Published: Saturday 30 June 2007

Bad news

I liked the leader 'Surviving 15 years of bad news' (May 31, 2007). I too am desperately seeking good news.

I am 82 years old and have completed 60 years of public life. I now work with farmers and tribals in Gujarat's Vadodara district. My work here has made me acutely aware of how agriculture and farmers in the country have been neglected in the last 16 years.

While studying the 2001 census on literacy in villages, I found there were a number of tribal villages that had school buildings and teachers. But between 1991 and 2001, hardly 10 more people had become literate. Surely, this is not because the state is spending less money on education.

I too publish a magazine like Down To Earth (dte) in Gujarati called Heet Rakshak. It is a monthly publication to educate farmers about ill effects of the market-friendly economy. The magazine is distributed free of cost and has completed seven years this year.

Sanat Mehta

I am a long-time subscriber of dte. It is tiresome to see the consistent pro-human slant to every report, discussion and view. The magazine has begun to lose all credibility. Much as we may like to think, we are not the most important species on the planet. In fact, we are the only destructive species and the only one that the planet can do well without.

It wouldn't be too politically incorrect to give an unbiased view of issues.

Leena Taneja Rao

The past two years of reading dte has been a depressing and scary experience. The magazine has only doomsday stories, and data and facts on grim realities, without a glimmer of hope.

For young readers you need to write about people who are making a difference, ecological success stories and other small victories in our battle to save the environment. Our future generation is bombarded with stories of environmental degradation and corruption. But we have a responsibility to nurture hope and faith so that they don't give up and surrender to what your stories seem to constantly imply--inevitable disaster.

Priya Krishnamurthy

No junk food please

This is in response to the article 'Inedible India' (March 31, 2007). It is good to see that we are waking up to the realities of processed food and the dangers associated with it. The craze for processed food is widespread among the affluent, who imitate the western lifestyle. They forget that in the us alone, heart disease is a major killer and 67 per cent of its population is obese.

Rohit pathania

While educating my paediatric outpatients on nutrition I always insist that they eat simple homemade food rich in pulses, cereals and green leafy vegetables. Especially, I ask them to instill good eating habits in our children.

Pradeep Kumar Kar

For the sake of research

I am a researcher studying temple arts in western India for almost two decades now. I have travelled through hinterlands in eastern-Rajasthan, which is now being over-exploited for its raw stones that are used as building material. Even sculpted pieces in temples dating 1,500 years back are eroded.

Who can stop this? My co-researcher and I documented these temples taking notes, photographs and drawings, fearing that the next time I came these might not be around. It is these records that have put our lives in danger. Both of us have been subjected to much harassment. Our academic work and documentation was snatched and we were subjected to questioning by local authorities and others. This is unfair since our academic work has approval from the country and the state's highest authorities.

Rabindra J Vasavada

Unlawful mining

I read the cover story 'Shafted' and editorial 'What China is doing to Goa' (April 30, 2007) with interest.

I have seen many mines like the iron ore mines of Goa or Karnataka and chromite mines of Sukinda in Orissa. Everywhere, the story is same. The article poses an important question: Where are we heading at the cost of industrial development? Don't we have a moral responsibility towards the villagers who are affected by mining? Private sector participation in mining, which started a few years back in India, will soon lead to environmental degradation.

The article said that the Union ministry of environment and forests (moef) had cleared the mines even when people had rejected it in a public hearing. Is it not a mockery of the laws made to protect our environment?

If environment and development are to be brought together we need to, one, protect the environment, two, be law-abiding, and three, be a well-wisher of local people. Waiting for the government to do something is not only passing the buck but also being dishonest to our professional commitments.

A K Soni

Depredation due to ores exported to China is not confined to Goa. You only need to see the ravaged forests of Jharkhand and Orissa. Two years ago I revisited the Saranda forests in northern Orissa and was shocked at the devastation due to uncontrolled mining in the area. The lush Sal trees, over a hundred years old, had been plundered to make way for opencast mining. Whole hills have been scarred and deformed.

It makes one realise how futile our laws and the law-enforcing machinery is in the face of greed and big money. There are, of course, new plantations--or rather apologies for them with acres of orderly uniform saplings devoid of diversity or undergrowth.

Dhrubo mukerjee

I was part of a committee set up by moef to examine pollution caused by mines in Goa in the late 1990s.

During discussions between the Goa mining and science and technology department, Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Goa Mineral Ore Exporters' Association and individual miners, I had suggested a phase-wise introduction of a conveyor-belt system at least up to loading points at the jetties to reduce pollution due to spillage during transport. I was told a conveyor belt system was to be installed by next year.

But the report never saw the light of the day. What else can one expect when miners support the government?

Kalidas Sawkar

Changpa cause

Apropos the article 'Low on oxygen', (April 30, 2007), I have considerable sympathy for the Changpa's cause. They have lived in Ladakh's Changthang region in Leh district for thousands of years and their nomadic lifestyle should be a model of sustainable ecology for us.

Without doubt, the strain on their traditional economy and on the ecology is due to pressures from new factors like the growth of a money economy, export demand for pashmina fibre and the army's attempts at "development".

Why should nomadic people pay for the mistakes of poor administration in the past? It would be tragic if the regions' wildlife was to become extinct and the Changpa's traditional lifestyle was lost.

Denise Brown


Apropos the report 'Heat is on India' (June 15, 2007), it was incorrectly mentioned that under the Kyoto Protocol, industrialised countries are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 5 to 6 per cent of the 1990 levels by 2012.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, the industrialised countries are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 5-6 per cent below the 1990 levels by 2012.

>> With reference to the article 'Low on oxygen' (April 30, 2007), the average altitude of Changthang is 14,600 feet above sea level and not 14,600 m above sea level as mentioned.

>> Credit for the picture in 'A journey to the Arctics' (June 15, 2007, p11), is Global Warming (101).

The errors are regretted.

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