Cure becomes the cause
I found the article 'Wasting away' (Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 7; August 31) very interesting. I am working in a research organisation, which has extensively studied the hospital waste management in Chennai.
The article says, "Chennai and Bangalore have set up centralised waste treatment facilities and have won accolades for managing their hospital waste." This is a factually incorrect statement. No such treatment facility has been set up in Chennai. The "centralised waste treatment facility" referred to by the author, is at a very nascent stage and even the land for the proposed facility has not been allocated.
Our studies reveal that the situation in Chennai is at its worst stage and we sincerely hope that this is not the reason for the 'accolades' referred to by the author. Most of the hospitals are not doing anything to manage their waste in accordance with the Bio-Medical Waste Rules. In fact, our studies reveal a general lack of awareness among the hospital authorities about the existence of the rules and the need to manage waste safely.
The real catch
This is with reference to the article 'Troubled times' (Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 4; July 15). The demand for regulatory controls on the shrimp farming industry seems justified as past experience have revealed the "rape and run approach" of several multinational companies. Even, traditional and small fisherfolk must also share the blame for overfishing. They must also adhere to regulatory measures, like closed seasons, framed by the government to protect the vulnerable fish stock.
K SUNIL MOHAMED, Cochin...
I fully agree that in the race towards industrialisation, we have not taken proper care of our environment. This has lead to considerable ecological damage ('Dirty Duo', Down To Earth , Vol 8, No 22; April 15). We have laws to prevent environmental degradation, but, unfortunately they are not being enforced properly. There are two vital questions that need to be answered: should industrialisation be abandoned because the environmental standards are not being taken care off, or should the government agencies become stringent in enforcing the environmental standards? In my view the second alternative is the most viable one.
In the article 'The vanishing lakes' (Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 7; September 15) the problems of protection of wetlands and waterfowls in north Bihar were discussed. This is not only the case of north Bihar but also of other states. West Bengal too is facing similar problems. There are a number of major and minor waterbodies all over the state, which support a number of waterbirds and waterfowls during winter. But, due to the population pressure and also in the name of development, the minor wetlands are being occupied by the local people. In this way, the waterbodies and the waterfowls are getting diminished. There was also a mistake in the article. There is no such waterbird known as the Ban-hooded goose. The correct name is Ban-headed goose (Ansen indicus).
ARUNAYAN SHARMA, Malda, West Bengal...
In poor taste
It was really shocking to read finance minister,Yashwant Sinha's remarks against the protestors of globalisation gathered at Prague. There are several things to which I have objections. Firstly, the finance minister completely negates the problems of globalisation. Secondly, his point of view denies the democratic right of people to protest against matters which concern them. What is ironic is that the finance minister used Mahatma Gandhi's name to endorse the concept of globalisation.
SHAILESH D VAITE,
By labelling the 7,000 activists as hoodlums in Prague, Yashwant Sinha, the finance minister has expressed blind faith in the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It is indeed disappointing to watch our country's representatives make such irresponsible remarks, specially against people who were protesting to safeguard the identity and security of the developing countries. This outburst from Sinha is, however, characteristic of the way the government chooses to respond to the voice of democracy. The applause he recieved from the 182 delegates present at the meeting cannot justify his actions, neither can it undo the damage done to the image of India in the minds of millions who have witnessed yet another monumental diplomatic blunder by our politicians.
I have been reading Down To Earth for the past two years. I am an Australian, but for the last 13 years I am residing at Pune and working at developing a market for organic cotton and vegetable dyed cloth both in India and overseas.
I was editor of a similar magazine in 1974, in Australia. I can understand what you have to stand up against. It must be daunting to speak against the heavy hand of political lobbies. It takes a lot of courage to publish an article like 'Death inside the factory gates' ( Down To Earth , Vol 9, No 9; September 30). Australia too has banned the use of asbestos. Particularly interesting is the incident of the closure of the Wittenoom Gorge asbestos mine. The health repercussions on the miners in this case were quite staggering.
I have been reading Down To Earth ever since it was first published. I am a retired lecturer and now I am working as a principal in a school. I feel there is a need to start teaching environment as a subject at school. I am sure if Down To Earth is popularised in schools, it will give students a sound knowledge about the numerous environmental problems faced by millions of people in India and abroad. The Green Rating Project of the Centre For Science and Environment will play a key role in motivating various state governments to start community projects to save the environment.
B K FOTEDAR, Jammu...
Water salinity in the Vellore district of Tamil Nadu is above the permissible limits in 10 areas because of the ineffective working of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board ( tnpcb ), a fact even the joint chief engineer of tnpcb, Dhansingh admitted. Salinity is worse in places like Ambur, Vaniyanbadi, Pernampet, which are famous for their leather exports. Since 1985, the water has become totally unfit for drinking. The officials of the tnpcb are responsible for this state of affairs. Action should be taken against the erring officials for not doing their duties. All the tanneries should be closed down as they have not complied with the prescribed norms of tnpcb . These tanneries seem to be making a killing by exporting leather goods at the cost of the environment. The principle of "Polluters to pay" should be strictly implemented.
P S SUBRAHMANIAN
A GOWTHAM SINGHEE
Vellore Tamil Nadu...
I have a few comments to make about the article 'Trees eaten hollow' ( Down To Earth , Vol 9, No 6; August 15). The article says that the three main reasons behind the outbreak of the sal borer epidemic are change in rainfall pattern, the excretion of resin by the sal tree and the attraction of the adult beetle to the smell of sap. However, the last two reasons cited are constant factors of the ecosystem and not something that happens overnight. And the first reason is also too flimsy and uncovincing.
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