Press on Environment and Wildlife
Environmentalists storm Ministry office (Issue of the week, November Week 3 (2005)) The Hindu reported in detail the demand by environmentalists for an independent evaluation of the performance of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA).
Agitated over the Centre’s proposed notification relating to the environmental impact assessment (EIA) and clearance for development projects, scores of environmentalists from across the country – under the banner of Campaign for Environmental Justice-India-“stormed” the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) office. They sought an independent evaluation of the performance of EIA and environmental clearance procedures and creation of an independent authority, mandated to ensure that relevant laws were followed to ensure conservation of environment.
“Our analysis, built on ground level experience of several hundred projects that have been cleared or are in the process of being cleared, is that procedures are already significantly flawed. The proposed changes to the existing process will bring in further weakness,” a memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister said.
The activists included representatives of project affected communities from across the country such as the Sethusamudram ship canal and Sterlite Industries from Tamil Nadu, Polavaram Dam in Andhra Pradesh, Vedanta Alumina refinery and bauxite mining in Orissa and those displaced due to the construction of dams in N-E states. The activists, seeking a meeting with Union Environment and Forest Secretary quoted him as saying that the changes had been made in consultation with the World Bank, and not Parliament or any other elected body.
Project Tiger: Change in Act to give more teeth to Government (November Week 3 (2005)) The Government has proposed an amendment to the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 by introducing a chapter on tiger conservation, reports The Economic Times.
The central government is planning to set up a statutory body-National Tiger Conservation Authority-which will work in consultation with state governments to control poaching and illegal trade in the tiger and its derivatives. The statutory body would also provide financial assistance to the states, according to sources.
The law ministry has already sent the proposal to the ministry of environment and forests for consideration. According to sources, the amendment would aim at giving more teeth to the central government, which at present does not have final authority over various reserves which fall under the jurisdiction of state governments that oversee their administration.
The proposed amendment covers hunting in tiger reserves and altering of the boundaries of tiger reserves, unlike the present Act which deals with sanctuaries in general. Under the amendment, hunting in tiger reserves or altering their boundaries will be made punishable with not less than three years of imprisonment extending up to seven years and a fine up to Rs 25,000.
“Forest land has been destroyed to facilitate projects like tourist resorts, mining activities, power plants, dams, high ways etc. This is taking a toll on the tiger and its habitat.” Said a Government official.
The Act as amended is
• National Tiger Conservation Authority, a statutory body, which will work in consultation with state governments to control poaching and illegal trade in the tiger and its derivatives
• Hunting in tiger reserves and altering of the boundaries of tiger reserves to be made punishable with not less than three years of imprisonment and a fine upto rs 25,000
• More power to central government, which at present does not have final authority over various reserves, under the jurisdiction of state governments that oversee their administration
Wildlife trade in Himachal Pradesh (November Week 3 (2005)) A joint operation led by the Station House Officer (SHO) Shahpur of Himachal Pradesh Police and the Enforcement Division of Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) have resulted in the recovery of two bear biles, three leopard skins and a jungle cat skin from two illegal wildlife traders in the state. A tip-off given to the police by a WTI associate resulted in the two arrests on the 6th November.
One of the traders was arrested from Dharamsala, where two bear biles were recovered from him. Following his interrogation, the police team in the Boh village of Kangra district conducted another raid, where three leopard skins and a jungle cat skin were recovered from a trader.
Presently, the two accused are in police custody and are being interrogated. According to Amlan Dutta, Asst. Programme Officer (Enforcement) WTI, “The two accused were booked under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. The enforcement division of WTI will provide legal assistance to the prosecution to ensure that the culprits get appropriate punishment under the Act.”
The Enforcement Division of WTI has been monitoring the bear bile trade in the state since September following information on the bear bile trade in the state. Field investigations in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh revealed that the poachers were more active during the winter months due to lax enforcement.
Kangra valley, which is situated in the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas experience heavy snowfall, and landslides during winters and the region becomes inaccessible from the rest of the country. Poachers take advantage of the situation when they go for the kill. The Himalayan brown bears and the Asiatic black bears fall prey to these poachers.

Bear biles, skin, and claws are sold to prospective buyers through various clandestine routes of the region. The Enforcement Division of WTI hopes to continue their operations in other parts of the state in collaboration with the police and forest department.
No CNG, no petrol, Gurgaon buses run on Jatropa oil (November Week 3 (2005))
No CNG, no petrol, Gurgaon buses run on Jatropa oil
Gurgaon depot is the first one in the country to run 20 buses on oil obtained from Jatropa seeds successfully for the past one year. .And plans are to extend it to the entire 179 buses, reports the Times of India.
The results of this trial have been very good in terms of mileage, emission and general engine performance, according to the General Manager of the depot. Gurgaon is the only station that is trying out this fuel in a public operation.
