Matters concerned with Environment

Monday, March 29, 2010

Jairam to get superceded ?, GoM to clear projects !

Jairam cuts no ice with PM, GoM to clear projects 
(New Indian Express Article)

Swaraj Thapa
Tags : Jairam Ramesh, Manmohan Singh, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs
Posted: Friday , Mar 26, 2010 at 0259 hrs

In a direct snub to Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday constituted a five-member ministerial committee that will review and clear pending infrastructure projects that were stuck because of the Environment Ministry’s insistence that they lacked appropriate clearances.
Sources said the Group of Ministers (GoM) — comprising Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh, Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Planning Commission Vice-Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal and Ramesh — was constituted following a discussion in the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs in which Ramesh attempted to justify the defiant stand of his ministry.

After listening to his detailed presentation, the Prime Minister said he was setting up the committee to ensure that all pending projects stalled by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) were put on the fast-track. A majority of the pending projects relate to iron ore and coal mining clearances as well as power project approvals.

Ramesh, who had come to the meeting armed with maps and drawings, even suggested that his ministry be made part of sanctioning committees to avoid a situation where developmental projects get stuck because of lack of environmental clearances. The minister seized upon the opportunity to present his case during a discussion on a status paper on the coal sector presented by Jaiswal.
Last week, Surface Transport Minister Kamal Nath wrote to the Prime Minister accusing Ramesh of blocking key highway projects by refusing environmental clearances. Detailing several road projects that were pending approval, Nath sought the Prime Minister’s intervention in the matter. Nath, however, was not present at Thursday’s Cabinet meeting.

Power Minister Shinde and Water Resources Minister Pawan Bansal were among other ministers who were upset by Ramesh’s move to stall a number of important projects, some of them pending for over a year. An earlier decision by Ramesh to block expansion of a port in Karnataka has also not gone down well with a senior Cabinet minister from the state. A number of states too have found themselves at the mercy of his ministry. For instance, Goa had sought environmental clearances for several mining projects. However, the MoEF recently issued a circular imposing a moratorium on the issue until Goa finalised its mineral policy and sent a formal intimation to the Centre.

At the CCEA meeting, though, Ramesh seemed unrelenting as he argued his case. Citing the example of the coal sector, Ramesh told the meeting that indiscriminate mining was being done on forest land. According to sources, he said environmental clearances could not be given for mining in forest region that were designated core areas without any exceptions. The MoEF, he said, had identified “go” areas and “no go” areas where mining could not be done.

The minister contended that his ministry was only taking steps to protect the country’s ecological security. The Prime Minister’s final decision, however, indicated that he did not want hurdles in the way of developmental projects.

Climate Change impact on Saffron & Smugglers !!
Gangs are just mad about saffron

Posted By Kayvan Farzaneh Share

In September 2009, authorities at an airport in Mangalore arrested two passengers arriving from Dubai with 18 kilograms of contraband hidden in their suitcases. This wouldn't be shocking if they were smuggling drugs, but they weren't. Instead, the passengers were carrying nearly 90,000 dollars worth of saffron. This wasn't an isolated incident either; authorities confiscated 10 kilograms of the stuff at the same airport in July 2009.

Why is saffron (which is the most expensive spice in the world) suddenly being smuggled into India?

Well, it turns out that production in Kashmir, the primary growing area for high-quality Indian saffron, has fallen 85 percent in the last 10 years. Experts are blaming climate change, poor irrigation, and pollution in the region. In response, prices in India have doubled in the past three years. Meanwhile, with Iran and Spain supplying most of the saffron to the world market, global prices have held steady.

Now, the subsequent price gap between India and other countries has led to an opportunity for smugglers to profit; the spice sells for double in India than what it in other markets -- up to $5,000 per kilogram. So, learning from their experience with drugs, gangs operating in India, the UAE and Saudi Arabia are using saffron "mules" to carry shipments in their luggage on international flights. Easier for them to carry than other contraband goods (such as drugs), saffron is not easily detectable -- or probably even screened for -- by customs officials.

