DECEMBER 19

  • Programme on disposing solid waste

  • Water clock clicks fast for Rajasthan

  • Latest tiger census kicks up a row

  • Joint management of forests only on paper

  • Programme on disposing solid waste

    THE TIMES OF INDIA [19 December, 2001]
    TIMES NEWS NETWORK

    AHMEDABAD: A two-day training programme for urban solid waste managers and officials started here on Tuesday. The programme titled 'Tools for improved solid waste management and treatment' is being organised by Louis Berger Group Inc under the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Prevention Project of USAID-India in association with City Managers' Association, Gujarat (CMAG) chapter.

    Inaugurated by the state minister for urban development, I K Jadeja, 40 delegates including municipal commissioners, chief officers of municipalities, concerned government agencies and solid waste managers from all over Gujarat are participating in the programme.

    CMAG executive director Yashesh Anantani said, "The recent apex court guidelines and rules framed by the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) makes it imperative for urban local bodies to undertake solid waste management seriously. With this as the perspective, the two-day training programme assumes significance."

    Anantani's statements assume significance in the backdrop of a nation-wide study on solid waste conducted by the Louis Berger Group (LBG). The study says, "Every day more than 45 million tonnes of municipal waste is generated from urban centres across the country. In most municipalities, solid waste management practices are insufficient to ensure that waste is collected, transported and disposed or treated in a manner that is financially or environmentally sustainable or that adequately protects public health and safety."

    Through a Training Needs Assessment conducted in several municipalities by LBG earlier this year, consultations with the Regional Urban Development Office (RUDO) of USAID have proved that solid waste managers in the country are still looking for guidance and assistance on waste collection, treatment and disposal in compliance with the MoEF guidelines.

    In his inaugural address, Jadeja stressed on the need for cities to be clean and aim towards an ideal of zero-garbage. The minister also stressed on the need for awareness drives and training programmes for the masses, "as municipal authorities would not be able to single-handedly ensure complete adherence to the norms."

    P U Asnani, the adviser to the city municipal commissioner and an expert on solid waste management, stressed on the need for technological inputs and the need to resolve this predicament of the city managers on how to manage solid waste.

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    Water clock clicks fast for Rajasthan

    THE TIMES OF INDIA [19 December, 2001]
    BY JYOTI KAMAL

    CHANDIGARH: The ground water level in western Rajasthan will decline to critical levels in the next few years, says a report by the Central Ground Water Board, Jaipur. The districts most at risk are Jalore, Jaipur, Sikar and Jhunjhunu. Currently, there are only two major sources of ground water left in western Rajasthan. They are the Lathi aquifer in Jaisalmer and the Palana-Nagaur aquifer.

    ‘‘If these aquifers are not conserved, they will end up being over-exploited, as has happened in many parts already. The water here should be conserved and be used only for drinking or domestic use,’’ said V M Sikka, regional director, CGWB, Jaipur. Hydro-geologists attending a conference organised at Panjab University, too, emphasised on the impending crisis.

    ‘‘The eastern parts of the state have good rainfall, but the hard rock there does not absorb the water.

    So there is no chance of raising the ground water levels there. But in the western parts of the state, where there are alluvial and sedimentary deposits, which are good for recharging the ground water, there is not enough rainfall,’’ Sikka remarked. The CGWB, Jaipur, however, has proposed a mega project to green the Thar desert through ground water recharge.

    It is a long-term project envisaged by the CGWB officials and they are optimistic that the desert can be greened.

    ‘‘The land covered by the Thar desert is more than the combined area of Haryana and Punjab. It would take many years to show results, but it has to be realised by all concerned, that there is no alternative,’’ he said.

    Speaking to Times News Network, Dr D K Chadha, chairman, CGWB, New Delhi, said the Rajasthan situation is being carefully monitored and assessed. Geologists say the authorities are yet to appreciate the seriousness of the situation. Unless quick and effective steps are taken, the cost and pains that are to be incurred to meet the water requirement of western Rajasthan would be sky high.

    ‘‘Effective water management calls for defining the roles and responsibilities of policy makers, planners, central and state organisations, NGOs, universities and research institutes, public representatives, industrialists and users,’’ said Sikka and L N Mathur, a hydro-geologist with CGWB, Jaipur.

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    Latest tiger census kicks up a row

    THE TIMES OF INDIA [19 December, 2001]
    ADITYA GHOSH

    KOLKATA: The latest tiger census in the Sunderbans which ended last week has sparked a controversy. While experts indicated that a huge margin of error was involved in the current pug mark technique, authorities claimed that it was the best possible method.

    ‘‘Worldwide, the camera spotting method is being used to calculate the animal population, especially tigers. Counting pug marks is almost obsolete. Results from the latest method were quite encouraging at Nagarhole, Kaziranga and Namdapha,’’ contended wildlife expert D.K. Lahiri Choudhury.

