Published: Thursday 15 May 2008

Bad breath

This is in response to the special report 'o2 shot' (Down To Earth, April 15, 2008). Oxygen therapy is safe at sea level or high altitude, but harmful underwater at depths more than ten metres. The oxygen concentrator filtering air to get 95 per cent oxygen is fraudulent because only fractional distillation of liquefied air gives pure oxygen.

Spacecraft and underwater breathing equipment using pure oxygen need Lithium Hydroxide to remove the 4 per cent carbon-dioxide in exhaled air. co2 is suffocating at 4 per cent and lethal at 10 per cent. co2-laden air, recycled through a flame, produces carbon-monoxide, which is lethal even at 0.1 per cent since it locks up haemoglobin in 30 minutes of exposure.

Human lungs absorb oxygen only when co2 is low, irrespective of oxygen concentration, hence it is crucial to remove co2--done naturally by plants. The increased use of fossil fuels combined with deforestation will be catastrophic for life.

A paradigm shift is needed in trying to save the environment.Like most market products making exaggerated claims, oxygen bars (for the rich) are wasteful, inefficient and with dubious benefits.

Satish M Vaidya

More than just budgeting

This is in response to the editorial 'Budget 2008: missing the big picture' (Down To Earth, March 31, 2008). Measures such as loan-waiver is only a one-time settlement. From buying seed and manure to selling crops, farmers are at the mercy of moneylenders including banks. Such measures will only promote a loan culture. Government should encourage a saving culture instead.

If the government could promote solar energy equipment to run water pump sets in farmlands, it will surely help regain the cost incurred in supply of free power.

A Jacob Sahayam
Thiruvananthapuarm, Kerala.

Down to Earth The mass-appeasing measures of the government have put the economy of the country at stake. Do these ministers really get into core issues before preparing the budget? It seems they do not. Each time, they end up adding to the financial mess. Another similar problem is the sixth pay commission and I am eager to read about it in your magazine.

Sunil Jogdeo

Down to Earth The finance minister should do more for farmers than what he has done in the budget. The government should exempt food grains from all kinds of levy. Irrigation should be made available to the farmers at any cost. Each district should have Krishi Vigyan Kendras to guide farmers. Interest of loans to farmers should be less than 5 per cent. Like railways, a separate budget can be prepared for the agriculture sector.

krishna mohan goyal
Amroha, Uttar Pradesh

Down to Earth Budgets always have some sops. But most of them miss their target because the authorities are least bothered of properly implementing the policies.

l L Singh
Ludhiana, Punjab

Hiware example

The cover story on the successful farmers in Hiware Bazar village in Maharashtra (Down To Earth, January 31, 2008) was an encouraging case study. However, most of the farmers who are facing similar situation in different parts of the country are illiterate. How will your story reach them?

Kim J Singh

Purity debate

The cover story, 'Pure myth' (Down To Earth, March 31, 2008) on the water purifiers presented a clear picture of the industry and its perils. It was the best overview I have read on water purifiers in the country.

However, it should have emphasised that recent research has shown reverse osmosis membranes are not good for removing bacteria and they are not recommended for the job worldwide.

You also did not mention if any purifiers in India check the integrity of the purification process. For example, only ultraviolet of 254 nanometres wavelength destroys bacteria. Do these purifiers self-check the wavelength and its intensity?

Peter Wiseburgh

Down to Earth Water is a lucrative business today. The industry functions on a strange logic: pollute first and then go in for purification at a heavy cost. We must remember the poet who sang that everything is of no significance without water and treat it with more seriousness.

Geetinka Agarwal
Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh

For Ledo

Apropos the article on coal mining at Ledo, Upper Assam (Down To Earth, August 31, 2007), the forests in Digboi forest division are among the last remaining lowland sub-tropical Dipterocarp-Mesua forests in India. It is a shame India's coal industry is expanding itself into these regions, instead of repairing the damage it already caused to the ecologically fragile areas.

Kashmira Kakati

Tier of threat

I live in Bhandup near Mumbai. The company, CEAT Tyres, is polluting this area. People suffer from several pollution-related diseases such as asthma. Over 1 million people live here, but authorities are not taking any action against the company which was closed down a few times following court orders. Many allege that the company management has strong links with the environment lobby in the state.


Gone with the wind?

Apropos the editorial 'Planning in the air' (Down To Earth, April 15, 2008), post-globalization, India has to increase the capability on all fronts such as agriculture, medicine and aviation. The country is making progress, but we are meeting this goal only by inviting foreign direct investment.

If India wants to really become world's top player in the aviation sector, it needs to increase the capability of airports. They have to become environmentally more sound, spacious and should have good management of air traffic. Good coordination between different departments is a must.

Increasing number of airports is not a bad sign since business in India is growing. The country needs more infrastructure in aviation industry to meet the growing demands.

Sunil Deshpande

Down to Earth Looking back at 60 years of 'planned un-development', one feels we lack four vital skills. They are: sensitivity to one's immediate surroundings, ability to reflect and imagine how things could be different, the will to rigorously implement plans and the ability to learn from past experience.

Badri Narayan

Tourism perils

Apropos your report on illegal buildings near Puri beach in Orissa (Down To Earth, November 27, 2007), Mandarmani beach in West Bengal's East Midnapore district is facing serious threat from hotels close to the sea.

Unauthorized construction is increasing at a fast pace to earn quick money from domestic tourists. The hotels have been built in violation of the coastal regulation zone norms. The level of pollution here is not as high as in many other beaches because it is a new beach. But the steady influx of tourists shall mire this beach very soon. Construction in the inter tidal zone area lying very close to the sea, is posing serious threats.

Until recently, Mandarmani was ecologically balanced and the beach was the breeding ground for mud prawns and rare varieties of crabs including red crabs. This species are not found in abundance anymore in the area. The hotels and resorts have disrupted the marine ecology.

The district administration seems to be unaware about all this destruction in the name of development.


Of uneven burden

This is in response to the factsheet 'Natural burden' (Down to Earth, April 15, 2008). The poor nations are bearing the ecological damages more than their rich counterparts. Another fact needs mention is density of population. Rich nations generate less co2 per sq km than poor nations as their population density is generally lower than the poor countries. India would continue to suffer to a greater extent than China for not having taken any measure to contain population growth. There are about 40 undeveloped and developing countries whose per capita co2 emissions are ranging from 100 kg to 1.1 tonnes. When they develop up to world average of emission of 4.2 tonnes, the impact on climate change could be terrible.


Pharma horror

Several pharmaceutical companies are polluting the Poosapati area in Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh. The companies are located along a stream that divides Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts. I visited the area and found several abandoned wells containing waste. The ground water is highly contaminated. If one puts a hand into the stream, it is tinted green. The colour stays there for a few days.

The situation is worse in Alladipalem village. The noise the factories generate is so loud that people cannot hear each other. The waste the factories dump has polluted nearby farmlands. Migration is quite high as the situation is forcing the villagers to leave the area. The villages lack proper medical facilities. Please help solve this mess.

Suresh Nalla

Plastic malls

Down to Earth The gross overutilization of polyethylene bags and plastic containers in shopping malls in cities are increasing. I am a doctor and want to start an awareness campaign on alternatives to polythene bags in my complex, to begin with. Could I get some ideas from Down to Earth and its readers on how to go about it?

Leena Dash

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