The Stream, February 6: Southern India States Struggle Amid Drought

The Global Rundown

Droughts in Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu have caused water shortages and tensions. The Philippines ordered the closure of nearly two dozen nickel mines, citing concerns about watersheds. Water experts in Pakistan called on the government to devote more attention to water policy. Airstrikes cut off the main water supply to Raqqa, Syria. Officials in Japan measured record high radiation levels at the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant. Amid a heatwave, Sydney, Australia used more water in a single day on Sunday than it has since 2003.

“You cannot have any kind of mining operations in a watershed. Water is life.” –Regina Lopez, the Philippines’ secretary of environment and natural resources, defending her decision to order the closure of 23 nickel mines for environmental violations. Lopez faced criticism for shutting down the mines instead of suspending their operations, an action that an audit team recommended in some cases. (Reuters)

In context: Read how Regina Lopez is reshaping the mining industry in the Philippines.

By The Numbers

2.215 billion liters Amount of water used by residents of Sydney, Australia on Sunday, the highest daily usage since 2003. The spike in demand occurred during a heatwave that brought temperatures between 35 and 40 degrees Celsius to the metropolitan area. Australian Associated Press

530 sieverts Latest radiation readings taken from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, the highest ever recorded at the site. The plant was damaged during a tsunami and earthquake in 2011, and it could take decades to decommission the reactors and deal with contaminated water. Guardian

Science, Studies, And Reports

A publication released by the United Nations Development Program’s Pakistan office last week highlighted water as one of the country’s “key challenges”. In response, water experts in Pakistan have called on the government to focus more attention on water policy, particularly in Sindh province. Dawn / UNDP Pakistan

On The Radar

U.S. coalition forces cut the main water supply to Raqqa, Syria, the unofficial capital of the Islamic State, according to Syrian state media. The water pipeline and several bridges over the Euphrates River were allegedly damaged during airstrikes. USA Today

Three states in southern India are suffering from droughts after months of below-average rainfall. It is the third consecutive year of drought in Karnataka, while Kerala is on track for its worst drought in more than a century. The government last month also declared a drought in Tamil Nadu, where dozens of farmers have committed suicide. Hindustan Times

In context: Stay posted for more on water, food, and energy in Tamil Nadu with the latest chapter in the Global Choke Point project.