Matters concerned with Environment

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Illegal mining in various states

Illegal mining in various states

16:26 IST



      The Minister of Mines and Minister of Development of North Eastern Region Shri B.K. Handique has said that some instances of illegal mining of minerals have come into the notice of the Government in various parts of the country. No data is centrally maintained on the number of officials of State mining department involved in such illegal mining. In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today he said, however, it has come to the notice of Central Government that State Government of Orissa had arrested six officials of State Government and one retired official of State Government for illegal mining in Keonjhar district of Orissa.


      Quarterly Return showing the number of cases detected by State Governments, vehicle seized, FIR lodged, court cases filed, fine realized are being sent by concerned State Governments and the details of cases of illegal mining of major/minor minerals detected by the State Governments in the year 2006 to June, 2009 is given in the annexure. 

      Minerals are the property of the State Governments and Mineral rights vest with the State Government.  


State-wise and year-wise statement of cases of illegal mining reported by the State Government



Nos. of cases detected by State Governments

Action Taken by State Governments






2009 Upto June 2009

Vehicle seized

FIRs Lodged

Court cases filed

Fine realized (Rs. in Lakhs)



Andhra Pradesh























































Himachal Pradesh












































Madhya Pradesh



























1242+75 cycles


















































West Bengal











Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World’s first osmotic power plant

First osmotic power plant opens in Norway | Utilities News |

Europe’s largest renewable energy firm, Statkraft, has opened the world’s first osmotic power plant in Norway.

Although the prototype plant only produces around 2-4kW of power at the moment, the company is using the facility to improve the efficiency of the membrane from around 1 watt per square metre to around 5 watts per square metre, which Statkraft says would make osmotic power costs comparable to other renewable energy sources.

The process involves using the pressure created by osmotic forces between seawater and fresh water to drive a turbine.

Statkraft aims to begin building commercial osmotic power plants in Norway by 2015, although future 25MW plants would need around 5 million m², according to Reuters.

The global production capacity for osmotic energy could amount to 1,600-1,700 TWh annually, Statkraft said, or about half of the European Union's total electricity demand.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Ridiculous proposal to waste money on importing Trees !!

A great example of an innovative way of wasting public money !!
BMC to spend Rs 1.5 crore to transplant 100 grown trees- Hindustan Times
Bhavika Jain, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, November 28, 2009
After giving permission for over 3,300 trees to be cut this year, the city’s municipality now wants to spend Rs 1.5 crore to transplant 100 trees, to be brought in from Andhra Pradesh.

To make the purchase, members of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) Tree Authority and representatives of its Gardens Department will visit the Rajmundry nursery in Andhra Pradesh.

Asked why the BMC is focusing on transplanting grown trees instead of planting saplings, Acting Municipal Commissioner R A Rajeev reasoned: “Today’s generation is restless and wants quick results. So, instead of waiting for a sapling to grow into a tree, we have decided to plant grown trees in different parts of the city.”

The BMC group will visit the nursery in 15 days and a budgetary allocation of Rs 1.5 crore has been made for the transplant.

This being the first visit, the group will buy 100 trees, 5 to 6 feet tall.

These trees will be used to beautify medians and footpaths across the city. Green activists in the city are up in arms against the BMC’s idea.

Debi Goenka, convenor of the Bombay Environment Action Group, said: “Transplanting of full-grown trees has been a complete failure. It is a waste of money.” Such transplanted trees need to be quarantined for 30 days before transplantation.

Environmentalist Rishi Agarwal echoed that sentiment: “This is the most ridiculous proposal the civic body has suggested.”

Green activists say since the survival rate of transplanted trees in the city has not been particularly encouraging, the BMC should refrain from spending resources on transplantation.

Last week, four of the 41 trees transplanted from the Shivaji Park swimming pool died. The BMC also wants to create tree banks across the city.

Tree banks will basically be small nurseries that will nourish and strengthen saplings before they are distributed during the BMC’s monthly plantation drives.

(inputs by Soubhik Mitra)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Misuse of "in-principle approval" in Bauxite mining

PIB Press Release
12:46 IST

Minister of State (Independent Charge) Shri Jairam Ramesh received a large number of representations in regard to the project for bauxite mining by the Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC). In a statement issued here today he said the projects are now being examined in the Ministry for approval or rejection so that there is no ambiguity and project proponents do not misuse the ‘in-principle’ approval.

