In Short

Published: Sunday 31 October 2004

saving the act: The prime minister's office (PMO) has issued a directive that Union cabinet proposals having a bearing on decentralisation will have to be cleared by the newly-formed ministry of panchayati raj affairs, along with other ministries concerned. This is to ensure that ministries do not make parallel implementation arrangements under their programmes that conflict with the provisions of the Panchayati Raj Act, the PMO said.

deadly algae: US scientists have detected an unusually large toxic bloom of algae off Washington state's northwest coast. The algae called pseudo-nitzschia produces domoic acid, which can hamper memory and learning in human beings and also prove fatal in extreme cases. It infects shellfish too. Vera Trainer, an oceanographer at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, said: "The levels of toxin are the highest we've ever seen," adding that the bloom is about 48.2 kilometres (km) wide, as against the usual width of 3.2 km. The cool weather and rain last month could have caused it.

protecting jarawas: The Andaman and Nicobar administration has issued a notification, increasing the Jarawa reserve area by about 180 square kilometres. The decision comes after a series of meetings organised recently by the government to finalise recommendations for formulating a policy for the welfare of the tribe (see Down To Earth, 'Road row', June 30, 2004). Non-government organisations like the Andaman Adim Janjati Vikas Samiti recommend such measures to protect the resource base of the Jarawas. The government has also decided to shift some police and forest camps located in the vicinity of the reserve. The forest department and police have worked out a joint action plan to prevent poaching in the reserve's fringe areas.

elephant census: Following increasing incidents of human-elephant conflict, Sri Lankan authorities recently initiated an elephant census. The census was first undertaken in five districts in the north-western and north-central regions, which have a very high rate of clashes between wild elephants and farmers. Sri Lanka's wild elephant population is an estimated 3,500. Due to expansion of villages, the elephant habitat gets encroached upon and humans and elephants compete for land. At least 100 elephants and over 50 people are killed annually in these clashes.

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