coastal clearances: The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests issued the second draft of the Coastal
Zone Management (CZM) notification, which allows green-field airports on coasts. Green-field projects are those being constructed from scratch
as opposed to expansion of existing infrastructure. The airports, the draft says, will be allowed in the CZM I--areas designated ecologically
sensitive. Airports can also come up in CZM III areas on the seaward side of the setback line. "The line marks the vulnerability of the coast to
hazards. How can an airport come up there?" asks Sudarshan Rodriguez of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment,
Bangalore. Other activities allowed in CZM III include defence projects, water sports, recreation facilities, ports and any other activity requiring
foreshore space "after appropriate permission from state and central authorities". "It legalizes all constructions that violate the Coastal Zone
Regulation notification," says Rodriguez.
orissa for lion's share: The Supreme Court's Forest Bench on May 9 directed Sterlite Industries India Limited to file an affidavit stating they would form the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) with the state government and the Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) within a week. This comes even as there is confusion on the revenue sharing model of the SPV. "There is no clarity on whether OMC, that own the mine lease, will get any royalties," said Rajeev Dhavan who is representing OMC. The bench last year ruled against Vedanta Alumina Limited's (Sterlite's associate company) bauxite mining project in the Niyamgiri hills of Orissa. The bench said it would consider a project in which Vedanta was not involved and had asked for an SPV to be formed with the state having the majority share in it.
orangutans endangered: World's largest group of wild orangutans at Borneo island, Indonesia, will be extinct in three years, says a local conservation group's report. Commercial logging, rapidly expanding oil palm plantations and poaching are the reasons. From 31,300 in 2004, their population has come down to 20,000 now. The group has criticized a government plan to open up 455,000 hectares of protected land for oil palm growers and not taking any initiative it promised to save orangutans.
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