Press on Environment and Wildlife
Ganga among 10 dying rivers WWF Report (Issue of the week, March Week # (2007)) The Ganga, which is virtually synonymous with Indian civilisation, is dying. Pollution, over-extraction of water, emaciated tributaries and climatic changes are killing the mighty river, on whose fecund plains live one in 12 people of this planet.
This grim prognosis was made by conservation group WWF on Tuesday. Apart from Ganga, Indus, Nile and Yangtze are among the 10 most endangered rivers of the world. Over-extraction, climate change, pollution and dams are threatening the world's top rivers, leading to severe water shortages.
"Poor planning and inadequate protection of natural areas mean that we can no longer assume that water will flow forever,'' states the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) report "World's Top 10 Rivers at Risk,'' released here on Tuesday ahead of World Water Day on March 22.
"In India, barrages control all the tributaries to the Ganga and divert roughly 60 per cent of the flow to large-scale irrigation. Over-extraction for agriculture in the Ganga has caused reduction in surface water resources, increased dependence on groundwater, loss of water-based livelihoods and destruction of habitat of 109 fish species and other aquatic and amphibian fauna,'' says the report.
The other rivers on the list are: the Yangtze, Mekong, and Salween in Asia, Europe's Danube, the Americas' La Plata and Rio Grande, Africa's Nile (Lake Victoria) and Australia's Murray-Darling.
The Ganga basin makes up almost a third of India's land area and its rich soil is home to millions of people. However, indiscriminate extraction of water with modern tube wells from the river as well as its basin, coupled with the damming of its tributaries for irrigation, have seriously reduced its flow.
Climate change has added to the threat. Said WWF programme director Sejal Worah: "Glaciers account for as 30 to 40% of water in the Ganga and this goes up to 70-80% in the case of Indus. Studies are required to gauge the impact of melting glaciers on the flow."
Apart from humans, many other kinds of lives are in danger due to Ganga's degeneration. The river is home to more than 140 fish species, 90 amphibian species and the endangered Ganga river dolphin. And Ganga is, of course, sacred to Hindus, besides having spawned many great cities on its banks.

SOURCE : Times of India, The Hindu, Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Carbon trading firm to open office (March Week # (2007)) CantorCO2e will announce the official launch of its Indian operations next month.
Managing Director of the company's Indian operations Ram Babu said here on Tuesday that the London-based CO2e and the US-based Cantor Environmental Brokerage firm joined hands last week and created CantorCO2e.
Cantor Environmental Brokerage was one of the first emission brokerage firms in the world to create liquidity in the environmental markets in the US, while CO2e was formed to address the prospect of global greenhouse gas emission trading created by the signature of the Kyoto Protocol. CantorCO2e was responsible for the certified emission reductions (CERs) in Europe and Canada.
Though several companies in India were vigorously pursuing clean development mechanism (CDM) in their industries and were into trading emission credits, at least 50 per cent of their applications were blocked at the CDM executive board in Bonn.
CantorCO2E was providing the necessary guidance to companies secure CERs to operate in the carbon market. India accounted for the highest percentage (32.88 per cent) of registered project activities for obtaining CERs, followed by Brazil (17.12 per cent).
Mr. Ram Babu said that once the industries understood that the CERs would fetch money, the business would further increase.


SOURCE : The Hindu, Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Mangrove eco tourism project soon (March Week # (2007)) Protecting the specialised forests part of the WB-aided programme
Inspired by the success of Maredumilli and Rampa Eco Tourism projects, the Forest Department proposes to launch another World Bank-aided project based on the mangrove eco system during the first week of April.
The idea is to attract tourists and, at the same time, involve local people, predominantly the fishermen, in protecting the specialised forest eco system that prevented devastation during the previous cyclones and also the recent tsunami.
Already, afforestation of mangroves in coastal areas of Kakinada division has commenced under the tsunami mitigation plan as part of the Andhra Pradesh Community Forest Management project. The mangroves of Gouthami and Godavari extend up to a stretch of 332.66 km in East Godavari, from the southern periphery of the Kakinada bay to Pondicherry lagoon.
Under the project, authorities have proposed to promote eco tourism activity by providing basic requirements for visitors such as well-furnished motorboats enabling them to visit the specialised mangrove forests and related marine fauna.
Tourists will have the opportunity of visiting the mangrove system and watching the marine wildlife, birds and flying fish and enjoy the food and other refreshments on the boat itself.
The project coast is estimated at Rs. 33.55 lakhs and expected to fetch revenue of Rs.1 lakh in the initial year.
The project will be supervised by the Forest Department and managed by the local fishermen who are members of the Vana Samrakshana Samitis (VSS).
"It is a one-time investment project and subsequent maintenance is by way of regenerating the resources in a self sustainable way involving the local community," says District Forest Officer Ananda Mohan.
Already, the VSS members of Masanithippa, Balusutippa and Chakalipet have been deputed for training in other eco tourism projects in the district.
They would receive part of the revenue of the tourism project towards gainful employment that paves the way for bettering their living standards.

