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Rajya Sabha Analysis 2008

 

1.    AGRICULTURE

The key areas of concern of legislators during the year 2008 were the effects of existing agricultural practices on the health of the soil and the increasing content of toxic chemicals in agricultural products. The questions included the demand for information about soil management strategies, land degradation; thereby decline in production and land use policy, effect of global warming on agriculture, measures to promote greater reliance on bio-fertilizer, organic farming and botanical practices. In addition, other areas covered included the alternatives provided for chemical fertilizers and the productivity and extent of agricultural land. The Ministry of Agriculture handled the majority of the queries during the year.

 

Decline in production of crops 

Responding to the query about the downfall in production of the crops of barley bajra, maize, turpulse, oilseed including paddy etc., the Minister of Agriculture explained the reasons for the same and the effective remedial measures being taken by Government in that direction (RSQ 781 Janeshwar Mishra). The details of the spurious pesticides being manufactured and sold in the market, destroying crops worth Rs. 6000 crore a year were also presented in the House (RSQ 787 D. Raja). The Minister of Agriculture, in an answer to a query, gave the effect of the severe cold conditions prevailing in the country to the standing crops (RSQ 802 V. Maitreyan, Amar Singh, and Kamal Akhtar). In addition, it also confirmed the rapidly changing climate of the country (RSQ 1258 Shivanand Tiwari).

 

Pesticides

The major topic of discussion in the House remained the banned pesticides and seeds in various parts of the countries. Several questions were aimed at the details of the circulation of banned pesticides by some USA and Europe based agrochemical companies, to which the Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers replied that no isolated information is available on the same (RSQ 1585 Brinda Karat). The Minister of Commerce and Industry also added that the EU has published Commission Regulation (EC) No. 149/2008 of 29th January 2008 amending Regulation (EC) No. 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council by establishing Annexes II, III and IV setting maximum residue levels for products of plant and animal origins (RSQ 3123 M.A.M. Ramaswamy). The Minister of Agriculture commented on a query by reporting that it is not a fact that the current pesticides regulatory system in the country had failed to check manufacturing, distribution and use of spurious and sub-standard pesticides which has caused huge loss to farmers (RSQ 783 C. Perumal).

 

National Bamboo Mission

The Ministry of Agriculture reported that the Department of Agriculture & Cooperation has launched a Centrally Sponsored Scheme on National Bamboo Mission (NBM) during 2006-07 for implementation in 28 States including Jharkhand and Orissa. The Mission objective is to promote growth of the bamboo sector through area based regionally differentiated strategies; to increase the coverage of area under bamboo in potential areas with appropriate varieties to enhance yields; to promote marketing of bamboo and bamboo based handicrafts; to generate employment opportunities for skilled and unskilled persons, especially unemployed youths, and also presented the action plan of Government to ensure standardization and training in bamboo processing with a view to promote bamboo-related activities (RSQ 1260 B.J. Panda, Mabel Rebello).

 

Organic manure

The Minister of Agriculture, in an answer to a concerned query, stated that Under All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) on `long term fertilizer experiments` over the last few decades, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has concluded that only integrated use of optimal dose of Nitrogen, Phosphorous & Potash (NPK) and organic manure can maintain soil health and give higher sustainable yields (RSQ 1553 Jaya Bachchan). Also, it was affirmative of the awareness that foodgrains and vegetables can be grown without chemical fertilizers, and explained the steps, Government is taking to familiarize the farmers about it (RSQ 3392 Hema Malini).

 

Miscellaneous

The other topics that were given due importance in the House were related to financial assistance to fishery survey of India (RSQ 779 M.A.M. Ramaswamy), Indirasagar project (RSQ *17 Shri Nandi Yellaiah), targets and achievements in agriculture (RSQ 780 S. Anbalagan), recommendation for changing the time of sowing seeds (RSQ 3406 Mahendra Mohan, Kalraj Mishra), agriculture development plan for flood prone areas (RSQ 784 Sanjay Raut), award of contracts for research work (RSQ 37 Jai Parkash Aggarwal), National Agriculture Biosecurity System (RSQ *239 M.S. Swaminthan, Mabel Rebello).

 


 

2.      ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES

The center of attention of discussions in the House was the progress of renewable energy promotion measures particularly those relating to bio-fuel production and the steps being taken to increase the share of renewable energy in the total energy mix. Areas discussed included measures to harness solar and wind energy, energy generation from biomass and wastes, and the electrification of farflung areas through non-conventional energy sources. The majority of queries during the year 2008 were replied by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

 

Non Conventional Energy Sources

In response to the query about the 90 per cent subsidy provided by the Government of the benchmark installation costs of various non-conventional energy systems/devices; the Minister of New and Renewable Energy pointed out that the subsidy is being provided at various levels under some of the programmes/ schemes. In addition, the Minister stated the quantum of power generation from non-conventional energy sources particularly in rural regions in the country (RSQ 408 Jai Parkash Aggarwal). According to the Ministry, the Government has been giving due encouragement to the renewable energy sector through a mix of fiscal and financial incentives that include capital/ interest subsidy, accelerated depreciation, nil/ concessional excise and customs duties (RSQ 1014 Shreegopal Vyas, Balavant Alias Bal Apte, Maya Singh). The status of implementation of the SEZs for the manufacture of renewable energy devices and systems to be located near Nagpur with an initial investment of $ 2.00 billion in the first phase were presented in the House by the Minister of New and Renewable Energy (RSQ 1017 B.K. Hariprasad). Also discussed under this category, was the number of power projects set up in different States as on date, with the Central Government assistance for power generation by way of making use of waste and wind (RSQ 1019 Jai Parkash Aggarwal).

 

The Ministry furnished details about the steps taken to promote participation of the private sector to encourage the production of renewable energy, as a source of alternative energy by the Government (RSQ 1018 Datta Meghe, RSQ 1792 S. Anbalagan). The ministry confirmed the fact that there is no policy for compulsory use of minimum quantity of renewable energy, however, under the Electricity Act 2003, the National Electricity Policy 2005 and the Tariff Policy 2006, it is obligatory upon State Electricity Regulatory Commissions to fix a certain percentage for purchase of power from renewable energy sources in the area of a distribution licensee (RSQ *486 T.T.V. Dhinakaran). The Minister of New and Renewable Energy furnished the details of the gadgets / devices / equipments running on alternative energy sources that have been conceptualized / designed / prepared by the Ministry (RSQ 3641 Viplove Thakur).

 

Solar Energy

The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy is implementing several schemes to popularize solar energy equipments, including use for house hold applications (RSQ 1012 Balavant Alias Bal Apte, Shreegopal Vyas, Maya Singh, RSQ 1013 B.S. Gnanadesikan). The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy informed the Members of the House the total expenditure incurred on solar energy plants installed in States (RSQ 1794 Jai Parkash Aggarwal). In addition, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is also implementing several programmes to support installation of solar energy devices such as solar lighting, water pumping and small power generation systems, in different parts of the country, including the remote and tribal areas (RSQ 2883 Vijay Jawaharlal Darda). The details of the proposals to treat renewable energy sector as a separate segment for the purpose of bank loans in order to increase solar energy (RSQ 2885 T.T.V. Dhinakaran). The details of the implementation of the Remote Village Electrification Programme for providing basic facilities of lighting/electricity in those remote, unlectrified census villages and remote unelectrified hamlets of electrified census villages, where grid connectivity is either not feasible or not cost effective and which are not covered under Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana were also presented in the House (RSQ 2886 Amir Alam Khan); alongwith the proposals to develop solar power in National Capital Territory of Delhi, to overcome power shortage (RSQ 3638 Mabel Rebello). The progress of the solar energy development programme and the various incentives being provided for the promotion of solar energy utilization were also highlighted by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (RSQ 3639 N.R. Govindarajar, RSQ 3640 S. Anbalagan).

 

Hydro Energy

The Minister of New and Renewable Energy has stated that it is a fact that there is a vast potential in hydro power resources and wind power generation in the country (RSQ 410 Sanjay Raut). The Minister of Power stated that the grants-in-aid is released to State Governments for augmenting hydroelectric power and strengthening distribution lines (RSQ 1024 Shri Janardhana Poojary). Also, the Ministry reported that the Government is giving top priority to exploit hydel potential in India, as hydel power is cheaper than the nuclear energy (RSQ *194 Dr. T. Subbarami Reddy, Shri Rajeev khukla).

 

Wind Energy

The harnessing of wind energy was another renewable energy source that came up for detailed discussion. The country’s installed wind power capacity and position in the world for harnessing of wind power was provided by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (RSQ 3636 M.A.M. Ramaswamy). The details of the identification of the goals and roadmap to achieve the wind power potential of the country i.e.45, 000 MW were also enumerated on, in the House (RSQ 3637 C. Ramachandraiah). The Minister of New and Renewable Energy answered to a concerned query, giving the current potential in the field of wind energy in Uttarakhand and the extent of potential exploited out of it during the last five years (RSQ 3644 Harish Rawat). Members were apprised of the steps taken to harness huge wind and ocean energy potential available in Tamil Nadu (RSQ 1016 S. Anbalagan, RSQ 1490 T. Subbarami Reddy).  The details of the measures that have been taken by Government to increase wind power capacity in the country, particularly in Maharashtra (RSQ 1488 Y.P. Trivedi). The concern that, foreign investment in wind energy is very less was also raised in the House (RSQ 1489 T.T.V. Dhinakaran).

 

Bio Diesel

The Minister of Science and Technology stated that it is a fact that Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad, has developed a technology for production of Bio-Diesel, Bio-Pesticides, Detergents and high value fertilizers from a plant Karanja (Pongamia) and is ready to transfer the process in the event of any Industrial unit ready to supply the raw material (RSQ 1734 Shri Nandi Yellaiah). According to the Ministry, there is no proposal to bring 12 million hectares of land under bio-fuel crops. However, bio-fuel plantations comprising Jatropha and Karanj have been undertaken in the country with Government assistance (RSQ *478 Viplove Thakur). The State Government of Andhra Pradesh has informed that National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has sanctioned Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) XIII Bio-diesel project for raising Pongamia plantations over 8,800 hectares in 16 districts of Andhra Pradesh (RSQ 1793 Ravula Chandra Sekar Reddy). Discussions were held on the action plan of Government to help the State both physically and financially, to execute and encourage cultivation of Jatropha in KBK and other areas of Orissa to encourage bio-fuel production (RSQ 2887 Jai Parkash Aggarwal, RSQ 3645 B.J. Panda). There were several discussions on the targets fixed under National Biogas and Manure Management Program (RSQ 4088 Rajkumar Dhoot, RSQ 4089 Manohar Joshi).

