Saturday, July 10, 2010

Light Pollution: A Growing Problem for Wildlife‎ and Environment

Air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution, soil contamination are the terms, we know very well. different names for light pollution which refers to multiple problems, all of which are caused by inefficient, unappealing, or unnecessary use of artificial light. It also causes damage to the environment and health, as do other forms of pollution.

Light pollution, also known as photo pollution or luminous pollution, is excessive or obtrusive artificial light.

Artificial light at night can disrupt everything from astronomers' views of the stars to the path-finding abilities of migrating animals.

The most well known light pollution effects are on migratory birds.sometimes leading them to fly into the sides of buildings. But migratory animals are not the only victims. Night-foraging creatures, such as bats and mice, rely on the darkness to either hunt or provide protection from predators.

The more researchers uncover about the startling effects of light pollution, the more obvious it is that something needs to change in the way humans use and direct light.  Some cities, like Chicago, have implemented “lights out” programs where tall building lights are dimmed during bird migratory seasons. The effort is thought to save more than 10,000 birds each year.

Estimates by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the number of birds killed after being attracted to tall towers range from 4-5 million per year to an order of magnitude higher. The Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) works with building owners in Toronto, Canada and other cities to reduce mortality of birds by turning out lights during migration periods.

The U.S. National Park Service, whose Night Sky Team determined that almost every park that it surveyed has noticeable light pollution.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Right To Information Act (RTI) : A guide to gain information about the Government Departments

The Right to Information (RTI) Act, similar to the Freedom of Information Act in the United States - was enacted almost five years ago and is aimed at providing a practical way for all citizens to access information held by public authorities.

The RTI Act entitles you to receive all the information you need from government departments and it's time for more widespread use.

RTI is a law enacted by the Parliament of India "to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens." The Act applies to all States and Union Territories of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. This law was passed by Parliament on 15 June 2005 and came fully into force on 13 October 2005.

India is ranked 84th or near the middle of 180 countries in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index

The Act specifies that citizens have a right to

    * request any information
    * take copies of documents
    * inspect documents, works and records
    * take certified samples of materials of work
    * obtain information in form of printouts, diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes 'or in any other electronic mode' or through printouts.

Public Information Officer (PIO)
PIO is the person responsible in a department for receiving RTI applications, and sending responses, or rejecting applications if applicable. PIO is liable for penalty of Rs 250 per day in case of delay beyond 30 days, or even disciplinary action if information is delayed or denied on no just grounds.

Constituents of an RTI application
1. Name and address of applicant.
2. Name and address of PIO
3. Particulars of information required
4. Postal order, draft, cash etc
Click here to download the sample RTI application

How to go about solving a problem using RTI
1. State a personal or public problem area which you need to solve.
2. Find the department responsible for that area.
3. Find the address of PIO responsible for that area.
4. Draft an RTI application addressed to PIO.
5. Enclose a postal order (of Rs 10 in most cases) addressed to PIO and send letter by registered or speed post to the PIO. Postal order is most convenient since it can be purchased in bulk at a post office, and then one can file RTIs one by one.
6. Wait for 30 days for response. If response is not received within 30 days or rejected, you can file appeal