The ministry of environment and forests has banned setting up of new units to manufacture aerosols products using ozone depleting substances (ODS). Aerosols use ODS such as Chlorofluorocarbons as propellants to spray chemicals or fragrances.

Two of the three artificially reared Siberian cranes that visited Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur in Rajasthan, during the last winter, have suddenly disappeared.

Greenpeace, a non-governmental organisation, has accused India of exporting about 0.5 million kilograms of highly poisonous pesticides such as DDT, BHC, Aldrin and Lindane to several countries, which include the US, Australia, European countries and Brazil.

In order to check increasing levels of flyash in the environment, the ministry of environment and forests has brought out a notification that prevents clearance of a new thermal power station without flyash utilisation plan.

The decline in the population of the Indian crane, saras, has caused concern among experts who attribute the fall in numbers to increasing fragmentation and encroachment on its breeding ground.

The Delhi Environment Authority has suggested phasing out all pre-1990 autorickshaws and taxis, among other things, to combat pollution.

Even as Madhya Pradesh risks losing lakhs of sal trees due to extensive damage caused by a beetle, sal borer, the state government has sought the intervention of the Union ministry for environment and forests on disposal of timber from these trees.

The use of oral polio vaccine has been suspended in several Uttar Pradesh districts after it was confirmed that some vials of the vaccine used in Ghaziabad district were ineffective.

Alarmed at the rapid increase in HIV and AIDS cases in Bihar, the state government in collaboration with the National AIDS Control Organisation has chalked out a Rs 200-crore scheme to combat the disease. The ministry of environment and forests (MEF) may not agree to the demand of a comprehensive ban on import of all toxic-laden ships for shipbreaking activities in India. Even after severe protests from environmentalists, the mef is unlikely to press for a blanket ban on import of toxic-laden ships to ship-breaking yards. Ministry officials think that such decisions would have serious socio-economic implications. Instead, the MEF is expected to press for eco-friendly management of shipbreaking activities.

According to V A Pandey, additional port officer at Alang, the shipbreaking industry supports nearly 25,000 workers and their families. The steel derived from shipbreaking is a major revenue-earner and provides employment to a lot of people. It would not be feasible to ban the shipbreaking activities, say the officials.

A ban on such imports would require legislative measures. This possibility is currently being deliberated by an inter-ministerial committee consisting of officials from the MEF, the commerce ministry and the steel ministry. Studies conducted by two organisations have already shown that the ships contain toxic substances such as polychlorinated biphenyl compounds, waste asbestos (dust and fibre) and lead and compounds as well as oil, steel chips, rubber, plastics and insulating materials which are highly toxic ( Down To Earth , Vol 6, No 20).

Instead of a comprehensive ban on import of all toxic-laden ships, the environment ministry is in favour of proper implementation of guidelines issued by the Central Pollution Control Board for use and disposal of toxic wastes at shipbreaking yards. Besides, plans are afoot to make the shipbreaking at Alang safe and minimise chances of occupation hazards. A committee has already prepared a draft report that would be discussed later this month.

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