The article on the Asiatic Lion in Gir National Park and the Royal Bengal Tiger in the Sunderbans ('Astray', August 16-31, 2008) is thought provoking. Unsustainable tourism practices and habitat loss are major deterrents to wildlife conservation.
Increased human needs have taken a toll on conservation efforts. Pastoral-nomadic communities living in and around protected areas, despite their rich history of living in harmony with wildlife, exert huge pressure on forest resources. This further negates all conservation efforts. It's a catch 22 situation: people and their needs on the one hand and wildlife on the other hand.
We can find alternative livelihoods for those living inside protected areas, but there is hardly any solution for safeguarding wildlife, other than inviolate space. Practically, the much-hyped coexistence agenda doesn't work. There is an urgent need to plan and implement sound management techniques; resettlement of forest dwellers is one such option. It just needs to be planned and implemented with sincerity.
M C Vinay Kumar
All conservation measures implemented till date have proved effective in delaying the disappearance of lions and tigers in the country.
But after reading your article, it seems the future of big cats will remain a complex and challenging issue for the government as well as for wildlife experts.
Lala A K Singh
Kudos to the Thailand government for taking bold steps to counteract the spread of hiv/aids ('No sex please, we are Indians', August 16-31, 2008). Yes, the only way to curb the spread of the disease is to create awareness about its risk and prevention. There is nothing secret about it. It is time for government agencies as well as ngos to rise to the challenges of establishing and maintaining an effective hiv/aids information delivery system. We have to shatter taboos that act as barriers to the dissemination of information related to this incurable disease.
Arvind k pandey
Wild yet vital
It is nice to read the article 'Savour the lingra' (August 16-31, 2008). There are many such nutritious wild edibles in the Himalayan region. They need to be promoted. Keep writing about such local delicacies.
Myth of chyawanprash
In the article 'Neo-classical' (February 15, 2008), the author has talked about artificial sweeteners in popular brands of the ayurvedic tonic, chyawanprash.
It is definitely a vital issue. As per my knowledge (I have done M D in the pharmaceutical branch of Ayurveda), chyawanprash is classified a 'classical medicine' under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
This means if a person prepares it, he has no right to mislead the public. Violator has to either explain the clinical trial report since it becomes a case of new drug development, or face punishment.
After reading the article, 'Fanning an alternative' (August 1-15, 2008), I felt like a sheep who never questioned while being led by industries that offer green technologies. Thanks for reminding me that questions, howsoever embarrassing, must be asked to get to the bottom of things.
Divisional Forest Officer, Assam
Industries promoting wind energy need to shift their focus. Small-volume, low-pressure wind mills are more beneficial. They can be used for small requirements, in remote areas, as in the case of solar power, and hence, need attention.
Clean energy sources like wind energy and biogas are abundantly available. They can also be tapped easily.
The only reason why they are not appealing is because they are unconventional. It is time to promote them.
This is in response to your editorial 'Green politics for green technologies' (August 16-31, 2008).
The economic efficiency of existing policies for promoting green energy is questionable. While it promotes adoption of technology, its appropriateness based on the state's resource endowment is often rebutted.
You have rightly pointed out the low capacity utilization of wind farms in some states.
Ironically, regulators provide higher tariff in areas where a certain green technology is not economical. So, tariff for wind energy-based electricity in, say, Maharashtra or Madhya Pradesh would be higher than that in Tamil Nadu.
Tap alternative power
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his Independence Day speech has rightly emphasized on alternative energy needs, though belated.
There is no other way out for India but to resolve the current energy crisis and the systematic degradation of the environment.
Half the battle can be overcome with reduced consumption of coal and fossil fuel. His call for a solar mission is appreciable, because the country is blessed with ample sunlight.
Wind potential of the country is an astounding 45,000 mw. Biomass and animal waste can also be gainfully utilized.
The Planning Commission should consider tapping the optimum potential of these renewable energy sources while preparing energy-related policies. It is unfortunate that while the issue of the nuclear deal created a pandemonium in parliament, issues related to renewable energy hardly receive any attention by our parliamentarians.
Above all, to cut down oil consumption, electric vehicles deserve attention. Big manufacturers, however, do not seem to have any plan for electric vehicles in the country.
