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CAPITAL DRAIN

How to transform the Yamuna into a river again

Reliance rapped

Ozone threatens Ganga basin

Healthy peels

THE BOOK OF
REVELATIONS

ON PAPER

ndias pulp and paper industry has two faces. Its an environmentalists nightmare,
given its voracious appetite for natural resources and its highly polluting nature.
On the positive side, this sector has the potential to generate sustainable employment
and contribute to afforestation efforts.

How can this environmentally sunset industry become a sunshine one? What are the
most environment-friendly units in this sector in India doing? What are the global best
practices? Whats the way ahead?
Find the answers in All About Paper a comprehensive review of Indias pulp and paper
industry conducted in a span of two years by the Centre for Science and Environments Green
Rating Project team. The book contains an in-depth analyses on all issues concerning the pulp and
paper sectors environmental performance, explained with the help of easy-to-grasp graphs, charts,
facts and figures.
Contact: Sales & Despatch Department

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DownToEarth
VOL 13, NO 23

APRIL 30, 2005

www.downtoearth.org.in

FRONTPAGE
UP land reclamation drive threatens wetlands

COVER STORY 22

NEWS
Faecally transformed

Worlds ecosystems are buckling under

The river Yamunas Delhi stretch is its


most polluting one. After crores spent on
cleaning it up, the rivers become dirtier.
How could that happen? More importantly,
how should the rivers pollution
management paradigm change?

Melghat tiger reserve literally on fire


CAG hauls up Orissa government on water supply
Pimpri, Maharashtra tries biodiesel
GM crops disbalance ecosystems

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY


Threat to millions: ozone depletion in Ganga basin
Scientists unravel the X-chromosome
Common North American plant fights blood cancer

FRONTPAGE 7

A herb that helps fish


New varieties of hepatitis C virus found

UnRELiable

Cheaper option to detect cervical cancer

Reliance Energy Limited rapped on


its polluting knuckles

15
15
16
17
19
34
35
35
36
37
38

SPECIAL REPORT
Hunted: wildlife research in India

40

REPORT ON REPORT
A chemical menace called household dust

LIFE AND NATURE 49

ON THE SPOT 39

Hope after the tsunami

Toxic wish

Time to sensitively re-build the


Nicobar Islands

Tax-free haven Himachal Pradesh also to


become a polluters heaven?

42

OBSERVATION
Undercharging consumers: Delhis new water bill

43

GRASSROOTS
Telemedicine is catching on

44

INTERVIEW

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Sir Richard Jolly on millennium development goals

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FOOD
Fruits and vegetables are good; their peels better

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LETTERS

EDITORS PAGE

LEADER

THE FORTNIGHT

CROSSCURRENTS

53

REVIEW

56

MEDIA

58

FACTSHEET

60

DOWN TO EARTH EDITORIAL DOES NOT ENDORSE THE CONTENT OF ADVERTISEMENTS PRINTED IN THE MAGAZINE

Founder editor: Anil Agarwal

Editor and publisher : Sunita Narain


Managing editor
: Pradip Saha

Editorial, subscriptions and advertisements: Society for Environmental Communications, 41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area,
New Delhi 110 062, Phone: 91-11- 29955124, 29956110, 29956394, 29956399 Fax: 91-11-29955879.
Email: downtoearth@downtoearth.org.in 2005 Society for Environmental Communications. All rights reserved
throughout the world. Reproduction in any manner is prohibited. Printed and published by Sunita Narain on behalf of
Society for Environmental Communications. Printed at Tara Art Printers, B-4 Hans Bhawan, B S Zafar Marg,
New Delhi - 110 002 and published at 41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi 110 062.

COVER PHOTO: SURYA SEN

LETTERS

Rigging tigers way back


Tigers do not vanish into thin air just
like that (Time to tell the truth, again,
Down To Earth, March 15, 2005). In
fact, the charade has been going on for
well over 30 years.
In the May 1979 issue of the nowdefunct Surya India magazine (edited
by Maneka Gandhi), is a special report
on the tiger hoax, titled Dubious
Achievement: the Tiger Reserves. I
quote, Project Tiger was launched on
1st April 1973, with nine tiger reserves:
Manas, Palamu, Simliphal, Corbett,
Ranthambore, Kanha, Melghat, Bandipur and Sundarbans. There were 258
tigers in these nine reserves. In 1976, the
figure went up to 470 and then in 1977
to 612. It is stated that 16 per cent of
Indias tigers were in the reserves and 84
per cent outside. Grave suspicions have
arisen about the efficacy of Project
Tiger, and accusations of undue intrusion of politics, extravagance, and distortion of statistics have been hurled at
the project authorities after the publication of the Leyhausen Report by a
three-member team, consisting of Paul
Leyhausen, director of Max Planck
Institute for Animal Behaviour, Colin
Holloway, ecologist from International
Union for Conservation of Nature and
Natural Resources and M K Ranjit
Singh, Regional Advisor, United
Nations Environment Program. The
team reports that the tiger population
figures were faked. It dubbed the figures, of 82 per cent increase in three
years, as being completely unbelievable. It further mentions that the initial
figures from Corbett, Simliphal and
Sundarban were not based on any surveys in the field. The project has become
such a status symbol that each project
director tries to outdo the other, on
paper at least. And the fictitious figures
finally became so unbelievable that they
2

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

attracted worldwide attention. The


article also says, Mr Koppikar, secretary general, forestry (later director,
Project Tiger) has admitted that the
estimate of the tiger population in India
has always been something of a guess.
Also, protecting our forests will
demand management of competing, but
equally vital, needs of human livelihood
and environmental security (2005: after
non-governance, Down To Earth,
January 15, 2005) as we do not have the
option to choose one over the other.
Thats the difference between the situation in India and developed countries.
A R MASLEKAR
Khadki, Pune

Others adulterate, we pay


I have a Bajaj Wind two-wheeler, purchased last year on 21st March.
Recently, when I gave it for free servicing at the local service station, I was told
that the engine was completely damaged
due to adulterated petrol. Moreover, the
bearings, camshaft, bore and piston
were also corroded. The cost for part
replacement is Rs 8,500.
Although I am not responsible for
adulterated petrol, I end up paying a
hefty amount for repairs I have not
caused. The Bajaj company does not
take responsibility, though my bike is in
the warranty period. They say that they
are not responsible for petrol related
damages. The insurance company says
that only accident is covered. The petrol
pump owners have always claimed that
their petrol quality is good, even though
private petrol tests have been negative.

The petrol purchase receipts do not


have the purchasers name and vehicle
number, making it difficult to prove
petrol purchase.
As no one in the chain of petrol consumption can be held responsible, this
perfectly designed petrol racket continues. It is only us vehicle owners who
keep paying the price of adulteration.
HEMANT THITE
Calorees Energy & Power Systems
Pune

Neighbours pride
A recent experience has given us a new
perspective on volunteers and rural
communities. On the way back from a
birding trip near Bhubaneswar, we
came across a forest on fire, which we
tried frantically to douse. But the local
villagers just stood by and watched. Our
efforts were futile, but had this group
participated, we all could have prevented the fire from destroying a two-kilometre stretch of forest land and the
many creatures that lived in it. One cannot excuse the people for not trying.
The village close to the forest had
large signboards of NGOs who work on
livelihood issues. I want to convey to all
NGOs who work in rural areas that they
need to proactively preach protection of
environment and ecology. Some do
claim to be teaching this, but for most, it
seems to be too insignificant a subject.
They could raise awareness about why
one should not smoke in the forest, why
bamboo shoots shouldnt be cut or why
young trees should not be axed.
Yes, the rich exploit the environ-

PICK OF THE POSTBAG


Where displacement is a habit
Regarding the Tarapur Atomic Power Plant
Unit-4 (Critical Problem, Down To Earth,
March 31, 2005), one would think that people who are able to construct nuclear power
plants would be able to accurately count
and relocate project affected families (PAFs)
from just two villages in 10 or 15 years!
Power generation in India has displaced
over 50 million people, of which 20 million
were tribal. Whether the displacement is
caused by large dams like Sardar Sarovar
(SSP) and Tehri, or by coal mining for
thermal power in Singrauli (Madhya
Pradesh) and the North Karanpura valley

(Jharkhand), the picture of Resettlement


and Rehabilitation (R&R) seems painfully
similar. SSP is an unmitigated disaster with
500,000 Project Affected Persons still unsettled. And things are only going to get worse,
with the Indian government planning 23
new dams on the Brahmaputra in
Arunachal and two more in Uttaranchal.
The situation calls for a planned solution. Instead of the concerned department(s), as soon as the decision to construct
a power plant is taken, a capable civil society
or non-governmental organisation (CSO or
NGO) in the state/district should be asked to
prepare a viable Resettlement Action Plan

LETTERS

ment more than the poor villagers; the


government also destroys more forests
than it creates. But one cannot ignore
the fact that villagers close to the forest
also participate in destroying the forest.
RANJIT K PATNAIK
ranjeet@sqlstarintl.com

Dont dump the problem


The report on garbage dumping at
Agartala town (What a dump, Down
To Earth, February 28, 2005) only highlights the futility of preparing expensive
documents on the management of solid
waste (SW) by consultants, as was done
for the same town in 1986. The methodology and associated problems are not
very different elsewhere in the northeast, including in Guwahati. In fact,
scientists and technologists in public
health engineering have not been able to

13

suggest a proven model to tackle this


issue. Endless workshops and seminars
dont help. No wonder environmentalists and NGOs feel disturbed.
The root cause is to isolate the
garbage at source into bio-degradable
and non-degradable, with further subdivisions into plastics, metals and others
like cloth and paper. Disposability of
non-degradable waste will reduce total
SW by 25-30 per cent and create usable
waste. At Agartala or in similar towns,
animal wastes can be converted, subject
to a proper system of collection, to gas
and fertiliser in biogas plants. Its only
through segregation and biogas plants
that the problem of SW can be overcome.
The government should get serious
about facing health hazards that come
with indiscriminate garbage dumping.

YEARS
OF RESEARCH

311
ISSUES
OF DOWN TO EARTH

C R BHATTACHARJEE
Lake Gardens, Kolkata

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(RAP) for all families in each village in accordance with the National Policy for Resettlement
and Rehabilitation (NPRR-2004). The CSO/NGO
should continue to be in the picture until all the
families have been resettled properly. The
power generation organisation should then
have an independent institution evaluate satisfaction with the resettlement process.
Establishing power plants is not only about
celebrating technological achievements, but
also about resettling tribal people and demonstrating that the benefits flow to them as well.

The tiger situation (Maneaten, Down


To Earth, March 15, 2005) can be turned
around, if only the local population
were to see the opportunities in tigers.
For instance, in North Devon, UK,
we have a tourist regime based on
Tarka, the Otter Country. The aim of
this project was to explore tourism as a
means of economic regeneration, by
getting the local population involved
in a scheme they could own and so
support. Once the community gets
involved, it comes to feel it has a stake in
the project. Employment is generated,
while the training can be of use to the
community.
In this way, wildlife tourism could
support the rural economy. Tourists

A R C H I V E S

BAPI ROY CHOUDHURY

Tourism to save tigers

Gobar Times
Environment for beginners

teacher: student ratio of 1:6, excellent facilities on


70 acres of beautiful forested land. Exploration into
understanding oneself and ones conditioning and
an appreciation for Nature and Culture form and
important part of our interaction with the students.
Send for brochure to:
Brian Jenkins B.A. (Hons.), (Sussex Univ.),
Principal, P.O. Box 57, Kodaikanal - 624 101
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Email: cloaat@eth.net Web-site: sholaischool.org

SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT FORTNIGHTLY

DownToEarth

read | think | explore | know | interact

April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

LETTERS

need food, transport and hotels. This


needs tourism development and communication. The local population can
act as guides to their area and way of life.
They need to develop a passion for their
habitat, which they could pass on to the
tourists. In addition, it requires an
ability on the part of the local people to
understand the local ecosystem, including the place of humans in it.
REGINALD CANE
North Devon, UK

A case for jatropha


Some issues have been raised about jatropha plantation by the Chhattisgarh
government (Jatropha fever, Down To
Earth, November 30, 2004). As the
worldwide promoters of jatropha, we
have strong reservations on some ideas
expressed in the article.
For instance, jatropha is a poisonous
plant, but so what? Many plants are not
fit for human consumption, but essential for humankind. Secondly, we are yet
to hear of any developing country that
has spent money on eliminating jatropha. Nor has any scientist or ecologist
noticed so far that it outcompetes other
plants. In the southern part of
Rajasthan, it is naturally available for
centuries, but has not spread to nearby
districts. Nor is biodiversity under
threat; jatropha blooms along with other
fruits and wood trees in the forest.
I also dont agree that there is no
market for jatropha. In Rajasthan, it has
been used for oil-making over the last
twenty years. Of course, biodiesel as a
concept has emerged only now, but
there are several other usages that make
it quite a profitable plant. Its true
that the biodiesel prices are not much
cheaper than fossil fuel, but if we count
other benefits, its a better option.
Many other aspects pointed out by
the article, like the failure of the African
jatropha project, lack of sustainability or
children dying, are not known to us.
Jatropha has enough credentials to
qualify among the various trees suitable
for bio-diesel production. It must be
definitely included for its special qualities such as its pure hardiness and stress
handling ability.
ABHISHEK MAHARSHI
Chief Executive Officer
Centre for Jatropha Promotion
4

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

Truth vaccine?
Several small groups around the country speak and work against polio vaccination. The media has also reported on
children dying after pulse polio vaccination in Delhi. Some doctors are reluctant to give this drop vaccine to children, although they insist the rest of the
community should have it. All this
raises doubts about the polio vaccine.
A recent face-off, between a nongovernmental organisation (NGO) that
opposed these vaccines and the super
speciality hospitals around that area
who tried to throw the NGO out of the
place, is a case in point. Being more
powerful, they managed to do so within
two hours. Perhaps the whole business
of pulse polio needs to be investigated.
VEENA M
Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
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

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Sahyadri School
Krishnamurti Foundation India
Tiwai Hill, Rajgurunagar,
Dist. Pune 410 513.
You are invited to a learning opportunity at Sahyadri School. We strive to
cultivate the childs natural intelligence while building academic excellence and physical fitness. The wider
intent is to discover right living and
right relationship with the earth.
Sahyadri, a fully residential, co-educational, ICSE school is situated amidst
great natural beauty of the Western
Ghats. The school provides a balanced
vegetarian diet.
Students may apply for admission in
classes 4 to 7. Positions are available
in teaching as well as other areas.
For information:
Call: 02135-284271/2 or
Email: sahyadrischool@vsnl.net

EDITORS

PA G E

The most serious news

ach time I visit the US I am


struck by the lack of serious
news on its many television
channels and newspapers. The
media here clearly follows the dictum if
it bleeds it leads. In other words, news is
not about informing or educating people, but simply entertaining them. This
state of affairs, I have realised, is neither
accidental nor incidental. It is deliberate; indeed, inevitable.
Inevitable, because it is a function of
the business model the country has
adopted for its media, much like the rest
of its public works. It has deregulated
the media completely; in other words,
there are no public duty functions of the
media the government can or must support. Free from the clutches of the
state, over the years, the rules of the
market have prevailed in the media. The
weak are weeded out and the mighty
become mightier. In 1983, 50 corporations comprised the US media; by 2004,
five. In other words, the worlds oldest
democracy, and one that promotes
democracy as a religion across the globe,
is informed and educated by five corporations that owe their allegiance to the
profits of their shareholders.
For profit and pay, corporations
slash funding for hard-core news functions. The Pew Research Centre, a
Washington DC-based think tank, has
found that between 1994 and 2001,
radio stations lost 57 per cent of their
news staff, while network news correspondents declined by more than a

third since the 1980s. This led directly to


declining quality in news reporting,
translating into a serious credibility crisis with readers. Pew found that even in
the 1990s only 55 per cent of people surveyed said the media mostly got its stories right. But by 2004, only 36 per cent
believed so. Most people in the US
believe their media cannot be trusted.
So, it is not surprising that Pew found
that over 35 per cent to 45 per cent of
the people they surveyed categorically
said that they believe nothing they see or
hear in print or on television.
The crisis goes deeper than just erosion of trust. The fact that people do not
believe the media means fewer people
tune in. Declining audiences lead to further desperation in the business rooms
to keep ratings high and the money
coming in. So continues the cycle of
poor journalism.
In all this, what is worst is that the
idea of a free press has been defeated.
For one, the model, built on consolidation and scale, denies opportunity to
competition: there cannot be independent views, let alone diverse views. In
recent years, the Australian media
mogul, Rupert Murdochs Fox News,
has grown fastest, because it has taken a
distinctly partisan decision to represent
the conservative and republican side of
the US.
Secondly, the model, with its financial imperatives, is as vulnerable today
to influence from the state, or corporations, as the one it replaced. It is always
argued that governments must not
finance or run media; it becomes their
propagandist. True. But what happens
when government uses the influence of
money to change the propaganda of the
day? Just last year, the two most respected newspapers of the US, the New York
Times and the Washington Post, both
accepted publicly that they had succumbed to biased reporting of the Iraq
war. More recently it was found the US
media was using feed stories prepared by government and published as
independent news stories. What is surprising to learn that this handout-driven media is then also poached by corporate interests. Or, as I said before,
isnt it inevitable?

But what is even more inevitable,


then, is that a compromised media will
compromise and democracy. The media
has more than a functional role of contributing to the service sectors of
economies. It has the role to make
democracies functional. In other words,
its decimation is the decimation of
democracy. The last election in the US is
my testimony.
Why am I so obsessed by the media
in the US? The problem is that we in
India are slowly (and sometimes not so
slowly) moving towards the favoured US
model of media enterprise. Today, the
media particularly the electronic
media is more and more unregulated. The state has increasingly withdrawn. Its own public broadcaster
Doordarshan is increasingly inept in
challenging the market. The states role
as a propagandist is rightly condemned
as the market takes over the reins of
opinion-making in the country. But,
wrongly, the media is beginning to cater
to audiences that can pay. This will leave
out of its ambit what does not matter
and those who do not matter.
That would be all right, if the people
who did not matter really did not exist.
It is true that the middle-class in India
the medias clientele is growing.
Market watchers love to point out ad
nauseum that there are 200 million people in India raring to shop till they drop.
But this hides the fact that there are still
over 800 million others, who cant shop
but can certainly drop. What happens to
the news about their everyday world?
How will it be reported? Why should it
be reported at all?
Let us be clear that an undermined
press is also not good for the rich. The
fact is that the media plays a watchdog
role in regulating and mitigating the
adverse impacts of growth. If its role
stands compromised, so does its ability
to discharge this function. And of keeping democracy functional.
This will, ultimately, hurt all of us. A
stooge is a stooge. And it makes a fool of
us all. So it is that we must find the balance between the market and public
interest in our media. Fast.
Sunita Narain
April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

LEADER

Millennial blunder
Ecology cannot be a function of political economy
THE Millennium Ecology Assessment (MEA), an outcome of an exercise undertaken by a global think tank
under the United Nations (UN), is out with fanfare. It is a scientific consensus report outlining the relationships of ecosystems all over the globe and their service capacity with human activity. We take it seriously.
Henceforth, its findings will be used in various multilateral negotiations to save the Earth (see: p 15, p 60).
MEAs most significant revelation is that all ecosystems have suffered in the hands of humans more in the
last fifty years than any period in history. Whats telling is that ecosystem services are almost beyond repair
even as the commercial exploitation of nature has gone up sky high. This typifies the character of dominant
political economy today. Significant increases in food production have not reduced poverty and hunger. In
fact, communities have suffered increased pauperisation. In the last 50 years, the dominant political economy has forcibly snatched wealth, at times violently, from large sections of people, and then negotiated how
much to give back as aid. The inherent imperative of Capital devoid of ecological value forces a cycle
that must first create a problem, then drop a few million out of the safety net as part of the solution.
The super-bureaucracy of the UN is busy creating ad-hoc safety valves to contain the problem. MEA
rightly proclaims that the UNs millennium development goals (mdg) will not be achieved if the status quo
of current production systems remains: sanitation goals in all regions will trail drinking water targets, also
defeating health targets. It is a pity sanitation has still not been turned into a large-scale business model!
The goal of sustainable access to water sounds hollow when one finds out that a mere 2 per cent of all government spending in developing countries is on low cost water and sanitation projects. Duplicity abounds
in such systems. On a larger scale, the MDG of global partnership for development sounds like a bad joke, for
the current subsidy of US $350 in the developed world remains 6 times of total development aid.
The news of rapidly degrading ecosystems is sure to attract a section of the global thinktank into a greater
conservation orientation. This will be futile. The poor did not create the vicious chain between poverty and
ecological damage. People do not need a dollar a day, only their rights restored. That can only happen when
political economy becomes a function of ecology.

