The National Green Tribunal has ordered a halt and a status quo on the construction of the housing complex being built adjacent to the University Campus.

As on 13th January, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered a status quo on the construction of the housing complex being built adjacent to the Delhi University’s (DU’s) North Campus. A Bench headed by Adarsh Kumar Goel, the NGT Chairperson Justice, has said that an evaluation of relevant data is required by a Joint Committee comprising representatives of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Ministry of Environment and Forests, and Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, in regards to the “Precautionary Principle” of Environmental Law, which requires that, if there is a strong suspicion that a certain activity may have environmentally harmful consequences, it is better to control that activity now rather than to wait for incontrovertible scientific evidence.

“The Committee may also undertake carrying capacity study of the area with reference to the project in question-based on the relevant data. The study may be completed preferably within two months,” the Bench said.

This statement by the tribunal comes after a hearing of the plea by DU challenging the environmental clearance granted to the construction of the housing project by Young Builders (P) Ltd. in North Delhi, and CPCB will be acting as the nodal agency for coordination and compliance.

The plea argued the order of the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) granting Environmental Clearance (EC) for the housing complex located at 1 and 3 Cavalry Lane and 4 Chhatra Marg at Civil Lines in Delhi. It was filed and challenged through advocates Sanjay Upadhyay and Salik Shafique and claimed that the EC could not be granted by the SEIAAbecause it is within 10 km from Critically Polluted Area- Najafgarh, Naraina, Wazirpur and Anand Parbat are critically polluted areas. The EC can, therefore, be granted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests but not by the SEIAA. The project is also in the Silence Zone, being within 100 m from Delhi University and Patel Chest Institute, and also in the water scarcity zone with the Sulphate content of groundwater being above the specified limit.

“As per the project proponent’s own report, the project is susceptible to subsidence and liquefaction during a major earthquake. A geotechnicalinvestigation needs to be carried out which has not been done. Traffic plans/congestion filed by the project proponent with the application is based on the statistics of July 2011,” the plea said.

Several protests- backed by student-led parties and activist groups, as well as the Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA)- have been protesting against the construction of the high-rise in the University’s North Campus.

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat Archives

Shreya Juyal

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Looking at the water quality spat through a critical lens.

The quality of tap water was found to be the worst in the national capital. Union Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, on Saturday, released the much-awaited report of the study of samples of drinking water taken from 20 states across the country, including Delhi. However, Mumbai topped the ranking released by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for quality of tap water. Delhi finished at the bottom, with 11 out of 11 samples failing on 19 parameters out of 28.

Even as the political discourse on this matter bubbles and boils, a trade organisation of Reverse Osmosis (RO) purifier makers has knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court against a ban on the use of RO filters in several parts of Delhi. The Water Quality India Association has moved the Supreme Court against a ban imposed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on the use of RO filters in Delhi as they “unnecessarily result in rejecting 80 percent of potable water”. The NGT in its order on 20th May had directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests to frame rules for manufacturing and sale of RO filters, and banned the use of RO in areas where the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) in water was already low.

City water systems are typically required to comply with the national standard for drinking water IS 10500:2012, but most obviously feel no compulsion in doing so. The lack of motivation, or initiative exhibited by them can be attributed to various factors such as the expanding reach of packaged drinking or mineral water in populous urban cities as well as the high dependence on groundwater, where the State provision of piped water systems does not exist. Moreover, most residents in urban areas do vastly rely on the water purification installation in their homes for this purpose.

On paper, the pipe water has to pass many tests such as absence of viruses, parasites, microscopic organisms and toxic substances. In practise, the lack of accountability of official agencies, lack of quality testing and the absence of legitimate data on the matter, have resulted in these specifications being far from realised.

Making it legally binding on agencies to achieve standards and empowering consumers with rights is the need of the hour, since this would not only address the issue of water quality in both urban and rural centres, it would also allow the State governments to look at four important health verticals – housing, water supply, sanitation and waste management, in a holistic manner.

Moreover, a scientific approach to water management is crucial keeping in mind that 21 cities of urban India – including many having unfit tap water – could run out of groundwater as early as 2020, as per a report by the NITI Aayog.


