Letters

 
Published: Friday 10 July 2015

Pick Of The Post Bag

The Pokkali fields lesson
Pollution is choking inland waters, and the traditional fisherfolk are the worst affected as a consequence. Every year sees a further decline in the fish catch. Most rivers in India are already heavily polluted, with industrial discharge being the main culprit. Increasingly, this holds true for the backwaters as well.

The well-known 'Pokkali fields' of Kerala are also dying today. The difference, though, is that there are no industries that one can blame for the disastrous situation. Traditionally, both rice and fish are cultivated in the Pokkali fields. Of late, though, the Chemmeen fish cultivated in the fields have developed what locals call a 'viral disease'.

Until not so long back, these fields were untouched by chemicals and chemical fertilisers. Through the months January to May, Chemmeen is cultivated in the fields. Water from the adjacent canals is let into the fields. The fields have always provided the crops with all the nutrients they need. From the months of June through December, the water is not saline, and the famous Pokkali rice is cultivated. The rice also requires no manure. It is a resistant variety, and is not particularly prone to pests. Therefore, for ages, the fields have remained pollution free, with neither artificial food nutrients nor chemical fertilisers having been used to increase yields.

The situation has changed now, though. Contractors have taken over the Pokkali fields, and they are not happy with the existing yield. Maximum exploitation and extraction is their avowed motto. The artificial feed given to the fish in the fields is considered responsible for the 'viral disease' that they have supposedly become prone to.

Another problem with the feed in the fields is that the fish consume only about 50 per cent of it. The remaining feed settles at the bottom. This causes depletion of the oxygen content in waterbodies, and also produces ammonia, hydrogen sulphide, nitrates etc. These are harmful to Chemmeen.

Oxygen deficiency, along with these poisonous elements, reduces the resistance of the Chemmeen. The fish are adversely affected, and this results in what is perceived as a viral disease. In spite of the enormous losses suffered, land owners and contractors continue to be perplexed. They refuse to believe that the artificial feed is at the root of the problem, and continue to use the feed.

In this context it is interesting to note that the Cochin University and the Netherlands University's research foundations have come together for a joint research programme on the Pokkali fields. The research is aimed at reprocessing the excess Chemmeen feed to produce protein, and also neutralise the water discharged from these Chemmeen fields, thus rendering it harmless.

In view of the fact that the reason for the Pokkali fields calamity is clearly known, is it not strange that the programme should have been initiated at this stage? This is a clear case of 'manipulating research'. Manipulated research is not a new phenomenon. We may not yet be clear about the motives behind this, but one hopes time will reveal the facts.

The Pokkali fields serve as a lesson that nature is not conquerable. Human beings, evidently, think they can control all forces for their selfish ends. This attitude must change, and fast. If disturbed beyond toleration, nature will lash back angrily.

U CHANDRAHASAN
Paravoor, Ernakulam, Kerala...

Dangerous dentistry

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Policy mirage

Chief minister Digvijay Singh's letter ( Down To Earth, Vol 10; No 23; April 30, 2002 ) was interesting. There was a half-page announcement, which appeared in The Times of India, June 15, 2000 -- Concerned About Forest? Contribute towards Forest Policy -- soliciting suggestions on the state forest policy. The idea was to make it sensitive to the livelihood of the poor, so they could benefit from the forest while preserving it. All suggestions in this regard were to be sent to Anil Oberoi, conservator of forests (policy analysis unit), Madhya Pradesh.

On July 4, 2000, I sent a letter to Anil Oberoi. Subsequently, I also sent a copy to R Gopalakrishnan, secretary to the chief minister, Government of Madhya Pradesh. I am sorry to say that I have not received, till date, even an acknowledgement from them.

Perhaps you have read Arundhati Roy's reply to Digvijay Singh, in which she refutes his statement and describes what is actually happening on the ground in the Narmada Valley. Her letter says, "You say it is not government policy to buy land and allot it to the adivasi people. But this is not true. Under Section 3.2 (a) and (b) in the Madhya Pradesh Rehabilitation Policy for the Narmada Valley, it is 'exactly' what the government is supposed to do. Your letter suggests that the government has dealt fairly and generously with the people who are to be displaced. This is not the case. I have travelled to the Maan villages. I have spoken to people. I was told about the outrageous manner in which cash compensation was distributed. It is illegal, even according to your own policy, to distribute cash compensation like this. It is simply not true that people were given the choice between land for land and cash. Most people said they were made to feel that they could take cash or nothing at all. Many said that they took cash because they were threatened with legal action and forcedeviction."

