Press on Environment and Wildlife
Bombay High Court stays the sale of Mill land. (October Week 3 (2005)) AT THE Bombay High Court, while arguing for Environmental Action Group, Mr I. M. Chagla clarified that he was not seeking a freeze on all development in the mill land.
What he prayed for was an intervention by the court "to ensure that the principles of sustainable development, balanced development, sound town planning, based on relevant socio-economic considerations and the improvement of the living and working conditions and environment as enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution of India are followed with regard to all development/redevelopment on the mill lands, so as to protect the interests of the residents of Mumbai." Relevant articles in the constitution Art.21 and 48A are quoted.
"Enjoyment of life and its attainment including their right to life with human dignity encompasses within its ambit, the protection and preservation of environment, ecological balance free from pollution of air and water, sanitation without which life cannot be enjoyed," the apex court had said about a decade ago in Virendra Gaur vs State of Haryana.
`Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wild life'. It mandates that the State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country. These two Articles form the core of the country's environment law.
Courts have recognised the duty of the Government with regard to environment.
"The most vital `community need' at present is the reversal of the environmental degradation. There are virtually no `lung spaces' in the city. The Master Plan indicates that about 34 per cent of recreational areas have been lost to other uses," noted the Supreme Court in a 1996 case.
Integrated Wasteland Project to cover 9,000 ha (October Week 3 (2005)) With a view to develop wasteland lying barren in development blocks, the Bhopal district administration has sanctioned Integrated Wasteland Development Project (IWDP) for 9,000 hectare of land, reports The Pioneer.
IWDP projects costing Rs 3 crore and 2.40 crore in the first and second phase respectively have been initiated at 27 villages of Fanda development block.
The district has received Rs 165.42 lakh from the Union and the Madhya Pradesh Government under the plan and nearly 1,600 hectare of land have been treated by spending Rs 49 lakh till date.
Three project implementation units (PIU) have been constituted wherein officers from Forest and Water Resource Department have been appointed as project officers. The appointed officers are also being trained for effective implementation of the projects.
The first phase that started from year 2003 would conclude in the year 2008. The IWDP costing Rs 3 crore would stretch over 5,000 hectare of land in Fanda block.
The Centre's share is Rs 275 lakh while the State Government's share is Rs 25 lakh. Six gram panchayats including Khajuri Sadak, Bakania, Khori, Inayatpura, Kalapani and Semrikala have been selected for the first phase.
Similarly, the second phase of IWDP that commenced in 2004 would conclude in the year 2009. The sanctioned area include 4,000 hectare of land in Fanda block.
The Centre's share is Rs 220 lakh and State Government's share is Rs 20 lakh for implementation of second phase of IWDP.
Seven gram panchayats including Sukhi Nipania, Banderi, Kuthar, Karondiya, Jetpura, Nipania Jhat and Kanchi Barkhera have been included in the second phase.
Independent groups, women groups and stop water committees have been constituted for carrying out the projects.
Chandipur promises to be new home to dolphins (October Week 3 (2005)) Ecologists are thrilled over the recent discovery of another home for dolphins on the Orissa coast. The sighting of a couple of dancing dolphins in a small gorge in the course of river Budhabalang, near Chandipur, and a few km from the Bay of Bengal, is being considered a highly welcome phenomenon in view of the fact that the population of these sea mammals has been on the decline in the Chilka lake.
The dolphins in Chilka are under threat because of the fast-changing ecological behaviour of this internationally famous brackish water lagoon. The Chilka water is losing its salinity day by day, as a result of which fresh water condition is prevailing in the lake at a fast pace. Such a situation is proving detrimental to the habitation of dolphins.
Coupled with the rapid ecological changes is the man-made danger to the existing dolphins in the form of the increasing use of fishing devices like trawlers and nylon nets in the lake to catch prawn and other fish. No wonder, the dolphin population in Chilka has now dwindled to less than 170, compared to several hundreds till some years ago.
