Press on Environment and Wildlife
Wind power capacity up 45% in 2005-06 (April Week 2 (2006)) Installed wind power capacity grew by 45 per cent during 2005-06 over the previous year, the same level of growth that was recorded in 2004-05, show preliminary figures provided by wind turbine manufacturers.
However, turbine manufacturers hope that uniformity and consistency in policy will come about across the country so that capacity addition takes place at a faster pace.
It is estimated that the total installed wind power capacity in the country will be 5,200 MW at the end of March 2006, against 3,595 MW at the end of the previous financial year - an addition of 1,605 MW.
As in the past, Tamil Nadu has contributed to a bulk of this capacity addition accounting for nearly 870 MW during last financial year.
Growth to continue
Mr Ramesh Kymal, Managing Director, NEG Micon (India) Pvt Ltd, a wind turbine manufacturer, and Chairman, Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association, is confident that the growth in capacity addition will continue this year too and accelerate in subsequent years.
This is mainly because of the better turbines that are available in the market now, which not only guarantee higher plant load factors - 35-38 per cent - but also are efficient in low and medium wind regimes.
Evacuation
Mr Kymal and other industry sources say that evacuation still continues to be a problem, especially in Tamil Nadu. The Tamil Nadu Electricity Board is trying to address this issue, they add.
Mr U.B. Reddy, General Manager - Business Development and Operations, Enercon India, another turbine manufacturer, says that the turbine manufacturers have requested the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission to permit an independent analysis of the grid requirement in the State.
The association has said that it is prepared to sponsor this study by the Bangalore-based Power Research & Development Consultants Pvt Ltd, which has developed a software for grid analysis.
According to him, such a study is needed to finalise the grid requirements in areas where large wind farms (about 150-200 MW installed capacity) are coming up, over the next five years.
This will help to plan ahead of the requirement so that evacuation does not become a problem.
Industry sources point out that there were local problems in Karnataka, with villagers blocking roads and interrupting work. This seems to have been sorted out to a large extent now.
The distribution companies in Karnataka have also started signing power purchase agreements now with investors in wind power, which is a positive development, according to the sources.
Wind power policy
As far as other States were concerned, the sources said wind power policy was due for a review in Maharashtra later this year and, hence, there was a rush for installations now.
Rajasthan, which is a small market for wind power, wheeling and transmission are the problem areas. There is potential for installing wind turbines in the desert region, where there is not much demand for power.
Those investing in wind power are being asked to pay Rs 17 lakh a MW for improving the grid and also construct sub-stations and connect them to the nearest high voltage evacuation point.
All this has pushed up the cost by Rs 25 lakh-30 lakh a MW, the sources said.


SOURCE : The Hindu Business Line, Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Hyacinth can widen utility of biogas plants: study (April Week 2 (2006)) A team of researchers from the Department of Renewable Energy Sources, College of Technology and Engineering, Udaipur, has announced that water hyacinth (a common polluting fresh water weed) can be used for the production of biogas. The weed can be used either alone or along with cow dung, the most commonly used material in biogas plants.
The two researchers— Nafisa Ali and B.L Chaudhary—have announced this in an article published in the Panjab University Science Research Journal, which was released by the Vice-Chancellor here today.
The research paper ‘‘Bio-conversion of water hyacinth to fuel and fertiliser through pre treatment’’ states that anaerobic digestion of water hyacinth may reduce the nuisance and water pollution problem created by this waterweed and considerable amount of biogas can be obtained.
The researchers add that the rate of biogas can be enhanced in a short period by giving certain fungal treatment prior to anaerobic digestion. This would solve the problem of choking in the biogas plants. In India most of the biogas plants are cow dung based but due to the less availability of dung at some places people are unable to make full use of these plants.
Apart than this 28 other research papers form a part of the Journal’s 55th volume. In order to celebrate the 55th year of its uninterrupted publication the volume has aptly been named ‘‘Emerald’’ volume.


