Published: Tuesday 31 July 2001

Need for employment

Going through the article on "Drought 2001" was indeed a rewarding experience (Down To Earth, Vol 10, No 2, June 15). The sum and substance thereof as "short-term thinking and long-term failures" aptly pinpoints why drought recurrs in this country.

I firmly believe that there is a great need for the provision of employment to people dependent on agriculture This is specifically true about monocrop areas where unemployment, despite average rainfall is rampant. The authorities concerned should realize that the solution to this problem lies in comprehensive employment policies and not in mere drought relief. ...


The editorial "Incompetence at its best" (Down To Earth, Vol 10, No 1, May 31) exposes the bias on the part of the government towards cars despite increased hardship to citizens. The World Bank and the imf have issued dictates to poor countries to build infrastructure in order to allow multinational corporations' free access to their markets. This is being done to help the automobile sector. But I feel it will not work. In many Indian cities traffic jams and accidents have not been reduced by flyovers and elevated roads. So the American pattern of more and more roads cannot be the solution. The only solution lies in taking more cars off the road by strengthening the public transport system, rebuilding tramways and raising the price of gasoline. This alongwith levying of a pollution and congestion tax and using the amount to reduce pollution and congestion can check the problem. ...

Threatening trend

The wanton destruction of Kaola trees in the reserved forests of North Bengal has greatly damaged the conservation efforts of this rare species from the region. The bark of the Kaola tree is an essential raw material for the preparation of incense sticks. The vandals peel off the bark leading to the drying up of these soft trees, sometimes the whole tree is cut down to meet the purpose.

Nearly 50,000 trees have been cut during the past two years. The loggers are active in Buxa Tiger Reserve (btr), Chilapata Reserve Forest and the different reserved forests in Cooch Behar district.

In 1998, the forest department of Jalpaiguri district leased out the Dooars area for peeling the barks of Kaola to an agro-forestry farm of Kolkata. Misutilising the letter, the farm began peeling barks of Kaola trees of the entire forest belt in North Bengal. The destruction of Kaola trees sparked-off protests by different ngos of North Bengal and the forest department had to revoke the lease. ...


I was delighted to read your editorials -- "The us and us" and "Incompetence at its best" (Down To Earth, April 15 and May 31).

During my stay in Bangalore (1985 to 1998), I had collected data from news reports about satellite launches, missile tests and the occurrence of unseasonal rain, unwanted drought, floods, cyclones and cold and heat waves in India. I have now reached the conclusion that these calamities occur only when we meddle with the Earth's atmosphere.

Unless an urgent moratorium is imposed on missile tests by all nations through the United Nations , we will continue to suffer from such natural calamities. ...


Have your say Down To Earth has received a letter, where the writer has raised certain issues regarding forest laws in India. The contents are reproduced below. We invite our readers to comment upon the same.

Your Editor's Page and the special report on "Trouble in Dewas" were quite interesting (Down To Earth, Vol 10, No 2, June 15 and Vol 10, No 1, May 31).

Indian Forest administration (ifa) is the brainchild of the British Empire. It is amazing to note that in non-British ruled countries, forest conservation falls under the purview of farmers. But for the Indian Forest Service (ifs), we would be none better than Ethiopia and Somalia where hills were ploughed under non-sustainable agriculture. In India reserved (protected) forests were constituted democratically with enough provisions of legal de-reserving under the Indian Forests Act.

I strongly believe that the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and all forest laws are ideal and stand at the top as examples for foresters all over the world to emulate. Your reference to them as "callous forest laws" has hurt me. ...

Speedy action

This is with reference to B K Foetedar's letter on "Environment education" (Down To Earth, Vol 10, No 2, June 15). Along with imparting environment education to children we need to focus on adults, policymakers, elected bodies, industrialists etc. because by the time the children studying environment grow up to be effective decision makers, it would be too late.

Most of the people, including Indian Administrative Service (ias) officers, industrialists, municipal officers and elected representatives are totally unaware of various environmental issues. Our housing society has disallowed solar heaters on the grounds that they are aesthetically unpleasant. We cannot wait for the next generation to grow up so that action can begin. ...

Stray concern

A large population of stray dogs and cats in Goa suffer from almost every skin disease imaginable. What is more abominable is that the street dogs are left to breed for nine months of the year and then cruelly shot at the end of each tourist season by the municipal authorities. Inspired by an animal welfare group called Ahimsa, which carried mass sterilisation and vaccination projects on the strays in Mumbai, International Animal Rescue Goa started work along similar lines in Goa with vets brought in from England in October 1997. International Animal Rescue-Goa now has four full time Indian vets.

With a target of 8 to 10 operations per day, limited equipment and little space, surgery was a problem. Presently, despite the unwritten rule not to attend to pets up to 150 people consult our vets every month, and with the new surgery-cum-out patient department, we expect over 500 patients every month (apart from the stray animals, of course). ...

Helping hand

I am a regular reader of Down To Earth and a staunch supporter of the views expressed in your Editor's Page. Being an environmental engineer, environment related issues have always been my field of interest. We have founded an ngo called "Environment Protection Research and Educational Institute" which focuses on the problems related to the Saurashtra region. We would be happy to provide inputs on environmental concerns related to the region. ...

Radioactive blast

This is with reference to the special report "Radiation-struck" (Down To Earth, Vol 8, No 2, June 15, 1999). I would like to appreciate the report on health hazards due to radioactivity in the areas near Jaduguda village in south Bihar and Rawatbhata nuclear plant in Rajasthan by Uranium Corporation of India Limited for the extraction of uranium.

People living in and around this area, within a range of 5 km complain of congenital deformities, disrupted menstrual cycle, kidney failures, hypertension, fertility loss and other health-related problems. A leakage or a blast in the reactor, near Madras can wash away Sri Lanka and result in a tragedy that would be greater than the Chenobyl blast.

The report reveals that international standards are neither being maintained in nuclear plants in India nor with regard to extraction of radioactive minerals in the mining sites. ...

Traffic concern

Having been involved in cycling advocacy in Australia for many years through our Bicycle Federation of Australia , it seems road management and construction is held firmly in the control of people who only look at the world through the windscreen of a vehicle. Transport engineers and planners seem to consider nobody but the drivers and this seems to be the reason behind huge expenditures on cocrete and bitumen. I really sympathise with the massive traffic problem facing you and wish I could help. ...

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