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 | 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)
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
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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)
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
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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)
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
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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)
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
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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)
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
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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)
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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Policies and People | On climate adaptation, what India needs to do

  • India must develop new routes for raising internal finance for adaptation and localise climate science for administrators and communities
High temperatures would also hurt economic growth. (PTI)
High temperatures would also hurt economic growth. (PTI)
Updated on Mar 19, 2022 09:46 AM IST
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Policies and People | Climate crisis: Draw up a policy on internal migration

  • India needs a comprehensive policy on internal migration as sudden and large-scale displacements due to the climate crisis are likely to become frequent
Cyclone Amphan was the largest source of displacement in 2020. (PTI)
Cyclone Amphan was the largest source of displacement in 2020. (PTI)
Updated on Mar 10, 2022 11:14 PM IST
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Policies and People | The RE sector must be mindful of its impact on people

  • As India transitions towards a low-carbon economy, it is critical that its future energy systems are designed to foreground ecological health, human dignity and well-being 
While the growth of RE is enabling the transition towards a low-carbon economy, it, like the old fossil fuel economy, is also putting pressure on resources, albeit on a relatively lower scale than conventional systems. (Reuters)
While the growth of RE is enabling the transition towards a low-carbon economy, it, like the old fossil fuel economy, is also putting pressure on resources, albeit on a relatively lower scale than conventional systems. (Reuters)
Published on Mar 02, 2022 09:45 AM IST
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Policies and People | What’s fuelling anti-coal mining protests in West Bengal

  • The growing resistance against the Deocha-Pachami coal mine shows the people’s lack of trust in the Indian State’s ability to carry out a fair and equitable rehabilitation process
Representatives of the affected communities speak at a press conference in Kolkata, February 8, 2022(Birbhum Jomi, Jeebon, Jeebika O Prokriti Bachao Mahasabha)
Representatives of the affected communities speak at a press conference in Kolkata, February 8, 2022(Birbhum Jomi, Jeebon, Jeebika O Prokriti Bachao Mahasabha)
Updated on Feb 17, 2022 06:28 PM IST
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Policies and People | UP '22: Despite public interest, no space for green issues

  • India’s most populous state faces a plethora of environmental challenges. But conventional narratives around caste, religion and region have once again elbowed out green issues
Today, the river Ken is part of the destructive river-linking project.(Ashok Dutta/HT Photo)
Today, the river Ken is part of the destructive river-linking project.(Ashok Dutta/HT Photo)
Updated on Feb 10, 2022 03:21 PM IST
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Policies and People | Jakarta to Nusantara: Lessons for other megacities   

Indonesia is relocating its capital from Jakarta to Nusantara. One of the main reasons for this move is the degraded environment of the present capital. Other mega cities must take note and invest in environmental protection and climate resilience
Youths use an inflatable raft to move through a flooded neighborhood in Jakarta, Indonesia, 2020 (AP)
Youths use an inflatable raft to move through a flooded neighborhood in Jakarta, Indonesia, 2020 (AP)
Updated on Jan 28, 2022 03:03 PM IST
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Policies and People | The net-zero race: Why embodied carbon matters

  • Tackle the carbon footprint of construction materials and the supply chain that feeds India's rapidly growing building sector 
The building sector is critical because it is responsible for 30% of the electricity consumed in the country and is second only to the industrial sector when it comes to GHG emissions. (HT File/Representative Image)
The building sector is critical because it is responsible for 30% of the electricity consumed in the country and is second only to the industrial sector when it comes to GHG emissions. (HT File/Representative Image)
Updated on Jan 21, 2022 08:36 PM IST
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Policies and People | Unlock the power of climate action plans

  • States, cities, and districts have been making their climate plans. This thrust on climate plans is good, but there must be consistency 
In the last year, India has suffered a spate of flooding and landslide disasters in the high mountains of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and floods and intense cyclones in other parts of the country(File Photo)
In the last year, India has suffered a spate of flooding and landslide disasters in the high mountains of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and floods and intense cyclones in other parts of the country(File Photo)
Published on Jan 12, 2022 04:06 PM IST
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Policies and People | Kolkata’s tram system: Don’t let it rust

