Russia could lift ban on export of Indian rice
Russia may lift the ban on exports of rice, groundnut and sesame seeds from India soon. The ban was imposed in April after Russia's monitoring agencies claimed to have found a pesticide, dimethotate, which is not allowed under Russian laws (see 'Russia outlaws Indian rice' Down To Earth, June 30, 2007). India and Russia signed a protocol on export of rice earlier this week in Moscow wherein India assured that future consignments will be free of contamination. The Russian government has promised India that the lifting of the ban on the three products will be announced shortly.
Dam on Teesta: Unrest continues in Sikkim
The Supreme Court's Central Empowered Committee, on July 18, asked the Sikkim government to respond to allegations made by the Lepcha community in Sikkim. On July 17, Lepcha tribesfolk who are opposing big dams in Sikkim under the banner Affected Citizens of Teesta (ACT), had approached the committee stating that the proposed 280 mw Panang hydel project in the Dzongu Lepcha Reserve had received environmental clearance from the Union ministry of environment and forests, even though part of the project encroached on the Kanchendzonga National Park. A 1995 Supreme Court ruling prohibits such activities within national parks and sanctuaries. The committee has sent a letter to the state government asking its views on the matter. Meanwhile, ACT members have been on an indefinite hunger strike since June 20 demanding plans of six mega hydel projects (including Penang) in the protected Lepcha reserve be scrapped (see 'Dammed lot', Down To Earth, July 31, 2007).
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