Featured Image Credits: Mir Suhail for News18


Bhavya Pandey 

[email protected] 

When was the last time when we managed an escapade from the fascinating content provided by the creative OTT platforms that literally has its subscribers glued to the screens? Perhaps it would be a matter of prior engagements, over the last four years the over-the-top media service has seen a significant consumption, especially with respect to the Indian market which as of now values around INR 3,500 crores and is estimated to rise by many folds to dethrone the television industry and environment altogether. An endless supply of level original content in high definition quality is easily available with an affordable subscription fee, that seems really economical from our recreational budget matrix but the cost that the environment suffers seems extremely exorbitant.

Although streaming platforms like Netflix are extremely cautious with the provision of spectator data, their ‘Prime’ presence everywhere is as shining as a ‘hot-Star’ and hence cannot be ignored like a bad ‘Spotify’ playlist. Millions of people on a daily basis consume a large amount of data on these on-demand content platforms which is binge-watched for hours, inducing a large amount of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere we actually need. According to the Shift Project, a French think-tank that claims to advance the shift to a post-carbon economy, ‘Watching a half-hour show would lead to emissions of around 1.6 kilograms of carbon dioxide, that’s equivalent to driving a car for 6.28 kilometres.’

‘Digital videos come in very large file sizes and (are) getting bigger with each new generation of higher-definition video,’ said Gary Cook from Greenpeace, which is administered to look on the IT sector’s energy footprint.

Cook further adds, ‘More data equals more energy needed to maintain a system that is ready to stream this video to your device at a moment’s notice.’

Much of the energy needed for streaming services is consumed by the data centres, which further provides data to our computers and handsets. Reportedly, the centres contribute about 0.3 per cent of all carbon emissions and the ever-increasing steadfast demand for better technologies has stressed our energy sources substantially.

As matters of fact, screens with 4K resolution use about 30 per cent more energy than high-definition screens; upgraded devices and technologies require more amounts of energy to store, process, and share data and further corresponds for increased production and consumption wastes at every level of test and research development praxis.

On the contrary, we are ought to agree that these platforms are extremely entertaining and provide a good dose of change from our monotonous lives but the stringent fact remains that in such hard times where our cities like Kanpur, Gurugram, and Delhi as heavy ‘cyber-hubs’, they also hold the title for the most polluted cities on the planet. The carbon emissions caused by the digital media markers which are expected to rise and expand significantly needs alternative renewable energy sources and judicious sustainable management.

But it won’t be enough for us to rue the online platforms and their capitalist endeavors hindering the environment without realising these suggestions that are put forth by Professor Chris Priest and Dr Dan Schien of the University of Bristol who advocate terrestrial Broadcast TV to be lot more efficient than network streaming, whereas mobile phones continue to be more energy-efficient than a TV or a PC. Professor Priest even underlines the fact that a Wi-Fi connection can be more efficient than a 3G or 4G connection; downloading videos rather than viewing it online could pose as a much better alternative in terms of energy preservation.

Significant steps, conventions and debate continue to stall at the global level with increased stress and collective responsibility being observed worldwide it would continue to be an incomplete effort if small things like these go unnoticed and are not corrected or duly accounted for.


Feature Image Credits: Lighthouse insight

Faizan Salik

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DU Beat spoke to Avinash Chanchal, Programme Specialist of Greenpeace India, about the global climate crisis and the student movement that has emerged to fight against it.

Juhi: All over the world, red flags are being raised about climate change and its consequences. How bad do you think is the situation in India?

Avinash: There is a climate crisis in India, especially with respect to air and water. In 80% of India, where air pollution calculating mechanisms are available, the air has been found to be below the standard health rates. Rivers in India are also much polluted and many small ones are even drying up. Erratic weather changes and heatwaves in India have gotten worse and studies show that we only have eleven years before it gets too late.

Juhi: Do you think the Government is adequately dealing with the climate crisis?

Avinash: The situation is not black and white. Recently, the Government has started to invest in renewable energy, and they are taking certain steps to combat climate change, but they need to do a lot more. The state Governments also need to realise the importance of this crisis and take actions against it. The Government also needs to prioritise climate preservation over big corporations.

