News Snippets

Published: Thursday 15 April 2004

A low-cost, nutritive prasad (consecrated food offering) will be available at the Gangotri temple in India's hill state of Uttaranchal from April 22. Developed by the Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, with ingredients provided by the Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organisation (HESCO), the prasad will be priced at Rs 50-100 a kilogramme as against the current rates of Rs 100-150 a kilogramme. Its ingredients will comprise grains such as buckwheat, finger millet and foxtail millet, which grow abundantly in the mountainous areas. The use of locally grown crops and flowers in temple worship is a way of identification of the local people. It would also provide employment opportunities to women in the region.

Depleting groundwater levels in Kolkata are turning the city into an earthquake-prone zone. According to India Meteorological Department (IMD) director S Sengupta, groundwater hasn't been recharged for quite some time now in West Bengal's capital. This, say experts, could lead to an increase in seismic activity. The IMD and Geological Survey Of India have now signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly conduct an earthquake management and prediction study in the city. A plan to set up more seismological observatories is also on the anvil. Many parts of south Kolkata are affected.

China is set to build the world's highest weather station on Mount Everest. At an altitude of 5,300 metres, the unmanned station will record temperature, humidity, air pressure, rain and wind speed. The Tibet Weather Bureau says the station will establish an automatic monitoring network with 41 stations. Currently, a meteorological station 90 kilometres away monitors weather. This heightens the risk of error in forecasting. China hopes to set up the new weather station in a year.

The New Mexico grasslands, also known as Otero Mesa, are turning into a battlefield over the issue of oil drilling on public land. The Mesa covers more than 8 lakh hectares (ha) of Chihuahua desert grassland. Success of a test well drilling prompted the Bureau of Land Management to revise its conservation plans and allow for the drilling of 140 test wells, with 84 going into production. This, in effect, means leasing out over 35,700 ha on a permanent basis and more than 14,400 ha of wildlife habitat temporarily. Grasslands expert Walter Whitford says the digging and scraping required for development won't heal easily and will crack the crust. But oil company honchos debate that the land can be reclaimed after exploration.

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