Press on Environment and Wildlife
Illegal prawn farms disturb coast ecology (September Week 3 (2005)) Illegal prawn farms mushrooming in the coastal areas of Jagatsinghpur district of Orissa pose a threat to the ecology and adversely affect agricultural activities in the region. Prawn cultivators are setting up their farms on croplands in Ersama, Kujang and Balikuda blocks of the district in violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Act.
Among villages in Ersama block, where 90 per cent of the agricultural land is being used for prawn cultivation, are Gadaharishpur, Goda, Padmapur, Ambiki and Gadabisanpur. Villagers sold large tracts of land at low prices to prawn cultivators after they were inundated by salt water in the Super Cyclone in 1999.
A total of 40 prawn cultivators violating Sections 8 and 9 of Orissa Prevention of Land Encroachment (OPLE) Act were arrested in 2003 reported The Pioneer.
"Despite the civil authorities' repeated notices and the Supreme Court's guidelines against illegal prawn farming in CRZ, the growing number of prawn farms is damaging mangroves in the area and posing serious threats to the health of local people," said Pratap Sahoo, former Sarpanch of Goda village.
According to sources, effluents discharged by prawn farms contaminate the water, which causes skin ailments and gastro diseases among people leaving nearby, and water logging in the prawn farms during monsoon hinders the flow of rivers and creeks.
CRZ Act bans intensive and semi-intensive prawn farming within 500 meters of the seacoast and Orissa Prevention of Land Encroachment (OPLE) Act prohibits the converting of agricultural land into prawn farms.
Dolphins Number reducing alarmingly (September Week 3 (2005)) The first-ever survey on river dolphins in Assam has thrown up disturbing facts — just about 240 of the mammals remain in the state, which once had thousands of them, reports The Telegraph.
Conservationist Abdul Wakid conducted the comprehensive 10-month survey in the dolphin-breeding spots of the state under a project funded by British Petroleum. Wakid has himself formed five monitoring groups with 15 to 20 members each for the last remaining dolphin sanctuaries at Saikhowa and Guijan in Tinsukia district, Janjimukh and Dikhowmukh in Sivasagar and Neematighat in Jorhat.
Although an aquatic mammal, dolphins need to come to the surface to breathe.
‘Bi-catch’, the major threat to dolphins, is a term used globally to define situations when aquatic creatures get caught in big fishing nets not meant for them. “Dolphins cannot stay under water for long and need to come up for fresh air. Fishing nets are giving them a cruel death,” Wakid said.
The conservationist has joined hands with the NGO Aaranyak to launch a comprehensive save-the-dolphin campaign. Fishing nets are not the dolphins’ only enemy. Dolphins are also killed for their meat and fat.
We have already restricted the passage of mechanised boats through the river system within the Dibru Saikhowa National Park,” said Aniruddha Dey, divisional forest officer (wildlife) of Tinsukia.
Apart from the Brahmaputra, dolphins have been spotted in the Kulsi, Jhanji, Dibru and Subansiri rivers.
Indian tiger skins flooding Tibet blackmarket (September Week 3 (2005)) The Indian Express ran the story of the alarming trade which continues unabated.
The trade in tiger and other big cat skins from India is flourishing alarmingly in Tibet and adjoining areas of China. With increased supplies of tiger, leopard and otter skins, many new shops have sprung up in what is arguably the world’s single largest wildlife blackmarket.
These are some of the startling findings of an ongoing survey conducted by the London-based Environmental Investigative Agency (EIA) with the help of the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI).
Conducted last month, the key findings of the recent survey are:
• Both the open sale and use of fresh tiger, leopard and otter skins is even more widespread than last year.
• All dealers the team talked to said the skins had come from India.
• In Lhasa, many new shops were openly selling tiger and leopard skin chubas — a traditional Tibetan outfit. At one shop, the team found three fresh tiger skins — priced up to Rs 5.4 lakh each — and seven fresh leopard skins for sale. All these skins were said to have been smuggled from India.
