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West Delhi school kids move NGT for more green cover

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Aggrieved by the poor air quality due to industries and lack of green cover that is affecting their health, six teenagers from Mundka-Kirari suburbs in West Delhi have moved the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to seek an increase in green cover and to oppose proposed expansion of industrial activity. The six teenagers — aged between 12 and 16 years — attend schools in the Mundka-Kirari industrial belt and their petition was admitted by the Tribunal last week.The industrial belt in question is spread across eleven municipal wards of Mundka, Nangloi Jat West, Nilothi, Pratap Vihar, Nithari, Kirari Suleman Nagar, Prem Nagar, Sultanpur Majra, Sultanpuri South, Pooth Kalan and Nangloi East. The petition claimed that pollution emitted from industries in this belt is severely affecting the health of “more than 1 lakh children studying in these schools,” and that several students are suffering from breathing problems, especially during winters.Quoting results from the Centre for Science and Environment pollution test of the area, the petition said that PM 2.5 level for 24 hour average was found to be 556 µg/m3, which was 3.8 times higher than rest of Delhi. The petitioners point out that even as the area is already facing poor air quality, the Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation has proposed to use 147 acres of vacant land for more industrial activity.“Of the 4,626 acres of land in 11 municipal wards, a mere 1 per cent is green whereas 1,400 acres or more than 30 per cent is an industrial area, 62 per cent is a residential area and rest is commercial area. As the area is already highly polluted… it is submitted that no further development of industries should be permitted in the area until existing pollution levels are brought down to permissible levels,” the petitioners prayed.Local residents also approached the Delhi Chief Minister’s office and the Delhi Development Authority with 5,000 signatures to convert the 147 acres into a biodiversity park, the petition claimed. Dewan Singh, a member of the Mundka Kirari Harit Abhiyan, Spoke to DNA said, “There are more than 50 schools in this area and whenever children go out for recreation, they are affected by the industrial pollution.”

Iron out your differences first: Tribunal to ministries

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday directed the Union ministries of environment and water resources to sit down and resolve their differences on the issue of Zonal Master Plan for the Bhagirathi eco-sensitive zone. The three-member principal bench, headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar, refused to listen to the reservations of water resources ministry, and instead directed them to come back only when the issue between the two ministries was resolved.“On Monday, the ministry of water resources will be meeting with the ministry of environment and the Uttarakhand Government to clarify objections and deficiencies of the Zonal Master Plan, submitted by the state,” said justice Kumar. “In the next meeting, the matter should be finalised and the ministry of water resources should specify the way forward. The applicant will also be present in the meeting.”The directions of the bench came after counsel for water resources ministry said that they had certain objections regarding the Zonal Master Plan that need to be addressed.As per ministry sources, the revised Zonal Master Plan on Bhagirathi eco-sensitive zone is simply a compilation of activities of all departments of the Uttarakhand Government rather than scientific studies.Meanwhile, Colin Gonsalves, counsel for the petitioner said to the bench that the Zonal Master Plan is actually a plan for commercial activity. Gonsalves also pointed that the secretary, union water resources ministry Shashi Shekhar has made scathing remarks regarding the Zonal Master Plan and the plans of the environment ministry to permit 10 hydropower projects in the Bhagirathi eco-sensitive zone.A letter written by Shekhar to his counterpart in the environment ministry, questioned the plans to consider approving 10 hydropower projects and river-bed mining up to two metres depth in the eco-sensitive zone.The projects, the secretary said, signal the impending environment disaster in the eco-sensitive zone. The Bhagirathi eco-sensitive area was notified in 2012 to protect the 100kms Gaumukh to Uttar Kashi stretch of Bhagirathi, spread across 4,179 sq kms.

Drop poop, pay Rs 50,000: NGT tells airlines

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal (NGT)’s principal bench has ordered airlines to clean up their act or pay a price. In an order passed on Tuesday in the bizarre case of human waste falling from the skies in Vasant Enclave, South Delhi, the NGT said that airlines will be penalized Rs.50,000 if they are found to be dumping excreta mid-air. The amount collected from penalties should be used for environmental protection, the NGT added.A three-member bench, headed by justice Swatanter Kumar, passed this order while hearing a petition filed by Lt.Gen (Retd) Satwant Singh Dahiya, a resident of Vasant Enclave.In his petition, Dahiya said that excreta had repeatedly fallen from airplanes in and around his house, defacing the compound and walls. The petitioner contended that the dropping of human waste from aircrafts was in violation of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and a threat to health of residents. In his petition, Dahiya had also sought a 24-hour helpline to report incidents of airplanes dropping waste and to monitor such incidents.In its order, NGT has asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to issue a circular to all airlines. “DGCA shall also issue directions that aircraft on land shall be subjected to surprise inspection to check if the waste tanks are not empty. Those airlines found to be violating the circular or if with empty tanks should be liable to an environment compensation of Rs 50,000 per default,” the bench said.Earlier, the NGT had asked pollution watchdog Central Pollution Control Board to collect samples of waste from the petitioner’s house to test if it was indeed human excreta. The CPCB tested the samples and said that it human excreta. While issuing directions, the green panel expressed surprise over the CPCB report, saying, “We are surprised to note the stand of CPCB to the extent of coliform and the kind of splashes created on the houses of the petitioner as well as others clearly demonstrate that it was human excreta.”The NGT also slapped a fine of Rs.5,000 on the ministry of civil aviation and environment ministry for not filing inspection report on the petition.

Tax tribunal rejects Virbhadra Singh’s appeal; HP CM alleges political vendetta

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In a setback to Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) has dismissed the appeal filed by him against the order of the Income Tax department, which had sought fresh assessment of his tax returns related to the financial year of 2009-10 to 2011-12.The veteran Congress leader termed the development as “politically motivated” and said that he would contest the orders and file an appeal in the High Court or in the Supreme court, if the need arose. “The Income tax Tribunal had been set up by Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley and in spite of four judges in the tribunal, two special judges were sent from Delhi to hear my case, thus the matter is politically motivated,” Singh alleged.The order was passed by the Chandigarh bench of ITAT chaired by Judicial Member I C Sudhir and Accountant Member R S Syal on December 8. “We fail to comprehend as to how the assessment order accepting the genuineness of carrying out the agricultural operations and earning a huge income in such circumstances can be considered as an order made after proper inquiry, as has been canvassed by the assessee.”It is a case of a patent non-application of mind by the assessing officer (AO) to the facts, which were loudly calling for in-depth investigation. In our considered opinion, the Commissioner of Income Tax (CIT) was fully justified in setting aside the assessment order and directing the AO to frame a fresh assessment,” said the order. “We have elaborately dealt with such issues in our order of Virbhadra Singh (HUF), which mutatis mutandis apply to the assessee also. In the result, all the appeals are dismissed,” it said.The Himachal Chief Minister and his LIC agent Anand Chauhan had filed appeal against the order of the Income Tax department for reopening his tax returns. As per the brief facts of the case, the assessee had filed original return of income on July 29, 2010 declaring total income of Rs 44,67,584 plus agricultural income of Rs 15 lakhs. The assessee filed revised return on March 2, 2012 declaring total income of Rs 44,67,584 plus agricultural income of Rs 2,80,92,500. Assessment in this case was completed on March 28, 2013.The CIT, on perusal of records, observed that the assessment was completed in a routine and casual manner without making any effective inquiry. After entertaining objections and replies from the assessee, the CIT came to hold that the assessing officer passed an erroneous order prejudicial to the interests of the revenue, inter alia, on the ground that the revision of return was wrongly accepted, accounting principles were wrongly considered and accepted in as much as the agricultural income was not declared on the basis of mercantile system of accounting.The income tax department had contended that assessee had invested Rs 3,84,92,500 in LIC policies, whereas additional income declared in the revised return was only Rs 2,65,92,500. So, AO had further failed to enquire from the assessee about the source of Rs 1.19 crores invested in LIC policies over and above the additional income declared in the revised return, the department had said. The CIT had then directed the assessing officer to frame a fresh assessment in accordance with the law and after making due inquiries.

Cauvery row: Karnataka to release 2000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu till Jan 4

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Thursday said that the interim order of court on Cauvery Water Disputes would continue till January 4, 2017 and Karnataka would have to release 2000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu. Earlier on December 9, the top court upheld its constitutional power and right to hear appeals filed by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala against the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal final award in 2007.A three-judge Bench headed by Supreme Court Justice Dipak Misra rejected the Centre’s stand that the apex court had no jurisdiction to hear the Cauvery river dispute. The Centre had argued that the parliamentary law of Inter-State Water Disputes Act of 1956 coupled with Article 262 (2) of the Indian Constitution excluded the Supreme Court from hearing or deciding any appeals against the Cauvery Tribunal’s decision. The Centre claimed the tribunal award was final.The Centre said it was left to the government to frame a scheme for implementation of the tribunal award, and the scheme, once prepared, would be placed before both Houses of the Parliament for approval.The tribunal in its final award had determined the usable quantum of water of the Cauvery at 740 tmcft. Karnataka is entitled to 270 tmcft, Tamil Nadu to 419 tmcft, Kerala 30 tmcft, Puducherry 7 tmcft, and 14 tmcft is meant for environmental purposes, the tribunal had said.All three states have opposed the Centre’s stand, contending that a parliamentary law cannot stop the Supreme Court from exercising its constitutional power to hear appeals.The bench of Justices Dipak Misra, Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar had on October 19 reserved its order on maintainability of appeals filed by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala against the 2007 award of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal (CWDT).In its review petition, Karnataka said “grave miscarriage of justice” has been caused to it pursuant to the three apex court orders of September 20, 27 and 30, by which it was directed to release 6000 cusecs of water till October 6 and the Centre was to constitute the Board by October 4.

NGT bans disposable plastic in Delhi & NCR from January 1, but allows Okhla plant to operate

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal on Friday banned the use of disposable plastic in Delhi and NCR with effect from January 1, 2017 and directed the city government to take steps to reduce dumped waste.A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar, however, refused to shut down the Okhla waste-to-energy plant and issued a slew of directions for its eco-friendly operation along with two other plants at Gazipur and Bhalswa.”We direct that the Okhla plant shall continue to operate subject to the order of the tribunal… All the corporations, DDA and other public authorities including NCT of Delhi are directed to take immediate steps for reduction and utilisation of dumped waste,” the bench said.Referring to the three dumping sites in Delhi — Okhla, Gazipur and Bhalswa, the tribunal said, “Each of these sites is a depiction of mess that can be created for environment and health of people of Delhi.”It said, “We direct that use of disposable plastic is prohibited in entire NCT of Delhi. The Delhi government shall take steps for storage and use of plastic materials with effect from January 1, 2017.”The bench also constituted a joint inspection team comprising member secretaries of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), A senior scientist of the Ministry of Environment and Forests along with an IIT Delhi professor, be nominated by the IIT director, directing it to file its report within six weeks and supervise and visit the plants once in two months.The directions came on a plea filed by Sukhdev Vihar Residents Welfare Association praying for closure of waste-to- energy plant alleging that it uses illegal mass burning technology which causes air pollution.The bench, while directing the plants to “strictly follow” the prescribed norms provided in the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act and the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016, said they will be fined Rs five lakh for non-compliance of directions and each pollution incident.It also said that an environment compensation of Rs 10,000 will be imposed on the vegetable vendors and slaughter houses for throwing garbage in public places.It directed the Delhi government to make operational the Shastri Park Waste Disposal Plant in six weeks after DPCC said it required an environmental clearance.The government has also been asked to include a condition in all tenders for construction work that they will use the waste materials released by the plants for road construction.During the last hearing, the tribunal had pulled up the Delhi government saying it was worried about everything except environment and had expressed displeasure that the government and municipal corporations were not unanimous over the total quantum of waste generated in the national capital.”There is mosquito breeding, dengue, different kinds of viral fever and you people are worried about everything except environment. There has to be some sense of responsibility,” the panel had said.Earlier, residents of the city’s Sukhdev Vihar area had told the tribunal that the Okhla waste-to-energy plant in South Delhi should be immediately shut down as it violated Delhi Master Plan 2021.The tribunal had rapped South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) over “inaccurate” data on various kinds of waste generated in the national capital daily.In its application, the association had also told the NGT that as per observations of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, mass burning technology should be stopped immediately.

‘500 posts are vacant’: CJI Thakur hits out at Centre over shortage of judges

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Differences between judiciary and government continued to be aired in the open with Chief Justice of India T S Thakur saying there is shortage of judges in high courts and tribunals requiring government intervention, a view Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad strongly disagreed with. “500 judges posts are vacant in the high courts. They should be working today, but they are not. At present, there are several vacant courtrooms in India but no judges available. A large number of proposals are still pending and hope the government will intervene to end this crisis,” Justice Thakur said while addressing an All India Conference of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT). Disagreeing with the CJI, the Law Minister said the government has made 120 appointments this year which was the second highest since 1990. The highest number of appointments of 121 were made in 2013, Prasad said.”We respectfully disagree with him (CJI). This year we have made 120 appointments. The second highest of 121 is of 2013. Since 1990 there have been only 80 appointments. 5,000 vacancies are there in the lower judiciary in which the government of India has no role to play. That is something only for the judiciary to take care.”As far as infrastructure is concerned, that is a continuous process. Where the larger issue of appointment is concerned, there is a Supreme Court decision of making the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) more transparent, objective, reasonable, fair and the government stand is pending for the last more than three months and we are yet to hear from the Supreme Court,” he said.The CJI said that “manpower deficit” was also present in the tribunals which also faced the problem of lack of infrastructure leading to pendency of cases for five to seven years, apart from making apex court judges averse to heading such quasi-judicial bodies.”State of affairs in the tribunals is giving me the impression that you (tribunals) are no better. You are suffering from the same kind of deficit, manpower deficit. You cannot set up a tribunal, you cannot set up a bench at so many places because there are no members.””If the total strength of this tribunal is 65 and if you have 18 or 20 vacancies then it means that you are short by a large number. The working is going to be affected and that is why you have cases that are more than five years and seven years old,” he said adding “the least that you (government) must do is to ensure that these tribunals run with full strength.”The CJI also said the tribunals “are not equipped and are lying empty and today a situation has come that no retired Supreme Court judge wants to head the Tribunal. I am pained to send my retired colleagues there”.”Government is not ready to give proper facilities. Vacancy apart from infrastructure is a major concern for the Tribunal,” he added. During the conference, the CJI said there was a need to amend the rules for appointment of chairpersons and members of various tribunals so that the judges of the high courts can also be eligible for the posts.Speaking at the event, Prasad, who is also the Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology, said that the CAT has been a unique experience even amongst the tribunals since it is a successful blend of judicial and administrative excellence. He said CAT has rendered a “yeoman’s role in the evolution of service matters and framing of rules”.He said that the rising number of appeals against CAT judgements before high courts and the Supreme Court compounds the problem of pending litigations, and suggested exploring the idea of inter-court appeal as an alternative.Supreme Court judge Justice J Chelameswar said that lack of precision in the law and judicial rulings favouring both the rival parties are the prime reasons for the mounting arrears in service-related litigations. PTI HMP RKS

NGT orders ban on noise, solid waste pollution in Sundarbans

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal has ordered a ban on noise and solid waste pollution in the Sundarbans area in a bid to protect the wildlife during the coming tourist season.The Kolkata bench of NGT, comprising Justice (retd) SP Wangdi and Dr PC Mishra, taking up the matter suo motu, prohibited the use of mikes or loudspeakers blaring music, fancy decorative lights, release of solid waste and other material in river water. The bench, in an order passed this week, directed the principal secretaries of four departments, Tourism, Environment, Home and Panchayat to ensure compliance of the order to maintain the ecology of the forests.”Hundreds of motor launch, steamers and cruises take tourists to the Sundarbans during the winter for excursions and picnics leading to a lot of sound, air and solid waste pollution in the rivers and canals crisscrossing the largest mangrove forest in the world,” environmentalist Subhas Dutta, who has been appointed amicus curiae in the matter by the NGT bench said.Home of the Royal Bengal Tiger, apart from a large number of other wildlife including alligators, dolphins, deer, wild boars, etc, the Sundarbans on the Ganga delta is already facing a threat to its ecological balance owing to deforestation and increasing human habitats and population.Air and sound pollution are also on the rise in the Sundarban National Park and Tiger Reserve and its fringe areas owing to modern facilities being extended to these areas, which are not so remote now as compared to a decade ago, with better road communication and other modern facilities being available. “The NGT has also directed the Pollution Control Board (PCB) to visit all 174 hotels, resorts, lodges and homestays operating in the Sundarbans area and review their pollution control systems and whether these are conforming to rules and guidelines,” Dutta said.The state PCB officials would check the year of establishment of these places, whether these have consent to establish and consent to operate by the PCB as also the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) permission, he said.