Wolfowitz at the door


How can the developing world bank on him?
IN PAUL WOLFOWITZs

selection as World Bank president, global democracy has taken a sharp fall. Since its
formation after World War II, the president of the bank has been nominated by the US, with European powers always nodding approval. In return, Europe gets to nominate the International Monetary Funds head.
The continuation of this marriage of convenience undermines the fact that the World Bank is a very
different institution today from what it intended to be.
Today, the banks clients are developing countries, and the bank can play a critical role in helping these
countries meet key development challenges. Not just by lending them money for development projects, but
by funding initiatives to generate country-specific knowledge.
Just how Wolfowitzs presence would facilitate this is beyond comprehension. Heres a snippet from his
biography: Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, Wolfowitz has assisted in planning the global war on
terrorism, including military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Wolfowitzs curriculum vitae is a potent
contraceptive for constructive discussion, given his war-mongering. Hes played a key role in the US invasion
of Iraq, which was the sharpest sign of US unilateralism in recent years and even the US now recognises that
the reasons for that invasion were not very well founded. Having such a man to head a global development
institution is a supreme irony.
It is expected that Wolfowitz will take the World Bank back to the days of Robert McNamara. The outgoing president of the bank, James Wolfensohn, brought about a significant change in the banks profile.
Among other things, Wolfensohn engaged with the most vociferous critics of the World Bank and initiated
democratic discussions on the banks activities. While several such initiatives were cosmetic in nature, few
would deny that the bank became more open and democratic. Had the nomination of the bank president
been a democratic and transparent exercise, Wolfowitz would never have made it.
Just as the bank is likely to veer right under Wolfowitz, the global civil society will react sharply. You can
expect highly polarised discussions on development issues. The illegitimacy of his nomination and election
is bound to show in the banks operations.
6

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

 F R O N T PA G E

Clean blow
Reliance asked to guarantee Rs 300 crore for new plant
NIDHI JAMWAL Mumbai

How it got caught


REL informed DTEPA on February 12,
2005 that it had finalised negotiations
with Ducon Technologies Inc. to set up
the FGD. It refused to reveal further, saying it had entered into Confidentiality
Agreement with Ducon. But RELs
Letter of Intent (LOI) made it clear that
the work on the FGD would be delayed
(see box: Clinching evidence). To understand RELs motives, on March 4, 2005,
Dahanu Taluka Environment Welfare
Association (DTEWA), a local non-governmental organisation, spoke to two
other bidders for the FGDs installation:
DMCC
Monsanto
Environmental
Technical Engineering Limited and
Alstom Power. On March 14, 2005,
DTEWA told DTEPA that the bidders were
unhappy with the bid process. It

CLINCHING EVIDENCE
Pramod Gupta, RELs assistant vice
president, wrote to DTEPA chairperson
on February 12, 2005 (REL/CTS/2005/7)
that REL has finalised the technical and
commercial negotiations and have
issued the LOI on February 12, 2005, to
M/s Ducon Technologies Inc. The clause
2a of the LOI (REL/CPG/FGD/DUCON/1.
Letter from REL vice president V K
Agarwal to Aron Govil, CEO and president, Ducon, USA) read: This contract
shall be deemed to have become operativefrom the date of acceptance of LOI
by Ducon. However Ducon shall be
under no obligation to carry out any
work or incur any expenses until receipt
of Notice to Proceed from REL.
DTEWA counsel Kerban Anklesarias
wrote to DTEPA on March 14, 2005 that
Monsanto said REL has no real intention of placing an order for FGD plant
and in an unethical manner [it] obtained

details from Monsanto. He added:


Alstom Director said that he had been
categorically told by REL that they were
being forced to set up a FGD plant, but
did not want to set it up and were therefore working on getting an exemption.REL assured Alstom that because
of certain legal pressures they wanted to
issue a LOI and carry on with the bid
processREL was actually looking for a
company that will help them delay
the...FGD plant.
DTEPAs March 19, 2005 order (letter
to S C Gupta, REL director (operations)
from DTEPA section officer S H Gaonkar
DTEPA/REL/DTPS/FGD/ORDER/2005/133A): It (REL) did not inform about the
kick off meeting nor the representative
of this Authority was invited... ...it
appears that they [REL] are any how
delaying the whole process and have no
intention to install the FGD plant.

SURYA SEN / CSE

MUMBAI-BASED Reliance Energy Limited


(REL) is in the soup following a March
19, 2005, order of Dahanu Taluka
Environment Protection Authority
(DTEPA) of Dahanu, Maharashtra. REL
has to furnish a bank guarantee of Rs
300 crore in favour of the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF)
within a month to assure that it will
establish a flue gas desulphurisation
plant (FGD) in its Dahanu Thermal
Power Station (DTPS), near Mumbai.
But evidence strongly suggests it has
been conspiring to avoid setting up the
FGD and the order is a big blow to it.
DTEPA also said REL has disobeyed the
Bombay High Court (HC) and the
Supreme Court in delaying the FGD in
Dahanu, a designated eco-fragile area
(see Down To Earth (DTE), Black
Attack, December 15, 2004, p 40).
REL s problem is compounded by
the fact that DTPSs permission to oper-

ate expires on April 30, 2005. DTEPA will


review the permission on April 26, 2005
but is unlikely to agree to the companys
desire of a five-year extension.

Reliance Energys anti-polluting stance


is a pure plant

claimed that REL had told Alstom it


wanted to delay the FGD. It also objected
to giving Ducon the project, citing lack
of experience in FGD technology.
DTEPA was already upset about REL
not inviting it to the kick off meeting
over the FGD; the latter had offered to do
so earlier. The DTEPA order takes a
strong note of this. The authority had
also noticed contradictions in the project timetable submitted to it by the REL
and the one mentioned in the LOI. To
settle the matter, it invited Ducon to its
March 19 meeting. But Ducons general
manager (operations) South East Asia,
Kiran Patil, didnt turn up, citing
important-preoccupation. An angry
DTEPA said in its order that REL was purposely delaying the FGD.
REL filed a review petition before the
DTEPA, asking it to reconsider the order.
The DTEPA rejected it, saying it isnt
empowered to review its own order. The
only option left for REL is to approach
the HC. It may also reopen the debate
over the FGD; the state pollution control
boards March 2004 report, prepared at
the behest of MoEFs Rajagopalan
Committee, discounted its need. But the
two deadlines will make it all tough.
April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

F R O N T PA G E

Harsh on the marsh


Uttar Pradeshs land reclamation project may hurt many
SHAMS KAZI Etawah

Crane, the state bird of Uttar


Pradesh (UP), might become collateral
damage in the states effort to reclaim
wasteland for agriculture. The move,
manifested as the Rs 1,300 crore UP
Sodic Land Reclamation (UPSLR) project, is once again threatening UPs
wetlands, a crucial habitat of the redheaded Sarus Crane and a source of
livelihood for the people of the area.
It is feared that the UPSLR projects
moves might drain out the wetlands,
flouting a 2001 order of the Allahabad
High Court. The court had found that
the project was draining water from the
wetlands in the Etawah and Mainpuri
districts, the habitat of 30 per cent of
Indias stock of the rare Sarus Crane (see
Down To Earth, Last Call, July 31,
2001). Following its directive, the project plans had to be modified to stop the
draining. But K S Gopisundar, India
Associate of the International Crane
Foundation, says the projects new plans
to widen and deepen rivers that connect
the wetlands will drain out many of
them. He also points out that no studies
have been undertaken to catalogue the
socio-economic uses of the wetlands in
the area.
The Environment Impact Assesment (EIA) report for this phase of the
THE SARUS

Wetland resources are violently


sought after in Etawah. Surender
had purchased the right to fish near
Sarsai Nawar lake from the panchayat. When some local goons came to
coerce him to give up fishing in the
lake so they could collect the spoils,
he refused. Fishing rights are a crucial resource for the landless like
him, many of whom are from lower
castes. The goons shot him. One bullet hit him below the ribs, another
pierced his forearm.

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

KS GOPISUNDAR

BLOOD-STAINED

The Sarus Crane wont mourn the


wetlands alone

project is suspiciously silent on the


Sarus Crane and other rare bird species
inhabiting the wetlands, including the
Painted Stork, the Black Headed Ibis
and the Black Neck Stork. It reads: No
bird or wild life sanctuary is falling
in the direct impact or influence
zone/catchment of the project.

Many need the wetlands


On the face of it, the project appears
remarkable. Since 1994, it has made
68,000 hectares of sodic land in UP cultivable. Sodic lands are land patches
with highly alkaline barren soil pepper.
They comprise a large portion of UPs
Gangetic plains. The project works with
the idea of treating such land with gypsum and then flushing it with water.
But a closer look at the project
reveals that a large group of landless
people, many of them of backward
caste, stand to loose if the wetlands go. A

group of villagers found fishing at a typical five-acre lake in Mainpuri district


said the lake supports 10 families.
Apart from fishing, our family earns Rs
25,000 per year from water chestnuts,
revealed one beneficiary. We use the
wetlands to graze our animals, added
another. The wetlands are also used to
harvest lotus; the stems fetch Rs 30 per
kilogramme. In addition, Parikshat
Gautam, a senior official of the conservation group World Wildlife Fund,
points out that the crucial role of wetlands to recharge groundwater should
not be ignored. But the EIA insists no
major community utilities are falling in
the direct impact zone of the project.
The loss of the wetlands will also
threaten a remarkable, delicate relationship between man and the Sarus Crane.
Locals have so far chosen to accept the
bird. They do damage our crop a little,
but it is bad luck to kill a Sarus, says a
farmer. The decrease in wetlands will,
however, strain this relationship, as
more birds will lose their preferred
habitat and occupy the fields. This
might lead to confrontation.

But wholl protect them?


Gautam says there should be co-ordination among the ministries and departments at the Centre, state and local
levels to adequately deal with wetlands.
Though the Union ministry of environment and forests acknowledges the
importance of wetlands, other departments treat them as waterlogged areas
or wasteland, a fact also corroborated
by the UPSLR projects modus operandi.
The project engineer in charge of
the Etawah district, Avatindra Mishra,
says he is not responsible for the plans
that may drain the wetlands; the onus is
on other departments. UPs chief wildlife
warden Mohammed Ehsan says he had
suggested that the drainage from the
wetlands be reduced but didnt know if
the advice was heeded. Etawahs district
forest officer Ramesh Chandra Jha
claims he is not involved in the case as
the cranes habitat will not be affected.

THE
POLLUTION

FORTNIGHT

/ INDIA

No fee escape

>> Ukraine and Turkmenistan are going


to propose the establishment of a consortium with Russia and Kazakhstan for
transporting gas to Europe. This was
announced by Ukraines deputy prime
minister
Anatoly
Kinakh
after
Turkmenistans president Saparmurat
Niyazov and Ukraines president Viktor
Yushchenko held talks during the latters
two-day official visit to Turkmenistan.

n a rare judgement, an
industry official has been
sentenced to two years
imprisonment in a pollution
case by the court of chief
judicial magistrate, Thane,
Maharashtra. The court held
B V Ajhar, administrative
manager of Badlapur-based
M/S Matushree Textile
Limited, guilty for the pollution caused in the Ulhas river
basin, a notified water pollution prevention area. It charged him with violating
the Water (Prevention and Control of
Pollution) Act, 1974. Ajhar also has to
pay a fine of Rs 1,000. The verdict is crucial in that it goes beyond the usual
practice in pollution cases of just levying
a fine on the defaulter. Hardly five or six
such verdicts are recorded in the 35year-long history of Maharashtra

ILLUSTRATIONS: EMKAY

Pollution Control Board (MPCB).


Chief judicial magistrate D G
Murumkar ruled that some punishment is necessary to check the industrialists who commit offences. The case
was filed in 1994, when MPCB found that
the textile unit, processing cotton fabrics using dyes and lubricants, was violating the 1974 Act on many counts.
While it was functioning since 1983, no
effluent treatment plant (ETP) was put in
place till 1987. An ETP was set up only in
1989, after the issuance of a show cause
notice. Even this wasnt maintained
well. MPCB started receiving complaints
and decided to check the factorys effluents. It collected samples in July 1993;
the analysis brought to light shocking
results (see table: Case nailed). This was
followed by the decade-long legal battle.
Though the verdict is happy news, it
highlights Indias poor legal record of
punishing environmental crimes.

Case nailed
Highly polluted effluents of Matushree Textiles
Parameter

Prescribed standard

Results

PH

5.5 to 9.0

11.22

Suspended solids

Not to exceed 100 mg/l

246.0

BOD

Not to exceed 100 mg/l

185.0

COD

Not to exceed 250 mg/l

320.0

Oil and grease

Not to exceed 5 mg/l

10.0

Detergents

Not to exceed 2 mg/l

2.101

Note: BOD: Biological oxygen demand;


COD: Chemical oxygen demand
Source: D G Murumkar 2005, chief judicial magistrate, Thane,
Final order dated March 21, Criminal case no 289 of 1994

CLIMATE CHANGE

/ THE EU

Long-term qualms

he EU, considered a vanguard in the


fight against climate change, has faltered; or so it seems. Environment ministers of 25 EU member states recently
agreed to achieve substantial cuts in the
emission of greenhouse gases: 15-30 per

EU

Blocking tough
goals, en bloc

cent by 2020 and 60-80 per cent by 2050


on base levels set by the Kyoto Protocol,
the global treaty to fight climate change.
But following a two-day meet, EU heads
of state and government backtracked on
the 2050 target.
The EU leaders argued that the spirit of the environment ministers 2050
target was important. These reduction
ranges will have to be viewed in the light
of future work on how the objective can
be achieved, including the cost-benefit
aspect. Greens alleged Germany and
Austria had caused the setback, under
pressure from their coal industry.
Earlier, the EU had blocked the UKs plan
to raise its industrys carbon emission
targets (see Down To Earth, EU rejects
allowance hike, April 15, 2005, p 9).

>> On March 31, 2005 Belarus president


Alyaksandr Lukashenka announced an
end to industrial subsidies, with effect
from 2006. He also said the eligibility
criteria for preferential treatment will be
tightened. Any financial assistance to
enterprises should be out of the question. They must work and earn for themselves, Lukashenka reportedly said,
adding that assistance might be given
only to new and upcoming projects.
>> A large oil spill occurred off the Goa
coast on March 23, 2005 after two ships
Practi, owned by a local politician, and
Maritime Wisdom, a Singapore flagged
cargo ship collided. An estimated 110
metric tonnes of heavy fuel oil spilled
into the sea. The spill broke into patches
and spread. Officials said the accident
can have some adverse impact on Goas
environment.
>> Over 2,500 people were killed in a
post-tsunami quake which recently hit
the Indonesian island Nias, famed as a
surfing paradise, and reduced most of it
to rubble. The high intensity quake (8.7
on the Richter scale), however, didnt
cause a tsunami, baffling scientists. The
epicentre of the quake was about 160
kilometre southeast of the bigger quake
that triggered the tsunami.
>> The Chinese vice minister of water
resources, Zhai Haohui, recently admitted that over 360 million Chinese citizens
staying in rural areas dont have access
to safe drinking water and chronic
water shortages plague the cities. Zhai
urged the government to devote more
money to solve the problem. Minister of
water resources Wang Shucheng said:
Hundreds of thousands of Chinese are
afflicted with various diseases from
drinking water that contains too much
fluorine, arsenic, sodium sulfate...

April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

THE FORTNIGHT

MARINE LIFE

/ CANADA

DISEASE

Controversy further sealed

massive seal hunt, supported by poor coastal communities for the big money it
brings them but opposed by animal rights activists, began in
Canada on March 29, 2005. The
Canadian government justified
Activists say seal pups are skinned alive
the hunt, citing record levels of
seal population and decreasing
commercial fish stocks; seals have voraCanadian seafood or I wont buy
cious appetites, especially for cod. It also
Canadian seafood until this hunt is
claimed that this hunt, the biggest in the
over, Pat Ragan of the Humane
country in decades, will be more
Society of the US was quoted as saying.
Canadas hunt of the harp seal has
humane than earlier. Over three million
triggered protests since the 1960s, which
seals will be killed this year. But animal
led the US and many European countries
rights groups have called for a boycott of
to stop importing seal products in the
Canadian seafood to protest the move.
1970s and 1980s. The hunt begins about
Were going to be encouraging
two weeks after seal pups are born and
consumers to enter into dialogue with
the colour of their fur changes from
their grocery stores and their restauwhite to grey.
rants and say Please dont serve

/ USA

ENERGY

/ THE PHILIPPINES

Syngenta corn erred

Lazy summer

ontroversy and genetically modified (GM) foods are inseparable.


Science journal Nature reported on
March 23, 2005 that biotech firm
Syngenta International AG had inadvertently distributed an unauthorised variety of GM corn (Bt10) in the US between
2001 and 2004. Syngenta says it informed
US authorities of the matter as soon as it
learned of the fau pax late last year; it
claims there will be no adverse effects.

he Philippines government has


come up with a novel energy conservation strategy: Work less. On
March 22, 2005, president Gloria
Macapagal Arroyos cabinet approved a
plan to reduce the workweek for civil
servants to four days in April and May
to save at least 10 per cent of its fuel and
electricity bills during the summer: time
of peak electricity demand. The country
is already facing the heat of a record oil
price hike; it imports nearly all the oil it
needs (330, 000 barrels daily).
The current high prices in the

Major biotech name,


major oversight

WASTE

/ THE UK

Dodgy exports

he suspicion has been further deepened: all is not clean about developed nations sending their waste to
developing countries for the stated reason of cheaper recycling. The first batch
of over 50 containers of Britains clean
waste paper, being sent to China, is
being returned home after being intercepted in the Netherlands. The consignment contained plastic packaging, batteries, drink cans, old clothes, carrier
bags and wood, the daily Guardian said.

T
SYNGENTA

The company says US authorities had


confirmed the...safety of Bt10...current
plantings and seed stock containing Bt10
have been identified and destroyed or
contained. But it hasnt divulged if it
sent Bt10 to other countries .
10

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

IFAW

BIOTECHNOLOGY

/ ANGOLA

Marburg outbreak
ngola is in the grip of the worst
recorded outbreak of the rare
Marburg disease. By March 31, 2005, 130
people, three fourths of them children,
had died and the countrys four provinces
affected. In the last known biggest
Marburg outbreak, 123 people had died
in the Democratic Republic of Congo
between 1998 and 2000. The current outbreak began in Angolas Uige province,
bordering Congo. Uige has been receiving
refugees returning home from Congo.
There is no vaccine or medication for
the disease. It is treated by maintaining
kidney function and electrolyte balance
and preventing haemorrage and shock.
The World Health Organization says
the virus is animal-borne and spreads to
humans and some other primates through
direct contact with body fluids, respiratory
secretions and organs of those infected.

world market make it imperative that


we conserve energy and the government
has to head the way in this effort, said
Raphael Lotilla, energy secretary. The
plan might exclude crucial
services like the police and
hospitals. It will also
slightly increase work
hours. The government had also introduced many such
schemes in 2004.

