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Bangladesh: Taka 58.00 / Pakistan: Rs 58.00 / Nepal: Rs 38.00 / Sri Lanka: Rs 117.00 / Maldives: Rf 28.00 Bhutan: Ngultrum 24 / Rest of the World (South): US $2.70 / Rest of the World (North): US $3.40

SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT FORTNIGHTLY

INITIATIVE BY

CLIMATE
CHANGE
SPECIAL

DownToEarth
1-15 JANUARY, 2016

Subscriber copy, not for resale

`45.00

PARIS
Rich nations legitimise their
emissions and lifestyle,
snuffing out poor countries

DELHI

Judiciary forces tough measures


to clean air. Governments must
act now

CHENNAI

Flooding is not an anomaly.


Extreme weather events are waiting
to explode. Watch this space

28/12/15 12:42 PM

A Down To Earth ANNUAL

STATE OF INDIA'S
ENVIRONMENT
2016
India's most credible annual survey
of environment, backed by more
than 30 years of research and
reportage, equips you with incisive
news and views.

This year it is bigger, better


and comes with 40 pages
of environment-related data.
IT COVERS:
Forest and wildlife | Rivers |
Urbanisation | Agriculture | Climate
change | Renewable energy |
Science and religion | Mining | Green
technology | Air pollution

ORDER NOW TO AVAIL


PRE-PUBLICATION DISCOUNT
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January 31, 2016
You pay: Rs. 150/copy

Society for Environmental Communications


41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi 110 062
Phone: 91-11- 29955124, 29956110, 29956394, 29956399
Fax: 91-11-29955879. Email: sales@cseindia.org
In case of any query, write to
Ramachandran at: rchandran@cseindia.org

A N I L A G A RWA L S W R I T I N G S

BARTERING OUR
ECOLOGICAL SPACE

Anil Agarwal, founder of the Centre for Science and Environment


and Down To Earth, passed away on January 2, 2002. His
editorials provide us a glimpse of the trajectory of climate
negotiations which are even more relevant today
The missing key
THE CRITICAL issue that we are dealing with here

is not global warming but how to manage a global


common property resource called the atmosphere.
Behind all the global environmental problems
that we have been talking about, there are global
natural resources which are under threat. When
we try to manage any resource, it is important to
understand how that resource is being managed,
who are the parties responsible for its destruction,
and what are the stakes for humanity in that
resource. Part of the problem is that the perception
of many of these global environmental problems
are driven by scientists who understand little
about management or about property rights. They
focus on technical solutions and insist that those
1-15 JANUARY 2016

05-07 Anil Agarwal Writing.indd 5

technical solutions be adopted by everybody.


Social scientists have paid very little attention,
particularly in the developing world, to the
management of global environmental resources.
In Kyoto what is being negotiated, therefore, is not
how much future emissions should be cut but how
do we manage the atmosphere and who owns the
atmosphere. If the atmosphere is owned by every
human being on earth, then it is now very clear
that a few people are using this resource as a free
access property and destroying it at the expense of
others. Clearly, therefore, a good entitlements
regime is necessary to establish everybodys rights
in this common heritage of humankind.
In a world fast turning global, companies do
not want to get their competitiveness eroded. The
www.downtoearth.org.in 5

26/12/15 12:06 PM

If the atmosphere is owned by every human being on earth, then it


is now very clear that a few people are using this resource as a free
access property and destroying it at the expense of others.
polluter pays principle would mean that those
who are the biggest polluters will be the ones to
pay the most. In the case of global warming, this
would mean that the companies of the industrialised countries, particularly in the US, will have to
bear the biggest burden and, therefore, may be
unable to compete in the global economy.
The US position has nothing to do with saving
the environment. It has to do with the saving
of its own economy. This is no way to manage
global resources. Global resources have to be
managed on the principle of equitable entitlements of all stakeholders.
December 30, 1997

The Kyoto compromise

RUSTAM VANIA / CSE

AS YET our negotiators are blissfully lost in the


quagmire of discussions on funding and technology transfer. But what we fail to realise is that

6 DOWN TO EARTH

05-07 Anil Agarwal Writing.indd 6

without an effective climate convention we will


lose a lot more than promises for a fistful of
dollars. Emerging science tells us that climatic
change will result in greater climatic variation and
extreme events like floods, droughts and cyclones
and sea level rise, leaving poor people living at the
very margins of survival to become even more
vulnerable. Therefore, it is in the interest of India
and other developing countries to demand that
the industrialised North takes effective and
measurable action to reduce its emissions.
The Kyoto compromise will cost the world and
us a whole lot more than a new set of clothes for
the emperor.
August 31, 2001

Kyoto's ghost will return


IF, BY the grace of God, the predicted ill-effects of

global warming are muted or just fail to appear,


then the world can write off Kyoto as an unnecessary exercise. But if indeed they bear upon
humanity as predicted by most scientists, then the
ghost of inaction in Kyoto will repeatedly come
back to haunt the world.
Just what is it that the high drama of Kyoto
has left us with? The simple answer is: Almost
nothing. The reduction target of 5.2 per cent over
1990 levels for industrialised countries as a whole
simply means business as usual at 1996 levels.
Global warming campaigner of Germanys
leading nature conservation non-governmental
organisation (ngo) , Sascha Muller-Kraenner,
says, If we look at 1996 levels of emission of
carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas, then
the industrialised countries as a group are already
below 1990 levels by about 4.5 per cent. In
other words, as long as industrialised
countries as a group stabilise around
1996 levels, they will have met the
Kyoto target, which was agreed on
after such high drama. The 1996 levels
are below 1990 levels largely because of the
economic collapse in the former Soviet Union
countries and Central and Eastern Europe.
January 14, 1998

1-15 JANUARY 2016

26/12/15 12:06 PM

The US design for CDM is based on the principle of looking


for the least-cost options like coal washing which can give
a tonne of carbon dioxide reduction for as low as US $3
Is Kyoto Protocol a steal?
THE WORLD'S poor who are not locked into fossil
fuel energy and, therefore, underutilise their
share of the global atmospheric space should be
given entitlements to their share of the global
commons. This would give them the incentive to
invest in zero-carbon emitting technologies even
if these are currently more expensive than fossil
fuels. But this will demand more political
sagacity than we have seen from politicians who
continue to protect their dinosaur-age oil and
automobile industries.
March 14, 2000

The US and us
FORGET THAT the greenhouse gas emission of
one US citizen is equal to 107 Bangladeshis,
134 Bhutanese, 269 Nepalese or 19 Indians.
Forget that multilateral negotiations, of which
the US has been a party, namely, the climate
convention, agreed in 1992 by no less than the
current Bushs father, and the subsequent
Kyoto Protocol are all aimed at cutting
emissions of the industrialised world only.
Simply because these countries contribute the
bulk of emissions which threaten to destabilise
the worlds climatic system.
As buying emission reduction from energy
inefficient developing countries is much
cheaper, as against taking action at home, it has
made the Clean Development Mechanism
(cdm) the core of its negotiating demands. The
US design for the cdmwhich has Indian
industrialists droolingis based on the
principle of looking for the least-cost options
like coal washing which can given a tonne of
carbon dioxide reduction for as low as US $3.
Never mind that the costs will go up in the
future for us. Thirdly, it has worked hard to
bring in sinkssequestering carbon dioxide by
planting forests into the protocol. As sinks
are difficult to measure it will allow for weak
implementation but cheap budgets.
This pigheaded position, of the worlds
biggest bully, who also happens to be the
worlds biggest polluter, has meant that the

1-15 JANUARY 2016

05-07 Anil Agarwal Writing.indd 7

climate change negotiations are stalled and


weakened. All Bush has done is to state the
obvious: his government is not willing to do
anything that would compromise the
American way of life.
April 14, 2001

US tastes cream paste


WHAT WAS even more ironic is that nobody
knew whether giving into the US would bring
any results. Firstly, it is still unclear who the
new US president is and even if the new
president is favourably inclined towards the
protocol there is every chance of it getting
rejected by the US Senate. But still millions of
dollars and sleepless nights were spent by
people from across the world to try and get the
US on board, but it refused to oblige.
While all this drama was happening, it was
interesting to read British and US newspapers
reporting the developments. The International
Herald Tribune (US) never told its readers how
the US was being viewed by the rest of the world.
And, on November 20, for instance, The Daily
Telegraph of the UK reported with a headline
US blamed for climate treaty talks deadlock.
The Independent said, US blocks attempts to cut
global warming. But on the same day, the
International Herald Tribune reported, US
takes new stance on greenhouse gases.
This is not the first time the US media has
blatantly avoided telling their people the
reality. Howsoever open and democratic the
US media may be, when it comes to domestic
politics, every time there is a climate change
conference I have found that they immediately
turn into a propaganda rag for the US
governmentan amazing kind of self-censorship. How can the US public be told how
outsiders view their governmenta government, as the US media itself and its politicians
repeatedly tell us, which leads the world. How
selfish is that leadership, as viewed by the rest
of the world, is not something to be told to the
US public. The pie in Loys face received no
attention by the US media.
December 14, 2000

www.downtoearth.org.in 7

26/12/15 12:06 PM

Down To Earth
SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT FORTNIGHTLY

ON THE WEB
WHAT'S HOT

Anil Agarwal
EDITOR Sunita Narain
FOUNDER EDITOR

Richard Mahapatra
ASSOCIATE EDITORS

Vibha Varshney, Archana Yadav,


S S Jeevan
MULTIMEDIA EDITOR Arnab Pratim Dutta
CREATIVE DIRECTOR Ajit Bajaj
GRAPHIC EDITOR Sorit Gupto
REPORTING TEAM

Anupam Chakravartty, Jitendra Choubey,


Kundan Pandey, Jyotsna Singh, Rajeshwari
Ganesan, Shreeshan Venkatesh, Karnika
Bahuguna. Jigyasa Watwani
COPY DESK

Snigdha Das, Rajat Ghai, Jemima Rohekar,


Aditya Misra, Vani Manocha, Rajit Sengupta,
Moushumi Sharma, Deepanwita Niyogi,
Aakriti Shrivastava
DESIGN TEAM

Chaitanya Chandan, Shri Krishan,


Raj Kumar Singh, Tarique Aziz, Ritika Bohra
PHOTOGRAPHER Vikas Choudhary
PHOTO LIBRARY Anil Kumar

SPECIAL COVERAGE

Highlands in danger
On the occasion of International
Mountain Day on December 11,
experts highlighted concerns
regarding mountain ranges
and people inhabiting them.
Temperatures across the Hindu
Kush Himalayan range are likely
to increase by 5C by 2050. Also,
the number of food-insecure
people in the mountainous areas
has risen by 30 per cent between
2000 and 2012.

THINKSTOCKPHOTO

MANAGING EDITOR AND PUBLISHER

SPECIAL FEATURE

BLOG

India should take the lead on cotton at WTO

Why does Beijing


value its citizens
more than Delhi visa-vis air pollution
during winters, asks

WEB TEAM

Rajendra Rawat, Jaidev Sharma


PRODUCTION

Shirin Bithal

Rakesh Shrivastava, Gundhar Das


INFORMATION AND RESEARCH SUPPORT

POPULAR
THINKSTOCKPHOTO

Kiran Pandey
www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in team
CONSULTING EDITORS

Chandra Bhushan, Anumita Roychowdhury


Vol 24, No 16; Total No of Pages 82
Editorial, subscriptions and advertisements: Society for
Environmental Communications,
41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area,
New Delhi 110 062,
Phone: 91-11- 29955124,
29956110, 29956394, 29956399
Fax: 91-11-29955879.
Email: downtoearth@downtoearth.org.in
2005 Society for Environmental Communications.
All rights reserved throughout the world. Reproduction
in any manner is prohibited. Printed and published by
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Communications. Printed at International Print-o-Pac
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COVER DESIGN Ajit Bajaj
COVER PHOTOS Vikas Choudhary, Arun Sharma

Down To Earth editorial does not


endorse the content of advertisements
printed in the magazine

8 DOWN TO EARTH

08Web and Credits.indd 8

Two leading academics


write that India should
take the lead on cotton
at the World Trade
Organization (WTO).
They cite a recent study
which suggests that US
subsidies under the 2014

Farm Bill would continue


to suppress global cotton
prices and threaten
Indian and African cotton
producers. India should
therefore fight for reforms
in developed countries'
agricultural policies.

On web
Why the Chennai flood is a
human-made disaster

On Facebook
Revisiting late bureaucrat
B D Sharma's interview,
Independent India worse
for tribals

On Twitter
Intolerance in Paris: an
opinion by Sunita Narain
MULTIMEDIA

The living dead


Using photographs, maps,
illustrations and graphics, CSE
captures the horror of the night
in 1984 when deadly methyl
isocyanate enveloped the city of
Bhopal in a lethal embrace.

www.downtoearth.org.in

1-15 JANUARY 2016

26/12/15 2:56 PM

VIKAS CHOUDHARY / CSE

letters

Preserve India's biodiversity


This refers to the cover story Where dry gardens wilt (16-30 November, 2015).
Our country is home to a rich repository of diverse and unique plant, insect
and animal species. Unfortunately, our policymakers have never realised
their importance. This is in stark contrast to the British scientists, who took
immense interest in the plant and animal diversity of India. In fact, they founded
institutions such as the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and the Zoological Survey
of India (ZSI) to keep track of biodiversity, and preserve it in herbaria so as to
record the important heritage. Policymakers of today's India need to follow in the
footsteps of these British scientists.
N E THYAGARA J
HASSAN

Ensure accountability

It seems ridiculous that the


Union government has tied up
with private weather agencies
for implementing its
Weather-Based Crop
Insurance Scheme (wbcis),
which provides financial
support and insurance cover
to farmers in case of crop loss
due to extreme weather
events ('No insurance against
fraud', 16-31 October, 2015).
Usually, these private weather
agencies do not have reliable
data and have many other
1-15 JANUARY 2016

09-11Letters.indd 9

THINKSTOCK PHOTOS

descrepancies, which result in


wrong forecasts. Almost all
private companies procure

their automated weather


stations from foreign
agencies. These stations do
not have any uniform
standard of recording and
analysing weather elements.
It is only the India
Meteorological Department
(imd) that has a strong network
with an exclusive agrometeorology department in
Pune to cater the needs of the
affected farmers. Another
lacuna in wbcis is that farmers
get joint and not individual
compensation for their crop
losses (due to weather
www.downtoearth.org.in 9

26/12/15 12:07 PM

letters

disasters). Also, some of the


extreme weather events may
cause losses to crops in the
form of pests and diseases.
This needs to be taken into
consideration in compensation
clauses. It will be unethical if
poor and marginal farmers do
not get justice due to wrong
forecasts. Accountability
needs to be fixed, particularly
for private weather firms.
K KAILASANATHAN
VIA EMAIL

In black and white


This refers to yoga guru Baba
Ramdev's statement
complaining that he was not
selected for the Nobel Prize
because he is black (The
Fortnight, 1-15 December,
2015). It is amazing to note
that Ramdev should exhibit
such rank ignorance about

COURTESY: OLA

Nobel Prizes to black persons.


Quite a good number of black
people have been decorated
with Nobel Prizes for their
outstanding contributions to
science, technology and peace.
There is no discrimination
between blacks and nonblacks in awarding
Nobel Prizes.
G AZEEMODDIN
ANANTAPUR

Lessons from Chennai


The recent deluge in Chennai
should be seen as a warning by
India's urban planners as such
natural calamities can occur in
any city in the country ('Rain
reign', 1-15 December, 2015).
Urban planning officials in
India have never tried to define
the perimeters of a city to
make it sustainable.
Construction of houses,
apartments, malls and offices

are allowed around a city,


usually on land supposed to
act as a sponge to absorb
extra water during floods.
The bottom line is that cities
should not be allowed to
expand at the cost of ecology.
L R SHARMA
SUNDERNAGAR

On development
This refers to the editorial
Alternative Paris (1-15
December, 2015). I disagree
with Sunita Narain when she
says that industrially advanced
countries should reduce
carbon emissions and
developing countries should
be given the Right to
Development. Despite more
than 20 years of liberalisation,
what has India got in return?
The world's hungriest people
live here. Every few seconds, a
child dies due to malnutrition.

http://www.facebook.com/down2earthindia
Many people may try and use forged
number plates. And it is impossible to
check each and every person. Will this
scheme succeed in such a scenario?

