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Lok Sabha 2007 (Analysis)

Lok Sabha – 2007 (Analysis)

AGRICULTURE

 

 

The environmental sustainability of agricultural practices in the country was the predominant theme of the queries during the year. The main areas of concern that emerged through the discussion in the House included biofertilizers and soil fertility. Some of the important topics of discussion in the House were organic farming, wasteland development, promotion of dryland farming and organic farming, soil conservation measures, reduction of the practice of jhum cultivation, the effects of excessive pesticide application, and some other schemes for further promotion of conservation practices. The Ministry of Agriculture provided the maximum number of replies during the year.

 

Loss of cultivable land

 

The maximum number of questions related to the condition of the country’s agricultural land areas. In this regard, the queries mainly focused on the rapidly declining agricultural land. The Minister of Agriculture confirmed to the fact by giving the details of the decline especially in Andhra Pradesh and also furnished the details of the land under non-agriculture uses has increased over the Ninth and Tenth Plan Period (LSQ *120 Ramakrishna Badiga). In this regard, the Minister of Agriculture furnished information about the area of degraded land in the country (LSQ *442 Vijay Krishna, Chandrakant Bhaurao Khaire). Following the request for detailed discussion on the land degradation into ravines, the Ministry of Agriculture highlighted the information on the increase in erosion from various rivers particularly from the river Chambal (LSQ *371 Ashok Argal). Besides, demands were made for information about the dangers of rapid loss of prime agricultural land due to soil erosion, warned by the   Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute (LSQ 1240 Balashowry Vallabbhaneni).


Decline in fertility of agricultural land

 

In response to a query, the Ministry of Agriculture discussed the 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 (LSQ 5259 Pralhad Venkatesh Joshi). The Ministry of Water Resources also discussed about the suggestions to check the soil erosion in ravines (LSQ 3758 Ashok Argal).

 

Excessive use of pesticides and fertilisers

 

In this regard, the queries mainly focused on the impact of the excessive application of chemical fertilizers and pesticides on the soil and the consequent decline in crop productivity and adverse impacts on health. the Minister of Agriculture also enumerated on the arrangements made for the detection and study on excessive use of pesticides, fertilizers and other harmful elements in fruits and vegetables in the country in consultation with State Governments (LSQ 1076 Dr. Rajesh Kumar Mishra, Mohammad Tahir Khan, Kailash Nath Singh Yadav). An important demand was made about the factor behind the continued use of pesticides which were already banned in other countries on account of their adverse impact on human health and animals. The Ministry of Agriculture was asked to furnish information about the measures being taken to reduce the country’s disproportionately high dependence on chemical fertilizers and pesticides (LSQ 1243, Prabhunath Singh, Rupchand Murmu). The Minister of Health And Family Welfare informed the House about the fixation of the limits for the use of pesticides recommended by the Sub-Committee on Pesticide Residue of the Central Committee on Food Standards (CCFS) (LSQ 2787 Dr. Arvind Kumar Sharma, Ajay Chakraborty). While acknowledging that the extensive application of chemicals in agricultural practices had led to the degradation of agricultural lands, the Ministry of agriculture stated that the current consumption of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the country had not yet reached a level considered harmful to humans and other living things.

 

Bio-Fertilizers and Bio-Control Agents

 

Demands were made for information about simultaneous efforts being made to promote the application of bio-fertilizers. In this relation, information was also sought about the status of technology for production of bio-fertilizers and bio-control agents with the help of private sector (LSQ 2009 Nikhil Kumar, Prem Kumar Dhumal). The Minister of Agriculture also informed the Members about the fixation of the norms for biofertilizers by the Union Government in March, 2006 (LSQ *83, Neeta Pateriya). A statement indicating State-wise quantity of rural compost, vermi-compost produced and area covered under green manuring was also enumerated by the Minister of Agriculture (LSQ 2232 Subhash Maharia, Swadesh Chakrabortty). He furnished details on the number of Bio-fertilizer Production Units operating in various States alongwith their installed capacity as on date (LSQ 2899 Kishanbhai Vestabhai Patel, Sugrib Singh).

 

Bottom of Form

Organic Farming

 

The Ministry of Agriculture, answering the question about the slowly switch over from chemical farming to organic farming by the farmers in the country, affirmed to the stated facts (LSQ *57Bottom of Form

 S.K. Kharventhan). Infact, the proposal by the Government to extend loans with concessional rate of interest to farmers who propose to undertake organic farming methods was also discussed in the House (Bottom of Form

LSQ *325 Smt. Jhansi Botcha Lakshmi). The Minister of Agriculture formally certified the area under organic cultivation in the country at present, which was about 1.74 lakh hectare (LSQ *455 Mahavir Bhagora) Also discussed was a project proposal, which was received from the Government of Gujarat under National Project on Organic Farming during 2005-06 for financial assistance (LSQ 51, Shri Vikrambhai Arjanbhai Maadam).

 

Dryland Farming

 

There were several discussions on the nature of agricultural land use and soil fertility. Concern was expressed about the effect of frequent droughts on soil fertility. The Ministry of Agriculture stated in response that while there was no significant effect on soil fertility in the short term, adverse impact on soil fertility was probable in several ways. In addition, it informed that states were being given technical assistance for dryland agriculture and State-wise the details of the Central schemes being implemented at present for dryland farming in the country (LSQ 2244 Mahavir Bhagora). The Ministry of Agriculture also threw light on the contemplation of a new scheme `Enhancing Sustainability of Dryland Farming Systems` to enhance the agricultural production in dryland areas in identified arid and semi arid districts in seven States viz. Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu and Karnataka (LSQ *84 Girdhari Lal Bhargav, Kiran Maheshwari; LSQ *453 Bhartruhari Mahtab).

 

                                               

ICAR projects and other schemes

Important discussion was held on the recommendation of the fast tracking critical research on crops, livestock and fisheries to counter disturbing phenomenon impact on Farm Sector by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) (LSQ 1290 Asaduddin Owaisi). The Minister of Agriculture also informed the House about the undertaking of  research projects specific to soil and water conservation in the country by the ICAR through Central Soil and Water Conservation Research & Training Institute, Dehradun alongwith its eight regional stations (LSQ 2022 Balashowry Vallabbhaneni). Initiatives have been made by the government towards the greater involvement of communities in wasteland/ watershed programmes. The Ministry of Agriculture discussed the implementation of four Watershed Development Programmes/Schemes, namely, National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA), Soil Conservation for Enhancing Productivity of Degraded lands in the Catchments of River Valley Project & Flood Prone River (RVP & FPR), Reclamation of Alkali Soils (RAS) and Watershed Development Project in Shifting Cultivation Areas (WDPSCA) for development of degraded lands including soil & water conservation (LSQ 3893 Virjibhai Thummar). Information was also sought on the recommendations of the Revised Draft National Policy of the National Commission on Farmers and several measures to enhance productivity and income of small farms and farmers and to diversify employment opportunities by strengthening production- processing-value addition marketing-consumer chain (LSQ 3629 Smt. Priya Sunil Dutt, LSQ 3748 Mahavir Bhagora).

 

Others

 

The Minister of Agriculture stated about the report regarding vulnerability of agricultural production to climatic change submitted by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) (LSQ 732 Amitava Nandy). The other issues covered included the promotion of the Integrated Nutrient Management (INM) which envisages soil test based judicious and balanced use of chemical fertilizers in conjunction with organic manures and bio-fertilizers for improving soil health and its productivity (LSQ 177 M. Jagannath, LSQ *85 Ramakrishna Badiga). In reply to queries about land use and jhum cultivation, the Ministry of Agriculture furnished the details of the activities undertaken to reduce dependence on jhum cultivation such as the number of families which had been provided alternative employment and about the recommendations by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) to make alternative arrangements for shifting cultivators engaged in Jhum cultivation in the State Governments of Assam and others in the North East (LSQ 1990 Moni Kumar Subba). the Ministry of Agriculture furnished the details of developmental promotional and extension activities undertaken in Andhra Pradesh under Integrated Development of Tree Borne Oilseeds (IDTBO) during each of the last three years (LSQ 1747 Ramakrishna Badiga).

 

 

ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES

 

The main focus of concern expressed in this subject area was the progress in development and adoption of renewable sources-based technologies, the overall scenario of renewable energy potential and production in the country and the steps taken in energy generation from renewable sources like solar energy, wind energy and hydropower and the status of bio-fuel promotion technologies. The legislators demanded information about the steps taken by the government to promote research and development, in particular, the amount of funds allocated to the concerned institutes. Questions were raised about the nature rural development programmes initiated that included the promotion of alternative technology through the provision of solar powered equipment etc. Other nonconventional sources of energy such as urban wastes, rice husk and hydrogen technology etc were also topics of discussion during the year. The highest number of questions was handled by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

 

Development of Renewable Energy schemes

 

There were detailed discussions on the promotion of awareness about renewable energy use. The Minister of New and Renewable Energy discussed the action plans to promote photovoltaic power plant in the country (LSQ 3633 Shri Rayapati Sambasiva Rao, Shri Anantkumar Hegde, Shrimati Sumitra Mahajan, Shri Raghuveer Singh Koshal). The Ministry  also confirmed the provision of central financial assistance under its schemes/ programmes for facilitating deployment of new and renewable energy systems/ devices in the country (LSQ 3666 Shri Dushyant Singh, Shri Chandrakant Bhaurao Khaire, Shri Kailash Meghwal) and about the proposals to set up New and Renewable Energy Projects in the country during the Eleventh Five Year Plan (LSQ 1077 Shri Suresh Chanabasappa Angadi, Shri S. Ajaya Kumar, Shri Thaawar Chand Gehlot, Shri Pralhad Venkatesh Joshi, Shri Kavuru Samba Siva Rao). The House was also informed of the proposals of the integrated energy policy / sector regulations with uniformity in regulations and incentive structure including taxation policies in the country (LSQ 202 Shri Manoranjan Bhakta).

 

Solar energy

 

A large number of queries were made about the promotion of solar energy such as the number of solar shops established so far, assistance to states under the Remote Village Electrification Programme and the use of solar based water pumps in agriculture and drinking water supply. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy informed the Members about the details of assistance given under the Remote Village Electrification Programme for solar energy as well as the assistance and incentives given for solar photo voltaic water pumping systems for agricultural and drinking water purposes. Also touched upon was the proposal under consideration of the Government to provide solar energy street light keeping in view the electricity crisis in the country (LSQ 562 Shri Devidas Anandrao Pingle). The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is implementing schemes on Solar Lantern and Remote Village Electrification, where a BPL family is eligible to get a solar lighting system with 100% Central Financial Assistance (CFA) under certain conditions (LSQ 1563 Shri Balashowry Vallabbhaneni, Shri Hiten Barman, Shri Tathagata Satpathy, Shri Ranen Barman, Shri Abdul Rashid Shaheen, Shri Kailash Baitha). The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is implementing the (1) Solar Photovoltaic Demonstration Programme, (2) Solar Lantern Programme and (3) Solar Photovoltaic Water Pumping Programme in the Island Union Territory of Andaman & Nicobar (LSQ 4267 Shri Manoranjan Bhakta). The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy also confessed to the fact of utilization of solar energy in the country is regularly increasing, however, the high initial cost of the solar energy systems is a barrier in its large-scale utilization (LSQ 1896 Smt. Bhavana Pundlikrao Gawali, Sanat Kumar Mandal, Sanjay Shamrao Dhotre, Harisingh Nasaru Rathod, Brajesh Pathak, Magunta Sreenivasulu Reddy, Salarapatty Kuppusamy Kharventhan, Hansraj Gangaram Ahir).

 

Wind Energy and Geo Thermal Energy

 

Wind power was another major focus of discussions in the House. State-wise information was provided about the total wind power capacity as well as the achievements in the last 3 years. Members were informed about the estimated potential of wind energy available in the country and the amount of energy tapped so far (LSQ 4260 Shri Kunnur Manjunath Channappa, Shri Jaswant Singh Bishnoi, Shri Ranen Barman, Shri Salarapatty Kuppusamy Kharventhan). The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy also furnished the details of the survey conducted recently for generating power from wind energy under the Wind Resource Assessment Programme (LSQ *95 Shri Virjibhai Thummar, Shri Hansraj Gangaram Ahir) and the total number of wind-mills functioning in the country (LSQ *132 Shri Mohammad Tahir Khan, Shri Subhash Maharia). The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy also gave a brief on generation of wind energy by some of the State Governments to cope up with the power crisis in their States (LSQ 218 Shri Braja Kishore Tripathy). Another important aspect covered by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy was about the request for increasing wind power generation in Motha at Amrawati district of Maharashtra, by setting up more units of wind power plants there (LSQ 1028 Shri Anantrao Gudhe). The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy after going through the news item “Race to centre of the Earth to harness energy”, which appeared in the ‘Times of India’ dated August 6, 2007, is implementing a programme for promoting the use of geo-thermal energy in the country, both for power generation and direct heat applications (LSQ 1933 Shri Prateek Prakashbapu Patil).

 

Hydro Power Projects

 

The Minister of New and Renewable Energy discussed the launching of small hydro power projects during 2005-06, that are to be run by the Army Corporate Houses and village Panchayats (LSQ 3402 Smt. Rupatai Diliprao Nilangekar Patil, Dr. Laxminarayan Pandey, Smt. Karuna Shukla, Shri Chandramani Tripathi). The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy discussed the steps taken by the Union Government to develop the micro hydro power potentiality in the country (LSQ *339 Shri Ravi Prakash Verma, Shri Anandrao Vithoba Adsul). The Minister of Power identified the quantum of exploitable hydro electric potential and the proposal to formulate a hydro-power policy in order to meet the increasing demand of power in all the sectors (LSQ *68 Santosh Kumar Gangwar,  Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia).

 

Biogas

 

In response to a query to the MoEF  and the Minister of Agriculture about the subsidy for Organic Fertilizers and Biogas Units, the Ministry presented to the House the existing provisions for the financial assistance for setting up of mechanized compost plants (LSQ 3848 P.C. Thomas). The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy furnished the details of the bio-gas plants which are in operation as on date (LSQ 4173 Shri Ramdass Athawale).

 

Bio-Mass Energy

 

A number of questions were asked about the development of any new technology for generating electricity from bio-mass in the country to which the Minister of New and Renewable Energy reported about the recently developed technology for generation of electricity from biomass using 100% producer gas engine linked with biomass gasifier (LSQ 1629 Shri M. Jagannath, Shrimati Sumitra Mahajan, Shri Joachim Baxla). Another important aspect in renewable power generation that came up for discussion concerns the level of involvement of the private sector (LSQ 1631 Prof. M Ramadass). The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Sources informed the House about the proposal to pay special attention on Biomass Energy Systems during the Eleventh Five Year Plan (LSQ 3424 Shri Anandrao Vithoba Adsul, Shri Ravi Prakash Verma, Shri Shivaji Adhalrao Patil). The Ministry enumerated on the provision of a partial financial assistance under a Programme on “Biomass Energy and Co-generation in Industry” in the form of capital subsidy to meet their captive energy requirements, with 64 rice mills installed in West Bengal (LSQ 1058 Shri G.M. Siddeswara).

 

Biofuels

 

In relation to promotion of renewable energy sources, many questions were asked about the action taken on bio-fuel promotion, targets under the present Plan Period and the funds released. Details were sought about the potential and production target of bio-fuel from Jatropha and molasses (LSQ 4151 Kavuru Samba Siva Rao, LSQ 5930 Chandramani Tripathi, Rupatai Diliprao Nilangakar Patil). In another query by a concerned Member, the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas explained the nascent stage of growth of bio-diesel industry (LSQ 477 Virjibhai Thummar ). The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, following a demand for information from a Member, furnished important information on the utilization of bio-diesel by the Public Sector Oil Companies (LSQ 1457 Abdul Rashid Shaheen). In addition, Members were informed that in view of current and projected levels of crude oil prices, bio fuel is potentially viable alternative to fossil fuel (LSQ 4074 Asaduddin Owaisi). The Ministry of Panchayati Raj gave information about the National Mission on Bio-diesel whose primary focus is the promotion of jatropha plantation.  According to the Ministry of the Rural Development, the Planning Commission`s Committee on the Development of Biofuel recommended Phase-II of the National Mission on Bio-diesel after successful completion of Phase-I (LSQ 5175 Ramakrishna Badiga).

 

Ethanol Production

 

The Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution was queried about some (proposals from the existing sugar factories to set up co-generation plants for producing electricity and for manufacturing ethanol (LSQ *551 K. Dhanaraju, LSQ *42 Ranen Barman) and also about the estimated demand and production of Ethanol during the next three years (LSQ 2437 Kavuru Samba Siva Rao). The Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas refused to any plan for construction of plants for production of ethanol at present (LSQ 1497 Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, Subhash Sureshchandra Deshmukh, Basudeb Acharia, Vijay Krishna, Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia, Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi).