  • World over, cities are reviving their tram systems after years of prioritising cars. Kolkata, which has Asia's oldest tramway system, must also revitalise the eco-friendly mode of transport
In India, Kolkata is the only city that still has a tram system(Ashok Nath Dey/Hindustan Times )
In India, Kolkata is the only city that still has a tram system(Ashok Nath Dey/Hindustan Times )
Updated on Jan 09, 2022 05:43 PM IST
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Policies and People | Make India’s elections eco-friendly

  • Political campaigns and elections generate vast amounts of non-biodegradable waste, in addition to noise and vehicular pollution. Political parties must heed the EC directives on cutting down on such waste
In the coming year, seven assembly polls are on the cards(HT Photo)
In the coming year, seven assembly polls are on the cards(HT Photo)
Updated on Dec 31, 2021 11:59 AM IST
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Policies and People | Make climate science research more accessible

  • More efforts need to be put into simplifying these reports for a larger audience and developing instruments for people for the general public to understand
In addition to these mega scientific reports, there is also a regular flow of the smaller sectoral reports, which warn the people that it’s time to change how we live and review our relationship with nature(REUTERS)
In addition to these mega scientific reports, there is also a regular flow of the smaller sectoral reports, which warn the people that it’s time to change how we live and review our relationship with nature(REUTERS)
Published on Dec 23, 2021 01:48 PM IST
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Policies and People | India needs a climate crisis curriculum

Include the climate crisis as a separate subject. Or better still, integrate it with existing subjects. Also, recognise children as key agents of change in addressing the climate and environmental crisis, and make the curriculum more practical
Unfortunately, climate education is still to enter most classrooms across the world (REUTERS)
Unfortunately, climate education is still to enter most classrooms across the world (REUTERS)
Updated on Dec 31, 2021 11:46 AM IST
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Policies and People | How a young conservationist is saving river turtles

For the last eight years, Arunima Singh, recipient of the NatWest Group Earth Heroes Award 2021, and her field team have been fighting tirelessly for turtles, Gangetic dolphins, marsh crocodiles, and gharials
Arunima Singh won the prestigious award not just for her exceptional efforts towards saving turtles, tortoises, crocodilians, and Gangetic dolphins, but also for devoting a large part of her time to a crucial activity: Raising the awareness levels of riverine communities and the general public about these freshwater species (TSA)
Arunima Singh won the prestigious award not just for her exceptional efforts towards saving turtles, tortoises, crocodilians, and Gangetic dolphins, but also for devoting a large part of her time to a crucial activity: Raising the awareness levels of riverine communities and the general public about these freshwater species (TSA)
Updated on Nov 17, 2021 12:59 PM IST
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Policies and People | Glasgow: The interconnections between climate disasters 

In a climate-hit world, most disasters have deep interconnections. And, so the response cannot be fragmented
An advertising board is seen during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow, Scotland, November 7, 2021 (REUTERS)
An advertising board is seen during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow, Scotland, November 7, 2021 (REUTERS)
Updated on Nov 09, 2021 12:06 PM IST
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Policies and People | Why those in Glasgow must think about those in Sunderbans

At COP26, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the world’s response to the climate crisis must involve adaptation and not just mitigation. A community-based project in Sundarbans offers a lesson
The increasing importance of adaptation strategies was also reiterated last week when the United Nations called on national governments to increase funds for climate adaptation (Samir Jana / Hindustan Times)
The increasing importance of adaptation strategies was also reiterated last week when the United Nations called on national governments to increase funds for climate adaptation (Samir Jana / Hindustan Times)
Updated on Nov 02, 2021 02:13 PM IST
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Policies and People | Uttarakhand’s climate plan shows State failure

The state needs go back to its climate plan, update it, and implement its key messages for its development planning. Otherwise, it will face repeated rounds of climate-related devastation
For Uttarakhand, an ecologically fragile Himalayan state, 2021 is turning out to be a nightmare (AP)
For Uttarakhand, an ecologically fragile Himalayan state, 2021 is turning out to be a nightmare (AP)
Updated on Oct 26, 2021 04:58 PM IST
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Kunming Declaration: Is it all doom and gloom?