Ecologists point out that degradation of Chilka's eco-system and human depredation have already extinguished a species of sea mammal called dugong from the lake. While dolphin is a hunter, dugong is vegetarian. The mermaid is a slow and gentle animal that lives on sea-grass.
The dancing mammals are unsafe in Chilika lake as well as in the new habitat. Fishing devices like trollers and nylon nets, used for catching fish in Budhabalang and Chilika, are becoming threats to these two aquatic species of the eco-system.
Recently, the State Government took a slew of measures to protect the endangered Irrawadi dolphins of the Chilika lake with a massive awareness drive in the State. The Government is also considering a ban on motor boats in the Chilika lake as it is considered the main threat to dolphins. Further, the State Government is planning to declare the whole of Satapada area a sanctuary as most of the dolphins are sighted here, reports The Poneer.
Need for River authority, protection force stressed (Issue of the week, October Week 2 (2005)) A seminar was organised by Kerala Nadeetheera Samrakshana Samithy as part of the River Day on Monday. Samithy took a River Day pledge on the banks of the Periyar. The seminar session discussed the problems faced by rivers and provided many suggestions for reviving those rivers which are facing extinction. Experts said that without proper conservation of rivers, the drinking water shortage in the State could not be solved.
"Sand-mining is not the only concern. There are many serious problems faced by the rivers like reclamation, waste discharge and deforestation," said an expert.
Environmental experts who spoke in the seminar session stressed the need for a River Authority and River Protection Force.
Films on natural disasters (October Week 2 (2005)) Members of and tsunami response watch have organised the screening of a series of films on natural disasters and the response after as part of a documentary film festival travelling South India till October 30.
The screenings, coming in the context of tsunami and now Katrina, are on October 8 and 9 at the Indian Social Institute, Benson Road, Benson Town, 5.30 p.m. onwards on both days.
Max Martin, who coordinates the website with four of his friends, and is into ecology and development reporting, says the impact of one of the documentary films, `Living on the Edge,' persuaded them to organise a film festival. "That film by Magimai Prakasham represented the impossibility of living under tin-sheds that were built for people hit by tsunami in Nagapattinam district. The film reached the district collector who went on record to say that relief was a shame.
“The film also reached the U.N. and a German meet. We and so many other journalists had reported fairly extensively on tsunami, but the impact the film made was enormous. We realised a visual could do a lot ." says a report in the Hindu.
Wildlife Week (October Week 2 (2005)) Participating in a wildlife week celebrations held at Louis Levail Higher Secondary School, in Ramanathapuram, Sudhanshu Gupta, Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park Wildlife Warden has stressed the need to conserve biodiversity of the Gulf of Mannar as a section of people cause degradation by throwing plastic bottles and bags on the sea.
Mr. Gupta said though the forest cover in Tamil Nadu was around 21 per cent it was just five percent in Ramanathapuram district.
The people should shoulder the responsibility of increasing the forest cover on a par with the State average.
If the people could plant at least a sapling during their birth anniversaries, the forest cover would go up.
Schools, colleges, voluntary organisations and other institutions should come forward to dedicate themselves for the betterment of the forest cover.
Educational institutions should take students to various bird and animal sanctuaries in Tamil Nadu so that their knowledge would be improved with regard to conservation of nature.
A host of programmes was organised by the Kozhikode-based (Kerala)Malabar Natural History Society in connection with the Wildlife Week observance.
More than 40 college and school students participated in the `bird and mangrove' study trip to Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary near here on October 2.
T.N. Vijayakumar, T. Ajith Kumar, and C.S. Arun led the team.
The participants could sight large swarms of migratory shorebirds such as Lesser Sand Plovers, Terek Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Red Shank , among others.
The students were educated on the importance of mangroves and estuarine ecosystem not only in wildlife conservation but also in the livelihood of the local people by way of providing food, besides occupations such as fishery, shell mining, and coconut husking in the mudflats there.
Senior orinthologist C. Sasi Kumar, District Forest Officer (Social Forestry) O. Jayarajan, MNHS secretary Jaffer Palot, among others, participated.
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