Press on Environment and Wildlife
Tehri dam has killed two rivers, says Bahuguna (January Week 3 (2006)) The Tehri hydel power project, jointly promoted by the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh Government, had spelt doom to two rivers--the Ganga and the Bhagirathi — apart from wreaking havoc on the livelihoods of river-dependant villages, environmental activist Sunderlal Bahuguna said in Chennai on Sunday.
Comparing the plight of the rivers to the "stripping of Draupadi by Duryodhana", Mr. Bahuguna — one of India's foremost green warriors and the inspiration behind the legendary Chipko movement — said the whole country was a silent witness to the massacre. Mr. Bahuguna, who is also a Gandhian and a peace activist, lives in the Tehri dam area.
"Over 22 villages have been submerged, along with 42 sq km of land holdings. More than one lakh people have been rendered destitute. Despite our protest for 15 years and the killing of 16 of our people, the dam was allowed to come up. Now, there is a plan not to let the dam waters go beyond Hardwar, but take them to Delhi. As Delhi had already killed the Yamuna, it makes for three dead rivers," he told members of the Order of Service of the Theosophical Society during a talk on "Trees for survival".
The Save Himalayas movement led by him was now advocating tree planting on the hill slopes to check soil erosion, as the siltation caused by the dam was very high. This would not only enable village communities to benefit from tree produce, but also to conserve water. The western Uttar Pradesh would feel the most adverse impact from the dam, he added.
"Social catastrophe"
The project for interlinking of rivers would create another environmental and sociological catastrophe by displacing lakhs of more people and creating water disputes among States. Developed nations had to follow the path of sustained development and practise austerity.
Urging people to "heal the Earth's wounds by growing more trees", he said the future of the country lay in tree-farming as trees provided food, fodder, fibre, fertilisers and fuel.
National parks functioning without vets (Issue of the week, January Week 2 (2006)) National parks and sanctuaries in Madhya Pradesh are facing an acute shortage of trained veterinary staff.
Three out of the eight national parks in the State do not have a single veterinarian posted in them.
None of the 25 Sanctuaries in the state have veterinarians posted in them either.
The Forest Department is not entirely to blame as the veterinary doctors are drawn from the Veterinary Department on deputation.
The Veterinary Department has over the years expressed its difficulty in sparing its staff for deputation in the Forest Department.
Out of the nine national parks in the state, Kanha, Panna, Shivpuri, Van Vihar and Pench have veterinary staff posted in them while Bandhavgarh, Satpura and Sanjay National Parks are devoid of veterinary staff.
Veterinarians posted at five national parks also have to attend to exigencies in districts adjoining where they are posted.
Interestingly, the Project Tiger management on a suggestion of the Forest Department had agreed to pay for the expenses that would be incurred in maintaining veterinary staff in every national park.
Moreover, the project tiger management has also agreed to finance the training of a veterinarian at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) Dehradun.
The veterinarian posted at the Pench National Park has already undergone training at the WII as part of the program.
The shortage of funds not being a reason, what is keeping the Forest Department from ensuring presence of veterinary staff at all National Parks?
The Veterinary Department from where all the veterinary staff posted in National Parks at the moment has expressed its inability to spare more staff.
However, the Forest Department has now received permission to appoint veterinary staff on a contractual basis.
PCCF (Wildlife) Dr PB Gangopadhyay told The Pioneer there were certain parks which did not have veterinarians posted there but the problem is looked into. "The process of recruitment would be initiated soon," he added.
15,500 trees around Dal Lake felled (January Week 2 (2006)) Around 15,500 illegally planted trees around Dal Lake have been felled as per directions of the J&K High Court, a Forest Department spokesman said today. He said the department was trying its best to implement the orders of the court last week for the felling of trees.
J&K Forest Minister Tariq Hameed Karra also visited the lake for monitoring the implementation of the court orders.reorts The Tribune.
