Published: Saturday 30 April 2005

Ukraine and Turkmenistan are going to propose the establishment of a consortium with Russia and Kazakhstan for transporting gas to Europe. This was announced by Ukraine's deputy prime minister Anatoly Kinakh after Turkmenistan's president Saparmurat Niyazov and Ukraine's president Viktor Yushchenko held talks during the latter's two-day official visit to Turkmenistan.

On March 31, 2005 Belarus' president Alyaksandr Lukashenka announced an end to industrial subsidies, with effect from 2006. He also said the eligibility criteria for preferential treatment will be tightened. "Any financial assistance to enterprises should be out of the question. They must work and earn for themselves," Lukashenka reportedly said, adding that assistance might be given only to new and upcoming projects.

A large oil spill occurred off the Goa coast on March 23, 2005 after two ships -- Practi , owned by a local politician, and Maritime Wisdom , a Singapore flagged cargo ship -- collided. An estimated 110 metric tonnes of heavy fuel oil spilled into the sea. The spill broke into patches and spread. Officials said the accident can have some adverse impact on Goa's environment.

Over 2,500 people were killed in a post-tsunami quake which recently hit the Indonesian island Nias, famed as a surfing paradise, and reduced most of it to rubble. The high intensity quake (8.7 on the Richter scale), however, didn't cause a tsunami, baffling scientists. The epicentre of the quake was about 160 kilometre southeast of the bigger quake that triggered the tsunami.

The Chinese vice minister of water resources, Zhai Haohui, recently admitted that over 360 million Chinese citizens staying in rural areas don't have access to safe drinking water and chronic water shortages plague the cities. Zhai urged the government to devote more money to solve the problem. Minister of water resources Wang Shucheng said: "Hundreds of thousands of Chinese are afflicted with various diseases from drinking water that contains too much fluorine, arsenic, sodium sulfate..."I

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