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Coastal road clears major hurdle, Fadnavis thanks PM Modi

As first reported by dna, the 35.6-km coastal road project between Nariman Point and Kandivli has got a go-ahead from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests as it issued a notification to implement this big-ticket project.On Wednesday, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted, “Thank you @narendramodi ji & @PrakashJavdekar ji for issuing notification allowing Coastal Road construction. Its dream come true for Mumbaikars.”As per the notification issued on Wednesday by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change for amending Coastal Regulatory Zone Notification, 2011, reclamation may be permitted for “roads, mass rapid or multimodal transit system…”The project has been facing stiff opposition from environmentalists, resident groups and transport activists in Mumbai on various counts – right from damaging the environment, to the project being looked at as promoting ownership of private vehicles instead of diverting the same funds for improving public transportation systems in congested Mumbai.The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will implement the project, pegged at Rs9,000 crore. Funds for this is already being collected by the civic body through Fungible Floor Space Index (FSI).The project, when ready, will considerably save travel time. Presently, it takes above two hours to travel between Kandivli and Nariman Point, but on the Coastal Freeway it will be well within 45 minutes.dna had on April 7 reported about the state government’s plan to scrap chain of sea-links on the western coast of Mumbai for Coastal Road.Meanwhile, chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya informed dna that the proposal for the planned Navi Mumbai International Airport would also receive sanctions from Union as well as State governments in the month of January.He added that the Cabinet note for the airport project is also ready and since it involved permissions from Civil Aviation department, it has been sent to the Union government for necessary approvals. “We are hopeful that the airport project would be cleared in the month of January after which works on phase one would commence,” said Kshatriya. The first phase, which involves building a capacity of 10 million passengers, would be created in three years’ time. Later, the capacity would be augmented to 60 million passengers.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

North eastern states have lost 628 sq kms of forest: State of forest report

North eastern states constitute only 7.9 percent of geographical area of the country but accounts for nearly one-fourth of the country’s forest cover, the report said. It is one of the 18 biodiversity hotspots of the world due to these rich forests.

Uttarakhand has mostly lost moderately dense forests

Even as the Indian State of Forest Report 2015 recorded an increase of 3,775 sqkm in the country’s forest cover compared to the last survey in 2013, the hill states of north east and Uttarakhand, regions with some of the country’s best forests, have witnessed a setback. According to the report’s data north eastern states there has been a net decline of 628 sq km in the forest cover since 2013. The loss is more than the total area of Mumbai city.North eastern states constitute only 7.9 percent of geographical area of the country but accounts for nearly one-fourth of the country’s forest cover, the report said. It is one of the 18 biodiversity hotspots of the world due to these rich forests.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The top-five states who have recorded a negative changes in forest cover are Mizoram, Uttarakhand, Telangana, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. Mizoram’s 88.9% area is covered by forests and the state has lost 306 sq kms of it while Uttarakhand whose 45.3% area is forests lost 268 sq km of it.The State of Forest Report survey, during its ground truthing, tried to ascertain reasons for the increase and decrease in forests. It states that Mizoram has lost forests cover due to shifting cultivation patterns and other ‘biotic’ pressure on forest lands. On the other hand, Uttarakhand has lost forest cover due to rotational felling and diversion of forest land for developmental activities.Incidentally states such as Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, that have both recorded loss of forest cover, are planning to build over a hundred hydro power projects each to harness major rivers. Several of these projects fall in dense to moderately dense forests and have faced opposition owing to the large forest cutting it will cause. The 2,880MW Dibang Multipurpose Project (DMP) in Lower Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh will alone cut down 45.77 sq km of forest.As part of the survey, forest cover across states is categorised into Very Dense Forests, Moderately Dense Forests and Open Forests. An analysis of the report’s data shows that Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur and Uttarakhand have all mostly lost moderately dense forests. Categories of forest based on density Very dense forest are lands with tree canopy density of 70 %and above, moderately dense forests have a tree canopy density of 40 percent and more but less than 70 % while open forests have a canopy density of less than 10 percent.

Tree-felling near Taj Mahal under the scanner: NGT seeks final report by 16 December

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal has directed the local commissioner, probing illegal felling of 4,000 trees in the Eco-Sensitive Zone near the Taj Mahal, to submit the final inspection report by 16 December.

