Published: Friday 31 July 1998

Imaginary crisis

I have read the piece on "Why rural firewood consumption has not yet destroyed india's forests?" by Anil Agarwal. I agree with his conclusions. I also support his view that we should undertake regular surveys to monitor the changing rural and urban energy consumption patterns and peoples' tree planting habits. Often, we tend to quote from an old paper and make it the authority for planning and decision making. From my experience in rural Tamil Nadu, the situation is a dynamic one. Thank you for this timely initiative....

Saving Sikkim

The analysis on Sikkim 'Beauty and biology: the Shangri-La' ( Down To Earth , Vol 7, No 3; June 30) made interesting reading. The fact that Sikkim was home to many rare animals such as the red panda and clouded leopard is a revelation to me.

Two things need to be done to save Sikkim. First, tourism must be properly monitored. Awareness must be spread among tourists about the fragile ecosystem. Secondly, the government of India and the state government of Sikkim must conduct an exhaustive survey of all the plants and animals to ascertain which of them are extinct or are on the verge of extinction....

Paying the price

By increasing the price of petrol, the government is encouraging people to switch to diesel vehicles. More and more automakers are manufacturing diesel vehicles. Government-run vehicles and expensive cars of the rich will be unaffected by this hike as they run on diesel. It is only the middle class which has to bear the brunt of this budget. The fact is that diesel vehicles are the biggest polluters ('Suffocating budget, Down To Earth , Vol 7, No 3; June 30). This will mean that the quality of air will become worse. And in any case, why is the government increasing the price of petrol, when the international prices are slipping?...

Chinkara is not endangered

This is with reference to your article 'Species in Peril' ( Down To Earth , Vol 7, No 3; June 30). The Worldwatch report says that the Chinkara or the Indian Gazelle Gazella bennettii is an endangered species. But this is not so. Chinkara is found in large numbers in the Thar desert of Rajasthan and in many parts of India.

My studies reveal that it is found in 10 states and more than 100 sanctuaries and many non-forested areas. In the Thar desert itself, there may be as many as 80,000 Chinkara. The Chinkara is abundant in Vishnoi areas, with a population density that is as high as 30 animals per sq km in certain areas such as in Lohawat and Khara in Jodhpur district. The Chinkara is doing very well and certainly not facing extinction, except in some localised areas. Incidentally, Narayan Sarovar Chinkara Sanctuary in Kutch does not have the largest known population of Chinkara, as claimed by the report of Worldwatch Institute....

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