Will Delhi's odd-even


formula to reduce
pollution work?

There are already long queues at the RTO.


People, who own more than one car, are
scrambling to make sure that there is a
balance of odd and even number cars
at home.

I don't think this scheme can work. Delhi

09-11Letters.indd 10

SWARNA LATHA

PAWAN SINGH

GEE TALI TARE

10 DOWN TO EARTH

simply does not have the requisite public


transport to take the load of commuters
who will forsake their own vehicles.

The measure can succeed. But Delhi


residents must be given an alternative
(and free) public transport to rest their
personal vehicles.
RAKE SH TALWAR

I think there is little hope of success for


this measure.
YADUVEER AGNIHOTRI

1-15 JANUARY 2016

26/12/15 12:07 PM

RAJNI KANT YADAV

Thousands of farmers have committed


suicide during the last 10 years. At the
same time, during all these years of
"development", the wealth of billionaires
has increased manifold. In its current
form, development is the root cause of all
ASHOK TRIVEDI
our modern problems. Hence all
countries, including developing ones,
have to stop fossil fuel use and strive for
an alternative paradigm of development. I
know that the capitalist world will collapse
if such a decision is taken. But there is no
alternative.

cannot provide an exact judgement of a


person's intelligence.

ERRATA

ERRATUM
comprising ecologists and entomologists
is formed on permanent basis, there
would be less chances for pest calamities.
R T GAHUKAR
NAGPUR

SAMAR BAGCHI
VIA EMAIL

Measuring intelligence

Tackling the sal borer

CLAXTON
This refers to Rakesh NICHOLAS
Kalshian's column,

A number of preventive measures can be


taken to tackle the sal borer ('The lull sets
in', 16-30 November, 2015). Synthetic and
neem-based products can be sprayed
upon sal trees. Covering treated logs with
polythene sheets before the monsoon can
be effective in tackling beetles emerging
from infested stacks in hotspot areas.
Preventive measures might result in pest
population reduction, but complete
control is impossible. A system of
recording pest incidence and seasonal
changes can give some guidance for
planned spraying operations. Pests
multiply fast when favourable conditions
such as high humidity, temperature, dense
planting and presence of old stressed
trees prevail. If these conditions can be
addressed, pest attacks can be reduced.
BHARATH
KUMAR
Ecological studies should
be conducted
inK
regularly infested areas. If a task force

The intel inside (1-15 December, 2015).


The intelligence of a person cannot be
measured in linear tests of language and
mathematical skills. Nor can parameters
like planning, reasoning, memory and
attention wholly define intelligence. Other
than memory, planning, reasoning and
attention can be cultivated.
The synergy of mind and intelligence
bestow upon a person a particular acumen
and aptitude which accrues success to
him/her. We have seen school dropouts
becoming great businesspersons,
scientists, rulers, scholars and artists. But
even personal intelligence may not always
guarantee success. For instance,
Chanakya was endowed with exceptional
intelligence but he too had to search for a
Chandragupta to defeat and wipe out the
P S that
SUBRAHMANIAN
Nanda dynasty. It shows
intelligence
has different hues and simple IQ tests

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1-15 JANUARY 2016

09-11Letters.indd 11

In Neck deep in trouble (16-30


November, 2015), the gestation period of
giraffe was erroneously mentioned as 22
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26/12/15 12:07 PM

contents
Industrial
`evolution'
Villages in Uttar
Pradesh lose their
vote to industrial
authority

13
THE FORTNIGHT

The call of Tibet

16

A top Chinese scientific institute finds


that the Tibetan Plateau is fast drying
and turning into a desert

22
COVER STORY

Silence of the poor

CLIMATE
CHANGE
SPECIAL

Rich nations celebrate a toothless climate


summit, even as the effects of pollution become
hard to negotiate

DELHI POLLUTION

CLIMATE SUMMIT

CHENNAI FLOODS

SCIENCE

One size won't


fit all
The efficacy of flu
vaccines depends on an
area's demographics and
characteristics

51

20-PAGE DTE SUPPLEMENT


WITH SUBSCRIPTION COPIES

LIFE & NATURE

54

Preserving
India's caves
India has no law to protect its
precious cave heritage

Showcase exercise
60

12Contents.indd 12

Why the new bullet train project


mocks at the state of Indian Railways

Smoked!

P L A N E T

Philip Morris loses a


trademark violation
case in Australia that
could have a
domino effect

58

P E O P L E

P O L I T I C S

GOBAR TIMES

61-80

Supplement Editor: Souparno Banerjee


Copy: Diksha Chopra and Arif Parrey
Design: Ajit Bajaj, Ritika Bohra and Surender Singh
Illustration: Sorit Gupto, Tarique Aziz and Ritika Bohra

26/12/15 12:50 PM

FORTNIGHT

CROSS HAIRS

THE

Tibet turning into desert


L A R G E P A R T S of Tibet are
turning into desert, according to an
assessment report by the Chinese
Academy of Sciences (CAS). More than
100 scientists from China's top science
institutes participated in the three-year
assessment. The report says that Tibet
is warming two times faster than the
global average, and CAS scientists predict

1-15 JANUARY 2016

13-15The Fortnight.indd 13

that temperatures on the plateau will


increase by up to 4.6C by the end of the
century. The water cycle is intensifying,
as indicated by the shrinking glaciers,
expanding lakes and increased river flows.
This would have serious implications
for environmental security in China and
South Asia.
For more, visit www.downtoearth.org.in

POINT

2,511
sq km

Area of dense forests lost in India


since 2013
Source: Forest Survey of India, 2015

www.downtoearth.org.in 13

26/12/15 12:08 PM

FORTNIGHT

VIKAS CHOUDHARY/CSE

WILDLIFE

THE

Scientists to track mercury in sarus feathers


T H E I N T E R N A T I O N A L Crane Foundation, in collaboration
with IIT-Hyderabad, will conduct a six-year research to assess the
effect of mercury discharged by industries on the sarus crane,
Uttar Pradesh's state bird. The study will be conducted in Uttar
Pradesh and parts of Haryana and Rajasthan, and will begin once
approval is received from the Council of Scientific and Industrial
Research. Mercury, mostly produced by coal-fired power plants

and other industries, affects the brain and nervous system. Its
lethal effects are not confined to birds. Mercury, unlike other
elements, does not get washed down with monsoon showers and
accumulates in the environment. Traces can be found even in the
feathers of sarus cranes. Scientists say they will collect feathers
of the cranes and conduct tests to estimate the level of mercury.
Uttar Pradesh has 18,000 sarus cranes.

Gaya's Aamas block achieves 91 per cent immunisation

CREATIVE COMMONS

14 DOWN TO EARTH

13-15The Fortnight.indd 14

T H E A A M A S block of
Bihar's Gaya district achieved a
milestone recently when
91 per cent of its children were
immunised. The immunisation
was conducted at a one-daylong Tika Mela organised
by the District Health Society,
Gaya, Unicef and non-profit
Vikasarth on December 1,
2015. One of the main reasons

behind organising the camp


was to fight public resistance to
vaccination and immunisation.
The camp, a first and unique
programme in the state, was
organised under the Union
government's immunisation
scheme, Mission Indradhanush.
Aamas now tops the list of
Gaya's 24 blocks with regard to
immunisation.
1-15 JANUARY 2016

26/12/15 12:08 PM

THE

I N FO C U S

FACEBOOK

3,000 km across India


in a self-built solar car

School dropout Syed Sajjan Ahmed, 63, has


travelled 3,000 km from Bengaluru to Delhi
in a self-developed solar electric-powered
car. Starting from Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru on
November 1, 2015, Ahmed reached Delhi in
30 days.
Ahmed's modified car is equipped with a set
of five solar panels, each with a capacity of
100 Watts. The power generated by the panels
propels the machine through a bank of six
batteries, each with a capacity of 12 volts and
100 amps.
Ahmed was accompanied by his cousin, Salim
Pasha, who travelled in a regular car with him.
Ahmed, whose vehicle costs around ` 1 lakh,
will now drive from Delhi to Rameshwaram in
Tamil Nadu this year.

On December 9, a Supreme Court-appointed


panel visited a crematorium next to the Taj
Mahal and was unhappy at the measures
adopted by the Uttar Pradesh government to
save the world heritage site from the damaging
fumes. On November 16, the Supreme Court had
directed the state to shift the crematorium

I N CO U RT
On December 4, the National Green
Tribunal (NGT) ordered complete
prohibition on plastic in Chandigarh
and said anyone found using or
dealing with plastic would be
fined ` 5,000
On December 7, the Delhi High
Court sought assistance of
two experts associated with
the Yamuna Biodiversity Park
to develop an 81 hectare
forest land near the 14th
century Tughlaqabad Fort in
South Delhi

FORTNIGHT

On December 8, NGT refused to


stay its order restraining
Numaligarh Refinery Limited
from carrying out any
construction activity in the
no-development zone in
Kaziranga National Park

Chandigarh
Delhi

Assam

Uttar Pradesh

On December 3, NGT asked


the Maharashtra
government to exercise
restraint while issuing Maharashtra
permissions to convert
land use at identified
private forest areas until
Kerala
further orders

Andhra Pradesh

On December 7, the Kerala High


Court made environmental
clearances mandatory for all
quarries in the state and ordered
districts to take strict action
against the violators

On December 9, NGT
dismissed the argument of
the Andhra Pradesh
government that it had
obtained all clearances from
the Union environment
ministry for the construction of
its new capital, Amaravati, on
the banks of the Krishna river

Number of environmental cases


reported last fortnight*
SUPREME
COURT

HIGH
COURTS

NGT

05

11

32

*(During December 1-9)


Compiled by DTE/CSE Data Centre. For detailed verdicts, visit www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in

Message at science festival: dream high

V E R B AT I M

T H E F I R S T India International Science

FACEBOOK

Festival (IISF) was held at IIT-Delhi


recently. Union Minister for Science &
Technology and Earth Sciences, Harsh
Vardhan, called upon students and
researchers to dream high to achieve
heights in life as innovators serving
society. At least 0.2 million visitors
attended the festival. More than 230
research papers were presented and five
workshops were held for over 10,000
delegates as well as the general public.
The festival was organised jointly by the
ministries of Science & Technology and
Earth Sciences, in collaboration with
Vijnana Bharati, the largest science
movement in India.
1-15 JANUARY 2016

13-15The Fortnight.indd 15

"Niyamgiri is a
national asset. The
government has to
make a move, and I
am sure something
will be done"
Anil Agarwal, Vedanta
chairperson, on his
company's stalled project
in Odisha's Niyamgiri hills

www.downtoearth.org.in 15

26/12/15 12:08 PM

REPORT

RUPESH VERMA

SPECIAL

Residents of 207 villages in Noida and Greater Noida have been protesting since September 2015 to get back their right to local self-governance

Left without a vote

Uttar Pradesh government's repeated attempts to bring villages under


industrial authorities are against the spirit of the Constitution
JITENDRA | noida , uttar pradesh

ESIDENTS OF 207 villages in Noida

and Greater Noida industrial areas have been staging protests in


front of the administrative buildings of the industrial authorities since
September 2015. Their demand is to restore
their constitutional right to self-governance.
The problem erupted on September 18,
when the states Panchayati Raj Department
issued an order saying the villages are part
of industrial townships and cannot participate in the panchayat polls in November.
Going by the government order, the
state government-appointed New Okhla
Industrial Development Authority and the
16 DOWN TO EARTH

16-17Governance.indd 16

Greater Noida Industrial Development


Authority will now be responsible for
development of these villages, instead of the
democratically elected gram panchayats
(village councils). This will restrict peoples
involvement in planning development
works of their villages, such as roads,
drinking water supply and sanitary
provisions, says Alok Pandey of Delhi nonprofit Participatory Research in Asia (pria)
that works on strengthening local
governance. Industrial authorities are
usually interested in big projects that will
generate revenue and are more concerned
about passing housing maps, monitoring
1-15 JANUARY 2016

26/12/15 12:09 PM

GOVERNANCE

construction activities and regulating the


market price of land and buildings. Though
these villages can form resident welfare
associations, such associations have no legal
sanctity, Pandey explains.
After being part of township, we are no
more eligible for the 29 welfare schemes of
the Union and state governments for village
residents, says Rupesh Verma, lawyer and
member of Panchayat Chunav Bachao
Manch (pcbm), a village residents platform
to fight for their rights. Most residents
depend on agriculture and related works,
and depend on welfare schemes like the
employment generation Act, public distribution system and pension scheme for both
elderly people and widows. Earlier, panchayat heads would help verify the beneficiaries
of welfare schemes or address any kind of
grievance in the village. Now, the residents
will have to make rounds of the district
headquarters for any help related to welfare
schemes, adds Verma.

Journey of exclusion
While this is for the first time the residents
of Noida and Greater Noida villages have
been stopped from participating in the
panchayat polls, it is not the first attempt of
the Uttar Pradesh government to subvert
their rights to self-governance.
The first such attempt was in December
2001 by then chief minister Rajnath Singh
who amended the Uttar Pradesh Industrial
Area Development Act (upirda) of 1976 to
bring the 207 villages under the state
government-appointed industrial authorities. The amendment faced stiff opposition
from the residents. Before the state went
into panchayat polls in 2005, then chief
minister Mulayam Singh Yadav withdrew
the amendments and allowed the villages to
participate in the panchayat polls.
But in 2009, the next government
under Mayawati, invoked the amendment.
In fact, her government issued a notification
to bring another 982 villages under another
authoritythe Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (yeiada). But
under pressure from the residents, she
withdrew the notification just before the
2010 panchayat elections.
The real blow has come from the Akhilesh Yadav government. In a January 2015
notification, his government stated that the
1-15 JANUARY 2016

16-17Governance.indd 17

Suit the industry


Successive state governments have
been trying to bring the 207 villages
under industrial authority
2001 Then Chief Minister Rajnath Singh
amends the state's Industrial Area
Development Act (IRDA), 1976, to bring 207
villages in Noida and Greater Noida
industrial areas under the respective
industrial authorities, which are
government appointed bodies. This sparks
off widespread protests among residents
2005 Then Chief Minister Mulayam
Singh Yadav withdraws the amendment;
allows the village residents to participate in
the panchayat polls of the state
2009 Then Chief Minister Mayawati
invokes the 2001 amendment of the IRDA
Act. She also issues a notification to bring
another 982 villages under the Yamuna
Expressway Industrial Development
Authority. Faced with protests, she
withdraws the notification just before the
panchayat polls in 2010
2015 Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav
issues a notification stating that the 207
villages in Noida and Greater Noida will be
governed by the industrial authorities. The
Panchayati Raj Department reinforces the
notification in September, just a few weeks
before the state went into panchayat polls
in November
207 villages in Noida and Greater Noida are
part of the industrial authorities. The
notification, however, remained silent about
the 982 villages around yeiada. The
September 18 order of the Panchayati Raj
Department was only a reinforcement of
this notification.
pcbm contested the decision of the
Akhilesh Yadav government in March 2015
in the Allahabad High Court. But the court
favoured the state government in August
saying that the notification is as per the 2001
amendment of the upirda.
After the setback in the high court, the
village residents are hesitant to move the
Supreme Court to relook at the decision.
We lost the case because we didnt argue

well. If we lose the case in the Supreme


Court, we will lose our fight forever, says
Verma. So the village residents are now
fighting their battle outside the court, he
says, adding that their relentless protests
have started yielding results.
In November, chairpersons of the
Noida and Greater Noida authorities told us
that the authorities may de-list 145 of the
207 villages from the township and that we
may be able to participate in the panchayat
elections, Verma informs.

