India’s North East region is one of the most strategically located region in the nation bordered by a number of countries and connected with the rest of the India through a small enclave. The region borders Nepal, Bhutan, China, Myanmar and Bangladesh and is also known as the gateway to East Asia and South East Asia. Its strategic importance is further increased with India’s ‘Look East’ policy. However, the region as a whole has been somewhat neglected by the government and the media.
Trade with the South East Asian countries mainly via sea has seen a rise under India’s renewed policy of better engagement with the eastern nations, but the land connectivity has been ignored which can really help boost the development in north east. Negligence has been observed over all this time for the whole region including the eastern neighbour Myanmar. It is well known that in 1947 India was partitioned forming Pakistan, but very few know the fact that in 1937 Myanmar was divided from British India. Since Independence, India has not shown much interest in its divided arm in the east.
“This is the first article in the series of North East India. We believe North East Region of India is somewhat neglected in the mainstream media, this is an initiative by The World Reporter to bring out the developments, culture, and issues faced by the people here to the rest of India and the world whatever is possible in our capacity. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay connected.“
A more attentive and evaluated approach specially designed for north east is needed for the sustainable development of the region as simply implementing Gujarat or Bihar model will not work for this nature loving and culturally diverse place where each state has its own requirement. One of the biggest step taken by the government is the setting up of the campus of India’s most prestigious research and academic institute of technology, IIT. Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, founded in the year 1994, is among the first seven premium IITs which developed with time and established themselves as the seven pearls of India. IITG has been officially recognised as an Institute of National Importance by the government of India.
|IIT Guwahati on the bank of River Brahmaputra|
Unlike other IITs which are situated in the main cities, IITG is located in a remote area which has induced it to become one of the most active IITs to take up sustainable development projects in the greater region surrounding it. From better amenities and lifestyle in the city of Guwahati to improved management of natural resources and renewal energy, various professors and their team are working for preferable infrastructure and lifestyle that would not just help the north east, but whole country in the long term.
Dr. Arup Kumar Sarma of the Dept. of Civil Engg. with his team, in one of his ambitious project, assessed the groundwater fluoride contamination in the city of Guwahati. He took his study forward to study the iron, fluoride, arsenic contamination in the groundwater and its controlling measures in the affected regions of the north eastern states.
Possible groundwater fluoride contamination motivated Dr. A.K Sarma to undertake another project for the utilization of surface water for water supply in Greater Guwahati, this will not only restore the water table, but will also help study the fluoride contamination problem.
Numerous efforts are being made for the better management of north east’s life line, River Brahmaputra and to save the river from human activities. River Brahmaputra is ideally the longest river of India, However, it is known with a different name, Tsangpo, in Tibet making River Ganga the longest river flowing through India. Unlike many rivers in the Indian cities which are dry and dirty, the view of Brahmaputra on the way to IITG coming from the Guwahati city is spectacular with its large volume of water flowing really fast and its massive breadth containing small river islands in it.
Dept. of Civil Engineering of IITG has conducted several hydrographic surveys in the River of Brahmaputra, Ganga, Mekong and their tributaries for various projects like providing measures against flood, draught and river bank erosion.
Soil erosion along the river banks have caused great concerns in the region. According to official estimates from 1954 to 2003, Assam has lost four lakh hectares of land to erosion. Large chunks of land in many tea estates situated near the banks of rivers have been lost because of massive erosion due to the change in course of rivers in the three districts. Another aftermath of soil erosion is the loss in the area of Majuli Island. This island, situated in the River Brahmaputra, is the largest river island in the world which had a total area of 1,250 sq. Km. Now it has significantly come down to mere 421.65 sq. Km, a loss of nearly 66%! Dr. Arup Kumar Sarma’s team is devoted to study the erosion in the Braided Channel of the Majuli Island with a mathematical model.