Taj Mahal. AFP.Taj Mahal. AFP.

Taj Mahal. AFP.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar gave this direction to advocate M C Mehta, who was appointed as local commissioner to enquire into the tree felling incident.

“What is this going on? We had given blanket orders to assist the local commissioner. Give us a final report or close down the matter.

“List this matter on December 16, 2015 and by that the report must come on record. On that date the final report should be positively filed by advocate M C Mehta. He is at liberty to take assistance from any institution he wants,” the bench said.

Advocate General Vijay Bahadur Singh, appearing for Uttar Pradesh government, said that the matter has been pending since long and the local commissioner appointed by the tribunal was delaying the proceedings in the case.

“Nothing adverse has come in the interim report as there is no mention of cutting of trees by the local commissioner. This matter should come to an end now,” he said. The tribunal had earlier directed Uttar Pradesh government to provide assistance to the inquiry into the alleged illegal felling and sale of 4,000 trees.

Mehta had stated that further study would be required with the aid of the specialised agency to submit a final report in the case. The tribunal had directed an inquiry into the issue after taking note of a media report and issued notice to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and Uttar Pradesh government.

According to the report, a former Agra DFO had allegedly cut trees in 500-m-radius of the Taj Mahal, which is an eco-sensitive zone.


Jumbo healthcare: Kerala launches ambulance service to transport sick elephants

Wayanad (Kerala): In a first of its kind, the Kerala forest department has launched an ambulance service to transport sick and injured elephants.

A brand new lorry has been acquired with facilities for transporting wild animals by lifting them onto the vehicle using a winch, Sudhir Neroth, range forest officer attached to the elephant squad, told IANS.

Representational image. Image courtesy: Getty imagesRepresentational image. Image courtesy: Getty images

Representational image. Image courtesy: Getty images

The lorry also has a 1,000 litre capacity water tank for the animals.

“It has cost Rs.20 lakh and basically this is part of our strategy to reduce the man-animal conflict in the forest,” said Neroth.

He said there were times when wild elephants come out of the forests and create havoc for human beings.

“During such times, the accepted norm is to use trained captive elephants (kunki elephant squad) and drive the wild elephants back into the forests.

The ambulance, apart from providing medical treatments to wild animals, will also be used to transport these kunki elephants to the place where the wild elephants have to be driven away,” said Neroth.

It will be based in Sultan Battery near here as the hilly district of Wayanad borders both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and has faced frequent problems of wild elephants entering the domain of human beings.


Madhya Pradesh: Tiger carcass seized; two suspected poachers arrested

A tiger carcass has been seized and two poachers suspected to be connected to an international gang engaged in selling off tiger body parts abroad have been arrested.

Representational Image

A tiger carcass has been seized and two poachers suspected to be connected to an international gang engaged in selling off tiger body parts abroad have been arrested.”We have arrested Anil Rai (24) and Balakram Uike (40) on the charge of poaching a tiger reportedly with the help of an electric trap in the buffer zone of Madhya Pradesh’s Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR),” Seoni Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) Sanjay Shukla said in Seoni on Tuesday.”On late September 27 night, we exhumed the carcass minutes after detaining the poachers, living in the buffer zone of the Pench Tiger Reserve. They had buried the tiger some 15 to 20 days ago,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We are looking for the mastermind behind the local poaching gang who is absconding. We are trying hard to arrest him and we anticipate that he will spill the beans regarding the modus operandi of his gang,” Pench Tiger Reserve Deputy Director Kiran Bisen told PTI.”We are keeping a close watch on his residence,” she said.When asked about unconfirmed reports that two to three more tigers have been poached in and around PTR in the recent past, she said, “We too have got such information. We are looking into it seriously from all angles.”About the local gang connection with some international gang, Kiran said that it is possible as the tiger parts have takers in foreign lands.According to sources close to investigators, two accused have told the forest department officials of killing one more tiger in the recent past. However, the forest officials are tight-lipped about it.

Golf course boundary wall obstructs elephant movement

The alleged illegality of the boundary wall and the death of a male elephant calf has been well documented by the Golaghat forest division in May this year.

