Press on Environment and Wildlife
Country's first peacock reserve (June Week 4 (2005)) Over the next couple of months, Karnataka will be home to the country's first ever Peacock Conservation Reserve. A scrub jungle close to Bankapur town in Haveri district in the State, which has a large population of these birds, will now come under a new category of protection called Conservation Reserves. Conservator of Forests Anur Reddy has said (Deccan Herald, June27) that a proposal had been sent to the government and that the reserve would be declared soon. The 147-acre jungle, to be named the Bankapur Conservation Reserve, is well known for peacocks. Close to 1,000 peacocks can be spotted here and the presence of numerous Acacia nilotica trees makes it a perfect breeding spot for these birds, he said. Mr Reddy added that the Bankapur Fort and temples belonging to the Hoysala reign will be part of the reserve, a sketch of which has already been prepared. The deputy commissioner, gram panchayat and the local MLA have given their consent.
DJB embarks on a plan to save Delhi's groundwater resources (June Week 4 (2005)) After all the efforts to bring water turned futile, the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has chalked out an ambitious plan to conserve the depleting ground water table of the Capital. According to the DJB, more than 20,000 small and big lakes, ponds and wells have been identified under this project which have the potential to be rehabilitated and conserve the ground water table of the city. DJB CEO Rakesh Mohan said (The Pioneer, June 22, 2005) that work at some of the places has already begun and this is likely to bring good results within few years and the city can be independent on its water resources. "These sites have been located. We will involve RWAs and representatives from villages and other bodies to let them know the importance of rehabilitating ground water. Our efforts are difficult but not impossible and I am sure city will be able to compensate for the loss of about 40 per cent of water in its total production," said a DJB official. The Capital's demand is 850 MGD and it produces only 650 MGD. Earlier in a step towards encouraging the rainwater harvesting to conserve water, the DJB has already provided grant-in-aid scheme for the project to some RWAs and Group Housing Societies. This promises to be a good start towards the alleviation of the water problems of the capital.
Carbide wastes removed (June Week 4 (2005)) The chemical wastes have been safely re-packaged from the Union Carbide factory premises in compliance of the High Court's directives. The Chief Minister Babulal Gaur inspected the Union Carbide factory premises last week and apprised himself of the disposal of the wastes. About 250 tons of chemical wastes would be scientifically disposed of and after examination buried deep elsewhere. The Chief Minister inspected the places from where chemicals wastes have been removed and also visited the space where repackaged wastes have been kept provisionally. Gaur has also asked the authorities concerned to completely clean up the premises and keep the plant safe as memorial of the disaster. Gaur talked to the gas-affected persons' organizations and told them that all their doubts are baseless as the chemical wastes have been cleaned scientifically. Better late than never!
E-waste accumulates in India (June Week 4 (2005)) Amid rising concerns over e-waste in India, top personal computer (PC) manufacturers are now coming together to find a workable solution, including proposing a draft legislation on e-waste management. As a first step towards this, the industry is understood to have held a video conference recently where it was decided that MNCs here would seek the views of their parent organizations, which are already working on e-waste initiatives in Europe and the US. At the meeting, it was also decided to collect and compile the process, success stories and best practices on e-waste management by leading PC and hardware manufacturers and put it on hardware association MAIT's Web site for awareness creation. E-waste or Waste from Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) refers to products having a battery or an electrical cord, which have become obsolete either due to advancement in technology. According to a survey carried out by IRG Systems South Asia, the total WEEE in India has been estimated to be 1,46,180 tones a year based on selected EEE tracer items. Such figures call for much more than just discussing the problem and hopefully those involved will take direct action soon.
Vegetable power plant in Chennai (June Week 4 (2005)) Chennai will soon have the distinction of becoming the first in the country to set up a power plant using vegetable waste as fuel. Officials in the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, the project promoter, say that the vegetable waste generated by the Koyambedu wholesale market - being transported to the Kodungaiyur dumping yard - will now be used as "dependable fuel" for a power plant. Set to come up in the backyard of the Koyambedu vegetable market, the Rs. 5 crores plant is likely to be commissioned next month. Not all the 80 tones of waste generated by the market is going to be used for the power plant. One-half of it will be the fuel for recovery of energy. The plant will generate about 4,800 units of electricity a day. The process would work like this: thirty tones of vegetable waste is reduced into miniscule particles in two stages, before being fed into an anaerobic digester. The digester, constructed in cement concrete, looks like a massive overhead water tank. Through a natural process, the particles develop into gas, which will occupy one-third the space of the unit. The gas comprises 65 per cent methane and 35 per cent of carbon dioxide, and is transferred into a gasholder from where it will operate an engine for production of electrical energy. A by-product of the plant is bio-fertilizer, produced out of the liquid generated from the digester. A perfect case of 'best out of waste' and hopefully more such projects will prop up on the country's waste management scenario.
Reckless use of pesticides (Issue of the week, June Week 3 (2005))

This week, reports from two different NGOs who conducted two independent studies, point to the same fact - pesticides are being used in an unregulated manner in the country.
Heavy doses of pesticides have been detected in one Government hospital and four leading private hospitals in the Capital, according to a survey conducted by Delhi-based non-Government organization Toxics Link. The survey, undertaken to gauge pesticide abuse in city hospitals, found heavy doses of dangerous chemicals like pyrethroids, carbamate, organophosphate, coumarin, pyrazole and inorganic zinc being used without checks in the screened hospitals, posing risk of diseases such as cancer, genetic damage, decreased fertility, stillbirth and disturbed immune system resulting in asthma and allergy. Conducted in January this year, the study revealed that 80 per cent of the hospitals surveyed used chemical pesticides and hired an outside contractor to do the job. Also, all these hospitals used pesticides routinely without examining the need for them.

A study by the Centre for Science and Environment has detected in the blood of the state's farmers chemicals from six to 13 pesticides, in quantities up to 600 times the levels found in Americans. "If it's Punjab today, tomorrow it could be Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar. Regulation must begin immediately," the Center's director, Sunita Narain, said. The tests were undertaken following media reports of an increase in cancer cases in Punjab. Although Narain could not link the pesticides (organochlorine and organophosphate) in the bloodstream with cancer as she wasn't sure exactly what harm they did to humans, studies on animals have shown that even a single instance of low-level exposure to some organophosphates can cause changes in the brain's chemistry. Early childhood exposure can lead to lasting effects on learning, attention and behavior. The study, conducted in October, during spraying time, tested 20 randomly selected blood samples from four villages: Mahi Nangal, Jajjal and Balloh in Bathinda district and Dher in Ropar district. The levels of certain organochlorine pesticides in the blood samples have been found to be very high - between 15 and 605 times higher than those found in samples of people in the United States, tested by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (and published) in its 2003 report. Narain suggested the chemical content of pesticides in India must be different from those in the US and that Indian farmers don't take adequate precautions while spraying the chemicals in their fields.

These reports call for immediate action in regulating the use of pesticides by formulating policies towards the aim and raising awareness.

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