The following is the text of Shri Jairam Ramesh on the issue of bauxite mining in Orissa:

“I have been receiving a large number of representations in regard to the project for bauxite mining by the Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) through Vedanta, a private mining company in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts of Orissa. The total amount of forest land proposed to be diverted is 660.749 ha., of which around 353.14 ha is in the Niyamgiri reserved forest. Concerns have also been raised on the impact that this project will, interalia, have on livelihoods of tribal communities.

The project application was received in the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoE&F) on February 26, 2005. The MoE&F gave ‘in-principle’ approval for this project on December 11,2008 under the Forest Conservation Act,1980. This ‘in-principle’ approval is to be converted to a final approval after the fulfillment of stipulations contained in the ‘in-principle’ approval.

As the representations started coming in, on August 6, 2009 the MoE&F asked the Regional Chief Conservator of Forests, Bhubaneshwar to investigate complaints that project activities have started even without the final approval of the Central Government in violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. The site was inspected and the site inspection report was submitted on August 16,2009. The site inspection report found that construction activity had begun in the non-forest revenue land. Technically this is not a violation of the law but it is a violation of the guidelines issued by the MoE&F which says that when a project involves non-forest and forest lands, construction in the non-forest land should not begin without clearance for activity in the forest land itself. A letter has been issued on November 25th,2009 to the Orissa Government asking for an explanation as to how the violation of this guideline has been permitted.

On August 3, 2009, the MoE&F had issued a binding guideline to all State Governments that application for diversion under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 would be considered only after all due processes contained in the Scheduled Tribe and Other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act, 2006 have been fully and satisfactorily completed. A letter was subsequently issued by the MoE&F to the Orissa Government on November 3, 2009 directing the State to comply with the provisions of the Scheduled Tribe and Other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act, 2006 and provide evidence for the compliance before the Centre could examine conversion of the ‘in-principle’ approval to final approval. The reply of the state government is awaited. In addition, another site inspection team is being sent in the next one week to verify fresh allegations of violations of the terms of the ‘in-principle’ approval under Forest Conservation Act,1980.

The new policy of the MoE&F does away with the concept of ‘in-principle’ approval. Projects are now being examined for approval or rejection so that there is no ambiguity and project proponents do not misuse the ‘in-principle’ approval.”

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nuclear Renaissance Runs Into Trouble

Cost Overruns at Finland Reactor Hold Lessons -
In Finland, Nuclear Renaissance Runs Into Trouble

NewYork Times

OLKILUOTO, Finland — As the Obama administration tries to steer America toward cleaner sources of energy, it would do well to consider the cautionary tale of this new-generation nuclear reactor site.

The massive power plant under construction on muddy terrain on this Finnish island was supposed to be the showpiece of a nuclear renaissance. The most powerful reactor ever built, its modular design was supposed to make it faster and cheaper to build. And it was supposed to be safer, too.

But things have not gone as planned.

After four years of construction and thousands of defects and deficiencies, the reactor’s 3 billion euro price tag, about $4.2 billion, has climbed at least 50 percent. And while the reactor was originally meant to be completed this summer, Areva, the French company building it, and the utility that ordered it, are no longer willing to make certain predictions on when it will go online.

While the American nuclear industry has predicted clear sailing after its first plants are built, the problems in Europe suggest these obstacles may be hard to avoid.

A new fleet of reactors would be standardized down to “the carpeting and wallpaper,” as Michael J. Wallace, the chairman of UniStar Nuclear Energy — a joint venture between EDF Group and Constellation Energy, the Maryland-based utility — has said repeatedly.

In the end, he says, that standardization will lead to significant savings.

But early experience suggests these new reactors will be no easier or cheaper to build than the ones of a generation ago, when cost overruns — and then accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl — ended the last nuclear construction boom.

In Flamanville, France, a clone of the Finnish reactor now under construction is also behind schedule and overbudget.

In the United States, Florida and Georgia have changed state laws to raise electricity rates so that consumers will foot some of the bill for new nuclear plants in advance, before construction even begins.

“A number of U.S. companies have looked with trepidation on the situation in Finland and at the magnitude of the investment there,” said Paul L. Joskow, a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a co-author of an influential report on the future of nuclear power in 2003. “The rollout of new nuclear reactors will be a good deal slower than a lot of people were assuming.”

