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Rajya Sabha Analysis 2007

 

 
SUBJECT-WISE ANALYSIS OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES RAISED IN THE RAJYA SABHA 2007
 
 
1. AGRICULTURE
 
The main areas of concern of legislators during the year 2007 were the effects of existing agricultural practices on the health of the soil and the increasing content of toxic chemicals in agricultural products. Most of the queries of the legislators demonstrated an overarching concern about the sustainability of high dependence on chemical fertilizers and pesticide application and the consequent threats to human health. The questions included the demand for information about adoption of crop projection technologies, soil management strategies, land degradation 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.
 
Effects of Global Warming on Agriculture Production
Responding to the query about the effect of Global Warming on Agriculture production, the Ministry of Agriculture stated that there has been no definite evidence of impacts of climate change on Agriculture production in the country (RSQ 3211, Janardhana Poojary, T.T.V. Dhinakaran). But the results available from the study conducted under network project on impact, adaptation and vulnerability of Indian agriculture to climate change indicates that increase in temperature and change in precipitation pattern could significantly impact the agriculture production in the country in future. Also, the Members were informed that the Government is contemplating to develop crops for better adaptability to changes in weather such as increasing temperature by conventional and biotechnological techniques (RSQ 1186, Satyavrat Chaturvedi, Motilal Vora).
Recent studies in Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) indicate the possibility of loss of 4-5 million metric tones of wheat production with every rise of 1°C temperature throughout the growth period. Wheat may be more affected than other cereals. Simple practices such as change in planting date and crop varieties could help in reducing the impact of climate change. ICAR has taken several measures to address this issue including adaptation to climate change. Wheat varieties such as NIAW 34, RAJ 3765, RAJ 4037 and DBW 14 have been developed that are tolerant to rise in temperature. Resource Conservation Technologies like Zero Tillage Technology are being popularized (RSQ 1993, Barun Mukherjee).
 
Degradation of Land
The Minister of Agriculture and the Ministry Of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution stated that, as per National Bureau of Soil Survey & Land Use Planning (NBSS&LUP), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Regional Centre, Nagpur, out of a total geographical area of 328.60 million ha., about 146.82 million ha. (45%) is suffering from various kinds of degradation in the country (RSQ 1957, Rajkumar Dhoot). The deforestation, certain developmental activities and faulty management practices are mainly responsible for the erosion/land degradation.  For this matter, it informed the legislators that the Government of India is implementing various types of Watershed Development Programmes, namely,National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Area (NWDPRA), Soil Conservation for Enhancing Productivity of Degraded Lands in the Catchments of River Valley Project and Flood Prone River (RVP&FPR),  Reclamation of Alkali Soil (RAS),  Watershed Development Project for Shifting Cultivation Area (WDPSCA), Desert Development Programme (DDP), Integrated Waste-land Development Project (IWDP), and National Afforestation & Eco-Development Project (NAEP) for development of degraded lands in the country (RSQ 26, M.A.M. Ramaswamy).
 
Soil Erosion and Production
The Minister of Agriculture informed the Members of the House that as per Vision -2025 document of Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute, Dehradun, nearly 44% of the total area in the country has erosion rates more than the permissible limit of 10 tonnes/ ha/ year. Accordingly, over 5.3 billion tonnes of soil and around 8.4 million tonnes of plant nutrients are lost every year through water erosion. The Government is implementing location specific erosion control measures developed by Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute, Dehradun through different integrated watershed management programmes run by various agencies. The institute also organized regular training courses for field functionaries and farmers in this regard (RSQ 1183, Ram Jethmalani, Raj Mohinder Singh Majitha).
 
Chemical Fertilizers v/s Organic Fertilizers
Responding to the query of Motiur Rahman (RSQ 4009), the Minister of Agriculture stated that the continuous use of chemical fertilizers has deleterious effects on soil fertility; there is no indication of large scale degradation of soil health and crop productivity in the country due to use of chemical fertilizers. However, there are few instances of deterioration of soil fertility/certain nutrient deficiencies in some parts of the country, especially in Indo-Gangetic plains due to inadequate and imbalanced use of chemical fertilizers. The Government is promoting Integrated Nutrient Management (INM), which envisage soil test based balanced and judicious use of chemical fertilizers including secondary and micronutrients in conjunction with organic manures and bio-fertilizers under various schemes. The Government is promoting the production, promotion, certification and market development of organic produce in the country under various schemes.
 
The Minister of Agriculture stated that in order to minimize imbalance/excessive use of chemical fertilizers the Government is, accordingly, promoting Integrated Nutrient Management by advocating soil test based balanced and judicious use of chemical fertilizers including secondary nutrients and micro nutrients in conjunction with organic manures and bio-fertilizers. The Government will also be educating farmers through training and field demonstrations on balanced use of fertilizers for improving soil fertility and its productivity (RSQ 2613, Satyavrat Chaturvedi).
 
The adoption of the Organic Farming concept was brought up for discussion in the context of the Scheme `National Project of Organic Farming’ whereby, the Government is promoting the production and use of bio-fertilizers by providing financial assistance for setting up of bio-fertilizers production units and on promoting bio-fertilizers (RSQ 1943, Amir Alam Khan).The promotion of the judicious use of chemical fertilizers along with organic manures and bio-fertilizers as supplementary source of plant nutrients and also Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to minimize the indiscriminate and injudicious use of chemical pesticides is suggested by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution (RSQ1956, Prema Cariappa, Alka Balram Kshatriya).
 
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the Government is also implementing a Centrally Sponsored Scheme on National Horticulture Mission (NHM) in the country from 2005-06 under which promotion of organic farming has been included as one of the components and financial assistance is being provided for organic cultivation of horticultural crops, setting up of vermicompost units and for organic farming certification. In addition, Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), Ministry of Commerce & Industry is promoting export of organic products and implementing National Programme for Organic Production (NPOF). Under the Scheme financial assistance is being provided to its registered exporters for Market Development, Infrastructure Development, Quality Development, R&D and transport assistance (RSQ 540, Sharad Anantrao Joshi).
 
Adoption of Crop Protection Technologies
The other main issues suggested by the Chairman to boost agriculture expansion machinery to setup knowledge transfer to farmers which would also help to create awareness about the correct use of agro-chemicals. Pesticide industry and their associations, including the Agro Chemicals Promotion Group suggested various measures for promoting safe use of pesticides such as imparting training to farmers in appropriate use of pesticides, strengthening of regulatory processes to address the problem of spurious pesticides, reduction of taxes on pesticides, registering more pesticides to give farmers more choice and benefit of latest technology, promoting enhanced use of pesticides etc. The policy of the Government is promotion of IPM as the cardinal principle of plant protection (RSQ *73, Prema Cariappa, Shobhana Bhartia).
 
2. ALTERNATIVE SOURCES OF ENERGY
 
The main focus 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, involvement of panchayats and the private sector, and the electrification of farflung areas through non-conventional energy sources. The majority of queries during the year 2007 were replied by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
 
Renewable Energy
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 for instance, Remote Village Electrification Programme (RSQ 2177 Rajkumar Dhoot) and that Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), extends term loans to renewable energy projects (RSQ 2184 S.M. Laljan Basha, RSQ 642 O.T. Lepcha).
 
Other non-conventional energy sources such as wind, solar and hydropower were discussed with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy providing the Members detailed information about the wind energy generation potential in the country and amount currently generated, steps taken to promote solar energy and details of the hydropower projects especially in rural areas (RSQ 640 N.P. Durga).
 
Solar
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy informed the Members of the House that it is proposed to install 10 million sq. m. of collector area for solar water heating and other applications during the 11th Plan period, which is expected to provide hot water in around 3.5 million homes in the country including Orissa (RSQ 641 B.J. Panda, Pramila Bohidar). The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is implementing several programmes to promote use of solar energy devices and systems in the country including the north eastern region. As, the average solar radiation incident over the north eastern region, including Assam, is less in comparison to other parts of the country. Therefore, the north eastern region is better suited for harnessing other renewable energy sources like small hydropower and biomass (RSQ 3428, Karnendu Bhattacharjee).
 
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. The Ministry has successfully undertaken several initiatives including, awareness campaign through electronic and print media, booklets, leaflets, brochures, newsletters, exhibitions, fairs on various renewable energy technologies, including solar energy schemes, in Hindi, English and regional languages all over the country to popularize various schemes among people (RSQ *210, Jai Prakash Aggarwal). The Ministry is organizing Rajiv Gandhi Akshay Urja Diwas in districts, metros and State capitals of the country on 20th August for wide publicity and awareness since 2004.
 
Wind
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. The installation of wind power projects in Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and proposed projects in Gujarat and Karnataka were discussed in response to specific queries made by Members. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy informed the House about the present capacity of wind (6270 MW) power in the country as on 31st December, 2006; along with per unit cost of power generation (average generation cost ranges between Rs.2.75 to 3.50 per unit depending on the site, wind regimes and infrastructure development cost). It also furnished details whether the Government has worked out the total potential of wind power in the country (RSQ 74 Balavant Alias Bal Apte, Shreegopal Vyas).
 
Members were apprised of the present rank of India at the fourth position in the world in wind power installations after Germany, Spain and USA with a gross wind power potential in the country; estimated at over 45,000 MW, including 8275 MW in Andhra Pradesh (RSQ 77 S.M. Laljan Basha, RSQ 644 Rajkumar Dhoot). Government is also encouraging setting up of wind power projects in the country by providing fiscal incentives, such as concessional import duty on certain components of wind electric generator,  excise duty exemption, ten years’ tax holiday on income generated from wind power projects, benefit of accelerated depreciation, loan from Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) and technical support by the Centre for Wind Energy Technology (C-WET) including detailed wind resource assessment to identify further potential sites.
Hydel
The Minister of New and Renewable Energy has stated that the hydro power projects costing upto Rs. 500 crore, which would cover all small hydro power (SHP) projects, i.e., upto 25 MW are exempted from Central Government clearance (RSQ 75 M.V. Mysura Reddey). The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is providing central financial assistance for the setting up of small/mini hydro power projects in potential states, where actual implementation is carried out mainly by the public and private sectors. Small/mini hydro power projects are given a higher level subsidy in special category states (RSQ 1609 Saman Pathak).
 
