Published: Saturday 31 January 2009

Lip service

India's pro-asbestos industry stand at the Rotterdam Convention meet in Rome is not surprising, especially when the delegation is acting in the presence of the managing director of an asbestos roofing company ('To industry's tune', November 16-30, 2008). The Left parties' support to the asbestos industry is immoral and untenable because they claim to have the mandate to fight for occupational rights of workers.

In 2005, the cpi (m) led West Bengal government awarded the Environment Excellence Award to Utkal Asbestos Ltd. People like M K Pandhe and P K Ganguly of the cpi (m) trade union wing, citu, might be speaking against the asbestos industry at the national level, but that is just for public consumption.

Clearly, there is political consensus in India to promote asbestos at any cost. Soon the Centre might even lift the ban on asbestos mining on the urging of Andhra Pradesh asbestos miners.

gopal krishna
Ban Asbestos Network of India

Good news at the coast

It is good to know that the Coastal Regulation Zone notification will not get through before June ('Fishers at bay', December 16-31, 2008). All the efforts made by the fisher community and supportive civil society organizations have paid off.

However, it would have been more helpful if the article had presented the complex issues that the new notification might bring that could have an adverse impact on the fisher and other related communities.

gilbert rodrigo

Less for more

Apropos the editorial 'The newer deal for a newer world' (December 1-15, 2008), saying "opting to spend on transport options that are efficient and affordable to most", makes sense. Fortunately, the number of peoplein India who can afford car and air travel is still small.

The situation in the developed world is different. In the US, for example, policies dictated by the car industry have resulted in a situation making it virtually impossible to find a job without owning a car, making the survival of the car industry vital.

Farsightedness is obviously not a universal attribute, but one thought learning from the mistakes of others was not too difficult. This is being proven wrong. Our leaders are offering sops to the car and aviation industries, blindly imitating the US.

vinod c nanda

Wake up!

It is unique to note that a growth orientedeconomy like India is encouraging car manufacturing, ignoring the need to have more buses and local trains in urban areas ('A complicated bus-ride', November 16-30, 2008).

In Kolkata, where accidents are a common feature, the demandfor more localtrains has been overlooked, partly due to the rise in the number of autorickshaws. The number of cars on the road is also increasing, thanks to numerous loan schemes. All this is happening withoutany corresponding road expansion, giving rise tocongestion on the roads.

I hope the editorial acts as a wake-up call to our absent-minded leaders.

c r bhattacharjee

Down to Earth More cars would lead to increased health problems due to pollution. Gandhi said whenever in a dilemma, think of the poorest person you have seen and judge whether your decision will be in his interest. If our leaders followed this instead of aping the west, our problems would be solved. But then who cares?

s k chetal

Down to Earth The basic problem with public transport is that it is run by entities that are not individual profit driven. The profits from the bus service are not enjoyed by the people who run it, but by someone else.

A system where the work is done by one and the profit goes to another can never work. People are not accustomed to systems of indirect profit. What they want is gains,and that too immediately.

hemant ghayal

Down to Earth One wonders why the Centre and the state governments keep reducing taxes on aviation fuel and extend sops to the automobile industry. Just because the political parties receive hefty sums from them as election funds and not from the state-owned public transport companies, the latter are treated like stepchildren.

v v subba rao

Down to Earth Your editorial touched a very pertinent topic, something that isof prominent discussionin Britain. For instance, you will not find many people arguing against the concept of increasing investment in public transport, but when it is suggested that it be funded from the use ofprivate vehicles, the compromise suddenly becomes unpalatable.

In Manchester, where I am currently doing my master's degree, people strongly oppose the idea of a congestion charge from private vehicles in the inner city. While the policy has by all indicators proved a success in London in reducing travel time and increased the number of people using public transport, Manchester by contrast views it as an unnecessary impediment.

ali hussain

Down to Earth Invoking US president-elect Barack Obama in the Indian context does not make any sense. The editor seems to have a love affair with or penchant for buses. Why can't the super-power-to-be import good quality buses from Italy and Sweden like they do in Thailand?


Down to Earth Your editorials are usually power-packed and captivating, ending with a punch. But not this time. The name Barack Obama was painstakingly drawn into the article, maybe, just to grab some attention. It just did not fit into the flow of the article, I thought.

Although I am all for more buses, I don't understand t.

