Published: Wednesday 15 April 1998

Stinking city

I would like to draw the attention of the readers of Down To Earth to the health hazards faced by the people living in Muzaffarnagar. There is a lot of filth and water logging outside the residence of the senior superintendent of police. This garbage has been accumulating for the past several years.

If this is the state of affairs in front of the highest police officer in the district, you can imagine the filth and garbage lying on almost all the streets and galis in the town of Muzaffarnagar, also known in Hindi as Lakshmi Nagar -- the city of wealth....

Darkness at noon

The article 'Written in blood' ( Down To Earth , Vol 6, No 18; February 15) reflects the agony of farmers in India. The firing on the large gathering of farmers in Multai, Betul district, Madhya Pradesh resulted in the death of 19 farmers. The farmers were demanding compensation for crop damage by severe rain and hailstorm. The incident, which has been described as "more gruesome than Jallianwala", was indeed one of the most grisly incidents in recent times.

The policy of successive governments during the last 50 years has been to ignore the agricultural sector, which gives occupation for a majority of the population. While the income in all other sectors has increased manifold, the net income of the farmer has decreased. The gap between the rich and the poor is widening. Governments in future should give importance to agriculture, make more investments to increase productivity, build up infrastructure facilities to have better markets, help the farmer get a reasonable price, introduce safety nets such as crop insurance, improve credit facilities and set up agro-industries....

Beetle menace

The article 'The beetle and the bureaucrat' about the sal borer pest ( Down To Earth , Vol 6, No 18; February 15) made interesting reading. The article dealt with a natural disaster and the role of the bureaucracy and the forest department. The large-scale felling of infected trees is not a practical solution.

Effective control measure can be possible only through integrated pest management. The felling reported in the article is bound to have an impact on the biodiversity of the region....

An appeal

The Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation, a public sector undertaking, started mining activity in Chowlapally and Elkatta villages in 1965 and continued till 1974, when it was closed down. About 400 people -- mostly agricultural farmers and labourers -- were employed in the mines and at the quartz crushing unit. Nearly 270 of them have died so far as a result of exposure to quartz dust. There are several hundred people who are suffering from various diseases. They are now fighting for medical relief and compensation.

Banjara Development Society, a voluntary organisation that has been working for the rehabilitation of the victims, requests you to contribute to rehabilitation measures to support the affected families and to ensure basic requirement and immediate relief. Please send your contribution in favour of:...

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