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Save Those Trees in the Rest House

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 02/06/10; June 10, 2002.]

Bharati Chaturvedi
The Hindustan Times
Monday, June 10, 2002

Haryana is one of the richer Indian states. So when it announced that it would sell the 100 or so canal rest houses it owns, there were protests that this would be catastrophic. Each rest house compound is about 5 acres, in all holding 500 acres, with 8,000 to 10,000 of the oldest surviving native trees. The rest house compounds have also become natural bird sanctuaries.

If the rest houses are sold, the buyers will not hesitate to cut down these trees since Haryana does not have any law preventing tree felling in private land other than on land under Sections 4 or 5 of the Land Preservation Act.

The national forest policy requires 33 per cent area of each state to be brought under forest cover. The Convention on Biological Diversity, to which India is a signatory, says we must protect our biodiversity. Why not hand over these rest houses to the forest department, panchayats and women's groups for nature education, eco-tourism or simply for keeping the natural heritage intact?

Morgan Stanley kicks Tibet where it hurts: Morgan Stanley is being grilled by international eco groups about its dealings in Tibet. And not without reason.

It supports China's 'Go West Campaign', which involves building oil and gas pipelines to transport these natural resources from Tibet to eastern China. Under Chinese occupation, almost half of Tibet's forests have been logged, the Tibetan plateau is contaminated from mining and nuclear waste dumping, its rivers and wildlife decimated. Morgan Stanley is unthinkingly underwriting these projects as well as a railway project that will create further havoc.

King Cobra losing its fangs: King Cobra is in the red. A project sponsored by the World Bank through the Andhra Pradesh forest dept revealed the endangered species faces the threat of extinction by indiscriminate economic exploitation and habitat destruction. So the day may arrive when we might hear about the king only in our folktales.

(If you feel for Planet Earth, send feedback to Earthwatch1@rediffmail.com)

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