Press on Environment and Wildlife
Planter held with leopard pelts (November Week 1 (2005)) A coffee planter, whose favourite pastime was hunting leopards, has been arrested along with his aide by the CID Forest Cell sleuths, reports the Times of India. Two leopard pelts worth Rs 4.5 lakh have been seized. The planter, Karumbaiah Sai, and his accomplice S M Jaya alias Monnappa are both residents of Ammathi Vontiangadi village in Kodagu ( Karnataka)
The two were arrested on Wednesday when they were on their way to Hunsur town to sell the pelts. IGP (CID Forest Cell) K S N Chikkerur said the leopards appear to have been killed recently. Both the pelts are of a male leopard —- while one measures 7.5 ft, the other pelt is 6.5 ft in length.
The pelts were probably meant for a rich customer, he said pointing to the embellishments around it. Preliminary investigation by the sleuths revealed that Karumbaiah, who is also a local politician, had kept these pelts in his house as trophies.
Water purification: ITRC goes the indigenous way (November Week 1 (2005)) us way
Using barks, leaves and roots of some trees, the Industrial Toxicological Research Centre (ITRC), Lucknow, has devised a unique purifying technology to remove heavy metals from water.
‘‘Under this technology, the ITRC has developed ‘indigenous adsorbents’ for removing contamination of heavy metals from water,’’ said scientist and head, Aquatic Toxicology, ITRC, Krishna Gopal. Several indigenous materials have been used for making the adsorbents, which soak the contamination of heavy metals at their surface, making water fit for consumption,’’ he added.
The water purifying technology also removes microbial agents from water. ‘‘Several health hassles are associated with contaminated water. Presence of heavy metals, like flouride, causes a debilitating condition-flourosis- adversely affecting dental and skeletal tissues. Persons consuming Arsenic contaminated water suffer from Arsenicosis which affects skin and vital organs,’’ said Gopal.
ITRC has completed the work on its part. But in which type the adsorbent formulation will be used, is still to be decided. ‘‘This would be decided by the company, to which the technology is transferred. The technology can be applied in manufacturing water purifiers or the adsorbents can directly be provided at water treatment plants for removing heavy metals,’’ feels Gopal.
The technology has been developed under a project, that has been conducted in collaboration with ITRC and a France-based company. The project got completed just a few months back. ‘‘In a few months from now, ITRC is looking forward to getting this technology patented,’’reports the Indian Express.
Forestland handed over for Sabarimala development project (November Week 1 (2005)) 12.65 hectares of forestland in the Periyar Tiger Reserve was handed over to the Travancore Devaswom Board for creating infrastructure facilities for the Sabarimala pilgrims, reports the Hindu Business Line. .
This land at Marakoottam on the trekking path from Pampa to Sannidhanam in the Neelimala hills would be developed without disturbing the sanctity of the region, he said. The proposed `queue complex' to be created here would regulate the movement of devotees to the Sannidhanam.
Around 50,000 pilgrims can be accommodated here at a time. It would be in compartments where adequate health care facilities including cardiology units having eight beds, oxygen parlours, first aid centres, facilities for drinking water and snacks, toilets etc, would be available.
The Board is thinking of creating adequate infrastructure for providing medical assistance to the pilgrims on the lines it is provided at Tirupati. In addition, the Rs 16-crore project sanctioned by the Centre under the National River Conservation Programme would also be taken up along with the proposed projects, he said. Similar facilities would be created enroute to Sabarimala via Uppupara depending on the number of devotees arriving through this trekking path, he said.
Hunting rampant at Thattekkadu sanctuary (November Week 1 (2005)) Uncontrolled hunting of birds and small animals at the Thattekkadu bird sanctuary poses great threat to the fragile fauna there, reports the New Indian Express.
Local groups engage in hunting of fleshy birds, wild pigs and rabbits at the sanctuary.
Three wild pigs and countless birds were shot down at the sanctuary within a month, said locals. The hunting groups also enjoy the protection and support of certain forest officials and guards at the sanctuary.
“Decayed carcasses of wild pigs and birds, left over by the hunters after removing the flesh, are strewn all over the inner areas. Night hunting also is rampant at the sanctuary,” said an official at the sanctuary.
The nexus between some guards, forest officials and hunters is behind the increase in hunting, said locals.
The problem is severe at the Koottickal thekku plantation sector where the hunters can enter easily from Bhoothathan kettu area.
Labourers brought for construction works at the sanctuary also indulge in hunting.
The high demand for wild pig meat is said to be one reason behind the increase in hunting activities.
“The forest officials do not take action against the hunters. Even when we bring the matter to their notice, they try to overlook the issue,” said a local resident.
Thattekkadu bird sanctuary attracts bird watchers from all over the world.
Rs 40-crore plan for Sunderbans (November Week 1 (2005)) About 400 km of roads would be built and over a dozen bridges erected in the Sunderbans delta spanning the two 24-Parganas.
Officials said there would be at least 2.5 km of brick-paved road in over 190 panchayat areas after the Rs 40-crore project is completed in 2006.
The Sunderbans Development Board will provide Rs 18 crore for the project while Nabard (the National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development) will give the remaining amount as a loan, reports The Telegraph.
The bridges to be built include a 700-m one — the longest in the riverine region — at Dockghat in Canning. Over a lakh people travel to and from Sunderbans through Canning every day.
Chawl residents fight to save patch of green (November Week 1 (2005)) Is it a case of David versus Goliath at Tardeo? Residents of the 130-year-old Talmakiwadi chawl near Bhatia Hospital feel it is. Here is a report by Times of India.
The 20-room chawl, which since 1941 is enclosed within the Kanara Saraswat Association's housing colony (the second-oldest co-operative society in Asia) is fighting to save a small garden of trees and bushes they planted in front of the chawl over 20 years ago.
"Last month, the housing society that owns the land told us that they planned to bring down the trees and use the area for extra parking," says chawl resident Lalita Balsekar, a teacher in the colony's school.
"On October 16, one of the society's committee members came with two workmen, pointed out to my trees and said, 'These must go'," says Balsekar. Several ground-floor residents of the chawl have planted trees (there are around 12 small ones, including sitaphal, karipatta, a supari tree and parijat) and other plants in a strip measuring 15 feet.
They say it was partly in response to an incident in the 1980s when a visitor reversed his car right into one of the rooms.
"We're right on the road and need protection," says Balsekar, who lives with her sister, two brothers and 79-year-old mother. The family has stayed here since her grandfather's time.
Residents say the other main issue is pollution from the increasing number of cars driving through the colony, with the colony's wedding hall being next door.
The society said they'd leave us three feet of space in front of the chawl but that still means fumes would come right into our ground floor houses," she says.
The chawl residents hope their tiny green enclave can survive. "We know the land belongs to the housing society and we are not trying to take it over. We just hope our trees can stay," says a resident.

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