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Green signal for specialty hospital

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Chennai: Decks have been cleared for the construction of a multi-super specialty hospital (MSSH) at Omant­hurar Estate with the national green tribunal giving its nod to the state government to proceed with its pet project subject to fulfilling certain conditions.

The NGT bench comprisi Justice M. Chockalingam and expert member Prof. R. Nagendran disposed of an appeal filed by advocate R. Veeramani who challenged the envir­onmental clearance given by the State- Level Environmental Impa­ct Assessment Autho­rity (SEIAA) to covert the New Legislative Assembly buil­d­­ing into a multi-super specialty hospital at Oman­thurar Estate.

Directing Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to include nine more conditions in addition to the one imposed by the SEIAA as mandatory conditions, the bench made it clear that there was nothing to compromise in the matters relating to environment and therefore cautioned the TNPCB to issue the ‘Consent to Operate’ only after carrying out a detailed inspection of the MSSH after it was established and fully satisfying itself of the compliance of all the terms and conditions.

The bench said the contention of the appellant that the complex should not be used for any purpose except for the conduct of Assembly could not be countenanced in view of the decision of the high court whereby the request of the appellant to resume the building was rejected.

The policies of the government to not use the said complex for the purpose of legislative assembly and also to convert it into MSSH have been upheld by the Madras high court.

Courtesy: Deccan Chronicle

PM-headed CCI clears 1980mw North Karanpura power project

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Following continuous efforts by power minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, the Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) on Wednesday cleared major bottlenecks in the way of developing the Rs. 14,000 crore plus, 1980 mega watt North Karanpura super thermal power project of state-owned NTPC in Jharkhand.

The move will give a major push to development of power projects by NTPC as also to country’s power generation capacity. Even as the foundation of the North Karanpura power project was laid more than 10 years ago, the project has been long stuck for want of various clearances. Power ministry officials said that it was only due to the diligence of Scindia that finally led to its clearance on Wednesday.

This project was waiting clearance for the last 14 years.

This is the second meeting of the CCI that was formed last month under Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to fast track projects that beyond a certain threshold that are stuck in various stages of procedural and regulatory approval.

“The CCI has cleared the proposal of the Ministry of Power for setting up of the North Karanpura Super Thermal Power Plant (NKSTPP) (3 x 660 MW) by NTPC in the vicinity of Tandwa town, district Chatra in Jharkhand,” said an official statement.

This is the first project of NTPC in Jharkhand which will benefit the state and people of Jharkhand where about 26% of the population is tribal.

The project got stuck after the ministry of coal withdrew the coal linkages in 2008 and raised issue of relocation of the project.

Courtesy: hindustantimes

Fresh study calls for new vision to save Yamuna

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The fact that the Yamuna is over-taxed, channelised, badly polluted and without continuous flow for nine months of the year is common knowledge. So much so that the collective memory of the river in a better state is fading rapidly. Now a study done by a scholar from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, has said the Yamuna Action Plan is incapable of restoring or protecting the river and its basin.

Linda Ciesielski (30), an architect who did her three-month research with the PEACE Institute Charitable Trust in Delhi, sponsored by MIT (MISTI-India Program) has said in her 71-page report,

“The current system is wrought by lack of accountability, enforcement of rule of law, and corruption.”

In the past 18 years, over R 4,439 crore has been spent by government bodies of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana under the YAP, but to no avail. Now the Supreme Court has asked these states to explain the same and submit reports.

In her research, Linda has quoted various media reports, including the one published by Hindustan Times on March 11, 2012, under the headline “Make a drain of a river, throw crores down it”.

Her report titled, “The Yamuna river basin: an alternative action plan” calls for a four-pronged action plan – restore flow to the river, keep waste out of waterways, protect the integrity of the basin and create a new vision for the river.

According to the new study, “A natural flow regime is an essential indicator of biodiversity and ecological health of a river system.” “The lack of dedicated flow for the river has undermined the ecosystem, human health and welfare, economic livelihood and cultural and religious rites. A restoration of flow to the river would reap measurable and widespread ecological dividends,” it reads.

“Current attempts to centralise waste management through sewage treatment plants and sewerage infrastructure face fundamental obstacles, which prohibit their effectiveness. Alternative strategies are required,” it further reads.

 “Solutions to restore and preserve the river system require a revision of current policies and jurisdictional mandates; the integration of non-structural solutions, focussed on coordinated land use planning and river protection; and emphasis on education, incentives, and public involvement to realize change,” the study adds.

Courtesy: hindustantimes

Scope for India, the UK to work jointly on climate change

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NEW DELHI: Governments of India and the UK can collaborate on various mutually beneficial interest areas on climate change including private sector investments in low carbon projects, a Policy Recommendation Report says.

The report, released by FICCI here today, was forwarded to British Prime Minister David Cameron a week ahead of his visit to India by the Indian Chair of the UK India Business Leaders Climate Group (UKIBLCG),Rajan Bharti Mittal.

It covers three broad sections under which the UK-India collaborative efforts and mutual knowledge sharing are required — enabling private sector investments in low carbon projects, financing low carbon technology deployment and scaling up the diffusion of climate friendly technologies.

The report recommends that India can learn from the British experience for developing policy frameworks and incentives for diffusion of technology — particularly decentralised applications.