Garbage and Waste
The generation of energy from wastes is an important component of the government’s promotion of nonconventional energy as it involves addressing the problem of land pollution as well. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy furnished the required information about assistance provided and sought by states in this regard. The Minister of New and Renewable Energy stated that the Government has conducted a study regarding production of power from urban and industrial waste wherein, the National Master Plan for development of Waste-to-Energy in India has indicated an estimated potential in the country for generation of about 2900 MW power from Urban Wastes and about 1300 MW power from Industrial Wastes. Programmes are being implemented for setting up of projects for energy recovery from urban and industrial wastes. Under these programmes, various financial and promotional incentives are available for setting up of such projects. Capital subsidy varying from Rs.50 lakh to Rs.3.00 crore per MW, varying with type of waste, technology employed and end use application is being provided for setting up of these projects (RSQ 80 Amir Alam Khan).
 
The Minister of New and Renewable Energy also discussed the implementation, aims and objectives of the Accelerated Programme on Energy Recovery from Urban Wastes which includes the promotion of setting up of projects for recovery of energy from urban wastes; creation of conducive conditions and environment including fiscal and financial regime to develop and demonstrate projects for recovery of energy from wastes; and, harnessing of the available potential (RSQ 2840 N.P. Durga). 
 
Biomass and Biodiesel
The House was informed that a project for energy generation from biomass was being taken up. The Ministry (New and Renewable Energy) also discussed the various promotional measures being undertaken for utilization of biomass and biofuels including provision of subsidy and awareness generation activities. Power generation potential of 21000 MW has been estimated from biomass such as surplus agricultural residues and sugar cane bagasse (RSQ 643 Ramdas Agarwal). According to the Minister of New and Renewable Energy; the Government has set up a National Mission on Bio-diesel, which is being implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development and it includes a demonstration phase under which Jatropha/Pongamia plantation on 5 lakh hectare of forest and non-forest waste lands would be taken up for production of bio-diesel. Production of diesel from non-crude oil sources is at present in the research and development stage (RSQ 645 Lalit Kishore Chaturvedi).
 
Green Buildings
Answering a question on the status of finalization of a National Rating System, the Minister of New and Renewable Energy has confirmed the development for rating the performance of Green Buildings, which will function under the advice and direction of eminent architects, engineers, builders, experts and officials from concerned Government Departments and Agencies. The broad objective of the Rating System is to catalyze the speedy adoption of building techniques, technologies and procedures that will promote design and construction of energy efficient and sustainable buildings in the country (RSQ 131 C. Ramachandraiah).
 
Integrated Rural Energy System
The Minister of New and Renewable Energy discussed the plans set up an integrated rural energy system to meet the requirement of farmers with the focus on electrification of villages under the Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY), non-electricity generation options such as biogas plants, solar thermal dryers etc (RSQ 2216 Ekanath K. Thakur, RSQ *12 M.A.M. Ramaswamy).
 
 
Clean Energy
The Minister of Earth Sciences has formulated a scheme to install a kind of plant in India for generating energy from sea waves. But, the power plant based on sea waves is not found to be cost effective at commercial scale due to high capital cost (RSQ 4206 Datta Meghe).
The Minister of Earth Sciences has also confirmed the proposal from West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency, Kolkata to set up a tidal power plant of 3.65 MW capacities at Durgaduani Creek in Sunderbans, West Bengal on experimental basis (RSQ 1519 B.J. Panda Abu Asim Azmi).
 
Production of Ethanol
In response to the query about the decision to produce Swadeshi fuel or Gasohol by mixing ethanol, a byproduct from sugar industry, with petrol; the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas vide Gazette Notification No. G.S.R 580(E) dated 20.9.2006 has directed that subject to commercial viability (RSQ 1604 Hema Malini). the Minister of Power has also reported that the utilization of gas, as fuel in India by the Working Group on Petroleum and Natural Gas for the 11th Plan, , accounts for around 9% of the primary needs in comparison to that of 24% of total global primary energy supply (RSQ 2973 Ekanath K. Thakur).
The Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has confirmed the fact that Government have formulated a scheme to promote the production of ethanol from sugarcane in view of more production of sugar than its consumption requirements during the current year (RSQ 2768 Ram Jethmalani, Murli Manohar Joshi, RSQ 571 Moti Lal Vora, Satyavarat Chaturvedi).
 
Use of Atomic Energy
In response to the query about the immense reserve of Thorium to fulfill the energy needs of the country, the Minister of Department of Atomic Energy explained about the capacity to build and operate Fast Breeder Reactors (FBR) based on Uranium-Plutonium fuel cycle (RSQ 416 Mangani Lal Mandal).
 Answering a question on the status of research on hydrogen fuel and roadmap for its use and promotion, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas clarified that research and development efforts were at different stages; while there has been a steady growth in the installed hydro capacity of the country, the corresponding increase in thermal capacity has outpaced the hydro capacity addition (RSQ 420 Shobhana Bhartia).
 
Action Plan for Alternative Sources of Energy
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy provided details of the action plan of Government to tap alternative sources of energy to meet the future needs; grid interactive power generation capacity through wind energy small hydro and biomass supplements conventional power with private investment. Against an aim that 10 per cent power generation installed capacity in the country should come from renewables during the 10th Plan, the achievement is about 20 per cent, i.e., over double the initial aim, and the trend is likely to continue during the 11th Plan  (RSQ 1426 Pramila Bohidar, B.J. Panda).
 
3. BIOSAFETY
 
The discussions during the year 2007 related mainly to the details of the status of the Bt.4 crops cultivation in the country and 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, study being conducted on the effect of transgenic crops on the environment, 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.
 
Adoption of Genetically Modified Crops including Bt Cotton
Following the query regarding the adoption of G.M. crops; the Minister of Agriculture stated that Bt. Cotton is the only Genetically Modified (GM) crop that has been released for commercial cultivation in the country. The area under Bt. Cotton has increased from 29,000 hectare in Kharif, 2002 to 12.34 lakh hectare in Kharif, 2005, which reflects the acceptability of Bt. Cotton among the farmers. No other GM crop has been released for commercial cultivation (RSQ *67, Pyarelal Khandelwal). According to the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Bt. cotton is the only genetically modified (GM) crop approved for commercial cultivation in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, M.P., Gujarat and Maharashtra by Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) of the Ministry of Environment & Forests (RSQ 3220, Sitaram Yechury).
 
Rules to Manage Genetically Modified (GM) Products
In response to the request for information about the kind of study made on the effect of GM crops on humans and the environment, the MoEF informed the House that an extensive bio-safety assessment was carried out for each crop (that includes environmental safety assessment) and released only on the basis of a clear socio-economic and technical justification. The tests of administration of the “Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006” have been recently allocated to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The Act provides for the establishment of a Food Authority, which will be empowered to frame the rules to regulate and monitor the manufacture, processing, distribution, sale and import of food including genetically modified (GM) food products so as to ensure safe and wholesome food. Steps for the establishment of the Food Authority are being undertaken by this Ministry in consultation with the Steering Group constituted under the Chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary (RSQ 63, Rajeev Chandrasekhar).
 
Ban on GM Crops
Information was sought about the detection of bans of unapproved genetically modified products in response to which the Minister of Environment and Forests (MoEF) provided the Members with details about the refusal of ban on genetically modified products or distribution of such seeds in the country (RSQ 4033, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Shri Raj Mohinder Singh Majitha).
 
In reply to a query about the presence of nitrates and residues of organophosphates in Bt - cotton plants resulting in the death of cattle grazed on Bt - cotton fields in Andhra Pradesh, the Ministry of Environment And Forests confirmed the information. The Directorate of Animal Husbandry, Andhra Pradesh analyzed the samples, which indicated the presence of high content of Nitrates/Nitrites, residues of hydro-cyanide (HCN) and organophosphates which may be common constituents of soil or fertilizers/pesticides used in cotton cultivation. The Ministry has so far not received any scientific report attributing sheep mortality due to grazing on Bt cotton fields per se (RSQ 480, Shri  Syed Azeez Pasha).
 
 
 
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.
 
Responding to the query about taking precautions against abnormal temperature rise; Minister of Agriculture has reported that the major wheat growing States viz. Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab had already been sensitized to ensure adequate irrigation water and electricity in wheat growing districts of the States to mitigate the impact of rise in temperature. The farmers have been advised to apply frequent light irrigation in case temperature rises abnormally (RSQ 1968 V. Narayanasamy). The Minister of Environment and Forests has reported that  a base line survey of greenhouse gas emissions of anthropogenic origin at 1994 level was conducted for India’s Initial National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (RSQ *370 Bhagirathi Majhi).
In another discussion about the climate change phenomenon, considering a query regarding the increasing trend of our country’s carbon emissions roughly by 3.2 per cent per annum, the MoEF has suggested a range of policies and programmes to mitigate climate change and reduce carbon emissions (RSQ 457 Shri C. Perumal). The Minister of Agriculture has also cleared the doubt of the agriculture sector being the single largest sectoral source of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions in the country; but the energy sector standing as the single largest (61%) contributor to the country’s GHG emission budget (RSQ 3992 Bhagirathi Majhi). In another discussion about the climate change phenomenon, the MoEF stated the measures being taken by Government to mitigate the emissions being released by the transport vehicles, especially in the urban India (RSQ 1245 Gireesh Kumar Sanghi).
 
