Press on Environment and Wildlife
Build eco-friendly, save housing tax (March Week 1 (2006)) MUMBAIITES could soon be applying for tax rebates if they turn their houses or buildings eco-friendly.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) plans to promote ‘eco-housing’, the way it was done in Pune. While it won’t be mandatory for new constructions or existing buildings to follow these norms, the BMC expects Mumbai will like the idea.
‘‘Making it mandatory will mean building by-laws will have to be amended,’’ said Manu Kumar Srivastava, additional municipal commissioner. The proposal was passed in the civic Standing Committee meeting on Wednesday.

The scheme’s technical criteria will be put in place by the United States Agency for International Development, the International Institute of Energy Conservation and Science and Technology Park, which helped Pune develop and implement the scheme.
‘‘The next 10 years will see massive development and our infrastructure needs to be upgraded,’’ said Srivastava. ‘‘Every square metre of building in the city today means a cost of Rs 800 cost for the corporation.’’
Many members of the standing committee don’t share his enthusiasm, though. ‘‘For this to work, you need to change the mindset of people,’’ said Samajwadi Party corporator Mohsin Hyder.
Others said Pune’s needs were different and that the scheme was not likely to be a success in Mumbai. ‘‘The points mentioned are different from those used for Pune,’’ said leader of the BJP in the BMC Parag Alavani.
Site planning and environmental architecture
Use of efficient building materials
Energy-efficient lighting
Use of solar water heaters
Water conservation
Segregation of waste
Close vigil being maintained on migratory birds at four sanctuaries (March Week 1 (2006)) The Hindu reported that a close vigil is being maintained on migratory birds that visit the four bird sanctuaries in composite Thanjavur and Perambalur districts as a precautionary measure, in the wake of reports of avian flu in Maharashtra.
The sanctuaries are Point Calimere near Vedaranyam in Nagapattinam district, Vaduvur and Udhayamarthandapuram in Tiruvarur district and Karavetti in Perambalur district.
"Point Calimere records the largest congregation of flamingos, next only to Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. Since the season has come to an end, most of the birds have left," Mr. Baruah , Wildlife Warden, said.
Susceptible species
Of the migratory birds, avian flu had struck only two species — brown-headed gull and bar-headed goose — in other countries. Only a very few brown-headed gulls were found at Point Calimere while 265 bar-headed geese were found at Karavetti. Movement of bar-headed geese was being closely monitored for any symptoms of the disease, he said.
Ever since bird flu was noticed in India, all precautionary measures had been taken in the four bird sanctuaries. "We have bought protective gear such as face masks, hand gloves and polythene bags, and they are kept ready at the sanctuaries."
Point Calimere records the visit of about 5,000 flamingos every year. Other birds that visit the sanctuary are painted storks, spoonbills, variety of gulls, pintail ducks etc. Karavetti receives a large number of bar-headed goose, pelicans, ibis, spoonbills and a variety of water birds.
33 vultures, 10 kites die in Sikkim, Bengal (March Week 1 (2006)) The Hindu reported the death of vultures and kites in Sikkim and Bengal. At a time when there is a nationwide alert on avian flu and stepped up vigil, reports of death of vultures and kites in Sikkim and north Bengal over the last few days have caused concern.
However, local experts say it is highly unlikely that the deaths could be attributed to bird flu.
Thirty-three vultures have died within a month at altitudes ranging between 10,000 ft and 20,000 ft in the Yambung Valley of the West Sikkim district. Ten kites were found dead in the plains near Siliguri in the adjoining north Bengal on Thursday.
Samples of the dead vultures and kites have been sent to the High Risk Disease Investigation Centre in Bhopal.
The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), which spearheads a campaign for the conservation of vultures, has also been informed, said Usha Lachungpa, senior research officer in the Sikkim Wildlife Department. "Never before has there been reports of such a large number of vultures dying in the State," she told The Hindu from Gangtok.
"It is more likely that they [deaths] were caused by retaliatory poisoning as three dog carcasses were found in the vicinity," she added.
Samples were initially tested at the Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Kolkata, S. K. Dasgupta, Director, Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services, West Bengal, said.
"Preliminary tests conducted on the dead birds reveal no symptom of bird flu," Lakmi Narayan Bandhopadhyay, Deputy Director, Animal Resources Department, added from Siliguri.The vulture population is fast dwindling and the reports from Sikkim "are an added cause for alarm.
Nearly 97 per cent of vultures have died over the past decade according to surveys conducted by experts — the rate of decline in population being the fastest for any living species in the world," said BNHS Director Asad Rahmani.
Most of the vulture deaths across the country are a result of the birds feeding on carcasses that contain traces of diclofenac sodium, a popular painkiller administered to cattle.
"Sikkim is the only State to have imposed a ban on the use of the drug earlier their year through a government notification," said the State's Principal Conservator of Forest and Secretary, Forest Department, T.R. Poudyal.