• Most Tibetans wearing chubas claimed they had purchased the outfits during the past two seasons.
• Only 10 shops in the main Barkhor circuit stocked 24 tiger skin chubas. Another 20 stocked 54 leopard skin chubas. There are a total of 46 shops in the market.
• A large number of leopard and snow leopard skins were also found on the streets of Linxia.
• The over-all situation is much worse than what was found during the EIA survey last year.
The information gathered by the EIA/WPSI team has been passed on to the Chinese authorities. A delegation from India — a MOEF and a CBI official — was in China a couple of weeks back to attend a CITES meet. They were also briefed about the findings at an EIA presentation.
Students to spread awareness on conservation (September Week 3 (2005)) The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) has embarked on an ambitious, countrywide project covering school and college students, to help increase awareness on conservation and protection of biological resources, reports The Hindu.
The NBA will organise lectures targeting the younger generation and utilise Information Technology, including distribution of compact discs among students, to achieve the objective.
While efforts were on to form local level biodiversity management committees, NBA Chairman S. Kannaiyan said they had written to States urging them to set up State Biodiversity Boards. "We are projecting Madhya Pradesh as a role model. It has already set up a Biodiversity Board," he said.
SC nod to Yamuna clean-up plan (September Week 3 (2005)) The dying River Yamuna could get a fresh lease of life as the Supreme Court today approved an action plan of the Union Government on the lines of the one implemented by the British Government to clean up River Thames. The news got prominence in all major newspapers.
This approval came after the initial brickbats from the Bench comprising Mr Justice Y K Sabharwal and Mr Justice B N Agrawal expressing anguish over the inaction of successive governments to clean up the Yamuna groaning under the huge discharge of untreated sewage and industrial effluent into the river.
Weathering the criticism, Solicitor-General G E Vahanvati broadly accepted the past misgivings but unfolded an ambitious four-year project to clean up Yamuna taking cue from the experience of the London Authorities in cleaning of River Thames.
He said the plan was to set up Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) at the points where all major drains meet the River Yamuna to ensure that no untreated sewage or industrial effluent get discharged into the river.
Clarifying that these all-new STPs would be in addition to the existing STPs operating in the city, Mr Vahanvati said 14 consortiums had responded to the proposal, including five international firms. The Delhi Chief Minister and senior officials along with the officials of Delhi Jal Board (DJB) would meet tomorrow to shortlist the consortiums on the basis of their experience.
Harnessing River Water (Issue of the week, September Week 2(2005)) ‘The Hindu’ reported the news item where interlinking of two major rivers in Andhra Pradesh is all set to take off . The report has not mentioned the details of this major exercise like the areas affected, the forest area affected, plans to relocate villages coming in the way etc. Looks like the Government is hoping that performance of Puja by the entire cabinet will ensure smooth sailing of the project!
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, has sought the cooperation of all the political parties, non-Governmental Organisations and people of the State to fully harness the potential of Godavari and Krishna river basins by completing the irrigation projects.
The Chief Minister said that the significance of the gigantic task taken up by the Government should be understood from the fact that 700 tmcft of Godavari water was already let into the sea and 500 tmcft of Krishna water would also join the sea. The only strategy for over all development of agrarian economy was to fully tap Godavari floodwater and divert a part of it to the Krishna basin, he added. Dr. Reddy said tenders to the tune of Rs. 30,000 crores had been finalised and 33 major irrigation projects had been prioritised for completion at a whopping cost of Rs. 50,000 crores. In accordance with the Cabinet decision, the Chief Minister deputed Finance Minister, K. Rosaiah and Home Minister K. Jana Reddy to perform Gangamma puja at Nagarjunasagar project on Thursday. The Major Irrigation Minister, Ponnala Laxmaiah, would perform a similar puja at Srisailam reservoir, while the Sports Minister, M. Satyanarayan Rao, would visit the Sriramsagar project. The Higher Education Minister P. Venkateswara Rao and Panchayat Raj Minister J. C. Diwakar Reddy would perform puja at the Prakasam barrage.
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