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The write-up, “Death on mounds of a bumper crop” (July 1-15, 2012), is a realistic analysis of farmers’ woes in the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh. I have quit my corporate life to start farming. When I reached Tikamgarh in Madhya Pradesh in May, I saw many people making temporary shelters on their tractors or heaps of wheat and waiting outside procurement centres.
Influential people got their grains fed straight into the procurement system through the backdoor. Towards the end of the procurement process, the government officials announced purchasing of gunny bags directly from the farmers. By then, the procurement centres had bought enough grain from the influential, so no more grain was accepted. When the procurement process ended, this grain was discreetly sent to warehouses for storage during midnight. A nexus of government officials, businessmen and middlemen has turned the bumper wheat production into a failed affair. I do not understand why government does not purchase grain from the last farmer who is the weakest.
It is well known that the Arctic holds vast quantities of oil. What many overlook is that it is a huge reservoir of freshwater, a far more vital liquid than oil (‘Is Arctic rush worth it?’, May 16-31, 2012). Oceans and other water sources are the bloodstreams of life. The Greenland ice sheet holds an estimated one million cubic miles (one cubic mile = 4.17 cubic km) of fresh water in volume and has a thickness of 3 km. If this is melted it could raise global sea levels by six metres.
If Greenland becomes a potential source of oil it can only accelerate the glacial melt leading to devastation of coastal communities across the world.
H N Ramakrishna
Listen to crop demand
This refers to the editorial, “Six sins that make drought invincible” (May 16-31, 2012), which highlighted the maladies that lead to droughts in Maharashtra. Before 1950, mitigation measures were used to deal with droughts. After that, preventive measures were adopted.
One cannot always blame climate change for aberrations in rainfall and crop failure. Agricultural scientists have been studying proper crop planning and timely sowing operations during early, normal and late monsoons, particularly in semiarid and arid regions of the country. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research has published several documents on cropping pattern for various crops that can be grown in agro-climatic regions with better water management practices.
The write-up says the water-stressed state of Maharashtra has a propensity for sugarcane-type, water-guzzling crops, showing the unwise use of water for agriculture. Sugarcane is most suited and grown successfully in Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar rather than in Maharashtra. This crop needs mean air temperature of 30°C-35°C for at least four months during its growth period, with water requirement of 120 to 165 cm.
K K Nathan
Principal scientist (climatic resources)
Indian Agricultural Research Institute
The editorial makes a cogent statement on droughts and floods. Droughts can be effectively controlled by resorting to rainwater harvesting at macro and micro levels. But it needs an effectively implemented national policy.
Agricultural and industrial sectors are the main consumers of water. Proper selection and rotation of crops is one of the solutions for agro-sector. Recycling water is an answer for the industrial sector.
One of the main causes of floods is the encroachment of catchment areas, banks and basins of river courses. Expanding towns and cities are encroaching upon these areas. The solution lies in multi-storied buildings that will provide space for human dwelling and commercial purposes. River banks should be left untouched and the highest flood levels should be regarded as the yardstick.
L R Sharma
Sundernagar, Himachal Pradesh
Elephant corridors need protection irrespective of whether it is mandated by the government (‘Whose corridor is it?’, June 1-15, 2012). It is not necessary to relocate villages, provided there is enough space for elephants.
Tribals and other residents are the ones to be trusted for safe passage of elephants when they are migrating. Without their consent and cooperation, elephants cannot be protected. Laws alone cannot protect wildlife; residents have to be made stakeholders.
D B N Murthy
When food safety hurts
Due to the laid-back attitude of health inspectors, food joints are not bothered about hygiene standards. It has also resulted in mushrooming of unlicenced small eateries and cart vendors who sell food items prepared unhygienically. Even medium-sized hotels refrain from obtaining a licence to avoid implementation of the rules and provisions laid down in the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006.
Another loophole in the Act is that it applies only to hotels that have an annual turnover of Rs 12 lakh. This has resulted in eateries with less than Rs 12 lakh-turnover throwing food safety norms to the winds. They use impure water and sub-standard material to cut down on their costs. When the Act insists on registration and mandatory inspection of food joints, it is imperative that draconian conditions are deleted so that operators are able to implement the Act in toto for the good health and welfare of consumers.
K R Srinivasan
Every technology comes with inherent defects and this comes to the fore during implementation (‘Unique identity crisis’, May 1-15, 2012). Bringing in Aadhaar to dispatch daily wages is a forward step and using biometrics in this system has its own advantages to prevent fraudulent usages, like forging and proxies. If one goes for smart cards, can it be assured that wages will be duly paid?
Time to educate
This refers to the write-up, “Children once again” (June 1-15, 2012). The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education is a powerful tool in the hands of children and parents. Non-profits too play a key role in identification, assessment, training, mainstreaming and monitoring of children’s education.
Under the Rajiv Vidya Mission, non-profits get the opportunity to run special training centres to educate children who are not able to go to school due to poverty or disability.
Lakshmi Narayana Nagisetty
A ban not in place
In May, India agreed to ban the use of pesticide endosulfan, which paved the way for the 127 nations, which are signatories to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, to put a global moratorium on the use of the highly toxic pesticide (‘Push to revoke endosulfan ban’, May 16-31, 2012). Despite this, farmers in Andhra Pradesh are using endosulfan because of its low cost and lack of alternatives.
Janga Bahadur Sunuwar