News Briefs

Published: Sunday 31 August 2014


UN asks developing nations for fund

In AN unusual decision, the United Nations is looking to developing countries for contribution to its Green Climate Fund. The fund, which aims to raise $10-15 billion by the end of 2014, was set up to help low-income countries mitigate climate change impacts. imageUN-sponsored climate change negotiations traditionally place the financial burden on countries deemed industrialised in 1992.

As a result, India, China and Brazil declined to attend the climate fund's first major meeting last month in Oslo. In fact, India's environment minister PrakashJavadekar has made it clear that the success of 2015 UN deal in Paris will depend on whether rich countries deliver on their finance pledges.

Centre lifts ban on projects in Ratnagiri

The UNION environment ministry has partially lifted the moratorium on development projects in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts of Maharashtra. This was in response to the state government's request last October urging the Centre to remove talukas not falling in Western Ghats from the list of ecologically sensitive zones. The ministry had imposed a moratorium on environmental clearances of developmental projects, including power and mining, in five talukas of Ratnagiri and six talukas in Sindhudurg.


The ministry has now said that moratorium on new projects will continue only in those villages which were identified as eco-sensitive by the N Kasturirangan committee on Western Ghats, and in another 25 villages of Sindhudurg, which are under litigation in the Bombay High Court. The 25 villages are listed in a case filedby non-profit Awaz foundation, which pleaded with the court to declare the iron ore-rich Sawantwadi-Dodamarg Corridor frequented by tigers an ecologically sensitive area. Village residents fear the eco-sensitivetag will hamper development.

RBI stops Andhra from giving loan relief to farmers

Andhra PRADESH'S new government will find it difficult to fulfil its promise of a loan waiver to farmers. RBI has said it sees no reason for the state government to waive or reschdule the loans availed by farmers. It said that after independently verifying the official data on farm yields.


Over Rs 87,000 crore worth of farm loans is overdue in the state . RBI's executive director Deepali Pant wrote in a letter to the state secretary, "It does not appear feasible for us to conclude that distress is widespread, warranting rescheduling of loans in the form and manner in which it has been asked for."

imageSide effects

Monkeys are the latest casualty of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. A new study suggests that the radioactive fallout of the disaster has lowered the immunity of Japanese macaques in Fukushima region. The scientists found that macaques from the region have low white and red blood cell levels and low haemoglobin, making the species prone to infectious diseases. The scientists came to the conclusion after comparing 61 monkeys living 70 km from the nuclear power plant with 31 monkeys from the ShimokitaPenisula, 400 km from Fukushima.

A mission to conserve indigenous cattle

The UNION government has initiated aprogramme for India's indigenous cattle. Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh recently announced the Rs 500 crore Rashtriya Gokul Mission with an initial sum of Rs 150 crore. "We have about 200 million cattle. Of this, 83 per cent are indigenous. The project aims at developing indigenous cattle breed in a scientific manner," said Singh. The guidelines will be finalised during a meeting of state agriculture ministers on September 16. It will be implemented through state livestock development boards to be set up soon.

New solar guides

The UNION Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has announced a new set of guidelines to revive the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.ÔÇ¿ A target of 1,500 MW additional capacity of solar power plants has been set under the second phase of the mission, which will require the ministry to float its largest ever tender.


It has roped in NTPC VidyutVyapar Nigam (NVVN) for the tendering process.ÔÇ¿"The selection of grid-connected solar photovoltaic projects of 1,500 MW total capacity shall be carried out by NVVN through a transparent, tariff-based reverse bidding process," state the guidelines. The tender process is likely to start by the end of August.ÔÇ¿The ministry is hopeful of bringing the solar power tariff on a par with conventional power by 2017.ÔÇ¿India's current solar power capacity is 2,600 MW.

Resistance decoded

imageResearchers HAVE found that an experimental drug against malaria is becoming ineffective. The antibiotic, fosmidomycin, blocks the synthesis of a class of molecules called isoprenoids which keeps the malaria pathogen healthy. When researchers compared the genetics of malaria parasites that responded to the drug to the genetics of malaria parasites that were resistant to it, they found mutations in a gene called PfHAD1. The PfHAD1 protein normally slows down the synthesis of isoprenoids, but in the resistant parasites the mutation resulted in higher production of isoprenoids. So, even when the antibiotic is there, it doesn't kill the cells.

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