A Supreme Court-mandated committee of technical experts comprising scientists from top public research laboratories and academic institutions has recommended a ten-year moratorium on field trials of Bt transgenics in all food crops that are directly consumed by people.

There are lessons to be learnt from Japan, given the dilemma it finds itself in. Should it continue running its 50 nuclear power plants or do away with them within a specific time frame? Opinions, after the Fukushima disaster, are sharply divided. The latest attempt by the Japanese government to chalk out a roadmap to end its dependence on nuclear energy has only led to more confusion. Once you are in the thick of a nuclear programme—Japan derived 30 per cent of its electricity from nuclear energy—exit options become more than difficult.

Biomass power sector is in trouble. About 60 per cent of the country’s grid-connected power plants that run on biomass are either closed or about to be closed. Reason: rising fuel price, unrevised tariff and government apathy.

For full text: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/looming-biomess

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered about 70 industrial units operating inside the “no-development zone” near Kaziranga National Park in Assam to shut down. It has also imposed a penalty of Rs 1 lakh each on the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the state for allowing the units to operate in the restricted zone.

Read More: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/polluting-units-shut-kaziranga

Frenzied growth in real estate and changing lifestyle in Indian cities are inciting resource guzzling. Architects have innovative ideas to build green homes.

Land meant for food crops being used to grow biofuel crops; may push up food prices by 36 per cent by 2020. The European Union’s biofuel production targets are depriving people of food, land and water across the world. Increasing biofuel production is one of the measures taken to reduce fossil fuel emissions and save the environment. But it is resulting in food price inflation and serious cases of land grabs in poor countries, says the recent report, The Hunger Grains, by Oxfam, an international non-profit.

Supply issues comprise one part of the energy conundrum, as we discussed last fortnight. The cost of energy and our ability to pay for it is the other. The matter gets vexed because the rise in price of raw material of all energy sources is accompanied by huge inefficiency in distribution and accounting. But importantly, we remain a poor country where cost of energy is a factor in its availability and accessibility for all.

For full text: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/going-grid-power-solution

They make no promise on extending financial and technology support to developing countries. With just a day left for the informal negotiating session on climate change in Bangkok to conclude, the chair of the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA), Aysar Tayeb of Saudi Arabia, expressed dismay at the progress made so far. AWG-LCA, which was mandated to cease functioning by the end of the year at Doha, is one of the three tracks under which negotiations are on and has a slew of elements under it.

Daily wager Bijendra Sao is fussing about at Exhibition Road in Patna to shop for his daughter’s dowry. The doting father wants the best that he can afford—a solar panel that can power two compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and a table fan. What better gift to give in a state that suffers perpetual power crisis. And what better place to shop for but the world’s biggest off-grid solar market that does an annual business of Rs 500 crore.

For full text: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/out-option

Floods hit power projects in Himalayan states; plans for more raise safety concerns. Heavy rainfall leading to flash floods in Himalayan rivers in July-end devastated three states—Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. It claimed 34 human lives and damaged property extensively. It also brought into focus the precarious condition of more than a dozen dams in the region.

For full text: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/reservoirs-losing-capacity