Published: Wednesday 15 January 2003

Pick of the post bag

Mafia rules
The story 'City of Fire' (Down To Earth, Vol 11, No 13; November 30, 2002) and the report on the proposed evacuation of Jharia (near Dhanbad in Jharkhand) (Vol 11, No 12; November 15, 2002), highlight important issues, previously put on the backburner. While concerns about the evacuation hitting poor people most strongly are valid, if there is any major gas leak, these people will be the most severely hit.

Almost every inhabitant of this small, highly polluted city is constantly worried about the fallout of such a tragedy. In such a situation, evacuation may be seen as a last-ditch effort to deal with the problem. If alternative methods have failed, it is largely due to the nexus between the powerful coal mafia, corrupt company officials, strong contractor lobby and politicians with high-level links. The crores of rupees that Bharat Coking Coal Limited has apparently spent on security measures have only made progress on paper. The many mine accidents in the past few years stand grim testimony to this.

During 1998-1999, there was a huge controversy when a member of legislative assembly, Gurudas Chatterjee, demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the Jharia mines safety issue. He was murdered in April 2000 in broad daylight on the highly busy G T Road. The fact of the matter is that the coal mafia rules Jharia with their black money, muscle power and social and political connections. The proposed evacuation is a well thought out strategy to prepare the ground for attracting private and foreign investment, to turn the closed mines of the region into open cast mines for accelerated exploitation of this energy belt.

Jharia, Jharkhand...

Change the technology

This is to add to your cover story on the Anil Agarwal Clean Air Model (Down To Earth, Vol 11, No 12; November 15, 2002). I have information that I have sent to relevant authorities. I am now sending it to Down To Earth (dte) as well.

The most cost-effective and short gestation solution for mass and rapid transport is the conversion of diesel buses to electric buses. The following are possible configurations to this effect:

Hybrid electric bus (single coach): The source of power is from a combination of battery bank and a small engine generator, based on compressed natural gas (cng), liquid petroleum gas (lpg) or even diesel. If cng/lpg is used, only two or three cylinders will be required in a day, as against 10-12 currently used for the same coverage. If diesel is used, only about 20-30 litres of diesel will be required in a day, as against 80-odd litres currently required to cover a distance of 240 kilometres (km) a day.

All-electric high capacity twin coach trolley bus: The source of power is from an overhead wire network that supplies power to the buses by means of a current collecting system mounted on the roof of the bus. This is ideally suited for dedicated lanes on six or more lane roads, e.g. Ring Road, Mehrauli, Delhi Gate etc. Delhi Transport Corporation had developed the technology to couple two buses into a twin coach bus. This type of bus can be converted into an electrically propelled unit. These buses can run at high frequency, say one bus every minute, and can cover approximately 350 km/day, instead of the normal 200-240 km/day.

All-electric medium capacity twin coach trolley bus: The source of power is the same as described above. This is ideally suited for dedicated lanes in the Walled City routes, viz Inter-State Bus Terminal-Old Delhi Railway Station-Red Fort-Daryaganj-Delhi Gate-Asaf Ali Road-Ajmeri Gate-New Delhi Railway Station-Lahori Gate. Diesel buses that pass through the Walled City, create heavy pollution and congestion, can be re-routed through Ring Road.

The cost of conversion of existing new or old bus chassis will be only about Rs 10-15 lakh. The maintenance cost is negligible. Electric buses have long life spans of up to 30 years. These buses can also operate for about 350 days a year, instead of the usual 300 days a year. Besides bringing down pollution levels, these buses will also substantially reduce congestion levels, the rate of accidents and operational costs.


Poultry under threat

Coccidial is a major threat to the poultry industry all over the world, and causes tremendous loss of life among birds. Consequently, it affects the economy as well. In fact, annually, it costs the world's commercial chicken producers at least us $1.5 billion. The most commonly recognised coccidial infecting chicken and other poultry belong to the genus Eimeria .

It is regrettable that in spite of development in immunological, biotechnological and general methods, control of coccidiosis chiefly depends upon the orthodox arsenal, ie prophylactic chemotherapy with anticoccidial drugs. However, continuous and indiscriminate use limits the usefulness of these anticoccidials.

