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CSE

Problems intensified

Depletion of micronutrients such as copper and molybdenum from the soil leads to poor food quality and micronutrient deficiency in humans. The most common deficiency is that of zinc, copper and manganese. Manganese deficiency has reduced productivity in coarse-textured soil under the rice-wheat system in Punjab, points out J S Kanwar, deputy director general (emeritus), International Centre for Research in Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Hyderabad. Boron deficiency is most serious in the Kosi project area of Bihar and iron

Yellow lies

Participants at the session dealing with radiology at the conference, including A Gopalakrishnan, a former chairperson of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), criticised the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) for not parting with vital information regarding nuclear safety. During the session on radiation and health, Xavier Dias, an NGO activist from Chaibasa in Bihar, described how radioactive waste was being dumped without any precaution at the tailings (waste dumps) of the Jaduguda uranium mines in South Bihar.

Pumping poison

Research by the School of Environmental Studies (SES), Jadavpur University, Calcutta, has revealed that the tubewell of a single rural water supply scheme in Malda in West Bengal had pumped out as much as 143 kg of arsenic in 1991. Though it is proved to be coming out of underground rocks, scientist have not fully understood what causes it. They have suggested that large-scale ground water extraction for agriculture may be one of the reasons. Another view is that due to the high use of phosphate-based fertilisers, the arsenate of the soil might have leached into the aquifers.

The riceroot vectors

The Green Revolution has greatly contributed to the spread of Japanese encephalitis. Professor T Jacob John, professor of eminence at Christian Medical College, Vellore, in tracing its detection in several parts of India since 1954, shows the link between paddy cultivation and Japanese encephalitis. "The prevalence of these diseases is determined by the population densities of their vectors, which in turn is determined by environmental factors," says John.

Carry on doctor

A participant at the conference narrated the story of two doctors who were walking by a river. They saw a man floating down the river. One of them rushed in, dragged him out, and immediately gave him first aid. As he had finished doing so, along came another man floating. He

DYING FOR PROGRESS

Issue Date: Sep 30, 1998
Scientists worldwide now accept that along with industrialisation and urbanisation, there has been a steady destruction of nature. Cities and industries have both affected clean air and clean water.

Turtles, shrimp and a ban

Author(s): Anil Agarwal
Issue Date: Jun 15, 1998
India, Pakistan, Thailand and Malaysia have won the shrimp-turtle case in the World Trade Organisation (wto) against the us government. The us had imposed a unilateral ban on the import of shrimp caught in a way that killed endangered turtles. The us government had taken the action under its own national Endangered Species Act. A wto dispute panel has judged that such a ban goes against the principles of free trade.

A parched waterworld

Issue Date: May 31, 1998
The doomsday predictions of wars being fought over water indicate the world's precarious position with regard to water. Though 70 per cent of the planet is covered by water, only 2.5 per cent of water is freshwater. Of this, nearly 70 per cent is frozen in the ice caps of Antarctica and Greenland. The rest is present as soil moisture and in deep underground aquifers. As a result, only a minuscule 0.007 per cent of water on the planet is readily available for human consumption.

Water in foreign policy

Issue Date: May 31, 1998
The gravity of the problem of freshwater scarcity on a global scale was recognised as far back as 1977, when the un Water Conference took place at Mar del Plata, Argentina. The action plan drawn up at Mar del Plata is considered by many as "an excellent road map", much of which is valid two decades down the road.

Industrial vibes

Issue Date: May 31, 1998
Industry and freshwater. "The challenge is to create the market conditions whereby sustainability will form the basis of competitiveness," Bausuano added. "Voluntary commitment cannot be a substitute to legislation," said Bjorn Stigson, president, WBCSD. "It can only complement an on-going process. In developing countries, voluntary effort will have to come from the big industries, and the legislation that is in place will have to look after the small and medium scale industry," Stigson pointed out.
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