 

Other Alternative technologies for Energy Production

 

In addition to the discussions on bio-fuel use and production, a number of questions were asked about the government’s exploration of other alternative technologies for energy production. These were followed by discussions on the Government’s promotion of Accelerated Programme on Energy Recovery from Urban Wastes (LSQ 1113 Shri Ranen Barman) and steps for setting up garbage based power plants to augment power supply in some States (LSQ 1817 Shri Tukaram Gangadhar Gadakh). The Minister of New and Renewable Energy was also questioned about the joint proposal to set up a garbage based energy project in Delhi by the Andhra Pradesh Technical Development Corporation and Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Limited (IL & FSL) (LSQ 2684 Shri Kinjarapu Yerrannaidu). The Minister of Atomic Energy furnished details of the atomic energy sources for power generation during the last three years (LSQ 2050 Mahavir Bhagora) and the identification of the five coastal sites for setting up of Nuclear Power Plants to augment generation capacity of 30000 MW (LSQ 687 Basudeb Acharia, LSQ 1680 Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal). In answer to the development of Hydrogen as a fuel, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy provided the proposal to launch a roadmap to promote the use of Hydrogen as an alternative source of fuel for vehicles in the country (LSQ 925 Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal, Smt.  Bhavana Pundlikrao Gawali, Shri Sanjay Shamrao Dhotre, Shri Abu Ayes Mondal). The proposal for tax concession/ restructuring to promote solar/hydrogen based energy sources was also discussed (LSQ 3447 Kunwar Rewati Raman Singh). The Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas revealed about the launching of a pilot project for introduction  of Hydrogen – Compressed Natural Gas (H-CNG) blends on a trial  basis in existing  CNG vehicles for being  used  as fuel  purposes (LSQ 5806 M. Jagannath). The Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas discussed about the Coal Bed Methane (CBM), which is a natural gas produced from coal seams and is considered as a major source of gas in bridging the gap of demand and supply (LSQ 2326 Kailash Nath Singh Yadav, Shishupal Natthu Patle, Mohammad Tahir Khan, Maha Deo Rao Shiwankar, Brajesh Pathak). In the area of alternative technologies for the transport sector, details were demanded about the steps taken in relation to hydrogen-blended CNG. The Minister of RAILWAYS confirmed to the trial runs with CNG, being conducted on Delhi – Rohtak, Delhi – Rewari and Delhi – Shamli Sections (LSQ 4105 Braja Kishore Tripathy).

 

Setting up of Non-Conventional Energy Power Projects

 

The Minister of New and Renewable Energy stated about the number of proposals in the recent past for setting up of renewable energy projects in the country (LSQ *272 Shri Ananth Kumar, Shri Asaduddin Owaisi). It also gave a brief on the launching of the Non-Conventional Energy Technology Commercialization Funds Scheme (LSQ 3727 DR. M. Jagannath). According to the Minister of New and Renewable Energy, monitoring of progress of implementation of various schemes/ programmes of the Ministry is being done through periodic state/ zonal and programme specific review meetings besides obtaining monthly progress reports from State implementing agencies (LSQ 3694 Shri Karunakara G. Reddy).

 

Electrification of Villages

 

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy highlighted the implementation of the Remote Village Electrification Programme for providing financial support for electrification of those remote unelectrified census villages and unelectrified hamlets of electrified census villages which are located in remote rural areas including forest areas and where grid-extension is either not feasible or not cost effective (LSQ 1899 Shri Ganesh Singh). A statement of the target fixed for providing electricity in the villages during each of the last three years,State-wise through Non-Conventional Energy Sources was given by the Minister of New and Renewable Energy (LSQ *342 Shri Joachim Baxla, Shri Ranen Barman).

 

Others

 

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy informed the Members about the details of assistance given under the Remote Village Electrification Programme for solar energy as well as the assistance and incentives given for solar photo voltaic water pumping systems for agricultural and drinking water purposes. Also touched upon was the proposal received to set up a research institute for Bio-gas, Bio-diesel and Solar energy in Maharasthra (LSQ 3448 Smt. Kalpana Ramesh Narhire) and about the proposal to introduce a new green technology with a view to reduce green house gas emissions and upgrade energy sector in the country (LSQ 3471 Shri Kavuru Samba Siva Rao, Shri Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi). In response to a query, the Minister of New and Renewable Energy explained about the sanctioning and disbursal to eligible project promoters/developers for setting up non-conventional energy projects by the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) (LSQ 3530 Shri Karunakara G. Reddy, Shri Narahari Mahato). Also discussed was the proposal received to provide free equipments to the rural people to promote Non-Conventional Energy sources in the rural areas so as to reduce the dependence on electricity (LSQ *32 Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar) and the steps taken for manufacturing of indigenous equipments for the production of renewable energy and to make equipments available at cheaper rates (LSQ 3521 Shri Hansraj Gangaram Ahir). In addition, the Minister of New and Renewable Energy discussed the proposal to develop a national rating system for green buildings (LSQ *232 Shri Chandra Bhushan Singh, Dr. M. Jagannath) and the proposal received to provide tax holiday and other incentives for Renewable energy sector in the country to encourage the industry to invest in new and renewable energy sector (LSQ 1119 Shri Subhash Maharia).

 

 

BIOSAFETY

 

The main concern voiced by the Members related to the apprehensions about the introduction of transgenic crops, particularly, Bt. cotton6 in terms of the benefits from these crops as compared to the traditional varieties and the efficacy of the pest resistance capacities of these transgenic crops. Discussions during the year covered the support given to transgenic research, harmful effects of Bt cotton and demands for review of genetically modified crops. Also covered were the areas of the economic and health impact of genetically modified (henceforth GM) crops and the undertaking of studies prior to the introduction of such crops. Other topics of discussion included the rules on hazardous micro-organisms and the labeling of genetically modified food. Most of the replies in the House were provided by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Ministry of Agriculture.

 

GM Seeds

 

Responding to the concerns expressed about the restricted growth of GM crops in the country due to the high cost of Genetically Modified (GM) seeds, the Ministry of Agriculture revealed that Bt. Cotton is the only Genetically Modified (GM) crop approved for commercial cultivation in the country by Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) of the Ministry of Environment & Forests (LSQ 797 Braja Kishore Tripathy). In response to a query concerning the harmful effects of production of Genetically Modified (GM) seeds on long term use in traditional farming, the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of  Environment and Forests reported that  Genetically Modified (GM) crop are commercially cultivated on the basis of environmental and bio-safety evaluations. Harmful effects of Bt. Cotton seeds on human and animal health, plant life and environment have not been reported (LSQ 1739 Uday Singh, Pralhad Venkatesh Joshi, LSQ 815 Shri L. Rajagopal). According to the Minister of Agriculture, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is not the sanctioning authority for conducting field trials of genetically modified seeds of different crops and no reports on field trials of genetically modified seeds of Bt. Paddy and Bt. Okra have been sanctioned by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) (LSQ 969 Kavuru Samba Siva Rao).

 

Genetically Modified Food Crops and Organisms

 

Another main topic of discussion in this subject area was the research conducted related to the impact of Genetically Modified Food Crops on human beings. No such research has been conducted by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India, but by the M/s Mahyco, Mumbai on Bt brinjal, with the approval of Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) of DBT and no adverse impact was indicated (LSQ 3580 Kishanbhai Vestabhai Patel). The Minister of Agriculture informed the House about the food safety assessments of foods derived from biotechnology, which was recently discussed at the Seventh Session of the Codex ad hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology (held in Chiba, Japan, 24-28 September, 2007) (LSQ 2416 Sugrib Singh). The Ministry of Environment And Forests also furnished the details on the number of Genetically Modified Crops (GMC) put under trial after approval from Genetic Engineering Approval Committee; viz. cotton, brinjal, cabbage, castor, cauliflower, corn, groundnut, okra, potato, rice, tomato, mustard and sorghum (LSQ 15 Shri Chandrabhan Singh, Shri V.K.Thummar, Shri Tukaram Ganpatrao Renge Patil). Rules and notifications related to genetically modified food were also discussed. Following the enquiry made by a legislator about the labeling of GM foods, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries informed the House that a draft notification on the matter had been issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (LSQ 2773 Shri Kalva Kuntla Chandrasekhar Rao, Lsq 2813 Shri Kalva Kuntla Chandrasekhar Rao).

 

Bt Cotton

 

The Minister of Agriculture, in response to a query from a concerned Member, stated that no failure of Bt. Cotton in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra has been reported (LSQ 825 Shivaji Adhalrao Patil, LSQ 1058 Vinod Kumar Boianapalli). Clarification was sought about the reported deaths of cattle subsequent to the consumption of Bt. cotton leaves, particularly in Andhra Pradesh. The Ministry of Agriculture clarified that sheep deaths had been reported from the state and informed the House that studies conducted by two institutes found no adverse impacts of GM crops on animal health. The Ministry also assured the Members that clearance for commercial cultivation of GM crops was being given only after environmental safety, food and feed safety assessments including impact on animal and human health had been satisfactorily undertaken (LSQ 2077 C.K. Chandrappan, Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy). The Ministry of Agriculture affirmed to a Member’s query, stating that some cases of sale of fake Bt. Cotton seeds have been reported in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab (LSQ *245 Tukaram Ganpatrao Renge Patil, Rajagopal Lagadapati). It also pointed that certain Monitoring Committees have been set up in all cotton growing States to evaluate the performance of Bt. Cotton (LSQ *446 Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa). The Minister of Agriculture also enumerated on the State-wise area covered with Bt. Cotton production technology and conventional cotton seed (LSQ 2330 Kavuru Samba Siva Rao).

 

Others

 

Details were demanded about the completion of the Inter-Ministerial consultations on the recommendations on Swaminathan Committee on National Policy for Agri-Biotechnology (LSQ 1823 Sugrib Singh, Ingrid Mcleod, Kishanbhai Vestabhai Patel, Ravi Prakash Verma, Anandrao Vithoba Adsul). The Ministry of Agriculture and the Minister of Science and Technology also discussed the conduction of the genetic engineering tests and its impacts (LSQ 176 Avtar Singh Bhadana, LSQ 1282 N.N. Krishnadas). Further information was sought by the legislators in relation to the reported failure of the Bt. cotton crops in various areas, particularly South India. In response, the Ministry of Agriculture admitted that it had taken note of reports of the crops’ failure from certain areas in Andhra Pradesh and the gene mapping of seeds would be done, if required (LSQ 3658 Rajagopal Lagadapati). It also furnished details of applications pending for field trials with the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) in view of the stay of the Supreme Court (LSQ 2257 Shri L. Rajagopal).

 

ENERGY STUDIES

 

The theme of discussion during the year revolved around the search for as well as promotion of renewable energy sources. Queries were also directed at the governmental initiatives in redirecting the country’s excessive dependence on fossil fuels to renewable environment-friendly energy sources such as wind and solar energy. Other significant topic of discussion was concerned with rural energy promotion. The exploration of nuclear energy as a viable alternative energy source and the progress on energy generation from bio-mass and industrial wastes were the other areas covered in the discussions. The maximum number of questions was replied by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. The Ministry of Power also handled a fairly high number of questions

 

Integrated Rural Energy Programme

 

A major topic of discussion was the meeting of rural energy needs through renewable energy sources. Fostering the growth of large scale dependence on renewable energy sources would not only help achieve an environmentally benign energy consumption base but also help attain the government’s program of rural development program through electrification of remote areas. The Ministry for Non-Conventional Energy Sources informed the House about the salient features of the Integrated Rural Energy Program (LSQ *170 Shri Subhash Sureshchandra Deshmukh). The Ministry is also planning to launch a full fledged village Energy Security Programme (LSQ 1683 Prof. M Ramadass). It also pointed out the target fixed and achieved in regard to power generation under the New and Renewable Energy Programme during the last three years, State-wise (LSQ *263 Shri Subhash Sureshchandra Deshmukh, Shri Dalpat Singh Paraste).  The Ministry of New And Renewable Energy has received a number of proposals from the State Governments for electrification of tribal villages and villages located in inaccessible areas including forest areas through non-conventional energy sources during the year 2006-07 (LSQ 2552 Shri Hiten Barman, Shri Prabhunath Singh, Shri Subrata Bose, Shri Chandrabhan Bhaiya Singh, Shri Kailash Baitha).

 

Review of Energy Policy

 

The Minister of Power stated about the new low-carbons energy policy as recently unveiled by the European Union, with increased energy efficiency, lower emissions and more renewable power, heralding a post-industrial revolution, especially in the context of global warming (LSQ 665 Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia). Members also sought more information about assessment of potential from non conventional energy sources. The statewise details about the estimated potential of non conventional energy sources and cumulative achievement as well as list of states/UTs with potential for harnessing nonconventional sources of energy were provided to the House. Besides this, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has received a proposal to make energy security as a National Mission (LSQ 1557 Dhirendra Agarwal, Virjibhai Thummar).

 

Energy Conservation

 

Important discussions were held on the steps taken to reduce dependence on fossil fuels through promotion of other less polluting energy sources. In this connection, the Minister of Power has introduced energy conservation methods in various Governments (LSQ 1644 K.C. Pallani Shamy). The demand-supply scenario of energy production in the country was highlighted during the discussions. The Ministry of Power provided the legislators with detailed information on the loss of energy due to use of various electrical goods/products manufactured without Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) ratings (LSQ 1681 Kavuru Samba Siva Rao). Specific queries were made about the various renewable energy sources relating mainly to the status of efficient utilization of conserved oil, which can be looked upon as a quicker, efficient and economic source of new energy (LSQ 3988 Ravi Prakash Verma, Shivaji Adhalrao Patil, Anandrao Vithoba Adsul). Important discussions were held on the steps taken to reduce dependence on fossil fuels through promotion of other less polluting energy sources. In this connection, the State Governments have been directed to take some power conservation measures (LSQ 3549 Parsuram Majhi, LSQ 4193 M. Anjan Kumar Yadav).

 

National Energy Funds

 

The Minister of Power also revealed the proposal to set up an autonomous National Energy Fund for power sector as reported in the Business Standard dated the February 5, 2007 (LSQ 610 Basudeb Acharia) and a proposal related to the development of New and Renewable Energy at an affordable cost in the country (LSQ 604 Dushyant Singh).

 

ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION, NGOS AND MEDIA

 

The topics covered during the year in this subject area included the utilization of funds by NGOs, involvement of NGOs in the dissemination of information and their involvement in environmental projects including afforestation activities, to the government’s steps for public education. Also involved was the inclusion of environmental subjects in the course and curriculum of students. The awareness generation activities, setting up of institutes and details of meetings, workshops etc were the other areas of discussion in the House. Many of the questions were handled by the MoEF during the year

 

 Environmental NGOs

 

The critical role of the civil society groups came to the fore in the queries made about the involvement of NGOs in mobilizing public opinion and influencing governmental policy on interlinking of rivers (LSQ 2827 Shivaji Adhalrao Patil, Anandrao Vithoba Adsul). The Ministry is aware of the WWF Report of March 2007, wherein the adverse impact of over-extraction of ground-water has been highlighted (LSQ *309 Shri Sunil Khan). Discussion was also held on India being the second largest user of mercury which figures on the top of the list of deadly contaminants considered as a serious hazard to health environment (LSQ 2341 Ravi Prakash Verma). The MoEF was also queried about the findings and recommendations of the study carried out by the Centre for Science and Environment regarding Indian rivers heading for environmental disaster because of untreated sewage flowing into them (LSQ 2224 Shri K.S. Rao, LSQ 594 Dr. Dhirendra agarwal, shri tukaram ganapatrao renge patil). The involvement of NGOs in activities relating to afforestation and watershed development was discussed with the Ministry of Rural Development providing the required details about the completed watershed development projects which were also aimed at socio-economic development of resource-poor and disadvantaged social groups. Responding to a query, the MoEF discussed about a proposal received from the Government of Madhya Pradesh in regard to encourage the participation of voluntary organizations in afforestation work under Greening India Scheme (LSQ 3861 Shri Vijay Kumar Khandelwal). According to the MoEF, the World Wildlife Fund is associated in planning, financing and rousing public opinion in its favor in the Project Tiger scheme, but it does not provide any funds to the Central Government for Project Tiger at present (LSQ 46 Shri Francis Fanthome).

 

                       

Environment media

 

In response to the expressed concern about the present rate of farm crop income per drop of water in different parts of the country and for different agri-crops, the Ministry of Water Resources has not made any specific assessment on present rate of farm crop income per drop of water in different parts of the country and for different agri-crops, but it furnished details of farmers participatory action research programme designed to create awareness about the technologies available for increasing the productively and profitability of agriculture and launch water literacy drive (LSQ 84 K.S.Rao, Jyotiraditya M.Scindia). The Minister of New and Renewable Energy was questioned about the details of six conferences relating to New & Renewable Energy (NRE) which were held in New Delhi during 2006-2007 (LSQ 4237 Dr. M. Jagannath, Shri Chandrakant Bhaurao Khaire, Shri Kailash Meghwal) alongwith the details of International Energy Conference, Petrotech-2007, which was recently held in New Delhi (LSQ 5018 Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi, Jai Prakash). Discussions were also held on the introduction of a scheme for awarding to Hindi authors for their original work in Hindi on the subjects related to Environment, "Modini Puraskar"  in order to promote original writings in Hindi on the subject of Environment and related issues such as forests, wildlife, pollution and water resources, which is now named as “Medini  Puraskar Yojana " (LSQ 5229 Shri Bapu Hari Chaure, Shrimati Bhavana P. Gawali).

 

Environmental Education

 

An important target of environmental awareness generation activities is the new generation – the citizens of tomorrow – who would play key roles in determining governmental policies including environmental concerns. Recognizing the importance of this group, queries were made about the progress of the inclusion of environmental issues in educational curricula following the Supreme Court’s direction on the matter. The Ministry of Human Resource Development informed the House that necessary awareness about environmental matters was being imparted through  the country’s educational curricula at all levels by the NCERT, UGC and the AICTE. In addition, the development of the National Curriculum Framework 2005 which envisages the incorporation of environmental education in all subjects and levels of school education was also pointed out. Subjects like disaster preparedness course, waste management have been incorporated for Classes VI, VII, X and XI and water management and water harvesting courses in Universities (LSQ 546 Shri Salarapatty Kuppusamy Kharventhan, Lsq 1513 Shri Shivaji Adhalrao Patil, Shri Jashubhai Dhanabhai Barad, and LSQ 1025 G. Karunakara reddy).

 

 

Environment and Forest Trade

 

The discussions on this subject area mainly focused on the National Eco-Tourism Policy of the country and the steps taken by the government to promote eco-tourism. The other topics of discussions included the promotion of forest productivity and development of eco-tourism. Many of the responses during the year were given by the MoEF.

