Published: Friday 31 October 2003

QUID PRO QUO: As a part of a swap deal, the Pennsylvania-based PPL Corp has decided to sell three of its nine hydroelectric dams in Maine, USA, to an umbrella group of government agencies and private bodies. The alliance plans to either dismantle the structures or bypass them to restore runs of the Atlantic salmon and other migratory fish to Penobscot river. In return, the government would allow the company to increase the energy output at its six other projects.

STILL FIZZING: The controversy over Coca-Cola's Plachimada plant in Kerala is unlikely to die down in the near future. In the latest development, the Perumatti panchayat of Palakkad district has issued a show-cause notice to the soft drink giant alleging that it is resorting to excessive extraction of groundwater. The village body has also contended that the unit is proving to be a health hazard for local inhabitants.

FALLING IN LINE: In the wake of strong objections by the Union government, the Himachal Pradesh government has withdrawn two controversial notifications on change in land use. The original status of three types of wasteland, which had been taken out of the purview of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, has thus been restored. Denotified by the previous regime in 1998, these tracts will now fall into the category of protected areas.

JUMBO CAUSE: Experts and activists have formed the North East India Elephant Specialist Group to promote conservation of the pachyderm in the region. The body will comprise researchers from voluntary organisations as well as government officials. It seeks to encourage traditional means of elephant keeping, launch an awareness campaign about elephant habitats in the northeast and provide support to other agencies involved in elephant conservation.

OUTSIDE INTERESTS: Whilst controversy clouds several of its ventures in India, the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) is set to develop a project outside the country as an independent power producer. The corporation is contemplating picking up an 85 per cent equity in the US $450-million, 300-megawatt Upper Karnali hydropower project in Nepal. All the power generated will be exported to India. NHPC is undertaking this venture on a commercial basis without any equity support from the Union government.

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