Press on Environment and Wildlife
Forest corridor mooted for golden langur (October Week 1 (2005)) Community people and fringe villagers around Chakrashila Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS) and Nadangiri Hill reserve forest have strongly favoured every kind of initiatives at every level for linking of forest cover between these two hillocks in Kokrajhar district of BTAD in Assam, reports Assam Tribune.

In this connection Green Heart Nature Club, Kokrajhar has been working in this area since last few years for conservation of golden langur through community participation from almost all the fringe villages of these two hills, said B Dey, director, Green Heart. Dey further said that as a member organisation of the Assam State Wildlife Board of the government of Assam, Green Heart has been also persuading the government to consider forest corridor building between these two hills with huge potential of wildlife conservation including golden langur and also to declare community reserve in this area apart from urgently declaring Sankosh Aie wild life sanctuary along Ripu Charang reserve forest on the other side which is under serious consideration of the government and the BTC administration is also in favour of such progressive measures for conservation of wildlife and natural resources.
Speaking on the occasion G Basumatary, conservator of forest and CHO, forest, BTC has enlightened for better public participation for both male and female villagers for every success of the joint forest management policy of the government. He also appreciated the villagers and SHGs who expressed to extend maximum possible support for the protection of forest and conservation of the rich golden langur habitat in this area. However, he has cautioned encroachment of forest should be prevented at any cost at each and every area for the greater interest of the people and for preserving natural progress and eco-system of this region.
Generating energy through waste (October Week 1 (2005)) Harnessing alternative energy for domestic and industrial purposes is a challenge in the backdrop of a rapidly increasing demand for power sources. Biotech, an agency implementing biogas and solar energy programmes of the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy, has introduced several techniques for generating energy through effective treatment of waste. Two of the popular technologies are being implemented in the State by the agency. One is the anaerobic treatment (Biomethanation), suitable for treating fast decomposing bio-waste and the other is Biocinerator for the treatment of slow decomposing materials.
Biocinerator is a biomass burning unit. Waste materials like dry leaves, coconut husk, other types of dry plant waste, paper, etc. can be burned under controlled conditions in a chamber. This process does not require any external fuel. The excess gas generated in anaerobic treatment plants can be utilised as a fuel for operation of biocinerator.
It is a process based on micro-organism. A waste treatment plant, consisting of a gas collector and a digester/reactor, is installed for treating bio-degradable organic matter to produce methane gas used for cooking, lighting and running engines for generation of electricity. The organic waste and wastewater from domestic, industrial or agricultural process can be used for the purpose, reports The Hindu.
Experimental Jetropha plantation in Kadapa was reported by The New Indian Express.
As many as 25 lakh Jetropha saplings are ready for plantation, according to District Water Management Association (DWMA) Project Director Eeswar Reddy.
He was addressing a conference of Icrisat scientists on Wednesday. Jetropha plantation is being taken up on an experimental basis in two villages of Chintakommadinne mandal.
Reddy appealed to the farmers interested in taking up the crop to get the plants free of cost from the office of DWMA. Srinivasamurthy, a scientist from Icrisat, said Koparti and Chinnakampalle in Chintakommadinne mandal were selected because of the congenial atmosphere in this area.
The plantation would be taken up on an area of 20 acres. Their institute would extend financial and technical know-how for the project, Srinivasamurthy said.
SC defines ‘green’ cost for projects built on forest land (October Week 1 (2005)) Major newspapers gave prominence to the fact that for the first time, the apex court has put in place a system to evaluate—and collect—the environmental cost of any project in forest land. Until now, the cost included just that of trees felled. But in a 70-page judgment, the Supreme Court has ordered that projects be charged Net Present Value (NPV): value of benefits from a forest, including oxygen production, biodiversity, carbon absorption and flood and drought control.
The only projects exempted will be government hospitals, dispensaries, non commercial government ventures like schools, water tanks, sewers.
The NPV collected will go to a national corpus that will audited by the CAG and used for preserving forests, not necessarily in the state where the project is coming up. This is over and above the current system of compensatory afforestation—paying for trees cut and getting new ones planted.
NPV is already being charged by four states Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Haryana. More than Rs 300 crore has been collected so far and is lying with the courts with no clarity on what to do with the money.
These states calculated NPV at Rs 5.80 lakh per hectare to Rs 9.20 lakh. New rates will now depend on the type of forest land, location, density of the forest, distance from urban area.
The plea that public sector projects of NHPC or Powergrid be exempted has been turned down by a three-member bench headed by Justice Y K Sabharwal who delivered the judgment after a continuous three-day hearing on an omnibus forest case.
A three-member expert committee will decide on the NPV, one of the members will be Kanchan Chopra, forest economist from the Institute of Economic Growth. The team has one month to identify and define parameters on the basis of which value can be ascribed to different categories of forest land in different bio-geographical zones.
Bio-fuel is ideal source of power for Farmers (Issue of the week, September Week 4 (2005)) The first step towards production of bio-diesel was taken on Tuesday when Jatropha saplings were planted by the state agriculture minister Ashok Bajpai in village Baikuan of district Lakhimpur, (U.P) reports Times of India .
With this, the state government has decided to plant Jatropha on a large-scale. The state government has initiated the project on a 25-acre land in technical collaboration with the National Botanical Research Institute and Biotech.
Bajpai said that Jatropha would be cultivated for producing bio-diesel. While this will strengthen the financial condition of farmers, it would also come in handy for utilisation of barren and sandy land.
