Press on Environment and Wildlife
Yamuna Action Plan: Supreme court summons Delhi Civic Officials (December Week 2 (2005)) While all news papers reported the SC summons , Hindu reported the news on front page.
The Supreme Court expressed its anguish over”indifference” of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the Delhi Jal Board in not submitting to the Court the much talked about action plan to clean the Yamuna even three months after they had been ordered to do so.
A bench of the Chief Justice, directed the MCD commissioner and the CEO of the Jal Board to be present in the court during the second week of next month to explain the reason for non-filing of the affidavit as per the order.
The bench wanted to pass an order constituting a committee of experts to monitor the cleaning of the Yamuna but said that in view of non-c0-operation by the MCD and the Jal Board it could not do so.
The Solicitor-General informed the Court that Urban Development Secretary Anil Baijal had agreed to chair the committee in his personal capacity and social activist Sunita Narain had been chosen as another member. He told the Court that both the MCD and the DJB were yet to file their affidavits on such a sensitive issue. In its affidavit the Centre had cited lack of monitoring and review as the reasons for delay in implementation of the Action Plan and suggested a three pronged monitoring mechanism to ensure completion within the time schedule. While a monthly review would be conducted by the Jal board, the State Chief Secretary should conduct a quarterly review and a committee constituted by the Supreme Court should conduct a six-monthly review, it was proposed.
The Centre had suggested establishment of sewage treatment plans on the banks of the Yamuna, on the lines of the Thames in London, to ensure discharge of clean water into the river. It said that the main drains to the Yamuna still continued to carry almost 50% of untreated sewage and hence it was advisable that water was treated at the mouth of the drain before discharge into the river.
Notorious wildlife trader Tsewang arrested in Nepal. (December Week 2 (2005)) After dodging the Interpol, and the police in India and Nepal, the notorious wildlife trader Tsewang was finally arrested on Sunday by the Boudha Police in Nepal, reports the Indian Express.
He was wanted in a number of cases in India and Nepal.
Though the Nepal police have claimed that Tsewang and Tashi Tsering, South Asia’s most wanted in several cases in India, are one and the same person, the Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) keep their fingers crossed.
While confusion remains over his identity, getting hold of Tsewang is good enough as he is named in a couple of cases including the seizure in New Delhi on April 2 this year. Tashi Tsering has been in the trade for years and was named in a number of cases including the Khaga seizure. After the Interpol issued a red corner notice against him in 2002, Tashi Tsering had gone underground. Soon enough, a new player entered the trade-Tsewang.
Acting on information provided by field operatives of the Wildlife Conservation Nepal(WCN) and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), the Nepal authorities acted swiftly and made the arrest.
IIT Delhi plans course in phyto engineering (December Week 2 (2005)) Phyto technology is conversion of solar energy to biomass energy involving the use of plants. An extensive course in phyto engineering may begin soon at IIT Delhi’s Department of Chemical Engineering.
Benefits of phyto technology
• The technology can be used to treat waste water that surrounds wetlands. As a result the immediate surroundings in a wetland can be used for the process without investing in costly technology.
• Plants can be used to facilitate the recovery of eco systems after massive disturbances like tsunami, earthquake, coal mine and landfill reclamation and the restoration of lakes and rivers.
• Plants can be used as sinks for carbon dioxide to reduce the impacts of climate change.
• Plants can mitigate pollution impacts and moderate energy extremes.
Phyto technology can change the face of fuel technology. With costs of transportation escalating every single day, there is a need to look for comparatively cheaper options.
Cabinet clears Tribal Bill (Issue of the week, December Week 1 (2005)) The Government will introduce the Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill in the ongoing Winter session of Parliament, Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi has said. The Union Cabinet stamped its approval to the controversial Bill on Thursday evening.
The bill seeks to recognise rights of forest-dwelling tribes to forestland and its produce. While wildlife enthusiasts are unhappy about the proposed Bill, another set of social activists and policymakers have demanded its passage.
"The enactment of this Bill will undo the historical injustice by recognising forest rights to the forest-dwelling scheduled tribes who have been residing there for generations and who are integral to the very survival and sustainability of forest ecosystems," the Government said.