Subverting Constitution?
Attempts to include villages in industrial
towns indicate manipulation of laws by the
state government to favour the industry.
Since local self-governance is a state
subject, state governments often try to
subvert their role by bringing villages under
the jurisdiction of authorities, says Pandey.
This helps them acquire land for industrialisation without any pressure from peoples
groups and representatives.
Experts say the Uttar Pradesh governments order is against the spirit of the 73rd
and 74th amendments of the Constitution,
which states that an area should be either
under panchayat or municipality, says
Srikanth Viswanath of Janagrah, a nonprofit in Bengaluru that works on urban
governance. The government is creating a
number of parallel institutions like
industrial authority that are accountable to
it. Such institutions weaken local bodies by
overriding their rights, he adds.
S M Vijayanad, secretary, Ministry of
Panchayati Raj, agrees with Viswanath. We
cannot replace or remove any constituted
panchayat or urban local body. It has its
constitutional validity. Election to these
bodies can be temporarily delayed in some
emergency cases, but cannot be scrapped. It
can be challenged in court.
A N P Sinha, former secretary of the
Ministry of Panchayati Raj, further explains
the importance of local governance: Local
bodies are one of the supreme constitutional
bodies in any country. The government can
never supersede it in any court. Yogesh
Kumar of Samarthan, a non-profit in
Madhya Pradesh that works on
strengthening of local governance, says such
unconstitutional move may set a precedent
for other states.
www.downtoearth.org.in 17

26/12/15 12:09 PM

ADVERTORIAL

DRIVING TOWARDS GREEN FUTURE

Suzuki has implemented a robust risk management

PB DOWN TO EARTH

process since 2006 under which it addresses risks


like emissions and has adopted mitigation strategies
like designing low carbon emitting vehicles,
manufacturing and promotion of CNG vehicles have
been put in place. An enhanced process for emission
reduction has also been designed. Changes have
been introduced even in production process where
solar energy and cleaner fuel is used for electricity
production.

Fuel efficiency (FE)

24.07

23.40

16.50

20.73

25.20
19.10
20.85

19

18.60
20.44

21

22.90

25
23

New model

20.92

Old model

27

26.59

29

FE (km/l)

Maruti Suzuki was established in 1981 as a joint


venture company between the Government of India
and Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC), Japan. The
company is a public limited company. It is SMCs
largest subsidiary in terms of volume of production
and sale, thus holding an important position in the
companys global strategy. A leading passenger
vehicle manufacturer in India, the company holds
45 per cent market share in an intensely competitive
market. The company sold a total of 12,92,415 units
in 2014-15, of which exports constituted 1,21,713
units. The combined manufacturing capacity of
Maruti Suzukis Gurgaon and Manesar facilities is
about 1.5 million vehicles per year. The companys
initiatives to minimize environmental impacts of
products, manufacturing operations and supply
chains are guided by its environmental policy.
Reducing air pollution from our cars and trucks
by using clean vehicle and fuel technologies has
been at the top of Maruti Suzukis mission. Maruti

17
15
Swift

Swift diesel

Dzire

Dzire diesel Alto K 10


Models

SX4/CIAZ

ADVERTORIAL

With focused efforts, Maruti Suzuki has been


successful in bringing down the weighted average of
CO2 emission by over 11.6% in last five years. This has
been possible through fuel efficiency improvements,
reduction of exhaust emissions and development
of alternate fuel products during this period.
Maruti Suzuki engineers worked towards
improving fuel efficiency and bringing down
emissions per car in 2014-15. The three most fuel
efficient cars in India are all from Maruti Suzuki:
Celerio, DZire and Ciaz.

Fuel efficiency improvement chart

This has been possible due to innovations


such as
a) Introducing changes in engine hardware to
improve thermal efficiency and engine calibration.
b) Optimizing transmission gear ratios for better

Future sustainable technologies


Working on future technologies, under the National
Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020 (NEMMP), Maruti
Suzuki has demonstrated the Swift Range Extender
(REEV). Swift RE-EV is an electric vehicle with an
engine driven generator.The vehicle functions like a
pure Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) for customers who
commute short distances. Once the battery power is
depleted, the on board IC engine starts functioning
and runs the generator for supplying power to the
electric motor, thereby eliminating the range
anxiety issue generally associated with BEVs. The
vehicle can be charged at home from a household
power outlet.
Suzuki Motor Corporation, Japan had showcased
three new technologies at the Geneva Motor
Show which include a new-generation light weight
platform, a new downsized direct-injection turbo
petrol engine called BOOSTERJET and the SHVS mild
hybrid system. These future technologies will bring
down emissions while raising vehicle performance.
These technologies could find relevance in India
and the Company may explore these options as per
customer requirements.
The company has dedicated departments
to manage different aspects of environment
performance at its factories and offices.

drive and fuel efficiency.


c) Improved aerodynamic styling and weight
reduction initiatives
d) Making compact combustion chamber
e) Enhancing compression ratio on gasoline engine
f) Adopting advanced thermal management system
along with low friction engine oil and modified
fuel injection system that assist faster warm up to
improve engine efficiency of diesel engine.
g)
Introducing
new
generation
alternator
management to optimize the charging of battery
through alternator and hence contribute to better
fuel efficiency.
We have taken steps to introduce
Alternate Fuel Technology
Promoting clean fuel, Maruti Suzuki, was the first
Company to introduce factory-fitted CNG cars
in India in 2006. It currently offers six dual fuel
(CNG+Petrol) models namely Alto, Alto K-10,
Celerio, WagonR, Eeco and Ertiga. The CNG
variants of Alto K-10 and Celerio were launched in
2014-15. Powered by the acclaimed Intelligent Gas
Port Injection (i-GPi) technology, MSILs CNG vehicles
deliver the advantage of best in class fuel efficiency,
besides safety, reliability and performance. The
company has sold over 4.8 lakh vehicles since the

PB DOWN TO EARTH

Model
Alto
Alto K-10
Celerio
WagonR
Eeco
Ertiga

Fuel Efficiency in CNG mode


30.46 km/kg
32.26 km/kg
31.79 km/kg
26.6 km/kg
21.8 km/kg
20.80 km/kg

launch of i-GPI technology in 2010 which have


offset around 2.9 lakh t of CO2 cumulatively till 31st
March, 2015.

ENERGY
Approximately 96% of the total energy consumed by
the company is generated in-house through natural
gas based captive power plants. A small amount

ADVERTORIAL

Materials used in manufacturing


Raw materials
Paint
Steel coils
Ferrous castings
Non-ferrous castings
*Paint quantity for 2013-14 has been revised

Unit
2013-14
2014-15
kl 8,559* 9,957
t
1,98,646
2,07,319
t
31,247
33,791
t
29,353
32,919

material consumption and vehicle emissions reduction.

of electricity is taken from the grid. Solar energy


is also harnessed through a 1 MW plant. Backup
generators are used during break down situations.
To conserve energy, the company has taken
initiatives in all their units. For example, energy
efficient LED lighting is used in Gurgaon, Manesar
and R&D Centre at Rohtak. The Gurgaon plant uses
energy efficient pumps and motors in water treatment
plant in Gurgaon. The company sends its waste paint
sludge to cement plant for co-processing. The sludge
would otherwise be incinerated.

WATER
The primary source of water for the company is also
from canal water which helps in conserving ground
water. The usage of water is done carefully through
ways that help the company in conserving water
resources. Recycling and reuse of water conforms to
its conservation. There are many carefully designed
systems made that have been put to use for fulfilling
its water needs like system improvement for water
consumption reduction. The company is gradually
increasing use of canal water and reducing use of
ground water. For its conservation the company has
created rainwater harvesting structure collected is
then used in all the facilities. the companys data
shows that 50% of water was recycled and reused.

Energy consumption by type

Water consumption by source

Energy type
Energy source
Unit
2013-14
2014-15
Direct energy
Natural gas
GJ
53,86,574
61,06,698

Diesel (HSD)
GJ
43,155
88,704

LPG/propane GJ 117 22,946

Gasoline
GJ 30,659 31,936

Solar
GJ 522 4,750
Indirect energy
Grid electricity
GJ
52,325
1,01,215
Total
GJ 55,13,352 63,56,249

MATERIAL
The basic raw materials used by Maruti Suzuki for
its vehicle manufacturing are non-renewable so to
mitigate the risk of material consumption the company
has taken initiatives to reduce its material consumption
like One Gram One Component weight reduction
programme, Yield Improvement and Value AnalysisValue Engineering to reduce per vehicle raw material
consumption. Over the past decade, Maruti Suzuki has
continued to enhance product design for optimisation of

18 DOWN TO EARTH

Water sources
Unit
2013-14
2014-15
Surface water (canal water)
m3 19,80,981 23,52,632
Ground water (tube well water)
m3 62,740 36,071
Rainwater m3 3,341 6,871
Total m3 20,47,062 23,95,574

EFFLUENTS AND WASTE


The company has a system in place for discharging
water. Maruti Suzuki does not discharge water
outside its factory premises. All facilities have zero
water discharge status. The recycled water from
treatment plants (STP/ETP) is used for manufacturing
processes, irrigation and cleaning purpose. Similarly
the water reject from RO plant is used for flushing.
SOLID WASTE
The company is striving toward better utilisation of
resources and has made environmental gains by
focusing on its waste management system. As the

1-15 JUNE 2014

ADVERTORIAL

waste materials from the companys production is


hazardous in nature, the waste materials are given to
authorised vendors either for disposing or recycling.
The company is taking every step forward in utilising
its materials and resources as it has been sending
paint and phosphate sludge and ETP sludge to the
cement industry for co-processing since 2010-11.
EMISSIONS
The company has devised mitigation strategies
to work towards better fuel efficiency. In 201415, total scope 1 and scope 2 emissions (CO2)
were 3,51,377t and 21,926t of CO2 equivalent
respectively. For carbon emission calculation, IPCC
2006 guidelines for National
Greenhouse Gas Inventories and
User Guide (version 8.0) of Central
Electricity
Authority
(Ministry
Of Power) have been used. The
company has sold over 4.8 lakh
CNG vehicles since the launch of
i-GPI technology in 2010 which
have offset around 2.9 lakh-t of
CO2 cumulatively till 31st March,

2015. With focused efforts.


Maruti Suzuki has been successful
in bringing down the weighted
average of CO2 emission by over
14% in the last five years. This has
been possible through fuel efficiency improvements,
reduction of exhaust emissions and development of
alternate fuel products during this period.
1. Emissions of Ozone Depleting
Substances (ODS)
The substances responsible for ozone depletion are
used for refrigerants in limited way in offices and
manufactured vehicles. The manufacturing plants in
the company have air washers, therefore, the use
of refrigerant by the company at its manufacturing
facilities is limited. Also, the company fills
environment friendly refrigerant gas R134a in the
vehicles manufactured at its facilities.

1-15 JUNE 2014

2. NOx, SOx, and other significant air


emissions
The ambient air quality and stack emission
parametres (SOx, NOx, and SPM etc) are monitored
as per prescribed government norms by givernment
approved external agency. The monitored values
were well within the prescribed limits of the Pollution
Control Board in 2014-15.
Material aspects like effluents, waste, water and
emissions have the potential to impact environment
and therefore Maruti Suzukis initiatives are
dedicated toward minimising environmental impacts
of products, manufacturing which are guided by its
environmental policy.

Quotes
The company has been introducing new products
at regular intervals. Our own engineers have
been increasingly making a contribution in the
development work. Each new product attempts to
give to our customers greater fuel efficiency, lower
levels of emission and greater safety. RC Bhargava,
Chairman
Going forward, we will continue our focus on
investing in new technologies and strengthen our
capability to bring down emissions per vehicle by
enhancing fuel efficiency of our cars, Kenichi Ayukawa,
Managing Director and CEO.

www.downtoearth.org.in 19

LET'S
RESPECT
THE
OTHER

If we don't heed 2015, we will never improve the future

22-25Cover Story.indd 22

26/12/15 12:09 PM

COVER

22-25Cover Story.indd 23

STORY

26/12/15 12:09 PM

COVER

STORY

HE YEAR 2015 has

come to an end.
This year has been
full of events that are interconnected and foretell our
future in a way that should enormously
worry us. And, hopefully, get us all to rise
to the challenge.
In December, the Paris climate change talks ended with an agreement far
from ambitious and way off from being
equitable. It has left the world even
more vulnerable; the poor, even more
deprived of basic human development.
Then there was the Chennai anomaly. Usually dry and desperately waterscarce, the city sank under water. What
a way for citizens to realise, of this and
every other megacity, of what an increasingly climate-risky world we are all living in. What a way to understand that. If
we keep mismanaging, extreme weather
events are going to make us all go under.
Then my city of Delhi, choked and
spluttered, had run out of clean air to
breathe. It has learnt the really hard
way that it must find leapfrog options,
combining both technology and
lifestyle choices of mobility patterns, if
it wants to live on something as basic as
breathable air.
2015 has brought home tough messages. One, environmental issues cannot
be ignored if we want to secure life and
health. Two, development has to take a
different path, for we muststarting
nowmitigate its visibly adverse

impacts. Three, since


we live in a planet where
warming is now unleashed,
unbridled, what we do must be done at
an extraordinary speed. 2015 has done
all of us a huge favour: it has been a tealeaf reading of our future. Dire warnings
we must heed. But are we?
Lets take the Paris Agreement as a
symptom. The world today is hurtling
towards two catastrophes, one caused by
our need for economic growth, and the
other by unparalleled and gluttonous
consumption that impels emissions into
the atmosphere. These greenhouse gas
emissions, primarily emitted because
we need energy, contain portends of a
future being placed at extreme risk. We
already see how weather variation
linked to climate change, or nothas
jeopardised the livelihoods of millions
of farmers in India in 2015. Farmers are
now driven to ultimate desperation
suicide. These failures, a combination
of poor policies, are now exacerbated
by untimely, weird weather, and have
caused so much human pain.
In this manner, the development
dividend, which is so hard to secure in
the first place, is being lost. And there
is much more to come. Paris, with its
weak and unambitious text, has failed
us abjectly. The already-rich and the
becoming-rich have signalled they dont
want to compromise on their growth, or
consumption, in the interests of the rest.
Another catastrophe awaits us

No amount of growth and economic


prosperity is enough any more, because
aspiration is the new God. This means
anybody who is poor is marginalised
simply because they have just not
made the grade
24 DOWN TO EARTH

22-25Cover Story.indd 24

1-15 JANUARY 2016

26/12/15 12:09 PM

SORIT / CSE

COVER

living in a more inequitable, insecure,


and intolerant world. Lets be clear. The
Paris Agreement tells us, more than ever,
that the rich world has bubble-wrapped
itself, and believes that nobody can prick
it or burst through. To be secure in the
bubble, conversation is restricted to
only what is more convenient. In this
age of internet-enabled information,
ironically, the world is actually reading
and being sensitive to less, not more.
The circles of information have shrunk,
to what is most agreeable to listen to.
It is no surprise, then, that in climate
change negotiationsin trade talks, too,
or international relationsthere is one
dominant discourse.
The most powerful nations would
like to believe that there is nobody on
the other side. As I wrote from Paris,
there was no longer another side. So,
there is no respect for anothers position.

