A comprehensive study on fish diversity of Bharathapuzha, the largest west-flowing river in Kerala, found it as the richest in fish species among the rivers in Kerala. It recorded the presence of 117 species, with three species endemic to the river.
The study, conducted jointly by Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries, University of Kerala; Conservation Research Group, St. Albert’s College, Kochi; and the Department of Zoology, NSS College, Ottappalam, shows that despite the ecological degradation across the river basin, “Bharathapuzha turned out to be one of the richest among the State’s rivers in terms of fish diversity.”
The fish species endemic to the river include Silent Valley stone loach (Balitora jalpalli); Pambar Banded Loach (Mesonoemacheilus remadevii); and the catfish Pseudolaguvia austrina.
Although the Kunthipuzha stream of the Thoothapuzha tributary flowing through the Silent Valley National Park had the lowest species richness (25 species), it has very high conservation value, as two endemic species — Balitora jalpalli and Mesonemacheilus remadevii — are restricted to this stream, highlighting the importance of protected areas such as Silent Valley in the conservation of endemic biodiversity, the study said.
It said 28 per cent of fish species (33) that occur in the Bharathapuzha are endemic to the Western Ghats. The catfish Pseudolaguvia austrina occurs as small fragmented populations in the Kanjirapuzha and Thoothapuzha rivers.
The Kunthipuzha stream of the Silent Valley National Park had been surveyed in the past by several researchers and the results of this study shows 25 species, thereby increasing the number of freshwater fishes known from the national park.
“However, this number cannot be considered as the actual diversity of the national park because several additional species are found in the east-flowing Bhavani river and the Kadalundy river (draining the western segment of the buffer zone), which is not mentioned here” said Dr. Rajeev Raghavan of Conservation Research Group.
A little more than one tenth of species (12 per cent; 14 species) that occur in the Bharathapuzha are listed as threatened in the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species. This includes one species listed as Critically Endangered (Hemibagrus punctatus), six each listed as Endangered and Vulnerable. Thoothapuzha tributary had the highest number of threatened species (10), the study found.
A. Biju Kumar, Head, Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries, University of Kerala, said surveys were carried out in all the four tributaries viz., Gayathripuzha, Chitturpuzha, Kalpathipuzha, and Thoothapuzha of Bharathapuzha and the Kunthipuzha stream (of Thoothapuzha tributary) flowing through the Silent Valley National Park at multiple intervals from January 2004 to February 2013.
“Bharathapuzha comprise one of the sixteen catchments in the southern Western Ghats that has the highest species richness and endemism of freshwater taxa (a group of populations of organisms) including fish, mollusc, and odonates,” the study said. According to Dr. Sanjay Molur, Executive Director of Zoo Outrearch Organisation, it is also one of the five catchments along with Periyar, Pamba, Manimala, and Chaliyar that qualify as potential freshwater ‘Key Biodiversity Areas’ (KBAs).
Dr. Biju Kumar, who initiated the study in 2004, said that “several anthropogenic stressors including deforestation and loss of riparian cover, dams and other impoundments, pollution, sand-mining, non-native species, climate change, and destructive fishing practices are threatening the fish diversity of Bharathapuzha.” Further, Bharathapuzha watershed experiences an average annual rainfall of 2,500 mm, which is about 17 per cent less than the State average. “Recent studies have observed changes in both rainfall and temperature in the river basin. These climate change phenomena in the Bharathapuzha watershed will have its serious repercussions on fish fauna, which remains to be investigated further,” he said.
‘Multiple remedies to file complaints against public servants’
HC dismisses Yeddyurappa’s plea challenging registration of cases against him under PC Act, IPC, and Cr. PC
In a verdict that recognises the multiple legal remedies for people to lodge complaints related to corruption against public servants, the Karnataka High Court on Friday ruled that people in the State are not compelled to file complaints against public servants only under the provisions of the Karnataka Lokayukta (KL) Act.
Remedies available to a complainant under the provisions of the KL Act are in addition to those available under any other law, State or Central, including the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act, the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr. PC). A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice B.V. Nagarathna, delivered the verdict while dismissing two appeals filed by the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.
He had challenged the order of a single judge who had rejected his plea against two of the five complaints, filed by advocate Sirajin Basha, accusing him of indulging in corruption by misusing the office of the Chief Minister. It was contended on behalf of Mr. Yeddyurappa that provisions of the PC Act along with the provisions of Cr. PC or IPC cannot be invoked against a public servant on corruption charges after the enactment of KL Act in 1986 as it is a “special enactment” to deal with corruption charges in Karnataka.
