Dinosaur fossils unearthed in Meghalaya's Khasi Hills
INDIAN GEOLOGISTS have unearthed fossil bones of dinosaurs from west Khasi Hills of Meghalaya.
Dinosaurs are giant reptiles that ruled the earth for about 150 million years and became extinct 65 million years ago for reasons not known.
Till now dinosaur fossils have been found only in western, central and southern parts of the country and this is the first time scientists have got evidence that these giant animals also lived in northeast India.
U K Mishra and S Sen of the Geological Survey of India say they found "abundant fossil bone fragments" of dinosaurs in purple-coloured sandstone rocks at Dirang, a village near Ranikor 132 km away from Shillong the state capital. Those rocks were 65 to 80 million years old.
Reporting their discovery in "current science" , the scienists said: "The potential fossil bearing zone is restricted to a four to five metre thick sandstone horizon spreading over about a one square km area around Dirang village."
Although only fragmentary bones were found, the scientists said the largest of the recovered bones was about 80 centimetres long suggesting that "the size of the animal was quite large".
"Such a large land-dwelling animal living in cretaceous period (144 to 65 million years before present) can only be the dinosaur," they said. Their conclusion was supported also by "palaeohistological studies" of the bone fragments.
The scientists said they are however combing the area in and around Dirang " to locate more complete skeletal remains of the creature".
Fate of Environment Protection Board hanging in balance
A MONTH after the Cabinet cleared the proposal to constitute the Environment Protection Board, the Delhi government finds itself caught in its own web. It does not know whether the body should be advisory, statutory or should it exist at all.
In the time being, the government has been able to constitute only a three-member committee comprising of secretaries of Environment, Planning and Finance departments to study the Cabinet decision.
Senior government officials say the committee had met once and was deliberating on the likely nature of the board. If officials are to be believed, they are still looking for answers.
The Cabinet had decided to constitute the board to bring an element of surprise when the CNG crisis had created panic among commuters in Delhi.
"More than this, it was an attempt to reassure the citizens that the government was serious on protecting the environment and converting buses into CNG mode," a senior government official said. Such was the desperation in government to salvage its image that officials had then claimed that the board was being constituted on the recommendations of the Group of Ministers. Officials wonder whether any committee of Group of Ministers ever existed.
"The Chief Minister had called a Cabinet meeting to discuss the CNG issue. In that meeting a suggestion cropped up that a board for environment protection could be a face-saving measure.
The suggestion was readily accepted and given the stamp of legitimacy, it was stated that the GoM had recommended constitution of the board," a senior government official said.
While announcing the decision, the government did not realise that it had put its foot in its mouth.
"The Environment Department had earlier constituted a committee to consider the proposal to increase the number of members in Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and to give it more powers," an official said. The aim of this, according to the official, was to giver wider and absolute powers to Delhi Pollution Control Committee to maintain a check on pollution levels in the city and frame policies on how to bring about a change in environment.
According to officials, DPCC was framed some years ago as a body having delegated powers of Central Pollution Control
Board. "It was to monitor pollution levels in different parts of the city and suggest measures to the government for cleaning air," an official said.
The bureaucrats have, however, felt that the DPCC's functioning has been hampered as
it has a limited number of members.
"By increasing the number, we want that all aspects of environment engineering and protection is looked after by one body and that should be DPCC. It has handled the pollution related issues during the shifting of polluting industries from non-conforming areas," an official said.
But that means: no need for having a separate Environment Protection Board as approved by the Cabinet.