 

Action Plans

Several discussions were held on the action plan of Government to help Orissa to light up remote inaccessible villages in the State through non-conventional energy sources, i.e. the villages which cannot be served through grid-power (RSQ *160 B.J. Panda, Pramila Bohidar). In addition, the action plan of Government to develop renewable source of energy in a big way, to serve as an alternative source in the coming years (RSQ 2882 B.J. Panda, Mabel Rebello),  objectives of the bio-fuel policy (RSQ 4086 Viplove Thakur) and National Green Energy Law were also discussed in the House (RSQ 2257 V. Hanumantha rao).

 

Others

Gram Sabha role in implementing Forest Rights Act (RSQ 1486 A. Vijayaraghavan), programmes of New and Renewable Energy by states (RSQ 2256 Sabir Ali, Amir Alam Khan), National Biogas and manure management programme in Maharashtra (RSQ 2259 Manohar Joshi), price of petro products (RSQ 587 Shri Lalit Kishore Chaturvedi), alternate source of fuel (RSQ 590 Dr. V. Maitreyan), use of alternate fuel (RSQ 1205 Shri Datta Meghe), inputs for power generation(RSQ 4103 Shri Vijay Jawaharlal Darda, Shrimati Mohsina Kidwai), Power Generated By Renewable Energy Sources (RSQ 2255 V. Maitreyan), high cost of CFLS (RSQ 2022 Rajkumar Dhoot), energy fuel production through plastic waste (RSQ 4091 Sanjay Raut), cost of CFLs (RSQ 3657 Shri Tariq Anwar), and energy conservation (RSQ 4107 Shri B.J. Panda).

 


 

3.      BIOSAFETY

The debate during the year 2008 related mainly to the details of the problems associated with the introduction and adoption of the crops, in particular the crop failure in certain regions. Also, demands were made for information about the benefits from the Bt. crops and precautionary measures taken by the government, including the ban on Genetically Modified Crops. Discussions also covered the issue of safety of transgenic crops, waste disposal methods, and the health, social and financial status of farmers. The MoEF, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Agriculture handled the maximum number of queries during the year.

 

Genetically Modified Projects and Trials

Following the query regarding transgenic contamination caused by Genetically Modified crops, the Minister of Agriculture stated that all field trials are conducted with biosafety precautions like physical and biological barriers as well as isolation distances as per Indian Minimum Seed Standards Certification to avoid the risk of transgenic contamination (RSQ 1897 Dr. (Shrimati) Najma A. Heptulla). In an answer to a concerned Member’s query, the Minister of Agriculture reported that the  Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has permitted the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) notified under the ‘Rules 1989’ of the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986 (EPA) to consider any application for grant of approval in accordance with law and after taking into consideration all aspects of biosafety (RSQ 1443 Shri B. S. Gnanadesikan). The Minister of Health and Family Welfare also expressed its awareness that G.M. food products which are health hazardous for consumers are being sold in the market without labeling (RSQ 1603 Abu Asim Azmi, Amar Singh).

 

Waste Disposal

In response to the request for information about the waste disposal, the Ministry refused that the household waste collected weekly across Britain for recycling is being shipped and Dumped in India (RSQ *90 Prof. Alka Balram Kshatriya, Shrimati Shobhana Bhartia, RSQ 659 Shri Pyarelal Khandelwal, Shri Prabhat Jha). Information was sought about the dumping of the wastage of their products into India’s coastal areas, to which the Minister of Agriculture refused to no such case (RSQ 666 Shri A. Elavarasan).

 

Others

The other topics that were given due importance in the House were related to damage caused by plastic (RSQ 667 Shri Kamal Akhtar), and recyclable wastes from US and UK (RSQ 672 Shri B.K. Hariprasad).


 

4.      CLIMATE CHANGE AND METEOROLOGY

The findings on climate change assessment, the impact of climate change particularly on the country’s food production, food security; melting of glaciers, impacts of the Global Warming and the policies for Global Warming were the main topics of discussion in the House during the year. The MoEF furnished the maximum number of replies in the House during the year.

 

Increase in temperature 

The Minister of Earth Sciences informed the House that the Government is aware of the rapidly increasing sea surface temperatures (SST) and the upper ocean heat content of Arctic Ocean (RSQ 1280 Abu Asim Azmi). In addition, the Ministry also stated that there has been a rapid increase in Global Warming during the period 2005-06 and 2006-07 (RSQ 232 Shri Abu Asim Azmi). The Ministry gave detailed information on the fact that climate change has emerged as a global environmental challenge and is projected to adversely impact various aspects (RSQ 1441 Shri C. Ramachandraiah). Also, the Government is aware that, if climatic trends continue unabated, global warming would threaten our health, our cities, our farms and forests, beaches and wetlands, and other natural habitats (RSQ *373 Shrimati Mohsina Kidwai). There were discussions on the recently released UN study on the possible consequences of global warming in the next 30 years, has identified India as one of the hot spots and vulnerable to extreme weather events like drought, floods and cyclones (RSQ 1909 Shri Kamal Akhtar, Shri N.R.Govindarajar).

                       

Extreme change in weather patterns

In response to a query, the Minister of Earth Sciences gave the details of the study of the extreme changes reflected in the weather patterns in the northern and other parts of the country this year by the Indian Meteorological Department (RSQ *428 Jaya Bachchan). Reports also suggested that the rising sea level will trigger huge exodus and will displace millions from Chennai and Mumbai (RSQ 2682 Smt. Mohsina kidwai). The Government is aware of the implication of the sea level rise due to projected climate change (RSQ 1448 Shri Banwari Lal Kanchhal). Discussions were held on the fact that scientists have warned that Black Carbon cloud over the country rings alarm bells (RSQ 3263 Shrimati Jaya Bachchan), and that India, with a coastline of about 7,500 kms. risks losing a significant number of lives and assets worth $3.85 trillion due to coastal flooding that may occur as a result of climate change in 2070, as per global study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation (RSQ *87 Shri Jesudasu Seelam, Dr. T. Subbarami Reddy).

 

Effects of Climate Change

Several discussions on the varied effects of Climate Change took place in the House. The Minister of Water Resources gave details about the call for immediate action to make a realistic assessment of climate change on water resources (RSQ 1231 Prof. Alka Balram Kshatriya). The Minister of Agriculture detailed on the scheme of having trained personnel at the level of villages all over the country is under consideration to save the agriculture from the effects of climatic change (RSQ 3510 Shreegopal Vyas). In another discussion about the climate change phenomenon, considering a query regarding the melting of Glaciers, the MoEF affirmed to the fact that due to worst environmental conditions on the Gangotri glacier in the Himalaya Mountain, the flow of river Ganga has gone for away from the main source Gaumukh (RSQ *48 Shri Abu Asim Azmi, RSQ 3276 Shri Rajkumar Dhoot). The MoEF reported on the details of impact of Global Warming on the economy (RSQ 3271 Prof. P.J. Kurein).

 

Emissions

The MoEF were questioned regarding the Government’s policy/approach on the issue of Green House Gas emissions, to which the Ministry replied that even though India as a developing country does not have any mitigation commitments, nevertheless, a sustainable development path is being followed through a range of policies and programmes to mitigate climate change and reduce carbon emissions (RSQ 227 Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar, RSQ 1905 Shri Ajay Singh Chautala). The salient features of the experts’ proposal to best preserve the good old Yamuna were also discussed in the House (RSQ * 219 Shrimati Hema Malini). The facts that the green house gases emission in the rich countries of the world increased about 10 percent inspite of decrease during the years 1996 to 2006 were presented in the Legislative House (RSQ 1910 Shri Ram Jethmalani, Shri Raj Mohinder Singh Majitha).

 

Reports on Climate Change

There were many reports on the important observations on the parameters of climate changes being monitored by our Meteorological and related departments (RSQ 759 Rajkumar Dhoot, Rahul Bajaj). The main features of the WHO report were discussed by the Minister of Health and Family Welfare (RSQ 102 Supriya Sule, T. Subbarami Reddy). The complete details thereof and action taken by Government in the report from International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were presented in the House (RSQ 1134 Shri Dharam Pal Sabharwal).

 

Action Plans and Meets related to Climate Change

There were discussions on G-77 meet where the sidelines of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference held in Bali in December 2007 were met. India did not raise the issue of a committed international climate change mitigation fund (RSQ 246 Kalraj Mishra, Santosh Bagradia). The Minister of External Affairs explained the issues discussed at the G8 outreach sessions in Japan on 9 July 2008 that included the Heiligendamm Process, world economy, climate change and environment, development, with focus on Africa and regional issues (RSQ 698 D. RAJA). The MoEF presented the details of the account of the gains and losses-liabilities arising out of the deliberations on climate changes lately held at Bali talks to contain and prevent the adverse effects of climate change (RSQ 221 Shri O.T. Lepcha, Shri Santosh Bagrodia). Also, over 190 countries have reportedly agreed at UN-Led talks held in Bali (Indonesia) in December, 2007 to launch negotiations on a new pact to fight global warming as Kyoto Protocol is likely to expire in 2009 (RSQ 228 Shri Ramdas Agarwal, RSQ 2205 Dr. (Shrimati) Najma A. Heptulla, Shri Mahendra Mohan). Details were also given on the developing countries that had demanded for cost effective and easily accessible technology for reducing emissions in the Bali Conference on the climate change (RSQ 2207 Dr. (Shrimati) Najma A. Heptulla, Shri Mahendra Mohan. In response to a concerned query regarding the India’s national action plan on mitigation of climate change, the MoEF replied that the Report is under preparation (RSQ 2223 Shrimati N.P. Durga). The MoEF confirmed to the fact that the thirteenth Conference of Parties (COP-13) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the third Meeting of Parties (MOP-3) to Kyoto Protocol was held in Bali in December 2007 (RSQ 2679 Shri Abu Asim Azmi). Discussions on the report released by the Inter-Governmental Panel on climate Change (IPCC) under UN were held at the House (RSQ 2681 Shri Ramdas Agarwal), and plans under clean development mechanism (RSQ 2684 Shri Vijay J. Darda, Shri Gireesh Kumar Sanghi).

 

Others

The other topics that were given due importance in the House were fund to promote green technology (RSQ 231 Shri Dharam Pal Sabharwal), India’s benefits under provisions of Clean Development Mechanism (RSQ 1449 Shri Gireesh Kumar Sanghi, Shri Vijay J. Darda), Afforestation programmes (RSQ 1133 Shri C. Ramachandraiah), illegal mining activities (RSQ 236 Abu Asim Azmi), and revamping of transport sector (RSQ 279 Shri Dharam Pal Sabharwal).