 

National Bamboo Mission

 

The Ministry of Agro and Rural Industries affirmed that bamboo was being promoted on a greater basis following the launch of the National Bamboo Mission. It also furnished the details of implementing agencies of National Bamboo Mission (LSQ 3620 Mani Charenamei). The Minister of Agriculture also confirmed that India has the largest bamboo forests in the world which are still untapped and the Department of Agriculture & Cooperation has launched a Centrally Sponsored Scheme on National Bamboo Mission during 2006-07 to promote bamboo sector in the country (LSQ 2861 Shivaji Adhalrao Patil, Ravi Prakash Verma, and Anandrao Vithoba ADSUL). It  also gave brief details on the production, processing utilization and export pattern of bamboo during each of the last three years (LSQ 2732 Kavuru Samba Siva Rao).

 

Others

 

the Minister of Agriculture affirmed to large scale fishing affecting the marine eco-system drastically as reported in The Hindu dated March 8, 2007 (LSQ 4292 M.P. Veerendra Kumar, Hansraj Gangaram Ahir). Clarifications were sought on the plucking of ‘tendu leaves’, wherein the Ministry of Environment and Forests clarified the no-restriction of plucking of ‘tendu leaves’ in Madhya Pradesh, but in Maharashtra (LSQ 1514 Shrimati Bhavana P. Gawali, Shri Sanjay Dhotre). The Ministry of Tourism and Culture stated that the existing policy aimed principally at the preservation, retention and enrichment of natural resources and by regulating tourism with this objective, environmental protection and community development would be ensured. The Members were informed that the Eco-Tourism Policy12 and Guidelines had been formulated and issued by the Ministry of Tourism. Information concerning the proposals received by the Government for development of tourist infrastructure and promotion of eco-tourism during the last year and the current year, so far, State/UT-wise was also furnished provided to the House (LSQ 3950 Chengara Surendran, Hiten Barman).

 

CLIMATE CHANGE AND METEOROLOGY

 

The discussions during the year revolved mainly around the demand for more information about climate change, especially global warming  including its impacts, the country’s participation in global mitigation efforts, the status of carbon credit projects, setting up of institutes on climate change, ozone protection measures and weather monitoring systems. The majority of queries were handled by the MoEF.

 

Study on Global Warming

 

An important discussion of various studies conducted on global warming took place. The Minister of Earth Sciences and the Minister Of Science & Technology briefed on the studies conducted India in association of international community as a part to assess the impact of increasing pollution and global warming (LSQ 830 Balashowry Vallabbhaneni) and also gave details on the timely up gradation of the instruments/computers available with the Government for weather forecasting, ocean information, tropical meteorology, which have been outdated (LSQ 211 Asaduddin Owaisi,  LSQ 212 Magunta Sreenivasulu Reddy). The Minister of Earth Sciences discussed about a Brainstorming meeting was held on June 1, 2007 to discuss need to undertake systematic research on changes that are happening, and likely to happen, over the Indian region along with their linkages to the global changes (LSQ *269 Sanjay Shamrao Dhotre, Bhavana Pundlikrao Gawali).

Climatic Changes

 

Enquiry was made about the number of projects on tackling climate change under way in the country, to which the Minister of Earth Sciences informed the House of the 265 registered CDM projects for operations and 714 in the pipeline (LSQ 939 Prabodh Panda). The Minister of Earth Sciences has also affirmed to the constitution of an Expert Committee on Climate Change Impacts, which is headed by the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (LSQ 941 Sai Prathap Annayyagari, E.G. Sugavanam, K.C Pallani Shamy) and also of the growing climate changes in the globes, having its adverse effect in India (LSQ 1624 Ananta Nayak, Balashowry Vallabbhaneni) on forests (LSQ 1630 Shri Mohan Rawale) and on wetlands (LSQ 1672 Shri Francis Fanthome). The Minister of Water Resources also revealed about the proposals received to study about the effect of climate change on the water bodies and water resources in India (LSQ *547 Rupatai Diliprao Nilangekar Patil).

 

Global Warming effects

 

An important discussion of great implication for the country’s food security related to the effect of climate change on agricultural yield. The concern was expressed in view of the high temperatures during February and the impact on rabi crops. The Ministry of Agriculture noted that some crops were affected as a result and the necessary measures to save the crops had been communicated to the farmers. The MoEF discussed the details of global warming effects on the rising sea level (LSQ 1646 Eknath Mahadeo Gaikwad, Nivedita Mane, Kirti Vardhan Singh, Milind Murli Deora).  The Minister of Earth Sciences gave details of the recent meeting regarding shrinkage of Himalayan glaciers took place in Belgium (LSQ 5146 Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia, Vijay Kumar Malhotra). It also pointed out the findings of around 145 sub glacial lakes beneath the 2300 feet of compressed snow in Antarctica by scientists of various countries working in Antarctica (LSQ 2614 Kirti Vardhan Singh, Nivedita Mane, Eknath Mahadeo Gaikwad). The Ministry of Earth Sciences through National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), Goa, an autonomous institute under this Ministry has proposed a research programme for the Arctic region during the XI Five Year Plan starting in 2007, coinciding with International Polar Year (IPY) (LSQ 2615 Sugrib Singh, Kishanbhai Vestabhai Patel). The Ministry of Earth Sciences also reported of the fact that, according to the predictions made by major international climate prediction centers, the La Nina conditions are likely to form over the equatorial Pacific region during the next few months (LSQ 4256 Balashowry Vallabbhaneni). The MoEF discussed the details of global warming effects including the reports of the Inter governmental Panel on Climate Change about the vulnerability of the Indian coasts to global warming (LSQ 994 Sambasiva Rayapati Rao, LSQ 764 Shri K.C. Pallani Shamy).

 

ENDANGERED HISTORICAL SITES

 

In response to queries for more details about historical sites getting endangered, the Minister of Culture reported about some historical Indian sites, among the world`s 100 most endangered sites threatened either by climatic change or unregulated development according to International Panel (LSQ 2506 Asaduddin Owaisi). The Ministry of Environment and Forests reported that the world heritage sites including Mount Everest are likely to be adversely affected due to the impact of climate change (LSQ 1676 Shri Eknath M. Gaikwad, Shrimati Nivedita Mane).

 

Carbon Credits

With regard to the status of carbon-related projects in the country, the MoEF stated that the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under the Kyoto Protocol provided significant economic opportunities to developing countries. Responding to a Member’s request for information about the details carbon credits, the Minister of finance reported that Indian Industry favors treating revenue carbon credits earned from as export earnings (LSQ 3231 Shri P.C. Thomas). The Minister of finance also discussed about the plan to create financial instruments to aid carbon credit trading and advise clients in the eco-friendly business by the State Bank of India (SBI) (LSQ 2716 Shri Jashubhai Dhanabhai Barad, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu) and the entry of SBI into a Memorandum of Understanding for jointly providing solutions to industries for clean Development Mechanism projects (LSQ 2728 Shri Kishanbhai Vestabhai Patel, Shri Sugrib Singh). The MoEF also stated about the introduction of a scheme regarding carbon credit by the Central Government (LSQ 2693 Shrimati Manorama Madhavaraj).

 

Setting up Institute to study Global Warming

 

Other discussed issues included the setting up of an institute to study the impact of global warming/climatic changes etc. (LSQ 3500 Sambasiva Rayapati Rao, Chandra Bhushan Singh) and separate departments for climate changes (LSQ 945 Smt. Jhansi Botcha Lakshmi).

 

Discussions

 

The Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Minister of earth sciences informed the House about the details of the agreement signed for the second phase of Indo-UK Climate Change Project-II (LSQ 76 SHRI Balashowry Vallabhaneni) and the UN Conference on global warming is to be held in Bali in December, 2007 (LSQ 2033 Shri Asaduddin Owaisi). In response to queries for more details about the global study conducted in regard to Indian rivers, the MoEF has expressed concern on the process of drying of these rivers (LSQ 594 DR. Dhirendra Agarwal, Shri Tukaram Ganapatrao Renge Patil). It also pointed out the proposal to set up an Expert Advisory Committee on Global Warming (LSQ 4289 Shri. Milind Deora). The MoEF discussed the important decisions taken in the first meeting of the National Council on Climate Change (LSQ 1387 DR. M. Jagannath, Shri Jasubhai Dhannabhai Barad, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Shri Suresh Kalmadi, Shri M.K. Subba).

 

World Bank Fund

 

The Minister of Agriculture reported about the Emission Reduction Purchase Agreement, signed by the World Bank`s public/private held Bio-Carbon Fund (Bloc) with some States to enable small farmers in a contract farming pilot project to earn additional revenues through carbon credits by afforesting their degraded lands (LSQ 1988 Anandrao Vithoba Adsul). The Minister of Environment and Forests discussed the sanctioning of millions of dollars to India to tackle climate change by the Global Environment Agency (LSQ 70 Shri Jasubhai Dhanabhai Barad, Shri Balashowry Vallabhaneni, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu).

 

Reports on Climate Change

 

The Minister of Environment and Forests also reported about the recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (LSQ *5 Shri C.K. Chandrappan, Shri Gurudas Dasgupta) and that, 12 sea facing islands of Sunderbans are under threat of continuing erosion for the last 30 years and projects sea level rise of 50 cm by 2050 (LSQ *8 Shri Asaduddin Owaisi). The Ministry of Environment and Forests discussed the details of the latest report of World Bank, which pointed out the possibility of economic disturbance, increase in social and environmental problems and large scale migrations due to climate changes occurring in South Asia (LSQ *141 Shri J.M. Aaron Rashid, Dr. Arun Kumar Sarma).

 

Schemes for Safeguarding Environment

 

Discussions were held on the schemes implemented in the country for controlling the quantity of carbon emission in the air (LSQ 1498 Shri Mahavir Bhagora). A concept paper with the objective of controlling the amount of emission of carbon in the atmosphere has been received from the Government of Madhya Pradesh (LSQ 3871 Shri Krishna Murari Moghe). It also reported about the proposals received by the Union Government of a national strategy on climate change (LSQ 2337 Shri Anandrao V. Adsul). Discussions were held on the signing of agreements to check emission of harmful chemicals and greenhouse gases which deplete the Ozone Layer (LSQ 2795 Shri Jyotiraditya M. Scindia). The MoEF has already initiated any action to control the use of Halonic and CFC as per guidelines under the Montreal Protocol (LSQ 1370 Shri Pratik P. Patil).

 

Others

 

The MoEF reported about a study by Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research on the Indian dams and water bodies contributing to 27.86% of the world’s emission of Methane, a green house gas, contributing enormously to global warming (LSQ 2946 Shri Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, Shri Jyotiraditya M. Scindia). It also pointed about the increased use of refrigerators and AC machines, harming the Ozone Layer (LSQ 2982 Shri N.S.V. Chitthan). The Minister of Health and family Welfare discussed about the rising of the endemic morbidity and mortality caused due to diarrhoeal diseases due to climatic changes as per the Fourth Assessment Report of the Inter Government Panel on Climate Change (LSQ *485 Sathyanarayana Sarvey, Rupatai Diliprao Nilangekar Patil).

 

DISASTER MANAGEMENT

 

A great amount of information pertaining to the impact of the Tsunami, the extent of lost lives and damaged property was furnished in the House during the year. The queries in relation to the Tsunami ranged from the status of initiatives taken for the installation of a warning system, the pace of implementation of rehabilitation measures and the utilization of sanctioned funds. Other natural disasters and the financial assistance provided were other major themes of discussions in the House. There was also important information provided on the progress made in response to the mandate of the Disaster Management Act. Several discussions were held on the issue of assistance to states for disaster management and flood prevention and mitigation measures. The steps taken for earthquake-related issues were also substantially highlighted. Other concerns brought up by the legislators included drought affected areas and the rehabilitation and resettlement of project affected people, particularly dams. The Ministry of Home Affairs gave the highest number of questions, while the Ministry of Water Resources also addressed a relatively high number of questions.

 

Tsunami disasters

 

The Ministry of Home Affairs discussed in detail the Tsunami rehabilitation programme being implemented as well as the various activities immediately carried out following the Tsunami disaster. The Minister of earth sciences reported about the warning by an Australian geologist that powerful earthquakes could rock the Bay of Bengal, triggering Tsunamis that would inundate Myanmar, Bangladesh and possibly India (LSQ 3236 Smt. Nivedita Mane, Shri Eknath Mahadeo Gaikwad). It also pointed out the Tsunami devastation in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which has left the tribal forest lands alienated (LSQ 1804 Shri Manoranjan Bhakta). The Minister of Defence briefed on his recent visit and survey of the Tsunami affected States particularly the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (LSQ 3917 K.C. Pallani Shamy). The Ministry of Ocean Development informed the Members that an indigenous warning system for Tsunami was being set up and scheduled to become operational by September 2007. The House was also informed of the government’s plans to set up another centre at the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services at Hyderabad as well as the constitution of a Cyclone Monitoring and Mitigation Group (LSQ 1121 Shri Sanat Kumar Mandal, Shri P. Rajendran). The Minister of HOME AFFAIRS informed the House of the details of Tsunami victims rehabilitated so far, State-wise and Union Territory-wise (LSQ *128 Shri Ramdas Athawale, Shri Bhubneshwar Prasad Mehta).

 

Earthquake disasters

 

The legislators were informed about the preparation of a National Programme for Capacity Building of Engineers in Earthquake Risk Management and the initiating of a coastal hazard zone mapping project. The Minister of Earth Sciences stated the criteria for fixing different zones for evaluating Earthquake prone areas (LSQ 3604 P.C. Thomas, LSQ 153 Kailash Nath Singh Yadav). The Minister of Earth Sciences also informed that IIT, Roorkee has made researches regarding Earthquakes in Himalayan Region (LSQ 88 Ishanbhai Vestabhai Patel, Nivedita Mane, Eknath Mahadeo Gaikwad, and Sugrib Singh). According to the Ministry, a regular 1-week programme for spreading awareness to school children including earthquake awareness as well apart from other natural hazards like cyclone, flood and drought are organized by all state, regional and central offices of India Meteorological Department (IMD) (LSQ 2656 Sathyanarayana Sarvey). The Minister of HOME AFFAIRS briefed on the details of recommendations made by the National Disaster Management Committee (NDMC) (LSQ 511 Shri Kavuru Samba Siva Rao).

 

Drought and other natural disasters

 

Several replies were provided on the government’s initiatives on tackling flood and drought situation in the country. With regard to floods, the House was informed that the planned installation of Doppler weather radars would enable the dam authorities to accurately regulate the release of water in areas through the use of radar data rainfall amounts (LSQ 3536 Shri Shriniwas Dadasaheb Patil). The Ministry of Agriculture gave details on the formulated policy for the States in the grip of famine/drought, particularly Jharkhand (LSQ 282 Ghuran Ram). The Minister of Agriculture detailed on the districts that have faced drought conditions during the monsoon this year (LSQ *244 Kunwar Rewati Raman Singh, LSQ 416 Shri Dushyant Singh, Shri Ananta Nayak). The Minister of Water Resources discussed on the execution/received proposals to execute work through rivers and channels for the drought affected areas (LSQ 1233 Hari Kewal Prasad, Sangeeta Kumari Singh Deo, and LSQ 87 Shri Jual Oram). Discussions were held on the chalking out of the mechanism to tackle droughts every year (LSQ 838 Sambasiva Rayapati Rao). According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Geological Survey of India (GSI) carries out Landslide investigations in the states of the J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand as a part of its field season programme every year (LSQ 1417 Shri Abdul Rashid Shaheen, LSQ 1413 Shri Ramakrishna Badiga). The Minister of Steel informed the House of the number of workers injured/died in accident during the last three years at Alang ship breaking yard in Gujarat (LSQ 1750 Pushpdan Shambhudan Gadhavi). The task force set up in 2004 by the Central Water Commission to look into the causes of recurring floods was also brought up for discussion by the Minister of Water Resources. The task force had recommended the framing of operation rules to make effective flood moderation more feasible (LSQ 4362 Sugrib Singh, Anwar Hussain, Kishanbhai Vestabhai Patel).

 

Leakage of Toxic substances

 

The Minister of Environment and Forest stated that the Government has noticed the incident of leakage of Chlorine gas in Kota, Rajasthan and compensations have been provided to the families of the people killed and injured in the incident (LSQ 4290 Shri Srichand Kirplani).Discussions were also held on the radio activity leakage in atomic power plants (LSQ 1671 Subhash Sureshchandra Deshmukh).

 

Safety Norms

 

The Minister of Atomic Energy briefed on the laying down of  the safety norms for nuclear plants by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) (LSQ 1395 Subrata Bose). The Minister of Coal enumerated on the funds allocated for undertaking safety arrangements in coal mine during each of the last three years, company-wise (LSQ 1702 Maha Deo Rao Shiwankar, M Ramadass). Responding to a query, the Minister of Home Affairs informed the Members about the total fund released for calamity relief to each State Governments during each of the last three years including the current financial year (LSQ 1244 DR. M. Jagannath, Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Raghuraj Singh Shakya, Jashubhai Dhanabhai Barad, M. Shivanna, Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy).  In response to a query, the Minister of WATER RESOURCES informed the House about the number (98) and names of the Dams in the country which are more than hundred years old and also about the “Dam Safety Procedure” laid down by the Standing Committee for Dam Safety in India, where all large dams (irrespective of their age), are to be inspected twice a year during pre and post monsoon periods (LSQ 4310 Suresh Kurup, P. Karunakaran).

 

Safety equipments

 

Responding to a Member’s concern, the Minister of Atomic Energy discussed about the portable personnel de-contamination kit designed and developed by the Bhabha Atomic research Centre (BARC) (LSQ 2772 Braja Kishore Tripathy). The Minister of Earth Sciences revealed about the scheme for modernization of the India Meteorological Department(IMD), which  has been formulated in order to provide precise and timely weather services to various user agencies based on state of the art observational and communication infrastructure (LSQ 2670 Sanjay Shamrao Dhotre, Bhavana Pundlikrao Gawali). It also pointed out the establishment of the monsoon forecasting system in the country to forecast recurring droughts and floods (LSQ 2189 Shri Sambasiva Rayapati Rao).

