Friday, August 29, 2014

DTC, DDA spar over bus depot land (Hindustan Times/New Delhi, Aug. Friday, 29, 2014)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on Thursday informed the Delhi High Court that it had handed over three plots to the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) for relocating its Millennium bus depot that is currently on the Yamuna river bank.

Advocate Rajiv Bansal, appearing for DDA, submitted before justice VK Shali that plots of land at Narela, Rohini and Sarai Kale Khan has been handed over to the DTC and the transport department of Delhi government.

Bansal told the court that only one site at Karkari More in east Delhi is yet to be handed over and it will take almost six more months to hand over that site.

The DTC, however, said the DDA is going back on its promise to vacate the land in east Delhi by October 31.

Appearing for DTC, additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain and advocate Sumeet Pushkarna told the court that “now if the DDA will take six more months for Karkari More land, how can it fulfil the undertaking of vacating the millennium depot”.

Posting them atter for September 24, the court asked DTC to file its response on the status report filed by DDA. The high court also asked both the agencies to come out with a solution.
The DTC is on a deadline to relocate the Millennium bus depot, which was built on 50 acres of land, by October 2014.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Modi mantra to a healthy and wealthy nation | Down To Earth, Aug. 23, 2014

Modi mantra to a healthy and wealthy nation

Author: Manoj Misra
Posted on: 23 Aug, 2014

The mantra of zero defect and zero effect manufacturing practice should translate into no pollution from industrial effluents
'Health is wealth’, is no hollow slogan. Natural extension is a healthy nation also being wealthy, strong and a happy nation. But a lot would depend on how do we define a healthy person or a healthy nation?
Is a person with a drawer full of medicines and a nation with a hospital in its every nook and corner, an indicator of being healthy? Look closely and such a person or a nation would actually deserve a perpetually ‘sick’ tag.
It is actually healthy air, water and land that would make for a healthy nation inhabited by healthy people. Herein Prime Minister Modi’s exhortation from the ramparts of Red Fort in Delhi on the 67th anniversary of the nation’s Independence, for a “zero defect and zero effect” manufacturing practice should come handy. Translated into tangible action it would mean a nation, where no effluents (air and liquid) from its industries shall pollute air, water or land. This is possible only when an industry’s pollution abatement infrastructure ensures a zero discharge through repeated effluent recycling.
As against the above, today the ground situation is that despite pollution watchdogs in form of Central and State Pollution Control Boards sitting both at the centre and in the states, there is all over rampant industrial pollution defiling air, lands, water bodies and rivers.
It is no secret that this pollution, many a times several notches higher than permissible limits has entered our food chain, with food grains, vegetables and fruits raised on polluted waters from the nearest stream or even the underground, proving a health hazard with increasing risks of diseases like cancers and mental retardation. Most dangerously, it is the children and hence the nation’s future, which is most vulnerable to such pollution, led health hazards.

Where would the nation require prioritizing its action on the Modi mantra?  The union Ministry of Environment and Forests, in 2010 identified 43 critically polluted and 37 severely polluted industrial clusters in the country. These included places like Ankleswar and Vapi in Gujarat; Chandrapur, Dombivli and Aurangabad in Maharastra; Korba in Chattisgarh; Bhiwadi in Rajasthan; Dhanbad in Jharkhand; Ghaziabad, NOIDA, Singrauli, Agra and Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh; Angul Talchar in Odisha; Ludhiana in Punjab;  Cuddalore and Vellore in Tamil Nadu; Faridabad in Haryana and the Najafgarh basin in NCT of Delhi.
Focus at the national capital region (NCR) of Delhi and you are faced with some of the most critically and severely polluted industrial clusters in the country namely Ghaziabad, NOIDA, Faridabad, Najafgarh basin, Panipat, Mathura and Meerut. In short the NCR of Delhi has perhaps emerged as the most polluted industrial region in the country? No wonder river Yamuna in NCR as the end destination of all pollutants, is gasping for breath.  
Is there a message in the fact that of the 88 most polluted industrial clusters in the country, 12 fall in Uttar Pradesh, 9 in Gujarat, 8 in Maharastra, 7 in Tamil Nadu and 5 each in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand. Other states in the list include Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Chattisgarh, Kerala and the NCT of Delhi. 
Clearly, the task is daunting and nationwide. And there is little time to lose.
If India is to truly find its place as a healthy and wealthy nation amongst the comity of nations then the Modi mantra of “zero defect and zero effect”, has to not remain a hollow slogan.