The Netherlands is returning it to the


company Grosvenor Waste (GW) in
Kent, the UK, which sent the shipment.
The UKs Environment Agency is investigating the matter. It has stopped GW
from sending another lot to China. But
it is divided about GWs guilt in describing the waste as green.
Eighteen containers of waste are also
coming back to the UK from Indonesia.
Environment minister Elliot Morley
says the government is viewing the matter seriously. Exporting co-mingled
waste needs a licence that can cost up to
US $84,704; clean waste export is free.

S O U T H
AGRICULTURE

/ BRAZIL

Anti-GM vestiges

razils ministry of environment


(MoE) has objected to the go ahead
given to the use and sale of transgenic
seed major Monsantos genetically
modified (GM) cotton variety Bollgard
in the country. The seed recently got the
nod from Brazils national technical
commission for biosafety (CTNBio) by 11
votes to one; MoEs was the only vote of
dissent. Brazils senate and national
congress have already approved a new
biosafety legislation for using and selling
GM crops (see Down To Earth, Brazil
gives in, March 31, 2005, p 19), which
awaits the presidents approval.

TRADE

/ LATIN AMERICA

Pacts opposed

atin Americas legendry US itch


recently found fresh expression.
Guatemala witnessed widespread
protests against its governments move
to ratify the Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
between the US and Central America and
the Dominican Republic (DR). The
country had signed the pact in May
2004, along with Costa Rica, El
Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua; DR
signed it in August 2004. After its recent
ratification of the pact, the Indigenous
Campesino Popular Labor Movement
(MICSP) called a national stoppage:
road blockades, occupation of public

CONSERVATION

/ RUSSIA

Unprotective Shell

onservationists have disapproved


as inadequate a recent move by oil
major Shell to protect the western grey
whales along the eastern shore of

Danger not merely in the pipeline

Illegal but popular: GM cotton in Brazil


MoE says the decision flouts the precautionary principle, Brazils environmental law and the Cartagena Protocol
on biosafety, a global pact. It claims the
risks of growing GM cotton havent been
assessed in the countrys settings.

buildings and protest marches. MICSP


was further infuriated by president
scar Bergers decision to publicise the
pact even as protest groups were preparing to discuss the matter with vice
president Eduardo Stein. It is a clear
demonstration that president Berger
does not listen to the vast majority of the
country and only governs for businessmens groups, alleged Edwin Ortega,
MICSP leader.
A few days before, six indigenous
communities of Colombias Cauca valley had rejected their countrys FTA with
the US through a referendum. They said
it will compromise their land rights and
culture and legalise mega projects and
armed forces presence in their areas.

Russias Sakhalin Island. Shell


announced on March 30, 2005 that it
will not route its multibillion-dollar oil
pipeline through the whales feeding
ground. The pipeline will be laid 20.9
kilometres south of the earlier route but
the new oil drilling platform will be at
the same distance from the feeding
ground as planned earlier. Environment
group Friends of the Earth fears this will
disturb the whales.
Whale specialist Randall Reeves,
who chaired a report by the IUCN-World
Conservation Union on these whales,
commissioned by Shell, agrees. He suggests the platform should be as far away
from the whales as possible. But Ian
Craig, chief executive of Shells project
in the area, says it is not practical to
change the new platforms location.

A S I A

DELAYED AID: Sri Lankas


tsunami
reconstruction
work has been delayed by
three months due to nonpayment of foreign aid. The
government announced on
February 7, 2005 that
donors
had
finally
approved the payment US $1.5 billion aid
for and its from now the construction
phase begins. But this happened only after
it went public with the complaint that the
reconstruction was getting delayed because
the foreign aid pledged by donors wasnt
materialising. This was contrary to the general impression that aid wasnt a problem
for the country (see Down To Earth, Mission
Impossible, February 15, 2005, p 21). The
government plans to finance the US $1.8 billion reconstruction work fully through
donor aid and concessional loans. By early
March, it had got less than US $100 million.
NOT SKIN-DEEP: Several
cases of the skin disease
Urticaria have recently
been reported from many
areas of Pakistans Karachi
city. The patients are from
all age groups. The disease
is marked by an initial
eruption of rashes, which
turn into itchy boils and cover the entire
body. Pollution is believed to be a major
cause. Reaction of many vaccines and antibiotics and insect bites may also cause
Urticaria. The condition of many patients
turned serious due to delay in treatment.

FISHING

/ KENYA

Netting order

enya, which has been trying to develop its fishing industry, recently
cracked down on illegal fishing in Homa
Bay and Rachuonyo districts, where smallscale commercial fishing is rampant.
Following a court order, Kenyas Department of Fisheries destroyed prohibited
fishing gear worth US $7,100, including
26 mosquito nets, 15 beach seines and
41 two-and-half inch gill nets. These small
nets catch small fish and fry and destroy
breeding grounds. Fisherfolk involved in
illegal fishing were arrested. The operation is to continue till proper fishing methods are restored.

April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

11

THE FORTNIGHT

DISASTER

I N

/ RESEARCH

Et tu nature?

he tsunami killed many


more women than men,
leaving a severe gender
imbalance in affected areas,
says fresh research by international non-governmental
organisation (NGO) Oxfam.
Tsunamis malevolence a violence against females
Australia-based
Oxfam
Community Aid Abroad International
through the whole society for many
recently compiled the first report on the
years to come, said Oxfam Australia
tsunamis gender implications.
executive director Andrew Hewett. The
NGO surveyed several tsunami-hit comIn some villages it now appears
munities, including in Indonesias Aceh
that up to 80 per cent of those killed
Besar and North Aceh districts. Female
were womenThe impact on the genfatalities were found to be almost three
der balance within the community
times the male deaths in many villages
seems to be so severe that the conseof Aceh Besar.
quences are going to ripple right

POLLUTION

/ INDIA

Arsenic, fluoride in Assam

or the first time, the Assam government has admitted the severe threat
to peoples health posed by arsenic and
fluoride contaminated drinking water
in the state. The states minister for public health engineering, Dinesh Prasad
Goala, recently told the assembly that
the government has initiated steps to
provide alternative sources of water in
endemic areas, the Assam Tribune
reported. He said while arsenic contamination was detected in Karimganj,
Dhemaji and Dhubri districts, fluoride
was found in Nagaon, Karbi Anglong,

SEWAGE

/ INDIA

Wasteful expenditure

his is no April fool joke.


On April 1, 2005, the
Manipur cabinet decided
in an emergency meeting to spend Rs 12.17
crore for transferring
the equipment for
a sewage project
from Kolkata port
to Imphal. Just a few
days ago, on March
19, 2005, the cabinet
had decided only Rs 2.13
crore will be needed for the
work. The equipment has
been imported from France and

12

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

Kamrup and Karimganj districts.


Goala said the contaminated
sources of drinking water have been
marked with red colour and people have
been asked not to use them for drinking
and cooking purposes. The government, in collaboration with the UNICEF,
has collected samples from more than
4,200 sources of drinking water in the
arsenic-affected districts and sent them
for laboratory tests, he added. In the districts suffering fluoride contamination,
it has taken measures to provide domestic water filters and employ the
Nalgonda technique of defluoridation.
De-fluoridation plants have also been
installed, he claimed.

has been lying at the Kolkata port for


several months. The latest decision is
said to have been taken in view of the
increasing burden of holding
charges at the port.
The government will
release the said amount
from the state budget;
Rs 0.67 crore will be
spent on transport
while the rest will
pay for various dues,
including customs
duty and shipment
clearing and warehouse
detention
charges. The cabinet also
discussed in details the projects implementation.

C O U R T

TIME TO TELL ALL: The Delhi High


Court has issued notices to various
departments and functionaries of
the Union and Delhi governments on
a public interest litigation seeking
to ensure that manufacturers of
tobacco and alcoholic products disclose the list of ingredients on product packets. Replies to the notices
have to be filed by July 20, 2005, the
next date of hearing in the case. The
Centre says the requirement can be
made mandatory for tobacco products manufacturers under Section 7
of the Cigarette and Other Tobacco
Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and
Commerce, Production, Supply and
Distribution) Act, 2003. But the provision hasnt been notified. The court
wanted to know why.
NEWMONTS
IN
TROUBLE:
Indonesias Supreme Court has
declared legal the investigation carried out by the countrys police
against five officials of PT Newmont
Minahasa Raya, a subsidiary of US
mining giant Newmont, over allegations of causing heavy metal poisoning in the countrys northeast. The
verdict is a green signal for the trial
in the US $528.1 million civil lawsuit
to proceed. It overrules the
December 2004 verdict of a south
Jakarta district court that pronounced the investigation illegal
(see Down To Earth, Let off for
now, January 31, 2005, p 20). Court
spokesperson Hasbi Yunda said the
court also ruled that the police can
now continue their interrogation
and investigation of their cases.
SANDALWOOD VERDICT: On March
30, 2005, the Nagpur bench of the
Bombay High Court asked the
Maharashtra government to shut all
sandalwood oil factories and survey
all sandalwood trees in the states
forests. The states Forest Department told the court that all the 33
sandalwood oil units have been
closed down. It also promised to
survey the trees. The order was
issued on a public interest litigation
filed by environmental group Nature
Conservation Society. Sandalwood
trees are classified as reserved.

A FAST CHANGING WORLD.

DO
YOU
KNOW
WHERE
YOU
STAND?

F O R E S T

F I R E S
A F F O R E S TA T I O N

L A ND S L I
D E S

S L U M S

ER
W AT

S O I L

IN
MIN

T
R A D

E R O S I O N

D I S P U T E S
URB
N E
O Z O

D E
P L E T I N G

I N AT
CO N TA M

ED

F L
O O D
S

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NEWS

Simmering

Nature responds to
wanton disrespect

Forest fires, tribal discontent


in Melghat Tiger reserve
NIDHI JAMWAL Mumbai

CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL

Mother of all crises


Earths natural capital depleting fast, drastic changes required
CLIFFORD POLYCARP

global study of the planets


ecosystems released on March 31, 2005
warns that human actions are depleting
the Earths natural capital at a pace that
threatens the planets ability to sustain
future generations. The study is expected to provide scientific inputs for international conventions, mainly ecosystem-related conventions on biodiversity, desertification and wetlands.
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment concludes that humans have
changed ecosystems more rapidly and
extensively in the last 50 years that in
any other comparable time in history
(see: p 60). The changes were triggered
by their need for food, fresh water, timber, fibre and fuel. Though they led to
human well-being and economic development, it was at the expense of many
ecosystem services and the economic
prosperity of some groups of people.
And the situation only gets worse: the
threat of degradation in the first 50 years
of this century is even greater. The
report says only significant changes in
policies, institutions and practices can
partially reverse the degradation in

A MAJOR

some scenarios .
The report assesses current scientific
literature, knowledge and data and synthesises them rather than present new
findings. Its significance lies in that it
involves the inputs of the largest body of
social and natural scientists ever assembled to assess knowledge in this area: as
many as 1,360 experts from 95 countries. Further, it uniquely links human
well-being and development to ecosystem services, providing information
that can complement social and economic information for development
planning. It also draws certain conclusions that can only be drawn when a
large body of information is assessed in
totality. For example, it is the first to
conclude that ecosystem changes are
increasing the likelihood of abrupt and
sudden changes like abrupt alterations
of water quality and collapse of fisheries.
Launched on June 5, 2001 by UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, the project
went on for four years. The last year saw
two rounds of extensive reviews by 600
experts. The exercise cost about US $24
million, of which US $7 million came
through contributions in kind for the 33
assessments at the sub-global level.

A LONG-DRAWN battle between local villagers and forest officials of the Melghat
Tiger Reserve (MTR) in Maharashtras
Amaravati district has once again been
brought to light by a fire that scorched
the MTRs Dhargad range on April 3,
2005. About 480 hectares (ha) of the
forest was engulfed in the blaze; experts
point out such incidents have become
an annual feature. The fire was brought
under control and various official reasons cited for its eruption.
A total of 2,700 ha forests under my
jurisdiction have burnt down this season. During the summer, such forest
fires are common in Central India,
where forests are purposely set ablaze to
facilitate mahua collection, to get better
flush of grass and tendu leaves and for
better visibility, said Nitin Kakodkar,
field director and conservator of forests,
MTR, on his return from surveying the
area. Experts, however, believe many
unofficial reasons trigger such fires.

Collection of non-timber
forest produce is a very
serious issue in the area
Fuelled by anger?
The MTR, spread over an area of 1,676.93
square kilometres, is divided into
Gugamal National Park, Melghat
Sanctuary and other area, officially
known as multiple-use-area (MUA). MUA
was removed from the protected area
regime in 1994 through denotification,
ostensibly for the uplift of the native
Korku tribe by providing them the right
over non-timber forest produce (NTFP).
But Mumbai-based Bombay Environmental Action Group filed a case in
the Bombay High Court against the
move, claiming that the underlying aim
was to open up the MTR for deforestation. The court ordered a stay on
all construction activities and the
April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

15

NEWS

CAG bares Orissa muck

collection of NTFP in the area. Thus, at


present, 39 tribal villages in the MUA and
19 in Melghat Sanctuary can legally
neither let their cattle graze in the forest
not collect NTFP, including tendu leaves,
mahua and moosli root.
The tribals plight is worsened by the
fact that villagers in the adjacent territorial forests have both grazing and NTFP
rights; these forests are not under the
Project Tiger. This leads to a stiff competition. Collection of NTFP is a very
serious issue in the MTR. Collection centres have been set up at the outskirts of
the reserve and a private contractor
hired...He often incites villagers to get
into the MTRSince there are no other
employment opportunities, villagers are
forced to illegally enter the forests.
Sometimes fires are purposely set to
trouble the authorities, alleges Kishor
Rithe of Society for Conservation of
Nature, Amravati. Kakodkar admits that
villagers do sneak into the forests. The
situation is more volatile in the Dhargad
range area, where an agitation is being
carried out under the banner of Samaj
Kranti Aghadi, a local organisation, supported by a local legislator.

Flays state government for inadequate, dirty water supply

Comptroller and Auditor General


(CAG) of India has come down heavily
upon the Orissa government for not
providing clean water to its people. As
many as 2,169 people died in the state
due to water borne diseases between
2001 and 2004. A population of 525,000
suffered these diseases in the towns
because the urban local bodies (ULBs)
could not ensure the supply of quality
potable water, a CAG report recently
tabled in the state assembly said.
Existing
provisions
require
analysing the water quality at the source
and distribution points before supply.
But the CAG pointed out that no public
THE

Out of focus
In the name of development, many projects are being floated that actually go
against the interests of the forests and
the tribals. Rithe says after last years
fire, the then chief conservator of forest
mooted a Rs 160 crore proposal to
widen fire-lines, which meant more
deforestation. Projects to fight malnutrition suggest widening of roads, a big
dam on the Tapi and quarrying. The
states forest minister plans bamboocutting and a 1,100 km fire-line work.

EGGING URGENT ACTION


High dioxin levels in eggs
Dioxin residues in Indian chicken egg
samples, collected from near a medical
waste incinerator in Lucknow, Uttar
Pradesh, are among the highest in the
world, a recent study says. The study by
non-government organisation Toxics
Link and IPEN, a global network for
eliminating
Persistent
Organic
Pollutants (POPs), examined samples
from 20 countries.

16

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

Dioxins are some of the most potent


toxic chemicals known. Their levels in
Indian eggs were upto five and half
times higher than the EU limits. The levels of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
were 4.7 times higher than the proposed limit. Dioxins and PCBs are classified as POPs. The Stockholm Convention, a global treaty against POPs, came
into force in 2004. India hasnt ratified it
(see Down To Earth, POPs Puppetry,
March 31, 2005, p 15).

LINGARAJ PANDA

Broken pipes provide risky relief

health division maintained any record


in this regard. Some reports on the few
tests carried on the supplied water,
which were made available to CAG,
revealed that substandard water was
being distributed by six divisions in 13
towns. In July 2001, the Orissa State
Pollution Control Board had found
dangerous nitrate concentration in
Puris drinking water. Some tube-wells
of Puri showed bacteriological pollution
and high PH value, indicating sewage
leakage from septic tanks and sewage
over-flows in unprotected drains.
The CAG also investigated the jaundice outbreak in Baripada town of
Mayurbhanj district despite the governments precautions, including disinfecting pipelines, enhancing chlorine
dosages and round-the-clock observa-

Peek into the mess


Furnished by the CAG report
Execution of Accelerated Urban
Water Supply Programme (AUWSP)
schemes without ensuring viable
water sources. Loss of Rs 9.5 crore.
Rs 2.08 crore received for AUWSP
illegally diverted for other purposes
ULBs did not contribute their
share of Rs 2.77 crore
Puri municipality illegally leased
out nearly 75.04 hectares of land
reserved for a water supply project

tion of pipelines. The State Public


Health Laboratory found 39 water supply sources in Baripada contaminated.
The state government also failed to supply the minimum quantity of water to
88 out of 103 ULBs.
Orissas urban development minister Kanak Bardhan Singhdeo reacted
sharply to the report: The CAG report is
not 100 per cent correct. They have not
taken note of all the information made
available to them by my departmentPeople also use private wells and
tubewells. If anybody is drawing drinking water from these, the department
cannot be held responsible...

NEWS

FORGING LINKS

NIDHI JAMWAL / CSE

Government pursues river-linking

Biodiesel bus fleet


Introduced in Pimpri, Maharashtra
significant move away from fossil
fuels, Mumbai-based Tata Motors, in
collaboration with Indian Oil
Corporation Ltd (IOC), recently rolled
out 43 buses in Pimpri near Pune to run
on 10 per cent biodiesel-blended fuel.
The vehicles will ferry Tata Motors
staff. This is the first time in India that
such a large fleet of buses will run on
such fuel. The Pimpri-Chinchwad
Municipal Corporation and the Pune
Municipal Corporation plan to introduce such buses in their public transport system if the experiment succeeds.
In the initial phase, 43 of the companys staff buses will ply in and around
Pune on biodiesel blend, with each bus
covering about 160 kilometres a day.
This will help us generate data on how
the fuel and internal combustion engine
behave on the prolonged use of
biodiesel, said V Sumantran, executive
director (passenger car business unit),
Tata Motors. Biodiesel is already used as
an automobile fuel in North America,
Europe and Africa. While these countries use edible oil to produce biodiesel,
India has decided to use only non-edible
oil. IOC has identified two plants,
Jatropha and Karanjia, for the purpose;
they are wild, not consumed by animals
and grow in arid land. It has also developed a process to convert vegetable oil
into biodiesel; it generates useful
byproducts like glycerine and oil cakes.
Using biodiesel has many benefits.
Today 70 per cent of Indias fuel
demands is met through imports. Even
if five per cent biodiesel is blended, it
would save the country two million
tonnes of diesel...Rs 10,000-15,000 crore
per annum, says B M Bansal, director
(R&D), IOC. In addition, sulphur emis-

IN A

sion from this fuel is negligible and


emissions of other pollutants is also
drastically low. But the emission of
nitrogen oxides is slightly high.
Biodiesel also has high lubrication.
However, the use of this green fuel is
sparse, mainly because of the high cost
of production: Rs 45 to Rs 50 per litre. D
R Teredesai, managing director of
Lubrizol India Pvt Ltd, which is supplying biodiesel to IOC and Tata Motors,
says the government should offer subsidies to promote it. India has no concrete
policy in this regard. Andhra Pradesh
has made some headway, though; it is
encouraging rural co-operatives to go
for large-scale plantations of Jatropha
and Karanjia. Many departments and
ministries of the Union government are
also working in this direction. Union
minister for petroleum and natural gas
Mani Shankar Aiyar is said to be framing a policy that will involve panchayats
in the plantations and seed collection.