For nuclear power to have a high impact on reducing greenhouse gases, an average of 12 reactors would have to be built worldwide each year until 2030, according to the Nuclear Energy Agency at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Right now, there are not even enough reactors under construction to replace those that are reaching the end of their lives.

And of the 45 reactors being built around the world, 22 have encountered construction delays, according to an analysis prepared this year for the German government by Mycle Schneider, an energy analyst and a critic of the nuclear industry. He added that nine do not have official start-up dates.

Most of the new construction is underway in countries like China and Russia, where strong central governments have made nuclear energy a national priority. India also has long seen nuclear as part of a national drive for self-sufficiency and now is seeking new nuclear technologies to reduce its reliance on imported uranium.

By comparison, “the state has been all over the place in the United States and Europe on nuclear power,” Mr. Joskow said.

The United States generates about one-fifth of its electricity from a fleet of 104 reactors, most built in the 1960s and 1970s. Coal still provides about half the country’s power.

To streamline construction, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Washington has worked with the industry to approve a handful of designs. Even so, the schedule to certify the most advanced model from Westinghouse, a unit of Toshiba, has slipped during an ongoing review of its ability to withstand the impact of an airliner.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has also not yet approved the so-called EPR design under construction in Finland for the American market.

This month, the United States Energy Department produced a short list of four reactor projects eligible for some loan guarantees. In the 2005 energy bill, Congress provided $18.5 billion, but the industry’s hope of winning an additional $50 billion worth of loan guarantees evaporated when that money was stripped from President Obama’s economic stimulus bill.

The industry has had more success in getting states to help raise money. This year, authorities permitted Florida Power & Light to start charging millions of customers several dollars a month to finance four new reactors. Customers of Georgia Power, a subsidiary of the Southern Co., will pay on average $1.30 a month more in 2011, rising to $9.10 by 2017, to help pay for two reactors expected to go online in 2016 or later.

But resistance is mounting. In April, Missouri legislators balked at a preconstruction rate increase, prompting the state’s largest electric utility, Ameren UE, to suspend plans for a $6 billion copy of Areva’s Finnish reactor.

Areva, a conglomerate largely owned by the French state, is heir to that nation’s experience in building nuclear plants. France gets about 80 percent of its power from 58 reactors. But even France has not completed a new reactor since 1999.

After designing an updated plant originally called the European Pressurized Reactor with German participation during the 1990s, the French had trouble selling it at home because of a saturated energy market as well as opposition from Green Party members in the then-coalition government.

So Areva turned to Finland, where utilities and energy-hungry industries like pulp and paper had been lobbying for 15 years for more nuclear power. The project was initially budgeted at $4 billion and Teollisuuden Voima, the Finnish utility, pledged it would be ready in time to help the Finnish government meet its greenhouse gas targets under the Kyoto climate treaty, which runs through 2012.

Areva promised electricity from the reactor could be generated more cheaply than from natural gas plants. Areva also said its model would deliver 1,600 megawatts, or about 10 percent of Finnish power needs.

In 2001, the Finnish parliament narrowly approved construction of a reactor at Olkiluoto, an island on the Baltic Sea. Construction began four years later.

Serious problems first arose over the vast concrete base slab for the foundation of the reactor building, which the country’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority found too porous and prone to corrosion. Since then, the authority has blamed Areva for allowing inexperienced subcontractors to drill holes in the wrong places on a vast steel container that seals the reactor.

In December, the authority warned Anne Lauvergeon, the chief executive of Areva, that “the attitude or lack of professional knowledge of some persons” at Areva was holding up work on safety systems.

Today, the site still teems with 4,000 workmen on round-the-clock shifts. Banners from dozens of subcontractors around Europe flutter in the breeze above temporary offices and makeshift canteens. Some 10,000 people speaking at least eight different languages have worked at the site. About 30 percent of the workforce is Polish, and communication has posed significant challenges.

Areva has acknowledged that the cost of a new reactor today would be as much as 6 billion euros, or $8 billion, double the price offered to the Finns. But Areva said it was not cutting any corners in Finland. The two sides have agreed to arbitration, where they are both claiming more than 1 billion euros in compensation. (Areva blames the Finnish authorities for impeding construction and increasing costs for work it agreed to complete at a fixed price.)

