Published: Saturday 15 September 2007

Carbon benefits

This is in response to your report 'Select all' (July 15, 2007). The report mentions about the government's plan to make compact fluorescent light (cfls) bulbs available at a cheaper rate of Rs 10-15. But keeping the advantages of cfl in mind the bulb is affordable even if it is priced at Rs 150.

The scheme should be pursued seriously. Switching over to cfls from incandescent bulbs will help the country save around 12,000 megawatts of electricity a year. Generating this amount of electricity from new power plants will require a minimum investment of Rs 48,000-50,000 crore.

Assuming that 200 million households in the country are supplied with electricity, and every house needs to replace at least four incandescent bulbs with cfls, it will cost more than Rs 12,000 crore.

Besides, the effort will lead to a reduction in the co2 emission by 55 million tonnes, which can help earn us $5 per tonne of co2 through the clean development mechanism. It will therefore be a prudent decision if the Union ministry popularises cfls under cdm benefits. Otherwise such a mass implementation of the scheme seems hard.

The scheme also offers clue to the state governments to earn cdm benefits through various energy projects. Opting for hydroelectric projects instead of thermal power plants based on coal seems a viable option to earn cdm benefits.

After all, more than 6,000 rivers flow across the country, with only one per cent of their potential being tapped till today. With joint ventures, we can not only capture the fullest power-generating potential of these rivers, but also help control floods and supply water for irrigation during dry seasons.

At present, only 26.56 per cent of the country's electricity generated comes from hydro power. This does not withstand the fact that ideally a country should generate 40 per cent of its total power requirement from hydroelectric plants. Cheap, clean, green and renewable energy is the need of the day.


Blowing hot and cold

This is in response to your editorial 'Climate science and the Indian scientist' (August 15, 2007).

The write-up seems over-enthusiastic. We all expect solutions from environmental science. But that does not happen instantly. Environmental science is still in a developing stage, which the article also acknowledges.

Predicting challenges of climate change is difficult, because multiple factors are involved here. Being a student of environmental science, I would not want our scientists to do guess work about climate change.

The us and its leaders (the president, George W Bush and the vice president, Dick Cheney) are already doing this. If we base our views on guess work, then the world will be ruled by the 'Bushes and the Cheneys'.

This does not show that our scientists have 'male' attitude towards the environment. Environmental science is a dynamic entity and thousands of Indian male scientists are working on various environmental projects across the globe. I would like our scientists to take the lead by breaking away from the old shackles of red tapism.


Your article talks about challenges that concern our day-to-day life. Our scientists are doing their best within the limited environment provided by the country's policy-makers.

Right now, we do not have any solution at hand to meet the challenge of climate change. But this does not mean that we should degrade ourselves or doubt the talent and knowledge of our scientists. Merely blaming the system does not work.

lakshmi narayana nagisetty

Pricing natural gas

This is in response to your editorial 'What price natural gas?' (July 15, 2007). Reliance India Ltd should no doubt be commended for its entrepreneurial initiatives in the field of natural gas exploration in the country.

This, though entitles the company to its due profit, certainly does not allow it to monopolise the whole sector.

After all, natural gas is national property. Recent discoveries have established that the Cauvery basin has the world's largest natural gas reservoir. This could make India surplus in natural gas resources, and help bring revolution in the energy sector. The gas could be used for the benefit of people, while improving the country's economy.

In this context, the Bombay High Court's decision to allow the government to fix the gas price is significant. A fair deal is expected.


Apropos your editorial 'What price natural gas?' (July 15, 2007), before blaming Reliance for monopolising the sector, I would like to know why the government has fixed the price of petrol at Rs 50.

Don't you think that the price is much more than the average daily wage of a labourer in the country?

Rajan nair

Farmers' price

The editorial 'Pricing food in poor India' (July 31, 2007) hits the nail on the head. It talks critically about our national policy on agriculture and subsidies.

The casual approach while fixing the procurement price of agricultural products reveals our unscientific approach towards food production as well as the marketing of food.

Under the current policy, farmers' produces are priced by someone else. I feel that by doing so the farmers are just being pushed into a cog. Suicide cases by farmers in the country are just stray cases to reflect the gruesome situation that they are in. Because there are thousands of farmers in the country whose plight goes unnoticed.

Girish Udapudi

The white revolution

This is in response to your editorial 'When markets do work' (June 15, 2007). It was inspiring to read about the milk cooperative in Laporiya village.

