The World This Week

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The World This Week
Nord Stream-2, Floods in India and China, Peru election results, and another COVID origin probe

  GP Team

The World This Week #129, Vol. 3, No. 30

Joeana Cera Matthews, Juan Mary Joseph, Vishnu Prasad, and Sukanya Bali

The Nord Stream-2: Agreements, disagreements and controversies
What happened?
On 15 July, US President Joe Biden said: "My view on Nord Stream 2 has been known for some time. Good friends can disagree... Russia must not be allowed to use energy as a weapon to coerce or threaten its neighbors." 

On 21 July, the US-Germany joint statement released by Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel saw Germany promising to implement the Minsk agreements via the Normandy format while condemning Russian aggression. It reiterated how Germany would retaliate – both from the European and national level – if Russia weaponized' energy to achieve its political agendas. It also promised a 10-year extension of the Moscow-Kyiv gas transit agreement. Energy transitions of Ukraine and other Central and Eastern European countries will also be supported. The establishment of the Green Fund backing Ukraine's energy sector through investments was also announced.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov responded: "Russia has always been and remains a responsible guarantor of energy security on the European continent." The office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy opposed the deal, saying: "The decision on Nord Stream 2 cannot be taken behind the backs of all those whom the project poses a real threat to."

What is the background?
First, the Nord Stream-2 pipeline. It is a part of the larger Nord Stream offshore natural gas pipeline system running under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany. It includes two active pipelines forming the original Nord Stream, and two further pipelines nearing completion termed Nord Stream-2. At a length of 1230 kilometres, Nord Stream-2 runs parallel to the existing Nord Stream pipeline. Its independence from the existing Nord Stream pipelines ensures greater supply security.

Second, the issues and controversy. The pipeline has been the subject of heated debate for years as it affects energy security, the environment, and the economy. The primary opponents – Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states – consider the project a financial and security threat. They are worried about whether Germany's economic interests outweigh its ability to take a firm stance against Russian aggression. Their economies losing on gas transit fees also concern them. From the security perspective, reduced Russian dependence on gas transit leaves these countries vulnerable to Moscow's malicious activities. Kyiv is particularly worried about this, given the Crimean annexation. Both Ukraine and Poland released a joint statement to express their discontent in which they said that the pipeline poses a threat to them, NATO and the EU. On 22 July, the EU said that the pipeline was "not of common EU interest". Merkel, however, considers the deal a "good one" and has given Russia the benefit of the doubt. Environmentalists criticize the deal claiming it affects the marine ecosystems and jeopardizes the EU's climate action goals.

Third, the reversal of the US position. Initially, the US had firmly opposed the project. The US sanctions, which stopped the project at 98 per cent, were concerned about the increasing European reliance on Russian energy. Differences persisted even within the US; several lawmakers opposed the agreement, saying it only empowered Russia and betrayed Ukraine. A senior US official justified Biden's move by saying that the US compromised with an important ally against its better judgement while pointing out the ineffectiveness of the sanctions. 

Fourth, the Russian response. The Kremlin has consistently denied allegations of weaponizing energy and maintained that Nord Stream-2 is wholly a commercial project. However, Moscow objected to the US-German language, saying it villainized them. Putin is said to have agreed to discussing the extension of the gas transit deal with Ukraine.

What does it mean?
Through this deal, Ukraine has been victimized as real politick outweighed principles. The change in the US and EU strategy towards Russia could be attributed to their goal of weakening the Sino-Russian relations as other efforts have proven ineffective.

China and India: Torrential rain and Deadly floods  
What happened?
On 17 July, 1,614 weather stations in the central Chinese province of Henan saw rainfall exceed levels above 100 mm. On 19 July, major rivers burst, reservoirs were breached, and the streets of a dozen cities in the provincial capital of Zhengzhou were flooded after the continued downpour. Train services were suspended, highways were closed and flights were cancelled. On 21 July, the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Bureau initiated level III emergency response rescue work.and have evacuated close to 100,000 people to safe zones. On 22 July, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a televised statement: "Flood prevention efforts have become very difficult,". The death toll currently stands at 56, with five people still reported to be missing.

