Caught in dust storm

The scene in Delhi on Sunday as the Capital was caught in an outburst of dust storm. - Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

From THE HINDU

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MCD earns carbon credits worth Rs 5L

NEW DELHI: Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has earned carbon credits worth Rs 5 lakh against net carbon emission reduction (CER) achieved by making Okhla compost plan functional. This makes MCD the first civic agency in the country that has earned carbon credits.

An MCD official said, ‘‘The CERs achieved from the Okhla composting plant — as part of the clean development mechanism (CDM) project — would be the first for any municipal solid waste management project in the country and also the first for any municipal solid waste composting project in the world.

The plant has been revived in public private partnership (PPP) between MCD and IL&FS wherein an agreement was signed to rehabilitate and upgrade the Okhla compost plant in May 2007 with carbon finance support. A total of 200 MT of waste would be processed in Okhla.’’

According to civic agency, 5127 CERs have been reported by IL&FS in its monitoring report and as per the concession agreement with MCD, 25% of the net CER earning (for the first 5 years) has to be shared with MCD.

Said an MCD official, ‘‘Waste processing projects avoid methane emissions caused due to anaerobic decomposition of municipal solid waste at a landfill site. Moreover, methane is a green house gas with high global warming potential and the Okhla composting plant is therefore eligible as a CDM project activity.’’

This annual process of monitoring and verification would continue for every year of plant operation wherein the annual performance would be monitored and credits would be issued in accordance with the performance of the plant in that year. ‘‘We hope to earn more carbon credits in years to come,’’ said the official.

From THE HINDU

Delhi: Bottle menace? Well, don’t ask pollution panel

The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has revealed that it has no information on the number of mineral water bottles being disposed of in the city every day. In an RTI reply, the DPCC also said it has no clue about Bisphenol A, a potentially hazardous chemical used to coat plastic water bottles.

Incidentally, plastic bags were banned by the Delhi High Court, which called them a hazard due to the damage they cause to the environment by blocking sewers and creating a solid waste problem. A committee set up by the court also recommended the regulation or banning of pouches of gutkha and tobacco.

However, under the same logic, the issue of disposal of plastic bottles—the sheer numbers of which are almost at par with plastic bags—has been overlooked. The DPCC’s RTI says it is unaware of how the plastic from water bottles is being disposed off. More seriously, it professes ignorance on the presence of Bisphenol A in these bottles.

From Indian Express

India: SC not inclined to relax ban on plastic bags

New Delhi, Jan 29 (PTI) The Supreme Court today virtually ruled out the possibility of relaxing the ban imposed on use of plastic bags by the Delhi Government by stressing on the “havoc played” by them.

“Look at the hazards. plastic bags have been playing havoc in the country,” a bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices V S Sirpurkar and Deepak Verma said.

The bench said the ban on plastic bags would help in returning to good old days when people used to go the market with environment friendly bags made of cloth, jute and paper.

“If the ban is allowed to stand, same old habit will return. People will go with a bag in their hand. I go to market with a bag in my hand. What is the harm?” Justice Verma asked.

From PTI

Commercial activity around Corbett threatens wildlife

A view of the Corbett National Park. Unhindered commercial activity around Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand is posing a serious threat to this eco-fragile zone and obstructing movement of animals. File Photo; The Hindu

 From THE HINDU

National Park: 70% of Corbett resorts host parties, races

NEW DELHI: Is Corbett national park, India’s best known tiger sanctuary, becoming a hunting ground for party animals at the cost of real ones? A study commissioned by the Union tourism ministry on Corbett has found that 70% of the resorts around the park are venues for weddings, rain dances, parties, bike races and zorbing rather than for visitors interested in wildlife.

There are 77 resorts in the area with 17 more likely to come up this year alone. Incidentally, the tiger reserve has a ceiling of a maximum of 600 visitors daily.

This rampant commercialisation and mismatch in numbers drawn to Corbett has set off alarm bells within the ministry that is now considering tighter norms for hotels and resorts coming up in ecologically-sensitive places.

The study conducted by the Institute of Hotel Management, Pusa surveyed areas around the 10km periphery of the park in December last year.

“The findings are very worrying. We plan to bring this to the attention of the ministry of environment and forests before Corbett becomes another Sariska. There must be stringent guidelines for commercial establishments,” Sujit Banerjee, tourism secretary, said.

Besides indulging in activities like parties and rain dances, resorts keep bright lights on throughout the night. Turning a blind eye to environmental friendly practices, 31% of the properties dump their waste outside while 26% burn it.

About 94% of the properties are fenced or walled. This has resulted in two animal corridors connecting Corbett with Rajaji national park being blocked. The fencing aside, vehicles and encroachment by villagers displaced by the New Tehri dam have also contributed to choking the corridors that are a lifeline for the animals.

Another worrying point is the fact that of the 77 vehicles plying within the tiger reserve, 26 run on diesel. Among steps being taken to check this disturbing trend, officials said resorts and hotels in fragile ecological zones will now have to take the nod from the tourism ministry before they begin commercial operations. These zones – like national parks, hill stations and coastal areas – will be defined in the new set of regulations. The ministry also plans to conduct surveys around other important national parks like Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh and Kanha.

Corbett National Park is becoming a party zone, posing a hazard to the environment. Besides indulging in activities like parties and rain dances, resorts keep bright lights on throughout the night.

Turning a blind eye to environment friendly practices, 31% of the properties dump their waste outside while 26% burn it. About 94% of the properties are fenced or walled. This has resulted in two animal corridors connecting Corbett with Rajaji national park being blocked. The fencing aside, vehicles and encroachment by villagers displaced by the New

Tehri dam have also contributed to choking the corridors that are a lifeline for the animals.

Another worrying point is the fact that of the 77 vehicles plying within the tiger reserve, 26 run on diesel. Among steps being taken to check this disturbing trend, officials said resorts and hotels in fragile ecological zones will now have to take the nod from the tourism ministry before they begin commercial operations. These zones — like national parks, hill stations and coastal areas — will be defined in the new set of regulations.

From TOI

Dhaka, New Delhi begin river water-sharing talks

DHAKA: Bangladesh and India on Monday began Secretary-level talks here on river water-sharing to lay the groundwork for the coming summit talks between their Prime Ministers.

Bangladesh Water Resources Secretary Sheikh M. Wahiduzzaman, who leads the home side, said the sharing of the waters of the Teesta and Feni and the construction of embankments were on the agenda of the two-day discussion. The Indian team is led by Water Resources Secretary U.N. Panjiar.

Even if the talks fail to arrive at a full-fledged agreement, Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Sheikh Hasina could make decisions on signing a short-term Teesta deal, officials said.

Officials of the Ministries concerned said a full-fledged agreement on Teesta water sharing depended largely on the highest political levels. Dhaka is asking New Delhi to hold a ministerial-level meeting of the Joint Rivers Commission (JRC), but it is learnt that India has expressed its inability to hold such meeting in the last six years.

The talks will also include the sharing of water of six other common rivers — the Dharla, Monu, Muhuri, Dudhkumar, Khowai and Gomti. The dredging of the Isamoti may also come up for discussion.

Newly-appointed Indian High Commissioner Rajeet Mitter told journalists that Ms. Hasina’s visit to India, scheduled for January 10, would usher in new areas of cooperation.

From THE HINDU