78 lighthouses to be developed as tourism hubs via PPP mode: The Ministry of Shipping on Thursday announced that the Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships has drawn up a plan to develop 78 of the country’s 189 lighthouses as tourist-friendly destinations via the PPP model. While there is investor interest in the project, Mr. Gadkari said that there were some concerns. “There have been some concerns expressed by investors, especially with respect to Coastal Regulation Zone clearance, security clearance, support from Ministry of Shipping in the form of subsidy, etc,” he said. An Inter-Ministerial Group comprising representatives of the Ministries of Shipping, Tourism, and Environment, and also of the participating States will be set up to address these concerns and roadblocks. The development of these lighthouses as tourist attractions will involve the construction of hotels and resorts, thematic restaurants, viewing galleries, walk-in museums and other facilities.
It is the monsoon season. Heavy rain. Within minutes the roads are flooded. Vehicles churn their way through the water, revving up to ensure that the engine does not stall. A big vehicle does not realize its wake has almost capsized the two-wheeler that is following. Holding up an umbrella with one hand and the dress with another, a woman drags her feet carefully forward as the waters churn around her. This is in a relatively upmarket locality in the city. One wonders how many of the other areas, some quite low-lying, have fared in this short bout of rain. Soon there will be photographs and reports of flooding, waterlogging, damage to houses and infrastructure, especially roads, filling the newspapers.
Nothing new. Every bout of heavy rain in a state staring at water deficits is welcome. But useful only if the water is allowed to percolate. But where will it percolate if it is all built up? Housing and infrastructure demands have meant the rapid disappearance of ponds, tanks and marshes, big and small. And so flooding, and the need to rapidly get rid of the water through stormwater drains. And where does it go? Into the sea. Hence it is not surprising to note that since the 1970s, most disasters in Asia and the Pacific have had fewer than 100 fatalities but cumulatively have affected 2.2 billion people and caused over $400 billion worth of damage. Even this is believed to be quite an underestimate as many small disasters may go unnoticed and anyway, there is no standardized metric for disaster statistics.
The Ocean in Crisis
The report has used data from 1970 to 2012 - 42 years looking at trends in 5,829 populations of 1,234 mammal, bird, reptile and fish species from around the globe. The Living Planet Index for marine populations compiled for this report based on the above populations shows a decline of 49 per cent between 1970 and 2012. Habitat loss and exploitation are two major causal factors and it looks like climate change is going to be an equally important threat in the future as migration of populations of marine organisms, from plankton to fish, have been clearly noted.
Perhaps the most striking feature of the report is that it does not have pages of text. Rather, hard data and clear visuals emphasise the decline like no text can. In Chapter 2: Ocean Under Pressure, the visual highlighting statistics make worrisome reading: Did you know that 80% of tourism is based near the sea? And here we are, on the one hand, wanting to build ‘coast protection structures’: seawalls, groynes etc. because of erosion while calling for a dilution of the CRZ norms so that entire stretches of the coast can become tourism destinations! Going to the coast as a tourist is not a passive activity. There can be enormous environmental cost as the graphic shows.
Source: Living Blue Planet Report, p31.
More sea walls along Maharashtra’s coastline, environmentalists call it 'ecological blunder' In what environmentalists term an ecological blunder, sea walls are to be constructed along more shorelines across the state, including Mumbai. The State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), in its 86th meeting, gave a green nod for the construction of anti-sea erosion walls on nine shorelines in Mumbai, and 17 across Thane, Raigad and Sindhudurg districts.
Baby Canal to Clean Cooum River: Chennai:After many initiatives to restore the severely-polluted Cooum river back to its days of glory, work on building a baby canal in the middle of the river has now begun. The move is expected to prevent stagnation and other related trouble and ensure the smooth flow of water in the river. The eight-metre wide canal will run from Parathipett Anaicut in Padi Kuppam to Chetpet, covering a distance of about 18 kilometres, as part of the Integrated Cooum River Eco-Restoration Plan.