A boundary wall erected for a golf course in the No-Development Zone (NDZ) of the Kaziranga National Park, Assam, that resulted in the death of a male elephant calf and which also obstructs movement of elephant herds has drawn the ire of National Green Tribunal. In an on-going matter regarding illegal activities of stone crushing and brick kilns carried out in the park’s NDZ, the petitioner pointed out these alarming developments.During a hearing on August 5, the petitioner alleged that the Numaligarh Refinery Ltd. (NRL) has illegally built a two-km long boundary wall for a golf course around their township and that this wall has not only obstructed elephant movement, but also resulted in the death of an elephant calf in May.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The petitioner produced photographs of an elephant herd bumping against the said boundary wall. In its order, the NGT’s principal bench chaired by justice Swatanter Kumar said, “The photographs have been placed on record to show that Golf Course has been made right in the midst of the Kaziranga National Park and the animal corridor in Kaziranga National Park are being interfered. That will not only disturb the animals but even effect the environment and ecology of that area.”The bench added, “In the meanwhile, we direct that no excavation work or felling of trees would be carried out in the No Development Zone in the Kaziranga National Park.” On the request of the petitioner, the Numaligarh Refinery Ltd. has now been made a respondent in the matter.The alleged illegality of the boundary wall and the death of a male elephant calf has been well documented by the Golaghat forest division in May this year. The letter of the Assistant Conservator of Forests, to the Divisional Forest Officer said, “The NRL has felled trees that formed part of a dense forest, measuring 5 hectares north of their township and excavated the land for construction of a golf course which is within the No Development Zone. This land is adjacent to the Proposed Deopahar Reserve Forest, and will cause extensive damage to the biodiversity of the land.”In its examination of the elephant calf’s death, the forest division had this to say, “On spot verification it was observed that the elephant calf died due to severe haemorrhage owing to violent thrust. It appears since the corridor was blocked by Numaligarh Refinery Limited Township wall, the elephant diverted to hill terrain and fell down and hit some hard object.” The said wall, it added is clearly causing congestion, and is fragmenting forest habitat; the end result being blockage of the crucial path for elephant movement.Along with the closure of brick kilns and stone crushing units, the petitioner has requested the NGT to direct the refinery to compensate for destruction of the forest land in the NDZ and restore it to the original condition. Green reserve ·The Kaziranga National Park is the largest habitat of the vulnerable one-horned rhinoceros. ·Currently, it does not have a notified eco-sensitive zone that will regulate activity and accord protection to the adjacent areas ·But, in 1996, a No-Development Zone was demarcated to regulate activities around the Numaligarh refinery ·The Karbi-Anglong Elephant Reserve is adjoining to the Kaziranga national park

Supreme Court agrees to hear plea on framing guidelines on birds’ seizure

The PIL of the association, which deals in trade of exotic birds, said there is no standard of conduct or manner of keeping birds or animals for trade or as pet provided under the law.

Representative Image

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The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a plea for framing guidelines on the process to be adopted by police at the time of seizure of birds and animals and prohibiting imposition of “inhumane” conditions of tagging and stamping them.The petition came up for hearing before a vacation bench of justices A K Sikri and U U Lalit who said the matter will be heard after two months.The PIL was filed by Pet Lovers Association in which senior advocate Salman Khurshid appeared along with another petitioner who has questioned the order of the Gujarat High Court.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, the bench asked him and another lawyer Imitiaz Ahmed to withdraw the appeal since they were not party to it before the high court which had observed that “even the birds have fundamental right”.It also said that in the appeal, issues of general nature were raised. It, however, said the other petition in which the issue of law has been raised will be heard after the vacation.The PIL of the association, which deals in trade of exotic birds, said there is no standard of conduct or manner of keeping birds or animals for trade or as pet provided under the law.It asked the court’s direction to the government to issue instructions to police officials of all the states, districts and police stations “not to illegally harass” its members who are carrying their trades in accordance with the law.The plea sought direction to the government and Ministry of Environment and Forests “to frame guidelines for proper treatment and care of seized birds and animals pending disposal of the cases before the courts”.The petition also sought action against some NGOs for allegedly “misappropriating and illegally retaining birds and animals lawfully belonging to pet lovers and pet shop owners”.It sought direction that imposition of inhumane conditions such as ringing, tagging and stamping of birds are prohibited.The plea said that entrusting of seized birds and animals pending disposal of the cases to organisation on animal care is “wholly illegal and without any authority under law”.”Moreover consequent to the entrusting of such seized birds and animals, such organisations raise bills running into several lakhs from the pet owners for keeping the birds and animals in their custody. This commercial nexus of raising bills by such organisations from the pet owners underlines a deeper malaise that has inter-state ramification,” it claimed.It said that no successful prosecutions are reported and police are used only for harassing innocent persons.”Since the seizure involves live animals, many being extremely vulnerable to inappropriate diet and conditions of accommodation, the danger to their well-being is even greater,” the petitioner said.The petitioner association said earlier the NGOs had seized birds of different pet shop owners and the animals were illegally entrusted to organisations which exploited the pet lovers and owners for commercial benefit.It said the association and other pet shop owners dealing in trade of exotic birds were repeatedly harassed by the NGO and police who are “consistently indulging in such illegal raids and activities whereby they take away birds and animals belonging to several individuals including the petitioners and thereafter fail to return the seized birds and animals”.

