Published: Wednesday 15 November 2006

Misleading ads

The flood of cola advertisements showcasing "brands" such as Aamir Khan and Smriti Irani, besides claiming that their product is "safe", is nothing but a marketing gimmick. I would rather believe scientists at the Centre for Science and Environment (cse) than the so-called celebrities whose sole interest lies in the thick pay cheques that they get to pose in front of the camera and read out from well-rehearsed scripts. The silver screen stars are misleading the masses. We need a scientist from cse to visit Coke's plants at random. Film stars are not scientists to give verdicts.

In May this year, I visited the Coca Cola museum in Atlanta in the us. The museum has samples of soft drinks from all around the world, but none from India. There were separate dispensers for products from different countries and they tasted different. The company claims it follows uniform global standards. Then how is it possible that the taste is not uniform? Besides, how does the company explain the absence of samples from India? You could depute a team to Atlanta to collect samples for another study.


In denial

This is in response to the editorial 'Climate change denial must stop' (Down To Earth, September 30, 2006). I would like to know whether the met department is being held responsible for the present state of affairs, or Indian scientists in general.

How about the fudging attempts by the inter-governmental panel on climate change (ipcc)? Arnell et al published in 2005 that up to 2.5 metres of global mean sea level rise could be expected by the end of this century. However, the second draft of the fourth assessment report by ipcc working group I ignores this. Perhaps, it won't be cited in the final report as well.

Is this because developed countries do not want to extend support to small islands and low-lying countries in their fight for survival despite promises made in Rio and review meetings in Mauritius? You should read the relevant 'working group I chapter 10 draft' of the fourth assessment report which quotes so many numbers on sea-level rise that readers end up confused about the magnitude of sea-level rise. It is becoming increasingly frustrating after spending 15 years doing ipcc assessments.

Murari Lal

As a physical geographer, I am disappointed with the above mentioned editorial. Since when did scientists have to step in line with a predetermined political agenda? The title goes contrary to good science. Certain facts are out of context. This is the warmest period in 400 years because finally we are out of the Ice Age. We are now back to a more agreeable climate that has been the norm for the past 8,000 years.

The big problem with warnings about global warming is a complete lack of perspective and suppression of essential information. Our planet is highly variable. In about a decade we can go from full glacial to full inter-glacial conditions, and have done so. The sea level can rise by many metres in such a short time span that we cannot resolve it (the rise was at any rate much higher than that predicted as a result of global warming). From this we can learn two things. Nature is capable of bringing these changes. Man is capable of adapting to them better than most species.

We should focus on avoiding increasing vulnerability to natural disasters, on increasing sustainability and decreasing dependence on oil (which will run out soon), be more energy-efficient (which will decrease co2 emissions), and use more renewable energy.


The editorial has come at the right time -- when the planet has begun to undergo changes which we thought would happen in the next thousand years or so. Even so, some scientists of the west are not ready to accept facts.

Climate science is no doubt complicated. But the greenhouse effect isn't. Over the last millions of years, nature has been sequestering carbon deep into earth's crust (what we know as fossil fuels) to make the planet habitable. But we have withdrawn all of the carbon in such a short span that the global average temperature has risen beyond repair.

The fallout is becoming more visible by the day. Diseases have spread to new areas; weather patterns are more unpredictable. How long can the denial go on?


Myths unexplored?

This is in response to 'Urban myths' (Down To Earth, August 31, 2006). There are factual errors in the article.

Units of amounts should be read as lakh rupees instead of rupees in crore

As on September 22, 2006, 79 projects at a total cost of Rs 4,431.33 crore have been sanctioned under the sub-mission on urban infrastructure and governance

Three projects are meant for mass rapid transit systems with a total cost of Rs 245.18 crore (5.35 per cent). Only eight road/flyover/road bridge projects have been sanctioned at a cost of Rs 292.25 crore (6.6 per cent)

Under the mission, each city is required to prepare a city development plan (cdp) to ensure integrated and planned development. cdps are required to be prepared after consulting interested parties. This is ensured.

M Rajamani
Joint Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development...

