Letters

 
Last Updated: Friday 10 July 2015

Shaky reactors

I was reading with interest the news 'N-plant weeded out' (Down To Earth, March 15, Vol 10, No 20). This is bad news, indeed, for the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (npcil). With its impressive budget allocation, the corporation has been lavishly spending our tax money in producing costly and radiation-generating power. The closure of Rajasthan's Atomic Power Station Unit-1 under orders from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (aerb) comes close on the heels of an announcement that the Kalpakkam Power Unit would be closed for two years, as it had developed problems in its core tubes. The hundreds of crores of rupees invested on this plant will sit idle. Further, crores of rupees have to be further invested for repairs.

We understand that the Tarapore Atomic Reactor is also to be decommissioned from April 2002. Yet, we learn nothing from our failures. The Atomic Energy Commission (aec) is going ahead with construction of the vver -1000 reactors at Kundankulam, Tamil Nadu, in spite of mass agitations, representations, memorandums and signature campaigns against the project.

The Nagercoil-based Nuclear Power Awareness Committee has brought to light that the npcil did not get environment impact assessment for the project after the revised proposal was signed by Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Russian President Vladimir Putin in November 2001. Further, it is a fact that population distribution studies around the reactor were not done properly. Moreover, Kundankulam is an earthquake prone area.

In spite of all these precautions, the npcil is going ahead with plans to construct the reactor in an area where the background radiation is high. In Idinthakarai, a village two km from the reactor, the background radiation is as high as 1.5 to 2.0 uGy/hr (amount of radiation absorbed by the body). The admissible limit is less than 0.1 uGy/hr. The Rs 17,000 crore project is a 'test reactor', and we are guinea pigs for global powers on our own soil. It is an irony that the aec, which boasts of having mastered the reactor technology, is importing this reactor from Russia! It is another instance of how the Indian public is brainwashed and bombarded with false statements from the aec.

R S LAL MOHAN
Nuclear Power Awareness Committee
Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu
...

Identity crisis

With reference to your report 'Coot falls prey' (Down To Earth, March 15, Vol 10, No 20), we would like to add that the coot is the most common species amongst the waterfowls being poached in the reservoirs of Vadodara, Kheda and Anand districts of Gujarat. A large number of waterfowls utilise man-made reservoirs during winter.

If the forest department fixes up display boards in all the reservoirs, educating local people (and poachers) about the legal protection provided to all species of waterfowls, it might help in preventing the offence. Display boards should also provide details of the authority, which ought to be contacted in case there is a complaint to be registered. Such efforts by the forest department or even non-governmental organisations will help in conserving wildlife outside the protected areas. The published picture of the waterfowl along with this report is not a coot. It looks like a spot-billed duck.

B M PARASHARYA and ANIKA JADHAV
Gujarat Agricultural University
Anand, Gujarat

I write to inform you about a small mistake in dte. The caption of the painting printed along with the story 'Coot falls prey' does not represent a common coot. As far as my knowledge of ornithology goes, this is a painting of the bean goose (Anser fabalis), which is a European bird. Common coots (Fulica atra), belong to the order Gruiformes and family Rallidae. It is entirely greyish-black, with a prominent white bill and dull green legs and feet. It is a gregarious bird, especially in winter, when thousands of them gather in places like lakes, irrigation tanks, and other large areas of open water, with marginal vegetation. The coot is a diurnal bird, and forages chiefly for aquatic vegetation in open water, mainly by diving. It also sieves plant materials from the surface. In India, the coot is a common resident and winter visitor. It breeds locally up to 2,500 metres in the Himalayas, and also widely and erratically in the plains.

As this species is very common in the Indian wetlands, it is an easy prey to the local people. It is not uncommon to see coots on sale, along with ducks, in the winter months. The coot is probably next only to ducks as the most-consumed water birds here. They are an easy source of protein for the local people. While I do agree completely that steps should be taken to curb the killing of these birds, I would be loathe to term the trapping and killing of birds by the poor locals as poaching. Poaching is an organised wildlife crime, which involves killing wild animals for a definite gain of some sort.

The bean goose is primarily a European species, found in the southern artic tundra. This species is not common in India. I hope you will point out this error for the welfare of dte readers.

ARUNAYAN SHARMA
Malda, West Bengal ...