 
Melting of Glaciers
The Minister of Earth Sciences and the Minister of Science and Technology also reported about the first-hand accounts of vanishing glaciers, melting ice routes, crumbling rock formations and flood prone lakes where glaciers once rose, and changes noticed in the high altitude mountains and lakes in the country, cracks appearing in the Himalayan glaciers and their rapid melting, attributed to the phenomenon of global warming (RSQ 2139 Vijay Jawaharlal Darda, RSQ 2140 Satyavrat Chaturvedi). The MoEF has suggested some measures taken to reduce the recession of glaciers include conservation activities such as afforestation, removal of garbage, restrictions on human interference on glaciers and promotion of sustainable eco-tourism (RSQ 2790 Abu Asim Azmi).
 
A question was raised about the melting of Gangotri and Gomukh glaciers to which the Minister of Environment and Forests revealed that Gangotri Glacier is receding at the rate of 17.15 metre/year during the period 1971-2004, which can ultimate trigger more droughts, expand desertification and increase sand storms. Melting also threatens disruption of water supply, as many rivers emanate from the Himalayas (RSQ 2798 Jai Parkash Aggarwal, RSQ *244 Shri Janeshwar Mishra, Shri Brij Bhushan Tiwari). Responding to a Member’s concern about the crack in the Gangotri glacier (the source of the Ganga river) and the possible threat of water shortage in rivers such as Ganges, Indus and Brahmaputra, the MoEF stated that the observed crack, also previously observed in the 1960s, is attributable to neotectonic activity and not indicative of conclusive evidence of global warming impact. In addition, the conducted scientific studies do not show any threat of water shortage of rivers in the foreseeable future.
   
Impacts of Global Warming
Answering to a question the Minister of Environment and Forests reported that according to a scientist, Shri Nicolas Stern, India would be worst affected by global warming (RSQ 3256 Maya Singh, RSQ 573 Shreegopal Vyas, Vinay Katiyar); the Minister ofEarth Sciences and Minister of Science and Technology reported that, large dams in India are responsible for about a fifth of the country’s global warming impact (RSQ *178 Shri Ekanath K.Thakur). In response to the queries about the impact of global warming on the country, the Minister of Earth Sciences, the Minister of Science and Technology, the Minister of Environment and Forests and the Minister of Health and Family Welfare discussed the various effects due to depletion of Ozone layer, (RSQ 4122 Rahul Bajaj, RSQ 2109 Dilip Singh Judev, RSQ 476 Datta Meghe) particularly in respect to that on Agriculture, Food production (RSQ 3205 Mohsina Kidwai RSQ 3198 Rajkumar Dhoot) and food security (RSQ 1186 Satyavrat Chaturvedi, Motilal Vora). The increasing temperature particularly in the months of February and March could affect the wheat production and risk the food security of the country. In its reply to the request for discussion on the effect of climate change on agriculture, the Ministry of Agriculture stated that the information from the India Meteorological Department on surface air temperatures over the sub-continent indicated a slight warming trend in the past century.
 
Reports on Global Warming
A question was raised about the government’s strategy on promoting renewable sources of energy to reduce fossil fuel dependence which would in turn have the benefit of reducing adverse atmospheric changes such as global warming and ozone layer depletion. Discussions were also held by the Minister of Earth Sciences and the Minister of Science & Technology on the issue of the most shocking U.N. Panel Report on the climate change forecasting that India would be among countries, worst affected by global warming (RSQ 4123 Dr. K. Malaisamy, RSQ 4124 K. Malaisamy).
 
The House was given the details of the recent report of Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Paris, predicting a grave situation for India on water availability in the coming decades and the desirability and viability of Inter-linking of Rivers by the Minister of water resources (RSQ 861 B.K. Hariprasad).
 
Clean Development Mechanism
Answering the question about the number of Clean Development Mechanism Projects sanctioned by Government in last five years, the Minister of Environment and Forests gave the details of India’s designated National Authority which has accorded Host Country Approval to 599 projects as on date (RSQ 2803 Bhagirathi Majhi). Other questions in the subject area related to the pollution margins of public and private sector companies in India. The House was informed that the pollution margins (limits) for various categories of industries are notified under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) / Pollution Control Committees (PCCs) under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and the Air  (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 (RSQ 1832 Shri P.R. Rajan).
 
Policy for Global Warming
The House was informed by the Minister of Environment and Forests about the amendment in the Environment Protection Act, 1994 with a new Notification on Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) on 14th September, 2006 replacing the earlier Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 1994 (RSQ 1249 M.V. Mysura Reddy). The Minister of Environment and Forests discussed the National Environment Policy 2006 of Ministry of Environment & Forests inter alia addresses the issue of global warming (RSQ 465 Shri Rajeev Chandrashekhar).
 
Specialized Research Centre
Responding to a Member’s concern about the plan of setting up a Specialized  Research Center at the national level for carrying out holistic studies on Himalayan glaciology and monitoring all the important glaciers  to deal with snow melting; the Minister of Science and Technology and the Minister of Earth Science confirmed that the Department of Science and Technology has been assigned the responsibility  of establishing  a National Institute for Research and Development  on Himalayan Glaciers (RSQ 1443 Shobhana Bhartia Vijay J. Darda). The Minister of Science and Technology also reported about a proposal, which is under preparation for establishment of a research institute to look for green technology for industry in the light of the problem of global warming (RSQ 3001 V. Narayanasamy). Discussions were also held on the decision taken in the conference of Science Ministers of India and European Union held in February, 2007 by the Minister of Science and Technology (RSQ 2995 Motilal Vora, Satyavrat Chaturvedi).
 
 
5. DISASTER MANAGEMENT
 
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 assistance provided to states through the existing government funds for calamity relief and the inclusion of disaster management themes in educational curricula was also covered. The Ministry of Water Resources and Ministry of Home Affairs handled the maximum number of questions during the year.
 
Members were informed about the government’s initiative in the inclusion of ‘disaster preparedness’ in school curriculum in the country, based on the National Curriculum Framework, 2005. Also highlighted was the coverage of the UN Development Programme sponsored Disaster Risk Management Programme, particularly that of Himachal Pradesh.
 
Drought Disasters
In response to a query, the Minister of Agriculture, reported that 30 meteorological districts faced drought conditions during the monsoon this year (as reported by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) (RSQ 1965 Jayabachchan). The Minister of Agriculture also informed the Members about number of representations received from the Government of Kerala claiming compensation for agricultural loss due to floods and droughts during the last three years, year-wise (RSQ 3208 Abdul Wahab Peevee) and readily available funds with the NCCF in the Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) for taking such measures (RSQ 1188 Kumari Nirmala Deshpande).
                                            
Tsunami and Earthquake Disasters
The Ministry of Earth Sciences gave necessary information about initiatives taken on Tsunami preparedness including the progress of initiatives on the establishment of an early warning system for Tsunami (RSQ 575 Vijay J. Darda). According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences, the Government is setting up a National Early Warning System for tsunami and storm surges in Indian Ocean with the following components: of strengthening the existing seismological network to indicate, near real time occurrence of tsunamigenic earthquakes (RSQ 3348 K.P.K. Kumaran) alongwith the installation of Tsunami and Earthquake identification centers (RSQ 2759 Dr. V. Maitreyan RSQ 1333 Vijay J. Darda).
Responding to a query, the Minister of Home Affairs gave a brief about the number of houses in each State, destroyed or damaged during the Tsunami havoc, which have still to be reconstructed/repaired (RSQ *325 Kalraj Mishra). Discussions were also held by the Minister of Earth Sciences about the fact that Northern India was rocked by two earthquakes recently (RSQ *541 Rajkumar Dhoot).
 
In relation to details demanded about the relief and rehabilitation measures for people affected by Tsunami and Earthquake victims the provisions of the National Policy on Relief and Rehabilitation were discussed  by the Minister of home affairs alongwith the provision by the Government of India of a special package named ‘Rajiv Gandhi Rehabilitation Package’ (RGRP) for Tsunami Affected Areas’ to provide assistance for immediate relief and response, revival of fishery and agriculture sectors, construction of temporary shelters, repair/restoration of infrastructure, and special relief for orphans, unmarried girls, widows and disabled persons (RSQ 2492 Vijay J. Darda).
 
The Minister of Earth Sciences has reported about the survey of earthquake prone zones during the last three years, done by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) which is the nodal agency in the country to monitor the earthquake activity (RSQ 624 Abu Asim Azmi). The Government has also formulated a scheme to set up electronic system for accurate measurement of intensity of earthquakes, in the wake of severe earthquake of October, 2005 (RSQ 87 Jai Parkash Aggarwal).
 
Avalanches and Flood Disasters
The Ministry of Earth Sciences and Minister of Science & Technology furnished important details about a proposal to conduct a study on national calamities like land slide and avalanche hitting some parts of the country almost every year (RSQ 2107 Jai Parkash Aggarwal).
 
Answering to a query, the Ministry of Environment And Forests also urged the engineering necessity to monitor regularly the course of river channels upstream/downstream of all bridges, dams, weirs, etc. which affect the natural flow of the rivers so that likely damages  to pucca structures across the rivers are remedied in time (RSQ 1257 Shrimati Jaya Bachchan) The matter of financial assistance was also discussed by the Minister of Home Affairs wherein,  the Government has received a request from the State of Kerala seeking financial assistance of Rs. 562.58 crore from National Calamity Contingency Fund (NCCF) for management of heavy rains/floods of 2007 (RSQ 1140 Thennala G. Balakrishna Pillai) and the Orissa State Government has taken necessary rescue and relief operations in the flood affected area (RSQ 1733 Sushila Tiriya).
Important clarification was made by the Ministry of Water Resources that, the task force for flood management and erosion control constituted by the Ministry in 2004 has recommended that in highly flood-prone areas, flood control should be given overriding consideration, which is a part of National Water Policy– 2002 (RSQ 2412 Shobhana Bhartia, RSQ 1621 M.V. Mysura Reddey) alongwith the flood control scheme Phase III for Gwalior Madhya Pradesh (RSQ 860 Maya Singh).
 
