Letters

 
Published: Sunday 15 April 2007

Empower forest guards

This is in response to 'Lords of the ring'(January 31, 2007). I agree with the author on the plight of forest departments and the conservation efforts in the country. The author has very rightly pointed out how funds and utilities meant for conservation are utilised by forest officers, especially the divisional forest officers. There is widespread resentment among lower staff about posts remaining vacant and lack of promotion opportunities for forest guards, deputy range officers and range officers. But the author has failed to point to actual issues and has presented only one side of the coin.

My question is, are forest rangers saints? They misuse the facilities that they are given and use their position to amass wealth. Officers who say that tigers will be totally extinct in a decade, are right. For this, however, they are to blame because they often leave their stations to spend time in the cities. As a result, their subordinates follow suit.

I agree that conditions are difficult for the lower staff in forest department. And it is the forest guard who suffers most and not the ranger. If tigers and forests are to be protected than there is a definite need to empower the forest guard and lessen the hierarchical gap between the officer and the soldiers.

RISHU GARG
rishu_iifm@yahoo.com


I was appalled to read the one-sided and highly biased viewpoints, more so, because the write-up found space in your magazine. A high level of responsible reporting is usually expected in a publication of your stature. Such biased comments only reduce the magazine's esteem in public eye.

It has become fashionable to flog forest department and use forest officers as whipping boys. While I do not deny that there are black sheep among us, as is the case in all walks of life, is it fair to blame the entire sector for all the ills? You should have taken into consideration the problems faced by forest officers and supported your arguments with facts and figures rather than relying wholly on anecdotal references. It would have served you well had you researched and verified the facts before publishing them. Have you ever bothered to highlight the sacrifices of forest officers who have laid down their lives and faced grave threats and challenges in performing their duties? It will be in the fitness of things if you published the other point of view.

VIJAY LAXMI TIWARI
vltiwari@hotmail.com


Since when did Down to Earth, a "science and environment fortnightly", become a vehicle for disgruntled government servants? That too, those without the confidence to reveal their rank, leave alone names.

If one of the objectives of your organisation is conservation, which is also one of the objectives of the forest department, how is the cause of conservation served by deriding a section of the forest department, a department known to work under difficult circumstances anyway? It would be nice if instead of petty comments, you highlight good work of individuals and organisations (including those in forest and environment departments) that motivate and boost the morale of all those working for the cause of conservation of our scarce natural resources.

MITA BANERJEE
mitabjee@yahoo.co.uk


On behalf of the Indian Forest Service (ifs), I want to convey that we are disappointed with the selection of a slanderous piece for publication in your magazine. Even the name of the writer is not mentioned.

It seems to me an attempt by a sick mind to project the whole service in poor light. The reputation of a service like ifs is, however, not affected by the opinions expressed in the write-up. The contribution of the service in protecting and conserving our valuable natural resources is well known, despite the<>

Dubious challenges

This is in response to 'Programmed to fail' (December 31, 2006). It's strange that programmes aimed towards eradication of diseases have to survive dubious challenges. For instance, the minority community in Uttar Pradesh failed to participate in the polio drive due to resistance from clerics. It's sad that measures to tackle the polio virus have been marred by lack of proper approach and usage of outdated techniques.

ARVIND K.PANDEY
H No 36, B/8/178,
Bhavapur, Allahabad -211016


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Paid off or sold out?

Even more deplorable than the ngo -industry connection at the so-called Sustainability Summit in Delhi in December, as reported in your story 'Mining giants, ngo s at Sustainability Summit: Asia 2006' (January 31, 2007), is that the ministries of environment and forests and the ministry of tribal affairs sponsored the event, along with companies like Vedanta, itc and Rio Tinto. Pray why did these ministries responsible for vital functions relating to poor people and their livelihoods in rural India find it in their interests to take part in luxurious meetings at the Sheraton in Delhi? Did they pay to be a part of this and if so, why did they spend presumably large amounts of money on this event? If they got the space free then why did they sell their names to the event organisers?

PATRIK OSKARSSON
poskar@gmail.com



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Intelligent expos

This is in response to the editorial 'Guns, saws and double standards' (January 31, 2007). I appreciate your exposing the hypocrisy of our so-called 'intelligentia, glitteratti and media' over social issues, conservation and human rights . They hijack issues for their own financial requirements and popularity, which ultimately become counter-productive for common people. The plight of marginalised people, whether they are the fishermen of Jambudwip or tribal people of Kerala, is very well brought out.

BIJU K M
bijupkd@yahoo.co.in


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Powered indeed

The article 'People's power' (March 31, 2005) is interesting. Most electric power projects might inundate large stretches of forest land, displace many who live along the water bodies and cause irreparable damage to the state's rich marine life but the concept of mini-hydro power projects is a workable solution. Many problems with respect to those who depend on forests will be solved.

ASHIFA KATTUR
ashifakattur@yahoo.com
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Committed to development

This is with reference to the report 'Who moved my land' (February 15, 2007). We appreciate your interest in the upcoming power plant near Dehra in Ghaziabad district, but also regret to point out that despite providing all details to your correspondent the article voices the concerns of only those who have been bent upon politicising an issue for which the governments of the day are yet to find an acceptable solution.

For your information, all the land for the project was acquired at a price negotiated and fixed by the land negotiation committee, only after landowners formally signed a consent agreement on the advice of their representatives (village pradhans).

Over 95 per cent of landowners--including Mangu Singh Rana and Manoj Bhardwaj--have happily received compensation and extend all assistance to the project, which will be commissioned on schedule. We remain committed to positively changing the economic face of this under-developed region.

Arvind Pandey
Corporate Communications
Reliance Energy

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Collectively responsible

This is in response to 'Lethal dumping' (January 31, 2007). Needless to say municipal solid waste management is a complicated issue. Any initiative to improve solid waste management is bound to fail without the active involvement of the community. I do not understand how we can single out municipal authorities for mismanagement. The starting point for waste management is segregation of waste and this has to take place right at the resident's level. But does this happen?

Segregated waste is a resource and it can save lot of trouble for any waste management agency. Management of un-segregated or mixed waste remains a challenge the world over. There is no efficient technology to tackle this type of waste except for sanitary landfill facilities, which can accept any type of waste provided it is designed and built scientifically. Construction, operation and management of such facilities require huge amounts of money. Who will pay?

It is the community who should bear the cost. But municipal authorities are responsible as well. While I fully appreciate ngos' role as watchdogs, they should put extra effort into awareness programmes. As regards environmentally hazardous dumpsites in the country, little has been done despite the existence of the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules for more than six years. The central government could establish a special cell at the Union ministry of environment and forests or the Central Pollution Control Board and list out such sites based on hazard priority and invite international bids to rehabilitate them and later recover cost from respective cities. This may not be easy but it is certainly cheaper compared to the cost we are going to incur for remediation of environmental and health damage caused by these sites in future.

K D BHARDWAJ
kdbhardwaj2001@yahoo.com
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