Writing judgment for the Bench, Justice Nagarathna said: “Though there may be an overlap in the object of KL and PC Acts, we find the scheme of the two Acts are quite distinct… The PC Act is an adjective statute dealing with both substantive and procedural law, which is penal in nature, whereas the KL Act cannot be considered as a penal statute.” The jurisdiction of criminal courts or special court constituted under the PC Act is neither whittled down or fettered on account of provisions of the KL Act, and the Special Court does not act under KL Act, the Bench said. Analysing the provisions of both these Acts as well the Cr. PC, the court said these three enactments “operate in their respective fields and one enactment cannot substitute another enactment”.
Snooping face-off with Australia may push Jakarta to India for beef
Trade Minister plans to exempt India from certification against foot-and-mouth
As Indonesia and Australia continue to face off over revelations that Canberra had tapped the phone of the Indonesian President, Jakarta is threatening to end Australia’s monopoly in beef exports to Indonesia.
Earlier this week, Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan announced plans to diversify Indonesia’s beef supply markets to India in an attempt to end an almost-exclusive dependence on Australia and New Zealand.
Currently, Indonesia can legally import beef from countries certified as being free of foot-and-mouth, a viral infection that afflicts cattle. Mr. Wirjawan has asked Parliament to pass laws to exempt a country like India from this certification.
Indonesian national news agency Antara quoted Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Hatta Rajasa as saying Indonesia would now revise the criterion for its beef imports from a country-based system to a zone-based one. “If a certain part of the country has a cattle disease, it does not mean all parts of India have the disease,” Mr. Rajasa said, explaining how a zonal system would facilitate imports from India.
Given the association of cow worship with Hinduism, India’s dominant religion, it is not a country that is usually connected with beef sale in the popular imagination. However, beef exports from India, mostly buffalo meat, have been growing exponentially in recent years, and have catapulted the country, ahead of Brazil, to the world’s number one position. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Indian beef accounted for nine per cent of global exports in 2009, a figure that zoomed to four million tonnes or 20 per cent of the world beef trade by 2012.
Analysts attribute the rapid expansion of Indian beef shipments to the robust demand for cheap, halal beef from the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia. India has already edged Australia out of the beef market in Malaysia, where Indian imports comprise more than 80 per cent of the market share, against 13 per cent for Australia. Mr. Rajasa referred to Malaysia’s successful imports of Indian beef, underscoring Indonesia’s intention to explore sourcing beef from India.
Mr. Wirjawan confirmed that the request for changes to the import laws was made because of the sense of betrayal over Australia’s eavesdropping on the private conversations in 2009 of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife Ani, and other senior leaders. “I think you can attribute some of that or a lot of it to the unfortunate incident.”
So far, Australia has a virtual monopoly in Indonesian beef trade, a lynchpin of the bilateral economic ties. Australia exports 40-65 per cent of its live cattle to Indonesia. This translates to 20-30 per cent of Indonesians’ beef consumption. According to Meat and Livestock Australia, from July 2012 to June 2013, Australia’s total live cattle exports to Indonesia were valued at A$174 million (US$157 million).
Funds through securities sale
The State government has announced the sale of 10-year securities in the form of stock to the public by auction for an aggregate amount of Rs.1,200 crore.
The auction will be conducted by the Reserve Bank of India at its Mumbai Office, Fort, Mumbai, on December 3. Competitive bids that open between 10.30 a.m. and noon and non-competitive bids between 10.30 a.m. and 11.30 a.m. can be submitted electronically on the Reserve Bank of India Core Banking Solution (E-Kuber) System on December 3, a press note said. — Special Correspondent
India hopes for positive outcome at Bali meet
India is seriously and sincerely engaged in negotiations and continues to hope for positive and balanced outcome from the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference at Bali next week that will be acceptable to the developing and least developed countries, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said here on Friday.
“India is spearheading the G33’s proposal on agricultural subsidies which seeks from Bali outcome that will correct the WTO agriculture subsidy norms that are at present unfairly loaded in favour of some countries as they contains inherent imbalances,” Mr. Sharma said addressing a press conference.
Minimum support price
The Cabinet unanimously agreed on Thursday, according to the Minister, that India will not agree to a deal at Bali without a reassurance that the proposed Peace Clause, an interim safeguard for India’s minimum support price (MSP) in breach of the WTO caps, will expire only when permanent safeguards are found and agreed to. This will ensure that the MSPs will not be in breach. The G33 is arguing that a major factor for the sharp rise in MSP is the recent spurt in global food price inflation while the existing caps and formulas are calibrated to food prices in the 1980s.
“We are arguing either use a more recent base year for arriving at the caps or use an appropriate deflator for removing the impact of inflation on our administered support prices,” Mr. Sharma said adding that MSPs in India had risen manifold over the last few years and could rise further with the implementation of the recently enacted Food Security Law.
“The developing countries are persisting for a correction of the historical injustices and unfair outcomes of the Uruguay Round in 1994 where the developed countries ensured coverage and protection of very high subsidies for their agriculture producers,” Mr. Sharma said.