Kerala: LDF govt cancels order for Aranmula airport project

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Kerala government cancelled all orders related to the proposed Aranmula airport project on Wednesday, including the grant of in-principle sanction.A decision in this regard was taken at a cabinet meeting here, an official release said. The project, promoted by KGS Group, had run into trouble after it was mooted nearly seven years ago with environment groups and people in the area holding that it would cause environmental hazards. The CPI(M)-led LDF government in an affidavit filed in the Kerala High Court in a connected case in August had said that it had decided to take immediate steps to cancel its decision to notify approximately 500 acres of land in Aranmula as an industrial area. The government had also stated that it was found that the proposed project area constitutes large extent of paddy and wetland which cannot be legally converted for the purpose of a private company in view of existing legal provisions.The project, opposed by BJP in the state, came back to focus afresh after the Expert Appraisal Committee under the Environment Ministry had permitted KGS Group to conduct an environment study at a meeting on July 29.The National Green Tribunal had in 2014 set aside the environmental clearance given by the UPA government to the project and directed KGS Aranmula International Airport Ltd, the promoters, to stop construction at the site. The tribunal passed the order on a petition filed by the Aranmula Heritage Village Protection Action Council.The project also faced stiff resistance from devotees of Sri Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple, who said that the airport would cause structural damage to the temple.

Patna-Indore express derailment: Centre announces Rs. 3.5 lakh ex-gratia for kin of deceased

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Sunday announced an ex-gratia of Rs 3.5 lakh for the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those critically injured in Patna-Indore Express derailment incident, in which 63 people have lost their lives.”Enhanced amount of ex-gratia compensation to the victims of this unfortunate accident – Rs 3.5 Lakh in case of death. Rs 50 thousand in case of grievous injury and Rs 25 thousand in case of simple injury. This is in addition to the compensation which will be available through Railway Claims Tribunal,” said Suresh Prabhu on Twitter.”Ordered Member Traffic to monitor the disaster management controll room personally. He’s on job with his entire team,” he added.The Ministry of Railways tweeted, “ADRM & CMS Jhansi reached site MoS @Manojsinhabjp w/ Rly Bd members ME ,MRS & GM one way to site,MR @sureshpprabhu personally monitoring.”National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have reached the spot and have swung into action along with the police in pulling out bodies and providing aid to the victims.At least 63 people were killed and over 150 others injured when 14 coaches of the Indore- Patna express train derailed near Pukhrayan area in Kanpur Dehat district, with railways officials saying the number of casualties could rise.

Zakir Naik’s NGO gets ban notification

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mumbai Police on Friday said it had served a notification on controversial televangelist Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) at its Dongri office on Thursday following the order received from the Home Ministry declaring IRF an unlawful association under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) 1967.The Centre had approved the proposal to declare IRF an unlawful association under UAPA on Tuesday and banned it for five years with immediate effect. The move came after investigation by the Home Ministry found that the NGO allegedly had dubious links with Peace TV, an international Islamic channel accused of propagating terrorism. As per the police, Naik has allegedly made many provocative speeches. Naik is alleged to have transferred IRF’s foreign funds to Peace TV for making “objectionable” programmes.“Mumbai police have served the notification to the office bearers of IRF on Thursday after receiving the copy from the Ministry of Home Affairs. From now on, IRF cannot carry out any activity. The issued notification have said that it is unlawful. Action will be taken under the relevant section of UAPA, if any activity is found to be conducted at IRF,” said Mumbai Police Spokesperson and Deputy Commissioner of Police Ashok Dudhe.Mubin Solkar, advocate representing IRF when contacted said, “IRF has been served with notification around 7 pm or so on Thursday. IRF will seize to carry out any activity based on that. We will have to comply with the notification. We will study the content of the notification and what has been the basis to declare IRF unlawful. After seeing the reasoning, we will take recourse to the remedies available under law. But the statutory provision is that the government has to now refer the notification to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Tribunal within 30 days of it being served on us.”“Even if the ban was with immediate affect, they have to refer it to the tribunal, and the tribunal will issue notices to us. A hearing will be held and only if the tribunal confirms, will it come into effect. If tribunal cancels it, then it will be scrapped. Merely issuing notification under section 3 of UAPA by the government is not sufficient. The government will have to follow section 4 also which talks about referring it to the tribunal and they will have to comply there.”According to a statement issued by IRF, “We’re studying the contents of the notification and the reasons cited for the ban and we will take recourse to all remedies available in law to get the ban revoked.”A person associated with IRF said that they will be challenging the ban and central government’s notification to declare it unlawful. “The ban and the notification will certainly be challenged. In a day or two, IRF’s strategy will be clear. We may come out with a press statement later during the day which may also have what Dr Naik has to say on it,” he said. “People were working till yesterday at the IRF though the atmosphere was very gloomy. Obviously things will change there now that the notification has been given,” he added.MINISTRY SPEAKSThe Home Ministry said Naik has been promoting enmity and hatred between different religious groups and inspiring Muslim youths and terrorists in India and abroad to commit terrorist acts.It said such a divisive ideology is against India’s pluralistic and secular social fabric and it may be viewed as causing disaffection against India and thereby making it an unlawful activity.The Ministry found that the NGO allegedly had links with Peace TV, an international Islamic channel accused of propagating terrorism.

AIADMK calls for formation of Cauvery Management Board

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) spokesperson CR Saraswathi on Friday called for the formation of Cauvery Management Board (CMB) at the earliest to resolve water sharing dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.”All our MPs want the Cauvery Management Board to be constituted immediately. Some people say that it is a disturbance, it is not a disturbance, it is our right,” said AIADMK leader CR Saraswathi.She further said that since the court has given the order to share the waters of the River Cauvery, the need for forming the CMB has become a priority.Expressing grief about fishermen being shot at by the Sri Lankan Navy Saraswathi said the matter will be looked into and action would be taken at the earliest.Earlier, the Supreme Court had reserved its order on maintainability on appeal of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala against the Cauvery Tribunal’s order of 2007.The Cauvery dispute dates back to 1892 when an agreement was filed between Madras Presidency and Mysore for arbitration but led to a fresh set of disputes. Later, attempts were renewed to arbitrate between the two states under the supervision of Government of India and the second agreement was signed in 1924.With Kerala and Puducherry also staking claims to a share of Cauvery water after India attained independence, a fact finding committee was set-up in 1970 to figure out the situation on ground.The committee submitted its report in 1972 and further studies were done by an expert committee and the states reached an agreement in 1976. However, after a new government came to power in Tamil Nadu, it refused to give consent to terms of the agreement paving way for further dispute.

Heavy metals, pesticides in Ganga, CPCB tells National Green Tribunal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday asked the Centre to give a note detailing the state of river Ganga in the past and how it has deteriorated now. The tribunal’s directions came after the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) submissions that the water of the holy river, between Haridwar and Kanpur, contains heavy metals and pesticides.The NGT’s four-member principal bench, headed by justice Swatanter Kumar, was hearing the Ganga pollution matter filed by MC Mehta. Justice Kumar said, “Today, its (river Ganga) water at Haridwar is full of pollution. There was a time when people used to drink Ganagajal and store it in their house for years. Faith in Ganga was not a myth it was a tested fact, we are talking of a river which is respected by millions across the nation.”The bench said that the note should contain scientific information on ‘what Ganga was’ and ‘what Ganga is’ with regards to quality of the river, its aquatic life, pollution levels, drains, coliform levels and also religious sentiments attached with the river. A total of 14 heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, lead, nickel, chromium, cobalt and selenium were found in Ganga water on Haridwar-Kanpur stretch.The tribunal also asked the tannery industries of Kanpur to submit their stand on using recycled water and whether they can shift to another place. “Are you prepared to accept recycled water from CETP (Common Effluent Treatment Plant). You will have to pay for that water; drinking water and borewell cannot be used. Also, what is your view on shifting? What will be your contribution to the CETP, both capital and maintenance wise?,” said justice Kumar. Jajmau is the tannery hub in Kanpur and as per a CPCB report, the fecal coliform is ten times higher than prescribed standards. Of the 764 grossly polluting industries on the Haridwar-Kanpur stretch, 415 are from the tannery sector.ACCORDING TO CPCBWater sample test said that 33 drains release effluents into Ganga on the Haridwar-Kanpur stretch, of which 21 carry domestic sewage and 12 carry industrial and domestic sewage. At Chhoiya drain, water samples tested by CPCB contained arsenic, DDT, chromium and other pesticides. A total of 14 heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, lead, nickel, chromium, cobalt and selenium were found in Ganga water on Haridwar-Kanpur stretch.

NGT questions LG for lifting construction ban

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In wake of Lt.Governor Najeeb Jung’s order to lift the ban on construction and demolition activity imposed by the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government and National Green Tribunal (NGT), the Tribunal on Wednesday questioned the decision and said pollution levels are still high. The principal bench of the Tribunal said that pollution levels continue to be unsafe and particulate matter (PM) is also above safe limit. Besides lifting prohibition on construction activity, Jung had also ordered that trucks coming from other states will be allowed to enter Delhi after midnight till January 31 next year. However, firecrackers and diesel generating sets are still banned.While questioning the LG’s orders, the NGT bench said, “Why have you lifted the ban on construction activity in Delhi. How do you say it is safe outside. The levels of PM10 and 2.5 is still five times high? Last Thursday, NGT had passed a significant order, putting in place a mechanism to be implemented when air quality plunges to emergency levels when PM10 and PM 2.5 pollution crosses the ‘severe’ level of 431 and 251 respectively. Stopping construction and demolition activity and prohibiting transportation of construction material was one of the major measures to be followed, as per NGT orders.”The Tribunal’s order is applicable to Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.In response to NGT’s questions, the Delhi government counsel informed the bench that the decision was reviewed after it was found that PM10 levels dipped by a third and a one-fourth fall in PM 2.5 levels. The counsel also said that the ban on construction was lifted as daily wage labourers were facing hardships.

