South Asia

Published: Saturday 15 October 2005

Neighbour's worry: Sri Lanka has set aside an estimated US $300,000 to study and evaluate India's Sethusamudram canal project, environment minister A H M Fowzie said recently. Sri Lankan environmentalists oppose the project, saying it would harm marine resources and also adversely impact the country's northern coastline. The Sunday Leader newspaper said Fowzie's decision was taken following an urgent meeting called by the foreign affairs ministry after Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa's call to stop work on the project. Jayalalithaa alleged that the canal would destroy the fishing industry and marine biology in the Palk Strait.

Sri Lanka's evaluation will involve scientists and academicians who will investigate and report on both the advantages and disadvantages of the canal for the country. "We have to identify areas that need to be addressed and then proceed with the study," Fowzie said.

Anti-pollution stroke: To curb air pollution, two-stroke engine motorcycle rickshaws would no longer be registered as public transport in Lahore, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad and Multan in Pakistan's Punjab province, according to a recent decision of the Punjab Transport Department. The Punjab government has already banned the manufacture of two-stroke engine rickshaws and plans to provide loans to drivers to replace them with four-stroke vehicles. Opponents of the move claim that two-stroke engine vehicles cause pollution only if not maintained well -- a flaw that could plague any substitute. Besides, these rickshaws are a major part of the public transport system in these cities and the government hasn't offered a suitable alternative.

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