Clearing the air

I sincerely appreciate the coverage of Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha's (baps Sanstha's) watershed project activities and Pramukh Swami Maharaj's profile in dte. The reporter would normally have been directed to me, as I am in charge and have all the documentation to date. However, I was out at that time, and the sadhus in the Amdavad headquarters did their best to ensure Eklavya Prasad's visit would not be wasted.

They provided him with all the information they possessed at the time. However, we were pained to read some misinformation and one claim, which is a totally unfounded and uncalled for slur on baps. For the sake of record and accuracy, the correct spelling of the sanstha's name is as set out earlier in this letter. Secondly, on p 28, the correct name of the sadhu photographed is Swami Adhyatmaswarupdas, not Nityanand Swami.

Far more painful, though, is the slurring claim on p 29 that the sants denied photographer Preeti Singh entry into "some areas of the temple". The sentence connotes -- states, in fact -- that it is an example of discrimination, for which Prasad gives tall advice: "This attitude must change if water has to become everybody's business."

baps temple complexes have three sections: i) the temple itself, which is open to all, regardless of gender, caste or religion; ii) an administrative block; and iii) a sadhu ashram. Prasad interviewed and recorded the talk with the sadhus in their personal offices in Amdavad. And Singh did click shots of the mandir and sadhus using her zoom lens. The sadhus then arranged for thier meal and then a guided tour of our check dams in the vicinity.

After receiving such hospitality, it is sheer ingratitude to distort facts and present them in such a fashion. Was it to sensationalise his article or to vent Singh's, albeit misplaced, discomfort, and perhaps anger, at not being allowed into the sadhus' ashram ? Either way, the statement is unwarranted. What's even more damning is that her ostensible 'discrimination' had absolutely nothing to do with the issue in question -- water. Such reckless muddying is the forte of the cheap Indian journalism, which we get to see enough of in the local news media. In all good faith, and to maintain dte's down to earth reporting image, young reporters should be trained to develop an eye for objective, non-myopic reporting and healthy respect for the in-house norms and traditions of host organisations, rather than injecting personal, baseless emotions into the article.

P P BHATT
Watershed Project Office
Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
Amdavad, Gujarat

Editor's response
Thank you for your letter. I am very sorry that our article contained errors in the spelling of names. This is absolutely inexcusable. Please accept my most sincere apologies.

As far as the matter regarding my colleague Preeti Singh is concerned, I have discussed this at length with both Eklavya and Preeti. I am sure you will understand that Preeti was extremely upset about not being allowed to take photographs in the hall. I do accept your institution has its rules. However, there is a greater need to communicate these rules, particularly to young women, so they understand that there is no discrimination. Women are, understandably, prickly about these issues.

SUNITA NARAIN...

More bats

I was very pleased to read the article 'Bat tracks' by G Agoramoorthy. I believe, though, that his article would have been the right place to speak of the elusive Wroughtoni's free-tailed bat, which is fast on its way to extinction. This bat is only known to roost in the Barapeda caves of Belgaum, Karnataka.

RIKI KRISHNAN
riki@ias.ernet.in...

PICK OF THE POSTBAG

Privatising water
Globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation -- all clichs bandied about in speeches by political leaders. After Manmohan Singh's economic reforms, 'global pressure' has forced India to a mad privatising, liberalising spree. Global forces enter local markets at the grassroots level. Education, health, public sector organisations and industries are all on the road to liberalisation. We even have a separate ministry for disinvestments now. One can make an effort to understand these moves, but there is an important question that does not find a voice: what about water?

Water is the life force, and Hindu mythology reinforces this. Water has, in fact, traditionally been acknowledged as an important public property. The Vajpayee government's new water policy, however, completely overthrows this concept.

This new policy seeks to snatch control of water and food from community control. The flow of backwaters and rivers will be restrained by dams and bunds, which are backed by multinationals or moneyed lobbies within the country. In a nutshell: water is big business. And these emerging power centres might, in the near future, claim ownership of every drop of rainwater.

The prime minister's brand of doubletalk is reflected in the water policy as well. When releasing the National Water Policy on April 1, 2002, he said, the policy must "recognise that the community is the rightful custodian of water". The policy itself, however, mentions the term 'community' only once...in the concluding paragraph. Reports from New Delhi indicate that even this single mention of the term was included after the prime minister's speech. For policymakers and the officialdom, rainwater harvesting is a quaint idea, relegated in the water policy to the section on non-conventional methods.

The prime minister's speech stressed the importance of local management of water resources. Paradoxically, the policy is silent on this issue. It advocates bureaucratic control and management of water. By speaking of 'people's participation', the policy means that people should participate in government programmes. People's planning or any other kind of participation in the true sense is not even envisaged, let alone possible.