Educating IMA

This is with reference to the article, 'Brand ambassador' (May 16-31, 2008). The Indian Medical Association should be informed of the formation of benzene (a carcinogen) in juices and other beverages containing citric acid and sodium benzoate, used as a preservative, in tropical countries where temperatures are high and juices are not refrigerated.

h k parwana

Improving infrastructure

Your estimate in the factsheet 'Space crunch' (October 16-31, 2008) that public transport will drop from 26 per cent to 14 per cent over 25 years, appears to ignore the fact that society is becoming more aware of and sensitive to environmental issues. The state governments, already under pressure from civil society groups and the media, have begun to put in place infrastructure to persuade the likes of you and I to make a switch from private to public transport.

rakesh agarwal

Down to Earth We cannot reduce the rapidly increasing pollution and congestion caused by increasing number of private vehicles unless we price the use of road space. Subsidy is being given not only for fuel but also for roads, bridges and flyovers. Even the fines for traffic rule and parking violations have remained stagnant for the past 30 to 40 years. Let us at least apply a rational pricing mechanism. That will take care of many ills.

ashok datar

Transparency needed

Anil Kakodkar's interview on nuclear power is vague ('Nuclear power is a must', December 16-31, 2008). What does he mean by "competitive rate"? The poor also need power, but will they be able to afford it? We need more information and transparency on nuclear power, its pricing and the hazards involved.

sherna gandhy

Dangerous media

The cover story 'Pesticides in blood' (June 15, 2005) makes an excellent effort to discover the truth. But will the mainstream media raise the issue on the front page? Will it sell? Today the media has the power to brainwash society. Let us rope in some big newspapers and celebrities to highlight the matter.


An eye for an eye

Refer to 'Bird Flu: Fresh outbreak in Assam' (December 16-31, 2008). Why are there so many cases of bird flu? One gets the same treatment from nature as one gives it. People kill birds for filling their stomach and nature makes such people die. It is a case of an eye for an eye.

mahesh kumar

Dynamic governance

I read Anil Kamdar's letter asking for assistance regarding contamination of groundwater due to fluoride in Gujarat, particularly in Amreli district ('Threatened with fluorosis', December 1-15, 2008). Gujarat is classified as a region affected by fluorine contamination. Perhaps he could get the local health department and the health ministry to look into the problem as it is not just Amreli, but the entire state that is suffering.

k v s krishna

More on physics

The article 'A momentous bang' (October 1-15, 2008) made particle physics and astrophysics so easy to understand. You used to print many articles and photographs on such topics earlier. Particle physics is not a new subject, but there is very little about it in your magazine now.

a o ouseph
Trichur, Kerala

Food concerns

With the onset of recession, there have also been concerns regarding genetically modified (GM) food. I read about farmers protest against GM brinjals some time back. It will be good to know your opinion on the issue.

asish dhakal


Calling all agri scientists

With regard to the fight of the Uttar Pradesh farmers, I wish to quote the problems faced by paddy farmers in south India ('Not ready for rabi', November 16-30, 2008).

About 21.45 million hectares are under paddy cultivation in India. Most of the monsoon paddy varieties have to be sown before July 15, otherwise the yield might be less or the crop prone to disease. Many of the varieties are short duration crops ranging from 90 to 130 days and are ready for harvest by November. That is when cyclonic rains strike south India.

Four months of labour is often washed out with farmers losing as much as 25 per cent of the yield in continuous rains. Many paddy strains have been developed that are disease resistant, short duration and high yield, but none for paddy sown late in the season, in mid July.

I would request the scientists to please develop better delayed paddy strains.

b m t rajeev

Where to complain?

I read the article 'Adulterated milk floods Maharashtra' (July 31, 2007). I suspect that the milk being supplied by the dairyman in my building is adulterated. Most of the families believe that it is pure buffalo milk, but I have all reason to believe that is not the case.

Could you please advise as to where I could send the milk sample for analysis. And if need be then where should I lodge a complaint?

vinod sao


Stop project for the sake of birds

Every year thousands of exotic birds from places as far as Siberia and visit the marshy patch located in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh. This is the only viable and surviving swamp for nesting activities for the migratory birds such as the globally threatened spot-billed pelican and painted storks.

Now the state has initiated a 2,640 MW Bhavanapadu thermal power project, being developed by the East Coast Energy Pvt Ltd. The excavation and construction work has already begun, violating rules and guidelines. Needless to say, the project will encroach upon the habitat of the birds which fall under category A1 of the Important Bird Areas where construction of any kind is strictly prohibited.

If the construction work is not halted in time, about 14,164 hectares will be destroyed in Telineelapuram, Ijjuvaraam and Naupada villages. It will also pose a grave threat to these exotic guests.

E A S Sarma, former Union power secretary and former special chief secretary in the state environment and forests department, urged the Centre to reject the proposal for the coal-fired thermal plant. Permission for this has been sought by the promoters by misrepresentation of facts, which is already being challenged by many environmentalists. Sarma, in an e-mail to the Union ministry of environment and forests, said the company was undertaking construction work without approval from the ministry or the environment impact assessment committee. The Bombay Natural History Society too requested the Centre to intervene and halt the construction work, proclaiming it as a grave threat to the local ecosystem and avifauna.

sailaja nayak

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