Published: Tuesday 15 April 1997

Power games

Recently, five ngos in the Andaman and Nicobar islands -- the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, Society for Andaman and Nicobar Ecology, Andaman Prakriti Parishad, andaman Science Association and the Local Born Association -- presented an appeal to the Lieutenant Governor (lg) of Andaman and Nicobar islands, to counter the political pressure, generated by the money power of the building contractors, on the bureaucracy, to lift the ban on sand quarries in the zone. the ban was brought into effect by the coastal zone regulation of the ministry of environment and forests. This ban and the directives of the Supreme Court reflect the concern regarding the serious effects of such activities on the fragile ecosystem of the islands.

Years ago, the Island Development Authority had recommended that timber should be used for construction because it is locally available in abundance and is a renewable resource. Furthermore, such buildings harmonise well with the local architectural style and are also safer than multi-storied concrete buildings as the islands are prone to earthquakes. That wooden buildings can be long-lasting if the timber is seasoned well and if the foundations and kitchens are made of concrete, has been demonstrated by the Chatham Saw Mill plant.

The pressure from the contractors, however, was so intense that our normally absentee Member of Parliament (mp), Manoranjan Bhakt, flew down from Delhi to sit on a hunger strike. the mp claims that the government will promulgate an ordinance to lift the ban shortly. Meanwhile, our lg has declared in the recent National Development Council meeting that all 'development' has come to a standstill due to the ban....

Greens unite

The newspapers hardly report anything on environmental degradation even though there are so many ngos involved in raising environmental awareness. Rather than working in isolation, the ngos should coordinate their activities for a greater impact on society and direct their efforts at involving the youth in environmental activities. ...

Look into the future

This refers to the article 'Future fuel' on coal on the come back trail (Down To Earth, Vol 5, No 16). The existing oil reserves will only last another 50 years or so, while coal reserves are going to last for more than 200 years. If researchers are able to find an efficient method of removing sulphur from coal deposits, then the use of coal in solid or liquid form would continue. Those interested in more details on coal can refer to the book Bioprocessing and Biotreatment of Coal, edited by Donald L Wise and published by Marcel Dekker Inc, New York and Basel....

Deadly practices

The Haryana State Pollution Control Board, Chandigarh, has brought out a public notice warning distilleries, pulp and paper manufacturers, tanneries, electroplating and textile dyeing units and other industries, which are polluting the subsoil water by discharging their effluents directly into it. The notice says that the management of all such units is punishable by imprisonment upto six years and fine under sections 43 and 44 of the Water (Prevention and control of pollution) Act, 1974. It also says that under section 33-a of the act, direct action can be taken against such units by closing them down or disconnecting their electricity supply. Such callous disregard for our water resources is deplorable and such cases are very distressing for anyone who is concerned about the state of our environment....

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