees - Banyan, Bilwa, common Fig, Pipal and Amla. Other interesting trees here are Krishna's Buttercup (Ficus Krishnae) and the Frangipani tree. Various other species, mostly indigenous are sprinkled all over the campus; the bamboo,Ficus benjamina, with its pretty red berries, the cassia javanica, the ball badminton tree and many other pretty trees are around the pond, a favourite haunt of the children. 
We wanted a mini forest and at least a bit of wilderness. So in the south-east corner is a small Devara Kadu,named after the sacred groves found all over India, a space which should remain a forest. Arjuna, neem, jamuns, jack fruit, basavanapada and many other species are found here. Nearby is a large rainwater collection pit which is now overgrown with wild grass, bamboo and shrubs.
Around the games field are many trees including the trees that symbolise the five 'houses' that children belong to. The Kadamba tree of the Prithvi house, the Rain tree of the Jal house, the Flame of the forest of the Agni house, the Neem of the Vayu house and the Aakaash mallige of the Aakash house.
A school campus needs many buildings...but the medicinal garden, Dhanwantari and a small fruit orchard had to be fitted in. There are of course the trees with fun names, like the Mad tree whose leaves can be widely different - saying, oh, don't you dare be different! And the Devils tree - Alstonia scholaris: what's it saying? Studying too much is a bit devilish?
Today, we have more than 108 species of trees and an uncounted number of herbs, shrubs and medicinal plants. Since we tried to plant two or more saplings of each species (they need company of their own kind!), we have more than 250 trees on campus. And now we find that Mother Nature has blessed us by inviting in over 80 species of birds and over 60 species of butterflies!
Text by Seetha Ananthasivan.
All images courtesy Ananth Somaiah.

Tackling water salinity in Mewat, Haryana




Lalit Mohan Sharma of Sehgal Foundation, Gurgaon speaks to India Water Portal about innovative solutions to sail through Mewat's water crisis.
Tackling salinity in Mewat (Source: Lalit Mohan Sharma)

