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Climate Change

Quiet flows the Gundia river: A video on the biodiversity hotspot in the Western Ghats, threatened by proposed hydroelectric projects

Source of video:kesaricom

Wither Gundia: A short film that explores the impact of a proposed hydroelectric plant in this pristine biodiversity hotspot 

Rivers originating from the Western Ghats provide water to one in every 20 human beings on this earth. Gundia river basin, lying in the Western Ghats, is a biodiversity hotspot, home to diverse and varied flora & fauna, many of them already on the endangered list.

Karnataka state government plans to harness and bind this free flowing water , threatening the ecology and economy of this region. The perennial streams dotting the landscape may become seasonal an d even disappear if this happens. The rich forest and pristine green patches too may deteriorate and eventually vanish. The submerged land will displace villages and atleast a thousand people.

Saving these forests from further fragmentation will save us from the vagaries of climate change and global warming, and keep this thriving eco system intact.

This film by Kesari Harvoo, has been selected as a finalist for the International Forests Short Film Festival, by the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat partnered with the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival.

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Churning the earth: The making of global India – Ashish Kothari talks about his recent work at a book release event in Udaipur, Rajasthan

At a book release event organised jointly by Dr Mohan Singh Mehta Memorial Trust (MSMMT) and Society for Promotion of Wastelands Development (SPWD), Udaipur on 23 March 2013 at Vidhya Bhawan Auditorium, Udaipur, Ashish Kothari, founder of the environmental group Kalpavriksh spoke on his recent work ”Churning the earth: The making of global India”. Co-authored with Aseem Shrivastava and launched in May 2012, the book presents evidence on the predatory nature of India’s economic rise and questions its political and ecological sustainability.

The book urges a “fundamental shift towards a range of policy, grassroots and conceptual alternatives that are necessary to forestall the descent into sociological chaos”. Amitav Ghosh in an advance praise of the book notes that it “cuts through the hype to tell you what is going on… the only work I know of that provides a comprehensive account of the enormous social and environmental costs of the developments of the last fifteen years… substantiated with a great deal of data”.

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Experiences from a civil society initiative to restore stretches of toxic Yamuna: Report of a conference organised by PEACE, Thames River Restoration Trust and WWF India at New Delhi in March 2013

The Thames River Restoration Trust, UK, WWF-India and PEACE Institute Charitable Trust, Delhi held a conference on “Sharing experiences and lessons learnt from the Thames and Ganga Twinning Project” on March 1, 2013 at the India International Centre, New Delhi.

Dr Peter Spillet of the Thames River Restoration Trust shared that the Trust was the recipient of the 2010 Theiss International Riverprize funds on behalf of many organizations involved in the restoration work on river Thames in United Kingdom. He said that the Trust had shared the money for twinning projects in various countries including in India.

This conference presents the results of the 2011-13 twinning programme. The Trust collaborated with PEACE and WWF to work with local communities working on Yamuna river restoration, he said.

Dr Ashghar Nawab, Senior Projects Coordinator, WWF-India noted that they ran the project on the Upper Ganges river at the Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh to re-introduce the endangered Gharial and other wildlife there and in the lower Yamuna river area. At the same time they helped local people improve their agricultural practices to improve their standard of living.

The long term plan was to ensure a viable population of Gharial with a favourable habitat through increased capacity support from the local communities. The project was to benefit fish population, freshwater turtles, Ganges river dolphins and other riverine species in the lower Yamuna river such as otters and water birds, he said.

Field survey

Intensive field surveys were conducted to monitor species diversity and evaluate threats to habitat (Image courtesy: WWF-India)

In the stretch between Bateshwar Ghat, Agra to Dibholi Ghat, Etawah the frontline forest staff was trained in monitoring and assessing the Gharial population and habitat, thereby transferring WWF-India expertise in this field to the Forest Department.

Gharial

Female Gharial recorded with about 18 hatchlings; this is the first record of Gharial ‘nesting’ in river Yamuna (Image courtesy: WWF-India)

In this project, work was done with the local communities to reduce dependency on river resources. Alternative livelihood options were provided by creating links with government village development schemes. Local Youth Conservation Forum was built to instill a sense of ownership for the protection of the species.

Dr Nawab stated that biodiversity conservation was inextricably linked to the protection of habitat in terms of availability of prey and suitable sites for shelter. Biodiversity recorded represents endangered species like the Ganges Dolphin, Gharial and the black-necked Stork. Peripheral areas of the National Chambal Sanctuary fall in the Yamuna, which are used as seasonal migratory routes by endangered species like Gharial.

