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German expert urges e-waste assessment (November 23 2005 -The Hindu) Says existing informal recycling system poses environment and health hazards

Chennai: A German e-waste management expert has underlined the need to immediately conduct a Waste Equipment (WEEE) assessment in Chennai. Such an assessment is required to prepare an inventory of e-waste. Such as assessment is required to prepare an inventory of e-waste as the present informal recycling system posed "great environmental and health threat," said Jurgen Porst, the expert serving as the senior adviser with the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board. Addressing Enviro-2005, a conference on environmental safety and health, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, southern region, here on Tuesday, Dr. Porst urged the Tamil Nadu Government to establish a nodal agency in Chennai, on the lines of that set up in Karnataka, to look into e-waste management.
Scientific landfill: It is imperative for Chennai and Kerala devise ways to introduce scientific e-waste and hazardous waste management systems, including creation of a scientific landfill using compacted clay layer, HDPE sheets and geo textile sheets. Stating this, he said it was important to train and upgrade the informal recycling units, as the crude recycling units, as the crude recycling practices, particularly the open air burning of toxic metals, pose health and environment hazards. The units were attracted to the field because of the small quantity of gold and high value metal deposits found in the electronic components.
No policy: A CII press release said Dr. Porst observed at the meeting that there was no policy either at the State or national level to address the challenges posed by e-waste. Delhi disposed a minimum 12,000 tonnes of e-waste in 2004. Bangalore, which had 1322 software companies, 38 hardware units and business process outsourcing units with a workforce of 60,000 disposed 8000 tonnes of the waste last year.

Recycling units: However, there were only two modern recycling units in Bangalore. Dr. Porst said the State Governments should consider incorporating extended manufacturers responsibility in their IT policies prescribing norms that the manufacturers and used industries had to follow while disposing e-waste. In India, the average life time of a computer is expected to drop from the present eight years to six years in a couple of years.

Unease over environment clearances (November 23 2005 -The Hindu) The draft Environment Impact Assessment notification draws protests

The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has for some time now been under attack, accused of a lack of commitment to what it is supposed to safeguard. On Monday, November 14, about 150 environmental activists managed to enter the Ministry premises in New Delhi and stage a sit-in, protesting against its draft. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification. That day was also the deadline for objections to the draft notification. The draft, released on September 15, was a dilution of the original 1994 EIA notification, activists said. The protest action followed a public hearing a day earlier in the capital where about 25 affected groups from across the country made representations. A "death certificate" to the EIA was issued during the protest action. The yet-to-be released National Environment Policy has been criticised for its lack of consultation with communities and as being economic growth driven, with the idea of promoting private-public partnerships. The draft EIA notification seeks further dilutions. In the past 11 years, there had been 13 amendments to the EIA notification of 1994. the 13th amendment of July 4, 2005 relaxes the requirement for major projects to get prior environmental clearance. Instead, it says that the MoEF may, after satisfying itself, grant temporary working permission to major projects. This effectively does away with the main reason for environmental clearance, which is to ensure that projects do not result in ecological disasters.
The Govindrajan committee on reforming investment approval and implementation procedures (October 2004) observed that environmental clearance perhaps takes the longest time and causes maximum delays to projects. It seems that its observation have found their way into the draft EIA notification as it proposes that environmental clearance can be given without public hearings, if it is justified, "depending on local conditions," Also, the validity of environmental clearance has been extended to 15 and 10 years in case of river valley and other projects respectively, (earlier it was five years from commencement of the project).
Kalpavriksh, the Environmental Action Group that coordinated the three-year biodiversity action plan supported by the MoEF, was reduced to releasing "Securing India's Future," the final technical report of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), on its own last month. The MoEF is critical of the report for various reasons. In a press release on October 5, the Ministry said the NBSAP submitted by Kalpavriksh was rejected. The NBSAP was reviewed by a group of scientists appointed by the Ministry, the note explained. They concluded that the report was, for the major part, scientifically invalid. Hence, the Ministry also said that it had started the process of developing the National Bio-diversity Action Plan afresh. Ashish kothari of Kalpavriksh claims what may be irking the MoEF is not the 15 or 20 so-called factual errors or the scientific flaws that were detected by a three-member committee appointed last year, but the recommendations of the Plan, which are quite radical. It has to be emphasised that it was the MoEF that initiated the three-year process of preparing the NBSAP from 2000 onwards and 50,000 people all over the country were involved in it in a massive consultative process. Over 100 documents were produced in the process and the final report was submitted to the Ministry in 2003. Many scientific institutions were also involved in the process, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Development Programe (UNDP). The report has a wealth of information and action plans, which many States such as Maharashtra, Sikkim, Karnataka have already started to implement.
The NBSAP report comes at a time when the country is losing nearly half its forests, 40 percent of mangroves and substantial portions of its wetlands. Agricultural biodiversity was also under threat and this directly impinged on the nutrition levels of people. Mr. Kothari said the biggest threat to areas rich in biodiversity was the threat of development projects. One of the major recommendations the NBSAP makes is to re-orient the development process. Projects will have to conduct what impact they will have on biodiversity in future, before they are approved. It also recommended a National Land Use plan that would ensure that development processes respect the sanctity of regions rich in biodiversity. Apart from this, the report also demands localised planning and governance. India's richness in biodiversity needs to be protected at all costs, not merely to satisfy the requirements of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), under which the country has to have a national biodiversity action plan ready by 2006.

