Letters

 
Published: Friday 10 July 2015

Prejudiced report

I was very disappointed after reading 'Spare Change' (Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 5; July 31). While writing an article based on the World Health Report 2000, one has to thoroughly understand the aims of the World Health Organisation (who) and the way it functions. who motivates its member countries to achieve better healthcare system by following certain policies, which it advocates. Like the United Nations, who is also not free from allegations and internal problems. It is often said that who is being lobbied heavily by the pharmaceuticals industry. Even the recent election held for selecting who's chief executive proved that internal politics dominate its functioning.

Another notable fact about the report is the statistics which are being used to prove "things". Is it incorrect to equate the per capita expenditure on health facilities of countries such as India and the us, when the per capita income of both the countries reflects wide disparity. In 1972, who had suggested in the World Health Report that its member states should implement modern medical system in collaboration with traditional medical systems. This was suggested after realising the fact that around 80 per cent of the population in many countries still depends on traditional medical systems. My intention is not to prove that India has attained 'Health for all by 2000' or India is a country with a large proportion of healthy people. But any such reports should be reviewed with the complete picture in mind. If we do not bring to light the dangers envisaged by such reports, it will result in wrong policy decisions. ...

Ineffective solutions

The problem of air pollution is quite grim in Patna, Bihar. Use of adulterated petrol by autorickshaw drivers is one of the major factors responsible for it. To tackle the problem, the Bihar State Pollution Control Board has set up an ambient air quality monitoring station in the town. Since their air sampling methodology is faulty, they always show lower concentration of pollutants and mislead common people. ...

Polluting with impunity

Ammonia and sulphur dioxide emissions from a factory located in Musadia village of Paradeep district, Orissa, have affected crop yields in various areas of the Kendarapara district. The emissions from the factory, Oswal Chemical and Fertilisers Limited, pose a risk to human health. Many cases of a number of diseases have been reported from Kendarapara district. The factory is also discharging effluents directly into the Mahanadi river. This has led to the depletion of fish and other aquatic life. The local people, environmentalists and non-governmental organisations have raised concerns about the issue, but to no avail. The state pollution control board (spcb) says that the factory's emissions and effluent discharge is in accordance with the permissible limits. But the villagers disagree. They say that the figures of the spcb have been fudged. ...

Goddess' forests

A unique movement to save forests has been initiated in a few villages of Pithoragarh district of Uttaranchal. Forests under the gram panchayat (village council) are conferred to goddess Kotgyari. Consequently, nobody is allowed to take any weapons inside the forests. Only fallen branches or dried wood are picked up by the villagers and grazing has been restricted. The movement began in Chitgal village. It subsequently spread to the adjoining villages of Kotera, Pankatiya, Mankanali, Bhama and Chotiyar. About a dozen villages have till now bestowed their panchayat forests to the deity, who is the goddess of justice for the villagers.

In many parts of the region, wide-scale deforestation has led to the water sources drying up. The villagers find it difficult to get water for their own consumption, leave alone for livestock. Due to unrestricted poaching activities, especially in the forests of Mankanali, Khetigara, Jajoli and Hanera villages, at least eleven leopards were killed. Keeping these facts in view, the movement is very important. But it has also inflated the cost of living for the farmers as they have to use costlier alternatives for cooking. These factors were not taken into consideration when the movement began. Therefore, the future of the movement is uncertain. ...

A question of salt

Apropos 'A bit of iodine in my salt', (Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 4; July 15), I have some doubts. According to a television report, iodine vaporises at 70c. In India, 90 per cent of salt is used while cooking. Thus, adding iodine to salt does not serve any purpose. The report does not state anything about this aspect. Please do clear my doubt.

B B SINGHANIA
babusinghania@yahoo.com

Our reporter replies
Iodide, and not iodine, is added to salt. Iodide is a compound of iodine, and does not evaporate while cooking, according to N Kochupillai, head of the department of endocrinology and metabolism at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi....

Inadequate law

Apropos 'Small policy', (Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 9; September 30), I agree with the fact that the Union government's decision to strengthen small-scale industries (ssis) will have serious repercussions on the efforts to save the environment. The decision to introduce a series of measures to benefit ssis, without giving assurance to check the growth of polluting small-scale units, is shocking. Effluent treatment plants installed by several industrial units are non-functional. The article mentions that two major small-scale sectors which often flout norms are the textiles and electroplating industries. But tannery units are the most polluting ones. According to A P Muthusamy, chief secretary of Tamil Nadu government, more than 14,000 small-scale units of the state are causing extensive pollution, out of which 6,500 units belong to the tannery and dyeing sector. The article states that in the early 1990s, Germany banned Indian leather as it contained pentachlorophenol, an anti-fungal agent used in the finishing process, which is carcinogenic. But this ban has been lifted and Germany is now a leading importer of India's leather goods. The government should withdraw all benefits given to the units which flout laws and cause pollution. ...

Killing our animals

The recent killing of an one year old tigress in a Hyderabad zoo is shameful. The tigress was killed during the world wildlife week. In the Nilgiri forests of Assam, an elephant was killed for its tusks on the same day. If the animals are not safe in the zoos, then their safety in the national parks and sanctuaries is also doubtful. All the zoos of the country should be dismantled and the animals should be set free. But even the forests are no longer safe for animals. A nexus of corrupt forests officials, politicians and poachers has led to the killing of many animals in the forests. Killing of animals can only be stopped if there is a ban on wildlife trade. It should be the responsibility of each individual to protect the precious natural wealth of the country. ...

A malady called smoking

According to a recently published report of the World Bank and World Health Organisation (who), there will be a significant increase in the number of people dying due to tobacco-related diseases. The report states that taxes imposed on tobacco should be raised to decrease its demand, particularly in developing countries. It says that big tobacco companies have used unethical methods, such as bribing officials, to sabotage anti-tobacco campaigns. Even the us government has used section 301 of its Trade Act, 1974, with dramatic effect to open up Asian markets for us cigarette companies. Surprisingly, health warnings are not required for cigarette packaging meant for export, despite the stipulation laid down for domestic consumption in industrialised countries. Such double standards of multinational tobacco companies speak a lot about their unfair means to promote cigarettes. In India, foreign tobacco companies have been given the permission to set up manufacturing units. This will have severe consequences on public health....

Saving resources

The article 'Pulp fact', (Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 8; September 15), is interesting. India, too, should start recycling paper to reduce wastage, save energy and trees. It can also help bring down pollution levels as paper bags will prove to be an ecofriendly alternative to plastic bags. A number of departmental stores in the us use only recycled paper for packaging. The government should give incentives for using more and more recycled paper. Stringent punishment should be imposed on those found guilty of cutting down virgin forests. A combination of incentives and disincentives, the classic carrot and stick policy, should be used to promote recycling of paper to save the environment. ...

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