How come Andhra is left out of the mining loot story ? It is good for the nation if we learn to keep environmental and...
The UN environment report states that Ganga would disappear by 2030.There would be no need to train engineers or even Ganga...
A report published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology suggests that babies of...
A SCRAMBLE for uranium is on, driven by the new respectability climate change has bestowed on nuclear power. To keep costs low, wages and labour benefits are being curtailed regardless of the fact that uranium miners are exposed to great dangers to their health. Getting the work done by labour contractors has become a common route to avoid responsibility for workers’ health and safety. Such tricks were known to be employed by dirty private profiteers. Miners at Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL) in Jharkhand, a public sector undertaking (PSU), were in for a rude shock when they asked to be paid the minimum wage and health benefits (see p14). The company argued: these workers are not regular employees but hired by a contractor. In the era of ‘outsource’ dirty labour mangement tricks have also gained respectability. Workers in the unorganized sector make up about 93 per cent of India’s total work force. This mammoth workforce is now clamouring for recognition. In 2007 the Centre came under pressure to provide health insurance to workers in the unorganized sector who were below the poverty line. UCIL does not want to take responsibility. They have even refused to provide them information on radiation levels in the mines. Several miners like patients of silicosis are told the government is not responsible for their health as they were mining illegally. But UCIL is not illegal. It is not even a private company where profit motives might colour mine owners’ decisions. UCIL is a public enterprise. It is the government shirking its responsibility.
Ministry of rain is happy
NOW that it has rained profusely, weather statisticians in the government can confidently say that the average rainfall in the country was normal. But god is in the detail. Monsoon was absent for most of the of the kharif season. And then at one fell swoop, showered a mammoth 700 mm in less than a week. Of this 400 mm came in just three days. A few southern states received this entire volume (see p15). This did two things. For the government record keepers, it balanced entries for rainfall deficit in the country. For the farming community it proved to be a calamity. Floods in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka submerged large tracts of cropped areas beyond repair. Parts of Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, which had rainfall deficit till August, made up the shortfall by the September rains; some places now show that there is surplus rainfall with certain places recording 600 per cent more rainfall than normal. In Delhi a single day of rain in early September brought down about 100 mm of rain—the volume that it normally receives over a month. It is now amply clear that we will be receiving intense rain in fewer rainy days. This calls for a relook at our cropping pattern, irrigation systems and urban planning. The era of climate change has ensured one thing: our weather will be unpredictable.
THE behaviour of hundreds of negotiators at the penultimate climate meet in Bangkok was predictable (see p16). They gathered to give a final touch to a negotiating text that can be acceptable to all parties before the final deal in Copenhagen in December. This deal is supposed to save humankind from being fried by high temperature. Far from reaching a consensus, rich countries hatched a plan to bury Kyoto Protocol that has been nurtured, debated and fine-tuned for the last 12 years. Instead of committing to deeper emissions cut in the future, rich countries are trying to dilute their commitments and forcing poorer nations to commit to legally binding emissions cut. It is understandable why nothing has happened in the last decade. Climate change is no more the domain of ethics-bound environmentalists, the discussion has been cannibalized by irresponsible states guided by business lobbies. They have ensured that our future is a violent and unpredictable one. ■