Matters concerned with Environment

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Environment Ministry gets tough on Tata Camelot at Chandigarh

The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Main News
Chandigarh, February 26
The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has toughened its stand over granting clearance to the multi-tower high-rise Tata Camelot project proposed to come up next to the Sukhna Lake here.

For an environmental clearance now, the ministry has said, the project would require a go-ahead from the forestry and wildlife angle, including an okay from the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife.

Also, the MoEF has referred the case (for environmental clearance to the project) to the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Committee, Punjab. The move follows as Punjab reconstituted its committee by including new members and thus completing the requisite quorum for granting environmental clearances.

However, the MoEF has said that the state EIA committee may consider the inspection report prepared by a team of the ministry last month, and may consult the members of this inspection team before granting any clearance. Notably, the Tata Housing officials had earlier claimed that they had obtained all clearances from various departments.

Official sources said as the Camelot project site was only 123 metres (on the northern side and 183 metres on the eastern side) away from the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary, the project proponent (Tata Housing Development Company in this case) will require a prior green signal from the National Board for Wildlife -- chaired by the prime minister.

And as the Camelot project site is adjacent to the sanctuary, it is bound to create noise and air pollution in the area, besides resulting in heavy human habitation in the high-rise buildings. All these factors were likely to impact the sanctuary.

Based on The Tribune reports on how rules were bent by the Punjab Government for a go-ahead to the project, with 102 state politicians on board, the MoEF had ordered an inquiry into the housing venture. An inspection was conducted by a six-member MoEF team last month, which verified the distance of the project site from the sanctuary and also found that the Camelot site fell under the catchment area of the Sukhna Lake.

According to rules, for any project that is proposed within a distance of 10 km of a national park or wildlife sanctuary, a special condition is stipulated that the environmental clearance is subject to their obtaining prior clearance from the forestry and wildlife angle, including clearance from the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife. The rules also say that the grant of environment clearance does not necessarily imply that forestry and wildlife clearance shall be granted to the project. Their application for forestry and wildlife clearance would be considered as per merit.

These guidelines, which form part of the EIA Notification, 2006 (via office memorandum issued in 2009), also say that any investment made in the project, based on environmental clearance granted in anticipation of the clearance from forestry and wildlife angle, shall be entirely at the cost and risk of the project proponent and the MoEF shall not be responsible for this

Friday, February 25, 2011

Turmeric as intercrop boosts mango yield

Turmeric as intercrop boosts mango yield
It also controls termite attack

Among the various diseases that attack mango crop, gummosis is of great economic importance since the trees die within a very short time.

The fungus responsible for mango decline is a common soil-borne saprophyte or wound parasite, distributed throughout the tropics and subtropics.

The trees show abundant gum secretion from branches and main trunk right from the tree base to tree top, wilting, dieback, vascular browning and death of several trees.

Trunk borers

The observed gummosis in mango trees was often accompanied by damage caused by a new species of trunk borers.

The grubs cause severe damage by feeding on the bark inside the trunk, boring upward, making tunnels, thus weakening and causing hindrance to transport of water and nutrients from roots to shoots resulting in wilting and drying of the shoots.

Acting as a wounding agent and vector, the trunk borers probably assist in rapid spread of the disease in the orchard. Several chemicals tried to control mango decline show little or no success.

Turmeric plantation as intercrop in mango has been found not only to assist in suppressing the population of trunk borers, termites and gummosis causing pathogens in the soil, but also provided additional income from the harvest of the rhizomes, 9 months after planting.

Disease suppression

Turmeric root exudates or curcumin in rhizomes present in soil probably assisted in disease suppression by reducing the activity and population of trunk borer larvae and soil-borne fungus.

Another advantage

The orchard was also found to be free from termite attack after planting turmeric as intercrop in mango.

Turmeric plantation as intercrop can find application in organic farming systems, to control various soil borne pests and diseases in several fruit orchards.


