Need to keep world free of pesticides (Issue of the week, September Week 1 (2006))
Recent trends in agriculture technology clearly indicate a major
change in the traditional agricultural practices. Often it is touted
that in order to cater to the large and increasing demand for
agricultural produce, one has to use fertilizers, pesticides and use
tillage to remove weeds etc. However, recent reports including by
the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) clearly show that
conservation agricultural practices can be employed to have
sustainable farming. These techniques, currently employed in Brazil,
many parts of Western Europe and the U.S. clearly show that
farming can be practiced without sacrificing yield. It also indicates
that yield has little to do with use of chemical fertilisers and
pesticides. Tillage is not encouraged at all whereas crop rotation
and other techniques are used to for long-term soil conservation.
The techniques are also used for reduced need for water especially
in arid to semi-arid areas, and to remove pests and weeds. The
counter argument that yield suffers has been shown to be not true,
especially when one calculates the true cost of using farm equipment
for weeding, tilling etc. Some of the leading universities have been
working with farmers to use `Conservation agriculture' to reduce
surface run-off, no tillage techniques etc. Similar efforts by
Permaculture groups have also shown that it is possible to develop
sustainable and high yield in agriculture by employing modern
trends in agriculture practices. Permaculture groups work towards
the development of complete and self-sustaining agriculture eco
systems. The FAO concludes that the biggest obstacle is the
mindset. The pay offs are clear — long term soil conservation,
lesser threat to bio and eco diversity from chemical fertilizers,
reduced pollution of water table by chemical residues and better soil
nutrition. In Kerala, NGOs should work with agriculture scientists
and irrigation engineers to re-educate farmers.
"Our experiments with chemical fertilisers and pesticides have been
based, to a large extent, on vested interests. Even the fauna has
been badly affected by the over use of chemicals. It was our
eagerness to get rich in no time that prompted us to take to
chemical fertilisers and pesticides in a big way. We did not think
twice about the environmental impact of such a switch over. Our
traditional agricultural practices at least retained the fertility of the
soil. The Agriculture Department should popularise indigenous
methods of cultivation. Many pests can be warded off using
traditional methods. The guidance of veterans in the field should be
sought and in this regard. `A return to nature' in our agriculture
strategy seems to be the right approach to life. We will also be
bequeathing a healthy environment to posterity."
The Hindu , Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Forest department begins "bio-fencing" (September Week 1 (2006))
The Coimbatore Circle of the forest department in
association with the animal husbandry department has started a
bio-fencing exercise by vaccinating stray cattle in the fringe areas of
the reserve forest.
Bio-fencing is vaccinating and de-worming domestic cattle in the
fringe areas of the forest against the dreaded and common diseases
such as Anthrax and Foot and Mouth to ensure that they do not act
as carriers of any disease when they venture into the jungles for
According to the Conservator of Forests, Coimbatore Circle,
Rakesh Chandra Purwar, the exercise has already been completed
along the fringe areas of the forest along the boundaries of Indira
Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park at Pollachi. A similar
drive was being planned across the Coimbatore division and in the
divisions and wildlife sanctuary in the Nilgiris across the
Coimbatore Circle. Vaccination of wildlife is not possible hence
vaccination of the domestic cattle, say sources.
The animal husbandry department provided the vaccine, manpower
and expertise, while the forest department provided the ground
support and logistics in vaccinating the domestic cattle in the
villages across the reserve forest boundaries.
Vaxination camps helped in vaccinating thousands of cattle along the boundaries of the reserve forest.
The effort is just to prevent spreading of diseases when the
domestic cattle stray into the forest and establishes an interface
with the wildlife through water, food or excreta. Due to lack of
awareness, the cattle owners failed to bring it to the dispensaries for
vaccination. Through this bio-fencing exercise the forest department
provided a platform besides the logistics for vaccinating the stray
cattle against dreaded diseases.
The forest department was not only preventing diseases to wildlife
by getting the stray cattle vaccinated but also mobilising the
villagers to avail the services of the animal husbandry department.