Safety Measures in Mines
Answering to a query, the Minister of Labour And Employment furnished the details of the safety measures for workers working in the mines which are prescribed in the Mines Act, 1952 and the rules and regulations made there under (RSQ 1165 Rajkumar Dhoot). There were detailed discussions by the Minister of Department of Atomic Energy on the status of rehabilitation measures taken by the Andhra Pradesh government for those affected by the Uranium mining which can be hazardous to the people residing nearby to the mines (RSQ 1025 M.V. Mysura Reddey).
 
Safety Measures in using Radioactive Material
In response to a query, the Minister of Department of Atomic Energy confirmed that the spillage of radioactive material at Narsannapeta in Andhra Pradesh caused no environmental contamination (RSQ 445 C.Ramachandraiah); and also affirmed that all Indian Nuclear Reactors follow stringent international  safety  standards  and have  adequate shielding and containment  to prevent leakage or discharge of  radioactivity  beyond the limits specified by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) (RSQ 422 C.Perumal).
 
Early Warning Device for Disasters
Details about the status of the Early Warning System being set up, funds allocated and the scheduled time frame of completion, September 2007 were provided. The Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister of Information and Broadcasting reported about the Early Warning Centre at the Indian National National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad, which is likely to be made functional by September 2007(RSQ 1716 Vijay J. Darda, RSQ 4527 T.T.V. Dhinakaran).
 
6. 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. Discussions 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. The House was also informed of the two major stumbling blocks to attain high economic growth, namely the farm sector and the power sector, according to the Economic Outlook 2006-07. 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.
 
Renewable Energy
In response to the request for detailed information about the energy audit, the Minister of Power furnished important details about it as a systematic study undertaken in major energy consuming sections and equipments with a view to identify the utilization of energy and pin-point wasteful energy used (RSQ 1634 Mahendra Mohan). Sufficient focus was also given to the promotion of renewable energy through incentives and awareness activities. Also discussed were the measures taken up for the electrification of villages and remote areas (RSQ *12 M.A.M. Ramaswamy, RSQ 77 S.M. Laljan Basha). Answering to a query, the Minister ofNEW and Renewable Energy informed the House about the total wind power capacity of 6270 MW, installed in the country as on 31st December, 2006 and the average generation cost ranges between Rs.2.75 to 3.50 per unit depending on the site, wind regimes and infrastructure development cost (RSQ 74 Balavant Alias Bal Apte, Shreegopal Vyas). Also discussed was the clearance given to the Mini Hydel Projects of capacity 10 MW or more than 10 MW in the country (RSQ 75 M.V. MYsura Reddey) and the Financial Assistance for setting up of Energy Parks (RSQ 76 M.A.M. Ramaswamy).
 
Energy Policy
Importantly, the formulation of new energy policy in the country by An Expert Committee on Integrated Energy Policy constituted by the Planning Commission, was also highlighted by the Minister of New And Renewable Energy in response to a Member’s query (RSQ 642 O.T. Lepcha). The Minister of External Affairs also informed the House that an Energy Preservation Cell has been constituted (RSQ 1850 Uday Pratap Singh) alongwith a new Division of Energy Security (RSQ 2521 Shahid Siddiqui).
 
Energy Efficiency
Responding to a query, the Minister of Environment & Forests discussed the promotion of the use of Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) as they, use 75% less energy, thereby reducing green house gas emissions that contribute to global climate change and lasts 6 times longer than incandescent bulbs (RSQ 2494 SH. C. Perumal). The Minister of Power also informed the Members about the total power requirements of the country per day at present, State-wise (RSQ *394 S. Anbalagan Dwijendra Nath Sharmah) and about the capacity to generate 21,180 Megawatts of electricity by 2020, under its calculated power programme (RSQ *2 Dara Singh); also about an energy conservation drive to promote ways and means to save power (RSQ 1623 Sanjay Raut). The House was also informed of the funding  done by the World Bank for a regulatory study to encourage energy efficiency through investment in rehabilitation of coal-fired generation plants in the country (RSQ 1626 Prema Cariappa).
 
7.      ENVIRONMENT AND FOREST TRADE ISSUE
 
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.
 
The Ministry of Tourism, in reply to a query on the priority accorded to eco-tourism by the government, affirmed that eco-tourism was being promoted on priority by the Ministry. The Government is also planning to ensure that tourists should be able to visit reserved forest areas and the guide should ensure that the wildlife could be seen like in many African and other countries. The Minister of Tourism also reported that action has been taken for evolving ecotourism guidelines so that benefits of tourism can be shared with local people (RSQ 1253 Shri Harish Rawat, Shri Santosh Bagrodia)
 
In response to state-specific questions, the Ministry of Tourism furnished information about the total number of foreign/domestic tourists who visited the country, State-wise during the last three years and also pointed out whether it exhibits good potential for tourism in Rajasthan. The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, extends financial assistance to the State Governments/UT Administrations for tourism related projects including projects pertaining to rural, eco, wild-life, archaeological, forts, desert and religious tourism which are identified in consultation and interaction with them under schemes for Integrated Development of Tourist Circuits, Product/Infrastructure Development of Destinations and Assistance to Large Revenue Generating Projects (RSQ 854 Gyan Prakash Pilania).
 
The MoEF informed the Members that the existing eco-tourism policy included a strategy to involve forest dwelling communities which was to be facilitated by private sector investment (RSQ 1858, V.J. Darda, S. Bhartia). Queries on the promotion of eco-tourism were made specifically for the states of Rajasthan and Kerala. The Ministry of Tourism informed the House about the sanctioning of a project related to Development of Simlipal in Distt. Mayurbhanj (Orissa) as a Tourist Destination in the year 2006-07 for an amount of Rs. 297.12 lakh (RSQ 1608 B.J. Panda, Ramila Bohidar).
 
8. 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.
 
Protection of Environment
In response to the concern about the action plan, The Ministry of Environment and Forests reported the aims of the formulated National Environment Policy; May, 2006 for the protection of the environment in coordination with his Ministry and Planning Commission (RSQ 1838 Shri Janeshwar Mishra). Details were sought about the National Environmental Policy and the level of environmental protection it would ensure in the country’s developmental activities. The MoEF informed the Members about the objective and purpose of the draft Policy. The issue of requirement of energy infrastructure was also highlighted with the request for information about the governmental plan to formulate an `Integrated Energy Policy` by the Minister of Planning (RSQ *301 S.S. Ahluwalia, RSQ 1397 B.J. Panda).  Answering to a query, the Minister of Water Resources gave the names of States which have enacted Ground Water Regulation Legislations on the line of the Model Bill drafted by the Ministry (RSQ *213 K.P.K. Kumaran) and also discussed the policy for the scientific use of ground water in the country (RSQ 1617 P.R. Rajan).
 
Environmental Policies and Bills
The Minister of Rural Development affirmed the fact  that Government have approved the National Policy on Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) 2007, to replace the National Policy on Rehabilitation and Resettlement for Project Affected Families, 2003 (RSQ 1755 Mohsina Kidwai).
 
Important clarification was sought about the appointed Committee of retired officials to suggest rules for implementing the Tribal Rights Bill by the Minister of Tribal Affairs (RSQ *184 V. Hanumantha Rao) A major subject of discussion was the issues involved in the implementation of the Forest (Conservation) Act covering the leasing of forest lands in Kerala, the alleged delay of allotment of land in tribal areas in Himachal Pradesh; the action taken in response to the issue of the Act’s violation by a mining company in Orissa; the violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act in a particular case in the state of Bihar; and the status of proposed projects sent by Orissa for regularization of pre-1980 forest encroachments (RSQ *45 Syed Azeez Pasha). Another forest related issue pertaining to forest rights of tribes and traditional forest users was also substantially highlighted by the Minister of Tribal Affairs with the discussion of the action taken for the consideration and passage of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill, 2006 (RSQ 2236 S.G. Indira, RSQ 1657 Matilal Sarkar, RSQ 1658 Pyarelal Khandelwal).
 
Regulation of Pollution
In response to the concern expressed about the government’s initiative on the wiping out of the species and pollution, becoming a health hazard, The Ministry Of Environment And Forests discussed the measure to conserve flora and fauna of the country and to regulate the pollution (RSQ 1266, Shri Amir Alam Khan); the MoEF also gave important details of the amount spent on the cleaning of Ganges by the State Governments of Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal (RSQ 2797 Uday Pratap Singh).
 
Wildlife Protection
The institutional response to the issue of speedy disposal of wildlife related cases was also discussed in the House. The Minister ofEnvironment and Forests discussed about the wildlife protection policy of Government, which recognizes the need to avoid fragmentation of existing sanctuaries and reserves and other wildlife areas (RSQ 4049 Shri S.M. Laljan Basha). The Minister ofEnvironment and Forests also reported that India has banned trade in the body parts (and their derivatives) of tiger and other wild animals included in Schedule I and Part II of Schedule II of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, thereby taking a step in theprotection of wild tigers (RSQ *62 Shri R. Shunmugasundaram). Information was sought about the recently held meeting of the National Board for Wildlife especially with regard to illegal wildlife trade and the formation of an ecological task force battalion.
 
Waste management
Concern was expressed about the problems of generation of 1,46,000 tonnes of waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) annually in the country and to address the same, The Minister of Environment & Forests has constituted a Task Force comprising of representatives of the concerned Ministries and experts for finalization of “Guidelines for Environmentally Sound Management of E-Waste” (RSQ 479 Shri B.J. Panda, RSQ 445 Shri  N.R. Govindarajar, RSQ 1886 Shri Shantaram Laxman Naik). In addition, the activities of Central Government’s notification on the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules in September, 2000 under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 was highlighted (RSQ 1250 Shri K.E. Ismail, Shri D. Raja).
 
