Published: Sunday 15 December 1996

The other face

Your Editor's Page on the increase in vehicular traffic (Down To Earth, Vol 5, No 8) states that the rise in the number of vehicles poses the problem of pollution. But more traffic could also deliver certain benefits. With the development of infrastructure, urbanites could think of moving away from the cities to the rural areas. Better roads and urban planning, depending on the density of vehicular traffic shall result. Petrol or diesel can be replaced with industrial hydrogen as fuel. Moreover, the automobile industry could create a number of jobs that would bring full employment. In fact, automobiles could change people's living conditions and lifestyles. In my opinion, the development of a country, the wealth of a nation, is based on the automobile.

B GOPAL KRISHNA, Secunderabad - 500 017...

One to many

Apropos to the report 'Reptilian Riddle' (Down To Earth, Vol 5, No 9). The commendable efforts of Romulus Whitaker deserve encouragement. An approach like Whitakers's could lead to the proper utilisation of the economic gain generated by the surplus population for other conservational programmes or research. Numerous seminars have been held or are due to be conducted on faunal biodiversity in the country. But very few of them raise the issue of the proper utilisation of surplus animal populations.

In the case of crocodiles, there is the need for studies on formulating feed from offal and animal wastes from slaughter houses. On the success of such studies shall depend the effective disposal of offal, the farming of crocodiles and allied species and the reduction in the number of bird hits in areas where such wastes are disposed in the open. As for the introduction of crocodiles into the wild, well-planned and careful studies on the population built up, its impact on other faunal components and the evaluation of the rates of food intake are required.

R K BHATNAGAR, New Delhi - 110 012...

No stepping down

This is with reference to the Leader 'Opting for a catastrophe' (Down To Earth, Vol 5, No 9), which was rather timely. In agreement with the article, I would like to add my own bit. Firstly, the Central government cannot afford to delegate the beneficiary states the authority to issue clearances for 'mega projects'. Because state-level agencies meant for such important tasks are highly politicised, technically incapacitated and commercially unviable, they command little respect from the public, if any. Instead, say in the power sector, the Centre should ensure the strengthening of the Central Electricity Authority (cea) and the proposed regulatory authority.

Secondly, in no way can the ministry of environment and forests (mef) be sidelined while giving clearance to a development project. The Prime Minister will do better if he refrains from interfering in the functioning of the ministries, including the mef, unnecessarily. Thirdly, there is conflict between development and environment protection. The need for a trade-off as emphasised by you is very appropriate.

T P R MATHAVAN, 41, Vivekanand Society, Vadodara - 390 009...

Complete the image

I am a regular subscriber of the magazine and love reading it. But I would like to bring it to your notice that the paper used for printing Down To Earth is a synthetic and not natural one. It is non-biodegradable. I request you to look into the matter and take action so as to prevent pollution.

V JANARTHANAM, Coimbatore - 641 011

We do agree that we should be using environmentally-friendly paper for printing Down To Earth. For the past two years we have been exploring the prospects of doing so. But the 'environmentally-benign' paper offered to us by different paper companies has been found to be nothing of the kind on further research. For instance, what is sold as wood-free paper could be manufactured from bamboo or other materials like imported wood waste.

However, we are continuing our efforts to source such paper and are even discussing with the paper industry the possibility of developing such paper. We thank you for your concern and assure you of our continued efforts in this direction. ...

Of great help

I receive the publication cse-Down To Earth Feature Service regularly and read it with much relish. A brief on the maroon-fronted parakeet of northern Mexico -- which appeared a few months ago -- gave me a few ideas for my own stories. I am the environmental reporter for The News, an English daily based in Mexico City. I wish to let you know that your publication has been very useful to me and also ask if you would be interested in more news from this part of the world.

LOWRY McALLEN, Reporter, The News, Mexico City...

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