 


 

5.      DISASTER MANAGEMENT

 

There were many questions raised on the existing disasters occurring in the country, as well as the mechanisms to deal with them. The areas of concern covered drought disasters, flood control and management ways, availability of earthquake prediction capacity in the country, and Tsunami prediction and early warning systems. The other topics spanned the steps taken for calamity relief and rehabilitation, the vulnerability of certain states to calamities, flood-related issues, strengthening of preparedness for disasters like earthquake and tsunami etc. The Ministry of Water Resources and Ministry of Home Affairs handled the maximum number of questions during the year.

 

 

Mining Activities

There were discussions on the action taken on the recommendation of the Joint Technical Team (RSQ *47 Shri Tarini Kanta Roy). In response to a query regarding the news of explosion in Jubilant Organosys situated at Gajraula in Uttar Pradesh in the recent past, the MoEF brushed off this news, by confirming that as per their records there was no incident of any fire/explosion/toxic gas release (RSQ *53 Sh. Kamal akhtar).

           

Disasters in coastal areas

Discussions were also held on the disasters in coastal areas. The National Disaster Management Authority, New Delhi has informed that National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project has been formulated to be implemented with World Bank assistance (RSQ 3272 Shri Rudra Narayan Pany, Shri B.J.Panda). The Ministry also informed the House that Government is aware that some foreign companies have dumped the wastage of their products into the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu (RSQ *241 Shri A. Elavarasan). The Minister of Water Resources replied to a concerned query, that the Government is aware that there is a fast erosion of sea beach along the Puri/Gopalpur coast in Orissa and it needs immediate preventive measures by the Centre (RSQ 1229 Ms. Pramila Bohidar). In addition, the Minister of Water Resources also replied to the query of the State Government of Maharashtra, that has been awaiting for a long time, the grant of Central assistance for National Coastal Protection Project under Port Development Scheme for anti-sea erosion works. However, realizing the severity of sea-erosion problems in certain critical reaches of the coastal line and on the recommendation of National Coastal Advisory Committee, a proposal for National Coastal Protection Project (NCPP) was conceived with a view to seek external funding (RSQ 4295 Shri Rajkumar Dhoot).

 

Waste disposal in rivers

The MoEF furnished important details about the dumping of chemical waste of several industrial units such as cigarette, sugar, steel, electricity, wine, milk powder, paper, paper board etc., situated near, around the river Hindon is flown into the it alongwith the waste from the drainage (RSQ 1899 Shri Satyavrat Chaturvedi, Shri Motilal Vora). The Minister of Water Resources, in reply to a member’s query regarding the pollution in Yamuna, Delhi reported about the Yamuna Action Plan (YAP) in a phased manner for the abatement of pollution of river Yamuna with the assistance from Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Government of Japan (RSQ 1911 Shri Jai Prakash Narayan Singh). Important clarification was made by the Ministry of Water Resources about the proposal of projects from Kerala under River Bank Protection Schemes (RSQ 3099 Shri K. Chandran Pillai).

 

Flood and Tsunami Disasters

The Minister of Home Affairs enumerated on the estimated loss of standing crops, fisheries etc. and people of Assam affected due to last devastating flood (RSQ 159 Kumar Deepak Das). In addition, the Members were also informed of the total damage to life and property due to floods, district-wise, in Tamil Nadu, assessed by the Central Team (RSQ 677 V. Maitreyan, RSQ 1329 Gyan Prakash Pilania, Lalit Kishore Chsturvedi); alongwith the total amount of flood relief that has been provided to the Government of Orissa during the last year (RSQ 1298 B.J. Panda, Pramila Bohidar). The Minister of Home Affairs also furnished details of the losses incurred by the State of Andhra Pradesh due to floods and incessant rains in the State in August/ September last year (RSQ 2083 N.P. Durga). Discussions were also held on the steps taken for protection and relief to the life and property of those victims of devastating flood of river Jiadhol, Kumatia and Gainadi in the district of Dhemaji, Assam (RSQ 2095 Kumar Deepak Das). The Ministry also assessed about the misappropriation of funds allocated for the Tsunami relief. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India have prepared a Performance Audit Report on Tsunami Relief and Rehabilitation 2006 (RSQ 3145 Mahmood A. Madani). In response to a concerned query, the Minister of Water Resources explained the cause of the flooding of Bihar by the Kosi river (RSQ 1688 Shri Rajkumar Dhoot).

 

Drought Disasters

In response to a query, the Minister of Agriculture reported that a survey of all drought affected areas of the country has been made (RSQ 1575 Sushma Swaraj). The Minister of Agriculture confirmed to the memorandum received from the Government of Madhya Pradesh for drought relief (RSQ 3395 Pyarelal Khandelwal). Also, it presented the details of the drought situation emerged due to absence of rainfall in several districts of Bundelkhand region in Madhya Pradesh (RSQ *235 Maya Singh).

 

Disaster Management 

The Minister of Department of Space stated the ISRO proposals to offer disaster management support in Asia-Pacific region (RSQ 3369 Mabel Rebello). The Minister of Earth Sciences detailed on the setting up of Tsunami Early Warning Centre in Andhra Pradesh (RSQ 189 B.J. Panda, Pramila Bohidar). In addition, the Ministry affirmed to the fact that the Government is aware that every year a huge loss to life and property is caused in Himachal Pradesh due to cloud-bursts which lead to flash floods in different parts of the State (RSQ 3911 Viplove Thakur). The Minister of Home Affairs confirmed to the fact that the Government has approved on 26th November, 2007 the constitution of National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) with an initial corpus of Rs.100 crore to be placed at the disposal of the National Executive Committee constituted under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (RSQ 2104 Datta Meghe). Also, the Ministry presented the policy decision taken by Government to assist State Governments to rehabilitate and reconstruct the infrastructure damaged as result of natural disaster (RSQ 2534 Kanjibhai Patel, RSQ 2566 Kanjibhai Patel). The Minister of Home Affairs informed the House about the status of the Disaster Management Centre in Guwahati, Assam to facilitate effective steps towards disaster as well as activities being taken up for community mobilization (RSQ 562 Birendra Prasad Baishya). The details of the plan for flood management in the country were unraveled by the National Disaster Management Authority (RSQ 1295 Alka Balram Kshatriya, Shobhana Bhartia). The Minister of Health and Family Welfare stated the health facilities from natural calamities; Centre has begun making Government-run hospitals disaster resistant, especially in high seismic zones and coastal areas (RSQ 860 V. Hanumantha Rao, T. Subbarami Reddy).

 

Earthquake Disasters

The Minister of Earth Sciences refused the fact that earthquakes are rapidly increasing these days Statistical analysis of the available earthquakes database does not indicate any apparent increasing trend in the earthquake frequency (RSQ 672 Abu Asim Azmi). The Minister of Earth Sciences presented the details of the Real Time Seismic Monitoring Network (RTSMN) machine installed at the earthquake observatory established at Bhopal that has devised means to disseminate required information on tsunami and earthquake (RSQ 2068 Maya Singh). It also confirmed to the fact that the earthquake prone areas have been classified into various categories in the country (RSQ 2530 Abu Asim Azmi). Geological Survey of India (GSI) has received reports of ground fissures/cracks that have developed over parts of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand in the receipt past mainly due to fluctuation in the ground water table (RSQ 1748 Rajkumar Dhoot).

 


 

6.      ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT

 

The procedure including the scientific and technical basis of the Environmental Impact Assessment was a major subject of discussion in the House. The impact of developmental projects particularly mining activities, river-linking projects and hydro-power projects, the status of projects received and pending for environment and forest clearance, the process of granting approval, especially accelerating the clearance of projects were the other areas of discussions. Most of the questions were handled by the MoEF during the year

 

Environmental Clearances

The Minister of Power enumerated on the many Ultra Mega Power Projects (UMPPs), which have been proposed by various parties in the country (RSQ *73 Dr. K. Keshava Rao). As reported by the State, no stone cutting crusher or iron extraction machine have been set up within the core area of the Biosphere Reserve (RSQ 3270 Shri Bhagirathi Majhi).

                       

Hydropower Projects

The Minister of Water Resources informed the House about the financing of the Rampur Hydropower Project in Himachal Pradesh and the Vishnugad Pipalkoti Project in Uttarakhand, by the World Bank, which has in its study report called for a river basin-wise approach (RSQ 1230 Shri Jesudasu Seelam). Details were given on augmentation of drinking water supply to Hubli-Dharwad (RSQ 618 Shri Janardhana Poojary). The details of environment impact assessment made, specially towards the effect of flood and erosion, including siltation on the downstream of existing as well as to be executed hydro power projects in Arunachal Pradesh and neighbouring countries like Bhutan and Nepal, project wise were presented in the House (RSQ *185 Shri Birendra Prasad Baishya).

 

Other Projects

The Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways confirmed to the fact that Government is aware of environmental hazards alongwith threat to National security posed by the Sethusamudram project (RSQ 295 Shri Amir Alam Khan). Also, the Ministry enumerated on the total expenditure to be incurred on Sethusamudram project togetherwith the annual income to be earned and the ordinary expenditure to be incurred (RSQ 1529 Shri Lalit Kishore Chaturvedi, Dr. Gyan Prakash Pilania, RSQ *90 Prof. Alka Balram Kshatriya, Shrimati Shobhana Bhartia). Details were given on the representation from the State Government of Uttar Pradesh for environmental clearance for “Ganga Expressway Project” from Ballia to Noida (RSQ 1431 Shri Kamal Akhtar).

           

             


 

7.      ENERGY STUDIES

 

The concern about the country’s growing energy needs in the context of the depletion of conventional fuel sources was clearly reflected in the questions in the House. Deliberations centered mainly on the country’s non-conventional energy programme. Questions were asked about the various measures taken to promote renewable energy sources particularly the details of solar, wind and hydropower projects. In addition, the Ministry of Power had started an energy conservation campaign to sensitize the users to save electricity. The Ministry of Power has also issued the Energy Conservation Building Code to save electricity by promoting energy efficient buildings. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (formerly Ministry of Nonconventional Energy Sources) handled the majority of queries during the year.