I am interested in the mechanics of the system. Does the cooperative have refrigerators to store milk until the van collects it? Do they mix all the milk, check the fat content and pack it, and then send it to towns for selling? Or do they put the milk in separate containers as per the fat content, grade it like the dairies, and then sell it?

N K Jha

Set an example

This is in response to the report 'Select all' (July 15, 2007). Before going ahead with mass applications for compact fluorescent bulbs in the country, the government should start the implementation from all government and semi-government establishments.

This should be done with a pay back period of six months to three years, depending on the burning hours. The implementation should be done by the Union ministry of power together with the bureau of energy efficiency. The process will reduce pollution, while saving electricity.

C R Bhattacharjee

Adulterated or not

This is in response to the report 'Milk of human unkindness' (July 31, 2007). The Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration's (fda) information on the state's food testing laboratories, as given in the article, is wrong.

Every district headquarter of the state has a public health laboratory in each of its public health department. This means, the state has at least 20 dedicated fda labs in places including Pune, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Amaravati, Kolhapur, Solapur, Nashik, Ahmednagar, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Beed, Jalgaon, Nanded, etc. All these labs are well-equipped to analyse milk and other food samples. Most of them are in fact approved by the Centre.

fda should also give exact information regarding the number of adulterated milk sample cases and the number of prosecutions. The date provided by the ngo Consumer Guidance Society of India (cgsi), which is also mentioned in the table 'Maharashtra's report card' shows that only branded samples were taken for analysis. The data show two of these branded samples contain contaminants such as soda and starch.

fda and cgsi should test samples from all milk brands. Regular tests over a prolonged period of time will ensure unadulterated milk supply to the public.

Shamrao Oak

Our correspondents respond

Our reporters have reconfirmed the following facts with P R Uttarwar, joint commissioner (food), fda, Mumbai.

According to Uttarwar, "At present fda uses public health labs in the state to test various food products, milk samples and water. But these are neither dedicated fda labs nor state-of-the-art labs. Under the 11th Five-Year Plan, the Union government has agreed to open fda world-class labs in Mumbai and Aurangabad. Later the government plans to open another such lab in Nagpur. At present we have just received in principle agreement; the funds are yet to come."

Regarding milk sample contaminants, Uttarwar claims urea contamination in milk samples was tested in the state about three years back. Between April and July 2007, they collected 782 samples, of which 170 failed to meet the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules (fpa), 1955 standards. Two of these samples were adulterated with starch, two with sucrose, and one with skimmed milk powder. But none of the sample exceeded the urea limits specified under fpa guidelines; fpa allows 700 parts per million of urea in milk.

Regarding the number of prosecution cases over milk adulteration, Uttarwar said that 329 cases have been lodged during the last four years, and 50 people have been caught adulterating milk in the last four months. These people are mostly from Mumbai. In Marine Lines, these people were caught tearing the packets of packed milk pouches, and mixing sucrose, starch, skimmed milk powder, and then reselling them as tabela milk at a rate of Rs 30-35 per litre.

Gypsum layer prevents rainwater from seeping down. But in Rajasthan, the layer is confined only to places like Barmer and Jaisalmer. Thus water can be channelled to other areas by clearing natural drainage system and help recharge the groundwater elsewhere. Some experts have also suggested diverting water to the river Luni.

Flood water can be used for irrigation. Experts like Rajendra Singh have suggested using such methods in arid zones like Rajasthan (see also 'Making adversity work', Down To Earth , October 31, 2006).

Mineral block

The report 'Heavy weather' (September 30, 2006) quotes environmentalist Anupam Mishra saying: "Barmer's subterranean layer of gypsum prevented rainwater from seeping down or draining away." What I don't understand is that if there are gypsum layers below the surface in Barmer, then how does it help increase the groundwater table? Why do not the local people use this flood water for irrigation?


More cars, less space

Apropos your article 'Spoilt lot' (May 31, 2007), I agree that our high-consuming lifestyle has made us vulnerable. On the face of energy crisis, greenhouse gas pollution, and traffic problems on the road and during parking, there is a mad race to own the 'dream' cars.

This craze to own a car has resulted in heavy consumption of fuel. In this way, we will soon join China in being the highest carbon carbon-emitting country. This is also leading to increasing cases of road rage. Let us give way to more public mode of transportation.


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