In Short

Published: Saturday 15 March 2003

On biosafety bandwagon: Paying heed to the growing concern about the efficacy of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), India has finally ratified the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. The treaty is the first international regulatory framework which seeks to make the transfer, handling and use of GMOs safe. It will help minimise the risks to environment and health when dealing with GMOs.

communities count: Community support can save Indian wetlands from extinction, opine experts. A one-of-its-kind study conducted by the Coimbatore-based Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History reveals that wetlands are fast disappearing. Among the reasons listed for this trend are land use, agricultural practices, irrigation, clay gathering, fishing and sewage disposal.

weak link: The Union government's recent plan to link rivers has met with strong opposition from several quarters. The latest critic of the programme is World Wide Fund for Nature's International director general Claude Martin. He says that a river is an ecological system and linking it like ordinary pipelines would dry the rivers or fill them with sand and destroy the species living in them.

environment short-changed: Massive deforestation, timber smuggling and poaching have taken their toll on Nepal's environment. But the cash-strapped Nepalese government has overlooked all these alarming signs and reduced the budgetary allocation for the environment by over 14 per cent -- an indicator of how much emphasis the government places on environmental issues.

too hot to handle: Hundreds of coal fires are burning out of control around the world. And these blazes are pumping huge quantities of carbon dioxide and pollutants into the atmosphere. Coal fires burn on the surface as well as under the ground. They are most severe in countries such as China, India and Indonesia. Researchers have described the problem as a "global catastrophe".

no smooth sailing: The shipping industry and green groups are divided over the draft EU rules to make vessels cleaner. The dispute centres on a legislative proposal of the European Commission, which aims to cut sulphur emissions in ships by less than 10 per cent. While greens demand tougher sulphur limits, industry groups are pressing for a policy based on flue gas desulphurisation.

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