DYE TEST: In order to upgrade 37 laboratories identified country-wide to test for azo dyes, the Planning Commission has released a sum of Rs 15 crore, while a Rs six crore grant has been announced by Germany to set up a state-of-the-art laboratory in Noida. Azo dyes, used in leather products and garments, have been identified as carcinogenic and banned by the German health ministry. Even the import of goods treated with azo dyes is not allowed in Germany. The ban will affect export of leather products and garments to Germanyand other European countries valued at Rs 2,000 crore.

DIVERSION: An 80 km-Iong express highway having six tracks will pass through the outer areas of New Delhi. The road will predominantly cater to the needs of about 20,000 trucks that pass through the capital every day, with almost half of them having no business in Delhi. This will considerably reduce the unnecessary traffic in the capital, said Delhi chief minister, Sahib Singh Verma. The Delhi government has earmarked Rs 800 crore to ease the traffic problem in the capital.

MANAGING WASTE: The Japanese government plans to spend US $48.1 billion on the new five-year waste-treatment improvement plan, that started this fiscal year, an increase of 80 per cent from the previous five-year plan. In order to grab a larger share of the environment-protection equipment market, Kobe Steel Ltd and Toyo Engineering Works Ltd have co-developed a system which collects organic chloride solvents, including trichloroethylene, which is believed to cause cancer. Both companies expect huge orders following cabinet approval of a revisedair-pollution-prevention bill in March, which regulates trichloroethylene.

BOOST FOR TEA: The World bank is looking into the possibility of assisting the Indian tea industry with Rs 2,216 crore to increase production to 1,000 million kg in the next five years. India's present output is 750 million kg. A World Bank mission is here at the behest of the commerce ministry. Apart from looking into the investment in the existing plantations and the rejuvenation of orchards, it will also look into the aspect of tea as an instrument of rural development and poverty alleviation through employment generation.

LESS VICIOUS: The Tata Iron and Steel Company is planning to spend a sum of Rs 800 crore on environmental control equipment for its intended steel plant at Gopalpur in Orissa. B Mutharaman, vice-president of the Gopalpur unit, said that the plant is one of the most environment -friendly in India. This was confirmed by a study conducted by the Nagpur- based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, which said that the pollution levels in the plant will be considerably lower than the existing steel plants in the country.

PURE EFFLUX: A subsidiary of the Chellam group of c companies, Madras, the Agro Pul ping Machinery Private c Limited (APMPL) has commissioned the first effluent control system for agro-based paper mills in the country. The US $3 million project has been funded by an USAID programme called Trade in Environmental Services and Technologies. S Raghavan, APMPL's managing director, said that the fluid-based chemical recovery system not only controls pollution but makes paper production from agrobased products more cost-effective.

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