Published: Wednesday 15 October 2008


What I say might sound offensive and bitter to you and to the environment activists; however, the bitter truth must be put on record in writing.

As a practising farmer, I am getting increasingly convinced that the entire environment movement, whether on the issue of global warming, saving wildlife, opposition to big dams or pesticides, has little basis in facts and reveals certain animus towards farmers.

I am inclined to suspect that the environmentalists are a mafia indulging in scaremongering against the farmers and blackmailing the industry.

sharad joshi
Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha


In the name of wind energy

Public money continues to be looted in one form or another. Now it is the turn of green polices and projects to be milked--be it wind energy generation or carbon trading ('Green politics for green technologies', August 16-31, 2008).

Wind energy speculators are shooting up the price of farm land in many areas. Earlier companies were interested in leasing only the part of the land to put up windmills. Now they are buying thousands of acres because speculation on the land itself adds to the overall value of their asset. Producing wind energy is probably last on the agenda. Given that each mill costs upwards of Rs 4 crore, one wonders how these mills are viable.

In Tirunelveli, which supposedly is the windmill capital of India, many of the mills failed to produce the required power. That's not surprising since I have hardly found them working whenever I passed that way, which was frequently. On casual inquiry I was told that in recent times the wind velocity had not been up to the mark.

Usually the mills are erected after at least a two-year study of the wind patterns in the area.

In Maharashtra, the scam capital of India, rural land mafias closely connected with central and state ministers operate with impunity. They have been cornering land in large quantities in benami transactions.

Large tracts of land near the Amby Valley belt close to Lonavala and those towards Bheema Shankar and Satara have been gobbled up by land mafias who sell it at phenomenal prices to the Mumbai and Pune neo-rich and the Bollywood crowd.

All this makes me wonder what the future holds for a country like ours. Blinded by this race for so-called development, which is measured by the number of cars and houses you own and the brand name of your cell phone and underwear, we are pillaging the land and natural resources ruthlessly as if there is no tomorrow.

Sanjay Mahiwal

Good rainfall

Cherapunji receives an annual rainfall of nearly 11,000 mm, yet it faces water scarcity for about nine months in a year. The point I am trying to make is: more important than the quantum of annual rainfall is its pattern of distribution.

The article 'Monsoon, sans rain' (September 1-15, 2008) brings out the fact that summer or post-monsoon rainfall in India shows an increasing trend. Though it is at the cost of monsoon rainfall, it is good from the point of view of water resources.

India's average annual rainfall is nearly 1,100 mm, but a stupendous 90 per cent is lost due to natural discharge. This is because, the intensity of rainfall is too high. The entire rainfall occurs within 100 hours out of 8,760 hours in a year. Increase in summer or post-monsoon rainfall would result in an increase in groundwater recharge thereby increasing water resources during the lean period. If this altered pattern of rainfall is due to climate change, can we then say it is a good thing for India?

ranjan ray
Scientist, Central Ground Water Board, Raipur


Hydel is power

Whether we like it or not, hydroelectricity is the safest and cleanest form of energy ('Myth of power', September 1-15, 2008), in my opinion.

It is only to meet the growing energy demand, heavily polluting thermal power plants have come up sidelining hydroelectricity plants.

Agreed, hydroelectricity is subjected to the vagaries of monsoon. But whether it is the Ganga or any other river, the full potential of hydroelectricity has not been successfully tapped.

Silting of dams is a major problem in the country. Unless regular desilting operations are carried out, it drastically reduces the life of a hydroelectricity plant. A minimum water flow has to be maintained so that downstream people do not suffer during the lean season.

Harnessing India's hydel potential is the need of the hour. There are many rivers in the hill states of Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Uttarakhand. They can easily opt for environmentally compatible mini and micro hydroelectricity plants.

D B N Murthy
Jayanagar, Bangalore

Down to Earth I am a student of infrastructure and environment. Over the recent months, I have become interested in topics related to sustainable development in the Indian context. Your detailed report on the series of hydropower projects on the Bhagirathi and the Alaknanda taught me many things.

Thank you!