G SHANKAR RANGANATHAN
gs.ranganathan@ho.ionxchng.co.in...

Eco tourism

I feel that eco-tourism and related responsible/balanced/sustainable development is the need of the hour and thus if you could inform us more about such successful projects running in India like the Ananda in the Himalayas as well as abroad like Canyon ranch, USA or some of those in Bali, Indonesia. Also if somebody wants to start such a similar project, what would be the funding availability as well as information on instances of projects in India that have successfully availed such funding and contact details so that new ventures could come up and ultimately conserve the environment of the country as well as bring in tourism dollars that are shared between the local society and private initiative....

subscription

why is it that online subscription rates are more than print subscription rates? I would expect that you would save on print & postage, also manpower in terms of taking care of the postage department....

Regarding website

Sir, I would like to say that this is a very good effort at making the magazine popular. I feel that people should be more aware of such magazines. Environment is an important issue and impacts all our lives. I am my self a programmer(web too) and if u'll need any help in developing thios website further..i would be glad to help..(i know u must be having big companies doing this for u but this was the least i felt i could do to help the cause of environment in my own way....) Keep Up the good work and lets all save our environment Luck' Radhika.......

Eco tourism

I feel that eco-tourism and related responsible/balanced/sustainable development is the need of the hour and thus if you could inform us more about such successful projects running in India like the Ananda in the Himalayas as well as abroad like Canyon ranch, USA or some of those in Bali, Indonesia. Also if somebody wants to start such a similar project, what would be the funding availability as well as information on instances of projects in India that have successfully availed such funding and contact details so that new ventures could come up and ultimately conserve the environment of the country as well as bring in tourism dollars that are shared between the local society and private initiative....

want to subscribe

sir, i want to subscribe for it. can u plz tell me centre in india (near hardwar(UP))where i can subscribe through cash. waiting for an early reply ... prabhav...

gober times

The above magazine for children is not being recived regularly. In fact since the first issue we have recived only one copy. Please try and send it regulrlt and if possible please send issue which we may not have recived....

Suggestion

Hi, It will be better if we can have a download section consisting of articles and other information. Thanks Meenakshi...

personal articles

Dear Editor, this is a great idea.Thank you.Finally we can get in touch with you without worring about the post. I am a Std X student studying in Maneckji Cooper Education Trust School where we have environmental studies as an optional head & needless to say I have taken it.I would like to ask you if the readers are allowed to write articles for DTE because I believe that the only way we can express our views,opinions & ideas is through periodicles & newspapers. If you do approve of this idea then I would love to write a few articles as a freelancer with the views of a student & a young citizen of India.Writing is my passion & I am a die-hard enviornmentalist. If you do like it,you could give me a subject,I will write an article about it & send it to you for approval.I completely understand if you reject this idea but please reply to me. Thanking you, Yours faithfully, Bhagirathi Raman...

Down To Earth

The new avatar is surely more colourful and the Online version definitely quicker and attractive. I am sure there would be more subscribers joining in as the word gets spread among those not even being aware of such a magazine. With wider circulation we can expect more number of environmental activists participating in the efforts to improve environment....

environmental education

Dear editor, I am a researcher at the National Institute of Oceanogrpahy, Goa. The other day i and my friend were having a discussion about, why the state of environment is deteriorating in India? why pollution is increasing? The answer lies in the fact that, we, so called the educated part of our country, never follow the rules and never think when we are polluting our surroundings everyday. We read books, news paper, watch television based environmental programs, but hardly try to implement them. And in my opinion it is very difficult to change an educated person to follow rules for not polluting, than to educate an illiterate. I have seen government officials travelling to their office which is hardly 5min away in cars(individual) instead car pooling or still worse not using their feets!!!!!! We were also thinking, why not DTE start(limited editions) piblishing in regional languages? This can be supplied to schools and Government libraries and panchayat offices so that people who do not use english as the language cna also participate in environmental awareness?...

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