Coastal Regulation Zone
The status of the country’s coastline was enquired about in the context of the promotion of tourism vis-à-vis the Coastal Regulation Zone in reply to which the MoEF stated that the provisions of the existing coastal protection legislation were amended for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands with the objective of boosting tourism (RSQ 18 Shri Shantaram Laxman Naik, RSQ *249 Shri Syed Azeez Pasha, Shri D.Raja). The other coastal protection-related discussions pertained to the activities of the Coastal Zone Management Authority in Goa and actions taken against the violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone, particularly by the state of Goa (RSQ 1885 Shri Shantaram Laxman Naik).
 
Miscellaneous
Requested information about the sixteen products that have been identified for Eco Mark Certification Scheme since 1991and the criteria for certifying them (RSQ *241 Shri Harish Rawat, Shri Santosh Bagrodia); and about the environmental pressure on ecosystems such as riversheds, mangroves, coastal zones, forests and grasslands due to commercialisation, excessive resources use and indiscriminate dumping of industrial and agricultural waste were given by the MoEF (RSQ 1829 Shri Mahendra Mohan). The provision of electricity to as-yet-uncovered villages and farflung areas through non-conventional energy sources was an important area of focus.
 
9. ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION, NGO AND MEDIA
 
The areas of discussion during the year covered governmental initiatives on awareness generation with particular focus on Inclusion of Environmental Education in school curriculum, 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.
 
Environmental Education
The Minister of Human Resource Development further added that Value Education has been introduced in CBSE schools through a Teachers Manual and also Teachers Manuals for Environment Education have been brought out by the CBSE for Classes 1 to 9 (RSQ 338 P.J. Kurian).
In response to a query, the Minister of Human Resource Development confirmed that the Ministry of Urban Development has approached the Ministry of HRD, to include solid waste management in school curriculum to sensitise the younger generations to manage municipal waste in a hygienic and scientific manner. According to him, concepts of Waste Management, Environmental Pollution and Urban Waste Disposal have already been incorporated in the school curriculum prepared by National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) (RSQ 1353 Vijay Jawaharlal Darda RSQ 1365 Shreegopal Vyas). Answering a query, the Minister of New and Renewable Energy has affirmed the recent celebration of Akshay Urja Diwas on 20th August, 2007, highlighting through newspaper advertisements the renewable energy programmes (RSQ 2841 S.M. Laljan Basha).
 
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, and the Minister of Power in response to a Member’s demand for discussion of any fresh initiatives to generate awareness on Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFLs), furnished the details of central funds and financial incentives. It also informed the House about the education of the general public through the awareness campaign, for use of CFLs to ensure saving of power. The Government of India has announced `Bachat Lamp Yojana` a voluntary Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) based CFL scheme (RSQ 686 Datta Meghe).
 
Environmental Projects and Researches
NGOs’ involvement in implementation of governmental projects was an important area of discussion in the House. Following the request for detailed information about the nature and extent of NGO involvement in the development of micro watershed projects in the state of Karnataka, the
Ministry of Agriculture provided the details of NGOs’ participation including the parameters for authorizing their participation (RSQ 1802, V. Mallya). Responding to a query, the Minister of Environment and Forests furnished the details of environmental projects aided by Government in the State of Sikkim and funds allocated for each of the project and scheme (RSQ 3252 O.T. Lepcha). The House was informed of the plan size (Rs. 178 crores) of environmental research and its management by the Minister of Environment and Forests (RSQ 4039 Shri Dharam Pal Sabharwal). In addition the Minister of Environment and Forests gave the details of the nationwide campaign called the National Environment Awareness Campaign (NEAC) is conducted every year with the objective of creating environmental awareness at the national level (RSQ 1870 Shri M. V. Mysura Reddy RSQ 1823 Shri Shreegopal Vyas).
 
Others
In response to a query, the Minister of Environment and Forests have reported the task for facilitating the consultation with stakeholders for defining Forests(s) in the Indian context, and also assignment of defining the forests to Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Bangalore (RSQ 2514 Shri Kanjibhai Patel). The Minister of Environment and Forests has also confirmed the fact that a study conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment has indicated that many of the rivers in the country are headed towards an environmental disaster (RSQ *374 Janardhana Poojary). The House was also informed that the Government of India has declared the Year-2007 as “Water Year” (RSQ 2405 Pyarelal Khandelwal).
 
 
10. 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.
 
Development Projects
In response to the clarification sought about the procedural requirements under the EIA and the alleged misuse of its guidelines by the states and the local authorities, the MoEF furnished information about the classification of projects under the EIA and denied the misuse of guidelines by concerned authorities. Answering to a question, the Minister of Agriculture reported that the Central Government had in December, 1997 accorded clearance from environmental angle for Construction of fishing harbor at Jakhau, Gujarat (RSQ 1365 Kanjibhai Patel Keshubhai S. Patel) and also furnished the State-wise details of assistance provided for environmental projects, especially Tamil Nadu, during the last three years (RSQ 1059 Shri N.R. Govindarajar). The MoEF provided the Members with the total number of projects pending with the Government for forest and environmental clearance. Several queries were made about the draft EIA notification of 2006.
 
Hydroelectric Projects
There were several questions on ongoing and proposed projects in Andhra Pradesh (particularly for irrigation purposes) addressed to the MoEF. Substantial discussion was held on the issue of the proposed river linking plan in the country, including the preparation of detailed project reports. There was particular focus on the impacts of six irrigation projects whose applications have been rejected on lack of forest clearance in 2006-07 and 2007-08 BY THE Ministry of Water Resources (RSQ 1068 Shri S.M. Laljan Basha) and a number of irrigation projects in the country have been given environmental clearance from the Minister ofEnvironment and Forests (RSQ 2020 M.A.M. Ramaswamy). The MoEF had also sent a team to examine the objections raised by certain quarters against the proposed 163 mw hydel power projects at the Athirapally Waterfalls in Kerala (RSQ *533 SHRI   K. E. Ismail).
 
Ramsetu Project
In response to the queries about the Ramsetu Project, the Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways and MoEF, while conveying Environmental Clearance incorporated all conditions relevant to the observations made by the Expert Committee which, inter-alia, cover the entire marine and adjoining coastal environment.  At present, the issue of Sethusamudram Project is before the Hon’ble Supreme Court and is sub-judice (RSQ 2687 K. Malaisamy, RSQ *405 Shreegopal Vyas, RSQ 446 Shri Rajkumar Dhoot).
 
Damage to Environment
Substantial discussion was held on the issue of environment, being affected by mining in coastal areas, atomic energy plants and construction of illegal hotels near sea shores (RSQ 2021 Shreegopal Vyas, Vinay Katiyar). The MoEF explained the Members about the accorded Environmental clearance to such projects under the said notifications after incorporating appropriate Environment Management Plan (RSQ 1258 Shrimati Sushma Swaraj). A point was raised about the impact of proposed Polavaram Irrigation Project proposal on submergence of lands including that of the Papikonda Wildlife Sanctuary (RSQ 1092, P. Madhu,RSQ 23 M.A.M. Ramaswamy).
 
 
 
 
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 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 2007-08under 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).
 
Preservation and 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 Keralaunder the Centrally Sponsored, Integrated Forest Protection Scheme (RSQ 1260 Shri Abdul Wahab Peevee, RSQ *218 Shri Penumalli Madhu).
The MoEF stated that the villagers in tribal areas are being involved in protecting the forests under the Joint Forest Management Programme (RSQ 2493 Kumari Nirmala Deshpande); and, as per the State of Forest Report 2003, there is an increase of 2795 km2of forest cover over 2001 assessment (RSQ 464 Shri Keshubhai S. Patel). The Minister of Environment And Forests also discussed the aims and objectives of developing forest villages (RSQ *177 Balavant alias Bal Apte, Shreegopal Vyas, RSQ 4037Shri Ravula Chandra Sekar Reddy).
 
Development of forests
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).
 
Forests and Tribals
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 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).
 
Miscellaneous
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 *212Shri 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.
 
Pollution in fresh water and marine water
The Minister of Environment And Forests, responding to a query, furnished the details of the major rivers choked with industrial effluents (State-wise); primarily polluted ones were the Nagavalli and Musi in Andhra Pradesh: Yamuna in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh etc. (RSQ 471 Karnendu Bhattacharjee); and also discussed about the number and expenditure of plans launched by Government from the year 1980 till date to clean the river Ganges (RSQ 1241 Pyarelal Khandelwal). Responding to the question, the Minister of Environment And Forests furnished details of the action taken by Government during last ten months against Jubilant Organosys Ltd., Ramganga Fertilizers, etc. which pollute the Bagad river a tributary of river Ganga at Jyotibafule Nagar (RSQ *375 Kamal Akhtar). Many of the questions on river conservation focused on the Yamuna and the Ganga rivers. The House was informed about the activities that are polluting both the rivers (RSQ *117 Shri Janardhana  Poojary).
 