SYL verdict: All you need to know about the 61-year long Satluj-Yamuna Link row

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab suffered a serious setback on Thursday as the Supreme Court held as unconstitutional the 2004 law passed by it to terminate the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal water sharing agreement with neighbouring states.The judgement makes it clear that the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004 is “unconstitutional” and Punjab could not have taken a “unilateral” decision to terminate the water sharing agreement with Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Chandigarh.1955: Agreement signed by Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, RajasthanAs per the agreement of 1955, signed between the states of Punjab, Pepsu, Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan, Punjab (including Pepsu) was allocated 7.20 Million Acre Feet (MAF) surplus waters of the Ravi and Beas estimated at 15.85 MAF, based on flow series of 1921-45, excluding pro-partition use, Rajasthan was allocated 8.0 MAF and Jammu and Kashmir 0.65 MAF.Haryana was carved out on the reorganization of erstwhile state of Punjab on November 1, 1966, and as per Section 78 of the Reorganization Act of 1966, the right to receive and to utilize the waters available for distribution, as a result of the Bhakra Nangal Project and BEAS Project, became the right of the successor states in such proportion as may be made by an agreement entered into by the said states after consultation with the central government.This Section also provided that if no such agreement was entered into within two years of the appointed day, the Centre may by orders determine the shares of the States having regard to the purpose of the projects.1976: Punjab filed a suit in SC challenging the validity of the Section 78 of the Reorganization ActAs per SC’s 1976 notification, Haryana was allocated 3.5 MAF, Punjab 3.5 MAF and Delhi 0.2 MAF out of the total water of 7.2 MAF to be allocated amongst the three from the total available 15.2 MAF water of the Satluj, Ravi and Beas. The remaining water was to go to other states, including Jammu and Kashmir.The first litigation in the water sharing dispute came in 1976 when Punjab was dissatisfied and filed a suit in the Supreme Court challenging the validity of the Section 78 of the Reorganization Act. Haryana also filed a suit for implementing the Centre’s notification of April 24, 1976.The portion of the canal in Haryana was started during October 1976 and was completed in June 1980 at an expenditure of Rs 56 Crore. As Haryana could not utilize its share without a carrier channel in the Punjab territory, Haryana took up the matter with Punjab in the year 1976 to construct the SYL Canal and deposited Rs 1.0 Crore in November 1976 and another Rs 1 Crore in March, 1979.Haryana filed a suit against Punjab for failure to take up construction of SYL Canal in their territory. Punjab also filed a suit in the apex court on July 11, 1979 challenging the orders of Centre of March, 1976.1981: Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan signed an agreement to share the waters of rivers Ravi, Beas and SatlujDuring pendency of the suit, however, an agreement was entered into Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan on December 31, 1981, under which 17.17 MAF surplus Ravi Beas waters, assessed on revised flow series of 1921-60, were agreed to be allocated to Punjab 4.22 MAF, Haryana 3.50 MAF, Rajasthan 8.60 MAF, J-K 0.65 MAF and Delhi 0.20 MAF. It was further stipulated in the Agreement, known as the Indira Gandhi Award of 1981 that Punjab would complete the SYL Canal within a period of 2 years, i.e. up to December 31,1983. Haryana and Punjab withdrew their pending suits from SC. Former Punjab CM Amarinder Singh got this agreement and all other subsequent agreements annulled “to protect the interests of the border state” even though this agreement was signed with Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister. Earlier in 1960 the Indus Waters Treaty was signed between India and Pakistan under which water of the Ravi, Beas and Satluj were reserved for exclusive use by India after transition period.Six years later in 1966 when Punjab was reorganized, the Section 78 of the Reorganization Act provided for the apportioning of rights and liabilities of the existing state of Punjab among the successor states (Haryana and Himachal Pradesh) in relation to the Bhakhra-Nangal project and the Beas project, by agreement entered into by the states after consultation with the Centre.But since the 1981 Indira Gandhi award failed to see the light of the day and she was assassinated in 1984, her son and successor Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi initiated steps to resolve the inter-state issues and on July 24, 1985 the ‘The Punjab Settlement’ popularly known as the ‘Rajiv Longowal Accord’ was signed at Delhi with a new deadline, August 15, 1986, being set for the completion of the SYL canal to carry Haryana’s share of Ravi Beas water.Paragraph 9 of this accord, bearing the question of sharing of river waters provided that the farmers of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan will continue to get waters not less than what they were using from the Ravi Beas system as on July 1, 1985. Water used for consumptive purposes will remain unaffected.The claim of Punjab and Haryana regarding the shares in their remaining water was to be referred for adjudication to a Tribunal to be presided over by a Supreme Court Judge. The decision of this tribunal was to be rendered within six months and was to be binding on both parties. All legal and constitutional steps in this respect were to be taken expeditiously.The construction of the SYL Canal was to continue and the canal was to be completed by August 15, 1986. In pursuance of the Rajiv Longowal Accord the Centre- constituted a Tribunal namely Ravi Beas Waters Tribunal (Eradi Tribunal) on April 2, 1986. The tribunal gave its report on January 30, 1987 and the quantum of water used by the farmers and other consumptive users of the three party states as on 1st July 1985, was estimated for Punjab at 3.106 MAF.The Punjab share was inclusive of 0.352 MAF of permissive use allowed by Rajasthan under clause (ii) of the 1981 agreement and subject thereto but was exclusive of the pre-partition use of 1.98 MAF as well as 0.32 MAF in Shah Nehar Canal areas. The share of Haryana was 1.620 MAF and Rajasthan 4.985 MAF (This figure is exclusive of the pre-partition use of 1.11 MAF).The Eradi Tribunal on adjudication of the claims of Punjab and Haryana regarding the shares in their remaining waters, the tribunal decided to allocate surplus Ravi Beas waters to Punjab 5.00 MAF and Haryana 3.83 MAF. The Tribunal stressed the need for the completion of the SYL canal “at an early date since this canal is lifeline for the farmers of Haryana.”The Eradi Tribunal in its report increased the surplus Ravi Beas waters by another 1.11 MAF available downstream of run stations, fixed the total availability at 18.28 MAF. It provided Punjab 5.00 MAF, Haryana 3.83 MAF, Rajasthan 8.60 MAF, J-K 0.65 MAF and Delhi 0.20 MAF. But both Punjab and Haryana Governments filed the applications under Section 5(3) of the Interstate Water Disputes Act, 1956 for some clarifications/guidance on the report of the Tribunal.Haryana prayed to clarify and confirm that the usages of the three states, to allocate the remaining 4.831 MAF of un-allocated Ravi Beas waters below the run stations to the state of Haryana, while Punjab sought modification of Tribunal’s findings regarding verification of waters used by the various states because it is contrary to the provisions of the “Punjab Settlement”.Punjab also challenged the decision of Tribunal that Haryana and Rajasthan are Indus Basin States being erroneous and also the Decision of the tribunal rejecting the contention of Punjab having sole proprietary/Ownership rights of Ravi-Beas rivers being against the legal provisions. Punjab had then itself challenged the finding of the Tribunal regarding holding valid the two agreements of 1955 and 1981 and the order of 1976 being erroneous.But due to disturbed conditions in Punjab, the tribunal could not assemble for conclusive hearing on these applications. The Tribunal was then adjourned sine die in April, 1989.Realizing that the progress of construction of SYL Canal in Punjab portion was not going up to the targeted schedule, Haryana took up the matter with Prime Minister and at a meeting on December 16, 1986, it was decided that entire cost of SYL Canal will be borne by the Centre.The work was resumed and progress continued till July 23, 1990 when work came to a halt due to gunning down of two senior engineers and some others of Punjab including the Chief Engineer and the Superintending Engineer engaged on the work.Haryana on November 23, 1990 wrote to Prime Minister to entrust the balance work to some Central Agency like National Hydel Power Corporation, Border Roads Organization (BRO) or any other suitable agency. As a result, the construction of the canal was decided to be handed over to BRO by Government of India on February 20, 1991 but there could not be any progress.Thereafter the issue was highlighted by Haryana at various levels and fora but the construction activities could not be resumed even though 95 per cent of the work in Punjab portion stood completed up to June, 1990.Not only that there is uncertainty but a substantial amount of money spent has not been put to any use. The project cost which is being funded by the Centre since December 16, 1986 has escalated from Rs 176 Crore in 1983 to an estimated cost of Rs 601 Crore (11/94 price index level). The cost is likely to escalate further as an amount of Rs 679.90 Crore has been spent in Punjab portion up to September 2001.Due to continuous delay in the completion of the canal, Haryana is unable to fully utilize about 3 lakh hectares of irrigation potential already created in the state and is losing incremental agricultural production of over 8 lakh tones per annum amounting to several Crore of rupees besides having drinking water scarcity in several parts of the State. SYL Canal is being misused by Punjab for passing their flood waters to Haryana territories, adding miseries to the farmers of Haryana, state irrigation department officials say.After all the efforts of Haryana to persuade Punjab directly and through the Union Government to get the SYL Canal completed did not materialize, Haryana approached the Apex Court through suit No-1 of 1995 filed in November 95. The suit was refilled as suit No-6 of 1996 after issuance of notices under section 80 C P C. The hearings of this case were held in the Apex Court during the year 1996 to 2001.2002: SC directs Punjab to complete construction of SYL canal within a yearThe Supreme Court passed an order on January 15, 2002 and directed Punjab government that SYL Canal should be completed within a period of one year. In case state of Punjab fails to accomplish the task within the stipulated period, then the Union Government should get the work done through its own agencies as expeditiously as possible.2004: Punjab enacts the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004Punjab enacted the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004 just two days before the July 15,2004 deadline when the Centre was to take over physical possession of the Canal from Punjab Irrigation Department and hand over the construction to the CPWD for completion of the disputed Canal.Punjab had all along maintained that “justice” should be done as per the recognized international riparian laws. The state had taken the stand that endeavour should be to determine the share of Punjab rivers on acknowledged principles of distribution and allocation between the “riparian” states, namely, on the basis of the equitable share of each state.Interestingly, none of the states that have been a party to the unsolved issue is a riparian state, except Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. The other non-riparian states are Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi.

Delhi pollution: In a first, NGT passes orders to tackle ’emergency’ like situation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a significant order to crack down on air pollution in case of an ’emergency’ like situation, the National Green Tribunal’s chairperson bench has issued specific actions that Delhi and neighbouring states should follow. This is the first time that the NGT or any court issued directions for emergency situations. The directions will be applicable to Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. It has also passed a series of other directions to tackle air pollution.According to the NGT order, whenever pollution of PM10 and PM2.5 (particles smaller than 10 micrometers and 2.5 micrometers diameter) reaches a severe level of 431 and 251 respectively, the following measures should be taken. 1. Helicopters should sprinkle water in the Delhi-NCR region, especially in those areas where pollution levels are in excess of prescribed standard limits.2. States shall immediately provide happy seeders or other such machines in agriculture fields for removal of agriculture residue and incentives should be provided to farmers to sell their paddy straw to biomass plants, industries and board making unit.3. State governments shall issue orders to all companies, plants and public undertakings to discharge CSR responsibilities and collect agriculture residue from farm fields by providing farmers with monetary support and financial incentives.4. In emergency situations, stone crushers should be directed to shut down.5. If thermal power plants, hot mix plants and brick kilns are found to be emitting pollution more than prescribed standards during an emergency situation they should be shut down temporarily till they reduce level of emissions.6. In emergency situations, all construction and demolition activities and transportation of construction material should be halted temporarily.7. Government schools and municipal schools should be provided air purifiers.8. NGT has ordered constitution of an interstate Central committee and also state committees to enforce their orders on vehicular pollution, dust pollution, solid waste burning and paddy straw burning. The Central committee has to prepare an action plan for environmental emergency as well as prevention and control of pollution.9. Each state committee in their first meeting has to notify one district where land use of agriculture is high and make it a model district for implementing orders to stop crop burning.10. All the five state governments have to begin vacuum cleaning of roads to prevent dust pollution and mixing of dust and vehicular pollution. Gradually, states should completely move towards mechanical cleaning of roads.11. NGT also ordered that Delhi should strictly enforce their existing order on deregistering diesel vehicles older than ten years and petrol vehicles older than 15 years. Other states have also been ordered to consider ban on old diesel and petrol vehicles.

What were you doing when Delhi was a mess post Diwali? NGT asks state govts

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal pulled up Delhi-NCR states, Punjab and Rajasthan and questioned how they have implemented their orders on vehicular pollution, waste burning, crop burning and dust pollution. The Tribunal was hearing a clutch of matters on air pollution. “How many of you have read our orders fully and then implemented them?” NGT chairperson justice Swatanter Kumar asked counsels and top officials of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, who were all present.All of them replied in negative. The bench then asked them to read all the judgements, analyse them and say what steps they will take to implement them. Coming down heavily on all states for the severe air quality in Delhi, justice Kumar said, “When all this mess was going on, when PM 2.5 pollution went up above 1000, what steps did you take except doing meetings? Why could you not deploy helicopters to sprinkle water? It is shocking that you did not do anything for the first five days.”Proceeding to question Punjab and Haryana for burning paddy straw, the bench said, “Tell us one instance where you put out farm fires or provided machines for managing crop stubble.”Last December, NGT had passed orders against agricultural fires. It had asked states to help marginal farmers with managing paddy straw and fine farmers for lighting field fires on the basis of land holdings. The NGT is going to continue the hearing in a while.

NGT slams four govts. including centre over looming Delhi pollution

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>National Green Tribunal( NGT) on Monday slammed the Centre and the Delhi government of Aam Aadmi Party on waking up late on the deadly air pollution issue, moved quickly to engage all stakeholders in the fight against smog.While the Delhi Culture Minister Kapil Mishra appealed to citizens to come up with suggestions to tackle Delhi’s pollution, health minister Satyendra Jain hinted a return of the odd-even policy to curb vehicular pollution. Union Minister for Environment Anil Dave also separately held a meeting to discuss the pollution in the national capital.With the visibility on roads showing some improvement on the first day of the week after the dust and smog choked the capital with worst levels in 17 years, the weather and pollution experts hoped that the situation will show some improvement on Tuesday. Although the ambient air quality measurement showed no significant change in the levels of PM 2.5 and PM 10. The national green tribunal on Monday slammed Delhi government, Centre, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan on the rising levels of pollution. The tribunal asked all the governments, “What have you done till now to curb pollution” NGT asked, “Why haven’t you started sprinkling water on roads to reduce dust? What happened to the proposal of sprinkling water using helicopters?”Coming down heavily on the local municipal bodies in Delhi, the NGT asked,? Isn’t it your responsibility to curb pollution? What is Nagar Nigam doing, they were asked to use machines for cleaning purposes earlier?” Meanwhile, environmentalist Sunita Narain of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) also petitioned Supreme Court on Delhi pollution. The apex court will hear her petition on Tuesday. A bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice L. Nageswara Rao agreed to hear the matter on Tuesday after Sunita Narain of Centre for Science and Environment told the court that there was no effective implementation of the directions issued by the apex court last year. Sunita Narain told the court that it had, in the past, issued several directions but their effective implementation and enforcement was lacking.She sought from the court monitoring of the implementation of its directions.The apex court was also given the report by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority for NCR on the state of air pollution in the national capital territory. Narain also told the court that Uttar Pradesh and Haryana were diverting the heavy vehicles and other traffic so that they don’t pass through the national capital but because of shortage of manpower the diversion of traffic was not upto the desired levels. The schools have been shut in the capital and all construction work has also been put on hold in view of the dangerous pollution levels.

NGT asks Centre, state Pollution Control Committee to take steps to control pollution

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking cognizance of the alarming air quality in Delhi, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday asked the Central Pollution Control Board and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to take steps to control and curb the pollution.The Tribunal also summoned the Environment Secretary of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan over pollution increase in the region and asked Environment Secretaries of all the four states to submit a report on burning of agricultural residues and pollution control to the tribunal by November 8. Taking suo motu cognizance of the matter, the tribunal had yesterday directed Delhi Chief Secretary KK Sharma to hold a meeting urgently with all the concerned authorities. The NGT’s directive came while hearing a case related to the rising menace of Chikungunya and Dengue.During the hearing the Delhi government and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) had argued that the presence of mosquitoes declined drastically after Diwali. “Have you done anything to prevent children from going to school, did you give advisory to public. The people have the right to breathe fresh air,” the tribunal observed while reprimanding the Delhi Government over its lacklustre response towards tackling air pollution.As per System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), levels of Particulate Matter (PM) 10 levels reached a record 500 mark on Wednesday. The city witnessed low visibility and smog throughout Wednesday evening and night. The reasons for this are a drop in wind speed and rise in humidity in the atmosphere. Such severe pollution levels can cause breathing problems, lung and heart diseases among many other ailments. Next date for hearing is scheduled on November 8.

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan launches paddy cultivation in land set apart for airport

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that the proposed airport here cannot be allowed in view of environmental concerns, the CPI-M led LDF government in Kerala on Saturday launched sowing operations in about 56 hectares of land acquired for the project, promoted by KGS Group. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan kick-started the sowing operations as locals and farmers cheered.The LDF government was not against airports, he said. “We only said the airport cannot be allowed here as it will mean destroying nature and environment. We do not want an airport here. There will be no change in this decision,” Vijayan said. The LDF government was keen on comprehensive development of the state, he added.Agriculture Minister, V S Sunil Kumar and Water Resources Minister Mathew P Thomas were among those present on the occasion. The land where sowing operations were launched today has been lying fallow for about two decades due to waterlogging. About 700 acres of land had been acquired for the project, which has faced protests from environmentalists and local people.The National Green Tribunal had in 2014 set aside the environmental clearance given by the then UPA government to the project and directed KGS Aranmula International Airport Ltd, the promoters, to stop construction at the site. The tribunal had passed the order on a petition filed by the Aranmula Heritage Village Protection Action Council.The project also faced stiff resistance from devotees of Sri Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple, who have said that the airport would cause structural damage to the temple. In an affidavit filed in Kerala High Court in August last, the state government had said it would examine whether a government order granting in-principle sanction to the airport project could be cancelled. It had also stated that the proposed project area constitutes large extent of paddy and wetland which cannot be legally converted for the purpose of a private company in view of existing legal provisions.

Bengaluru’s steel flyover: SC lawyer seeks probe against CM Siddaramaiah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the heat over the construction of a steel flyover intensifies, Senior Supreme Court lawyer KV Dhananjay has alleged that the project is marred with corruption and demanded that a probe be initiated against Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and the state’s Development Minister, KJ George.”This project is an insult to the people of Karnataka because anybody who has ever constructed a house knows what concrete will cost and what steel will cost. This is a corruption project, and therefore, the honourable chief minister and the Development Minister KJ George should be criminally investigated for floating this corruption project. This is an act of massive corruption. The government has kept the whole project in a very secretive manner, it’s almost as if they are building some nuclear arsenal,” Dhananjay told ANI.Meanwhile, former IAS Officer M N Vijay Kumar claimed that important documents pertaining to the cost of the project has been suppressed by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA).”I have put the information on the internet. My demand is don’t suppress, take action and, I am sending a copy of all the documents to the registrar general of the High Court of Karnataka,” Kumar told ANI.On Thursday, Bengalureans approached the National Green Tribunal over the construction of the steel flyover which requires the axing of almost 812 trees. The green board on Friday put the entire project on hold for four weeks. The tribunal sought a detailed report from the state government on the environmental impact assessment before going ahead with the work.Earlier, citizens had met Governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala seeking cancellation of the tender to Larsen & Toubro, who have been given the contract to construct the flyover.Meanwhile, the ‘tree vigil’ will commence from November, where citizen volunteers will hold regular day and night vigil on the stretch from Basaveshwara Circle to Hebbal to save the trees which are to be axed for the project.

