Published: Saturday 28 February 1998

Danger signals

The article 'In which the count fell' (Down To Earth , Vol 6, No 15; December 31) talks about the decrease in the sperm count. Through this one can assume that "nature is in fact a great manager". Nature warns humans by giving them danger signals in the form of resource depletion, environmental pollution and global warming. If humans ignore the signals, it takes drastic steps to bring about some stability. Same is in the case of decreasing sperm count.

In the situation of increasing population, nature warns people of the danger. But as humankind is indifferent to these signals, nature is compelled to take a drastic step, as in this case, by decreasing the sperm count. If this trend continues, we may face a situation when sperm count may fall even more, leading to disastrous consequences....

Farmers' woes

'Suicide by pesticide' (Down To Earth , Vol 6, No 17; January 31) is a shocking incident which should make people take a closer look at the spurious pesticides that are flooding the market. Nothing can be more ironical than the fact that the farmers and their crops were destroyed by the same pesticides.

The fertiliser and pesticide industries need to be taken to task for producing dangerous pesticides. Also, the failure of the monsoon in 1996 has not been properly explained by Indian meteorologists. Was it due to El Nio? Did the state governments warn farmers in time of the monsoon failure? The reaction of chief minister Chandrababu Naidu to this incident shows the apathy of the government towards the poor. Banning pesticides is not the answer. Because as long as pests continue to cause havoc on crops, pesticides are the only remedy. But the need of the hour is to have effective pesticides. Research institutions should analyse the various pesticides in the market and ban all the hazardous ones....

Time for a debate

One reads with despair that a special team from the Atomic Energy Commission is reaching Moscow to "save" the Koodankulam nuclear plant deal (Indian Express , January 10). India is going to spend us $2.5 billion dollars to buy a potential nuclear disaster for an area known for its scenic splendour and for its ancient culture. It is strange that there has been no debate about this deal either in Parliament or in the press.

The fact that the bureaucracy is seeking to push this deal under the aegis of a 'caretaker' government, reveals that anti-democratic and anti-people nature of the project. Is the North-South divide so sharp that environmental issues affecting the southern extremities of the subcontinent should not be reported?...

Truth about fishes

In the article 'Through the fish eye' (Down To Earth , Vol 6, No 15; December 31) a scientific point has been misrepresented. The article says "17 species were classified as extinct". Instead of "extinct", it should have been described as "vulnerable". In our National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources (nbfgr) Annual Report 1993-94, no fish is shown as "extinct" but only as "vulnerable"....

Turtle deaths

Congratulations for bringing out an article on the Olive Ridley Sea Turtles in Orissa (Down To Earth , Vol 6, No 16; January 15). But the article contains some factual errors. It is mentioned that about 10,000 fishing trawlers are operating near the Gahirmatha beach, the rookery of Olive Ridley sea turtles. But only 700 fishing trawlers are operating within the area of Dhamra Mouth to Mahanadi Mouth, more specifically Paradeep to Gahirmatha beach.

An important fact that did not find place in the article was about a simple and low cost turtle excluder device which can save the turtles from being killed by nets and trawl nets....

Whither healthy children

The article 'Child killer' (Down To Earth , Vol 6, No 16; January 15) made interesting reading. It is shocking to know that more children are killed by malnutrition than by any other disease in the world. It is even more depressing to know that more than half the children under-five in Southeast Asia suffer from malnutrition. The disease can be eliminated only by better health and sanitation and importance to nutrition. If only governments in the world payed heed to this burning issue....

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