Juhi: Do you think the general population of India is aware of climate change and the steps that need to be taken to combat it?

Avinash: Recently, more and more people have started to raise their voices, asking the Government to take action against climate change. In India, we have always had the indigenous people fighting to protect their “jal, jungal aur zameen” (water, forest, and land) but now, even the people in the cities have started to realise the need for preservation of the environment.

Juhi: What do you think about the recent emergence of the global student-led movement against climate change?

Avinash: The best part about this movement is that it is a citizen’s movement. The next generation is going to be the one to face the hard consequences of climate change, and have decided to take action against it. Greta Thunberg has managed to inspire students all over the world. Greenpeace stands in solidarity with the strikes being organised in September by students world over. They deserve a lot of credit.

Juhi: Many people in India work in industries that are harmful to the environment. And unlike big corporations such as McDonald’s, and Starbucks, the average Indian shopkeeper cannot afford to use paper bags and straws, instead of plastic. How realistic do you think, the goal to combat climate change is?

Avinash: We have always said that the move towards renewable energy needs to be phased out, creating new jobs in that sector. Also, investment these days in fossil fuel and coal mines is bad for our economy. As far as plastic is concerned, until 25 years back, before globalisation brought in big corporations and their plastic, Indians had managed to survive by using goods made out of bamboo sticks and banana leaves. Paper is not the only alternative to plastic. So, our climate preservation goals are very much possible.

Juhi: What has Greenpeace India recently been working on?

Avinash: We have many campaigns going on right now against air pollution and for renewable energy usage. We don’t want big corporations to get their hold on renewable energy; instead, we want to empower people with it. A while back, we also started a sustainable agricultural model in Bihar, which was 100% ecological. It has turned out to be a great success. Overall, we are able to do what we do, because of our volunteers and supporters, who come from all age groups. We need people to realise that the climate crisis is an immediate one and that dealing with it cannot be postponed.


Feature Image Credits: LiveMint

Juhi Bhargava

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Ahead of the nation-wide ban on plastics scheduled for 2nd October, University Grants Commission (UGC) issues guidelines to ban use of plastics in institutions, urges ‘Swachhata Hee Sewa’.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued guidelines to all the higher education institutions across the country to impose a ban on items made from single-use plastics such as bags, packaging materials, straws, and bottles. The move comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’splan of launching a nation-wide revolution against single-use plastics from 2nd October this year, which will mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi – the face of the Swachha Bharat Campaign of the nation. The guidelines issued by the UGC state that the institutions of higher education across the country should systematically ban the use of plastic in their campuses and replace plastics with “environment friendly substitutes.” The guidelines also instruct that every higher education institution in the country should ban single-use plastics in its canteens, hostels and shopping complexes in the institution’s premises.

The guidelines also mandate that institutions must “carry out awareness drives and sensitization workshops on the harmful impacts of single-use plastics, mandate all students to avoid bringing non-bio-degradable plastic items to the institution, (and) install necessary alternative facilities like water units to avoid the use of plastic.”

Prime Minister Modi, in his Independence Day speech, had urged citizens to eliminate the use of single-use plastic, besides suggesting that shopkeepers should provide eco-friendly bags to the customers as an alternative. In his monthly “Mann Ki Baat” address subsequently, he had said that the time has come for the citizens to join hands in curbing single-use plastic.

The decision to curb the use of single-use plastics has been received with a positive response by the institutions of University of Delhi, with colleges such as Maitreyi College and Jesus and Mary College initiating ‘Green Walks’ and cleanliness drives across their campuses to encourage students to keep their plastic usage to the minimum. Dhara, the Eco-Club of Daulat Ram College also organized a drive to minimize the use of plastics in their campus.

The move by the UGC has been brought about keeping in mind the emergence of plastic wastes as one of the biggest environmental concerns adversely impacting soil, water and the health of citizens at large. Excess consumption of plastics combined with limited waste disposal systems in urban areas has become the challenge for disposal systems, and has choked the water bodies in these areas. According to the UGC, educational institutions have the unique spread and influence to educate the students and households on the need for avoiding the use of plastics and hence, it has issued the guidelines.

