Published: Saturday 30 June 2001

Grain drain

This is in response to the article 'Grain of Truth' (Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 24, May 15). The analysis by the author is interesting, in-depth, objective and an eye opener. By supporting the so-called elite crops, wheat and rice, our government is pushing the country towards a grave nutritional crisis.

Highly nutritious and cheap crops like millet take a back seat. Labeled as 'coarse grain' or poor person's food, they are removed from the list of main crops. It is shocking to read that every third child in India is undernourished. By encouraging the cultivation of millet this problem can be solved to a great extent.

What has happened to our policymakers, scientists and thinkers? I wonder why our scientists are not encouraging millet cultivation. The need of the hour is to educate the farming community about the need of growing several types of millet on a large-scale. We have already seen the aftermath of paddy cultivation in Punjab. Why is our government waiting for a calamity to strike? We should wake up, think rationally before it is too late....

Wetlands at top of the world

The article, 'Drying Wetlands' (Down To Earth, April 30) was interesting and informative. The high altitude wetlands of Ladakh are unique, but have come under a lot of stress ever since they have been opened for visitors in 1992-93. wwf -India's freshwater and wetlands programme is focussing on special conservation efforts for the protection of these wetlands. Three wetlands namely Tsomoriri, Tsokar and Pangong Tso have been identified for action in the first phase of the project. The thrust of the project is to develop an action plan (involving all stakeholders) for conservation of these lakes, with special emphasis on their recognition as sites of international importance: World Heritage, Ramsar sites.

These wetlands lie in the western most extension of the Tibetan Plateau or Changthang. Disturbance of wildlife, pollution, changes in local lifestyles, increased competition for grazing pastures and loss of cultural heritage are some of the impacts.

wwf -India project has established field offices at Leh and Tsomoriri to implement its activities in close collaboration with local community and other government and non-government organisations. Several education and awareness activities were also carried out for local schools by way of nature clubs, nature trails and poster exhibitions. A process has also been initiated by which local community can manage tourism on a sustainable basis to accrue economic benefits from it....

Display boards

I am a regular reader of your esteemed magazine and it has inculcated in me an intense feeling for nature conservation and its protection.
Your recent articles on Compressed Natural Gas ( cng) were real eye openers and it has prompted me to run my food processing unit on cng , which is soon going to be operational in Agra. Our idea of operating diesel-run cars has also had a shift to cng and I would request you to bring out a fresh article on the state of ambient air and other polluting details including water contamination in Agra.

Further, I have recently started a computer learning centre for kids and I display the Gobar Times on the notice board, with the aim to create awareness about environment. Appreciating the idea, some school's principals have suggested installing environment and it related notice boards in the school.

Therefore, I request you to send me extra copies of Gobar Times to be displayed on school notice boards. An association with your reputed organisation will turn out to be a stepping stone for environmental awareness....

Flower garbage

The huge commercial activities in the flower-markets along the banks of Hoogly river in Kolkata's strand road cause enormous water pollution. Hundred-tonne of unsold flowers, leaves, branches, bamboo baskets, plastic threads are dumped along this roads.

The piled up garbage is then indiscriminately dumped into the river everyday making the siltation level higher of the river bed. The colour chemicals spread on the flowers to brighten its look is also contaminating the water.

Instead of wasting this green garbage, the Kolkata civic authority must make arrangements to convert it as green compost manure, which is ecofriendly....

Charges baseless

I happened to read the letter by Ullash Kumar in May 15, 2001 issue of Down To Earth , wherein he has leveled charges against the Nilgiri Wildlife and Environment Association. The charges are baseless.

In fact, we as members of the association are encouraged to take part in various conservation, research and management activities by the authorities. We never found any grave fault on the part of managers of the Nilgiris forests, including Mudumalai Wildlife sanctuary. When any incident of poaching is brought to the notice of the authorities, they are swift enough to take action against the culprits....

Indigenous people

Apropos the crosscurrents on Biological Diversity Bill (Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 24, May 15). I am grateful to Down To Earth for having raised the issue and having brought out the salient features of the proposed Bill. I also appreciate your magazine's move to initiate a national debate on the subject.

As per law if any person occupies any land or property for a long period, he becomes the owner of the said property. But in the case of indigenous people, neither are they allotted any land, nor are they provided with a plot on lease.

The rehabilitation of these people is not put on a priority basis in the planning and projects of the government, as is in the case of Sardar Sarovar project and Tehri Dam project. More often several movements have been successfully launched against the capitalists, who exploit the mineral wealth, forgetting the indigenous people and their natural rights.

The Bill avoids the term indigenous people and has used the vague phrase 'local people'....

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