Various initiatives have been taken by the UK and Indian governments to incentivise the adoption of clean technologies /energy sources by individuals and communities. These initiatives can be explored for their feasibility in specific regions of both the countries.

The report also highlights specific sectors of low carbon collaboration where both the UK and India have expertise and can learn from each other’s experiences.

The group presented the report to the visiting dignitary today during Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday celebrations at the British High Commissioner’s residence.

Courtesy: The Economic Times

Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve to start community-based ecotourism

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CHANDRAPUR: More perks are in the offing for those who are planning for safari in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) this summer. After successfully opening two new tourist circuits in buffer area, the park management is now focused on launching community based ecotourism from Jhari and Jaiti Tukum villages of buffer.

These two villages will offer the facility of accommodation and food along with safari in core and buffer area of TATR from this tourist (summer) season. While entire tour to Tadoba (including safari, lodging and boarding) is quite costly if tourists opt for private tourist resorts, this community based ecotourism will offer all the facilities at very economical cost.

Tourists opting for this ecotourism package will get wild card entry into TATR and will face no disappointment for failure in securing entry tickets or advance booking for safari. Tadoba management will provide reservation in entry for certain number of vehicles operated by the villagers through ecotourism scheme.

“Each of the villages will offer four rooms, including two VIP suites, for accommodation at cost effective rates. Variety of delicacies, with advantage of regional and local cuisines, also at economical rates will available in the boarding facility. Canter-buses specifically meant for safari with reserved entry will be available for tourists opting for ecotourism package,” said deputy director (buffer), TATR, P Kalyankumar.

He claimed that tourists preferring only safari into TATR can also take a seat in bus service offered by the EDCs at cost effective rates. Community ecotourism of Jhari will operate from Jhari gate, while that of Jaiti Tukum will operate from Kolara gate of the tiger reserve.

Kalyankumar held that entire ecotourism operation will be handled by eco-development committees (EDC) of respective villages. “Entire earning through the scheme will go to respective EDCs and will be in turn utilized for development of the village. The move will also provide employment to the local people. This approach will boost the partnership between forest department and the EDC in protecting forest and wildlife,” he said.

He claimed that as Jhari village already has rooms that could be used for lodging facility; the ecotourism service from this village is likely to start in first week of March. Similar set-up in Jaiti Tukum will be ready and operational from April.

“The rooms available in Jhari are being renovated for tourist accommodation. Bus (Canter) for the safari will be purchased by pooling in eco-development funds of four neighbouring villages. Villagers will also be trained in cookery and hospitality through capacity building workshops,” he said.

Sports cycles for tourists

More adventures are on cards for the tourists in buffer area of TATR. Park management has plans to offer sports cycles on hire to the tourists staying at ecotourism facility at Jhari and Jaiti Tukum. They can amble around in the village and nearby places at their leisure time. Authorities also have plans to offer hiking adventure on game trail in buffer jungle, again through local EDCs in coming days. Similarly they are also contemplating to offer safari in the buffer forest on decorated bullock carts for tourists.

Tribunal issues notices to Centre, State on Chitradurga land conversion

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The National Green Tribunal (NGT), Southern Bench, on Tuesday ordered notices to the Union government, State government and other authorities, on applications filed by environmental activists challenging the conversion of around 10,000 acres of ‘Amrit Mahal Kaval’ land (pastoral land) for industrial purposes in Chitradurga district. The activists also alleged that in violation of norms, the land has been transferred by the State government to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Indian Institute of Science (IIS), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.

On February 9, the tribunal’s Bench, comprising judicial member Justice M. Chockalingam and expert member R. Nagendran, admitted the application of Leo F. Saldanha, an environmental activist from Bangalore, who challenged the conversion.

In his application, Mr. Saldanha urged the NGT to direct the authorities of the State and Central governments to maintain the ‘Amrit Mahal Kaval’ land free from any diversion/encroachments and sought to remove any civil construction illegally erected on the land and restore the land to its earlier state.

When the matter came up for hearing on Tuesday, the tribunal found only some of the respondents had appeared and ordered fresh notices to respondents including State and Central governments and other private parties.

Serious allegations

Posting the matter for further hearing to March 1, the tribunal also asked the respondents to appear through counsel at the earliest since the matter pertains to serious allegations on 10,000 acres of land conversion.

Meanwhile, Environment Support Group represented by its trustee, Arthur Pereira, filed another application seeking similar relief.

Courtesy: The Hindu

3 public sector banks lend INR 937 crore to TN power project

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NLC Tamilnadu Power Limited, a JV of Neyveli Lignite Corporation and the Tamilnadu Generation and Distribution Company Limited has secured INR 37 crore of debt funding from three public sector banks Bank of India, Indian Bank and Central Bank of India. NTPL is putting up 1,000 MW coal fired power generation plant near Tuticorin in southern Tamil Nadu at an investment of INR 4,910 crore.

Previously, the company had secured INR 2,500 crore of debt funding from a consortium of banks led by Bank of Baroda. The agreement between NTPL and Bank of India for INR 937 crore of debt was signed.

Neyveli Lignite Corporation which owns 89% of NTPL said that the first of the two units would start generating power in December 2013. The second is expected to be generation-ready in March 2014.

Courtesy: The Hindu

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