The poor will, of course, be the worst hit. It will lead a starved nation into greater poverty. As Sunita Narain, editor and publisher of Down To Earth , clearly observed, all voices that have argued for community-based water harvesting strategies as being the key to water security and food security have been ignored in this rehashed water policy.

RATHEESH KALIYADAN
kaliyadan@indiatimes.com...

changemakers.net

Dear Editor, In preparing copy for the next issue of The Changemakers Review, I have just discovered your publication. We have many common interests. I am wondering if you are familiar with Ashoka Innovators for the Public and with our Web initiative called Changemakers.net: http://www.changemakers.net/index.cfm Our archive of articles is at http://www.changemakers.net/journal/archive.cfm My particular responsibility is to the Changemakers.net Library at http://www.changemakers.net/library/ Perhaps you would consider an exchange of complimentary subscriptions. The most recent issue, Volume 4, No. 1, of our print magazine has just been published in Calcutta and I'm sure my colleagues there would send you a copy forthwith. For my part, I would like to read more of your materials in the magazine itself and, if possible, to have access to the copy online. As you can see in the collections of the Changemakers Library, I am always on the lookout for excellent resources, articles, and the like...that would be useful to our audience of social entrepreneurs around the world working for positive social change. There seems to be a great deal of information that would make a wonderful contribution to the library collections. Many thanks for your consideration. Sincerely, Karin Hillhouse Ashoka/Changemakers.net 1700 North Moore Street Suite 2000 Arlington, VA 2209 USA ...

ELEPHANT TORTURE IN ASSAM !

Dear Madam, I am a Master Trainer with the Animal Welfare Board of India and a member of People for Animals(PFA) based here in Guwahati. Having gone through your website I have been impresed and wish to contribute articles with regards to animal welfare and environment from the northeastern regoin here.Please do let me know if this is possible and if so what are the formalities. Presently I am fighting for the rights of the captive elephants which are being used by the Forest Authorities for the eviction drive against encroachers here.These elephants are being used to demolish all kinds of illegal structures put up by the encroachers like RCC(concrete) buildings as well as roofs made of corrugated iron sheets. This act of the authorities has been condemned by several United Nations members as well as World renowned Elephant Conservation Groups like WWF-NEPAL,Care for the Wild International. In India this move has been called outrageous by Ms Belinda Wright ,Executive Director of Wildlife Protection Society of India(WPSI) and Smt Maneka Gandhi has asked the Minister of Forest here to stop this but no action has been taken so far. I can provide you with more details if this matter is newsworthy for your website. regards, Azam Siddiqui, Master Trainer,Animal Welfare Board of India(AWBI) 107/C,Railway colony,New Guwahati-781021,ASSAM Ph:0361 558702(res),098640 97586...

regarding subscription

Sir, I am a research scholar.My guide has got a copy of your magazine 'Down to Earth'for subscription.I want to know that the amount for the annual subscription of the magazine needs to be paid in which form and if through draft in favour of whom? thanking you,...

changemakers.net

Dear Editor, In preparing copy for the next issue of The Changemakers Review, I have just discovered your publication. We have many common interests. I am wondering if you are familiar with Ashoka Innovators for the Public and with our Web initiative called Changemakers.net: http://www.changemakers.net/index.cfm Our archive of articles is at http://www.changemakers.net/journal/archive.cfm My particular responsibility is to the Changemakers.net Library at http://www.changemakers.net/library/ Perhaps you would consider an exchange of complimentary subscriptions. The most recent issue, Volume 4, No. 1, of our print magazine has just been published in Calcutta and I'm sure my colleagues there would send you a copy forthwith. For my part, I would like to read more of your materials in the magazine itself and, if possible, to have access to the copy online. As you can see in the collections of the Changemakers Library, I am always on the lookout for excellent resources, articles, and the like...that would be useful to our audience of social entrepreneurs around the world working for positive social change. There seems to be a great deal of information that would make a wonderful contribution to the library collections. Many thanks for your consideration. Sincerely, Karin Hillhouse Ashoka/Changemakers.net 1700 North Moore Street Suite 2000 Arlington, VA 2209 USA ...

