Published: Friday 15 June 2001

Environment Education

Although the need to impart environment education at the school level is greatly felt in today's world, the method adopted to do so, especially in India, is not practical.

Firstly, the textbooks do not present environmental issues in detail. This prolongs the problem students face, as they can make neither head nor tail of such issues. Secondly, there is a lack of an interdisciplinary approach regarding environment education in the universities. For example, the natural science faculty would fail to understand the importance of the coordination between its various departments like physics, chemistry and bioscience.

cse has sufficiently invited attention of the readers towards this fact from time to time, particularly through its new publication Gobar Times so that young children get fully acquainted with the various environmental issues by taking all the subjects into consideration.

In all types of studies, therefore, environment should be looked into from various dimensions i.e biological, physical, economical, ethical and sociological -- for that is the only way towards a sustainable future....

Noble Cause

I am working for the rehabilitation of street children; both in Cochin and at a hill station in Palaghat district called Attapaddi. Since, I am a Canadian, the experience of working for the street children with the organisation Raksha Jyothi, a grass-root shelter, funded solely by the community, is a new chapter in my life. At the shelter in Attapaddi there are 3.64 hectares of land available for farming and a bamboo hut sheltering about 30 boys, aged 4-15.

Actually I am passionate about preserving rare medicinal plants and was quite inspired by the article published in Down To Earth magazine. It was suggested in the article that one way to prevent extinction of medicinal plants would be the cultivation of rare species through small operations, such as the street youth shelter at Attapadi....

TELCO speaks

We refer to the April 30, 2001 issue of Down To Earth (Vol 9, No 23) carrying the special report on Delhi's cng saga -- Pages 33 to 40.

We would like to point out certain factual inaccuracies in the report.

On page 34, you have stated that the 1998 study by the Expert Reference Group, commissioned by the Australian government had been presented in the court by Fali Nariman, counsel for the Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company. Fali Nariman not only did not present any study on comparative merits and demerits of diesel and cng but also made no reference to any such study.

On page 38, paragraph 3 states "One might wonder why is telco opposed to cng "? and indicated that Tata Engineering was reluctant in promoting the cng market. This is not so.

The fact is that Tata Engineering was the first to introduce cng buses. A bus incorporating the latest lean burn cng engine technology was extensively tested by us as far back as 1998 and put on trial for use on Delhi roads by the dtc . The technology was eminently successful in field trials, but because of the high cost involved, we were asked to move to the lower cost stoichiometric ( of quantities of reactants present or involved in the simple integral ratios prescribed by an equation or formula) technology. We had to start the process of development and trials all over again, leading to a serial production of cng buses.

You have stated that telco's cng bus chassis will cost Rs 10.29 lakh plus taxes and Ashok Leyland's bus could cost Rs 10.84 lakh inclusive of all taxes. Ashok Leyland's price to the customer in Delhi is actually Rs 11,61,905/-including taxes. Tata cng bus chassis prices are Rs 11, 53,425/-including taxes and are, therefore, less costly as compared to Ashok Leyland.

On page 37 you have quoted Kanwaljit Bawa wherein he talks about telco overcharging for cng engines. As stated above, the telco chassis is actually cheaper than the Ashok Leyland chassis. We purchase the cng engines from Cummins India Limited, a venture of Cummins of usa , who are the world's largest independent engine manufacturer, and manufacture the entire chassis at Tata Engineering Works. There are other errors in the statement of Bawa, about which we will be writing to him separately.

We request you to take our clarifications into account, especially since Tata Engineering has always been committed to ushering in the latest technologies and made significant contributions to the modernisation of the commercial vehicle industry in the country....

Efficient Transit

It is unfortunate that mass transit systems like the Elevated Light Rail System ( elrts ) is not being given much importance. On the other hand, crores of rupees are being spent on constructing flyovers, which cannot substantially reduce pollution levels.

Delhi's traffic problem cannot only be solved by mere change over to cng from diesel. Unless most of the private vehicles are off the roads, there is not much hope that air quality will improve. A rail system, like the elrts , can carry hundreds of passengers at one time safely, quickly and without any pollution. Moreover this can save precious fuel while improving air quality dramatically....


Apropos the article "Cooking smoke can increase the risk of tuberculosis" (Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 19, 28 February 2001). It has been mentioned that the prevalence of active tuberculosis is 3.6 times higher in the adults using biomass fuels than among the adults in other households. We doubt the findings in the article as wood and dung have been used since times immemorial as ecofriendly renewable fuels without any ill effects on health.

It has been proved that biomass fuels consisting of cow dung, ghee and rice have a good effect on the atmosphere and growth of plants. Moreover the resultant ash can cure diseases and even act as a pesticide.

As such, we should not accept the foreign studies at their face value, unless they are tested and tried for varied conditions.

Moreover, lpg 's are non-renewable sources of energy and may not be available after some years, but wood and dung are renewable sources and at the same time benefiting the ecology....

Good Work

I congratulate you for the kind of work you are doing through your magazine Down To Earth. In my opinion, we do not have its equivalent in Europe; not even the Ecologist run by Teddy Goldsmith.

Recently you have brought out the topic of cancer (Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 12, November 15, 2000) aggravated by poverty in your country. But in France, despite the medical attention, the treatment of this malady is as expensive as it is agonising. After the armaments industry, the pharmaceutical industry enjoys the maximum benefit and the number of new discoveries related to the cure of cancer have not been exploited because of the non-profitability factor. Such an attitude has hampered the benefit of many proven plant extracts, which otherwise could have resulted in saving many lives....


This is with reference to the letter that appeared under the heading, 'Nilgiris plundered',(Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 24, May 15, 2001). As a subscriber and regular reader of your esteemed magazine for more than 5 years I would like to reply to the above mentioned letter.

Firstly, no felling of trees was done for any departmental use. The timber referred to is actually confiscated timber and was transported with proper permit for the construction of a forester's quarter. Moreover, I feel proud to say that this is the only elephant sanctuary that is completely free from any elephant poaching for the past two years.

The Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary is being visited by many high level bureaucrats, scientists, environmentalists etc. I never heard this kind of statement from any such responsible persons. The allegations in the letter are baseless and biased....

Who killed the bird?

This is with reference to the story "Vultures on Death Row" by S M Satheesean. (Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 21, March 31, 200).

The hypothesis of S M Satheesan is contrary to the actual situation and is grossly misleading. I live in Rajasthan and have never come across such a case or individual in connection with the poisioning of carcasses....

Subscribe to Weekly 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.