SOURCE : The Hindu, Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Leading by example, Deogarh villagers save forests (September Week 1 (2006))
A number of villages in Deogarh district have come forward to
conserve community- based forests actively involving of thousands
of villagers, including women volunteers.
In Chandankhunti village under Barkote block, around 350
inhabitants including women, have successfully conserved 200 acres
of forest cover through community forestry on the foothills of
Chulia, the highest mountain range of Deogarh. They have also
guarded more than 300 acres of the Badtaeil reserve forest.
The process of planting saplings and forest protection was started in
1992 after the land oustees of Rengali Dam Project resettled in the
village. They restored the barren foothills into dense forest, leading
to further restoration dried out Bhandarkhol spring, which flows for
about eight months a year and provides sufficient water for
The villagers have formed a village committee of 13 members and
the committee has constituted many groups including women. Each
group, comprising 11 villagers takes care of the forest for a week in
rotation with day and night patrolling.
"We have affection for the village forest and we take care of the
trees like our own children," said Nilanchal Pradhan, former
secretary of the village committee.
Similarly, women of Balinalli village in Dandasingha panchayat have
taken up the cudgels for protection of the village forest on 130 acres
of land without seeking help from any agency. They have formed the
Bighneswari Mahila Samiti (BMS) and their members have
successfully preserved the forest.
"We have caught many wood cutters red-handed and also imposed
fine on them," stated Bilasini Sahu, president of the BMS.
Interestingly, students of the Swastik ME School of Goadbhanga,
situated on the foothills of Panguli hill in Barkote, are also following
in the footsteps of villagers and preserved more than 630 acres of
forest area. Headmaster Ramakanta Pradhan of the school has
played important role in forest protection with the help of school
"We knelt before wood cutters and requested them not to cut trees.
Fortunately, we have succeeded many times to convince them," said
Basanti Behera, a 7th class student of the school.
Ranjan Sahu, Secretary, Deogarh Zilla Jungle Manch (DZJM) said
about 450 village committees have been formed in different villages
of the district and the DZJM is co-operating for expansion and
protection of the forest cover of the district.
SOURCE : The Pioneer, Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Fly ash, once a major pollutant, now an asset (September Week 1 (2006))
Used for applications like making bricks
Fly ash from thermal power plants, once a major air pollutant, is
now being made into bricks or added as a mixture to cement for
building construction, laying of roads and landfills.
"Fly ash is not a waste, but an asset," was the theme of the
Tiruvallur District Fly Ash Implementation Committee's second
meeting on Tuesday at the Ennore Thermal Power Station and the
North Chennai Thermal Power Station .
Ash generation in the three units at ETPS is expected to go up to
3,000 tonnes. The ash was collected manually till December 2005,
from April 14, the collection has been through the pressurised dense
fly ash collection system (PDFACS) and lifted through bulkers. The
remaining fly ash and bottom ash is mixed with seawater as slurry
and pumped into ash dykes and kept as wet ash.
In 2005-06, utilisation of fly ash was 26.17 per cent, exceeding the
target of 20 per cent. There will be 100 per cent utilisation by the
end of 2007 with the help of PDFACS and use of wet ash for road
and land filling works.
SOURCE : The Hindu, Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Most tiger reserves violate norms: CAG (September Week 1 (2006))
The ambitious Project Tiger programme of the Centre has come in
for sharp criticism from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)
which found that many tiger reserves do not even adhere to the
prescribed norms for a core area or protected zone of a sanctuary.
While the norms for tiger reserves prescribe an average area of
1,500 sq km with at least 300 sq km as the core area, the CAG
report for 2005 found that 15 of the 28 tiger reserves spanned less
than 720 sq km.
Six of these 15 tiger reserves had a core area of less than the
prescribed 300 sq km, it said, noting that such discrepancies existed
despite the knowledge that tiger population grows rapidly in
The CAG found that human settlements existed in the core areas in
half of the tiger reserves, including Ranthambore, Sariska, Panna
and Pench. The result has been an increase of just 20 tigers in 18
years in 15 tiger reserves created till 1984.