lakes vs real estate

Dear editor: I read with shock and great interest your cover feature on lakes coming under attack from real estate. In fact, I live very close to rabindra sarobar, a forested watershed in the heart of polluted kolkata and am shocked to see how real estate is slowly but surely creeping into the lakes. How do I stop it? Can CSE help? Which are the NGOs I can join to fight this plight? A response would be deeply appreciated. regards, Surojit Bose...

disappearing lakes

hi sunita you may not remember me but i interviewed you when u came to hyderabad for deccan chronicle. now i work in Indian express. a number of lakes in hyderabad are being encroached upon by politicians. i am unable to do anything despite being a journalist. can you suggest something to stop this. there is some dutch funding for developing the lakes. they are building huge walls around the lake, covering portions of it and saying they have saved the lake, a la george orwell. pls suggest some measures. i am ready to do anything....

ELEPHANT TORTURE IN ASSAM !

Dear Madam, I am a Master Trainer with the Animal Welfare Board of India and a member of People for Animals(PFA) based here in Guwahati. Having gone through your website I have been impresed and wish to contribute articles with regards to animal welfare and environment from the northeastern regoin here.Please do let me know if this is possible and if so what are the formalities. Presently I am fighting for the rights of the captive elephants which are being used by the Forest Authorities for the eviction drive against encroachers here.These elephants are being used to demolish all kinds of illegal structures put up by the encroachers like RCC(concrete) buildings as well as roofs made of corrugated iron sheets. This act of the authorities has been condemned by several United Nations members as well as World renowned Elephant Conservation Groups like WWF-NEPAL,Care for the Wild International. In India this move has been called outrageous by Ms Belinda Wright ,Executive Director of Wildlife Protection Society of India(WPSI) and Smt Maneka Gandhi has asked the Minister of Forest here to stop this but no action has been taken so far. I can provide you with more details if this matter is newsworthy for your website. regards, Azam Siddiqui, Master Trainer,Animal Welfare Board of India(AWBI) 107/C,Railway colony,New Guwahati-781021,ASSAM Ph:0361 558702(res),098640 97586...

inquiry rather

are the subscription rates properly displayed (web edition 499,print +web 288Rs.).if so i should like to know why the difference.also for an individual fighting for the environment in his own right,will it be useful.you see i am not associated with any club as such ,but do go their activites like tree planting and desilting(at that level) thank you jS...

membership without subscribetion

Sir/Madam, I would like to join "DOWN TO EARTH" without subscribing .This option has been mentioned in the magzine being sent to me regularly.Please tell how is it possible. THANK YOU...

Launch of eco friendly tyres

We at JK Tyre,India's leading tyre manufacturer have launched India's first range of eco friendly tyres on 4.6.02.We would like to asssociate with your organisation in our endeavour to educate car owners on advantages of using our tyres.Please contact. ...

regarding change of address

respected madam, namaste.I am dte subscriber. 520010/1 2001/24-2004/23/1939630154 12/15/04[lgd # 5491] my address changed recently.I informed the same to dte office through letter. but I could not get dte till date. i missed at least two issues. kindly pusue the matter and tke necessary action. my old address: p.rambabu, 58-5-7, danaiah street, patama, vijayawada. andhra pradesh. new address: P.RAMBABU, C/O M A AMEEN, 74-31/2-8/2,NEAR PAPPUL MILL,KAREPAK THOTA,3RD STREET, VIJAYAWADA, ANDHRAPRADESH PIN-520007 THANKING YOU MADAM. I HOPE I WILL GET TWO PREVIOUS COPIES ALSO. KINDLY TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY. ...

Reprints

Dear Sunita Narain, You may remember me as the editor of Earth Island Journal. We met at our San Francisco office years ago during one of your visits to the US. I was recently removed as editor of the Journal and reassigned to produce an on-line environmental magazine called The-Edge. I would like to reprint Down to Earth's cover story on water harvesting. I have been promoting the issue of water harvesting in the US for some time now and wish to continue showing the value of this essential response to managing a precious limited resource. I don't have a credit card (I'm one of the few American Luddites to remain cardless) but I would like to request if I could occasionally draw on Down to Earth as a news resource -- with full credit and contact information. Thank you for considering this request. Gar Smith, Roving Editor @ The-Edge PS: In my last issue of the Journal I placed Anil's name on a new honor role of environmental heroes. The world has long honored Patriots (people who fight to defend the Fatherland). We though it was time to honor Matriots (people who sacrifice to protect Mother Earth). Anil certainly deserves a place on this honor roll. (See "Matriotism," Earth Island Journal Summer 2002)...

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