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water distress: The Andhra Pradesh government has embarked upon a new programme to meet the water requirements of its parched villages. It is forcibly taking over private agricultural borewells to supply drinking water. Media reports quoted officials as saying that 528 borewells have already been taken over. The government is offering the farmers a payment equivalent to one season's yield for the water drawn from their wells. Of the 1,67,000 borewells in the state that provide drinking water, 14,000 have dried up.
diluted treaty: A global agreement has been reached on reducing the production and use of mercury, a toxic heavy metal, at the recent biennial meeting of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council in Nairobi. However, this is not a legally binding treaty, as suggested by the EU. The EU suggestion was opposed by the US and its allies and the new agreement takes care of the latter's interests. It merely urges member countries to reduce the harmful effects of mercury pollution through "voluntary partnerships". The exact nature of these partnerships among unidentified groups of governments, international organisations and industry is not clear. The pact also urges UNEP to conduct further research to document the use of mercury.
nuke pact: Iran and Russia signed a nuclear agreement on February 27, 2005. Under the pact, Russia will supply fuel to Iran's new atomic reactor in Bushehr. Russian technicians will also help complete the setting up of the plant. "We have signed a confidential protocol that sets out the timetable for the delivery of fuel to the nuclear power plant at Bushehr," Iran's nuclear energy chief Gholamreza Aqazadeh was quoted by media reports as saying. Through the step, Moscow has refused to give in to US pressure to cut nuclear cooperation with Iran.
compensation time: Pakistan recently ratified the international Civil Liability Convention (CLC-92) for oil pollution damage. CLC-92 ensures compensation to people who suffer oil pollution damage caused by maritime casualties involving oil-carrying ships. It fixes the liability of such damages on the owner of the ships that discharge the polluting oil. Pakistan's ratification document was submitted to the International Maritime Organization on February 12, 2005.
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