Press on Environment and Wildlife
India to join Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (March Week 1 (2006))
The Hindu reported that India has decided to join the US Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT) for cooperation in wildlife conservation.
Announced by the United States on September 23, 2005, the coalition focuses on political and public attention on growing threats to wildlife from poaching and illegal trade.
Discussions between the officials of the two countries here on Thursday focussed on exchanges of National Parks and Customs officials, educating public about this illegal trade, wildlife and national park management, sharing of best practices and eco-tourism. A clearer and scientific understanding of the reasons of human-animal conflict, habitat degradation and animal behaviour is also required to be manage as well as drafting of local people to promote eco-tourism, a joint statement issued here said.
Seven major US-based environmental and business groups with global interests and programmes have joined the coalition. These are Conservation International, Save the Tiger Fund, Smithsonian Institution, Traffic International, WildAid, Wildlife Conservation Society, and the American Forest and Paper Association. The membership of the Coalition is open to Governments, non-government organisations and corporations committed to combating wildlife trafficking.
India and the United States have been collaborating in the area of wildlife conservation. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWLS) and the Wildlife Institute of India have had collaborative projects since 1989. The USFLS has also supported projects with Bombay Natural History Society and other organisations for implementation in various States to train specialists of international repute in wildlife management and conservation. The two countries have been exploring new areas of possible cooperation, the joint statement said.
Wildlife trafficking is a global problem with trading in animals, animal parts and exotic species fuelling a $10 billion trade. The problem is compounded because of a global nexus with criminals operating in drugs and weapons and needs to be tackled by a multilateral efforts.
In order to address the problem, both the supply and the demand side issues need to be addresses simultaneously. Whereas the United States, China, and Europe are the major markets, a lot of wild animals and illegal wildlife parts/products are sourced from Asian countries.
The statement said the CAWT is focussing its initial efforts on Asia, a major source of illegal wildlife and wildlife parts to the world, including North America, Europe as well as the US.
The coalition aims to support the initiatives of the countries in the region, including the Regional Action Plan on Trade in Wild Flora and Fauna, an ASEAN initiative.
Top Officials Summoned to explain Yamuna's Pollution (March Week 1 (2006)) Peeved at the authorities’ failure to check pollution of river Yamuna, the Delhi High Court summoned the Delhi Chief Secretary, Commissioner MCD and the CEO of the Delhi Jal Board to appear before the court.
A Division Bench of Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Rekha Sharma asked the three top officials to personally appear in the court on March 1 and explain their stands.
The Bench sought the presence of the three top brass after the Delhi Government and the MCD failed to furnish any affidavit on the measures being taken to prevent discharge of sewage into the river and other water bodies, reports The Tribune.

The direction came in connection with a public interest litigation in which the petitioner alleged that the river had become highly polluted as the authorities were releasing untreated sewage and rain water into the river.
Earlier, the DJB had filed an affidavit and sought to shift the responsibility of keeping the river clean on the MCD. The DJB maintained that the upkeep and conception of sewer lines was the responsibility of the MCD.
The Board also submitted that it was formulating a techno-economic feasibility report for construction of effluent treatment plants in and around the river...
The Yamuna enters Delhi at the Wazirabad Barrage, the point at which water is drawn for Delhi's needs and the water that flows through the city consists mainly of sewage discharged from 17 drains.
The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), National River Conservation Directorate (NRCD) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) have stated in their reports that the 22-kilometres of the Yamuna running through Delhi is its most polluted stretch.
Delhi, specifically, has 17 STPs meant for treating domestic sewage, of which two have been funded by Yamuna Action Plan and 10 Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) for industrial waste, reports The Times of India.
Build eco-friendly, save housing tax (March Week 1 (2006)) MUMBAIITES could soon be applying for tax rebates if they turn their houses or buildings eco-friendly.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) plans to promote ‘eco-housing’, the way it was done in Pune. While it won’t be mandatory for new constructions or existing buildings to follow these norms, the BMC expects Mumbai will like the idea.
‘‘Making it mandatory will mean building by-laws will have to be amended,’’ said Manu Kumar Srivastava, additional municipal commissioner. The proposal was passed in the civic Standing Committee meeting on Wednesday.

The scheme’s technical criteria will be put in place by the United States Agency for International Development, the International Institute of Energy Conservation and Science and Technology Park, which helped Pune develop and implement the scheme.
‘‘The next 10 years will see massive development and our infrastructure needs to be upgraded,’’ said Srivastava. ‘‘Every square metre of building in the city today means a cost of Rs 800 cost for the corporation.’’
Many members of the standing committee don’t share his enthusiasm, though. ‘‘For this to work, you need to change the mindset of people,’’ said Samajwadi Party corporator Mohsin Hyder.
Others said Pune’s needs were different and that the scheme was not likely to be a success in Mumbai. ‘‘The points mentioned are different from those used for Pune,’’ said leader of the BJP in the BMC Parag Alavani.