1-15 JANUARY 2016

22-25Cover Story.indd 25

STORY

It is believed the other side is either a


terrorist, a communist or is just corrupt
and incompetent. There is a fatal refusal
to fathom, or approach, opinions or
realities that are different.
In all this, there is growing inequality in the world. No amount of growth
and economic prosperity is enough any
more, because aspiration is the new
God. This means anybody who is poor
is marginalised simply because they
have just not made the grade. There
is no longer space for such failure in
our brave, newer, world. It is about the
survival of the fittest, in a way that would
have made Darwin insane.
It is no surprise that we, in India, are
mirroring this grave, new world. In the
last year, the very real plight of the poor,
distressed, flooded, drought-stricken
and famished was banished from our
television screens and newspaper articles. Our world is being cleansed. If we
do not know they exist, we do not need
to worry about their present or future.
We can think about a way of life that
benefits us, solely. This is the true
emerging face of intolerance in an
intolerably unequal world.
This does not make for a secure
future. No. It makes for a bloody war.
But that is what we have to change, now
and forever. I havent lost hope. Please
dont as well. Happy 2016.

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26/12/15 12:10 PM

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STORY

Desperate for clean air


Delhi must tighten the noose around all pollution sources. There is no other way
ANUMITA ROY CHOWDHURY, PRIYAVRAT BHATI, SWETA PRABHAKAR | new delhi

HE YEAR 2015 came to a close with new


energy driving air pollution control
measures in Delhi. On December 16,
the Supreme Court ordered that no one
in the National Capital Region (ncr) can buy
a luxury diesel car or suv with engines bigger
than 2000 cc. Trucks entering the capital will
have to pay double the amount of environment
compensation charge and trucks more than 10
years old cannot even enter the city. All taxis in
ncr will have to switch to compressed natural
gas (cng), while all state governments in ncr will
have to curb pollution from trash-burning and sus-

26 DOWN TO EARTH

26-34Cover Story.indd 26

pended dust from roads.


Meanwhile, under pressure to shake off
the notorious tag of gas chamber that Delhi
has earned, the state government has introduced the odd-even number formula on a trial
basis. During the first fortnight of January, residents can ply their cars every alternate day depending on whether their registered car number is odd
or even. The strategy is to remove at least 50 per
cent of personal vehicles from the city roads. The
Delhi government has also proposed to shut the
coal-based power plants in Badarpur and Rajghat
during winter.
1-15 JANUARY 2016

26/12/15 2:57 PM

PHOTOGRAPHS: VIKAS CHOUDHARY / CSE

COVER

Heavy smog
envelops the
banks of the
Yamuna in Delhi
on the morning
of December 22,
2015

These are desperate times that need desperate measures. The alarming pollution levels in Delhi call for a war on pollution, and
the Supreme Court has just cracked the whip.
Most of these directives are from the bench
headed by the Chief Justice of India, Justice
T S Thakur, to check the public health emergency in the city. To facilitate the implementation of the Supreme Courts order, the
Environmental Pollution Control Authority has
issued directives to stop the registration of diesel
buses and autorickshaws in ncr.
More orders are expected on emissions standards for vehicles and pollution from power plants.
The Supreme Court order brings the entire ncr under the ambit of action. Delhis effort can create a
template for clean air for other cities too. Air pollution today is a national crisis and the fifth-largest killer in the country, according to estimates of
the Global Burden of Disease, 2012, a report of the
World Health Organization
1-15 JANUARY 2016

26-34Cover Story.indd 27

STORY

Why Delhi needs urgent action


Air pollution in the countrys capital has remained consistently high, despite a mixed trend
over the years. About 15 years ago several measures were implemented under the direction of
the Supreme Court. These included improved
emission standards, public transport strategy
on cng, capping the age of commercial vehicles,
improved vehicle inspection programmes, relocation of polluting industries and action on
power plant pollution. These steps reduced the
annual average PM10 (particulate matter less
than 10 microns) levels in the city by about 16
per cent between 2002 and 2007. But after 2007
only a few steps were takenexpansion of Delhi
Metro, moderate increase in bus numbers, Bharat
Stage IV emissions standards for vehicles and a
small network of cycle tracks and footpaths around
Commonwealth
Games
venues. This was too little
too late.
Even though Delhi has
Particulate levels, the
initiated real-time data
key target of policy action,
to track air quality, it is
increased dramatically by
yet to issue public health
98 per cent between 2007
alerts and advisories
and 2014 (see Decline and
to help people take
rise of particulate matter,
precautions. In many
p30). In 2014, the annual average ambient PM10 levels
global cities, the
reached five times the Indian
pollution levels as
standard of 60 microrecorded in Delhi would
gramme per cubic metre. On
have led to declaration
the other hand, PM2.5, the
of emergencies
tiny particles less than 2.5
microns that go deep inside
the lungs, have shown consistently high annual
average levels since 2011 and is at least four times
the standard (see Trend in PM2.5 levels, p30).
Between 2002 and 2014, the levels of nitrogen
oxides (NOx) in the city also increased by 55 per cent.
Ozone levels during a large number of days in the
summer months in Delhi violate the standards.
The city is in the grip of a multi-pollutant crisis.
One can also witness a deadly blanket of
winter pollution when the wind remains calm,
cool and trapped close to the ground. Almost
throughout the winter months of 2015, levels of PM2.5 reached up to four to seven times
the standard (see PM2.5 levels during the winter of 2015, p30). On days when smog is high,
PM2.5 rises even higher. When the national air
quality index was applied to daily air quality monitored by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee
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29/12/15 3:37 PM

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STORY

Diesel vehicles contribute


to a large share of
PM2.5 emissions

28 DOWN TO EARTH

26-34Cover Story.indd 28

(dpcc), it was found that while in the month of


October about three per cent of the days were in
the severe category, the worst category according to the index, by November, 63 per cent of
the days were in that category. This is extremely
dangerous for people suffering from respiratory
and cardiac problems and also for children and
the elderly.
Several studies in Delhi provide local evidences on damaging health impacts of air pollution.
An epidemiological study on children in the city
carried out by the Central Pollution Control Board
(cpcb) and the Chittaranjan National Cancer
Institute of Kolkata threw up scary results. The
study, published in 2012, found that every third
child in Delhi has reduced lung function. Sputum
of children was found to contain four times more
iron-laden macrophages than those from cleaner environs. The levels of these biomarkers in
children were found to be higher in areas with high
PM10 levels.
Global scientific studies as well as those
from cities of India have associated air pollution with a number of health problems, including respiratory and cardiac problems, stroke,
cancer, hypertension, diabetes and effect on the
brain and foetus. Even though Delhi has taken steps to generate real-time data to track
air quality, it is yet to issue public health alerts
and advisories to help people take precautions.

In many global cities, the pollution levels as


recorded in Delhi would have been declared as
pollution emergencies.
Nevertheless, in what can be called a beginning,
air pollution and health evidences have spurred
official and court action in the city.

Too many polluters


Delhi can meet its clean air targets if it cuts emissions from multiple sources of air pollution in the
cityvehicles, industry, power plants, open trash
burning, construction and suspended dust from
roads, among others. The most recent and detailed
study of all pollution sources in Delhi has been carried out by the Indian Institute of Technology (iit),
Kanpur. The study was commissioned by the Delhi
government and was discussed in the Supreme
Court hearing.
According to the draft report of the study,
the top four PM2.5 sources include road dust
(36 per cent), vehicles (20 per cent), domestic fuel
burning (12 per cent) and industrial point sources
(11 per cent) (see Sources of PM2.5 emissions, p30). Similarly, the top four NOx emitters are industrial stacks including power plants
(52 per cent), vehicles (36 per cent), diesel
generator sets (six per cent) and domestic sources (three per cent) (see Sources of nitrogen oxide
emissions, p30).
The relative position of the pollution sources
1-15 JANUARY 2016

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27 JAN 1-15 2016

STORY

Future up
in smoke

Decline and rise of particulate matter over the years


300

PM10

Annual PM10 standard: 60 mg/m3

250
200
150
100

2014

2012

2013

2011

2010

2009

2007

2008

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

50
2000

Over the years, particulate matter levels in


Delhi have remained consistently above the
prescribed limit. Vehicles, particularly diesel
ones, are the second-biggest contributor to
PM2.5 and nitrogen oxides in the air

Microgram per cubic metre (mg/m3)

COVER

Source: Based on air quality data of Department of Environment, Government of Delhi

Trend in PM2.5 levels


Sources of PM2.5 emissions

Hotels/
Restaurants

12%

Industrial
area

2%

Source: Delhi Pollution Control Committee

PM2.5 levels during the winter of 2015 (Oct 1-December 12)

Construction/
Demolition

1%

Cremation

3%

MSW
burning

Sources of nitrogen oxide emissions


36%

Vehicles

3%

450
Microgram per cubic metre

Concrete
batching

2%

40
0

Diesel Generator

6%

80
60
20

Domestic

2%

Annual PM2.5
standard: 40 mg/m3

400
350

PM2.5 average ambient level


24-hour average PM2.5
standard: 60 mg/m3

300
250
200
150
100
50

Domestic

2%

Aircraft

2014

3%

120
100

2013

Vehicles

2012

Industrial stack

PM2.5 (6 location
average)

140

2011

Road dust

20%

1/10
4/10
7/10
10/10
13/10
16/10
19/10
22/22
25/25
28/10
31/10
3/11
6/11
9/11
12/11
15/11
18/11
21/11
24/11
27/11
30/11
3/12
6/12
9/12
12/12

11%

Microgram per cubic metre

38%

160

October

November

December

Source: Based on real-time data from the website of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee

Contribution of fuels to vehicular pollution


CNG

1%

Industrial
area
Industrial
stack
Source: Draft Report 2015 - Comprehensive study on Air Pollution and
Greenhouse Gases in Delhi (for Delhi Government) by IIT Kanpur
INFOGRAPHICS: RAKU / CSE

6%

Diesel Generator

Concentration (g/m3)

52%

100

Gasoline

Diesel W=Winter S=Summer

80
60
40
20
0

Rohini

Okhla

Dwarka

Vasant Kunj

Dilshad
Garden

Pusa

Source: Draft Report 2015 - Comprehensive study on Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gases in Delhi (for
Delhi Government) by IIT Kanpur

26-34Cover Story.indd 30

26/12/15 12:11 PM

COVER

changes through the summer and winter seasons.


During winter, vehicles cause 25 per cent of the
PM2.5 problem; biomass 26 per cent and trashburning eight per cent. The increased concentration of particulate matter from the end of October
to November is also due to the effect of crop
burning in neighbouring states like Punjab and
Haryana. But in summer, coal and flyash contribute the maximum to air pollution (26 per cent), followed by soil and road dust (27 per cent), biomass
burning (12 per cent), vehicles (nine per cent) and
trash-burning (seven per cent).
The iit study also estimated, for the first time
in Delhi, secondary particlesgases in the air that
form particles by reacting with each other in the air
and add to PM2.5. NOx turns into nitrate particles
and sulphur dioxide into sulphate particles. These
can be as high as 30 per cent of PM2.5 in winter and
15 per cent of PM2.5 in summer. This also shows
that combustion sources such as vehicles, industrial and power sources are much bigger culprits than
dust as their gases further increase the overall particulate load. The study also found very high pollution in towns in the ncr region, including Noida,
Faridabad and Ghaziabad that are usually not well
monitored by the official monitoring agencies.
The message is clear. Urgent action in the short
and medium term is needed on all key pollution
sources across ncr to improve the quality of air in
the airshed. The first ever draft report on air pollution and health prepared by the Union Ministry
of Health and Family Welfare has underscored the
importance of reducing exposures from pollution
sources close to people. As urgent steps, decisions
have been taken in Delhi to cut down toxic diesel
emissions from trucks and big diesel cars and also
close Delhis two most polluting coal-based power
plants during winter. More decisions are to follow.

Cracking the whip on diesel


The crackdown on diesel emissions from cars and
trucks has caught the automobile industry on the
wrong foot. Soon after the National Green Tribunal
(ngt) stopped the registration of diesel cars in
Delhi until January 6 and the Supreme Court
ordered a ban on luxury diesel cars and suvs in
ncr, the automobile industry played the number game to prove that vehicles, especially diesel
ones, are not the problem. The auto industry claims
that diesel car numbers in the city are very small
only seven per cent of the total vehiclesand
therefore of no consequence. Vehicles overall are
much less dangerous than road dust, say automobile honchos.
1-15 JANUARY 2016

26-34Cover Story.indd 31

STORY

This stand is clearly challenged by the iit


study, which found that diesel vehicles, which
comprise a quarter of the vehicle fleet, contribute to a large share of vehicular PM2.5 emissions in different parts of Delhi. Except in
Rohini, where diesel cars contribute 20 per cent
of PM2.5, diesels share is as high as 70-90 per
cent in Okhla, Vasant Kunj and Dilshad Garden
and about 60 per cent in Pusa and Dwarka (see
Contribution of fuels in vehicular pollution, p30).
Overall, all vehicles are the biggest emitters of
pollution among combustion sources.
Industry can no longer be in a denial mode.
Diesel cars are legally allowed to emit three times
more NOx and seven times
India needs an urgent
more particulate matclean air action plan,
ter than petrol cars. These
and vehicles need
pollutants are rising in
special attention.
Delhi and many other citWhile giving his verdict
ies. Adding one diesel car is
on air pollution, the
equivalent to adding three
Chief Justice of India
to seven petrol cars on the
roads. The World Health
noted that rich car
Organization (who) has
owners cannot misuse
classified diesel emissions as
low-tax diesel for
class I carcinogenputting
luxury at the cost of
it in the same class as tobacpublic health
co smokingfor strong links
with lung cancer. Curbing
dieselisation has to be a priority. The diesel car
market, by shifting to bigger cars, is adding to
toxic pollution. While the bulk of petrol car sales
(87 per cent) in the country sold in 2012 were below 1200 cc engine capacity, more than 40 per cent
diesel cars were above 1500 cc.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, while
giving his verdict, established an important principal: rich car owners cannot misuse low-tax diesel
for luxury consumption at the cost of public health.
Stronger action on trucks have also become necessary as the heavy duty vehicle industry has not yet
moved to Bharat Stage IV standards that are the current standards in Delhi. The Centre will have to introduce Bharat Stage IV nationwide urgently to reduce truck emissions by 80 per cent and also leapfrog
to Euro VI directly in 2020 to cut public health risk
from all vehicles drastically. The government should
also equalise the emissions standards of petrol and
diesel cars.

