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KumKum Dasgupta

KumKum Dasgupta is with the opinion section of Hindustan Times. She writes on education, environment, gender, urbanisation and civil society.

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Articles by KumKum Dasgupta

Policies and People | Why businesses should care about biodiversity

As ecosystems decline, businesses face significant risks, including higher raw material costs and a backlash from consumers and investors

Many business activities, especially activities related to resource extraction and cultivation, contribute to the pressures driving biodiversity loss. But this crisis also creates an opportunity. (Shutterstock)
Updated on Mar 21, 2023 07:43 AM IST

Policies and People | Solar: India doing well, but states must address barriers

Karnataka and Gujarat are making the most progress in preparedness and commitment to the transition to clean electricity. Laggard states need to shape up.

Rajasthan (in pic) and Tamil Nadu have started their clean electricity transition, but progress has not been consistent across all the dimensions. (AFP)
Published on Mar 09, 2023 06:41 PM IST

Policies and People | As the world heats up, can district cooling be a solution?

Increasing demand for individual cooling contributes to the climate crisis by emitting large amounts of planet-warming gases. In such a scenario, can district cooling networks provide a sustainable cooling solution?

A district cooling system (DCS) is a modern, efficient way to air condition a network of buildings in cities or campuses, erasing the need for individual ACs. (Shutterstock)
Published on Feb 10, 2023 04:06 PM IST

Policies and People | Solar Decathlon India: Pushing real estate to go green

The decarbonisation of the real estate sector is key for India to attain its net-zero goals. But India doesn’t have enough workers to design and build climate-resilient buildings. Solar Decathlon India trying to bridge this gap.

Homes and workplaces are our first defence against the impacts of the climate crisis, such as heat waves, storms, and floods. India needs climate-resilient, net-zero-energy and water buildings to achieve our 2030 and 2070 goals. (Shutterstock)
Updated on Feb 06, 2023 10:37 AM IST

Policies and People | Joshimath crisis: Invest in mountain-specific planning

There is an urgent need to develop land-use planning guidelines for mountain areas at the state-level, and raise public awareness about risks associated with urban development in ecologically fragile areas

A man shows cracks in his house at Joshimath. (PTI)
Updated on Jan 13, 2023 08:28 PM IST

Policies and People | Heritage conservation can drive climate action

The Roxburgh Project envisages restoring and sustainably rehabilitating an ensemble of heritage buildings in the 273-acre gardens and utilise the historic gardens as a lab for climate crisis awareness and environmental education.

Inside the Botanic Garden stands a 230-year-old dilapidated building called the Roxburgh Building and the herbarium that once had the richest collection of plant specimens in the world. (Biswarup Ganguly, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
Published on Dec 08, 2022 07:10 PM IST

Policies and People | Water is key to climate action. Prioritise it

The world needs to get water-smart. Everyone has a role to play, and there is no time to lose in a climate crisis-hit world

The future of water security in India is in the hands of the communities. Educate them and ensure their largescale participation. (AFP)
Updated on Dec 02, 2022 02:38 PM IST

Policies and People | Why COP27 is important for COP15

Scientific studies have shown that the climate crisis and biodiversity loss are connected. If the world doesn’t have successful outcomes at COP27, it will find it challenging to achieve the aims of the UN Biodiversity Conference (aka CBD COP15) to be held next month in Montreal

COP15 is as important as COP27 because leaders will be in final negotiations on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. (Reuters)
Published on Nov 18, 2022 04:13 PM IST

Policies and People | As COP 27 begins, the Asian solar sector shines bright

India, China, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam are among the top 10 countries with the highest solar capacity in 2021. A decade ago, only two Asian countries made it to the list.

India has seen incredible growth, increasing its share of solar capacity from 0.07 GW in 2010 to 50GW in 2021, but distributed and rooftop solar target needs a mega push. (Representative Image)
Published on Nov 10, 2022 07:18 PM IST

Policies and People | Is the wildlife act criminalising forest communities?

The Wild Life Protection Act of 1972 is 50 years old, and changes are in the offing. A new working paper evaluating the law's impact says it has criminalised the lives and livelihoods of Dalits, Adivasis, Bahujan, and Vimukta communities. The final report will be out in November.