North East region consists of some of the most difficult terrain, roads and railways are still intact where British engineers had left. Seeing this, north east can take advantage of its high volume rivers for making efficient waterways. IITG’s Civil Engg Dept. feels that North East India’s water resources are underutilized and a number of projects can be taken to provide the local people its benefits efficiently.
|River Brahmaputra, photo by Sagarika Dev Roy|
IIT Guwahati is studying the scope of developing the River System of Brahmaputra as an Efficient Waterway and development of inland water transport in the east and north east India. Another study is examining the scope of linking various rivers and its tributaries in the region for flood mitigation and for efficient use of the fresh water as the river at last goes and merge with the Bay of Bengal Sea making the water unusable for drinking.
There have been growing concerns after an IITG study has found degrading water quality in the tributaries of Brahmaputra-Barak Basin. IITG is developing an environmental management strategy to tackle the issue as early as possible.
In more such research projects, IITG is studying the scope and constraints of reservoir project in North East India. In 2004, IITG team lead by Dr. A. K. Sarma conducted field investigation for developing a Detailed Project Report for a mini hydroelectric project in a remote area of Manipur.
A study conducted by IIT Guwahati on the impact of climate change on the water resources of the Brahmaputra basin brought to the light that there would be symbolic changes in rainfall pattern and temperature in the future. “High intensity rainfall of shorter duration and longer dry spells will affect the flood and drought scenario,” said, The chairman of the North Eastern Tea Association (NETA), Bidyananda Barkakoty. This will cause significant damage to the tea crops in Assam and north east which is the most famous black tea in the world. Growing concerns in the tea industries, in 2011, tea gardens in Golaghat, Karbi Anglong and Jorhat districts approached IITG for developing rainwater harvesting infrastructure for better nurturing of tea crops tackling climate changes.
In the area of sustainable development, quality of lifestyle and natural resources a lot of attempts and achievements have been made by the IITG, but that is not where its role ends. IITG has also taken up the challenge of refining and nurturing the most promising resource, the human resource.
No doubt every year IITG produces first class international standard science and engineering graduates, IITG has also dived into giving short term management and training courses for local students with Indian Institute of Management Shillong. IIM Shillong was the earliest addition to the well-known already established six IIMs across India. Thus, North East region received again the seventh campus of most prestigious management institute of India, IIM. IIT-G and IIM-S together will be providing courses encompassing subjects like management, entrepreneurship, tourism and hospitality with an attempt to stop the emigration of youngsters from the North-East to other parts of India, while also helping them refine their skills for better employment opportunities.
In a similar program with a motive of creating entrepreneurs in north east IITG has setup Entrepreneurial Development Cell (EDC) which is a special interest group under Technical Board of the Students Gymkhana Council responsible for activities and initiatives to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship amongst the IITG community as well as the youth of North-East India. The EDC organizes lectures, events and workshops to create a platform for students to realize their entrepreneur potential. Such a program will help develop businesses and create more jobs in the region helping prevent the exodus of youngsters from North East to other parts of India.
In a society where to most of us development means construction of malls, high rise residential buildings and hi-tech office complexes, in North East, IITG has made sure that every development benefits every class of the society without disturbing the nature, which is most revered by all of us.
All Steam Ahead as Europe Goes Green
Red, amber, green: and Europe is off on its big green venture. Yep, it’s true, Europe is finally on the right track in regards to future-proofing against climate change. To see just how it is doing this and what it is doing in regards to this, make sure to read on.
The abolition of fossil fuels by 2050
Some of Europe’s biggest countries are seeking to go fossil fuel free by 2050, and it’s brilliant. Denmark, a country widely regarded as being a leader in the struggle for a green future, is one such country seeking to do this. Yes, it might be ambitious. And yes, Danish officials openly admit that it is an ambitious venture. But, this old Nordic country is going full steam ahead with its ‘Energy Strategy 2050’ enterprise anyway in the hopes that within 32 years the whole country will be completely dependant on things that do not hurt our world. In fact, Denmark is even seeking to go one step further and go completely cashless. Well done, Denmark!
