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  • India

    SAARC nations to fight illegal wildlife trade

    Eight SAARC countries have agreed to work jointly to tackle the region's illegal wildlife trade that has assumed alarming proportions. The countries have come under the banner of the South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme (SACEP), an inter-governmental organisation, to tackle the illegal trade. The South Asian region is a storehouse of biological diversity and rich terrestrial, freshwater and marine resources. As a result, illegal trade and over-exploitation of wild animals and plants pose a major challenge to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in the region. In a first regional workshop held in Kathmandu, the group agreed to a series of joint action as part of a South Asia Wildlife Trade Initiative (SAWTI). This includes the setting up of a South Asia Experts Group on Wildlife Trade and development of a South Asia Regional Strategic Plan on Wildlife Trade (2008-2013). The SACEP was established in 1982 for promoting regional co-operation in South Asia in the field of environment. The group includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The workshop was organised by the Nepal Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, SACEP, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Nepal and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade-monitoring network. Senior wildlife officials from these countries have called upon the international community to support action in South Asia by providing financial and technical assistance in the implementation of the regional plan, an official statement of TRAFFIC said here. The Kathmandu workshop has agreed to focus on a number of key areas of work. These include co-operation and co-ordination, effective legislation policies and law enforcement, sharing knowledge and effective dissemination of information, sustainability of legal trade and livelihoods security, intelligence networks and early warning systems and capacity building. IANS

  • India

    Child mortality: India behind even Bangla

    With two million children under the age of five dying every year, India has a dismal record in child mortality. Now, a new study conducted by Save the Children, which compares child mortality in a country to its national income per person, shows that India lags behind poorer neighbours like Bangladesh and Nepal when it comes to cutting child deaths. This, even despite its impressive rate of economic growth as compared to the other South Asian nations.

  • India

    India bails out small farmers in pre-election budget

    India's Congress-led government announced on Friday a 15 billion dollars loan bailout for small farmers in a populist pre-election budget targeting the party's traditional poor rural supporters. Finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, releasing the budget for the year starting April 1 as India's blistering economic growth has begun to slow, announced a 600 billion rupees ($15.05b) relief plan. Some 30 million indebted farmers' loans would be fully waived and another 10 million would receive aid, said Chidambaram, who presented the budget ahead of nine state elections slated this year followed by national polls in early 2009. He pledged to wrestle down the fiscal deficit and tame inflation. But the lack of any big corporate incentives along with the debt giveaway dismayed the stock market which tumbled nearly 1.4 per cent.

  • India

    Jute industry seeks ban on imports from Bangladesh

    The jute industry has urged the ministry of textiles (MoT) to impose a ban on the imports of A.Twill and B.Twill jute bags from Bangladesh as part of its qualitative restriction. It has also requested the ministry for quantitative restrictions, whereby imports from Bangladesh will be limited giving a breather to the domestic jute industry. The country imported around 55,000 tonnes of jute products from Bangladesh, Nepal, China and Pakistan during 2006-07 jute season. The government recently made jute and jute goods imports duty free. According to the industry, qualitative and quantitative restrictions are required to be maintained as rules on these line have already been laid down in the Jute Mandatory Packaging Act (JPMA). In a letter to A K Singh, secretary, MoT, the jute industry has pointed out the events leading to the adverse effect faced by it because of the withdrawal of import duty on the crop and items. Indian Jute Mills Association ( IJMA) chairman, Sanjay Kajaria said, quantitative and qualitative restrictions need to be imposed to plug loopholes on imported jute bags by certain vested interested persons. Moreover, the restrictions would also ensure the stoppage of import of cheap and non-standard quality of jute bags which are not in conformity with Indian and international standards. The industry feels, unrestricted import of the raw crop and jute goods would be disastrous and therefore should be stopped immediately.

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