Gender and Sanitation
While we are quick to talk in public about the growing scarcity of potable water or about water pollution, we are only now slowly accepting the fact that sanitation too needs to be talked about more than ever before. Focus on sanitation is not new though. The Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) previously called Total Sanitation campaign is a program following the principles of community-led total sanitation and was initiated by Government of India in 1999. Today we have the iconic Vidya Balan as the national sanitation brand ambassador flagging off "Changing Behaviour: Creating Sanitation Change Leaders" on August 25 calling for hygiene awareness and to stop open defecation.
Now, is it all that easy? Why is it that though most post-tsunami houses in Tamil Nadu had attached toilets but their usage is abysmally low? Why then are there are news reports of girls having refused marriage as the prospective marital home did not have a toilet facility?
News Round-up: August 2015
Earth's Resources for 2015 Have Already Been Used Up: Humanity is placing inordinate demands on nature, and it just keeps getting worse. In 2000, humanity had exceeded its "ecological budget" by October. This year, "Earth Overshoot Day" was August 13, according to the Global Footprint Network, a California-based environmental think tank. Earth Overshoot Day marks the moment "when humanity's annual demands on nature exceed what Earth can regenerate that year." This is yet another wake-up call that sustainable global development hasn't taken root despite two decades of effort. Humanity currently needs 1.6 Earths to cover what we take from nature each year.
Sea Levels Will Rise, Experts Warn, and It's Not Going To Stop'New satellite measurements from NASA suggest that ocean levels could rise by 3 feet or more globally by the end of the century. The question faced by scientists and policymakers is not whether oceans will rise, but how fast and by how much.
India brought out its first National Water Policy (NWP) in 1987 and a number of State governments, including Tamil Nadu (1994), followed up by formulating their state water policies. The National Water Policy was revised in 2002 and once again in 2012, this time with climate change as its primary focus. However, Tamil Nadu has continued with its 1994 policy which is quite outdated considering the present requirements and threats.
In 2013, India Water Partnership formulated a project to review state water policies with special reference to climate change in line with the National Water Policy 2012. The work was taken up by the Institute for Resource Management and Economic Development (IRMED), New Delhi. Tamil Nadu has been taken up along with Goa for 2015.
The multi-stakeholder workshop was held on 23rd July 2015 at Chennai was organized by IRMED and Centre for Water Resources, Anna University; supported by the Madras Institute for Development Studies. Apart from the key note and inaugural addresses, the focus was on obtaining feedback from the audience on what should be emphasised in Tamil Nadu’s state Water Policy. There is a revised water policy based on a 2013 Committee report but it was not yet available in the public domain and hence the discussions had to be based on the 1994 policy and the 2012 NWP.
Mining on coastal sand dunes poses environmental hazard
The CRZ is once again in the limelight. A search with “CRZ” as the keyword brings forth a spate of news reports in the last few weeks. Of course CRZ violations – especially in Goa and Kerala are a-plenty. But what is of concern is that regulations are set to be amended so that not just Mumbai, but other coastal cities too will be allowed to build high-rises within the 500m of the high tide line. The CRZ has been a contentious confusing notification. With more amendments in the offing, it is worth reading the detailed report prepared by Manju Menon et al. on the institution that is supposed to implement the notification.
"Governance" as is well known, refers to the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented). Good governance requires good institutions. The institutional set-up for regulating the coast is the coastal zone management authority. One of the characteristics of good governance is transparency: Transparency means that decisions taken and their enforcement are done in a manner that follows rules and regulations. It also means that information is freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their enforcement. It also means that enough information is provided and that it is provided in easily understandable forms and media (UNESCAP).
Vizhinjam port: draft of pact published
As a prelude to the all-party meeting convened on June 3, the government on Tuesday published the draft concession agreement to be inked with the port operator and other documents related to the Vizhinjam International Deepwater Multi-Purpose project.