Dolphin

Small population of Ganges river dolphin were observed near Pathewara village, Hamirpur (Image courtesy: S R Taigore)

Such habitats maybe recognized or proposed as conservation units needing effective protection measures on urgent basis. Technical assistance is being provided to the Forest Department in the development of a Biodiversity Conservation Action Plan for Yamuna. Riparian communities with stake in long term future of freshwater species and habitats across the region must be fully engaged in the development and conservation planning processes. This will help assure the future sustainability of associated livelihoods and the ecosystem services provided by fully functioning freshwater ecosystems.

Manoj Misra stated that PEACE’s work on the river Yamuna has evolved, and the partnership with TRRT and WWF-India is a part of this process. It started with devising and testing a People’s River Health Index (PRHI) in 2010 supported by a two-year grant from the UNDP-SGP. Findings from the PRHI project became the activities under the Twinning Project. The activities were spread over ten grids along the river Yamuna.

Nadi Mitra Mandalis (NMMs) were set up as formal registered societies at each grid and acted as instruments for action addressing the “non point” threats to the river. The focus of the project was on promotion of natural or organic farming, improved sanitation and waste water management, solid and farm refuse management, catchment restoration, river and village health assessment, institutional strengthening and outreach to school children.  

Activities taken up included development of plantation, recharge well, pond and well restoration, solar lamps, eco-san toilets and repair of village drains. 6,000 trees have been planted along the river at ten locations. Monthly monitoring of river health (water quality, quantity and biodiversity) and village health parameters was being done at all the grids by the NMMs.

Dave Wardle, Twinning Project Chairman discussed the work of the Thames River Restoration Trust in improving the biologically dead river. He provided an account of how the Thames system suffered from problems such as pollution, physical alteration, low water flows and loss of wildlife habitat. The work of the Trust in improving the Thames system was discussed. He shared how TRRT helped restore the Thames and its tributaries through its policy lobbying work and by helping produce the Thames River Basin Management Plan, London Rivers Action Plan and Thames Water Resources Plan. The river is as free of pollution as possible and has been able to meet water quality standards.

Thames

Thames river (Image courtesy: Thames River Restoration Trust)

Dr. Robert Oates, Director of the Thames River Restoration Trust stated that significant stretches of the river have been restored to a natural structure, to enable functioning natural processes and sustainable ecosystems.

The technical sessions led by Bhim Rawat and Sita Ram Taigor of PEACE along with representatives of the Nadi Mitra Mandalis elaborated on the activities taken up in each grid and the experiences therein. 

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River restoration techniques - Presentation by Manoj Misra, PEACE (2013)7.55 MB
International river prize - Presentation by Dave Wardle, TRRT (2013)13.92 MB
Mainstreaming biodiversity conservation in river Yamuna - Presentation by Asghar Nawab, WWF India (2013)12.93 MB
Thames Ganga Twinning Project - Presentation by Peter Spillett, TRRT (2013)2.58 MB
Bateshwer grid in Yamuna - PEACE (2013)5.55 MB
Ekdala grid in Yamuna - PEACE (2013)5.59 MB
Gadaya grid in Yamuna - PEACE (2013)5.66 MB
Hamirpur grid in Yamuna - PEACE (2013)7.02 MB
Kanalsi grid in Yamuna - PEACE (2013)15.99 MB
Katapathar grid in Yamuna - PEACE (2013)13.23 MB
Kharadi grid in Yamuna - PEACE (2013)8.22 MB
Oba grid in Yamuna - PEACE (2013)8.03 MB
Pachnada grid in Yamuna - PEACE (2013)5.04 MB
Ramra grid in Yamuna - PEACE (2013)10.37 MB

The state of environmental migration in 2011: A report on Bangladeshi migration to India in the context of 2001 floods, by the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI)

Environmental degradation & climate change have induced human mobility by creating environmental migrants. This report presents a qualitative assessment of the most significant situations that took place in 2011 and emphasizes how migration policy can be used as a tool to manage the pressing needs of vulnerable communities to adapt to disparate environmental hazards.

State of Environmental Migration 2011

The report by the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), shows the complexity of migration in the context of environmental degradation and climate change. The case study of Bangladeshi migration following the 2001 floods aims at presenting a specific case of environmental migration , considering the particular context of Indo-Bangladeshi relations.

Synopsis of the case study : Floods in Bangladesh and migration to India

Bangladeshi immigrants

Environmental migration from Bangladesh due to heavy floods ( Image:www.leadindianews.com)

This study presents the different aspects of the issue of Bangladeshi flood-induced migrations to India. Floods in 2011 affected more than a million people in Bangladesh directly, forcing people to adapt or to leave and migrate to India. This study shows the complex link between floods and transnational migrations in Bangladesh, analyses the 2011 episode and the political response that emerged, and finally contextualizes Bangladeshi flood-induced migrations to India in order to present the specificities of this international issue.