Guidelines
Site planning and environmental architecture
Use of efficient building materials
Energy-efficient lighting
Use of solar water heaters
Water conservation
Segregation of waste
Close vigil being maintained on migratory birds at four sanctuaries (March Week 1 (2006)) The Hindu reported that a close vigil is being maintained on migratory birds that visit the four bird sanctuaries in composite Thanjavur and Perambalur districts as a precautionary measure, in the wake of reports of avian flu in Maharashtra.
The sanctuaries are Point Calimere near Vedaranyam in Nagapattinam district, Vaduvur and Udhayamarthandapuram in Tiruvarur district and Karavetti in Perambalur district.
"Point Calimere records the largest congregation of flamingos, next only to Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. Since the season has come to an end, most of the birds have left," Mr. Baruah , Wildlife Warden, said.
Susceptible species
Of the migratory birds, avian flu had struck only two species — brown-headed gull and bar-headed goose — in other countries. Only a very few brown-headed gulls were found at Point Calimere while 265 bar-headed geese were found at Karavetti. Movement of bar-headed geese was being closely monitored for any symptoms of the disease, he said.
Ever since bird flu was noticed in India, all precautionary measures had been taken in the four bird sanctuaries. "We have bought protective gear such as face masks, hand gloves and polythene bags, and they are kept ready at the sanctuaries."
Point Calimere records the visit of about 5,000 flamingos every year. Other birds that visit the sanctuary are painted storks, spoonbills, variety of gulls, pintail ducks etc. Karavetti receives a large number of bar-headed goose, pelicans, ibis, spoonbills and a variety of water birds.
33 vultures, 10 kites die in Sikkim, Bengal (March Week 1 (2006)) The Hindu reported the death of vultures and kites in Sikkim and Bengal. At a time when there is a nationwide alert on avian flu and stepped up vigil, reports of death of vultures and kites in Sikkim and north Bengal over the last few days have caused concern.
However, local experts say it is highly unlikely that the deaths could be attributed to bird flu.
Thirty-three vultures have died within a month at altitudes ranging between 10,000 ft and 20,000 ft in the Yambung Valley of the West Sikkim district. Ten kites were found dead in the plains near Siliguri in the adjoining north Bengal on Thursday.
Samples of the dead vultures and kites have been sent to the High Risk Disease Investigation Centre in Bhopal.
The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), which spearheads a campaign for the conservation of vultures, has also been informed, said Usha Lachungpa, senior research officer in the Sikkim Wildlife Department. "Never before has there been reports of such a large number of vultures dying in the State," she told The Hindu from Gangtok.
"It is more likely that they [deaths] were caused by retaliatory poisoning as three dog carcasses were found in the vicinity," she added.
Samples were initially tested at the Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Kolkata, S. K. Dasgupta, Director, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services, West Bengal, said.
"Preliminary tests conducted on the dead birds reveal no symptom of bird flu," Lakmi Narayan Bandhopadhyay, Deputy Director, Animal Resources Department, added from Siliguri.The vulture population is fast dwindling and the reports from Sikkim "are an added cause for alarm.
Nearly 97 per cent of vultures have died over the past decade according to surveys conducted by experts — the rate of decline in population being the fastest for any living species in the world," said BNHS Director Asad Rahmani.
Most of the vulture deaths across the country are a result of the birds feeding on carcasses that contain traces of diclofenac sodium, a popular painkiller administered to cattle.
"Sikkim is the only State to have imposed a ban on the use of the drug earlier their year through a government notification," said the State's Principal Conservator of Forest and Secretary, Forest Department, T.R. Poudyal.
Handri-Neeva: environment aspect given a go-by at public hearing (Issue of the week, February Week 3 (2006)) A public hearing conducted in Anantapur on Monday to receive objections and suggestions on the impact of works pertaining to Handri-Neeva project on the environmental aspects in the district was reduced to a mere formality due to poor participation of the sections concerned, reports The Hindu.
Speaking at the meeting, Collector Y.V. Anuradha stated that notification on the environmental objections pertaining to Handri-Neeva project was issued to elicit the public opinion before giving a clearance.
There was not much forest cover and wild life in the district and the clearance would come without any hassle.
Only 440 hectares of forestland, which did not have much vegetation, was required for the project works in the district.
The reservoirs to be constructed under the project also required small amount of land and the area of submergence was also very little, the Collector explained.
Many seats unoccupied
All the participants, including Hindupur legislator P. Ranganayakulu, only demanded extension of the project and water for more areas. The seating arranged for VIPs and politicians, including the elected representatives, was seen vacant all through, as their participation was minimal.
A handful of public and a few other interested sections either demanded higher compensation for their lands acquired for the project works or the project water for more areas in the district. But, nobody spoke on the environmental aspect for which the meeting was convened.
The hearing was conducted by the regional office of the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board.
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