Principal scientistDivision of Fruits and Horticultural TechnologyIndian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi

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Villagers protest Mithi Virdi nuclear project- Jasapara

Villagers protest Mithi Virdi nuclear project, police called
Photos by Mukesh Pandit
Bhavnagar, DeshGujarat, 11 June, 2010

Villagers of Jasapara and about five nearby villages in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district today prevented surveyors to carry out survey of the land for proposed Mithi Virdi nuclear power project here . Survey team’s truck, containing a generator set and two iron pipes was gheraoed by protesting villagers. Police was called on to control the locals. The issue was settled soon, but just temporarily. The surveyor team had to go back in view of the local protest. Jasapara’s lady Sarpanch said, “we would give our life, but not allow nuclear plant here.”
Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC) which is planning to set up a 6,000 Mw nuclear power project in the area, but facing protests from farmers who are refusing to make way for the Rs 50,000 crore (Rs 500 billion) project, the first major initiative after the civilian nuclear agreement between India and the US. About 30 odd villages have collectively signed a petition and informed the authorities about their stand.About 1,000 hectare of land has been surveyed by government officials in the recent past. Though the name given to the project is Mithi Virdi Atomic Power Project, the area identified is about two km away from Mithi Virdi and is called Jasapara.
Anti-nuclear activists led by local Arun Dave, Damayantiben Modi of Lok Bharati Sanstha have formed a group called the Atomic Energy Study Group and have been distributing pamphlets and showing films about the accidents of nuclear plants in places like Chernobyl.
Local villagers have mainly three problems with the proposed plant project:(1) how destructive the plant can be in case of any leakage, (2) they do not know what will happen to the waste generated from here, (3) they don’t want to lose their land, which is their only source of livelihood.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Projects getting faster clearance in Jairam's tenure

Mail Today Science Bureau  | New Delhi, February 3, 2011 | 08:35

If you believe that Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh has made life difficult for industry and project promoters by making environmental clearances as a stumbling block, you may be in for a surprise. Projects during his tenure are getting cleared much faster and just a handful of them are rejected.

Environmental clearance for just six projects was rejected during August 2009 and July 2010, compared to 14 projects rejected during 2006-07 to 2007-08.

The conditional approval granted to the steel project of Korean giant Posco and to several such high-profile projects including the Navi Mumbai airport show that projects continue to be approved with the same speed even after July 2010. The mining project of Vedanta is the only notable rejection. Eight river valley hydro-electric projects were submitted for environment clearance and all were approved in the one-year period. As many as 49 thermal power projects were approved with just one rejection during 2009-10.

Of 120 projects under the category of 'infrastructure and miscellaneous projects' that came up for approval, 112 were approved and none was rejected. As many as 31 coal mining projects were approved with not a single one being rejected. Only two of 'new construction and industrial estates' projects were rejected.

In all, 769 projects were received and 535 were approved and six were rejected. The rest are pending for more information and queries.

The rate of approving projects during the tenure of Ramesh remains unhealthy, says the EIA Resource and Response Centre which obtained the data under RTI. "Despite the claim of greater scrutiny, projects continue to be approved and the rate of approval appears to be getting worse. If one compares with the data of approval from 2006 to 2008 it is clear that the rate of rejection and approval remains the same," said Ritwick Dutta of EIA centre.

In a move designed to facilitate faster clearances, Ramesh appointed power sector experts to key panels tasked with approval of power projects. Rakesh Nath, former chairman of the Central Electricity Authority, was made chairperson of the expert appraisal committee on river valley projects, while V. P. Raja, chairman of the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission, was appointed to head the expert appraisal committee on thermal power and coal mine projects. "How can a power regulatory body chief preside over environment clearance of power projects?" questions Dutta.

While projects are being approved with alacrity, Ramesh has closed all avenues for those who want to appeal against such approvals. He has dismantled the only existing grievance redressal mechanism that existed in the form of the National Environment Appellate Authority. The authority was wound up in October 2010 even before the National Green Tribunal, which was supposed to replace it, came into being. The tribunal has not been set up despite Parliament approving the law for its establishment. As a result, persons aggrieved by the grant of clearance have no statutory forum for appeal.


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