What is the exact problem as regards groundwater salinity, fluoride and water scarcity in Mewat, Haryana? Is the area underlain with saline groundwater aquifers? What is the status of surface water in the area? Can it not reduce dependence on groundwater?
Mewat has a dual problem of saline groundwater and erratic government water supply. There is no perennial surface water, and 78 percent of the district has saline groundwater. Salinity is very high, so there is no use of this resource. The salinity increases with depth and even fresh groundwater is underlain with saline groundwater. Over-extraction of fresh groundwater to feed saline areas is also causing encroachment of fresh groundwater areas by saline ones. There are few ponds used by cattle, and other used for domestic purposes but most of these surface water sources are seasonal. Therefore, in peak demand season these ponds dry up.
How does the water situation impact the people of Mewat?
It impacts the people of Mewat on social, economic and environmental fronts. Most of the people living in saline groundwater areas have to buy water and many of them have to walk long distances each day to fetch water to meet their daily requirements. This problem is further compounded by poor hygiene and sanitation leading to chronic health issues especially among women due to lack of potable water. Skeletal problems, skin allergies and urinary tract infections are common diseases prevalent in the district.
Due to water scarcity, there exists an unending water conflict among residents. Informal water markets are on the rise and the quality of water is not guaranteed. Most of the households in saline groundwater areas buy water from tankers and spend around Rs. 1000 per month.
The region also continues to depend on rainfed agriculture due to lack of irrigation sources. Despite harsh climatic conditions, agriculture is the major livelihood option. Agricultural productivity is low and this will escalate in the coming days in the backdrop of changing climate. However, in developed regions of the district, farmers having access to fresh water are able to produce high value crops, which are of demand in neighbouring Delhi. On the contrary, people living in saline regions are backward and are dependent on informal credit. Several of them have migrated to work in nearby states. This has become a new phenomenon in recent times. By and large, the major reason of poor economy of the district is water scarcity. Because of salinity in groundwater and the presence of shallow aquifers, the tree density is very low in the region. This condition clubbed with the rocky terrain of the Aravalli range raises the temperature during peak summers.
The difference between maximum and minimum temperature is decreasing over the years. Because of this phenomenon, crop cycle is severely affected thereby affecting nutritional components of the crop and threatening the nutritional security of the people here.
Tell us about the work of Sehgal Foundation in strengthening community-led development initiatives especially water management initiatives in Mewat. How does it train the people and their Development Committees to effectively manage water resource?
Water management is a flagship program of the Sehgal Foundation. We believe in community-led development initiatives. We sensitise rural communities about the prevailing water issues through regular interactions. We build their capacity to understand the science behind our intervention, and on how to take care of the rainwater harvesting structures that are built in the villages. All our interventions are carried out with active participation of the communities right from the start. We seek consent and cooperation of the community before we start working in any village.
An approval letter from a local authority, community contribution, operation and maintenance of the structure created in the post project completion period remain as prime focus for us.
Is Sehgal Foundation working on rainwater harvesting systems for schools and private buildings? What has your experience been?
Sehgal Foundation has been working on rainwater harvesting systems in schools and other public buildings. These systems are working fine and helping conserve water and are the only source of potable water in these schools.
Please tell us more about the innovative solutions devised by Sehgal Foundation to provide potable water. How is your solution different from traditional recharging methods? Can it be replicated elsewhere and under what conditions? Can it be adapted for deeper saline aquifers?
To tackle the problem of groundwater salinity, we have developed and constructed innovative rainwater harvesting models for the ‘creation of sweet water pockets within a saline aquifer’. In this model, the structure (recharge well) stores and recharges 'sweet' rainwater below the groundwater table, as a freshwater pocket within a saline aquifer (groundwater zone).
This is achieved by recharging collected rooftop rainwater below the water table, with gravity-induced hydrostatic pressure. For this, the recharge well is sunk to a depth lower than the existing groundwater level and raised to an above ground height to gain additional hydrostatic pressure in shallow aquifer conditions. As rainwater enters this well, due to hydrostatic pressure rain water pushes the existing saline water aside and forms a pocket of freshwater within the saline aquifer. Later, this sweet water is extracted with a hand pump. The water passes through a biosand filter that removes physical, suspended, and biological contaminants and is accessed through water taps at the school. The model is environment friendly as the system requires no use of chemicals or energy.
Yes this model can be replicated in coastal areas, areas with inland salinity, and deep and shallow aquifer regions with slight modifications.
(Sehgal Foundation Recharge well animation source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KigaOI2enwM)

विविध

वन्य जीव विशेष :


















http://www.panipost.in/




Food: 

Malnutrition is on the rise in every country in the world and is a leading global driver of disease, according to the 2016 Global Nutrition Report.

Meghalaya villages are vital examples of resilient local economies and lifestyles. Read further: http://indiatogether.org/rays-of-hope-for-the-local-in-meghalaya-agriculture

"Should millions of cool Fruit & Vegetable vending carts be unleashed in our cities — like the ones selling ice cream — whose added costs will eventually be borne by the consumer??"

19 African countries will implement the Arusha Protocol for the Protection of New Plant Varieties.These protocol regulations will lead to policing and spying on farmers who use farm-saved protected seed. According to Dr Million Belay, ‪#AFSA co-ordinator “these Regulations are undoubtedly, rural surveillance of farmers at its very worst.” 

Paharia tribe of Jharkhand improves their diet by gradually identifying the hidden treasures of the forest

"We decided to carry out the lab tests as we believed it was important to remove potassium bromate from bread in the interest of public health”, Chandra Bhushan, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) deputy director general. http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/regulator-sat-on-decision-to-ban-cancer-causing-food-additive-for-4-years/story-xxUdhawiAsLgnabxaFfweJ.html

What have we done to wheat? The NEW documentary What's With Wheat? follows the perfect storm of what has happened to our food over the past several decades! 15 experts come together to reveal why...http://bit.ly/1YaT2GV

Here is a link to 'Pulses, Nutritious Seeds For a Sustainable Future'. A journey through all regions of the planet and recipes from some of the most prestigious chefs in the world http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5528e.pdf
Here is a link to 'Pulses, Nutritious Seeds For a Sustainable Future'. A journey through all regions of the plant and recipes from some of the most prestigious cheifs in the world http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5528e.pdf

Native American leaders propose reintroduction of traditional foods to combat health crisis in their communities