Increased global pollution confronts Montreal meet-(November 30 2005 -The Hindu) Carbon dioxide levels now at the highest in 6 lakh years, say scientists

Montreal (CANADA): More than 180 nations on Tuesday began grappling with gloomy prospects of increased pollution and global warming at the first meeting on the United Nations Kyoto Protocol, as a political storm unfolded in host nation Canada. Launched on Monday, the 12 day gathering of the U.N Frame work Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is expected to draw between 8000 and 10000 participants from Governments, businesses, science and green groups. Its challenge will be to frame the first steps for crafting pledges on greenhouse gas pollution after the present "commitment period" of the Kyoto Protocol runs out in 2012. "People who have sent their delegates here want real progress," said Canadian Environment Minister Stephane Dion. "That's why here in Montreal, we have to get results.
Scientists warning: Meanwhile, Lord May, the president of Britain's scientific body, the Royal Society, warned that global warming was an apocalyptic peril whose effects are already visible. "The impacts of global warming are many and serious," Lord May said in an advance copy of his speech released on Monday, adding that the environmental problems wrought by greenhouse gases "invite comparison with weapons of mass destruction." The environmental groups Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth warned that the window of opportunity was closing fast.
Extreme weather: "Extreme weather events, drought and rising sea levels threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the world. Negotiators must remember this as they enter these talks," said Catherine Pearce of Friends of the Earth International. Greenpeace campaigner Steve Sawyer said the meeting urgently had to give a sign that binding caps would remain post-2012, otherwise the world's fledgling market in carbon dioxide(CO2) emissions could be wrecked. U.N. representative Richard Kinley urged industrialised nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to global warming. But experts pointed out that developing countries such as India and China will now have to contribute to anti pollution controls. The Montreal meeting is the first by the convention since the Kyoto Protocol, signed by 156 countries took effect in February. The pact commits industrialized nations to making specific cuts in carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases that trap solar heat, thus warming the planet's surface and disrupting its delicate climate system. But the present commitment period does not include the planet's worst polluter, the United States which walked away from the protocol in 2001 because of the high cost of meeting its Kyoto targets. Nor does it include fast growing developing countries, such as China and India, in its pledge on targeted reductions.
A small step: The present Kyoto period is only just a tiny first step towards tackling greenhouse gases that have increased dramatically in recent decades as fossil fuels are burned to power economic growth. Atmospheric CO2 levels are now at the highest in 650000 years, scientists say, and 2005 is likely to go into history books as the warmest year on record. Canada is hosting the meeting amid domestic political upheaval after Prime Minister Paul Martin's embattled minority Government was outside late on Monday by a 171-133 no confidence vote in Parliament after months of acrimonious corruption allegations. The motion came after Mr. Martin rejected an Opposition ultimatum to promise to dissolve Parliament in January.
U.S. refuses to yield on greenhouse gases- (December 1 2005 -The Hindu) Washington does not want an approach with objectives or a timetable
The final rules for the Kyoto Protocol were adopted by consensus by the signatories to the United Nations framework Convention on Climate Change at a conference here. The United States and Australia have refused to ratify the protocol. The United States on Tuesday opposed any talk of extending Kyoto-style limits on green houses gas emissions, angering activists at the 12-day U.N. conference. "The United States is opposed to any such discussions," Harlan Watson, head of the U.S delegation, told reporters. He said that the U.S did not want an approach with objectives or a timetable to reduce the emissions. Washington has since 2002 embarked on a policy to reduce its emissions by 18 percent, Mr. Watson said, without devastating the U.S. economy. He praised the success of measures put in place by U.S. President George W. Bush.

Irresponsible position:  The U.S. with five per cent of the world's population emits 25 per cent of the world's green house gases. "Delegates say there are lot of issues on the agenda but there is only one real problem the United States," said Bill Hare, head of climate change policy for Greenpeace. "This is an irresponsible position," he said. After an opening statement, the chairman of the meeting. Canada's Environment Minister Stephane Dion, said "Let us set our sights on an effective, more inclusive, long-term international approach to climate change." Canada Greenpeace representative Steven Guilbeault sent a message to Mr. Dion, inviting him to "sideline the Americans" to assure the "success of the Montreal meeting.
For intensive aquaculture to become a sustainable industry with minimal environmental impact microbial ecology is critically important as a scientific discipline; applications of microbial ecology are needed at the forefront of advances now being made. Water quality and the control of disease are interdependent and linked to the microbial, especially bacterial, activities in ponds.
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