Published: Tuesday 15 August 2006

Skewed global market

This is in reference to your editorial 'No free lunches in India' (Down To Earth, July 15, 2006).

The concept of a global market is tailored to make every interest subservient to those of the European Union as well as the us. The key players have designed the system in a way that weak players can be dominated and ultimately become dependent on them.

The mentors of global market are only guided by self-interest. Despite significant exports, Indian farmers are in poor shape. The government should take urgent measures to improve the lot of farmers in the country. We cannot be deprived internally for the sake of maintaining good relations with those who control the global market.

Pranab Hazra
pranab_printex@hotmail.com ...

Uniform sawmill policy

I am writing in response to 'All jumbled up' (Down To Earth, July 15, 2006) on sawmills.

I feel that this industry needs lot of support. Rather than seeing it as a villain in comparison to its competitor industries (such as steel and plastic), one should perhaps look at the whole scenario from a different angle. After all, this industry uses resources (timber/trees) that are renewed much faster (in tens of years) than steel/metal-based industries (which may take up to hundreds or even thousands of years to be renewed).

Another advantage in using wood products is that they biodegrade easily in comparison with steel/ metals/ plastic products. Moreover, the wood-based industry's input resources are supported with availability of well-proven scientific forestry management techniques on sustenance (harvest with replenishment). But the plastic/steel industries have so far developed the know-how only for the maximum depletion of natural minerals, which have been deposited over a period of thousands of years or even more.

Instead of a total ban or punitive measures on the wood-based industry only, what is needed is perhaps a uniform policy to strengthen the institutional human resources (forest officials/ forestry organisations) to manage forests and plantations with specific targeted goals.

The policy should look into issues of subsidy, easy rules of transport and effective regulatory systems. It should ensure that forest officials are free from the clutches of power traders.

The policy should also focus on reorienting decision makers as well as decision movers (politicians/ bureaucrats/ environmentalists).

Tapesh Jha

The photograph indeed is not of Callophyllum inophyllum. We apologise for the error.

Polythene woes

Drains being choked by polythene bags is a common sight in Delhi. I think what the capital and other metropolitan cities in the country need to do is follow the lead of Himachal Pradesh, which has banned polythene bags up to 70 micron thick. This is necessary if the metropolitan cities are to survive the menace of choking drains and contamination of water supplies.

Banning polythene bags would also give an impetus to the home-based industry of making paper carry bags, which can be an easy way for women to generate income.


Output more than input?

I have a query regarding your article 'Scrap to cash' (Down To Earth, July 15, 2006).

The article mentions that 69,000 tonnes of refuse-derived fuel is derived from a mere 650 tonnes of waste per day. Does this figure satisfy the law of mass balance?

I believe that there has been an error while reporting the fact.

Ankkur Goel


The first figure (69,000 tonnes) is the total over a whole year, while the second (650 tonnes) is a daily one as the article mentions. It was an oversight on our part not to have specified that the first figure was for the entire year. ...

Styles of corruption

This is with reference to your editorial on corruption ('Old-style corruption better?', Down To Earth, May 15, 2006).

The piece is right on the mark and shows that we are involved in a class war, only the players are in different countries now and involved in new groupings and alliances.

Scott Gibbons

Wrong selection

I found the article 'Winning laurels' (Down To Earth, June 30, 2006) very interesting. It is about the famous ayurvedic medicinal plant Callophyllum species (laurel tree), which is a native of the west coast of our country. But the picture printed with it is not of Callophyllum inophyllum. It is probably of Terminalia species.

P S Venkatrama
taluq (Dakshin Kannada)

Saving vultures

It is an encouraging sign that all state drug controllers have withdrawn licenses to companies manufacturing diclofenac, which is toxic to vultures, for veterinary use.

Experts have expressed serious concern over the declining population of vultures since 1980. They say that the population of two species of vultures had plummeted.

Vultures scavenge on dead animals, especially cattle, helping avert disease that decaying carcasses can spread. These birds are seen as the best friends of civil authorities.

The ban announced on diclofenac is a welcome move and now it is up to the state governments to ensure that it is implemented.

boseprobir@ yahoo.co.in

Down To Earth welcomes letters, responses and other contributions from readers. We particularly welcome you to join issues and share your opinion with others. Send to Sunita Narain, Editor, Down To Earth, 41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi - 110 062. Email: editor@downtoearth.org.in ...

Pick of the postbag

Manure from culled poultry
This is with reference to your story on the poultry farmers of Alibag who were forced to cull their stock in the face of the threat from bird flu ('Contract killers', Down To Earth, May 31, 2006). Instead of letting all their effort go waste, these farmers could have made an organic liquid manure called kunapa jala from the culled birds. Kunapa jala is one of the precious gifts of Vriksayurveda, a 1,000 year old treatise written by Surapala who describes how to make it from animal flesh and animal waste.

The process of fermentation and decomposition of the culled birds described in Vriksayurveda would have rendered the suspected pathogens harmless. Kunapa jala can be used to grow food and cash crops. It is a great soil booster and growth promoter. In fact, kunapa jala has been used successfully in some coffee estates in south India and in some tea estates in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

The poultry farmers could sell the manure and at least escape starvation and penury. Kunapa jala can be made from the flesh of any domestic or wild animal or from animal wastes that are usually discarded when the animal is butchered for consumption.

Those interested in learning more about the preparation of kunapa jala can refer to Vriksayurveda of Surapala published by the Asian Agri-History Foundation in Secunderabad. Else write to Swami Valmiki Srinivasa Ayangarya (vajadeva@rediffmail.com who has been experimenting with kunapa jala for the past 15 years or so.

Anjali Pathak

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