Restoration and Cleaning Activities
The work initiated as well as progress under the ‘National Project for Repair, Renovation and Restoration of Water Bodies directly Linked to Agriculture’ was given in detail to the Members following the demands for information about the decline in quality of water bodies across the country. In addition, the Minister of Environment And Forests stated the plans regarding cleaning, restoration and rejuvenation of river Yamuna passing through the capital Delhi under under the Yamuna Action Plan including the progress of phase II of the Plan (RSQ 470 Jai Parkash Aggarwal, RSQ 1239 Karnendu Bhattacharjee, RSQ 2787 V. Narayanasamy).
Answering to a query, the Minister of Environment and Forests affirmed that the Supreme Court of India has sought details of amount spent on the cleaning of Ganges by the State Governments of Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal (RSQ 2797 Uday Pratap Singh). The National River Conservation Plan, under which the pollution abatement programmes of the Ganga and Yamuna were merged, was discussed in detail giving due importance to the various rivers in the country (RSQ 472 Dr M.A.M. Ramaswamy).
Protection and Conservation
The House was informed about the National River Conservation Plan, which includes the projects such as Interception and Diversion of the municipal sewage falling into the river, Sewage Treatment Plants for the towns of Bhadrachalam, Mancherial, Ramagundam and Rajamundry in the stretch of river Godavari (RSQ 1246 V. Hanumantha Rao, RSQ 1052 Shri Motiur Rahman).
The status of wetlands in the country was also a major area of discussion in the House. The MoEF informed the Members that increasing importance was being accorded to their protection and highlighted the existing Conservation and Management of Wetlands scheme including the funds released under it. In addition, it discussed the various initiatives being taken to preserve the country’s wetlands such as the proposed plans to to include Daha, Kuanria and Kanjia in Orissa State under the National Wetland Conservation programme (RSQ 2795 B.J. Panda, Pramila Bohidar). The MoEF clarified the status of neglect of Shipra river, instead stated that all the required actions of cleaning it have been undertaken (RSQ 2805 Banwari Lal Kanchhal). According to the MoEF and the Minister of WATER RESOURCES, the Central Government has initiated an Integrated Coastal Zone Management project based on the approach suggested by Prof. M. S. Swaminathan Committee that had reviewed the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 1991. The States identified for the project are Orissa, West Bengal and Gujarat (RSQ 4038 Shri Jayantilal Barot, Shri Vijaykumar Rupani, Shri Keshubhai S. Patel, RSQ 284 Manohar Joshi). The MoEF also discussed about the water being a State subject; it is the responsibility of State Governments to create proper sewerage infrastructure to prevent pollution from entering the rivers. Central Government only supplements the efforts of the State Governments (RSQ 1821 Shri Satyavrat Chaturvedi, Shri Motilal Vora).
 
Damage to Environment
The Minister of Environment & Forests, in response to a query, stated that the Government is aware that wetlands such as lakes, ponds and wet areas in the country especially in the metro cities are shrinking rapidly and steps be taken against it (RSQ *278 Janeshwar Mishra, Brij Bhushan Tiwari). The Minister of Water Resources discussed about the significant decline in ground water level which has been observed in some pockets of various States except in the North-eastern States and in the States of Goa, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir (RSQ 253 Janeshwar Mishra, Brij Bhushan Tiwari,
 
RSQ *24 Devdas Apte). The Minister of Water Resources and the Ministry of Environment & Forests, discussed about the water cess which is levied and collected by the State Pollution Control Boards for prevention and control of water pollution (RSQ 1620 B.K. Hariprasad). For that matter, it also enumerated the National Water Policy which lays emphasis on development and management of ground water resources in sustainable manner (RSQ 1617 P.R. Rajan).
 
Action Plans
One major topic of discussion was the plan to link the country’s rivers with the objective of resolving irregularities in water distribution. The Members expressed concern about the disparity in water distribution across the country. The Ministry of Water Resources clarified that irrigation being a state subject, resolving the irregularities of water distribution was the jurisdiction of the states. Water being a State subject; it is the responsibility of State Governments to create proper sewerage infrastructure to prevent pollution from entering the rivers. Central Government only supplements the efforts of the State Governments. The major highlight was the Pamba Action Plan in the State of Kerala, approved by Union Government; under National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) in May 2003 (RSQ 1874 Prof. P.J. Kurien). Other topics of discussion were the improvement brought about by the Ganga Action Plan since 1986 (RSQ 1048 Shrimati Mohsina Kidwai, Shri Vijay J. Darda). Discussions were also held on the National Lake Conservation Plan and the protection of mangroves and the adoption of the Jaipur declaration, the 12th World Lake Conference held at Jaipur during 29th October -2nd November, 2007 by the Government (RSQ 1842 Shri Syed Azeez Pasha).
 
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 (RSQ 2727 Vijaykumar Rupani) and the latest one in the remote north east (RSQ 33 Mahendra Mohan, RSQ 2637 K.Malaisamy). In a related discussion, legislators were informed that the necessary preventive mechanisms have been put in place including the stepping up of vigilance agencies. In addition, Members were informed that a contingency plan was available to prevent recurrence of bird flu outbreak (RSQ 1286 Dharam Pal Sabharwal).
 
Excessive use of chemicals in agricultural production and eatables
There were several queries made about the impact of excessive use of chemicals in agricultural production and the resultant high levels found in soft drinks and food items. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare provided the details of observations made by the expert committee formed to review the report by the Centre for Science and Environment. the Minister of Health and Family Welfare also reported that the growing use of pesticides in crops and hormone injections used to keep the produce fresh have increased the poisoning risk but the Ministry has prescribed certain maximum residue limits (MRLs) before any pesticide is registered by Ministry of Agriculture under Insecticides Act, 1968, for use upon any crop (RSQ 1459 Ekanath K. Thakur). The House was informed that a National Expert Committee had been formed to guide the pesticide residues subcommittee in fixing the permissible maximum residual limits for pesticides in eatables (RSQ 1288 M.A.M. Ramaswamy).
 
Water related problems
A wide range of water-related problems was discussed in the House covering the presence of excess fluorine and arsenic in drinking water and the provision of potable drinking water, particularly in the rural areas (RSQ 1229 Vijay Jawaharlal Darda). The Ministry of Water Resources discussed the relevant details about the increasing Arsenic content in ground water (RSQ 2404 Satyavrat Chaturvedi, Motilal Vora) and especially in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal (RSQ 1010 Mangani Lal Mandal). The Ministry in response to another question about the action taken to provide potable drinking water discussed the launch and details of the community-based National Rural Drinking Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Programme. The Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution also stated the Statewise total number of companies engaged in bottled water/mineral water production and its sale in the country (RSQ *188 Jai Parkash Aggarwal, RSQ *438 Amir Alam Khan).
 
Hazardous Materials
An area of concern brought up for discussion was the health effects of use of asbestos.  The MoEF stated that in India, mining of asbestos is banned for reasons of health hazards (RSQ 4032 Shri Tarini Kanta Roy).
 
Sanitation and Diseases
Responding to a query, the Minister of Health and Family Welfare suggested that the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project should incorporate early warning system as part of disease surveillance under National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) and National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) to check the spread of Dengue and Chikungunya in the country, with close interaction between the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and local bodies on sharing of information, health alerts, and orientation sessions for health professionals in order to prevent the epidemic (RSQ 496 Alka Balram Kshatriya, Shobhana Bhartia; RSQ 2089 Ravula Chandra Sekar Reddy). Concern was expressed about the number of pollution and diarrhea deaths in rural areas caused by lack of proper sanitation, as reported by the report of World Health Organisation (RSQ 1173 Gyan Prakash Pilania, RSQ *131 Dara Singh). The Ministry of Water Resources discussed the relevant details about the Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme (ARWSP) and Swajaldhara (RSQ 1776 Kamal Akhtar). The Minister of Rural Development also declared the principle approval for setting up the National Centre for Excellence for Flourosis Mitigation at Gandhinagar (RSQ 1811 Keshubhai S. Patel).
There were several discussions on the provision of amenities, particularly those for sanitation. Information about the recently organized WORLD TOILET SUMMIT which was inaugurated by former President of India at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi on 31st October, 2007, organized by Sulabh International Social Service Organization, in collaboration with the World Toilet Organisation, with the support of the Indian Government was given to the Members. It states inter alia, to accelerate the progress on achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on sanitation by 2015 (RSQ 1749 Dara Singh).
The Total Sanitation Campaign was discussed in detail in response to the queries made about initiatives on rural sanitation including specific questions on the states in Orissa (RSQ 381 Pramila Bohidar, B.J. Panda). The Ministry of Rural Development discussed steps to improve rural and urban sanitation and, also informed the Members about the development of environment friendly toilets for passenger coaches (RSQ 525 Pyarelal Khandelwal).
 
Others
Clarification was sought about the health problems due to close proximity to roads (RSQ 89 B.J. Panda). The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare also presented to the House a chart enumerating the number of people infected with T.B. in Jharkhand (RSQ 2072 Mabel Rebello). There were several queries made about the reports in news-papers and magazines about the several toxic Chinese toys being sold in the market to which the Minister of Health & Family Welfare reported high levels of cadmium & lead in PVC used in soft toys, according to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), an NGO (RSQ 2084 Shatrughan Sinha). Responding to another query concerning the increase in funding of more projects/ schemes for potable drinking water, sanitation etc., the Ministry of Rural Development informed the House about increased funds for the sector in 2006-07 and the special grants to the Red Cross (RSQ 2088 Varinder Singh Bajwa). Concern was expressed about the hazards of ship breaking particularly the threats to health from asbestos. The Minister of Labour and Employment and the MoEF while stating that there was no plan to ban the activity assured the House that adequate measures were in place to ensure the safety of workers and the environment (RSQ 1174 Tarini Kanta Roy).
 
14. POLLUTION
 
The quality of the country’s major rivers was the dominant theme of discussion 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.
 
Nuclear and Atomic waste
Addressing the concern voiced about the places where the waste of atomic energy of various plants in India disposed of, the MoEF and the Minister of Department of Atomic Energy informed the legislators about the amount of waste generated and the facilities for Research and Development (R&D) in various aspects of isotope production and their application etc., which is located at Trombay (RSQ 2574 Mabel Rebello). The House was also informed of the total number of nuclear power stations in the country and their generation capacity (RSQ 4588 Prof. P.J. Kurian).
 
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 initiatives of the government towards greater regulation; it also pointed out another initiative taken for preparation of a ‘Guideline document for environmentally sound recycling of e-waste’ (RSQ 4608 P.J. Kurian).The Minister of Environment and Forests informed the House of the alarming amount of Waste from Electric and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) annually, which poses a serious threat not only to environment and human health (RSQ 2793 Viplove Thakur); but also to the rivers and underground wells contaminating with a wide range of hazardous chemicals (RSQ *169 M.A.M. Ramaswamy).
 