SOURCE : The Hindu, Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Dolphins a big draw for tourists at Chilika (March Week # (2007)) Chilika, the largest inland brackish lake in Asia, is a natural aquarium for 170 varieties of fish, which provide food to the growing population of Irrawady dolphins. In fact, the Chilika lagoon is the natural abode of Irrawady dolphins, with the cetacean being the flagship species. It is a highly endangered species and the total population in the world is estimated to be less than 1,000, of which there are 135 in Chilika, said latest estimates.
Of late, Satpada, which lies 120 km from Bhubaneswar, is emerging as a major tourist destination for both national as well as international tourists.
State Tourism Minister Debi Prasad Mishra said, "We will be providing house boats at Satpada in line with the Dal Lake in Jammu and Kashmir." More and more fibre boats would be provided to the tourists and facilities would be improved soon, he added.

SOURCE : The Pioneer, Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Read more about dolphins at the link
Year of The Dolphin-2007
http://www.yod2007.org/en/ Start_page/index.html

Ridge not affected by Metro: Minister (March Week # (2007)) The Delhi Metro has not affected the city's green lung, the Delhi ridge, and will only infringe a very small area in it due to unavoidable reasons, the Minister for Environment and Forests, Mr Namo Narain Meena has told Parliament.
In a written reply, he told Lok Sabha that the Metro rail had not affected the ridge area so far. However, the proposed Central Secretariat-Qutab Minar-Gurgaon corridors, already approved by the government, would infringe the ridge area at three locations, he added.
These infringements were unavoidable and involved only a small area of the ridge measuring 5.56 hectares on permanent basis and 2.17 hectares on temporary basis during the construction phase only.
During construction, it would be ensured that a minimum number of trees were affected in the ridge area. Besides, compensatory plantation for the trees being felled will be taken up. The construction methodology would be such that there was least disturbance to surrounding areas, the minister assured.

SOURCE : The Tribune, Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Four-foot-long fishing cat sighted in Bhitarkanika (March Week # (2007)) The Bhitarkanika forest officials on Sunday spotted a four-foot-long rare fishing cat at Ekakula Island under Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary.
According to Rajnagar District Forest Officer AK Jena, some Kolkota-based tourists, who were moving at Ekakula, informed him that they had spotted a rare species. Later, he, along with forest officials, went to Ekakula and found that the spotted species is a big fishing cat.
Jena said that the current status of the fishing cat is included in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and in Appendix II of CITES. The species is designated as "vulnerable" in the Red Data Book. Their number in the State is declining owing to killing and habitat loss.
The Bhitaknaika National Park is the home to hundreds of fishing cats, as it provides a congenial atmosphere for the species. After a gap of a couple of years, the forest department has sighted such a big fishing cat, said Jena.
Of the 11 species of small cats in India, six are known to be in Orissa. Each sanctuary has one or more species of small cats. The Bhitarkanika National Park has three species of small cats each, namely leopard cat, fishing cat and jungle cat. The fishing cat is strongly associated with wetlands. It is typically found in swamps and marshy areas, oxbow lakes, reed beds, tidal creeks and mangrove areas.
Wetland destruction is the primary threat faced by the fishing cat. Causes of this destruction include human settlement, draining for agriculture, construction of aquaculture facilities and woodcutting. High content of pesticides in rice fields and fishponds result in adverse impacts. Since the harmful chemical residues enter aquatic food chains and affect top predators such as the fishing cat.
Destructive fishing practices have also greatly reduced the fishing cat's main prey base. The fishing cat is hunted because it is considered edible and its skin is still valued by the fur trade.


SOURCE : The Pioneer, Tuesday, March 20, 2007
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