Poops! NGT orders probe after ex-army man complains of human waste falling on houses from aircraft

New Delhi: Imagine human excreta falling on you from airplanes flying above! A former senior army man has moved the National Green Tribunal alleging dumping of human waste by aircraft over residential areas near the IGI airport here, which led the green panel to order an inspection of his South Delhi house.

Representational Image.Reuters

Representational Image.Reuters

Lt Gen (Retd) Satwant Singh Dahiya has sought criminal proceedings against commercial airlines and levy of hefty fines on them for endangering the health of residents, terming the act as violation of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Noting the submissions of the petitioner, the green panel directed Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to depute a senior environmental engineer to inspect his house and check the existence of human excreta on the walls. It also asked CPCB that if excreta was found, samples should be collected for analysis and the report placed before the tribunal.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also issued notices to the Ministries of Environment and Forests and Civil Aviation and CPCB, seeking their replies within two weeks. Plane toilets store human waste in special tanks. These are normally disposed of by ground crew once the plane lands, but aviation officials acknowledge that lavatory leaks can occur in the air at times. There have been instances, including in India, when people have been injured.

In his petition, Vasant Enclave resident Dahiya has sought creation of a 24-hour helpline for immediate reporting of the incident and a monitoring mechanism to check that no aircraft drops “human soil or excreta” while landing. “For past more than the week in the early morning, we found that walls and floors of the terrace of our house splattered with large patches of excreta dumped by aircraft flying in front of Palam airport at night.

This is the second time this has happened. Last time it had occurred in early October when we had spent Rs 50,000 to get the entire exterior resurfaced with fresh paint. “Diwali is only a few days away and being the festive season having recently finished fresh coating of the house exterior at considerable experience to clean up the premises. We are again faced with having our walls completed spattered with waste. We are retired people and cannot afford to have this defacement every day,” the plea said.

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Bengaluru steel flyover row: NGT puts project on hold for four weeks

Fri, 28 Oct 2016-06:45pm , Bengaluru , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After Bengalureans approached the green board over the construction of the steel flyover which requires the axing of almost 812 trees, the National Green Tribunal on Friday put the entire project on hold for four weeks.The tribunal has sought a detailed report from the state government on the environmental impact assessment before going ahead with the work.Earlier, citizens had met Governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala seeking cancellation of the tender to Larsen & Toubro, who have been given the contract to construct the flyover.Meanwhile, the ‘tree vigil’ will commence from November, where citizen volunteers will hold regular day and night vigil on the stretch from Basaveshwara Circle to Hebbal to save the trees which are to be axed for the project.

Convene TN Assembly on Cauvery issue: All-party meet to state govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An ‘all-party meeting’ called by DMK on the Cauvery issue on Tuesday urged the Tamil Nadu government to immediately convene the state Assembly to discuss the matter, even as ruling AIADMK and BJP criticised the MK Stalin-led consultations. The meeting, chaired by Stalin, the DMK Treasurer and Opposition Leader in the Assembly, was boycotted by AIADMK, BJP and all constituents of the four-party People’s Welfare Front, comprising MDMK, CPI(M), CPI and VCK. Both AIADMK and BJP lampooned the DMK, saying today’s meeting was that of DMK and its allies and not an all-party meeting as made out by Stalin. DMK’s allies Congress and IUML, besides G K Vasan-led Tamil Maanila Congress(M) and certain farmer’s outfits participated in the meeting. The meeting adopted a slew of resolutions and alleged that upper riparian state Karnataka was “making a mockery” of federal principles by not implementing the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal on water sharing. The Central government, “which should advice Karnataka, was instead supporting it for political reasons,” it said in an apparent reference to the 2018 Assembly polls in that state. Such a stand was affecting the Tamil Nadu farmers, it said and urged the state government to convene a session of the Assembly to discuss the matter. “To show that the Tamil people are united and have no differences (on the Cauvery issue) and to condemn Karnataka and the Centre for not showing the slightest respect to court orders, Tamil Nadu government should immediately convene a special session of the state Assembly,” it resolved. The House should adopt a resolution on constituting the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) and the state government should further “exert pressure” on the Centre by leading an all-party delegation to Prime Minister Modi on the matter, it said. The Prime Minister must be urged to take a ‘dispassionate stand’ on implementation of the final award of the Tribunal and should also be apprised of ‘precedences’ where management boards have been constituted in the Krishna-Godavari and Narmada issues, it said. The meeting also criticised the Centre for reversing its stand on constituting CMB and also demanded that the state government provide compensation of Rs 30,000 per acre for Cauvery delta farmers as they did not get adequate water for kuruvai and samba crops this year. It also alleged that the report of the High Level Committee that surveyed Cauvery delta areas in Tamil Nadu, besides Karnataka, had “not reflected” the prevailing situation in the state. The AIADMK and BJP, however, had no kind words for DMK for the meeting convened by Stalin.

Cauvery row: Supreme Court reserves judgment, Karnataka asked to provide 2000 cusecs/day

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The apex court on Wednesday reserved its judgment on the Cauvery water a day after it directed Karnataka to release 2,000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu.On Monday, a high level panel had suggested of doing away with “outdated and unscientific water application techniques” to resolve the wrangle. The panel said that both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were facing water shortage, creating unemployment and financial hardship for the people.However, Karnataka government has a filed a petition asking the court to form a larger constitutional bench to look into the dispute. The Supreme Court has reserved it’s order on maintainability on appeal of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala against Tribunal’s order of 2007. Meanwhile, Karnataka has been asked to provide 2000 cusecs water/per day water to Tamil Nadu.On September 30, the apex court had directed Karnataka to discharge 6,000 cusecs water from October 1-6, warning that no one would know when the “wrath of the law” would fall on it.High panel committeeThe team was constituted as per orders of the apex court to assess the realities in Cauvery basin areas in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The high level central technical team had inspected Krishnaraja Sagar, Kabini dams in Karnataka, Mettur Bhavani Sagar dams in Tamil Nadu. The GS Jha-led team had interacted with the PWD officials and delta farmers in Thanjavur Nagapattinam and Tiruvarur. Farmers in Tiruchirapalli and delta regions told the team that samba crops will be damaged if water is not released into Cauvery by Karnataka.Meanwhile, the delta farmers in Tamil Nadu resorted to rail rook agitation on Monday urging the government to set up Cauvery management board.With ANI inputs

Odd-even in Delhi had no impact, says Central Pollution Control Board

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday directed Delhi government to convene a meeting of concerned authorities to come up with a solution to tackle the worsening air quality in the national capital, after being told that the odd-even scheme has not helped in curbing pollution.The direction to hold such a meeting soon was given by a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar to the Delhi Chief Secretary, Delhi Pollution Control Committee and other stakeholders. The order came after Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said there was no improvement in air quality in Delhi during the second week of the odd-even scheme in April.In fact, as per its report, the ambient air quality in Delhi during the odd-even implementation period was found to have deteriorated further than the level when the restriction was not in force, it said.”The counsel appearing for CPCB on instructions says there has been no improvement in ambient air quality of Delhi during implementation of odd-even scheme…The Chief Secretary, NCT of Delhi shall conduct a meeting in relation to ambient air quality in Delhi,” the bench said.The matter was listed for next hearing on November 16. Earlier, the apex pollution monitoring body had told NGT that the decline in vehicular emission in the second week of odd-even was not a dominant enough factor to impact the pollution levels. The CPCB had monitored several pollutants between April 1-14 before the odd-even period and April 15-30 during it, to arrive at the conclusion.The NGT was hearing a petition filed by scientist Mahendra Pandey who had sought independent monitoring of air quality index and alleged that vehicular emission was not a major contributing factor to pollution.In his petition, while referring to an IIT Roorkee study, Pandey had claimed that no significant change in air quality was registered during the first phase of the scheme which was earlier in force between January 1 and 15.

Odisha Congress seeks President’s intervention in Mahanadi river water dispute

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress in Odisha on Friday sought President Pranab Mukherjee’s intervention to resolve the ongoing dispute between the state and Chhattisgarh over the Mahanadi river water.”We urge you to wield your constitutional mandate to protect the interest of multitude of cultivators, instruct the Chhattishgarh Government to desist from the unilateral construction immediately,” the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) said in a memorandum to the President.A CLP delegation led by its leader Narasingha Mishra met the President in New Delhi and apprised him of the situation following Chhattishgarh government’s “unilateral” construction of projects on upstream of Mahanadi. “We also urged the President to instruct the Union Government to share all information with the state of Odisha as regards any change in adverse inflow of water to this state and constitution of an Inter-State River Water Dispute Tribunal immediately so that the matter may be referred to,” Mishra told reporters after meeting the President.Stating that the reduction in inflow of water in Mahanadi will have a serious bearing on the fragile eco-system enveloping the water bodies like Chilika, the largest lagoon of India, the CLP mentioned in the memorandum that wildlife census showed how it was a perfect host to Siberian and similar aviaries of rare species.Ornithologists have already predicted the extinction of many rare varieties of aviaries in no distant future.”Further, it (reduction in flow of water in Mahanadi) will have serious impact on the mangrove forest of the Mahanadi delta which has acted as a barrier to high tides and super cyclones. Environmentalists have already predicted the threat of extinction of rare species of alligators in Satkosia Wildlife Sanctuary and turtles in Gahirmatha/ Bhitarkanika sanctuary in the river in case of serious reduction in the intake of water in the water bodies,” the memorandum said.

NGT puts brakes on DDA’s unified by-laws for Delhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The chairperson bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has put brakes on the implementation of the Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) ‘Unified Building Bye-Laws’ that sought to merge green clearances for constructions in 20,000 sq.m to 1,50,000 sq.m with building approvals. The bye-laws were brought out on the basis of a notification of the union ministry for environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) that exempted building projects in 20,000 sq.m to 1,50,000 from green clearance for ‘ease of business’.DDA’s bye-laws were notified with the prior concurrence of the MoEFCC and even before the ministry’s draft notification the basis of DDA’s bye-laws had come into effect. The environment ministry’s notification and DDA’s subsequent bye-laws had drawn severe criticism from environmentalists, who accused the authorities of diluting environmental processes.The unified bye-laws were challenged before the NGT by non-profit organisation Society for Protection of Environment and Biodiversity on grounds that the DDA’s bye-laws and environment ministry’s notification were in contravention to the Environment Impact Assessment notification, 2006.The petitioner had also contended that urban local bodies do not possess the technical expertise or knowledge to evaluate environmental impact caused due to the building and construction activities. After hearing the matter from April, the NGT disposed the application in an order that was made public last week. It asked the union environment ministry to consider objections of the applicant. Whereas, the DDA informed NGT that though the unified building bye-laws have been notified, the chapter on environment conditions for sanctioning building plans would not be put into practice till the union environment ministry give its approval and concurrence.DDA’s counsel Rajiv Bansal told DNA, “The unified bye-laws will not be made effective till modalities to implement them are approved by the union environment ministry.”As per the EIA notification, 2006, building and construction projects between 20,000 sq.m to 1,50,000 sq.m are appraised by the State Expert Appraisal Committees, that comprise of technical experts, independent experts and environmental experts. One of the key contentions of the applicant was that union environment ministry had failed to fulfill its statutory responsibilities and was in fact, transferring powers to urban local bodies. This, the petitioner said, creates a situation of conflict of interest as all the powers have been vested with the same authority right from grant of approval to monitoring the compliance.The application also highlighted that the urban bye-laws had not addressed the issues of clearance to constructions that would be situated in sites with endangered ecology and endemic flora and fauna. For instance, in the bye-laws, there is no specific consideration for projects situated in ecologically sensitive areas like national parks, sanctuaries, forests and other protected areas.

After surgical strikes, Pakistani hackers attack Indian websites with profanities, claim ‘revenge’

Seven terror launch pads were targeted across the LoC by special forces of the Indian Army during the surgical strikes on 29 September. A week after the attack, various Indian websites faced cyber attacks by Pakistani hackers. The hackers claim that the attacks were an act of “revenge” against the Indian Army’s surgical strikes across the Line of Control.

On 3 October, the National Green Tribunal’s website came under attack with a group hacking it and posting profanities, claiming it was an act of “revenge”, reported PTI.

“We are Unbeatable. You… kill innocent people in Kashmir and call your self defenders of your country. You…violate the ceasefire on border and call it ‘Surgical Strikes’. Now kiss the burn of Cyber War,” the hackers said in the post replete with expletives.

Representational image. ThinkstockRepresentational image. Thinkstock

Representational image. Thinkstock

The hack was noticed around 7.15 pm on Monday. This was the second time after 2013 that the website has been hacked.

A day after the incident with the National Green Tribunal, another group hacked the website of a university and posted “Pakistan Zindabad” slogan on it.

Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean studies (KUFOS) authorities said they filed a complaint with the cyber
cell of the state police after the incident was noticed.

“Given the serious nature of the incident, we immediately alerted the security agencies. They had posted ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogan on our website,” the university’s registrar VM Victor George said.

According to a report by The Times of India, a group of Pakistani hackers have claimed that they have hacked 7,070 Indian websites and released a list of names early on Tuesday. The cyber security specialists told The Times of India that the hackers are not experts, but are ‘script kiddies’ who don’t write their own code, while hacking websites.

The report suggested that the group has in the past hacked websites of Tata Motors, AIADMK and Taj Mahal, and on Tuesday, said that “there is more to come.”

Another report by the The Times of India suggested that on Tuesday, Pakistani hackers tapped into the frequency on which pilots of Indian carriers landing into airports close to the LoC — Jammu and Thoise Air Force base — operate and blocked communication. The hackers then started transmitting Pakistani patriotic songs on the same frequency, which then played out in the cockpits.

This hampered the landing process for these pilots who found the songs irritating.

Counter-attack by India

To counter these cyber strikes, an Indian cyber security organisation has claimed that they have entered Pakistan’s critical infrastructure systems (including the country’s defence infrastructure) and would be prepared to destroy the system if the need arose, reported The Hindu. A top official from the organisation claimed that they are waiting for a go-ahead from the Indian government.

“We have entered the critical infrastructure of Pakistan. The moment we get the go-ahead, we will destroy these,” said S Amar Prasad Reddy, Additional Director- General, National Cyber Safety and Security Standards, while addressing a conference at the Anna University in Chennai.

Cyber war between the hackers of the two nations is not new. ‘Vulnerable’ government sites from both sides have been hacked in the past.