On 22 July, in India, heavy rains triggered floods and landslides in the western states of Maharashtra and Goa. Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi assured Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray of all possible support from the Centre to mitigate the situation arising in various parts of the state. On 24 July, the death toll rose to 76 and injured 38 others. In the neighboring state of Goa, one person died, around 1,000 houses were damaged and hundreds were evacuated from low-lying parts after heavy rains led to one of the worst floods in nearly 40 years.

What is the background? 
First, the intense, unusual rain patterns. China and India have always been prone to annual floods from torrential rains and the associated damage to life and property. Global Times reported that meteorologists attributed the recent unusual rains in China to the topography of the region and the typhoon "Yanhua", near South China. The Zhengzhou weather bureau said that the rainfall from 17 July to 20 July, matched a level seen only "once in a thousand years". The provincial city, which recorded the heaviest rainfall in 60 years, received almost equivalent of its annual average rainfall in just a matter of three days. 
Mumbai in India's west coast also received up to 594 mm of rainfall in just over 24 hours, causing landslides and flooding in low-lying areas. Maharashtra is currently recording its heaviest rainfall in over four decades.  The recent anomalies in the rainfall patterns in the regions seem to be an indication of potential rising global temperatures and the resulting extreme weather conditions. Close to 70 per cent of the world population is expected to experience greater instances of flooding, affecting food, farming and the economy if global warming goes unchecked.  According to a report published by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in April, the climate crisis is making the monsoons in these regions stronger. 

Second, the crumbling infrastructural facilities. China is home to more than 98,000 reservoirs, which were developed to tackle the severity of the annual floods in the region. However, more than 80 per cent of them pose a safety risk making it unclear if these dams could sustain the rising gravity of floods in the future. The recent rains led the water in nine large reservoirs and 40 medium-sized reservoirs in Henan to exceed their warning levels. In addition, two dams in Inner Mongolia collapsed and two others suffered a breach in the past week. While the Indian monsoons are a common yearly phenomenon, the poorly constructed buildings and walls tend to buckle after just a few days of non-stop rain. Nearly 120 bunds, dams and waterworks have been submerged by overflowing rivers in the Kolhapur region. The authorities were forced to move people out of vulnerable areas as water from dams threatened to overflow in these areas. Landslides in the Raigad near Mumbai have trapped close to 53 people and have buried homes under layers of mud.

Third, level of local preparedness. Much like in Germany and Belgium, the lack of preparedness, inaccurate weather forecasts and the slow reaction to the situation have been a common cause of public scrutiny and criticism. The provincial weather bureau and the subway operators in Zhengzhou came under fire to a lack early warnings and quick action during the crisis. The confusing disaster alert system or the complete absence of it in rural India have also contributed to confusion and discord.

Fourth, flood prevention and drainage systems. Rapid urbanization and the lack of permeable land to drain water have been touted as major contributors to waterlogging during rains. About 98 per cent of China's 654 major cities are vulnerable to flooding. Much of Mumbai also lies just above sea level, making floods an annual cause of mayhem in the city. Some of Mumbai's drainage systems are either almost a century old or have remained incomplete, like the Brimstowad Project. The recent catastrophe has served as a clear warning for urban planners to consider floodplains and natural basins when designing new cities. 

Fifth, interruptions in the supply chain. The Henan province is a major economic, manufacturing, logistics and transportation hub with high-speed rail lines. The disruption in transportation has threatened the supply of some goods in the short run. Similarly, thousands of trucks were stuck for more than 24 hours on a highway linking Mumbai with the southern technology hub of Bengaluru, after the roads were submerged in some areas. The Pune-Bengaluru National Highway was also rendered unusable for traffic after waterlogging in the region. 

What does it mean?
China, the world's largest contributor to greenhouse emissions, now joins the long list of countries currently reeling under the effects of harsh weather conditions. While the floods in India have been an annual cause of concern, the flood mitigation and adaptation efforts still remain poorly planned and executed.

What China, India and many other countries lack today in their drive towards disaster preparedness are new investments in technology. These investments are most often lost in the bureaucratic red tapes of extremely centralized systems.  With extreme climatic conditions hitting more countries in the past few weeks, there is now a greater need and incentive to mitigate natural hazards and tackle climate change.

