Good job bringing this to light. People won't realise how huge the problem is and municipalities are woefully ill equipped to...
Agreed; mining can never be sustainable, but then how do you get the metals to make all the things you need in the course of...
Very good piece.
Road to Hell
In addition to the issues brought up in the article “Cheated for bauxite” (January 16-31, 2012), I would like to highlight the transportation nightmare that will come with the mining of the Jerala hills in Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh. The project proponents, Jindal South West Holdings Limited (JASWHL) and ANRAK, a joint venture of the government of Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates and Andhra Pradesh-based Penna Cements, plan to move 4.5 million tonnes of bauxite per annum. This throws up some interesting statistics.
Considering the ghat roads are narrow and a 16-tonne truck is used, truck loads per annum would be 281,250 tonnes. This works out to 770 truck load per day travelling in one direction. Divide that by 8 hours a day and one gets 96 trucks per hour which is equal to 1.6 trucks every 60 seconds. This can result in hundreds of human and cattle deaths on the roads in a year. What will happen to the hundreds of village santhas all along the route? How will public transport and trucks carrying farm produce ply? Then there is the issue of tree felling.
Road widening has already caused hundreds of trees to be felled. If the ghat sections are widened tens of thousands of tress will be lost. Each truck during its journey will also throw up 200 kg to 300 kg of vehicular dust every day. I wonder if this has been studied by our friends in the pollution control board. ANRAK also wants to tap five million gallons of water per day from the Yeleru Left Main Canal for their refining unit. This water is meant predominantly for agriculture. Mining will affect an entire generation and the hills will take a thousand years to recover—if they recover at all.
Flush waste, not water
This refers to the editorial, “Why excreta matters” (January 16-31, 2012). Vrishabhavati, a river that flows to the south of the global IT hub and now imploding Bengaluru city, is also on the verge of decline. The river is used by the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board to provide 135 million litres of drinking water per day or about 20 per cent of all the city’s water. The water is taken from two reservoirs built on the river, Hesaraghatta built in 1894 and Tippagondanahalli built in 1933.
Is it not ironic that the more modern we become the greater apathy we develop towards sustenance and infrastructure building? The reservoirs from which Bengaluru draws its water were built nearly 100 years ago, and in subsequent years we have only exploited them. The water supply board needs to provide breathing space for these rivers, reduce the flow of untreated sewage into it and undertake radical steps to introduce non “flush water” toilets.
We need facebook, google
This refers to “Small brother is watching you” (January 16-31, 2012). The government plans to put restrictions on the Internet because its contents are obscene and defamatory. Social networking sites are meant for people to exchange views, both personal and social. Most of such views are not to be taken seriously. The importance of the Internet in a democratic set up cannot be underlined. Censorship or restriction of any kind is not desirable. Yes, there are certain sensitive subjects and any comment or content on which may not be in national interest. The best way to handle this is to give specific cases of deletion. A complete ban on Facebook and Google is not advisable as these have become a way of our lives.
This refers to the write-up “Retail FDI myths” (December 16-31, 2011). The topic of FDI needs to be seen from two view points: (a) non-producers or affluent urbanites whose percentage is very low, and who stand to benefit; (b) producers whose percentage is high and will end up as the losers. Any decision regarding FDI will have to keep in view the interests of farmers and producers. What the decision makers need to push for is the concept of rythu bazaar, initiated in the state of Andhra Pradesh. It is the most innovative and creative platform for the producers to get better price for their produce as there is no involvement of middlemen. The choice should be given to the producers to decide what they want.
Lakshmi Narayana Nagisetty
Retail giant Walmart, whose sales were worth $422 billion in 2010 and whose growth was 20 per cent outside of the US in the last quarter, will wipe out small retailers within a year. Still, decision makers are pushing for FDI in retail saying it will increase job opportunities. Another reason given for promoting FDI is that it will lower prices, the possibility of which is bleak. There may be some price cut due to reduction of wastage, but whether it will lower prices of other goods needs to be assessed.
Stand up for conservation
The article “Reserved for exploitation” (January 1-15, 2012) has well explained how vested interests have stalled the proposal of the forest department to upgrade conservation status of 12 reserve forests in the Western Ghats. In fact, they use the loophole that mini hydel projects do not require environmental clearance to build many such projects and reap double benefits. The environment ministry should stand up, bring changes in regulation and support the forest department to put an end to this exploitation.
Feel the disconnect
“Only plans, no integration” (December 16-31, 2011) gives clues about the genesis of Naxalism. The word “disconnect”used in the article is equally relevant in other Indian states which are not affected by Naxalism.
The nation’s bureaucracy, which wields the executive and financial powers, never tries to connect with the masses. The bureaucracy’s much maligned junior extensions, therefore, rule the roost and distort facts which ultimately lead to misgovernance. Politicians who depend upon bureaucracy for governance and programme implementation, reap what the bureaucracy sows.
There were times when district collectors used to camp in villages. Now they rarely venture out of their cozy offices. They are only seen in public when the chief minister or some other powerful politician visits the area. Naxalism is a product of decades of neglect and oppression of poor tribals.
L R Sharma
Sunder Nagar, Himachal Pradesh
Prevention is the answer
The death of around 100 people at AMRI hospital (‘Where’s the fire alarm’, January 1-15, 2012) due to fire clearly reveals the horrific state of most corporate hospitals in the country. They only think of amassing wealth at the cost of safety.
This is the second fire accident in the hospital since 2008 but still adequate steps were not taken to install safety equipments. Further, the delay in extinguishing fire is also a clear revelation that there is zero public safety. The AMRI fire has forced indolent authorities across the country to get cracking on erring institutions for violating fire safety parameters.
K R Srinivasan
Dam row continues
The article, “Blunder 999” (December 16-31,2011 ), ignores the salient technical details and judicial decisions on Mullaperiyar dam which were publicised by the chief minister of Tamil Nadu. The Periyar river is an inter-state river with about 20 per cent of catchment area lying in Tamil Nadu. The dam built about 100 years ago was strengthened by the Tamil Nadu government based on the advice given by the Central Water Commission, the highest technical body in the country, and in concurrence with the engineers of the Kerala government.
Consequently, the Supreme Court, based on various scientific investigations permitted Tamil Nadu in February 2006 to raise the water level from 136 feet (41 metres) to 142 feet (43 metres), even though water was earlier stored in the dam up to 152 feet (46 metres) without any problem. The Kerala government has not allowed Tamil Nadu to implement the court orders. The Idukki reservoir located downstream with a total capacity of about 70 TMC was not filled to the full capacity even once in the past. The maximum capacity reached was only 57 TMC.
The article says the Kerala government was not wise enough to cancel the agreement at the time of reorganising the states in 1956. In fact, Idukki district, comprising Devikulam and Peermedu taluks, should have been annexed to Tamil Nadu given that the majority population there is of Tamils.
Dams are built to be used for long periods; it is not easy to decommission them. Decommissioning needs years of preparation for people and the impacts it may have on the surroundings. People relocated for the new project also need to be rehabilitated. What’s more, nobody can guarantee the new structure will be as robust and safe as the existing one. Collapse of newly constructed bridges and buildings is common.
S N Mahalingam
Retired Engineer PWD, Tamil Nadu
It is interesting to show ancestral history on the basis of genetic study (‘Aryan invasion debunked’, January 16-31, 2012). Max Muller had a pre-occupied colonial view and he used his theory to substantiate Aryan invasion over Indians. The scientific study by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad has revealed the European hollowness to break our ethnic basis and the politics of superior-inferior invasion concept.