Letters

 
Published: Friday 10 July 2015

Plastic death

Plastic is one of the worst inventions of the last millennium. It has been responsible for extensive environmental degradation. The plastic carry bags pose innumerable problems as was rightly pointed out in 'Plastic unlimited', (Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 15; December 31, 2000). Improper dumping of these bags is causing a threat to the local flora and fauna. Since the bags do not decompose, there is a decreased flow of energy from one level to another. Plastic bags also block sewage pipes and choke drains. This leads to unchecked breeding of mosquitoes that causes diseases like malaria.

A few months back I was observing the breeding of a pair of Asianpied starling (Sturnus contra), a common species of bird found throughout the country. While observing them, I found that they used mainly three colours of plastic bags -- green, black and blue -- for nesting. Later, I found that they failed to raise any chicks despite laying four eggs and continuous incubation. Not a single egg hatched because of the abnormal temperature in the nest. This can be attributed to the plastic carry bags. In another incident, a house crow (Corvus splendens) died when it swallowed a piece of fish wrapped in a plastic carry bag. There is an urgent need to curb the use of these bags in any form otherwise the delicate balance of the environment might be soon destroyed. ...

Guiding light

The article 'Plastic unlimited' (Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 15; December 31, 2000) made interesting reading. Bangalore-based Citizens Action Group is planning to file a public interest litigation to ban the use of plastics in Karnataka. In view of this, the article provided the group with additional information and rethink on certain issues. ...

The alternative

I would like to share my feelings about the present day environment conditions. We all know that plastics are a threat to the environment but very few of us realise their harmful impacts on our lives in the long run. To start using alternatives to plastics has now become a must. For example, instead of using polythene bags while shopping, a jute bag can be easily used. ...

A better choice

Apropos 'Maddening effect' (Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 15; December 31, 2000) I have to state that porcine insulin is better than bovine insulin for treating diabetes. Its amino acid sequence is closer to the human insulin. Pigs are neither suffering from the mad cow disease nor do they have similar prions in their tissues. Porcine insulin costs much less than human insulin. On repeat use, the chances of developing antibodies by the human bodies against porcine insulin are much lower when compared to its bovine counterpart. ...

Breeding crime

We, at Nature soule (Saviours of Un-polluted Life on Earth), a New Delhi-based environment sensitive non-governmental organisation, have closely observed the developments in response to the Supreme Court's order regarding relocating industries from Delhi's residential and non-confirming areas to confirming areas. Seeking the Army's help to implement the apex court order was a moral defeat on part of the Delhi government, as the workers of the industrial units located in non-confirming areas are neither terrorists nor criminals. Even if the government succeeds in closing the units, these dislodged workers, in the absence of jobs, would resort to mass suicides or take to organised crimes. Therefore, such acts that may give birth to a different kind of pollution in the form of crime should not be encouraged.

The industrial workers are also part of the society. Lack of foresight, planning, an ever-vigilant machinery and an environmentally sound check and balance mechanism in the past years had led to such a sad situation. While it is essential to relocate the industries from the residential areas to create a 'healthy city', environment norms in Delhi's masterplan do not ensure that these industries, upon being shifted, will not pollute the still unpolluted region of the national capital region. Neither has the masterplan any provisions to ensure that there will be no future build up of slums or any other environment degrading activity in these regions.

The question of importance is not the number of industries that need to be relocated but essentially of whether there would be any effective mechanism to ensure the all-important environmental balance between these relocated industrial units and their environment. Only such a mechanism shall have the inherent consistency and internal stability to prevent these industries from polluting and from any future build-up of slums and unauthorised colonies around them. The manner in which the Supreme Court's order was executed does not take into account basic human survival needs. Therefore, it would have the effect of tearing apart the social fabric, leading to a chaotic situation where looting, crime and violence shall be the order of the day and all such plans to build cities of peace, productivity and safety would be abandoned. ...

A different opinion

Apropos, 'The green goblins' (Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 15; December 31, 2000), while there is truth in much of what you say I request you to relook at the points highlighted in your article. It is incorrect to say that the small-scale industrial units (ssis) cannot be competitive because of pollution control systems. Further, the problem stems from the fact that the ssis look at it as an end-of-the-pipe situation and do not realise that resources can be put to better use through better management of the manufacturing process and better planning. There are quite a few ssi units from industries that you have mentioned, who have applied their mind to this aspect, and have come out successful.

Also, the pollution control board has, by and large, looked at the whole issue as a pollution problem and rarely advises units to look upstream. Your comments on urban management deserve applaud. Across the country politicians and bureaucrats have shown scant regard for human comfort and well being. There is rarely any planning let alone an understanding of the issues. Every decision is politically motivated and the public at large is so burdened with day-to-day living problems that it is too weak to protest. ...

Mindless destruction

Mindless construction of highrise buildings in the Kumaon, Uttaranchal is destroying the beautiful and pollution-free environment of the region. It is also obstructing the panoramic view of the snow-capped Himalayas. ...

Dual murder

This is with reference to the article 'Small policy' (Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 9; September 30, 2000). I was happy to know that the Union government has planned to regularise the small-scale industries (ssis). ssis play a vital role in earning foreign exchange. But at the same time, some ssi units of the tannery, textile, pharmaceutical industries cause extensive pollution, which is hazardous. Most of these ssi units have not set up effluent treatment plants. These affect our lives in two ways. If they continue to function they will continue to pollute. On the other hand, if they do not function then the problem of unemployment arises. The Union government needs to do something about this like getting aid from world organisations to help these ssis function properly. ...

Threatened habitat

Udhuwa Lake Bird Sanctuary, located in the Sahibganj district of Jharkhand, is the only bird sanctuary in the state. It has a unique location, water regulation system, the potential to attract avian fauna and supports the local people in minor irrigation and other facilities.

The sanctuary has been considered an important bird area under the international programme launched by the uk's Bird Life International and Royal Society for Protection of Birds. The sanctuary supports at least four species considered globally endangered in the Red Data list of threatened birds. But, the sanctuary is facing a serious crisis arising out of negligence that is affecting their count and diversity. Thousands of illegal settlers have occupied the periphery of the sanctuary and have undertaken deforestation at a large-scale. Rampant illegal fishing in the sanctuary has also become common. All this can be curbed if the government takes some stringent steps. ...

The tea tragedy

The tale started when a consumer in Cincinnati, the us, thought that the iced tea he had ordered in a restaurant tasted like sewage. He then took the tea to a local television station, which got it tested for fecal coliforms. When the results proved to be positive, the television station did a survey of iced tea served in several restaurants. The tea from all the restaurants proved positive for fecal coliforms. Without investigating the case further, the station aired a programme regarding the dangers of fecal bacteria in tea.

What the television station staff did not realise, however, is that some microorganisms are commonly found in vegetables and in tea, which may never have come in contact with fecal matter. The bacteria that may test positive on a general fecal coliform test can come from sources other than fecal matter. Even the us Fedral Drug Authority (fda) said that fecal coliform testing was not effective in this case and that a specific test of coliforms was necessary to determine fecal contamination.

Unfortunately, many consumers in Cincinnati have stopped drinking iced tea and several restaurants have taken it off their menu cards. When presented with scientific facts as those presented by the fda, the television station -- rather than letting this information stand on its own merit -- treated it as a debate. ...

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