Matters concerned with Environment

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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