Now, pay Rs. 5,000 for littering platforms, tracks
Boy's arrest for FB post against government promise
- The habit of littering, defecation or spitting on and along railway tracks and platforms will now cost Rs. 5,000 under the Polluter Pays principle. The National Green Tribunal on March 18 passed a string of directions to clear the Railways of the filth(disgusting dirt) which has earned it the tag of being the “biggest open toilet”.
- The Tribunal empowered the Railways to impose a fine of Rs. 5,000 on anyone found littering or defecating on tracks or platforms. Those residing along the tracks and disposing waste on railway property would also be fined.
- That is not all. If the waste is found lying in front of any house adjoining the tracks, the fine would be recovered from the occupants of the property.
- A Bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar also directed the three municipal corporations to place dustbins in the 46 slum clusters along the railway property.
Boy's arrest for FB post against government promise
- The arrest of a 19-year-old boy by the Uttar Pradesh Police on March 18 for allegedly posting an “objectionable” statement, attributed to Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan, on Facebook is in contradiction to the Union government’s repeated assurances in the Supreme Court on free speech on the social media.
- The government had said that a person was free to express political dissent, contrarian views and decent humour, and no one would “dare” charge him under Section 66(A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000. It promised that dissent would not be classified as “grossly(Total, aggregate) offensive” or “menacing(suggesting the presence of danger; threatening)” under the provision. However, Vicky Khan from Bareilly has been charged with the provision.
Leukaemia cells can be converted into immune cellsThe long road to growth
- An Indian-origin researcher at the Stanford University in the US has found a method that can cause dangerous leukemia cells to mature into harmless immune cells known as macrophages.
- Leukaemia is a group of cancers that usually begins in the bone marrow and results in high numbers of abnormal white blood cells.These white blood cells are not fully developed and are called blasts or leukemia cells.Symptoms may include bleeding and bruising problems, feeling very tired, fever and an increased risk of infections. These symptoms occur due to a lack of normal blood cells.Diagnosis is typically by blood tests or bone marrow biopsy.
- In just two meetings in August 2014 and January 2015, the National Board for Wildlife considered projects involving over 2,300 hectares of land in and around wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. In four meetings between September and December 2014, the Forest Advisory Committee considered diversion of over 3,300 hectares of forests for 28 projects. All the proposals were for linear projects and most of them are likely to be cleared.
- Linear infrastructure projects — roads, trains and power lines that make long intrusions into forests and stretch ribbonlike over thousands of kilometres — are the new threat to our forests, in addition to submergence by dams or clearing for mining and agriculture.
- The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has been gradually diluting the norms for such projects. It has, for instance, recently permitted Central agencies executing linear projects in forests to cut trees after ‘in-principle’ or first stage approval under the Forest Conservation Act of 1980; that is, with just an approval from a Divisional Forest Officer, without waiting for second stage clearance related to compensatory afforestation and related procedures.
- Roads and power lines support economic growth and other needs such as mobility and delivery of services, and are vital in a developing country. But they also bring a host of associated problems that affect natural ecosystems and rural and tribal communities. They cause habitat fragmentation. Wildlife species avoid roads, as they become wider and busier, and the roads effectively form barriers separating forest areas. Expansion projects and the four-laning of highways affect wildlife corridors — for instance, National Highway 7 slices crucial corridor forests between Pench and Kanha Tiger Reserves in Central India.
- In mountains, roads may lead to severe forest destruction, landslides, and erosion, as seen everyday during road construction in many parts of the Himalayas and the Western Ghats. A 2006 study noted that on steep hillsides, roads may increase landslides and surface erosion fluxes by ten to over hundred times as compared to undisturbed forests. Along hill roads in forests, natural vegetation often helps stabilise slopes and mitigate landslides. Road construction, dumping of debris, and slashing of roadside native plants, when carried out in a manner insensitive to terrain and local ecology, destroys natural cover, and increases erosion and weed proliferation.
- Millions of animals, too, are killed along roads due to collisions with vehicles. Indian field research studies have documented that the spectrum of wildlife killed or injured ranges from small invertebrates, frogs, and reptile species — many found nowhere else in the world — to birds and large mammals such as deer, leopard, tiger, and elephant.
- Power lines also kill unknown numbers of wildlife everyday. Poachers draw live wires to kill animals such as rhino and deer, while accidental electrocution kills many species from birds such as Sarus cranes and flamingos to elephants and bison. Railways, too, take their toll, gaining attention only when large animals such as elephants are killed along the tracks. The daily death of wildlife shows that linear projects are undertaken with scant attention to conservation needs.