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Below is a round up of news from or about South Asia for the period 14 April–27 May 2009.

Eat curry, beat fat

Cucurmin, the main ingredient of turmeric — the yellow spice widely used in South Asian dishes — could be a potential fat buster. Cucurmin reduced weight gain in mice and suppressed fat tissue growth in mice and cell studies, a team at Tufts University in the United States — which included a scholar from Pakistan's Higher Education Commission — showed. More>>

Maldives may live after all
Contrary to warnings that the Maldives will be wiped out by rising sea levels within decades, recent data shows that although the islands "won't be the same" they will still be there. A researcher at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, says that the islands can alter their shape in response to environmental changes — for example they might move onto their reefs and build vertically to curb sea level rise threats. More>>

India makes solar heaters mandatory
India plans to make use of solar heating systems mandatory in hospitals, hotels and guest houses over the next three years as part of its proposed national solar mission. The mission's main targets are to apply solar heating in seven million square metres and providing solar lighting for three million households in urban and rural areas, both by 2012. More>>

Aerosols reduce UV rays
Aerosols can reduce the harmful effects of ultra violet rays, report a team from India, Japan and the United States. Their study in the western Indian city of Pune shows that aerosols reduce 40–56 per cent of UV-B rays, which are known to cause DNA damage in skin cells — resulting in skin cancer. More>>

Plant helps stabilise coal–water mixtures
Saponins, a group of naturally occurring plant compounds, extracted from the common Acacia concinna plant, can help stabilise coal–water mixtures or 'slurries'. Mixing coal with water makes it behave like a liquid fuel that is easier to handle during transportation and distribution, and does not self-ignite and explode. More>>

Quarry dust causes lung problems in Bhutan
An inter-ministerial commission in Bhutan reports a rise in tuberculosis incidence and crop losses in areas near the Bjemina quarry. Crop and health experts say more in-depth research is needed to find more direct proof of the agriculture and health effects of the fine mine dust. More>>

World Bank to help Bangladesh curb air pollution
The World Bank has approved a US$62.2 million credit to Bangladesh to help the country cut its air pollution — whose levels in capital Dhaka exceed WHO guidelines. The funds will focus mainly on transport and brick-making sectors that contribute the majority of the pollutants. More>>

Bangladesh signs nuclear power deal with Russia
Russia will assist Bangladesh with its nuclear power programme under a deal signed by the two countries this month (May). Russia will help Bangladesh set up a US$ two-billion, 600-1000 Megawatt atomic power plant over the next five years at Rooppur, 200 kms from capital Dhaka. Meanwhile, in a bid to increase it power production, Bangladesh announced a dual-fuel policy that envisages building new power plants that can be fired by both coal and natural gas. More>>

Compiled by T. V. Padma. Additional reporting by Papri Sri Raman and Biplab Das.
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]).