With inputs from agencies

Centre makes U turn on Cauvery water dispute

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Making a U-turn on the Cauvery water dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the Central government on Monday said the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to direct it to constitute a Cauvery management board, saying such orders amounted to encroachment into the legislative turf and will lead to “other complications”.The Centre’s new stance comes shortly after the Karnataka moved a review petition on Saturday in the court, challenging the apex court’s authority to pass orders to release Cauvery water and set up a Cauvery management board in “violation” of the National Water Policy of 2012, which gives Karnataka’s requirement for drinking water first priority over Tamil Nadu’s needs of irrigation.Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had last week agreed to the court’s direction to form a board by October 4 and submit a field report on the ground realities at the Cauvery basin by October 6.In an urgent mentioning before a Bench of Justices Dipak Misra, Rohatgi said it was his “mistake”, and said there was an embargo on the Supreme Court from passing orders to form a Cauvery management board under Article 262 of the Constitution and Section 11 of the Inter-State River Disputes Act.Rohatgi contended the Supreme Court should not have entertained any petitions or applications post the 2007 Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal final order.He said the constitution of a Cauvery management board by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) was only a “recommendation”, which the Centre could choose to either accept or discard.The Court to hear it on Tuesday.Meanwhile, in a step that will ensure release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, the Karnataka legislature on Monday adopted a unanimous resolution empowering the government to take an “appropriate” decision to provide water for irrigation to meet the state farmers’ demand.The decision by both the Houses of the legislature at the second such special session in 10 days came on the day when the Supreme Court asked Karnataka government to apprise it by tomorrow afternoon whether it has released water to Tamil Nadu as directed by it on September 30.Moved by the government, the resolution makes no mention about release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu or the Supreme Court orders, but it modified the September 23 resolution to draw water from the four reservoirs in the Cauvery basin only for drinking purpose, to allow its use for irrigation also.On September 30, the apex court had directed Karnataka to discharge 6,000 cusecs water from October 1-6, warning that no one would know when the “wrath of the law” would fall on it.In his reply in the Assembly, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah gave strong indications of complying with the order of the Supreme Court to release water to Tamil Nadu, while assuring the people that government would make all efforts to meet drinking water needs and to save standing crops.Siddaramaiah said the state had never defied the court orders and noted that “we are in a federal set up”.—With agency inputs

Cauvery water row: Supreme Court orders formation of Cauvery Management Board by Oct 4

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a crucial order on Friday, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra passed an interim order that the Cauvery Management Board had to be constituted by October 4 and that the Centre was to ensure that a coordination officer was nominated.Karnataka, though, got a breather as the bench did not initiate action against the state for defying their orders and not releasing 6,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu.The bench said that all four Cauvery basin states — Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala — have to nominate a member to the Cauvery Management Board, as per orders of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal, before 4 pm on Saturday. The Cauvery board has to be constituted by Tuesday and then forthwith visit the site to study water availability. The board then has to report back to the Supreme Court.Even as the SC bench did not initiate action against Karnataka, it reiterated its September 27 order and directed the state to release 6,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu from October 1 to 6.The bench also warned Karnataka that it was flouting their orders and this was their last opportunity.

Cauvery dispute: Taxpayers and farmers bear the burden of state agencies’ failure

The Cauvery water dispute is getting messier by the day. During its last hearing on 12 September, the Supreme Court had asked the Karnataka government to release 12,000 cusecs of water every day till 20 September. It had mandated the Cauvery Supervisory Committee (CSC) to decide on the quantum of water to be released by Karnataka for the next 10 days — till 30 September.

The chairman of the CSC, the Union water resources secretary, decided on 19 September that Karnataka must release 3,000 cusecs of water daily from 21 till 30 September. But on the very next day (20 September), the Supreme Court overruled the decision of the CSC chairman and asked the Karnataka government release 6,000 cusecs of water for the next seven days — till 27 September.

What does one make of this utter confusion? How did the CSC decide on the discharge of 3,000 cusecs of water daily and, on what basis, did the Supreme Court overturn that decision and increase it to 6,000 cusecs?

It is obvious that such decisions are being taken largely based on the gut feeling of the deciding authority, be it the CSC or the Supreme Court, because each has at its disposal only half-baked information.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Consider the following facts:

The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal had, in its final report in February 2007, asked for the constitution of a Cauvery Management Board (CMB) to monitor the ground reality of the Cauvery basin on a regular basis and decide on the interstate disputes. But in so many years, the government of India did not bother to constitute the CMB. It was only on last Tuesday (20 September) that the Supreme Court gave a direction to the Centre to set up the CMB within a month.

Without a CMB, no credible data is there on the table for any body to make a decision based on facts. Whether it was the CSC or the SC, both were confronted with the competing, and often cooked-up data provided by the bitterly hostile neighbours — Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. That is why, all decisions, whether by CSC or the SC, are bound to be controversial.

Much of this controversy would have had no basis if the decision was based on solid data and scientific analysis. That is simply not the case.

Take the case of the CSC meeting on 12 September as per the mandate of the Supreme Court. It remained inconclusive for want of adequate data about the utilisation of water, variation in rainfall and related issues in the Cauvery basin areas. The committee met a week later, on 19 September, only to be confronted with the conflicting claims of the two warring states.

Nevertheless, in order to carry out the instructions of the Supreme Court, the CSC chairman, disregarding the opposition of both the disputing parties, issued a perfunctory order (3,000 cusecs per day discharge). It was only in this meeting that the CSC decided to put in place a protocol for the real-time transmission of the river water flow data among the states of the Cauvery basin, so that decisions based on facts to be made.

What does it all say about the functioning of our government?

After all, the Union water resources secretary heads the CSC and the chairman of the Central Water Commission is a member of the committee. Why these individuals and the bodies they represent should exist, at huge cost to the exchequer, if they did not have the basic information in all these years to arrive at a fact-based decision?

As a matter of fact, the Cauvery mess reflects the ineptitude of all the three vital organs of the state — executive, legislature and the judiciary.

The 50-year-old Cauvery water-sharing agreement signed between the princely state of Mysore and the Madras Presidency in 1924 came to an end in 1974, but the Union government did not bother to put up a fresh mechanism in place till the Supreme Court directed it in 1990 to set up a Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal.

The VP Singh government carried out the SC order and set up a three-member tribunal headed by the retired justice NP Singh. But the tribunal also acquired the work culture of the Indian government — it took more than 16 years to deliver its verdict in 2007.

And what did it deliver? After 16 years, it seemed as if the mountain went into labour and produced a mouse.

Representational image. CNN-News18Representational image. CNN-News18

Representational image. CNN-News18

The tribunal worked out a water-sharing formula during the normal monsoon years. But then in the normal monsoon years, there has never been a conflict between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu — in fact, Karnataka has had no problem in releasing more water than what the tribunal has mandated in the normal years.

Invariably, the conflict between the two states has erupted in the distress years when the monsoon water has been scarce. Surprisingly, the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal did not prescribe a formula for these years — it merely incorporated a banal provision that water sharing might be decreased proportionately among the states, keeping in view the extent of availability of rain water!

So much in 16 years! No wonder such banality kept the pot boiling. That negated the very purpose behind the setting up of a tribunal to resolve the interstate disputes!

What is a greater irony is that the life of the tribunal — and the salaries and perks of the members — continued even after 2007, ostensibly to allow for the resolution of the appeals and petitions by the contending parties. Justice NP Singh continued in his position till 2012 when he resigned on health grounds at the ripe old age of 85. The government chose another retired Justice, BS Chauhan for this post-retirement perk after Justice Singh demitted office.

The taxpayer continued to bear the burden of the extended term of the tribunal, despite the fact that the tribunal was out of work, for the simple reason that both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu had moved the Supreme Court challenging the Cauvery tribunal’s award in 2007 itself and the Supreme Court had admitted the petition. The tribunal had no locus standi to dispose of any petition as the matter had become sub judice.

But then our Supreme Court too did not acquit itself well in this case. It admitted the petition in 2007 and decided in 2008 for the constitution of a three-judge bench to adjudicate upon the Cauvery water dispute between Tamil Nadu and Kerala. But eight years have passed and there has been no progress in the case.

Here is a strange situation — the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal had become defunct because the Supreme Court took up the appeal, but the Supreme Court did not hold any hearing, let alone come to a decision. That led to the conflagration of the dispute between the two states, spilling over to the streets. Ironically, the Supreme Court has been responding only to the emergency situations — both in 2012, and again in 2016 — to announce an interim decision to tide over the immediate crisis, while the final adjudication is nowhere in sight.

The Cauvery mess reflects the ineptitude of all the three vital organs of the state — executive, legislature and the judiciary

As a matter of fact, the Supreme Court should not have involved itself in the adjudication of the Cauvery water dispute at all. The Article 262 of the Indian Constitution states: (1) Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any inter State river or river valley.

Then the same Article goes on to state categorically: (2) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, Parliament by law provide that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint as is referred to in clause (1).

Despite this express provision, the Supreme Court is dabbling in the matter only because our Parliament has shirked its responsibility to enact the legislation mandated by the Constitution.

It is indeed unfortunate that all the three major organs of the state — executive, judiciary and legislature — have failed to discharge their assigned task competently, leading to a major crisis involving millions of farmers spread over two major south Indian states.

Meghalaya cabinet urges central govt to exempt the state from coal mine laws

Shillong: The Meghalaya cabinet on Friday decided to urge the central government to exempt the state from the purview of the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973, following the National Green Tribunal’s ban on rat-hole coal mining in the state.

Mukul Sangma. Agencies.Mukul Sangma. Agencies.

Mukul Sangma. Agencies.

“The cabinet has mandated the state’s mining and geology department to take up with the central government to exempt coal mining in Meghalaya from the purview of the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973,” Chief Minister Mukul Sangma told the media.

Section 3 of the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973, states that the right, title, interest of the owners in relation to the coal mines shall vest absolutely with the central government.

Following the National Green Tribunal’s ban on rat-hole coal mining in the state, the Meghalaya government has taken up with the central government its bid to invoke Para 12 A (b) of the Sixth Schedule through a Presidential notification to exempt the state from the central law.

“We have had several discussions on this issue since last year and we have almost completed it. Therefore, the cabinet has mandated the mining and geology department to take up the issue and expedite the process of getting the state exempted from the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973,” the chief minister informed the media.

Moreover, Sangma said his government had come up with its Mines and Minerals Policy, 2012, to regulate mining activities in the state.

The green court had ordered an interim ban on “rat-hole” coal mining in Meghalaya from April 17, 2014, after the All Dimasa Students’ Union and the Dima Hasao District Committee filed an application before the tribunal alleging that the water of the Kopili river was turning acidic due to coal mining in Jaintia Hills.

Coal mining in Meghalaya is ostensibly part of the “customary tribal rights”.

Compensation to passengers: Madras HC reverse orders of tribunal

Madurai:  The Madras High Court on Saturday ruled that the onus was on the railways to prove whether a person, who died after falling from a crowded train, was a bonafide passenger or not and reversed the orders of Railways Claims Tribunal refusing compensation to families of two such victims.

In a judgement reserved in the principal seat of the High Court in Chennai and delivered in the Madurai Bench, Justice T Raja held that “the onus is on the Railways (and not on the claimants for compensation) to prove that the deceased were not bona fide passengers of trains. Normally it was presumed that a passenger in a train held a valid ticket.”

Allowing two different appeals by a common order, the judge reversed the orders passed by Railway Claims Tribunal in September 2008 refusing compensation to families of two passengers who died while travelling in Electric Multiple Unit trains in Chennai in 2002 and 2006.

Representational image. Photo credit: Wiki commonsRepresentational image. Photo credit: Wiki commons

Representational image. Photo credit: Wiki commons

The judge directed the Southern Railways to pay a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each with interest to the claimants.

The judge held that the tribunal had erred in expecting the claimants to produce valid tickets.

The railways could not deny compensation to the family members on the ground that the passengers were not bonafide travellers and they were not able to produce tickets or any other travel authority to establish that the deceased were bonafide passengers of the train in question.

The tribunal had erred in expecting the claimants to produce valid tickets, the judge said, adding the Section 124A of the Railways Act, 1989, provided for paying compensation for any “untoward incident,” irrespective of the negligence on the part of the railways, subject to conditions that the deceased or injured purchased a valid ticket and it was not an instance of attempt to suicide or intoxication.

One case was filed by parents of T Jagan, who died after hitting an electric post while travelling in an overcrowded train on 10 April, 2006.

The second claim was filed by the wife and children of K Ekambaran, a construction worker, who died in a similar incident on 28 May, 2002.

Kerala HC stays NGT’s order banning diesel vehicles older than 10 years

The Kerala High Court on Friday stayed the National Green Tribunal’s order which banned diesel vehicles that are older than 10 years in six cities across Kerala.The High Court had last month stayed the NGT order which directed the state government not to register any diesel vehicle with capacity of 2000 CC and more, except public transport and local authority vehicles.In a landmark judgement, an NGT bench in Kochi had on May 23 banned light and heavy diesel vehicles, which are more than 10 years old, in six major cities, including Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kochi, Thrissur, Kozhikode and Kannur.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The order was issued against diesel vehicles while hearing a petition filed by Lawyers’ Environmental Awareness Forum.The bench had also directed the traffic police to take action and charge a fine of Rs. 5,000 as environment compensation from defaulters.The petition had demanded toxic gases by the old diesel vehicles such as lorries and buses should be immediately curtailed and a strict rule should be brought for it.

Voice of a filmmaker shouldn’t be throttled; it’s unfortunate: Aamir on ‘Udta Pujab’ controversy

Mumbai: Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan on Wednesday came out in support of “Udta Punjab”, which is embroiled in a major controversy over censorship, saying the voice of a filmmaker should not be throttled.

Aamir Khan. Image from IBNlive

Aamir Khan. Image from CNN News18

Aamir is the latest celebrity to join the list of growing voices from the film industry, who have protested against the censor board’s demands to remove the word ‘Punjab’ from the title and the story and make 89 cuts.

“It’s very unfortunate. I’m pained that the film is going through this. As per my knowledge, it is based on drug addiction and delivers a social message. I don’t think there is anything that should be cut or audience should be kept away…

“It reflects badly on CBFC. I hope the film gets justice at the Tribunal. The voice of the filmmaker shouldn’t be throttled… There should be freedom of speech. Every Indian should have this right,” Aamir said on the sidelines of an event here.

Maharashtra SSC Result 2016: Homemaker clears 10th exam along with her daughter

A 43-year-old homemaker in Mumbai, who appeared for Class X examination along with her 16-year-old daughter this year, is elated after both managed to pass it together.Sarita Zagade, mother of two girls, who appeared for her first ever Secondary School Certificate (Class X) examination in March, has scored 44% marks, while her daughter Shrutika scored 69%.The results were declared on Monday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A resident of Wageshwari Nagar in Sewri, Sarita had to drop out of school after Class 4 due to financial constraints.”I was not able to complete my education. I was in Class 4 when my father died. We were four sisters and one brother.Sisters then got together to earn money to run the household,” she said.Sarita joined a night school in Class 8 after her husband Vishwanath, who works with the Tax Appellate Tribunal, motivated her to continue education.”Initially, I was very scared to go back to school after almost 35 years, but my husband motivated me. I thought of giving it a shot and told him I would continue only if I liked it. Within just a few days, I began loving it,” Sarita said.Sarita’s elder daughter Kshitija also appeared for the Higher Secondary Education (HSC) examination this year and scored 48 per cent marks.All three of them studied together, juggling between studying and household chores according to their exam schedules. The three of them were assigned different examination centres.”As I was the eldest one in the exam hall, everyone seemed to be looking at me and I realised that they weren’t used to older people in the exam hall,” Sarita added.

