Published: Friday 15 February 2008

Illegal crushers

I am a student from Faridabad in Haryana. I live in Pali village near the Aravalli range. Several stone-crushing units have been operating here since 1992, damaging the environment. The dust has formed thick layers in our houses. Pollution from the crushing zone has already affected the animals and agriculture in my village.

The groundwater level is going down in the area. Many of the residents are suffering from several diseases including asthma and TB.

I am sure that these units are flouting environmental safeguards. But I don't know much about such laws in India.

I want these units to stop polluting. Will anyone help me find a legal remedy to this?

Jitender Bhadana

Forest rights

The report 'Landgrab? (January 15, 2008) shows even the West Bengal forest department accepts that the land was being cultivated by 'encroachers' and it was recorded as a 'deemed protected forest' in 1969. How can land under cultivation be called a protected forest? Was there any settlement of rights prior to such a declaration, as required by law? Have the cultivators' rights been settled? Did anyone notice the contradiction during the land survey in 2003?

Instead of addressing such disputes, the forest department has taken over the land claiming to bring it under joint forest management.

Till date forest departments have got away with declaring diverse lands as forests without following the law and labelling those occupying the land encroachers. It must be noted that the rights of the people in forests under the zamindari system in south West Bengal were crushed while declaring them state forests. The forest rights act will enable the people to reclaim their rights. It helps them challenge unfair expropriation. Forest departments will no longer have the right to use the law for appropriating lands as 'state forest'.

Madhu Sarin

A rose for the story

Hats off to Shubhranshu Choudhary's 'A rose or a ladder' (January 15, 2008), which delves into the politics of an aluminium ladder. The travelogue also tells the story of the impoverished people in Balco and Hindalco land. He tells the story with a sensitivity and integrity that moved me deeply.

Vishnu Bhagwat

No ready remedy

This is with reference to your leader 'Containing a virus' (January 15, 2008). Naxalism was initiated in India as a movement to provide the underprivileged a dignified place in society. But now it has become a major threat to the country's internal security. Many Naxal leaders have now compromised on the interests they were once upholding.

Weak policies of the central government have also helped Naxalites spread to new areas. Home minister Shivraj Patil seems to be interested in complex political solutions to curb Naxalism. In fact, a wide spectrum of strategies is needed to solve the Naxal problem in our country.

Arvind K Pandey
Bhawapur, Allahabad

Down to Earth The prime minister's "crush them" prescription for eliminating the naxal virus is misplaced. Only an open diagnosis can trace the host for the virus.

The leader must be read along with the travelogue 'A rose or a ladder'. Insights from the story will help authorities find the right solution to the Naxal problem as well.

V C Nanda
Panjab University, Chandigarh

DDT against malaria

Your report 'Think regional' (October 15, 2007) has dealt with factors that need attention in controlling malaria. However, more research is needed to see if multiple organ failure is a common symptom of malaria or such a condition is specific to certain situations.

On malaria control, ddt is found to be useful in controlling the malaria vector. In Africa, attempts to control the vector Anopheles funestus with synthetic pyrethroids have failed. But reintroduction of ddt helped control it. Considering this, who has allowed India to use ddt for controlling malaria vector.

Director, National Institute of Malaria Research, Delhi...

Development initiative

Your editorial 'The laboratory of development' (December 31, 2007) points to a major challenge India is facing.

I am an organic farmer from Belgium. I have always been interested in global agricultural developments. Some years ago, I joined intach -Belgium, an overseas chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, Delhi.

We set out to restore the lost gardens of Khajuraho, a rediscovered group of around 12 fruit and vegetable gardens built in a village close to Khajuraho. In the project, I am dealing with the agricultural aspect; the development of sustainable ways of growing fruit and vegetable as an incentive for farmers.

We studied the agricultural situation in Khajuraho. I made an analysis of the drought, a problem that has grown immensely. However, possible solutions have also been developed in the meantime.

Johan D'hulster

Down to Earth Ralegan Siddhi and Hiware Bazar are not the only examples of successful water management by the people. Your magazine itself had reported the rainwater harvesting efforts by Tarun Bharat Sangha (tbs) at Alwar and neighbouring districts in Rajasthan.

Five rivers have become perennial due to rainwater harvesting through johads, anicuts and small check dams. Next is an attempt by Kolkata-based ngo, School of Fundamental Research, which has turned hundreds of hectares of barren land in Purulia into lush forests.

Samar Bagchi

Eco shields

This is with reference to the report 'Costal shield' (January 15, 2008). Casuarina alone will not be an ecologically sound solution for protecting the coast. It will affect many native species. The authorities must try a combination of different species of plants like Ipoema creeper, spinifex, scaevola and several suitable species of palms. These can act as soil binders and wind shields.

J C Punetha

Down to Earth The Tamil Nadu forest department has done the right thing by planting more than 4,000 ha of casuarinas since 2005. I have seen some varieties of casuarinas growing up to 35 metres, with a diameter of about 1.5 m--could be 200-300 years old--in the Papua New Guinea forests.

Though over 18 such species are listed in Australia's flora guide, India has been working on just one-- C equisetifolia . For example, C cunninghamiana grows to 10-30 m against C equisetifolia, which grows to 6-15 m. Very little research work seems to have been done on other verities in India. Like legumes, root nodules of casuarinas can also fix nitrogen.

There are several other uses for casuarinas. Its bark can yield tannins. Such uses have not been properly researched in the country. Most varieties are tolerant to saline conditions and can withstand drought since they need less water to survive. The trees are also evergreen.

T-Nagar, Chennai...

Clean habits

The factsheet 'Toilet travails' (January 15, 2008) points to a grave issue. Proper use of toilet must be taught in schools, and parents must instruct children to use toilet in the proper way. I have noticed that even the educated do not follow hygienic practices.

Mahesh Kapasi

Eligibility factor

The ugc-certificate course on environmental studies has been made compulsory for all college students under the directions of the Supreme Court of India. However, in many colleges, those who teach environmental studies have little understanding of science and environment.

I wonder how could a teacher of, say, humanities explain the concepts of environment and environmental problems in a detailed manner to the students? Only a post-graduate in disciplines such as Environmental Sciences must teach the subject.

C Ravichandran
Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu ...

More on Bali

Apropos your editorial and frontpage report on the Bali climate meet (January 15, 2008), I think you have missed a major decision taken at the working group meeting.

The Bali Roadmap for developed countries is really a holding space for the us to re-engage itself in the negotiations in 2008 when the country will have a new president who hopefully will support mandatory targets.

However, we still have to negotiate the level of emission cuts, among other things, for developed countries.

The working group's decision outlines a clear process to get there and therefore is really the place where the negotiations will take place. After a new us president is in office, these two 'places' for the developed countries to negotiate will come together.

Next, I was surprised by your comments about the European Union which was the first to support India's opposition to certain text in the Bali Roadmap document. The move was widely welcomed by the countries in the G77 group. I think the eu has demonstrated that it wants to work more closely with developing countries.

Jennifer L Morgan
Director, Climate and Energy Security
Third Generation Environmentalism Ltd

Down to Earth In 1979, when the us was negotiating the return of the Panama Canal, one us senator, S I Hayakawa of California, stood up on the floor of the senate and proclaimed: "We stole it fair and square, and we should keep it that way." Same is the attitude of the industrialized nations on climate change: they used up all the planet's capacity for greenhouse gases and now refuse to share the responsibly.


Cultural problem

The article 'West worst' (January 15, 2008) by Haikai Tane exposes dysfunctional cultures. His views based on years of planned research are an eye-opener. Many countries have double standards on human rights.


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