Objection
over rule
States sue US government
29, 2005, nine US states sued
the federal government against the US
environmental protection agencys
(EPAs) recently announced mercury
emission cut regulation for coal-fired
power plants (see Down To Earth,
Averse to clear skies, April 15, 2005, p
ON MARCH

The Union government recently


announced that it has circulated a draft
memorandum of understanding (MoU)
on interlinking of rivers among various
state governments. Union water
resources minister Priya Ranjan
Dasmunsi said the government had held
discussions with state governments to
dispel their doubts about the project.
The government will initially undertake the projects peninsular component, comprising 16 links. The KenBetwa and the Parbati KalisindhChambal links, involving Madhya
Pradesh (MP) and Uttar Pradesh (UP)
and MP and Rajasthan, respectively, will
most likely be the first to commence. MP
has already given its consent for the
Ken-Betwa link; UPs consent is conditional. The Mahanadi-Godavari link,
involving Orissa and Andhra Pradesh,
will most probably be the third project.
While the ministry of water
resources says it has received feasibility
reports for 14 links, the report for only
one link, Ken-Betwa, has been made
public. The draft MoU is a tool to clear
political hurdles among states. The government has said environmental studies
will follow. Issues like funding will be
taken up after that, along with commissioning of detailed project reports.

10). They say the new regulation weakens the Clean Air Act and wont protect
children and pregnant women from the
dangers of mercury emission.
New Jersey, California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New
Hampshire, New Mexico, New York
and Vermont filed the lawsuit at the
Washington DC federal court. They
allege the plan allows utilities not to do
anything specific to control emissions
till 2010. EPAs emissions trading plan
will allow some power plants to actually
increase mercury emissions, creating
hot spots of mercury deposition, said
Attorney General Peter Harvey of New
Jersey, lead petitioner. EPA spokesperson
Cynthia Bergman advises women to follow the governments dietary guidelines
and limit eating certain types of fish to
guard themselves against mercury.
April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

17

NEWS

G20 sharpens focus


Seeks broader relevance, concrete agricultural plans
SHAMS KAZI

the first time ever, the G20, a group


of developing nations within the World
Trade Organization invited non-G20
developing nation groups to their ministerial meeting, held in New Delhi on
March 17-19, 2005. The move was
largely viewed as an effort to increase
the G20s legitimacy within the developing world and display the unity of developing nations against the interests of
the North. During the meeting, the G20
voiced the need for greater emphasis on
FOR

DEBOJYOTI KUNDU / CSE

Indian farmers protesting liberalisation


outside the G20 meet

development in WTO negotiations on


agriculture. It called for formulating an
outline of a pact, including formulae
and approaches, for the December 2005
WTO ministerial meeting in Hong Kong.
In another first, the G20 proposed a
concrete end date for developed countries export subsidies, with a specific
subsidy reduction formula: that they
end in no longer than five years with
front loaded commitments, meaning
the initial reductions should be large. It
also repeated its demand for reducing
developed country domestic subsidies
and advocated no reductions in developing country subsidies. Regarding
access to developed country agricultural
markets, it said it was concerned that
technical questions were being used for
bargaining purposes. This observation
was prompted by a stalling of the agriculture negotiations in Geneva the day
before the meeting. One delegate said
the EU had withheld data on its current
18

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

agricultural import duties, a key information needed for a formula to reduce


import duties. While many delegates
termed this as a minor setback, they
admitted that the lack of agreement on a
formula could stall the negotiations.
In view of the interests of the nonG20 nations invited to the meet the
Africa Group CARICOM (Caribbean
Community), the Least Developed
Countries group and the G33 the G20
declaration acknowledged that some of
them would be harmed by cuts in agricultural duties by developed countries.
Though the move to include other
developing countries is positive, it
remains to be seen whether the language
is merely for show or a genuine move by
the G20 to represent other developing
country interests, said Cline
Charveriat, head of advocacy at Oxfam,
a non governmental Organisation
(NGO). But the meets general mood can
be gauged from the Caribbean group
calling the G20 natural allies and
approving the declaration.
The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement, a farmers
group, protested outside the meetings
venue and demanded that agriculture be
taken out of WTO negotiations. NGOs also
lobbied delegates. Action Aid demanded an end to trade distorting domestic
subsidies called blue box subsidies;
the G20 only urges making these less
trade distorting.

Street smart
Karnataka vendors take steps
to protect their interests
KARNATAKA S vendors associations are
lobbying for the implementation of the
National Policy for Urban Street
Vendors, passed by the Union ministry
of urban development and poverty alleviation in 2004, in the state. They want
the state government to grant them legal
status by issuing identification cards and
permitting vending in specific hawking

JAPANESE CAP
Japan has moved towards implementing diesel
emission norms stricter than those in Europe.
The countrys Central Environment Council
(CEC), an advisory body of its ministry of enviHeading towards cleaner air

zones, as per the policy. They gathered


at Bangalore recently and formed a 10member committee with a representative each from vendors associations of
10 cities, including Dharwad, Karwar,
Mysore, Bellary, Raichur and Shimoga,
to pursue the matter.
This is one of the early steps to get
Karnataka vendors to tie up at the state
level and link to the National
Association of Street Vendors of India
(NASVI), said Arbind Singh of NASVI,
Patna, who was present at the Bangalore
gathering. There is a policy to protect
our right to vending, but we will continue being harassed as long as the state
government does not implement it,
complained Balakishna Gaonkar, vice
president of Karwar Fruit Vendors
Association (KFVA). Karwar Municipality has built a market for vendors
with the help of a loan from the Asian
Development Bank. It has provided 28
stalls to the vendors but this is highly
insufficient. In protest, the vendors
closed down the market in Karwar for
15 days in February 2005. The KFVA also
took the matter to the Karnataka High
Court and sought defence through the
national policy guidelines, but its petition was dismissed.
Vendors associations of Mangalore,
Shimoga and Bangalore said they face a
constant threat of eviction because of
the governments beautification drives.
This often translates into harassment by
the municipality and the police. There
has been large-scale eviction in the
Shimoga bazaar area and few vendors

NEWS

On diesel emissions stricter than Europes


ronment, has reached consensus on the next
tier of diesel emission standards to become
effective from 2009. The proposed limits are
more stringent than Europes toughest Euro IV
regulation for light duty vehicles and Euro V
heavy-duty engine standards. The Euro IV
norms have been introduced in Europe this
year. The new Japanese norms aim to reduce
PM and NOx emissions by 43 per cent to 65 per
cent, relative to the October 2005 emissions.
Japans 2009 PM limits are comparable to
the US Tier II and US 2007 standards for heavyduty engines and are expected to require the
use of diesel particulate filters on new diesel
engines. But its 2009 NOx limits are less harsh
than those in the US.

Definitive
Study links GM crops with
ecological imbalance
advocates of transgenic crops
recently received a big blow from the
findings of the largest ever study into
the ecological impact of these crops,
published recently in Proceedings of the
Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. The
three-year study commissioned by the
UK government suggests that some
genetically modified crops can harm
bees and butterflies by altering the
balance of weed species that thrive on
farmland. This would subsequently
impact animals higher up in the foodchain, it warns.
THE

Polluting units in Tamil Nadus


textile centres penalised
KUSHAL PAL SINGH YADAV

Weeding flaws of GM crops

It says it has no intention of applying for


a licence to sell it in Europe. But its officials point out that the biggest drop in
butterfly and bee numbers is seen in
July, when the crop is just about to be
harvested and there is little green material. Theres nothing in the field at that
point for bees and butterflies and it is
not justified to blame transgenic crops,
says Bayer spokesperson Julian Little.
Over 150 people worked on the
experiment conducted at sites across the
UK. In 2003, two of the three other transgenic varieties covered by the study,
spring oilseed rape and beet, were
shown to harm biodiversity by reducing
overall levels of weeds. Now we have a
rational and scientific basis for managing change, says Chris Pollock of the
Institute for Grassland and Environmental Research, Aberystwyth, the
UK , who was chairperson of the study
committee. Weve demonstrated in
enormous detail just how tight the
link is between agriculture and the environment, he claims.

district authorities of Coimbatore


and Tirupur in Tamil Nadu have
cracked down upon industrial units polluting the river Noyyal. Coimbatore and
Tirupur are Indias major centres for the
manufacture of textiles and cotton
knitwear, respectively. In the second
week of March 2005, the authorities
ordered the erring units to shell out a
compensation of about Rs 25 crore to
the farmers of the area.
The
tehsildars
in
Tirupur,
Coimbatore North and Coimbatore
South have been instructed to issue
notices to about 850 polluting units in
this regard. Payments will have to be
made in the form of bimonthly instalments, with effect from March 1, 2005.
Failure to do so will invite prosecution
under the Revenue Recovery Act, which
empowers the state government to take
over and auction erring units.
Tirupurs dyeing units have been
asked to pay Rs 24 crore to farmers in
nine villages of Tirupur and Avinashi
talukas. Dyers in Coimbatore need
to pay Rs 75 lakh to 3,000 farmers
of around 25 villages. They have

THE

RSPB

are seen there now, said Vijay Menon


of Zilla Karunadu Okkali Bisida
Footpath Association of Shimoga.
Shimogas vendors said they have to
regularly pay bribes of Rs 10 to the
municipality official and Rs 3 to the beat
police to carry out their trade. Vendors
of Raichur had a similar complaint.
The vendors demanded that if they
are evicted from an area, they should
have the right to choose an alternate
area to carry on their trade. The
national policy also calls for providing
legitimate hawking zones in urban
development plans.

Dressed down

The study found that the number of


butterflies decreased by up to two-thirds
and bee populations by half in the fields
of transgenic winter oilseed rape
(canola). It blames the weed-control
system for this. The crops are resistant
to a particular herbicide, which hits
broad-leafed weeds harder than grassy
varieties. Bees and butterflies suffer
because they prefer the former. If this
crop were commercialised, wed be concerned about the implications for birds
such as sparrows and bullfinches, says
David Gibbons, a conservationist from
the Royal Society for the Protection of
Birds and a member of the committee
that oversaw the experiment.
Germany-based Bayer CropScience
already markets the winter oilseed rape
(used in the trial) in the US and Canada.

Officials say the polluting


units will have to invest in
membrane technologies
failed the mandatory requirement of
installing common effluent treatment
plants. As a result, the polluted water of
river Noyyal continues to fill the
Ukkadam tank, contaminating the
areas groundwater.
Officials say the erring units will
have to keep paying the compensation
till the time they bring the level of total
dissolved solids in their effluents below
2,000 parts per million. For this, they
will have to invest in membrane technologies like the reverse osmosis (RO). A
few dyeing units in Tirupur have already
installed RO plants.
April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

19

NEWS
I N

Stem the danger


Government evolving guidelines for stem cell treatment
THE Union government is devising
guidelines to check the unmonitored
use of stem cells for treating ailments.
This is being done in view of the prevailing use of stem cells to cure heart diseases and blindness by many private and
public institutions, a potentially dangerous practice. This is cause for concern,
as the safety and effectiveness of using
stem cells are unproven worldwide and
the clinics could be using infected or
mutated cells, Vasantha Muthuswami,
head of basic medical sciences at the
New Delhi-based Indian Council of

Careful: stem cell use needs checks

Medical Research (ICMR), was quoted as


saying by the journal Nature. ICMR is
involved in framing the said guidelines.
Stem cells are cells derived from
early stages of embryos or the bone marrow; they can turn into any kind of body
tissue and are hence useful for treatment. Once isolated, stem cells are cultivated in feeder layers consisting of a
nutrient material derived from live animal cells. But there is a risk of viruses
and other harmful agents being transmitted from the animal cells to the stem
cells, and thus on to patients who
receive stem cell therapy. One needs to
be careful. Unfortunately thats not the
case at present, rues Muthuswami.
In 2002, ICMR announced a policy
that encouraged stem cell research and
permitted therapeutic cloning; some
institutes exploited these to begin clinical treatments. The department of
biotechnology also issued guidelines in
2001. But all these guidelines pertained
more to research and less to clinical
treatments. Experts say the new guidelines will not stop research but ensure
controls on clinical practices.

Changing weather
Will ISROs automatic weather station revolutionise forecasts?
a year after the country witnessed how wrong meteorological data
can hamper reliable weather forecasting, the Indian Space Research
Organisation (ISRO) has claimed a major
feat in the field. On March 18, 2005, it
announced that it had designed and
developed the prototype of an automatic weather station (AWS) that can not
only record vital rainfall, temperature
and wind data, but also transmit the
same to a central location in a fraction
of a second.
The wide gap in the actual amount
of rainfall from the Southwest Monsoon
and what was predicted by the India
Meteorological Department (IMD) in
2004 was linked to falty data that came
BARELY

20

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

from nearly 550 meteorological observatories, most of them outdated and


manually operated. This had led to
Union science and technology minister
Kapil Sibal announcing a onetime grant
of Rs 500 crore to improve weather data
collection (See Down To Earth,
Windfall, September 15, 2004, p 16).
In this regard, the first-ever indigenously developed AWS couldnt have
come at a better time.
The AWS has been developed by scientists mainly from three ISRO centres. It
can measure and record temperature,
atmospheric pressure, wind speed and
direction, rainfall, relative humidity and
solar radiation, among other things. It
can also measure soil moisture and soil

S H O R T

PANTANAL THREATENED: The worlds largest


wetland, The Pantanal, spread across areas of
Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, is under the
threat of destruction by farming, urban
development and climate change. A UN
report says use of pesticide and fertilisers for
soybean farming in Brazils Mato Grosso state
poses the biggest danger. Besides, large areas
of the wetland are being cleared to grow
new crops. The report also warns that even 45C warming of temperature will destroy 85
per cent of the worlds wetlands. Hundreds
of rare species, including jaguars, giant
anteaters and 1,100 types of butterflies stay
in the Pantanal.
TRIBAL LAND CRISIS: Over 2.20 lakh bighas of
tribal land in Assam are under the control of
non-tribals, a report tabled in the state
assembly by revenue minister Goutom Roy
said. The land has either been transferred to
non-tribals or encroached upon by them. The
opposition came down heavily upon the
states Revenue Department after the disclosure. Legislator Dilip Kumar Saikia alleged
that government officers are involved in illegal land transfers. The report says 177,082
bighas in Lakhimpur, 518 bighas in Goalpara,
4,867 bighas in Nalbari, 4,451 bighas in
Barpeta, 14,895 bighas in Dhemaji, 417
bighas in Morigaon, 5,366 bighas in Dhubri,
221,257 bighas in Udalguri and 196 bighas in
Kamrup districts are illegally occupied.

temperature, making it suitable for


agrometeorological applications. Its
features include easy programming of
sensors, front panel display and archival
of one-year data and communication
options via INSAT, telephone, modem
and cellular telephone. It can be used to
transmit weather data to ISROs satellites
Insat-3A and Kalpana-1, which can relay
this to central recording stations located
at IMDs Pune and New Delhi centres. It
can also be integrated with the global
positioning system to download data at
specific intervals.
IMD acting deputy director general R
D Vashistha says the AWS can revolutionise weather data collection: At present, it takes a few hours to a few days to
get the data from observatories. This
can be available in the matter of seconds
through the AWS. The technology has
been transferred to a Hyderabad-based
firm: AWS will be marketed by ISROs
commercial arm Antrix Corporation.

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April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

21

COVER

STORY

THE

POLITICAL ECONOMY
OF

DEFECATION
This is a story about Delhi and the
Yamuna,

about

the

relationship

between one of Indias richest cities and


one of her most revered rivers. The plot
is an economical one: the Yamuna
stretches 22 kilometres along Delhi, but

Knocked out loaded


The Yamunas pollution load
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the nodal agency that
monitors water quality in rivers in India, divides the Yamuna into
5 segments.
CPCBs latest data on the pollution load in the river harks back
to the earlier millennium, to 1996. The data is outdated. Still, it
clearly shows any analysis of the rivers condition must begin from
Delhi (though not end there).

after Rs 55 crore to Rs 75 crore spent per

more spent than ever today. Devotedly,


the city continues to faecally transform a

W
es
te
Dak
rn
Ya
Patthar
mu
na
ca
na
l Hathnikund

Yamuna Nagar (28, 4.15)

The Himalayan segment: A 172-km


stretch from the rivers source in
Yamunotri to the Tajewala barrage in
Haryana. Here, the river is clean

The Upper stretch: A 224-km


stretch. The river flows past
relatively small towns in
Haryana and Uttar Pradesh;
is relatively cleaner. May be
getting dirtier today

Tajewala barrage

Panipat (25, 3.75)

river into a vast stream of flowing slime.

SURESH

BABU .

SUNITA NARAIN

and

S V

First, the Delhi stretch

compels attention. Second, there is no


point in sentimentally echoing what
agencies responsible for the rivers
clean-up say: here is an endless tragedy.
It suits these agencies especially in
Delhi to keep crying over expensively
spilt sewage. But it is more important to
put in place a strategy that works.
In the Delhi stretch, thats possible. In
the future, the Yamuna can flow again
22

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

The Delhi stretch:


A mere 22-km
stretch. Here, the
river turns into a
sewer

The Eutrophicated stretch: A 490km stretch. The river here is full of


organic matter, such as human faeces; these decompose, gobbling up
all the oxygen in the water. Thus,
fish and other aquatic animals cannot survive here. This stretch is unfit
even for bathing

Yamuna river

Mathura
(31, 4.65)
Agra (90, 13.5)

The Diluted segment: A


428-km stretch from the
Chambal confluence to
where the Yamuna
merges with the Ganga.
The Chambals waters
breathe new life into the
river. But today, the
ability of this stretch to
cleanse itself (by decomposing organic matter in
an oxygen-rich environment) is much reduced.

Etawah

Ban (15, 2.25)


as r
iver
er
bal riv
m
a
h
C

Gang
a riv
er
Allahabad

Hamirpur

a
tw
Be

er
riv

Dhas
an riv
er

two reasons, argue

Okhla barrage

riv
er

up strategy along the river. Briefly. For

Delhi (1,700, 132)

Sin
d

The story dwells on the existing clean-

Eastern Yamuna canal


Sonepat (19, 8.1)
Wazirabad barrage

Ken river

kilometre on cleaning it up, the river is

Map not to scale

Note: All figures are 1996 levels. a = Flow, in million litres per day: the amount of wastewater,
domestic and industrial, that falls into the river; b = BOD load, in tonnes per day: volume of
flow X concentration of BOD, or biochemical oxygen demand a parameter to measure the
amount of oxygen required to break down organic matter floating in it.
Source: Central Pollution Control Board 1996, Report on Water Quality Monitoring of Yamuna,
CPCB, New Delhi, mimeo.

PHOTOGRAPHS: SURYA SEN / CSE

COVER STORY

April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

23

COVER STORY

Yet-to
Action
Plan
A decade-old drive to clean up the Yamuna, in Delhi and elsewhere
n April 1993, the Union government launched YAP, the
Yamuna Action Plan, to tackle the rivers pollution. Since
then, schemes have been implemented in 21 towns along
the river in three states (Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi).
YAP itself has changed. Its first phase, called YAP-I, was scheduled for completion during April 2002. But an extended phase
of YAP-I ran from May 2001 to February 2003. Currently, it is
passing through its second phase (YAP-II, 2004-2008).
Since YAPs inception, a lot of money has been spent.
Fuelled by Japanese bilateral funding, Rs 732 crore was sanctioned in the three states in YAP-I plus the extended phase.
Another Rs 573 crore has been allocated for YAP-II. Till March
2004, YAPs total expenditure stood at Rs 674 crore.

Perfect plans
The plan of action has largely consisted of:
Building sewage treatment plants to treat domestic sewage
Building common effluent treatment plants to treat industrial waste
Repairing city sewage systems drains, pumps and pipes
Building sewage systems and low-cost toilets to connect
the waste of slums and poor settlements to treatment plants
Building electric crematoria.
On paper, this plan works.