Art of Living may move SC against NGT’s ‘unjust verdict’

After the National Green Tribunal (NGT) dismissed a plea of The Art of Living (AOL) Foundation seeking to furnish a bank guarantee of the balance compensation amount of the environmental compensation levied on them for damage to the Yamuna floodplains during the World Culture Festival (WCF) held in March, the foundation said they found the verdict unjust and after reviewing the order they would go to the Supreme Court. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The NGT also directed AOL to pay the remaining Rs 4.75 crores as environment compensation. “We find the verdict unjust and, if need be, after reviewing the order we will go to the Supreme Court. We have not violated any law or done any wrong,” said AOL. “The Art of Living has never said that we don’t have funds. We were ready and willing to give a bank guarantee which served the purpose, but our application has been wrongly dismissed. We will test the legality and see how we can correct the judgement,” said the foundation in a statement. “We don’t agree with the observations of the Tribunal. The Art of Living has neither polluted air or water or earth. We have left the WCF site in a better condition than what we had got. We have an extensive repertoire for environment work and find these allegations unacceptable,” it further said. No scientific assessment of the site has yet been done, claimed AOL, adding: “On a brief visual inspection, allegations have been made and we have been asked to compensate an amount arrived at arbitrarily. The damage has not even been assessed. We are, therefore, not happy and will consider all options. We would like to point out that what a section of media is enthusiastically calling a fine is not a fine but a compensation deposit, it added.On Monday, the NGT had issued notice to petitioners – environmentalist Manoj Misra, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and other respondents – on a plea filed by The Art of Living Foundation, seeking reconstitution of principal expert committee to examine the alleged impact of the World Culture Festival on the Yamuna floodplains. The foundation filed an application to reconstitute an independent and an unbiased expert committee to examine the allegations. The foundation alleged, “The committee has pre-judged the issue and are under self-imposed pressure to justify that figure, creating a bias for itself.” “The Art of Living objects to the existing committee comprising Brij Gopal, Prof. Gosain, C.R. Babu and headed by Sashi Shekhar, who arrived at an arbitrary figure of Rs. 120 crore based on a very brief ‘visual’ assessment without following a scientific process,” the foundation said in a statement.The court, which heard the preliminary arguments to change the committee, issued notice to Mishra, the other petitioners as well as the respondents. The court will tomorrow consider the request for another independent body to simultaneously assess the site pending the final disposal of the application. On March 9, the NGT had refused to prohibit the World Culture Festival on the bank of Yamuna, but slapped a fine of Rs. 5 crore on the foundation for damaging biodiversity of the ecologically sensitive Yamuna floodplains.On May10, the foundation had issued a clarification over a NGT notice to its founder Ravi Shankar for his alleged remarks against the green panel, saying the allegations against the spiritual leader were ‘completely false’ and based merely on ‘newspaper reports’. The NGT issued a notice to Ravi Shankar for his alleged remarks that the fine imposed by the green panel for organising an event on banks f river Yamuna was politically motivated. “At the NGT proceedings, it was specifically pointed out by The Art of Living lawyers that applications filed by Anand Arya and Misra were based merely on news paper reports and that the tribunal ought not to entertain the same,” the Art of Living statement said. “It was also clarified by The Art of Living that the allegations about Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at the NGT was misconceived since the video of the speech was available with Art Of Living and demonstrate that the allegation was completely false,” it added. The Art of Living further said that it would respond to NGT’s notice and warned the complainant of strict action if allegations are found without credible basis. “Court in fact warned Misra that if he is not able to prove his allegation, he will be penalised,” the statement added. The NGT in a notice to Ravishankar had asked why should not contempt of court proceedings be initiated against him and has directed him to file a reply to it latest by May 25.

Italian marines case: Supreme Court to hear Salvatore Girone’s bail plea today

The Supreme Court will hear on Thursday the plea of Italian marine Salvatore Girone, seeking relaxation of bail conditions to enable him to return to Italy.Earlier on May 2, the UN’s Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague recommended relaxation of bail conditions of Girone, one of the two marines facing murder charges for killing two Indian fishermen.Girone and another Italian marine Massimiliano Latorre are facing charges of murdering two fishermen in 2012 off the Kerala coast.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Arbitral Tribunal’s order clearly recognises the fact that “Girone is under India’s authority alone” and that the “Supreme Court of India exercises jurisdiction” over him.The order further asked India and Italy to approach the Supreme Court of India for relaxation of the bail conditions. The order reportedly stated that Italy must ensure that Girone reports to an authority in Italy designated by the Supreme Court of India. It also recommended that Girone should surrender his passport and should be prohibited from leaving Italy unless the Supreme Court of India grants him permission.
ALSO READ #dnaEdit | Italian Marines case: Partial victoryItaly also accepted that if Girone is allowed to return to Italy, he would remain under the jurisdiction of the courts of India.Italy had earlier in March asked the PCA to order India to release Girone, saying the latter, otherwise, risks four more years in India without any charges being made which would amount to “grave violation of his human rights”.
ALSO READ UN tribunal’s order on Italian marines affirms Supreme Court’s authority: GovernmentThe Supreme Court, which was handling this case, suspended the court proceedings relating to the trial of two marines in August 2015 following an order to this effect by International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) which was approached by Italy for international arbitration.

Italy requests Supreme Court to enforce UN court verdict, allow marine to return

Italy has requested India’s Supreme Court to urgently enforce a UN arbitration tribunal’s decision enabling Italian marine Salvatore Girone to quickly return from India, where he is being held on murder charges.”Italy submitted a request to the summer recess Supreme Court of India to urgently enforce the decision of The Hague Court of Arbitration…enabling Italian marine Salvatore Girone to quickly return to Italy,” the Italian Foreign Ministry said in a statement here today.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The matter came up in the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear Italy’s plea on May 26. According to the Court of Arbitration decision, Italy and India are called on to cooperate in defining the conditions and the ways with which to regulate Salvatore Girone’s return and permanence in Italy while awaiting the decision of the arbitration proceeding on the dispute over the jurisdiction on the Enrica Lexie case.Girone is one of two Italian marines — on board ship ‘Enrica Lexie’ — accused by India of killing two of its fishermen off the Kerala coast in 2012. He has not been able to leave India, aside from a few brief permits, since the incident. The other marine, Massimiliano Latorre, is back in Italy after a stroke in 2014.The Tribunal is adjudicating only on the limited question of whether India or Italy has the jurisdiction to try the two Marines for the killing of two innocent Indian fishermen. The two countries have agreed to arbitration by the UN court.

How insects are marring the beauty of the Taj Mahal

After fears of a terrorist attack, frequent maintenance problems, or its structure virtually creaking under the weight of uncontrolled footfall, the latest threat to the Taj Mahal comes from a most unpredictable source: insects which are leaving dark green stains on its beautiful white marble.Dumping in the YamunaUncontrolled stagnation in the Yamuna near the iconic 17thcentury monument has led to a greenish-black pigmentation on the marble due to the breeding of an insect called Chironomus Calligraphus (Geoldichironomus). Rampant dumping of municipal waste into the river near the Taj is at the root of the problem.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>NGT kicks in to actionReports of the pigmentation have caught the attention of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which took a stern view and issued notices to the Centre and the state on Monday.A bench, headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, issued notices to the ministry of environment and forests, UP government, state pollution control board, state environment impact assessment authority and others. The order came on the plea of environment activist and Agra resident DK Joshi.Officials unawareThe creepy threat might be sensational for Taj admirers and environmentalists worldwide, but officials concerned in the UP government seem to be woefully and completely unaware of the problem.“It is the job of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI),” came the prompt reply from the UP Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) chief environment officer in-charge of Agra region, Dr Akhlaq Hussain. He had no idea about the insect menace or the NGT order.UPPCB member secretary SC Yadav and state environment impact assessment authority chairman Dr SC Bhatt were equally unaware.The petitionIn his writ, the petitioner had relied on a recent ASI report which states that these insects are staining the walls of the Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, greenish-black.“School of Entymology, St John’s School, Agra, did a preliminary report and found that the insect was causing damage to the Taj,” the petition said while seeking the constitution of a committee to look into the problem.“Due to negligible water flow in the Yamuna, the area has turned into a swamp with heavy algal growth and phosphorus, which are the primary source of food for this particular species of insects,” the report stated. The reason for the high levels of phosphorus has been blamed on the practice of releasing ash from dead bodies that are burnt next to the monument into the Yamuna.Dr Girish Maheshwari, head of the entomology department, St John’s College, in his report to ASI said the insects live in large swarms and are attracted to the white stone of the Taj. “The swarming is a nuptial flight of the males and females of this species,” he stated. The bolus of the chlorophyll is formed when they are in their larval form. This bolus is discarded by the adults as faeces which are staining the Taj.However, the big relief for Taj lovers is that the stains can be washed off with plain water.

Territorial armyman’s widow wins pension battle after eight years

The eight-long year battle has finally come to an end for Santosh Devi, the widow of a Territorial Army personnel, who was granted an ex-gratia amount of Rs10 lakh by the Supreme Court, in a recent order. Army had denied the family pension on the ground that her husband, who died of heart attack, had not completed requisite15 years in service.Directing the central government to pay the amount to Santosh Devi, whose husband died in 2008 at his native village in Punjab, the apex court set aside the Armed Force Tribunal’s order rejecting her plea.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Armed Forces Tribunal had dismissed the application filed by the widow seeking family pension for the death of her husband claiming that Singh had rendered a total service of about twelve years in the army.Tribunal had held that he did not have the requisite minimum qualifying embodied service of 15 years to earn service pension, and hence upon his death while he was in disembodied state, the widow was not entitled to family pension.It was contended before the bench headed by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur that while the wife of a regular army soldier, who dies in harness is entitled to family pension even if the deceased soldier had not put in the minimum qualifying service to earn service pension, the same is denied to wife of a deceased Territorial Army soldier on a specious plea that the deceased soldier was in disembodied state when the death took place.According to Devi’s petition, this discrimination is violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.The division bench also comprising Justice R Banumathi agreed with the reasoning of the tribunal that a regular army person and a person enrolled in the Territorial Army are governed by different set of terms and conditions of service.Observing that there are anomalies in the rules governing service conditions of Territorial Army men, the court observed, “inspite of repeated recommendations, it is not known why steps are not being taken to remove the anomalies to pay family pension to ‘next of kin’ of Territorial Army personnel who rendered long service in Territorial Army and died while in disembodied state.We hope that the Union of India considers the issue favourably to remove the anomalies to pay appropriate family pension to next of kin of Territorial Army personnel who die while in disembodied state by giving due weightage to their embodied service.”As per Army Order 77 of 1984, the Territorial Army is a part of the regular Indian Army. The role of Territorial Army is to relieve the regular army from static duties, assist civil administration in dealing with natural calamities and maintenance of essential services in situations where life of the communities is affected or the security of the country is threatened, and to provide units for the regular army as and when required.Territorial army is part of regular Indian Army As per Army Order 77 of 1984, the Territorial Army is a part of the regular Indian Army.The role of Territorial Army is to relieve the regular army from static duties, assist civil administration in dealing with natural calamities and maintenance of essential services in situations where life of the communities is affected or the security of the country is threatened, and to provide units for the regular army as and when required.

NGT raps Delhi police for inaction against old vehicles, air pollution

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal rapped the Delhi Police asking why it has not taken any action against vehicles more than 15 years old from plying on the roads in the national capital.

“Why do not you (police) take action against 15-year-old vehicles which are plying on roads here? What have you done so far? Why do not you challan them?” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked.

Responding to it, the police told the bench that they have challaned around 1,000 such vehicles and have also started to impound them.

The bench was also informed by the petitioner that only diesel taxis were impounded in pursuance to Supreme Court’s order which had on April 30 refused to extend deadline fixed for conversion of diesel taxis plying in national Capital into less-polluting CNG mode.

To this, the bench asked the police, “Are there any petrol vehicle more than 15 years old which you have impounded.” It asked the police to furnish by tomorrow the entire data of vehicles challaned and impounded by it.

During the hearing, the bench also pulled up the Delhi government over the issue of pollution from dust and municipal waste burning.

Action needs to be taken against vehicles older than 15 years plying on the road. Representational image. PTI

Action needs to be taken against vehicles older than 15 years plying on the road. Representational image. PTI

“What NCT of Delhi is doing about dust and municipal waste burning? We have told your (government) Chief Secretary to hold meeting and finalise a plan for it,” the bench said.

The advocates appearing for the government and the civic agencies told the bench that they were taking steps in this regard after which the green panel asked them to file complete details before it and fixed the matter for hearing tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the bench asked Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) about the data of ambient air quality in Delhi recorded during the recently concluded second phase of odd-even scheme.

CPCB’s advocate informed the bench that data was “under compilation” and they would furnish it soon.

The NGT had yesterday taken Delhi government to task for its failure to implement its order banning vehicles more than 15 years old from plying on the roads here.

It had also slammed the government over incidents of waste burning and dust pollution in the national capital.

Earlier, the tribunal had asked Delhi government and other authorities to create awareness about air pollution caused by vehicular emissions and burning of municipal solid waste and issue advertisements on the lines of the odd-even scheme.

CAT asks Centre to submit fresh proposal regarding Sanjiv Chaturvedi’s deputation

The Central Administrative Tribunal has asked the Centre to submit afresh the proposal regarding the deputation of IFoS officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi to Delhi government.The CAT bench headed by Justice M S Sullar pronounced the order while directing the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) and the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to submit the proposal within two weeks and said that the “Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) may take a decision in the matter as expeditiously as possible.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The request for the deputation posting of Ex CVO of AIIMS and Uttarakhand cadre officer Chaturvedi to Delhi government is pending for a year now. “Undoubtedly a lot of delay has taken place in processing this case considering the fact that the request letter of the Chief Minister of GNCTD to Minister of State, MoEFCC, is dated February 16, 2015… “Regarding waiving off cooling of requirement of applicant (Chaturvedi) for his proposed inter-carder deputation to GNCTD as OSD to the Chief Minister, we would like to say that it is solely the domain of the ACC to grant special dispensation, as has been in quite a few cases in the past or take a decision otherwise.”What really important is that the ACC should take a decision in this matter,” the tribunal said.The officer had moved the tribunal against the pendency of his deputation proposal to Delhi government.

Congress criticises Centre for not inquiring Vijay Mallya’s transactions

Congress on Sunday made a scathing attack on the Centre “for not inquiring” various transactions of money paid to Vijay Mallya by Diageo Plc, including the $40 million Sweetheart deal.”Why is the Modi government not enquiring into the transactions between Diageo Plc and Mallya, wherein he received $40 million in a foreign offshore account in lieu of stake sale in India,” Congress Chief Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters here.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Giving accounts of alleged Mallya-Diageo Plc money transactions, Surjewala alleged that besides giving $40 million, another $58 million dollar was paid by Diageo Plc to Mallya in lieu of sale of South African Breweries.”We have also been given to understand that Diageo Plc has paid another sum of $141 million to Standard Chartered Bank on account of a default made by UB group company – Watson Limited, an amount that should have been rightfully paid by Sri Vijay Mallya,” he said.Surjewala alleged that Diageo Plc paid another $42 million for a previous guarantee given to the Standard Chartered Bank on a loan taken by UB Overseas Limited.”All these money transactions were take place under the very nose of Modi government and Diageo Plc acquires the stake of Mallya company in India, but Government of India keeps completely mum,” he said.Surjewala said these are some important issues that the Centre must answer.Surjewala said “the government could have detained him when he was summoned by CBI for questioning after India’s premier investigation agency had registered a case in the matter on July 29.”He also blamed the banks for being “hand-in-glove” to allow Mallya to leave the country by moving the Debt Recovery Tribunal in Bengaluru on February 29 instead of the day before, in which case the tribunal could have intervened to impound the liquor baron’s passport and eventually his arrest, he said.”The Modi government should take action against CBI and bank officials as also Enforcement Directorate officials for their inaction, and creating a situation which became easy for Mallya to leave the country,” he said.

