Published: Sunday 15 November 2009

Towering hazard

In India, we import technology but dont adopt the safety measures that go with them. Companies have erected mobile towers near residential areas without considering the health hazards they pose to the people living nearby. The radio frequencies emitted by the mobile base stations could lead to cancer and other neurological, cardiac, respiratory and ophthalmologic disorders.

The law clearly states that before installing mobile towers near residential areas, companies have to get a no-objection certificate from the residents cooperative society and permission from the municipal corporation and the pollution control board.

Companies not only ignore these, they also dont bother maintaining the stipulated gap of 36 metres from human habitation. They just go ahead and erect towers and then get it regularized by paying Rs 5000 as fine.


A piece for the Indus jigsaw

The face on the cover of the September 16-30, 2009 issue (Who were they?) looked familiar. Yes, it is the same man, with broken nostrils, a proud ruler wearing a clover-embossed garment, exposing the right shouldera stone sculpture found amid the ruins of Mohenjo Daro.

The article on the Indus Valley script was a pleasure to read. That two million people in Baluchistan (literally, the land of the dark people) still speak a Dravidian language, Bruhui, interested me in particular. Those who speak Tamil would agree that the language spoken by Australian Aborigines sounds like Tamil, a Dravidian language. I wonder if anyone in the Department of Archaeology in Tamil Nadu secured a tape recording of Bruhui as it is spoken now. That would help understand how close the Aborigine language is to any of the Dravidian languages.

I have compiled some 332 names of places, mountains and rivers in Papua New Guinea, an island nation near Australia. They all sound like Tamil, Telugu and Sanskrit. This could be because todays Melanesians are descendants of early indigenous people of India and Indonesia who reached the island some 80,000 years ago; a group had also branched off to Australia.



India not ready for cheetah

After losing the entire tiger population at Panna national park, most of them to poaching, Madhya Pradesh does not deserve to be even considered for the cheetah reintroduction programme. The governments at the Centre and the state, with poor law enforcement, are incompetent to protect the wildlife of the country. Tiger skin and rhino horns find their way to China which is not possible without official blessing. News of leopards being axed for invading human settlements has become frequent. Before we go ahead with the cheetah programme, we need to ask ourselves, are we ready.

Salisbury Park Environment Trust, Pune

Horn puts act under pressure

Loudspeakers and pressure horns are some of the main sources of noise pollution. Every vehicle, big or small, is fitted with pressure horns these days; drivers use them more to advertise the sound than to caution others. The Motor Vehicles Act 1988 does not permit the use of pressure horns, but who cares.

I once came across a cop stopping a truck to tell the driver to follow the rules. The driver snapped: Dont try to be cheeky. I can put your job in jeopardy. Similarly, when I requested a traffic police squad to take action against the use of pressure horns, they said they often confiscate the horns but people put them back. It seems that either the act is lenient or the enforcement machinery is ineffective.


Solar China

When it comes to solar energy production plans, India is second only to China (Indias new solar system, August 16-31, 2009). Asias first 1.5 MW solar thermal power station in suburban Beijing is expected to generate up to 2.7 million kilowatt hour per year and prevent 2,300 tonnes of carbon emissions from conventional power plants.

Unlike India, Chinas thrust is on solar thermal power. In conventional solar power plants, photovoltaic panels are used to produce electricity directly from sunlight which goes into an inverter. From here it is turned into alternating current. Solar thermal systems generate heat (from water or air) with the radiation of the sun and then the steam produced from the receiver outlet is sent directly to the turbine for electricity generation.

In almost all the cities of China, house roofs have solar panels and turbines. The excess power generated from a building roof would go to the grid. Household electricity bills reflect the net electricity usage and the difference between the amount of electricity produced and consumed. The solar power production of the country too is connected to the grid. At any given point, sunlight is available in at least two thirds of the country.


Moon water of no use

Everyone is excited about Chandrayan I finding an invisible layer of water on the moon. What is the use? As a commoner, we have to struggle everyday to fetch potable water from our own backyard.

V L NATARAJANnatarajanvaidyanathapuram@gmail.com

Fighting lead in paint

The editorial Inaction discourages positive change in industry (September 1-15, 2009) ends with saying, We need to get angry. We need to make the difference. And indeed there lies the biggest question? As consumers, is anything in our hands? All we can do is make sure that the paints we buy are from companies that follow the standards.


Down to Earth I hope the government is taking note of the problem and imposing mandatory restrictions, with stringent penal provisions, on lead content in paints, branded or not.


Seawind in Colaba

A friend recently gifted me Down To Earth subscription and I enjoyed reading it. However, I want to point out something. The photograph in the article Din over private helipads in Mumbai (September 1-15, 2009) is not of Seawind in Colaba, but Mukesh Ambanis new residence Antilia on Altamount Road.

We regret the errorEditor


In the article Mumbai sources out city planning (October 1-15, 2009), Pankaj Joshi, architect, has been quoted saying development in non-construction zones would reduce availability of open space per person to less than 2 sq m against the norm of 11 sq m. What he said was that per person availability of space is already less than 2 sq m and would reduce further. We regret the error.

Passing the buck

I am a Right to Information activist and a member of Nyati County Mohalla Committee, affiliated to the non-profit, National Society for Clean Cities in Pune. A brick kiln is located close to a school in a residential area. It spews toxic gases, violating the standards set by the Pune Muncipal Corporation.

I had informed the regional office of the pollution control board and the muncipal corporation. The board, after investigations, issued a letter on April 27, 2009 asking the brick kiln owner to relocate outside the city limits.

The brick kiln has not been relocated yet. The pollution control board and the municipal corporation just keep passing the buck. I am at my wits end and dont know what should be the next step. Please advise.


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