In controlled experimental trials carried out over a period of three years, it was found that continuous use of bifuran and sulphaquinoxaline as coccidiostats in poultry reduced their efficacy by development of resistant strains. Studies on this have been so far limited to warranting the development of resistance to ionophores in Eimeria isolates of Northern India in the near future.

Anticoccidial drug resistance in Eimeria of poultry in India has not really been monitored. It is essential to conduct a large-scale study to obtain an overview of the resistance problem.

Drug resistance is defined as the ability of a parasite strain to multiply or survive in the presence of a drug concentration that normally destroys parasites of the same species or prevents their multiplication. Various mechanisms by which parasites acquire resistance to drugs include:

Modification of the target so that its sensitivity to inhibition is decreased

Use of an alternate biochemical pathway

Altered permeability so that the drug is no longer taken up, or is rapidly pumped out of the cell.

The genetic basis of drug resistance is believed to involve mutation and the selection of resistant phenotypes. While resistance to some drugs may result from a single mutation, resistance to most drugs may involve several mutations at multiple loci. Such drug resistance would tell heavily on the health of people who eat infected chicken.

Executive director
Animal Rights International

Share and learn

Local knowledge (lk) is an eclipsed marginal truth, the history of which lies in the organic fringe ignored by both the elite culture and by the historians who 'wrote' history. lk sprouts from regional specificities. Instead of depending on the established research methodology and personal/individual subjective study, one has to take a society-centred perspective in the study of lk. The methodology of this process is sharing local/traditional knowledge.

This involves exchanging and sharing knowledge that the inhabitants of each locality achieved through observation, experiments, success and failures over many centuries. This they acquired by seeing, hearing and doing things themselves. Things hidden in the layers of the past are unearthed when informal dialogues are conducted with people of an older generation.

All the traditional ways of study, transmission of knowledge, practical skills etc are at their lowest ebb due to globalisation. As a result of this, local knowledge is snatched away from the true owners and patented; it is high time that a resistance against this exploitation is waged. To this end, there is a need to record local knowledge. When local knowledge is registered, the intellectual property rights of the true owners are established. This embraces all aspects, such as knowledge of the soil, flora and fauna, preservation of the balance of environment, water management, local veterinary practices, local myth/philosophy, local methodology of education, local games, local antiques, markets, festivals, fishing etc. This is different from the history written by power centres.

The need for a defensive role is easily understood in this century, and a new methodology is to be formulated for the collection and study of lk. That follows:

Formation of centres for the study of lk

Formulation of the methodology of collection of lk

Giving training to people in collecting lk

A model questionnaire for survey at the micro-level

Cultural work, such as field survey

Props and tools for field survey

Categorisation of the collected information, and preparation of a register of lk of each branch

Museum, library and audio-video documentation of lk

Exhibition of material culture/folklore and creative crafts

Sharing lk. This can be arranged in informal ways, such as an assembly of knowledgeable local people. It is a counter structure against the prevailing formal one. Old scholars and knowledgeable persons of both sexes, who are ready to share information with the younger generation, are to be invited.

Special training in collection and recording local dialects, idioms, sayings, secret language and local classification systems


Watch that water

D B N Murthy's views on packaged water reflect the incontrovertible truth. We studied the potability standards of packaged water available in and around Mayiladuthurai town. We selected three standard and three local companies. We adopted the standard methods for analysis of the physico-chemical and bacteriological parameters. We found that all three local companies had high bacteriological contamination. It was beyond the permissible limit suggested by the World Health Organisation and Bureau of Indian Standards. The local companies are best given the go-by!


Print Spam!

I am at a loss to understand why you carried the covering letter and not my response to Biswanath Das' article on disaster preparedness in Orissa 'Wither winds of change' (Down To Earth, Vol 11, No 10, October 15, 2002).

