While students are pledging to do their bit towards conserving the environment by giving up crackers on Diwali, the government has been busy justifying their move to sell conserved green land that acts as the national capital’s lungs. And yes, there was another research report that said Delhi had the highest amount of air pollution. Here’s a roundup of news that moved around the environment (which means yet another month gone).

Okhla Bird Sanctuarylooks like a desert

The Hindustan Times reported that theOkhla Bird Sanctuarynow looked like a desert with a cracked waterbed and few birds of prey flying around. The Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to release all water from theOkhla barragehas not just driven away birds but it may also be impacting otherwetlandflora and fauna. TheUP irrigation departmentclaims water has been released to carry out maintenance. The forest department says it was not consulted before releasing the water.

Birders who visit the sanctuary regularly say it is a bad idea to release water in October, when migratory birds start arriving. ‘Earlier, maintenance work was carried out between April and May. Why release water at a time when birds from Central Asia and Europe come to the sanctuary? A lot of local birds must also have flown away,’ said Anand Arya, photographer and birder. He added that rampant encroachment around the sanctuary had degraded the eco-system. ‘The Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary in Haryana managed to notify its eco-sensitive zone (ESZ), unlike the UP government,’ Arya told the newspaper.

The National Green Tribunal recently ordered all illegal construction work within a 10 km radius of the sanctuary to be stopped. Real estate projects had started construction activity within the sanctuary’s potential eco-sensitive zone, in violation of the norms.

It is to be noted here that of over 320 bird species recorded in the sanctuary, about 10 species were of threatened birds including critically endangered.

Housing project and hospital on Delhi ridge; National Green Tribunal seeks probe

The National Green Tribunal has sought the response of the centre and the Delhi government on a plea against the use of 250 acres of forest land in Ghitorni in southwest Delhi and the adjoining Ridge area for a residential project having about 10,000 housing units.

The bench has issued a notice to ministry of environment and forests, central public works department (CPWD), National Building Construction Corporation Ltd (NBCCL), Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and ministry of urban development, seeking their responses on the project by October 28. The court was hearing an application filed by senior advocate Raj Panjwani, who is assisting the tribunal as amicus curiae in cases related to non-forest activities in the Aravali range.

The National Green Tribunal, in September, had asked Panjwani to file a petition against Delhi government’s failure to protect the Ridge forest.

On hospital

The Hindustan Times in September had reported that the government was planing a 225-bed hospital on a 7.1-acre ridge patch at Chattarpur and had sent the proposal to the Ridge Management Board (RMB) for clearance. In a strange argument, defending the project, the Delhi government had said in the court that construction of a hospital on the ridge at Chattarpur in South Delhi, adjacent to a water body, would make the project look ‘serene’.

While the DDA has failed to confirm who owns the project land or the water body, the site has been fenced and two private guards have been hired to guard it. The project involves widening a dirt track to a 100-foot approach road to the hospital. The government has admitted that the proposed road runs through the ridge. A water body located close to the project site is also at risk.

WHO report underlines Delhi as air pollution hotspot

Even as World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declares air pollutionas a major cause of cancer, we have air quality data of the Indian government’s pollution watchdog, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), for 2010– the last one in the series of such reports on air quality across the country – which shows that Kolkata and Delhi are among the worst affected cities in terms of air pollution.

A Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) report pointed to a forecast of the National Cancer Control Programme which said more than 1.4 million people would suffer from some form of cancer in India by 2026. It also said that out of a total number of cases reported during 2009–11 in Kolkata for 20 types of cancers, lung cancer had the highest share of 12 per cent.

Rain and flash floods have pushed back development works in Uttarakhand

Rain and flash floods have pushed back development works in Uttarakhand by decades and the challenge at the moment is to build smarter projects without impacting the fragile environment of the hilly region, said World Bank’s country director Onno Ruhl.

‘In Uttarakhand, the challenge is to build smarter, so that they do not undermine the fragility of the environment,’ Ruhl told PTI after the approval of a $250-million credit for the rehabilitation work in the state by the World Bank’s board in Washington.

He said the project would focus on both reconstruction and disaster preparedness in the state, which was hit hard in June by rain and landslides that killed more than 580 people.

‘This project will incorporate lessons from previous national and global post-disaster recovery projects to ensure that recovery is targeted, effective and more resilient to future disasters,’ Ruhl said.He said the assistance would help the government of Uttarakhand with immediate relief efforts by building houses and public infrastructure, including small roads and bridges.

India had sought assistance from multilateral agencies like World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) for undertaking rehabilitation work in Uttarakhand. ADB, too, is expected to finalize its assistance package.

Differentiating cloudburst from a cyclone, Ruhl said preparedness was critical in an Uttarakhand-like situation. He stressed that ‘In a mountain area, given the less chances of predictability, it has to be even faster than in the case of a cyclone. I think that’s a clear target for us to focus on … That’s difficult but not impossible. Other countries have learned how to do this.’

Courtesy: cause Because