India Green News: Record-High Temperatures; 'World’s Largest' Single Rooftop Solar Plant; Obama Invites PM Modi; Diverting Rivers to Tackle Drought

Climate Change

Mercury rising: India records its highest temperature ever

Phalodi, Rajasthan: India recorded its highest-ever temperature on Thursday when the heat in the town of Phalodi, in the western state of Rajasthan, shot up to a burning 51 degrees Celsius (123.8 degrees Fahrenheit).

It was the second day in a row the town experienced temperatures in excess of 50 degrees Celsius.

Other towns in the state, such as Churu, also recorded highs of about 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) the same day. 

In New Delhi, the capital, the temperature reached nearly 47 degrees Celsius on Wednesday.

Rajasthan, home to the Thar desert, typically records the highest temperatures in India.

The IMD has issued a red-level alert for Rajasthan as well as for other states like Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, where temperatures, despite not having crossed the 50-degree mark, are higher than average.

India has recorded higher than normal temperatures throughout 2016.

Many areas are experiencing severe heat waves and state governments estimate more than 370 people killed so far.

(CNN - May 23, 2016)

India records its hottest day ever

A city in India's Rajasthan state has broken the country's temperature records after registering 51C, the highest since records began, the weather office says.

The new record in Phalodi in the desert state comes amid a heatwave across India.

The previous record for the hottest temperature stood at 50.6C in 1956.

The heatwave has hit much of northern India, where temperatures have exceeded 40C for weeks.

The run-up to the Indian monsoon season is always characterised by weeks of strong sunshine and increasing heat but life-threatening temperature levels topping 50C are unusual.

An eyewitness in Phalodi told the BBC "Even my mobile phone gave up and stopped working when I was trying to take pictures today."

Permanent relief from the heat is only expected with the arrival of the monsoon, which normally comes in mid-June.

(BBC – May 20, 2016)

India Records Its Hottest Day Ever As Temperatures Soar to 124F

Almost all of India is experiencing higher than normal temperatures for this time of year.

The severe heat wave that stifled India last May caused at least 2,300 deaths across the country. It was, according to Jeff Masters, Weather Underground’s director of meteorology, the fifth deadliest heat wave in Earth’s recorded history.

“It’s not just another unusually hot summer — it is climate change,” Harsh Vardhan, India’s minister of science and technology, said last year. “Let us not fool ourselves that there is no connection between the unusual number of deaths from the ongoing heatwave and the certainty of another failed monsoon.”

One year later, India is in the midst of yet another suffocating surge of heat. On Friday [May 20], the India Meteorological Department (IMD) announced that the country had recorded its hottest temperature ever: 51 degrees Celcius (or 123.8 degrees Fahrenheit). The scorching temperature was taken in the city of Phalodi, in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, on May 19.

(Huffington Post – May 20, 2016)

India records its hottest day ever as temperature hits 51C (that's 123.8F)

The previous record of 50.6C stood since 1956 but wilted in the latest summer heatwave to hit the country

 “Yesterday [May 19] was the hottest temperature ever recorded in the country ... 51C in Phalodi,” said BP Yadav, a director of India’s meteorological department.

Temperatures in northern India regularly hit the high 40s in May and June—the hottest months of the year—but topping 50C is unusual.

Several hundred people are thought to have died during this year’s heatwave and some areas have banned daytime cooking in order to limit the fire risk.

(The Guardian – May 20, 2016)


‘World’s largest’ single rooftop solar plant opened at Beas dera

Punjab: Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal inaugurated a solar power plant spread over 42 acres; the plant has the capacity to produce 11.5MW electricity.

The solar energy plant here has become country’s largest, with solar panels spread over 82 acres on eight rooftops of sheds and a capacity to generate 19.5 MW. The project will generate 27 million units of electricity per annum, enough to cater to the electricity needs of approximately 8,000 households.

The first phase (7.5 MW) of this project was allotted in September 2013 and synchronised with the grid in April 2014. Later, the second phase (12 MW) was allotted in February 2015 and synchronised in December 2015.

The Centre has set a target of generating 40,000 MW of renewable energy by 2022.

(Hindustan Times – May 18, 2016)

World’s Largest Solar Rooftop System Goes Online, Will Power 8,000 Homes

The Indian state of Punjab is now home to the world’s largest rooftop solar plant. The massive array will produce 11.5 megawatts of energy and is expected to provide clean power to 8,000 homes.

The plant, which has an installed capacity of 19.5 megawatts, is spread over 82 acres of rooftop in a single campus on multiple roofs at the Dera Baba Jaimal Singh, the world headquarters of the Radha Soami religious organization.

Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and renewable energy resources minister Bikram Singh Majithia inaugurated the facility last week, to usher a “solar power revolution” and to motivate other Indian states to replicate similar projects, according to the Press Trust of India.

“Today, pollution has become a major source of worry and concern,” Majithia told Reuters India, “and renewable energy is the way forward.”  Majithia boasts that the project will help reduce 400,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide over the next 25 years, or the equivalent to planting nearly 200,000 trees.

