Press on Environment and Wildlife
Fire engulfs Parambikulam, Nelliampathy forests (April Week # (2007))

The wild fire raging in parts of Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary andthe adjoining Nelliampathy forests has destroyed hundreds of acres offorest tracts and plantations. The fire that broke out in theThuthampara forest area of Parambikulam sanctuary, borderingNelliampathy
forests, on Saturday is still continuing and the fire thatbroke out couple of days ago at Thenmala Valley and Pothundy areas atthe foothills of the ecologically fragile Nelliampathy Hills too wasraging. The efforts to douse the fire were yet to succeed in
Thenmalavalley even on Sunday evening. However, the fire that engulfed acres offorest and some plantations in Thuthumpara area in Parambikulamsanctuary was put down due to the efforts of 100 labourers ofThuthampara Estate of Poab's Group and the forest firewatchers
underthe Nemmara Forest Division. Nenmara Divisional Forest Officer K. Babutold The Hindu that the department was trying its best to control thefire in Parambikulam and Nelliampathy forests. One of the reasons forthe fire was the lack of pre-monsoon rain in
the area. Mr. Babu saidthat forest fire could be prevented only with the cooperation of thepeople. There were cases when some people set the forest on fire, whilesome were accidents. Sometimes, negligence on the part of those who goto collect forest produce
and honey also caused fire. The DFO said someof the retrenched forest firewatchers were also allegedly to behindsuch forest fire. One person was arrested on Saturday in connectionwith the fire in Thenmala valley in Nelliampathy. He said that thedepartment
had spent Rs.10 lakh for anti-fire measures in Nemmaradivision this year. Daily wage firewatchers whose services wereterminated in March were taken back due to the incidents of forest firethis time. Since the area used to get summer rain during March-April,the
services of firewatchers were not commissioned after February, hesaid. Meanwhile Thomas Jacob, director of Poabs Organic Farm inNelliampathy, said that there was no proper management by the ForestDepartment. The department had taken over the fire and wind
belts ofhis estate at Karuna Plantations but had not managed it properly, healleged Tourists coming to Nelliampathy had also become a threat to theforests and plantations. The Forest Department was unable to controlthe tourist flow. Some of the tourists indulged
in activities thatdestroyed the forest and plantations. Uncontrolled tourism activity inNelliampathy, known as the `poor man's Ootty,' was threatening its veryexistence, Mr. Jacob said. He said that due to the fire, wild animalssuch as elephant, wild pig,
bison, deer etc., had entered into theplantations and were destroying the crops. K. Baby, manager of Karunaand Thuthampara Estates, said Nelliampathy was facing an unprecedenteddrought this summer. The temperature had touched 34 degree Celsius inApril. He
said that average temperature in Nelliampathy was between 14degree Celsius and 26 degree Celsius. The area used to get rain induring January, February, March and April. But this year, there wasonly 4 mm rain in January and after that there was no rain. Crops
suchas cardamom, tea, coffee, pepper, etc., had dried up and if there wasno rain within a week the majority of the plantations would bedestroyed, he said. SOURCE : The Hindu, Monday, April 09, 2007


Wullar lake, Kashmir (April Week # (2007)) The Jammu and Kashmir government has formulated a Rs 300-crore comprehensive plan for Wullar lake to develop it on modern lines and make it an attractive tourist destination.
Peoples Democratic Forum leader Usman Majid said the plan had been submitted to the Centre for approval. Addressing a public meeting at Bandipora, 55 kms from here today, he said the state government had sanctioned six more water supply schemes.


