Catch all the recent news in the Himalayan region with our weekly newsletter (3 August to 9 August), A week in the Himalayas. We bring you the recent updates on mountains, northeast, environment and much more!

Post-Amphan Relief material to increase plastic pollution in Sundarbans

The environmentalists are of the opinion that relief material used during the cyclone Amphan could contribute to plastic pollution and damage the eco-sensitive region of Sundarbans in West Bengal. The activists fear that the dry food packets including polythene and water pouches distributed widely during the relief work could impact Sunderbands in a bad way!

A group of environmentalists through a survey have claimed that around 26 metric tonnes of plastics have reached the Sundarbans. It is important to note that as relief work, tonnes of food kits were distributed on the east coast of the West Bengal. Most of it was packed in single-use plastic sheets and polythene.

Professor Dr. Punarbasu Chaudhuri, Department of Environment Science at the University of Calcutta, shared that it is not only the relief materials contributing to plastic pollution but also the mud-filled plastic bags. Over the years, these bags are being used to protect the embankments which are now forming microplastics. Thus, resulting in an increase in the level of plastic pollution.

Srinagar Municipal Corporation focusses on landfill management and bulk waste generators 

To address the problem of the foul smell emanating from the Achan landfill site in Srinagar, the municipal corporation has decided to install anti-odour smog guns. These orders came when the Municipal Commissioner was taking a meeting on reviewing the status of scientific waste management in the city. The Commissioner further directed to speed up the work at the fourth cell of the landfill site for garbage disposal.

SMC has also floated tenders for bioremediation and biomining of the existing landfill cell. The corporation now awaits the submission of financial proposals by the bidders. Commissioner directed to speed up the process so that process of remediation and biomining could start soon.

Commissioner also asked the department to make a list of bulk waste generators in the city as defined in the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016 and send them the letters requesting to take care of the waste at their own institutional level.

Draft 2020 EIA provisions will be devastating for Himalayan belt

The draft EIA notification 2020 has received sharp criticism from Himalayan organizations and experts. Groups and experts from the mountain states of Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal, Uttarakhand, Himachal, Kashmir and Ladakh have written to the ministry opposing the new draft.

In the submission to ministry, experts say that dilution of the provisions including a reduction in time for public hearings, exemption from public hearings to certain projects and post facto clearness will create a massive ecological disbalance in the fragile India Himalayan Region. The letter further demands to scrap the draft notification.

(Indian Himalayan Region is one of the most sensitive and fragile ecosystems. Pic credits: Vivek Kumar Pandey/Twitter)

Uttarakhand seeks financial assistance for major projects in the hill areas

Seeking the help of the central government, Uttarakhand government has submitted proposals for development projects in the hill areas of worth Rs. 1000 crore. These projects aim to provide water connections in every household in the hill districts. The proposal further seeks to provide job opportunities to people who have returned in the wake of the COVID-19 situation.

As per the government figures, more than 5 lakh people have returned to the Himalayan state. The state government has promised to provide these people with suitable job opportunities. Uttarakhand has for long been struggling with the social problem of migration. With people coming back, the state government sees COVID-19 as an opportunity to repopulate the hill towns and cities.

Mountain states join One Nation – One Ration Card Scheme

Taking the total tally of state and Union Territories to 24, the mountain states of Manipur, Nagaland, Uttarakhand and UT of J&K have joined the One Nation-One Ration Card scheme of the central government. Other mountain states of Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura have already joined the scheme on integrated management of the public distribution system.

With the addition of these states about 65 crore beneficiaries, comprising 80%  of the total beneficiaries, under the National Food Security Act can get the ration at a subsidized rate from anywhere in the state/UT.

(By: Gautam Kumar)

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