The CPA team studied 1,414 forest offences from 2016-20 (from registers maintained by the forest department), 780 arrests from 2011-2020, and 129 FIRs from 2016-2020. (Satyabrata Tripathy/HT Photo/Representative Image)
Published on Oct 28, 2022 04:40 PM IST

Policies and People | How Pune and Dhaka are tackling the climate emergency

The two winners of the C40 Cities Bloomberg Philanthropies Awards focus on immediate climate action illustrate the power of cities to be doers, not delayers, setting a new level of ambition.

MSRTCs first e-bus, Shivai. (HT Photo)
Updated on Oct 21, 2022 05:38 PM IST

Policies and People | Mumbai-Doon: Why this green warrior is on a 2000-km yatra

Padma Vibhushan and Padma Shri awardee and well-known environmentalist Anil Joshi is on a seven-state, 40-day cycle yatra, and he has one message: India must find the right balance between pragati (development) and prakriti (nature)

Padma Vibhushan and Padma Shri awardee Anil Joshi and co-cyclists at Khalghat, Madhya Pradesh. (Courtesy: HESCO)
Published on Oct 13, 2022 08:13 PM IST

Policies and People | How AI is helping India’s poor become climate-resilient

Heatwaves are becoming frequent and intense in India. SEEDS, a non-profit, and Microsoft have developed an AI model that processes large volumes of data to provide risk information at a hyper-local level to vulnerable communities

Sunny Lives. (@SeedsIndia/Twitter)
Published on Sep 22, 2022 06:53 PM IST

Policies and People | Controlling stray dog population: Vadodara shows the way

India has the largest number of strays worldwide, thanks to a lack of sustained and well-executed sterilisation programmes. A project in Vadodara shows a way to control the population in a humane and legal manner. Other cities must take note

The only humane and legal way to control the stray dog population is to undertake proper and regular sterilisation drives. Cities will do well to emulate the Vadodara plan.(Humane Society International)
Updated on Sep 18, 2022 11:05 AM IST

Policies and People | Green finance: Miles to go and promises to keep

Green finance flows are falling far short of India’s current needs. In 2019/ 2020, tracked green finance was ₹309 thousand crore ($44 billion) per annum, approximately a fourth of India’s needs, says a new report

Addressing the opening ceremony, Bhupender Yadav said that the current pace and scale of climate finance from developed countries is not matching the global aspiration to combat the climate crisis. (PTI)
Updated on Sep 12, 2022 12:28 PM IST

Policies and People | Why you should worry about sand mining

From glass to urban infrastructure, from silicon chips to food and pharmaceutical products, sand has been used in mind-numbing volumes. It is the second most resource worldwide, and is being used faster than it can be naturally replenished.

In addition to the loss of this precious, non-renewable natural resource, it is also responsible for the killing of people who oppose or expose such episodes. (Samir Jana/HT Archive)
Updated on Sep 01, 2022 05:17 PM IST

Policies and People | Don’t destroy the Himalayas for tourism gains

Earlier this week, the Uttarakhand High Court stopped the state’s ambitious proposal to open 40 mountains and trails for trekkers. This decision sends out the right signal

In a climate-hit world, India must do its bit — and more — to save these important and fragile mountain ecosystems, not destroy them for short-term economic and political gains. (Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo)
Updated on Sep 12, 2022 06:50 PM IST

Policies and People | To save forests, protect those who guard them

A parliamentary panel report has recommended State awards, better salaries, and proper amenities for forest guards. The central and state governments must take note and act quickly

Unlike Army men and police personnel, forest guards don’t get special allowances for hardship postings, even though they stay in the wilderness almost throughout their careers. (Shutterstock)
Updated on Sep 12, 2022 06:48 PM IST

Policies and People | Step up efforts to rescue SDGs

The world is at the midway point of a 14-year-long effort to achieve the transformative 2030 Agenda of sustainable development. A new UN report on the progress of SDGs paints a sobering picture

To achieve SDGs, world governments must focus on urgent transformative action and evidence-based approaches on a global scale. (Shutterstock)
Updated on Jul 15, 2022 01:08 PM IST

Policies and People | Don't blame only the monsoons for landslides

With the monsoon entering the northern part of India, the season of landslides has started. But it would be unfair to blame heavy rains for these disasters. We are to blame too