SOURCE : The Tribune, Monday, April 09, 2007
Renewable energy to meet 50% of power needs (April Week # (2007)) Renewable energy, combined with efficiencies from the ‘smart use’ of energy, can deliver half of India’s primary energy needs by 2050, according to the report: ‘Energy Revolution: A sustainable Energy Outlook for India’ launched on Monday.
Commissioned by the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) and Greenpeace, it provides a blueprint for reducing India’s carbon dioxide emissions by 4% in the next 43 years, while providing secure, affordable energy supply, maintaining steady economic development and without relying on hazardous nuclear technologies. The 100-page report has been developed by specialists from the Institute of Technical Thermodynamics at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and is part of their global energy outlook which offers solutions to reduce global CO2 emissions by 50% by 2050.
“We have been able to provide a blueprint for action at the right time. We have shown that the world can have safe, robust renewable energy and can achieve the efficiencies needed while enjoying economic growth and phasing out damaging and dangerous sources such as coal and nuclear energy, said Greenpeace India executive director Ananthapadmanabhan.
K Srinivas, a climate and energy campaigner said, “The scenario up to the year 2050 was developed to address how India could combat climate change while maintaining development. Assuming an average economic growth of 3.9% for the following decades in a business as usual scenario, CO2 emissions will increase three-folds by 2050. The energy revolution scenario provides practical solutions to increase renewable energy usage and decrease energy consumption by 50% by incorporating energy efficiency measures. The combination will reduce our CO2 emissions to around 1,000 million tonne, stabilising it”.

SOURCE : The Financial Express, Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Chambal otter under threat: WWF (April Week # (2007)) World Wide Fund for Nature, India, is planning to commission an otter conservation programme in the National Chambal Sanctuary.
Speaking to The Pioneer, WWF-India secretary general Ravi Singh said that the otter conservation programme would be in addition to the gharial and riverine dolphin conservation programmes being executed by the WWF in the National Chambal Sanctuary.
Elaborating on the activities of the WWF in Madhya Pradesh, Singh - on a visit to the city to attend a seminar on environment protection - said that the otter conservation programme was the need of the hour as the mammal is facing a severe threat in the Chambal.
He said that otter skins are prized all over the world , thus making the smooth coated otter a target of poaching. Illegal sand mining in the Chambal has also contributed to enhancing the threat to the species.
Associated with the banking industry for three decades, Ravi Singh joined WWF India in 2003. He said that WWF India was supporting tiger conservation in the state through the Satpura Maikal Landscape programme.
The Satpura Maikal Landscape programme is one of the five programmes being executed by the WWF in the country.
Under the programme, a field site is operated in Mandla district where inhabitants of about 15 villages are sensitised towards conservation.
The WWF also operates an income generation programme that aims to reduce the dependence of the villagers on forests.
Singh also said that the Gharial conservation programme being implemented in the National Chambal Sanctuary with
the help of the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and the Jiwaji Rao University would also be strengthened.
On the support extended by the WWF to Madhya Pradesh vis-à-vis other states, Singh said that the state has a bank of bright forest officers and is also well endowed with forests and wildlife.
"However, resources in Madhya Pradesh like other states are also facing population pressure which is taking a toll on the environment," he said.


SOURCE : The Pioneer, Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Central probe panel to assess threat to Gir lions (April Week # (2007)) Waking up to reports that after decimating tigers at Sariska in Gujarat poaching gang are now targeting Gir lions, Ministry of Environment and Forests has set up a probe panel to assess threat to the king of the jungle.
The announcement follows Gujarat Government's decision to set up a probe panel headed by the State Chief Secretary. The National Tiger Conservation Authority on Monday set up an appraisal committee to look at causes of death of Gir lions, whose population has been stable in the past decades. Gir is the last home in the wild for Asiatic lions. The probe committee comprises Environment Ministry's Joint Director Pramod Krishnan and regional deputy directors Meeta Banerjee and Santosh Tiwari. It is expected to look at natural or otherwise factors leading to death of lions. It will also suggest strategy of lion protection considering the dependency of maldharis (nomads) on the forests.
The committee will also look at possibilities of restoring crucial corridors linking Gir to nearby forests to ensure that the lion population in Gir is not insulated. Studies have shown that overpopulation in Gir is leading to fights among the males for territory and prey. Younger lion are often pushed to the periphery of the forests and often foray into what was once lion territory but now human habitation.
The committee, together with State officials, expected to submit its report within a month. The Pioneer on Sunday reported that investigation by State official revealed that poachers operating in Sariska were also behind the poaching of three lions in Gir last month.
After an on-the-spot assessment of the park, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi announced a Rs 40-crore project to protect the endangered wild cats.

SOURCE : The Pioneer, Tuesday, April 10, 2007
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
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