 

The Minister of Atomic Energy enumerated on the number of Atomic Energy plants in India at present and the places these plants are situated and the quantum of energy being produced by these plants, alongwith, State-wise and plant-wise (RSQ 622 Lalit Kishore Chaturvedi).   The Ministry also revealed the proposals to adopt an integrated energy policy (RSQ 625 Sushila Tiriya). In addition, the Ministry furnished the details of the quantity of coal demanded by Government of Madhya Pradesh for supplying to its power plants during last three years (RSQ 628 Raghunandan Sharma). The Minister of Coal informed the House that the Thermal Power Stations are facing shortage of coal (RSQ 630 T.T.V. Dhinakaran). The Minister of New and Renewable Energy gave details that the Haryana Renewable Energy Development Agency, Haryana has issued a letter of intent to M/s. Astonfield Renewable Resources Pvt. Ltd., Kolkata to setup a 3 MWp solar photovoltaic power project in the State of Haryana on build, own and operate basis, subject to preparation of the DPR by the company, its approval by the State agency and signing of the power purchase agreement with the State utility (RSQ 252 B.J. Panda). The Minister of Power also informed the House that Government has set a target of saving ten thousand megawatt of power during Eleventh Five Year Plan (RSQ 1047 Shri Satyavrat Chaturvedi, Shri Motilal Vora, Shri Sushila Tiriya). The Minister of Power enumerated on the estimated loss of electricity on account of theft, free power and cross subsidy (RSQ 1796 Shri Mahendra Mohan, RSQ 1799 Shri D. Raja, RSQ 2904 Shri Rahul Bajaj). According to the Minister of POWER, Government had launched Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (APDRP) in the year 2002-03 with the objective of encouraging reforms and of reduction in Aggregate Technical and Commercial (AT&C) loss, improving quality of supply of power and improving consumer satisfaction (RSQ 1803 Shri Raj Mohinder Singh Majitha, Shri Ram Jethmalani).

 


 

8.      ENVIRONMENT AND FOREST TRADE

 

The government’s promotion of eco-tourism was the main subject of discussion during the year. Other topics of discussion were the contribution of the forestry sector to the country’s economy and the status of ecotourism and wildlife projects. Questions during the year were mainly handled by the Ministry of Tourism.

In response to a query, the Minister of Tourism confirmed to the fact that Chandaka Dampara Sanctuary in Orissa has potential for eco-tourism (RSQ 607 Shriamila Bohidar). Discussions were also held on the details of Karnataka Government requesting for grants for development of eco- tourism and Adventure Tourism in the State, particularly in Udupi district (RSQ 603 Shri Janardhana Poojary). Details were given on compensatory afforestation scheme as part of its Green India Program (RSQ 656 Dr. Gyan Prakash Pilania, Shri Lalit Kishore Chaturvedi); Wildlife Protection Act (RSQ 1904 Shri T.T. V. Dhinakaran). There were discussions on the profit margins for the forest produce (RSQ 1916 Shri V. Hanumantha Rao, Dr. T. Subbarami Reddy, Srimati Supriya Sule).

 


 

9.      ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION

The discussions in the House focused on issues of various environment-related legislations and policies concerning hazardous waste management, wetlands protection, river pollution, effects of industrialization, forest rights of forest dependent communities, coastal protection, groundwater use, fuel quality etc. The MoEF gave the maximum number of replies during the year. The Ministry of Water Resources also handled a substantial number of questions.

 

Environmental Projects

Concern was expressed about the status of the proposal of Andhra Pradesh Government (APG) to implement Under Ground Tunnel Project (UGTP) under the provisions of Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 which is to be set up under the sanctuary areas to meet the drinking water needs of fluoride affected areas of Nalgonda district (RSQ 240 Shri Nandi Yellaiah). The Ministry of Environment and Forests answered the query regarding the many quartz and stone crushing units in the country, that expose dust concentration between 81 and 660 times than the threshold limits (RSQ 1122 Shri B.S. Gnanadesikan). Discussions were also held on the awareness of the Government of the delayed work related to six Ultra Mega Power Projects (UMPPs) and several other projects, beneficial for the people, due to forests and environment laws, as a result of which, their cost has escalated (RSQ 1501 Shri Motilal Vora, Shri Satyavrat Chaturvedi). The status of the amount Government has released for schemes under JNNURM during the last four years in each State especially in Andhra Pradesh was enquired, in reply to which the Minister of Urban Development enclosed a list containing amount which has been released for schemes under Infrastructure and Governance component of JNNURM during the period from 2005-06 to till date (RSQ 756 Shrimati T. Ratna Bai, RSQ 762 Shri C. Ramachandraiah). In reply to a concerned query regarding the JNNURM, the Minister of Urban Development released the provisions made of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) (RSQ 1232 Shri Lalit Kishore Chaturvedi, Shri Krishan Lal Balmiki).

 

Biodiversity

Requested information about the World Conservation Union putting 45 tree species across India on its “Red List of Threatened Plant Species 2007” and has further flagging 247 species as “threatened was presented in the House (RSQ 2210 Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Shri Vijay J. Darda). The MoEF stated that no final decision for relaxing the prohibition in the sale & purchase of captive elephants under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, has been taken (RSQ 2674 Shri Rajeev Chandra-Sekhar). Details were given on the restriction by National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) on collection and export of a few specimens for research by scientist associated with entomology (RSQ 2683 Shri A. Vijayaraghavan) alongwith compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority Bill (RSQ 2687 Shrimati Supriya Sule, Shri Gireesh Kumar Sanghi) and conservation of biological diversity (RSQ 2689 Dr. K. Malaisamy). Discussions were also held on plans for conservation of tigers together with creation of Tiger Protection Force (RSQ 660 Shri Amir Alam Khan, RSQ 661 Shri Ramachandra Khuntia, and RSQ 674 Shri Abu Asim Azmi). The MoEF replied to a query about the wildlife in the country on the brink of extinction (RSQ 673 Dr. Janardhan Waghmare).

 

Climate change in the country

There were discussions regarding the proposals to set up Centres to monitor climate change in the country (RSQ 665 Shri N.R. Govindarajar). In addition, the MoEF discussed on the private participation existing in implementation of the policy announced on climate control (RSQ 677 Shri Shreegopal Vyas, Shri Balavant Alias Bal Apte).

Forest Land

A concerned query regarding the details of encroachment on forest lands as on 1.1.2008 was presented to the MoEF, to which the Ministry revealed the details, as per the reports received from State Forest Departments, the total area of forest under encroachment in the county is 16.96 lakh hectares (RSQ 1128 Shri Praveen Rashtrapal). Also, the Ministry informed the House as per the State of Forest Report 2005, published by Forest Survey of India, the mangrove cover of the country which was 4448 km2 in 2003, has reduced to 4445 km2 in 2005 i.e. there has been a marginal decrease of 3 sq km. (RSQ 1135 Shri K.Chandran Pillai).

 

Others

The other topics that were given due importance in the House were electronic waste (RSQ 2213 Shri   D. Raja), recommendations of Sukhatankar Committee (RSQ 3286 Shri Manohar Joshi), Ganga Action Plan (RSQ 1129 Shri Banwari Lal Kanchhal), eco-clubs (RSQ 1143 Shri Shantaram Laxman Naik), pollution control guidelines (RSQ 1130 Shri S.S. Ahluwalia), coastal management zone (RSQ 1121 Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy), new urban housing policy for green settlements (RSQ 3306 B.J. Panda, Mabel Rebello), setting up of environment courts (RSQ 1772 Kanimozhi), environmental hazards of mining (RSQ 1774 K. Malaisamy, S. Anbalagan), and pricing policy on ground water (RSQ 3845 Shrimati Supriya Sule).


 

10.  ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION, NGOs AND MEDIA

There were discussions on pollution, and governmental initiatives on awareness generation and NGOs participation in government programmes on energy and water management were the major areas of discussion. There were several discussions on the government’s promotion of awareness on renewable energy, water conservation and disaster management. The legislators were given the details of the government’s promotion of `Education for Peace’ as an important concern to be integrated throughout the school curriculum.

 

The Ministry clarified the House that during the Kumbh Mela in 2000-2001 at Allahabad, no protest was registered by saints against pollution in river Ganga (RSQ 2680 Shri Kamal Akhtar). In addition, the Ministry did talk about the present level of pollution prevailing in the four metros of the country, alongwith the measures being taken to reduce the level of pollution (RSQ 3288 Dr. V. Maitreyan). The Ministry has constituted a Crisis Management Group to look into the mortality of  gharials  in the Chambal River Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh (RSQ 1435 Shri Shreegopal Vyas, Shri Jesudasu Seelam, Shri Balavant Alias Bal Apte, Shrimati Maya Singh, Shri Gireesh Kumar  Sanghi, Shri Ekanath K. Thakur). The Ministry also commented on the elite lifestyle, that Elite lifestyles and behaviour patterns including consumption patterns contribute to ‘Global Warming’ across various countries in the same manner (RSQ 2209 Smt. Hema Malini, Shri Vijaykumar Rupani). The Ministry clarified on the research contracts explaining that the Ministry does not award any research contract to consultants, NGOs, academic and research organizations (RSQ 2675 Shri Harish Rawat).

 

The Minister of Environment and Forests stated that in a report entitled “World’s top 10 rivers at risk”, the World Wildlife Fund, an International Non-Government Organisation (NGO), has listed the river Ganga as one of the World’s ten rivers facing risk (RSQ 2692 Shri N.R. Govindarajar). The Ministry presented the scheme to inculcate environment awareness among the members of public and students in particulars to the Members of the House (RSQ 3265 Shri Shantaram Laxman Naik). The Minister of Earth Sciences approved of the submission of the project to establish an Oceanarium complex and Marine Theme Park for facilitating and strengthening the advanced research and study on Ocean life to the Central Government seeking its support and participation of Central Government by 50% of the cost by the Kerala Government (RSQ 2528 K.E. Ismail). There were important discussion on the demand for a new mining policy, keeping in view the environment and rivers by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) (RSQ 4078 Shreegopal Vyas). The Minister of Home Affairs, in response to a query, explained about the implementation of the proposal by the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to revamp garbage disposal system to make the system both environmentally and economically viable (RSQ 688 B.J. Panda, Pramila Bohidar). Details were given about the investigation on fuel adulteration, carried out by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), as directed by the Environmental Pollution Control Authority (RSQ 1192 Shrimati Shobhana Bhartia, Prof. Alka Balram Kshatriya, Shri Vijay J. Darda). According to the Minister of Water Resources, The Government of India had declared the Year-2007 as `Water Year` with the focus on developing consensus on appropriate measures including legislation on better management of the water sector including participatory irrigation management, regulated use and conservation; timely completion of irrigation projects and maintenance of existing projects to ensure water availability to farmers; awareness programmes for the masses; organization of conferences, workshops on important development and management issues etc (RSQ 3839 Shri Jesudasu Seelam).


 

11.  FOREST CONSERVATION

The discussions in the House during the year were focused mainly on the country’s forest cover, the rights of tribals and forest dwellers in the forest areas, the development of forest villages, the progress of Afforestation activities and the development of mangrove forests. Concerns were expressed about the status of the country’s forest cover and the steps taken to augment forest lands. The MoEF handled the majority of queries during the year.