Peru: After month-long political drama, Castillo's election confirmed 
What happened?
On 19 July, Pedro Castillo was confirmed as Peru's president-elect by the country's election authority more than a month after the elections. Castillo, a Marxist school teacher, had led his right-wing rival, Keiko Fujimori, by 44,000 votes before the latter's allegation of voter fraud delayed official certification of results. Castillo will be sworn in on 28 July. 

Castillo said: "We are going to work together and bring this country together. We are going to reject anything that goes against democracy." On the same day, Jorge Luis Salas, head of the Jurado Nacional de Elecciones (JNE) elections jury, announced Castillo's victory.

What is the background?
First, Peru's fragile democracy. At one point, the tactics utilized by the Fujimori camp made it look like the verdict of the people would not be respected. Despite multiple officials and organizations certifying the elections as clean, Fujimori had made claims of voter fraud. Clearly the camp with more financial and political power, she had hired an army of lawyers in an attempt to overturn the result. However, the country's election authority had held firm and systematically disposed of all her claims before declaring Castillo the winner. The development comes after a few rough years for Peruvian democracy, with five presidents coming and going in five years. Castillo's rival had contested the results from Peru's rural areas where she had virtually no support and had disputed almost 200,000 ballots. Her camp had filed 760 requests for annulment of polling stations. However, she had furnished little to no evidence to back up her claims.

Second, the rise of the Left in Peruvian politics. Leftist forces had been of little consequence in Peruvian politics, with the country remaining a bastion of neo-liberal forces since Alberto Fujimori's rule in the 1990s. While the rest of the continent had turned towards the left during the pink tide of the early 2000s, Peru had staunchly stayed out. This was especially peculiar considering how unequal wealth distribution was in Peru. Castillo's election finally represents a credible leftist movement in a country that had resisted one for decades.

Third, the influence that the Right still holds. Castillo may have won the election, but that he was only able to do so with a thin margin is telling. The same goes for the Peruvian Parliament where Castillo's Peru Libre, the largest party with 37 seats, still find themselves outflanked by various right-wing parties. Despite all the factors against them, the right in Peru has not been swept away in the wave that had propelled Castillo to power.

What does this mean?
Castillo has some difficult promises to keep. The 51-year-old ran a populist campaign with promises including the nationalization of resources and heavy spending on welfare activities. Though he has softened on some of his more radical promises, it remains to be seen just how much of his agenda he will be allowed to pursue by Peru's parliament which is still controlled by right-wing parties. Fujimori, after losing the 2016 elections, had used her party's numbers in the parliament to make the country virtually ungovernable. There is every chance that right-wing parties could form a coalition against Castillo's leftist policies and force a repeat of the same.

Castillo's victory also raises the prospect of a second pink tide in Latin America. The past couple of years have seen setbacks to conservative governments. Mexico and Argentina elected presidents with leftist leanings while Chile recently gave right-wing parties just 20 percent of the vote when they elected a constitutional assembly. Colombia's Ivan Duque finds his position precarious after recent turmoil. In Brazil, former president Lula Da Silva is leading opinion polls ahead of next year's elections. 

COVID-19: China rejects the WHO investigation proposal
What happened?
On 22 July, Chinese officials rejected the WHO's proposal for second phase research of Covid-19 origin. Zeng Yixin, Deputy head of China's National Health Commission said: "I feel disrespect for common sense and the arrogant attitude toward science revealed in this plan...we cannot accept this kind of plan for origin-tracing."
Liang Wannian, head of Chinese experts WHO-China team said: "to protect the privacy of the patient, we did not agree to provide original data, nor did we allow them to copy it." He also said, "international experts also fully understood this." 

On 21 July, Zhao Lijian, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson called for an investigation at Fort Detrick, a US military-run laboratory for a biological defense program tracing the origin of Covid-19. 

On 16 July, WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom announced a five-part plan for research over the origin story which will look into the integrated studies as "One Health approach," prioritizing the geographic areas of circulation, study on Wuhan market, and animal track-back activities with epidemiologists and last, audit of laboratories and institution in Wuhan. He also called for "China to support this next phase of the scientific process by sharing all relevant data in a spirit of transparency."