 

Disaster Management

 

The issue of assistance for disaster management was a matter of substantial discussion in the House. The Minister of Home Affairs stated the main functions of Department of Disaster Management and Civil Defences (LSQ 194 Sambasiva Rayapati Rao, Sathyanarayana Sarvey). Proposals were received in this Ministry from the Govt. of Madhya Pradesh initially for creation of a faculty of Natural Disaster Management in the Disaster Management Institute (DMI), Bhopal and subsequently for strengthening of the said faculty and designating the Institute as a “Centre of Excellence” for mitigation and management of earthquake disaster (LSQ 951 Krishna Murari Moghe). The Minister of Home Affairs have received proposal to set up a National Coordination Forum for effective management of disasters and their aftermath (LSQ 980 Magunta Sreenivasulu Reddy, Shivaji Adhalrao Patil). Discussions were held on the number of States have not so far implemented disaster management programmes (LSQ 4408 Braja Kishore Tripathy). The Minister of Home Affairs reported that the National Disaster Response Force has been trained and equipped suitably to work during any natural calamities (LSQ 470 Shri Navjot Singh Sidhu).

 

Warning system and Mitigation programmes

 

Details were sought about the loss of property and lives in the heavy floods and cyclone reported from Andhra Pradesh recently and other parts of the country (LSQ 1604 Sambasiva Rayapati Rao). The Minister of Earth Sciences gave the status of the disaster warning system in each state (LSQ 1937 Sambasiva Rayapati Rao, LSQ 2076 Shri Kunnur Manjunath Channappa). The Minister of Home Affairs also pointed out that various States including Karnataka have requested to release funds for the implementation of the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Program (LSQ 2981 Karunakara G. Reddy). The Minister of Water Resources discussed the urgent need for regular monitoring of the course of river channels upstream/downstream of all Bridges, Dams, Weirs etc. which affects the natural flow of the rivers so that likely damages to pucca structures across the rivers may be remedied well in time (LSQ 3610 Rewati Raman Singh).

 

Conferences and Agreements

 

The Minister of Defence furnished the details of the agreement signed by the Government on cooperation for peace missions and disaster management with Germany as reported in the ‘Rashtriya Sahara’ dated April 21, 2007 (LSQ 4965 Maha Deo Rao Shiwankar). The details of the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction were also discussed (LSQ *172 Shri Braja Kishore Tripathy, Dr. M. Jagannath). Other topics that were discussed were related to the process of drafting a new National Rehabilitation and Resettlement policy (LSQ 700 M. Jagannath, Basudeb Acharia).

 

Financial Assistance           

 

Discussions were held on the World Bank Loan for Natural Disaster and Rehabilitation (LSQ 2566 Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy). The Minister of Finance discussed about the details of financial assistance provided by the Union Government to Karnataka during each of the last three years (LSQ 2672 Shri Ananth Kumar). Clarifications were sought on the financial assistance provided, in the wake of natural calamities through the Schemes of Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) and National Calamity Contingency Fund (NCCF), which have been formulated based on the recommendations of the Finance Commission (LSQ 1306 Shri Hemlal Murmu, LSQ 1402 Smt. Jayaben B. Thakkar). Responding to a query, the Minister of Statistics and Programme Implementation affirmed to the fact that some Members of Parliament have consented to allocate funds from their MPLADS funds for Tsunami rehabilitation/reconstruction works (LSQ *221 Manoranjan Bhakta).

 

Others

The other topics that were discussed in the Lok Sabha were related to the recommendation received of Inter-Ministerial Committee in regard to restoration of infrastructure damaged due to floods in Gujarat in 2005 (LSQ 3596 Bhupendrasinh Prabhatsinh Solanki), the proposals received for long term reconstruction of damaged infrastructure as a result of floods during 2005 (LSQ 5318 Smt. Jayaben B. Thakkar) ; the pending proposals of Tamil Nadu for resettlement of Tsunami affected  people (LSQ 5129 K. Rani), details of the proposals received for approval under the National Coastal Protection Project (LSQ *558 Nivedita Mane, Eknath Mahadeo Gaikwad) and the request, particularly by Rajasthan to increase fund allocation to meet the drought situation in the States (LSQ 3883 Subhash Sureshchandra Deshmukh, Hari Kewal Prasad, Jivabhai Ambalal Patel, Bhupendrasinh Prabhatsinh Solanki, Jaswant Singh Bishnoi, Dushyant Singh, Jayaben B. Thakkar).

 

 

ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION

 

The discussions during the year covered matters relating to biodiversity, the funding of environmental conservation programmes, and pollution related policies. The replies by various Ministries covered the government’s policies, rules and regulations on energy, forests, coastal protection, wildlife protection, resettlement and rehabilitation, mangrove protection, and waste management. The MoEF handled the majority of the questions raised in the House

 

Environmental Degradation

 

The legislators sought information about the level of environmental degradation, to which the MoEF affirmed to the rising degradation of environment in the country (LSQ 2756 Shri G.M.Siddeswara). It also pointed out that appropriate directions were given about keeping a check on the vehicles emitting smoke (LSQ 1811 Shri Vijoy Krishna) and action has been taken on dumping of garbage & chemical wastes in the country (LSQ 2162 Shri Pusp Jain, Shri Avtar Singh Bhadana). Responding to a query, the State Government of Rajasthan has requested the Union Government to declare Abu Mountain as an environmentally vulnerable area (LSQ 1533 Shri Raghuveer Singh Koshal). Discussions were also held on the identification of Eco-sensitive areas (LSQ 3106 Shri Ananta Nayak).

 

 Bio-Diversity

 

The biodiversity-related queries sought details about the country’s biosphere reserves, with specific information sought for the Nanda Devi Reserve and the Agastya Malai Range in the Western Ghats, and the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, the necessary information for which was furnished by the MoEF. It also informed the House about the programme on Biodiversity characterization at landscape level using Satellite data for the entire country in three phases by the National Remote Sensing Agency, Department of Space, Government of India (LSQ 1453 Prof. K.M. Kader Mohideen). Demand was made about information on the measures to safeguard the sea-based bio-diversity (LSQ 1737 Shri Abu Ayes Mondal, Shri Hansraj G. Ahir, LSQ 1353 Kuldeep Bishnoi). According to the MoEF, a few Non-governmental organizations have voiced some concern over not giving enough powers to local Biodiversity Management Committees under the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and Biological Diversity  Rules, 2004 (LSQ 2202 Dr. R. Senthil). Responding to a concerned Member’s query regarding the declining number of cows, the Minister of Agriculture has decided to conduct 18th Livestock Census breedwise (LSQ 2795 Santosh Kumar Gangwar). Information was given on the Expert Committee of the National Bio-diversity Authority, that has formed guidelines for identifying, declaring and managing bio-diversity heritage sites in the country (LSQ 2330 Shri Ravi Prakash Verma) and the interest in e-waste recycle plants by some Multi-National Companies (MNCs) (LSQ 1490 Shri Asaduddin Owaisi).

 

National Policy and Norms

 

An important topic of query concerned the policy of the government on fuels which led to the discussion of the draft national policy on bio-fuels and the Roadmap of Auto Fuel Policy. There was also discussion on the National Environment Policy, the Supreme Court’s orders following the receipt of representations from states about relaxation of noise pollution rules and the policy on bamboo in private land. The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy has prepared a National Policy on Bio-fuels to reduce the dependency on fossil fuels in the country (LSQ 861 Shri Magunta Sreenivasulu Reddy, Shrimati K. Rani). Demand was made about information on setting up a sub-committee to work out a policy on water for industries (LSQ 1824 Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi, LSQ 281 Rasa Singh Rawat, Vijay Krishna). There were also discussions on formulations for guidelines for e-waste management (LSQ 653 Shri Kuldeep Bishnoi). The MoEF also informed the House about the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between India and United States of America in January 2002 concerning cooperation in environmental protection for a period of five years (LSQ 2173 Shri Hansraj G. Ahir). Details were given on the issue of an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification vide S.O. No. 1533 (E) dated 14th September, 2006 superseding the earlier EIA Notification, 1994 (LSQ 636 Shri Srichand Kriplani).

 

Acts and Amendments

 

Of significance was the discussion on the proposals to bring out an amendment to Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (LSQ 3784 Shrimati Nivedita Mane, Shri Eknath M. Gaikwad, Shri Kirti Vardhan Singh). The Minister of Home Affairs pointed out that the amendments to Coastal Regulation Act have created great hardships to the coastal folks (LSQ 2464 Dr. K.S. Manoj). There has been no step to set up a sub-committee to look into the adverse impact of the Tribal Act (LSQ 1706 Shri Balashowry Vallabhaneni).

                       

Rules and Regulations

 

Questions were asked about the salient features of the notification of the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (LSQ *238 Shri Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy, Shri C. K. Chandrappan). The MoEF also informed the House about the initiatives taken to review the coastal regulations (LSQ *160 Shri Sanat Kumar Mandal, Shri M.P. Veerendra Kumar) and about the fact that World Bank has asked India to strengthen its multi-stake holder partnership and public participation in the environment sector as reported in ‘The Hindu’ dated April 11, 2007 (LSQ *559 Shri Anandrao V. Adsul, Shri Adhalrao Patil Shivajirao). Also pointed out was the issue of stringent directives to ensure implementation of safety regulations for school CNG buses in the capital by the Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority (LSQ 100 Shri Jasubhai Dhanabhai Barad, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu)

                    

Other important Standards and Schemes

 

With regard to policies on pollution, the Ministry of Environment and Forests have notified the emission standards for Pesticide Manufacturing and Formulation Industry covering parameters, such as, chlorine, ammonia, particulate matter etc. (LSQ 1548 Braja Kishore Tripathy). There were discussions on the proposal received on Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) for Navi Mumbai (LSQ 3047 Shri Milind Deora). Dismissing the statement of a Member, regarding the decision to set up mandatory fuel efficiency standards, the Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises discussed that the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways have constituted a Committee to analyze the type approval and conformity of production (CoP) data on Carbon Dioxide and fuel consumption for diesel, gasoline vehicles (LSQ 3031 Shri K.C. Pallani Shamy).

 

Environment Courts

 

The MoEF gave details on the State-wise number of cases filed in Environment Courts along with the number of pending cases as on date (LSQ 40 Dr. Dhirendra  Agarwal, Shri Sunil Kumar Mahto). Denying the proposals for setting-up Fast track courts to decide environmental cases, the MoEF has, in principle, decided to accept the recommendations of the Law Commission for the same (LSQ *299 Shri Rayapati Sambasiva Rao, Shri Madhu Goud Yaskhi). It also pointed out that the Commission has also recommended repeal of the National Environment Tribunal (NET) Act, 1995 and the National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA) Act, 1997, and transfer of provisions regarding functions and powers of the Tribunal and Appellate Authority contained in those Acts in the proposed enactment for establishment of the Environment Courts (LSQ 3799 Shri Anandrao V. Adsul, Shri Adhalrao Patil Shivajirao, LSQ 2988 Shri Nikhil Kumar). The House was informed of the setting up of an Empowered Committee to look into various violations committed during construction of 540 MW Captive Power Project by the Strategic Partner of BALCO (LSQ 5234 Shri Chandra Sekhar Dubey). Discussions were also held on the proposals to set up special courts to deal with the poaching and other conservation related issues (LSQ 1752 Shri K.C. Singh ‘Baba’).

 

Actions

 

Concerning the preservation of life forms, Members were informed that the Government is contemplating to constitute a Committee for the same purpose in the Mannar gulf (LSQ 2704 Shri Ganesh Singh). The MoEF also informed that seven states namely, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa and Uttarakhand have so far established environment statistics cell (LSQ 2843 Shri S. K. Kharventhan). The Members in the House were informed of the Terms of Reference of 13th Finance Commission to recommend sharing of taxes between Center and States to combine the challenges of ecology management and environment protection as reported in the ‘Times of India’ dated November 2, 2007 (LSQ 2151 Shri Asaduddin Owaisi). The functioning of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research(CSIR) laboratory, “Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology Palampur” in Himachal Pradesh was also a matter of concern among the Members (LSQ 5098 Chander Kumar). Also pointed out was the plan to use funds collected through a Supreme Court directive for conservation to fund afforestation (LSQ 2733 Shri Adhalrao Patil Shivajirao, Shri Anandrao V. Adsul, Shri Ravi Prakash Verma, Shri Jasubhai Dhanabhai Barad). The Minister of Agriculture affirmed to the fact that formation of Coastal Management Zones (CMZs) has adversely affected the interests of fishermen living near the coastal areas (LSQ 2725 M.P. Veerendra Kumar). A statement related to the formulation of a policy to decide the role of local people in order to check the exploitation of natural resources in the reserved forest areas (LSQ *315 Shri Rakesh Singh).

 

Others

The Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment denied the proposals sent to the Union Government for according the status of Scheduled Castes to the Kol Kharwar, Gond and Mushar originally belonging to Scheduled Tribes by the Government of Uttar Pradesh (LSQ 2920 Shri Shailendra Kumar). The MoEF affirmed to the fact that the Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited, a public sector enterprise, has ceased to be in operation due to Apex Court’s directives regarding environmental concerns (LSQ 1721 Shrimati Manorama Madhavaraj). The other topics discussed in the House were related to the establishment of a Technology Mission to assist Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in technology development, energy conservation and pollution mitigation (LSQ 1041 Shri Salarapatty Kuppusamy Kharventhan) and  the sale of Euro-III petrol and diesel in 13 cities in India (LSQ 2410 Gowdar Mallikarjunappa Siddeswara).

 

FOREST CONSERVATION

 

The state of the country’s forests in terms of the area of coverage, the extent of land degradation across the country and the diversion of forest land were the major areas of discussion during the year. Other topics of discussion in the House included the development of forest villages, the implementation of the National Afforestation Program and the development of wastelands. Several enquiries were made about the government’s policies and programmes for the tribes residing in and around the forests, including their relocation. There were also discussions on the decline in forest cover and actions taken to arrest the decline. A fairly large number of state-specific discussions were held ranging from the utilization of afforestation funds to projects for forestry development or forest clearance. The highest number of questions was handled by the MoEF.

 

Forest Environment degradation

 

Responding to a query, the MoEF affirmed to the fact that a large number of trees have been uprooted or cut in Delhi during    the last five years mainly for important developmental projects, like road widening, construction of flyovers, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation projects, High Capacity Bus System projects, etc.  The trees have been permitted to be uprooted under the provisions of the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994 (LSQ 5294 Shri Raghunath Jha). In response to demands about the forest cover in the country, the MoEF provided the necessary data from the State of the Forest Report of 2003 and also informed the House about the various measures being implemented to augment forest cover. As per the assessment made by the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) presented in ‘Global Forest Resource Assessment (GFRA), 2005’ the global deforestation rate was estimated at 13  million hectares per year during the period 1990-2005 (LSQ 1431 Shri Chengara Surendran). The MoEF denied the fact about the large scale illicit felling of trees, which have been reported from the forests of North Eastern Region (LSQ 1450 Shri M.K. Subba). It also pointed out the number of proposals cleared for mining projects on forest land so far by the Government during each of the last three years (LSQ 707 Shri G. Karunakara reddy). No assessment is made by the Ministry about the loss of forest cover as a result of setting up of Special Economic Zones (SEZs). There is no such data available for any State including Gujarat (LSQ 1709 Shri Rayapati Sambasiva Rao). The MoEF reported about the smuggling of Norkya Vanaspati from the forests near Shirala in the Sangli district of Maharashtra as per the report received from State Forest Department, Maharashtra (LSQ 1740 Shri Pratik P. Patil).

 

Protection of Forest Environment

 

In one of its replies, the MoEF furnished the details of the Integrated Forest Protection Scheme including the financial assistance given in the past four years. The MoEF confirmed the proposals received for the protection of sandal tracts at Marayoor in Kerala (LSQ 765 Shri P. Karunakaran). It also informed the House that Cardamom Hill Reserve (CHR) in Idukki district in Kerala is classified under the category of forests (LSQ 830 Shri P.C. Thomas), and about the proposals received from the State Government of Karnataka regarding protection of existing mangrove plantations, afforestation of degraded areas with mangrove prop gules, research activities, awareness programme, monitoring etc. (LSQ 1359 Shri Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi).

 

Afforestation and Plantation activities

 

The Ministry of Railways discussed about the formulation of the scheme for afforestation and confirmed that there is no specific scheme for plantation of trees on either side of Railway lines in cities. Railways have a general policy for doing plantation on vacant land (LSQ 5804 Sanjay Shamrao Dhotre, Bhavana Pundlikarao Gawali). In a discussion on implementation of rules, the MoEF clarified that it was the responsibility of states to conduct drives for removing encroachment from forest land. The MoEF confirmed that the State Government of Maharashtra has submitted a project to the Union Government for coastal afforestation by conservation and management of mangroves and other associated plants along the Maharashtra coast (LSQ 1432 Shri Haribhau Rathod). Discussions were also held on the involvement of the National Afforestation and Eco Development Board in the development of forest villages (LSQ *194 Dr. Babu Rao Mediyam). Information was presented about the proposal submitted by the Andhra Pradesh Forest Development Corporation to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for raising coffee plantation in degraded forests land in Vishakhapatnam and East Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh (LSQ 72 Dr. M. Jagannath). The MoEF answered a Member’s query about the total area of coverage under which Eucalyptus trees are grown in various parts of the country (LSQ 5291 Shri K.C. Pallani Shamy). There were discussions on the proposal received to plant saplings in the country for better ecology and environment (LSQ *240 Shri Rayapati Sambasiva Rao).

