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Below is a round up of news from or about South Asia for the period 16–29 April 2009

Indus Valley script key an ancient language

The ancient script of the Indus valley civilization that flourished 4500-3900 years ago in present-day east Pakistan and northwest India could have been a human language. This follows a detailed computer-based analysis of the as yet undeciphered script, by scientists in India and the US. More>>

Afghanistan controls malaria

Afghanistan has reduced fatal malaria cases from 84,528 in 2002 to 4,355 cases in 2008, Sayed
Mohammad Amin Fatimie, the Minister of Public Health says. This follows an intense awareness campaign involving 600,000 notebooks, posters and brochures with vital messages
; the distribution of more than 1.3 million insecticide-impregnated bed nets; and the setting up of 30 diagnostic laboratories in Laghman, Baghlan and Takhar provinces over the last two years. More>>

Dhaka's groundwater 'polluted'

The groundwater of Bangladesh's capital Dhaka is contaminated in areas where aquifers are recharged from the riverbeds, with pollution creeping towards the city’s centre. A study by the World Bank and the Institute of Water Modelling (IWM) shows polluted black water flowing in the gradually narrowing rivers of Buriganga, Shitalakshya, Turag and Balu, while tannery toxins have permeated the groundwater in the Hazaribagh area. A study by the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology also shows similar pollution. More>>

Eco-friendly dye buster

A bacteria, Micrococcus glutamicus, can offer an eco-friendly method for degrading the harmful industrial dye 'reactive green' — which is used in the textile, paint, garment and allied sectors. Not only did the bacteria completely break up and decolourise waters containing the dye, but it also decolourised a mixture of 10 similar dyes. More>>

Chicken soup for detergent industry

A bacterial enzyme that breaks down chicken feathers could also be a boon to the detergent industry that needs cleansing enzymes for fabrics. Using a statistical model, Indian scientists have worked out the best way to make the strain produce the enzyme beta-keratinase. Their enzyme was stable and compatible with most commercially available laundry detergents. More>>

Indian wind power entrepreneur a 'champion of the earth'

An Indian wind power entrepreneur, Tulsi Tanti, is among UNEP's six 2009 Champions of the Earth awards. Tanti is the chairman and managing director of Suzlon Energy, the fifth largest wind turbine manufacturer in the world and the largest in Asia. More>>

Pakistan launches its first wind energy project

Pakistan has launched its first wind energy project, and 24 more are on their way. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani says the government has set up a fund to implement alternative energy technologies. Awaiting the cabinet's approval is a mid-term renewable energy policy document. More>>

Pakistan's first anti-venom lab

Pakistan is setting up a specialised anti-venom laboratory, expected to be ready by 2011. It will produce anti-snake, anti-rabies, anti-tetanus and anti-diphtheria sera, with a production capacity of 100,000 vials each year. Each vial will cost less than US$7. Almost 1,200 people in Pakistan die of snake bites every year. More>>

India launches two satellites

The Indian Space Research Organisation launched two satellites aboard its home-made rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). These include a 300-kilogram radar imaging satellite RISAT that can take pictures during day and night, and under cloudy conditions and is expected to improve ISRO’s earth observation images during cyclones, floods, and landslides. The second is a tiny 40-kilogram experimental communications satellite ANUSAT built entirely by students of Anna University in Chennai. More>>

Indian hepatitis C virus under medical scanner

Indian medical researchers are tracking the hepatitis C virus, present in an estimated 13 million Indians and accounting for a quarter of the country's chronic liver disease cases. A team in Mumbai reports details of different genetic variations of the virus in a group of patients. The data can help track drug disease spread and response to drugs. Elsewhere, doctors in Chennai report the country's first case of mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis C virus. More>>

Afghanistan's first national park

Afghanistan has established its first national park Band-e-Amir, high in the Hindu Khush Himalayas. Set up by the Afghanistan National Environmental Protection Agency, with help from the Wildlife Conservation Society and funding by USAID, the 56,000-hectares park contains ibex, a type of wild sheep called urial, wolves, foxes, smaller mammals, fish and a rare bird, the Afghan snow finch. More>>

Compiled by T. V. Padma. Additional reporting by Papri Sri Raman and Sohail Yusuf

If you would like to suggest a story for this news in brief, please contact the South Asia Regional Coordinator T. V. Padma ([email protected]).

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