Areva announced a steep drop in earnings last year, which it blamed mostly on mounting losses from the project.

In addition, nuclear safety inspectors in France have found cracks in the concrete base and steel reinforcements in the wrong places at the site in Flamanville. They also have warned √Člectricit√© de France, the utility building the reactor, that welders working on the steel container were not properly qualified.

On top of such problems come the recession, weaker energy demand, tight credit and uncertainty over future policies, said Caren Byrd, an executive director of the global utility and power group at Morgan Stanley in New York.

“The warning lights now are flashing more brightly than just a year ago about the cost of new nuclear,” she said.

And Jouni Silvennoinen, the project manager at Olkiluoto, said, “We have had it easy here.” Olkiluoto is at least a geologically stable site. Earthquake risks in places like China and the United States or even the threat of storm surges mean building these reactors will be even trickier elsewhere.

Matthew L. Wald contributed reporting from Washington.

Centre for conservation of wetlands

Centre for conservation of wetlands
Staff Reporter

“60,000 inland wetlands spread over seven million ha facing grave threat”
SACON to be given Rs.5 crore in addition to Rs.20 crore in last 20 years

Coimbatore: Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests (Independent charge) Jairam Ramesh on Sunday said that the Ministry would widely expand projects for conservation of inland wetlands and coastal areas facing the threat of destruction.
    Talking to reporters after interacting with scientists at the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), Mr. Ramesh said that there are 60,000 inland wetlands in the country spread over seven million ha facing a grave threat from real-estate promoters and were also being used as dumping yards for municipal and industrial waste. The Ministry would initiate an expanded national project for protecting and rejuvenating these wetlands. Similarly, the Ministry would intensify its focus on coastal wetlands. The Minister said that there was a threat to the Eastern Ghats because of mining activities and his Ministry had asked SACON to evolve a project for studying and protecting the Eastern Ghats ecology. SACON will also evolve a project for protecting the endangered Edible Nest Swiftlet in Andaman and Nicobar which were being smuggled out in large numbers besides evolving a project for protecting the population of hornbills, the State bird of Nagaland, which was fast becoming extinct. SACON had been given Rs.20 crore in the last 20 years and now the Ministry would provide SACON with additional Rs.5 crore for undertaking these projects.
    Mr. Ramesh said that he had earlier visited the Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding (IFGTB) and that Rs.5 to 6 crore would be provided as additional funds for expanding the research activities. For the first time, the government agency would release four new clone varieties of eucalyptus and four varieties of casuarinas. A genetically modified eucalyptus that is salt resistant was being experimented and within four years it would be ready for field trial. The IFGTB is also studying the carbon sequestration, which is vital for climate change issues. He also announced that Rs.2.5 crore would be provided to the Central Academy for Training State Forest Officers at Coimbatore.
    To a query on clearance for India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) at Singara in the Nilgiris near Mudumalai, Mr. Ramesh said a “firm no.” “When the issue is evenly balanced, I would like to err for the cause of environment.” Stating that science was equally important, Mr. Ramesh said that the “painful decision” was taken after the personal interaction of the Member Secretary with all stakeholders because of factors such as four years continued disturbance to forest area, impact on the corridor and the objections from the Tamil Nadu Forest Department. Union Forest Ministry would expedite clearance if the alternate site (Suruliyar in Theni District of Tamil Nadu) was finalised.
    © Copyright 2000 - 2009 The Hindu

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Finally the river-linking project is to be shelved for good !!!