SOURCE : The Tribune, Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Partnership on forests (Issue of the week, April Week 1 (2006)) Everybody knows one hand of the government does not know what the other is up to. But it does make a difference when a
proposed programme of the government contradicts and, perhaps, even fatally undermines a flagship initiative.
This is the case with the proposed programme of the Union ministry of environment and forests - euphemistically called the
multi-stakeholder partnership on forests - and its impact on the Prime Minister's pet projects of employment generation like
the Bharat Nirman project. If this is the case, then surely it is not acceptable that government continues to bludgeon on,
irrespective of the implications. Surely, the priorities of the government as a whole must become the priorities and
purposes of its ministries.
But let me clarify these riddles. In a nutshell, the multi-stakeholder partnership is a programme to involve sponsors
(corporate houses) in planting trees on forest lands. It caters to an old and incessant demand of the pulp and paper
industry that wants captive plantations to grow wood for its products. On the face of it, there seems to be nothing wrong
with the idea. After all, we need to plant trees. The country has set itself a target of 33 per cent of forest area. It is
another matter that nobody is clear how, when and why this target was set. But only 22 per cent of our land area is
classified as forest. The plantation challenge is enormous. On the one hand, we need to plant and afforest degraded forest
lands, which are massive. And on the other hand, we need to plant trees on lands outside these classified forest lands. The
government says it needs help in this job. It has a fund crunch. Industry says it has money. It also needs raw material.
Here is a partnership made in heaven.
These are the 'wastelands' that industry will do us a big favour to plant and protect.
The only problem is with the English language. It defines wasteland as land which is degraded and lying waste and unused.
The term wasteland is a misnomer. These lands are degraded not because they are unused, but because they are overused. In
other words, these degraded lands are intensely used and if these lands are allocated to industry, its users - illegal but
de facto - will be affected. Their key source of livelihood and sustenance would be taken away. This will further
marginalise the poor, and all the Prime Minister's men with their poverty packages will be able to do little.
But let me make one thing clear. I am in favour of growing trees on these lands (and outside) for industrial use. I do
strongly endorse the agenda of increasing raw material supply to industries like paper and pulp, and even to make biodiesel
from plants. The question is not whether we should make money from trees. The question is who will make the money. There is
a right way, which will lead to massive employment and put money directly in the hands of large numbers of poor rural
communities. Then there is a wrong way, which will lead to limited employment and wealth for some.
The facts are clear. Industry wants forest land because when it grows trees on its captive plantations, it can bring down
the cost of production and increase its profits. As against the Rs 2,800 per tonne it will have to pay to farmers or tribals
when they sell it wood, it can grow it at Rs 1,000 per tonne. The land it gets then is the biggest subsidy, ironically given
at a time when this government is talking about reform and removal of freebies from poor farmers and others.
But leave the moral issues aside. The concerns are economic. The fact also is that this grant of land for captive
plantations, will seriously impair the market for privately and community-grown wood in the country. It is not a coincidence
that in the 1990s India has seen the most outstanding work by some industries to source raw material from farmers. This work
has happened because the industry did not get access to free and cheap land - or easy options. It had to make the hard
option work. And it did.
By 2002, almost one million tonnes of wood were grown by farmers and tribals for the industry. No small figure that. It is
30 per cent of industry's annual wood and bamboo consumption. In addition, another 30 per cent is sourced from the market -
this, too, is mainly grown by farmers. To do this, industry has actively encouraged the development of high quality saplings
and extension work. It is downward integration with suppliers, which directly links it to the poorest in the country. It
annually pays over Rs 500 to the rural economy to grow trees, more money than what is invested in the national afforestation
scheme. More importantly, this money goes directly to people, without all the leakages and losses in government delivery
systems. The employment potential is phenomenal.
But can't both survive? Industry can grow some wood, farmers can supplement. Unfortunately not. The economics are such that
the cheap and discounted wood grown by industry in captive plantations will destroy this farmer grown wood market
completely. It has happened before. It will happen again.
Let us be clear. The cost of raw material for this industry is roughly 11 per cent to 15 per cent of the turnover if it
grows its wood on captive plantations. It is 18 per cent of its turnover if farmers sell it wood. In other words, in one
case it will maximise its profits and in the other it will share its profits - not too much - with farmers and tribals. But
the choice is not small. It will make or break India.
The government has to make a choice.
There is one small problem: people live on these lands. They are de facto users of the land.
The writer is Director, Centre for Science and Environment