Handri-Neeva: environment aspect given a go-by at public hearing (Issue of the week, February Week 3 (2006)) A public hearing conducted in Anantapur on Monday to receive objections and suggestions on the impact of works pertaining to Handri-Neeva project on the environmental aspects in the district was reduced to a mere formality due to poor participation of the sections concerned, reports The Hindu.
Speaking at the meeting, Collector Y.V. Anuradha stated that notification on the environmental objections pertaining to Handri-Neeva project was issued to elicit the public opinion before giving a clearance.
There was not much forest cover and wild life in the district and the clearance would come without any hassle.
Only 440 hectares of forestland, which did not have much vegetation, was required for the project works in the district.
The reservoirs to be constructed under the project also required small amount of land and the area of submergence was also very little, the Collector explained.
Many seats unoccupied
All the participants, including Hindupur legislator P. Ranganayakulu, only demanded extension of the project and water for more areas. The seating arranged for VIPs and politicians, including the elected representatives, was seen vacant all through, as their participation was minimal.
A handful of public and a few other interested sections either demanded higher compensation for their lands acquired for the project works or the project water for more areas in the district. But, nobody spoke on the environmental aspect for which the meeting was convened.
The hearing was conducted by the regional office of the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board.
Five poachers held with deer hides (February Week 3 (2006)) A sensational case of killing of deer has come to light at the Khivni sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh, reports the Central Chronicle.
134 km away from headquarters here at Khivni sanctuary, the place has been protected for the wild animals. There is a restriction of entering of any person from morning till evening.
It is punishable offence to enter inside the sanctuary without permission. It is also a serious crime to hunt in this area which is prohibited. The sanctuary had been established in 1982 for the wild animals' protection.
The Chronicle team received information about the hunters entering inside the sanctuary and killing the wild and endangered animals without any fear.
On receiving information at 3 am, the team members reached the sanctuary. At the main gate the team members were in for a shock. Two hides of wild animals were found hanging on a teak tree like a horror show.
Moving further the team members found another hide of the animal. In this way three hides were found in the sanctuary. There was no forest guard found patrolling in the sanctuary. No body was there to check the visitors.
There is a village in the sanctuary called Badi Khivni where the hill was aflame. It was 5 am in the morning when some persons opened fire from southern part of the sanctuary. A resident of Nanda Dai village said that he often hears the firing sound in the sanctuary.
A watchman who is working in the sanctuary said that the poachers enter into the sanctuary as they are hand-in-glove with the forest officers and hunt without fear. Everyday the hunters kill deer, sheep and buck in the sanctuary. This can be seen easily.
Some other persons also told that the hunters usually come here in uniforms. Possibly these hunters are associated with a big gang.
Sources said that previously Chronicle had revealed similar cases of illegal hunting and cautioned the officials of the sanctuary but the department paid no heed over the matter.
When the video clippings were showed to the DFO AK Joshi, he was surprised to see them. He took this incident very seriously and set out with his squad straight to Khivni sanctuary without giving any reaction.
On Sunday, forest department arrested five poachers. Inspector of Khiwani Park HP Singh and Ranger Awashti said that poachers includes Prema son of Babu, Ram Singh son of Jay Kishan, Rewaram son of Gorelal, Gabu son of Dhannu and Lakhat son of Harlal, all were resident of Nandadai.
Forest department registered cases under section POR no 286/25.
A baleen whale at Colaba, Mumbai (February Week 3 (2006)) MARINE scientists have confirmed the mammoth 30-foot-long ‘fish’ that washed up at Colaba on Tuesday was not a fish. It was a whale, reports The Indian Express. .
The incident that occurred late Tuesday night had left residents and civic workers in the area around Navy Sailing Club on Pilot Bunder Road, Colaba, puzzled. The decay forced them to dispose off the carcass at the earliest on Wednesday morning.
‘‘The carcass was still being transported when our team reached the spot, but we’ve been able to establish a few facts,’’ said Dr V Deshmukh, scientist-in-charge, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), Churchgate.
One of the CMFRI scientists who went to the site and took a sample from the carcass detailed what has been established so far. ‘‘There were bones protruding from the mouth and ‘rorquals’ or grooves, under its throat. Both are characteristics of whales,’’ said Dr Miriam Paul.
Paul said the observations established that it was a baleen whale, that is,‘‘one with plates in its mouth’’ as opposed to a toothed whale, but added that only laboratory tests could determine further details.
‘‘Even within the category of a baleen whale, it could have been a Fin whale or a Brydes whale, we will know in two weeks,’’ she said.
Deshmukh reiterated the rarity of the event of a whale straying into shallow waters while migrating, especially compared to sharks. “Sharks are still found every 4-5 years. These whale samples have been sent to our Cochin office and will aid our research,’’ he said.
Other whale casualties
* 1849: Stranded in the waters behind Colaba Church
* 1934: In Colaba
* 1965: Two Fin whales stranded within a months of each other, one in Virar, other near Napean Sea Road
* 1986: In the waters around Bombay High
* 1988: Two stranded in South Mumbai
There are 86 species of whales: 32 have been recorded in waters around the Indian subcontinent
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