The guidelines also ask the higher education institutions, which have adopted villages under the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, to undertake a campaign in their adopted villages till they are converted into ‘plastic-free villages’ through promoting awareness and encouraging shift to alternative products.

Feature Image Credits: The Hindu

Bhavya Pandey

[email protected]m

Indian political discourse manages to stay off climate change. Read on to find out the reasons and implications of this ignorance. 

In India, there is a water crisis in several states. Case in point: Chennai. We are a leading country in population, and have leading cities in pollution- to the effect that being a non-smoker in Delhi is no longer possible, as we all breathe in toxic fumes. Ghaziapur garbage dump is as tall as Qutub Minar, among other dumps in Kolkata, Mumbai, and Chennai. One-third of Himalayan ice caps will not survive this effect of climate change; the melting of glaciers has doubled in the last two decades. It will only increase in some time. There is close to no rain in Delhi, but the regular floods in Mumbai, Assam, and Bihar are not unheard of. 

Despite the deteriorating situations, climate change and environmental policies were still not a priority during the elections. Jobs, corruption, and security have always remained popular ideas in the country’s political discourse. This sadly reflects on what the voter-base wants to hear, and shows that we still have a long way to go. Among various reasons for this ignorance, poverty and illiteracy become major factors. For a starving family of unemployed seven or eight people, living in a makeshift tent under a flyover, a square meal will be more important. But who will be affected immediately, and to the worst effect in this situation of climate change? The majority of our population includes people with no homes, who barely make their ends meet, and they will all face the brunt of this (ignorance) the most.

The image of mother, or Maa in Hindi, is highly glorified. The mother, who is called the backbone of the family—in line with the pedestalised notions of motherhood—is only talked about when there is a need to evoke a sense of nationalism or to emphasise the proverbial self-sacrificing nature of women. But between the loud traffic and noises blaring on news channels, all the screaming voices in our country hardly say anything for our ‘Mother’ Earth. 

The crux of the matter is that India needs more environmental policies and laws to be enacted and strictly enforced. Class twelfth Political Science books talk about how after the British drained our resources, it took several years for us to realise the problem, and only much later were we able to rectify them—we are heading down this path again. It is not the time to convince people if climate change is real, because it is. 

The Ministry of Environment and Forests needs to be seen as the highest profile allotted in any cabinet. Simply because currently, environmental issues are not the focus point; our existing policies do not suffice and many of our policies allow industrialists to cut down trees in bulk, and we are ill-equipped to manage any natural disasters. 

Recently, the Garbage Café in Chhattisgarh has acknowledged an important concern. It will open next month, and take certain kilograms of garbage to provide food to people. This café will open in Ambikapur, India’s second cleanest city. A similar story was heard about a school in Assam, which provides schooling to children in exchange of plastic waste. Another revolutionary idea was the Tokyo 2020 Olympic medals having been made from 80,000 tonnes of recycled electronics and mobiles. 

Theories on the world ending in 2012 gained a lot of traction, but scientists telling us how to protect this Earth—an act for which we pointedly have time till 2030—is yet to make as big of an impact as a movie. These ideas that have been proposed are unique solutions to fighting multiple problems together. But they are yet to gain the social mileage that they deserve. The Indian political discourse needs to change and reflect today’s problems to fight the real enemy. 

Feature Image Credits: MIT Technology Review

Shivani Dadhwal

[email protected]

The English-speaking world calls me a sparrow. The Hindi speakers here in the city, call me a gauraiya. And some who can’t master the colonial accent call me an ‘eesparrow’. Whatever my name is, I don’t want you to care about it. All I want you to care about is…my life.

I and my friends have been living in Delhi since four generations. It is an extreme world. The summers are extremely hot. The people are extremely impatient. And the landscape is extremely changing. My mother says that earlier, the human nest-builders called architects made more ‘sparrow friendly’ houses in the city.

