Early monsoon hits India
annual monsoon swept through India about two weeks early. But it brought heavy rains causing floods and landslides in eastern India. Unconfi-rmed sources say at least 52 people have been killed and over 3 million affected in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal. As on June 20, Subarnrekha river in Orissa was flowing above the danger level, marooning villages in Balasore, Bhadrakh and Mayurbhanj districts and evacuating 20,000 people. In West Bengal, situation in the East and West Midnapore districts remained critical. In Assam, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji and Sonitpur districts were seriously hit, where brimming rivers breached 11 embankments and inundated 800 villages. About 45 army boats have been pressed into action to help state authorities. As intensity of rain decreased, the flood situation in Jharkhand improved.
ICMR backs animal testing ban
the Indian Council of Medical Research (icmr), in a letter to the health ministry, has endorsed the demands of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (peta) to ban animal testing of cosmetics. peta sees this as a stamp of approval to their campaign. But icmr says it is not endorsing a complete ban; reducing the amount of animal testing is all they are looking at. Says Vasantha Muthuswamy, head of the Basic Medical Sciences division of icmr "We cannot do away with animal testing but it would be good to reduce it." A decade ago, icmr made it optional for cosmetics companies to test each batch of products on animals, since the formulations are always standardized and tested. Sonya Ghosh of the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experimentation on Animals, says, "The cosmetics industry hardly does animal testing."
No-trawling season in Kerala
the Kerala government introduced a 45 -day monsoon ban on trawling off the Kerala coast from midnight on June 14. The restrictions are to check depletion of fish stock in the breeding season. Mechanized fishing boats and big vessels using trawlers and high-yielding nets will not be allowed to fish along the coast, but country boats engaged in artisanal fishing will be allowed to operate, an official press release said. The monsoon trawling ban has been a regular feature in Kerala for the last two decades. Patrolling has been stepped up for effective enforcement of the ban. The state government would provide free ration to fishers and allied labourers of fishing harbours to help them during the ban.
Nano gets dearer
at a time when the financing rates for automobiles are at a six-year high, potential buyers of Tata Nano may not benefit from this. The price tag of Rs 1 lakh is making the world's cheapest car a risky proposition for some financers who fear there could be a rush of applicants from lower income groups. This "high-risk" customer profile is likely to put them in the category where interest rates are higher--between 17-18 per cent; for new cars banks charge about 14.5 per cent. This could be one of the reasons Tata Motors was exploring the possibility of providing loans for the Nano, while launching the vehicle, either through Tata Motors Finance or through other finance channels.
India says no to World Bank
the government of India has refused to endorse the World Bank's tiger conservation initiative and also turned down its "request" that India put in a formal proposal for a "loan" to save wild tigers. The decision came after members of the National Board of Wildlife and other conservationists, in a letter to the prime minister, warned against the offer. Conservationists say the World Bank's involvement could prove to be fatal to the tiger since its policy is at odds with the national policy, especially those relating to resettlement and rehabilitation of people moved from tiger habitats. "The government has its own flagship programme for tiger conservation and has recently increased the budget to Rs 600 crore," says Rajesh Gopal, member secretary of the National Tiger Conservation Authority. The World Bank sought the endorsement of India--the biggest reservoir of tigers--apparently to increase the visibility of its campaign.
Militants threaten oil firm
a militant group in the Philippines is opposing the government's plan to let the us oil giant, ExxonMobil, drill for oil in the Sulu Sea. The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas says it is apprehensive of the us $110- million project's impact on fishing communities in Palawan, Western Visayas, Zamboanga peninsula and Sulu archipelago. The Sulu Sea, which connects the South China Sea and the Celebes Sea, is considered to be an important corridor of tuna and other fish species leaving or going to the Pacific Ocean.
Green groups hijack coal train
twenty nine climate campaigners boarded and chained themselves to a coal train headed to one of Europe's biggest power stations, Drax in North Yorkshire, the uk, on June 13 as part of a campaign to close the coal-fired plant. They unfurled a yellow banner featuring the slogan "Leave It In The Ground!" Though they were arrested later in the day, they promised more protests.
Olympic traffic plan