Tag: road building

Is the upcoming Char Dham highway speeding towards environmental disaster?

The upcoming 900 kilometre-long Char Dham highway project, is being seen as a strategic attempt to bolster preparation of India’s security forces at the India-China border, apart from increasing tourist volume. But while it will facilitate the smooth movement of pilgrims and defence forces, it could be at the cost of the environment in the fragile hill state. According to experts, unchecked construction of the all-weather highway may end up triggering disasters in the ecologically sensitive Uttarakhand region.

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Tourist magnet Ladakh facing water scarcity

For 75-year-old Tsering Angdo, today’s Ladakh is entirely different from the world of his childhood in the cold Himalayan desert. Back then, he and everyone he knew would take water supply for granted. Ladakh was never short of water, considering the limited needs of a small population. That is now changing.

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Nilgiris threatened by climate change

The Nilgiris district, part of the 5,520 sq. km Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a biodiversity hotspot. The district has an average elevation of 1,800 metres above sea level and is defined by its evergreen shola forests and montane grasslands. The region was mostly untouched till two centuries ago, but has witnessed large-scale destruction ever since.

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Of dusty snow and rotten apples

On April 16, Roshan Lal Negi woke up to find snow carpeting the courtyard of his home in Jangi village. Boys with smartphones quickly made videos to share on WhatsApp but more than a month later, the dusty snow still sits on the lower parts of most peaks in Kinnaur district, Himachal Pradesh. Particles from a dust storm in the northern plains might have travelled to Kinnaur and mixed with the unseasonal snowfall, suggests Dr Manmohan Singh, director of the meteorological centre in Shimla, giving the dusty appearance. The jury is still out, but most agree that this rain shadow region is experiencing a drastic shift in its weather patterns. Rains are increasing, snowfall is declining, and temperatures are rising, which all have great impacts on an area prone to landslides and fed by glacial melt.

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Jet fuel from sugarcane? It’s not a flight of fancy

Airlines are under pressure to reduce their carbon emissions, and are highly vulnerable to global oil price fluctuations. These challenges have spurred strong interest in biomass-derived jet fuels. Bio-jet fuel can be produced from various plant materials, including oil crops, sugar crops, starchy plants and lignocellulosic biomass, through various chemical and biological routes. However, the technologies to convert oil to jet fuel are at a more advanced stage of development and yield higher energy efficiency than other sources.

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The world is facing a global sand crisis

Skyrocketing demand, combined with unfettered mining to meet it, is creating the perfect recipe for shortages. Plentiful evidence strongly suggests that sand is becoming increasingly scarce in many regions. For example, in Vietnam domestic demand for sand exceeds the country’s total reserves. If this mismatch continues, the country may run out of construction sand by 2020, according to recent statements from the country’s Ministry of Construction.

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When Cities Were Nature’s Haven: A Tale From Bangalore

Inscriptions on stone and copper plates show that the starting point for a new village was often the creation of a tank, or lake, to collect rain water – essential and life-giving in this unfavourable low-rainfall environment. These inscriptions provide fascinating insights into the close relationship that these early residents had with nature. They describe the landscape as consisting of the lakes, the surrounding irrigated and dry land, the “wells above”, and the “trees below”. This three-dimensional view of the landscape, consisting of two major resources, water (lake) and food (agriculture), nourished by nature below (in the form of wells) and above (in the form of trees) is a remarkably holistic conception of nature.

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Displacement And Deforestation On Kedarnath Route

Last Friday, before the closing of the gates of the Kedarnath temple, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave an elaborate speech about the ‘grand reconstruction’ of Kedarnath town. While inaugurating the project he also said the number of people visiting Kedarnath will increase manifold in coming years. “You can take this in writing, next year no less than ten lakh (one million) people will come to visit the shrine,” he said. However this ‘development’ is not good news for everyone. Downstream at Agastyamuni, Uma Prasad Bhatt, a local resident is worried. His house is marked for demolition to build an all-weather highway to Kedarnath. This proposed highway is part of Char-Dham project inaugurated by the prime minister last year. Bhatt says authorities want to acquire his property for widening of the road but the compensation they are offering is meagre.

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