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Biomass plants: Maharashtra shows the way

A 2012 study by IIT-Kharagpur said that since most farmers do not find buyers for their waste, they burn it — which releases a huge amount of emissions — or dump it leading to soil and water contamination.

India generates about 350 million tonnes of agricultural waste every year, which can generate more than 18,000 MW of power a year. While its productive use is limited, Maharashtra’s Satara district has shown it can be done by processing sugarcane molasses for to generate electricity and act as fertilizer for fields.

A unit, set up by a company in collaboration with Sugarcane Farmers’ Cooperative and German federal technical agency GIZ, collects the waste from around 10,000 sugarcane farmers. It is then treated and fed into a boiler at the unit to generate electricity.

Suresh Aklekar, chairperson of the cooperative, told HT it is a win-win situation. “The productivity has improved since the fertiliser was used and the problem of dealing with the waste has also been taken care of,” he said, adding many other cooperatives in Maharashtra have now started adopting this new development model.

While Punjab and Maharashtra have taken a lead in setting up biomass plants, other states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh — which contribute half of India’s annual agricultural waste worth Rs 50,000 crore —are lagging behind because of low tariff.

The ministry of new and renewable energy’s review found that tariff as low as Rs 2.2 in Kerala, Rs 3.3 in Madhya Pradesh, Rs 3.6 in Karnataka and Rs 4 in Uttar Pradesh as compared to Rs 5.05 per unit in Punjab and Rs 4.98 per unit in Maharashtra, thus making them attractive destination for investors in the new-age green power.

To provide a level-playing field across the states and give them an incentive, the government had planned to set up a national biomass mission to harness 620 million tonnes of bio-resources.

Source:Hindustan Times

Palakkad in Kerala Becomes First HIV/AIDS Literate District

Kerala’s Palakkad district will become the first total HIV/AIDS literate district in the country due mainly to joint initiatives of civic authorities and KESS-HAPPI, a voluntary organisation which helped win the status.

Just as Kottayam became India’s first city to achieve 100 percent literacy in 1989, so is Palakkad all set to be honoured with the status of being the first district that took care of its HIV/AIDS patients’ literacy.

According to the United Nations, India has 3rd-highest number of HIV-infected people. The 2013 report said India had 2.40 million people who were infected with the deadly virus.

According to the UN data, there are 1200 people infected with HIV/AIDS in Palakkad district. To control and remove the stigma and discrimination in society, the project was launched.

It is also said that the HIV treatment coverage in India is only 36 per cent, and due to unprecedented levels of stigma and discrimination many AIDS related deaths go unreported.

A project named Jyotirgamaya was implemented with the cooperation of 91 gram panchayats and four municipalities in the district, to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS, which is the first step to protection. If people are aware about the perils of the disease and about how it spreads, chances are that they will be more careful, which will eventually result in good result.

Many seminar and awareness classes had been conducted with special focus on schools and colleges and pamphlets had been distributed in every household educational institutions and other establishments in these areas with the support of members of KESS-HAPPI.

Under Jyothirgamaya project, workers of Asha, Anganwadi and Kudumbasree and many other organisations worked together and distributed pamphlets in every household, conducted awareness classes, quiz contests and rallies.


India vs South Africa series to be named after Gandhi and Mandela

The BCCI and Cricket South Africa (CSA) have announced that they will title all future bilateral series between the two countries - 'The Mahatma Gandhi-Nelson Mandela Series'.

The Test series between the respective countries will be played for the 'Freedom Trophy', which is dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.

BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya, said: "The struggle for freedom has been the common thread between our countries. Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela liberated our nations with non-violence and non co-operation as their weapons which have inspired the world, to adopt and achieve their goals in a peaceful manner. We dedicate this trophy to Mahatma and Madiba, the guiding souls of our nations."

Secretary Anurag Thakur, said: "The Test Series has been christened as the 'Freedom Trophy'. Freedom for which Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela sacrificed their lives and thereby allowed a nation to be born free from years of bondage and suppression."

"BCCI, on behalf of every citizen of our country is able to pay tribute to these great leaders by naming the series after them and appeal to each and every citizen of our country to imbibe their ideals and follow the path advised by them," he added.

CSA President Chris Nenzani, said, "The revered names of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela leave us with a huge responsibility to live up to the legacies they have left us. Above all else they stood for doing the right thing and persevered at great personal cost to achieve freedom for their country regardless of how long it took them.

CSA Chief Executive, Haroon Lorgat, said: "For the people of both our countries there is no greater duty than to uphold the ideals of both Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. As cricket loving people we must fight hard to win on the field of play but never forget to do battle in the spirit of these two great men.

"Naming all future bilateral series between our two countries after Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela is eternal news for our people and cricketers and I would like to thank the Nelson Mandela Foundation for their support," concluded Lorgat.

Source: PTI

Our teenage friendships can make or break our health, study says

"For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack."

Friendships have the strength to make or break our school years. We know what a powerful influence our peers can be in our formative years, with both positive and destructive behaviours being 'contagious'.

Not only that, our friends can make our health, a new study has found.

The research, published in Psychological Science, found that our future health can be predicted by our close friendships in high school.

The study also found that being a part of the pack in high school made for stronger health down the track.

"These results indicate that remaining close to – as opposed to separating oneself – from the peer pack in adolescence has long-term implications for adult physical health," said lead researcher Joseph Allen, a psychological scientist at the University of Virginia. "In this study, it was a robust predictor of increased long-term physical health quality."

To come to these conclusions, Allen and his team followed 171 13-year-olds until they were 27.

From 13 to 17, the teens and their nominated best friend filled out questionnaires about the quality of their relationship, including trust and communication. They also answered questions about how much they attempted to fit in amongst their peers.

"Peer relationships provide some of the most emotionally intense experiences in adolescents' lives, and conformity to peer norms often occurs even when it brings significant costs to the individual," the researchers explained.

Those with high-quality friendships and more drive to fit in were found to be healthier, mentally and physically.

Source: Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Bhitarkanika a congenial habitat for sparrows

The picturesque wetland and meadows of Bhitarkanika National Park in Odisha's Kendrapara district has emerged as a congenial habitat for house sparrows. At a time when these species are fast disappearing, the sighting of these delicate birds is a positive development.

Some 440 nesting sites of sparrows have been spotted along mangrove-infested meadows in the core area of the national park. Identified habitations of these winged species are Dangmal, Dakhin Mahinsamunda, Kalibhanjdiha, Pataparia, Durgaprasad Diha, Satabhaya and Angari forest blocks.

Sparrows were earlier sighted in villages situated on the fringes of the national park. But these birds have left the human habitations, now seem to prefer human-interference free forest areas of Bhitarkanika, said forest officials.

These pint-sized birds are incidentally not listed in any schedule of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Over the years, they are disappearing fast and its sighting has become rare. In most other areas grains and insects the sparrows feed on have gone out of sight due to man-made factors.

The increasing use of pesticides in agriculture fields mainly has spelt doom. These birds steadily perished as grain-feeding birds failed to withstand toxicity. Urbanisation and fast disappearing traditional straw-thatched house have contributed to the shrinkage of their habitat.

Farmers in Bhitarkanika grow saline-resistant paddy and there is less use of pesticides here.

Source: PTI

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