 

Forest Lands for Mining

The Minister of Mines provided clarifications for leasing forest lands for mining activities in the country, in a reply to a concerned member’s query regarding forestlands for mining activities. The Ministry also gave the State-wise details of the total areas of forest land so leased out for mining, alongwith the terms and conditions (RSQ 234 Abu Asim Azmi). In addition, the Minister of Mines stated as per available information, the Supreme Court of India vide its interim order dated 6.5.2002 has banned mining activities within a distance of 5 kms. of Delhi-Haryana boundary in Faridabad & Gurgaon districts of Haryana. Supreme Court has banned mining activities in Aravalli Hills too (RSQ 237 Gireesh Kumar Sanghi, Vijay Jawaharlal Darda).

 

Forest Conservation

Queries were made about details of steps taken on compensatory Afforestation, an important component of the government’s Afforestation Programme. Responding to a query, the MoEF reported about the afforestation activities undertaken by the State Government of Orissa, which has submitted an Action Plan for utilization of Rs. 67.90 crore for the funds for the year 2007-08 under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) RSQ 1879 Ms. Pramila Bohidar, Shri B. J. Panda). The MoEF also discussed the working out a definition of ‘forests’ by Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (RSQ 2514 Shri Kanjibhai Patel). The house was also informed about the 400 project proposals received from various State/UT Governments under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 which are pending with the Central Government (RSQ 1064 Shrimati Sushma Swaraj) and the State-wise area of forest coverage in the country (RSQ 1067 Prof. P.J. Kurien).

 

Protection of Forest Environment

Members expressed concern about the need to have sanctuaries, national parks and tiger reserves, helping in regenerating forest cover in the country in response to which the MoEF highlighted the measures being taken to improve the country’s forest cover (RSQ 473 Vijay Jawaharlal Darda).  The Minister of Environment and Forests also furnished details about the total number of State-wise forest villages in the country (RSQ 469 C. Ramachandraiah); and about some effective strategies, which have been worked out in consultation with the State Government for prevention, detection and control of forest fire in the State of Kerala under the Centrally Sponsored, Integrated Forest Protection Scheme (RSQ 1260 Shri Abdul Wahab Peevee, RSQ *218 Shri Penumalli Madhu).

 

Forest Development

The matter of forest villages was also highlighted following requests for details concerning the progress in declaration of such villages. The Ministry furnished the necessary details, including the assistance provided for forest village development. There was concern expressed about the focus on interlinking of forest managements by the Minister of Environment and Forests, to which the response was that a National Working Plan Code has been formulated to promote the convergence of forest management practices into the stated objectives of the National Forest Policy 1988 (RSQ 3266 Ravula Chandra Sekar Reddy). The Ministry is also implementing the National Afforestation Programme Scheme (NAP) in the participatory mode by involving a two tier set-up namely, Forest Development Agency at the Division/District level and Joint Forest Management Committees at the village level and there are schemes for forest development are in force in the State of Goa (RSQ 4034 Shri Shantaram Laxman Naik). Concerns were expressed about the status of the country’s forest cover and the steps taken to augment forest lands. The Minister of Environment and Forests reported that the present Forest and Tree Cover (FTC) in the country is 23.68% (RSQ 1273 Shrimati Jaya Bachchan).

 

Financial Assistance

The MoEF enumerated the details of the proposals/schemes submitted by the various States seeking financial assistance for development of forests during the last three years (RSQ 485 O.T. Lepcha). The details of the funds allocated to the States under National Afforestation Programme during current year along-with the details thereof, State-wise (RSQ 2791 Krishan Lal Balimki, RSQ 478 Shri O.T. Lepcha) and the Funds For Preservation of Forests and Wildlife were also a point of discussion in the House (RSQ 476 Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy, RSQ 2512 Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar).

 

Tribal rights for forests

Responding to queries about the policies for tribal rights to forest lands, substantial discussion was held on the proposal pending with Government related to distribution of forest land to tribals in Kerala (RSQ 1243 K. Chandran Pillai, RSQ 3474 Hema Malini); and the total number of forest offence cases related to illicit felling of trees for the period (2002-03 to 2005-06) reported by the States of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, irrespective of the fact whether the offender is a tribal or non-tribal (RSQ 2014 Praveen Rashtrapal). The Minister of Tribal Affairs informed the Members about the number of tribal families in Karnataka which have been given possession of forest lands, so far, district-wise (RSQ 1655 Rajeev Chandrasekhar) and clearly refused on the matter of eviction of tribals from their age old habitations near the forest for various development projects (RSQ 1058 Kumari Nirmala Deshpande). Information was also sought about the government’s response to the reservations expressed by the National Forest Commission on the Scheduled Tribes Bill. The Minister of Tribal Affairs also discussed about the appointed Committee of retired officials to suggest rules for implementing the Scheduled Tribes bill recognizing the forest rights of the tribes. On the matter of the grant of traditional rights to tribes under the Forest (Conservation) Act, the MoEF pointed out that the Supreme Court had halted the grant of such rights through its orders in 2000 and 2001(RSQ *184 V. Hanumantha Rao, RSQ 2236 S.G. Indira).

 

Damage to forest environment

Information was also sought about the following that damage the environment most - industries or agriculture; cities or villages; plastic or vegetations (RSQ 2021 Shreegopal Vyas, Vinay Katiyar, RSQ 451 Shri Keshubhai S. Patel). The MoEF also enumerated about the cases of illegal felling that take place and the actions taken by the State Governments as per the provisions of existing Rules and Acts.  For protection of forests various measures such as patrolling of the areas, engagement of watchers, constitution of protection committees, construction of watch towers etc. are being taken by the State Forest Departments. In addition, under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of ‘Integrated Forest Protection’, financial assistance is also made available to States/UTs Governments for purchase of vehicles, construction of buildings, communication equipments, arms & ammunition etc. to take up effective measures for protection of forest areas (RSQ 2792 Krishna Lal Balmiki, Kalraj Mishra). The Ministry in response to the queries about the status of illegal chopping of barks was discussed on the table, and  as per the reports received from State Forest Department, barks of 262 pine trees was found to be illicitly chopped in the Reserved Forests of Garari for which appropriate actions are being taken (RSQ 1270 Shrimati Viplove Thakur). The MoEF also affirmed about the large scale destruction of mangroves taking place in the country (RSQ 1889 Shri K. Chandran Pillai).

 

Others

Several Members demanded information about the number of Vangrams in Rajasthan and M.P. (RSQ 1240 Gyan Prakash Pilania, RSQ 1871 Shri Laxminarayan Sharma), the latest status of the proposal received by the Ministry from Andhra Pradesh Forest Development Corporation for raising coffee plantation IN Andhra Pradesh  (RSQ 461 Shri Nandi Yellaiah); the allocation of funds made to hilly States and other States under Green India Scheme (RSQ 2017 Viplove Thakur), the suggestion of plantation of trees along rail lines (RSQ 2094 Jayantilal Barot, Suryakantbhai Acharya), the Financial Assistance for Plantation by Orissa (RSQ *212 Shri Rudra Narayan Pany), the steps being taken to improve the Green Cover and forest land in the country (RSQ 1827 Dr. V. Maitreyan).


12.  FRESHWATER AND MARINE CONSERVATION

The quality of the country’s rivers and lakes was the dominant theme of discussion in the House during the year. Other areas covered included the conservation of the country’s coastlines, wetlands and mangroves. Also discussed were the initiatives to augment water availability, renovation and restoration of water bodies related to agriculture. The MoEF gave the maximum number of replies during the year, while the Ministry of Water Resources also had a significant share of the discussions.

 

Damage to water bodies

In a reply to a member’s query, the Minister of Water Resources explained as per 3rd Minor Irrigation Census, some of the Water Bodies/Tanks have fallen into disuse due to silting, poor maintenance, encroachment, etc. (RSQ 96 Shrimati Kanimozhi). The Minister also made sure that the Government is aware that as per new scientific evidence Ganga river has become reservoir of virulent forms of the bacteria, Escherichia coli known to cause ailments ranging from mild intestinal disease to severe kidney complications (RSQ 1426 Dr. Smt. Najma A. Heptulla).


Pollution in water bodies

The Ministry of Water Resources revealed that, as per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), there are 23 drains identified at Kanpur carrying sewage, out of which 19 drains have been tapped so far (RSQ 1428 Shri Mahendra Mohan, Dr. Smt. Najma A. Heptulla). The details of the action taken thereon were also discussed in the House. In addition, the State-wise details of rivers in the country which are highly polluted were presented by the Ministry (RSQ 2211 Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy). The Ministry of Environment and Forests further added that the monitoring of water quality of river Ganga indicates that the water quality of the river is complying with the designated standards in term of the key indicators namely, Dissolved Oxygen (DO) & Bio-chemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) in major locations except for marginal deviations from the standards at a few monitoring points between Kannauj and Varanasi (RSQ 2218 Shri Kamal Akhtar). According to a study conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the stretch of river Yamuna between Wazirabad and Okhla in Delhi is among the most polluted stretches of major rivers across the country.  It has been reported that the volume of wastewater generated from Delhi accounts for about 79 per cent of the total wastewater generated from major towns located along the banks of river Yamuna (RSQ 2222 Shri Ekanath K. Thakur). There were similar questions raised in the Rajya Sabha regarding rivers Ganga and Yamuna. In a reply to a member’s query, regarding the captivation of the Ganga in Tihri and Narora and catchment area, which is gradually shrinking thus causing environment havoc, the Ministry stated as reported by Central Water Commission, a dam has been constructed recently at Tehri on river Bhagirathi, a tributary of Ganga, while the barrage on river Ganga was constructed at Narora, Uttar Pradesh about three decades back (RSQ 2678 Shri Mahendra Mohan).

                       

Action plan for cleaning the rivers

Requested information was given about the formulation of action plan to clean and to make the rivers of the country pollution free. It was stated that under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National River Conservation Plan (NRCP),  pollution abatement works are implemented to improve the water quality in the identified polluted stretches of major rivers (RSQ 1439 Shrimati Sushma Swaraj). The details of the sanctioned project ‘Pamba Action Plan’ for abatement of pollution of river Pamba in Kerala were given in the House (RSQ 2217 Shri K. Chandran Pillai). The progress so far made in the implementation of the Yamuna Action Plan and the expenditure incurred thereon so far were presented in the House (RSQ *217 Shri Kalraj Mishra, Shri Santosh Bagrodia, RSQ * 219 Shrimati Hema Malini). Recognizing the value of Wetlands and taking cognizance of the fact that there does not yet exist a formal system of Wetland Regulation, the National Environment Policy (NEP), 2006, as approved by the Cabinet in May 2006 sought to set up a legally enforceable regulatory mechanism for identified valuable Wetlands to prevent their degradation and enhance their conservation (RSQ 223 Ms. Pramila Bohidar). According to the Ministry, the proposal received from the State Government of Gujarat for cleaning of Sabarmati River Phase-II at Ahmedabad could not be considered due to budgetary constraints (RSQ 2202 Shri Jayantilal Barot, Shri Keshubhai S. Patel, Shri Kanjibhai Patel). The details of work done in Ganga Action Plan Phase II were given to the members (RSQ 2219 Shrimati Jaya Bachchan).