Hazardous and Chemical waste
Highlighting the issue of hazardous and chemical waste, the Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers stated that the Government have received some proposals for removal of poisonous chemical wastes after examining the same which is at present dumped at Union Carbide Factory in Bhopal (RSQ 1991 Balavant Alias Bal Apte, Vinay Katiyar, Shreegopal Vyas). The Minsiter of Commerce & Industries informed the House of the policies to regulate the consumption of mercury for non-industrial purposes, since India is the second largest consumer of mercury in the world importing 200 tonnes every year (RSQ 304 C. Perumal).
 
Pollution of water bodies
The discussions on water pollution were focused mainly on the country’s major rivers, the Yamuna and Ganga. In this context, the National River Conservation Plan was discussed and the various activities undertaken through the Yamuna Action Plan and the Ganga Action Plan were enumerated (RSQ 470 Jai Parkash Aggarwal, RSQ 471 Karnendu Bhattacharjee, RSQ 1241 Pyarelal Khandelwal). The MoEF held a detailed discussion on the national pollution abatement activities in major rivers across the country. Responding to the clarification sought about the status of Ganga as the most polluted river in the country, the MoEF stated that the Ganga had been designated as moderately polluted by a study of the Central Pollution Control Board. The details of the variousactions taken by Government during last ten months against Jubilant Organosys Ltd., Ramganga Fertilizers, etc. which pollute the Bagad river a tributary of river Ganga at Jyotibafule Nagar were also discussed in the House (RSQ *375 Kamal Akhtar).
 
Air Pollution
The problem of industrial pollution was broached upon by several Members in response to which the MoEF discussed the measures taken to address industrial pollution in Andhra Pradesh; it also highlighted the enforcement activities of the Central Pollution Control Board through its zonal offices. In its reply to the request for detailed information about the extent of air pollution across the country, the MoEF provided the respirable suspended particulate matter levels of cities across the country in addition to enumerating the list of measures being adopted for pollution abatement (RSQ 1877 Shri Motilal Vora, Shri Satyavrat Chaturvedi). The Ministry also suggested the measures that are being taken by Government to mitigate the emissions being released by the transport vehicles, especially in the urban India (RSQ 1245 Gireesh Kumar Sanghi, RSQ 475 Janardhana Poojary). Responding to the concern expressed about the adverse impact of air pollution, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare stated that as per the report of the WHO-2006 “Fuel for Life-Household Energy and Health” India is high on indoor air pollution (RSQ 1251 Shri B.J. Panda).
 
Others
The other discussions that were held in the House were related to the pollution due to heavy industries in metropolitan cities (RSQ 2024 Dharam Pal Sabharwal, RSQ 2796 Motilal Vora, Satyavrat Chaturvedi). The MoEF also furnished the details of the extent of the pollution of Vapi town in Gujarat, where chemical industries are located and Suchinda forest area in Orissa, where chorme steel plants are located, affect drinking water, lead to diseases like gastroenteritis, still births, physical and mental retardation at birth, in childhood and other diseases (RSQ 1833 Miss Mabel Rebello).
 
Measures
The MoEF stated about the Guidelines regarding Movement of High Ash Coal beyond 1000 kilometre distance or to sensitive areas, in response to a query (RSQ 2804 Bhagirathi Majhi). The responses of the government to reports and statements about the state of the country’s environment were also enquired about by several Members. In this regard, discussion was held on the publication, “World Bank Report On Ganga Water” (RSQ 2801 MOTIUR RAHMAN, KAMAL AKHTAR). Clarifications were sought on the various implemented schemes for cleaning of water of various rivers in the country during the last two decades (RSQ 472 DR M.A.M. RAMASWAMY); alongwith the National Policy for Protection of Rivers (RSQ *243 Shri Pyarelal Khandelwal). The other measures suggested in the discussions in the House were related to the Recycling of Sewage (RSQ 2502 Shrimati Syeda Anwara Taimur, Shri Vijay J. Darda); the Project for cleaning of Yamuna (RSQ 2509 Shri Tariq Anwar);Management of Solid Waste generated due to mining (RSQ 1413 Sudarshan Akarapu). Measures to check fuel adulteration, one contributory factor to air pollution, were also discussed. The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas enumerated the measures being taken to check adulteration including the creation of a separate wing for anti-adulteration enforcement (RSQ 1594 Nandi Yellaiah). In another reply on government measures to check fuel adulteration, the up gradation of current technology of automobile industries was also elaborated upon. Steps taken for increasing dependence on renewable and cleaner fuels were also brought up for discussion with Introduction of CNG Buses (RSQ 1059 Abu Asim Azmi) and other Environment Friendly Vehicles (RSQ 1910 Tariq Anwar).
 
15. 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.
 
Exports Of Medicinal Plants
Responding to the request for discussion about the export of medicinal/herbal plants, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry informed the House while there was permission to export plants and products; the government was encouraging the export of value added herbal products (RSQ 305 C. Perumal). The Ministry also refused the higher export of the medicinal herbs to China (RSQ 1640 Sushma Swaraj).
 
Conservation Of Medicinal Plants
Responding to a query, the Ministry of Environment & Forests informed the House about the number of steps for conservation & protection of medicinal plants (RSQ *10 Shri Kamal Akhtar). In response to the request for information about the promotion of herbal plants, the Ministry also highlighted the promotional schemes such as the provision of financial assistance to farmers/growers through the contractual farming scheme and the inclusion of medicinal plants cultivation under the National Horticulture Mission of the 10th Five Year Plan. The Ministry of Environment & Forests also furnished the details of the elements of the National Programme for Promoting Conservation of Medicinal Plants and Traditional Knowledge for Enhancing Health and Livelihood Security in nine states of the country, namely Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, with financial support from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (RSQ *102 Shri Santosh Bagrodia, Shri Harish Rawat; RSQ 1051 Shri Gireesh Kumar Sanghi, Shri Santosh Bagrodia; RSQ 1844 Shri Kamal Akhtar).
 
 
Promotion measures for Medicinal Plants
The House was informed about the proposals to the Central Government to set up gene bank to facilitate plantation of medicinal plants on private land in various districts (RSQ 4059 Maya Singh). The Minister of Health and Family Welfare also furnished details of species of medicinal plants and their numbers found in the country (RSQ 1458 Saman Pathak). The Ministry also informed about the special herbal production and development centres set up in the country (RSQ 2685 Viplove Thakur, RSQ 2808 Saman Pathak).
 
16. MISCELLANEOUS
 
Responding to a query, the Minister of Commerce and Industry stated that
India and Pakistan have not entered into any agreement on the question of Intellectual Property Rights regarding Basmati rice (RSQ 1655 Datta Meghe). The Ministry OF Environment and Forests informed the House that America has got patented more than one hundred useful Indian plants originally grown in India (RSQ 1883 SHRI Banwari Lal Kanchhal). The Minister of Environment and Forests furnished the details of the amount allocated in Tenth Five Year Plan for the development of environment and forests in the country, State-wise (RSQ 4046 Shri Ajay Singh Chautala).
 
Answering to a query, the Ministry of Planning stated the proposal of constituting the Central Himalayan Development Authority for proper development of States of this part of the land keeping in view the environmental importance of Central Himalaya (RSQ 3903 Harish Rawat). The Minister of Urban Development informed the Members about the second Master Plan-2021, which has been formulated for beautification, well-organised and proper development of Delhi (RSQ 1923 Mangani Lal Mandal).
 
17. 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.
In response to the crisis of adequate water availability, the Ministry enumerated the measures being undertaken to recharge groundwater levels as well as the measures for promotion of rainwater harvesting and watershed development projects (RSQ *319 Harish Rawat, RSQ 2407 Ekanath K. Thakur, Kamal Akhtar).
 
Rainfed Areas
Legislators expressed concern about the low water availability in several states and the effect of the declining water supply especially in rainfed areas was also pointed out. the Minister of Agriculture reported that the Government has proposed to set up a National Rainfed Area Authority which would help to minimize the dependency on rains of the unirrigated areas (RSQ 3983 B.J. Panda, Pramila Bohidar).The Ministry also enumerated about the total land under cultivation in the country and the land in percentage which is rainfed (RSQ 3989 Gyan Prakash Pilania).
 
Water Schemes
The low water availability in states such as Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Rajasthan was highlighted in the House. The assistance to states and UTs for provision of clean water and augmentation of water resources was discussed. The Minister of Earth Sciences reported that an autonomous body has indigenously designed, developed and demonstrated the desalination technology for conversion of sea water into potable water based on Low Temperature Thermal Desalination System (LTTD) (RSQ 2208 Dilip Singh Judev). The Ministry refused any pending water schemes of Chhattisgarh State lying for approval in principle (RSQ 1843 SHRI Shreegoopal Vyas). The Minister of Rural Development also approved of the fact that the Finance Minister, in his Budget Speech 2005-06 had promised to provide drinking water by 2008-09 to the remaining 74,000 habitations that are uncovered under Bharat Nirman (RSQ 1775 Sitaram Yechury, RSQ 1776 Kamal Akhtar). The Minister of Rural Development also furnished the details of the amount allocated to Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, State-wise during the last three years under Integrated Rural Water Supply Programme (RSQ 2436 Harish Rawat). The Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme was extensively discussed in the response of several Ministries on this matter. The Ministry of Rural Development furnished the state wise details of funds released under the Programme (RSQ *93 Rajkumar Dhoot, RSQ 999 T.T.V. Dhinakaran).
 