My family also used to own good property near window sills. But then the temperature rose with this thing called global warming, and all window sills began to be covered with these white boxes called air-conditioners.

Now these ACs are funny inventions. They are meant for cooling rooms of human beings. So, I too went towards the outer side of the AC hoping to get some cold air in these hot days. Ah! Little did I know the AC releases hot air from the outside! I nearly burnt myself that day.

We are much like the humans who are of the ‘displaced labour’ species.  We get no permanent nests and no permanent rest.

Ornithologists say that we, the sparrows, act as ecological indicators and reducing numbers show an imbalance in the ecology of Delhi. I don’t like these ornithology chaps. They are these experts who keep on staring at us without consent. These creeps even have a term for it: bird watching.

But I agree with them, the environment here is really messed up. And it might get more messed up for our lives if people are selfish enough to care about themselves. Along with AC, another invention killing my brothers and sisters is the mobile phone.

You see I used to live on the roof of this boy. He was nice to me, used to feed me every day. But my lungs got damaged because every darned day, he used to sit on the terrace, talking on the phone to his girlfriend. Then one day, she had dumped him. This sounded like good news but as ill my fate was, he began to spend even more time on the phone, calling his friends for consolation.

And I don’t know who will give me consolation.  Sigh.

I live on the outskirts now as they are still sparrow friendly. If this settlement also changes its environment, then I don’t know where I’ll fly off to. I can’t fly all my life. I want to settle down. After all, I’m just a house sparrow.


Shaurya Singh Thapa

[email protected]

Fast-fashion is our guilty pleasure. We scrounge across the aisles of Forever 21 and H&M looking for that velvet crop top, knowing all too well that will be out of fashion in the next six months. The cost of fast fashion is not just monetary; it is a drain on our planets finite resources and promotes wastefulness. 

Fast-fashion is addictive and the rise of social media, especially Instagram stories has made it even more important. Now that most people know what we are up to, at all times, looking good and dressing well has become even more important. The temptation of fast fashion is understandable, you can now dress like Chiara Ferragni but at a fraction of the price. This has led to the rise of an entire industry that mass-produces cheaply made clothes, often tweaked replicas of what fashion influencers appear to be wearing and sell it at a inflated prices. We end up buying these pieces, knowing well that they are shoddily made and will not stand the test of time simply because the temptation to dress fashionably is too strong.

This has resulted in us owning a large number of clothes that quickly go out of style and crowd our wardrobe. Fast fashion makes us look like clones without any sense of individuality. We are all shopping at the same place, for the same things after all. However, the biggest price for fast fashion is paid by planet earth, not us. Fast fashion churns and burns clothes at an alarming rate and  our planet simply cannot afford this kind of wastefulness and greed. According to Forbes, the rising demand for cotton is making cotton producing countries prioritise cotton production over providing clean water to its citizens. Water pollution, landfills full of clothes in styles that have now become redundant, toxic waste being released in rivers, are all results of fast fashion. Polyester, a popular choice of fabric in fast fashion releases micro-fibers that end up polluting our oceans. Fast fashion clothes are often sent to third world countries where they eat up the market of local businesses thus contributing to more unemployment. The biggest problem with fast fashion is how it treats its workers. Since companies compete with each other to sell the latest piece at the cheapest price, they end up cutting corners in terms of wages to employees. These clothes come from sweatshops in countries like Bangladesh, where ceilings fall in such workhouses and employees are paid pennies for the dollar.

Fast-fashion on its surface looks glittery and glamorous. It makes us think of well-lit stores, dainty tops, and affordable clothing but in reality, it is an ugly industry that abuses and manipulates impressionable teenagers, promotes wastefulness, and drains the resources of the planet. Fast-fashion deserves to be boycotted for its blatant abuse of underage women in Bangladesh, all the while hypocritically printing t-shirts that read “Feminist AF”. It is now time we look at things beyond face value. Multi-nationals worth billions would go to great lengths to hide their dirty secrets. It rests upon us to make the effort of putting our money where our mouth is.