While there is much to worry about the state of world’s biodiversity, it’s important to cheer conservation success stories too
Over the years, red pandas, a reddish-brown arboreal mammal different from iconic black-and-white giant panda, faced several challenges such as habitat loss, poaching for meat and fur, and illegal capture for pet trade (Parveen Kaswan)
Over the years, red pandas, a reddish-brown arboreal mammal different from iconic black-and-white giant panda, faced several challenges such as habitat loss, poaching for meat and fur, and illegal capture for pet trade (Parveen Kaswan)
Updated on Oct 19, 2021 01:17 PM IST
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Don’t just blame big-ticket projects for the destruction of the Himalayas

There are plenty of other comparatively much smaller, below-the-radar schemes that are chipping away the natural heritage of these ecologically fragile states. Like highways and dams, these too continue, despite protests, in the name of development and taking advantage of State oversight or, in many instances, unethical governance.
According to a report in this newspaper on August 4, government data shows that there has been a sharp increase in weather-related calamities over the years in the state. Uttarakhand has registered 7,750 extreme rainfall events and cloud bursts since 2015, most of them over the last three years, which have killed 230 people. (ANI)
According to a report in this newspaper on August 4, government data shows that there has been a sharp increase in weather-related calamities over the years in the state. Uttarakhand has registered 7,750 extreme rainfall events and cloud bursts since 2015, most of them over the last three years, which have killed 230 people. (ANI)
Updated on Oct 06, 2021 09:19 PM IST
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With rampant and illegal sand mining, the Yamuna can’t be rejuvenated

While MPD’s plans are bold, the health of the Yamuna, the second largest tributary of the river Ganga, will not improve unless all states take measures to stop industrial pollution, regulate mechanised sand and gravel mining, and agree to revise the interstate water-sharing agreement in 2024
Sand mining at the bank of the Yamuna. (Representational image/HT Archive)
Sand mining at the bank of the Yamuna. (Representational image/HT Archive)
Updated on Jun 17, 2021 12:17 PM IST
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Paying a meaningful tribute to Bahuguna

‘His message of forest and river conservation must be respected both by Uttarakhand and the Centre by putting an immediate halt and independent review of destructive projects such as Char Dham road widening and construction of high dams’
Sunderlal Bahuguna would use every opportunity to explain to the people, politicians and administrators the importance of maintaining the delicate relationship that exists between human beings and nature (HC TIWARI/HTPHOTO)
Sunderlal Bahuguna would use every opportunity to explain to the people, politicians and administrators the importance of maintaining the delicate relationship that exists between human beings and nature (HC TIWARI/HTPHOTO)
Published on May 22, 2021 10:41 PM IST
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Indoor air pollution: Don’t brush it aside

In the discussions on air pollution, IAP often loses out to outdoor pollution. But as the extent of the challenge shows, IAP is an equally big problem. Let’s not brush it under the carpet.
Pollutants emitted by the incomplete combustion of solid fuels or kerosene for cooking, heating and lighting are associated with serious health risks(SHUTTERSTOCK)
Pollutants emitted by the incomplete combustion of solid fuels or kerosene for cooking, heating and lighting are associated with serious health risks(SHUTTERSTOCK)
Published on Dec 26, 2020 07:43 PM IST
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Broaden the idea of a smart city in India | Opinion

To tackle the climate crisis and make cities liveable, invest in energy-efficient buildings and microclimate
Look back to plan for the future. Heritage towns such as Jaisalmer are great examples of how built-up areas can be cooler and improve microclimate(Shutterstock)
Look back to plan for the future. Heritage towns such as Jaisalmer are great examples of how built-up areas can be cooler and improve microclimate(Shutterstock)
Updated on Oct 04, 2020 07:44 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | By

India needs to rethink housing for the poor | Opinion

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed an ugly reality: Migrant labourers live in slums and informal/unauthorised colonies that are congested, lack basic sanitation and water services, ventilation and green spaces. As a result, they are at a far greater risk of contracting the virus, along with other illnesses.
The government estimates that there are 26-37 million families in urban India that live in informal housing, and they largely belong to the poorer sections.(Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)
The government estimates that there are 26-37 million families in urban India that live in informal housing, and they largely belong to the poorer sections.(Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Jul 12, 2020 01:41 PM IST
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Without clean water, fighting diseases is a pipe dream

As the number of coronavirus cases detected in India rises, health professionals have suggested frequent hand-washing as a precautionary measure. But getting people to do this may not be easy as many households across the country do not have adequate hand-washing facilities, according to the National Family Health Survey (2015-16).
Students wash their hands before attending a class at a governement-run high school, Secunderabad, March 4, 2020(AFP)
Students wash their hands before attending a class at a governement-run high school, Secunderabad, March 4, 2020(AFP)
Updated on Mar 22, 2020 08:54 AM IST
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Thursday, May 26, 2022