Second unit at Kudankulam to reach criticality ‘very soon’
The second unit of 1,000 MWe at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Station will reach criticality “very soon,” probably in a matter of days. “We are ready” and “we are in the right direction” for the first approach to criticality, S.K. Sharma, Chairman and Managing Director of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, told The Hindu.
The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board had already given the in-principle approval for the first approach to criticality.
Advisory committee
Asked whether the Russian reactor, built by the NPCIL, would be started up before June-end, Mr. Sharma said: “It could be even before that.”
An advisory committee for the project safety review would soon take “a final look at the preparedness” for the commissioning of the reactor. Mr. Sharma said: “There are some legal requirements to be completed before we start the first approach to criticality... The AERB, the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board have to certify before the Supreme Court that everything is in order. These compliance certificates are being filed.”
Once the NPCIL assured itself that all these certificates were filed before the court, it would start the process of criticality.
Russian reactors
Two Russian reactors, called VVER-1000, have come up at Kudankulam. These reactors, built by the NPCIL, use enriched uranium as fuel and light water as coolant.
The first unit was started up on July 13, 2013. Tamil Nadu’s share from the first unit is 562.50 MWe; it is 50 MWe, 221 MWe and 133 MWe for Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. Puducherry’s share is 33.50 MWe. Tamil Nadu is expected to get a minimum of 462.50 MWe from the second unit.
Pit excavation is under way for the third and fourth units at Kudankulam. The fifth and sixth units will also come up. The NPCIL will build all these reactors, each with a capacity of 1,000 MWe.



Human trial of Zika vaccine to start soon


The first Phase-1 human clinical trial of a vaccine for the Zika virus is set to begin in the coming weeks, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) green-lighting it. The DNA vaccine (GLS-5700) developed by the U.S-based Inovio Pharmaceuticals and GeneOne Life Science, South Korea, has already been tested on animals and found to elicit “robust” antibody and T cell responses.
The human trial will be carried out on 40 healthy adults to evaluate safety, tolerability and immunogenicity and the interim results are expected before the end of the year. But it may take a couple of years to know if the vaccine works against Zika. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), four of the 14 companies working on a candidate vaccine have reached the preclinical stage.
It is a remarkable achievement to be in a position to carry out clinical trials on humans as the time taken to develop the experimental vaccine has been shrunk significantly. Though the current Zika outbreak began in Brazil in May 2015, the impetus and urgency to develop a vaccine came about only after February 1, 2016 when the WHO declared Zika as a global public health emergency of international concern.


Lessons from Ebola
A major lesson learnt from the Ebola epidemic is the overwhelming need to start vaccine trials quickly. Large-scale trials of the vaccine suffered as they began about a year after the outbreak was first reported and just as the number of people infected was reducing.
As of June 15, the Zika virus has already spread to 60 countries and territories. Even as it spreads geographically, there has been a decline in cases of infection in some countries or in some parts of countries. It is unlikely that vaccine trials may suffer for want of infected people. “At this stage, WHO does not see an overall decline in the outbreak,” the June WHO situation report says.
Yet, Zika vaccine development faces a huge hurdle that the Ebola vaccine did not. The candidate Zika vaccine has to be tested on pregnant women as some babies born to women infected with the virus during pregnancy suffer from microcephaly. Hence, testing a candidate drug/vaccine on pregnant women or women in the child-bearing age can take place only if the vaccine has been found to be very safe in men and non-pregnant women. Also, extensive safety data of vaccinated pregnant women and those about to become pregnant will be required before the vaccine gets approved for commercial use.
While the candidate vaccine that will be tested will be a DNA vaccine, a March 9 report of the WHO clearly states that developing vaccines that use inactivated viruses for use in women of childbearing age or pregnant women will be a research “priority”. Inactivated virus used in vaccines cannot multiply and hence considered safe for use in pregnant women.
As of June 15, 1,581 cases of confirmed microcephaly and other nervous system disorders have been reported in Brazil; microcephaly is yet to be ascertained in another 3,000-odd babies.

