Ministry recommends dividing the country into renewable energy zones
The Ministry of Renewable Energy in a report has recommended dividing the country into zones to lessen the environmental impact of renewable energy projects based on solar and wind energy. The three zones- go-green, go slow and no-go- will be based on factors like ecological sensitivity, renewable energy generation potential of the region, alternate land use potential and conflicts over land and water. The report also recommends that the power generated should be supplied to local villages so that 100% of their electricity demand is met. The report, however, has not included hydropower projects in the study.
Ban on fishing to protect Olive Ridley turtles
The Orissa government has banned fishing for seven months within 20 kms across the river mouths of Dharma, Devi and Rushikulya in Ganjam district. The ban is to protect the nesting sites of Olive Ridley turtles whose nesting season will begin soon. The nesting sites where the ban will be applicable is not very far from the Dhamra port, which was criticized for its environmental impact. Environment activists claimed dredging, constant lights from the port and industrial pollution will divert turtles from their path and affect nesting. The state government, however, claims to have taken up an alternative livelihood project for the fishers by a bank-funded integrated coastal zone management programme.
India and China sign accord on trans-border rivers
The two countries have signed an agreement to facilitate exchange of flood data and address India's fears on dams on the Brahamputra. Under the agreement, the Chinese side will provide flood data of the Brahmaputra river from May to October instead of from June to October as per the previous agreements. India has been concerned over China's plans to construct more dams upstream of the Brahamputra which could restrict the flows of the Himalayan river flowing from Tibet. China, however, assured India that its dams are run-of-the-river (RoR) projects that are not designed to hold water.
Green regulator not possible, Ministry tells the Supreme Court
The Ministry of Environment and Forests told the Supreme Court that it is not possible to appoint a 'super regulator' for single window environment and forest clearances. The court, while hearing a case against Lafarge Cements two years ago, had asked the Ministry to appoint a national regulator to appraise projects, enforce environment conditions for approvals and to impose penalties on polluters. According to the Ministry, the volume of work involved in different sectors is varied and involves a complex nature of clearances which necessitates the need of six expert advisory committees rather than just one regulatory authority.
NGT orders inspection of rain water harvesting systems in Delhi's institutions
The National Green Tribunal has ordered inspection of rainwater harvesting systems installed in 18 government organisations and institutions in Delhi. The order is in response to environment activist MC Saxena's petition which said that over 90% of RWH systems in the capital are either defunct or have been set up improperly. The institutions to be inspected by the state environment and forest department include the Municipal corporation, Public Works Department, the National Highway Authority of India and hospitals like the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Safdarjung.
This is a weekly roundup of policy matters from October 21-27. Also read last week's news roundup.