Matters concerned with Environment

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

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.
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