Environmentalists oppose Telangana marine park

Policy matters this fortnight
4 Jul 2023
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HMDA’s proposal said that it will have over 300 species (Image: WallpaperFlare)
HMDA’s proposal said that it will have over 300 species (Image: WallpaperFlare)

Environmentalists petition HC against Telangana marine park plan; notice issued

The Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA), the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development, and Fisheries received notices from a bench of Chief Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice N Tukaramji, requesting responses by August 4. On May 12, HMDA issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the construction of an Aqua Marine Park or tunnel aquarium under the EcoHill Park in Kothwalguda for an estimated $300 crore under the DBFOT (Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer) mode.

In a petition, environmentalists said that the man-made pond would endanger the survival of marine life and harm the natural ecosystem. Additionally, they emphasised that HMDA had not conducted an environmental impact assessment before starting the project.

The aqua marine park would have been the largest in India, spanning a built-up area of more than 2,50,000 square feet in Kothwalguda eco park, according to the HMDA proposal. It was planned to have a curving tunnel with a minimum diameter of 100 metres, a 3.5-meter promenade, and a 180-degree perspective. It was suggested that the tunnel could accommodate 2,500 passengers.

Environmentalists emphasised that the estimated water volumes for the aquarium and tunnel tank were three million and two million litres, respectively.

HMDA’s proposal said: “It will have over 300 species including freshwater, brackish water and marine/saline water species with a total of over 10,000 animals including fishes, reptiles and other marine and land-based creatures with a mix of ornamental fish, domestic and imported species. About 10 percent of the species would be changed or replaced with new species every year”. (Hindustan Times)

Barring small domestic users, groundwater will no longer be available for free to others in Telangana any more

The Telangana state government recently issued an order making it mandatory for all packaged drinking water supply units, bulk suppliers, large housing societies and private tankers to cough up a fee to extract ground water. So far, these users have not had to pay a single rupee to the government.

Going forward this will be changed and these units will be metered and charged as per their use. The only exemption is for users drawing up to 25 cubic metres (1 cubic metre=1000 litres). Officials said, the new tariffs will be rolled out by the end of June or early July. Residential apartments and housing societies extracting anything from 26 to 50 cubic metres will have to pay a fee of Rs. 1 per litre. For more than 50 cubic metres this amount will be Rs. 2 per litre.

In case of packaged drinking water units, the fee will be Rs. 1 for upto 50 cubic metres and increase consistently as per usage. For those drawing 5000 cubic metres and above, a fee of Rs. 10 per litre will be levied by the groundwater department. According to the guidelines, the user charges will be collected based on different categories like semi-critical and critical drinking water units – depending on availability of groundwater sources – and the charges will range between Rs. 2 and Rs. 60 per litre.

Even private units supplying groundwater through tankers to their consumers in bulk quantities have to pay Rs. 10 to Rs. 25 per litre depending on the tanker capacity. (The Times of India)

Supreme Court clarifies that mining in eco sensitive zone is prohibited even if its boundaries extend beyond one kilometre

On 26 April 2023, a three judge bench of the Hon'ble Supreme Court passed an order (“2023 Judgment”) modifying its earlier directions in judgment dated 3 June 2022 in IA No. 1000 of 2003 ("2022 Judgment”) in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 202 of 1995 titled In Re: T.N. Godavarman v. Union of India (“Writ Petition”).

Briefly, the 2023 Judgment was passed in respect of mining activities in Eco Sensitive Zones and clarifies that the direction passed in the 2022 Judgment pertaining to prohibition of mining activities in National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries (“Protected Areas”) shall also extend to an area upto one kilometre (“km”) from the boundary of the Protected Area.

The necessity to have eco sensitive zone is to provide buffer zones around the Protected Areas. The 2023 Judgment was passed to ensure conservation of Protected Areas so that mining does not become a death trap for flora and fauna.

The Supreme Court noted that the requirement of declaring Eco Sensitive Zones was not to hamper day to day activities but was meant to safeguard the Protected Areas from any negative impact. (Mondaq)

Madhya Pradesh government approves cooperative policy with focus on jobs

A cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan approved the Co-operative Policy 2023, with a focus to create jobs in the sector. The policy emphasises on preparing and implementing the public co-operative partnership (PCP) model in the sector, which means co-operative organisations will work in collaboration with government bodies.

The state government is planning to use co-operatives as a medium to provide employment to the youth of Madhya Pradesh. In a bid to enhance self-employment opportunities, co-operatives will be formed in agriculture, health care, food processing, animal husbandry, water conservation, new and renewable energy, tourism, minerals, agricultural equipment, organic products, and other sectors and they will be linked to various government schemes.

Departmental officials said core groups will be formed at the district level to explore investment possibilities in the co-operative sector. MP has become the first state to have implemented the cooperative policy. According to the minister, committees will be formed in new areas through co-operatives and employment opportunities will be created. Changes will also be made in the cooperative law of the state according to the requirement and action will be taken to remove internal and structural deficiencies of the cooperatives. (Business Standard)

Delhi prepares heat action plan

Delhi's health and heat action plan to mitigate the impact of extreme heat episodes on vulnerable people in the national capital is ready and will be submitted to the Centre soon, officials have said.

Heat action plans (HAPs) are the primary policy response to economically damaging and life-threatening heat waves. These prescribe a number of activities, disaster responses and post-heatwave response measures to decrease the impact of heat waves. Delhi currently does not have a heat action plan with officials saying the administration follows the National Disaster Management Authority's guidelines on extreme heat events.

According to Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) officials, the Delhi HAP incorporates data on heat-related illnesses from the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme of the Union Health Ministry. A vulnerability assessment has been conducted to identify at-risk populations, evaluate adaptive capacity of communities and help develop adaptation strategies, the officials said.

The DDMA has also tasked the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to develop a colour-coded early warning system or a heat alert system to warn people about impending extreme heat conditions in advance, like it is done for air pollution episodes.

Officials said a protocol has also been developed to investigate deaths due to suspected heat strokes. The Delhi health and heat action plan also focuses on strengthening all healthcare facilities with equipment, staff and medicinal supply to handle potential increases in heat-related illnesses.

It talks about reducing heat exposure through adaptive measures like cool roofing and improving the blue-green infrastructure in the city. (New Indian Express)

This is a roundup of important policy matters from June 16 - June 30, 2023. 

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