Smugglers are also trying to avoid paying hefty export and import taxes, which have only increased potential profit margins. While the Iranian government recently imposed a five percent export taxon bulk shipments of saffron, the Indian government has imposed both an export ban and import taxes to protect the interests of saffron growers in Jammu, Kashmir, and Punjab.

With less risk and such high profit who wouldn't be mad about saffron? Drugs are just so passé.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Breakfree!: Free sanitary napkins – A scam in the making?

Breakfree!: Free sanitary napkins – A scam in the making?: "TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2010

Free sanitary napkins – A scam in the making?
By P C Vinoj Kumar"

Turmeric and black pepper may prevent/ cure breast cancer!

SA: Scientists find turmeric and black pepper spices may prevent breast

Scientists find turmeric and black pepper spices may prevent breast cancer

(NaturalNews) Seasoning food with turmeric and black pepper can do more
than just spice up a meal. Researchers at the University of Michigan
(U-M) Comprehensive Cancer Center have found that the compounds
curcumin, which is derived from turmeric, and piperine, derived from
black pepper, could play an important role in preventing and even
treating breast cancer.

Previous research has already provided evidence that curcumin and
piperine may be potential cancer treatments. However, the new U-M study,
just published online in the journal Breast Cancer Research and
Treatment, is the first to suggest exactly how these natural spice
compounds could prevent cancer. The research shows curcumin and piperine
target stem cells (unspecialized cells that can give rise to any type of
cell in an organ). This is of major significance because cancer stem
cells comprise the small number of cells inside a tumor that fuel the
growth of malignancies.

Current chemotherapy agents are useless against these cells -- that's
why cancer can recur and spread despite rounds of heavy duty, toxic
chemo. But if cancer stem cells could be eliminated and/or their growth
shut down, cancer should be controlled.

"If we can limit the number of stem cells, we can limit the number of
cells with potential to form tumors," lead author Madhuri Kakarala,
M.D., Ph.D., a clinical lecturer in internal medicine at the U-M Medical
School and a research investigator at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare
System, said in a statement to the media. And the new study shows
curcumin and piperine work along these lines. The spice derivatives are
able to do what chemo can't -- they limit the self-renewal of stem cells.
Killing cancer cells with zero toxicity to healthy cells
For the U-M study, the research team applied a solution of curcumin and
piperine to cell cultures at the equivalent of about 20 times the
potency of what a person would take in through diet. Then a series of
tests were performed on the cells to look at markers for breast stem
cells and the effect curcumin and piperine had on the levels of stem cells.

The result? Piperine enhanced the effects of curcumin and the compounds
interrupted the self-renewal process that is the hallmark of stem cells
which initiate cancer. More good news: the compounds had no effect on
the normal process of cell development known as cell differentiation.
That means the spice compounds are not toxic to normal breast tissue.

"Women at high risk of breast cancer right now can choose to take the
drugs tamoxifen or raloxifene for prevention, but most women won't take
these drugs because there is too much toxicity. The concept that dietary
compounds can help is attractive, and curcumin and piperine appear to
have very low toxicity," Dr. Kakarala stated.

In addition, tamoxifen and raloxifene are designed to target estrogen.
But not all breast cancers are estrogen driven. In fact, the most
aggressive and deadly forms of breast cancer that are more likely to
occur in women with strong family histories of the disease or with a
specific genetic susceptibility to breast cancer are typically not
affected by estrogen and tend to be difficult to treat. But due to the
fact curcumin and piperine limit the self-renewal of stem cells, the
spice compounds could impact malignancies whether they are estrogen
sensitive or not.

Dr. Kakarala and colleagues are moving forward on an initial Phase 1
clinical trial in people to determine the best tolerated dose of
curcumin and piperine. The study is expected to start signing on
volunteer research subjects in spring of 2010.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

‘Miracle’ tree could bring cleaner drinking water to millions | Featured

‘Miracle’ tree could bring cleaner drinking water to millions | Featured:
"Miracle’ tree could bring cleaner drinking water to millions
By Greenbang on Wednesday, 3rd March 2010
A highly beneficial tree native to northwest India could help provide cleaner drinking water to millions of people across the developing world.