(EcoWatch – May 25, 2016)

India's Punjab hosts 11.5-MW solar roof, world's largest

A 11.5-MW solar installation, described as the world's largest single rooftop solar power plant, was inaugurated Tuesday by state officials in the Indian state of Punjab.

The system is part of a 19.5-MW rooftop project across a number of sites at the Dera Baba Jaimal Singh campus of Radha Soami Satsang Beas Educational and Environmental Society (RSSBEES). 

The Indian Rupee-1.39-billion (USD 20.6m/EUR 18.4m) project will generate enough electricity to power 8,000 local homes, according to a statement by the Punjab government. Local media reported that the installation was built by Tata Power's (BOM:500400) solar unit and Larsen & Toubro (BOM:500510).

The state now has 470 MW of solar capacity and will probably reach 1,080 MW by the end of the 2016/17 year, new and renewable energy resources minister Bikram Singh Majithia said.

(SeeNews - May 19, 2016)

Governance and Environmental Health

Modi among ‘very close’ world leaders Obama is inviting

Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said that Modi's US visit would in many ways be a sort of 'consolidation visit' after Obama and the PM worked on the US-India relationship in the last two years.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the US on June 7-8 in the course of his five-nation tour starting on Saturday, he will be among the few close world leaders that President Barack Obama is inviting in the last year of his presidency.

(Indian Express – June 3, 2016)

'Modi-Obama Relationship an Unanticipated Surprise'

Two years ago there were questions over whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi could get a visa to enter the United States. Next week, he visits Washington as one of President Barack Obama's closest international partners.

This will be Modi and Obama's seventh meeting since Modi became the Prime Minister in May 2014.

Obama and Modi are expected to discuss India's desire to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

(News18 - June 3, 2016)

India to 'divert rivers' to tackle drought

India is set to divert water from its rivers to deal with a severe drought, a senior minister has told the BBC.

Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti said transferring water, including from major rivers like the Brahmaputra and the Ganges, to drought-prone areas is now her government's top priority.

At least 330 million people are affected by drought in India. The drought is taking place as a heat wave extends across much of India, with temperatures in excess of 40C.

The Inter Linking of Rivers (ILR) has 30 links planned for water-transfer, 14 of them fed by Himalayan glaciers in the north of the country and 16 in peninsular India.

Environmentalists have opposed the project, arguing it will invite ecological disaster but the Supreme Court has ordered its implementation.

"Interlinking of rivers is our prime agenda and we have got the people's support and I am determined to do it on the fast track," Ms Bharti said.  And also said the river-linking project would be the first in Indian history since independence in 1947.

Critics say the project is not viable financially, environmentally or socially. The government has also been accused of granting environmental clearances without proper assessments.

"It is even more impossible in the context of climate change as you don't know what will happen to the rivers' flows," says Himanshu Thakkar of the South Asia Network for Dams, Rivers and People.

(BBC - May 16, 2016)

India set to start massive project to divert Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers

Ambitious scheme to channel water from regions with a surplus to drought-prone areas could begin in days, but Bangladesh has raised concerns.

India is set to start work on a massive, unprecedented river diversion programme, which will channel water away from the north and west of the country to drought-prone areas in the east and south. The plan could be disastrous for the local ecology, environmental activists warn.

The project involves rerouting water from major rivers including the Ganges and Brahmaputra and creating canals to link the Ken and Batwa rivers in central India and Damanganga-Pinjal in the west.

The project will cost an estimated 20tn rupees (£207bn) and take 20 to 30 years to complete.

State governments used emergency measures to deliver water by train in the western state of Maharashtra; in other areas, schools and hospitals were forced to close, and hundreds of families were forced to migrate from villages to nearby cities where water is more easily accessible.

The river-linking project could lead to further disputes not just between states, but with the neighboring government of Bangladesh. India’s plans will affect 100 million people in Bangladesh, who live downstream of the Ganges and Brahmaputra and rely on the rivers for their livelihoods.

(The Guardian - May 18, 2016)

India set to start diverting major rivers including Ganges in unprecedented $300bn project

The Indian government is pushing ahead with one of the most ambitious and expensive engineering projects in history, despite staunch opposition from lawmakers, environmentalists and neighboring Bangladesh.

"It is even more impossible in the context of climate change as you don't know what will happen to the rivers' flows," Himanshu Thakkar of the South Asia Network for Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) told the BBC. "The project is based on the idea of diverting water from where it is surplus to dry areas but there has been no scientific study yet on which places have more water and which ones less."

“The government is trying to redraw the entire geography of the country. What will happen to communities, the wildlife, the farmers who live downstream of the rivers? They need to look at a river not just as a source of water, but as an entire ecosystem. They will have to dig canals everywhere and defy the ecology of the country,” Latha Anantha, from the River Research Centre, told the Guardian.

SANDRP believes that 1.5 million people will be displaced as a result, and 104,000 hectares of prime forested land will be submerged, while the effects on other life forms are unpredictable.

But an even bigger international battle is brewing with equally water-stressed, but much-poorer neighboring Bangladesh, which has disapproved of the scheme from the start.

(RT– May 19, 2016) 

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