Wildlife census on Jan 16 (January Week 2 (2006)) The World Conservation Union International (WCUI) organisation will keep an eye on the counting of tigers in the state, reports The Central Chronicle. For one month their two dozen scientists will also be present during the counting of tigers under Wild life conservation institution Dehra Dun. Elimination of tigers from the national parks and after continuous hunting in Panna and Bandhavgarh, government is on high alert regarding the counting of tigers in the state. Recently the Supreme Court has ordered for the investigation into the Panna case. In this regard the Centre and state governments have to submit explanation within four weeks.
Meanwhile, along with tigers, counting of other animals would be started on January 16, of conserved areas and open forests. Presently along with national parks and conservation the count of tigers is 394, whereas in open areas it is 721. The number of other wild animals are about 42,000. The counting of all these will be done by the supervision of wild life conservation institution Dehra Dun. .
This is for the first time that 10,000 forest workers were trained for the counting of animals. Counting work will be done with the pug marks, video and DNA test. Although counting work of tigers has started at Sundar Van National Park from January 9 along with tags, they are named also. But this type of cards will not be provided in Madhya Pradesh.
Film on coral reefs brings to fore fragile ecosystem (January Week 2 (2006)) The secret yet beautiful underwater life and shore communities along with several rare birds living around coral islands can be seen in a film produced by a group of environmentalists.
The film highlights the importance of the ecosystem and need for its conservation. It has been produced to promote nature education and aid conservation, says Dr Satish Pande of ELA Foundation, an organisation devoted to conservation of nature.
India’s 6,500 km coastline and the Gulf of Kutch, Palk Strait, Gulf of Mannar, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep Islands are endowed with coral reefs.
They require clear, warm, flowing salt water and hence exist near the tropics. India is home to about 500 corals of the one lakh species known to science. Transparent water is essential for the penetration of sunlight which helps the algae to produce energy and corals to thrive.
The reef community has several associates like colourful sponges, algae, weeds, crustaceans,
molluscs, echinoderms, fish, reptile, worms, bryozoans and others. However, the ecosystem is very fragile. A small change in pH of water, temperature, salinity, tidal level, and contamination with pollutants can kill the entire reef in no time and change a live rich reef into a barren oceanic graveyard, says Pande, adding that coral reefs all over face threats from mining, dredging, sewage and industrial affluent spillage, says Pande.
Contributors to the film are Pande, Anand Abhyankar, Chandrahas Kolhatkar, Tanuja Rahane, Prashant Deshpande, Dr Anand Padhye, Hemant Ghate and others. ELA Foundation has dedicated this film to the memory of late Vatsala Bhimsen Joshi, for inspiring nature study activities of ELA Foundation, of which she was a founder member. SoftLab Pune has undertaken the video-processing part and the film in CD format will be available at a nominal donation price, reports the Indian Express.
Campaign to save birds launched (January Week 2 (2006)) Uttarayan Festival sees hundreds of birds, some of them endangered like the vultures, falling prey to kite strings. This time, however, special arrangements have been made by bird lovers to ensure that birds grounded by the strings will be able to fly again.
With the cases of birds being trapped and injured during Uttarayan festival increasing, the Animal Help Foundation (AHF) in association with the state forest department has launched a campaign — Help the Birds 2006— to save lives of birds. The AHF on Wednesday received information about 13 birds including pigeons, doves and vultures getting injured.
For birds like vulture, which are on the verge of extinction, the AHF and forest department along with Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) have roped-in the services of bird specialists from different countries to find ways to stop loss of life of these exotic birds.
Dr Andrew Routh, a bird specialist from Zoological Society of London, landed in Ahmedabad on Wednesday with the primary objective of saving lives of vultures. Bird experts from Nepal and other states will be here to prevent loss of lives of birds during the kite festival.
AHF and the forest department have set-up eight different centres in the city for collecting injured birds and providing treatment to them. Volunteers at these centres will rush to the spot once they receive information about the injured birds.
Dr Devojit Das, an avian expert working with BNHS from Chandigarh, said: ‘‘The population of vultures has gone down by 99 per cent in the span of 10 years. We are here to ensure that no deaths of this endangered speices take place during the kite festival.’’
Last year's records show that over 1,300 birds — including pigeons, kites and vultures — were injured during Uttarayan and 500 lost their lives due to kitestring injuries. Bird lovers point out that an equal number got injured but never reached hospitals.
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