 

Development of Forest Villages

 

Significant information was provided on the National Forestry Database Management System. Responding to a query about the consideration to develop 2700 forest villages, the Minister of Tribal Affairs confirmed the approval of proposals covering 2,179 forest villages in 10 States (LSQ *214 Chandra Bhushan Singh). It also gave details of the quantum of funds allocated for the development of forest villages during the years 2005-06 and 2006-07 (LSQ 2968 Raghunath Jha). A proposal regarding the approval of acquisition of 350 hectare Forest Land for expansion of the Hindustan Lalpeth underground coal mine project situated in Vekoli in Maharashtra has been received by the MoEF that has to be presented before the Forest Advisory Committee (LSQ 4 Shri Hansraj G. Ahir). Information was also presented about the project proposals received from various States for development of forests (LSQ 1741 Shri Subhash Sureshchandra Deshmukh, LSQ 1744 Shri Rupchand Murmu).

 

Forests and the tribals

 

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs informed the House that the development of forest villages was one of the major initiatives taken up for tribal development during the 10th Five Year Plan. It provided the details of the facilities provided to the tribals for the utilisation of forests and forestry work (LSQ 173 Mansukhbhai D. Vasava, Dhirendra Agarwal). Discussions were also held on the problems being faced by the people, mostly tribals, living in the fringe areas of forests in securing a sustainable livelihood (LSQ 14 Shri Rayapati Sambasiva Rao).

 

Promotion of Bamboo

 

The Minister of Agriculture discussed the total area of land under bamboo cultivation at present in the country (LSQ 1805 Naveen Jindal, K.C. Pallani Shamy). Enquiry was made about the amount allocated, released and utilized under National Bamboo Mission (NBM) during 2006-07 (LSQ 2796 Mani Charenamai, Narayan Chandra Borkataky). The Minister of Agriculture gave the details of the project proposals received from various States for promotion of Bamboo and its growth under National Bamboo Mission (LSQ 5303 Braja Kishore Tripathy). It also pointed out the implementation status of National Bamboo Mission in the country with special reference to the North Eastern Region (LSQ 1304 Dr. Arun Kumar Sarma, LSQ 2213 Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi). No information was provided on the revenue loss, which might have been caused to the Government due to large scale smuggling of bamboos from the forest areas as reported by the Nagpur edition of ‘Dainik Bhaskar’ dated October 13, 2007 (LSQ 2844 Shri Hansraj G. Ahir).

 

Financial Assistance

 

Important clarification was sought from the government about the the funds allocated by the Government for plantation during the last three years (LSQ 1748 Shri Harisinh Chavda, Shri Jivabhai Ambalal Patel). The MoEF responded that no special grants for the development of forests in Tumkur district have been provided (LSQ 2751 Shri S. Mallikarjuniah). The MoEF affirmed to the fact that the Government has recently received a request seeking financial assistance/loan to Andaman and Nicobar Islands Forest and Plantation Development Corporation Limited (LSQ 726 Shri Manoranjan Bhakta), and discussed about the assistance provided to various States under Integrated Forest Protection Scheme (IFPS) (LSQ 4353 Shri Chandrakant Khaire, Shri Kailash Meghwal). Discussions were held on the funds for Forestry and Wildlife Conservation (LSQ *147 Shrimati Rupatai Diliprao Nilangakar Patil, Shri Asaduddin Owaisi) and on the World Bank Assistance for Afforestation Program (LSQ 1655 Prof. Mahadeorao Shiwankr, Prof. M. Ramadass).

 

Policy and Projects

 

The MoEF responded to a Member’s concern that no request has been received to review the policy with regard to the reserved forest area (LSQ 846 Shri Hansraj G. Ahir) and about the proposals from the Government of Bihar for environment regeneration in various cities of Bihar (LSQ 2882 Shri Giridhari Yadav); but proposals have been received for Indira Sagar Project in Madhya Pradesh (LSQ 2831 Shri Krishna Murari Moghe). The MoEF reported that the launch of the centrally sponsored Integrated Afforestation and Eco-Development Project Scheme during 1989-90, is not being continued in the Tenth Five Year Plan. During the Tenth Plan, a new umbrella scheme titled National Afforestation Programme (NAP) was formulated by merger of IAEPS and three other Centrally Sponsored Schemes (LSQ 2891 Dr. M. Jagannath). The MoEF confirmed the fact that the Government of Gujarat has submitted proposals for sanction of project for various Forest Development Agencies (FDAs) during 2006-07 (LSQ 2893 Shri Madhusudan Mistry). It also pointed out that forestry project by the name ‘Green India Project’ is under examination of the Central Government, instead of the “Fast-Track Mega Forest Project” (LSQ 732 Shri S.K. Kharventhan). Discussions were held on the details of the norms for providing grants to various States under the Integrated Forest Protection Scheme (IFPS) (LSQ *196 Shri Sanjay Dhotre, Shri Bapu Hari Chaure).

 

Others

 

The other topics that were discussed widespread were the proposals received to set up a national database of forestry for effective monitoring of forestry related programmes (LSQ 1779 Shri M. P. Veerendra Kumar), the permissions granted to the Government departments to divert forest lands for developmental projects (LSQ 1781 Shri Rayapati Sambasiva Rao), steps being taken by the Government to promote silviculture in the country (LSQ 1377 Shri Bhartruhari  Mahtab), and the proposals received to set up Van Vigyan Kendras in various parts of the country (LSQ 701 Shri S.K. Kharventhan).

 

FRESHWATER AND MARINE CONSERVATION

 

The discussions during the year covered a wide area of concerns ranging from the state of the country’s coastline to the conservation of freshwater bodies across the country. Concerns were expressed about the condition of the country’s water bodies. Several questions were raised on the problem of coastal erosion and pollution of the shorelines from inland sources. Other topics of discussions included the pollution of water bodies, wetlands conservation, cases of Ganga and Yamuna rivers and issues related to marine resources and dams. While the MoEF had the highest share of the queries, the Ministry of Water Resources also had a fairly high share of the queries.

 

Marine Pollution

Concern was expressed about the reported pollution in the water bodies. The MoEF stated the existing norms with respect to levels of marine pollution (LSQ 2963 Prof. M. Ramadass). It also pointed out the details of the submitted project for pollution abatement of River Pamba for consideration of the Union Government (LSQ 2993 Shri P. C. Thomas). The MoEF briefed about the Integrated Action Plan prepared, for undertaking pollution abatement measures in the river Yamuna in Delhi (LSQ 2819 Shri Adhir Chowdhury, Shri Balashowry Vallabhaneni).

 

Fresh Water 

 

Responding to a query, the Minister of Water Resources enumerated on the percentage of fresh water in natural resources, and the total quality of fresh water available in the country ( LSQ 974  Tukaram Gangadhar Gadakh). Discussions were also held on the scarcity of water resources in the country. In this regard, the Ministry of Urban Development have informed that no reports from States have been received that their lakes and wells have dried and that cities have been forced to ration the water supply (LSQ 3669 Gowdar Mallikarjunappa Siddeswara). There was no information on the status of drying up of some rivers in Maharashtra (LSQ 1691 Shri Sanjay Dhotre, Shri Bapu Hari Chaure, and Shrimati Bhavana P. Gawali). The Ministry of Water Resources also informed the House that the analysis of average annual flow data does not indicate falling trend in the water level of the rivers (LSQ 1093 Hari Kewal Prasad, Tukaram Gangadhar Gadakh, Harisinh Pratapsinh Chavda,  Pankaj Chaudhary).

 

 Case of Ganga and Yamuna rivers

 

Concern was expressed about the water level of Yamuna River in Delhi which is reported to be depleting day-by-day causing shortage of drinking water in Delhi, to which the Minister of Water Resources responded that no such trend has been indicated in a study of observed data at the site (LSQ 3807 Raghunath Jha). But, it did affirm to the serious threat faced by the Ganga, owing to increased water withdrawals as reported in the Hindu dated March 21, 2007 (LSQ 3810 Naveen Jindal). The MoEF furnished details of the actual progress of Ganga Action Plan (LSQ 89 Shri Raghunath Jha) and the details of the plan and implementation of the Yamuna Action Plan Phase-wise (LSQ *304 Shri Ranen Barman, Shri Hiten Barman). The Cleaning of Yamuna River still remained an important issue of discussion in the House (LSQ 4276 Shri Kailash Meghwal, Shri G. Karunakara Reddy). Information was also given on the proposals received to review the Ganga Action Plan and the Yamuna Action Plan (LSQ 1730 Shri Abu Ayes Mondal, Shri Kailash Nath Singh Yadav, and Shri Mohd. Tahir)

 

Protection and Conservation of water bodies

 

The MoEF discussed the provision of assistance to states for the conservation of water bodies through the schemes, the National Lake Conservation Programme, Conservation & Management of Wetlands, and development of National Parks & Sanctuaries. It furnished details on the quantum of Central funds sanctioned/allocated and utilised by the State Government of Jammu & Kashmir for conservation of Dal Lake during each of the last three years and thereafter (LSQ 2176 Shri Dalpat Singh Parste, Shri Rasheed Masood). There were many discussions on various aspects of coastal protection activities in the country. The MoEF confirmed the shrinking of wetlands in the country due to various anthropogenic pressures (LSQ *459 Shri Abdul Rashid Shaheen). The MoEF also discussed about the proposals received for the project from the Government of Orissa for the conservation of Chilka Lake, a Ramsar site in Orissa (LSQ 3844 Shri Bhartruhari Mahtab). In response to a query, the MoEF affirmed the submission of the Integrated Project for Coastal Conservation/ Management by the Government of Gujarat (LSQ 3804 Dr. Vallabhbhai Kathiria, Shrimati Jayaben B. Thakkar, Shri Mahesh Kanodia, and LSQ 2829 Shri Madhusudan Mistry). There were certain discussions on the proposals to take any steps to constitute a high level expert committee to conduct a survey to study the coastline of India so as to protect the coastal ecology and environment (LSQ *87 Shri Ramdas Athawale, Dr. M. Jagannath).

 

Action Plans

 

Of major significance, were the achievements under the National Lake Conservation Plan and the National River Conservation Plan. The MoEF discussed the details of the project report for environmental clearance under the National River Action Plan for implementation under the Eleventh Five Year Plan (LSQ 5246 Shri Narahari Mahato) and denied the submission of the detailed Project Report on conservation of Ansupa Lake for consideration under the National Lake Conservation Plan by the Government of Orissa (LSQ 5237 Shri Bhartruhari Mahtab). In the context of states being required to send the Central Government a list of prioritized lakes within their respective territories, queries were made about the status of proposals sent by states. The MoEF provided the details of financial assistance to the states and states’ utilization of the same. Another important area of concern related to the proposals received for revamping the National River Conservation Program (LSQ *193 Shri N. Janardhana Reddy, Shri Asaduddin Owaisi). The proposals to include the historical Ramgarh Taal Lake situated in Gorakhpur (U.P.) in National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP) have been submitted by the MoEF (LSQ 1663 Yogi Aditya Nath). Information was given to the Housse regarding the submission of six proposals on Integrated Conservation of Amanikere at Tumkur, Begaum Talab in Bijapur, Unakal lake at Hubli, Muchakandhi lake at Bagalkot, Jagalur lake in Davangere District, Gowramma Tank and Hombalamma Tank in Magadi Town under National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP) to the Union Government by the Government of Karnataka (LSQ 3033 Shri Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi, LSQ 3054 Shri Thawar Chand Gehlot) and the sanctioning of seven pollution prevention schemes for Chambal river in Kota and Keshavraipatan cities of Rajasthan under National River Conservation Plan (NRCP) (LSQ 1716 Shri Raghuveer Singh Koshal).

 

Financial Assistance

 

In addition to providing details of funds sanctioned for various pollution abatement projects, it pointed out that improvement had been observed at several stretches of the Ganga since the launch of the river cleaning Program. There have been complaints received against misutilisation of funds for Ganga Action Plan (GAP) (LSQ 3798 Shri Abu Ayes Mondal, Shri Kailash Meghwal). Discussions were also held on the revision of the Chambal cleaning project in Rajasthan (LSQ 2952 Shri Raghuveer Singh Koshal); requests received from the State Government of Andhra Pradesh for release of funds under the National River Conservation Programme (NRCP) (LSQ 1683 Shri M. Raja Mohan Reddy).

 

Projects

 

There were many discussions on various aspects of coastal protection activities in the country. The MoEF informed the House that steps for coastal protection were being undertaken by the Central Water Commission through the ‘Critical Anti-Erosion Works in Coastal and other than Ganga Basin States.’ Information was provided for the implementation of the Coastal Shelter Belt Plantation Projects in various States (LSQ 3894 Shri Kishanbhai V. Patel, Shri Braja Kishore Tripathy). In response to a query, the MoEF discussed the details of the project reports for 11 Towns under NRCP, which were prepared and sent to the Union Government by the Government of Karnataka (LSQ 5214 Shri Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi, LSQ 2228 Shri Chandrabhan Singh). The National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP) aims at the maintenance of water quality of the country‘s lakes at acceptable levels. The measures under the Plan include desilting, deweeding, bioremediation, and catchment area/ sewage treatment etc. The conservation of wetlands was a focus of discussion subsequent to demands for information about the assistance for conservation. In the context of states being required to send the Central Government a list of prioritized lakes within their respective territories, queries were made about the status of proposals sent by states.

 

Others

 

The other topics that were given due importance in the House were related to the proliferation and accumulation of a peculiar type of water plant known as water hyacinth, which has become an environmental hazard which create obstruction of  navigation in the lakes of Kerala (LSQ 3136 Dr. K.S. Manoj), regulatory regime for wetlands (LSQ 666 Shri Adhalrao Patil Shivajirao), and identification of some polluted rivers and their cleaning activities (LSQ 1766 Shri N. Janardhana Reddy, Shri Dalpat Singh Parste, Shri Uday Singh).

 

 

 

HEALTH AND SANITATION

 

The majority of discussions in the House pertained to concerns for public health arising from water quality. The water related issues include the pesticide content in drinking water and soft drinks, excess fluorine and the assistance for provision of safe drinking water. Particular focus was given to the issue of provision of safe drinking to the rural areas and action plans on sanitation. There were also discussions on community health issues including the provision of basic amenities to urban poor such as water quality and drainage systems. Other discussed topics related to the threats to public health caused by arsenic contamination, plastic use, asbestos, persistent organic pollutants, private sector involvement in the provision of clean water, the response to the bird flu epidemic including availability of bird flu medicine, health hazards arising from mining activities and the health effects of fly ash, asbestos and mercury. The majority of questions were handled by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Urban Development.

 

Bird Flu

 

There were requests for detailed information about bird flu – the number of casualties and preventive measures put in place by the government. A fairly high number of queries were made about the recurrence of Avian Influenza and the precautionary steps taken in this regard (LSQ 2738 Dushyant Singh, M. Rajamohan Reddy). The ministry of Agriculture reported about the number of bird flu cases reported in each State during the last three years (LSQ 146 Raghuraj Singh Shakya, Hemlal Murmu, M. Appadurai, and LSQ 2057 Brajesh Pathak). The Minister of Health and Family Welfare Discussed the details of the cases of bird flu, which have re-surfaced recently in some countries of the world and some part of the country, alongwith the steps taken by the Government to prevent the disease (LSQ 2181 Devidas Anandrao Pingle, N.S.V. Chitthan, Mohammad Tahir Khan, and Brajesh Pathak).

 

Use of pesticides

 

One of the primary concerns of public health policy pertains to the excessive use of pesticides in agricultural activities. Responding to the request for discussion about the continued usage of certain pesticides in the country, the Ministry of Agriculture assured the concerned Members that approval to pesticides was being granted only after due consideration of their efficacy and safety. Concern was expressed about health risks arising from pesticide residues in soft drinks as well as in mineral water. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare informed the House that the Committee of National Experts had been constituted in 2005 to provide necessary assistance on the matter of pesticide residues in sugar (LSQ 2234 Jashubhai Dhanabhai Barad). Information was also given on the entry of dioxins, one of the most poisonous chemicals known to man, in the food chain through agriculture, poultry and meat products (LSQ 3600 Sathyanarayana Sarvey). Responding to a query, the Minister of Health & Family Welfare clarified the Maximum Residue Level (MRL) for DDT in various foods commodities, prescribed under Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955 (LSQ 4653 Ms. Ingrid Mcleod) alongwith the maximum residue limits of pesticides in cold drinks, prescribed by the Group of experts constituted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (LSQ *584 Shri Ajit Jogi, Smt.  P. Satheedevi).

 

Health Hazards
 

Discussions were also held on the people  engaged  in the production of salt, who are highly exposed  to adversities  of environmental  conditions  and are suffering from various  kinds of  occupational  health problem (LSQ 4643 Amitava Nandy). The Minister of Agriculture also affirmed to the fact of accumulation of high proportion of toxic arsenic in rice grown in West Bengal and in some other parts of the country (LSQ 2344 Nikhil Kumar, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury). The Minister of Commerce And Industry provided the information of the Indian markets being flooded with Chinese toys, alongwith the action taken by the Government to stop the influx of such dangerous toys which are hazardous for the health of children (LSQ 2976 Nedurumalli Janardhana Reddy, LSQ 1292 Rasheed Masood, Bhubneshwar Prasad Mehta). Answering to a query, the Minister of Health and Family Welfare provided the details of the recurring outbreak of vector/water borne diseases such as Chikungunya, Dengue, Malaria, Cholera etc. in several parts of the country and the measures proposed to be taken to control these diseases (LSQ *231 Shri Kunnur Manjunath Channappa, Shri Mohan Singh). There were certain discussions on the consideration of proposals received for solving the problems of potable water, sewage system and solid waste in selected three hundred towns of the country (LSQ 1656 Karunakara G. Reddy) and the details of the major environmental problems caused due to the poor sanitation in Asia (LSQ 3028 Shri N. Janardhana Reddy). Discussions were held on the health-related aspects of asbestos mining (LSQ 935 Shrimati Susheela Laxman Bangaru) and coal mine safety. Responding to a query about the mitigation of health hazards faced by the families living in and around coal mines, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare pointed out the ongoing implementation of the Environmental and Social Mitigation Project by the Coal India Limited. The House was also informed about the safety provisions in the country’s existing legislation on mines.