The main issues discussed are:

  • Floods and migration in Bangladesh: A study of patterns

Bangladesh floods 2011

In an average year, 40% of Bangladesh's total land area is flooded ( Image:www.ncnnews.com)

One of the most vulnerable countries in the world, Bangladesh is densely populated, located on a gigantic delta of three rivers. In an average year, 40% of Bangladesh’s total land area is flooded and river erosion washes away 1% of arable land.

The most obvious answer to migration is to assume that the Bangladeshis leave the land that is destroyed by recurrent flooding. Human casualties and economic damages explain the departure to less ecologically-fragile territories

This would confirm the idea that Bangladeshis illegally crossing the Indian border are not only attracted by the opportunities of economic prosperity, but also to escape a situation of great danger for their lives. Floods appear thus as a pertinent answer for this assumption. Migrating becomes a possible response to the brutality of the environmental crisis. Even if floods do not create the migrations per say, they create the conditions for these migrations to develop. They superimpose on social, political and economic factors an environmental crisis that can only strengthen the incentive for departure.

  • The 2011 floods

Bangladesh floods

People forced to move after their homes and land was inundated by the 2011 floods ( Image:iddri)

The 2011 floods were not extraordinary in their intensity and the damages they caused, but still hundreds of thousands of people were forced to move. The management of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna river system was rapidly overcome by the rains, and the dams built upstream put many lives in dangers.

2011 crisis triggered international reactions from both NGOs and international organizations. However, the management of the floods has been criticized for the limited reactivity of authorities. The issue was not a lack of infrastructure, as facilities to gather accurate data exist, but to the weakness of sharing of information at the bilateral level.

The analysis proves that solutions can only emerge with additional action at the national, regional and international levels. Cooperation between the countries of South Asia is particularly fundamental given the influence of transnational rivers in flooding in Bangladesh.

  • Contextualization: Bangladeshi environmental migrations to India as a security issue

Indo Bangladesh Border

Environmental migration a security issue for India ( Image:www.guardian.co.uk)

The migration of Bangladeshis is mainly pictured as a threat to internal stability of its neighbouring country, India. It blames Bangladesh for using climate change for political purposes. The instability of the region linked to its terrain, makes any attempt at controlling the border difficult. As a result, illegal Bangladeshi migrations are seen as part of the general context of insecurity.

India’s measure to treat this issue as a security concern began with the construction of fences along the border. Parallel to the very concrete work of fencing the frontier, India put into place patrols and a series of strict policies regarding illegal Bangladeshi migrants. These policies have been at the centre of controversy as they resulted in violence against and even killing of migrants trying to cross the border.

  • Conclusion

Flood-induced migrations from Bangladesh to India are a remarkable expression of the complexity of environmental migrations today. The 2011 floods have showed the need for international cooperation and highlighted the need of better management of the issue at the bilateral level.

India cannot afford to reject the management of migrants fleeing the floods to its neighbour, especially considering the looming consequences of global warming on the Bangladeshi territory. That is why the question of environmental migrations here is highly political.

If the crux of the problem remains the long-term reduction of damages due to floods, mid-term responses have to be designed to deal with the increasing number of migrants that continue to suffer from this phenomenon. From this perspective, bilateral cooperation appears as the only solution to an increasingly important issue.

Summary of the complete report

The report on the whole focuses on cross-border displacement and the securitization of migration. It calls attention to environmental migrants by offering insights on climate-related events of the year 2011, their migratory impacts, and the policies and programmes that were developed in response.

The report is divided into 2 distinct parts dealing with case studies that gather and document environmentally-induced migration and displacement that happened during the year 2011, both due to sudden disasters and slow onset.

It compromises of the following sections:

Part 1: Sudden Disasters

Environment and migration: The 2011 floods in Thailand

Temporary and circular labor migration between Spain and Colombia

The 11 March triple disaster in Japan

The 2011 South China floods - drought, three gorges dam and migration

Floods in Bangladesh and migration to India

Part 2: Slow-onset events

Drought in Somalia: A migration crisis

Drought and Mexico-US migration

The model of Almeria: Temporary migration programs as a solution for environmentally-induced migration

To read the complete report click here.

