Press on Environment and Wildlife
Scientists set to go on insect hunt to save the Sunderbans (July Week #1 (2013))
In a first-of-its-kind exercise, scientists would soon go scouting the tiger-infested Sunderbans forest for insects that help the mangrove plants produce seeds and help sustain the world’s largest delta.

The project, to be funded by the Union ministry of environment and forests, would principally aim at conserving the lesser-known creatures of the forests that are key to sustenance of the lush mangroves. The ministry has already sanctioned Rs. 80 lakh
for the project and the scientists are to embark on the venture this July.

“A team of about eight scientists from the Zoological Survey of India would scour numerous pockets of the 4263 sq km of mangrove forest over the next three years. The objective is to collect such insects as bees, butterflies, moths and flies among others,
which serve as pollinators for the mangrove plants. The scientists would look to identify their species and ascertain the role they play in pollination,” K Venkataraman, director of ZSI and principal investigator of the project, told HT.


Time to return to natural farming (July Week #1 (2013))
Carbon emission, popularly known as ‘greenhouse gas emission’, is on the rise in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. As recent studies have found, modern agricultural practices remain the reason for close to 35 per cent of this dangerous phenomenon.
Hence, there is a need to return to natural farming, argues Ko Nammazhvar, a crusader for organic farming.

In his recently published work Bhoomithaaye (Mother Earth), he deals with a range of issues arising out of climate change and suggests that organic farming would help balance the situation. City Express caught up with him at a two-day workshop on the city


Okhla residents knock MoEF's door against power plant citing threat to ecology (July Week #1 (2013))
The plant has been facing a case from the Sukhdev Vihar Residents’ Welfare Association in the National Green Tribunal and moreover, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has a White Paper available on its website which is against such thermal treatment
of waste to generate energy, as revealed by environmental activist Gopal Krishna of the ToxicsWatch Alliance, who has ben campaigning against the plant since March 2005.

The plant, which essentially is polluting in nature, has been using unapproved Chinese technology, giving a short shrift to the ecological fragility and sensitivity of the area.

Located within 2 Km of the Okhla Bird Sanctuary, the plant does not have the mandatory clearances from the National Board for Wildlife and if one goes by the guidelines of the MoEF in this regard, there is a clear-cut prohibition against the setting up
of industries that cause pollution of any sort.


Human hand behind disaster: Experts blame violation of environment laws for Uttarakhand floods (Issue of the week, June Week #4 (2013))
Ecologists point out that the huge expansion of hydro-power projects and construction of roads to cope with the lakhs of tourists in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh has compounded the scale of the disaster.

Sunita Narain, director general of Centre for Science and Environment said, “This is very much a man-made disaster. There are of course links between climate change and extreme weather events as has happened with the torrential
rain in Uttarakhand. But this has been exacerbated by the reckless construction of buildings, dams and roads in a fragile environment. Many of the settlements have been built right next to the rivers in blatant violation of environmental laws. There is a strong
need to evolve a holistic Himalayan policy which will deal with all these issues."

Ganga crusader G.D. Aggarwal said, “Politicians and local mafia have all colluded to destroy the ecology of the mountains. The result is that one of the most fragile regions suffering poor soil stability is facing this calamity,” he said.


Unchecked infrastructure projects made it worse in Uttarakhand

Not just nature's fury, rampant unplanned infrastructural development is also to be blamed for the devastation caused by the recent floods in Uttarakhand. Environmentalists feel the damage to life and property there and also
in Himachal Pradesh may be the result of indiscriminate encroachments on riverbeds and unchecked infrastructure projects.

The South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) says too many hydropower projects, underground tunnels, roads, encroachments of riverbeds by buildings coupled with deforestation could have worsened the impact of the flash floods.


The much-hyped Ganga and Yamuna Action Plans, part of the National River Conservation Plan, are facing serious hurdles due to a fund crunch. While the country needs 38,000 million litres a day (MLD) o (June Week #4 (2013))
The environment ministry does not have the resources to take forward river conservation plans as an estimated Rs 25,000 crore are required for the additional 26,000 MLD of sewage treatment capacity.

With financial assistance from Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Haryana, the Yamuna Action Plan in its phase-I and II, came up with 40 sewage treatment plants with a total capacity of 902.25 MLD, covering 21 towns. The phase III of
this project is now being implemented at a cost of Rs 1,656 crore, with assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency.


Excessive mining leads to declining coral reefs in Lakshadweep (June Week #4 (2013))
A drastic decline in the live coral cover in Lakshadweep has been reported, causing serious concern among researchers and naturalists.

K. Venkataraman, Director, Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), told The Hindu that the development came to light recently during a study. In the summer of 2010, bleaching took place in coral reefs areas in the country. But, those
in the Kavaratti islands in Lakshadweep were badly affected by bleaching. This could be due to increased heat conditions, which was an indication of climate change, he said.

Till 2010, the live coral reef cover in the island was recorded at 27 per cent, which dropped to 11 per cent in the subsequent year because of the May 2010 bleaching.

Similarly, the dead coral rock population was estimated to be 21 per cent before the bleaching, which rose to 67 per cent after the incident, he said.

Dr. Venkataraman said: “Declining coral reef will result in fishermen’s catch going down drastically.


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