 

Funds

 

The government’s initiatives to promote the drinking facilities to the rural people were discussed and the details of funds allocated and utilized, were furnished by the Ministry of Rural DevelopmenT. The major focus in the discussions on rural sanitation programmes concerned the utilization of funds. Clarifying the issue about the diversion of funds, the Ministry stated that it had not received any report of fund diversion while noting that fund utilization had been low on account of the slow implementation progress in certain districts Rural drinking water supply is a State subject and the primary responsibility to provide drinking water rests with the States. However, the Central Government is undertaking Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme (ARWSP) with the objective to give financial assistance to States for coverage of rural habitations with safe drinking water supply (LSQ 3683 Shri Kashi Ram Rana, Shri Dhani Ram Shandil, and Shri Virjibhai Thummar). The details of the drinking water projects being run in the country at present with the help/aid of the World Bank were also a major concern in the House (LSQ 57 Sathyanarayana Sarvey, Subhash Sureshchandra Deshmukh).

 

Action plans on Sanitation

 

The Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation discussed the formulation of scheme, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), for providing basic sanitation facilities for the people of urban areas during Eleventh Plan (LSQ 2600 Ananta Nayak). It also affirmed to the revision of the guidelines of the integrated low cost sanitations scheme (LSQ 2669 Shri A. Ravichandran Sippiparai). In response to a query, the Minister of Panchayati Raj discussed the implementation of Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) under the Panchayati Raj in 572 rural districts of the country (LSQ 4777 Karunakara G. Reddy). Information indicating the percentage of the House Hold with water closet, pit latrine, other latrine and House Hold without latrine in the country (rural & urban) according to 2001 Census, State-wise was provided in the House (LSQ 4180 Anwar Hussain).

 

Other Action Plans

 

An important discussion was held on the initiatives undertaken for the country-wide provision of safe drinking water. Responding to the query about the status of the quality monitoring programme for drinking water including the guidelines and laboratories, the Ministry of Rural Development elaborated upon the National Rural Drinking Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Programme that was launched in February 2006. The Minister of Health and Family Welfare discussed the main objectives and components of the Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (LSQ 1123 Jual Oram, Bhartruhari Mahtab), in addition to that of National Vector Borne Diseases Control Program (LSQ 5660 Chandra Bhushan Singh, Adhalrao Patil, Anandrao Vithoba Adsul, Ravi Prakash Verma, Kailash Meghwal, Chandrakant Bhaurao Khaire). Members sought clarifications about the reports of international organizations. The recent World Health Organisation report about deaths linked to environmental degradation was highlighted by a legislator. Also highlighted was the World Health Organisation (WHO) report on blindness; which reports that 20 per cent cases of blindness are caused due to ultra violet rays (LSQ 1452 Smt. Rupatai Diliprao Nilangekar Patil). The details of the proposals received from the State Governments to improve the urban sewage system in their States during the last three years, State-wise were presented in the House (LSQ 561 Subhash Sureshchandra Deshmukh, LSQ 573 M. Anjan Kumar Yadav).

 

Others

 

Discussion were also held on many other widespread issues, related to awarding research contracts to Consultants, NGOs, Academic and Research Organisations (LSQ 1177 Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu), and apprehensions expressed by Australia  on the quality  of Indian  medicines  made out  of herbs (LSQ 4760 Ms. Nivedita Mane, Shri Eknath M. Gaikwad). Several questions were asked on the setting up of a Fluorosis Mitigation Centre (LSQ 3104 Kinjarapu Yerrannaidu) and the list of water quality affected states. Details were furnished on the release of funds under the ARWSP and the revised submission programme of ARWSP, list of water quality testing laboratories and the funds released under the National Rural Drinking Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Program (LSQ 2639 A. Ravichandran Sippiparai, LSQ 5053 Jayaben B. Thakkar). A fairly high number of queries were made about the sanitary conditions in urban slums particularly in relation to progress of programmes under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. The status of proposals by the states for slum development under the Sub-Mission Basic Services to the Urban Poor18 was discussed (LSQ 3675 Balashowry Vallabhaneni).

 

MEDICINAL PLANTS

 

The discussions during the year revolved around the governmental promotion of medicinal plants production and protection in view of the expanding global market for plants and plant-based products. Other topics brought up by legislators included the patents for medicinal plants, survey of medicinal plants and assistance to states for development of botanical gardens. The MoEF gave many of the replies under the subject, during the year.

 

Production of Medicinal Plants

The details of production of medicinal plants and herbs recorded as on date in the country particularly in Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, North-Eastern States and Uttaranchal during the last three years and thereafter till date, State-wise were presented in the House by the Minister of Agriculture (LSQ 2808 Dhirendra Agarwal). Discussions were also held on the details  of the programmes  being implemented  by the Government for the cultivation  of medicinal  plants  in Tamil Nadu, in addition to the formulation of scheme to provide  financial  help for medicinal plants in Assam (LSQ 4676 Anwar Hussain, E.G.Sugavanam).

                                    

Development of the Medicinal Plants

 

In reply to a question, the Minister of Health and Family Welfare discussed the comprehensive plans to develop medicinal plants in the country (LSQ 2200 Shri Nedurumalli Janardhana Reddy) alongwith the proposals to promote the cultivation of herbal crops in view of the increasing demand of Ayurvedic medicines in foreign countries (LSQ 579 Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal). The Minister of Health and Family Welfare affirmed to the presence of thousands of medicinal plants, herbals in the hilly areas of the country, especially in Western Ghat region and around Belgaum region (LSQ 678 Suresh Chanabasappa Angadi, LSQ 696 Hansraj Gangaram Ahir). Responding to a query, the Minister of Health And Family Welfare detailed on the National Medicinal Plants Board set up by Central Government. However, it refused the constitution of the National Medicinal Plants Board by States (LSQ 2700 P.C. Gaddigoudar, K. Virupakshappa). The MoEF gave a general perception that the density of herbal plants may be declining due to various anthropogenic factors in response to a concerned Member’s query (LSQ *287 Shri Santosh Gangwar, Prof. Vijay Kumar Malhotra).

 

Miscellaneous

 

The House discussed the loopholes in Indian Intellectual Property Rights legislations (LSQ 1865 Vijay Kumar Khandelwal). The Minister of Commerce and Industry affirmed the examination of two patent laws which are in compliance with the WTO agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights by a Technical Expert Group (LSQ 1923 Suresh Kalmadi) alongwith that of a Inter-Ministerial Co-ordination Committee on Intellectual Property Right (IPR) Enforcement Issues (LSQ 2991 E.G. Sugavanam). It also pointed out that Pakistan is planning to go to World Trade Organisation(WTO) in regard to patenting of basmati rice under the Intellectual Property Rights, however they are still not able to register the Super Basmati Rice with the European Market (LSQ 4382 Baleshwar Yadav).

 

The Minister of Culture enumerated the names and details of Indian Heritage/Cultural sites in the UNESCO list as on date (LSQ 3350 Kunwar Rewati Raman Singh). Discussions were also held on the proposals under establishment to set up an Indian Institute of   Environment Technology (LSQ 578 Kishanbhai V. Patel). The Minister of Science and Technology informed the Members about the proposals to promote the bio-tech market in view of great potential to emerge as a global player in the sector (LSQ 2678 Braja Kishore Tripathy). Information was also provided about the names of the games included in the Commonwealth Games, 2010 and the names of stadiums where these events are likely to be held (LSQ 648 Salarapatty Kuppusamy Kharventhan, Rewati Raman Singh). Details were provided on the details of the funds provided to carry out research on environment, forests and wildlife (LSQ *96 Shri Subrata Bose). In addition, the Ministry of Environment And Forests provided the information on the details of the officers of Indian Forest Service posted in forest zones, who have been given direct responsibility for protection and development of forests and animals (LSQ 704 Shri Joachim Baxla). It also pointed the proposal to establish cooperation with the USA in the environment sector (LSQ 3766 Shri Parsuram Majhi). Details were also given in the House about the resource crunch faced by the Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM) for the last three years (LSQ 1786 Shri E. Ponnuswamy, Shri Kailash Meghwal). The MoEF briefed on the guidelines issued or statutory provisions made for appointment of officials of State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) particularly the post of Chairman and the Member Secretary (LSQ 2190 Shri Kishanbhai V. Patel).

 

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT

 

The discussion during the Session was dominated by the request for information about the status of project proposals which were pending with the Central government for clearance and the reasons for delay, if any, in their passage and fund allocation. The projects enquired about included hydro-power, mining, irrigation, nuclear and river valley projects. A major theme of discussion was the nature of environmental clearance requirement for certain industrial projects. Other topics included evaluation of impact of proposed or ongoing developmental activities, the resettlement and rehabilitation package for development projects and the scheme, the Environmental and Social Mitigation Project. The MoEF provided the maximum number of replies during the year.

 

Environmental Impacts

 

Responding to the query about the increasing soil erosion in the mining areas in the country, the Minister of Agriculture informed the House steps taken to develop the land and save from further degradation (LSQ 2889 Ananta Nayak). The Ministry of Coal informed the House about the huge pits, which have been created as a result of extraction of coal by Coal India Limited (CIL) and their ancillaries, particularly by CCL, BCCL, ECL, MCL etc and have abandoned those pits unfilled (LSQ 2123 Tek Lal Mahto). In response to a query, the Minister of Commerce And Industry affirmed to the gap between the demand and supply of various types of paper in the country during each of the last three years (LSQ 2638 Prabhunath Singh). The Minister of Defence enumerated on the number of Field Firing Ranges for the Army (LSQ 1986 Dalpat Singh Paraste). The Minister of External Affairs gave brief details on the consideration of China to connect its base camp located near ‘Mount Everest’ with road (LSQ 2219 DR. Rajesh Kumar Mishra, Shri Avtar Singh Bhadana, Shri Sajjan Kumar).

 

Environmental impacts of Mines

 

A significant area of discussion related to the environmental impact of mining activities (coal mining, sand mining and uranium mining in particular) and the associated issue of tribal rights in these mining areas. Responding to a query, the Minister of Mines discussed the issues of closure of mines on the basis of environmental issue within areas which are notified as sanctuary, national park or game reserve (LSQ 2967 Shri Jaswant Singh Bishnoi). Discussions were also held on report by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), in regard to mining in mountains in different parts of the country, particularly in the Braj mountains in Rajasthan during 2005 (LSQ *86 Shri Devendra Prasad Yadav, Shri Kailash Meghwal) alongwith the details of environment and forest resources damaged during 2005-06 and 2006-07 by public/private sector mining companies in various parts of Orissa (LSQ 2777 Shri Sugrib Singh). The MoEF provided details of the norms prescribed for giving clearance to mining lease alongwith the number of clearances given in Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand within these norms during the last three years (LSQ 3782 Shri Jual Oram). There were certain discussions by the Minister of Atomic Energy on the establishment of a multi-crore commercial mining of uranium in West Khasi Hill District the Uranium Corporation of India (UCIL) (LSQ 3134 Anwar Hussain). It also pointed out the number of tailing ponds in Jaduguda where mining of uranium undertaken (LSQ 1510 Narahari Mahto). In response to a query, the Minister of Power discussed the proposals received from various State Governments for development of power projects during the last three years (LSQ *425 Vijay Kumar Khandelwal, Subhash Sureshchandra Deshmukh).

 

Other Projects

 

In response to a query, the Minister of Urban Development discussed the details of the study undertaken on the development of the riverbed of Yamuna, “Environmental Management Plan for Rejuvenation of River Yamuna in NCT”, by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur (LSQ 639 Bhartruhari Mahtab, Dushyant Singh). The Minister of Water Resources informed the House about the permission given to the Penganga Project in Yavatmal District, Maharashtra (LSQ 3761 Harisingh Nasaru Rathod). It also informed the House about the final survey conducted by the party States i.e., Orissa and Andhra Pradesh to assess the extent of submergence from Polavaram Project (LSQ 2000 Rajagopal Lagadapati, Bhartruhari Mahtab, Jual Oram). In addition tothis, it also affirmed to the Rajiv Sagar (Bawanthadi) project, being a joint project between Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and informed the details of the proposal being submitted to the Government of India, Ministry of Environment & Forests, New Delhi (LSQ 2868 Ganesh Singh).

Details were provided about the construction projects in Rajasthan that have been granted environment clearance (LSQ 4330 Shri Raghuveer Singh Koshal). The MoEF confirmed the launching of Eco –City Projects and also described its salient features (LSQ 5239 Adv. Suresh Kurup).

 

Environmental Clearance

 

Several discussions were held on the Environmental Clearance accorded to various projects. The Minister of Urban Development discussed about the decision to construct a Games Village on permanent basis on the Yamuna riverbed near Akshardham Temple (LSQ 579 Milind Murli Deora). In one of its replies, the MoEF chalked out the details of the proposals cleared for mining projects on forest land so far by the Government during each of the last three years, State-wise (LSQ 707 Shri G. Karunakara Reddy). The MoEF affirmed to the proposals seeking of environmental clearance from the Governments of Kerala and Andhra Pradesh for construction of new dams in those States (LSQ 4344 Shri M. Appadurai). Discussions were also held on the proposals for construction of Lower Goi Irrigation Project in district of Badwani (Madhya Pradesh), which is pending for environmental clearance (LSQ 840 Shri Krishna Murari Moghe, LSQ 3786 Shri Subhash Sureshchandra Deshmukh, and Shri Hansraj G Ahir). Information was given on the pending proposals for diversion of 149.330 hectare forest land for construction of canal under Halon Irrigation Project (LSQ 853 Shri Krishna Murari Moghe, LSQ 1830 Shri Ananta Nayak) and the number of proposals for setting up of steel projects in Orissa pending for the forest and environmental clearance (LSQ 5305 Shri Ananta Nayak). There were certain discussions on the request received from Government of Tamil Nadu to give environmental clearance to power project proposed to be set up in Tamil Nadu (LSQ 4283 Shri M. Appadurai). Details were provided about the gas-based power projects which have been granted environmental clearance by the Union Government during the last three years, year-wise (LSQ *302 Shri Braja Kishore Tripathy).

 

Others

 

The Minister of Environment And Forests furnished the details of the pressure of growing economy on the environment (LSQ 4321 Shri Asaduddin Owaisi). The other topics that were given due importance in the House were related to construction of malls (LSQ 1347 Shri Prabhunath Singh), constitution of State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and State Level Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) (LSQ 3099 Shri Srichand Kriplani), guidelines for wood based industries (LSQ *296 Shrimati Sangeeta Kumari Singh Deo, DR. Arun Kumar Sarma), effect of delhi metro on ridge (LSQ 2830 Shri Balashowry Vallabhaneni), corporate social responsibility of government coal companies (LSQ *187 Tek Lal Mahto), Jakhau Fishery Project (LSQ 2025 Bhupendrasinh Prabhatsinh Solanki), Special Economic Zones (SEZs) (LSQ 460 Shivaji Adhalrao Patil).

 

POLLUTION

 

The discussions during the year mainly focused on the various measures being taken to address land, air and water pollution. A large number of discussions were held particularly on water pollution, including marine pollution. Important topics such as the tackling of pollution by industries and the assessment of the impact of pollution on human and environmental health were also covered. Policies discussed included the National Urban Transport Policy and policy on electronic waste and bio-medical waste, alongwith their disposal mechanisms. The MoEF gave the maximum number of replies during the year.

 

National Policy

 

Water quality standards and norms were highlighted in several discussions. The Minister of Chemicals And Fertilizers clarified about the finalization of the Draft National Policy on Petrochemicals, which has been approved by the Committee of Secretaries and is being put up to the Cabinet for approval (LSQ *294 Sunil Khan, E.G. Sugavanam). The MoEF replied to a Member’s concern that the Government of India sent an official delegation to the 3rd Conference of Parties (COP-3) to the Stockholm Convention held at Dakar, Senegal from 30th April to 4th May, 2007 (LSQ 1500 DR. S .Senthil). It also informed the House about the implementation of a project by the Tamil Nadu Water Investment Company Limited (TWICL) to set up a Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) at Tirupur at a total cost of Rs. 42100 lacs and have sought financial assistance of Rs. 3000 lacs from the Assistance to States for Infrastructure Development of Exports (ASIDE), a Scheme under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (LSQ 2172 Shri E.G. Sugavanam). Details relating to the number of Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) presently working in the country and the standards fixed for STPs were sought (LSQ 2894 Shri Balashowry Vallabhaneni).

 

Air Pollution

 

The important issue of air quality in industrial operations was highlighted in the discussion on the government’s policy on asbestos mining and the government’s consideration of safety guidelines for asbestos mining including the reduction of permissible limit of airborne respirable asbestos fibre dust. The Minister of Environment and Forests confirmed to the report compiled by the Asian Development Bank declaring air quality in Delhi as one of the dirtiest in Asia, alongwith that of Beijing, Xian, Dhaka and Kathmandu (LSQ 49 Smt. Nivedita Mane, Shri Kirti Vardhan Singh, Shri Eknath M. Gaikwad).Responding to a concerned Member’s query regarding the air pollution, the MoEF highlighted the spreading of air pollution in rural areas due to spread of industries (LSQ 4291 Shri Rupchand Murmu). The MoEF furnished the details of the proposals received to conduct an exhaustive study to analyze the reasons for the increase of nitrogen level in Delhi; the Central Pollution Control Board has established a nationwide monitoring network under National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring programme (NAMP) (LSQ 4324 Shri  K.J.S.P. Reddy). Details regarding the workshop on Better Air Quality (BAQ) under the coordination of the ‘Clean Air Initiative for Asian cities’ (CAI-Asia) alongwith others, which was held during 13th to 15th December, 2006 at Yogyakarta, Indonesia were given (LSQ 2835 Shrimati Maneka Gandhi). The MoEF reported the recommended levels of mercury in and around the hospitals (LSQ 3880 Shri Jasubhai Dhanabhai Barad). There were certain discussions on the sharp increase of Nitrogen level in the air as reported in the Dainik Jagran, dated October 25, 2007 (LSQ 1624 Shri Chandra Mani Tripathi, Dr. Laxminarayan Pandey).

