Published: Monday 30 June 1997

Pressing the matter

I have the highest praise for the publications of the Centre for Science and Environment. In the introduction of your book Slow Murder, you have sougfit feedback from the readers in the form of suggestions on how an effective campaign can be launched to control vehicular pollution.

To begin with, your work has to be translated into other languages. Media pressure has to be backed with political will for successful pollution control policies. Until such a thing happens, we have to continue our efforts with scientific and intellectual vigour, by taking green issues to the people and by resorting to hectic lobbying....

Fishy business

I would like to bring to your notice the plight of farmers and other agricultural labourers around lake Kolleru, a fresh water lake situated in the West Godavari and Krishna districts of Andhra Pradesh. Before the '70s, this lake used to be fiA from July to December due to the inflow of several rivulets and drainage from the Krishna and Godavari river irrigation systems. From January to June it used to be partially dry. Paddy in the rabi season used to be cultivated in about 40-48 sq krn of the lake bed taken on lease from the government. Siberian cranes and other birds used to come for breeding and nesting in this season. There are small islands in the lake and the inhabitants of these islands used to eke- out a living by fishing in the lake.

But from the '70s a few people grabbed major portiops of the lake on a lease basis, dug fishing tanks and raised fish by adding fertilisers and feed., By the '90s these fish tanks covered almost 90 per cent of the lake bed. Th 'e lake is criss-crossed by roads and very few migratory bi@ds come to breed in this region now.

My interest is in preserving the lake for its fauna and flora, for the present as well as future'generations....

Moving on

Down To Earth is a unique science magazine with informative components. Your magazine could provide the impetus for a much more concerted effort towards sustainable development in the world....

Hello pal

I have a suggestion which can help to increase concern for the environment among people. You could start a pen-friends section in your magazine. People interested in environmental issues could interact with each other and increase awareness. This section will help in creating not just a chain but an ever-widening web. ...

Ground truths

In your editor's page (Down To Earth, Vol 5, No 20), you have mentioned that many rich farmers chose to plant trees on good agricultural land under the farm forestry programme. The point is that cultivation of food crops yields very low income. The reasons are many. In urban areas, land has a good sale value. While the cost of all articles and service groups has risen, the price of food articles are artificially kept at a low price. Besides, compulsory procurement of foodgrains by the government at a low floor price puts the farmers in a very disadvantageous position.

Different regions face different problems in the field of agricultural development, social forestry and waste-land development. In fact, more areas are becoming wastelands under the influence of migration from rural to urban areas and absentee landlordism. In your article you have suggested that the highly degraded lands owned by poor farmers should be used to grow trees to enable them to come above the poverty line. This will take care of the twin problems of poaching in forest land and the need for developing the vast stretches of wasteland....

Dangerous promises

Recently the mayor of Nagpur offered to make all efforts to provide incineration facilities at the city crematorium to dispose off hospital wastes.

In the absence of any regulatory guidelines, all one needs to start a hospital is a board and a few cots. Not many hospitals have incinerators to safely dispose off their hazardous wastes. Usually, hospital waste is dumped in municipal garbage bins. Now, as per the mayor's announcement, it will be incinerated in the crematorium situated in the heart of the city.

As incineration of hospital wastes emits carcinogenic effluents, they need to be burnt at very high temperatures. Non -biodegradable plastic wastes like syringes and gloves should be disposed off miles away from human habitation. Providing a crematorium in the city for incinerating hospital wastes will increase the risk of dangerous infections....

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