In Short

Published: Saturday 15 November 2003

unearthed: Thought to be extinct, the lizard Barkudia insularis has been sighted in Orissa's Chilika lagoon after more than 85 years. Ajit Kumar Patnaik, chief executive officer of the Chilika Development Authority revealed that the limbless skink was rediscovered by a team checking out soil conditions for a threatened mangrove species on the island. The skink was first found by Stanley Kemp, then director of Zoological Survey of India, and N Anandale in 1917. It looks like a giant earthworm, is about 22 centimetres long and preys on termites and beetle larvae.

not potable: Most of the drinking water in Pakistan is "grossly contaminated" and the situation is deteriorating every year, noted the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in a recent report. UNICEF has suggested that policies on drinking water, including national water quality standards, be formulated in the country. The agency plans to assist the government in providing schools with safe waterand latrines in some districts. It is estimated that over 200,000 children in Pakistan die every year due to diarrhoeal diseases alone. These, in turn, stem from unsafe drinking water and poor hygienic conditions.

launching pad: A plan is afoot to float a new company to build and operate India's first experimental nuclear plant based on the controversial fast-breeder reactor technology. While the reactor is sited at Kalpakkam, the firm will be based in Chennai (both in Tamil Nadu). The Union government will spend taxpayers' money to pick up 80 per cent equity -- 75 per cent directly and 5 per cent through the state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation Limited -- in the entity. The remaining 20 per cent will be raised through public bonds, according to Placid Rodriguez, ex-director of the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research.

phase-out plan: Taking cognisance of the high level of air pollution caused by two-stroke three-wheelers in Kathmandu valley, the Nepal government has decided to ban all such vehicles within 10 months. As many as 24,000 three-wheelers would be affected by the move. These vehicles can, however, be re-registered outside the valley, in places other than Pokhara and a few pockets of Lumbini. As per a compensation package, three-wheeler owners can also re-register a four-stroke vehicle in place of a phased-out one or a minibus in place of three such vehicles inside Kathmandu.

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