Published: Thursday 15 March 2001

The melting of Arctic permafrost could accelerate global warming. Scientists from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) warned that carbon stored in the permafrost of Arctic lands, which accounts for an estimated 14 per cent of the world's total carbon, is getting released as rising temperatures cause the permafrost to melt and its organic material to be broken down by bacteria. "Permafrost has acted as a carbon sink, locking away carbon and other greenhouse gases like methane for thousands of years. But now this is no longer the case and the permafrost in some areas have starting to give back its carbon," said Svein Tveitdal, managing director of Norway-based GRID Arendal, a UNEP information centre monitoring the melting of the permafrost.

Kolkata has been chosen for a UN project for better water and sanitation management that will involve the community in evolving water management policies. "A price will be put on the water that is supplied and the community will have a say in the decision," said Gourisankar Ghosh, executive secretary of the Geneva-based UN Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council. The project comes at a time when the groundwater levels of the city are declining. Problems like arsenic contamination are also posing heath hazards.

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