Global warming swells Tibetan lakes (April Week 1 (2006))
Gesang Cering, a shepherd, habitually wakes up at midnight to check if his house is flooded. He often sees water oozing out
of the ground, a phenomenon researchers attribute to global warming.
He has also noticed that Lake Naigri Puencog, some eight kilometres from his home village in Nagqu Prefecture in northern
Tibet, often swells.
"The pasture near the lake is flooded from time to time; in winter, it is often covered with ice," he says.
Many herders have witnessed similar situations. In many lake areas, water springs out of formerly dry places, roads are
flooded, and alkali is found no more in what used to be alkaline lakes.
Even the oldest people in the village cannot explain the abnormal phenomenon. Some say it is inauspicious and invite lamas
(Buddhist monks) to perform rituals, hoping to dispel the evil spirits.
"It is actually caused by global warming," says Bendo, a senior engineer with Remote Sensing Application Research Centre of
the Tibet Autonomous Region.
Bendo and his colleagues have been studying the floods in Nagqu since August 2005.
They conducted site surveys of five lakes in the prefecture and analysed changes in the sizes of the lakes over the past two
decades with remote sensing mapping.
"We found rises in rainfall as well as in air and ground temperatures in lake areas but declines in water evaporation,
exposure to sunlight, and thickness of snow and frozen earth," he said. "We therefore decided global warming caused the
lakes to swell."
Bendo said the average water level in Naigri Puencog and two other inland lakes rose by 12.6 meters in the recent two
decades, flooding an average 40.8 square km of pasture, cropland and roads.
Despite the damages to the pastures and roads, many people say the local climate is milder than before as it gets warmer and
rains more often.
However, experts say the impact of global warming is not always positive in Tibet.
In Ngari Prefecture in western Tibet, for example, the warm but arid climate has had a negative effect on the local ecology,
Known as the "roof of the world", the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is very sensitive to climate changes.
Chinese scientists had earlier found that global warming had caused glaciers to melt fast at Mount Qomolangma, threatening
the balance of global water resources.
"Tibet's responses to global warming will provide valuable firsthand information to worldwide researchers on climate
changes," says Bendo.
SOURCE : Times of India, Thursday, April 13, 2006
Panel reviews wildlife list (April Week 1 (2006))
This may not impact actor Salman Khan. But a government committee is now taking a relook at all the animals, birds and
insects protected under different Schedules of the Wildlife (Protection) Act.
Some might end up losing protective cover. It's the first comprehensive review of all the schedules since the Act came into
force three decades ago. The review is to be based on guidelines set out by IUCN (World Conservation Union), says
director-general (forests) J C Kala.
It may upgrade protective cover to some species, downgrade it for others. If some species, particularly marine, are found to
be in abundance and can be a source of livelihood, the government may examine if their "exploitation" — read trade — is
possible without impacting species survival.
Conservationists fear this part. The review, mandated last year but just beginning now, comes at a time when there is muted
debate in wildlife circles on some of the species in Schedule I, the highest protection afforded under the law.
It includes the chinkara which has just impaled Salman as well as the blackbuck which is threatening to trip up the actor
and former India cricket captain Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi — in separate cases.
Some believe the blackbuck need not be in Schedule I. It's there in large numbers in states like Gujarat, AP and Rajasthan
and it damages crops. Others, however, believe there is no need to fiddle with its category.
SOURCE : Times of India, Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Managing e-waste without harming environment (April Week 1 (2006))
e-Parisara recycles old computers, other e-waste
· Bangalore generates 8,000 to 10,000 tonnes of e-waste a year
· e-waste is partly recycled, the left over is burnt or thrown away
· e-Parisara functions from an industrial estate in Dobbspet
· It has equipment to recycle up to three tonnes of waste a day
As the information technology hub of the region, Bangalore generates thousands of tonnes of electronic waste.
To this can be added almost an equal quantity of imported electronic scrap and computer parts. They are partly recycled, and
what is left is burned or thrown away causing pollution and health hazards.
A pilot project to manage e-waste without causing ecological damage has been set up close to the city by P. Parthasarathy, a
postgraduate from IIT-Madras and now a Bangalore-based entrepreneur.
e-Parisara functions from an industrial estate in Dobbspet, about 40 km from here, and has been encouraged by the Central
and State Pollution Control Boards who would like it replicated in all major cities in the country.
This initiative, the first of its kind, attempts to carefully recycle old computers, their components and other e-waste,
generated by both IT companies and electronic manufacturers into social and economically useful raw material than can be
The technology used is indigenous, according to Mr. Parthasarathy.
At e-Parisara the more hazardous components such as chromium, arsenic, mercury, nickel, cadmium, lead and zinc sulphate are
separated from the material they are contained in. Plastic and glass waste is sold to recyclers authorised by the Karnataka
State Pollutuion Control Board.
The metal content that can be safely reused is separated and the rest carefully buried without contaminating the soil or
e-Parisara has equipment to recycle up to three tonnes of waste a day, but is dealing with around one tonne right now. Many
corporates such as IBM, Tate Elxsi, ABB and Phillips are among its clients. But many major IT firms are yet to send their
e-waste or stipulate difficult conditions, Mr. Parthasarathy said.
According to industry surveys, 8,000 to 10,000 tonnes of e-waste is generated each year by IT firms and electronics
manufacturers in and around Bangalore.
While the larger companies have warehouses for storing the waste, others sell them to small-time scrap dealers.
The dealers, many concentrated around Mysore Road, often employ women and children to deal with the scrap and remove usable
What cannot be used at all is thrown into fields and channels or burned under unsafe conditions. Apart affecting the health
of the employees of the scrap dealers, air, soil and ground water get polluted.
