India pushes tonnes of supplies to disputed China border ahead of winter


LEH, India: From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, India’s military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China.

In recent months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said.

The move was triggered by a border stand-off with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand combat. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed while China suffered an undisclosed number of casualties.

Both countries are negotiating to resolve the confrontation, but neither side has backed down. The Indian military is now set to keep troops deployed along the treacherous, high-altitude border through the winter.

Eastern Ladakh, where the flare-up occurred, is typically manned by 20,000-30,000 soldiers. But the deployment has more than doubled with the tensions, a military official said, declining to provide exact numbers.

“We have mirrored the increase in Chinese troops,” the official said, adding the Indian military was well-prepared but did not want further escalation or a prolonged conflict.

Temperatures in Ladakh can fall well below freezing, and troops are often deployed at altitudes of over 15,000 feet, where oxygen is scarce, officials said.

Indian soldiers disembark from a military transport plane at a forward airbase in Leh, in the Ladakh region, Sep 15, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui)

Since snow blocks mountain passes into Ladakh at least four months every winter, Indian military planners have already moved more than 150,000 tonnes of materials into the region.

“All the supplies that we need have already been pushed to wherever they are required,” said Major General Arvind Kapoor, chief of staff of the Indian army’s 14 Corps.

FERRYING TO THE FRONTLINE

On Tuesday morning, a succession of the Indian air force’s large transport aircraft landed at a forward base in Ladakh, carrying men and materials, as fighter jets roared overhead.

Soldiers with backpacks streamed out and were checked for COVID-19 symptoms at a transit facility, where they awaited further transport.

The materials are stored across a network of logistics hubs.

At a fuel, oil and lubricant depot near Leh, Ladakh’s main city, a hillside was covered with clusters of green drums.

At storage facilities at a nearby supply depot, boxes and sacks of ration – including pistachios, instant noodles and Indian curries – stood in tall piles. At another base near Leh, tents, heaters, winter clothing and high-altitude equipment lay stacked.

From these depots, the materials are pushed to logistics nodes by trucks, helicopters and, in some particularly difficult parts, mules, officials said.

“In a place like Ladakh, operations logistics is of huge importance,” said Kapoor. “In the last 20 years, we have mastered it.”



Source link

UK imports tonnes of Dutch sewage sludge ‘for agricultural benefit’ sparking toxicity concerns


The UK is importing 27,500 tonnes of sewage sludge containing human waste from the Netherlands for agricultural purposes, despite concerns over its toxicity for human health and the environment.

A permit for 15 shipments was issued in February by the UK”s Environment Agency, according to documents obtained by Greenpeace’s Unearthed investigative unit and seen by Euronews.

The notification provides for the expedition until November 2020 of “dewatered municipal sewage sludge” as part of the “recycling/reclamation of organic substances that are not used as solvents” and for “agricultural benefit” — i.e. fertilisers to use on farmlands.

Unearthed‘s investigation found out that investigators commissioned by the UK’s Environment Agency uncovered that sewage waste was contaminated with “persistent organic pollutants” or microplastics and still tested positive for salmonella or “high concentrations of e-coli”.

In their report, they had warned UK authorities that the routine spread of sludge as fertiliser may ultimately leave soil “unsuitable for agriculture” and pose a serious risk to human health.

The Netherlands has banned the spreading of sludge on farmland since 1995 but has been looking for new disposal destinations after a crisis at an Amsterdam waste incineration company.

“The sludge that is spread onto our farms and fields has become such a toxic cocktail of plastics, chemicals and bacteria. Add waste from the Netherlands into the mix and the risk of further contamination is only going to skyrocket,” Greenpeace UK’s executive director, John Sauven, said.

While the UK legislation sets potentially toxic element (PTE) concentration limits when spread on the surface of grassland (1200mg/kg dry solids of lead for instance), there are no set PTE concentrations in the sludge that you can use on arable soils.

The Environment Agency launched its “strategy for safe and sustainable sludge use” in July which aims at reviewing “the current regulatory regime for sludge treatment, storage and use” by 2023.

“The Environment Agency really needs to get its own house in order before we allow the UK to become a dumping ground for other countries polluted sewage,” Sauven argued.

“Spreading sewage sludge is higher up the waste hierarchy than many alternatives, such as incineration and landfill. Sewage sludge can be spread to land as fertiliser or soil improver and can be a valuable source of nutrients,” an Environment Agency spokesperson said.

“While spreading waste can have beneficial impacts on the land when used as a substitute for manufactured fertilisers, we are clear this practice must not harm the environment. We will not hesitate to take enforcement action against those who fail to manage any risks appropriately – including prosecution in the most severe cases,” they promised.



Source link