C R Bhattacharjee
658, Lake Gardens
The nuclear energy deal is a mere bogey of Americans to sell their outdated reactors, which can generate only 5 to 6 per cent of our energy needs.
Since we do not have the technical know-how to handle nuclear waste, we will end up burdening the country with radiation. The media, with its poor knowledge on energy related issues, is not acting responsibly either.
Why do we need nuclear energy, when we have ample source of clean energy? It is time for the authorities to make it mandatory for all, particularly industries, to tap solar power.
There are thousands of hectares of sprawling hillocks which can harness ample wind energy. Besides, let all housing complexes set up units that can convert methane gas emitted from domestic wastes to energy.
Regular awareness programmes should also be conducted regarding water conservation and rainwater harvesting.
Catch the rain on roads
The concept of rainwater harvesting in highways or roads is not new (see letter 'Elevated rainwater harvesting?' August 1-15, 2008). But it hardly receives attention in India. The method is effectively used in several African countries. In fact, Road Runoff Harvesting is in vogue in arid and semi-arid regions. Farmlands adjoining these roads are congenial to such methodologies. However, what concerns me is that whether such harvesting methodologies could be adopted based on the surrounding land use. Possibly, rainwater could be better harvested at elevated places. Urban rainwater harvesting is in practice in our country and has been made mandatory at certain places. It needs further promotion.
K R T Achar
LANCO Infratech Ltd, Gurgaon
The rampage caused by elephants, as mentioned in the article 'Stay off my farm' (May 1-15, 2008), appears similar to human-elephant conflicts in Sri Lanka. Here we understand that people have invaded wildlife territories, which is resulting in frequent conflicts.
Clear scientific policies should be in place to prevent such conflicts between the human being and the biodiversity. Many ecological niches have already been destroyed by the so-called development. We do not understand their immediate impact because many plants and animals are not aggressive like tigers in India or elephants in Sri Lanka.
This is in response to the editorial 'Learn to walk lightly' (August 1-15, 2008). The growing need for rapid industrialization will generate more such undesirable war between the native people and the proponents of industrialization.
There are many in the country, who are solely dependent on their agricultural land for livelihood. They can't spare even an inch for industrial growth.
They do not have even the necessary skills to put the money obtained as 'compensation' to gainful use.
But our policy-makers hardly pay any attention towards these facts. Encroachment of agriculture land by industries should be restricted. Stringent regulations should be enforced in this direction.
Only monetary compensation is not the right way to satisfy those who lose their land. Such deal can just assure the management of the industry concerned for a temporary period.
The recent devastating floods in Bihar has forced the state government to sit up and think the causes and remedies of such catastrophic happenings.
Some comments appeared in the print media that the present floods are the culmination of long neglect of the government. The government must be realizing its mistake now, but at what cost?
Himachal is currently committing similar mistakes. The government is on cement-plant opening spree, ignoring the advice of enviromentalists. Even local people are against such projects because of the fear of losing their agricultural land, which is already scarce in the state due to its hilly topography. Six out of twelve districts of Himachal are facing the onslaught of cement mafia who are securing the government's permission to install cement plants. These plants affect the state's agro-based units, educational institutions, tourism industry and herbal pharma units.
Ousteri is a freshwater lake and an important wetland in Puducherry. For over a decade, environmentalists have tried to get it protected as a sanctuary, but to no avail. The lake is a major wintering spot for a large number of migratory birds and is listed as an Important Bird Area. It also supports over 200 species of plants and 68 types of native and migratory birds, crustaceans and reptiles. The lake is a rich source of inland fisheries.
Despite restrictions by Puducherry forest department, rampant illegal fishing activities are going on in the lake. Several species of rare water snakes get trapped in the fishing net. In an attempt to untangle these snakes, fishers kill them. If this continues, it will not only push certain rare species of water snakes to extinction but also affect the lake's biodiversity. There is an urgent need to impose stringent regulations.
Much has been written about biofuels. Extraction of biofuel from food grains, such as corn, should certainly be discouraged. But what about biofuel derived from jatropha seeds, which are non-edible?
Does commercial extraction of biofuel from jatropha disturb our ecology? Should we encourage small farmers, particularly those in arid regions, to go for it?
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