The e-Parisara example may be one workable solution.
SOURCE : The Hindu, Monday, April 03, 2006
All about wetland birds (April Week 1 (2006))
A two-day workshop on `Wetland Birds', organised by the Kozhikode-based Malabar Natural History Society (MNHS) here on April
1 and 2, gave an opportunity to bird lovers to get an overview of the diversity and census methods adopted by ornithologists
to monitor their population, breeding patterns and the like.
Through slide shows, the participants learnt about varied aspects relating to wetland birds of Kerala. Though the State does
not have large wetlands, there are diverse species of water birds in the State, including ducks, terns, herons and egrets,
besides migratory species.
C. Sashikumar spoke about the techniques and tips on conducting a bird census. Details of recording the vast species of
water birds of Kerala, identification methods, the ideal season for conducting census, and the like were highlighted.
Satyan Meppayur spoke on `Cormorants, egrets, herons and ducks', while Mohammed Jaffer Pallot's slide show was on `Gulls and
terns'. Babu Kambrath dealt with `Photographing wetland birds' and O. Jayarajan on `Wetland Bird census — an overview.'
The participants were taken on a field trip to the Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary on Sunday.
Forest Minister A. Sujanapal, who inaugurated the workshop, emphasised on the need for a specific environment policy. "Just
as there is an IT Mission, there should be an Environment Mission too so that bureaucratic red-tape can be a avoided. He
said creating awareness about the environment through organisations such as MNHS, and people-participatory movements was
vital to preserve natural resources.
The environmentalist John C. Jacob delivered the keynote address.
A book `Mammals of Kerala' authored by Dineshan Cheruvat, C. Radhakrishnan and Mohammed Jaffer Pallot was released by Mr.Sujanapal.
SOURCE : The Hindu, Monday, April 03, 2006
Vacate prod to save wetlands (April Week 1 (2006))
Waking up to the threat posed to the East Calcutta Wetlands by several realty projects, the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee
government has finally decided to initiate action against the offenders.
The process of clearing up the 12,500-hectare sprawl and restoring it to its original form has begun, with the first step
being relocation of the proposed Dhapa water pumping station of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC).
The government is also drawing up a list of buildings on the wetlands, declared a “no-development” zone by Calcutta High
Court. The owners will be asked to vacate and the structures will be demolished.
Prodded by chief secretary Amit Kiran Deb, the CMC has agreed to shift the proposed 30-million-gallon water pumping station
from the periphery of the wetlands.
“We have chosen another site that is a km away, on Calcutta-Basanti Road. There is no risk of filling up any waterbody
there. We have approached the East Calcutta Wetlands Authority for clearance,” civic commissioner Alapan Bandyopadhyay said
“The CMC project was to have come up on 20 acres off the wetlands. We have relocated it. As for other violators, we’ll not
allow them to encroach on the wetlands, which is a Ramsar site,” asserted chief secretary Deb, who also chairs the
The panel is compiling a list of unauthorised structures that have come up on the watery sprawl over the past two decades.
“We’re especially concerned about the structures that have come up after 2002, since these violate the Ramsar norms,” Deb
An environment department official said a survey had identified 700 constructions that have come up after the site won the
Ramsar tag in 2002.
As many as 4,500 settlements have come since 1992, the year Justice Umesh Chandra Banerjee of the high court declared the
area a wastewater recycling region.
According to officials, the owners of the post-2002 structures will be issued eviction notices after the Assembly elections.
“Most of the violators are first-time offenders. If they fail to relocate within the specified time, the structures will be
demolished,” a member of the wetlands authority said.
With the Wetland Management Authority coming into being, the right to grant clearances for all projects in the area rests
solely with it.
“From now, project promoters will have to first approach the Authority, which will forward the proposal to the department
concerned for its perusal,” said an official.
“There is no need for separate clearances from the fisheries department, land and land reforms department and the state
pollution board, as the Wetlands Authority is the single window for issuing the final okay,” the official added.
SOURCE : The Telegraph, Monday, April 03, 2006
Navaratra night halt in Gir Sanctuary? (Issue of the week, March Week 3 (2006))
Wildlife activists in Gujarat have sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention to withdraw permission given to pilgrims to stay overnight at Kankai temple, located in the Gir forest, during the nine-day Navratri festival beginning March 30.
In a letter to Singh, a copy of which was marked to President Abdul Kalam and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Gir Nature Club chairman Amit Jethwa and other activists have stated that the concerned forest staff had illegally granted permission to the pilgrims
to enter the Gir sanctuary and national park during Navratri without any timing restrictions.
However, conservator of forest Bharat Pathak, says, "We would be permitting entry of pilgrims as per rules. There has been no relaxation during Navratri.
Also, except for the trustees and the temple priest, no one would be permitted to stay in the temple at night." The activists, however, question the building of rooms near the temple for night halts.
Jethwa says Navratri is celebrated twice a year in Kankai. He claims as per rules, pilgrims are allowed to enter the sanctuary from sunrise to sunset. He claims that such ‘illegal' permission would prove to be disastrous for wildlife.
In the letter, the environmentalists also state that Gujarat High Court has banned stay and entry in Gir after sunset. But the temple authorities have compelled the government of Gujarat to cancel the entry fee and this has increased the flow of visitors.
He alleged that over one lakh visitors are expected to stay in the sanctuary during the nine-day festival. The activists have stated that Gir is the only and last home of the Asiatic lion. Kankai is situated in the protected area.
Manish Vaidya, chairman of Ahmedabad-based nature club Sabar, said the temple authorities have started creating a concrete jungle. The authorities have also made arrangements for night halt in the temple premises, which disturbs the wildlife.
SOURCE : Times of India, Tuesday, March 28, 2006