Press on Environment and Wildlife
New mines on uranium map (Issue of the week, December Week 3 (2005)) Two new uranium deposits, one in Karnataka and the other in
Rajasthan, have come up on the national map.
The sites have been identified by the Atomic Mineral Division (AMD), a wing of
the department of atomic energy, reports The Telegraph.
About the two new projects that the UCIL has taken up in Meghalaya and Andhra Pradesh, Diwakar Acharya, general manager (mines), UCIL, said: "In Andhra Pradesh, mining operation will be undertaken in two districts — Nalgonda and Cuddapah while West Khasi hills in Meghalaya has been identified for mining operations there."
UCIL secretary P.V. Dubey also spoke about their projects in Jadugoda in East Singhbhum, where the company has started two new mines at Banduhurang (open cast) and Bagjata (underground), while a new processing plant is under construction at Turamdih, about 12 km from the city.
"Moreover, efforts are also being made to start underground uranium mining at Mahuldih in Seraikela-Kharsawan district for which a public hearing is slated on
December 20," the senior UCIL official added. The Mahuldih project will be the seventh such project of UCIL in Jharkhand, Dubey said.
It is understood that an environment impact assessment (EIA) report has already been prepared by Mecon, a Ranchi-based consultant firm.
UCIL officials further informed that uranium extracted from different mines in Jharkhand is utilised in 14 nuclear power reactors for generating 2,700 MW of

The Hindu also reported protests against proposed uranium mine

THE VILLAGERS in Gamharia Block of Jharkhand's Saraikela-Kharsawan district are up in arms over plans to mine uranium at Mohuldih. They have vehemently
opposed to the public hearing to be conducted by the Jharkhand Pollution Control Board (PCB) and the Uranium Corporation of India Limited this week on the
proposed mines. In August, an attempt by the PCB and the UCIL to hold a public hearing was thwarted by the residents of more than a dozen villages around
The villagers said they neither needed a hearing nor a uranium mine. The hearing was meant to discuss the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report
prepared by UCIL's consultants. Of the proposed 116.68 hectares of leasehold area, 52.41 hectares is agricultural land and 3.83 hectares is grazing land. The rest consists of forestland and surface water bodies.
The EIA report is riddled with inconsistencies. To begin with, it does not qualify as a full EIA baseline data measurement as it is limited to the summer season. An EIA requires all three seasons to be taken into account. The report, which can at best be considered a `Rapid EIA,' omits the other two mining projects in the `core zone' (within a 3 km radius) of the project from assessment. The report is also ambiguous about the number of persons to be displaced or the extent of loss of livelihood to local farmers and agricultural labour.
The UCIL management was aware of a survey conducted by a team led by nuclear physicist Surendra Gadekar that showed a sharp rise in the number of congenital deformities in children in villages around Jadugoda, where the UCIL's uranium mines have been functioning since 1968. The EIA report for the Mohuldih project does not mention that families and workers in the neighbourhood face the risk of
developing health problems. It also does not specify the measures that will be taken to protect workers in the plant from hazards such as exposure to radioactive dust or high levels of noise and vibration.
Canara Bank to help solar water heater users sell carbon (December Week 3 (2005)) A body will be set up to negotiate with foreign buyers
• Loans will be offered to buy solar water heaters at concessional interest rates
• The bank will facilitate aggregation of users of solar water heaters
Canara Bank is bringing together a group of entities buying energy-efficient solar water heaters through a soft loan and help them trade carbon credits or certified emission reductions (CERs) prescribed under the Kyoto Protocol.
CER stands for one tonne equivalent of carbon dioxide reduction and can be traded. In effect, users of solar water heaters will be able to encash the lower emissions through energy saved when entities from any of the 37 developed countries that buy carbon credits from developing nations, including India, to reduce their emissions of six harmful green-house gases. The bank will provide loans to buy solar water heaters at concessional interest rates to individuals at 2 per cent per annum. For institutional users such as colleges and hostels, the interest will be 3 per cent and for commercial and industrial users, including small and medium enterprises, it will be 5 per cent. The bank will facilitate collection and aggregation of users of solar water heaters and form an agency or body that will negotiate with foreign buyers of carbon credits from India.

