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India, China defer agreement on Himalayan glaciers, tigers


TIMES OF INDIA
Saibal Dasgupta , 26th August 2009,

BEIJING: India and China have agreed to defer signing an agreement for joint research on Himalayan glaciers till October end, Jairam Ramesh, minister of state (independent charge) for environment and forests, said here on the last day of his three-day visit to Beijing on Wednesday.

India is worried about signs of faster melting of glaciers, which feeds major rivers like the Brahmaputra, due to global warming. China is anxious about the massive drought situation in the Tibetan region this year.

Ramesh said a comprehensive accord will be drawn up after another round of talks when a Chinese delegation of environment scientists and officials visit New Delhi in October end.

It is not clear if the postponement was caused by any differences between the two countries, which also look at the issue from the security viewpoint. Discussion on granting access to scientists to each other's areas in the Himalayas has been going on for a long time and it is only now that the two sides have come close to drafting an accord.

Ramesh also brought up the issue of tiger farming in China, which local officials do not like to discuss. China was rapped recently by the Geneva based Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species for encouraging tiger farming after strong lobby by India.

The two sides agreed to hold a meeting of experts on issues relating to tiger and Tibetan antelope protection in the first week of November. Any agreement on the wildlife front will take place only after the November talks.

The minister said China and India have agreed to set up a joint working group of forestry experts to study carbon sequestration and determine factors that result in the capture of carbon dioxide in green cover areas.

New Delhi was keen to learn from Chinese how they manage to raise four times more forest at four million hectares a year as compared to India. The two countries also want to collaborate in making forest surveys using satellites.

India and China also wants to work together in research on pollution in major cities in the two countries and management of chemical and hazardous wastes, Ramesh said.

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