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Contents page
Feb 15-28, 1994

Cover Story

In Down To Earth's first Country Report, ANIL AGARWAL and SUNITA NARAIN look at Papua New Guinea, its short but volatile transition to the market economy, its unique land tenure system and the mining and forestry sectors.

Editor's page

WITHIN the international community, few people have cared to study the environmental behaviour of Papua New Guinea. Its traditions provide a very instructive experience: they show the world how to deal with the globalisation process of the 21st century, which is slowly eroding the economic sovereignty of Third World nations and pushing investments that can be socially and environmentally damaging.

News

Many organisations promote the use of fuel-efficient stoves for cooking, which is the biggest consumer of energy in India.

A department of biotechnology project to popularise the production of biofertilisers has recently been approved.

The November deadline for the arrival of Siberian cranes in India is long gone, and wildlife experts are apprehensive that the birds are heading for extinction.

A recent disaster that claimed 55 lives revealed the abysmal safety standards of India's mines.

Thousands of industrial units in parts of Haryana are clandestinely discarding untreated effluents into aquifers, irreversibly damaging groundwater.

The huge forest fire that swept New South Wales smoked out into the open a debate over the government's weak fire-fighting strategy.

A cash-strapped Chinese government is trying to prevent unpaid farmers from moving to the cities in search of more money.

Outdated federal regulations make Indian reserves in Canada vulnerable to waste dumping from sly and better-off surrounding communities

A five-year-long protest in France resulted in a major victory for conservationists, with the government being forced to abandon plans to build a dam.

Interview

SIRPA Pietikainen, Finland's environment minister, says the world has quite a few things to learn from India, especially when it comes to environment and more specifically, fore...

Science & Technology

A recent finding shows that over 35 billion tonnes of 'mysteriously missing' carbon dioxide from fossil fuels burnt over four decades went to ground in the coniferous forests of the North.

A styrene maleic anhydride 'plug' has few side-effects and is reversible.

A recent astronomical observation may prove to be the first sighting of a class of celestial bodies whose existence was postulated about two decades ago.

Fishes seem to be developing ways to detect and avoid high-frequency sonars that trawlers use to locate them

An Australian tree offers wood that can replace teak for furniture

A furore over the ethics of the new eugenics-reproduction technologies that could create 'designer' babies-has the medical community worldwide in a fix.

Composite materials, which can be tailored to specifications and strengths and ultimately replace even steel, have come of age in India.

Analysis

In Down To Earth's first Country Report, ANIL AGARWAL and SUNITA NARAIN look at Papua New Guinea, its short but volatile transition to the market economy, its unique land tenure system and the mining and forestry sectors.

Papua New Guinea has come a long way from a society that began cultivating crops in 8000 BC and had no need for a market economy. It came in touch with the outside world just about 100 years ago. Today, it exports minerals and imports food. The people commute by air and are as comfortable with laptop computers as with tradition. As it lunges towards development, will it be in a sustainable manner or will it end up stranded without resources?

If anything can help Papua New Guineans find the "unique way" enshrined in their Constitution, it is their traditional land ownership system.

Mining companies, aided by a short-sighted bureaucracy, have recklessly plundered Papua New Guinea's vast mineral wealth, transforming its socio-economic profile and leaving behind a degraded environment.

With timber being harvested from Papua New Guinea's tremendous forest wealth at an unsustainable rate, the customary owners of forest land are now asserting themselves and claiming compensation as well as a share of the profits. But an insensitive bureaucracy insists on controlling the timber rights.

Special Report

A new plan to popularise solar photovoltaic products has recently been launched in India

Feature

The training of women in the maintenance of hand-pumps has not only flooded them with confidence, it has rescued a government water supply programme from sinking.

The benefits that can be derived from controlling flood waters intelligently have been wasted, largely because of wrong, archaic notions about the floods can play, which have persisted since colonial times.

The Fortnight

The huge forest fire that swept New South Wales smoked out into the open a debate over the government's weak fire-fighting strategy.

A cash-strapped Chinese government is trying to prevent unpaid farmers from moving to the cities in search of more money.

Outdated federal regulations make Indian reserves in Canada vulnerable to waste dumping from sly and better-off surrounding communities

A five-year-long protest in France resulted in a major victory for conservationists, with the government being forced to abandon plans to build a dam.

Leader

WITHIN the international community, few people have cared to study the environmental behaviour of Papua New Guinea. Its traditions provide a very instructive experience: they show the world how to deal with the globalisation process of the 21st century, which is slowly eroding the economic sovereignty of Third World nations and pushing investments that can be socially and environmentally damaging.

Crosscurrent

Despite numerous proclamations of eco-friendliness and a deluge of treaties, not much was done in 1993 to make fuelwood and clean water easily accessible to the poor

The 17th International Congress of Genetics highlighted the role that genetic technology could play in shaping our world.

Over the centuries, the Aswamedh yajna changed from being related to metal smelteries and became associated with horse sacrifices?

Zoos have evolved from being mere sources of entertainment to educational centres.

Review

THE MEANING OF EVOLUTION Robert J Richards Publisher: University of Chicago Press, Chicago Price: Not stated

RESTORING THE LAND: ENVIRONMENT AND CHANGE IN POST-APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA Consultant Editor: Mamphela Ramphele with Chris McDowell, Jacklyn and Charles Simkins Publisher: Panos Institute, London Price: L7.95

A street play in Delhi urges people to stop poaching.

A BBC serial says strong political will is needed to ensure that energy is used efficient.

Films>>Report>>

ENVIRONMENTAL CONSCIOUSNEES & URBAN PLANNIG Publisher: Orient Longman, New Delhi Price: Rs 25

Grassroots

The training of women in the maintenance of hand-pumps has not only flooded them with confidence, it has rescued a government water supply programme from sinking.

Letters

Renovating power plants

The Union government has provided a liberal administrative and legal environment and offered a package of financial incentives to attract private investments in power generation, supply and distribution.

Renovation and modernisation of several old plants lying idle for want of funds with state electricity boards and departments offer a vast potential of power development in less time than required in putting up new plants and at substantially lower cost of generation and supply.

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