Centre to shelve river-linking project
 NEW DELHI, Oct 5 — The UPA Government has decided to formally give a neat burial to the ambitious river-linking project, with Union Minister of State for Environment and Forest, Jairam Ramesh declaring that the project would be ‘human, ecological and economic disaster for the country’. The pronouncement comes on a day, when the Minister announced the decision to adopt river dolphins as national aquatic animal. The suggestion to adopt the River Dolphin, also better known as Gangetic Dolphins came from Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar.
“The suggestion to adopt it as national aquatic animal came from Bihar Chief Minister and we accepted it,” Ramesh said, briefing newsmen about the outcome of the meeting of Ganga River Basin Authority that was chaired by the Prime Minister.
The Environment and Forest Minister said that one of the criteria for measuring the revival of River Ganga would be return of river dolphins. Some 2000 of them are left in the country, he added.
They were found in large numbers before a few years. But now their number has come down considerably due to various human activities like fishing, poaching, construction of Farakka barrage in Ganges, sand mining in Kulsi River and massive deforestation.
The river dolphins are included in the schedule 1 of Indian Wildlife Act 1972.
Ganga River currently has about 600 of dolphins, while in Brahmaputra River, its population has gone down to 240-300.
Meanwhile, Environment and Forest Minister, replying to questions about the fate of the river linking project, indicated that it is going to be shelved. The Project has national and international ramifications. Bangladesh has already gone to UN, he added.
This is not physically possible to link rivers, he said, adding that smaller inter-basin transfers, however, could go on.
One of the erstwhile NDA Government’s flagship projects, river-linking project did not find much favour with the current regime. “Interlinking of rivers was a revolutionary step initiated by the NDA government BJP MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy had s aid.
BJP-led NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee had mooted the idea of interlinking of rivers to deal with the problem of drought and floods afflicting different parts of the country at the same time. The programme aims at equitable distribution of water throughout the country to solve issues of irrigation and drinking water as well, Rudy said.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Finally even an Ecofriendly Font !!

Spranq Eco Sans font

December 21, 2008

As all bloggers probably do, I read the blogs (I have to keep up with the competition!). And, the blog topic that is getting the most attention this week is not related to shoe-throwing or who bid the most for an available Illinois Senate seat.

It is about the Spranq Eco Sans type font. Seriously. This is a font, designed by Spranq, a Dutch marketing company, that has holes in the middle of the strokes to save ink. The company took a Verdana look-alike font and punched holes in the center of all the letters. The holes are not perfectly round, but slightly ovoid, and they run down the middle of each letter. The idea is that the letters, when they print, will require less ink or toner, and that the Earth will be saved as a result. Spranq argues that the user of the font would save as much as 20% on ink when using their font.

Spranq’s Eco Sans font has tiny ovoid perforations in the middle of each letter. When printed on the right substrate at at the right size, the holes disappear and it looks normal. In the process, it would use less ink – Spranq says 20% less – and thus be more environmentally sensible. 
You can download it and try it yourself. It’s important to understand that this font is not intended for display setting. That’s pretty obvious, as the little perforations show at any size larger than about 11 point. But for newspaper printing, the typical font size is between 8 and 9.5 pt. so the little holes won’t show at that size. And, newspaper printing might be the best place to test this kind of typography (religious tracts would be another: holey printing?) because you can monitor ink consumption better on news presses than on sheet-fed over the long term.

I made a test page of 9.5 pt. type on 12 points of leading, and printed it on a laser printer. Indeed the little dots disapper in the printed version, subsumed into the toner as plugged-up shadow dots. But, here is the important question: does a plugged-up shadow dot consume less ink? It does not, and thus the argument of saving the Earth one microscopic perforation at a time falls apart on a conventional printing press with conventional ink and paper.

Even at this size the little holes tend to disappear (and this is the low-resolution World Wide Web, so that makes sense). In print at this size, the holes are highly visible. 
Not one to poke holes in the promotion by Spranq, I spent a little more time monkeying with my test page and setting the type at various sizes to determine where the threshold of visibility occurs. On my machine, a (Xerox) Tektronix Phaser 7700, the microscopic dots disappear from reading-distance visibility but remain clearly visible under a loupe at 9.0 pt. At 8.5 the dots begin to blend together – a function of mechanical (in this case electrostatic) dot-gain – and thus the benefit of these little holes is lost. So, when properly applied, at the right size, this font could really save ink.

One must also take into account the age and eyesight of the reader – myopia is a factor – and the substrate on which the text is printed. Newsprint is the obvious winner here. Paperback books, which are often printed on a high-grade newsprint, would also handle this kind of font nicely, as the more fluid ink and the capillary action of that ink in the paper fibers would overcome some of the visibility issues of the letters. So, on that printing technology and substrate, Spranq’s font would indeed save ink, and thus money (and the Earth). The porous paper would be the equalizing force. After the holidays, and once I am in the company of nice photo-microscope again, I will make some print tests and photograph them for this blog. The results should be very interesting.