The Project Tiger Directorate (PTD) admitted that human
settlements disturb tigers but said the areas were brought under the
project considering the threat to the tiger population there. The
CAG also pulled up the PTD and state governments for the delay in
notifying the tiger reserves as National Parks, which would provide
a legal basis for ensuring protection.
“In many tiger reserves the final declaration procedures of National
Park, core and buffer, were pending as of March 2006 even though
the amended Wildlife (Protection) Act, 2003, set a time limit for
completion of acquisition proceedings,” it said. The final notification
declaring the area as a National Park was not issued in Indravati,
Kanha, Pench, Palamau, Bandhavgarh, Panna, Simlipal and Kakkad
Mundanthurai till March this year despite these being declared as
tiger reserves in 1973-75. “This depicts (a) lack of commitment on
the part of state governments while denying legal backing to the
boundaries of the reserves,” the CAG report stated.
The state governments have also drawn the ire of the CAG for the
lack of any special anti-poaching drive or any stringent action in
cases of tiger killings. A test check in the audit revealed that out of
the 46 cases of poaching registered during 2000-05 in the Sariska
Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan, 13 were tiger cases. The PTD drew
criticism for the absence of a communication network in as many as
nine reserves and deficiencies in creation of strike forces and
provision of arms and ammunition to forest staff to check poaching.
Several tiger reserves reported shortage of weapons, with
Nagarhole and Bandipur having 21 and 31 weapons against a
requirement of 191 and 123 respectively.
The CAG report said the implementation of Project Tiger was
severely hampered by under-staffing. And, the personnel employed
were under-trained and under-equipped. The CAG has also
suggested that all Tiger Reserves should have a well-formulated
management plan for appropriate allocation of resources.
SOURCE : The Statesman, Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Presence of leopards, wild dogs detected in Krishna forests (Issue of the week, May Week 4 (2006))
Census reveals no sign of tigers, bears and hyenas
· Nearly 40,000 acres of pristine jungle exists in the reserve forest areas
· Census conducted using the `line transact method' to locate carnivorous animals
In the reserve forests of Krishna district, leopards and wild dogs top the list of carnivores in food chain in the absence of tiger population. This came to light in the census of carnivorous and herbivorous animals conducted by the Forest Department recently.
According to statistics, nine per cent of the total geographical area of Krishna district is covered by forest. Huge stretches of the 1.94 lakh acres of the forest have become degraded and partly have fallen to encroachments. But there is 30,000 acres of pristine
jungle in Kondapalli Reserve Forest and another 10,000 acres in the Gaddamarugu Konduru Reserve Forest. Large carnivores and herbivores often stray into the G. Konduru Reserve Forest from Khammam district. The Forest Department conducted the census using the
line transact method to search for all carnivorous animals like tigers, leopards (also referred to as panthers), wild dogs, bears, hyenas, jackals and wolfs. Pugmarks and faecal matter have confirmed the presence of leopards (Pathera pardus) and wild dogs
Divisional Forest Officer K. Suryanaryana says that Forest Department staff and others have confirmed the presence of wild dogs, which is evident from the howling and other vocalisations often heard in the jungles. However, there are no signs of tigers, bears
and hyenas in the reserve forest of the district.
A large number of jackals (Canis aureus), one wolf (Canis lupis pallipes) and one civet cat (Vivarricula Indica) have been also recorded in the census for carnivores.
Plenty of wild boars (Sus scrofa) are found in the survey for census of herbivorous animals. Marks of many large herbivores like Sambar (Cervus unicolor) and Chital (Axis axis) have also been recorded.
A limited number of barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak) and four-horned antelope (chowsingha) (Tetracerus quadricornis) have also been sighted. Other mammals like Rhesus monkey (Rhesus macaque) langur (Presbytis entellus), hare (Lepus nigris collies) porcupine
(Hystrix indica) exist in good number. Peacocks and jungle fowl are the large birds that inhabit the forests.
The Forest Department has created several water holes and salt licks to help the large animals to protect themselves from the heat of the summer, Mr.Suryanarayana says. The Sattemma Talli temple tank in the heart of Kondapalli reserve forest and other tanks
date back to the British times, he says.
SOURCE : The Hindu, Thursday, May 25, 2006