Jayalalithaa to take charge as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister today; may start ‘Amma Canteen’ chain

She is expected to launch a chain of low-cost eateries called Amma Canteens.


File Photo
AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa who took oath as the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister for the fifth time on Saturday will take charge of the state. She will be at the Secretariat at around 3 pm. She is expected to launch a chain of low-cost eateries called Amma Canteens.Opposition has alleged that O Panneerselvam who took over as the Tamil Nadu state Chief Minister after the court verdict did not run the government well, says NDTV report. They accused the AIADMK government under him suffering from policy paralysis and said that governance had became a casualty.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Panneerselvam had delayed the much awaited glbal investors meet, apparently waiting for Ms Jayalalithaa. The Chennai Metro project cleared during DMK rule is yet to start its operations, the report adds.Jayalalithaa on Saturday sworn in for the fifth time as Tamil Nadu chief minister, nearly eight months after she was forced to quit over corruption charges.Governor K Rosaiah gave oath to Jayalalitha at the Madras University Centenary Auditorium. Actor Rajinikanth, ICC Chairman N. Srinivasan and Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan attended the ceremony. Along with Jaya, 28 others were sworn in as Ministers. Jayalalithaa will hold the portfolios of home, police, public, all India services, general administration and district revenue officers​.A day ago, 67-year-old Jayalalithaa was re-elected as legislature party leader at a meeting of party MLAs at its headquarter, 11 days after she was acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in a disproportionate assets case.As for portfolio allocations, Jayalalithaa’s trusted lieutenant O Panneerselvam has been given Finance and Public works, which he held previously too. Natham R Viswanathan will continue to hold electricity, prohibition and excise portfolio.R Vaithilingam will be the Housing and Urban Development Minister while S Gokula Indira will head Handlooms and Textiles ministry. B Valarmathi will be the Social Welfare Minister and Edappadi K Palaniswami the Minister for Highways and Minor Ports and Forests. The portfolio of forests was held by MSM Anandan previously in Panneerselvam Cabinet.

Bodies to be preserved till April 17: Madras High Court

The Madras High Court on Friday extended the time for preserving the bodies of six persons, gunned down in an encounter in the Seshachalam forests of Andhra Pradesh, till April 17, but refused to pass any order on re-postmortem.

Madras High Court

File Photo
The Madras High Court on Friday extended the time for preserving the bodies of six persons, gunned down in an encounter in the Seshachalam forests of Andhra Pradesh, till April 17, but refused to pass any order on re-postmortem.Justice M Sathyanarayanan adjourned the case till Friday next following a request from counsel for Muniammal of Polur of Thiruvannamalai district, wife of one of those killed. She had sought conducting a re-postmortem on the body of her husband killed in the alleged encounter by Andhra Pradesh police in the Seshachalam Forests near Tirupati on Tuesday. “There is no jurisdiction for this court to pass any order on re-postmortem because already Andhra Pradesh High Court is seized of the matter and there is PIL pending in the Supreme Court…this court cannot pass any order as there is no FIR filed in the jurisdiction of this court,” the judge said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The judge said the petitioner was at liberty to approach the Andhra Pradesh High Court or Supreme Court in this regard. K Balu, counsel for the petitioner, submitted that the bodies be preserved till a decision was taken by the petitioners on approaching the Andhra Pradesh High Court or Supreme Court.Following this, the judge adjourned the case to April 17. The bodies would be preserved in a mortuary in Thiruvannamalai District Headquarters government hospital, about 170 km from here.