Imperfect reality
Unfortunately, the plans do not work
except on paper. The allocations to
states have been varying throughout
the programme, and these variations
point to consistent lack of focus. For
instance, the bulk of the money spent
so far has gone to Haryana and Uttar
Pradesh. Whereas the Delhi stretch
24

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

has been the most polluting one by 1996, the CPCB had estimated Delhi contributed 70 per cent of the pollution load of
the entire river it got only 2.7 per cent of the treatment
capacity created under YAP (see graph: Regional imbalance 1).
Further, YAP has simply not taken into account the relation
between pollution load generated, state-wise, and sewage
treatment capacity created. Out of the 743 million litres daily
(mld) of such capacity created, 401.25 mld capacity, or 54 per
cent, was in Uttar Pradesh, which in 1996 generated only 20
per cent of the polluting load. Haryana generated only nine
per cent of the load, but 43.3 per cent of sewage treatment
capacity was created there (see graph: Regional imbalance 2).
Imbalances continue to plague YAP. Under YAPs extended
phase, Rs 150 crore or 90 per cent of the allocation was channelled into Delhi, to set up 1,146 toilet complexes in 1,100
slum clusters and 46 resettlement colonies and so tackle the
problem of sewage disposal. An analysis by the National River
Conservation Directorate shows 60 per cent of these complexes remain unused: they have no water, or are too expensive
for people to use, or simply improperly sited or ill maintained.

Delhis clean up

is not the end of the story. Delhi has spent much more on
river cleaning, largely on the direcCostly plans
tions of the Supreme Court (see box:
SC wields the broom). It can be estiCapital investments in Delhi (Rs crore)
mated that since the mid-1990s the
YAP-I
19.94
government of Delhi has invested
YAP extended
166.00
about Rs 900 crore to 1,200 crore on
17 sewage treatment plants
745.60-1000.00*
building sewage and waste treatment
15 Common Effluent Treatment Plants
256.00
facilities. In all, the total expenditure
Total
1187.54-1443.84
would amount to Rs 1,100 crore to Rs
*Estimated.
1,450 crore till date. Once the YAP-II
Source: National River Conservation Directorate, 2004;
money is spent, as the government
Environmental Pollution Control and Prevention Authority
YAP

COVER STORY

hopes to soon, it would have invested Rs 1,400 crore to Rs


1,900 crore just to clean up a tiny 22-km segment (see table:
Costly plans)
And sadly, the urgency of cleaning the river up has got lost
in an endless process of government agencies administering
to court directives. The result is money down the drain:
In the 1985 M C Mehta versus Union of India and Others
case, the apex court ordered, in 1996, that 15 common effluent
treatment plants (CETPs) be constructed to treat 190 mld of
industrial wastewater. By 2004, only 10 CETPs had been constructed; two were being built and the other three are yet to be
commissioned. The cost of construction has escalated from
the initial Rs 90 crore to Rs 256 crore, and only 53 mld of
industrial wastewater reaches the finished plants
In the mailee (dirty) Yamuna case, the Court ordered,
on April 10, 2001, that it was imperative that at least by
March 31, 2003, the minimum desired water quality of the
river is achieved. To this end, a dissolved oxygen (DO) level
of 4 milligrammes per litre had to be maintained (DO shows
how alive a waterbody is). Two years later, the river is dead.
In the case residents of NOIDA filed, the Court made a comprehensive order, in November 1998, including creation of
facilities to treat 495 mld of sewage. But by January 2005, only
295 mld treatment capacity had been built, or a little over half
demanded. Pumping stations came up and sewer lines laid,
but the system wasnt connected to households! Only 63 per
cent of sewage facilities created are utilised.

THE STP RUSH


Chasing treatment plants, not sewage
he governments favourite strategy is to construct sewage
treatment plants (STPs). The rush began in 1995. First,
there was a plan to build and make operational 14 STPs by
1997. In 1998, another two were contemplated. By 2000, 8
were under different stages of construction. By October 2000,
Delhis chief secretary reported to the court that 9 STPs were
functioning against the 16 to be constructed. Sewage treatment had also increased, from 990 mld to 1,400 mld by June
30, 2000, he said, assuring the court that by March 2001, with
five more STPs functional, the city would treat 1800 mld waste.
This, he deposed, would help solve the problem, as the
percentage of untreated sewage discharged into the river
would decline from 63 per cent in 2000 to 34 per cent by 2001,

S V SURESH BABU / CSE

Regional imbalance 1
State-wise allocations under YAP
100

Per cent

80

50.2

4.05
22.28
29.65

62.5
124.13

13

67.25

226.28

311.06

60
40

166.62
387.17

250.23

20
0

The Okhla STP: Delhis biggest, but not its best


404.01

573.73

19.94
Yap II
Extended
Yap I
Total
(2004-08)
phase (April 1993- for state
(May 2001- April 2002)
Feb 2003)
Other expenses
Haryana
Uttar Pradesh
Delhi

Note: All figures in Rs Crores


Source: MIS Report of programmes under National River
Conservation Plan, Volume II, Ministry of Environment
and Forests, New Delhi, May 2004

Regional imbalance 2
Treatment capacity created doesnt
match pollution load of states
Per cent

100
80
60
40
20
0

19.89
54
71.04
9.07

2.7
43.3

Per centage of total


Per cent of total
wastewater generation treatment capacity
as on 1996
created under
YAP so far
Uttar Pradesh
Delhi
Haryana

Source: Annual Report, Ministry of Environment and


Forests, New Delhi, 2002-2003

20 per cent in March 2003 and 5 per cent by March 2005. The
plants certainly got built. Today, Delhis 17 STPs have a treatment capacity of 2,330 mld. The problem is that nobody quite
knows how much sewage the city generates (see: Why is the
Yamuna so polluted?). If the sewage generation estimate of the
Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is used 3,853 mld
then the city can treat 60 per cent of its waste. If the estimate of the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), 2,934 mld, is accepted, then
80 per cent of the wastewater generated can be treated.
The STP strategy remains the hot favourite. In late 2004, the
Anil Baijal committee (Baijal is secretary, Union ministry of
urban development and chaired the committee) set up by the
Supreme Court to prepare an action plan for Yamuna, recommended to the court the DJB would invest further in infrastructure for sewage treatment increasing from the present
capacity to 2,880 mld in 2008 to 3,758 mld in 2015. This, the
committee believed, would keep the sewage chase on track.

Repairing non-ending drains


The problem also is that a large portion of the citys existing
sewer lines about 5,600 km long, which include 130 km of
trunk sewers are either silted or settled. Government says
that only 15 per cent of the trunk sewers are in order. So, for
the past many years of river cleaning, the government has set
April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

25

Removing thermocol debris


in the Shahdara drain

DEBOJYOTI KUNDU / CSE

SC wields the broom


But government sweeps over
The first case asking the Supreme Court to intervene in
making the Yamuna in Delhi a cleaner river was filed by
environmental activist M C Mehta in 1985. Subsequently:
1992: Sureshwar D Sinha, chairperson of a Delhi-based
non-governmental organisation called Paani Morcha,
filed a writ petition pleading for enforcement of measures to stop the high rate of pollution from Delhi.
Arguing the Union government had no right to approve
plans that rendered the Yamuna dry for 9 months in a
year, the petition also demanded the Court permit fair
levels of water flow in the Yamuna.
The minimum flow case, as it came to be called, is
still on. The plea for minimum flow has been heard, by a
high powered committee and even by the governments
of the states that share the rivers water. Though a consensus was arrived at, minimum flow of 10 cubic metre
per second, essential for the rivers health, is yet to be
ensured for this stretch.
1994: Supreme Court judges suo moto (on their own)
took cognisance of an article published in daily newspaper The Hindustan Times, called And Quiet Flows
Mailee (dirty) Yamuna, and filed a case against the
Central Pollution Control Board and others for failing to
discharge their duties in cleaning up the river.
The case goes on. In its duration so far, important
orders were passed. But the river still flows mailee.
1996: Residents of sectors 14, 14A, 15 and 15A NOIDA (in
the trans-Yamuna area), reeling under the effects of the
Shahdara drain, filed a writ petition pleading relief.
The case is still on. Progress on the orders the court
made is simply appalling. The implementing agencies are
still pleading to extend deadlines, which were missed
almost 5 years ago.

26

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

deadlines to clean the trunk sewers to Delhi, to transport the


sewage to STPs. A simple plan, it would seem.
In October 2000, the chief secretary informed the court
that an action plan has been launched for the rehabilitation of
22 trunk sewers at a cost of Rs 155 crore. Work has already
commenced and all 22 items of work are scheduled to be completed by December 2003, said the government. But the
drains have never been repaired. Only the money has been
spent. By 2004, the government has accepted that only 30 km
of rehabilitation work had been completed. Now government wants the court to extend the deadline for trunk sewer
repair to 2008.

Chasing targets and targeting poor people


The plan is also to provide sewerage in authorised colonies not
connected to the official sewerage system.
But the fact also is that over 40-50 per cent of Delhis
people live illegally, in unauthorised colonies and slums.
Unconnected to the sewerage system. In 2001, government
said it would complete sewerage of 490 regularised but unauthorised colonies by March 31, 2003 and the rest by March 31,
2004. However, by 2004, it had only managed to complete the
internal sewerage of 482 of these colonies; now it would aim to
lay sewerage systems in the remaining 496 such settlements by
December 2005. The problem is even larger, when one understands that vast numbers of people live in colonies, which are
classified as unregularised and unauthorised, where the government has no plans to even introduce sewage systems.
The action plan also aims to remove poor people living
along the river, so that the river can be cleaned. In 2001, the
state chief secretary told the Court that out of the 600,000
slumdwellers in the city, roughly 60,000 lived along the river.
These poor people contributed to the pollution, the government believed. So, over the past 10 years, every successive government has, in the name of river cleaning, worked hard to
remove slums of poor people. Nobody has ever asked what is
the evidence that these poor people living on the banks of the
polluted river, are its villain and not its victims.

COVER STORY

CRORES SPENT, WHATS BEEN THE IMPACT?


THE MORE DELHI INVESTS
THE DIRTIER YAMUNA GETS

3 PARAMETERS
Three telling parameters exist to measure river purity:
It represents the amount of oxygen a

YAP phase I YAP extended YAP phase II


(1993)
phase (2001)
(2004)

The latters

presence in a rivers water indicates the water has been contaminated by

THE DELHI STRETCH STINKS TO


HIGHER HEAVEN

ALL THE STRETCHES OF THE YAMUNA


ARE DIRTIER TODAY

Jul-04

May-04

Jan-04

Mar-04

Nov-03

2002-2004: Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD)


levels remain very high: organically very polluted
100
80
60
40
20
Minimum for bathing
Jul-04

May-04

Mar-04

Jan-04

Nov-03

Sep-03

Jul-03

0
May-03

Auraiya Juhika

UDI

Diluted Stretch
Etawah

Batteshwar

Agra U/S

Mathura D/S

Mazawali

Mathura U/S

Agra canal

Palla

2003

Nizamuddin

1996

Agra D/S

Minimum
for bathing
Sonepat

Himalayan stretch
Tajewala

Delhi Eutrophicated stretch


stretch
29.5
28.8
25

Kalanaur

BOD in milligramme per litre

Upper
stretch

2
0

At Nizamuddin
At Palla
At Okhla after meeting Shahdara drain

1996-2003: Levels of Biochemical Oxygen Demand


(BOD) have increased, indicating organic pollution
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0

Minimum for bathing

Mar-03

UDI

Auraiya Juhika

Etawah

Agra D/S

Batteshwar

Agra U/S

Mathura D/S

Mazawali

Mathura U/S

Agra canal

Palla

Nizamuddin

Sonepat

Minimum for bathing


Tajewala

6
4

Jul-03

6.1

10
8

Sep-03

8.14

14
12

Jul-02

4.9

Diluted
stretch

DO in milligramme per litre

Eutrophicated stretch

2002-2004: Hardly any Dissolved Oxygen (DO) in


the river in this stretch: it is really dead here

BOD in milligramme per litre

Delhi stretch

Himalayan stretch
Upper
stretch
12 11.7
16

Kalanaur

DO in milligramme per litre

1996-2003: Levels of Dissolved Oxygen (DO) have


drastically reduced, even in the cleaner stretches

Source: 1. National River Conservation Directorate, 2004; 2. Central Pollution


Control Board

May-03

terms of mpn, or most probable number per 100 millilitre (ml) river water.

Jan-02

human, or animal, faeces. Total, or faecal, coliform are calculated in

Jan-03

FAECAL COLIFORM.

19.94
0

Jan-03

in a river. Total coliform includes E Coli and

200
387.17
100

Mar-03

Coliform bacteria can live both with and without oxygen

Sep-02

TOTAL COLIFORM:

na

166.62

130

Nov-02

it can decompose organic matter, losing the ability to clean itself up

amu
in Y

150

Jul-02

or DISSOLVED OXYGEN: The less oxygen there is in a rivers water, the less

At Nizamuddin
At Palla
At Okhla after meeting Shahdara drain

Source: MIS Report of programmes under National River Conservation Plan,


Volume II, Ministry of Environment and Forests, New Delhi, May 2004

Himalayan stretch
Upper Delhi Eutrophicated stretch Diluted
100,000,000
stretch stretch
stretch
10,000,000
1,000,000
100,000
20,400
11,850
10,000
9,062.22
1,000 752.5
Desirable for bathing
100
10

10,000,000,000
1,000,000,000
100,000,000
10,000,000
1,000,000
100,000
10,000
1,000
100
10
0

Note: U/S = upstream; D/S = downstream


Source: http://yap.nic.in as viewed on September 10, 2004

Jul-04

May-04

Mar-04

Jan-04

Nov-03

Sep-03

Jul-03

May-03

Mar-03

Jan-03

Nov-02

Desirable for bathing


Sep-02

Auraiya Juhika

UDI

Etawah

Batteshwar

Agra D/S

Agra U/S

Mathura U/S

Mazawali

Agra canal

Mathura D/S

2002

Nizamuddin

Palla

Sonepat

Kalanaur

Tajewala

1996

mpn per 100 ml

2002-2004: Total coliform levels increase, indicating


severe bacterial contamination

mpn per 100 ml

1996-2002: Levels of faecal coliform increased all


round, indicating greater bacterial contamination

Jul-02

DO,

BO

ad
D lo

Sep-02

matter and is increasingly unable to decompose the matter

300

May-02

that flows into a river; they also indicate a river is polluted by organic

260

BOD load in
tonnes per day

els indicate extent of organic pollution, such as faeces, in the wastewater

300

450

Nov-02

BIOCHEMICAL OXYGEN DEMAND:

Mar-02

or

river requires to break down organic matter floating in it. High BOD lev-

Investment in Delhi
(Rs crore)

BOD,

At Nizamuddin
At Palla
At Okhla after meeting Shahdara drain
Source: Compiled from water quality monitoring reports of CPCB, 2002-2004

April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

27

COVER STORY

Justified annoyance
There is no consensus on how much wastewater the city generates. CPCB estimates that in 2003-2004, 3,853 mld wastewater
was discharged into the river, from the 22-odd drains that traverse the city. However, the Baijal committee in 2004 estimated generation to be 2,960 mld. Given the policy implications
of waste, this difference of almost 1,000 mld is simply too massive to ignore.
28

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

The fact is that the quantum of waste a city generates is in


direct proportion to the water it consumes: at a minimum, 80
per cent of water supplied to a household leaves as waste. In
other words, the rivers pollution is directly linked to mindless
water planning and management in the city.
City planners really do not know how much water the city

All about inequity


The political economy of water in Delhi is about power and inequity:
Three per cent of the population receives more than 450 litres
per capita daily (lpcd): areas under the New Delhi Municipal Council
(NDMC) get 462 lpcd; Delhi Cantonment receives 509 lpcd. Thus, this
three per cent receives 11 per cent of the water the Delhi Jal Board
supplies
Inequitable water supply in Delhi
(in lpcd, or litres per capita per day)
31
Narela
274
City
Civil lines
277
& Rohini 201
130
Pahar Ganj
West Karol
Delhi Bagh
NDMC
202
337
462
Cantonment
148
509

Shahd
ara

ould it be that Delhis clean-up infrastructure is an


effect of mindlessness? Consider: while it is broadly
accepted that domestic sewage contributes between
80-90 per cent of the pollution load, and industrial effluents
the rest, nobody has any clue on how much waste is industrial
and how much domestic. So what is all the infrastructure for?
In the Mailee Yamuna case, Supreme Court judges were
annoyed enough to note in their August 2004 order that
There is nothing authentic on the record as to what is the
total generation of different kinds of pollutants. The capacity
of the 15 sewage treatment plants in Delhi is also not known,
though it was stated in the affidavit of the chief secretary that
in November 2001, the capacity was 1,990.80 million litres
daily (mld), to be increased by March 2005 to 3,318.30 mld.
The judges also note: The chief engineer of Delhi Jal
Board (DJB) present in court states that the total capacity as of
now is 2,305.8 mld. According to him, the total generation is
2,934 mld. We do not know the correctness of these figures.
Assuming the same to be correct, the generation of waste is
more than the total capacity of the STPs. Despite these facts and
figures whether correct of not, whether the STPs are working to full capacity or not one thing that is clear is that the
quality of water in the last 5 years hasdeteriorated.

The water-sewage arithmetic

Source: Down To Earth, June 15, 2002, p 60

In Delhi, nobody knows!

MRIDUL / CSE

Why is
the Yamuna
so polluted?

Najafgarh /
Dwarka
74

New & South Delhi

Mehrauli
29
Map not to scale

COVER STORY

Height of planning
Delhis planners are completely oblivious of the
direct relation between the water a city consumes
and the waste it generates: Delhi is planning to
source more water at Rs 7,750 crore; what will the
city do to the Yamuna in future?

uses. At present, the citys water demand is about 3,600 mld, it


has a capacity to treat 2,880 mld raw water and it officially supplies 3,040 mld of water. This includes 410 mld of officially
drawn groundwater, which then adds to the waste stream.
But the water supplied does not reach people. The DJB
admits that only 1,730 mld water reaches its consumers. It can
be assumed then that people have to depend on groundwater
aquifers tubewells for their supplies. But how much
groundwater is extracted in Delhi is a mystery. Given the
water-waste connection, the mystery deepens as the city hunts
for how much sewage it generates.
The fact also is that nobody plans for sewage when they
plan for water. For instance, the city government plans to supply another 630 mld of water as soon as Uttar Pradesh releases
water from the Tehri dam to the citys Sonia Vihar water treatment plant. In other words, 3,510 mld water treatment capacity will now be available to the city, and each citizen will get
250 litres per capita daily (lpcd). The waste this water will create is still unaccounted for. (see box: All about inequity)

70 per cent of the population living in villages in the National Capital Territory consume less than 5 per cent of the total water supplied.
In other words, if the Yamunas destruction is linked to water
usage, it is rich and powerful Delhi that is most responsible.
To better understand Delhis water profligacy, look at the richest
cities of the world. Copenhagen in Denmark uses roughly 125 lpcd of
water as on 2002 (reduced from 200 in 1991). Singapore has succeeding in maintaining consumption at 165 lpcd for the last five
years. Many Organisation for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD) countries are striving to achieve consumption
levels below the OECD average of 180 lpcd.