The oil comes pre-mixed in diesel from the Rewari storage of IOC. According to Dr.R.S Kureel, director, National Oilseeds and Vegetable Oils Development Board(NOVODB), “The tests have been carried out using a five percent mixture of Jatropa Oil without modifying the engine of the vehicle.”
At present it costs the same as diesel and the technology is in its infancy. NOVODB has standardized supply of seed at Rs.8/- which means oil is produced at Rs 25/-.
In the long run it could ease pressure of demand on fossil fuels. Jatropa is being grown in a planned manner on 600 hectares in Hissar and 100 hectares in Bawal ( Rewari district), in Haryana. “It takes about eight years for the plant to produce seeds,” says Alok Verma, divisional conservator of forests, gurgaon. Haryana Roadways has segregated the 20 vehicles which run on bio-fossil fuel. They have a separate storage tank for it.
‘Uttaranchal koop’ solves water crisis (November Week 3 (2005)) A simple device to tap sub-surface water:
Christened the "Uttaranchal Koop" a simple device is being used to tap the sub-surface flow of streams in Uttaranchal.
The brain-child of H P Uniyal, Chief General Manager of Uttaranchal Jal Sansthan, the design of the device has been approved by IIT Roorkee.
Connected with a welded outlet socket at the middle of the vertical cylinder for jointing outlet pipe, the 1 to 1.5 meter long pipe is placed vertically 3 to 4 meter below the bed of the stream with open end at the bottom and closed end at the top. It is placed over impermeable strata of the streams tapping entire alluvial fill. After placing the Uttaranchal Koop, the dug up space is filled up with graded filter media enveloping the Koop up to the natural bed level of stream.
The base flow of the stream rises inside the cylindrical pipe through its open end and perforated radial pipes due to the hydrostatic pressure of the submerged surface and maintains a static level in the cylindrical pipe.
The outlet socket, placed almost at the middle of the Koop, is connected to gravity-main of water supply scheme. The gravity-main starts drawing water from the Koop. The static level of the well is maintained through hydrostatic pressure, thus a continuous flow is obtained.
The device works even during seasons when there is less water.
"We have developed this technique for stable, sustainable and quality improved water supply especially in hilly areas where the task of supplying water is quite challenging," said Uniyal.
The head works of water supply schemes in hilly regions are mostly constructed from rivulets locally known as gadhera as the water source, which are damaged in the rainy season due to flash floods and landslides. With the result that when water sources are full of water, the intake chamber gets washed away. In such a scenario, the new device is being appreciated by engineers and scientists.
www.vigyanprasar.com
Erring revenue officials endanger forest land (Issue of the week, November Week 2 (2005)) This report published in The Tribune addresses ground level problems in conservation, faced in India.
While residents of Saroa Panchayat of Chachoit Subdivision, Mandi, have turned Kajuidi into a thick forest area over a period of three decades, some revenue officials, flouting the orders of their superiors, are trying to hand over these forests to some influential persons.
The members of village forest development committee, Kajuidi, urged the Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, to initiate action against these erring officials.
The problem started more than three decades ago. Saroa residents had then formed a committee to raise and protect forest cover at Kajuidi in Pandoh Range of Nachan forest division in the year 1972.
They raised plantations of chil and Deodar there, which remained under the control of the committee.
But, in the year 1974, out of the plantation area, five bighas of land were allotted to Karam Singh, hailing from Tilli, by Subdivisional Officer ( Civil), Mandi, for cultivation.
The members of village forest committee objected to the sanction of land to him in the name of ' Nautore land' and appealed to the Deputy Commissioner, Mandi, who vide his order, dated March 31, 1977, held that since the site was being used by the villagers for plantation and no possession of the land was given, some alternative site be given to Karam Singh.
But the orders of the DC was challenged before the Divisional Commissioner, Kangra, who upheld the order and observed that some suitable land be given to Karam Singh in whose favour the 'Nautore land' was awarded.
Interestingly, when case pertaining to 'Nautore land' was pending before DC, Mandi, Tehsildar Chachoit attested mutation in favour of Karam Singh on January 5, 1975, although no possession of land was given to him.
Even after two decades, the wrong revenue entries are still continuing.
With the passage of time, the site of Kajuidi developed thick forest cover with thousands of trees of deodar and chil but the orders of DC, Mandi, and Divisional Commissioner, Kangra, were never implemented.
The controversy once again surfaced when Karam Singh took the demarcation of land, which is now a forest area, and tried to take possession of land by cutting the trees But the members of forest development committee did not allow him to take possession of land.
A written complaint was filed before DC, Mandi, but no action was initiated against the guilty revenue officials.
The DFO, Nachan, also visited the spot and submitted his report to Conservator, Forest, Mandi, with the finding that thick forest consisting of deodar and chil trees was standing over the disputed land. Interestingly, the revenue officials were showing this portion as cultivated land, he noted.
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