“India endorses the settled draft for Bali on two of the five themes for the package but is still negotiating on the proposals on the release of bank guarantees, expedited shipments of courier services and the provision on penalties. Indian law does not allow upfront duty calculations for plants, animals and gems and jewellery shipped in through air courier services,” he said.
We’re spearheading the G33 proposal
“Developing countries want a correction to the unfair outcomes of the Uruguay Round”
Farmer commits suicide in U.P.
Violence erupts between farmers and the mill staff in Lakhimpur Kheri district
The issue of sugarcane pricing escalated on Friday as clashes erupted between the sugar cane farmers and the security staff at Gularia Sugar Mill in Lakhimpur Kheri district, after a farmer from the district committed suicide on Thursday.
Villagers from the district alleged that the farmer of Bastauli village committed suicide following non-payment of last year’s cane price arrears by the sugar mill. The villagers resorted to heavy brick-batting and tried to break into the mill, but were deterred by the security guards.
The Inspector General (Establishment), Vitul Kumar said the security guard fired in the air when the villagers tried to forcibly enter the mill. Mr. Kumar said no one was injured in the firing. The situation was brought under control following the arrival of the Kheri district police chief, the IG told reporters. He added that the autopsy of the farmer had been performed.
The 45-year-old cane farmer Satpal Singh’s body was found hanging from a tree, situated a short distance from his house, on Thursday.
The suicide note recovered from the spot mentioned his illness and failure to pay off debts as the reason for his death, the IG said. The suicide note was addressed to the station house officer of Bheera police station.
Mr. Kumar said the farmer had taken loans from three or four sources. Satpal is said to have taken loans amounting to around Rs. 2.5 lakh from the Land Development Bank, Allahabad Bank and the Cane Cooperative Society. He had also reportedly not been paid last year’s cane price arrears of about Rs. 50,000.
But the official said it was a misconception that the failure on the part of the sugar mill management to pay cane price dues was the reason behind the farmer’s suicide.
With the mill owners adamant that the crushing of the crop will not begin till the State Advised Price of sugarcane for the 2013-14 sugar season is scaled down from Rs. 280 to Rs. 225 per quintal, and the government firm on its stand, the growers are in a catch-22 situation.
The crushing operations have already been delayed by a month, though the State government fixed a fresh deadline of December 4 for the mills in Western U.P. to start their operations and December 7 for the mills is Eastern U.P. The government has also made it clear that there will be no more talks with millers and no more deadlines.
Illness and failure to pay debts was the reason for suicide: suicide note
It’s a misconception that the failure of the mill management to pay cane price dues was the reason for suicide: official
China’s muted response
Beijing hopes New Delhi could meet halfway to safeguard overall interests of bilateral ties
China on Friday issued what observers described as an unexpectedly muted response to the visit by President Pranab Mukherjee to Arunachal Pradesh — parts of which China has territorial claims on — with Beijing calling on India “to meet halfway” and “work together” to maintain peace and tranquillity along the border.
In a marked contrast from Beijing’s response to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh in 2009, when the Chinese government said it voiced “grave concerns” and hit out at India for “creating problems,” the Foreign Ministry here issued a more measured reaction to the President’s two-day visit, which began on Friday.
“China’s position on the disputed area of the eastern section of the China-India boundary is consistent and clear-cut,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement to The Hindu issued in response to questions.
“The China-India relationship maintains a sound momentum of growth,” the statement added, “with the two sides exploring ways to solve the boundary question through friendly consultations at the special representatives’ meeting.”
“We hope that the Indian side could meet China halfway to safeguard the overall interests of bilateral relations, refrain from taking actions that complicate the boundary question, work together with us to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas and create conditions for boundary negotiations.”
Bilateral relations between both countries were strained in 2009, when an increasingly assertive China, under former President Hu Jintao, appeared to take a hard line on all territorial disputes.
Ten days after Dr. Singh visited Arunachal in October 2009, the Chinese government said it was “deeply upset” that “an Indian leader went to the disputed area despite our grave concerns.” The government said then it was “strongly dissatisfied” with the visit and demanded that India “address China’s serious concerns and not trigger a disturbance” in relations. That year, China also attempted to block a $60 million Asian Development Bank flood management programme for Arunachal.
The statement issued on Friday, however, did not directly express opposition to the visit, only saying it hoped India “could meet China halfway” and “refrain from taking actions that complicate the boundary question.”
Table HIV/AIDS Bill in winter session, urge activists
The Bill was finalised by the Health Ministry in July, 2006
Civil Society activists and members of networks of people living with HIV want the HIV/AIDS Bill tabled in the coming winter session of Parliament.
The Bill has been hanging fire since 2006. It is now with the Health Ministry. People living with and associated with HIV faced stigma and discrimination on a regular basis.
