Published: Thursday 31 July 2008

Make tribals shareholders

This is in response to 'Terrible magnate' (June 30, 2008). The writer should be congratulated for her incisive analysis of the environmental crimes committed by ArcelorMittal in their steel plants around the world. It is unfortunate that despite judicial reviews of land acquisition for steel plants in Orissa, ArcelorMittal, Vedanta and posco are going ahead with displacement of millions of tribals on a scale unheard of in the history of globalization. Companies claim they will build hospitals and schools for the tribals who lose land. But these will become health clubs and chill-out zones for employees. Corporate social responsibility (csr) is eyewash. Remi Boyer, head of csr in the Mittal camp, laughs at the idea of providing shares to the affected tribals. Boyer should be made to live with the tribals and then left to laugh or cry. The only win-win solution for such problems is to provide tribals equity shares and the companies should invest in training tribals. Unless these "share-education" steps are taken the tribals will never understand the "value" of the promoter's share.


Of frugality not being poverty

This is in response to the editorial 'Frugality is not poverty: lessons in energy security' (June 30, 2008). It doesn't give effective solutions. The government recently increased taxes on 1,500 cc+ cars. Such a step would be in consonance with your line of thought.

Fuel prices are high and economists are right when they talk about charging this to consumers. I am sure if you go through the monstrously colossal vicious circle that would come if the prices were not passed through, you would see the absolute need to pass through prices.

While I agree with the fact that most of the urban populace may not need subsidy in this regard, drawing a line on how not to subsidize a certain segment and not the other is easier said than done. With increase in crude retail price, our demand goes up and brings down consumption.

This would serve the purpose of pollution and decreasing crude imports. If there were no increase in prices, we all would think petrol grows in our backyard and be in for a greater shock in future. In retrospect, it would have been appropriate for the government to have increased the prices at small levels till crude reached us $140+.

Other measures, non-subsidized gas cylinders and the bus rapid transit system are also getting in place.

But there can be no solution overnight.


Down to Earth Common sense and figures tell us that the well off take advantage of most of the liquefied petroleum gas (lpg) subsidy (like most other subsidies). This is true of urban areas. It has been observed that lpg in rural areas, especially remote areas and in mountains, come with plenty of benefits--less indoor air pollution, better health, less burden of collecting and carrying firewood and easing pressure on forests.

Though many of these benefits are difficult to quantify to convince conventional economists (read babus), there is nevertheless a strong case for increasing subsidy on lpg in remote and mountain areas and maybe reducing it for cities like Delhi and Mumbai. A marginal reduction in subsidy for urban areas would more than offset even a substantial increase in subsidy to remoter areas.


Down to Earth Who is the beneficiary of subsidy (of hundreds of crores) on kerosene? In states like Bihar and Orissa, no poor man even from the below poverty line list can get a drop of kerosene from the existing public distribution system. Remove completely subsidy on this to avoid further hike in petrol and diesel prices and allow users to get pure petrol.

Down to Earth Your concern for the global future is commendable. I believe we must adopt a multi-fold approach towards this. I would like to share some of the measures we need to take urgently:

Down to Earth Consume petrol as little as possible

Down to Earth Promote alternate energy sources--solar, wind, tidal, hydro, waste and fusion

Down to Earth Force automobile industries to develop vehicles using clean technology

Down to Earth Educate people on energy security


Down to Earth The editorial is a well thought out piece where the truth is written in bold words. People sitting at the helm of affairs m.

Do not submit

This is in response to 'SLAPPed but will not submit' (June 15, 2008). In a professionally managed and strategically driven world, anything is possible. Money can command everyone's respect, loyalty and responsibility by seducing one's morals. Our minimum sense of accountability to our society is lying as a "pesticide residue".

Corporates and big business houses are keenly involved in such practices of engaging few "opinion leaders" who act as middlemen to defend their misdeeds and divert public perception. Those opinion leaders could either be a public relation organization or a dubious ngo. But such manipulative activities should not deter any organization.


Involve local people

This is in response to the cover story 'Scorching salt' (June 15, 2008). Support and active participation of the local people is a must for materialization of any conservation project. This can be done by winning the trust of the people. The dual attitude of the government will only hamper the progress of the project.


Segregate water at source

The editorial 'From water to water' (May 31, 2008) was timely. There is definitely a need to change the way we use water. Just as garbage is segregated at source, we must segregate wastewater at source to facilitate recycling and reuse. The bulk of wastewater contains organic waste that can be filtered through reed-beds (bio-filtration). Chemical laden water can be treated at special effluent treatment plants using optimum chemicals and electricity ensuring no discharge of pollutants. Local recycling by a reinvented water cycle can produce various categories of water; from the purest (like rain) for drinking and cooking; to raw water for flushing and horticulture; the others to be used for activities ranging from washing to bathing. This will reduce dependence on rivers, lakes and underground sources. Not just that, we will also be saving on pumping and purification costs.


All for public transport

Efforts to influence commuters to use public transport systems shall definitely impact pollution. Services provided by these systems need to be pursued. If buses carry 60 per cent of commuters and pay the maximum tax among other modes of transport, they deserve their share of roadspace. brt is a good start.

Gadepan, Kota

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