Times of India/ New Delhi, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014

Times of India/New Delhi, Sunday , Aug. 24, 2014

Times of India/New Delhi, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Clean-up act: Superbody headed by PM Modi to drive Mission Ganga - Hindustan Times (Aug. 18, 2014)

Zia Haq, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 17, 2014

The NDA government’s policy to clean the Ganga — a key mission — is likely to be administered by a powerful overarching entity headed by the Prime Minister, possibly backed by an enabling law, with the private sector playing a vital role in delivery, according to a preliminary plan.
The single entity could well be a revamped National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), which as of now oversees all matters related to the river. But it would be a body with a much wider mandate to “coalesce” myriad activities currently scattered across departments. As a first step, the NGRBA has already been shifted from the environment ministry to the water resources ministry.
A third of India’s 1.2 billion people live along the 2,510-km sacred river. Although the Ganga is an icon of the Hindu faith, it is dying a slow death due to filth, untreated sewage and industrial runoff. Only about 45% of the 11 billion litres of sewage from 181 towns along the river is treated.
Private-sector firms, especially those specialising in water technology, will be entrusted the job of running “last-mile” treatment plants because past experience has shown that local government bodies utterly failed to manage such projects. As a result, a large number of “expensive assets” have fallen into “disuse”, according to a review. Firms would be given strict targets of water volumes to be cleaned. A key aspect would be to ensure assets already created do not go waste.
A revenue model for the private sector to recover costs in the long run is being worked on. For example, biogas and rural electrification from water-based assets could be potential revenue sources.
A panel of secretaries in the ministries of water resources, environment, shipping and tourism are currently chalking out the strategy for water resources minister Uma Bharti, who will then place it before the prime minister’s office for approval.
Re-doing of all major ghats, the labyrinthine centres through which people access the river, will form a critical component. In Kanpur, the main source of industrial waste in the northern Ganga, the city’s industrial set up will be overhauled. For example, of the 37 tanneries in that city, only 20 are legal. The illegal ones will be shut and legal ones will get help with managing their effluents.

An expert being consulted, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was a good idea to get Hindu leaders involved because they were key stakeholders, without whom the public could not be sensitized. Bharti had recently organized a “Ganga Manthan” in which religious leaders, experts and scientists had participated.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Project to identify heritage, reserve trees stuck in limbo (Hindustan Times 8 August 2014)

Darpan Singh,
The forest department — a year after zeroing down on five species to accord heritage status to one tree from each of them — has failed to do much with the process of identifying the trees.
Apart from this, sources said that there had been no movement on the promise of officials to declare all trees of two-three species as reserve trees to protect and help augment greenery in Delhi, which is under assault from a breakneck pace of infrastructure development.
Between 2011 and 2013, Delhi’s forest cover has gone up by 3.61 sqkm, but tree cover outside forests has gone down by 2 sqkm, a latest forest survey of India report says.
Delhi’s chief conservator of forests AK Shukla said, “The tree heritage project got stuck for certain reasons. We’re on the job; the department will finish the task shortly.”
In 2008-09, The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), a non-profit organisation, started working with the Delhi government and framed criteria for identification of heritage trees.
“Municipal corporations and other land-owning agencies, which deal with horticulture, had to be taken on board. The government had to act and we had to follow it up, but nothing much happened after that. It’s time we got serious about conserving our natural heritage,” said INTACH member Samar Singh.
Singh, a retired IAS officer and former secretary general, WWF India, cautioned the government should not restrict identification of heritage trees only to a set of species. “You may find a tree worthy of the heritage tag outside the five species. You should accord the tag to trees which are old, grand and have some historical connect, like maybe with an event or a building. Species should not be the sole criterion,” he said.
SD Singh, CEO of Delhi Parks and Garden Society, said that once the trees are identified, they can be used to promote eco tourism and push wider conservation.
Concerned over little progress in the project, civil society grouping Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan has already written to top government authorities, including the Lieutenant Governor, the chief secretary and Delhi Development Authority.
“There are a number of very old trees standing within the campuses of old forts and monuments which deserve a heritage status and special protection measures. There might be few even within the campus of Raj Bhavan as well as the British period buildings including Rashtrapati Bhavan,” Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan’s convener Manoj Misra has written.  
“It is well known that the ancient city of Delhi has been making efforts to find a place on the UNESCO’s list of world heritage cities. But heritage is not just non-living monuments (that Delhi is littered with) but also living ones like its ridge, its water bodies (baolis and johads) and the river Yamuna,” he said.