 

Water Pollution

 

The issue of rising water pollution was raised in response to which the Ministry stated that the problem was cosmopolitan. The Minister of Environment and Forests gave details of the deaths of a large number of fish every year in the sea due to water pollution and related problems (LSQ *391 ADV. (Shrimati) P. Satheedevi). It also pointed out the release of the industrial effluents by Simbhavali Sugar Mill into the river Ganga near Gadhmukteshwar has caused a threat to the very existence of a rare species of Ganga Dolphins, known for their peculiarities in the world (LSQ 1417 Shri Avtar Singh Bhadana). The MoEF also reported about the pollution being caused to the river and environment due to effluents being dumped by Ballarpur Paper Mill situated at Ballarshah in Maharashtra (LSQ 1448 Shri Hansraj G. Ahir). Discussions were held on the 104 Indian rivers containing toxic metals namely, Arsenic, Cadmium, Copper, Lead, Chromium, Nickel, Zinc and Mercury.  However, as per Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS 10500), the concentration of most of these metals is found within the prescribed drinking water limits except for chromium (LSQ 2258 Shrichandra Mani Tripathi, Shrimati Rupatai Diliprao Nilangakar Patil). The details of specific study conducted to know the extent of pollution in rivers in the country were given (LSQ 2263 Shri Rayapati Sambasiva Rao, Shri Abu Ayes Mondal), specifically of the Yamuna river (LSQ *447 Shri Ramdas Athawale); in addition to the identification of the industrial units which are causing Air and Water Pollution in Orissa, particularly in Keonjhar (LSQ 1628 Shri Ananta Nayak).

 

           

Noise  Pollution

 

Of major significance, was the discussion on the study suggesting the mandatory action of noise pollution test for all vehicles in major cities of the country including Delhi and the action taken on that (LSQ 2998 Shri Madan Lal Sharma, Prof. M. Ramadass). The MoEF, in response to a query, highlighted the issue of Supreme Court directives to check noise pollution and the details thereof (LSQ 3048 Shri Raghuveer Singh Koshal).

 

Other Pollution

 

Important discussion about the effect of pollution was also held after Members demanded a detailed response from the government about the result of any study on effects of pollution, the level of industrial pollution as well as the measures and their effectiveness. The Ministry furnished the required information including the details of observed reduction in industrial pollution load, and the schemes formulated by the Government for disposal of E-Waste, in particular (LSQ *452 Shri Girdhari Lal Bhargava, Shrimati Kiran Maheshwari). Details were sought on the number of industries inspected by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) under the Environment Vigilance Scheme during the last three years, in addition with the number of industries found to be violating pollution control norms alongwith the details of their offences (LSQ *150 Dr. Ramkrishna Kusmaria). The MoEF gave a detailed description of the level of air pollution in various States of the country, wherein the levels of Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter, (another indicator of air pollution), have been observed to exceed prescribed National Ambient Air Quality Standards in most of the cities including Uttar Pradesh (LSQ 1468 Shri Raghuraj Singh Shakya, Shri Paras Nath Yadav, Shri Hemlal Murmu, Shri Naveen Jindal). Discussions were also held on the emission of Carbon Dioxide by the Cement Industries, thus resulting in pollution (LSQ *92 Shri Kinjarapu Yerrannaidu). According to the Ministry, and reported by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), and as per Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS 10500), the concentration of most of these heavy metals is found within the prescribed drinking water limits except for chromium (LSQ 2291 Shri Kinjarapu Yerrannaidu).

 

Waste disposal

 

A major topic of discussion was the issue of increasing waste generation and its disposal. As the number and size of urban centres continue to increase, there has been a corresponding rise in the generation of both municipal and industrial wastes. In this regard, the Minister of Health and Family Welfare discussed the matter of Government hospitals in the National Capital Territory (NCT) selling their waste materials to junk-dealers without sterilization, and maintained, while infectious non-plastic waste is incinerated, wastes like plastic and glass-wares are sold only after proper sterilization as per these rules (LSQ 2149 Chandrakant Bhaurao Khaire). It also pointed out the proposals for the introduction of legislation namely the “Clinical Establishments (Regulation and Registration) Bill, 2007 in the current session of the Parliament (LSQ 1367 Shri E.G. Sugavanam). Ministry of Environment and Forests has notified Bio-medical (Management & Handling) Rules, 1998 and amendments thereof under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. These rules specify about collection, segregation, labeling, storage, transportation, treatment and disposal of Bio-medical Wastes(BMW) and are mandatory for every occupier of an institution generating bio-medical wastes to take steps to ensure that such wastes are handled without any adverse effect to human and environment (LSQ 3035 Hansraj Gangaram Ahir). The Minister of Urban Development pointed out that waste management including Municipal Solid Waste Management is a State subject and it is the responsibility of the State Government/Urban Local Bodies to provide adequate waste management facilities in urban areas of the country (LSQ 2567 Kailash Meghwal, Priya Sunil Dutt). There were certain discussions on the Urban Sanitation Mission for waste Management, which was initiated in the 10th Plan (LSQ 3721 Asaduddin Owaisi). The MoEF expressed its concern on NCR becoming a dumping ground for garbage and other solid waste deposits (LSQ 1429 Sh. K.J.S.P. Reddy).

 

Fly Ash

 

In response to a query, the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution clarified the use of fly ash in the manufacturing of cement under the provisions of the relevant Indian Standards as it enhances the quality and performance of cement/concrete (LSQ 2359 Prateek Prakashbapu Patil). The Minister of Power confirmed about the demand for floating fly ash (liquid ash) of coal emanating from National Thermal Power Stations for export (LSQ 2630 Hiten Barman).

 

Impact of Toxics

 

Hazardous wastes are a matter of great concern in waste management faced by industrialized and rapidly industrializing countries like India and several concerns were expressed by legislators on the matter. In this regard, the Minister of Commerce and Industry furnished the details of the guidelines/norms fixed for import of hazardous waste in the country, in addition to their impacts (LSQ 1230 Sugrib Singh, Kishanbhai Vestabhai Patel). Responding to the question on the existence of any policy to regulate the import of electronic wastes/hazardous wastes, the MoEF highlighted the existing provisions for regulation under the Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989 and the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992. It also clarified that while the import for the purpose of reprocessing and recycling was permitted for hazardous wastes under existing legislation; electronic and electrical wastes were being imported for direct re-use and not for final recycling or disposal. The Minister of Commerce and Industry clarified that no hazardous wastes are allowed to be imported in the country for dumping and disposal (LSQ 1547 Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Nikhil Kumar). Discussions were held on the Government assessing the environmental effects of toxic chemicals used in soft toys (LSQ *19 Shri Uday Singh).

                                               

Measures to curb Pollution

 

There was discussion held on the mitigation measures for ozone layer depletion with the MoEF highlighting the achievement of targets under the phase-out programme of ozone-depleting substances production and consumption. The MoEF enumerated on the identification of the names of cities for use of LPG/CNG after the success of CNG in Delhi and following the order of the Supreme Court for adopting CNG/LPG by other polluted cities (LSQ 42 Shri Haribhau Rathod). Details were also sought on the steps taken to prevent the historical monuments from the ill effects of pollution (LSQ 1749 Shri Ramdas Athawale). In addition to that, the MoEF also discussed the proposals received for setting up of a sewage treatment plant at Devprayag for Environment Clearance (LSQ 3061 Shri Vijay Bahuguna). The Ministry also informed the House about the formulation of the revised policy to check the increasing air and water pollution in the cities of the country (LSQ *97 Shri Adhir Chowdhury), and the details of the sponge iron industries to install pollution control equipment (LSQ *298 Shri Devwrat Singh). There were certain discussions on the formulation of scheme to provide assistance to the State Governments for controlling industrial and environmental pollution (LSQ 755 Shri Subhash Sureshchandra Deshmukh).

           

Others

 

The vital issue of information related to the serial-wise names of most polluted cities in the country alongwith their ranking in the most polluted cities of the world were presented in the House (LSQ 1715 Shri Subhash Sureshchandra Deshmukh). The other topics that were given due importance in the House were the proposals received from the State Government of Maharashtra under the river pollution abatement project for the development of certain cities near rivers in Maharashtra for consideration and approval under the National River Conservation Plan (LSQ 2356 Shri Chandrakant Khaire), WHO Report of pollution being a major killer in India (LSQ 3025 Shri Jasubhai Dhanabhai Barad, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu Shri Eknath M. Gaikwad, Shrimati Nivedita Mane), Pilot project for waste disposal (LSQ 2141vijay Kumar Khandelwal), the cost and quantity of mercury imported during the last three years (LSQ 2683 Naveen Jindal).

 

Water management

 

The discussion in the House under this subject area ranged from the nature of external assistance received for water resource development, the promotion of rainwater harvesting and inter-basin transfer of river water. A substantial number of questions were raised about the government’s plans and proposals for augmenting the supply and storage capacity of water across the country particularly measures taken to optimize water availability through watershed development, river linking, recharge and conservation measures. There were several discussions on the government’s initiatives to improve the supply of water to the agriculture sector. The access to clean water, the National Water Policy and sharing of water resources between states and with neighbouring countries were also brought up for discussion. The highest number of questions was addressed to the Ministry of Water Resources during the year.

 

Watershed Development Programme

 

Activities on watershed development were also discussed following the clarification sought about the involvement of NGOs and the achievement/success of such activities so far. Clarifying that the proposed integration of all watershed development programmes had been deferred, the Ministry of Rural Development highlighted the achievements of the national watershed development programmes such as the area of land treated, the status and progress of sanctioned projects. The Minister of Agriculture reported the number of projects launched under National Watershed Development Scheme in the country during Tenth Plan, State-wise and year-wise, and the number out of them implemented in the country during the Tenth Plan, State- wise and Year-wise (LSQ 805 Jual Oram, Tukaram Ganpatrao Renge Patil, Hari Kewal Prasad). It also pointed out the watershed schemes that are being implemented by different Ministries (LSQ 5293 Shivaji Adhalrao Patil, Ravi Prakash Verma, and Anandrao Vithoba Adsul). The Ministry also affirmed to the implementation of Indo-German Bilateral Project on Watershed Management and also informed that the project has been closed since 30th June, 2005 (LSQ 2128 Braja Kishore Tripathy). It confirmed the extension of the implementation of the period of the World Bank aided Watershed Development Programme in Karnataka has been extended from April, 2007 to March, 2008 (LSQ 2882 M. Shivanna). Discussions were held in the House about the plans to encourage private investment in watershed development (LSQ 3564 Magunta Sreenivasulu Reddy). The Minister of Rural Development informed the Members about the proposals received from certain States including Rajasthan during the last three years under Watershed Development Program (LSQ 3708 Chandrakant Bhaurao Khaire, Kailash Meghwal).

 

Rain Water Harvesting

 

The vital issue of augmenting water resources availability was also an area of significant attention. Information about the existence of any Central body for Rain Water Management was given by the Minister of Water Resources (LSQ 32 Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia). Several measures for development and management of irrigation are undertaken by the respective State Governments. Discussions were also held about the launch of water harvesting schemes to enhance agriculture production (LSQ *543 S. Ajaya Kumar, Ravi Prakash Verma). There were several discussions on the steps undertaken to harvest rainwater through artificial recharge structures following Members’ demands for detailed information. Some of the highlighted steps taken by the central government at the Centre included the issue of Guidelines on Artificial Recharge to Groundwater, preparation of report, Master Plan for Artificial Recharge to Groundwater and the constitution of the Artificial Recharge of Groundwater Advisory Council The Ministry of Water Resources also replied to a Member’s concern about the direction or guidelines issued to States for promotion of rain water/ water harvesting (LSQ 1003 Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia, Karunakara G. Reddy, Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma).

 

Utilization of water

 

An important sector critically dependent on the availability of adequate water is the farm sector which was also brought up for discussion. The Minister of Water Resources reported that the  water of Narmada river is not being utilised properly; State Governments are planning executing various water supply, irrigation, hydro power projects etc., in their respective territories to utilize the Narmada Water so apportioned by Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) (LSQ 3632 Virjibhai Thummar, Mansukhbhai D. Vasava). The number of projects completed under the Swajaldhara scheme, the Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme and the rural drinking water component of Bharat Nirman were discussed following requests for information made by members about water facilities in rural areas. For the urban areas, the status of water demand and availability in major cities was presented by the Ministry of Urban Development (LSQ 1293 Tukaram Ganpatrao Renge Patil, Dhirendra Agarwal). The Ministry of Water Resources affirmed the Member’s concern regarding the identification of surplus water of rivers flowing from Nepal to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, that can be utilized optimally by the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) (LSQ 1350 Abdul Rashid Shaheen).

 

Water supply

 

Responding to a Member’s concern, the Ministry replied that it has not received any official report about acute shortage of drinking water forcing people to buy it for consumption, as queried by a Member. However, there are news reports about people buying water in various cities for variety of reasons (LSQ *161 Jai Prakash). The Minister of Urban Development reported that water supply is a State subject and it is responsibility of the State Governments/Urban Local Bodies to ensure safe drinking water supply to urban population and to monitor quality of supplied drinking water. Reports submitted by municipalities indicated that supply of drinking water mostly conforms to stipulated norms (LSQ 1532 Prabhunath Singh). It also furnished details about the estimates made regarding shortage of water in metropolis (LSQ 3526 Oachim Baxla). The Ministry also affirmed to the proposals received from the Government of Madhya Pradesh in regard to Narmada water supply augmentation scheme (LSQ 3552 Krishna Murari Moghe, Vijay Kumar Khandelwal). There were certain discussions regarding the sanctioning of water supply projects under Accelerated Urban Water Supply Programme (AUWSP) in the towns having population of less than twenty thousand in Rajasthan (LSQ 4221 Raghuvir Singh Kaushal). Discussions were also held on the proposals received by the Union Government regarding the possibility of construction of a barrage on river Yamuna downstream of Palla in Delhi, and it was informed that the report of the same is under preparation (LSQ 3613 Rasheed Masood).

 

Water Crisis

 

There were certain discussions on the water crisis existing in the country. The Minister of Rural Development discussed the major recommendations of the Parthasarthy Committee report on water crisis (LSQ 2577 Hemlal Murmu, Raghuraj Singh Shakya). It also informed the House about the increasing demand of water in Delhi, and its shortage (LSQ 3626 Kinjarapu Yerrannaidu). Details concerning the recent report of World Bank, which stated that `India`s large water infrastructure is crumbling`, were discussed (LSQ 743 Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Nikhil Kumar). Responding to a concerned Member’s query, the Ministry of Water Resources (MOWR) discussed the formulated National Perspective Plan (NPP) with contribution of Central Water Commission (CWC), for Water Resources Development in 1980 envisaging inter-basin transfer of water from surplus basins to deficit basins/areas for optimum utilization of water resources, which helped in the identification of the States having surplus water and those having scarcity of water (LSQ 771 Kashi Ram Rana). The Minister of Water Resources discussed the matter of serious crisis of water supply in the Union Territory of Andaman & Nicobar Islands (LSQ 270 Manoranjan Bhakta). Information was provided about the amount of stored/conserved water in various reservoirs of the country during the current year (LSQ 2391 Gowdar Mallikarjunappa Siddeswara, Rajiv Ranjan (Lalan) Singh, and Chinta Mohan). In addition to this, there were certain discussions regarding the scarcity of water for irrigation in various States (LSQ 2419 Braja Kishore Tripathy).

 

Ground water

 

There were several discussions on groundwater availability in the country. The Ministry of Water Resources furnished information on the status of water availability, the states which showed declining trend in groundwater level and the reasons for decline (LSQ 2782 K.S. Manoj). It also informed the House about the pending proposals with the Government to take up ground water exploration in the hilly areas of Jammu & Kashmir (LSQ 3717 Madan Lal Sharma) alongwith the current implementation status of the project launched by the Central Water Commission (CWC) and the Central Water Board, Jammu for the artificial recharge of ground water in the dry areas of Jammu and Kashmir (LSQ 3750 Madan Lal Sharma). Information regarding the clinical study, which discovered that the quality of sub-soil water is better than the water in the aquifers was provided in the House (LSQ *153 Abu Ayes Mondal). There were queries related to the huge quantity of groundwater, which is being used for commercial purposes by the soft drinks and bottled drinking water companies (LSQ 2269 Naveen Jindal). In response to a query, regarding the amount of cess on water, the Ministry of Water Resources informed the House that differential rates of cess are collected depending upon the use of water, the rate being higher where pollution load is expected to be more, which results in higher cost of pollution abatement and varies from 2 paise/kiloliter for domestic purposes to 30 paise/kiloliter for industrial purposes (LSQ 2362 Girdhari Lal Bhargav).

 

Funds/ Grants

 

Information was also furnished by various Ministries on the financial assistance given for water management. The Minister of Rural Development discussed about the contemplation of allocating more funds under the Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme (ARWSP) during the year 2007-08 (LSQ *270 Ganesh Singh). To a query, the Ministry of Rural Development replied that water being a state subject, the State governments cater to the needs of people for water in different states; however the Government is aware of a large number of districts in certain States are badly affected due to poor rainfall (LSQ 2586 Krishna Murari Moghe, Rakesh Singh). An important discussion regarding the funds, approximately  Rs. 250 crores, provided to National Water Development Agency (NWDA) for implementing its scheme during Eleventh Five Year Plan was presented in the House (LSQ 1285 Tek Lal Mahto).

 

Drinking Water Schemes and Projects

The Minister of Rural Development furnished the details of the schemes being run in each State for supply of drinking water and funds  under each scheme during the last three years and current year indicating the share of Union and the State Government (LSQ 1506 Giridhari Yadav). The Minister of Finance affirmed to the submission of the proposal entitled, `Sustainable Community Managed Drinking Water Supply Infrastructure of Rural Areas of Backward Districts of Panchmahals and Dahod in Gujarat State’to the Union Government by the Government of Gujarat (LSQ 116 Smt. Jayaben B. Thakkar). Discussions were also held on the implementation of the Rajiv Gandhi NATIONAL Drinking Water Mission (LSQ 1520 Sangeeta Kumari Singh Deo), and the slow work on Swajaldhara Yojana for providing safe drinking water in the rural areas (LSQ 1550 Chandramani Tripathi, Laxminarayan Pandey).