Himachal to focus on wildlife tourism (December Week 1 (2005)) Keeping in view foreign tourists and nature lovers, the forest department of Himachal Pradesh has prepared an elaborate plan to focus on wildlife tourism.
The indigenous culture of mountain villages and wildlife offered a unique experience for visitors who had remained deprived of rare scenic beauty of these places which were isolated from urban areas for centuries.
These remote hamlets developed a highly distinctive culture, based on worship of local deities, characteristic architecture of houses and temples, impressive foldwood carving, silver jewellery and local handloom and handicraft which tourists are keen to see.
Himachal Pradesh was a rich repository of country's biggest bio-diversity which covered 7104 square km area spread over two national parks (1440 sq km) and 32 wildlife sanctuaries (5664 sk km) in altitude ranging between 200 mts and 6100 mts.
The wildlife tourism is a developing concept which encompasses eco-tourism, trekking, mountaineering, bird watching, wildlife and income generating community based tourism....
However, the protected forest areas could not be opened for tourists indiscriminately and it had to be assured that the local community and tourists not (not) indulge in poaching, or herb collection, which had caused considerable damage to forests and wildlife in the past.
The forest department officers feel the economic empowerment of people living in the vicinity of protected forest areas was imperative for protection of forests and wild life and they must be made to realise that preservation of this valuable resource could be the biggest source of livelihood for them as it would give boost to eco-tourism.
The Himachal Pradesh government had taken some decisions to put a blanket ban on poaching and felling of green trees in early eighties which went a long way in preserving forests and wildlife.
A large number of birds and animal species, which had either become extinct or declared endangered, could be saved due to efforts made by the wildlife wing and mammals like ibex, snow leopard, Himalayan thar, goral, blue sheep, Himalayan black deer, Himalayan brown bear, Himalayan red fox, vulnerable musk deer etc had been listed in the red data book... The avifauna of Himachal had been reported recently and check list of birds of Great Himalayan National Park which fell within one of globally important endemic bird areas. Identified by biodiversity project, it had 183 bird species, including 132 passerines and 51 non-passernes species.
This can be compared with 70 non-passerines and 150 passerines recorded throughout the hilly regions of Himachal Pradesh above altitude of 1500 mts, reports the Times of India.
Alibaug levies a green tax on visitors (December Week 1 (2005)) The Alibaug municipal council has begun collecting an environment fee from vehicles entering the town in order to meet the cost of cleaning up its beach and keeping the environs neat and tidy.
Cars, jeeps, mini-buses, tempos, buses and other heavy vehicles entering the zone have to pay Rs 10-50 as a daily fee.
"We receive a large number of tourists, especially on weekends. But the civic body does not have the money to provide facilities for them.
So the council has passed a resolution to introduce the tax," said Prashant Naik, a Peasants and Workers Party councillor.
The beach in Alibaug stretches over 2 km of white sand in a region dotted by farmhouses and villas built by Mumbai's rich and famous. Tourists often leave behind a debris of plastic bags, food packets and liquor bottles, say locals.
According to estimates, 500-700 picnickers visit Alibaug on weekdays and the figure doubles during weekends. The dustbins on the beach and a staff of four cleaners are largely inadequate to mop up the litter.
The new environment fee was introduced six months ago but its implementation was stayed because it had not been approved by the state. The council finally received a go-ahead and introduced the tax from November 11.
The council expects to earn Rs 2.5 lakh every month by way of fees. Local residents are exempted. "We have a beautification plan for the beach," said Umesh Kothekar, the council's chief executive officer.
"And we plan to employ more workers to keep the beach clean. We also want to instal toilets on the beach and hire regular lifeguards," councillor Naik added.
However, not everyone is pleased with the council's decision to levy a tax. "Alibaug is the district headquarters of Raigad. The collector's office, thepolice superintendent's office and the court are situated here.
Thousands of people come here for official work. They are not tourists and they do not visit the beach. But they too are being taxed," said a local resident.
Alibaug is not the first town in the state to introduce such a tax. The municipal council in Murud town in Raigad, which is famed for the Janjira fort, had introduced a levy.
The Mahabaleshwar municipal council too collects entry charges from tourist vehicles with the aim of providing better facilities for visitors.
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