Environment group to file PIL against Airports Authority
By Our Staff Reporter
HYDERABAD, DEC. 4. The `Save Secunderabad Environment Committee', consisting of about 25 residential welfare associations and the Citizens Against Pollution agitating against the expansion of the Begumpet airport have announced that a public interest litigation would be filed in the Supreme Court against the Airports Authority of India.
Noted lawyer and environment activist, Mr. M.C. Mehta, would be filing the case in his capacity as the advisor for the Indian Council for Enviro-legal Action in the Apex court, CAP President Prof. K. Purushottam Reddy said at a press conference here on Tuesday. The contempt case filed by Prof. Reddy himself against the AAI was awaiting hearing in the A.P. High Court.
Criticising the AAI for sending demolition notices to several houses in Secunderabad for the purpose of expanding the runway to enable wide-bodied aircraft to land, he said this move was not only violative of several Acts and procedures laid down by the Government but was also contrary to the assurances the AAI gave to the A.P. High Court.
Prof. Reddy pointed out that the AAI had promised the High Court that it would comply with the provisions of the Environment Protection Act and undertake an environmental impact assessment report, environment management plan and public hearing. And, that no construction or expansion work, preliminary or otherwise shall be undertaken till the clearance was obtained.
"The AAI is guilty of contempt of court and has not organised any environment public hearing. This surreptitious expansion of the runway will be a deathblow to the development of the area and will greatly increase sound and air pollution," Prof. Reddy said.
The CAP President wanted to know the rationale behind expanding the runway of the Begumpet airport when the State Government was going whole hog to build an international airport at Shamshabad in the outskirts. "Nowhere in the world would an international airport be located in the centre of the city as is being sought to be done here. Also, in cities like New York nighttime landings are not allowed," he said.
Prof. Reddy found fault with the A.P. Pollution Control Board for "failing in their duty" and not safeguarding the environment considering the impending increase in pollution because of the runway expansion. In order to bring pressure on the AAI and demanding an environmental public hearing, the Save Secunderabad Environment Protection Committee would be holding a one-day mass hunger strike near Tarbund.
"We are inviting all environment and civic groups to participate in the programme. We will also seek the stance of the political parties on this issue. We are only seeking what is available under law," Prof. Reddy said.
Stringent action against elephant killers mooted
By Our Staff Reporter
UDHAGAMANDALAM, DEC. 4. ``Since forest offences are on the increase and wild animals, particularly elephants, are being killed, it is imperative that the culprits and those who abet them are dealt with stringently'', observed Dr. V. Krishnamoorthy of the Asian Elephant Specialist Group, Chennai.
He was inaugurating a programme on ``field training on the management of the elephant reserves for the forest staff of Tamil Nadu'', under the aegis of the Tamil Nadu Forest Department and the United States Fish and Wildlife Services Project at Mudumalai near here.
Pointing out that India was in the forefront in conserving the Asian elephants, he said the elephant camps at Theppakadu in Mudumalai and Topslip in Anamalais were internationally renowned.
Of late ``irresponsible'' comments were being passed by persons, claiming to be animal rights activists, about the manner in which the camps were being run, he said and added that in keeping with the government policy captive breeding of the Asian elephants was being done with utmost care.
Later talking to reporters, Dr. Krishnamoorthy said the man-elephant conflict was maximum in Gudalur area. He opined ``saving Gudalur would save the Nilgiris which in turn would save the elephants''.
Pointing out that lack of awareness about the wildanimals had led to escalation of man-wildanimal conflict, he said though elephants were used for specific purposes at the Mudumalai camp, ``misplaced sympathy'' was a stumbling block. As regards temple elephants, he said while there were 50 in the State, hardly six were maintained properly.
Source : The Hindu, December 5, 2001
Prof. Jacob V. Cheeran, Chairman, Elephant Study Centre, Kerala, said a move to have an external agency to evaluate the work done under the ``Project Elephant'' was most welcome. Training programmes on managing elephant reserves were now being conducted all over the World, he said.
Dr. T. Sekar, Conservator of Forests, Coimbatore Circle, opined that for effective elephant management it was important to convert basic knowledge into skills. It was proposed to conduct in all 16 training programmes for the forest staff at various levels in Tamil Nadu at Mudumalai, he said and added Rs. 23 lakhs had been earmarked for this.
Pointing out that the elephant population in India was about 25,000, he said Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka accounted for 9,000.