Published: Friday 15 September 2006

Consumer is the king

Your report on soft drinks has shaken the industry once again ('The street fight', Down To Earth, August 15, 2006).Industry says the Centre for Science and Environment (cse) is media savvy and does not have the sophisticated instruments to check the quality of soft drinks. They themselves conducted some tests and found everything in place. Even the health ministry rushed in to give the cola industry a clean chit.

The whole episode brings forth some harsh realities, the foremost being a ruthless exploitation of the environment in the era of globalisation. mncs like Coke and Pepsi are driven by only one aim -- profit maximisation.

mncs thrive in developed countries but they are also extremely careful there. cse reported that soft drinks samples of these brands collected in eu and the us conformed to the strict eu standards. But that does not happen in case of India. Why these double standards?

It can be because of many reasons. First is the lack of strict environment norms. Another is lack of implementation of environment norms, given the corruption and delay in decision-making by both administration and courts. Finally, the lack of awareness among civil society. The middle class seems to be overwhelmed by the star-studded advertisements of cola drinks. People forgot the issue of pesticides in colas though it had been raised by cse three years ago. The pressure could not be sustained and Coke and Pepsi continue to sell pesticide-contaminated soft drinks. The society must realise that "consumer is the king" and should know how to assert itself.

Manu Mayank

Multi-national companies (mncs) thrive in India due to crass neglect and corruption on part of the politicians and the law-enforcing agencies. The revelations made by cse are an eye-opener. Cola companies continue to peddle poison in the name of soft drinks and this government, like its predecessor, looks the other way.

Be it Subodh Kant Sahay's statement or A Ramadoss's reaction to cse 's present report, they are a grim reminder of Sushma Swaraj's unabashed attempt at saving the skin of these mncs who have deep pockets and clout. The fate of the common man will remain the same in this country.


It is very correct to say that soft drinks have no nutritional value. On the contrary, they are responsible for the problem of overweight affecting many western nations.

Drinking dilute phosphoric acid should not be practised; phosphorus should rather be used in agriculture. We do have limited phosphate resources in the world and using them to the harm of health is really not wise.


On behalf of Himachal Upbhogta Sanrakshan Parishad, I wish to congratulate cse for its report on pesticides in soft drinks. Our organisation has issued a press release demanding immediate sealing and sampling of the available stock of cola drinks, and also their immediate withdrawal from market.

What the government is failing to do is being done by ngos. Sampling also needs to be done for spurious drugs that ar.

Fix it right

This is in response to the article, 'Fixing nitrogen' (Down To Earth, August 15, 2006).It is a great achievement and will reduce the dependence on nitrogenous fertilisers which consume a large quantum of energy for their production.

But at the same time, biological nitrogen fixation is accompanied by nitrification and denitrification which is a cause of green house gas emissions. According to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention's proposed methodology for afforestation/reforestation, use of leguminous trees is not recommended because of nitrification/denitrification.

In the present scenario, when global warming is turning into a major challenge for our planet, before mass scale application of such techniques, a budgeting of greenhouse gases should be done in reference to emissions saving by replacing fertilisers and emissions occurring as a result of biological nitrogen fixation.

Amit Walia

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Restoring tanks

This is in response to the article 'Tank muddle' (Down To Earth, June 30, 2006).While you have covered the topic intelligently in many respects, one of the statements, attributed to me is far from the truth. It says: " pwd only concentrates on repairing and broadening of the surplus weir and sluice outlet maintenance as it is easy to make money on such masonry work."

I do not know who made this statement and in what context, but it certainly was not me. I had emphasised the imperative need to desilt the feeder channels of the tanks and interlinking them and the importance of providing shutters to the sluice outlets wherever they are missing.

I also mentioned that tank rehabilitation undertaken by Dhan foundation is implemented through water users associations and not through any contractor. I never said at any time that pwd concentrates on repairing and broadening the surplus weir and the inference you made on that.

C R Shanmugham
Dhan Foundation


Disposing computer waste
I am a bit of a computer geek and over the years I have collected a lot of CDs, hard drives, mother boards and other computer junk.

I would like to know if there is any organisation in India which deals with safe disposal of computer waste.

Roohshad Mistry

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