Press on Environment and Wildlife
Tiger Task Force report submitted (August Week 3 (2005)) The report of the Tiger Task Force, submitted to the Prime Minister last Friday, has opened up a debate on whether tigers and humans can co-exist, with conservationists debunking the panel's recommendation that strategies for coexistence should be developed wherever people living close to tiger habitats cannot be relocated. Task Force Chairperson Sunita Narain stoutly defends the recommendation, arguing that one must 'make peace' with the impoverished people who feel that tigers are being protected at the cost of their rights and interests. In Sariska, one of the reasons for the tiger reserve facing an unprecedented crisis is the fact that relations with the local community 'broke down' and they became 'hostile' towards the tiger, she says. The report contains a dissenting note by Valmik Thapar, who reflects the view that such coexistence is impossible and that the Task Force should not be recommending measures that go against the spirit of conservation. 'We have recommended that large areas should remain inviolate for the tigers, and we don't oppose relocation programmes, but there is no way that all the villages in tiger reserves can be relocated,' Ms. Narain is reported to have said.
Discovery spots pollution over Africa (August Week 3 (2005)) Astronauts normally wax poetic when talking about the wondrous view from outer space of their blue-green-and-white home planet. But Discovery Commander Eileen Collins, who landed with her six crewmates last week in California after a 14-day historic mission, said she was sobered by signs of pollution over Africa. "One of the things I saw was in Africa, the massive burning taking place in the central part of Africa," Collins told a news conference in California. "I'm not sure why they do that." In Africa, Madagascar, and elsewhere, she said, "You can see deforestation taking place you can see it in the rivers and streams". Collins said that the rivers were brown instead of blue and you can see the erosion flowing out into the ocean. Many residents of rural Africa cut down sparse tree stands for fuel. In northern Kenya, for example, even the few trees remaining in barren stretches of the Rift Valley around lake Turkana region are harvested and turned into charcoal for shipment into urban areas.
Hospital comes up with novel waste management strategy (August Week 3 (2005)) When hospital waste disposal has become a universal menace, the Government Maternity Hospital, Tirupati, has succeeded in making wealth out of waste. In what is claimed to be the first-of-its-kind technique adopted in the country, the hospital has devised a mechanism to dispose of biomedical waste and even produce methane from it. The hospital generates 50-60 kg of placenta, blood and other organic waste a day, retrieved from the womb during delivery. The same was hitherto buried in a remote corner of the hospital, which invariably invited stray dogs and pigs to the vicinity, spreading infection. Upon a request to suggest an alternative disposal system, the Non-Conventional Energy Development Corporation of Andhra Pradesh (NEDCAP) found a way out by building a biogas digester behind the hospital. "All that the sanitary workers have to do is dump the waste in it. When fermented in the absence of oxygen at a temperature of 25-35 degrees Centigrade, biogas is generated," the NEDCAP's district manager, C.B. Jagadeeswara Reddy, explained (The Hindu, Wednesday, August 10, 2005). The gas is drawn out through a valve and connected to a gas stove in the labor ward. "Apart from nurses, who use the gas to boil water for sterilization, the patients' attendants too use it for making tea," said T.V. Seshasai, a gynecologist at the hospital. The gas generated thus is sufficient to boil water for over two hours a day non-stop. "All it required for us to make this happen was digging of a cylindrical pit of 2 cubic meters, a few bricks and cement. It did not cost us more than Rs. 8,000," said T.V. Satyanarayana, an Executive Engineer with the TTD, who was involved in the project. Not only are the chances for breeding infection-causing germs eliminated, but the hospital also saves over 12 LPG cylinders a year. No foul smell, no stray dogs, non-stop gas supply, all in one stroke. What more can a hospital want?
Protests over Union Carbide Factory (August Week 3 (2005)) To mark the 63rd anniversary of the "Quit India Movement," four organizations representing survivors of the 1984 gas tragedy in Bhopal launched the "Accept Responsibility for Bhopal or Quit India" campaign, against American multinational Dow Chemical, current owner of Union Carbide Corporation. Hundreds of broom wielding women from 18 localities whose ground water have been poisoned by Union Carbide's chemical waste, held a rally outside the abandoned Union Carbide factory. Goldman award winner Ms Rashida Bi of Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Sattioneary Karmachari Sangh demanded (The Pioneer, Wednesday, August 10, 2005) that Dow Chemical clean up the hazardous waste. Dow should also pay compensation for the health and property damages caused by this toxic contamination, she added. The leader pointed out that while Union Carbide Corporation continues to abscond Indian courts, it also continues to sell its products in India through a Mumbai-based company called Mega Visa: Marketing Solutions Ltd. This could not be possible without the connivance of the Government of India she said. Leaders of the survivors at the rally declared that they would not allow government scientific agencies to move hazardous chemical wastes from the factory for burning in an incinerator or burial in a landfill. They said that both these disposal technologies would further poison the environment and affect the health and lives of people in Gujarat and in Pithampur. They asserted that multinationals such as Union Carbide arid Dow Chemical are profiting through poisoning the environment and damaging the health and lives of ordinary people. The speakers said there was need for revival of the spirit of the Quit India Movement for the second battle - the battle for freedom from the domination and pollution by multinationals.
A biodiversity park coming up at DU (August Week 3 (2005)) Delhi University will soon get its very own mini biodiversity park. A five-acre untended land is being shaped into undulated bio-park to draw various species of butterflies, insects, birds and small animals. The land is surrounded by the university's hostels and is centrally located. The university School of Environmental Studies has assigned the job onto their grand oldman, former pro vice chancellor CR Babu. "We will construct a sloping meadow so that the rain water doesn't stagnate, flows down to the wetland. The water level is about a foot at present, as the time will wear on, it will fill up. A few fingerlin fishes will be released to draw birds. Who knows, you might even see a few migratory ones, choosing to hibernate here," Babu said (Times of India, Tuesday, August 15, 2005). Already about 40 tall tree families, comprising 500 species, have been planted round the envisioned boundary of the park. With planned undulations shaping in time into towering woodland, strollers will find pleasant canopies all around the five-acre park. About 150 species of avenue trees have been planted at ideally located spots. The mini bio-park has been envisioned in the Revised Master Plan of Delhi. Future and current students, who are the targeted beneficiaries of the park, will get a first-hand education on how life-forms grow in woodlands and biodiversity be created.
Pythons born at Delhi Zoo (August Week 3 (2005)) For the first time in its history, two python eggs have hatched at the Delhi Zoo here. "The eggs hatched early this past week and the zoo's first python babies are healthy and doing fine. They were spotted as soon as they hatched and were taken away from their parents," said Zoo director B.S. Bonal (The Hindu, Tuesday, August 15, 2005). The zoo houses about eight pythons that have been rescued from various parts of the Capital and this is the first successful breeding that the zoo has witnessed so far, despite the fact that it has been home to several reptiles over the years. "We feared that the parents would harm the babies and thought it best to remove them. The baby reptiles were at risk of being eaten alive by their parents or even other larger pythons. Which is why it was important that we separated the babies as soon as they hatched," he added. However, while there is much celebration at the birth of these pythons, the zoo officials are also worried about the slow pace at which their reptile house is being constructed. "We are worried at the pace at which work is being carried out for construction of the reptile house. The Centre for Environment Education had been entrusted with the task of building the reptile house and work was to be completed by July this year. However, we are disappointed that we have not been able to open the same for the general public despite having promised it," said Mr. Bonal.
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