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Water in India: Situation and prospects – Book release by UNICEF, FAO and SaciWaters

New indices are needed to measure available water resources, says a report on the state of the water sector in India, entitled Water in India: Situation and Prospects by UNICEF, FAO and SaciWATERS. The report released at UNDP, New Delhi on February 14, 2013 attempts to consolidate the significant amounts of information available on water and sanitation in India and also aims to examine the key current challenges in the sector; both the threats and opportunities for the water sector in India.

Dr Aidan Cronin, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist, UNICEF gives a sneak preview to the report

Video courtesy: UNICEF

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Living on water: An architect constructs homes, offices and even a golf course as floating buildings, using water as a workable layer

Imagine looking out of your window onto the blue sea, living in a building in the midst of water! Koen Olthius, a Dutch architect’s passion for water has transformed this magical image into reality.

Water is the latest frontier to act as a habitable space. Koen Olthius, an architect, creates floating buildings in water that are both flexible , sustainable and practical. He has found a solution that helps cities to respond flexibly to climate change and urbanisation.

Floating apartment Complex, Amsterdam

Floating apartment complex, Amsterdam ( Image courtesy: www.waterstudio)

His water based structures float on concrete and foam foundations that are stable and heavy. These bodies are then connected to the sea bed with cables, so that they are anchored and don’t drift away.

Golf course in Maldives

Floating golf course in Maldives ( Image courtesy: www.fluxmag.com)

His vision of such large scale floating projects in an urban environment opens up the door for endless possibilities. With 90 % of the worlds cities located on the waterfront, this innovative strategy will help people to respond positively to scarcity of urban land and space.

Sea Tree

Sea Tree: A floating park ( Image courtesy: www.waterstudio)

His firm ‘Water Studio’ specialises in architecture, urban planning and research related to living, working and recreation on water. Some of the projects already commissioned and developed include: Sea Tree: a floating park, a haven for wildlife and marine life; White Lagoon: A watervilla with beaches, roof terrace and swimming pools, the future of tourism.

Glass Tunnel Golf Course

Glass tunnel golf course ( Image courtesy: www.waterstudio)

Korail in Bangladesh, houses the largest wetslum in Dhaka, where a population of 40,000 inhabitants  jostle for space. Streets are used for public functions, as playgrounds and even restaurants. The needs of sanitation, toilets and garbage disposal will be met by installing containers on floating foundations in this project, which aims at upgrading this wetland as shown in the video below.

Source of video: waterstudionl

  

Upgradation of wetslum in Korail, Bangladesh, by using floating foundations ( Courtesy : waterstudionl)


With expected rising sea levels, these projects promise to keep buildings and hopes, both afloat !

To read the complete article, please click here.

For more videos on floating buildings by Waterstudio, please click here.

Everything you wanted to know about rivers in India - Compilation of all videos from the "Living rivers, dying rivers" series of talks organised by India International Centre and Centre for Policy Research at New Delhi over 2011-12

The India International Centre launched a series of talks titled ‘Living Rivers, Dying Rivers’ in collaboration with the Centre for Policy Research. The attempt was to join the crucial debates surrounding the alarming increase in environmental degradation, especially of rivers and river systems, without which the very survival of all species is in jeopardy.

A certain number of rivers, some sick or dying, some living and healthy, and some showing early signs of sickness, were taken up for presentations and discussion, and an attempt made to understand what has gone wrong in many cases, what has gone right in some, and what needs to be done to revive and restore dying or sick rivers. The series has been conceived and carried forward by India’s foremost expert in the field, Prof. Ramaswamy Iyer.

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Drought mitigation measures through climate adaptation for securing agricultural livelihoods in Uttar Pradesh

Guest post: Veena Khanduri, India Water Partnership

Prolonged and recurrent drought, being experienced in India and various parts of south Asia, is the manifestation of climate change, partly caused by human interventions. Drought has been one of the primary reasons for widespread poverty and environmental degradation including deteriorating water quality and water security. The world has been more drought-prone during the past 25 years and the vulnerability of tropical countries to drought is likely to increase (Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007).

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Drought mitigation measures through climate adaptation for securing agricultural livelihoods in Uttar Pradesh - Issue 001-IWP Newsline (2012)223.38 KB

An infographic on climate change: Country wise status, emission rates and targets as per Kyoto protocol

At the 2012 UN climate change conference, environmental ministers from nearly 220 countries met to reach a consensus on emission. This infographic depicts the status of the Kyoto Protocol country wise. A map identifying the signatory status of all the countries and their target for 2012 is given.

Another section shows the biggest 10 emitters of CO2 for 2010 and how their emission rates have varied since 1990. Also attached is a graph that shows the emission per capita for various countries. Position of prominent players like the United States, Japan etc in terms of responsibility, costs and burden are illustrated further.

To view the infographic click here

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