Not all is bright and shining with LED light: Study
CHENNAI,

Glare from unshielded installations impacts visual acuity, thus creating road hazards and reducing safety.
Excessive blue light emitted by light emitting diodes (LED) can adversely impact human health, according to a report recently released by the American Medical Association (AMA) Council on Science and Public Health. The report looked at LED street lighting on U.S. roadways.
While LED lighting has several advantages, the excessive blue light it emits can be harmful. The human eye perceives the large amount of blue light emitted by some LEDs as white. Blue light directly affects sleep by suppressing the production of the hormone melatonin, which mediates the sleep-wake cycle in humans.
Compared with conventional street lighting, the blue-rich white LED street lighting is five times more disruptive to sleep cycle, the report said. Although more research is needed, evidence available suggests a long-term increase in the risk for cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and obesity caused by chronic sleep disruption due to exposure to blue light.
The excessive blue wavelength contributes to glare effects as a result of larger scattering in the human eye.
Contrary to the popular notion that bright LED lighting increases road safety, the report says discomfort and disability glare caused by unshielded, bright LED lighting negatively impacts visual acuity, thus “decreasing safety and creating road hazards”.
Glare forms a veil of luminance that reduces the contrast, thus in turn reducing the visibility of a target. The report also notes that unshielded LED lighting causes papillary constriction, leading to “worse night-time vision between lighting fixtures.” Intense blue spectrum can even damage the retina.
The correlated colour temperature (CCT) of first-generation LEDs, which are currently used, is 4,000K. Higher CCT values indicate greater blue light emission, and in the case of 4,000K LED lighting, 29 per cent of the spectrum is emitted as blue light.
However, at 3,000K, the blue light emitted is only 21 per cent and appears “slightly warmer in tone”. While discomfort and disability glare is reduced, there is only a 3 per cent drop in energy efficiency compared with 4,000K LED lighting.
More attention should be paid to proper design, shielding and installation so that no light shines above 80 degrees from the horizontal, the report says.
Unless blue-light emission from 4,000K LED street lighting is restricted, retrofits using these lamps could result in 2.5 times increase in lighting pollution, said a study (World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness) published in the journal Science Advances,
“Strong consideration should be made for effective shielding and limiting CCT of outdoor lighting to 3,000 Kelvin or lower,” the AMA recommends.

Small is smart for this A.P. village
MORI (East Godavari Dt.),




Google, Cisco, IBM, Ericsson will bring in technology to make Mori a model for rural India.
Mori, a small cashew-exporting village in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari district is to turn ‘smart’ in December, using digital tools, real time information and uninterrupted internet connectivity.
The prototype of a net-connected rural habitation will be launched here, under a partnership between the Andhra Pradesh government, the University of California at Berkeley, and several leading technology organisations.
The Innovation Society of the A.P. government is associated with the Garwood Centre for Corporate Innovation at the UC Berkeley-Haas School of Business in the effort to build a prototype scalable village, leveraging digital technology and open innovation.
Mori means a bridge and the residents are hopeful of building a virtual bridge to Silicon Valley.
Self-contained model
“A Smart Village does not mean bringing in a lot of infrastructure and spending huge money, but empowering people with access to tools, resources, real time transparent information and uninterrupted internet connectivity,” said Professor Solomon Darwin, Director, Garwood Centre. Such a village is “a self-contained sustainable business model, a platform, an ecosystem, a brand and a caring community.”
Mori’s residents will participate in the study over the next five months, he said. The prototype is expected to be ready by mid-December and Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu would visit the village on December 29 to evaluate the technologies and the business models proposed for smart villages.
Prof. Darwin, who teaches courses on smart cities at Berkeley, strongly believes that making 6.5-lakh villages in India even ‘slightly smart’ would have an exponential impact on GDP and the Happiness Index, compared to ‘making a few hundred cities smart’.“Over 70 per cent of India’s population lives in the villages and it does not take much technology to make villagers happy,” he says.
Chairman of the Innovation Society J.A. Chowdary lauded Berkeley’s efforts in bringing together many Silicon Valley and other companies as partners in the effort. Google, Cisco, IBM, Ericsson, EVx, Sahaj, Tyco, Tech Mahindra, Potential.com, App Scape, Qualcomm, Paradigm Mtuity, NEC, Trianz and Builders of Hope have come together to find ways of simplifying technology and making it cost-effective for villages during the prototyping phase from September 1 to December 23.
Society CEO, Nikil Agarwal, Paradigm Infotek CEO Sridhar Raju, MLA Gollapalli Surya Rao and others were present at an event to take the Mori project further.







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