Feature Image Credits: Europarl TV

Kinjal Pandey

[email protected]

The entire year is dotted with an array of International days dedicated to valid and important causes. In this list, 11th December is considered the International Mountain by the United Nations General Assembly, since 2003. According to the UN website, International Mountain Day is “observed every year with a different theme relevant to sustainable mountain development. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is the U.N. organisation mandated to lead observance of all related festivities.

The theme for 2017 is Mountain under Pressure: climate, hunger, migration. The present facts presented by the FAO say that ninety percent of the world’s mountain dwellers live in developing countries, where a vast majority lives below the poverty line and one out of three faces the threat of food insecurity.

India’s wide landscape is dotted with mountain ranges that hold breathtaking landscapes, diversity of flora and fauna, and native communities. We also have the youngest and the oldest mountains in the world – the Himalayas and the Aravalli Range. While both Himalayas and the Aravallis are very different, there is one commonality they share: both mighty ranges face acute indifference in terms of state conservation efforts.
Mountains provide about 60 to 80 percent of the world’s freshwater. This freshwater, which is under threat from overpopulation and encroachment, is stored in glaciers and lakes. As water tables in hills are depleting, the migration is increasing. According to Down to Earth, the three districts of Uttrakhand that have registered the highest migration rates are also the districts that have witnessed maximum depletion in water sources.

This year’s theme highlights the issue of migration in the mountains. In India, Uttrakhand is seeing the worse cases of migration from hills to plain. As per Census 2011, of Uttarakhand’s 16,793 villages, 1,053 have no inhabitants, and another 405 have a population of less than 10.  There are many reasons why relocation is on the rise. The reasons range from lack of better opportunities, unemployment, climate change, and government’s apathy towards hill folks.

Old and quaint villages, immortalised by the works of writers like Ruskin Bond, are dying a slow death. The picturesque places are silently fading into an oblivion as their inhabitants move to the cities. However, a few brave individual and organisations like Sushil Ramola, Pratibha Krishnaiah, and Divya Rawat are trying to infuse life back in our ghost villages. As responsible citizens, we must do our best to support their efforts.


Feature Image Credits: Niharika Dabral

Niharika Dabral

[email protected]

If you are a sensible human being who cares about global warming and likes to read as well, we have a list of four best reads on climate change that will empower and inform the environmentalist in you.

1. Down to Earth: Edited by Indian environmentalist and political activist Sunita Narayan, Down to Earth is a fortnightly magazine on Environment and Science. It was first published in May 1992 under the editorship of Mr. Anil Agarwal and with the help of the Society for Environmental Communications. Initially, the magazine came out in English; today it comes in Hindi as well. You can download the PDF version of the print copy. For more than 25 years now, Down to Earth has been India’s most credible publication on the environment.

Image Credits: Down to Earth

2. Aaj Bhi Khare Hain Talaab: Aaj Bhi Khare Hain Talaab (Ponds Are Still Relevant) is written by late Shri Anupam Mishr. Numerous NGO’s, environmental agencies, and government organisations have credited this masterpiece as a handbook on water conservation. Written after about a decade of field research and experience this book catalogues the indigenous ways and techniques of water harvesting and management systems of India. It is one of the only books after ‘My Experiments with Truth’ to be available in Braille.

Image Credits: Lalantop
Image Credits: Lalantop

3. Silent Spring: Written by American marine biologist, author, and conservationist Rachel Louise Carson, Silent Spring is often considered the most influential and important work after the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. First published on 27th September 1962, this environmental science book highlighted the harm caused by extensive use of pesticides. The arguments and proofs presented in the book resulted in a nationwide ban in U.S.A. on DDT for agricultural uses.


4. The Great Derangement, Climate Change and the Unthinkable: Witten by one of India’s greatest writers, Amitav Ghosh this nonfiction book scrutinizes “our inability at the level of literature, history, and politics to grasp the scale and violence of climate change”. The 284-page long book is divided into three parts: fiction, history, and politics. However, unlike the other books on climate change, The Great Derangement lacks scientific research, even then Ghosh’s impeccable insights and writing make this a great read.

Image Credits: Kitaab
Image Credits: Kitaab


Feature Image Credits: Savio

Niharika Dabral

[email protected]