Press on Environment and Wildlife
Green tribunal orders interim stay on proposed road inside Asola sanctuary (September Week #3 (2013))
Senior lawyer Raj Panjwani brought the HT report to the notice of the tribunal and said, Instead of implementing a Supreme Court order by persuading illegal occupants in the sanctuary to move out, as provisions have already made for their rehabilitation,
the government is building roads for them.

Panjwani is assisting the tribunal as amicus curiae in matters related to the ridge.  The PWD in May sought to build the road but the forest department rejected the proposal.

There is a 12-km and 10-feet road and had always been there. That's the only way for residents of Sanjay Colony to get out and move towards Chhatarpur. We're only maintaining it, PWD executive engineer Jai Singh told HT recently. The budget for the project
is R15 crore and work on a 10-km stretch is complete. The remaining 2 km needs to be done, he said.

Sanjay Colony, an entire village of 25,000 people, lives illegally in the sanctuary. After a Supreme Court order, the government shifted two smaller colonies from the sanctuary in 2006. But the illegal occupants of Sanjay Colony have not been shifted yet.


Gujarat shield to protect Uttarakhand (Issue of the week, September Week #1 (2013))
The National Bioshield Society (NBS) headed by city-based Padma Shri M H Mehta has prepared a scientifically designed project to help Uttarakhand get a natural shield against floods, especially its vulnerable plains.

The first phase of the project, which will focus on Uttarkashi and Gangotri regions, has been cleared by the Central government after the project proposal was discussed during a meeting chaired by R Chidambaram, principal scientific adviser to the Union
government and chairman of the scientific advisory committee to the Union cabinet........

Experts believe that the devastation due to flash floods at Uttarakhand was inevitable with the artificial forestation that the region witnessed from the time of British rule.

This artificial forestation killed the ethnic biodiversity of the region and instead developed a monoculture which focused on pine forests that proved very profitable for both timber and resin.

"Pine created a smooth, dry carpet, which absorbs nothing, and which at the same time prevents the development of any undergrowth of other plants. In fact, the ground in a pine forest is as bare as a desert and in Uttarakhand it has even turned the soil
acidic," said Mehta.

Mehta on the advice of world renowned activist and Padma Bhushan Sundarlal Bahuguna, the octogenarian who founded the Chipko movement, had started working on the Uttarakhand project proposal.


Environment ministry slaps Rs 200 crore fine on Adani group (September Week #1 (2013))
The environment ministry has slapped a Rs 200-crore fine on the Adani Group's Mundra Port and Special Economic Zone for damaging mangroves, creeks and the local environment at the project site. The company's shares fell 6.4%.

The penalty was recommended by a committee headed by Sunita Narain, director general of Centre for Science and Environment, set up by the environment ministry. The report was submitted to environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan in April. No immediate comment
was available from the Adani group. Officials said a part of the project could face suspension after a more detailed investigation into the alleged violation of environmental clearance norms. The money from the fine will go into an environment restoration
fund for the area.

The five-member committee had visited the site, where it found widespread destruction of mangroves--75 hectares of mangroves have been lost in Bocha Island, which was declared as a conservation zone under the environmental clearance conditions.

"The company has not taken precautions to guard against blocking of creeks because of construction activities; satellite imagery shows signs of deterioration and loss of creeks near the proposed North Port. It has not taken stipulated measures to ensure
that the channels that bring large volumes of seawater for use in the thermal power plant and then discharge as well as the storage tank is lined so that there is no chance of salinity contamination in groundwater," the report stated.


Lakshadweep getting choked by human activity: study (September Week #1 (2013))
A study on the state of the environment of the island group, conducted by the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE), has found that the coral reefs face the greatest threat from pollution, dredging of navigational channels,
coral mining, and destructive practices like blast fishing. The final report of the study warns that sea-level rise triggered by global warming could also be indirectly impacting on the archipelago comprising reefs, lagoons, beaches, and sand dunes.

The limited ground water resources in the islands are already strained by over exploitation. Salinity intrusion caused by rising sea level could aggravate the situation, the study warns. Pointing out that Lakshadweep was located along the main route for
oil tankers plying between the Middle East and Southeast Asia, it notes that oil spillage and discharge of waste oil and untreated waste into the sea could pose a potential threat to the rich marine biodiversity of the region.

The report has called for strict enforcement of the Coastal Regulation Zone norms to protect the islands. It recommends the creation of a biosphere area and the establishment of marine parks for sustainable management of biodiversity. The project team
stresses the need to adopt eco-friendly coastal protection measures such as beach nourishment, submerged breakwaters and artificial reefs. It moots the installation of desalination plants, sewage treatment facilities and solar power units on all islands. The
report also proposes a coral monitoring programme and strict curbs on capture of ornamental fish.


Jungle safari to start in Mandu forest areas (September Week #1 (2013))
The eco-tourism department of Madhya Pradesh forest department will soon come up with a jungle safari in forest areas of Mandu. Mandu is noted for its historical sites and picturesque landscape. However, movement of tourist was restricted only to certain
sites. With development of the jungle safari, tourist will have access to nearly 10,000 hectare of forest area.

The forest department will pump in around Rs 1.5 crore in the project. The work is expected to start after the monsoon season is over and is expected to be completed within a year.

Tourists will also get a chance to see leopards, jackals, neelgais, deers, sambhars, hornbills and other species from close quarters. They will also get a chance to camp inside the deep forest.

Elaborating on the project, the forest official said that water bodies inside the forest will be deepened further. The idea is to make it perennial and ensure that wild animals keep visiting it all through the year, along with landscape development and
plantation. Moreover, there will be 10 access points to enter inside the forest area.

Official said that the proposed jungle safari will be similar to those in Panna, Delawadi and other wildlife tourist spots.

The department is hopeful that with this project, the number of tourist inflow will increase significantly and will also help preserve forest and create awareness about environment.


Smartphones for Western Ghats conservation (September Week #1 (2013))
The pocket-sized smartphone is set to give a fillip to conservation activities in the Western Ghats.

The Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) is joining hands with the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), U.S., for a project on using smartphones in a big way for crowdsourcing, a participatory exercise to generate data, for ecological research
and conservation of the Western Ghats region.

The project has been submitted to NASA for funding under the Applied Science Programme, Udaysankar. S. Nair of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, UAH, said.

The increasing availability of mobile devices equipped with global positioning system and improved camera features had opened up the possibility of crowdsourcing, he said. “It is something everybody can do. Armed with mobile phones, volunteers, including
schoolchildren, would collect data that can be used along with satellite images to assess the impact of land use and land cover changes in the Western Ghats


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