Published: Tuesday 30 June 1998

Bean trouble

This is with reference to the article 'A bean full of problems' ( Down To Earth , Vol 6, No 24; May 15). The policy of the Union government on the import of soybean is, indeed, shocking. The fact that the ministry of environment and forests ( mef ) -- a technically qualified institution on biosafety concerns -- was completely bypassed in deciding the import issue speaks of the callousness with which cases of import of foodstuffs are handled by the government. The reported statement of the additional secretary, mef, where he confessed his ignorance about the whole affair, as also about the requirement of the ministry's clearance for the import of soybean, speaks volumes of the general apathy regarding environmentally vital issues that afflict the ministry.

The need of the hour is to stop this import. The government should also carefully scrutinise the import proposal, especially on the exact genetic make-up and source of the American soybean to be imported. This will ensure that no transgenic bean is imported. The bullying tactics of the developed countries who pressurise the governments of the developing countries to allow the import transgenic foodgrains, is part of a well-conceived strategy on the part of powerful nations to gradually gain control over the poor, but resource-rich countries. What India needs is a re-engineering of her decision-makers' approach and not engineered soybeans.

Indian Institute of Forest Management,
Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

Sacrificing for the rich

There is a lot of electricity being wasted in our country. While on one hand, the government is striving hard to produce electricity, events like day-night cricket matches are being conducted which require a lot of electricity. This is happening at a time when the demand of electricity is at its peak.

The government is spending crores of rupees to build the Tehri dam at a site which is prone to earthquakes. The construction of the dam has affected millions of people. Is it not ironical that in one part of the country people have to leave everything so that people in the other parts of the country get entertained (in form of day-night matches)? I would suggest that either such events should be held in the day time or they should not be held at all.


Saving Kerala's coast

There may be many reasons for the failure of sea walls along the coast of Kerala ( Down To Earth , Vol 6, No 24; May 15). But with proper planning -- using methods and materials to suit the different places and involvement of the local people -- in may be possible to halt sea erosion in Kerala's coasts. If Mumbai can successfully reclaim areas inside the sea, why can't Kerala succeed in containing sea erosion?

'Sleepless in usa' ( Down To Earth , Vol 6, No 24; May 15) made interesting reading. Even a child is burdened with studies and homework does not get proper sleep. Then there are also the workaholics; others who are compelled to work overtime due to financial difficulties; and the poor who are forced to work long hours because they have no option. Drowsy drivers may be one reason for many road accidents in our country too. Therefore, it is essential that the working hours of all drivers who drive at night has to be regulated and implemented. Another problem area is where doctors and nurses on night-duty are over-worked. It is almost playing with life. The hours of work for doctors and nurses during night should be restricted.

Thruvananthapuram, Kerala ....

Shattering a myth

This is with reference to the article, 'False Predictions' ( Down to Earth , Vol 7, No 1; May 31) by Anil Agarwal. We often look at rural folk as the scum of the society, blaming them for denuding the vast expanses of greenery, while looking beyond the faults of the urban class. Anil Agarwal's findings put to rest the Indian forestry and energy experts' assumption. It is also heartening to note that people have become more environmentally conscious. Planting trees in one's own vicinity is the best way to begin. And if we all follow suit, we can surely usher in a 'green revolution' of sorts in India.

Surajkund, Haryana....

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