There is more to it

I am afraid your news report on 'Village in arms' (August 16-31, 2008) is baseless. Your reporter, probably, never spoke to the people who matter the most. Just speak to the Irula tribes of Siriyur and Anaikatty, and have a look at the Siriyur temple. The deity there is Boothanatham (Tiger god). The Irulas worship the tiger. They say: This tiger project is for separating us from our gods, the tigers. Once we are separated, we and the tigers will both die. This is nothing but looting our forests.

Besides, there have been four to five protests and bandhs against the tiger project, which was joined by all parties, tribal movements in the area. They have spoken to the district collector and submitted their objections. Your article does not mention all these important points.

The highlight in the article says: "Officials blame protest on resort owners who fear business loss from ecodevelopment bodies". This is wrong. No resort owner has ever protested against the tiger project. Because, when an area is declared a tiger project, resorts in the area benefit the most.

wwf and other environmental ngos favour tiger projects. They don't understand the importance of people. I feel this is a ploy of the field director and some environmentalists who are anti-people. This tiger project clearly violates the Wildlife Amendment Act, 2006. According to the Forest Rights Act, none of the people and tribals can be removed or relocated from the forests; it is their land and they have a right to live here.

Ullash Kumar R K

Our correspondent replies

Three panchayats have given their agreements to the buffer zone notification of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. The Masinagudi panchayat has so far held out.

It is true that there have been several protests. The protesting committee is made up of the panchayat president and also of small business leaders, those with cattle business and the jeep drivers union. But no tribal was in the forefront. accord, an alliance of reputed ngos working on tribal issues in the Nilgiris, and Adivasi Muntera Sangham, were also not involved. This is not to say that the tribals were not apprehensive. There were many who were worried about restrictions on access to the forest. Discussions regarding this are on with the administration and it was reported.

As for the Irulas of Siriyur and Anaikatty, that fall in the buffer, they are not slated for relocation. There is no contesting that they live in harmony with the forest and its animals. Anthropoligically, the deity they worship is Mariamma, another form of Durga, not the tiger. The 320 tribal families, who are in the core area, are in line for relocation. They include the Mountadan Chettys who themselves had gone to the Madras High Court petitioning to be relocated outside the forest. As it stands, the Madras High Court has said that the implementation of the Forest Rights Act should proceed but titles are to be granted only after further orders from the court.

As for the resorts in Masinagudi, the article makes the point that the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve faces a serious threat from ecotourism and offers the view that regulation of tourism.


My point, exactly

I was very happy to find my views articulated so well by environmentalist Robert Goodland ('Financing emissions from jets and cows', September 1-15, 2008). I strongly feel that the World Bank, which invests big money across countries and sectors must ensure global environmental sustainability even as it seeks economic rationality in resource allocation across projects.

ganga prasad rao

Talk to Nepal

I have lived for two years in Bihar, a state which I find to be much more naturally resourceful than my hometown Vellore, Tamil Nadu. I live in Muzaffarpur, which gets flooded by the river Gandak every year. Local people say it is because of the water which comes from Nepal. If we know the problem, why don't we take up the issue with Nepal? Is this not more a political problem than a topographical one?

rex Joshua

Traditional farming wisdom

The main reason for Bharat Dogra's concern expressed in the article 'Denial of the Rural' (September 1-15, 2008) is the faulty education in our agricultural universities. Those, who are following the West, should study our traditional wisdom in agriculture. The natural ecological science (Natueco Science) can give us enough food, fibre and fuel and can bring prosperity to our villages without embracing genetically engineered crop technology.

arun dike

United we stand

Your article on Hiware Bazar, 'A village with 54 millionaires' (January 31, 2008), is heart-warming.

If we work this way, we neither need any multinational corporation nor foreign investment.



The first paragraph of the cover story 'Myth of power' (September 1-15, 2008) says: "...Goddess Ganga, believed to be the daughter of heaven who came down on Earth through the matter locks of lord Shiva."

The sentence should be read as: "...Goddess Ganga, believed to be the daughter of heaven who came down on Earth through the matted locks of lord Shiva." We regret the typograp-hical error.


This is related to my previous letter on Tamil Nadu's fertile agricultural land facing serious damages from tannery effluents (Witness, September 1-15, 2008).

During my recent visit to Coimbatore, I met a senior scientist retired from the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. He told me that even the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai, had failed to come up with an effective way to treat the highly toxic effluents discharged by tanneries.

P S Subrahmanian
Ranga Nagar, Tiruchirapalli

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