Published: Monday 31 August 2009

Crying out for Kasaragod victims

We were shocked to read about the stand taken by the Indian government at the fifth chemical review committee meeting held in Rome ('India scuttles curb on endosulfan', April 16-30, 2009). India was the only country to oppose listing endosulfan under the Rotterdam Convention to restrict its trade.

We in Kasaragod know of the miseries suffered by the victims of endosulfan. People here continue to be ill even though aerial spraying was banned in 2002. Last March yet another victim, a woman, died reportedly due to endosulfan spraying in the past.

President, Biosphere Kasaragod, Kerala

UPA must keep trust

We cannot have one policy for winning the election and another for running the government. The upa has come back to power because of the poor ('Time to be different', June 1-15, 2009). The trust must be kept. Reforms in education, health and agriculture have to be brought without delay. Food security and employment guarantee need to be ensured. The dream of cities without slums and villages without huts need to be accomplished. All that is needed is will to bring these changes.


Down to Earth You may be pleased to learn that a green economy comprising clean technology, including renewable energy, is growing at a higher rate and generating more jobs in down-turning usa. Although I otherwise agree with your arguments I would like to point out corporate India is not necessarily pro- bjp. I have lived in Gujarat and seen its steady decline since the 1980s.

There are so many examples. The stagnation of the organized textile sector is one; even Reliance ditched Gujarat between its first Naroda plant and the Jamnagar Refinery. abb, L&T and a host of other companies also left Gujarat for Bengaluru and Pune.


Save Sunderbans mangroves

Listed as a world heritage site, the Sunderbans are also internationally recognized by unesco's Man and Biosphere programme. Yet, as cyclone Aila exposed, the islands are victims of neglect ('@110 km/hr', June 16-30, 2009). There is practically no information on the damage humans have done to this reserve. Authorities are not adequately informed on poaching, illegal tree felling and the extent of water pollution caused by oil spillage from mechanized country boats. Its relation with climate change is yet to be established, though the mangroves are depleting because of increased soil salinity.

Sunderbans expert Tushar Kanjilal has rightly expressed the urgent need to have a constantly updated databank to save the heritage that has evolved over the centuries. These low-cost natural defences provide a wide range of benefits that expensive human-made structures cannot match. A model based on tsunami-related data from Tamil Nadu has suggested even 30 mangrove trees per 100 square metre may reduce the maximum flow pressure of waves by more than 90 per cent. Communities too should to be made aware of the need to stop further erosion of mangroves.


Vaccine surplus, not shortage

The cover story 'Get your own vaccine' (July 1-15, 2009) is false, mischievous and misleading. I can say on behalf of the entire vaccine industry as well as the Serum Institute of India that there is no vaccine shortage at all. The public sector vaccine-manufacturing units were shut down because they were not following the good manufacturing practices and were proving to be a health hazard. May I ask those who are taking up the cause of the public sector vaccine manufacturers what would have happened should children have died because of vaccine manufactured in unhygienic conditions? It is not true the three public sector units met 80 per cent of the vaccine requirement of India's government-run immunization programme.

In fact, there is a vaccine surplus. I can prove it by supplying dpt (diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus) vaccine of World Health Organization-approved quality at the cost less than that of a cup of tea. We are the world's largest manufacturer of dpt vaccine and do not at present have a single order from the government.

It is ridiculous to say there is vaccine shortage when there is a surplus of dpt, mmr (measles, mumps and rubella), bcg and Hepatitis B vaccines not only in India but globally. The demand for these vaccines has shrunk this year in more than 140 countries.

Chairman and Managing Director,
Serum Institute of India Ltd, Pune


Untold truths

We all know how fatal swine flu can be, thanks to the media. But after reading the editorial 'The real pandemic' (May 16-31, 2009) it is clear what we know was only half the picture.

The case of Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pig processor, and its shrewd activities have gone unreported by the Western media. The food giant has safeguarded itself from legal obligations that might come in future.

Asansol, West Bengal


Advertisement on wheels

Why don't the Delhi Transport Corporation and other such organizations running city bus services allow full-body advertisements on buses as they do in Singapore or London? These could pay for some of the running and maintenance costs ('Can we afford not to change? Can we afford the change?', July 1-15, 2009).


Down to Earth New companies regularly enter car manufacturing as the government gives them fabulous incentives. They encourage more and more people to buy cars without a thought as to where these vehicles will be parked. The road is the essential garage. This has to be stopped. The parking space must be ascertained before a person buys a vehicle.


Down to Earth The launch of the Bandra-Worli sea link in Mumbai is noteworthy for its stupidity. What was required was a high-speed bus corridor starting at Bandra or Borivili which terminated at Nariman Point. Excellent mass transport designs are the only answer to cope with the increasing pressure.


Down to Earth The Union budget was silent on the problem of urban public transport. The problem has to be tackled in its various dimensions--from reducing the need for transport to the development of alternative modes that minimize pollution and congestion. City governments in several countries have redrafted policies to tackle these problems. A compilation of international experiences can help the Indian government make urban public transport more efficient.

D N Rao

Jewel of Rajasthan

The Thar desert in Rajasthan is vanishing owing to haphazard and unlawful construction activities.

The industrial and residential construction by the land mafia and the unwarranted greening of the areas at the cost of indigenous crops are killing the desert. Ironically, the focus is more on water for irrigation than on drinking water. Till recently, the roads and the railway tracks in the desert area had to be manually cleared of sand. It is no longer so.

The sand dunes of the Thar desert are fast disappearing and along with them the tradition, culture, identity and the uniqueness of the land. The deserts of Rajasthan should be declared a national heritage.



My curiosity was roused when I came across several people who, like me, have a high concentration of uric acid in their blood. I live in Sangli, Maharashtra, and the drinking water here is highly contaminated. I wonder if the two are linked. Doctors were unable to point out what caused high uric acid in the blood.

I want to know if the contaminated water is the reason.


Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.