 

Lake restoration 

Discussions were also held on CAMPA funds for restoration of Kolleru Lake Wild Life Sanctuary. The State Government of Andhra Pradesh had requested the Government of India for releasing the money deposited by the State Government in Ad-hoc CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority) towards the Net Present Value (NPV) etc. (RSQ 241 Shri Nandi Yellaiah). The Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India is implementing the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP) since June, 2001 on 70:30 cost sharing basis between the Central Government and the respective State Government with its objective to restore and conserve the polluted and degraded lakes in urban and semi-urban areas in the country (RSQ 2208 Shri B.J. Panda, Ms. Pramila Bohidar).

 

Conservation of water bodies

According to the Ministry of Water Resources, the Government is aware that level of ground water is depleting constantly and taking note of this scenario Hon’ble High Court has issued strict instructions for conservation of ponds (RSQ 2225 Shri Banwari Lal Kanchhal). Proposals were sent by the Government of Gujarat for Coastal Conservation and Management project (RSQ 2199 Shri Kanjibhai Patel, Shri Keshubhai S. Patel).

 

Others

Other major topics of discussion were Bharatpur Sanctuary (RSQ *301 Shrimati Syeda Anwara Taimur, Shri Vijay J. Darda), funds for cleaning of river Yamuna (RSQ 2224 Shri Janardhana Poojary), Funds under NRCP for Karnataka (RSQ 1440 Shri Janardhana Poojary), Sewage treatment plants (RSQ 3280 Shri Tariq Anwar), Demarcation of High Tide Line (RSQ 1907 Shri Shantaram Laxman Naik), grant for Mithi river development scheme under JNNURM (RSQ 2767 Shri Manohar Joshi).


13.  HEALTH AND SANITATION

The adverse health impacts of excessive application of pesticides and chemical fertilizers in agriculture, the presence of heavy metals in carbonated drinks, the country’s preparedness for bird flu, the provision of safe drinking water and mortality from poor environmental quality were the main areas of discussion during the year. There was substantial attention given to the absence of basic amenities, in particular, sanitation facilities, water quality concerns, particularly drinking water for the rural areas and the quality of the Yamuna River, as well. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Rural Development handled a majority of the questions during the year.

 

Bird flu

In response to the concerns expressed about bird flu, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Minister of Agriculture highlighted the out-breaks of H5N1 bird-flu in neighbouring Pakistan. The Minister of Agriculture reported cases of bird-flu have been reported from various parts of the country (RSQ *128 K. Chandran Pillai, Sushma Swaraj). The Ministry also revealed that the present occurrence of bird flu is limited only to West Bengal and has not been reported from any other state in the country (RSQ 807 Abu Asim Azmi).

 

Contaminated water, ground water and diseases

The Minister of Health and Family Welfare enumerated on the number of deaths caused due to contaminated water and poor sanitation and hygiene conditions in the country during the last three years ending 31.03.2008, and the targets fixed in the Millennium Development Goals for safe drinking water and sanitation, and the extent to which such targets have been achieved so far (RSQ 1320 Rajeev Chandrasekhar). The Minister of Rural Development  presented the details of the recently conducted survey aided by UNICEF in Uttar Pradesh revealed that in more than 20 districts covering 322 development blocks, the ground water was found to be contaminated by arsenic (RSQ 3973 Shri B.K. Hariprasad). The Minister of Water Resources confirmed to the ill effects on the underground water of certain districts of Andhra Pradesh with the contaminants such as fluoride, Arsenic, Iron, salinity etc (RSQ 3100 Shri C. Ramachandraiah). The Minister of Rural Development clarified that the Rural Drinking Water Supply is a State subject. Government of India supplements the efforts of State Governments by rendering them technical and financial assistance (RSQ 1838 Shri Jai Prakash Narayan Singh). The Minister of Water Resources revealed that it is a fact that a recent study by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) had indicated that the ground water in over 200 districts of the country has a high level of flouride and arsenic, posing a big public-health hazard (RSQ 579 Shrimati Jaya Bachchan). The Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has taken a serious view on presence of pesticides in bottled water of various brands (RSQ *476 Jai Parkash Aggarwal).

 

Sanitation facilites in rural areas

The Minister of Rural Development enumerated on the number of villages in the country where toilet facilities are available. The Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) of Government of India aims to provide access to toilets to each rural household in a district. The TSC is being implemented with a district as unit. Village level data is not maintained at the Centre (RSQ 3210 Shri Shreegopal Vyas, Shri Rudra Narayan Pany). The Ministry further discussed the concrete measures and steps Government is now taking to remove the deficiency in rural sanitation scheme (RSQ 1836 Shri Vijay Jawaharlal Darda, Dr. T. Dubbarami Reddy, Shrimati Supriya Sule). The Minister of Rural Development explained that water is a State subject and State Governments are responsible to provide drinking water to the rural areas. To supplement the efforts of the state, financial assistance is provided to the States through centrally sponsored, Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme (ARWSP) (RSQ 2150 Shri B.J. Panda).

 

Pollution and Health hazards

In response to the concerns expressed about noise pollution, the MoEF stated that noise may pose health risks depending upon the intensity of ambient noise levels and extent of exposure (RSQ 1432 Ms. Pramila Bohidar, Shri B. J. Panda). In a related discussion, legislators were informed that the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) is monitoring rain water quality and long term averages in chemical composition thereof across the country through a network of 10 Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) stations as per Guidelines of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). These GAW stations are located in Allahabad (U.P.), Jodhpur (Rajasthan), Kodaikanal  (Kerala), Minicoy (Island in the Arabian Sea), Mohanbari (Assam), Nagpur & Pune (Maharashtra), Portblair (Andeman & Nicobar), Srinagar (J & K) and Visakhapatnam (A.P.) (RSQ 1453 Shri Lalit Kishore Chaturvedi, Dr. Gyan Prakash Pilania). Also, the Ministry presented the details of the number of diseases are spreading fast in the country due to pollution (RSQ 3284 Shri Jai Parkash Aggarwal). According to the Ministry, ambient air quality in Delhi is monitored by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) alongwith the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI). The CPCB has started monitoring finer dust particles, less than 2.5 micron size (PM2.5), at 07 locations in Delhi (RSQ 1117 Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi). The Ministry also confirmed that the Government is aware that a large population of Delhi and surrounding areas is being exposed to an unseen health hazard i.e. lead in drinking water (RSQ 1132 Shri Mahendra Mohan). There were several discussions on the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recently revealing that most of the rivers and water bodies in the country contain an alarming level of bacterial contamination (RSQ *243 Shri Mahendra Mohan, Shrimati Shobhana Bhartia).

 

Drinking water in rural habitations

Members were informed by the Minister of Rural Development about the target fixed to supply safe drinking water to the rural habitations under Bharat Nirman, State-wise number of habitations for the last two years (RSQ 3206 Shri Syed Azeez Pasha). The Minister of Rural Development provided details of the proposal for drinking water supply through Sustainable Community- managed Drinking Water Supply for Rural Areas of Backward Tribal Districts was sent to the Central Government (RSQ *531 Shri Kanjibhai Patel, RSQ 601 Shri B.J. Panda). Enumerations on the amount to be allocated to various districts experiencing paucity of safe drinking water for supply of potable water to the people in Rajasthan under the Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Supply Mission in the year 2008 were presented in the House (RSQ 185 Dr. Prabha Thakur). The Ministry clarified that the Rural drinking water supply is a State subject. Government of India assists the States through the centrally sponsored Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme (RSQ 1844 Shri Amir Alam Khan). State-wise details of proposals regarding Integrated Rural Water Supply and environmental cleanliness project as on date were presented in the House (RSQ 731 Shri Jai Parkash Aggarwal).

 

Others

Other major topics of discussion were establishment of drinking water quality testing laboratories (RSQ 2152 Shri Kanjibhai Patel), declaration of 2007 as year of water (RSQ *193 Shrimati Sushma Swaraj), National centre for excellence for fluorosis mitigation Gandhi Nagar (RSQ 3981 Shri Kanjibhai Patel), converting toxic underground water into potable water (RSQ 1055 Shri Rajkumar Dhoot), harmful substance in Chinese toys (RSQ 108 Sushma Swaraj), Asbestos factories (RSQ *307 Shri B.K. Hariprasad),


 

14.  MEDICINAL PLANTS

 

Discussion in the House in this subject area covered the promotional schemes for cultivation of medicinal plants, efforts for gathering information about the problems faced by cultivators, and the status of database and infrastructural facilities for research and conservation for medicinal plants. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare handled most of the queries during the year.

 

The Minister of Health and Family Welfare, in a reply to a member’s query, replied that there is no information on the Government being aware that many pharmaceutical companies are exploiting herbal plants for their commercial purposes against the permitted levels. However, as per report of study undertaken by National Medicinal Plants Board through Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Tradetions (FRLHT), Bangalore about 960 species of medicinal plants are in trade, of which, 178 species are in high demand with annual consumption exceeding 100 metric tonnes (MT). Out of these, 21 plants are sources from temperate forests and 72 from the tropical forests (RSQ 852 B.S. Gnanadesikan). According to the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, it is a fact that treatment with herbs has been found effective in the country. Ayurveda, Yoga, Siddha and Unani are ancient but holistic healthcare systems with proven efficacy for treatment of various disorders (RSQ *231 Raj Mohinder Singh Majitha, Ram Jethmalani).

 


 

15.  POLLUTION

Pollution was a subject that was majorly talked on in the House among the members. Major discussion was held on the quality of the country’s major rivers in the House during the year. The other areas focused upon included the issue of air pollution, land pollution, noise pollution, electronic waste pollution and the hazards of ship-breaking. As per report of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Delhi is at risk of losing air quality because of rising pollution. The MoEF addressed the maximum number of replies during the year.