BIOFUELS for transportation may have grabbed everyone's imagination, but their use in power generation cannot be ignored as it holds significant potential for rural development. Prof U. Shrinivasa of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, says that biofuels, particularly oil from pongamia trees, can be used in the rural areas for power generation, in pump sets, and tractors. This would help to insulate farmers from the increasing prices of petroleum products, reports the Hindu Business Line
Pongamia trees are common in farms, because they are leguminous and help to fix nitrogen in the soil and the leaves are used as green manure. The seeds have multiple uses — for extracting oil, which is used in leather tanning and soap making, and the oil cake is used as manure. Since the trees are on the farm, the oil could be available for as low as Rs 3-4 a litre, which is the cost of crushing the seeds for oil.
According to Mr M. Rajagopalan, Head-Industry Captive Sales, Wartsila India Ltd, using bio-oils for generating power holds significant potential for rural development. It can be a source of quality and environment friendly power in the rural areas, enable agro-based industries and generate employment.
This option would be easier to implement than using biofuels for transportation, which requires high-cost facilities for processing the raw oil to fuel. Also, the fuel quality would have to be standardised and this would call for extensive regulation and monitoring. Industry estimates peg biofuel prices just a few rupees lower than diesel.
But for power generation the raw oil from the seed can be used directly. This would mean a significantly lower cost.
Power from bio-oil fuelled generators would be a renewable energy source without the disadvantages of other renewable sources such as wind or solar power, he said. Wind power is seasonal, its plant load factor is low at about 35 per cent and can only be available in areas with wind potential. Solar power technology is yet to take off. But bio-fuels can be used in power generators that offer efficiencies comparable with conventional systems, in terms of cost and efficiencies.
For instance, the thermal efficiency of a coal plant is about 30 per cent while that of a bio-oil powered unit is 60 per cent. A bio-oil unit would cost Rs 3.5-4 crore a MW to set up, against Rs 5 crore for a wind farm, Mr Rajagopalan said.
Even at current levels of productivity of jatropha and pongamia, bio-oils are attractive, and in the coming years the output per hectare is sure to rise several fold with the intensity of research going into biofuels.
In Africa, the productivity of jatropha is several times higher, he said.
The benefit it would offer rural areas is that the fuel for bio-oil units can be produced by the farmer and used for captive power generation or supplied to larger power generation facilities of any capacity.
Wartsila itself specialises in such equipment that run on residual fuels such as furnace oil or LSHS (Low Sulphur Heavy Stock) and are proven to run on bio-oils. They range from 1.8 MW to 16 MW and any number of units can be set up for large capacities. These facilities can power local industries or where connectivity is available feed the grid.
This would mean decentralised power production or, as the industry calls it, distributed generation. It would do away with transmission and distribution losses and high-cost infrastructure. It would catalyse rural and agro-based industries. But to make this a reality, the Government will have to support this on a par with other renewable energy investments such as those extended to wind power.
Kaziranga National Park (KNP) (September Week 4 (2005)) The Sentinel reported a three prong strategy to save Kaziranga National Park (KNP). KNP Director NK Vasu said that the Park authorities held a meeting in the first week of this month to moot the formation of a coordination committee to ensure formulation of the three-pronged strategy to end the element of uncertainty threatening the centenary park.
It may be mentioned here that the Brahmaputra has been eroding vast stretches of the KNP every year. The devastating floods of 1987 and 1997 claimed large tracts of park land. Therefore, erosion control has gained paramount importance for the survival of the Park, Vasu said.
With erosion on the northern side, the need has arisen for the extension of the Park towards the south. The KNP Director said that there is a plan to add a 98 square-kilometre area to the Park in the Karbi Anglong Hills. This has become essential as the population of the animals, including that of rhinos, elephants, Asiatic buffaloes and deer, has increased over the years, he added.
In addition to this, the National Highway has to be monitored all along so that the animals do not get run over by speeding vehicles while crossing the road, the KNP Director said.
Pheasant breeding project suffers setback (September Week 4 (2005)) The prestigious project for breeding of the highly endangered western tragopan species suffered a further setback when another chick died at the Sarhan pheasantry on Friday, reported The Tribune.
With this three of the four chicks bred for the first time at the pheasantry have died. All chicks were born to the same pair in two clutches.
While Mr B.L. Negi, the Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife), Sarhan, refused to confirm or deny the death of the chick, sources in the department said that the chick, which sustained an injury on one of its legs last month, had died.
Over the past two months four birds have died. Besides three chicks, an adult pheasant also expired but it had completed the average life span.
It is a project of global importance as Sarahan pheasantry is the only one of its kind in the world having the rare birds in captivity. “Tragopan melanocephalus” for the zoologists, the rare pheasant is placed high on the Red Data Book of the International Union for Nature Conservation (IUCN) listing the highly endangered species. The survival of the species depends on success of the breeding programme being pursued by the department since 1991.
It took 15 years to have a successful breeding, thanks to the guidance of Mr John Corder, conservation breeding expert from the World Pheasants Association, who had been making regular visits to monitor the programme.
However, it appears that the department lacks the requisite expertise in captive rearing which is as much a specialised as breeding. The success of the Rs 4.93 crore breeding project is very much in doubt now.
Besides the lone surviving chick, the pheasantry still has three pairs of the rare bird but the breeding programme is in doldrums. The department will have to have fresh look at the programme and ensure that trained staff was deployed for such projects. Failure of the project could deprive the state of similar projects which are in the pipeline.
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