Between 1970 and 2014, more than half of the world’s vertebrate population (animals with a backbone) was wiped out by human activity, according to a report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The ‘Living Planet’ report surveyed more than 4,000 species spread over 16,700 populations across the world. Some of the findings:
- 60 per cent Loss of vertebrates — fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals — due to human activity during 1970-2014.
- 80 per cent decline in freshwater fauna population over the 44-year period.
- 90 per cent loss of wildlife in Latin America, the worst-hit region.
- 100-1,000 times the current rate of species loss, as compared to the rate a few hundred years ago, when people began to alter Earth’s chemistry and crowd other creatures out of existence. Expressed as a range because it depends on which species are included.
Loss of species was measured in terms of the “Living Planet Index”. The species population data that is collected goes into a global index, as well as indices for specific biogeographic areas. In the graph, the global index shows an overall decline of 60% in the population sizes of vertebrates between 1970 and 2014 —an average drop of over half in less than 50 years.
(Source: WWF, AFP)
This Word Means: Safe city project
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Thursday approved a Rs 194.44 crore Safe City project for Lucknow under the Nirbhaya Fund. Minister of State for Women & Child Development Virendra Kumar had told Lok Sabha in a written reply in August that the government had approved “Rs 2,919 crore for various projects to strengthen safety measures in eight cities in the country”. Lucknow, the Lok Sabha constituency of Home Minister Rajnath Singh, is the first city to be cleared for the Safe City project; similar projects to ensure safer and more secure public spaces for women are planned in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Ahmedabad.
The Safe City proposal for Lucknow will be implemented by the Uttar Pradesh Police, assisted by municipal and transport authorities. The Nirbhaya Fund was announced in the 2013 Union Budget following the December 2012 Delhi bus gangrape.
A city is considered safe if the crime rate in low. Its security challenges grow as populations rise. These include pressure on housing supply (which leads to a proliferation of slums) and on services such as healthcare, transport, and water and power infrastructure. Also, as the experience of London, Paris, and Barcelona has shown, wealthy urban centres are often terror targets. And as a report by The Economist Intelligence Unit showed, widening income divides can lead to tensions that contribute to violent outbursts such as the 2011 London riots. (Safe Cities Index 2017: Security in a Rapidly Urbanising World)
Researchers have established links between the quality of housing and health of citizens. While terrorist attacks make headlines, traffic accidents pose a greater day-to-day danger. Extreme weather events triggered by climate change are becoming a growing threat.
Apart from digital infrastructure and cyber security initiatives, the Safe City project in Lucknow includes an “Integrated Smart Control Room”, “pink outposts” exclusively administered by women police and “pink patrols” by policewomen, and “Women Help Desks in all police stations with counsellors”. It will ensure the implementation of “safety measures in buses, including cameras”, improvement of “street lighting in identified hot spot areas” and the “setting up [of] pink toilets”. The “women power helpline” will be integrated with “single Emergency number 112”.
The project also envisages gender sensitisation and awareness campaigns.