Published: Tuesday 15 August 2000

Criminal neglect

Your article on livestock 'Subsidised killing' ( Down To Earth , Vol 9, No 2; June 15) made interesting reading. You have made a great contribution to the cause of livestock management, which has been neglected all along. But somehow the government is not giving adequate attention.

We need to highlight the economic significance of livestock to development. Cartman were the first to estimate their contribution to the gnp , the extent of slaughter and meat production, contribution of work animals as an energy source. It is a pity that the government has not cared to spend any money to upgrade the system. This shows the callousness of the government....

Well said!

The story on livestock was excellent. My best wishes to the editorial team for spreading awareness about issues related to natural resources....

Repeating past mistakes

The cover story was relevant not only from the economic point of view but also from the cultural, sociological and scientific perspectives. The article correctly brought out the value of the bull and about indigenous breeds of cattle in general.

I am part of a group of professionals who want to start a ngo to promote sustainable rural development. Protection and preservation of indigenous breeds of cattle is one our thrust areas.

In our interactions with many ngo s and farmers we were disappointed to find that many of them vigorously espoused the cause of the crossbreeding programme and swear by its bountiful gains. It appears that most have developed a myopic vision of economic development where apparent immediate gains -- the increase in productivity of milk, for example, and the consequent rise in material living standards -- seem to be the clinching argument in favour of crossbreeding.

No one seems to have given a thought about the long-term economic, environmental, social and cultural implications of such a move. Neither has any move been made to explore how we can improve the economic standards within the existing framework of indigenous breed of cattle and sustainable approaches to economic development.

Many years ago everyone glorified the Green Revolution for almost exactly the same reasons that people are glorifying crossbreeding programmes today. But now we are witnessing the terrible consequences of the Green Revolution. Similarly, we have no doubt that such crossbreeding and similar programmes can only bring ruin in the future....

Safe disposal

Your article on nuclear waste burial in Rajasthan 'Down with the dump' ( Down To Earth , Vol 9, No 3, June 30) ends with the suggestion that: "until (a permanent nuclear waste repository) is found, nuclear waste will remain in temporary sites posing a threat to human life in the areas." Such concern is surely warranted given the reports of leaks at the nuclear waste storage sites. An example is the leak at Waste Immobilisation Plant, Tarapur, discovered in April 1995.

However, given the relatively poor understanding of the long-term behaviour of geological waste repositories, interim storage in monitored sites may be the safest option available today. One has to wait till much more research is done into safer ways of long-term disposal before deciding on "permanent" disposal methods and sites....

Water woes

This is with reference to 'Blind to rain' by Anil Agarwal ( Down To Earth , Vol 9, No 3; June 30). It is clear from the article that Agarwal accepts the inevitability of an integrated system where both large dams and small local harvesting works are necessary. He has rightly appreciated that big dams have played a vital role in providing national food security. I may add that they are also necessary for clean, cheap and renewable hydropower as well as for flood control.

Having accepted this, the next question is: who should implement these two inevitable components of the integrated system? The traditional water harvesting systems were developed by the local population in the country several centuries ago. Unfortunately, they misinterpreted the meaning of Independence and transferred the responsibility of their own well-being to the government, neglecting their traditional practices. The government only concentrated on the integrated water system which could not be implemented by people themselves because of the size, lack of resources and required technology. Thus big dams came up and they did help substantially till the population and corresponding water needs overtook them.

Unfortunately, during the development period there was no notable ngo culture which could have motivated the people to come together and continue, develop as well as spread their traditional wisdom for self help. This came, but rather too late. Till then people expected government to solve all their problems and the government organisation by its very structure and nature could not have motivated the people. On the contrary, sops were provided by successive governments of the country for political reasons which further increased people's dependence on them.

Much too late dedicated individuals such as Anna Hazare and Rajendra Singh, as well as institutions such as the Centre for Science and Environment ( cse ), Sadguru Seva Sangh and Tarun Bharat Sangh tried to motivate people but could only produce some demonstrative pockets. We need tens of thousands of Hazares and Singhs who can adopt small groups of villages to motivate people to help themselves.

There is no universal solution to any water problem. All solutions must be area specific and based on an integrated system of both micro and macro structures....

Vanishing green

The Delhi Development Authority ( dda ) owns about 20 hectares of forest land near Vasant Vihar. A signboard proudly announces that there are 22 officials to protect the area. I have been staying in this area for past 10 years and have not seen any officials -- there is only one pump operator in this area. It is a matter of great concern to the residents of this area that there is largescale cutting of trees and other illegal activities in this area.

A large number of Peacocks throng this area. But how long the national bird will be seen, given the fact that a large part of the area has been illegally encroached, is anybody's guess. I hope officials concerned take immediate action to stop further destruction.

Received on email ...

For clean air

This is with reference to the article 'Giving a breather' (Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 2; June 15). Air pollution in Delhi is worsening at an alarming rate. Even then, the authorities cocerned do not seem to show any urgency in improving the quality of fuel.

The supreme court has extended the deadline to introduce cleaner petrol and diesel in the capital. But given the track record of the ministries concerned , it hardly seems likely that this deadline will be met...

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.