Press on Environment and Wildlife
Re-introduction of Siberian Cranes (June Week 3 (2005)) Delegates from 30 countries met in New Delhi over four days beginning last Friday to try and clear the Central Asian Flyway action plan - safeguarding waterbird migration routes for Siberian cranes, Blacknecked cranes, ducks, geese, pelicans, flamingos and other birds which travel long distances each winter, risking life and limb. The alarm bells have been ringing loud and clear for several years as hardly any Siberian cranes have been making it to Bharatpur in Rajasthan. During the meeting it was suggested by Crawford Prentice from the International Crane Foundation (ICF) that a pair of young Siberian Cranes should be brought to Bharatpur shortly and kept captive in natural, predator-proof surroundings. Their job would be to remain in Bharatpur and keep alive the vision. The charismatic and critically-endangered Siberian Cranes could hold the fort in Bharatpur while experts wrestle with the longer-term, complex task of re-introducing the bird to the Central Asian migratory route through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan to India: a long, dangerous route where it has lost its habitat and been hunted down in large numbers.
First captive tragopan born (June Week 3 (2005)) The State Wild Life Department in Shimla has achieved a rare breakthrough by successfully breeding the highly endangered pheasant: western tragopan, in captivity at the Sarahan Pheasantry for the first time in the world. The breakthrough is most significant as the pheasantry is the only one in the world to have the rare bird in captivity and the survival of the species depended on the success of the breeding program being pursued by the department for the past 15 years. History was made in conservation breeding of pheasants when two of the three eggs laid in the last week of April by one of the three pairs at the pheasantry hatched recently. Last year too, the same pair had laid three eggs but there was no hatching as there was no proper brooding by the female. This year too the female did not show any interest in brooding. However, the department used broody hens for the purpose and the strategy worked.
Mismanaged medical waste (Issue of the week, June Week 2 (2005))

Two different instances of mismanagement of medical waste in the country have appeared in the newspapers last week and it is ironical to note that ht every hospitals which are meant to cure diseases are playing a major role in spreading them. Following are the excerpts form two reports:

Pioneer, 13th June - The increasing number of private hospitals, nursing homes running in Noida, do not care to dispose off surgical waste. Most of these hospitals lack the facility used to dispose them. All hospitals are required to treat such waste in an incinerator (an electric furnace used to treat incinerated refuse), and despite being given repeated notices by the Noida authority and state pollution board, no action has been taken so far. The city which has a large number of private hospitals, nursing homes, maternity centers, dental clinics and pathological centers have not been able to equip themselves with safety measures required to protect and conserve the environment. Among over a dozen big private hospitals and hundreds of other small hospitals, only a very few can boast of having the incinerator for disposal of the surgical waste. In the process a lot of the non-biodegradable material is burned to ashes. The medical care centers of the city claim to have state-of-art medical equipments but throw the surgical wastes on roadside.

The Indian Express, 13th June - Having given the job of disposing bio-medical waste to a private agency, authorities of Krishna Heart Hospital, Ahemdabad, might think that their job is over. But, they do not seem to know a part of the infectious and non-infectious waste generated at the hospital is finding its way to Thaltej Chokwdi where rag-pickers live. From here, hazardous waste like syringes, saline bottles, medicine bottles and stained bandages are bought by scrap dealers who are likely to resell the material back in the market. Authorities of Krishna hospital at Ghuma village deny the allegation. ''This just can't be true,'' says Joint Medical Director Dr Animesh Chowksi, adding, ''There is some confusion that needs to be sorted.'' The Medical Superintendent, Joint Medical Director and Public Relations Officer, all insist they have given the contract to dispose bio-medical waste to a private agency. But none of them can ''clearly'' remember the name of the agency. Meanwhile, part of the hospital waste is thrown in an empty plot adjoining the hospital. Earlier, rag-picker Adraben Kadar and her mother used to get polythene sacks full of waste material from here. ''We used to leave our house at 4 am on a three-wheel paddle cart. We'd reach the hospital at 7 am and wait for the sweepers to throw the sacks out,'' said Adraben, who would then bring the bags back to Bhamaria village, half-a-kilometer away from Thaltej. They would segregate the waste into plastic, glass and cotton, and then sell it off to a scrap dealer who resides in the same area. When contacted, Sanjeev Tyagi, member secretary of GPCB said ''as per rules, hazardous hospital waste has to be incinerated. First thing on Monday, I will send my men to the hospital and to Thaltej to verify the matter. If the allegation is found to be true, the hospital authorities will be prosecuted.

Carbide waste will finally get cleared (June Week 2 (2005)) More than two decades after the Bhopal Gas tragedy, the Madhya Pradesh Government has started clearing the chemical waste from the Union Carbide Factory premises in compliance with the High Court directives. Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Uma Shankar Gupta said, the methods and place for the safe disposal of the chemical waste would be fixed once it was collected in accordance with the expert opinion of the task force constituted for the purpose, an official statement said here yesterday. The work will be done in the manner suggested by the Centre and prestigious technical specialist agencies in the country. A Hyderabad-based company will do the clearing work in accordance with the prescribed rules and norms under the supervision of the MP Pollution Control Board
CSE report contested by scientists (June Week 2 (2005)) While samples analyzed by the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) found a "cocktail of pesticides in human blood", doctors working in the Forensic Laboratory at Patiala in a study conducted on samples of human blood and urine obtained from different sources found "nothing" alarming. The Patiala Forensic Laboratory, which also undertook about 2500 cases of viscera examination last year, found presence of organophosphorus compounds (OPC) only in 10 per cent cases. A study has also been recently conducted at the state chemical laboratory in Patiala on the possibility of insecticides used over crops interfering in the examination of viscera. Samples of vegetables and other eatables available in the market were subjected to chemical analysis for the presence of insecticides and pesticides and according to the reports no poison has been detected in the substance of any eatable or vegetable tested. Samples of blood and urine of human beings have also been tested for traces of insecticides and pesticides and none of these samples have tested positives for any poison. Interestingly, Dr Sunita Narain of CSE had said that samples of blood taken from villagers of Bathinda and Ropar districts, where incidence of cancer has been alarmingly high, pesticides were found in all samples. These samples, she had maintained, had six to 13 different pesticides. And the presence of these chemicals in blood samples was far higher than permissible levels. In some cases, it was 15 to 600 times higher than the permissible limit.
CSE report contested by industries (June Week 2 (2005)) The same aforementioned issue of the high level of pesticide residue in human blood samples taken from Punjab villages has created panic among most industries engaged in the manufacture of pesticides. Representatives of such industries have started challenging the findings of the CSE and defending their products. Mr. S. Singhal, speaking on behalf of the Agro-Chemical Production Group, which he claimed had over 200 industries as its members, said here today that the " CSE report is unscientific and irresponsible, based on its initial technical evaluation". He said pesticides, like medicines, went through detailed tests for safety before these were registered and then prescribed for use. Asked (The Tribune, 14th June) whether he or his organization had commissioned a study by any reputed agency to find out the truth about pesticides in human blood and the reported health problems caused by these, Mr. Singhal's answered in the negative.
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