‘Shramdaan’ for a clean Yamuna
THE HINDU [26th MAY, 2003]
NEW DELHI, MAY 25. ‘We for Yamuna’, a group of motivated youth working to bring about change in the attitude of the people towards the lifeline of their city, today organised a "shramdaan" or symbolic cleaning of the river at Qudsia Ghat near the Interstate Bus Terminus.
"The aim was to draw the attention of the people of the city towards the plight of the river and the need for concerted action for its amelioration," said a volunteer with the group, that was initiated by the United Nations Volunteers during the International Year of Volunteer 2001.
Since August 2,000, the group has undertaken several campaigns and awareness programmes including street plays, photo- exhibitions and aware-ness programmes. "Our firm belief is that it is time for a change in the mindsets to make amends before our follies become a very threat to our survival," said another volunteer.
And continuing with this "Shramdaan", student volunteers comprising various Delhi University colleges and children brought in by several non-government organisations participated in an orientation programme involving games graffiti and painting at the river bank portion of Qudsia Ghat near the ISBT flyover. The participating NGOs included the SOS Children’s Village, Prayas, Butterflies, Humana People to People and the Social Work department of Bhimrao Ambedkar College.
Apart from the Shramdaan We for Yamuna also plans to take out a procession - "arthi" of the dead Yamuna on a 25 metre cloth on June 5 and present it to the Union Minister for Environment, T. R. Baalu.
Leave your plastics behind if you are heading for Nepal
THE HINDUSTAN TIMES [26th MAY, 2003]
IT’S THE heat. It’s making us go half crazy, very sleepy and very thirsty. It also makes us want to head Northwards. If it’s Nepal you are heading for, avoid plastic bags. In a verdict on May 11, 2003, the Supreme Court of Nepal affirmed the right of the Mahendragar municipality to prohibit the production, distribution and use of plastic in their area.
The ruling came after the industry contested a ban on plastic imposed by the municipality to prevent damage to the environment. Now that the court has given this landmark decision other regions in Nepal may follow suit. How about learning from one’s neighbours?
Tree Act strengthens you
A TREE’S shade helps you cope with summer. But are you aware that there is a lot of legality tied to a tree in the National Capital Region of Delhi? It’s called the Tree Act and it ensures that the tree remains protected. Even a 6 feet sapling is included in the Act. No one can cut a tree or lop off its branches without seeking written permission from the Tree Officer of Delhi. Besides the Act stipulates that an area of 4 feet by 4 feet around a tree re-mains unpaved to let the tree breathe and absorb water. So, if you find a road that extends till the tree trunk, you know it’s illegal. And you have the law on your side. Just contact the Conservator of Forests.
Fearless forest fighters
ACTUALLY, SAVING trees can be quite dangerous. Take the case of Father Jose Andres Tamayo and other activists in the Central American country of Honduras. They are protesting the vast illegal logging of forests in Hon- duras and the construction of dams that is causing grave environmental damage. As a result the priest is receiving death threats from the logging Mafia with support from the local government. And police and local authorities are intimidating the priest’s friends. The situation has become so bad that an international campaign has now been launched to save their lives.
Even as you read this, hundreds of people will have written to the President of Honduras demanding his intervention to save their lives and the forests.
UN bid to conserve forests
THE TIMES OF INDIA [26th MAY, 2003]
TIMES NEWS NETWORK New Delhi: The UN will sit down on Monday to discuss threats to forests and put a value to forest resources to propel conservation and management measures.
Director-general (Forests) M K Sharma, leading the team to the 12-day UN Forum on Forests meeting in Geneva, says they will show-case attempts at community participation through the joint forest management mechanism which covers 72,000 villages.
But Sharma has enough problems at home-far re-moved from issues of inter-national trade, access to markets and clamps on trade in illegally harvested timber.
A couple of years ago, in a court ease related to illegal mining in MP’s Shivpuri district, Sharma, then addition-al director-general, had pointed out how the lack of priority was affecting this sector, with revenue and development requirements, and a nexus of corruption between officials and politicians, making deep inroads into "unguarded" forests.
Not much has changed. Development needs are clashing with targets of covering a fourth of the country by forests in four years.
Without the SC, says an environmentalist, there would be no forests today. Be-fore the court stepped in, Rs 6,000 crore worth of timber was being illegally removed from the heavily-forested North-East every year.
An estimated eight lakh hectares of forest land around the country has been encroached upon. Recently, a forest commission was formed to suggest reforms in the sector.
Yet, crores of people live in the 1.7 lakh villages around forests-and are dependent on them. And, the UN recognises that forests are more than just wood and non-wood products: They help conserve bio-diversity, battle eliminate change, protect watersheds.
Environmentalists say three hundred rivers and rivulets originate from the country’s 27 tiger reserves; in all, a fifth of the country clubbed as forest land is the birthplace of about 600 rivers and rivulets. The link is simple and devastating: No forest, no water. No water no food.