Major win: The NGT said encroachments in Gujarat’s Banni grasslands, home to the Maldharis, were because of poor coordination between the forest and revenue departments | Photo: Village Square

All encroachments in Banni grasslands to be removed in six months: India’s green court

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered all encroachments in the Banni grasslands in Gujarat to be removed within six months. The court also directed a joint committee to come up with an action plan for the same in a month. The court was hearing a case filed by the region’s nomadic pastoral community, the Maldharis, who depend on the grasslands for their livelihood. The court also stated the Maldharis will continue to hold rights to conserve community forests in the area as per the provisions in  Section 3 of Forest Rights Act, 2006. The court acknowledged the encroachments were a result of a lack of coordination between the forest and revenue departments.  

Hirakud dam: NHRC seeks report from Odisha, Chhattisgarh on failure to resettle displaced families

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) ordered the chief secretaries of Odisha and Chhattisgarh to submit a comprehensive report on large-scale displacement due to the construction of the Hirakud Dam and the state governments’ failure to rehabilitate and resettle 26,000 families. The commission also asked its special rapporteur BB Misra to submit a probe report on the ground realities within eight weeks. 

The dam, which was built 70 years ago, submerged more than 360 villages covering more than 1.23 lakh acres of land, and displaced more than one lakh people. Supreme Court lawyer and human rights activist, Radhakanta Tripathy, who filed the case, stated in his petition that seven decades later, the third generation of the victims continue to fight for justice as a result of a “corrupt and lethargic bureaucracy”.  

UK banks provided £900 million in finance to deforestation firms

Research conducted by NGO Global Witness found British banks shelled out more than £900 million in finance to companies involved in deforestation for soy, palm oil and other commodities last year. The NGO analysed 2020 data on 300 companies. This information prompted British MP Neil Parish to table an amendment to the country’s Environment Bill, which imposes no restrictions on such finance, as it only covers companies involved in supplying goods. The amendment aims to force banks to conduct due diligence when supplying finance to companies fuelling deforestation.  

China looks to cut cooling costs by building undersea commercial data centre 

China’s southern island province of Hainan has begun constructing the world’s first undersea commercial data centre. The project is expected to be completed in five years. Through this project, China is aiming to cut the cost of cooling its power-hungry data centres and reduce the consumption of its traditional energy sources. According to experts, an undersea data centre would have greater power efficiency because of the consistently cool seawater, but reliability and investment returns remain huge question marks. 

Major countries launch coalition to boost decarbonisation of cement, steel

A coalition of governments, spearheaded by the UK and India, unveiled the Clean Energy Ministerial’s Industrial Deep Decarbonization Initiative (IDDI) this past fortnight. It aims to create demand in the market for low-carbon industrial materials, including more eco-friendly and sustainable cement and steel. IDDI has set a target of getting at least 10 countries to purchase these materials in the next three years. Other members of the coalition include UAE, Germany and Canada.

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