Breach of trust: The MPPCB has fined Essar Ltd. to the tune of Rs.10 crore for a breach in a wall of its fly ash pond in Singrauli that caused toxic contamination of fields and homes of 490 farmers | Photo: IamRenew

Toxic ash leak: Essar ordered to pay affected Singrauli farmers ₹10 crore

Days after a toxic ash leak at an Essar thermal power plant in Madhya Pradesh damaged crops around a 4-km area, the Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board (MPPCB) has asked Essar Power MP Limited in Singrauli to deposit ₹10 crore as interim environmental compensation. Earlier, the region’s district collector ordered the company to pay the impacted farmers ₹50 lakh as compensation. The actual compensation amount will be known once the environmental damage has been assessed. Officials said 490 farmers have reported crop loss so far.

A night of rain on the intervening night of August 6 and 7 caused a breach in Essar’s ash pond. The fly ash, which contains toxins such as arsenic, turned into a mud-slide and flooded people’s homes. Such leaks, say scientists can severely contaminate the groundwater, leading to severe health repercussions.

A plea, meanwhile, has been filed India’s green court, National Green Tribunal, which sought direction to the company to remove the fly ash, bottom ash, and other toxic wastes from the houses, wells and any other water bodies and farm lands surrounding the area.

Media framing of climate change news correlated to socio-economic factors of nations, policy-driven discourse largely absent: Global study

A new study on how media around the world frames climate change news has thrown up interesting correlations between nations’ socio-economic indicators and the framing of the subject in national media. While authors have noted that media coverage of the topic differs from one nation to the next, none of the 45 nations whose media was analysed were found framing it as an immediate problem requiring national policies to address the issue. The study, which encompassed 37,000 articles across 30 years of coverage, shows that poorer nations tend to frame discourse on climate change as an international relations issue, prioritising pressure on richer countries and vulnerabilities to climate change impacts. By contrast, in richer countries climate change discourse is framed as a partisan political matter which reflects greater prominence of climate change skeptics and high-levels of lobbying influence in news media in these nations. Interestingly, the most consistent predictor of how the issue was framed was a nation’s gross domestic product per capita, according to the study.

BASIC nations call on richer countries to shoulder more of the climate burden with more finance

Developing economies, including Brazil, South Africa, India and China (BASIC) have urged rich countries to meet their pre-2020 climate targets and increase climate finance. In a letter to UN chief António Guterres, ahead of the climate summit that he is hosting in New York, the BASIC nations wrote that the meeting should “be fully respectful of the principles and provisions of the [UN climate convention]”. What this means is that richer countries, like the US, who also have higher emissions, must shoulder more responsibility for action. Meanwhile, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the G-7 summit in France’s seaside town of Biarritz at the end of the month and is expected to talk on environment, climate, oceans and digital transformations.

Australia announces $339 million climate change package for Pacific islands, but its leaders are unimpressed

Australia’s announcement of giving $339 million to Pacific island nations for renewable projects and climate and disaster resilience was met with anger and criticism from its leaders. At the Pacific Islands Forum meeting held last week, Tuvalu prime minister Enele Sopoaga, who is also chair of the meeting, told reporters. “No matter how much money you put on the table, it doesn’t give you the excuse to not to do the right thing, which is to cut down on your emissions, including not opening your coal mines.” Australia’s move to water down the Pacific islands’ climate crisis plea, and remove references to coal at the forum meeting only escalated tensions. 

Caught between Australia and the Pacific islands, New Zealand’s stance seems a bit wobbly. While deputy prime minister Winston Peters came to Australia’s defence, asking Pacific nations to account for the ‘coal-powered loans’ they were receiving from China, the country’s prime minister Jacinda Arden declared that “Australia has to answer to the Pacific” on climate change.

Indonesian president issues permanent moratorium on forest clearance; Greenpeace calls move inadequate

Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo ordered a permanent moratorium on new forest clearances for palm plantations and logging, among other activities. This moratorium covers 66 million hectares of peatlands and primary forests and is aimed at reducing the country’s emissions from forest fires.

Greenpeace, however, dismissed the move and said it did not provide adequate protection in the long run pointing to loopholes in regulations and lack of strict punishment. It said Indonesia leads the list of countries with a high deforestation rate, with more than 74 million hectares of rainforest logged, burned or degraded in the last half century.  

Singapore may have to spend $72 billion to protect itself from rising sea levels: PM

Protection from rising sea levels is likely to cost Singapore S$100 billion ($72 billion) or more over the next 100 years, its prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said this week. He said the low-lying state’s future options will include building polders, reclaiming land or reclaiming offshore islands and connecting them with barrages. The government had previously announced a $400-million plan to upgrade Singapore’s drains and improve flood resiliency.

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