Published: Friday 30 September 2005

True value of forests

Compliments for the article,'Too cut & dried' (Down To Earth, July 31, 2005), which raises various important issues of valuation and valuation techniques for forestry resources. Such valuation makes a good case for allocation of more funds to better manage India's forest resources.

We are currently doing a project for the Central Statistical Organization of the Union ministry of statistics and programme implementation to develop a methodology to account for natural resources for the Forestry and Land sectors in Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

It is very essential that such valuation and accounting exercises should become part of regular exercises of concerned departments.

Madhu Verma
Associate Professor
Indian Institute of Forest Management


The article, Down To Earth, August 31, 2005), is a one-sided story and the Forest Survey of India (fsi) has not been given the opportunity to respond to the comments by some 'experts'. Even I am misquoted as I don't dispute P S Roy's suggestion; but that will not reduce the cost of satellite data because we will still have to procure satellite data for the entire country to detect any changes.

I remember in 1997, the late Anil Agarwal sent an article on forest cover assessments done by Food and Agriculture Organization and fsi, to us so that our comments could also be included in the published piece.

Don't you think it appropriate to send this article to the fsi director for his comments so that we also get an opportunity to present our side?

Alok Saxena
Joint director, fsi

Punjab's troubles

The article on high level of pesticide residues in the blood samples of the people of Punjab ('Evidence of damage', Down To Earth, June 15, 2005) is an excellent piece of research work.

But then, what about the excess water usage for crops unsuitable to the state? No doubt, Punjab's contribution to the country's granary is much more than what is expected from this small state. The state's farmers, however, are presently not bothered about the dwindling groundwater level despite government agencies advising them to move to crops requiring less water.

According to social researchers, the farmers spend as much as 80 per cent of their earnings on liquor!

On the other hand, not only is a natural resource being depleted for future generations, but with further lowering of groundwater level, the cost of pumping water will also go up.

Bhupinder Singh,
S Thakar Singh House,
Gowsalla Road,
Fazilka-152 123, Punjab

Tribal bill

I am worried over your support for the Scheduled Tribes and Forest Dwellers Bill 2005 ('Big cat conundrum', Down To Earth, June 30, 2005).

The tribals have lived in the forests for many years but what have they achieved? No schools, no hospitals, no electricity, no roads. Surely the tribals can be given a better life outside forests. In other words, they should be relocated but provided with good land, housing and other facilities.

As it is, our forests are being depleted by encroachers and others. Tribals also graze their livestock inside forests thereby depriving wild herbivores of their food.

K R Sethna
Yellikodigi Estate,
Aldur, Chikmagalur district,

Down To Earth welcomes letters, responses and other contributions from readers. We particularly welcome you to join issues and share your opinion with others. Send to Sunita Narain, Editor, Down To Earth, 41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi - 110 062. Email:editor@downtoearth.org.in...


Endosulfan controversy
We have received the following letter from the Crop Care Federation of India (ccfi). Since this is an important issue we reproduce the letter in toto, place the controversy in its context and give our response.

25th August 2005
Ms Sunita Narain
Society for Environmental Communications
41 Tughlakabad Institutional Area
New Delhi 110062

We know that you are sincere and doing good work for the environment. But after you have got the Padmashri award, we feel that you have become reckless in writing articles in Down To Earth .

The industry, the scientific world and even the bureaucrats are all shocked that a very respected scientist of high integrity like Dr O P Dubey has been a target of your wild and false allegations.

We know that Dr O P Dubey is a highly qualified and experienced scientist and he has given facts about Endosulfan.

You are either misguided or you have a one track mind without seeing the logic.

Endosulfan is not used only in Kerala but all over India and all over the world. Large quantities of Endosulfan is used. Nowhere in the world we have found deformity because of Endosulfan, as mentioned by Dr Mohan Kumar, who mentioned that out of around 180 families, there were 200 cases of cancer is absolutely a false statement.

When you make a statement that there was 115 ppm of endosulfan in the blood sample of Dr Mohan Kumar -- any man with common sense, scientific or otherwise, can understand that it is a stupid statement. No human being can live with 115 ppm endosulfan residues in his blood. It is a hoax and it is nothing but mockery of science.

Do you know that the water solubility of Endosulfan is 0.32 ppm whereas you claimed to have found more than 9 ppm. So a reputed magazine making such a statement is utter rubbish.

In your article, not only you have blamed Dubey, but also tried to malign the names of number of executives and Managing Directors of pesticides companies. You probably feel every one else is bad except you!

Dr C D Mayee is the country's leading agronomist, and as a ex-Director of Central Institute of Cotton Research at Nagpur. He knows more about Endosulfan than others. You have praised Dr Mrs Sandhya Kulshrestha and Dr H N Saiyed; the less said about them, the better it is.

You would need to exercise a degree of caution while blaming the scientists of the country. We would have no alternative to expose you unless you change your statement.

I am enclosing the Code of Ethics for Environmental Journalists for your reference.

We request you to withdraw your statement against Dr Dubey and Dr Mayee or else we will have no alternative but to take up the matter with the authorities and the scientists and courts.

Rajju Shroff
Crop Care Federation of India
Uniphos House, 11th Road, Madhu Park,
Khar(W), Mumbai-400052

The controversy in context
In the article carried in August 31 issue of dte we had reported on the conclusions of the committee, headed by O P Dubey, assistant director general, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, to look into the endosulfan issue. We had shown that while Dubey, industry representatives, Ashwini Shroff and Sagar Kaushik and C S Nair of Kerala Agriculture University gave a clean chit to the use of endosulfan other members (Sandhya Kulshrestha, member secretary, H N Saiyed and Brajendra Singh) felt that suspension of use of endosulfan was in public interest. Likewise the Mayee committee, which was to examine the Dubey committee report, did not examine crucial and critical issues.

We are always happy to publish criticism of our work and invite public controversy on matters in the public intere.

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