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A peoples charter

Issue Date: Nov 30, 1998
THERE is no action plan of the Indian government to tackle air pollution in the short term, pointed out Anil Agarwal, director, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), at the second anniversary function of the release of its book Slow Murder. In his presentation at the World Wide Fund for Nature auditorium on November 1, Agarwal reiterated that the air pollution problem in India has become abysmally bad.

NGO's prepare for COP-4

Issue Date: Nov 30, 1998
THE Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) held a workshop and a seminar to discuss India's stance prior to the Fourth Conference of Parties on Climate Change (cop-4), which is currently being held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Representatives of South Asian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) par- ticipated in the meet. Climate change is the biggest environmental threat to the


Issue Date: Nov 30, 1998
LUDHIANA Ludhiana's problem is that of plenty. This industrial town has a per capita income of Rs 30,000, almost 30 times more the per

Count Down?

All over the world sperm count in humans has declined by over 50 per cent in the last 30 years. In India, studies involving more than 1600 men, both fertile and infertile, over the past 15 years have shown a decrease by 43 per cent in sperm count . In the 1950s and 1960s, a sperm count of 60 million/ml was considered normal, whereas 20 million/ml is considered normal today, notes Kamala Gopalakrishnan of the Institute of Reproductive Research, Mumbai.

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


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.
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