Shortage of Water
Several discussions were held on region-specific and state-specific queries concerning shortage of water, especially in Delhi. The Minister of WATER RESOURCES has expressed concern over the mismanagement of ground water level by the Government of NCT of Delhi (RSQ 1637 Devdas Apte) and affirmed the fact that paucity of drinking water is constantly increasing in the metro cities and other parts of the county (RSQ1638 Surendra Lath, RSQ 4421 Uday Pratap Singh). Answering to a query, the Minister of Urban Development stated as per the information of Delhi Jal Board (DJB) that quantity of water provision will further improve with Sonia Vihar Water Treatment Plant getting full quantity of raw water, alongwith certain further many initiatives like recycling of waste water at Water Treatment Plants, lining of carrier channel etc (RSQ 3168 MOTILAL Vora, Satyavrat Chaturvedi, RSQ 41 O.T.Lepcha).
 
Measures for Water Management
In response to a query, the Minister of Water Resources reported about the Pilot Scheme for `National Project for Repair, renovation & Restoration of water Bodies directly linked to Agriculture` in January 2005 (RSQ 257 Surendra Lath, RSQ 862 K. Malaisamy, RSQ 1628 Ajay Singh Chautala). 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. The Minister of Water Resources commented on the completing programme of interlinking of Indian rivers with special reference to that of Bihar and Tamil Nadu (RSQ 2411 Laxminarayan Sharma, RSQ 2416 Mangani Lal Mandal, and RSQ 3646 Rajeev Chandrasekhar).
 
Water and Sanitation Programmes
The Ministry of Water Resources provided the required information about the action taken on running two Centrally Sponsored Schemes, namely Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme (ARWSP) and Central Rural Sanitation Programme (CRSP) to supplement the efforts of the State Governments for providing water supply and sanitation services in rural areas in States like Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand (RSQ 991 Dara Singh). The Ministry of Urban Development also provided the House with information about the responses of the Government of plan for providing safe drinking water supply to the people of Delhi and North-Eastern Region (RSQ 1929 O.T. Lepcha). With regard to the World Bank report, `India Water Supply and Sanitation: Bridging the gap between infrastructure and Service`, the suggestion for recovery of operation and maintenance as well as capital costs of water projects was also discussed in the House (RSQ 2559 Janardhana Poojary).
 
River water Disputes
Mention was made of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal report on the water sharing disputes between Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and some other States and decision under section 5(2) of Inter State River Water Disputes (ISRWD) Act 1956 on 5th February, 2007 by the Minister of Water Resources (RSQ 1626 Janardhana Poojary, RSQ 1627 Amar Singh, Abu Asim Azmi).
 
Conservation of Water
In response to a query, the Minister of Water Resources furnished details of the amount of rain water that goes to the seas annually alongwith the plans to conserve this water (RSQ 2402 Mabel Rebello). With regard to the sharing of rivers with neighbouring countries, the response to the reported Chinese plan to divert the Brahmaputra river and the meeting of the Water Resources Secretaries of India and Pakistan were also touched upon by the Minister of External Affairs (RSQ *154 Vijay Jawaharlal Darda, Shobhana Bhartia).The Minister of Power also discussed the provision of water connections to all of Tehri Dam displaced in Athurvala Visthapith area by the THDC (RSQ 4224 Raj Nath Singh).
 
 
18. WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT
Discussion during the Session covered questions relating to the decline in wildlife population, wildlife deaths, habitat conservation, and control of illegal wildlife trade and associated activities. There were also discussions on the response to the outbreak of bird flu and animal welfare. The MoEF handled the highest number of questions during the year. The issue of the bird flu outbreak in the country was brought up for discussion with Members enquiring about the preventive measures in place especially the monitoring of bird population. 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.
 
Declining population of endangered species
Several Members expressed deep concern about the rapidly declining wildlife population to which the Minister of Environment And Forests that it had not received any report of continuous decline and that any fluctuation in population was a natural phenomenon but, affirmed to the sharp decline in the population of three species of vultures i.e. White-backed vulture, Slender billed vulture and Long billed vulture (RSQ 472 M.A.M. Ramaswamy). It also informed the concerned Members that the Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis Nigriceps), once the pride of Rajasthan is quickly and quietly sliding closer to extinction, as reported by the Chief Wildlife Warden, Rajasthan (RSQ 486 Ekanath  K.  Thakur) and also confirmed the decrease in the population of some species of wild animals in some Protected Areas of the State (RSQ 2800 Lalit Kishore Chaturvedi).  The House was also informed of the exact number of the lions killed by the intruders in Gir Forest by the end of the year 2007 (RSQ 2802 Rajeev Chandrasekhar, RSQ 14 Shri Kamal Akhtar). The issue of contribution of poaching activities to the decline in wildlife numbers was discussed in response to the demand for information about the matter. In another discussion, the MoEF informed the Members about the mortality of  two tigers on 2.10.2007 and 4.10.2007 in Orang National Park, regarding which action has been taken for further investigation by the concerned State authorities (RSQ 15 Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar). The MoEF informed the legislators about the ongoing police investigation into the deaths of leopards in various parts of the country for various reasons, thereby endangering the species (RSQ 17 Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar). The Ministry also furnished the details of the number of cases of cruelty inflicted on animals during each of the last three years, year wise and State-wise (RSQ 449 Shri Abu Asim Azmi). It also reported about the Lions and Tigers, being accorded the highest statutory protection, considering their endangered status, and their placement under the Schedule I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, since its enactment (RSQ *310 Shri Brij Bhushan Tiwari). The MoEF expressed deep concern on the increasing deaths of Elephants and Himalayan Brown Bears (RSQ 1840 Dr. Chandan Mitra).
 
Preservation of Forest cover and Environment
Enquiries were made on fulfilling the vision of late Prime Minister-Shrimati Indira Gandhi and Rajeev Gandhi advocating the need to have sanctuaries, national parks and tiger reserves, which in turn would help in regenerating forest cover in the country. The MoEF replied that the Protected Areas (National Parks and Sanctuaries) have increased from 426 (109652 sq.km) to 597 (156119 sq.km.) since 1988, as on 01.01.2007 (RSQ 473 Vijay Jawaharlal Darda). A major discussion was held on the funds for preservation of forests and wildlife (RSQ 476 Dr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy).
 
Actions taken
Several queries were made about the status of the tiger in protected areas across the country particularly the tiger population in the Panna Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh and the Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan as well as the deaths of tigers in the Corbett Tiger Reserve and Ramnagar Forest Division. The MoEF informed the House about the review of the steps taken to protect and promote tigers in different national parks, reserves and sanctuaries in the country (RSQ 1244 Kalraj Mishra, Krishan Lal Balmiki). Specific queries were made about the measures being taken to relocate the Asiatic Lions in Gir Forest due to the recent reports of poaching activities (RSQ 2786 Santosh Bagrodia, Prema Cariappa). The MoEF clarified in the House that there was no poaching boom as enquired about by a Member and that except for reports of the disappearance from Sariska Tiger Reserve and the decline in population in the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, it had not received reports of further decline from other states (RSQ 4035 Shrimati Maya Singh). Responding to a Member’s query about the forest cover loss, the MoEF reported about the targets fixed for Afforestation in the country (RSQ 1869 Shri M.V. Mysura Reddy).
Protection of Wildlife
The pertinent issue of implementation of the country’s wildlife protection legislation was also a subject of discussion. The Minister of Environment and Forests stated that appropriate steps are being taken to rear and protect peacocks in response to a concerned Member’s query (RSQ 3258 S.M. Laljan Basha). Other significant issues were related to the Wildlife Protection Policy of Government, which recognizes the need to avoid fragmentation of existing sanctuaries and reserves and other wildlife areas (RSQ 4049 SHRI S.M. Laljan Basha). Clarifications were sought on the fact of Government requesting China for lifting the ban on trading in tiger parts. The Ministry replied to the query that India has banned trade in the body parts (and their derivatives) of tiger and other wild animals included in Schedule I and Part II of Schedule II of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.  Hence, requesting China to lift the ban on trade in tiger parts does not arise (RSQ *62 Shri R. Shunmugasundaram, RSQ 1259 Shrimati Sushma Swaraj). The MoEF also informed the House that Tiger and Leopard are endangered species, whereas Indian Cheetah has become extinct (RSQ 1882 Shri Janardhana PoojaRY). In response to a query, the MoEF enumerated the funds demanded by various State Governments, particularly by the Government of Maharashtra for the purpose of wildlife protection (RSQ 2496 Shri BalavantAlias Bal Apte, Shri Vinay Katiyar). Several queries were made about the status of the tiger in protected areas across the country. The Ministry confirmed the finalization of the criteria for establishing the core or critical tiger habitat in tiger reserves and action has been taken for delineating such areas by States based on the assessment made by Project Tiger (now the National Tiger Conservation Authority) and the Wildlife Institute of India (RSQ 458 Shri C. Ramachandraiah). The Ministry of Environment and Forests enumerated on implementing the National Afforestation Programme (NAP) Scheme through two-tier decentralized mechanism of Forest Development Agency (FDA) at Forest Division level and Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs) at the village level for regeneration of degraded forests and adjoining lands (RSQ 4044 Miss Anusuiya Uikey).
           
Others
Query was made about the increased instances of illegal trafficking of wildlife product in the country; in response to which the MoEF provided the details of the information pertaining to wildlife offences and reported about the establishment of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (RSQ 2018 K. Chandran Pillai). The Ministry has also ascertained the fact of recent reports of poaching of Asiatic Lions in Gir Forest (RSQ 2785 Kamal Akhtar, Gireesh Kumar Sanghi, Santosh Bagrodia, Ajay Maroo). Clarifications were sought on the bungling of Project Tiger funds in the country as per ‘Conservation and Protection of Tigers in Tiger Reserves’ Report, to which the MoEF highlighted several longstanding problems with recommendations, which do not mention about bungling of funds (RSQ 3255 Sushila Tiriya). The Ministry also clarified the Members of the House about no plan for creating a separate Ministry for wildlife (RSQ 1261 Smt. N.P. Durga).