Domestic water consumption in major cities


Munich
Amsterdam

130
156

Singapore

162

Hong Kong

203

Sydney

254

Tokyo
100

268
150

200

250

Per capita consumption (litres per day)


Source: http://www.pub.gov.sg/downloads/pdf/soe_chap2.pdf as viewed on April 7, 2005

300

Planned

Kishau dam (Uttaranchal)


330 km from Delhi, to source
1,674 mld at Rs 3,566 crore
Renuka dam (Himachal Pradesh)
325 km from Delhi, to source
1,237 mld at Rs 1,224 crore

Lakhwar Vyasi dam


(Uttaranchal), 300 km
from Delhi, to source
607 mld at
Rs 1,446 crore

Dadahu dam (Himachal Pradesh)


325 km from Delhi

Tehri dam
(Uttaranchal)
400 km from Delhi
to source 630 mld

Upper G

anga
ca

nal

Yam
una
rive
r

Tajewala

Water-waste connection

Sonia Vihar
Map not to scale

To understand what this profligacy means in waste terms,


compare Delhi to other cities of India. According to a CPCB
survey, at todays rate of water supply, Delhi contributes 23
per cent of the total wastewater generated by Class I cities
(cities with more than 100,000 people). More shockingly, this
is 47 per cent of the waste generated by 101 Class I cities and
122 Class II cities (Population: 50,000-99,999) in the Ganga
basin. In other words, all these cities put together generate less
than about 50 per cent of what Delhi excretes.
At 3,600 mld of water use, Delhi would generate 2,800 mld
of waste, somewhere between the 2,900 mld estimated by DJB

Existing

Bhakra dam
Nangal dam

Wazirabad barrage
DELHI
Okhla barrage

Note: mld=million litres per day;


km=kilometer; Delhi also plan to
invest Rs 1,200 crore on lining of
Upper Ganga canal and Rs 315
crore on construction of
Munak-Haiderpur canal.

and CPCBs 3,853 mld estimate. The fact is that the CPCB estimate is based on the flow into the river, while the DJB estimate
is based on the water it purportedly supplies. The gap of
1,000 mld of waste is possible based on the use of groundwater in the city as well as the waste it receives from its neighbours. The bottomline is that even as the government is planning full-steam to combat pollution in the river, its agencies
do not know how much waste and want there is in the city.

Another mystery
In the late 1970s, many years before the inception of YAP, the
CPCB had estimated that there were 359 industrial units, which
were discharging water effluents. In 2000, CPCB observed that
there were 42 industrial units in Delhi directly polluting the
Yamuna.
For industrial discharges, too, figures vary significantly
with the estimating agency. For instance, in 1994 the
Delhi Pollution Control Committee, in its affidavit to the
Supreme Court, informed it that 320 mld of industrial waste
was discharged into the river. The Baijal committee quoted a
study by the National Environmental Engineering Research
Institute that industrial wastewater generation in the city is
around 180 mld.
By April 2005, the city has 10 common effluent treatment
plants with a capacity of 133 mld, set up by the Delhi Small
Industries Development Corporation. But only 53 mld of
industrial waste reaches these plants.
April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

29

COVER STORY

COVER STORY

Yamuna Vihar STP

Drain No 1

Yamuna Vihar STP

Ghazip
ur dra
in

river
una
Yam

Sonia Vihar

Chilla regulator

Kondli STP
Treated effluent
drain
Confluence of treated
effluent drain with
Shahdara drain
Noida

Map not
to scale

What to do?
The planning mess must change
eventeen sewage treatment plants, 10 common effluent
treatment plants, drains, pipes, low cost toilets, and thousands displaced in the name of river cleaning. But little
impact. Why? That is what needs to be understood so that
future policy can be built learning from past failures. Otherwise,
there will be more money and pollution down the drain.
The simplest answer to this riddle is that sewage treatment
capacity has not kept in step with population and waste

Shahdara drain

(above) Drain no 1 slinks past the Yamuna Vihar STP, which


picks up its wastewater, only to flush treated effluent back.
(right) Foamy, polluted, cleaned effluent at the Okhla STP

growth. This sewage-infrastructure approach is a game of


catch that misses the point. Fact is that, officially, Delhi has an
installed capacity to treat between 60-80 per cent of the
domestic waste it generates. But the river still receives huge
volumes of untreated and dirty effluents. Why?
BUILT BUT NOT USED: The fact is that the existing infrastructure to
treat sewage remains grossly under-utilised. CPCB itself has
revealed in a 2004 report that 13 out of the 17 STPs are underutilised; one of them does not receive any sewage.
The report indicates that about 73 per cent of Delhis STPs
are functioning below design capacity, whereas 7 per cent are
lying defunct. And just as some plants do not get sewage at all,
others get too much and so cannot function efficiently! (See
graph: Built but useless).
TREATED AND NOT TREATED: The gap between treated and untreated sewage is underestimated. Only 1,470 mld of sewage is
actually treated in the 17 STPs, less than 40 per cent of the
wastewater that flows into the river. It is no wonder, therefore,
that the river remains polluted.
WHERE THERE IS AN STP, THERE IS NO SEWAGE: Drains to channelise
sewage to the treatment plants exist, but do not function. The
problem is that the DJB has been trying to repair these sewers
unsuccessfully over the past 10 years. Drain cleaning has
become an exercise in perpetuity and futility.
WHERE THERE IS SEWAGE , THERE IS NO STP : The location of STP s is
decided on the basis of land availability and not pollution
management or even sewage management. So, Delhis STPs are
invariably built in areas where the sewage needs to be trans-

Firstly, pollution regulators only work on the basis of three


parameters BOD, COD (chemical oxygen demand) and
TSS (total suspended solids). These are clearly inadequate.
The key issue is that the waste is full of pathogens deadly
to our health. Only in some plants those built using
Yamuna Action Plan money, and so affiliated to National
River Conservation Directorate (NRCD) is the NRCD-set
coliform standard (1000 mpn/100 ml) applied. But in these
plants, the disinfection units, which use ultraviolet radiation to kill coliform, are invariably out of order.
Other plants, where CPCB standards apply, do not have
a coliform standard, for no such design requirement is
applicable to them. In other words, these expensive plants
can be built, and still pollute. For instance, in the Okhla
sewage plant, even as the BOD has been brought down to
20 mg/l the best coliform levels are as high as 2.4 crore
mpn/100 ml. It is no wonder that the river is high in coliform when it leaves Delhi.
The problem also is that because of faeces and urine in
the wastewater, the ammonia content is high. There is little information if STPs meet the ammonia standard, but
even if they do, the problem is using chlorine as a disinfectant. Already high in ammonia, wastewater so treated will
lead to its own set of toxic problems.
All STPs generate huge quantities of sludge. In the
past, this was re-used in agriculture. No longer. Moreover,
this is sludge of a modern city, full of toxins, untreated and
unchecked. What will it do to our lands if used there?

Built but useless


Utilisation of STPs in Delhi
Over utilised 10%
Running on design capacity 10%
Not in operation 7%

Under utilised
73%

Source: Status report on sewage treatment plants in Delhi,


CPCB, New Delhi, January 2004

S V SURESH BABU / CSE

Yet this drain remains the worst in Delhi. The BOD load the
river receives from this drain is a whopping 72 tonnes per day
The Shahdara drains contribution to wastewater flow has
also reduced, from 22 per cent in 1995-1996 to 16 per cent in
2003-2004. But its BOD load has increased from 36 tonnes per
day to 51 tonnes per day: the drain is today more polluted
A vital indicator of pollution is BOD concentration. In these
terms, two middle class drains the Maharani Bagh drain
and the Sarita Vihar drain are the worst, with BOD concentrations respectively of 300 mg/l and 250 mg/l
The levels of TSS, or Total Suspended Solids, have
increased in all six drains. The Maharani Bagh drain and the
Sen Nursing home drain have concentrations as high as 400
mg/l. This is dangerous, for higher TSS levels mean more sediment deposits in the river.

Okhla barrage

SUNITA NARAIN / CSE

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

STP Intake

30

What is the quality of treatment in sewage plants?

n
rai
kd
lin

22 drains criss-cross Delhi. Of these, six drains the


Najafgarh drain, the Shahdara drain, the drain near Sarita
Vihar bridge, the Maharani Bagh drain, the Barapulla drain
and the Sen Nursing home drain contribute 90 per cent of
wastewater flow into the river and 81 per cent of the rivers
BOD load during 2003-2004
According to CPCB data, Najafgarh drains contribution
towards wastewater flow into the river has reduced, from 67
per cent in 1995-1996 to 48 per cent in 2003-2004. In the same
period, the average annual BOD concentration has remained
around 40 milligramme/litre (mg/l), almost double the standard set for treated effluents from STPs.

Treated
effluent outlet

o
N

Citys clean-up plans overlooks them

Yamuna Vihar STP

ra
da
ah
Sh

Look to Delhis six big drains

The sums of treatment

Cleans and re-cleans the same waste

in
ra
D

his investigation into Delhis underbelly began with a visit to a sewage


treatment plant located in the eastern part of the city, situated between
a highly congested and relatively poorer part of the metropolis. The officials at the plant known as Yamuna Vihar, which can treat 90 mld of waste
were proud of their achievements. They told us they cleaned up the waste
effluent substantially. They showed us treated effluents stored in glasses,
almost pure, as proof. They told us they spent money electricity, labour and
chemicals to treat the effluents. Here was a success of river cleaning.
But wait. We asked then where the treated effluent was discharged.
Silence. We persisted. They took us to the spot. It was outside the sewage
treatment plant, there was a dirty drain, full of untreated sewage. They
dumped their nearly pure effluent in it. It made no difference.
Why, we asked, was this done? The answer was pat. Nobody had
planned for the disposal of the treated effluent. They had built this plant,
because there was land available here. The drain outside their sewage treatment plant was polluted because it contained illegal sewage. It did not
belong to the government as it came from unauthorised and illegal colonies,
unconnected to the official sewage system.
But there was more. We travelled down this drain. It is called drain no. 1
and meets Ghazipur drain, some 14 km down. Here the government has built
another sewage treatment plant, called Kondli. This has the capacity to treat
205 mld of sewage. The treated sewage of Yamuna Vihar would be recycled
for treatment again, at this plant, before it could be released into the river.
But wait. We moved further down. Now the Ghazipur drain joins the
Shahadra outfall drain. The plan was to intercept the sewage and to pump it
back to Kondli, where it would be treated and then disposed off. Sounds logical. But then we looked at where the sewage would be disposed of and the
logic blew away. The treated effluent and retreated effluent and pumped and
treated effluent, would all be cleaned and then disposed off in another drain,
which was equally polluted and traversed another 5.5 km through more polluted environs, before it reached the river.
The facts emerged. The area needed wastewater treatment capacity of
roughly 500 mld. By 2004, only half of this capacity was built. But also by
2004, only 63 per cent of whatever capacity was created was utilised. In other
words, a little over half of the treatment facility had been set up and a little
over half of the set-up was being used. In addition, the wastewater that was
treated was discharged right back into the wastewater drain, to be then
amazingly! picked up for re-treatment. This in a region, where 40 per
cent of the people live without sewage facilities. Pollution is about sewage.
We know. So we learnt about pollution control. More than we are able to tell.

COVER STORY

COVER STORY

Yamuna Vihar STP

Drain No 1

Yamuna Vihar STP

Ghazip
ur dra
in

river
una
Yam

Sonia Vihar

Chilla regulator

Kondli STP
Treated effluent
drain
Confluence of treated
effluent drain with
Shahdara drain
Noida

Map not
to scale

What to do?
The planning mess must change
eventeen sewage treatment plants, 10 common effluent
treatment plants, drains, pipes, low cost toilets, and thousands displaced in the name of river cleaning. But little
impact. Why? That is what needs to be understood so that
future policy can be built learning from past failures. Otherwise,
there will be more money and pollution down the drain.
The simplest answer to this riddle is that sewage treatment
capacity has not kept in step with population and waste

Shahdara drain

(above) Drain no 1 slinks past the Yamuna Vihar STP, which


picks up its wastewater, only to flush treated effluent back.
(right) Foamy, polluted, cleaned effluent at the Okhla STP

growth. This sewage-infrastructure approach is a game of


catch that misses the point. Fact is that, officially, Delhi has an
installed capacity to treat between 60-80 per cent of the
domestic waste it generates. But the river still receives huge
volumes of untreated and dirty effluents. Why?
BUILT BUT NOT USED: The fact is that the existing infrastructure to
treat sewage remains grossly under-utilised. CPCB itself has
revealed in a 2004 report that 13 out of the 17 STPs are underutilised; one of them does not receive any sewage.
The report indicates that about 73 per cent of Delhis STPs
are functioning below design capacity, whereas 7 per cent are
lying defunct. And just as some plants do not get sewage at all,
others get too much and so cannot function efficiently! (See
graph: Built but useless).
TREATED AND NOT TREATED: The gap between treated and untreated sewage is underestimated. Only 1,470 mld of sewage is
actually treated in the 17 STPs, less than 40 per cent of the
wastewater that flows into the river. It is no wonder, therefore,
that the river remains polluted.
WHERE THERE IS AN STP, THERE IS NO SEWAGE: Drains to channelise
sewage to the treatment plants exist, but do not function. The
problem is that the DJB has been trying to repair these sewers
unsuccessfully over the past 10 years. Drain cleaning has
become an exercise in perpetuity and futility.
WHERE THERE IS SEWAGE , THERE IS NO STP : The location of STP s is
decided on the basis of land availability and not pollution
management or even sewage management. So, Delhis STPs are
invariably built in areas where the sewage needs to be trans-

Firstly, pollution regulators only work on the basis of three


parameters BOD, COD (chemical oxygen demand) and
TSS (total suspended solids). These are clearly inadequate.
The key issue is that the waste is full of pathogens deadly
to our health. Only in some plants those built using
Yamuna Action Plan money, and so affiliated to National
River Conservation Directorate (NRCD) is the NRCD-set
coliform standard (1000 mpn/100 ml) applied. But in these
plants, the disinfection units, which use ultraviolet radiation to kill coliform, are invariably out of order.
Other plants, where CPCB standards apply, do not have
a coliform standard, for no such design requirement is
applicable to them. In other words, these expensive plants
can be built, and still pollute. For instance, in the Okhla
sewage plant, even as the BOD has been brought down to
20 mg/l the best coliform levels are as high as 2.4 crore
mpn/100 ml. It is no wonder that the river is high in coliform when it leaves Delhi.
The problem also is that because of faeces and urine in
the wastewater, the ammonia content is high. There is little information if STPs meet the ammonia standard, but
even if they do, the problem is using chlorine as a disinfectant. Already high in ammonia, wastewater so treated will
lead to its own set of toxic problems.
All STPs generate huge quantities of sludge. In the
past, this was re-used in agriculture. No longer. Moreover,
this is sludge of a modern city, full of toxins, untreated and
unchecked. What will it do to our lands if used there?

Built but useless


Utilisation of STPs in Delhi
Over utilised 10%
Running on design capacity 10%
Not in operation 7%

Under utilised
73%

Source: Status report on sewage treatment plants in Delhi,


CPCB, New Delhi, January 2004

S V SURESH BABU / CSE

Yet this drain remains the worst in Delhi. The BOD load the
river receives from this drain is a whopping 72 tonnes per day
The Shahdara drains contribution to wastewater flow has
also reduced, from 22 per cent in 1995-1996 to 16 per cent in
2003-2004. But its BOD load has increased from 36 tonnes per
day to 51 tonnes per day: the drain is today more polluted
A vital indicator of pollution is BOD concentration. In these
terms, two middle class drains the Maharani Bagh drain
and the Sarita Vihar drain are the worst, with BOD concentrations respectively of 300 mg/l and 250 mg/l
The levels of TSS, or Total Suspended Solids, have
increased in all six drains. The Maharani Bagh drain and the
Sen Nursing home drain have concentrations as high as 400
mg/l. This is dangerous, for higher TSS levels mean more sediment deposits in the river.

Okhla barrage

SUNITA NARAIN / CSE

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

STP Intake

30

What is the quality of treatment in sewage plants?

n
rai
kd
lin

22 drains criss-cross Delhi. Of these, six drains the


Najafgarh drain, the Shahdara drain, the drain near Sarita
Vihar bridge, the Maharani Bagh drain, the Barapulla drain
and the Sen Nursing home drain contribute 90 per cent of
wastewater flow into the river and 81 per cent of the rivers
BOD load during 2003-2004
According to CPCB data, Najafgarh drains contribution
towards wastewater flow into the river has reduced, from 67
per cent in 1995-1996 to 48 per cent in 2003-2004. In the same
period, the average annual BOD concentration has remained
around 40 milligramme/litre (mg/l), almost double the standard set for treated effluents from STPs.

Treated
effluent outlet

o
N

Citys clean-up plans overlooks them

Yamuna Vihar STP

ra
da
ah
Sh

Look to Delhis six big drains

The sums of treatment

Cleans and re-cleans the same waste

in
ra
D

his investigation into Delhis underbelly began with a visit to a sewage


treatment plant located in the eastern part of the city, situated between
a highly congested and relatively poorer part of the metropolis. The officials at the plant known as Yamuna Vihar, which can treat 90 mld of waste
were proud of their achievements. They told us they cleaned up the waste
effluent substantially. They showed us treated effluents stored in glasses,
almost pure, as proof. They told us they spent money electricity, labour and
chemicals to treat the effluents. Here was a success of river cleaning.
But wait. We asked then where the treated effluent was discharged.
Silence. We persisted. They took us to the spot. It was outside the sewage
treatment plant, there was a dirty drain, full of untreated sewage. They
dumped their nearly pure effluent in it. It made no difference.
Why, we asked, was this done? The answer was pat. Nobody had
planned for the disposal of the treated effluent. They had built this plant,
because there was land available here. The drain outside their sewage treatment plant was polluted because it contained illegal sewage. It did not
belong to the government as it came from unauthorised and illegal colonies,
unconnected to the official sewage system.
But there was more. We travelled down this drain. It is called drain no. 1
and meets Ghazipur drain, some 14 km down. Here the government has built
another sewage treatment plant, called Kondli. This has the capacity to treat
205 mld of sewage. The treated sewage of Yamuna Vihar would be recycled
for treatment again, at this plant, before it could be released into the river.
But wait. We moved further down. Now the Ghazipur drain joins the
Shahadra outfall drain. The plan was to intercept the sewage and to pump it
back to Kondli, where it would be treated and then disposed off. Sounds logical. But then we looked at where the sewage would be disposed of and the
logic blew away. The treated effluent and retreated effluent and pumped and
treated effluent, would all be cleaned and then disposed off in another drain,
which was equally polluted and traversed another 5.5 km through more polluted environs, before it reached the river.
The facts emerged. The area needed wastewater treatment capacity of
roughly 500 mld. By 2004, only half of this capacity was built. But also by
2004, only 63 per cent of whatever capacity was created was utilised. In other
words, a little over half of the treatment facility had been set up and a little
over half of the set-up was being used. In addition, the wastewater that was
treated was discharged right back into the wastewater drain, to be then
amazingly! picked up for re-treatment. This in a region, where 40 per
cent of the people live without sewage facilities. Pollution is about sewage.
We know. So we learnt about pollution control. More than we are able to tell.

COVER STORY

Rich sewage
The political economy of defecation
The government says that poor people living along the
Yamuna are the problem. But the fact is that s/he who uses
the most water also generates the most waste. The situation in Indias capital city is shameful in this regard. The bulk
of the water goes to the rich and powerful, with the majority population getting less than survival quotas of water.
Therefore, it is the water users who generate waste. If
water use is the criterion for a pollution inventory, then it is
clear that the rich, not the poor and unconnected or unserviced, are the cause of the rivers condition.
What does treatment cost?
The issue, then, is: what is the cost of wastewater treatment? Who pays for pollution
control? The water users in
the city are connected to the
sewer system, their waste is
transported long distances to
STPs and then treated, before
disposal. More water means
more money to clean up
waste. There are really no
estimations on this waste bill
of the city.
What can be estimated is
on the basis of the capital and
running costs of STPs. On
checking with agencies, it
was found that an STP in
Delhi costs between Rs 20

ported long distances for treatment. In the case of its largest


STP, the transportation of waste
costs more than cleaning it up.
But more importantly, Delhi
has to depend on a sewerage
network of 5,600 km to convey
its wastewater to treatment
facilities. The network needs a
lot of repair, thereby turning
sewage-sourcing into a costly
and inefficient problem.

lakh to Rs 66 lakh per million litres of waste treated per


day (mld). This cost varied with the technology used and
the quality of treatment. But on an average, an STP costs
roughly Rs 40 lakh per mld.
What, then, would be the average cost per person? This
would depend on the amount of water a person uses and so
the waste s/he discharges. If the person gets water supply
at 60 litres per capita per day (lpcd), s/he will generate 48
litres of waste per day. In this case, a one mld plant will treat
the waste of 20,000 people, at a capital cost of Rs 40 lakh per
mld. In this case, the cost each person must pay would be
Rs 200 for the capital cost of plant.
But the same equation changes, as water use changes.
At the Delhi rate of water supply, 200 lpcd, the same plant
will treat the waste of only 6,250 people. In this case, the
capital cost per head will be Rs 640 and the city would need
to build more STPs.
It also costs to operate and
maintain these plants. The
treatment costs range between Rs 0.40 to Rs 2.5 per kilolitres depending on the technology adopted and cost recovery possible from the STP.
So water saved is money
saved, literally. If water users
in Delhi do not pay for their
water and waste, in this political economy of defecation,
they are being subsidised to
excrete in convenience. To
the inconvenience of us all.
And the river.