At text sizes, and on a porous substrate, the Eco Sans font indeed looks normal. This is its best calling.

One thing that all the responses to all the blogs I have read have not mentioned is the time-to-RIP, a factor in imaging zillions of little tiny holes in every letter printed on a set of plates for printing. Though relatively small (all of this is small), the time consumed is not immeasurable, and it could cut into productivity. There are 26 perforations in the lower-case p for example; drawing that could increase process time. I’d have to do a large-scale test to confirm this, but it definitely increases the task of ripping text for platesetting. And, time on that equipment is real money.

Many of the whiners at other blog sites criticised the design of the font. Well, heck! This is just the first one, based on a version of Verdana, which is a beautifully-open and highly legible font by Matthew Carter designed originally for electronic media. Perhaps Spranq could have chosen a news font; it’s not too late for them to try another font.

In general, I think that the Spranq Eco Sans font is a great idea. It starts people thinking about ways to save rare resources and to be more productive. Certainly it’s not the salvation of the Earth, but it’s a microscopically small effort to save the Earth, and it has the blogsphere abuzz in commentary. Can all those little holes make a difference?

You’ve probably seen Helvetica the Movie (available on NetFlix and iTunes). Can Spranq Eco Font – the Movie be far behind?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Oleander (Nerium Oleander) Toxicity

Oleander is one of the most poisonous plants in the world and contains numerous toxic compounds, many of which can be deadly to people, especially young children. Despite this fact, it is sometimes grown in school yards. The toxicity of Oleander is considered extremely high and it has been reported that in some cases only a small amount had lethal or near lethal effects . The most significant of these toxins are oleandrin and neriine, which are cardiac glycosides. They are present in all parts of the plant, but are most concentrated in the sap, which can block out receptors in the skin causing numbness. It is thought that Oleander may contain many other unknown or un-researched compounds that may have dangerous effects. Oleander bark contains rosagenin which is known for its strychnine-like effects. The entire plant, including the sap, is toxic, and any part can cause an adverse reaction. Oleander is also known to hold its toxicity even after drying. It is thought that a handful or 10-20 leaves consumed by an adult can cause an adverse reaction, and a single leaf could be lethal to an infant or child. According to the Toxic Exposure Surveillance System (TESS) in 2002 there were 847 known human poisonings in the United States related to Oleander. There are innumerable reported suicidal cases of consuming mashed oleander seeds in southern India. Around 0.5 mg per kilogram of body weight is lethal to many animals, and various other doses will affect other animals. Most animals can suffer a reaction or death from this plant.

Source:- Wikipedia

Artificial trees for combating Global warming

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What gets depleted, what never does - $20 Per Gallon

What gets depleted, what never does
A recent book, titled "$20 Per Gallon," by Christopher Steiner, imagines a future in which oil is depleted and the price of gas soars out of sight. Surprisingly, a hopeful rather than an apocalyptic mood surfaces a number of times in the book. Its upbeat subtitle promises: "How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better."
Steiner hit on a nifty structure for his work. The opening chapter is about life at $4 a gallon. Each following chapter ratchets the price up two dollars and then imagines how civilization will realign at that level. For example, at $8 the airline industry is crushed. At 14 bucks, Wal-Mart – and pretty much all of exurbia with its extreme dependency on the car – is no longer a going concern. Despite the subtitle's promise of a life changed for the better, the reader might reasonably wonder, "Better for whom?" as the middle class in places like China and India race ahead, until they see America in their rearview mirrors.
Almost no expert disputes that known oil reserves around the planet are headed toward depletion. Or that tapping into reserves yet to be discovered will only postpone the inevitable. Lifestyles based on the premise of nearly endless, cheap oil have to undergo profound change
Even as oil is depleted, and a host of related problems crowd to the front, solutions to those problems can multiply – solutions that are inexhaustible and clean. These solutions are not remote. They are not likely to deplete either.

