Press on Environment and Wildlife
Poaching of rare wildlife (October Week 1 (2005)) The Hindu and other major newspapers reported that there is a huge market for Indian tiger and leopard skins in China, particularly in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and the skins are being openly traded there. The `thriving' and `uncontrolled' market may explain the increased poaching of tigers in India that has left at least one reserve devoid of tigers and four others almost empty, suggest the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI). Air ins above normal levels in Manali, says new study
During its visit to Lhasa (Tibet), the WPSI team surveyed 46 shops and found 54 leopard skin `chubas' and 24 tiger skin `chubas' which were openly displayed in the showcases. Seven fresh leopard skins were offered for sale and within the space of 24 hours, the team was shown three fresh tiger skins.
Huge seizures of tiger, leopard and otter skins in India and Nepal indicate the existence of highly organised criminal networks behind the skin trade. They operate across borders, smuggling skins from India through Nepal into China and continue to evade the law.
Anxious to save its tigers and curb trafficking, India has joined seven other countries including the United States, Britain, China and Russia, in an effort to focus world attention on the increasing threat to this apex predator, which environmentalist here fear is facing near extinction due to hunting and trade
This first-ever mega cross-border project by the non-government sector, of which India is a part, will initiate a campaign to stress the urgent need to stop tiger trafficking and also organise a chain of events in eight countries spread over five days.
Over 650 endangered Star tortoises and 10 kg of a narcotic substance, were seized from an air passenger who was bound for Kuala Lumpur on Monday, a senior customs officer at Chennai said. The tortoises were later handed over to the Wildlife authorities and the drug has been sent for chemical analysis. The seizure of star tortoises comes close on the heels of the seizure of 350 star tortoises on September 20.
Wildlife authorities rescued a Slender Loris from a trapper at Vedanthangal on Tuesday. The poacher has been booked under the Wildlife Protection Act.
The Loris is an arboreal species and trapping them can be very difficult. Only those with the ability to climb trees can trap them, wildlife authorities said.
Looping power lines threat to animals (October Week 1 (2005)) The high-voltage power lines passing through the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) are in a deplorable state for which the wild animals of the park are facing a serious threat. Due to the negligence of the ASEB authorities, an elephant of the park died on September 12. According to sources, an elephant of nine feet height got electrocuted at Deochur area of Phulguri forest camp under Burhapahar forest of the park.
The park authority disclosed that the looping down of the power line was informed to the executive engineer of Kaliabor Division ASEB on June 24 and July 1 by range officer of Burhapahar range and DFO Wild Life respectively. But the ASEB authority showed negligence and as a result the elephant was killed. After receiving the information of the incident, the ASEB authority repaired the power line in that area. But, according to forest officials at some other places also the power lines are looping. And if the lines are not be repaired immediately lives of more wild animals will be in danger.
It may be mentioned that another elephant was also reportedly killed by electrocution at the same place on September 12, 2001. Hence, some forest officials term the place as ‘suicidal’. It is pertinent to mention that a large number of parrots were killed by 11 KV power line report of which was published in The Assam Tribune and the danger of such incident was highlighted before hand.
The Forest Department recovered two tusks of height 3 feet six inches and weight 7 kilogram from the dead elephant.
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.
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