Rescue operations underway after a massive landslide hit the Tupul railway construction camp in Noney district of Manipur. (PTI)
Updated on Jul 20, 2022 03:43 PM IST

Policies and People | Urban farming improves climate resilience

With massive urbanisation and a growing population, fertile lands are diminishing every day. Urban agriculture increases access to healthy, affordable, fresh produce, and also prevents over-heating of urban environments

ULBs could provide standards for the use of terraces, balconies, and open spaces within private/cooperative housing society compounds for urban agricultural use. (Shutterstock)
Updated on Jul 02, 2022 12:13 PM IST

Policies and People | Cheetahs in Kuno: Who gains, who loses

The cheetah introduction plan has sparked a controversy. While eventually, everything may fall in place, there is no harm in answering the project-related questions from scientists and conservationists

Unveiling the cheetah plan, Union minister for environment, forest and climate change, Bhupender Yadav said that “Project Cheetah aims to bring back independent India’s only extinct large mammal – the cheetah. (Shutterstock)
Updated on Jun 24, 2022 03:53 PM IST

Policies and People | Climate misinformation: A clear and present danger

There is clear evidence of the challenge, and the failure to stem mis- and disinformation online has allowed junk science, climate delayism, and attacks on climate figures to become mainstream. Governments, regulators, and the media must stem the tide.

To solve the climate crisis, we must also tackle the information crisis. (Shutterstock)
Updated on Jun 18, 2022 12:20 AM IST

Policies and People | The Kedarnath garbage dump photo should be a wake-up call

With increasing urbanisation and tourism in the Himalayas, the harmful impacts of growing volumes of unmanaged waste are growing. Decentralised waste management is the way forward

The Healing Himalayas Foundation, led by Pradeep Sangwan (in the photograph), is building material recovery facilities in remote locations as part of its decentralised waste management plan. An MRF is a plant that separates and prepares single-stream recycling materials to be sold to end buyers
Updated on Jun 04, 2022 11:54 AM IST

Policies and People | Involve local communities in river-cleaning programmes

It will help foster broader environmental concerns among the general public, subsequently creating pressure to comply with environmental laws and regulations.

One of the ways to rejuvenate the river is to decrease the pollution load on the Yamuna, and also involve riverine communities in river-cleaning programmes. (File Photo)
Published on May 19, 2022 02:20 PM IST

Policies and People | Involve students in monitoring climate crisis impacts

Children worldwide have inherited a problem that is not of their making. There's still time to turn things around, but we must act now. Educational institutions in Kerala show the way

Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, teaches students how to set up a rain gauge. (Eby Immanuel)
Updated on May 05, 2022 04:39 PM IST

Polices and People | Earth Day 2022: India needs a water literacy movement

Begin a large-scale campaign to make citizens aware of India’s strong legacy of water conservation, build their capacity to protect local traditional water harvesting systems, and encourage them to take up water conservation.

Home to a fifth of the world’s population, India has only 4% of the world’s water. (Arun Sankar/AFP)
Published on Apr 21, 2022 05:22 PM IST

Policies and People | Invest in cool roofs to beat the extreme heat challenge

Cool roofs reflect sunlight and absorb less heat. Depending on the setting, cool roofs can help keep indoor temperatures lower by 2 to 5°C. They must be mainstreamed into state and city heat action planning

The roof is an important component of the building envelope that directly impacts the building’s energy needs and the thermal comfort of the occupants. (MHT and NRDC)
Updated on Apr 15, 2022 12:15 PM IST

Policies and People: How India is learning to manage its waste

While waste management is a huge challenge, many cities have shown progress by implementing robust models of service delivery coupled with innovative initiatives

Officials said the 450,000 metric tonnes of legacy waste lying at the Pratap Vihar landfill is also expected to be cleared by April. (HT archive)
Updated on Mar 31, 2022 08:25 PM IST

Policies and People | Are marine heatwaves affecting India’s monsoons?

Research by Indian scientists shows there is a close link between marine heatwaves and atmospheric circulation and rainfall. To soften the impact of these changes, India must scale up its observation capacity and climate resilience efforts 

Marine heatwaves are periods of extremely high temperatures in the ocean, which leads to coral bleaching, seagrass destruction, and loss of kelp forests, affecting the fisheries sector adversely. (Shutterstock)
Updated on Mar 25, 2022 06:22 PM IST
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