Tuesday, August 11 2020

Dive In

Working under the sun was difficult as we were never used to it… But we have to work at least to buy rice and other groceries.

That’s sixteen-year-old Maheshwari Munkalapally who was forced to quit school—along with her 15-year-old sister—when her mother lost her job as a domestic worker in Telangana. Now all three work as farm hands in the village in order to survive. But the end of the lockdown is only going to increase the threat to India’s children—who will become an attractive source of cheap labour for businesses scrambling to reopen. Illustration: Parth Savla.

Big Story

A ticking ecological time bomb in Mauritius

The TLDR: A Japanese ship ran aground a coral reef off the coast of the island nation—and has already leaked 1,000 tons of oil into the water. The Mauritius government has declared a “state of environmental emergency"—and locals are racing to prevent an environmental disaster that threatens years of conservation efforts. The biggest threat: the remaining 2,500-3,000 tons of oil still onboard a ship that shows signs of cracking apart. 


How did this happen?

  • The ship MV Wakashio—owned by Nagashiki Shipping and chartered by Mitsui OSK—left China on July 14, and was on its way to Brazil. 
  • On July 25, it ran aground about one mile off the southeast coast of Mauritius. 
  • The ship was supposed to be 16-32 km away from the island, and was clearly off course. 
  • The crew was rescued, but the salvage crew was not able to secure the ship due to rough weather. Also a problem: a peculiar lack of urgency. 
  • Wakashio remained stuck and started showing cracks on August 6. A large gash appeared on the side of the vessel—releasing 1,000 of its estimated 4,000 tons of heavy bunker fuel into the Indian Ocean.
  • The Mauritius PM Pravind Jugnauth declared a national emergency on August 8,  calling it “a full-blown ecological disaster.”


Ok, how bad is this?

The location: The ship ran aground in the worst place possible—right next to two internationally protected UNESCO sites for wetlands. This includes a small coral atoll which hosts many plant, rare bird and wildlife species that are only found here. Their extinction would be truly a disaster. Also at risk: "world-important populations of reptiles with unique genetic make-up.”



In today’s edition

Headlines That Matter

  • Children not immune to Covid
  • Ghar wapsi for Sachin Pilot?
  • A mass resignation in Lebanon
  • Baba Ramdev eyes IPL
  • India’s largest crocodile park will run out of money in four months


Smart And Curious

  • James Bond was inspired by a playboy Serbian double agent
  • Saaya-the famous black panther of Kabini-has a significant other called Cleopatra
  • There’s a romance novel starring the Chinese PM called ‘Xi's the One’

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