What is the background? 
First, the politics behind the COVID origin probe, and the global demand. Soon after the outbreak of Covid-19, Australia called for an investigation into the origin. The then US President Donald Trump blamed China for the pandemic and referred to Covid as the "China virus" or the "Wuhan virus." The Trump administration also criticized WHO for being pro-China and pushed for withdrawing from the health agency. In retaliation, Beijing imposed trade barriers on Australian and US goods. In May 2021, after a media report emerged on an accidental lab leak in China, Joe Biden ordered intelligence agencies to "redouble efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring a definitive conclusion and report in 90 days." Leaders from G7 countries in a summit called for a new study into the origins of Covid-19, including in China, as the joint report by WHO-China lacked a credible conclusion. 

Second, China's response. Beijing has been consistently reluctant in permitting investigation on its soil. For months China delayed the international investigating team's visit. When the team was finally allowed, the investigation was strictly supervised by the scientists. China being dismissive about the lab leak theory and pushed for investigation beyond its borders or elsewhere. It alleged that the virus was manufactured in the US military laboratory or reached Wuhan via frozen food. The health authorities remained persistent over the possibility that the virus may have "jumped naturally from animal to human via an intermediate animal host." WIV, Yuan Zhiming also denied a report of the "three employees from the institute being sick" with Covid-19 symptoms before authorities disclosed the outbreak.

Third, the WHO's response. During the early months of the pandemic WHO struck a diplomatic tone with China and appreciated Beijing's efforts in curbing the spread. It refrained from blaming China for the origin of the virus. The US accused WHO of being "China-centric." But after the death of over 4 million, and no conclusion over the origin of the virus, WHO slightly toughened its stance. The joint investigation report was highly criticized by WHO for not being transparent. WHO Director-General also said, "I do not believe that this assessment was extensive enough" and demanded a "more robust conclusion" report. WHO has now laid down a proposal for the investigation in China and called for the "evaluation of the lab leak theory."   
What does it mean?
Lack of transparency, inadequate access to raw data, and the politicized nature of the investigations may delay insights into the Covid-19 origin. Beijing's refusal to give access may raise more speculation about China's role in the pandemic.

Also, in the news …
By Sukanya Bali and Avishka Ashok

East and Southeast Asia This Week 
China: Xi's first official visit to Tibet
On 22 July, China's President Xi Jinping made his first official visit to Tibet's capital Lhasa and Gongbo'gyamda county. Xi said: "As long as we follow the Communist Party, as long as we adhere to the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, we will surely be able to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation." This year also marks the 70th anniversary of China's occupation in Tibet.

China: Counter-sanctions imposed on US citizens 
On 23 July, China imposed sanctions on seven people and entities, including former US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, in retaliation to recent US sanctions on Chinese officials in Hong Kong. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said: "The US has concocted the so-called 'Hong Kong Business Advisory' to groundlessly smear Hong Kong's business environment, and illegally imposed sanctions on several officials. In response to the erroneous practice of the US side, China has decided to take reciprocal countermeasures." White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki said, the US remains "undeterred by these actions."

North Korea: Records highest temperature; state media issue warnings
On 22 July, Pyongyang state media issued a warning about heatwaves across the country. This year North Korea recorded 35 degrees Celsius. NK News reported: DPRK State Hydro-Meteorological Administration warned high temperatures will persist with the humidity levels around 70 per cent. Rodong Sinmun newspaper said: "Officials and working people in all fields and regions across the country have turned out in the campaign for preventing the damage from fierce heat and drought."

Japan: Britain to deploy two warships in Asian waters
On 20 July, Britain announced the assignment of two warships in Asian waters. The Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier and escort ships will sail to Japan in September. Britain's Defense Minister, Ben Wallace said: "Following on from the strike group's inaugural deployment, the United Kingdom will permanently assign two ships in the region from later this year." The Queen Elizabeth carrier will be escorted by two destroyers, two frigates, two support vessels, and ships from the US and Netherlands.