Poisonous power plants


Cars are not the only problem leading to Delhis
dirty air. Its thermal power sector, comprising two
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29/12/15 3:38 PM

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STORY

Lion's share of emissions


The Badarpur plant was responsible for 78-89 per cent of emissions
from the thermal power sector between April 2014 and March 2015
NTPC Badarpur

Rajghat power house

I.P.CCPP

Pragati CCGT-3

Coal-fired power plants


Natural gas-based power plants

Particulate matter emissions (in kg/MWh*)

1
0.095

Pragati CCPP

100
Microgram per cubic metre

Natural gas is a less polluting fuel


alternative to coal

Emissions of sulphur oxides (in kg/MWh)


80

8.5

0.634
60

Emissions of nitrogen oxides (in kg/MWh)

0.3

40

Ash emissions (in tonne/MWh)

20
0

4.9

0.23
Nil

April 2014March 2015

April 2015October 2015

% PM

April 2014March 2015

April 2015October 2015

% SOx

April 2014March 2015

April 2015October 2015

% NOx

Emissions of carbon dioxide (in tonne/MWh)

1.08
0.3-0.6

PM=Particulate matter, SOx=Oxides of sulphur, NOx=Oxides of nitrogen


* kilogram per megawatt hour
Source: Centre for Science and Environment

coal-based and four gas-based plants, is responsible for approximately 10 per cent of the citys air
pollution. To counter this, the Delhi government
on December 4, 2015, ordered the closure of the
fuel-guzzling, coal-fired power plants in Badarpur
and Rajghat. This approach is in line with whos
proposals in its 2014 global report to improve urban air quality. The report had ranked Delhis air
as the worlds dirtiest. Beijing has adopted similar
steps, with authorities announcing in 2013 that
coal-fired power plants in the country would be
converted to natural gas.
While the Rajghat power plant in Delhi is
temporarily shut, the one in Badarpur, which is
run by the National Thermal Power Corporation
(ntpc), remains operational despite ongoing
public criticism and orders from ngt to control
its emissions.
ntpc Badarpur is one of Indias oldest plants
and has an installed capacity of 705 megawatt
(MW). dpcc has repeatedly criticised it for not
complying with the applicable particulate matter emission norms of 50 microgram per normal
cubic metre (mg/Nm3). Since 2011, dpcc has issued several directives to ntpc Badarpur to control its emissions. But its efforts have resulted in
no meaningful action, which compelled dpcc to
issue the show-cause notice for the plants closure.
Badarpur arguably does not even comply with the
more general norm of 150 mg/Nm3. During various site visits by the Delhi-based think tank Centre
for Science and Environment (cse), a thick and
32 DOWN TO EARTH

26-34Cover Story.indd 32

sooty plume of smoke was consistently observed


from the plants stacks, strongly indicating that its
emissions are higher than even this loose norm.
cses study of Badarpurs emissions between April
2014 and March 2015 indicates that the plant was
responsible for 78-89 per cent of emissions from
the entire thermal power sector (see Lions share
of emissions).
The conventional logic that coal is a cheap
source of power does not apply to Badarpur.
The plant is generating power at R6.04 per unit.
ntpc Badarpur has submitted a tariff petition to
the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission
seeking permission to invest a whopping
R741 crore towards the plants renovation and
modernisation that would drive the costs even
higher. Understandably, Delhis distribution companies have been strongly advocating its closure.
One argument put forward in ntpc Badarpurs
defence is that the plant is the only stable source
of supply to certain areas of south Delhi, with a
direct connection to the Sarita Vihar, Okhla and
Mehrauli substations. cse, however, believes that
it is possible to shut down the plant, at least during
winter, when air pollution is at its worst, without
compromising on power supply. At a stakeholders meeting convened by Delhis power secretary
Sukesh Jain in November 2015, the State Load
Despatch Centre projected the winter peak at
515 MW for Sarita Vihar, Okhla and Mehrauli,
thereby necessitating generation from the
Badarpur plant. Distribution companies in Delhi
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23 JAN 1-15 2016

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STORY

The coal-fired Rajghat


power plant in Delhi is
temporarily shut down for
violating pollution norms

echoed cse and responded that ntpc Badarpur


is not essential during winter. Indeed, more
power could be sourced from the 330 MW
Pragati I and 270 MW Indraprastha gas-based
plants, both of which are significantly less
polluting, and by drawing additional power
through the Bamnauli line.

Alternatives to Badarpur powerhouse


The Delhi government can take a few other measures to ensure that the Badarpur plant operates
at the lowest possible load throughout the year.
The existing capacity of the Ballabgarh-Badarpur
Double-Circuit line providing an alternate source
of supply to Badarpur is currently constrained
since it has reached the end of its life. Its existing capacity could be substantially increased by
installing high-capacity High Temperature and
Low Sag conductors.
Delhi Transco Limited (dtl) has planned a
double circuit power line between Sarita Vihar
and Pragati I, which was meant to become
operational by March 2015. This line would
provide an additional 400 MW of power supply
to south Delhi, significantly reducing the load
at the Badarpur plant for the rest of the year.
Sarada Routray, a manager at dtl, assures cse that
Badarpur can certainly be shut down in winter
once the first phase of this line becomes operational in March 2016.
The government should also expedite
the establishment of its planned Inter-State
Transmission System (ists), which consists of four
new 400/220 kilo volt substations, for Delhi. ists
was announced in January 2015 and was expected
34 DOWN TO EARTH

26-34Cover Story.indd 34

to become operational by 2017. ists Tughlakabad


substation promises a permanent solution to the
Badarpur plant and improved grid connectivity.
But land for it is yet to be allocated and as a result
the project has been delayed.
The citys gas-based power plants, meanwhile,
remain grossly underutilised. Bawana, Delhis latest, largest and most efficient gas plant, is operating at a meagre 10 per cent. The citys gas-based
power capacity amounts to 2,108 MW which could
potentially meet over a third of Delhis peak power demand. Moreover, given the recent decline in
gas prices, imported gas could provide a more attractive and less polluting fuel source (see Natural
gas is a less polluting fuel alternative to coal, p32).

Look for national solution


Delhi mirrors the public health crisis in the country. National ambient air quality data shows that
close to half of the Indian cities have particulate
levels that are officially classified as critical. Cities
are in the grip of a multi-pollutant crisis, and
smaller cities are more polluted than metro cities.
The way forward is clear. India needs a quick
clean air action plan to control pollution from all
sources. Vehicles need special attention. Their numbers should be controlled with an efficient public
transport strategy, along with fiscal and parking
measures. Diesel cars need to be restricted and the
gap between diesel and petrol prices should be reduced. Equally important is a transition from coal
dependence to more sustainable and less polluting
sources of power supply. A public health disaster
in India is slowly unfolding. Delayed action is not
an option.
1-15 JANUARY 2016

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COVER

An evening
in Paris

HE 21ST Conference of Parties to

the United Nations Framework


Convention on Climate Change, or
CoP-21, was supposed to be held in
Paris, France from November 30 to December
11, 2015. But it began informally on November
29, a day before. And ended, formally, a day after it was to end.
That had to do with CoP-21s purpose.
No less a goal than to bring a four-year negotiation process to a productive end: a consensus among 196 nations (195 nations + the
European Union), set out in writing, on how
best to tackle climate change.
The nub of the Paris conference was the
work of adp, or the Ad Hoc Working Group
on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action.
Their work began at CoP-17, held in Durban,
South Africa, in 2011. There, the main result was the Durban Platform for Enhanced
Action, which tasked nations to come up with
another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention
applicable to all Parties, which would come
into force after 2020. So adp was constituted,
to add substance to this bare wording. adps
deadline was 2015.
adp held several rounds of talks during
2013-15. On the eve of CoP-21, the picture was
still murky. Developed countries were determined not to shift their redlines. Developing
country blocs were ready not to be pushed over.
So tenuous was the shape of the draft agreement that had to be finalised during CoP-21
that adp was re-convened a day before CoP-

PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY: WWW.IISD.CA

Over two weeks and two extra days, the Paris climate
conference delivered everything the world expected.
Impassioned speeches. Hectic, sleep-depriving
negotiations. There was confusion, impasse, rumour,
closed-door meetings, innuendo and India-bashing. And,
after a last-minute high drama about one auxiliary verb
that would have destroyed all the hard work, a historical
consensus called the Paris Agreement.
But, as researchers from the Centre for Science
and Environment have found, the fine print tells a
different story

STORY

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STORY

21 began. Peru handed over the CoP leadership to


Laurent Fabius, Frances foreign minister. He got
to work immediately, establishing four spin-off
groups to commence negotiations. November 29,
2015. Not a happy day.

O happy day

For 25 years, the US


had obstructed action
on climate change.
But in a speech given
on December 9, US
Secretary of State John
Kerry (left) suggested
that the entire world was
complicit to US' disavowal
of the phenomenon

35-41Cover Story.indd 36

CoP-21 formally began on November 30, 2015.


Over 150 heads of state piled in into the conference venue, intent on creating a positive spin on a
25-year-old negotiation process going nowhere.
The leaders were there, the French president said,
to give this conference a drive and ambition commensurate with the challenge. Inspiration the negotiators didnt need, or heed. For, across all four
groups, sparring over the text had already begun.
The political mood wasnt univocal, though. In
his speech in Plenary Hall 1, US President Barack
Obama called the Paris CoP a turning point. He
remarked: Here, in Paris, lets secure an agreement that builds in ambition, where progress
paves the way for regularly updated targets
targets that are not set for each of us but by each
of us, taking into account the differences that each
nation is facing. In the other Plenary hall, Hall 2,
developing countries were the dominant voice.
President Jacob Zuma of South Africa remarked:
Developed countries, that have the greatest his-

torical responsibility, must honour their existing


commitments and continue to take the lead to address climate change.
Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany,
Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and
the US announced a pledge to put in US $248 million into the Least Developed Countries Fund, a
climate fund hosted by the Global Environment
Facility. The intent was clear: promise money and
break G-77/China unity.

Week 1: impasse
The first wrecking-ball hurled at the Paris
Agreement was by Obama himself, at a meeting
between him and leaders of some small island
states on December 1. Talking about the agreements legal form, he said the specific targets
each country had set to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions may not have the force of treaties, but
periodic review of those commitments would
be legally binding. Indeed, the only element developed countries cared about in the agreement
was the transparency/review mechanism. As the
first week unfolded, it became clear that developed countries wanted to really shift the review
mechanism goalposts. At Cancun, they had agreed
on an mrv (measurement, reporting, verification)
mechanism that worked differently for developed

26/12/15 12:12 PM

COVER

and developing countries, and was more stringent


for the former. Now, they wanted a single arrangement equally applicable to all.
On finance, too, a stand-off grew. Developed
countries wanted text inserted (countries in a position to do so/willing to do so) that would make
all countries responsible for funding. The EU came
out in support of this stance. The US, supported
by the Umbrella Group (a bloc of the richest nations), also wanted the existing finance architecture, based on differentiation, to crumble: developed countries would no longer be the sole donors.
On December 5, adps work came to an end. At
a plenary meeting, it submitted a 48-page draft
agreement. This was to be the basis of secondweeks negotiations, during the high-level segment where political decisions would be taken at a ministerial level. Said a sombre Fabius:
Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. He
also outlined the process. In the second week, there
would be a daily stocktake, overseen by a committee called the Comit de Paris, presided over by
Fabius, to facilitate a compromise.
At the end of the first week, faultlines spread
across all core issues, especially transparency, finance and the long-term goal. On the technology transfer mechanism, there was no movement.
The loss and damage mechanism, too, was at a

35-41Cover Story.indd 37

STORY

standstill; though develAt the end of the first


oped countries did not mind
week, faultlines spread
a mention on loss and damacross all core issues,
age in the agreement, they
especially transparency,
made it clear there would be
finance and the longno talk or mention of liability or compensation, a USterm goal. On the
promoted redline.
technology transfer
This, too was, clear. It was
mechanism, there
going to be an eig+Umbrella
was no movement.
Group v the G-77/China afThe loss and damage
fair (eig: Environmental
mechanism, too, was at
Integrity Group, comprisa standstill
ing Mexico, Liechtenstein,
Monaco, the Republic of
Korea and Switzerland). And
what of the EU, usually a progressive bridge-builder at climate CoPs? What Miguel Arias Caete, EU
commissioner for energy and climate action, said
in a press briefing on December 5 made it clear that
EUs stance on the core issues was as, if not more,
hardline than the Umbrella Group, even the US.
This was the real surprise of the week.

Week 2: brinkmanship and drama


Week 2 was all about repairing persisting faultlines. It was all about closed-door meetings between ministers, and wrangling about text out-

On November 30, Prime


Minister Narendra Modi
announced Global Solar
Alliance, an alliance of
nations and industry on
expansion of solar
energy use

26/12/15 12:12 PM

COVER

STORY

side the observers domain. On December 7, it was


leaked that the US was so resistant to any mention
of compensation or liability with respect to the loss
and damage formulation that they wanted to bar it
from ever being raised in the future. This showed
that developed countries were determined to undermine any remnant commitment to justice in
this process.
On December 8, in a startling breakaway
move, Brazil joined the EU in proposing new
text on international carbon trade. The proposal said nations that were willing could use cooperative approaches to cut emissions using internationally transferred mitigation outcomes.
Environmental groups were surprised Brazil resorted to a mitigation-centric approach to bridge
differences. Had Brazil
best known for insisting on
Week 2 of the conference
a game-changing protocol
was all about repairing
based on the historical repersisting faultlines.
sponsibility of developed
nations at the Kyoto CoP
It was all about
in 1997gone completeclosed-door meetings
ly upside down? Explained
between ministers. On
Brazils lead negotiator: It
December 7, it was
was necessary for someone
leaked that the US was
to find the middle ground...
resistant to any mention
There are bits and piecof liability with respect
es that people will question
but I think its the only susto the loss and damage
tainable deal. However, as
formulation
The Paris Agreement
removes all liability of
developed countries for
the loss and damage
suffered by the poor
of the world due to
climate change

38 DOWN TO EARTH

35-41Cover Story.indd 38

one European negotiator noted, this proposal,


if agreed, would effectively replace the clean development mechanism (cdm), one of three market-based mechanisms enacted under the Kyoto
Protocol.
On December 9, US Secretary of State John
Kerry appeared before the world and delivered a
speech that could only be called an act of climate
vaudeville: Whats really disturbing is that this
[extreme weather becoming the new normal] is
exactly what scientists told us would happen. The
science has been warning us for decades, screaming at us... His use of us was really strange. Who
was us? The rest of the world, or the US?
Kerry also announced a dole for poorer countries, a pledge to double public grant-based adaptation investment from US $400 million to
US $800 million after 2020. It was miserly, and
a mere pledge, yet the rapt audience applauded!
More importantly, he said a new coalition had got
together in Paris: the High Ambition Coalition.
As Chandra Bhushan, deputy director-general,
Centre for Science and Environment (cse), wryly blogged, You actually have a coalition that has
developed countries who want to shift the burden
of solving climate change to others and a set of 79
[African, Caribbean and Pacific Island] countries that have no serious obligations. And they
call themselves the high ambition coalition. This
must be the joke of the century.
At another level, though, Kerry unwittingly re1-15 JANUARY 2016

26/12/15 12:12 PM

vealed how muddy the negotiations had become by


December 9. The G-77/China bloc was now asunder. aosis (Alliance of Small Island States) and sids
(Small Island Developing State) sub-blocs were
now aligned with the Umbrella Group. The basic
(Brazil, South Africa, India, China) sub-bloc was
now isolated. And when, on December 10, Brazil
announced that it had become part of the High
Ambition Coalition, the strategy became clearer:
break basic up, and put diplomatic pressure to separate China and India.
On December 9 negotiators discussed a revised draft in an evening session of the Comit de
Paris. It was a terse, 20-minute meeting. Fabius
was harried. He presented a draft text of 29 pages. It incorporated recommendations of ministerial facilitators and adp co-facilitators suggestions. He said compromise or significant progress
had been made on capacity building, adaptation,
transparency, and technology development and
transfer. On the unresolved issues of differentiation, financing and the level of ambition of the
agreement, Fabius encouraged parties to scale up
consultations.
The evening of December 9 stretched into the
night. It was pow-wow time, as countries responded to the near-final version of the text, trying to
thrash out all outstanding issues. A cse analysis of
this text found it was riddled with major compromises. It was a sign that the Paris Agreement was
moving only towards a weak deal.

