New Environment Portal Reflects Gas Disaster Still Unresolved

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New Delhi, Aug 11 (UNI) Dow Chemicals shareholders seeking action against the company over Bhopal gas disaster liabilities is among data on an environment portal put online this evening.

As are bits about Indian victim groups talking about exposing Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath's role ''in helping Dow Chemicals and Union Carbide escape their liabilities in Bhopal.'' Or the Indian government agreeing to establish a Commission having special rights for Bhopal gas victims a quarter of a century after the disaster.

The National Portal on Environment launched by National Knowledge Commission chief Sam Pitroda is a one-stop source for all information and resources on environment and development.

''If this is the age of environment, then information will be the key to change-- in our lifestyle, in policy and in practice,'' and thus ''the India Environment Portal,'' Pitroda said.

Calling it a ''unique effort,'' he said, ''it is our effort to put government information in the public domain and to build dynamic and networked knowledge-based societies.'' The Portal designed and built by the Science and Environment Centre with support from the NKC is intended as an important step ''ahead for the environmental movement.'' Centre officials called it a virtual resource repository of all relevant government information and a common platform for information of government and civil society.

''Our politics is overt: to build open, networked and informed societies,'' Centre director Sunita Narain said, adding the idea was to build a society which ''use knowledge to make change.'' That is why the Portal has been set up as an open-source platform and makes proprietary information ''available and open,'' she said.

The portal will make available for public scrutiny sourced government documents, provide links to government institutions, identify environment researchers and institutions and collate data ''we can use in our daily lives.'' It will give access to more than 300,000 researched and other articles and documents categorised by author, subject and location.

It will carry information consumers can use: from how to install a solar water heater to the best work in wastewater management, organic farming and vermiculture to solar energy, wastewater recycling and rainwater harvesting.

The portal is currently in English but is planned to be made available in other languages, sponsors said.

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