Press on Environment and Wildlife
Crocs strengthen neighborhood ties! (Issue of the week, June Week 4 (2005))

Their mouths tied with tape, 40 passengers were herded last week into the Alitalia flight to Dhaka, where ministers lined up to welcome them. For once, India and Bangladesh are seeing eye-to-eye on a group of migrants. In a cross-border conservation programme, New Delhi is helping its neighbor rebreed the tropical marsh crocodile by sending over eight males and 32 females. The scaly, cold-blooded animals were placed in well-ventilated wooden boxes that were loaded on to the aircraft's hold at Chennai airport this evening. The species has virtually become extinct in Bangladesh, said Harry V. Andrews (The Telegraph, June 24), director of the 30-year-old Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, which is conducting the "goodwill mission". The Bangladesh environment ministry had made a request for the crocodiles a few months ago, Andrews said. "We had to get clearance from the Zoo Authority of India and our environment ministry." The Bangladesh government is paying for the journey. The crocodiles will get a grand reception at Dhaka airport from the ministers there," Andrew added with a chuckle. 40 adult crocodiles were selected from a bank of 2,400 at the trust's farm, located off the highway from Chennai to Mamallapuram. The males are aged between 25 and 30 years, each a little over 3 meters in length. The females are all 18 years old and measure 2.50-2.75 meters. Eight females and two males will go straight to the Dhaka zoo while the rest will be divided among three captive breeding centers elsewhere in the country. Andrews said he would travel with his team to Bangladesh some time later to help the neighbors breed the crocodiles. India's successful Crocodile Project has drawn many of its neighbors' attention. "Nepal has also requested our trust to send marsh crocodiles but this has had to be put on hold because of the political problems there," he said. Some time ago, there had been an enquiry from Pakistan, too.

More cross border initiatives addressed towards conservation and environmental problems will hopefully not only contribute to resolving differences between countries but also provide a foundation for devising much more effective solutions to these problems.

Blackbucks wreck havoc for farmers (June Week 4 (2005)) Even as Tiger Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi tries to extricate himself from a rather difficult black buck hunting case, there is an antelope population explosion in the Kurnool district of Rayala Seema region in Andhra Pradesh. This is posing a huge problem for farmers in the region. Hordes of blackbucks have caused so much destruction of agricultural crops in the area in recent months that the State's wildlife authorities have had to intervene to bring the situation under control. Hitesh Malhotra, Chief Wildlife Warden, said that 500 blackbucks were rounded up from Golapadu, Adoni and other western parts of Kurnool. They were later shifted and released in the forest areas of Velgode and Siligiripadu in Prakasham district. Named 'Krishnajinka' by the people this antelope has religious sentiments attached to it. "People respect it highly and it is named after Lord Krishna due to its color. People do not like to kill this animal even though it is very easy to shoot it," Mr Malhotra said.
Country's first peacock reserve (June Week 4 (2005)) Over the next couple of months, Karnataka will be home to the country's first ever Peacock Conservation Reserve. A scrub jungle close to Bankapur town in Haveri district in the State, which has a large population of these birds, will now come under a new category of protection called Conservation Reserves. Conservator of Forests Anur Reddy has said (Deccan Herald, June27) that a proposal had been sent to the government and that the reserve would be declared soon. The 147-acre jungle, to be named the Bankapur Conservation Reserve, is well known for peacocks. Close to 1,000 peacocks can be spotted here and the presence of numerous Acacia nilotica trees makes it a perfect breeding spot for these birds, he said. Mr Reddy added that the Bankapur Fort and temples belonging to the Hoysala reign will be part of the reserve, a sketch of which has already been prepared. The deputy commissioner, gram panchayat and the local MLA have given their consent.
DJB embarks on a plan to save Delhi's groundwater resources (June Week 4 (2005)) After all the efforts to bring water turned futile, the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has chalked out an ambitious plan to conserve the depleting ground water table of the Capital. According to the DJB, more than 20,000 small and big lakes, ponds and wells have been identified under this project which have the potential to be rehabilitated and conserve the ground water table of the city. DJB CEO Rakesh Mohan said (The Pioneer, June 22, 2005) that work at some of the places has already begun and this is likely to bring good results within few years and the city can be independent on its water resources. "These sites have been located. We will involve RWAs and representatives from villages and other bodies to let them know the importance of rehabilitating ground water. Our efforts are difficult but not impossible and I am sure city will be able to compensate for the loss of about 40 per cent of water in its total production," said a DJB official. The Capital's demand is 850 MGD and it produces only 650 MGD. Earlier in a step towards encouraging the rainwater harvesting to conserve water, the DJB has already provided grant-in-aid scheme for the project to some RWAs and Group Housing Societies. This promises to be a good start towards the alleviation of the water problems of the capital.
Carbide wastes removed (June Week 4 (2005)) The chemical wastes have been safely re-packaged from the Union Carbide factory premises in compliance of the High Court's directives. The Chief Minister Babulal Gaur inspected the Union Carbide factory premises last week and apprised himself of the disposal of the wastes. About 250 tons of chemical wastes would be scientifically disposed of and after examination buried deep elsewhere. The Chief Minister inspected the places from where chemicals wastes have been removed and also visited the space where repackaged wastes have been kept provisionally. Gaur has also asked the authorities concerned to completely clean up the premises and keep the plant safe as memorial of the disaster. Gaur talked to the gas-affected persons' organizations and told them that all their doubts are baseless as the chemical wastes have been cleaned scientifically. Better late than never!
E-waste accumulates in India (June Week 4 (2005)) Amid rising concerns over e-waste in India, top personal computer (PC) manufacturers are now coming together to find a workable solution, including proposing a draft legislation on e-waste management. As a first step towards this, the industry is understood to have held a video conference recently where it was decided that MNCs here would seek the views of their parent organizations, which are already working on e-waste initiatives in Europe and the US. At the meeting, it was also decided to collect and compile the process, success stories and best practices on e-waste management by leading PC and hardware manufacturers and put it on hardware association MAIT's Web site for awareness creation. E-waste or Waste from Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) refers to products having a battery or an electrical cord, which have become obsolete either due to advancement in technology. According to a survey carried out by IRG Systems South Asia, the total WEEE in India has been estimated to be 1,46,180 tones a year based on selected EEE tracer items. Such figures call for much more than just discussing the problem and hopefully those involved will take direct action soon.
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