Animals crossing highways have led to 7,734 accidents between 2012-2014

At a time when widening of national highways through forested areas and wildlife corridors has attracted court cases and intense debates, the ministry of road transport and highways informed the Parliament on Monday that stray animals crossing national highways caused 7,734 accidents between 2012-2014. Member of Parliament from Trinamool Congress Mohammad Nadimul Haque asked the question and the ministry through a written reply informed that 2013 saw 3103, the highest accident cases due to stray animals in the given duration.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ministry though did not specify the number of national highways that are fenced inadequately or even the human and animal casualties recorded because of these accidents. As per the road ministry’s information, Uttar Pradesh recorded the maximum accident cases at 1,865 followed by Andhra Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.Across the country, many existing national highways cut through forested areas and along protected areas such as tiger reserves and national parks. Wild animals such as elephants, deers, nilgai, leopards and even tigers often cross these highways in forested areas, resulting in road accidents. Expert studies and papers published in scientific journals have shown that these animals usually cross over in search of food, to go into other habitats and for water. Studies on NH-69 and NH-7 connecting Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have shown that spotted deers have often got killed due to collision with vehicles. The high-speed of vehicular traffic and lack of underpasses and overpasses on highway stretches has made forested areas prone to accidents.Through 2015, the National Highways Authority of India was drawn into a major court battle on the widening of NH-7 as wildlife activists protested against the project. The project involves widening of the highway through the Kanha-Pench tiger corridor and after directions from the National Green Tribunal and Nagpur high court, the NHAI has agreed to build underpasses and overpasses to protect wildlife along the highway.

Supreme Court asks Mallya to disclose all assets including that of wife, children

The Supreme Court on Tuesday cracked the whip on embattled liquor-baron, Vijay Mallya asking him to disclose all assets, including foreign assets and that of his wife and children. The apex court, hearing a plea from Mallya, also directed the Bangalore Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) to expedite the case and set a 2-months deadline to pronounce the order in the case.

Liquor baron Vijay Mallya. AFPLiquor baron Vijay Mallya. AFP

Liquor baron Vijay Mallya. AFP

Earlier, Mallya had refused to disclose his foreign assets citing his NRI status. Mallya has pegged his domestic assets at Rs 2,014 crore, overseas assets at Rs 748 crore. The liquor-baron repeated his stance to the Supreme Court that the atmosphere is not conducive for him to return to India and he’ll be sent to Tihar jail “the moment I get back.’

A clutch of 17-banks are fighting to get back Rs 9,000 crore money lent to Mallya’s now defunct Kingfisher Airlines that stopped flying in 2012. Though banks classified Mallya as a defaulter that year itself, banks have so far not been able to make any meaningful recovery in this case. This is despite two lenders—State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank—have tagged Mallya as a wilful defaulter. Recently, the bank consortium moved to the SC seeking action against Mallya.

Mallya, who flew on 2 March to UK while investigations were still on the issue, has refused to return since then. Mallya said his personal liberty at stake and he must have the freedom to mobilise funds. Banks are more interested in putting him behind bars rather than getting their money back, the liquor-baron told the court. Mallya informed the court through his lawyers, adding returning to India is meaningless in the current context.

The attorney general, representing the government, said Mallya is playing hide and seek and he is a fugitive from justice. The money involved in this case is not of a ‘King’ but of banks, the AG said. If necessary, the government will move UK government to take action against Mallya, the AG said.

Odd-even phase 2: NGT directs pollution control board to monitor pollution levels

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to independently monitor and record the data of ambient air quality in Delhi during the ongoing second phase of the odd-even scheme.

A bench, headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar, also asked CPCB to record and analyse the data of before and after the fortnight-long scheme period.

A file image of challan being issued for non-compliance of the Odd-Even rule. Firstpost.

A file image of challan being issued for non-compliance of the odd-even rule. Firstpost.

During the brief hearing, counsel for Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) informed the green panel that they have already been recording the data independently for ambient air quality in the national capital in the context of the car rationing scheme, which would end on 30 April.

The bench, while disposing of a petition filed by scientist Mahendra Pandey, previously associated with CPCB, said the concerned agencies will record and independently monitor the air pollution level during the running of the scheme.

He has sought independent monitoring of air quality index and alleged that vehicular emission was not a major contributing factor to the pollution.

In his petition, while referring to an IIT Roorkee study, Pandey has claimed that no significant change in air quality was registered during the first phase of the scheme which was in force between 1 to 15 January.

“In fact, as per the data provided by CPCB, it is clear that during odd even days the pollution levels were much higher than the pre-period and the post-period which raises serious concern about the much-hyped odd-even formula.

“After the completion of first phase of odd-even scheme, tall claims were made by the Delhi government by publishing advertisements in newspapers about its success. However, no data was made public regarding the level of pollution till today. Therefore, the claims of success of the odd-even scheme is meaningless as it is not supported by any data,” the plea had said.

He has sought directions to CPCB and DPCC for separately monitoring levels of all parameters listed in Ambient Air Quality Standards during the second phase of the scheme so that proper comparison can be drawn.

Documentary on Narendra Modi-Arvind Kejriwal clash in Varanasi fails to get FCAT certification

The Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) has upheld the decision of the Examining Committee (EC) of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), to deny certification for The Battle Of Banaras.The documentary directed by Kamal Swaroop chronicles Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s candidature for the Lok Sabha from the Varanasi constituency where he fought the elections against Arvind Kejriwal. The FCAT’s decision now leaves the docu’s makers with no other recourse but to approach the courts.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In its notification, refusing certification for The Battle Of Banaras, the FCAT states, “After having viewed the film, we are of the opinion that the CBFC was justified in refusing to grant certification for the reasons that the theme of the film was full of hate/inflammatory speeches given by all the political parties. It tries to divide people on caste and communal lines and derogatory remarks have been made against individuals. The release of the film may cause not only communal disharmony but also disharmony amongst the members of different castes and communities… The appeal is accordingly dismissed.”

NGT seeks govt reply on plea against 13 cement companies

The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday took exception over the Centre’s delay in filing reply on a plea alleging that cement companies were violating its orders on overloading of trucks and causing air pollution.A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar which had issued notice to the Centre and 13 cement companies, made it clear that no further time will be granted to them for filing their response.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The matter is listed for next hearing on May 10.NGT was hearing a plea by Delhi resident Neena Pradeep who alleged the cement makers were violating its order by overloading trucks with cement and clinker to save on toll tax.Despite having their own private independent siding (low- speed track section) for dispatch of cement through railways, the cement manufacturers have been transporting it by road, the plea claimed.The plea, filed through advocate Abhishek Vikram, claimed some cement companies were overloading trucks by as much as 200-250%.”Heavy vehicular pollution is caused in National Capital Region primarily by overloaded diesel trucks which are primarily used for transportation of cement and clinkers. That it is within the knowledge of this Tribunal that an estimated 80,000 trucks enter Delhi every night from 8 pm to 6 am.”It is estimated that cement consumption in Delhi is around 4 lakh tonnes and that of NCR is around 10 lakh tonnes.In order to meet this requirement in a cost efficient manner, cement companies are transporting cement and clinkers by overloaded trucks. There is a clear lack of will…to comply with the provisions of MV Act and other applicable laws,” the petition said.

Art of Living event: NGT notice to Delhi govt on review plea

The National Green Tribunal on Monday sought response from Delhi government and Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on a plea seeking review of its order allowing the Art of Living group’s cultural extravaganza on the Yamuna floodplains here last month.A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notices to Arvind Kejriwal government, DDA and Art of Living foundation and asked them to respond to the review plea filed by Manoj Mishra of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan. “We have gone through the review plea. The whole emphasis in your petition is on the delay and laches. See, we have only passed an interim order and the matter is yet to be heard finally on merits. All rights and contentions are kept open and no direction is required at this stage…Issue notice,” the bench said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>During the proceedings, the bench also issued notice to Mishra on a separate application filed by AOL seeking to pay penalty imposed in the form of a bank guarantee and extension of time for payment of the remainder amount. Advocate Sanjay Parikh, representing Mishra, strongly opposed the plea for furnishing a bank guarantee and extension of time. He also referred to some recent photographs and said the event has damaged the floodplains of Yamuna. “They (AOL) had given an undertaking before the tribunal that they would pay the amount in three weeks and now they are coming for extension of time. This is subversion of rule of law and the tribunal’s orders,” Parikh said.The tribunal, however, said it would not express an opinion at this stage and asked Misra to record his objections by way of a written response. “This is something very serious. We are not saying anything at this stage. Law will take its own course,” the bench said. Referring to a letter sent by the Principal Committee on Yamuna, the tribunal asked AOL by what time it planned to vacate the site on the river to enable inspection of the floodplains by the Committee to assess the damage done.To this, the counsel appearing for AOL said it was in the process of vacating the site. Mishra has challenged the March 9 order which dismissed his petition on the ground of “delay and laches on the part of the applicant in approaching the Tribunal.” The green panel on March 9 had refused to prohibit the ‘World Culture Festival’ but slapped a fine of Rs five crore on Art of Living (AOL) foundation for damaging biodiversity and aquatic life of Yamuna.Later on March 11, AOL moved a plea seeking four weeks time to deposit the amount after which the NGT allowed the foundation to deposit Rs 25 lakh on that day and granted three weeks to pay the balance amount.

Art of Living seeks NGT nod to submit bank guarantee instead of compensation

New Delhi: The Art of Living (AOL) Foundation is seeking the National Green Tribunal’s permission to submit a bank guarantee rather than paying in cash Rs.4.75 crore as “environmental compensation” for causing damage to the Yamuna floodplain by organising a festival there.

The move by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s AOL has been described by an environmentalist as “yet another attempt to frustrate the efforts to bring it to account for the damage it caused to the Yamuna floodplains” in Delhi.

The next hearing of the case by National Green Tribunal (NGT) is scheduled on Monday. It is based on complaints that AOL violated environmental laws by organising the World Culture Festival on the Yamuna floodplain from 11 to 13 March.

The NGT on 9 March had allowed the festival organisers to go ahead, but imposed on the AOL an “environmental compensation” of Rs.5 crore which had to be paid before the start of the event.

Preparations for the AOL event. Naresh Sharma/FirstpostPreparations for the AOL event. Naresh Sharma/Firstpost

Preparations for the AOL event. Naresh Sharma/Firstpost

After AOL failed to pay up, the tribunal relaxed that order on 11 March by allowing it to pay Rs.25 lakh immediately — which the foundation did — and the remainder in three weeks’ time.

In a “miscellaneous application” filed on Friday at the NGT, the AOL sought permission to submit a bank guarantee instead of paying Rs 4.75 crore.

The AOL also sought permission to assist the NGT to determine if any damage has happened on the ground as a result of the World Culture Festival.

Environmentalist Manoj Misra, who had first approached NGT against the festival, said the AOL is once again defaulting on its obligation by moving such an application.

“By yet again defaulting on not making the payment of Rs.4.75 crore within the time limit and seeking its extension (on the very last day on 1 April) to submit only a bank guarantee is in contravention of not only the NGT direction dated 11 March, 2016 but also its own undertaking given to the NGT in the matter,” said Misra.

It is a brazen attempt to further frustrate the efforts of the NGT to bring AOL to account for what it has done in the Yamuna floodplain, he said.

“That the floodplain at the site has been devastated is for the whole world to see and has been validated by a number of river experts. This fact has already been adjudicated by the NGT and resultantly the AOL and the relevant government agencies have been faulted and fined and disciplined by the NGT,” Misra added.

NGT slams discoms over wires around trees in Delhi

Power distribution companies in the capital on Wednesday came under fire from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for putting high tension cables on trees, with the green panel warning of action against their top bosses if the wires were not removed within six weeks.Click Here For LIVE SCORE: India vs Bangladesh, ICC World T20″Why are you (discoms) putting wires around the trees? Why don’t you put wires on poles?… You make all the trees free of wiring in any part of NCT, Delhi within six weeks from today…”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In the event of default of direction and the work of trees being made free of electrical wiring in any form whatsoever, the Managing Director of the Company would be liable to be proceeded against in accordance with law personally,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.During the hearing, the counsel for BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd and BSES Yamuna Power Ltd, told the green panel that they required at least eight weeks to free the trees of electrical wires and poles were being installed at various points to achieve the target.The green panel directed all municipal corporations and concerned departments to file their compliance reports with regard to deconcretisation of trees within two weeks.”They shall protect the trees and ensure that their roots are not exposed…In the affidavit it would be specifically stated, any two colonies by each of corporation where aforesaid work in terms of the direction of the Tribunal have been followed and complied with. The affidavit be filed by the Commissioners of the respective Corporations,” the bench categorically said.The matter was listed for next hearing on April 29.The NGT had last year issued notices to Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board, BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd, BSES Yamuna Power Ltd and North Delhi Power Ltd for choking trees by putting wires around them.In 2013, it had directed public authorities, including municipal bodies, Delhi Development Authority to ensure that sign boards, advertisements, wires and other objects that deface trees as well as concrete around them in the national capital are removed forthwith.The bench was hearing a petition filed by advocate Aditya N Prasad alleging that concretisation of trees in various parts of Delhi was leading to weakening of the roots and eventually their death.

Rajnath Singh’s intervention sought in boundary dispute with Assam

Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma on Monday called on Home Minister Rajnath Singh here and sought his intervention in issues like boundary dispute with Assam and insurgency in Garo Hills region.Besides, the state government sought Rajnath’s help in sanctioning additional IR battalions, strengthening police set up, getting additional forces for implementing National Green Tribunal order on mining, setting up residential schools in border areas and creation of a commando force.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sangma, accompanied by state Home Minister Roshan Warjri, submitted a memorandum to Rajnath on these issues.During the meeting, the Chief Minister apprised the Home Minister that the state required more force for effective implementation of the NGT order.On the Assam-Meghalaya boundary differences, he informed Singh that as bilateral efforts have failed to bring about a mutually acceptable solution, Meghalaya Assembly has passed a unanimous resolution urging the Centre to set up a commission to define the inter-state boundary between the two states.In order to contain insurgency in Garo Hills region, the Home Minister was reminded of a proposal for upgradation of police establishment and infrastructure.Sangma also informed Singh about a proposal given to his ministry for extending a one-time assistance for creation of a specialised commando force SF-10.Informing him that the first phase of recruitment process has been completed, the state urged him to consider the proposal on a priority basis so that the unit can be made operational without delay.Later, Sangma along with Warjri accompanied the Home Minister to a cultural programme organised by Assam Rifles as part of its Raising Day.

#PETisSafe: M K Bhan committee tells National Green Tribunal

An expert committee headed by former biotech secretary M K Bhan on Monday said plastic bottles made of PET (poly ethylene terephthalate) material are safe for packaging medicines. The pharmaceutical and soft drinks industry account for one fourth of India’s PET packaging industry, reports Times of India.

