Published: Tuesday 15 June 1999

Untreated effluents

I would like to draw your attention to two polluting industries in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. At Valsad in Gujarat, the Atul group companies are dumping two million litres of effluent into the sea. Even after treating them, the chemical oxygen demand level is much higher than the permissible level stipulated by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board. It is pumped out into a lagoon, not owned by the company but to which only select employees of the company have access. Down the years, the quantities of effluent have sharply increased. Most of the effluents contain reactive and dispersive chemical dyes. At Bhadravathi, the Mysore Paper Mills has poor effluent treatment plants. The town has the dubious distinction of being among the top 10 polluted sites in India, mainly due to the company's unwillingness to treat it's effluents.

M G Kumar

An unwise project

The existing anicut across the river Tunga at Gajanur, 12 km from the town of Shimoga in Karnataka, has already inundated hundreds of acres of evergreen forests and farmlands. This anicut, built in the 1950's, is an earthen dam and the proposal to raise the height of crest gates by a few metres is fraught with problems. The project seeks to increase the capacity of the anicut and supply water to the parched lands of Chitradurga and Dharwar districts. However, the decision makers are divided on whether the old dam can withstand such an increased storage capacity. Moreover, the dam will lead to the submergence of coconut, banana and arecanut farms.
The wildlife sanctuary at Mandagadde, which attracts migratory birds like darters and egrets, will also be submerged if the height of the crest gates are increased. The birds build nests in trees barely above the high water level during the monsoon. Recognising the importance of these birds to the ecosystem, the villagers of Mandagadde have taken upon themselves to protect them from poaching.

D B N Murthy

Growth with restraint

This is with reference to the article 'An Army of Mad Trees' ( Down to Earth , Vol 7, No 22; April 15). I would like to draw attention to the fact that the tree mentioned in the article, Gando Bawal (Mad tree), is allelopathic by nature. Allelopathy is a phenomenon by virtue of which a plant releases chemicals which adversely affect the germination of other plants. This leads to the depletion in density and diversity of useful native grasses and herbs and, consequently, the wildlife. The tree releases chemicals which depletes plants and wildlife. However, these trees also show autotoxicity, a virtue by which it also controls its own population thus helping the tree to maintain its geographical distribution. The Gando Bawals can germinate away from the parent population, if it fails to germinate near the tree canopy. Thus, both allelopathy as well as autotoxicity favour the establishment and spread of this tree.

Daizy R Batish

Urban nightmare

This is with reference to the article 'Living in Hell' ( Down to Earth , February 15, Vol 7 No 19). An in-depth study of the Peeragarhi village will unveil the truth behind the situation. It all started in 1980 when lands owned by villagers were taken over by the Delhi Development Authority. The villagers were compensated and the ones rendered jobless looked for new avenues to earn their livelihood. Large tracts of land that were used for parking their tractors were now sold to industrialists.
The closure of Jwalapuri units also came as a boon. These villages still enjoyed the Lal Dora status, under which the industrial houses got electricity connections easily. This situation is common to many urban villages of Delhi.
Villagers and businessmen, all turned these villages into urban hells and now, only concerted efforts can reverse the situation.

Subhas C Nagpal....

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