Endgame
Hard lines and alliances as shifty as sand led to
exhausted negotiators grappling with a 27-page
draft agreement, still stymied by key issues, on the
morning of December 10. They stumbled back into
closed-door meetings. CoP-21 should have ended on December 11 at 6 pm Paris time, but didnt.
1-15 JANUARY 2016

35-41Cover Story.indd 39

Fabius announced in the morning that, I will not


present the text Friday evening, as I had thought,
but Saturday morning.
There is still work to do, he said.
Later that day, Chinas state news agency Xinhua reported President Xi Jinping had
talked on the phone with Obama about the matter. China and the US must strengthen coordination with all parties and work together to ensure the Paris climate summit reaches an accord
as scheduled, Xi told Obama. Such a story meant
China was ready to forge an agreement.
The environment minister of India, Prakash
Javadekar, was disappointed that Prime Minister
Narendra Modis priorities of climate justice and
less-energy intensive lifestyles were left out of the
penultimate draft. Polluters and victims cannot be put at the same level, Javadekar said, underscoring Indias hard line on differentiation of
responsibilities.
In the evening of December 11, the Associated
Press reported that China was standing firm
on its demand that rich countries should bear a
greater burden than developing ones in reducing
emissions and helping countries cope with global warming. Liu Zhenmin, deputy chief of the
Chinese delegation, told reporters that this was
the core of our concern for the Paris Agreement.
The US and the EU, though, stood firm in wanting to move away from differentiation across all
core issues.
As December 11 ended, three hurdles remained: climate finance, differentiation and
whether the overall goal in limiting global temperature rise should be 2C or the safer 1.5C.
Fabius held a series of consultations with individual countries during the final day and night,
and individual delegations and groups of delegations met informally with one another. At this

Post-Paris, the developed


nations are not required
to cut emissions
drastically and vacate the
carbon space

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26/12/15 12:12 PM

COVER

The Paris Agreement


globalises creative
carbon accounting,
ensuring that the
developed world does
little domestically and
trades with the poorest
nations to meet targets

35-41Cover Story.indd 40

STORY

stage, virtually no one knew who was meeting with


whom, and where the text stood. The result of this
ad hoc process was a text containing new provisions of unknown provenance, which most delegations saw for the first time when it was presented to
them in final form on the afternoon of December
12, hours before the end of the conference.
Strangely, no bloc objected to what was obviously a breach of procedure. One reason could be
that, as soon as negotiators got the text, a huge controversy erupted over Article 4.4, or, more specifically, an auxiliary verb. Would the provision that
developed countries undertake absolute, economy-wide emission targets be a shall or a should?
While last-minute warfare over words was nothing new to the CoP process, this one threatened
to derail the agreement. For on the choice of word
hinged the ability of the US to join CoP-21s outcome. If the provision said shall, representing a
legal commitment, then Senate or Congressional
approval would be required for US participation;
that, the current administration would never agree
to. If the provision was a should, then the Paris
Agreement could be accepted by the US president
as a presidential-executive agreement. The issue
first erupted publicly the final afternoon of the
meeting and delayed the closing plenary. Indeed,
the final plenary had to wait for more than an hour
while CoP president Fabius and his team, the US
and Brazil tried to work it out.
But all was well that ended well. A technical
correction was read from the podium, and at 7:46
pm Paris time Laurent Fabius lifted a leaf-shaped
gavel and quickly gaveled through the agreement.
It was done. What an evening in Paris.

The `historic'
agreement
Post-Paris, the burden of
mitigating as well as paying for
the impacts of climate change has
shifted to developing countries
CHANDRA BHUSHAN

HE WORLD has given its assent to the Paris

Agreement on Climate Change.


Countries have used words such as
strong and dynamic to describe it.
India has called it historic and claimed it was an
important achievement for the country.
In this euphoric moment, I find myself in a
difficult position. I was in Paris, too. What I saw was
wheeling-dealing and horse-trading. I have read
the fine print of this deal and find it difficult to express the same sentiments as the majority.

INCONVENIENT TRUTHS
Paris is a historic agreement. No doubt. For the
first time, all countries have taken on mitigation
targetsearlier, that was the main responsibility
of developed countries. But the Paris Agreement is
also historic for something else, which people are
finding inconvenient to talk about:
It erases the historical responsibility of de-

26/12/15 12:13 PM

COVER

veloped countries for causing climate change. PostParis, they are no longer required to cut emissions
drastically and vacate the carbon space.
It removes all liability of developed countries
for the loss and damage suffered by the poor of the
world due to climate change.
It is historical because we now have a universal,
though voluntary, carbon market in which countriesdeveloped and developingwill meet their
emission reduction targets. Now everyone trades
in carbon credits with whoever is willing to trade.
Through this agreement, for the first time, forests in the developing countries will be used to generate carbon credits to offset emissions from cars,
factories and power plants.
It globalises creative carbon accounting, ensuring that the developed world does little domestically and trades with poorest nations to meet targets.
The agreement, therefore, is monumental.
From now on, the burden of mitigating, as well as
paying for the impacts of climate change, has decisively shifted to developing countries.

AMBITIOUS AGREEMENT

The agreement has emphatically recognised that


the increase in global average temperature has to
remain well below 2C and the world will pursue efforts to limit such increase to 1.5C. This is an ambitious target. 1.5C reduces the risks of worst impacts
of climate change significantly.
But I doubt any negotiator that left the conference room in Paris on the night of December
12 actually believed the goal of 1.5C could be met.
The negotiators I met used terms like aspiration
and compromise to justify the mention of 1.5C
in the agreement. The fact remains that the Paris
Agreement is devoid of elements that can place the
world on a 1.5 C trajectory.
Climate scientists know, and have been saying
that, to meet the 1.5C target, the world must completely de-carbonise well before 2050. This means
that we have to stop using all fossil fuels by 2035 and
achieve net zero emissions of other greenhouse gases by 2050. This is not happening.

ACHIEVEMENT FOR INDIA

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke on


the opening day of the Paris conference, he spoke
about the need of developed country to vacate carbon space and on the need to keep alive the idea of
differentiation of developed and developing countries. He also spoke about climate justice and a sustainable lifestyle. As he put it, The lifestyles of a few
must not crowd out opportunities for the many still
on the first steps of the development ladder. Lets
1-15 JANUARY 2016

35-41Cover Story.indd 41

judge Indias achievements in the light of his words.


It is clear that India has got all the words it
wanted in the Paris decision. The agreement is under the 1992 UN Climate Convention. India has also
got the language related to the principles of equity
and common but differentiated responsibilities and
respective capabilities in the light of different national circumstances mentioned at various points in
the text. This, say Indian negotiators, keeps alive the
differentiation between developed and developing countries. It has got terms like climate justice,
sustainable lifestyle and consumption mentioned. But these are not in the operational parts of
the agreement and so there are no commitments.
So what are the implications of these words?
Firstly, as historic responsibilities of the developed world have been erased, in Common But
Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective
Capabilities, differentiated responsibilities is out,
and what remains is only respective capabilities.
So it will be the respective capabilities of countries
and their national circumstances that will underpin the climate actions they take.
This utterly dilutes the notion of differentiation.
A country such as the US can now commit lower
emission cuts on account of recession or its Senate
not agreeing to it. On the other hand, respective
capabilities implies that a country, such as India,
might well be pushed to take on more emission cuts.
Secondly, nowhere does the agreement say that
actions by countries will be based on a fair share of
the remaining carbon space. In other words, India
could not get the developed countries to vacate
carbon space. This was always a tough task, made
tougher because in Paris India didnt get the support
of other countries on the issue.
The absence of the term carbon space in the
Paris Agreement worries me. This will hurt India
in the long run because carbon space is fast disappearing. By 2030, if nations dont increase their ambition to cut emissions, 60-75 per cent of the 2C
carbon budget will be exhausted, and nothing will
be left of the 1.5C carbon budget. In 2030, Indias
Human Development Index will be less than 0.7. It
will need carbon space, post-2030, to meet basic
development needs. But this will not be available.
The Paris Agreement is not the end, but the
beginning of negotiating future action. Many important components of the agreement are still to
be negotiated. Negotiations in the coming few
years, therefore, are going to be very important. If
India wants to regain some of the lost spaces, then
it needs a new narrative, a new strategy and new allies. Otherwise, it is going to be under constant pressure to do more from now onwards.

STORY

Scientists say
that to meet
the 1.5C
target, the
world must
completely
de-carbonise
before 2050.
For that we
have to stop
using fossil
fuels by 2035
and achieve
net zero
emissions of
greenhouse
gases by
2050. But
the Paris
Agreement
is devoid of
elements that
can place the
world on a
1.5 C
trajectory

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STORY

Chennai
apart
From ignoring warnings to delays
in taking actions, Tamil Nadu
administration played its part in making
the December floods more devastating
ANUPAM CHAKRAVARTTY, SHREESHAN
VENKATESH, SUSHMITA SENGUPTA AND
KUNDAN PANDEY | new delhi

N DECEMBER 1, houses on the ground

floor in Jafferkhanpet, a neighbourhood


in southern Chennai, started to inundate because of torrential rains. By five
in the morning, almost 80 per cent of the city was
under four metres of water. The situation continued for the next 72 hours, killing more than 500 and
destroyed infrastructure worth `500 crore. It was
most intense of the three spells that had battered
the city in just one month. Earlier, the city had received incessant rains from November 11 to 13, and
then from November 15 to 17.
Chennai received 1,200 mm of rainfall in
November 2015, which was the highest rainfall the
42 DOWN TO EARTH

42-49Cover Story.indd 42

city received in November in the past 100 years.


The city on an average receives 407.4 mm rainfall
in November. On December 1, Chennai received
300 mm rainfall, making it the wettest December
day ever recorded in the city. The normal rainfall
for Chennai in December is 191 mm.
A closer look suggests that the intensity and
the resultant losses due to the recent floods could
have been greatly reduced. Tamil Nadu faltered
on several accounts. Firstly, it failed to act despite
a clear warning from the India Meteorological
Department (imd) of heavy rains. Secondly, the
state administration has over the years done little
to prepare for disasters despite being flood-prone.
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STORY

PHOTOGRAPHS: ARUN SHARMA

Thirdly, Chennai and its neighbouring areas have


witnessed unplanned urbanisation in recent years
that has destroyed the citys natural flood sinks
such as marshlands and river channels.
imd in mid-October issued a forecast that
predicted 11-12 per cent above normal rains in
the southern states with a probability of about 90
per cent. It had said that the northeast (winter)
monsoon, caused by retreating monsoon winds
that attain moisture from the Bay of Bengal on
their way back south from the northeastern
direction, would be stronger. These winds are
responsible for the rains in the southern states of
Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and parts of
1-15 JANUARY 2016

42-49Cover Story.indd 43

Karnataka between October and December. The


imd forecast though did little to prepare the states
for the situation.
On December 1, an ill-prepared Tamil Nadu
administration decided to open the gates of the
Chembarambakkam reservoir, and the released
water inundated the city. A public interest petition
filed in the Madras High Court against the Tamil
Nadu government suggests 1,104 cubic metres per
second of water were released into the Adyar river,
which meets the water requirements of the city.
Highlighting how the decision was delayed, the
petition, filed by Chennai-based businessperson
Rajiv Rai, says that the water was released after

Most of the ground


floor residences in
Chennai got flooded
after the heavy rainfall
on December 3, 2015

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STORY

The health disaster


Experts say the country needs a separate health policy
to handle disasters
THE COUNTRY needs a separate health policy

for disasters, say health experts. Rakhal


Gaitonde, Society for Community Health
Services, says waiting for the National Disaster
Response Force (NDRF) team for relief during
disaster does not seem to be working. As the
frequency of disasters is increasing, there is a
need for a clear policy for healthcare during a
crisis. Gaitonde says vaccination against
diseases such as malaria should be started in
vulnerable areas immediately after a disaster.
He adds that the outreach of public
healthcare centres in urban areas is limited,
which further hinders rehabilitation work.
Unlike rural areas, more than 80 per cent
people in urban centres are dependent on
private healthcare, says he. Though the
government checks water pollution, and
epidemiological vulnerability, it is unable to
cover 100 per cent of the affected
population. Experts also say that health
departments should have a say while giving
consent to development projects.
Chennai-based environment journalist

S Gopikrishna Warrier says disease


outbreaks are not factored in while planning
for disaster management. Chennai-based
health researcher Nityanand Jayaraman says
the challenge is to prevent an outbreak
during a crisis. There should be clear
strategies to handle the people out of any
extreme situations. During the recent floods,
there was no idea on where to shift people
and how to provide them with basic facilities
such as clean water and first aid.
On the other hand, Vinod Kumar Sharma,
professor and disaster management
convener at the Indian Institute of Public
Administration, Delhi, says that the existing
national disaster management policy is
sufficient to handle disasters, but the
provisions are not being implemented
properly. Sharma, who was a part of the
team that drafted the National Policy in
2009, says medical components, including
reproductive healthcare, are included
under the relief provisions. Only the
implementation has to be strengthened.

a warning was issued at midnight. If one studies


the levels of water in the various catchment tanks
on a daily basis, one can see that the reservoirs had
much greater inflow than outflow right through
November 2015, says the petition. It alleges that
state chief secretary K Gnanadesikan waited for
three days after the Public Works Department
(pwd) wrote to him on November 29 to release
water from the reservoir. The chief secretary,
even though he was well aware of the reports
that there was going to be heavy downpour for a
few more days, didnt direct the release of water
when he received the warning from pwd, the
petition says.

CLUELESS, YET CONFIDENT


The administration was caught unawares despite
the fact that floods are not new to the state.
According to a 2013 Comptroller Auditor General
of India (cag) report, there have been 50 cyclonic
storms in the region between 1900 and 2009. Even
the hazard profiles of coastal districts prepared
in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami that hit the
Tamil Nadu coast shows that most of the coastal
44 DOWN TO EARTH

42-49Cover Story.indd 44

districts experience flooding during the retreating


monsoon, which normally accounts for 48 per
cent of the rainfall in the state. Heavy rains during
the months of October, November and December
inundate low-lying areas, coastal areas and the areas
nearby major irrigation sources, states the disaster
profile prepared by the district administration.
The level of unpreparedness of the city
administration can be gauged from the fact that
the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority
(cmda), the key urban planning agency for the city,
still relies on an outdated hazard profiles of Tamil
Nadu, which says none of the areas in the state are
flood-prone. According to cmdas hazard profile
document, From the flood hazard map of India
(mapped by imd, New Delhi), it is seen that no area
in Tamil Nadu falls in the risk zone. The document
says that few areas in Chennai might get flooded
due to heavy storms and for this, flood affected areas
have to be mapped. According to N Madhavan,
who has worked with the Municipal Corporation
of Chennai, ward-level vulnerability mapping was
done after the 2004 tsunami. These efforts went
waste as boundaries of wards and zones changed
1-15 JANUARY 2016

26/12/15 12:13 PM

Food being
distributed to
flood victims at
Aarakunam in
Chennai

following the expansion of the city, says he.


The callousness of the state administration
does not end here. The State Disaster Management
Authority, which was set up in 2008 under the
Disaster Management Act, 2005, has not even
met once, according to the 2013 cag report.
Close to seven years later, the state is yet to come
up with disaster management rules. It was only
in May 2015, following the Nepal earthquakes,
the Municipal Corporation of Chennai started
preparing a comprehensive disaster management
plan which predefines the roles of officials during
a disaster.

