Letters - June 16-30, 2014
Prickly tale of pine
The success of pine cultivation in Sri Lanka's Sinharaja Forest Reserve to restore native vegetation does not necessarily hold good for other forests, at least not in Himachal Pradesh ("Nurturing effect of pine", May 16-31, 2014). The article says that pine trees are fire- and drought-tolerant. This is not true. Pine needles are highly inflammable and many fires in the Himalayan state have taken place in pine forests. The article further describes how planting of pine trees in abandoned agricultural land and degraded forests helped restore native vegetation in forests across South Asia. This again does not seem feasible. Pine needles which fall off from the trees form a thick carpet on the ground and inhibit the growth of grass and vegetation. And talking about disadvantages, neither does pine provide cattle feed nor quality fertiliser.
L R Sharma
The green myth
Saying that so-called green products and green services are hogwash is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater ("It's all greenwash", May 16-31, 2014). The fact is nothing is completely green, be it an ecofriendly air-conditioner or a herbal shampoo. Tweaking some element of a product or a service to make it more environment-friendly should not always be seen as a capitalist fix.
A case of UPA bashing
It was disappointing to read the editorial "Gujarat v UPA: models of non-governance?" (May 1-15, 2014). The text criticises various models adopted by UPA but sheds no light on the Gujarat model. Is it the case of a misleading headline or a biased editorial?
Gujarat has no doubt attracted good investment in the last few decades, thanks to former chief minister Narendra Modi's model of growth. But we should not be under the illusion that the same has made Gujarat a better place to live in. Last year I travelled extensively in the state. I saw many industries already functioning and many coming up. Morbi, for example, has a number of ceramic factories, but the surrounding areas are polluted, posing health hazards. It is clear that environmental norms were flouted in setting these up. Is this the kind of development we want?
M A Haque
Accurate weather forecast a must
This is with reference to "Hailstorm drives farmers to suicide" (April 1-15, 2014). Unseasonal rain and hailstorm led to crop failure in millions of hectares of agricultural land in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, forcing farmers to commit suicide. Hailstorm is just another weather phenomenon like fog and thunderstorm. The article quotes an official of the Met department saying that they can forecast rain, but not hailstorm. I found this quite amusing. Being an agricultural country, India should have at its disposal latest models of weather forecasting that can provide inputs on synoptic data, atmospheric stability and wind variation. To say that prediction is not possible for some weather phenomenon is an easy way of shirking responsibility.
K K Nathan
Say yes to solar panels
This is with reference to "Solar threat to Sambhar" (May 16-31, 2014). I am not against mega solar power projects for the generation of electricity, but why use precious green space when there are thousands of rooftops in the country that can be fitted with solar panels? The government should spend the money earmarked for such big projects to install solar panels at homes and business establishments. This will use less space without endangering the ecology and also provide eco-friendly power to a large number of people.
Cycles are useful; why ban them?
The ban on non-motorised transport in Kolkata, particularly on cycles, by traffic police is foolhardy ("Cycles congest roads: traffic cops", May 1-15, 2014). The police have argued that slow-moving vehicles congest roads which lead to traffic snarls. What about cars, trucks and buses? These heavy vehicles not only create traffic but also cause air pollution. Cycles, on the other hand, cause no harm to the environment, save fuel and directly employ thousands of people such as milkmen and newspaper vendors. Considering these advantages, the police should revoke the ban on cycles and the administration should set up separate lanes for them to deal with the traffic problem.
Don't treat them poorly
The Delhi High Court's order to exempt four private hospitals in the city from providing free treatment to the poor is a step back in healthcare ("Delhi hospitals freed of poor", May 16-31, 2014). Government hospitals do provide free primary and secondary healthcare to the economically weaker section of society, but these are overcrowded with patients. Most government hospitals are understaffed and do not have the latest medical facilities. Private hospitals are a good alternative. They are better equipped and have a fairly adequate strength of doctors, nurses and surgeons. The high court should revoke its order and make it compulsory for all private hospitals to provide free medical care to the poor.
Curse of old age
Progress in medical science has improved longevity, but it does not guarantee a disease- and problem-free life ("Old and wary", May 1-15, 2014). The elderly population in India lives under pitiable conditions— many of them are confined to old-age homes, suffer from age-related diseases, are neglected by families and are unsupported by the government. At the official level, there are many schemes on health insurance, retirement homes, mortgage and pension to address their needs, but when it comes to legal benefits, policies exist only on paper or are implemented half-heartedly.
H N Ramakrishna
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