    The old method is based on the fact that no two tigers have similar pug marks, like human fingerprints. The new method involves the placing of two cameras, facing each other, in the tiger corridor. mark the time as well. This year, the Sunderban feline population is estimated to be 280-odd. The 1999 census registered 360 tigers in the state, of which the Sunderban Tiger Reserve had 254, the South 24-Parganas forest division 30, Buxa and Jaldapara reserve forests had 33 and 12 tigers, respectively. Whereas the Mahananda and Neora valleys recorded 13 and 18 tigers.

    ‘‘A year ago Ullas Karanth, director of the India Programme, Wildlife Conservation Society, used this method in the Sunderbans where tiger population was found to be much less than the official figures,’’ said Lahiri Choudhury.A few years ago, Karanth wrote about the reliability of the pug mark technique in a scientific paper.

    He asked six wildlife managers, each having between four and 12 years of experience in counting tigers, to take part in a blind experiment, that involved analysing 33 tracings of an unspecified number of tigers.

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    Joint management of forests only on paper

    The Hindu [19 December, 2001]
    By Our Staff Reporter

    ELURU, DEC. 18. Singanapalli, a tiny tribal habitation falling under Papikondalu wildlife sanctuary area spread over 19,946 hectares in West Godavari, East Godavari and Khammam districts, offered itself the other day as dais for judging the performance of wildlife division of the Forest department in translating into a reality the concept of co-development in the sanctuary area with the involvement of local forest dependent communities (FDCs).

    Scores of tribals from Pydipaka, Koruturu, Singanapalli, Kondrukota and Mattapukota eco-development committees (EDCs) converged on Singanapalli to have an interface with the top brass of the Forest department which included, Mr Kanvaljit Singh, Joint Director, Wildlife division, New Delhi, Mr Manoranja Bhanja, Conservator of Forests, Mr P Tata Rao, DFO (wildlife), and Mr AK Sinha, DFO (Territorial). A support group led by the social activist, Dr Pentapati Pulla Rao, persuaded the team of officials to have an interface with local FDCs. The EDCs with an active involvement of FDCs are aimed at reducing the dependency of local tribals on forests by creating biomass outside the sanctuary area.

    The members of the EDCs candidly sought to expose the perceived bureaucratic role which cast a shadow over the eco-development concept in the sanctuary area. They pointed out that the concept of joint management of the forests remained only on paper as the officials were not willing to empower local communities in checking poaching of wild animals and smuggling of forest wealth and creation of alternative sources of livelihood for local tribals so that they could wean themselves away from making a living out of precious forest wealth.

    Mr Dorababu, president of Pydipaka EDC, remarked: "Initially, we were asked by the forest officials to check poaching and smuggling. We were even promised identity cards by the forest officials as part of empowering us in protecting the forests. When tribals mustered courage to take on the all-powerful smugglers, scores of them were even attacked. But the promise relating to issue of identity cards is yet to become a reality".

    Although eco-development project is supposed to be a joint management by the forest department and the EDCS, in practice it was only a unilateral affair, complains Mr J Venkateswara Rao of Singanapalli EDC. Citing certain instances, he said tree-plantation in their habitation was undertaken by the forest officials without the knowledge of EDC members. Similarly, a community hall was built directly by the officials. The guidelines envisaging that the funds earmarked for the Joint Forest Management (JFM) scheme should be deposited in a bank account opened jointly by the officials and EDCs and expenditure incurred on works be entered in the passbook were hardly honoured by the department officials. For instance, he said, a community hall was built in a habitation bypassing these guidelines.

    The EDC members complain that micro planning with data relating to social and economic conditions and the requirements of the tribal habitations falling under EDCs was not yet designed. When asked for it, the officials said it was not their job, they added.

    Meanwhile, Mr D Lakshmaiah of Sivagiri who sustained grievous injuries in an attack by a cheetah, sought compensation from the Forest department. As one of his hands which bore the pug marks of the cheetah turned black, he is suffering for want of treatment.

    After a suggestion from Dr Pulla Rao to bridge the `communication gap' between the local community and the officials, the DFO (Wildlife), Mr Tata Rao, agreed to hold joint meetings on a monthly basis. The DFO observed that there were complaints of killing wild boar by local tribals by giving electric shocks and urged them to protect the reserve forests and the wildlife from extinction.

    The Conservator of Forests told the EDC members not to ask for the moon with respect to development in their habitations under eco-development project. "There are financial constraints. No allocations were made in the State plan for wildlife protection," he said. However, he accepted the proposal for distribution of cooking gas connections to the tribals.

    Mr Pulla Rao asked the team members to develop river tourism in the area as it would provide an alternative employment for most of the 60 tribal habitations in the sanctuary area. He also highlighted the need for establishing piggery centres, poultry forms etc. to cater to the meat requirement of tribals so that they would not kill wild animals for meat.

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