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Uttaranchal's pastoralists deliberate over saving their depleting pastures

Author(s): Nitin Sethi
Issue Date: Jul 31, 2006
Simar pasture in Dudhatoli forest division, Chamoli district of Uttaranchal, appears sparkling fresh. The memorial to Chandra Singh Garhwali -- who as a soldier in the colonial army refused to fire on Pathan protesters, and was consequently tortured and incarcerated by his British employers -- has got a fresh coat of paint. A red flag flutters atop a post near the memorial reminding onlookers that Dudhatoli's iconic son was also a communist. Small eateries dot the few shaded edges of the pasture.

Almora's dying waterbodies

Issue Date: Jun 15, 2006
Almora in Uttranchal is facing an acute water crisis, which has been exacerbated by rapid, unplanned urban growth and the mismanagement of vital natural resources that has led to the drying up of natural sources of water. This summer, the Kosi river, one of the major sources of drinking water, may dry up, causing a crisis.

Sick berth

Issue Date: May 31, 2006
Overruling objections of groups representing Bhopal gas victims, the Supreme Court on May 2, 2006, sanctioned Rs 37.65 crore to the Bhopal Memorial Trust. The trust administers the Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (bmhrc) and had demanded the money to ensure better functioning of this institute, set up specifically for victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy.

Spectrum wars

Issue Date: May 31, 2006
The announcement of the spectrum allocation policy by the department of telecommunications (dot) has spurred a letter writing campaign. Giant cellular service providers like Tata Indicom and Cellular Operator Association of India (coai) have shot off angry letters to the prime minister, petulant about the policy favouring their competitors.

Checking in Quietly

Issue Date: May 15, 2006
The fruit the humble eat in India is probably made of better stuff than those eaten by the high and mighty. It seems clear, on the evidence, that exotic imported fruit could have a greater and more varied pesticide content that those grown in our backyards.

Wheat and chaff

Issue Date: May 15, 2006
Wheat industry watchers have been perplexed ever since Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar decided to start importing wheat early this year despite the fact that stocks were still over the buffer level and procurement was to begin in April. A Down To Earth investigation points to the involvement of the us.

Nobody's children

Author(s): C BALAJI
Issue Date: Apr 30, 2006
But by 1997, as per a People's Union of Civil Liberties' survey, the company had increased the plantation area to 1,486 ha. Similarly, Tea Estates India increased its cultivated area by more than 950 ha between 1977 and 1997. Forest officials turned a blind eye to such contraventions.

Matter of interpretation

Author(s): Ruksan Bose
Issue Date: Apr 30, 2006
The fate of a 15-hectare (ha) plot of land in Korba district in Chhattisgarh hangs in balance -- the question is: is it a forest or not? About three years ago, in late 2002, Maruti Clean Coal Limited was allotted this plot of land to set up a coal washery.

Heavy metal

Issue Date: Apr 15, 2006
In the 1980s, worried parents and medical researchers in the US alleged that mercury in vaccines was responsible for the growing number of autism cases among children in the country. The issue was debated in medical circles, wheels moved in many western countries, but developing countries still don’t have a choice — because without mercury, vaccination is expensive.

One step forward, many steps back

Author(s): Nitin Sethi
Issue Date: Mar 31, 2006
The Wildlife Protection Act, 1976, is under the scanner again. The mainstay of biodiversity protection in India, the act has undergone only one major amendment -- in January 2003 -- since it was promulgated. Some of the changes then were substantial and at least had the potential of infusing new life to a moribund wildlife protection regime. The time, it seems, has come for the act to undergo major changes for the second time. Some amendments have been tabled in parliament, and a few more are on the anvil.
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