Besides, you published a letter by a certain Srinivas Rath ('Unholy nexus') (Vol 11, No 12; November 15, 2002), which does not address the article, and instead hurls cheap abuse on the functionaries of Orissa State Disaster Mitigation Authority (osdma) and United Nations Development Project (undp). Interestingly, the mischievous author of this letter called himself Srinivas Rath, and used the E-mail-identity srimishra@yahoo.co.in to confuse people. I am sure he knows fully well that Srinivas Rath is the state development commissioner, and his wife, Sri Mishra, teaches at R D Women's College, Bhubaneswar. We have confirmed that the development commissioner has not sent any such letter. Then who is this Srinivas Rath? We feel pained that you could allow somebody to use your magazine, which we hold in such high esteem, for such acts of calumny.

Social Scientist
Orissa State Disaster Mitigation Authority
Bhubaneswar, Orissa

Editor's response
We missed the attachment you sent with your mail. It got misplaced in internal E-mail transmission. In the attachment, you have tackled the article point by point. Due to paucity of space, we reproduce an edited version of the attachment text.

With regard to the E-mail sent in the name of Srinivas Rath: We've obviously been done in by a 'spammer'. We apologise for the pain that somebody else's irresponsibility might have caused all concerned. The 'letters' pages are intended to be an open forum for comment and discussion. Down To Earth trusts its readers to maintain a certain seriousness of purpose. When that trust is broken -- or, in this case, grievously abused via electronic mail -- we can only ask our readers to be more responsible. E-mail communication affords an anonymity that, in this case, has clearly been used by a mischievous spammer. To the spammer, we can only say: please use your misdirected energies somewhere else.

Text of Satya Mishra's earlier communication:

Biswanath Das' article on post-cyclone disaster mitigation initiatives in Orissa is an example of how half-baked analysis produces misleading conclusions. The hurriedly-penned article contains some outrageous factual errors. osdma is said to have emerged as a power centre outside the state administration! The death toll in the super cyclone is put at 30,000, whereas the actual figure for loss of human lives in the twin cyclones in October 1999 is 8,913.

Before passing sweeping judgements, Das should have tried to understand the process of disaster preparedness in Orissa, and the roles played by different agencies, including osdma, government departments, undp and various non-governmental organisations (ngos). Prior to osdma's formation, the Special Relief Commission (src) was the nodal government agency that responded to natural calamities. After the cyclone, the need for a nodal agency was felt, and osdma was instituted.

Perhaps Das also does not know that there is absolutely no confusion regarding the roles played by osdma, src and other government departments. src continues to be responsible for relief and response to natural calamities. osdma coordinates reconstruction activities, and works to improve long-term disaster prepar.

online access

Sir, I ama the sucriber of the DTE (Customer Code 24316) bring to your notice that the username and the password given to me is not showing not valid on the online access to the web edition of the DTE, hence i request you to look in to the matter and restore my access to online edition of DTE Thank You Yours faithfully Maya (24316)...

Password problem.

Dear Sir, Greetings from Catholic Relief Services. Thank you for your letter dated 27/1/03, giving access to the DTE web edition. In your letter mentioned above, you had mentioned a specific User name and Password alloted to CRS with our customer code :8769. But when we feed in the password the message on the screen says- invlaid password. Request you to kindly look into this problem asap and intimate the necessary changes. Thank you. Regards David.P...

change of address

I do not know where to right for change in address. I am a regular subscriber and living at jaipur. I did instructed to Postal department but still I am not getting it since last 2 months. My old address: C 32 Gole Market, Jawahar Nagar, Jaipur My New Address: Chakrapani Ayurveda, A 33 Prabhu Marg, Tilak Nagar, Jaipur - 4 Thanks for all your help. Rajesh...

change of address and username + password

I do not know where to right for change in address. I am a regular subscriber and living at jaipur. I did instructed to Postal department but still I am not getting it since last 2 months. My old address: C 32 Gole Market, Jawahar Nagar, Jaipur My New Address: Chakrapani Ayurveda, A 33 Prabhu Marg, Tilak Nagar, Jaipur - 4 Thanks for all your help. Kindly note: I also misplaced my username and password. I have received it by mail but never used. Could you help? Rajesh...

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.