But in the vast number of


colonies categorised as unregularised and unauthorised, there
is no such plan. The sewage
from these areas, for there is
bound to be sewage, will flow.
Into the drains of government.
But it is illegal because it is not
official. So, nobody can, or is
willing to, plan for it!
WHAT IS LEGAL THEN MIXES WITH THE

ILLEGAL TO CREATE POLLUTION : A


large proportion of waste
ILLEGAL: But it is also the case
remains untreated. Some is
that drains that can transport
treated, at high cost. But if the
sewage do not exist at all,
latter is disposed by mixing it
Was her house broken in the name of river-cleaning
because there are settlements
with untreated waste, then all
are not connected to the sewage system at all.
the effort at pollution control is completely negated.
Almost 50 per cent of Delhi generates illegal sewage it
This is what happens in Delhi. Almost all STPs drain the
treated effluents into nearby drains already full of untreated
is illegal because it is not transported through official sewers to
and illegal sewage. These drains, on their way to the river, then
official treatment plants. In the colonies categorised as regucollect more waste and become more polluted.
larised but unauthorised, agencies have been digging to proBy the time the drains meet the river, there is only
vide sewage facilities, without much success, over the past
polluted waste. No treated effluent.
many years.
WHERE THERE IS SEWAGE, IT IS

32

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

Act now

What can and must be done:


FIRSTLY, it will require a shift in thinking so that all sewage that

is generated, is trapped and treated. In other words, we cannot


afford to distinguish between legal and illegal sewage.
It is only government that can think of people, without
sewage. The fact is if there are people, there will be excreta.
he current pipe-drains-plant strategy is not working.
And if there is excreta, there will be pollution. What we need is
Therefore, more of the same, without reworking its
to break the sewage drain-hardware approach, so that we
approach, will mean just more money down the drain.
can find ways of providing sanitation facilities, as quickly as
The Yamuna is Delhis shame. But its pollution managepossible, in all these unserviced areas.
ment is its governments shame. It cannot be acceptable that
But even as this imperative is met, the pollution plan must
we have spent money, time and energy, but have so little.
begin to trap, intercept and treat all sewage, regardless of
It is clear also that this changed strategy will have to concolour, caste or creed. This sewage from drains can be transnect the river and its action plan to the citys water users and
ported to the underutilised treatment facilities.
SECONDLY , sewage must be treated as close to the source as
waste generators. Sewage management and waste treatment is
possible. This will minimise cost of first transporting sewage
not only about building sewage plants, but even more about
for treatment and the conveyance of the treated effluent.
ensuring that we can reuse, recycle and minimise the need for
The key pollution lesson is that treated effluent must be
transporting treated and untreated sewage and its disposal.
reused and recycled and not allowed to be mixed with the
The fact also is that the Yamuna does not have water for
untreated in drains. This will require governments to work on
virtually nine months of the year. Delhi impounds Yamuna
a plan to reuse the treated effluents of each plant.
water for drinking at its entry at Wazirabad. What flows subTHIRDLY, as less and less of what is treated makes its way to the
sequently is only sewage and waste. In other words, the river
drain, the drain with its segregated waste can then be treated at
ceases to exist at Wazirabad. This also means that there is just
the point of disposal into the river. In other words, what is
no water available to dilute the waste. The issue of a basic minfinally left in the drain must be
imum flow in the river has been distreated as close to the river, so that
cussed time and again, but with
Delhis six big drains
the treated effluent is used to dilute
water becoming more and more
Prioritise action plan for them
the river water and not pollute it.
scarce and contested, Delhis
But all this is only possible if we
upstream neighbours are reluctant
Ensure all waste, legal and illegal, is
monitor treated waste and strictly
to release water to allow the rivers
trapped and treated to keep the drain clean
enforce standards. Otherwise, we
flow. Delhi itself is water-greedy
Augment and optimise treatment facilicannot promote reuse.
and sucks up each drop released as
ties, where needed, to treat this waste.
The end of the story of Delhis
its share. The river is then left with
Appropriate technologies of scale (cenYamuna is the beginning of the excno option but to become a receptatralised or local) should be adopted
reta tales of India. Of more pollucle for the filth and waste of the
Ensure treated effluent is reused and not
tion, more sewage. Where people
citys inhabitants.
mixed with untreated effluent before it
use water, flush it and forget it.
In this scenario, Delhi can
flows to river
Only to drown in their own excreta.
demand more water; both for its
Biologically treat residual waste in the
Only to degrade their waterways.
drinking water and to dilute its
drain itself. Thereafter, treat all residual
And only to create more disease and
waste. But this strategy is untenable.
sewage at riverfront
death. If we want a happy ending we
The river is needed for its water. But
Ensure regular and accurate monitorng
must make a new beginning: build a
more importantly, it is increasingly
of flow and pollution in drains. Monitor polsociety that learns about its waste so
made dirty with the waste of all. Its
lution at outlet point at river
that it can minimise want. A water
own assimilative capacity is on the
Ensure that polluters in the catchment of
prudent society. A river worshipdecline. With increasingly pollution
each drain pay for dirtying the drain.
ping society. Not in the ritual sense,
and little action, the river will never
but in the true sense.
be able to recover. It will be dead.

Re-invent the tale called cleaning Yamuna

April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

33

SCIENCE

& TECHNOLOGY

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Aerial threat to Ganga basin


Significant ozone depletion observed
International Journal of Remote Sensing.
Stratospheric ozone is crucial as it
absorbs suns ultraviolet (UV) rays that
are known to cause cancers of several
organs in humans. In the early 1970s,
scientists such as Paul Crutzen discovered certain industrial chemicals containing chlorine and bromine lead to the

Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and


Climate, in Bologna, Italy in 2001 has
IF YOU thought depletion of stratosshown that sulphate aerosols and dust
pheric ozone layer happens only over
can react with atmospheric gases,
the polar regions, its time you relocated
including ozone.
your view tropically. For, scientists have
It is believed that increasing pollufound the ozone layer over the Indotion in the last 20 years has caused the
Gangetic (IG) basin is getting seriously
temperature of the troposphere (the
compromised, due to, among other
part of the atmosphere closest to earths
things, the increasing load of atmossurface) to rise whereas that of the
pheric pollution.
OZONE OOZE stratosphere has fallen. This may have
Carried out jointly by researchers
an impact on the stratospheric ozone
Difference between
from the Indian Institute of Technology
column. However, not much ground
predicted and
(IIT) in Kanpur and the George Mason
data is currently available to supobserved trends in 14
University in the US, the study found
port this hypothesis.
16.5
cities (DU/decade)
the decadal variation in the
Interestingly, a totally
21.8
ozone column over the denselyunrelated
study
by
19.7
populated basin is almost three
researchers at the Indian
24.7
Indo-Gangetic basin
1.8
times the predicted trend for
Agricultural
Research
22.7
0.1
1.7
22.5
the decade ending 2003.
Institute, New Delhi, that
I
N
D
I
A
The scientists measured
appeared in a 2002 issue
21.5
the total ozone column (TOC)
of Environmental Monitoring and
2.3
over 14 cities across the counAssessment (Vol 77, No 2) showed
Southern
peninsula
try using data provided by two
that the 26 million hectare rice-wheat
US satellites Nimbus 7 (for 1979cropping system in the IG
plain releases huge quanti1993) and Earth Probe (1997-2003).
The ozone
ties of nitrous oxide into the
Ozone layer thickness is expressed in
terms of Dobson Units (DU). The nordepletion could atmosphere. Nitrous oxide
mal range for the thickness of the
is known to destroy stratosmean a potential pheric ozone. While an
0.4
ozone layer is 300-500 DU. For cities in
1.4
the IG plain Kanpur, Kolkata, Patna
health threat for unfertilised plot releases
and Varanasi the values for ozone
654 g N2O per hectare, the
the 440 million
figure shoots to 1570 g per
depletion predicted were 12.6, 10.8, 13.5
3.1
and 11.3 DU respectively, while the corpeople living in ha when urea is used as a
responding actual figures were found to Source: Ramesh Singh et al, 2005
fertilser a common practhe region
be 37.3, 32.3, 36.2 and 33.8 DU. On the
tice for the two crops.
other hand, they found TOC values to be
Scientists hope that
more or less stable over other cities such
some of these questions will get
destruction of ozone. Subsequently,
as Guwahati, Chennai, Bangalore,
answered once results of a major study
severe ozone depletion was observed
Thiruvananthapuram and Nagpur.
by the Indian Space Research
every year since the early 1980s over the
The results show an increase in the
Organisation and the Department of
Arctic and the Antarctic regions.
rate of decline of TOC at several locations
Science and Technology in the IG basin
The depletion of ozone is a potenover western, eastern and central parts
are out. As many as 70 scientists drawn
tial health threat especially to the 440
of the IG basin, while the trend over the
from 22 institutions across the country
million people who live in the basin,
rest of India is found to be stable, said
participated in the month-long study in
Singh said, adding that the factors
team leader Ramesh P Singh of IIT
December, 2004 under which continuresponsible for the ozone depletion
Kanpur, who is also a visiting professor
ous observations were made of atmosneed further investigation. One possible
at the George Mason University.
pheric gases, ozone, solar radiation and
factor could be the sulphate aerosols
Apparently, this belt of declining trend
water vapour from eight different locaand dust particles transported from
extends in both the eastern and the
tions in the basin. Analysis of the data
Africas Sahara desert before and during
western sides of the IG basin. The findmay throw some light on the extent of
the summer monsoon. A study by P
ings will soon be published in the
pollution in the region, says Singh.
Bonasoni and his colleagues at the
T V JAYAN

34

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

haemophilia, autism, muscular dystrophy and mental retardation.


Out of 3,199 identified inherited
diseases, 307 can be attributed to mutations, or flaws, on the X chromosome
that disrupt vital protein-making
machinery, the study said. From studying such genes, we can get remarkable
insight into disease processes, says
Mark Ross of Sanger Institute, one of
the lead authors of the study. (For
instance,) from our study of one gene
involved in an X-linked disease, a genetic test was developed and a new pathway that controls the workings of the
immune system was discovered. Based
on the analysis, 43 more genes have
already been named as suspected culprits for conditions ranging from a cleft
palate to blindness to testicular cancer.

LIFE SCIENCES

X is not an unknown quantity


Scientists map the chromosome

Gender bender: the sex chromosomes

mere 78 genes on it.


The consequences are dramatic: any
defects in genes on the X chromosome
are often apparent in males because the
Y chromosome does not carry corresponding genes to compensate. On the
other hand, in women, if any such
defect is found on a gene in one chromosome, the similar gene on the other X
chromosome takes control, thus preventing the manifestation of the disease.
Some of the diseases and disorders
that sit on the X chromosome include
HEALTH

&

MEDICINE

Bachelors target
Cells that cause leukaemia
have found a daisy-like
plant common in gardens across North
America can kill the cells that cause
leukaemia or blood cancer. While current treatments target the cancerous
cells, the Bachelors Button or Feverfew
(Tanacetum parthenium) is perhaps
unique in eliminating the very cells
(stem cells) from which the cancerous
ones derive, thus addressing the problem at its origin. The plants major
active component is parthenolide (PTL).
The study by the University of
Rochester Medical Centres James P
Wilmot Cancer Centre was published in
the February 1 online edition of Blood.
Leukaemia is either acute or chronic. In acute leukaemia, the abnormal
blood cells remain immature and cannot carry out their normal functions. In
chronic leukaemia, cells are more
mature and can carry out their normal
functions. Acute lymphoblastic
leukaemia is more common among
people below 20 years and can occur
within 2-6 weeks whereas chronic
myeloid leukaemia occurs within a minimum time span of 3-6 months to 1-3
years, remarks Lalit Kumar, additional
professor of Medical Oncology,
Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital, All
India Institute of Medical Sciences.
US SCIENTISTS

NIH

AN INTERNATIONAL team of geneticists


has done a complete analysis of the X
chromosome the mysterious bundle
of DNA that shapes the human gender
and whose malfunction has been implicated in about 10 per cent of known
genetic diseases.
The path-breaking work that
appeared in the March 17 issue of
Nature (Vol 434, No 7031), significantly
improves upon our knowledge of
human sex chromosomes. It clearly pegs
the evolution of the gender chromosomes X and Y to a genderless
organism that existed about 300 million
years ago and possessed an ordinary
pair of identical chromosomes. It is
thought changes to a gene on one of the
pair created the key switch in the pathway to male development and set in
motion the degeneration of this chromosome. The study involving scores of
scientists from several countries including France, Germany and the US, was
coordinated by the Cambridge-based
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK.
In their set of 23 pairs of chromosomes, humans have a pair of gender
chromosomes of which one is inherited
from each parent. In women, this pair
consists of two X chromosomes, so
named because of their approximate
shape, while men have an X and a Y. The
scientists who sequenced and analysed
more than 99 per cent of the X chromosome, identified a whopping 1,098
genes on it, which is about four per cent
of the total on the entire genome. On
the contrary, the Y chromosome has a

Garden plant may yield leukaemia drug

Under the study, Monica L Guzman


and her colleagues compared how
leukaemia stem cells reacted to PTL, versus a common chemotherapy drug
called cytarabine. They found PTL selectively killed the leukaemia cells while
sparing the normal cells better than
cytarabine. If used in combination with
a fatty acid called prostaglandin found
in the body, PTLs role was enhanced, the
scientists say. But Guzman cautions,
PTL is not a very soluble compound and
consequently is not easily absorbed by
the body. However, in collaboration
with researchers at the University of
Kentucky, we are developing PTL derivatives that may possess more suitable
pharmacological properties.
April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

35

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES

Fish medicine
From a common herb
BANI BHATTACHARYA

Prize catch: the herb begets healthy fish

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Sawdust scrounger
To remove toxic dye
BIPLAB DAS Kolkata

adsorption process, removing more


CV, says co-author Sunando DasGupta,

scientists have developed a simple and cheap technique to remove crystal violet (CV), a toxic dye used in lab
experiments, from waste water. The
researchers from the Indian Institute of
Technology in Kharagpur used hardwood sawdust to trap (adsorb) the CV
molecules. We found 1 gramme (g) of
sawdust removes 341 milligramme
(mg) of CV at 25C, says Jayanta K Basu,
the lead author of the study.
Rise in temperature speeds up the
INDIAN

36

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

adding, This may be due to enlargement of pores of sawdust particles. The


study appeared in Chemosphere (Vol
58, No 8).
CV causes skin and eye irritation,
and if ingested, may even cause cancer.
To devise an indigenous method to dispose CV, the scientists took hardwood
sawdust from a local sawmill. After
sieving and washing with water, the
material bathed in phosphoric acid was
charred in a furnace at 500C. It was

PHILIP GREEN SPUN

herb easily available in


India can increase the resistance to disease and ensure better growth among
some of the commonly consumed fish,
according to a recent study by scientists
at the Delhi University.
Rina Chakrabarti and Vasudeva Rao
studied the effect of Achyranthes aspera
on Catla catla (commonly called catla)
and Labeo rohita (rohu), both of which
are freshwater fish. The roots and seeds
of the plant were grinded and mixed
with the fish feed. The scientists

A MEDICINAL

observed an increase in growth as well as


resistance to infectious diseases in the
fish, which, they say, was a result of the
plant enhancing both their specific and
non-specific defence mechanisms.
The findings were recently published
in two journals Fish and Shellfish
Immunology (Vol 18, No 4) and
Aquaculture (Vol 238, Nos 1-4).
The findings are significant for
aquaculture in India, one of the worlds
major fish producers. To increase production, fishes will have to be given high
nutrient value food and must be protected against diseases. But repeated
use of antibiotics works out to be expensive, and will affect both the fishes as
well as the aquatic ecosystem, says
Chakrabarti, adding the herb can be a
cheap alternative. The scientists calculated that for every 100 gramme of fish
feed, 0.5 g of A aspera will be optimum
for immune stimulation and increasing
resistance of fishes against bacterial
pathogen Aeromonas hydrophila. This
bacteria is one of the most common and
dangerous and affects the fish population at large, adds Chakrabarti.
A aspera is found in Asia, South
America and Africa. Although the
plants effect on humans is yet to studied but as Chakrabarti says, Who wont
go for a fish that is disease-free, especially when a plant ingredient has been
used rather than a synthetic product to
increase its productivity and resistance
against diseases?

HEALTH

&

MEDICINE

CHERISHED LOSS
Through yogurt
Increasing dietary calcium (Ca) and dairy
protein may help people lose weight,
according to a US study. Conducted by
researchers from the University of
Tennessee, Knoxville, the Childrens
Hospital, Knoxville and the Bell Institute
for Health and Nutrition, General Mills
Inc., Minnesota, USA, the study appeared
in the April issue of the International
Journal of Obesity (Vol 29, No 4).
The group put 18 obese people on a
yogurt diet containing 1,100 milligramme
(mg) Ca per day for 12 weeks. The control
group (on a normal diet) had an intake of
only 500 mg of Ca per day. The results
showed the yogurt group on an average
lost 14 more pounds (about 6.5 kilogramme) and 66 per cent more fat than
the control group. Significantly, 81 per
cent of this weight loss was from the
stomach area.

finally dried at 120C for 8 hours. It was


then used with 1 litre of dye solution at
different concentrations of CV.
The study found that for a fixed
temperature, the adsorption capacity of
sawdust increased with a decrease in the
particle size. At 25C, 1 g of sawdust
having a particle size of 0.23 millimetre
(mm) adsorbed 195 mg CV, which
increased to 341 mg for particles measuring 0.04 mm. Smaller particles provide more surface area per unit mass,
resulting in more adsorption, claims
DasGupta. An increase in the amount
(from 0.5 g to 1 g) of sawdust added to
dye solution also accelerated the
adsorption process considerably.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

HEALTH

&

MEDICINE

Perilous journey: cars use toxic plastics

Fresh strain on liver


New varieties of hepatitis C virus found
BIPLAB DAS Kolkata
INDIAN researchers have discovered liver
disease patients of Kolkata infected with
a few new strains of hepatitis C virus
(HCV) closely resembling varieties
prevalent in countries such as Thailand,
America and Nepal.
The scientists also found that various types of HCV are fast evolving in
acute and chronic liver patients in
Kolkata as well as other parts of India
and other developing countries, which
is a cause for worry. The findings of
their study were published in the Journal
of Clinical Virology (Vol 32, No 1). It was
conducted jointly by scientists from the
National Institute of Cholera and
Enteric Diseases, the Institute of
Postgraduate Medical Education and
Research, the Indian Council of Medical
Research Virus Unit of Infectious
Diseases and the Beliaghata Hospital
all located in Kolkata.
Finding of a strain (NB56) that
closely resembles a Thai strain (Th580)
suggests that HCV might have spread

EARTH SCIENCES

LOSING GROUND
To tectonics
What do clothes and countries have in
common other than the fact that both
start with the same letter? Both can
shrink, according to a US seismologist.
Roger Bilham of the Colorado
University in the US says Nepal is
shrinking by 18 millimetre (mm)
each year as a result of
the Indian tectonic
plate pushing
against
the
Asian
plate.
This is equivalent to the loss of
two soccer fields a
year along its 600
kilometre-long
northern
border

along with HIV, since such cases have


been reported for HIV infection in
India, says T N Naik, the lead author.
It also indicates such strains may be
circulating all over South Asia, but
could not be detected due to lack of an
intensive surveillance system, says coauthor Abhijit Chowdhury.
The scientists collected blood samples from 2,640 patients with enlarged
liver and symptoms such as nausea,
fatigue and pain in the right abdomen.
Using a special technique called multiplex polyremase chain reaction, they
sequenced the viral genes culled from
the blood samples and found six major
types (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6) and a series of
subtypes of HCV. The study found that of
all the subtypes, 3a, 3b and 1b were most
prevalent. The frequency of 1b was
found to increase in older individuals in
both the groups (acute and chronic). On
the other hand, 3b and 3a were more
prevalent among young patients. This
shift of dominance from 1b to 3a and 3b
indicates that HCV is fast evolving in this
region, concludes Chowdhury.