Japan: Olympic games in Tokyo begin
On 23 July, Tokyo Olympics was officially opened by Japan Emperor Naruhito. Only around 950 fans were present in the opening ceremony due to covid restrictions. On 22 July, one of the senior organizers was dismissed after his anti-Semitic comments from 1998 surfaced. He later apologized. On the same day, two athletes and ten support staff tested positive, bringing the total number of cases associated with the game to 87. 

Myanmar: Appoints a new envoy to the UK
On 23 July, Myanmar appointed a new temporary head of the embassy in London. Reuters reported the Britain Foreign Ministry spokesperson said: "The selection of the new charge d'affaires ad interim did not require the consent of the British government." Former ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn was locked out of the embassy after calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. Kyaw has urged the British government "to refuse to recognize any envoys appointed by the junta and to send them back to Myanmar." On the same day, Britain also appointed a new ambassador to Myanmar.

South Asia This Week 
India: Foreign Minister meets Afghan peace negotiator 
On 24 July, India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held talks with Afghan peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah, over the current situation in Afghanistan with the increasing violence and the US withdrawal from the country. Jaishankar tweeted: "Always good to meet Chairman HCNR @DrabdullahCE. Appreciate his sentiments and support for our relationship. Value his insights on the region." The Hindu reported External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi saying: "India supported the government and the people of Afghanistan in realizing their aspirations for a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future that protected the interest of all sections."

Pakistan: Foreign Minister on a two-day visit to China
On 23 July, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, along with the Foreign Secretary, ISI Director-General and other officials reached China, to participate in the third China-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said: the third bilateral Foreign Ministers' Strategic Dialogue will "enhance strategic coordination on bilateral cooperation and international and regional issues of common concern." The visit took place in the backdrop of a bus accident in which nine Chinese engineers were killed.

Afghanistan: The US calls on Taliban for negotiations; President Ghani calls Biden
On 24 July, the US called on the Taliban "to engage in serious negotiations." This came soon after the Taliban disagreed on ceasefire and peace. The US State Department's deputy spokesperson said: "the Taliban must proactively prevent their forces from carrying out these actions on the ground, reiterating the US's call for an immediate end to ongoing violence." On the same day, US President Biden held a telephonic conversation with President Ashraf Ghani to discuss "the evolving but continuing relationship between the two countries." White House statement highlighted, both agreed "the Taliban's current offensive is in direct contradiction to the movement's claim to support a negotiated settlement of the conflict." 

Central Asia, Middle East and Africa This Week
Israel: African Union grants observer status
On 22 July, the Israeli ambassador to Ethiopia, Burundi and Chad represented Israel's candidature at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. After almost 20 years, the African Union agreed to grant Israel an observer status in the regional organization. Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said: "This is a day of celebration for Israel-Africa relations. This corrects the anomaly that has existed for almost two decades and is an important part of strengthening the fabric of Israel's foreign relations." Israel now has relations with 46 African nations. 

Lebanon: UNICEF reports water crisis
On 23 July, UNICEF reported that more than four million people in Lebanon would be impacted by an acute shortage of clean drinking water caused by the lack of electric power and fuel. The UNICEF spokesperson said: "UNICEF estimates that most water pumping will gradually cease across the country in the next four to six weeks." The UN body reported that the extensive shortage of funds for maintaining the energy sector and the simultaneous collapse of the power grid has caused substantial damage to the water supply sector in the country. A minimum of USD 40 million per year would be needed to secure the sector. 

Yemen: Non-seasonal rains cause a large-scale devastation 
On 21 July, the Yemeni weather service cautioned its population to take shelter from the non-seasonal rains that caused the death of 14 people. Heavy rains were recorded in the provinces of Al-Mahrah, Hadramawt, Shabwa, Abeen, and Jouf. The sudden and unexpected rains have caused large-scale damage to the crops, roadways, transportation, telecommunications and the already weak supply chain. 

Syria: President Bashar al-Assad re-elected for a fourth term 
On 24 July, Bashar al-Assad was re-elected as the President of Syria for the fourth term. The elections, which have been dismissed by foreign governments, claim that President Bashar al-Assad won 95 per cent of the votes in the national elections. He took the oath in front of over 600 important guests which included politicians, businessmen, academics, and journalists. Assad said: "The elections have proven the strength of popular legitimacy that the people have conferred on the state. They have discredited the declarations of Western officials on the legitimacy of the state, the constitution and the homeland." 