Cities are building green infrastructures
It appears that many European cities have seen the light in regards to what they need to do to save our planet and are now building green infrastructures to hold themselves up in the future. Yep, many cities around this famous old continent are changing the habit of a lifetime and going against a grain that has been in place for thousands upon thousands of years by swapping out their old, harmful infrastructures and ushering in new, safer ones to replace them. Bratislava, Slovakia is one such example: it has had a complete overhaul of its transport system and only runs low-emission buses, tree planting has become a serious occupation, roofs around the city have been made green and rainwater retention facilities have popped up everywhere. Yep, the Slovakian capital really has built a green infrastructure, despite a tight budget, and many other European cities are following suit.
Many big cities are clambering for green funding
Speaking of tight budgets, there seemingly is one across the whole of Europe when it comes to going green because many cities within the continent are having to clamber for funding in regards to it. But, thankfully, having to do all of this isn’t stopping these cities from doing so and going as green as they can. Yep, cities across the European continent are using a combination of EEA grants, municipal funding, crowdfunding and green bonds in order to go green: Copenhagen has done so and used its funding to upgrade is floodwater management and lighting systems to make them more eco-friendly, Paris has done so and used its funding to plant in excess of 20,000 trees and Essen, Germany has done so and used its funding to be named European Green Capital for 2017.
So, as you can see, the historic old continent of Europe is more than willing to embrace the future and, more specifically, the future needs of our planet. Let’s just hope that the rest of the world and its leaders *cough* Trump *cough* follow suit before it’s all too late.
Will The World Ever Make The Renewable Energy Shift?
Contrary to global warming deniers, the world is getting warmer and humans are playing a big part. But, just as we exacerbated the problem, we can come up with the solution. In fact, there are numerous fixes such as solar, wind and geothermal energy to name but three. Yet, China still churns out fossil fuels at a frightening rate and Delhi is shrouded in poisonous smog. Even though the people in charge and the public understand the shift, there doesn’t seem to be any hurry. So, will the world ever get to the necessary levels to combat climate change? The answer is yes, and here are the reasons why.
Hardliners Turning Soft
In the past, the governments of China, India and Russia were against slowing down energy production. Although the USA and the rest of Europe were not angels, they were at least trying to come to a compromise. Now, as the situation escalates, the hardliners are beginning to see the need to change their turn. The Paris Agreement, even without the US, is a huge potential turning point as the most powerful nations look to set an example. Sure, America might not agree, but the fact that the majority of the powerful players are on board is a positive sign.
The Sleeper Stats
It’s easy to make a sweeping statement such as fossil fuels are and always will be the leading resource of energy. And, that is true to a degree as coal still leads the way. However, signs from 2015 onwards have been encouraging. In fact, that’s an understatement because they have been music to the ears. According to the IEA, more than 50% of the world’s energy in 2015 was developed by renewables. The better news is that the stats for the end of 2017 suggest the gap to coal is closing rapidly.
Often, global warming centres on governments and countries and what they can do to change. But, the truth is that everyone on the planet has a role to play to lower their carbon footprint. Whereas that was almost impossible to do in the past, it’s far easier today. Not only has renewable equipment reduced in cost, but companies like Wunder Capital now exist to provide funding. Then, there are the common tools, such as energy-efficient light bulbs, which chip away at CO2 one Watt at a time. Finally, there is the education factor and the fact that homeowners want to make a difference. And yes – it’s already happening.
When renewable energy sources first appeared, they were less than well equipped to deal with the level of output. As a result, people lambasted them as useless and not the way forward. However, patience has proven this to be false as they have increased dramatically over time. Now, solar panels and wind turbines are as efficient as they are helpful to the planet. Because the technology will only get better, it’s logical to assume the results will go the same way.
There’s no doubt it’s a long and tough battle for the planet, but the signs look positive. And, they are due to get better.
Who Will Save The Planet: The People Or Big Business?
Are you worried about climate change and the general state of the planet? If you read our previous article on the subject, you certainly will be and if not, then perhaps it’s time you caught up. The shorthand version is that the world is slowly dying. American talk show host and political comedian, Bill Maher, recently questioned why innovators like Elon Musk are so fascinated by the idea of living on Mars. Instead, he asserted, we should be focusing on saving this planet and correcting the damage done to it. Scientists are constantly trying to warn us that we need to do more to save the planet, but who are they talking about here?
