The winter session of parliament may have been truncated. It also got underway against the backdrop of the recent assembly elections as well as scandals involving former Union minister of state for environment and forests Dilip Singh Judeo and Chhattisgarh's ex-chief minister Ajit Jogi. Yet issues pertaining to the environment and public health, which are generally put on the backburner by parliamentarians, found space amid the packed schedule of bickering and finger-pointing.
funds flowing: On December 12, the then environment minister, T R Baalu, informed the Rajya Sabha (RS) that the Union government had extended assistance to the tune of Rs 102.45 crore to the Jammu and Kashmir government for the conservation of Dal Lake. He added that the state government had already spent Rs 89.38 crore on Asia's largest freshwater lake, and that another proposal amounting to Rs 269.45 crore had been prepared for the Dal-Nagin lakes.
laced with poison: On the same day, the Lok Sabha (LS) was told about the presence of residues of locally applied pesticides in food. It was disclosed that traces of endosulfan, chlorpyriphos and malathion were detected in 46 per cent of the 359 fruit samples and 64 per cent of the 592 vegetable samples studied by the All-India Coordinated Research Project on Pesticide Residues.
resettlement plan: The Union minister for tribal affairs, Jual Oraon, also informed the LS on December 12 that the Union government is formulating a national policy for the rehabilitation of project-affected people. He specified that the issue of displaced tribals would be looked into while preparing the plan.
rules in place: In a written note to the RS, Baalu mentioned that the Central Pollution Control Board had drawn up detailed guidelines for carrying out ship-breaking activities in an environment-friendly manner. The government appears to have reacted to the Supreme Court's directions in this regard.
provisions on patents: Earlier, on December 11, Union minister of state for commerce and industry S B Mookherjee briefed the lower house on the Indian Patents Act, 1970. The legislation would contain a clause for the grant of compulsory licence, which authorises domestic producers to make a patented product during an emergency. Further, patents will be revoked if public requirements are not satisfied or if the patent invention is not affordable.
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