Published: Friday 15 May 1998

Clearing up doubts

The statement of Ram Prasad, director, Indian Institute of Forest Management ( iifm ), Bhopal, in the article 'Eaten hollow' ( Down To Earth, Vol 6, No 18, February 15), is misleading. The report says, "Ram Prasad, who is a member of the committee, refused to sign the final report. He alleged that he was not consulted before it was written." I was a member of the committee on sal borer which was constituted by the ministry of environment and forests. The report of the committee was finalised at Jabalpur on December 16 after the field visit on December 14-15. Ram Prasad did not participate in the programme. I wish he had participated and contributed in a positive manner, rather than trying to dig holes into the report.

Chief conservator of forests (central)

Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

Ram Prasad replies:

Your correspondent, Jitendra Verma, has quoted me out of context. On being asked why I did not sign the B N Committee report, I remember having replied that I was on leave for two to three days and therefore could not participate in the deliberations of the committee which was called at a very short notice. There was no question of refusing to sign the report as stated in the article because had I participated, I could have signed the report in agreement with other members or could have signed putting my note of dissent.

I have also been quoted as saying that "instead of straight away cutting the trees, the forest officials could have looked for alternatives". I remember having mentioned that "rather than cutting the trees en-block, the matter should have been debated at a wider forum to determine which category of infected trees could be felled and which could be left to nature." This way the relatively less infected trees would have a chance.

Director, Indian Institute of Forest Management,
Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

Jitendra Verma replies:

I still can't see any material difference between the quotation I attributed to Ram Prasad on the question of cutting of trees and his subsequent clarification through his letter.

As for the other issue, one thing is clear. Prasad was a member of the B N Committee, but did not take part in its deliberations. Perhaps it may have been best if he had declined to be a member. That would have avoided any controversy. As matters stand, he did not sign the report, whatever the circumstances, though he was a member of the committee....

Heavenly blunders

I am a recent subscriber of Down To Earth and have been impressed with the contents of the magazine. I would like to share a joke which came to me over the Internet.

In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth. Quickly, God faced a class action suit for failure to file an environmental impact statement. God was granted a temporary permit for the project, but was stymied with the cease and desist order for the Earthly part.

Then God said, "Let there be light". Immediately, the officials demanded to know how the light would be created. Would there be strip mining? What about thermal pollution? God explained that the light would come from a large ball of fire. God was granted provisional permission to make light only on the condition that no smoke would result from the ball of fire and that he would obtain a building permit and to conserve energy. He would have the light out half the time. God agreed and offered to call the light "day" and darkness "night".

Then God said, "Let the Earth put forth vegetation, plant yielding seeds, and fruit trees." The Environment Protection Agency agreed, so long as only native seed were used. Then God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the Earth." The officials pointed out that this would require approval from the department of game coordinated with the Heavenly Wildlife Federation. Everything was fine until God said the project would be completed in six days.

The officials said that it would take at least two hundred days to review the applications and the impact assessment. After that there would be public hearing. Then there would be 10-12 months before...
At this point God created Hell.

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