ONLY TO GET WORSE


The northeast monsoon is generally known to
bring a few heavy showers amidst scanty rains to
the southern states. Between October and the first
week of December, 27 of the 34 districts in Tamil
Nadu and Puducherry had received 10 per cent
excess rainfall with several districts registering
more than double the normal rainfall. While
normally it rains heavily for three to four days and
is followed by long dry spells, this year it rained
1-15 JANUARY 2016

42-49Cover Story.indd 45

continuously with practically no respite for more


than a month. Chennai received 1608.6 mm
rainfall between October 1 and December 16, 2015,
which was more than twice the amount of rainfall
the city received during the last three months of
2014 (719.7 mm).
There are several factors responsible for
the performance of the northeast monsoon in
southern states. The El Nio Southern Oscillation
(enso) along with the Indian Ocean Dipole and
the Madden-Julian Oscillation (mjo), which are
heating patterns in the Indian and Pacific oceans,
has caused a lot of atmospheric activity. These have
culminated in the rain in the southern states, says
B P Yadav, imd director (see Winds of change p46).
Several studies since early 2000s have pointed
to a positive correlation between enso and the
northeastern monsoon. enso has been known to
suppress southwest monsoons while enhancing
the northeast monsoons. This year we have seen
this to a great extent, says Gibies George, a senior
research fellow at the Indian Institute of Tropical
Meteorology (iitm), Pune.
The other global pattern that has influenced
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STORY

Winds of change
Experts warn that the magnitude and frequency of extreme rain
events are likely to increase in the future
Hyderabad
124.3*(-37)**
78.1#

Coastal Karnataka
261(5)
273

Karnataka
144(-53)
68

Telangana
118(-78)
25.8

Rayalseema
214.6(81)
388.5

Karnataka
207(19)
246

Lakshadweep
316.3(61)
510.3

Vishakhapatnam
170.3(-36)
266.8

Chennai 744.1(116) 1608.1

42-49Cover Story.indd 46

Winter
monsoon
winds

The Madden-Julian
Oscillation remained in
the Indian Ocean during
November and led to the
formation of cyclonic
depressions in the Indian
Ocean that contributed to
the heavy rains

Kancheepuram 611.8(197) 1815


Puducherry 828.3(77) 1467.8
* Normal rainfall (mm) in
October to December
** Percentage departure
from normal
# Actual rainfall (mm)
in October to December 2015

the northeast monsoon in India this year is the


mjoa traversing global oceanic and atmospheric
phenomenon that has been found to have global
climatic ramifications. mjo has a 30-60 day cycle
that is characterised by eastward moving clouds
in the tropics over the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
It has been seen that when the mjo cycle is close
to 30 days, it aids rainfall in the country while a
cycle longer than 40 days causes suppression. A
strong mjo remained practically stationary over
the Indian Ocean all through November and this
has been a major factor in the heavy rainfall. The
differential due to mjo has forced rain-bearing
winds into the southern region of the subcontinent. The influence of mjo has been in line
with previous observations, says D S Pai, director,
Long Range Forecast division, imd.
These connections are not the only newly
emerging patterns regarding the northeastern
monsoon. A close look at the seasonal rainfall levels
in recent decades across districts in coastal Andhra
Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu reveals that
the northeast monsoon has become progressively
more bountiful. A 2012 study in Theoretical and
Applied Climatology makes use of homogenous rain
46 DOWN TO EARTH

Coastal Andhra Pradesh


321.8(-15)
273.3

Bengaluru 228(50) 342

Thiruvananthapuram
501.1(55)
776.6

A strong El Nio Southern


Oscillation in 2015
suppressed the summer
monsoon but bolstered
the winter monsoon in
south India

Warangal
117.5(-80)
23.1

Chittoor 350(142) 846.5

Tamil Nadu
413.6(60)
660.1

Kerala
471.4(29)
606.8

Two global factors that


exacerbated the northeast monsoon in India:

Excess (>19%)
Normal (-19% to +19%)
Deficient (-20% to -59%)
Scanty (<=-60%)

Source: India Meteorological Department

gauge data maintained by iitm to show that winter


rains in peninsular India have exhibited a positive
rainfall trend of 0.4 mm per day per decade between
1979 and 2010. At the same time, an increase in the
number of extreme rainfall days and a decrease of
normal rain days have also been observed in several
parts of south India. According to George, this
trend is similar to what has been observed during
the summer monsoon. We have observed that
with the warming of the atmosphere, the moisture
carrying capacity of the air also increases. Hence,
with warming we can expect to see an increase in
the magnitude of rain events and the frequency of
extreme rain events. Normal rain days will become
fewer and less frequent, says George. Experts warn
that rainfall during northeast monsoon is likely
to increase in the future, another reason the state
administration should get its act together.

CONCRETE PROOF OF A DISASTER


A 2014 analysis by the Indian Institute of Science,
Bengaluru, shows that the rate of urbanisation
in Chennai has increased by 20 times in the past
four decadesand this came at the cost of its green
spaces. Experts say that unplanned urbanisation
1-15 JANUARY 2016

26/12/15 12:14 PM

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threatened plants and ecosystems. It is literally the entity on which we
all subsist, and on which entire agricultural and industrial development depends
State of Indias Environment The Second Citizens Report, CSE, 1985

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2016

41Vigyan +CSE book store ad.indd 41

dec31, 2014 Down To06/11/15


Earth 1:08
43 PM

COVER

STORY

Losing base

Srinagar

Loss of waterbodies to urbanisation is increasing


the effects of flooding

50%

3.0
Ghaziabad

1
Delhi

Udaipur

50%

1.08

Population in urban India


2011
2031

3.24
62%

Surat

Mumbai

Raipur

8.5
4

46%

95%

80%

2011

60%

52

45%

28.6

Kolhapur

2
0.82

75%

4
10.6

7
11.1

Thiruvananthapuram

50%

50%

1.03

increases the chances and intensity of flooding in


two ways. Firstly, concrete jungles obstruct and
encroach upon the natural flow of waterbodies and
create pockets that trap water, which increases the
flood intensity. Secondly, the sewerage generated
by the people gets mixed with the water and clogs
the natural channels and storm water drains.
Chennai suffers from both the problems.
The three rivers in the cityCooum, Adyar and
Kosathalaiyarare highly encroached upon and
that has reduced the amount of water runoff into
the Bay of Bengal. The city has four sewerage
treatment plants at four centres, but the treated
water that flows through natural channels, often
gets mixed with untreated wastewater from
colonies and industries on the way.
Even the citys numerous waterbodies and
48 DOWN TO EARTH

42-49Cover Story.indd 48

million

million

31%

10%
Chennai

79%

2031

2011

9.9

Bengaluru

87
255

Level of urbanisation

Hyderabad

25%

2031

2011

160

6.4
9

million

Population in metropolitan area

22.3

0.56

600

Metropolitan cities

2.3

Kolkata

1 29%
3.35

million

Guwahati

4.5

Bhopal

47%

377

Lucknow

24.4

Ahmedabad

75%

2031

50%

Number of major flood events after 2000


Loss in waterbodies/water spread due to
urbanisation
Population projected in 2021 and beyond
(in million)
Sources: Research articles and documents;
personal communication with government
officials and researchers; Newspaper articles

marshlands that should have acted as sponges


are either encroached upon or over polluted.
For example, in 2011, the Pallikarni marshland,
the citys biggest flood sink, was reduced to just
12 per cent of its size before Independence. The
marshland, which was once spread over 5,000 ha,
now houses government buildings and research
institutes and a dumpyard that is gradually
growing in size. The area of the Perungudi dump
yard, located on the north-eastern part of the
marsh, doubledfrom 32 ha in 2002-03 to 75 ha
in 2013, according to Tamil Nadu State Land Use
Research Board. The areas affected by sewage and
solid waste dumping doubled between 2003 and
2005, says a research by Care Earth, a Chennaibased research institute.
M Sakthivel of the department of geography,
1-15 JANUARY 2016

26/12/15 12:14 PM

COVER

University of Madras, says that the groundwater


in the marshland is highly polluted due to garbage
dumping. Experts also say groundwater recharge,
which is essential for flood mitigation, has reduced
substantially because of urbanisation.

SITTING ON A FLOOD BOMB


India is urbanising at an alarming rate, which is a
cause for worry. According to the Union Ministry
of Urban Development (moud), 31 per cent of the
country was urbanised in 2011. The ministry says
almost 50 per cent of the country will be urbanised
by 2050. moud data also suggests a 54 per cent
increase in the number of cities and towns between
2001 and 2011. And this rapid urbanisation
has happened without proper planning, say
hydrologists. There is a complete disconnect
between geological and hydrogeological cycle and
urban planning, says Saswat Bandyopadhyay,
head, department of environmental planning,
Centre for Environmental Planning and
Technology University, Gujarat.
The problem of floods in urban areas became
so acute that in 2010, the National Disaster
Management Authority (ndma) recognised urban
floods as different from riverine floods. It said
urban floods happen in a relatively short period
of time and can inundate an area with several feet
of water. It also said that urbnanisation creates
artificial catchments which increase the flood
intensity by six times as opposed to riverine floods.
Consequently, flooding occurs quickly in urban
areas. Delhi-based hydrogeologist Partha Sarathi
Datta says, Studying topography, drainage,
rainfall and soil lithology of catchments plays an
important role in urban planning, but sadly good
detailed studies are not available.
The effects of unplanned urbanisation
are already visible (see Losing base p48). The
mangrove cover in Mumbai reduced from 28 per
cent to 18 per cent between 1925 and 1994. In the
same period, the citys built-up area increased from
12 to 52 per cent. Srinagar lost almost 50 per cent
of its waterbodies between 1911 and 2004. This
was the major reason for the 2014 floods in the city.
Bengaluru, which had 262 lakes in the 1960s, has
only 10 lakes that can be called healthy.
Apathy of government departments is
the main reason for the degradation of urban
wetlands and channels. The 2010 Wetland Rules,
for example, do not have enough teeth to protect
waterbodies. To protect a wetland under the
rules, the state government needs to identify the
waterbodies and then prepare a document. This
1-15 JANUARY 2016

42-49Cover Story.indd 49

document gets reviewed by the Central Wetlands


Regulatory Authority and finally the comments are
sent to the Union government, which then notifies
a wetalnd to be protected. Hence if a state misses
any polluted lake, it will be neglectedunless
citizens approach the court. Since urban lakes
have unique ecosystem, there is a need for strong
protection laws, says Jasveen Jairath, convener
of Save Our Urban Lakes, a citizens initiative for
saving waterbodies in Hyderabad.
So what should be done? According to
Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and
Environment, urban planners should undertake a
detailed mapping of waterbodies, natural drainage
and flood-prone areas in cities using remote
sensing. And then integrate the drainage system
of the city including rivers, rivulets, ponds, lakes
and other natural drainage systems. The nonprofit also suggests policymakers to relook the
development plans approved by city authorities
and find out whether they violate the hydrological
cycle of the city. Finally, it calls for stronger laws to
protect urban lakes and the setting up of a single
authority for the management and restoration
of waterbodies.

STORY

Flood water inside a


residence at Aadyar
in Chennai on
December 9, 2015

www.downtoearth.org.in 49

29/12/15 3:39 PM

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p10 dec,15

SCIENCE
BYTES

BIOLOGY

An answer to immunity
RESEARCHERS HAVE found how immune cells

The cure window

Efficacy of vaccines depends on an area's


demographics and characteristics

triggered by recurrent Strep A infections


can enter the brain, causing inflammation
that may lead to autoimmune disorders in
children. The study found that immune cells
reach the brain by traveling along odoursensing neurons that emerge from the nasal
cavity, not by breaching the blood-brain
barrier directly. The study could help develop
improved methods for diagnosing and treating
victims of immune disorders. Journal of Clinical
Investigation, December 14

THINKSTOCK PHOTOS

ELECTRONIC

Cost-effective displays

THINKSTOCK PHOTOS

ONE-SIZE fits all vaccine strategy will not work. Flufighting strategies must be tailored for a specific
areawhether it is urban or rural, a York University
study has found. Strategies must take into account
characteristics of each region, how quickly the particular
flu strain spreads in that area. There is a window of
time before and after the onset of an epidemic when the
choice of vaccination strategy could significantly affect
the outcome. The research found that the different age
demographics of rural and urban populations have a
significant impact on the outcome of vaccinations. 2015
witnessed many flu-related epidemics, and this study could
help policymakers to take evidence-based decision-making
in public health. Scientific Reports, December 14

1-15 JANUARY 2016

51S&T Bytes.indd 51

R E S E A R C H E R S H A V E developed a
new material that could make large screen
displays, smart windows and even touch
screens more affordable and efficient. They
used thin 10 nanometre films of an unusual
class of materials called correlated metals
in which the electrons flow like a liquid. In
most conventional metals such as copper,
gold or aluminum electrons flow like a gas.
This electron flow produces high optical
transparency along with high metal-like
conductivity. At present, indium tin oxide is
used in most of the display market, and is the
main cost driver. Nature Materials, December 14

GENETICS

IQ and social status


AN ANALYSIS of 24,926 pairs of twins and

siblings in the US, Australia, England, Sweden,


Germany and the Netherlands shows that
the influence of genes on intelligence varies
according to people's social class in the US,
but not in western Europe or Australia. The
researchers found the relationship between
genes, socioeconomic status, and intelligence
depended on which country the participants
were from. Psychological Science, December 16

www.downtoearth.org.in 51

26/12/15 12:14 PM

COLUMN
H E D G E H O G TA L E S

RAKESH KALSHIAN

Don't worry, be...


Science has not yet clearly established the link
between happiness and longevity
trary to what docs and shrinks have been saying
for years, being grumpy is unlikely to either hasten your end or add to your bodily woes.
A British study tracked 700,000 women, all over
50, for a decade to see if happy ones actually lived longer or, conversely, if the grim reaper loved the unhappy
ones more. Unhappily, or happily, depending on whether you see the glass half-full or half-empty, the result was
negative. If anything, the facts suggested the contrary: it
was illness that made people unhappy, not the other way
round, except that chronic melancholia might drive some
to extreme behaviours such as suicide or alcoholism. The
study, published in a recent edition of The Lancet, took its
data from Oxford Universitys The Million
Women Study, which is investigating the
impact of womens reproductive and lifestyle choices on health.
That happiness enhances life seems
almost self-evident, which probably explains the thriving happiness industry
self-styled gurus, self-help magazines and
internet portals dishing out secrets, not to
mention big pharma and shrinks making a
killing on the depression epidemic.
What is puzzling though is that scientists took so long to see through this fallacy.
Curiously enough, studies have tended to favour the happiness-long life connection in recent times. One is tempted to wonder if the belief was not already insinuated into
the way the studies were designed. This may not be such
a far-out suggestion, for the discipline of psychology is
riddled with studies that are either biased or statistically
flawed, or both. Besides, there is a disturbing trend in favour of positive results, which explains why certain biases eventually morph into facts.
Nothings more persuasive than a popular wisdom
endorsed by science. Two large studiesthe Grant Study
that tracked Harvard undergraduates over 70 years to
understand the key to good life, and the Longevity Study
that followed 1,500 Californians over eight decades to un-

52 DOWN TO EARTH

52Hedgehog Tales.indd 52

derstand the secret of long lifehad come to more or less


the same conclusion as the present study. Evidently, they
didnt seem to have had much effect.
For all its myth-busting power, the present study
is not without its faults. For one, it relied heavily on the
self-reporting of its subjects. In rigorously-designed studies, subjects are chosen randomly and then assigned to
a control or treatment group. This Oxford study, however, makes up for this drawback by the sheer size of its
sample700,000. Secondly, its not clear if the conclusion is true of men, as the subjects were exclusively women. Moreover, moods are far more complex than a simple
yes or no to the question: how often do you feel happy?
The last point raises a few tricky cultural and philosophical riddles. What is unhappiness
and why do we always paint it in dark
colours? Do all cultures across space and
time view it through the same lens? In
these times, when sadness, one among
many feelings in a persons emotional repertoire, has been corrupted into
an illness called depression, there is little incentive to think outside the dark
box. In their influential book The Loss of
Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed
Normal Sorrow into Depressive Disorder, American sociologists Allan Horowitz and Jerome Wakefield challenge modern psychiatrys blinkered and flawed ideas about what is normal.
Just as Michel Foucault in his Madness and Civilization
unraveled the origins of the notion of madness in the
west across different epochs, we may want to entertain a
more nuanced and kaleidoscopic understanding of sadness and illness, and the complex tango between the two,
as conceived in different times and culturessay, for instance, Aristotles Brilliance and Melancholy, or Robert
Burtons 17th century classic The Anatomy of Melancholy.
It is doubtful, however, if greater understanding will alter
popular imagination. As Sir Richard Peto, an Oxford don
and co-author of the present study, admitted, People are
still going to believe that stress causes heart attacks.
TARIQUE AZIZ / CSE

HARLIE BROWNS of the world, take heart. Con-

1-15 JANUARY 2016

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L I F E & N AT U R E

A newly discovered cave


in Meghalaya
SIMON BROOKS

54-56L&N.indd 54

26/12/15 12:15 PM

Caving in
Caves hold clues to evolution and climate
change. Why is India dragging its feet over
framing a law to protect the fragile structures?
JAYANT BISWAS | raipur

ARKNESS cloaks its entrance.

