Notorious poacher arrested (July Week 1 (2005))
Sansar Chand, the most notorious wildlife smuggler, who was on the run ever since his role in the poaching of Sariska tigers was exposed, has been arrested. True to his wont, Sansar Chand was hiding in a house in Patel Nagar area for the past 10 months.
A Crime Branch team of Delhi, which was trailing him, arrested him. Also known as the Veerapan of North India, Sansar Chand is involved in 13 cases registered under various sections of the Wildlife Act in five states. The Special Task Force (STF) set up by
the Prime Minister to investigate the disappearance of tigers from the Sariska Tiger Reserve, was also on his trail. He has been arrested under section 41 of the CrPc and is being interrogated about his involvement in the poaching cases
Cheap clean water (July Week 1 (2005))
Scientists at a Pune lab have found a way of producing cheap and clean drinking water from contaminated water by using a membrane as filter. The device does not depend on electricity as most other water filters do and can thus be used in remote rural areas
as well as disaster zones. The breakthrough was made at the Pune-based National Chemical Laboratory's polymer division and the new technology was granted a US patent earlier this year. NCL then transferred the know-how on a royalty basis to Pune-based entrepreneur
Subhash Devi, who has since marketed the water filter. It is now available in the market under the brand name Purion. The man behind the breakthrough is polymer scientist R.A. Mashelkar, director-general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research,
Delhi. He describes the breakthrough as "making high technology work for the poorest of the poor in India". Tiny viruses which can cause diseases like jaundice are the hardest to remove from drinking water but the NCL says its acrylic membrane filter can produce
crystal clear water from a drain.
Sethusamundaram inauguration goes ahead (July Week 1 (2005))
The Sethusamudram Ship Channel project has been inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week amidst controversies as it was yet to obtain the mandatory no-objection certificate from the Tamil Nadu State Pollution Control Board. Union Shipping
Minister T. R. Baalu said (The Tribune, July 02) the project would enhance India's security as Indian Navy ships would be easily able to reach the eastern coast without going around the Sri Lankan coast. He said, "The issue of no-objection certificate is old
and I can say that I do not require any such certificate from the state government." He said, "Real fishermen welcome the project and I have met with them in six districts of Tamil Nadu. All they want is more fishing harbors which the project will provide."
However, it remains to be clarified as to who the 'real' fisherman are and if they really want what Mr. Baalu says they want.
Coca-Cola alleged for causing cadmium pollution (July Week 1 (2005))
The Kerala State Pollution Control Board (PCB) has issued notice to the Coca-Cola's bottling plant at Plachimada in Palakkad district to explain why the `consent to operate' issued to it earlier shall not be renewed. The PCB's main objection to the company's
request for the renewal of the license is the unexplained presence of the heavy metal, cadmium, in the sludge generated by the company and in the well water in a colony. The plant has been closed since March 9, 2004, when the High Court delivered its order
in a case filed by the panchayat complaining that the plant's operations were causing depletion of the groundwater resources. The High Court lifted the closure order on April 7, this year, after imposing certain conditions on the company on the basis of an
expert committee's report on the quantum of groundwater that can be drawn by the company without causing groundwater depletion in the area. The company, however, has not been able to resume its operations till now since the `consent to operate' order issued
by the PCB earlier had expired. The PCB, in an order issued last Friday, refused to renew its `consent to operate' on the basis of the details furnished by the company in its application. The PCB's member secretary S. D. Jayaprasad noted in the order that
the company had not explained how a hazardous substance like cadmium was found to be present above the permissible limits in the sludge samples collected from the factory premises and in the water samples collected from nearby wells.
Kolkata will be lit by sun even during night-time (July Week 1 (2005))
Kolkata is set to become the first Indian metro to light up its streets with solar power, joining a select league of world cities. "The solar street lights would be installed in a five-kilometer stretch in Salt Lake and Kolkata in another three months
with an initial project cost of Rs 2.5 million," SP Gonchowdhuri, the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA) director, said (Hindustan times, July 02). "In rural areas, solar lights are not new. But for the first time we would install solar
lights in an urban area. We hope to complete the job before Durga Puja in October" Gonchoudhuri said. Solar street lights in urban areas are in use in the US, Germany, Europe and Japan. In India, the Kolkata-Salt Lake area would be the maiden urban sector
to go solar in street-lighting. "The installation cost of these lights may be high but the maintenance cost is zero for the next six years. It would ensure uninterrupted power and without any hassle of cable laying," said the WBREDA director. The West Bengal
government is also seeking the assistance of WBREDA to set up a solar energy housing complex for high-end users in its upcoming Rajarhat Township near Kolkata to popularize solar energy use.
National park at the LoC (July Week 1 (2005))
After re-uniting families separated by the Line of Control, the Indo-Pak thaw is now bringing hope for eight endangered wildlife species including the near-extinct Qazinag Markhore, a majestic mammal with trademark corkscrew horns. A 211-sq km stretch
along the Line of Control is going to be their protected home and Jammu and Kashmir's (J-K's) largest wildlife National Park. The National Park that is coming up right on the LoC from Uri up to Qazinag, is being set up by J-K Government with the help of the
Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and the World Wildlife Organization. ''We could only think of setting up this park after the ceasefire which allowed us to go deep into the forests for an elaborate survey of endangered species. This can become the country's most
favorite National Park as it is located right on the LoC,'' said J-K Forest, Environment and Wildlife minister, Sofi Ghulam Mohideen (The Indian Express, July 03). The primary objective behind the creation of the park is to protect the natural habitat of the
highly endangered Qazinag Markhore. For the first time February this year, the ceasefire allowed the wildlife experts of J-K Wildlife department and the WTI to conduct a survey along the LoC, who were surprised to witness an increase in the number of Qazinag
Markhores. Wildlife experts claim the region also inhabits some rare mammal species, which are only found in Shivilak belts of the country. Though the park is being established on Indian side of the LoC, many animals and pheasants are easily criss-crossing
Kashmir's dividing line - hope that knocks some sense into the 'intelligent' apes regarding imaginary lines.