Press on Environment and Wildlife
Environment ministry slaps Rs 200 crore fine on Adani group (September Week #1 (2013))
The environment ministry has slapped a Rs 200-crore fine on the Adani Group's Mundra Port and Special Economic Zone for damaging mangroves, creeks and the local environment at the project site. The company's shares fell 6.4%.

The penalty was recommended by a committee headed by Sunita Narain, director general of Centre for Science and Environment, set up by the environment ministry. The report was submitted to environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan in April. No immediate comment
was available from the Adani group. Officials said a part of the project could face suspension after a more detailed investigation into the alleged violation of environmental clearance norms. The money from the fine will go into an environment restoration
fund for the area.

The five-member committee had visited the site, where it found widespread destruction of mangroves--75 hectares of mangroves have been lost in Bocha Island, which was declared as a conservation zone under the environmental clearance conditions.

"The company has not taken precautions to guard against blocking of creeks because of construction activities; satellite imagery shows signs of deterioration and loss of creeks near the proposed North Port. It has not taken stipulated measures to ensure
that the channels that bring large volumes of seawater for use in the thermal power plant and then discharge as well as the storage tank is lined so that there is no chance of salinity contamination in groundwater," the report stated.


Lakshadweep getting choked by human activity: study (September Week #1 (2013))
A study on the state of the environment of the island group, conducted by the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE), has found that the coral reefs face the greatest threat from pollution, dredging of navigational channels,
coral mining, and destructive practices like blast fishing. The final report of the study warns that sea-level rise triggered by global warming could also be indirectly impacting on the archipelago comprising reefs, lagoons, beaches, and sand dunes.

The limited ground water resources in the islands are already strained by over exploitation. Salinity intrusion caused by rising sea level could aggravate the situation, the study warns. Pointing out that Lakshadweep was located along the main route for
oil tankers plying between the Middle East and Southeast Asia, it notes that oil spillage and discharge of waste oil and untreated waste into the sea could pose a potential threat to the rich marine biodiversity of the region.

The report has called for strict enforcement of the Coastal Regulation Zone norms to protect the islands. It recommends the creation of a biosphere area and the establishment of marine parks for sustainable management of biodiversity. The project team
stresses the need to adopt eco-friendly coastal protection measures such as beach nourishment, submerged breakwaters and artificial reefs. It moots the installation of desalination plants, sewage treatment facilities and solar power units on all islands. The
report also proposes a coral monitoring programme and strict curbs on capture of ornamental fish.


Jungle safari to start in Mandu forest areas (September Week #1 (2013))
The eco-tourism department of Madhya Pradesh forest department will soon come up with a jungle safari in forest areas of Mandu. Mandu is noted for its historical sites and picturesque landscape. However, movement of tourist was restricted only to certain
sites. With development of the jungle safari, tourist will have access to nearly 10,000 hectare of forest area.

The forest department will pump in around Rs 1.5 crore in the project. The work is expected to start after the monsoon season is over and is expected to be completed within a year.

Tourists will also get a chance to see leopards, jackals, neelgais, deers, sambhars, hornbills and other species from close quarters. They will also get a chance to camp inside the deep forest.

Elaborating on the project, the forest official said that water bodies inside the forest will be deepened further. The idea is to make it perennial and ensure that wild animals keep visiting it all through the year, along with landscape development and
plantation. Moreover, there will be 10 access points to enter inside the forest area.

Official said that the proposed jungle safari will be similar to those in Panna, Delawadi and other wildlife tourist spots.

The department is hopeful that with this project, the number of tourist inflow will increase significantly and will also help preserve forest and create awareness about environment.


Smartphones for Western Ghats conservation (September Week #1 (2013))
The pocket-sized smartphone is set to give a fillip to conservation activities in the Western Ghats.

The Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) is joining hands with the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), U.S., for a project on using smartphones in a big way for crowdsourcing, a participatory exercise to generate data, for ecological research
and conservation of the Western Ghats region.

The project has been submitted to NASA for funding under the Applied Science Programme, Udaysankar. S. Nair of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, UAH, said.

The increasing availability of mobile devices equipped with global positioning system and improved camera features had opened up the possibility of crowdsourcing, he said. “It is something everybody can do. Armed with mobile phones, volunteers, including
schoolchildren, would collect data that can be used along with satellite images to assess the impact of land use and land cover changes in the Western Ghats


Water at 75 locations in major rivers not fit for drinking: Govt (September Week #1 (2013))
Water at 75 locations of major rivers, such as Ganga, Yamuna, Chambal, Sone and Wainaganga are not fit for drinking, the Government said in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.

The Central Water Commission (CWC) under the Water Resources Ministry, which monitors water quality at 396 stations located in all the major river basins, published a report Water Quality Hot Spots in Rivers of India in 2011, Water Resources Minister Harish
Rawat said while replying to a question in the Lok Sabha..........

Maharashtra topped the list of having the maximum number of rivers having 28 polluted stretches, namely Bhima, Godavari, Mula and Mutha, Pawana, Panchganga, Patalganga, Indrayani, Koyna, Kundalika, Kalu, Kanhan, Kolar, Mithi, Tapi, Girna, Nira, Weinganga,
Wardha, Krishna, Purna, Nira, Chandrabhaga, Venna, Ulhas, Rangavali and Bhatsa.

The Minister told the House that 19 such polluted stretches were found in Gujarat by CPCB..


Birds take flight as realty boom jolts Okhla sanctuary (September Week #1 (2013))
Okhla Bird Sanctuary is in danger . At least 10 realty projects within a kilometre radius of its Noida boundary might just sound its death knell. High rises , flyovers , malls and heavy traffic on roads on both sides of the ailing sanctuary have not just
driven away the winged visitors , but also destroyed the microhabitat that could have been an excellent groundwater recharge system as well as the city's lung . 

The projects have come up on the potential eco-sensitive zone (ESZ ) of the sanctuary without environmental clearance or the wildlife board's permission , exposing the collusion between realty giants and the government . When TOI visited the sanctuary
, it found a strip of small trees on the Noida side, which could hardly protect the fragile habitat of the sanctuary from the pollution caused by the projects that have encroached upon the eco-sensitive zone occupying 10km radius , as defined by the Supreme
Court . The Delhi side is absolutely bare . The boundary wall towards the Jamia Nagar side in Delhi has been broken up in places to dump waste . Uttar Pradesh is one of the many states that have not notified the ESZ around its national parks and sanctuaries
, leading to degradation of the Okhla sanctuary's rich wetland ecosystem . Data with the Noida Authority shows there are 53 projects in various stages of construction within the ESZ .


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