 

Water Pollution

The discussions on water pollution were focused mainly on the country’s major rivers, the Yamuna and Ganga. In this context, the details of the detected areas where people used to consume polluted and fluoride contained water were discussed in the House (RSQ 1903 Kumar Deepak Das). Responding to the clarification sought about the status of Yamuna as the most polluted river in the country, the MoEF confirmed to the same (RSQ *367 Shrimati Sushma Swaraj, RSQ 2672 Shrimati Jaya Bachchan). The MoEF held a detailed discussion on the comprehensive study undertaken on the damage caused by polluting industrial units to the Cauvery eco-system (RSQ 2698 Shrimati Kanimozhi). In a reply to a query regarding the increasing pollution in various rivers, the Ministry stated that the Government has taken steps for pollution abatement in the identified stretches of the major rivers (RSQ 1138 Shri Kumar Deepak Das). Also, the Minister of STEEL confirmed to the statement that for the last few years a large number of foreign dead ships have been brought to Indian ports for ship breaking (RSQ 3531 Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar). The Minister of Agriculture stated that the Government is aware that rising pollution, climate change, etc. are spelling a death knell to hundreds of marine species. He further added that mass mortality of fish occur in coastal waters occasionally due to harmful algal bloom caused mainly by natural oceanographic factors (RSQ 1259 Syeda Anwara Taimur, Vijay Jawaharlal Darda). The details of the increasing health hazards posed by unsafe/contaminated drinking water with high levels of heavy metals and pesticides used by farmers in many cities and States by the Minister of Health and Family Welfare (RSQ *114 Rajeev Chandrasekhar).

 

Air Pollution

In a reply to a concerned query, the Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways enumerated on the total number of motor vehicles on the roads at present, the number of motor vehicles expected to be on the roads in three years, the total area of road miles existing in the metros today and the addition that is planned for the next three years (RSQ 3343 Shri Naresh Gujral). In addition, the Ministry objected to the query, stating that a motor vehicle is entitled to ply on roads as long as it conforms to the prescribed emission standards (RSQ 2272 Shri Penumalli Madhu). The Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas objects to the statement that three Sulphur Recovery Units set up in Mathura Oil Refinery are not in operation or lying closed, they are in operation (RSQ 4271 Shri Janeshwar Mishra).The Ministry of Environment and Forests further added that it is a fact that abundance of vehicles in Metro cities is turning to be a major reason of pollution alongwith it is also neutralizing the whole traffic system (RSQ 1898 Shri Bhagwati Singh, Shri Janeshwar Mishra, Shri Brij Bhushan Tiwari).

 

Pollution by E-waste

An important problem especially in the context of the country’s booming information technology sector was discussed with the MoEF informing the Members about the dumping of electronic devices such as computers servers, mainframes monitors, TV and telecommunication devices by most users once they go out of fashion (RSQ 1116 Dr. (Smt) Najma A. Heptulla, Shri Mahendra Mohan). The Ministry further added that based on a survey conducted under the guidance of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) it has been estimated that about 1,46,000 tons of waste from electrical and electronic equipment  [ WEEE]  is generated annually in the country (RSQ 1427 Shri   B. J. Panda, Ms. Pramila Bohidar). In addition, the Ministry stated that the major quantity of electronic waste is generated in metro cities including in the National Capital Territory of Delhi, which contains mercury, lead, lithium, etc (RSQ 238 Shri  Pyarelal Khandelwal).

 

Other types of Pollution

Discussions about other types of pollution were also held in the House. The Ministry of Environment and Forests stated the ‘Noise Standards for Fire – Crackers’ have been notified under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 read with rules (RSQ 1912 Shri Jai Prakash Narayan Singh). Reports entitled “Plastics for Environment and Sustainable Development” was published in 2003 by the Indian Centre for Plastics in the Environment, Mumbai and the Central Institute of Plastics Engineering & Technology, Chennai, an autonomous institution of the Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizer were presented in the House (RSQ 233 Sh. Abu Asim Azmi). The Members were made aware of the formulation of a scheme to provide assistance to State Governments especially to the Delhi Government with a view to control the Industrial and Environmental Pollution (RSQ 235 Shri Jai Parkash Aggarwal, RSQ 1447 Shri Kamal Akhtar). The details of those units covered under ‘H’ and other categories as per Master Plan engaged in spreading pollution, State-wise particularly in the National Capital Delhi were given to the Members in the House (RSQ 2686 Shri Jai Parkash Aggarwal). The Minister of Mines revealed the proposals to grant permission to a multi-national company to dig up the Niyamgiris (Orissa) which is rich in Bauxite and is used in manufacture of aluminium (RSQ 2245 Prakash Keshav Javadkar).

 

Pollution treatments

In a reply to a query by a member regarding pollution treatments, the Minister of Labour and Employment confirmed to the fact that private sectors are being encouraged for treatment of garbage in metropolitan cities (RSQ 1346 Janeshwar Mishra, Bhagwati Singh). The Minister of Commerce and Industry also stated that it is a fact that salt industry of Kutch is under threat due to pollution emanating industries (RSQ 1250 Bhagwati Singh). The Minister of Urban Development, in a reply to a query, stated that according to the assessment of status of Municipal Solid Waste Management in Metro cities and State Capitals made by the Central Pollution Control Board, Ministry of Environment & Forests in April, 2006, all the mega-metro cities have adopted open dumping for disposal of waste (RSQ 2774 Shri Satyavrat Chaturvedi). The Ministry of Environment and Forests stated that steps are informed to have been undertaken for setting up a Masdar township at a huge investment adjoining Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates based on power generated from solar energy (RSQ 3269 Shrimati Jaya Bachchan). As per the information from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), directions were issued to the State Pollution Control Boards of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi Pollution Control Committee to take effective steps under the Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 to ensure that no effluent from industrial sources along river Yamuna are discharged into it without proper treatment (RSQ 3290 Shri N. R. Govindarajar). The members were notified that to protect the historical monuments including Red Fort in Delhi from air pollution, National Ambient Air Quality Standards have been notified including standards for Sensitive Areas, which include national monuments (RSQ 236 Shri Jai Parkash Aggarwal).

 


 

16.  WATER MANAGEMENT

Many queries were made about the continuing acute shortage of water as indicated by the falling water tables across the country and the measures being undertaken to augment the availability of water resources. Other topics of discussion included the proposal for water quality decline and the distribution of water. Another related area concerned the availability of clean drinking water particularly in the rural areas. The availability of water for agricultural use was a matter of substantial focus during the Session. The highest number of queries was addressed by the Ministry of Water Resources during the year.

 

Water crisis

 Requested information was given on the action plan of Government to mitigate water crisis, to renovate and develop water resources under the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT) in the silk city Behrampur, Orissa (RSQ 763 Shri B.J. Panda). Legislators expressed concern about the scarcity of water in metropolitan cities of the country (RSQ 1228 Shri Jai Parkash Aggarwal). The Minister of Water Resources enumerated on the details of the blocks or districts in the country that have been included in the dark zone following depletion of water table there (RSQ 87 Shrimati Viplove Thakur). In addition, the Minister further added that Government is aware of scarcity of water in the country and initiative is being taken by Government for the distribution of water of Chenab, Kosi and Brahmaputra rivers under the international law (RSQ 308 Shri Brij Bhusan Tiwari, Shri Janeshwar Mishra). As per studies conducted by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), decline in the level of ground water has been observed in various parts of the country including NCT Delhi due to withdrawal of ground water in excess of annual recharge (RSQ 2475 Shri Mahendra Mohan).

 

Dispute of water sharing

In an interesting discussion, the Minister of Water Resources clarified the status of proposal to bring any river under Central ambit by identifying it as National River (RSQ 95 Shri Mahmood A. Madani, Shrimati Supriya Sule, Gireesh Kumar Sanghi, Jesudasu Seelam, Santosh Bagrodia). Further, the Minister added as per the Inter-State River Water Disputes (ISRWD) Act, 1956, the water dispute arises among two or more State Governments when the Central Government receives request under Section 3 of the Act from any of the basin States with regard to existence of water dispute (RSQ 3092 Shri Shantaram Laxman Naik). The Ministry of Water Resources (MOWR) (erstwhile Ministry of Irrigation) and Central Water Commission (CWC) formulated a National Perspective Plan (NPP) for Water Resources Development in 1980 envisaging inter-basin transfer of water from surplus basins to deficit basins/areas which comprises of two components, namely, Himalayan Rivers Development Component and Peninsular Rivers Development Component (RSQ 4299 Shri Su. Thirunavukkarasar). In a reply to a concerned query regarding the linking of rivers, the Minister of Water Resources stated that the implementation of Inter linking of rivers programmes in the country depends upon the consensus & Cooperation of the concerned States and agreement with the neighbouring countries (RSQ 449 Shri Prabhat Jha).

 

Ground water

Several discussions were held on the major share of surface water and ground water being utilized for the irrigation of agriculture land of the country (RSQ 100 Shri Raj Mohinder Singh Majitha, RSQ 1234 Shri N.R. Govindarajar). Also, the Minister of Water Resources accepted the fact that water crisis is increasing day by day and the level of availability of ground water is going down by one metre every year in the country (RSQ 613 Shri Mangani Lal Mandal, RSQ 616 Kumari Nirmala Deshpande). The Minister enumerated on the number of projects by Central Ground Water Board for artificial recharge of ground water during the Eleventh Plan, State-wise (RSQ 3842 Shri A. Elavarasan). As per the assessment of ground water resources carried out by Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), 839 units (Blocks/Mandals/Talukas) have been categorized as `Over-exploited`, 226 units as `Critical` and 550 as `Semi-critical` (RSQ 4288 Shri Pyarelal Khandelwal).

 

Safe drinking water

The Minister of Rural Development, in a reply to a query by a member gave the details of the number of villages in various States which do not have safe drinking water available as on date (RSQ 609 Dr. Gyan Prakash Pilania, Shri Lalit Kishore Chaturvedi). The Ministry of Urban Development have informed that the Ministry of Urban Development has not initiated any study on the requirement of water for household purpose including drinking water in urban and rural areas of the country (RSQ 3840 Shri S. Anbalagan).

                     

Water schemes and projects

The Minister of Rural Development gave the details of amounts allocated to Rajasthan, under various rural water supply schemes, during the last three years, and till date, alongwith the details of amounts utilized by the State during this period and achievements thereof (RSQ 1061 Dr. Gyan Prakash Pilania, Shri Lalit Kishore Chaturvedi). In addition the details of the amounts allocated to Uttar Pradesh under various rural water supply schemes, during the last three years, and till date were given to the members (RSQ 1068 Shri Kamal Akhtar). The Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways has reported about the proposals from the State Government of Andhra Pradesh to declare as National Waterways the river Godavari between Bhadrachalam and Rajamundry; river Krishna from Wazirabad to Prakasham Barrage, integrated with Kakinada canal, Eluru canal, Commamur canal and Buckingham canal as National Waterway (RSQ 738 Shri Nandi Yellaiah). The Ministry of Rural Development, Department of Drinking Water Supply have informed that there is no specific proposal `to get drinking water from the sources of the rivers instead of getting it from the banks near the residential areas (RSQ 89 Shri Abu Asim Azmi). The Minister of Water Resources has expressed concern over the India receives about 4000 Billion Cubic Metre (BCM) rainfall every year, out of which only 690 Billion Cubic Metre water is utilized and the rest of the water goes down in the drain due to various reasons (RSQ 91 Shri Lalit Kishore Chaturvedi, RSQ 92 Shri Datta Meghe).