SOURCE : Central Chronicle, Thursday, April 6, 2006
Overuse of pesticides increases mortality rate of peacocks (April Week 1 (2006)) Mortality rate of peacocks has witnessed a drastic increase due to overuse of pesticides by farmers of Haryana in the past
over five years. To save the seed from pests and have a good yield of their produce, farmers have been using over three to
four times the quantity of the required amount of the pesticide, thus putting an adverse affect on the human being, animals
and birds.
High mortality rate of peacock has also been proving a boon for smugglers of peacock feathers in this part of the region,
claimed Mr R. D. Jakati, Chief Conservator of Forest and Wildlife (CCFW), Haryana.
While responding to a news item published in The Tribune on Wednesday, Mr Jakati claimed that no complaint had been received
from any part of the region about poaching of peacocks for feathers. The tail-feathers of a peacock could be well identified
from their tips to know whether the birds were killed for feathers or the feathers were naturally shed, said Mr Jakati.
He, however, claimed that the 'traders' of peacock feathers had been collecting naturally shed feather by the birds from
different parts of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and other states for sale. Sale of naturally shed peacock tail feathers
is exempted as per the Wildlife Protection Act, he informed.
The CCFW also claimed that treating crop seed with excess of pesticide (chlorpyriphose) than the required amount have been
proving toxic for the peacocks, sparrows and other fauna found in Haryana. The Haryana Agriculture University, Hisar, has
already conducted an indepth study over the issue and proved the facts true.
Mr Jakati also claimed that wildlife inspectors had been deployed at village level to educate the farmers of the
consequences of intensive use of the pesticides over humans and the wildlife. The inspectors have been holding meetings with
farmers of three to four villages every month since 2001, he claimed.
"To save the humans and wildlife from the side affects of pesticides, I have also written to the Director, Agriculture, for
motivating farmers to use bio-pesticides as an alternate. In the list of states that lead in pesticide consumption, Haryana
stands eighth in the country. As much as 85 per cent of the total area of the state has witnessed a sharp decline in wild
animals and birds," added Mr Jakati.


SOURCE : The Tribune, Thursday, April 13, 2006
Global warming swells Tibetan lakes (April Week 1 (2006)) Gesang Cering, a shepherd, habitually wakes up at midnight to check if his house is flooded. He often sees water oozing out
of the ground, a phenomenon researchers attribute to global warming.
He has also noticed that Lake Naigri Puencog, some eight kilometres from his home village in Nagqu Prefecture in northern
Tibet, often swells.
"The pasture near the lake is flooded from time to time; in winter, it is often covered with ice," he says.
Many herders have witnessed similar situations. In many lake areas, water springs out of formerly dry places, roads are
flooded, and alkali is found no more in what used to be alkaline lakes.
Even the oldest people in the village cannot explain the abnormal phenomenon. Some say it is inauspicious and invite lamas
(Buddhist monks) to perform rituals, hoping to dispel the evil spirits.
"It is actually caused by global warming," says Bendo, a senior engineer with Remote Sensing Application Research Centre of
the Tibet Autonomous Region.
Bendo and his colleagues have been studying the floods in Nagqu since August 2005.
They conducted site surveys of five lakes in the prefecture and analysed changes in the sizes of the lakes over the past two
decades with remote sensing mapping.
"We found rises in rainfall as well as in air and ground temperatures in lake areas but declines in water evaporation,
exposure to sunlight, and thickness of snow and frozen earth," he said. "We therefore decided global warming caused the
lakes to swell."
Bendo said the average water level in Naigri Puencog and two other inland lakes rose by 12.6 meters in the recent two
decades, flooding an average 40.8 square km of pasture, cropland and roads.
Despite the damages to the pastures and roads, many people say the local climate is milder than before as it gets warmer and
rains more often.
However, experts say the impact of global warming is not always positive in Tibet.
In Ngari Prefecture in western Tibet, for example, the warm but arid climate has had a negative effect on the local ecology,
says Bendo.
Known as the "roof of the world", the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is very sensitive to climate changes.
Chinese scientists had earlier found that global warming had caused glaciers to melt fast at Mount Qomolangma, threatening
the balance of global water resources.
"Tibet's responses to global warming will provide valuable firsthand information to worldwide researchers on climate
changes," says Bendo.


SOURCE : Times of India, Thursday, April 13, 2006
Panel reviews wildlife list (April Week 1 (2006)) This may not impact actor Salman Khan. But a government committee is now taking a relook at all the animals, birds and
insects protected under different Schedules of the Wildlife (Protection) Act.
Some might end up losing protective cover. It's the first comprehensive review of all the schedules since the Act came into
force three decades ago. The review is to be based on guidelines set out by IUCN (World Conservation Union), says
director-general (forests) J C Kala.
It may upgrade protective cover to some species, downgrade it for others. If some species, particularly marine, are found to
be in abundance and can be a source of livelihood, the government may examine if their "exploitation" — read trade — is
possible without impacting species survival.
Conservationists fear this part. The review, mandated last year but just beginning now, comes at a time when there is muted
debate in wildlife circles on some of the species in Schedule I, the highest protection afforded under the law.
It includes the chinkara which has just impaled Salman as well as the blackbuck which is threatening to trip up the actor
and former India cricket captain Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi — in separate cases.
Some believe the blackbuck need not be in Schedule I. It's there in large numbers in states like Gujarat, AP and Rajasthan
and it damages crops. Others, however, believe there is no need to fiddle with its category.


SOURCE : Times of India, Wednesday, April 12, 2006
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