The Moringa oleifera tree is already recognised as having great potential in a world facing climate change, rising population and growing desertification. It’s fast-growing, drought-tolerant and extremely nutritious, with edible seedpods, flowers and leaves. Its bark, roots and gum also have numerous medicinal properties."..........

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Coal linkage approved for five super critical thermal power projects

Coal linkage approved for five super critical thermal power projects
etIndian News Network
New Delhi, March 5, 2010

Minister of State for Coal Sriprakash Jaiswal has approved coal linkages for five super critical thermal powr projects being set up by the public sector NTPC Limited and Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC).

The proejcts, located in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Maharashtra, would add power generation capacity of 7260 MW, an official press release said.

Apart from meeting the power requirements of these states, the projects will also supply power to the National Grid and help achieve the targets for the XIIth Five Year Plan.

The projects NTPC's Nabinagar Superthermal Power Project (3 X 660 MW) in collaboration with the Bihar State Electricity Board (BSEB) at Nabinagar in Aurangabad district, the Meja Thermal Power Project in Allahabad, UP, (2 X 660 MW) in partnership with UPRVUNL and the Solapur Thermal Power Project (2 X 660 MW) in Solapur, Maharashtra. NTPC is also setting up the 2 X 660 MW Mouda Extension project in Nagpur district of Maharashtra.

Better air quality Standards in the offing?

New air quality monitoring system by September: Ramesh
Nitya Kaushik Posted online: Sunday , Mar 07, 2010 at 0124 hrs
Mumbai : By September, a new monitoring system will be in place across the nation to ensure that the latest, more stringent national air quality standards are maintained, Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said here on Saturday.
“I admit that while we set up norms, our ability to implement them have not been up to the mark. However, the new air quality standards that we declared in November are a benchmark for us to follow.” The minister was speaking to mediapersons after a conference on climate change.
He said the ministry would also bring in a system to monitor and control noise pollution. “The new air standards have not just been brought down drastically but we have also clubbed the industrial, residential and rural regions into a single zone. We will slowly ensure that these standards are followed stringently.”
This paper had, on December 8, reported that the ministry had reduced permissible air quality limits drastically even as the earlier norms were yet to be met. The ministry had said it tightened the norms following a four-year study by IIT Kanpur and to keep pace with global norms.
According to the new norms, the permissible SO2, NO2 and RSPM standards in residential and industrial areas have been reduced to 50 µg/m3, 40 µg/m3 and 60 µg/m3.
On the 88 critically-polluted industrial clusters, which include Maharashtra’s Chandrapur, Dombivili, Aurangabad, Navi Mumbai, Tarapur and Chembur, he said, “A credible policy is needed in these clusters to control pollution. The ministry will not give permission for any new industries till we have such a policy.”
On coal mining, power projects in Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg:
Called for a study on the ‘carrying capacity’ of Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg, where power projects of over 35,000 MW are planned. “Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and even Goa have a fragile ecosystem and the extent of ecological strain they can take should be studied. Similar studies have been conducted in Sikkim and Uttarakhand.”
“By mid-April, we plan to make public the new CRZ 2010. We are still awaiting comments of the Maharashtra Government, but I fully subscribe with the recommendations of the MS Swaminathan Committee that housing for the economically weaker sections, built by the state, should be exempted from CRZ.”

On Navi Mumbai airport:
“The CIDCO had, in 2009, sought the terms of reference (ToR) under the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification for the airport. On February 8, we have sent our Expert Appraisal Committee report to the CIDCO with a request for additional EIA. The ball is not in our court now.”

Finally Even Monsanto accept truth

Monsanto accepts its Bt cotton failed pest-control tests
TNN, Mar 7, 2010, 02.00am IST

NEW DELHI: In what is bound to strengthen environment minister Jairam Ramesh's stand that GM crop technology should be handled with precaution, Monsanto on Friday admitted that its Bt cotton variety had failed to control pests in four districts of Gujarat.

Monsanto said that during field monitoring in 2009, the Bt cotton variety used in four Gujarat districts — Amreli, Bhavnagar, Junagarh and Rajkot — was found to attract the pink bollworm, a major pest that attacks cotton plantations.