Somalia: The US strikes al-Shabab after almost six months 
On 20 July, the Pentagon announced that the US is responsible for the attacks on a target near Galkayo. The US Defense Department spokesperson said: "US forces were conducting a remote 'advise and assist' mission in support of designated Somali partner forces. There were no US forces accompanying Somali forces during this operation." The attack was targeted against al-Shabab, a terrorist group in Somalia. The attack is significant as this is the first attack post the change in political power in the US. 

Europe and The Americas This Week
Hungary: Prime Minister announces referendum on anti-LGBT law
On 21 July, the Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban announced that a country-wide referendum would be held on the controversial LGBT law, which restricts related content in media and schools. He said: "The future of our children is at stake, so we cannot let Brussels have its way." The referendum will focus on five questions, and special emphasis will be placed on content shown to children with no restrictions. 

Russia: Lab module to the ISS launched after a 14-year delay
On 21 July, Russian authorities launched a lab module for the International Space Station that is meant to provide more room for space research and experiments. The plan was initially planned for launch in 2007, but due to contamination in the fuel system and other technical errors, the module was launched in July 2021 instead. By 29 July, the module will automatically attach itself to the international space station. 

Russia: Ministry of Defence tests supersonic missile 
On 19 July, the Defence Ministry announced that Russia had successfully tested a Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile. The missile has been exalted by President Vladimir Putin for being a weapon of the next generation with no global rival. The missile was test-fired from the White Sea and travelled more than 350 KMs at seven times the speed of sound before hitting its target. The Defence Ministry spokesperson said: "The tactical and technical characteristics of the Tsirkon missile were confirmed during the test." 

The UK: The EC rejects demand for renegotiation on a deal for Brexit trade with Northern Ireland. 
On 21 July, Britain placed a demand for a new deal from the European Union to govern post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland. The regional organization responded to the demand and disagreed with renegotiating the deal with Britain. The vice-President of the European Commission said: "We will continue to engage with the UK, also on the suggestions made today. We are ready to continue to seek creative solutions, within the framework of the Protocol, in the interest of all communities in Northern Ireland. However, we will not agree to a renegotiation of the Protocol,"

The EU: European Commission announces plans to scrutinize informal cryptocurrencies
On 20 July, the executive branch of the European Commission introduced new reforms to tackle financial crimes within the regional bloc. Under these new regulations, sharing personal details can be mandated in the trade of cryptocurrencies. The commission spokesperson said: "The aim of this package is to improve the detection of suspicious transactions and activities, and to close loopholes used by criminals to launder illicit proceeds or finance terrorist activities through the financial system."

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel's last press conference
On 22 July, Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared for her last press conference in office. While attending her last press conference, she focused on the latest issues of floods and pandemic and placed great emphasis on climate change and environmental protection. She referred to the German health infrastructure and said: "Preventing the overburdening of the health system remains the guiding principle of our actions." She also commented on the growing need to act on climate change and said: "The scientific evidence requires us to act even more quickly. Some things are happening; other things need to happen faster."

Haiti: Assassinated President laid to rest as protests erupt across the capital
On 24 July, Haitians supporting Jovenel Moise bade farewell to their former President as his body was finally being laid to rest. The funeral triggered wide-spread riots across the capital city as the people took to the streets in protest. They fired gunshots, burned tyres and destroyed public property. The protests in the country indicate the visible cracks within the communities. 

The US: Bootleg fire in Oregon continues to spread 
On 21 July, only 32 per cent of the total fire caused by the dry weather had been contained. There are multiple fires across the region that have brought complete devastation to the wildlife and flora, and fauna in the region. On 22 July, the State Department of Forestry banned campfires since 70 per cent of the fires caused in the region were man-made. The fire has crossed the tree-less perimeter, which was supposed to halt the spread of the fire. 

About the Authors
Joeana Cera Matthews, Juan Mary Joseph and Vishnu Prasad are research interns in the School of Conflict and Security Studies at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. Sukanya Bali and Avishka Ashok are Research Associates at NIAS.

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