MP minister wants law allowing people to keep tigers as pets

In a bizarre suggestion, a senior Madhya Pradesh minister has sought a law that allows people to domesticate or keep as pets big cats like lions and tigers for their conservation.

Animal Husbandry, Horticulture and Food Processing Minister Kusum Mehdele, in a proposal sent to the state’s forest department, has cited legal provisions in some African and South-East Asian countries like Thailand which have helped bring about an increase in the population of the big cats.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Noting that there are various projects in the country for conservation of tigers, the minister, however, said that although crores of rupees have been spent on these projects, there has been no surprising increase in tiger numbers.

In Thailand and some other nations, there is a legal recognition to people for keeping tigers and lions as pets, she said, adding the number of such animals is increasing in a surprising way in these countries.

If such a possibility can be thought over, then necessary action should be undertaken and guidelines passed on, she said in the proposal sent to state Forest Minister Gaurishankar Shejwar in September last year.

Following suggestions from the minister, Madhya Pradesh Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Narendra Kumar has written to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Wildlife Institute of India (WII) seeking their comments on the proposal.

“Kindly give your suggestion or comments in this regard so that the minister can be informed about it,” Kumar said in the letter.

The copy of the note sheet carrying the minister’s suggestion and Kumar’s letter were accessed by Bhopal-based wildlife activist Ajay Dubey following an RTI appeal filed by him.

Mehdele could not be contacted for comments despite repeated attempts by PTI.

“It is surprising that such a bizarre suggestion could be made by senior minister Mehdele. She hails from the Panna region of the state, which is known for its tiger population. I denounce such a proposal and request the central government not to give its permission for domesticating the tiger,” Dubey said.

Six tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh — Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Panna, Bori-Satpura, Sanjay-Dubri and Pench — have as many as 257 big cats.

While the tiger population in the country was estimated to be at 1,706 in 2010, according to latest data, it has risen to 2,226 in 2014.


Gujarat forest department ropes in BSF, FSL experts to curb poaching

The Gujarat government has reconstituted its Wildlife Crime Cell by roping in experts from BSF and Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) for effective implementation of anti-poaching operations in the state.The cell was constituted in 2007 in the wake of lion poaching in Junagadh area. Later, its jurisdiction was extended to the entire state to control crimes related to forests and wildlife.Recently, the Gujarat Forests and Environment Department felt the need to take the help of other entities and experts to curb such crimes. According to Chief Conservator of Forest – Wildlife Crime N S Yadav, the commandant of BSF as well as the director of FSL in Gandhinagar have been made members of the newly-constituted cell recently.”BSF mainly operates in bordering districts of Kutch and Banaskantha in the state. We have significant number of protected wildlife in those barren lands, such as Wild Ass, which are now seen in far fetched areas of Rann-of-Kutch” said Yadav, who is the member secretary of the cell.”We felt the need to take their services in getting information about any wildlife related crime in those areas. Now, BSF men will remain in constant touch with forest officials and pass on valuable information to us,” he said.According to Yadav, “Forensic science will prove crucial in speeding up our investigation and help us in putting our case in a better way during court proceedings, making it difficult for poachers to escape due to lack of evidences.”Director of FSL J M Vyas said his organisation will help the forest department in various avenues of crimes.”We can find out the types of firearms used for poaching with the help of our ballistic science facility. We can help them to match fingerprints of poachers on weapons used by them. Based on our reports, forest department can strengthen their legal case,” he said.Many a times, forest officials find body parts of wild animals from poachers, such as skin, teeth, horns and bones.However, it is a difficult task for a non-expert to find out which part belong to which animal.”We can help them in finding out the exact species by analysing that body part. With that information, officials can trace the origin of the wild animal and find out where it was killed. We can also provide information about the kind of weapon used, which can lead officials to a specific gang of poachers, who are known to be using that weapon,” said Vyas.The Principle Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) is the chairman of this cell, having 14 other members, including Yadav. The cell also takes help of Coast Guard, Customs, police department and two wildlife experts.

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