Published: Saturday 15 September 2001

People power

This is with reference to your editorial and news item about Ruparel (Down To Earth, Vol 10, No 5, July 31). The Rajasthan irrigation minister's statement that "the irrigation department has authority over every drop of water" cannot be disputed. But the question is for whose sake has the department got this authority? Such an authority has been granted to the state to ensure quality, quantity and availability of water to all, in which respect the department has failed. All the policies and actions of the state should be in the interest of people. If the authority is being exercised just to maintain control over the resources, then such a system of governance must be changed. The Ruparel episode has also exposed the real situation of Panchayati Raj Institutions in Rajasthan. The provision under the Panchayati Raj Act of Rajasthan that in case of any conflict the district magistrate can override the gram panchayat, goes against the spirit of grassroots democracy and people's participation in governance. It would be ideal if in case of conflict the district magistrates request the elected people's body to reconsider its previous decision in the light of new facts or other realities. Superior people's body such as Taluk Panchayat or Zilla Panchayat may be given the power to override the Gram Panchayat after giving it an opportunity to reconsider its previous decision, at the very most. But in any case, a bureaucrat must not have any power to override decisions by people's body....

Cheers to Rajasthan villagers

It is indeed a shocking news that government of Rajasthan wanted to demolish a water harvesting structure built by the villagers of Lava-ka-Baas without any financial help from the government. (Down To Earth, Vol 10, No 5, July 31).

The reasons advocated by the officials are strange. When almost all the 4,500 rain harvesting structures built in coordination of Tarun Bharat Sangh stood the test of time, how come this particular structure is technically unsound. Can anybody support the government act when these structures benefit about 100,000 people in 12 surrounding villages. The government should welcome efforts like that of TBS to hold back rainwater for the needs of drought-prone belts of Rajasthan. I salute the villagers and tbs who wholeheartedly supported the cause. Unless we develop structures to hold rainwater on three per cent of the land area, the problem of water scarcity can't be tackled....

Wrong impression

I wish to correct certain misconceptions, which may well have arisen in your recent article on Sholai School at the Centre for Learning Organic Agriculture and Appropriate Technology in Kodaikanal (Down To Earth, Vol 10, No 4, July 15). At Sholai School we neither "inculcate" nor condition children. On the contrary we encourage our school children to understand themselves so as to be free of their fears and conditionings. We follow the usual academic subjects and exams up to 10th and 12th standards and encourage our students to think for themselves and develop their minds towards sensitivity, awareness and knowledge. We trust this clarifies somewhat the impression given....

We are right

This is with reference to the article "Dissection Mania" (Down To Earth, Vol 10, No 3, June 30) and Sumantra Chatterjee's letter " cbse on wrong path" ( Down To Earth , Vol 10, No 6, August 15).

In the field of learning it is essential to keep the windows on one's mind open to change. Does S K Wanganoo's comment "Teaching swimming through correspondence course is what the cbse is aiming at with the ban on animal dissection", means that one cannot learn astronomy without travelling in space, geography without travelling the world, and history without time machine?

Our appeal to the High court of Delhi had logic and reasoning, that is why a right of choice was granted by the court. icse had decided much earlier than our case to completely do away with dissection. In fact we are thankful to them, because it accelerated the same ban by the cbse (otherwise we would have to go to court again)

I would like to enlighten Sumantra Chatterjee that there is a rising trend in the West to do away with dissection not only in schools, but even in veterinary colleges and medical colleges. One has to only read the famous Zoologist turned animal behaviour specialist Desmond Morris' comments on dissection in zoology to understand his revulsion for the system.

Finally, if we are the 'misguided animal activist', that we are made out to be, then what would Sumantra Chatterjee accuse the judiciary and educationists of being? Or is the right to life extended to the human species alone?...

Needs attention

Unless something drastic is not done soon, our urban garbage is going to overwhelm us. It seems we are waiting for another Surat type health disaster to strike before the civic authorities will wake up to their sense of responsibility. Collection of garbage is tardy. Still, overflowing garbage bins, where provided, is the norm. There is no sense of urgency displayed in keeping our cities and towns clean and neat. It is only when some vip visits, there is frenetic activity to present a clean picture. About the disposal of garbage, the less said the better. We think the garbage can be just filled in landfills or simply burnt. Those living near these garbage dumps are suffering from serious health problems. The time has come for a scientific management of garbage collection and disposal in each town and city so that recycling, conversion to compost and controlled burning, generating steam and electricity, can be undertaken professionally. The states and the centre should direct all civic bodies to install garbage disposal units under their control or with private participation. Separation of garbage by each householder is necessary....

Effective disposal

The article Ailing system (Down To Earth, Vol 10, No 4, July 15) has raised a lot of questions on hospital waste management. Incinerators and all the high technology used for this are passed on to us by industrialised countries for obvious reasons. Bio-remediation is the simple and the affordable technology for the disposal of hospital waste in India. The technique does not require high capital and maintenance cost. Also it does not require trained personnel. Though the technology, patented in India through National Research Development Council of India, is not in the government notification 1998 regarding hospital waste disposal, a writ petition is pending before the Uttar Pradesh high court....

Healthy ride

It was interesting to read the article about fuel cell buses for Delhi and also the plan for cities without cars in Europe, to tackle air pollution (Down To Earth, Vol 10, No 4, July 15). The way air pollution is being tackled by different agencies is perplexing.

Air pollution has been given too much attention in our country when compared to other forms of pollution. The strong campaign against air pollution by cse a few years ago resulted in knee jerk reaction from the system in the capital and the sufferers are poor citizens. Today there is no true technical pollution check and it's a mayhem. Can European air polluting standards hold true in a tropical country like ours? The best thing city administration can do to tackle air pollution in the city is to have cycling pathways along main roads to facilitate easy and safe cycling. Many people, including me, would prefer cycling to office, if it is less risky. It will also help all of us to keep good health....

Wrong findings

The concept of global warming and the consequent effects on food production, particularly in developing countries, is nothing but a blind man using a light-pole for support rather than for light (Down To Earth, Vol 10, No 6, August 15). Most of the principal characters are not based on sound foundations. Scientists must understand the concept clearly before making sweeping postulations that unnecessarily create sensation among public in particular and politicians specifically. The experimental errors in this type of study are expected to be more than 10 per cent. In the present study the sensitivity of land suitable for cereal production to climate change in majority of the cases fall within this range in tropical countries....

Ivory smuggling

Animal smugglers in Orissa indulge in merciless killing of pachyderms in reserve forests. Till July this year 10 elephant died under mysterious circumstances. Officials confirm that five were shot dead by poachers while two succumbed to injuries in train accidents. The Asian Elephant Conservation Centre for Ecological Studies and the Wild Life Protection Society of India conducted a study and recommended for a probe of ivory smuggling pattern in Orissa. The study revealed that ivory smugglers are active in small town of Pallahara which has emerged as a key transit point. The trend is to smuggle ivory from the sate covered with tendu leaves used for making bidis. Several Kendu leaves trading centres have cropped up along the national highway connection Mumbai and Kolkata.

In the cover story on dioxins (Down To Earth, Vol 10, No 7, August 31, p 38). Chandra Bhushan has been misquoted saying that small scale paper industry produces 10-25 kg of dioxins. According to him, a small scale industry produces 10-25 kg of organochlorines (aox) and large scale industry produces about 1-5 kg of aox. Also the permissible limit as set by cpcb is one kg aox per one metric tonne of paper produced. We deeply regret the mistake....

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.