Dead men floating at Kumbh

ADITI, Allahabad

CHANCES ARE that a devotee surfacing after a holy dip in the Sangam might find a corpse floating beside him.

The promise made by Kumbh mela authorities of keeping the Ganga and Yamuna clean has come unstuck as bodies and animal carcasses can be seen floating at various places.

The Pioneer witnessed several bodies floating in the water for hours without drawing action from the 20 boats deputed by the health department to keep the rivers clean A decomposed body was floating close to the Saraswati ghat while another could be seen from pontoon bridge number 1. A carcass of a dog was also found.

Mela district magistrate Jeevesh Nandan claimed that the rivers were being cleaned regularly adding that the Mori drain was discharging 17 million tons of untreated water into the Ganga.

However, he refused to comment on the corpses floating in the river.


Environment body asks Govt to kill CNG rumour

Apratim Mukarji
'Streamline incentives to encourage changeover'

New Delhi. January 13: A PERNICIOUS rumour is doing the rounds in Delhi among public transport drivers to the effect that compressed natural gas (CNG) causes cancer.

Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) today demanded that the Delhi Government immediately issue a public notification denying the rumour and encouraging autorickshaw and taxi drivers to change over to CNG as fast as possible.

At the same time, it said the financial incentive schemes to encourage the changeover in three wheelers should be streamlined.

The CSE also demanded that Delhi Transport Minister Palvez Hashmi should give a personal undertaking to the Supreme Court to implement the latter's order to shift to a mainly CNG based public transport fleet by April.

The environmentalist group said that the rumours about the CNG being a carcinogenic agent "have been engineered to undermine the steps that the Supreme Court has taken to clean up the city's air. The CSE is disappointed at the Delhi Government's lacklustre response to the court orders.

The Government has made no attempt to inform the people about the need and the merit of using CNG and to educate target groups, such as autorickshaw drivers who would! implement the orders."

This is quite contrary to international experiences, it says. For one thing, baseless rumours about the CNG were floated even in the US but the US Government moved in quickly to counter them.

The US Energy Department issued last April, a public notification entitled "Natural Bus Gases: Separating Myth from Fact". This tackled every issue that confronts Delhi today, such as, cost, effect on global warming, safety and health effects.

"It becomes very difficult for fleet operators to evaluate the benefits of an alternative fuel programme if they are confronted with misinfommation or poor comparisons based on false assumptions," the notification said.

"It's time the Delhi Government learnt its lessons fast and restore the confidence of CNG vehicle operators to deflate the whisper campaign," the CSE said.


'Units sealed despite surcharged atmosphere'

HT Correspondent

New Delhi, January 13: THE URBAN Development Ministry in its affidavit filed in the Supreme Court regarding closure of industrial units in the first phase of sealing, has said that the sealing was carried out in full swing regardless of the hostile and surcharged atmosphere prevailing in the localities visited by the sealing teams. The affidavit filed on behalf of the Ministry by Deputy Secretary Nisha Singh, has stated that soon after the Nodal Agency issued instructions to implement Supreme Court orders on closure of polluting industries in non-conforming areas, "a tirade started against the Nodal Agency by a variety of persons, groups and interests."

The Ministry has also criticised Government agencies for not compiling proper data on the subject since the conditions prevailing at the site in nonconforming areas was not reflected in the records prepared by the Government.

This is supported by the closure action report filed along with the affidavit. Of the 19496 factory sites inspected, only 2856 units were sealed. There was no industrial activity in 1373 premises. In 1549 premises, there was change of trade.

As many as 6532 premises were either vacant or residential. Of the rest, 2717 units were not 'F' category units and 3491 units could not he traced or did not 'F' category units and 3491 units could not be traced or did not exist at site.

The Ministry has said that the Nodal agency had in the first phase issued directions for closure of only 27 types of units in 'F' category to contain the operational problems.

The Nodal Agency also provided outlet tries to three National Capital Region states to contain the problem.

The Ministry said that sealing operations had to be suspended on January 7 due to non-availability of police force in view of the terrorist intrusion in Red Fort and the consequent shoot out in Okhla area in which one terrorist was killed.

The Urban Development Ministry has said that it will file further affidavit on the subject on January 22.


Saving the environment


CREATING an environmentally sustainable economy has already generated an estimated 14 million jobs worldwide, with the promise of millions more in the 21st Century, reports a new study by the World watch Institute, a research organisation based in Washington DC.

Many new opportunities for job creation are emerging, ranging from recycling and remanufacturing of goods to greater energy and materials efficiency and the development of renewable sources of energy.

"Jobs are more likely to be at risk where environmental standards are low and where innovation in favour of cleaner technologies is lagging," said Michael Renner, author of Working for the Environment: A Growing Source of Jobs. "Our research shows that a huge potential to create jobs outside the extractive industries….. The challenge to society is to provide a just transition for workers who will lose jobs in industries like fossil fuels and mining."

Although there will be fewer jobs in resource extraction industries and manufacturing products when goods do not wear out rapidly, there will be greater job opportunities in repairing, upgrading, refurbishing and recycling products. Remanufacturing products when their life cycle would otherwise come to an end typically allows 85 per cent or more of the value added the labour, energy and materials embodied in the product to be recaptured.

Boosting the efficiency with which resources are used means that businesses and households save a large portion of the hundreds of billions of dollars that would otherwise go into purchasing fuels and materials. Investing the money from these avoided costs in more invironmentally benign sectors of the economy will generate more jobs than investing in resource industries.

The industries that extract and process energy and raw materials are among the most polluting of human activities, but provise only a small and declining number of jobs. In the U.S., for example, mining, utilities and four manufacturing industries primary metals processing, paper, oil refining and chemicals together account for 84 per cent of all toxic pollutants released. Their workforces account for less than three per cent of all private sector jobs.

Job creation is particularly important in the developing world, where almost all of the growth in population will take place in the coming decades. "The trouble is that human labour appears too expensive while energy and raw material inputs appear cheaper," said Renner.

Fiscal policy can be a powerful tool to increase the productivity of energy and materials. Current tax systems encourage high resources use and discourage job creation. An ecologically driven reform of tac policy would reduce payroll taxes while simultaneously raising taxes on resource use and pollution.

Labour unions and environmentalists could work together to build a stronger political base for these policy changes. Environments issues often translate into health and safety issues at the workplace. Unions have a role to play from struggles for improved occupational health and safety to demands for worker right to know clauses, eco-audits and other environmental provisions in agreements. A just transition policy involves setting up a fund to provide income and benefits for displaced workers seeking a new career, tuition support to pay for vocational and other training programmes, career counseling and placement services, aid in relocating to find a new job and measures to help communities and regions diversify their economic base.