They were often denied employment and refused treatment and there were repeated instances of their children being thrown out of schools, said Hari Shankar of Delhi Network of Positive People.
He was speaking at a press conference on the eve of World AIDS Day.
Need for the Bill
Explaining the need for this Bill, Pradeep Dutta from the Nai Umang Positive Welfare Society said: “Although the government is providing first line treatment, the second line is not reaching every HIV positive person who needs it. The third line treatment is not available through the government-run programme. Also, important diagnostics like viral load tests are not provided free of cost to everyone. The Bill is very important as it provides for complete HIV treatment by the state.”
In July 2006, the Bill was finalised by the Health Ministry and was sent to the Law Ministry a year later. For the next six years, it shuttled between the Health Ministry and the Law Ministry.
Only recently, in October 2013, did the Law Ministry clear the Bill and send it back to the Health Ministry.Anand Grover of the Lawyers Collective said, “The delay in bringing this Bill to Parliament is totally unacceptable. This government has not shown the political will to take this Bill forward. The Bill should have been tabled in Parliament long back. Even the Standing Committee on Health, in its report tabled in the Rajya Sabha in April 2013, has mentioned that the delay in bringing the HIV Bill to Parliament is not justifiable.”
Important diagnostics like viral load tests are not provided free of cost to everyone: Pradeep Dutta
For six years, the Bill was shuttled between the Health Ministry and the Law Ministry
Peace pact signed
The Centre on Friday signed a tripartite agreement for suspension of operation with the Ranjan Daimary faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB).
Ramnad tops in passport applications
The drought-prone economically backward Ramanathapuram district has emerged as the top district in south zone in seeking passports: More than 10,000 persons have applied for the third successive year.
Superintendent of Police N.M.Mylvahanan said as the number of people applying for fresh passports kept increasing, he had deputed Special Sub Inspectors, appointed as Panchayat Liaison Officers (PLOs), to gather intelligence directly from villagers.
Most of them preferred to visit Malaysia, Singapore and the Gulf countries for better prospects in the absence of industries and employment opportunities in the district. Many of them were unskilled workers.
More than 10,000 persons applied for third successive year
Panchayat Liaison Officers verifying applicants’ background
Krishna water sharing: raw deal for A.P
Andhra Pradesh got a raw deal on Friday, with the Krishna Water Tribunal giving its final award allowing Karnataka to increase the storage in Alamatti dam to 524.256 metres from 519.6 metres.
The Tribunal headed by Justice Brajesh Kumar adjudicated the matter on sharing of surplus waters among AP, Karnataka and Maharashtra. The Brajesh Kumar Tribunal sought to maintain a balancing act by giving four tmc of Karnataka water to A.P. and at the same time recognising Karnataka’s right to claim the remaining water.
In December 30, 2010, A.P. got 1,001 tmc of water, Karnataka 911 tmc and Maharashtra 666 tmc from the river. – PTI
GDP up, touches 4.8% in Q2
India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at the rate of 4.8 per cent during July-September 2013, according to official data released here on Friday. The rate of growth of the GDP in April-June 2013 was 4.4 per cent, a four-year low. The pick-up in the rate of growth has come from better performance of agriculture and industry.
“I don’t think at the moment we have signs of strong revival yet but I do get a picture that people think that the economy has bottomed out,” Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia was reported to have said on the sidelines of an event at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad.
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had used in this year’s Union budget a GDP growth estimate of 5 per cent for 2013-14 for pegging various targets.
This includes the target set for the fiscal deficit at 4.8 per cent of the GDP. Since the GDP growth rate for the six months April-September is 4.6 per cent, it will have to be at least 5.4 per cent during October-March if India is to achieve a growth of 5 per cent in 2013-14.
‘Greater cuts needed’
“Jumping from a GDP growth of 4.6 per cent during the first half of the year to 5.4 per cent in the second at the moment seems to be more than what India is in a position to achieve,” said highly-placed government sources. “This means the Finance Minister will probably have to press in even greater budget cuts to meet the fiscal deficit target he has set himself.”
Rating agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P) has warned that India’s sovereign rating could be downgraded to junk status next year if, post-general election 2014, the next government fails to revive the stalled structural reforms, faltering economic growth and the stress of subsidies on state finances.
The rating agency maintained its “BBB minus” rating with a negative outlook on India, its lowest investment grade.
Earlier this month, Mr. Chidambaram expressed optimism over the emergence of “green shoots” in the economy.
However, the data released on Friday shows the manufacturing sector performance remains bleak with 3.2 per cent growth. For April-September, or the first half, it is -0.1 per cent. “How is a revival possible when the jobs-creating sector is flat,” said the sources.
Speaking at an event, the Finance Minister exuded confidence that the growth rate would rise to 6 per cent next fiscal.
Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram said the third and fourth quarters would see a pick up to help attain at least 5 per cent growth for the fiscal.