Down To Earth replies

All data used in the Down To Earth (dte) article has been sourced from the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (jnnurm) website of the Government of India (http://www. jnnurm.nic.in/). dte has a copy of the official data. We understand that the jnnurm website has recently been updated [after the publication of the article] and all the figures have now been changed to rupees in lakh from rupees in crore

Referring to the second point, as per the available official data when the article was going to the press, 23 infrastructure projects worth Rs 86,482.95 crore were sanctioned, which now the ministry claims should be read Rs 86,482.95 lakh

The mrts projects mentioned in the letter have been updated after the article was published. Otherwise, only four flyover projects had been cleared

Regarding public consultations for preparing cdps, whatever the government's intentions, we found it is not happening at the grassroots level. cdps are being prepared by hired consultants with public consultation merely a formality. The Pune case study highlights these problems, with citizens not even knowing who hired the Credit Rating Information Services of India Limited for preparing the cdp and under what terms of reference....

Manage demand, conserve resources

This is in response to 'On drinking sewage' (Down To Earth, September 30, 2006). It was extremely informative. Although recycling sewage for potable reuse has been undertaken and successfully carried out in several places, it is for the first time that it has been planned on such a scale. But it is unfortunate that the initiative was rejected, despite health and safety assurances made on behalf of the city council. I was particularly fascinated with the demand-side initiatives implemented in Toowoomba. Why do civic authorities here continue to expand urban sprawls, exhausting resources, rather than conserving what we have?


Labour pangs

This is in response to 'Tea bruise' (Down To Earth, September 30, 2006). It is heartening to know that tea plantation is being taken up seriously by the Uttaranchal government and will spread across 12,000 hectares. But it is strange that peasants working on their own fields are paid paltry wages of Rs 72 a day. And this, despite the minimum rate for an unskilled worker being Rs 126.

Leaf picking is a highly skilled job and the quantum of output envisaged, 12 kg a day, is a lot. Usually, if contractors do not pay prescribed wages, they are brought to book by the government. But here the state government itself is depriving people of minimum wages. The guilty deserve severe punishment.

Uttaranchal tea is quality and fetches up to Rs 1,200 per kg in the market, but government undertakings sell leaves to private processing units at Rs 20 per kg. The Uttaranchal Tea Development Board should encourage organic tea cultivation through cooperatives.


Stub that

This is in response to 'Tobacco bad for eyes' (Down To Earth, September 15, 2006). This is yet another revelation of how harmful cigarettes are. Cigarette smoking is injurious to health in more ways than one.

It is one important cause of heart diseases as well. It has been reported that the number of tobacco-related deaths in India last year was 1.5 million.

Besides, it is harmful for passive smokers as well.



The subhead in the box 'Response' , which was part of the report 'Red alert' (Down To Earth, October 31, 2006), should have read 'Tata Steel's version of Bastar events', instead of 'Tata Steel's version of Dantewada events'. The error is regretted.

Apropos of the report 'Chikungunya deaths' (Down To Earth, October 31, 2006,), the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme has not given figures for deaths from chikungunya. The figure 33 mentioned refers to confirmed cases.


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

Rising above tokenism
This is in response to 'Job sham' (Down To Earth, September 30, 2006). The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (nrega), aimed at providing a dignified lifestyle to the underprivileged, has failed to bear fruit, thanks to the inefficiency of the government. Once again an ambitious project has fallen prey to red-tape. Considering the work culture that exists here, such results have ceased to surprise. The lack of coordination between various agencies has always led to the untimely death of such populist measures. Efficient implementation of high-profile schemes just doesn't happen. The apprehensions regarding nrega's success remain. Nothing can flourish if bureaucratic impediments are allowed to rule the roost.

H No- 36 B/8/178, Bhavapur, Allahabad ...

Test Comment

This is a test comment so take it as a test comment nothing to comment abt the test comment .. Regards Sk ...

Test Comment

test comment Regards Sk ...

Test Comment

jksfjksdf sdhfklasdklf dhfkhjldf dfjksdjf ...

Test Comment

jksfjksdf sdhfklasdklf dhfkhjldf dfjksdjf ...

Test Comment

jksfjksdf sdhfklasdklf dhfkhjldf dfjksdjf ...

Test Comment

jksfjksdf sdhfklasdklf dhfkhjldf dfjksdjf ...

Test Comment

cooollllll ...

Test Comment

This is a very nice should do mopre stories like this Regards Sk ...

Test Comment

kljdjkdf djfasdjf djfkljsdf jskdfksd jklsadjf Regards Sk ...

Test Comment

Testing url as well.... Regards Sk ...

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.