Published: Monday 31 May 1999

Mindless research

On December 22, 1998, a female wild elephant died in Kerala's Wayanad wildlife sanctuary after it was shot by a tranquilliser gun. The basic question is do humans have the right to experiment with the lives of animals? The other question is what should be done to help wild elephants survive in India? Considering that their future is bleak, what should be our priority: more research or more protection? Additional data will not help us save elephants. Under such circumstances, research is hypocritical and wasteful. Tigers, too, have been subjected to such research.

The reasons for the decline in theanimal population is well-known -- poaching, rampant habitat destruction, ecological degradation and mindless research. The so-called custodians of our forests and wildlife (forest department and influential scientists) are party to these games. Thus, the actual death count is never revealed.

What is required is stringent national guidelines to protect our wildlife from unnecessary research. People who kill animals in the name of research should be prosecuted along with popular film stars who kill animals for fun....

Double standards

People in India do not care for the environment. We have very strange attitudes: we tend to keep our houses clean but ignore the dirt in our neighbourhood. The latter has always been someone else's concern. Thus, Down To Earth must target the young people to spread awareness about the need for a clean environment.

Besides, vehicular pollution is choking our urban centres. Money can buy pollution check certificates, too. This makes a mockery of these checks which are ostensibly meant to protect the environment. The suggestion to create a local pollution watchdog body is most welcome because, unless everyone becomes aware about environmental problems, pollution levels cannot be brought under control. The message must be driven home that pollution can be controlled through small steps -- caring for the local neighbourhood, not littering, keeping one's vehicle in good condition and using recycled materials as far as possible. The anti-pollution struggle may be tough, but there is no choice but to fight it....

Pollution-control devices

This is with reference to the analysis 'When wealth is not health' ( Down To Earth , Vol 7, No 17; January 31). With the growth of cities, transport has become a necessary evil. Also, private transport has become convenient and quick. Therefore, the trend in the growth of vehicles cannot be reversed.

But what is annoying is that neither the government nor the automobile manufactures are interested in controlling vehicular pollution. There is a large engineering talent in the country. If they could come up with devices that reduce emissions, it will go a long way to combat pollution. The government must make it mandatory for vehicles to have pollution control devices. The petroleum ministry and auto manufacturers must not only share the cost of setting up manufacturing units to produce these devices, but also subsidise their cost....

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