PET bottles safe say 2 expert committees/ ReutersPET bottles safe say 2 expert committees/ Reuters

PET bottles safe say 2 expert committees/ Reuters

“There is no conclusive evidence to suggest that use of PET or additive like antimony for pharmaceutical packaging may leach substances beyond limits that pose threat to human health,” the panel told the National Green Tribunal (GRT) in a report.

Uttarakhand-based NGO, Him Jagriti, has petitioned the NGT that given India’s extreme variations of temperature, it fears that PET containers leached harmful chemicals like phthalates and heavy metals.

Two separate test reports by international testers SGS and India’s Shriram Institute for Industrial Research (SIIR) have not found any traces of harmful leaching in PET containers packaging tested at varied environments.

PET is made from mono ethylene glycol and purified terephatic acid. Of the 600,000 tonnes of PET production, the pharmaceutical industry uses around 16 percent, accounting for around 100,000 tonnes every year.

The NGT bench had earlier indicated that it favoured “restriction” on plastic packaging of products including PET bottles and granted a final opportunity to various plastic manufacturing units and others to file their written submissions in the matter.

The panel, set up by the health ministry in August 2015 under the chairmanship of former biotechnology secretary M.K. Bhan, asserted that PET could be used safely as a packaging material for drugs under a regulatory system and process.

“PET does not require use of phthalates or any plasticizers in the manufacturing process,” the report said.

The panel’s finding will be a major relief to the Rs.4,000 crore PET packaging industry, as the pharma sector uses 16 percent (100,000 tonnes) of the 600,000 tonnes of PET produced every year.

The panel was set up to assess the health and environmental impact of using PET or plastic container for packaging drugs after NGO Him Jagriti Uttaranchal Welfare Society petitioned the tribunal that leaching of heavy metals, phthalates and PET was harmful to the environment.

The tribunal directed the ministry to form the panel to study science behind the issue.

The panel also recommended better standards and strengthening regulatory guidelines by prescribing specific methods for disposal of pharmaceutical packaging wastes.

With IANS

Do not politicise events which concern India’s prestige: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

New Delhi: Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Sunday said parties should not politicise events having a bearing on the country’s reputation and suggested that the media has been “harsh” in its criticism of the World Cultural Festival organised on the Yamuna flood plain.

He claimed that his Foundation has already received invitation from Australia, Mexico and other nations for holding the next edition of the event.

“We need a certain maturity. I don’t mind but I request all political parties. Whenever such a grand event is being organised, party politics should be kept aside.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. ReutersSri Sri Ravi Shankar. Reuters

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Reuters

“You should come together so that India’s prestige on the world stage rises. It is not easy to organise an event of this magnitude…. It is a major thing… so that people from across the world can feel connected,” the spiritual guru said.

“People from across the world are amazed. We got a letter from the Australian Prime Minister asking us to hold the event there. They are ready to give all the help we need, from Mexico…. The countries are keen to host this event. At the same time, the international media is asking why the Indian press is so harsh towards this festival. I smiled and said that I don’t know,” he said.

Defending the organising of the festival on the flood plains of Yamuna, he said they would work for the rejuvenation of the river.

Replying to a query related to his statement that he would not pay the Rs 5 crore fine imposed by National Green Tribunal, he said the NGT has made it clear that it was not a fine but compensation to rejuvenate the area.

The AOL founder said his organisation will come with up a concrete plan for conservation of Yamuna river.

“We had consulted a couple of environmentalists before the event and they had said there would be no damage to the flood plains if this event was held. Further, we will also consult some environmentalists and work on rejuvenation of Yamuna with a concrete plan of action for Yamuna,” he said.

He said they had initially thought of holding the event in a stadium, but then the idea had to be dropped because of the magnitude of the programme.

“Any stadium would not have been able to accommodate these many artists and people,” Ravi Shankar said as the three-day cultural extravaganza ended on Sunday.

He said over 172 dignitaries from across the globe had come for the event, which drew intense criticism and also litigation over allegations that it damaged the ecology of Yamuna flood plains.

Questions were also raised on deploying army personnel for its preparation and the traffic woes due to the massive event.

PTI

World Culture Festival – Do not politicise events which concern India’s prestige: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Sunday said parties should not politicise events having a bearing on the country’s reputation and suggested that the media has been “harsh” in its criticism of the World Cultural Festival organised on the Yamuna flood plain. He claimed that his Foundation has already received invitation from Australia, Mexico and other nations for holding the next edition of the event.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We need a certain maturity. I don’t mind but I request all political parties. Whenever such a grand event is being organised, party politics should be kept aside. “You should come together so that India’s prestige on the world stage rises. It is not easy to organise an event of this magnitude…. It is a major thing… so that people from across the world can feel connected,” the spiritual guru said.”People from across the world are amazed. We got a letter from the Australian Prime Minister asking us to hold the event there. They are ready to give all the help we need, from Mexico…. The countries are keen to host this event. At the same time, the international media is asking why the Indian press is so harsh towards this festival. I smiled and said that I don’t know,” he said.Defending the organising of the festival on the flood plains of Yamuna, he said they would work for the rejuvenation of the river. Replying to a query related to his statement that he would not pay the Rs five crore fine imposed by National Green Tribunal, he said the NGT has made it clear that it was not a fine but compensation to rejuvenate the area.The AOL founder said his organisation will come with up a concrete plan for conservation of Yamuna river. “We had consulted a couple of environmentalists before the event and they had said there would be no damage to the flood plains if this event was held. Further, we will also consult some environmentalists and work on rejuvenation of Yamuna with a concrete plan of action for Yamuna,” he said.He said they had initially thought of holding the event in a stadium, but then the idea had to be dropped because of the magnitude of the programme.”Any stadium would not have been able to accommodate these many artists and people,” Ravi Shankar said as the three-day cultural extravaganza ended today. He said over 172 dignitaries from across the globe had come for the event, which drew intense criticism and also litigation over allegations that it damaged the ecology of Yamuna flood plains. Questions were also raised on deploying army personnel for its preparation and the traffic woes due to the massive event.

How city of 1,000 lakes dried up: The shocking story of Bengaluru’s ailing water bodies

By Janaki Murali

Earlier this week, the Ulsoor Lake in Bengaluru turned fish graveyard as hundreds of thousands of dead fish surfaced belly up, shocking environmentalists and neighbourhood residents. V Purushottam, president of a local residents’ group said that sewage water from many parts of the city was allowed to flow into the lake, thereby depleting oxygen levels in the lake water. He said that authorities have been continuously ignoring pleas to repair a bund that was supposed to keep this from happening.

Following Monday’s incident, officials swung into action. Environment minister Prakash Javadekar told NDTV that he had held two meetings with officials to discuss the incident. “They have given me details on what they are doing to improve the situation. The lakes’ system in Bengaluru has been destroyed for the past few decades. Colonies have been discharging their effluents into the lakes, which has led to this situation.”

Ulsoor Lake in Bengaluru. Image from ReutersUlsoor Lake in Bengaluru. Image from Reuters

Ulsoor Lake in Bengaluru. Image from Reuters

Mamata Saravanan, local corporator of the area also admitted laxity. “The maintenance of the lake has been very poor,” she said, adding that the lake’s health was worsened by the immersion of idols following festivals and unrestricted fishing activity.

Water samples collected from the lake have been sent for testing. Meanwhile, concerned citizens have started a petition on change.org asking the municipal commissioner to affix responsibility for the loss of aquatic life at Ulsoor lake.

The real tragedy though is that Ulsoor still remains one of the better maintained lakes in Bengaluru. Located in a high-end residential colony, it’s a popular destination for walkers and joggers, while rowing and boating activity also draws crowds. And this incident comes just a few years after the government launched a massive clean-up operation here. Until the clean-up, Ulsoor was full of slush and silt left behind after the immersion of Ganesha idols. The lake was found to be full of water hyacinth. Clearly, the action taken by the government wasn’t enough.

And Ulsoor is not the only Bengaluru lake to be facing these concerns. Last year, the Varthur, Bellandur and Yamlur lakes were all found to be frothing at their mouths. Soon afterwards, the Yamlur lake burst into flames. In December last year, bird waters and students surveyed 20 lakes in and around Bengaluru to do a census on the waterfowl found here. It was the first time in 19 years that such a census was being conducted. Ulhas P Anand, one of the bird waters, told The Hindu, “Land use has been one of the biggest changes, which has affected the bird population tremendously, particularly among waders.

A bird census in the mid-90s had found several varieties of migratory birds, numbering over 5,000 in each lake. However, by 2015, these numbers had fallen drastically. According to the bird waters, sewage inflow, debris lining the shore, commercial fishing, unhindered chopping of trees along the shore and disappearance of wetlands had all affected the health of the lakes. Furthermore, some of the lakes had gone dry while some others had been bifurcated by main and arterial roads, while industrial areas surrounded some others.

All these factors contributed in a big way to the reduction of the bird population. Migratory birds, just like fish and other aquatic life, are the best indicators towards the health of a lake. In turn, the lakes are essential water bodies, needed to improve the quality of life of citizens. Disappearance of the lakes could result in rising temperatures, water shortage and reduced rainwater storage basins. Since the lakes have catchment areas for the collection of rain water, an ill maintained lake could mean increased dependence on already depleting underground water resources.

But it wasn’t always so. Bengaluru was always known as the city of one thousand lakes. These are lakes dug in the 16th century by the city’s founders, the Kempe Gowdas. The Mysuru Wodeyars and the British later developed them further. These wetlands were home to a variety of aquatic life, nurtured water birds and also provided drinking water to the area’s residents. By 1960, Bengaluru had only 280 lakes though. This figure dropped alarmingly to 80 by 1993. Currently, the number of healthy lakes in and around the city is a dismal 17.

Horrifying statistics, right? So, what happened to the lovely lakes that Bengaluru was known for?

Many of the lakes were converted to bus stands, golf courses, playgrounds and residential colonies by the government or were leased out. The rest were encroached by slums and builders, while some others dried up or became cesspools of human and toxic waste.

In 2013, DNA reported that the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) would be conducting a survey of lakes in the city to identify encroachments made by the influential land mafia. The ambitious project, costing an estimated Rs 50 crore, was supposed to clear the encroachments and rejuvenate 78 lakes in the city. This was part of a more comprehensive plan which was to revive and conserve 183 lakes in and around the city.

That was over two years ago. In September last year, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had pulled up the Karnataka state government over encroachments on lake beds. The tribunal regretted that a city renowned for its 261 lakes only had 68 as of today. It also slammed the high-powered committee and the Lake Development Authority set up by the government and raised some serious questions.

Among the points the NGT raised were:
– Un-authorised encroachment and possession of wetlands by builders
– Steps to be taken by the officials and the extent of damage done to the ecology and environment, particularly the wetlands, by the builders
– What was the extent of the discharge of sewage and other effluents from the lakes? What remedial measures were being taken to ensure compliance of the law?
– What was the status of the show-cause notice issued by the Pollution Control Board to the builders? What steps are to be taken?

Meanwhile, several environment organisations have, over the past few years, been conducting regular surveys on the lost and disappearing lakes of Bengaluru. They have now joined forces to get the government to take action and save these lakes. Whatever efforts are being made to save the last few remaining lakes and water bodies of Bengaluru, one thing is clear: It cannot be left to the government alone to take action. Like any successful campaign, even this needs to happen with the support of environmentalists and citizen bodies.

These bodies have also got to be extra vigilant to monitor the action taken by the government. It is ultimately up to us to ensure that what happened at Ulsoor lake this week doesn’t happen anywhere else.

Art of Living not to pay fine but support restoration of Yamuna, says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, whose cultural event on the floodplains of Yamuna is mired in controversy over violation of green norms, on Saturday once again sounded defiant, saying he will not pay any fine or penalty.But, he said, he would wholeheartedly support the “development and restoration” of the venue where the event is being held. Addressing the event on the second day, Ravi Shankar said the amount the National Green Tribunal had asked the AOL to pay was for restoration and not as a penalty. “All through, I have lived a spotless life. I have never been late to school. I have never paid fine, even of a single paisa. So, we said we will not pay any fine. But then I was told that this is not a fine or penalty. It was wrongly reported in newspapers. “They said it was for the development here. We said, if this is for development and restoration, then we will whole-heartedly support this and put everything into this,” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The NGT had on Wednesday allowed Art of Living Foundation to hold the festival but asked it to pay Rs 5 crore as environmental compensation for ecological damage.However, yesterday the relief to the AOL Foundation came with a stinker from the green panel which took strong exception to Ravi Shankar’s remarks about refusal to pay Rs 5 crore and instead saying he would prefer to go to jail. “When a man of his stature makes such statements, it hits the very rule of law. If anybody hurts the image of the tribunal, he will be taken to rule of law. Don’t treat tribunal as subject to your controversy with regard to the event,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar said, while directing AOL to pay Rs 25 lakh immediately after the organisation expressed difficulty in arranging Rs 5 crore in such a short period.A spokesman for AOL Foundation today said the organisation has already deposited Rs 25 lakh.The event got embroiled in a controversy after environmentalists alleged that its preparations have damaged the ecology of Yamuna floodplains and demanded that the event be cancelled.

Obstacles come when something great is done: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, whose mega event was mired in controversy for violating green norms, today took a dig at his critics for describing the World Cultural Festival as his “private party” noting that obstacles do come when something great is done. Addressing the inaugural session of the three-day event, which was also attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sri Sri pitched for protecting environment, saying it was in our DNA to “care for and love” nature. “Somebody said it is the guruji’s private party. I said yes. It is true because entire world is my family. When one needs nothing for himself, then he belongs to the entire society,” he said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Seen as one of its kind event, the festival offers a platform for spiritual and religious leaders, politicians, business leaders, peacemakers and artists to spread the message of global peace and harmony in diversity. The Art of Living had organised a similar peace festival in 2011 to celebrate its 30th anniversary at the historic Olympic stadium in Berlin, the organisers said. The event here has been embroiled in controversy after environmentalists alleged that its preparations have damaged the ecology of Yamuna flood plains and demanded that it be stopped. The National Green Tribunal allowed Art of Living to hold the festival but slapped a fine of Rs 5 crore. In an apparent reference the legal tussle with the NGT, Sri Sri said, “Many obstacles come when we want to do something great. But it only indicates that we have taken up something very significant. “Obstacles do not come when something wrong is done. Obstacles do come when something great is to be done. But all those obstacles are removed finally and the end result is very sweet.” The Art of Living founder told his followers to face with full courage whenever some difficulties come before them. “Let us care for environment. We love nature. It is in our DNA,” Sri Sri said and hailed the farmers for serving the country through their work. Sri Sri also talked briefly about the benefits of organic farming and cited an instance of a farmer, whose earning grew up from Rs 40,000 to Rs 4 lakh after switching over to that mode from the traditional one. On the occasion, several farmers were awarded by Modi, who was welcomed by the spiritual guru as a “very dear Prime Minister”. Sri Sri also touched upon the ideas of co-existence and diversity. He cited spirituality among the five things, including art, sports and intellectual debate, which unite people across the world. At the event, which saw attendance of people from various countries, he said nationals of different places have gathered to give the message that “we are one”. “Art of Living is a philosophy to live life to its fullest,” he said.

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