Bt cotton carrying the Cry1Ac gene is sold as a solution to the bollworm pest but Monsanto's admission that the insect had been become resistant to the anti-pest protein could come as a shot in the arm for green activists. Several environmental and public health organisations have for years been claiming that adequate tests have not been carried out in India on the GM crops to test for long-term resistance to pests as well as impacts on public health.

The controversy had reached a high pitch recently when Ramesh imposed a temporary moratorium on commercial cultivation of Monsanto and Mayhco's Bt brinjal — the first GM food crop that would have been introduced in the country. Ramesh had demanded further tests that could last up to 1-2 years to check for long-term impacts on environment as well as public health before introducing the GM crop in India.

Three of his Cabinet colleagues — Prithviraj Chavan, Kapil Sibal and Sharad Pawar — had come out publicly against the decision only to reconcile to Ramesh's step after a meeting with PM Manmohan Singh.
Monsanto said it had informed the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee — the agency under the environment ministry that clears GM crops for cultivation and monitors its impact — about pests attacking Bt cotton in the four Gujarat districts.

Trying to allay fears of the pest attack being widespread, the company said, "Single-protein Cry1Ac products continue to control bollworm pests other than pink bollworm in the four districts in Gujarat where pink bollworm resistance has been confirmed."

Jairam suggests new climate team, drops Prodipto Ghosh - The Times of India

Jairam suggests new climate team, drops critics from list - India - The Times of India:

Printed from- Times of India
Jairam suggests new climate team, drops critics from list
Nitin Sethi, TNN, Mar 4, 2010, 03.13am IST

NEW DELHI: Union environment and forest minister Jairam Ramesh has dropped Prodipto Ghosh and Chandrashekhar Dasgupta — his most vocal critics — from the suggestive list forwarded to the PM for reconstitution of the core negotiating group on climate change.

The core negotiating group (CNG) is the set of advisers — serving and retired government officials — who advise the government on the international climate change negotiations and the stance and strategies India should take to further its cause at the complex talks.

The minister has forwarded a new suggestive list after dropping the names of the two veterans that he has often found himself at odds with. But the final say on the CNG lies with PM Manmohan Singh. The PMO is yet to take a view on the issue, sources told TOI.

When contacted on the issue, Jairam Ramesh told TOI: "It is very premature to say who is in and who isn't. It is still under discussion."

Chandrashekhar Dasgupta, India's most senior climate negotiator and a retired Indian Foreign Service officer, along with the ex-environment secretary Prodipto Ghosh, another old hand at climate talks, have on several occasions in the past openly criticized the environment minister for altering India's stance without gaining any advantage at the climate talks and for keeping the team of official negotiators in blind about his moves.

The two, along with Shyam Saran — the PM's special envoy on climate change who recently resigned from the position — are known to have often held dramatically different views than the union minister on India's response to increasing pressure from developed countries to alter its long-standing stance.

With most others on the climate negotiating team being serving government officials, the two retired bureaucrats —Dasgupta and Ghosh — are seen as the only ones capable of joining issues with the minister publicly. They carry weight as individuals in the international diplomatic arena as on home ground with their criticism earlier having caused a political storm for Ramesh.

On one occasion in 2009 they had refused to represent India at crucial UN climate talks until the minister personally clarified his position to them after some controversial remarks in the press.

In the most recent episode Dasgupta had criticized the minister for questioning the most basic of principles of Indian climate diplomacy that even PM had repeatedly stated in his speeches.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Two TPPs okayed, Dhopave not considered

Steel Guru : Environment nod for 2 thermal power projects in Maharashtra:
"Mr Jairam Ramesh minister of state for environment and forests (independent charge) informed the Lok Sabha that government of Maharashtra has submitted two proposals namely 1600 MW Imported Coal based Thermal Power Plant at Dhopawe and 3x660 MW expansion/ replacement of units of Koradi Thermal power plant at Koradi for seeking Environment Clearance.

The Environment Clearance for expansion/replacement of units at Koradi Thermal Power Plant has been granted. The project at Dhopave could not be considered for environmental clearance due to incomplete information provided by the State Government."


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