"We are in talks with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to get technical assistance for a mechanism to bundle this and tag it on to the Clean Development Mechanism projects. Revenue from the sale of carbon credits can flow to the bank, which, in turn, will be passed on to the users of solar water heaters. This creates an additional stream of benefits/incentives to the users," General Manager in-charge of priority sector lending, Canara Bank R. Prabha told The Hindu .
The bank has proposed to the UNEP that a body can negotiate with buyers of carbon credits on behalf of users of the heaters. As part of the bank's `basket of green loan products to popularise use of renewable energy, finance will be given to buy heaters up to 85 per cent of the project cost, including cost of accessories and installation with no upper ceiling.
"In the first year, the bank proposes to finance loans worth Rs. 50 crores, saving energy to the extent of 12-15 MW," he said.
Green bodies planned for national parks (December Week 3 (2005)) parks
The Rajasthan Government is considering appointment of ecological development committees in areas adjacent to national parks and wildlife sanctuaries to ensure participation of local people in conservation of forests and wildlife and provide adequate livelihood opportunities to them.
The Minister for Forests and Environment, Laxminarain Dave said connecting common people with the conservation activities would not only lead to their participation, but would also inculcate a sense of belonging to the natural heritage of the State. Mr. Dave, addressing the participants in a long march from the Ranthambhore wildlife sanctuary to Jaipur, said an experiment for associating the tribal population with the arrangements for boarding of tourists through the Nature Club had been launched in Udaipur. Similar initiatives could be taken in the forest areas, he added.
Referring to the disappearance of tigers from the Sariska wildlife sanctuary, Mr. Dave said the role of a bunch of criminals working for a gang had been exposed in this regard. He said the march would send across a positive message motivating the people at large to join the movement for environment conservation.
The rally was organised by Sawai Madhopur-based Mahatma Ishwarnath Seva Samiti, reports the Hindu.
Butterflies need conservation (December Week 3 (2005)) Like other species, their habitat is also declining. As City Beautiful is rapidly converting into a concrete jungle, there is a decline in host shrubs like lantana, ak and hibiscus and trees like amaltas, pipal and bor.
There is a need to improve the number by setting up a butterfly park on the pattern of parks in foreign countries, says Dr V.K. Walia, an entomologist at the Department of Zoology, Panjab University, Chandigarh. He has been studying butterflies for the past 25 years.
He says the park will not only improve their number of butterflies but also bring residents closer to nature.
“The park will give children an opportunity to understand the importance of these bio-indicators. It will also serve as a laboratory for studying lepidoptera and its conservation,” believes Dr Walia, who is writing a book on butterflies of north-west of India.
Of the 1,439 species of butterflies that have been reported in India, 78 have been recorded by Dr Walia in and around the city. Most of these species live at average altitudes. These can be seen in good numbers in foothills and plains close to hills.
Area near Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary is an ideal spot for setting up the park as it is botanically richest area. A museum will also go a long way in creating awareness about these beautiful creatures.
Butterflies can be reared in parks under controlled conditions and these can be later released in surrounding areas, he says. For this, plantation of their host plants and closed chambers will be required.
“The department has a large collection of specimens of different species of butterflies and moths that can be displayed in the museum,” says the entomologist. The Tribune also reports that
butterfly farming, popular in the UK, the USA and Australia, has played an important role not only in its conservation but also in providing employment as a cottage industry.
Novel tiger census to take off from January 16 (December Week 3 (2005)) To help form a policy on conservation and management of tigers, their prey and habitat
• Survey also involves assessing co-predators
• Random sample survey to be carried out for natural vegetation and human disturbance
• GPS to be used to identify boundaries as also start and end points of `transect lines'
A census will be conducted to help in formulate policy for the conservation and management of tigers, their prey and habitat, from January 16 to 30, reports the Hindu.
The census, titled "Monitoring tigers, co-predators, prey and their habitat," is being carried out under a detailed field guide prepared by the Directorate of Project Tiger and the Wildlife Institute of India.
The nature of habitat, availability of prey, type and nature of forests, among other things, will be identified in the operations.
"Line transect" method will be adopted in which a "path" is created in places that tigers frequent, such as brooks. The personnel involved in the operations will tread the path looking for pugmarks and excreta, and even listen for the roar of a tiger. Every detail will be recorded in a data sheet designed for the purpose.
It is a comprehensive survey since it will also take into account co-predators such as leopards, ungulates such as chital, sambar, boar, barking deer, barasinga, chinkara, chowsingha, wild buffalo, hare, elephant, rhino, langur, cattle, goat, sheep and domestic livestock. The census will assess as to how much forest land is used by the various animals.
Random sample survey for "natural vegetation, human disturbance and ungulate pellets" will be part of the operations. One "forest beat" will be considered as one unit for the purpose. A beat will consist of an area ranging from 2,000 to 2,500 hectares. Global Positioning System (GPS) will be used to identify the boundaries as also start and end points of "transect lines." The data collected all over the country would be collated to arrive at near-exact assessments, sources said.
Deputy Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), Hunsur, Jagmohan Sharma, is arriving here on December 30 in a bid to train the personnel likely to be involved in the 15-day census, sources said. The entire staff of Forest Department will take part in one of the most ambitious projects being carried out in the country.
Rare species of birds rescued (December Week 3 (2005)) As many as 739 birds of over 15 species including protected ones were rescued from the captivity of bird-catchers during a raid by forest department team at Nakhas bird market in U.P on Thursday.
Rare birds like barbett, bulbul, cranes, doves, munias, mynas, parakeets, partridges, quails, starlings, storks and crows were recovered during the raid.
Endangered species declared protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection act 1972 such as black-neck crane, hill myna, Lord Derby's parakeet were also recovered.
The 28-member team, led by sub-divisional officer, Lucknow forest, MP Singh, found birds being crammed in around three dozen cages with hardly any place to move and spread their wings.
Cranes were mercilessly pushed into 2.5 X 3 feet cages. Of the nine recovered, only three were able to walk. They were sent to the veterinary hospital at Lucknow Zoological Gardens.
Sources said that a single pair of cranes can fetch as high as Rs 60,000 for the bird-catchers. Notably, crane is the state bird and a black-necked one is said to be rarest of rare.
"The cages had been piled up in a 8 X 10 feet room with no facilities of cross ventilation or sunlight. The birds would have either died or developed some disease if they would have remained there for another week," said forest officials.
District forest officer Sanjay Singh said "One Shiv Raj was arrested, while other culprits Ishwarlal, Kailash, Lala, and Jitendra managed to escape." All the accused are residents of Ghanta Pir Gharrahiya, Saadatganj.
Shiv Raj initially denied about his involvement in the racket, but later revealed that he and his associates bred rare birds at a farm on Kanpur and sell them to various zoos across the country.
During interrogation, he revealed that the racket also operates in Meerut, Shahjahanpur, Kolkata, Rampur, Moradabad and Hyderabad besides other parts of the country.
He disclosed that while rare birds like hill mynas, love birds, certain parakeets are high in demand, the latest craze in the market is crane.
Uma Shankar Singh, conservator of forest, Lucknow, said that the birds recovered were categorised under Schedule I and IV of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
"This means that the bird-catchers can get seven years' imprisonment along with a fine for violating the Act." Reports the Times of India.
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