 

Water management and conservation programs

In response to a query, the Minister of Water Resources reported about the Command Area Development and Water Management Programme being implemented in Goa (RSQ 614 Shri Shantaram Laxman Naik). The details of funds being made available to the State Governments/ agencies for rehabilitation/renewal of minor water bodies in the rural areas of the country were presented in the House (RSQ 617 Shri Rajniti Prasad). The Ministry of Water Resources (erstwhile Ministry of Irrigation) and Central Water Commission formulated a National Perspective Plan (NPP) for Water Resources Development in 1980 for carrying the water from frequently, flooded parts of the country and surplus water flowing in rivers to drought prone areas and also to control floods in vast areas (RSQ 2474 Shri Jai Parkash Aggarwal). The Ministry of Environment & Forests has reported that there is no proposal with the Ministry of Environment & Forests to assign river conservation to States (RSQ 3098 Shri Rudra Narayan Pany). In addition, the Minister of Water Resources stated that the Union Government has taken various measures to promote rain water harvesting and artificial recharge to ground water in the country (RSQ 4296 Dr. K. Malaisamy).

 

Development of water management

Mention was made of the additional assistance to states through the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme and Command Area Development and Water Management. The Ministry of Water Resources pointed out that water being a state subject, state governments and urban local bodies have the primary responsibility of undertaking measures for water conservation and utilization, including water audit. Considerable concern was expressed about the linkage between commercial exploitation of water and the decline in groundwater availability. Several discussions were held on the State Government urging the Central Government to further relax the guidelines for inclusion Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme, Restoration of water bodies and Command Areas Development and Water Management (RSQ 2476 Shrimati Mohsina Kidwai).

 

Other action plans

The Minister of Water Resources was queried if it is proposed to make the water audit compulsory, to which the Ministry replied that it has no proposals to make the water audit compulsory (RSQ 3101 Shri T.T.V. Dhinakaran). In the same regard, the Minister of Water Resources gave the present status of National Water Grid programme and interlinking of rivers in the House (RSQ 3853 Shri Laxminarayan Sharma). According to the Ministry, the Second Administrative Reforms Commission does not mention any specific suggestion about `framing of radical national law to centralize control over river and ground water in order to address the emerging conflicts (RSQ 4289 Shri Vijay Jawaharlal Darda). The Ministry of Water Resources approved the Scheme for Repair, Renovation and Restoration of 32 water bodies in Beed district of Maharashtra under the pilot scheme viz. National Project for Repair, Renovation and Restoration of Water Bodies directly linked to agriculture (RSQ 4301 Shri Rajkumar Dhoot). In addition, the details of water bodies identified for repair, renovation and restoration in Delhi were given to the members of the House (RSQ 453 Shri Banwari Lal Kanchhal).

 

Others

The other topics that were majorly discussed at the House during the year were related to contaminated drinking water (RSQ 450 Shri Prabhat Jha), mapping of water resources in Rajasthan (RSQ 457 Dr. Gyan Prakash Pilania), big dams vis a vis floods (RSQ 461 Shri Moinul Hassan), bottled water plants (RSQ 2473 Shri B.K. Hariprasad), central ground water board report on Narmada river (RSQ 443 Shri Lalit Kishore Chaturvedi).


17.  WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT

Discussion during the session covered questions relating to the census on wildlife, decline in wildlife population, wildlife deaths, habitat conservation, and control of illegal wildlife trade and associated activities. The key concern was the rapid decline in the wildlife of the country. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare informed the House that the disease had been contained in the affected areas through the culling of birds and stepped up vigilance by authorized officials. The MoEF handled the highest number of questions during the year.

 

Census on wildlife

In a reply to a query raised by a member regarding the decision to conduct the first ever census on the Alligator population in the country, the Ministry of Environment and Forests strongly stated that Alligators are not found in India. However, census of Gharials is conducted on a regular basis. As per the last census conducted in 2007, the estimated number of Gharials in various Sanctuaries has been about 1645 (RSQ 222 Prof. Alka Balram Kshatriya, Shrimati Shobhana Bhartia). Also, in regard to tigers, the MoEF stated while Naxalites have been reported by several tiger reserve States, their presence to the extent of affecting the day-to-day management has come to light in Indravati (Chattisgarh) and Palamau (Jharkhand) Tiger Reserves (RSQ 1434 Shri Vijay J. Darda, Smt. Shobhana Bhartia). According to the MoEF, the recent All India Estimation of tiger undertaken by the Ministry of Environment and Forests through Project Tiger (now the National Tiger Conservation Authority) in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India, has indicated the total country-level population of tiger is 1411 (mid value); the lower and upper limits are 1165 and 1657 respectively (RSQ 1438 Shri D. Raja, RSQ 3262 Shri Lalit Kishore Chaturvedi). Another hot topic of discussion in the House was regarding the total number of black panthers in the country as on today (RSQ 3267 Shri Abu Asim Azmi). Census on wildlife of various animals, alongwith that of Vultures in the country, which have fallen to a great per cent over the last sixteen years was debated on in the House (RSQ 3275 Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar, RSQ 657 Shri Brij Bhushan Tiwari, Shri Janeshwar Mishra).

 

Dwindling population of wild animals

In regard to dwindling population of wild animals, the MoEF stated that the fluctuation in population of wild animals is a natural phenomenon. However, there are no specific reports available with this Ministry to indicate that the population of tiger and lion is fast dwindling in the country            (RSQ 2198 Shri Gireesh Kumar Sanghi, Shri Santosh Bagrodia, RSQ 225 Shri Janardhana Poojary). There were other queries made in the context of increase in number of elephants in Orissa, which has compounded people’s problems (RSQ 2677 Shri Rudra Narayan Pany). Decline in Tiger population was another debated topic in the House (RSQ 1140 Shri Kamal Akhtar, Shrimati Hema Malini).

 

Deaths of wildlife

The MoEF clarified that there were no killings of wild animals during the shooting of Hindi feature film “Jodha-Akbar” (RSQ 224 Shri Shantaram Laxman Naik). However, the Ministry confessed to the electrocution of five Asiatic lions in the farmland at village Prempara, outside the Gir Protected Areas in October 2007, when, prima facie, the farmer had laid electrified wire fencing around his agriculture land to prevent crop damage from wild herbivores, as reported by the State Government (RSQ 239 Shri Kamal Akhtar). Tiger deaths have been reported by the MoEF in Jim Corbett Park of Uttarakhand during the last quarter of 2007 (RSQ 2220 Shri Rajkumar Dhoot, RSQ 2221 Shri Rajkumar Dhoot).                

 

Reserves, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries for wildlife

The MoEF suggested that the Government is aware that a large number of rhino are being killed by poachers in Kaziranga National Park in Assam (RSQ 2206 Shri Abu Asim Azmi, Shri Amar Singh). The MoEF also stated that, as reported by the State, in the Periyar Tiger Reserve of Kerala, through eco development initiatives, the tiger reserve management has been successful in turning poachers into protectors of wildlife (RSQ 2215 Shrimati Hema Malini, RSQ 230 Shri T.T.V. Dhinakaran). The MoEF also confirmed to the fact that Government has approved eight new tiger reserves (RSQ 2669 Shrimati Hema Malini, RSQ 1136 Shri Bhagirathi Majhi). In a reply to the total number of poaching cases detected in Kaziranga Sanctuary, the Ministry revealed that, as per the information received from the State Government, four cases of poaching have been detected in Kaziranga National Park in 2008 (RSQ 3266 Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar, RSQ 3285 Dr. (Shrimati) Najma A. Heptulla, shri mahendra mohan). In a reply to the projects formulated by Government for development of national parks and sanctuaries in the North Eastern region particularly in Sikkim State, the Ministry informed the members that Government of India provides financial and technical assistance to  State/UT Governments including North Eastern region and Sikkim for conservation and protection of wildlife in the national parks and sanctuaries under the Centrally Sponsored Schemes viz.-“Assistance for Development of National Parks and Sanctuaries”, “Project Tiger” and “Project Elephant” (RSQ 3268 Shri O.T. Lepcha).

 

Wildlife conservation programs

Discussions were held on the Government approving of eight new tiger reserves (RSQ 1433 Shri Bhagirathi Majhi). The MoEF enumerated on the numbers of elephants and wild lives killed due to accidents met on railway tracks during last five years, year and animal-wise (RSQ 1442 Shri Tarini Kanta Roy); alongwith the number of rhino killed at Kaziranga National Park during last four years (RSQ 1450 Kumar Deepak Das). In a reply to a query, the MoEF stated that State/UT Governments have reported vacancies of frontline staff in Forest and Wildlife departments’ inspite of the poaching of tigers, elephants, rhinos and other endangered species on the rise (RSQ 2201 Shrimati Mohsina Kidwai). According to the MoEF, advisories have been issued to States for stepping up tiger protection, which do have site specific problems (RSQ 2668 Ms. Sushila Tiriya, RSQ 3264 Shri Ramachandra Khuntia).

 

Action Plans for wildlife

The MoEF revealed that issues relating to trade and conservation of Asian Big Cats, interalia, was discussed as an agenda item in the 14th meeting of Conference of the Parties to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) at Hague (June, 2007) (RSQ 3287 Shrimati Hema Malini). Information was sought on the proposals for financial package and incentives to save the tiger (RSQ 1125 Shri Vijaykumar Rupani, RSQ 1914 Shri Ramachandra Khuntia).

 

Others

Other topics that were given due importance were related to socio-economic assessment of tiger reserves (RSQ 2212 Shrimati Brinda Karat), tigers in Jharkhand (RSQ 2197 Shri Rudra Narayan Pany, Shri Ajay Maroo), UNESCO notice to Bharatpur sanctuary (RSQ 1445 Shri Ekanath K. Thakur), Rare species of animals (RSQ 1437 Shrimati Jaya Bachchan), New Tribal Rights Act (RSQ 229 Shrimati  Supriya Sule), land for Sabrimala pilgrims (RSQ 234 Prof. P.J. Kurien), Relocation of human settlements in wildlife sanctuaries (RSQ 1430 Shri K. Chandran Pillai), rehabilitation of tigers in Sariska (RSQ 2690 Shri Krishan Lal Balmiki), forest fire (RSQ 2694 Shrimati Shobhana Bhartia), Wild life corridors (RSQ 3274 Shri Abu Asim Azmi), and Elephant menace (RSQ 1120 Shri Rudra Narayan Pany).