Above is a photograph of a polluted river on the national highway from Delhi to Moradabad. This river is at the 10th milestone from Hapur towards Garh. Another river, known as Kali Nadi, flows near Hapur. Both rivers are tributaries of the Ganga and are extremely polluted. Undoubtedly, the local industries are responsible for this. Travelling by train, the pollution is most evident around the rail tracks.
Our leaders do not see it as they travel by air or in air conditioned coaches, where they are sealed-off from the environment. In the us, I travelled about 4,000 km by road. But I did not see a single polluted river, or high emissions from any vehicle. People there value their environment. We, unfortunately, do not....
This is with reference to the article, 'False Predictions' (Down To Earth, Vol 7, No 1; May 31). The overall bio-mass situation of the country today, may not be alarming, but there is no reason to either rejoice or feel satisfied. The macro-level data on firewood consumption in rural India cannot give the accurate picture of all local situations. Fuelwood is both a source of income and energy for the rural poor in the plains of Darjeeling district of West Bengal. Everyday around 8,000 firewood collectors from a single forest division enter the forest and remove 3,300 tonne of fuelwood. It is appalling to find that more than 70 per cent of this removal is illegal and is in the form of freshly felled and mature trees.
While comprehensive wood energy sub-sector planning should be backed by periodically-collected, desegregated data from regions exhibiting unique agroclimatic, demographic and socio-economic conditions, some concrete steps are also required. These include promotion of farm forestry and effective extension efforts and channelisation of government funds and infrastructure, to facilitate inter-fuel substitution and adoption of improved technology.
In the absence of a well-planned effort, continuous mismanagement and over-exploitation of forest areas may lead to the as yet "false predictions" of a firewood crisis snowballing into a forest crisis and then getting transformed into an "ominous" one....
This is with reference to the article 'Landslide terror' (Down To Earth, Vol 7, No 8; September 15). This is not the first time that landslides have struck the Himalayan region. But what is alarming is their frequency in the last decade. To some extent deforestation ; and developmental activities may have aggravated an already seismically-active zone. One cannot stop landslides from occurring. But government agencies must be, at least, prepared to deal with a disaster situation. The tragedy at Malpa brought out the glaring inadequacies of government to deal with a disaster. It was appalling that relief operations could not reach the affected areas days after the accident. Though it is not easy to gain access to these areas, a mechanism needs to be worked out to deal with such calamities in the future. It is, however, heartening to know that the Union ministry of agriculture is planning to set up a disaster management programme....
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