Leopard rescued from residential area near Mumbai

Leopard rescued from residential area near Mumbai Mumbai, Sep. 30 (ANI): Rangers of Borivali National Park near Mumbai rescued a leopard that had entered a residential area of Kandivili on Wednesday. The leopard reportedly entered the residential area during the early morning, and it reportedly mauled a local before being tranquillised and captured by the wildlife officials. “It came into this area after crossing the wall…the wildlife officials came and captured the leopard after tranquillising it. Only one man sustained minor injuries when the leopard mauled him with its claws,” said A Pawaskar, Inspector, Kandivili East Police Station. In recent months, Maharashtra has witnessed a number of incidents of wild animals straying into urban areas, mainly owing to loss of habitat and extension of human settlements into forest areas. According to wildlife sources, the leopard must have jumped over the wall since Borivali National Park is well protected.
India had about 7,300 leopards in the wild according to a 1997 census. (ANI)

Friday, September 4, 2009

CEC recommends 'stop work' for UP Park


On Monday, the Supreme Court will decide whether work on the Rs 685-crore (Rs 6,850 million) Bhim Rao Ambedkar Memorial Park in Noida should be allowed to go on, pending clearances from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).

For now, the dice seem loaded against the park — temporarily, at least — after a fact-finding expert panel appointed by the court concluded that the project lacked mandatory central environmental clearances and recommended the Supreme Court stop its construction.

The report of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC),  a copy of which is with HT, states that the “project requires environmental clearance” under the MoEF’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of September 14, 2006.

The panel has recommended that the “Uttar Pradesh (UP) state government should be directed to seek the environmental clearance for the present project from the MoEF in terms of the (EIA) notification… If the project is found by the MoEF to be environmentally viable, it may allow the project subject to the appropriate safeguards/conditions.”

The report pointedly states, “pending the environmental clearances, no further works should be carried out.”

Lawyer Jayant Bhushan, who represented Anand Arya and Kanan Jaswal, petitioners against the project, said, “It is a big victory, for now… we expect the Supreme Court would formally stay the construction work at the project site on Monday.”

An MoEF probe, initiated after HT first reported on the suspected irregularities on July 5, had on July 10 established the project’s violation of the EIA notification on two counts.

The project lacked an EIA certificate although it lay barely 100 metres from the centrally-protected Okhla Bird Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (OBPWS).

Under rules, a new construction project within 10 km of such a preserve requires environmental clearance.

The project also lacked the mandatory certificate for construction spread over an area exceeding 20,000 square metres, even though the park’s construction activities were spread over approximately 3.25 lakh square metres.

The CEC rejected the arguments of the UP government and the Noida authority that the project did not need clearances under the EIA notification.

The CEC also found: “had the state government decided eco-sensitive areas around national parks and sanctuaries”, as required of it by a ministry directive pending for four years, “the project area in all probability would have fallen within the eco-sensitive zone.”

The CEC report, however, established that the project area does not fall in the category of forest and does not require approval under the Forest Conservation Act of 1980. The project had uprooted around 6,003 trees.

Keep plants in office to beat stress

Keep plants in office to beat stress - Health - Health & Fitness - LIFE & STYLE - The Times of India
House plants can help reduce tension and stress among office workers, who spend more than 80 percent of the day indoors.
Keep plants in office
Keep plants in office (Getty Images)

Researchers found the presence of plants in homes and workplaces exerted a positive effect on headaches and fatigue and hoarseness.

Interior plants have also been shown to increase work productivity. In one study, employees' reaction time on computer tasks improved by 12 percent when plants were present.

Jennifer S. Doxey and Tina Marie Waliczek, agricultural scientists from Texas State University (TSU), and Jayne M. Zajicek, horticulturist from Texas A&M University, are testing the impact of plants on student performance and satisfaction in the classroom.

"Our results showed that interior plants appeared to have the greatest impact on students who were in the classroom that had no other natural elements," said Waliczek.

The main objective of the study was to investigate the impact of plants in classrooms on course performance and student perceptions of the course and instructor.

The study was designed to include a minimum of two classes of the same course work taught by the same professor in the same room during one semester.

Three sets of two classes each and 385 students were included within the study. Throughout the semester, an experimental group of students attended classes in rooms that contained an assortment of tropical plants. The control group of students attended class in rooms with no plants.

Statistically significant differences were found between control and treatment groups when students scored questions related to "learning", "instructors' enthusiasm", and "instructors' organisation", says a TSU statement.

Students from the group whose classrooms included plants rated these items higher on the satisfaction. Conversely, of the two student groups, the most apparent differences were reported by students who attended class in the room that was windowless and stark.

These findings were published in a recent issue of HortScience


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