Recurring floods: A direct consequence of deforestation in the Western Ghats

Shivani
September 17, 2020

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The Western Ghats have been exposed to excessive human interference for past few years. Though a certain amount of forest was lent for agroforestry in this hot-spot of biological diversity, people have crossed the margin which resulted in irregular rains and floods in the region. In the past few years, south-west of India was prone to floods and landslides though the amount of rain received by these parts is relatively less.

According to environmental activist Dinesh Holla, “the shola grassland that grows in the hills of Western Ghats play a major role in holding the rainwater that flows down the hill. The roots of the grass hold the rainwater and this water is stored in the catchment area. Hence only a limited amount of rainwater joins the river. Since the shola forest is being cut down for different purposes like setting up the power plant, resorts, commercial crop plantation etc the water flows down the hill causing soil erosion and flooding as well. In 2018, Kerala and Madikeri faced major floods due to this.”

“Last year, several parts of Western Ghats suffered forest fire. This became an opportunity for estate owners to extend their land of agroforest. There are even instances where the estate owner sprayed chemicals on the grassland so that they catch fire during summer and they could occupy the reserved forest land. Also, the forest fire burns the seed that would germinate into another tree. Hence the reserved forest area is somehow devastated by the people. Though only certain parts of Western Ghats are allotted for development purpose, a large area of forest has been encroached.”

Shivananda Kalave, a water conversationalist, says, “There are   several endemic plants grown in Western Ghats. In order to make deforestation look convincing to the public, the industrialists claim it as compensatory deforestation. The suitable climate necessary for the growth of the endemic plants is only found in Western Ghats. Hence deforestation is still a damage with or without compensation.” 

“There are several plants in Western Ghats that boost our immunity but people decide to destroy forests under the pretext of development, employment and what not. What kind of unhealthy society are we building by destroying this forest which is beyond price?” he laments. 

In concern with floods, Karve says that the absorption rate of the forest in Western Ghats is 10- 12% rest of water flows down and joins the river. Since the highway has been constructed in between the forest, the water does not have a proper path to flow. Also, after immense clear cutting of the forest, the rate of absorption has declined to 4% which means the amount of rainwater that would be flowing to the river will be unendurable, resulting in floods.

The section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980 states that a prior approval is necessary from the central government before de-reserving the reserved forest. Several parts of Western Ghats also belong to the reserved forest. Also, according to the National Forest Policy 2016, climate change should be given importance in forest management and community management plans. The Ministry of Environment and Forest appointed the Western Ghats ecological expert panel under the chairmanship of Madhav Gadgil. The committee divided the area into three based on their ecological sensitivity. But the report faced great criticism as the people assumed it to be against farmers. Later the Kasturirangan committee was formed to examine the report of the Gadgil committee. However, this report favoured the corporates. As only 37% Western Ghats was considered an ecological sensitive zone and rest of the land is available for development projects. 

Nature has the power to generate as well as destroy. Even after facing the destruction caused by floods, humans have not learnt any lessons from the past. Clear cutting still takes place in Western Ghats, people still go there for road trips and throw plastic. This is just the beginning of karma to human society for the destruction we have caused. Destruction of nature will be nothing but us digging our own grave.

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News Network
October 20,2020

Bengaluru, Oct 20: Two people have been taken into custody in connection with the bomb threat to a special judge hearing the drug case involving celebrities in Karnataka, police sources said on Tuesday.

A family feud in Tiptur of Tumakuru district is suspected to be the reason behind the incident allegedly plotted by rival members who wanted one of their kin to land in trouble, he said without divulging further information.

"Two persons have been detained for questioning. They will be brought to Bengaluru," a top police officer told PTI on condition of anonymity.

An NDPS special judge hearing the drug racket case received a threat letter and a parcel with a detonator on Monday here, demanding grant of bail to two film actresses and those booked in the August 11 violence here.

The person who wrote the letter had warned that a blast would be triggered if the demands were not met. Later, the investigation revealed that there was no bomb inside but some wires which created an impression of a detonator.

According to a preliminary inquiry, the letter was sent from Chelur in Tumakuru district, the sources said adding two people were taken into custody for questioning.

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News Network
October 14,2020

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Doha, Oct 14: Qatar has extended strict quarantine rules requiring travellers to isolate for up to 14 days upon their arrival in the country, local media reported on Tuesday.

“For all arrivals – including nationals, residents and visa holders – quarantine requirements are now extended for all arrival dates up to 31 December 2020,” The Peninsula newspaper reported, quoting the Discover Qatar website.

Arrivals to Qatar from “low-risk countries” will be required to take a coronavirus test at the airport and sign an official pledge to adhere to quarantine at home for a week.

The travellers will then be required to undergo a second test and the quarantine period will end if results come back negative. If it tests positive, the person will be transferred to a government facility for isolation.

People arriving from “high-risk countries” will have to obtain a “virus-free certificate” no more than 48 hours before travelling from an accredited COVID-19 testing facility. They will then adhere to the home quarantine policy when in Qatar.

If travellers are not able to obtain a virus-free certificate in the country of departure, they will be required to book a hotel at their own expense for a week to quarantine for seven days before undergoing a COVID-19 test.

These rules were set to expire on October 31.

Qatari nationals, permanent resident cardholders, and prior approved visa holders are currently permitted into the country. They will be required to undergo a coronavirus test or quarantine upon return depending on whether the country of departure is low risk or not.

The Peninsula also reported: “There is a daily limit on arrivals entering Qatar and demand is extremely high.”

The current list of low-risk countries, as per the ministry of public health’s website, names 40 nations and includes China, Vietnam and Malaysia in the Asia-Pacific; the United Kingdom, Italy, France and Greece in Europe; and Morocco, Algeria and Turkey in the Middle East.

Qatar is one of the worst-hit countries in the Middle East – after Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel, and Morocco – reporting 128,405 confirmed coronavirus cases but only 220 deaths.

A total of 125,373 people have recovered from the virus since the start of the pandemic.

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News Network
October 23,2020

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Mangaluru, Oct 22: The Centre for Advanced Research in Environmental Radioactivity (CARER) at Mangalore University has established a facility for Carbon-14 courting of archaeological artefacts or materials of biogenic origin primarily based on Liquid Scintillation Counting approach.

Carbon-14 courting is a technique for figuring out the age of an object containing natural materials by utilizing the properties of radiocarbon, a radioactive isotope of carbon. The methodology was developed within the late 1940s at the University of Chicago by Willard Libby, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this work in 1960.

Measuring the quantity of Carbon-14 in a pattern from a useless plant or animal, equivalent to a bit of wooden or a fraction of bone, offers data that can be utilized to calculate when the animal or plant died, according to a release by the University on Thursday.

This facility has been established with financial assistance by the Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences (BRNS), Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). Through an analysis challenge sanctioned and in collaboration with Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai, the CARER had undertaken a research for standardising the strategy for Carbon-14 measurements within the neighborhood of nuclear energy vegetation.

A staff of scientists led by N Karunakara, a professor and coordinator, CARER, in collaboration with BARC has standardised a batch methodology for the thermal combustion of the samples by tube furnace system for Carbon-14 measurements. The spin-off utility of this methodology is its utility for figuring out the age of the fabric as much as 30,000 years outdated, the discharge issued by Ok. Raju Mogaveera, Registrar (Administration), stated.

The CARER with state-of-the-art services has been established by the college as a nationwide facility. This is a complicated centre for radioecological and radiation safety analysis within the nation with collaborations with many superior laboratories of the world. The centre is serving the analysis wants of varied analysis teams from nationwide laboratories/establishments/universities.

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