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Report Dated March 30, 2017 8:28 PM
Activists are calling for the swift enactment of a new law against child trafficking, a problem that has plagued the country for decades. Children, largely from poor families, are trafficked for manual labour,sex work, adoption, and to be sold as child brides. Some children have been sent overseas. The victims are taken from villages to cities where they work in factories or serve as domestic help. In may cases they are not paid, making them slaves. In several instances, the children went missing without trace. Last year, 9104 children were trafficked in India, an increase of 27% from 2015, government data shows. But the numbers did not reveal the full picture because a lack of data has made it difficult to even report the figures correctly. Child trafficking was largely caused by social media and economic equality. Children in rural areas are particularly vulnerable because of poverty and lack of employment opportunities. Existing law against human trafficking, introduced in 1990s, has failed because it is reactive rather than preventive, and adequate protection by the authorities rarely extends to rural areas, enabling child trafficking to flourish.
Report Dated March 29, 2017 7:00 PM
Officials and civilians take an oath for a clean Ganga river on the banks of the river in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. A court in northern India had given the status of living entities to the Ganga and the Yamuna river to save them from further harm caused by widespread pollution. In 1985 the first Ganga Action Plan was launched. Two action plans have been completed and hundreds of crores spent since, but the river still remains heavily polluted. Under the banner of the Namami Ganga programme, the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) – tasked with the overall planning, implementation and monitoring of the project – was transferred from the ministry of environment and forests to the ministry of water resources (renamed as the ministry of water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation). Then the NGRBA itself was replaced by the National Council for River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) or the NCRG. For a mechanism as elaborate as this, the government seems woefully unprepared to even diagnose the problem – leave alone implement solutions. The people implementing the project know nothing. They don’t know how many polluting industries there are, what is the length of the polluted stretches, or the number of villages dependent on the river. There is lack of clarity on the number of major drains that discharge pollutants into the Ganga and its main tributaries. The Ganga basin, the largest river basin in the country, serves Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, and parts of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. The Modi government had promised the country a clean Ganga by 2020. The water resources minister set an even more ambitious deadline of 2018. With just a year to go, the country should be pardoned if it doesn’t hold its breath.
Report Dated March 27, 2017 7:30 PM
Police arrested eight bone smugglers in West Bengal after 365 bones were discovered in a village. The bones, are believed to have been taken from decomposing bodies found in the state’s rivers. The bones had been cleaned with hydrogen peroxide for sale locally to doctors and medical colleges. In 1985, the Indian government outlawed the export of human remains. That move came on the back of pressure from human rights groups, which deemed the trade unethical. The decision forced many companies, to switch to manufacturing and selling plastic skeletons. Prior to the ban, India was the leading source of human skeletons used in laboratories and medical colleges across the globe. The ban didn’t bring an end to the trade in human corpses however. Instead, a black market began to thrive with West Bengal right at the center. The only legal way to obtain a human skeleton is through hospitals, which use the bones of bodies left unclaimed. However, smugglers often find a way to forge the necessary paperwork.
Report Dated March 26, 2017 6:59 PM
Women with their faces painted on the 60th Earth Hour (March 26). In an effort to draw attention to protecting the planet and raise awareness about climate change, Earth Hour was celebrated from 8.30 pm to 9.30 pm local time across the world. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the event, which saw millions of people plunging into darkness for an hour. People from 7,000 cities in 172 countries participated in the event. Across the world, many iconic structures, buildings and sky-scrapers participated in the event as well by dimming their lights – Burj Khalifa in Dubai, London’s Big Ben and Houses of Parliament, the Colosseum in Rome, Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, the Eiffel Tower, Paris, Moscow’s Kremlin and Red Square and the Pyramids of Egypt. The initiative was first introduced in Australia by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to protest human activity driven carbon dioxide emissions, resulting in global warming. In the last ten years, Earth Hour has turned into the world’s largest movement for the environment.
Report Dated March 23, 2017 6:39 PM
More than three-quarters of India’s rural population depends on groundwater for drinking, but the country’s aquifers are not only under tremendous stress, the quality of water they provide is also deteriorating. Government data says 94% of the population has access to improved water sources but this number does not tell the whole story. If you dig deeper and question the quality of available water, the crisis becomes murkier and more dangerous. Surface water contamination receives a lot of attention because of the visible pollution. India has over 30 million groundwater extraction points and barring a handful, in all states a majority of wells have registered declining water levels in the pre-monsoon months over a decade from 2006 to 2015. Falling groundwater levels are only going to make things worse, according to experts. It can lead to an increase in the concentration of arsenic in the water. Though iron is the biggest groundwater chemical contaminant in India, the number of habitations, or household clusters, affected by this problem have decreased. Iron in water is not known to cause any severe health impacts.