The question we want to answer today: who has the best hope of saving the world and fixing the environment? Is it big business or the individual homeowners? In other words, should we look to the ant or the grasshopper? As the old fable goes, ants may be small but in large numbers they might be capable of far more than the larger, strong Grasshopper. To answer this question we first need to look at the statistics.
The Maths Behind The Melt Down
Here’s an interesting statistic for you to mull over.One child per family, according to experts is the equivalent of 58.6 tonnes of CO2 carbon emissions annually. That’s right, just by having kids and growing your family you are causing the destruction of the world. Try not to take that too personally because actually everyone is guilty.
However, before you get too distressed about this, let’s shine a light on another stat. 100 companies in the world are causing 71 percent of the global emissions that are currently destroying the environment. Essentially, this sends the message that we shouldn’t be trying to change the minds and lifestyles of the individuals but rather the businesses that are slowly killing the planet.
Of course, it is worth considering that while that might seem like there’s just a few bad eggs we are in the age of the massive conglomerates where monopolies are common. Just this month we learned Disney was attempting to buy up Rupert Murdoch’s pride and joy while Warner Bros. continued their efforts to merge with AT&T. What does this tell us? Is it really that surprising that – in comparative terms – a few companies are causing most of the pollution. Absolutely not, but that doesn’t leave the random individual completely blameless. Indeed, it’s fair to say that most people these days own a car or two. A typical vehicle will create over 4 tonnes of carbon emissions per year. Imagine how much damage you’re doing by driving alone.
The Businesses Must Act
One train of thought here then is that it is the businesses that must make changes for us to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Believe it or not, that is starting to happen, at least in some areas of the world. In Denmark for instance, the government has set high stands for companies and the level of carbon emissions they can product. Infact, there is a heavy focus here on renewable energy which actually, all businesses should be looking towards now as a solution.
As well as this, businesses are in the perfect position to introduce innovative technology and processes that could make everything more efficient. Ultimately, this could start at the manufacturing level and we can take jet engines as an example here. So, during the manufacturing of turbine engines, producers now have the possibility of using Laser Light technologies to drill tiny holes into the engine, thus allowing it to cool more effectively. With this feature, the engine uses less energy and is a lot more efficient. For that to happen though, the producer has to use that method. The company creating the planes has to buy from that producer. But, if all this does occur then ultimately it impacts various different processes in the world. Flying from New York to London is suddenly a lot more eco friendly. So, perhaps the phrase should be ‘it starts at business’ rather than it starts at home.
After all, it is the businesses that are going to have to change to ensure that the impact of climate change and other environmental factors are reversed. One could even argue that if every business began to take a hard stance on correcting the impact that their model is having on the environment the issue would be resolved overnight. But, let’s take a closer look at the individual.
Power Of The Public
There are a few reasons why ultimately it is the public that has the power to change the impact we are currently having on the environment. First, of all, there’s that ant, grasshopper fable. There are a lot more people in the world than there are businesses. If everyone changed their energy usage the issues with carbon emissions wouldn’t disappear but they would be significantly reduced.
The public also have the power of the buyer. They can decide and determine who they want to buy from. If the public started turning their backs on businesses that continued to pollute they would have no choice but to act and to change their ways.
As well as this, we have now reached the point where small gestures won’t be enough. As the world population continues to grow, it’s clear that the biggest threat to environment is not carbon emissions but people. Governments need to act swiftly and start taking appropriate measures that may seem severe like limits on the number of children that people can have. While this might seem drastic we need drastic actions now, if the report by 15000 scientists is to be believed.
Perhaps then this is a trick question. The power to save us isn’t in the hands of the people or the corporations. The power to save us is in the hands of the governments around the world. But of course, governments work, at least they should, in the best interests of the people. As such, if you want to save the planet we really only have one question. How loud can you shout to make sure your voice is heard on this issue?
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