Even the brightest beam fails


to penetrate the mist and
emptiness in its inner chambers. Hidden in these dark territories are
rock formations that have formed over
thousands of years, and hold various
minerals and historical information on
climate conditions. Some of them yield wellpreserved fossils, skeletons and skulls, and
cave paintings, which offer clues to evolution
and early human society. Their absolute
darkness and silence harbour many
endemic species of birds, bats, fish, insects
and arachnids. This is the reason these
mysterious geological structures have for
ages attracted the attention of explorers,
scientists and writers alike.
Formed naturally by the weathering of
a wide variety of rock types through different
geological processes, and often extending
deep underground, a cave can be a single
small room, interconnected chambers, or a
long tunnel. The longest cave system in the
world is the Mammoth cave in Kentucky,
usa, which extends up to 590 kilometres.
Prior to the mid-19th century, people
were interested in knowing the geography,
geology and, to some extent, archeological
aspects of caves. Then the rock formations,
or speleothems, were one of the main
attractions. Some of the speleothems droop
from the ceiling like chandeliers and are
called stalactites, while the others emerge
from the floor like pillars and are known as
stalagmites. Later, scientists started taking
interest in the organisms living in caves.
By the end of the 19th century, the
science of exploration and study of caves
1-15 JANUARY 2016

54-56L&N.indd 55

developed into a subject, speleology, with


several fields to study different aspects of
caves. In recent years, speleologists have
provided valuable information and understanding on climate change, fossil fuel deposits, groundwater quality and contamination and biomedical research.

India's attractions
In India, caves have been the centres of cultural as well as religious significance since
prehistoric times. Several caves where Hindus worship stalagmites as Lord Shiva are
important religious sites. Amarnath and
Vaishno Devi temples in Jammu and Kashmir are two of the most venerated Hindu
temples that exist inside caves. Moreover,
the world-famous rock-cut cave monuments, Ajanta and Ellora, are also sculptured inside underground passages.
During the World War II, caves came to
limelight for another reason: the tonnes of
guano deposits in Meghalaya caves served
as a major source of phosphorous to make
bullets and bombs.
Today, caves have emerged as major
attractions for ecotourism and adventure
tourism. One of the fascinating spots for
spelunking, or caving, in India is the Krem
Liat Prah cave in Meghalaya, which stretches beyond 34 km and could extend manifold if nearby cave systems are connected.
But tourism and recreational activities
can affect the fragile ecosystem of caves.
In fact, every visitor leaves behind a negative
impact on the cave. Most of the damages
are due to ignorance of common ethics,
purposeful vandalism, uncontrolled tourism activity, treasure hunting, mining,

Developing
destruction
How human activities are
damaging cave ecosystems
2015 Over-accumulation of domestic and
industrial garbage is becoming a major
threat for Krem Um-Lawan, a prominent
cave in Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya.
Asia's longest cave Nongkhlieh and
Krem Liat Prah in Jaintia Hills district in
Meghalaya is on the verge of extinction due
to rampant and unscientific rat-hole mining
for coal and limestone.
2014 Eight people were crushed to death
when cave Bildwar in Sarguja, Chhattisgarh,
collapsed due to frequent blasts carried out
in the nearby coal mines.
2010 Cave Krem Liat Prah would
have vanished from the world map, if the
Union government would not have withheld
the decision to set up a `1,000 crore cement
plant in the area.
2009 Attempt to bore the surface of
Kutumsar cave in Bastar, Chhattisgarh,
permanently damaged a sizable portion of
the cave.
2008 Unscientific mining triggered the
collapse of a section of India's oldest known
natural cave, Krem Mawmluh, in
Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya.
2005 Caves of Mukteshwar Dham of
Pathancoat, Punjab, are under threat due to
the proposed Shahpur Kandi dam.
Construction of the second part of the
project would inundate the caves.
www.downtoearth.org.in 55

26/12/15 12:15 PM

JAYANT BISWAS

Cave ethics

What we must keep in mind


while visiting caves
Use a helmet to protect yourself from a
sudden fall of any rock.
Carry your own torch/headlamp as caves
under darkness may spoil your visit.
Wear closed shoes or sneakers. Sandals
or open-toed shoes may hurt your feet
in slippery or rocky floors. Never go
barefoot.
Avoid traditional costumes. Dresses like
saree, salwar suites, kurta and dhoti may
cling to a pointed cliff, causing casualty.

Don't shout. Besides several fauna, caves


are home to bats. Abrupt sounds may
cause anxiety among them, resulting in
an attack.
Do not pee, spit or excrete. Human excreta
may lead to the formation of pathogens
inside the cave.
People are unaware that every single person visiting a cave is leaving behind a negative impact

pollution, illegal collection of cave resources


and rapid urbanisation (see Developing
destruction, p55).
Though cave exploration has been considered a sport since the beginning of the last
century in Europe and the US, many
countries have stringent laws in place to
protect cave ecosystems. For instance, the
state of Nevada in the US passed the strongest law in 1959 to protect caves as a unique
geological and speleological sites. As most of
the longest and deepest natural caves exist
in the US, in 1988 it enacted the landmark
Federal Cave Resources Protection Act,
which directs secretaries of the interior and
agricultural departments to keep a complete
record of important caves on federal lands
and to manage and disseminate information
about them.
The Philippines has various exotic and
majestic caves. Over 1,500 caves have been
recorded since the Caves Management and
Conservation Program was implemented in
1994. This is still considered only a fraction
of the vast caves that exist in the country.
But in India, there are no laws or proper
guidelines to protect and conserve natural
56 DOWN TO EARTH

54-56L&N.indd 56

caves. While allowing industries and mining


companies to work in areas near caves, the
Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and
Climate Change (moefcc) issues licences by
evaluating their impact on the external
ambient environment of caves without bothering about its subterranean state. Till
date, no proper guidelines have been framed
to manage the cave ecosystem.

Why the compromise?


The health of a cave and its ecosystem gets
affected by the anthropogenic activities
carried out in and around it, and the number
and type of visitors. The most threatening
anthropogenic activity is unscientific quarrying, which can completely destroy a cave

The government does


not bother about cave
ecosystems while issuing
licenses to industries and
mining companies. Till date,
no proper guidelines have
been framed

system. Deforestation can also brutally


affect caves by causing accelerated erosion
of sediments and by depositing silt and
vegetable matter inside it. Besides, the hazardous ambient geophysical torture by
visitors can directly damage the cave. Possibly, unawareness about cave ethics is the
reason behind this (see Cave ethics).
One of the biggest problems in framing
a proper law for cave protection and restoration is that the geological structure, geophysical characteristics and the nature of
people visiting a cave varies from cave to cave
as per the geographical location.
Proper scientific studies and research
about cave ecosystems and its resources are
urgently required to widen our knowledge
about these ancient and fragile structures.
The government needs to urgently enact
a proper cave conservation law to protect
the subterranean treasures, or else the
time is not far when our younger generations
will blame us for losing out on our precious
heritage and culture.
The author is director, National
Cave Research and Protection
Organization, Raipur
1-15 JANUARY 2016

29/12/15 3:40 PM

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COLUMN
PAT E N T LY A B S U R D

L AT H A J I S H N U

Plain victory against Big Tobacco


Philip Morris has lost a case of trademark violation in
Australia and this could have a cascading effect

E CAN start 2016 on a cheery note. We can

celebrate a victory that cuts through the


smoke, literally, of intellectual property
rights (iprs) and the legal chicanery of multinational cigarette firms. In mid-December, tobacco giant Philip Morris lost a long-running legal battle against
Australia over its plain packaging law for cigarette companies which it challenged as a trademark infringement.
The pioneering Australian legislation of 2011 does
away brand logos and also calls for cigarette packs to be
covered largely with gruesome visuals of the health hazards of smoking. So, cigarette firms have to embellish
their packs with images of rotting gums and diseased
lungs or of deformed children and
dying smokers, to warn people of
the grim consequences of smoking.
You would have thought that
every sovereign government had
the right to enact such laws in the
interest of public health. But no,
say cigarettes companies which
have resorted to devious and costly means to get countries such as
Australia and Uruguay to roll back
their enlightened policies. Big
TARIQUE AZIZ / CSE
Tobacco, with billions of profits at
stake, are using bilateral investment treaties (bits) to sue
governments in international locations to claim their iprs
have been violated because their trademarks are no longer distinctive on cigarette packs. Under the egregiously
unfair terms of bits, companies are allowed to sue a country if any policy impacts their profits. For a detailed exposition of how bits are misused by corporate entities to
protect profit at the cost of public good, see Investment
terror, a cover story (Down To Earth, 16-31 January,
2012) which flagged the dodgy battles that have been
launched across the world in investor-state disputes.
Philip Morris, maker of Marlboro brand of cigarettes, first picked on tiny and poor Uruguay to fight
the plain packaging rule by seeking an undisclosed but
huge amount in compensation for its rule which had re-

58 DOWN TO EARTH

58Patently Absurd.indd 58

duced smoking by an estimated seven per cent in just


a few years. At the time, Uruguay had a gross domestic product of $40.27 billion whereas the cigarette giant boasted market capitalisation of over $137 billion.
However, it is the aggressive reaction of cigarette giants
to the Australian law that has caught global attention.
It bans the use of tobacco company logos and symbols,
but allows brand names and their variants to appear in
a standard colour.
The central question in this legal dispute is whether iprs have been violated by such laws and whether international dispute settlement tribunals which hear
cases brought under bits, have the jurisdiction in such
cases. While the first issue is yet
to be settled, on December 17, the
Permanent Court of Arbitration in
Singapore, which was to oversee the
Philip Morris challenge, declared it
didnt have jurisdiction. This means
Australias laws will remain in force.
It also means that more countries will now feel more confident of
taking on Big Tobacco. Half a dozen countries have passed legislations
on plain packaging and another 20
are in the process of doing so. Some
of these nations are facing the money power and legal
muscle of tobacco giants. In the UK, for instance, British
American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco Group, Philip
Morris and Japan Tobacco International are challenging a law passed in March 2015 requiring plain packaging from 2016 in the London High Court. It is a case that
will have repercussions across Europe.
What of India? The government had, in 2008,
passed a law requiring graphic warnings on cigarette
packs but did not bother to implement it. Thereafter,
in response to a public interest litigation, the Allahabad
High Court had directed the Union government to take
stringent steps to enforce the plain packaging rule. The
government did issue a notification but its implementation remains clouded in a bureaucratic smokescreen.
1-15 JANUARY 2016

26/12/15 12:15 PM

Body Burden 2015


NEW RELEASE

Chronicles the impact of the environment on India's health


The theme-based, yearly
publication investigates
how our health is a victim of
environmental degradation.
This year, we will untangle
the web between the
environment and diseases,
both chronic and infectious.

ORDER NOW !!!


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of a DD/Cheque drawn
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Society for Environmental Communications


41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi 110 062
Phone: 91-11-4061 6000
Fax: 91-11-29955879. Email: sales@cseindia.org
In case of any query, please write to
Ramachandran at: rchandran@cseindia.org

55DTE Health book ad.indd 55

06/11/15 1:08 PM

LAST WORD

R I G H T TO D I S S E N T

L AT H A J I S H N U

A bullet train for traders

Modi's pet project will add speed to a saturated sector


but do nothing for millions of passengers elsewhere

N THIS SCORE at least you cannot fault Narendra

Modi. He is fulfilling the election promise made


by his party to launch bullet trains in India if
voted to power. With Japanese Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe offering extremely generous terms of funding for the Shinkansen, as high-speed bullet trains
are called in Japan, the first of these monstrously expensive trains may be zipping between Mumbai and
Ahmedabad some 8-10 years down the line.
The question is why. A quick check of the MumbaiAhmedabad sector reveals a disproportionately high
pampering of travellers commuting between these points. With 62
trains running between these cities in addition to another 11 that
are termed circle trains, this
is clearly saturation rail coverage. What the bullet train will do
is cut travel time on the 505-km
route from seven to two hours.
Remember the average speed on
Indias creaking lines is just 54 km
per hour.
Building the first bullet train
will cost $14 billion, working out
to a staggering $28 million per km. Because of the eyepopping figures, most analysts have contended themselves with examining the viability of the project with
hardly any concerns being raised about the need for such
high-speed trains in India.
Some have pointed out that the train will traverse
the major industrial cities of Surat and Vadodara and
may thus benefit workers. Hardly. The fares the bullet
train will charge will not suit the pocket of workers. But
it is quite possible that middle-rung businesspersons
and traders who seem to prefer upper class train travel
to flying will benefit from it. Doubtless, another lot will
also find the train usefulstockbrokers. Remember, the
Bombay Stock Exchange is setting up an international
exchange in the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City
(gift) in Gandhinagar.
Otherwise, the bullet train is an extravagance that

60 DOWN TO EARTH

60Last Word.indd 60

India can ill-afford even if the terms of the $12 billion


Japanese loan are more than generous. Abe, keen to export the Shinkansen trains, is offering the soft loan at an
interest of just 0.1 per cent, with repayment spread over
50 years. A further sweetener is a 15-year moratorium
on repayments. This could have something to do with
Japans determination to outbid China on high-speed
rail projects worldwide after it lost out to its rival on an
Indonesian contract. In September, China won the contract to assess the feasibility of a high-speed train between Delhi and Mumbai. It is early days yet to ascertain
if the Chinese would be willing to
fund the 1,200-km project. Verily,
the Mumbai-Ahmedabad may
turn out to be a one-line wonder
since it is unlikely that other successful bidders would be able to
match the terms of the Japanese.
Should India look askance
at such a generous gift from the
Japanese? And should critics cavil at such an ambitious project?
There are several reasons why one
needs to ask hard questions about
RITIKA BOHRA / CSE
the far from democratic priorities
outlined by the Prime Minister for Indian Railways.
Modi has an unabashed hankering for the bullet train,
much like a child desiring a top model toy train, and
it is unlikely he can be denied or diverted. But is the
Railways as fascinated by the high-speed train?
From the rather tepid reaction of officials, it would
appear that not all are sold on the idea. Some are asking whether the railways should be committing all its
resources to a single high-speed line when its creaky
network is crying out for improvements on safety and
speed. Its a staggering task because Indian Railways
moves 23 million people across the country every single
day, but at an average speed of 54 km per hour. And lets
us not even begin on the issue of cleanliness and lack of
basic toilet facilities in most trains.
Modis elitist pet project could well turn into a bullet ripping through railway finances.
1-15 JANUARY 2016

26/12/15 12:16 PM

KNOWLEDGE
CONCLAVE
January 28 - 29, 2016

Centre for Science and Environment (CSE),


New Delhi announces its first `Green
Educators' Network' for university and
college teachers teaching environment.
Calling all university and college faculty
to talk, understand and share knowledge
about the environment challenges
that we all face in the present times.
Spread over a day and a half and based
on the curriculum, the focus will be on
environmental education for a sustainable
and equitable future.
Attend and nominate a friend. Be part
of the network. Explore the immense
possibilities of creating an informed group
of young change makers. As a mentor and
a practitioner of sustainability, this is a
must-attend event.

Time:
Thursday, Jan, 28, 2016 - 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Friday, Jan, 29, 2016 - 10:00 am - 2:00 pm

Venue:
India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi

For agenda fill form available at:


http://tinyurl.com/oc642vm

For all queries contact:


Ranjita Menon
Director
Environment Education Unit
M: +919871825346
Email: ranjita@cseindia.org
Sharmila Sinha
Deputy Prog Manager
Environment Education Unit
M: +919818482018
Email: sharmila@cseindia.org
Centre for Science and Environment
41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi 110 062
Phone: 91-11- 40616000 (Extn: 268, 300)
Fax: 91-11-29955879

RTR Christmas Adv. 2015 - Down To Earth

R.N.I.
NO. 53588/92 POSTAL
REGN. NO.
DL(S)-17/3109/2015-2017
Non-Bleed
size: 17.5cm
x 24.5
cm wxh
ISSN 0971-8079. Licensed to Post without Pre-payment U(SE)-44/2015-2017 at Lodhi Road HO,
New Delhi-110003. Published on 1st of every month. POSTED ON: 2-3 of the same fortnight.

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26/12/15 3:37 PM