 

Projects and Policy

 

A query about the addressing of the objections from Bangladesh on rivers linking project led to the discussion of the steps proposed to be taken by the Government to resolve the issue with Bangladesh (LSQ 1714 Hiten Barman). In addition, details of the finalization of the water sharing deal between India and Bangladesh with respect to Teesta water were furnished by the Minister of Water Resources (LSQ 191 Moni Kumar Subba), alongwith the number of water projects lying pending between India Nepal as on date (LSQ 148 Adityanath Yogi). Information was also provided on the number of proposals for development of water projects received from various States particularly Bihar and Gujarat during the last three years (LSQ 193 Harisinh Pratapsinh Chavda, Jayaben B. Thakkar, and Giridhari Yadav). The Minister of Water Resources enumerated on the current status of Sardar Sarovar Project alongwith the funds allocation and spent on its construction work so far (LSQ 308 Ramdas Athawale); and the drought affected areas of many of the States expected to be benefited by Sardar Sarovar Project (LSQ 1337 Jivabhai Ambalal Patel, Harisinh Pratapsinh Chavda).

 

Actions taken

There were certain discussions on the various actions taken in regard to conserve and manage the water resources. The Minsiter of Water Resource briefed on the utilization of water  resources  in terms  of percentage in the Stage particularly in backward and rural areas as on date (LSQ 2755 Subhash Sureshchandra Deshmukh, LSQ 2786 Tek Lal Mahto). It also confirmed to the proposal of the development of 5 Decisions Support Systems are by National Institute of Hydrology (LSQ 4279 Raghuvir Singh Kaushal). There were queries related to the rankwise description of the States where salinity of water is more, and information was provided for the same (LSQ 5280 Subrata Bose). The Minister of Water Resources furnished details of the allocation of water made to various States from the various eastern rivers as per the award of 1981 indicating the names of the States and quantum allocated to them (LSQ 3572 Smt. Jayaben B. Thakkar).

 

Others

Specific enquiries about the details of the targets and the achievements under the Command Area Development and Water Management Programme (CADWM) during the last three years were made (LSQ 230 Mahavir Bhagora). The other queries that were answered by the various Ministries were related to the Indo China water disputes (LSQ 3754 Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi), World Bank study on river development (LSQ 1347 Balashowry Vallabhaneni, Jasubhai Dhanabhai Barad), unresolved issue of the Mulla Periyar Dam (LSQ 1359 Salarapatty Kuppusamy Kharventhan), large scale inequitable distribution and mismanagement of water in the country (LSQ 2221 Karunakara G. Reddy), erosion due to diversion from Brahmaputra channels (LSQ 2227 Dr. Arun Kumar Sarma), India-Canada environment facility scheme (LSQ 2872 Shri Krishna Murari Moghe), World Bank report on water supply and sanitation (LSQ 2540 Ravichandran Sippiparai, Kunnur Manjunath Channappa), and dryland farming (LSQ 2244 Mahavir Bhagora).

 

Wildlife Management

 

The main focus of discussions in the House was the decline in wildlife population due to various factors such as poaching, smuggling of wildlife products and the steps taken to conserve wildlife habitat especially tiger reserves. Some discussions specifically focussed on the declining population of tigers, vulture, Red Jungle Fowl, swamp deer and crane. Other topics included the National Wildlife Board, antipoaching measures, illegal trade in animal parts and the upkeep of animals in zoos. There was also discussion held on the displacement of people due to the setting aside of lands for national parks and sanctuaries. The MoEF provided the highest number of replies during the year.

 

Declining population of Wildlife

 

Many questions were raised about the deaths of wildlife including that of sea gulls, sanctuary birds, ghariyals and tigers. The MoEF discussed the decline in the population of sparrows, as reported by the Bombay Natural History Society, which may be attributed to a number of factors including the loss of preferred habitat, loss of nesting sites in big cities, increase in the population of predators of house sparrow, food scarcity, etc, but the Ministry suggested that there is no immediate threat to its existence (LSQ 2182 Shri Parsuram Majhi). It also pointed out that there are reports of death of animals in the National Zoological Park, New Delhi and Sanctuaries (LSQ 1808 Prof. Mahadeorao Shiwankar, Shri Mohd. Tahir). Discussions were held on the details of the killing of a number of leopards recently across the country (LSQ 2302 Shri S. K. Kharventhan) and also about the number of elephants found missing during the past three years in the country (LSQ 3074 Shri Adhir Chowdhury) to which the MoEF stated  the details of ongoing programmes being implemented under project elephant stating the achievement made in North-Eastern region, particularly in Assam during last three years and the current year (LSQ 2884 Dr. Arun kumar sarma).

 

Crime against Wildlife

There were certain discussions regarding the crime against wildlife which have now taken the form of an organised crime in the country and the steps taken to check this (LSQ *454 Shri Rasheed Masood). The MoEF discussed the functioning of the statutory body towards the smuggling of animals and the action taken by the Government in this regard so far (LSQ 3803 Shri Harisingh Chavda, Dr. Dhirendra Agarwal). The Ministry of Environment and Forests also briefed on the number of lions in Sariska reserve as on date (LSQ 3822 Shri Jasubhai Dhanabhai Barad). Two instances of smuggling of frogs have been reported, as discussed by the MoEF (LSQ 5269 Shri Milind Deora). The MoEF enumerated on the details of tiger bones are being smuggled to various Asian countries illegally and the steps taken by the Government to check the smuggling of tiger bones (LSQ 1421 Shri Navjot Singh Sidhu). Concern was expressed about the frequent reports of smuggling of Indian wildlife articles to neighbouring countries and incidents of poaching of wild animals (LSQ 2249 Shri E.G. Sugavanam). 

 

The steps taken to increase the vulture population in the country through the setting up of centres for vulture breeding and conservation were also discussed following the demand for information on governmental efforts to check the declining population. Discussions were held regarding the review made on the success achieved by the Government to stop poaching of wild life (LSQ 2286 Shri Dushyant Singh). In response to a query made regarding the tigers being poached in reserved forest areas in different parts of the country, the MoEF highlighted the steps taken by the Government for tiger conservation (LSQ 3095 Shri Anant Gudhe, Shrimati (Saw.) Kalpana Ramesh Narhire).

                       

Human-animal conflicts

Human-animal conflict is a major issue in the country’s wildlife management. This was touched upon in the discussion on the number of persons died and the number of houses damaged in the mayhem caused by the wild elephants in Jharkhand in the last three years. Also, the action taken for the formulation of compensation to the tune of rupees one lakh for each adult and rupees fifty thousand for each minor has been paid to the dependants/kins of 220 persons killed by wild elephants during the last three years (LSQ 2977 Shri Tek Lal Mahto). The MoEF stated that although no conclusive evidence had been found for the cause of deaths, there was the existence of possible man-animal conflict in the area. The details of the Government providing compensation to the families of the victims of wild animals including elephants who destroy the crops, dwelling houses land property and kill the people recently in Assam were also discussed (LSQ 1662 Shri Sarbananda Sonowal, Dr Arun Kumar Sarma, Dr. Babu Rao Mediyam).

                 

Protection of Tigers

In the discussions on endangered species, individually, maximum concern was expressed about the tiger population in the country. Several queries were made about the proposal received from the State Government of Kerala for creation of second tiger reserve in the State. Based on the proposal received from the State Governments of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, ‘in principle’ approval has been accorded for the ‘Parambikulam-Anamalai’ tiger reserve falling in Kerala and Tamil Nadu (LSQ 778 Shri M.P. Veerendra Kumar, LSQ 1793 Shri P.C. Thomas). Details were given on the number of villages located in various tiger reserves in the country and the fresh steps taken by the Government to ensure protected environment for tigers (LSQ 783 Shri Kuldeep Bishnoi). In addition to this, the details of the proposals to review the Project Tiger Scheme being run for the conservation of tigers in the country were also highlighted in the House (LSQ 784 Shri Baleshwar Yadav). The MoEF reported that action has been initiated for providing Central Assistance to the State for relocation of villages from the core area of Sariska Tiger Reserve (LSQ 1755 Shri K.S. Rao). The MoEF, in addition gave details of the “In principle approval”, which has been accorded for declaring eight new tiger reserves spread over seven States, based on proposals received and as recommended by the Steering Committee of the Project Tiger (LSQ 1418 Shri Adhalrao Patil Shivajirao, Shri Anandrao V. Adsul, Shri Ravi Prakash Verma, Shri Asaduddin Owaisi, Shri K.C. Pallani Shamy, LSQ 2759 Shri N. N. Krishnadas). Discussions were also held on the letters being received by the Prime Minister from citizens belonging to different walks of life on issues of national importance, which interalia, includes tiger conservation (LSQ *226 Shri M. Shivanna, Shrimati Botcha Jhansi Lakshmi). It also pointed out the action taken to hire Ex-servicemen for protection of tiger reserves (LSQ 2265 Shri Ravi Prakash Verma, Shri Milind Deora) alongwith the several recommendations made by the Tiger Task Force and the National Forest Commission for strengthening tiger and forest conservation respectively, which interalia, include strengthening of professional expertise and providing basic facilities to forest field staff (LSQ 3079 Dr. M. Jagannath, Shri Jasubhai Dhanabhai Barad, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu, Shrimati Nivedita Mane). The House was informed that two tigers were found dead in the Jim Corbett National Park recently, and steps are being taken by Government of India for conservation of wild animals including tigers (LSQ 603 Shri Suresh Angadi, Shri Jasubhai Dhanabhai Barad). The MoEF informed the Members about the Tiger reserves in the country are not connected by natural forest corridors with each other except Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh with Pench Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra and Buxa Tiger Reserve in West Bengal with Manas Tiger Reserve in Assam (LSQ 3831 Shri K.C. Singh “Baba”).

 

Protection of Endangered Flora

In view of the above, there were certain discussions on the protection of other endangered flora and fauna. The MoEF furnished the details of the endangered flora identified and those out of them facing extinction, alongwith the actions proposed to be taken in this regard (LSQ *99 Shri Vijoy Krishna). There were certain discussions on the inclusion of the Olive Ridley Turtles (Lepidochelys olivaceai) in the Schedule-I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 thereby affording them the highest degree of protection (LSQ 101 Shri Bhartruhari Mahtab, Shri Jual Oram). In addition, it also pointed out that some of the marine species are facing threat due to habitat destruction, over exploitation, commercial fishing, and by-catches during commercial fishing (LSQ 619 Shri Jasubhai Dhanabhai Barad). The MoEF informed the House as per reports of the State Government, that Irrawady Dolphins can be sighted in Chilka through out the year and there has been an increase in the estimated population of Irrawaddy Dolphins in Chilka in the recent years (LSQ 1689 Shri Abu Ayes Mondal). It was also highlighted that the umbrella scheme of ‘Development of National Parks & Sanctuaries’ covers the conservation of Snow Leopard although no allocation with particular reference to Snow Leopard has been made by the Planning Commission (LSQ 2869 Shri Dalpat Singh Parste). The House was also informed of the new technology developed by the Indian scientists for protection of sea horse fish (LSQ 113 Shri Braja Kishore Tripathy). The MoEF also reported about the identification of the Kunopalpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh as an alternative home for the Asiatic lion from Gir forest of Gujarat (LSQ 2871 Shri Kishanbhai v. Patel, Shri N. Janardhana Reddy, and Shri Kailash Meghwal). It also pointed out the setting up of a special committee to do a spot appraisal of Gir in the wake of the recent spate of poaching of the Asiatic lion (LSQ 3859 Shri Milind Deora, LSQ *381 Shri Nikhil Kumar, Shri Adhir Chowdhury).

 

Trade in wildlife and wildlife products

The illegal trade in wildlife products and the seizures of such products by the authorities was also an important subject of discussion. In this regard, the MoEF responded with information about the simplification of the procedure for sale of elephants to curb the illegal trading of elephants (LSQ 3901 Shri Kishanbhai V. Patel, LSQ 2246 Shri K. C. Pallani shamy). In view of the continuing illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products, the country is faced with the real and urgent need for the constitution of a body dedicated to the control and prevention of smuggling activities. The House was informed of the well organised poaching network having links with international operators in the clandestine trade of animal body parts (LSQ 3013 Shri Sarvey Sathyanarayana, Shri Narahari Mahato, Shri G. Karunakara Reddy, Shri M.K. Subba, and Shri Subrata Bose).

           

Financial assistance

There were queries related to the funds and other financial assistance given to the various zoological parks and other concerned authorities. The MoEF replied to a Member’s query regarding the number of zoological parks in the country to which financial assistance has been provided during the last two years (LSQ 116 Shri Naveen Jindal). It also highlighted the funds demanded by various State Governments, particularly by the Government of Rajasthan for the purpose of Wildlife protection (LSQ *193 Shri Jaswant Singh Bishnoi, Shri Kailash Meghwal). With regard to the new reserves and sanctuaries being established, the MoEF discussed the amount spent by the Union Government on the Kunopalpur Sanctuary located in Madhya Pradesh in the current year among the Members (LSQ 3815 Shri Ashok Argal). The Members were informed of the quantum of assistance provided to sanctuaries for development of habitats during the last three years (LSQ 4347 Shri M. P Veerendrakumar, Shri G.M Siddeswara).

 

Development of Protected Areas

The MoEF gave details of the proposal to develop Simplipal and Darin Bari Forest as National Park/wildlife sanctuary and the steps taken to develop the Simplipal Forest in Orissa (LSQ 44 Shri Sudam Marndi). In addition, it also pointed out that many national parks have been encroached upon (LSQ 90 Shri Harisinh Chavda, Dr. Dhirendra Agarwal). The details of the declaration of the Chandoli Wildlife Sanctuary as National Park were also discussed (LSQ 1812 Shri Shriniwas Dadasaheb Patil). The MoEF highlighted the request by the Government of Andhra Pradesh for financial assistance for the setting up of a wildlife cell at Hyderabad airport (LSQ 2818 Shri Badiga Ramakrishna). In addition, the proposal received to set up trans-boundary national parks and sanctuaries to protect wildlife in partnership with neighbouring countries were also discussed in the House (LSQ 3862 Shri Ravi Prakash Verma, Shrimati Nivedita Mane, Shri Eknath M. Gaikwad, Shri Kirti Vardhan Singh, Shri Anandrao V. Adsul) alongwith, the proposals made by the Government to expand the area of Sanctuaries and National Parks and also create new Sanctuaries/National Park for protection of animals (LSQ 2237 Shri Bikram Keshari Deo, Shri Thawarchand Gehlot, Shri Mahavir Bhagora).

 

Measures to save wildlife

The other major component of wildlife management that received sufficient attention during the year was the surveillance activities to check poaching. The MoEF furnished information about the seizure of wildlife parts from different states during 2005 as well as the details of tiger and elephant deaths reported in 2006, following the demand for detailed information on wildlife crimes; and the number of leopards at present (LSQ 1620 Shri Dalpat Singh Parste). The setting up of an Inter-State Coordination Committee as part of its anti-poaching strategy in and around the sensitive areas of tiger reserves by the Government to enable collaborative anti-poaching strategy along the sensitive borders of the following tiger reserves/protected areas were also a major concern in the House (LSQ 1473 Shri M. Raja Mohan Reddy). The MoEF confirmed the killing of 8 Rhinos during the first half of the current year in the Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary itself (LSQ 1529 Shri M.K. Subba). Also discussed was the proposal to set up the ‘Wildlife Crime Control Bureau’ with headquarters at New Delhi to protect wild lives (LSQ 1564 Shri S.K. Kharventhan, LSQ 2248 Shri Anandrao V. Adsul, Shri Naveen Jindal, Shri Adhalrao Patil Shivajirao, and Shri Milind Deora). Information regarding the formulation of a policy to rehabilitate the people living/residing inside the National Parks/ Sanctuaries located in different parts of the country, especially in Uttarakhand was presented in the House (LSQ *317 Shri Vijay Bahuguna).

 

Others

The other topics that were widely discussed in the House were related to the orders of the Central Zoo Authority of India to close the Riwalsar Zoo (LSQ 791 Shri Abdul Rashid Shaheen, Shri Kailash Meghwal), proposals to release certain area of reserve forest land of Gangotari National Park and Askot Animal Sanctuary  for construction of roads along  international border with China and Nepal (LSQ 2879 Shri Braja Kishore Tripathy), proposals to upgrade the tiger census throughout the country in a phased manner regularly (LSQ 1544 Shri Abu Ayes Mondal), the request by the State Government of Rajasthan to declare Abu Mountain as an environmentally vulnerable area (LSQ 1533 Shri Raghuveer Singh Koshal), the declaration by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) of ‘Year 2007’ as International Year of Dolphins (LSQ 2300 Shri K.C. Pallani Shamy), the elevation of the Banneraghatta Biological Park (near Bangalore) to international standards (LSQ 2709 Shri M. Shivanna), the decreasing tiger population in the country and the implementation of the Project Tiger in this context (LSQ 2719 Shri Adhir Chowdhury, Shri Kinjarapu Yerrannaidu, Shri Uday Singh), the details of ‘Operation Gaja’ (LSQ 2850 Dr. Babu Rao Mediyam), details of the number of migrant birds arrived in Ghana Birds Sanctuary at Keoladev, Rajasthan this year (LSQ 739 Shri Mohan Singh) , the considerable decrease of the migration of birds to sanctuaries from other parts of the globe due to unfavourable conditions at birds sanctuaries (LSQ 1725 Shri P.C. Gaddigoudar), and the ban on diclofenac drug (LSQ 2769 K. Jayasurya Prakash Reddy).