(with Tibet), he remarks in a report


based
on
global
positioning
system (commonly referred to as GPS)
measurements.
The readings show Nepal is getting shortened because the Indian
plate is moving 50 mm closer to Asia
every year, or about one mm each
week. At the same time, Tibet moves
32 mm closer to Asia each year.
Such movements of tectonic
plates can cause earthquakes
in
the
Himalayan
region. Several
earthquakes
measuring more
than 8 magnitude
(on
the
Richter scale) may
be overdue, says
Bilham. But little can
be said about when
they might strike.

EMKAY

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Car risk
Plastics are a health hazard
plastics used in cars emit toxic
chemicals not only during their production but also later, potentially exposing
users to unhealthy emissions inside
their automobile. This is in spite of the
fact that safer, less toxic plastics are
readily available in the market, according to a recent report by a Michiganbased non-profit organisation, Ecology
Center, in collaboration with New
York-based Clean Product Action.
The report graded top-selling
automakers in the US according to their
commitment to use environmentfriendly plastics. The US automakers
such as Ford and General Motors
received failing grades. Japanese companies such as Toyota were better off.
Though Toyota has implemented
many practices that US automakers can
learn from, it received a C grade which
means there is still a lot of room for
improvement, said Charles Griffith of
the Ecology Center.
Plastics make up about 7.5 per cent
of a cars weight. This represents almost
2 million tonnes* of plastic waste
generated per year in the US alone.
Petrochemical-based plastics such as
polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, release toxic
chemicals throughout their lifecycle:
during production (dioxin, furans);
during vehicle use (phthalates) and at
the time of vehicle incineration (dioxin,
hydrochloric acid).
Perhaps todays automakers should
follow the example of Henry Ford who
produced an entire car body from soyabean-based plastics in 1930!
MOST

April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

37

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

PHYSICAL SCIENCES

New material
Polymer or a semiconductor
A SRI LANKAN scientist has discovered a
new material that combines properties
of a polymer and a semiconductor at
room temperature. G K R Senadeera, a
researcher with the Kandy-based
Institute of Fundamental Studies,

chanced upon the new crystalline form


of bis(ethylenedithio)tetrathiafulvalene,
popularly called ET salt, while working
with the materials other crystalline
structures.
To obtain the new material,
Senadeera, who worked with T Mori at
the Department of Organic and
Polymeric Materials of the Tokyo
Institute of Technology, used a technique called electrocrystallisation. The
process takes place when a current is
passed through a pair of platinum
electrodes (called anode and cathode)
kept in a solution that conducts electricity. Ensuing reaction ensures formation of black and lustrous crystals on the
anode. The findings were published
recently in the Bulletin of Material
Sciences (Vol 28, No 1).
Semiconducting polymers that
bring together the virtues of plastics and
semiconductors can be potentially used
to make a wide range of electronic
devices such as transistors, light-emitting diodes, solar cells and even lasers,
says Senadeera.

B Y T E S
WORK : Scientists
have
developed
a
device to determine
which side of the brain
the left or the right
is working when performing a particular task by measuring the ear temperature. The device
uses highly sensitive infrared
detectors, say psychologists Nicolas
Cherbuin and Cobie Brinkman of the
Australian National University.
If an area of the brain is more
active it needs more blood, which
flows up the carotid artery on either
side of the neck, Cherbuin said. This
blood is shared between the brain
and the inner ear, so by measuring the
ear temperature we can work out the
side of the brain thats more active.
BRAIN

TEA PILL: Indian scientists


claim to have developed a tea pill which
when chewed produces
the same refreshing
effect as a hot cup of
tea. The pill will be available commer-

38

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

cially in about six months.


The pill can also be used to make a
hot cup of tea and is absolutely safe,
claims Mridul Hazarika, director of
Assam-based Tocklai Experimental
Station, which is the worlds biggest
facility for tea research.
SUGAR EYES: US scientists
have developed contact
lenses that change their
appearance according
to the wearers bloodsugar level. Diabetics
generally have weak eyesight because
of damage to retina blood vessels,
says Chris Geddes, associate director
of the Center for Fluorescence
Spectroscopy at the University of
Maryland, who led the research. A
chemical is added to disposable contact lenses. Moisture from the tear
ducts containing glucose binds with
the molecules of the chemical. There
is a reaction that causes fluorescence,
which can be measured with a handheld device, letting the users know
their blood-glucose level.

HEALTH

&

MEDICINE

Screen test
Cheaper option to detect
cervical cancer
VIBHA VARSHNEY

from the Tata Memorial


Centre (TMC), Mumbai and the
International Agency for Research on
Cancer, Lyon (France) have found a
cheap substitute for a popular but
expensive method to detect cervical
cancer. They say a combination of two
tests visual inspection with acetic
acid (VIA) and visual inspection with
Lugols iodine (VILI) costs a fraction
of the commonly used human papilloma virus (HPV) test but works as well.
The HPV test costs at least Rs 350 (subsidised rate at TMC) while VIA and VILI
together cost Rs 35 per person screened.
The cost is important because of the
470,000 cervical cancer cases reported
worldwide every year, as many as 80 per
cent occur in the developing world,
where people cannot afford expensive
medication. In India, of the 126,000 new
cases reported yearly, about 71,000
women die. A cheap diagnostic method
would enable screeing of entire populations and increase the chances of survival through early detection.
The scientists compared five methods of screening for cervical cancer.
Besides HPV, VIA and VILI, the two other
methods studied were cytology and the
visual inspection with acetic acid using
low-level magnification, or VIAM. All the
five tests were conducted on 4,039
women 35-60 years of age chosen from
two slums in Mumbai. The researchers
found that using a combination of VIA
and VILI proved to be highly sensitive
and could be used for screening the
population. The positive cases could
then be verified using the standard pap
smears. As this removed the need to
test the whole population using the
more expensive method, the cost of
screening comes down, says Surendra
S Shastri of TMC.
On the basis of these results, TMC is
currently carrying out a populationbased cancer screening in two districts
Ratnagiri and Sindhu Durg of
Maharashtra.
RESEARCHERS

ON

THE SPOT

Pollution prototype
Industrys impact on Baddi may soon be repeated across Himachal
MANJEET SEHGAL Baddi

imachal Pradesh may soon have


an industrial zone in each district, given the scale on which
the state government is playing Santa
Claus to investors. Industries are heading for this tax haven to grab the bundle
of goodies: a 100 per cent income tax
holiday for the first five years, 30 per
cent for the next five and 25 per cent for
the five years thereafter. Plus a 15 per
cent capital subsidy for purchase of
plots and machinery, a slew of exemptions on electricity duty and so on.
Already, in the last two years, the
state government drew investments of
Rs 8,869 crore. With these new sops,
industrial activity will escalate further.
But will Himachal be able to cope with
the magnitude of further activity?

Solid waste is burnt on


the Balad riverbank

MANJEET SEHGAL

Sandholi and Khera. The Chikni has a


tanning unit. The Sarsa itself is black
and full of fat. I have lost more than 20
Dreams to disillusion
cattle that drank this water, says Kishan
In 1980, when 3,500 hectares of agriculDayal, elderly resident of Bhud Berian
tural land was converted to an industrial
village. River fish have also died. I
town, the local people thought theyd
showed dead fish to pollution board
reap the benefits of industrialisation.
officials. They collected samples but
But hopes soured in Baddi-Barotiwala,
took no action on industries, says
one of Himachals mega industrial
Balkrishan Sharma, a local journalist.
zones. Now, the people rue the day they
Theyve stopped using its water, but
allowed in 400 units, of which 100
people cant avoid the river. It goes
offload sludge, used oil and process
across our fields, schools, hospital and
residues into Baddis Sarsa river.
market, so we have to cross it, local resThe State Environment Protection
ident Rehman told me. In the 18 km
and Pollution Control
stretch, there is only one
Board (SEPPCB)s survey
bridge, so people wade
Before, we
and audit report, 2002
through the knee-deep
puts the hazardous solid
dirty water every day,
could drink
waste and municipal solid
despite endemic skin
waste produced by the
disease in Kalyanpur,
the Sarsa
Baddi-Barotiwala indusSheetalpur, Landewal,
trial area at 44,000 tonnes
Kheri Nar Singh, Dasu
water. Now
annually. In the absence of
Majra, Bhud-Berian and
secondary
treatment
Chundi. Tanning effluits killing our
plants, liquid wastes are
ents in the Chikni rivulet
directly released into
in Chowkiwala have also
cattle
rivers and solid wastes are
caused skin disease in 12
incinerated on riverbanks.
villages. If this is indusUnbridled growth, with unregulated
trialisation, Baddi can do without it,
dumping of waste, is also choking the
says Balkrishan, a local resident.
Sarsa river system. A paper mill and
Besides the river pollution, even the
soap factory pollutes the Balad tribuwater table in Sarsas catchment areas
tary, while thread mills choke the Upper
has reduced, thanks to illegal quarrying

on the Sarsa riverbed. Most wells in


nearby villages have also dried up.

Woes of waste
To treat the water, three secondary state
plants were planned in 2002, but are yet
to take off. Rajeev Bindal, former chairperson, SEPPCB, says, Sandholi, Baddi
and Barotiwala tributaries of Sarsa were
chosen. The Union government
released Rs 3 crore, the state had to
donate land, industry was to bear half
the cost of the treatment plant. But
nothing happened. Vidya Stokes, state
power and environment minister counters, The government is thinking of setting up a common effluent treatment
plant in Baddi, but we cannot give a
date. Well take action against the units
that are violating the norms.
The impact of industry is not in
Baddi alone. Rules are flouted everywhere, even facilitating arc furnaces,
drugs and tanning in non-industrial
areas. An estimated 692 tonnes of
sludge, 33.49 kilolitres used oil, 2978
empty containers of hazardous chemicals, 17.44 tonnes of process residues
and 1023.93 tonnes of incineration ash,
slag, scrap, dust and flyash are dumped
in Himachal each month by industries.
Perhaps its the right time to review
the development model in the state,
which Baddi-Barotiwala embodies.
April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

39

SPECIAL

REPORT

Hunted
Wildlife research in India is
now officially under the
threat of exticntion
NITIN SETHI

ven as the brouhaha over the tiger


continues, the Union ministry of
environment and forests (MoEF)
has turned regressive. A ministry circular has asked all state forest departments
to stop giving permission for any kind
of research that entails handling of animals (touching, holding or even wiretripping them for a camera shot). The
ban is a blanket one: across forests, protected and otherwise, and across species.
The wildlife research community is
jolted. Madhav Gadgil, member of the
National Wildlife Board NWB, the
countrys apex body on wildlife management, headed by the Prime Minister
(PM) sent a letter asking the issue be
discussed at the NWB meeting convened
in Delhi. Gadgil wanted the PM to intervene. The latter merely promised to
encourage wildlife research, setting the
Central Bureau of Investigation off after
Sariskas missing tigers.
Broaching the issue with the PM had
just one effect. Forest departments
across the country tried to hush up the
circulars existence; even researchers
who now found their work blocked
werent able to get their hands on it.
MoEF officials neither confirm nor deny
its existence. But there is no denying this
coincidence: the circular was sent just
when researchers across the country
reported missing tigers in more than
four tiger reserves of India, raising serious doubts about MoEFs intentions.

Capricious
MoEF

holds absolute fiat over who carries out research on forest lands and
who doesnt (see box: And the act
says). In the absence of any guidelines the draconian provisions are used
with such capricious intent that
40

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

EMKAY

researchers are completely at their


mercy, says Ulhas Karanth, senior
wildlife biologist and director of
the Wildlife Conservation Society,
Bangalore, one of the premier wildlife
research groups in India. He should
know: in one of the longest lasting field
studies on tigers in Nagarhole national
park, Karnataka, Karanth suffered the
brunt of the departments ire when permits for camera traps of tigers became
hard to come by for nearly three years.
The reason: The new state forest minister wanted to reopen logging and we
went public against it, says Karanth.
In April 2004, 18 researchers and
field workers including Karanth were
hauled to court over nine different cases
by the state forest department for trespassing without permission. To do
what? To conduct research, which
included hydrological studies in the
Kudremukh National Park, Karnataka.
The studies were done two-three years
before the case was filed. More importantly, the same researchers used some
of the studies in the courts to successfully prevent the government from
opening up Kudremukh to mining.
We can still get away, for we are
now senior researchers. But what of the
young biologists or M Sc students who
have to deal with this constantly and
have no avenues or recourse? asks
Karanth. Take Abi Tanim, a wildlife

researcher from us-based University of


Missourie, US, who had to wait for
more than six months to get a permit
and carry out research on Indian wolfs
in Andhra Pradesh. He got the permit,
but then arrived the circular, and now
hes waiting again.

Where is the science?


Tanims isnt a one-off case: recounts a
young researcher working for a senior
biologist on tigers, The park director
once came up and asked us not to paint
our transects (lines drawn on the forest
floor to do sample studies) in red colour
because the tourists would not like to
see bright-coloured marks in the forest.
He wanted them painted brown
who would find the transects in the
dense forest then? The entire purpose
was to have a clearly visible path!
Such hilarious details trickle in from
nearly all researchers who have worked
in the field.
While for some sciences the laboratory is the house of all ideas, for a
wildlife biologist the forest or free ranging animals n the wild becomes the lab-

SPECIAL REPORT

And the Act says


its the States discretion
All wildlife research in India is governed by provisions of the Wildlife
(Protection) Act, 1972:
Section 28 leaves it to the discretion of the chief wildlife warden of a
state to give permission
to any person a permit to enter or
reside in a sanctuary for all or any of
the following purposes, namely:

Investigation or study of wildlife


and purposes ancillary or incidental
thereto;

Photography;

Scientific research;

Tourism;

Transaction of lawful business


with any person residing in the sanctuary.
Another section that restricts use
of even plants for research is section
17 B, which grants permit for so
called special purposes:

oratory. Outside the glamour of a few


camera-touting, National Geographic
acclaimed, high-profile so-called conservationists are actually hundreds of
field workers, assistants, researchers,
biologists and ecologists who spend
years together in the field collecting data
that then is analysed back at the office.
The data, more often than we are made
to believe, comes not from watching
tigers or lions but from meticulous
work, which can range from collecting
faecal material of deers to looking for
sub-surface amphibians in the middle of
night in thick monsoon. The end result
of living several years, flitting between
an office and a dense forest, is, at the end
of the day, a few academic papers, sometimes a thesis and occasionally a bright
career. But all this gets nixed when the
forest department turns research into a
turf battle.
The problem, many point out, is
that the forest department traditionally
has never been trained to carry out
research or appreciate it. Its quite like
asking the guard at the gate of the
Indian Institute of Technology to stand

at the gate and tell what kind of research


should be carried out inside, says one
biologist quite succinctly.
Kartik Shankar, fellow at the Ashoka
Trust of Research and Education in
Environment, Bangalore, says, One big
hurdle is the entire animal rights lobby
groups, which still hold strong sway
over the ministry and constantly pushes
it not to give permits for work with animals. He also counters a staple forest
department grouse that research doesnt
ever help the parks with their conservation goals. I think the right to research
is an equivalent of intellectual property
rights. Even if we agree that the research
has been rather unhelpful for conservation, I think its our right to intellectual
property that gets denied when we
arent allowed permits on flimsy
grounds.

Not a new issue


The permits controversy isnt a new
one. In the mid-1990s, a standing committee of the erstwhile Indian Wildlife
Board had ratified a set of guidelines for
issuance of permits by the state forest
departments. The guidelines somehow
got buried in the labyrinth of the
Wildlife Institute of India (another gov-

The Chief Wild Life Warden may


with the previous permission of the
State Government, grant to any person a permit to pick, uproot, acquire
or collect from a forest land or the
area specified under section 17A or
transport, subject to such conditions
as may be specified therein, any specified plant for the purpose of

education;

scientific research.,

collection, preservation and display in a herbarium of any scientific


institutions; or

propagation by a person or an
institution approved by the Central
Government in this regard.
Then there are other provisions
about working with animals and
species listed on Schedule I or II of the
Act. In such cases permission has to
be sought directly from Delhi for any
kind of research that is invasive
(includes handling of animals).

ernment arm) and never saw the light of


the day. Rauf Ali, a senior ecologist and
director of Feral, an environmental NGO
based in Pondicherry, points out, Look
at the Wildlife (Protection) Act. It has
several chapters on every aspect of
wildlife regulation and ecology but none
on research. Does it not show where the
ministrys priorities lie? Why cant we
have specific laid-down guidelines for
who can do research, how it ought to be
sanctioned? Make the process clear and
open to public scrutiny.
But the real hurdle is the ministry
itself. Will it really want to let go of the
only hold it has over researchers that
roam Indias protected forests, and
report exactly what they have found? As
the tiger episode has shown, these
researchers can act as whistleblowers
against corrupt practices and officials,
and the ministry has learned to use the
research permit as a solid stick to beat
the errant researcher by. If the Prime
Minister really wishes to promote
research, as he promised at the NWB
meeting, could he enable a scientific
temperament in the ministry?
The proposed wildlife research guidelines
are available at www.downtoearth.org.in
April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

41

REPORT

ON REPORT

Chemical homes
What people in the US inhabit
VIBHA VARSHNEY
US report on household dust
reveals harmful chemicals leach
from everyday products assumed
innocuous. Young children are particularly at risk, yet the chemicals are legal.
The industry seems to be fobbing off
these chemicals on people only for profits, alleges the report released recently.
Called Sick of Dust: Chemicals
in Common Products A
Needless Health Risk in Our
Homes, the report is based on a
study conducted by Clean
Production Action (CPA), a USbased
non-governmental
organisation (NGO) along
with other NGOs. Dust samples
were collected from vacuum
bags in 10 homes in each of
the seven states studied
California, Maine,
Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon
and Washington. One
composite sample was made

from the 10 samples collected for each


state. Each sample was then tested for
the presence of 44 toxic chemicals
belonging to six categories and found in
common household products such as
detergents, cosmetics and toys (see
table: Living with poisons). The results
showed that 35 of the 44 chemicals were
present in at least one sample.
The study is a reliable evaluation of what is in the dust.
But it does not tell us how
much of these materials are
inhaled, comments Peter
Orris, director, Occupational
Health Services Institute,
University of Illinois at
Chicago, USA. However,
even small amounts of
these chemicals inhaled or
ingested may prove
harmful.

EMKAY

Living with poisons


Chemicals (and their per cent contribution) found in house-dust samples
Chemical category
Alkylphenols
(5.6 per cent)

Occurrence
Detergents, hair colours, paints,
agricultural chemicals, stain removers,
adhesives, all-purpose cleaners

Adverse effects
Can affect sperm production in
mammals; may disrupt the
human immune system

Organotins
(0.13 per cent)

Additive in vinyl products, wood


coatings, diaper covers, cellophane
wraps, dishwashing sponges

Hormone disruptors. Animal


studies show exposure affects
brain development

Perfluorinated Organics
(0.10 per cent)

Used to make Teflon, water and


stain resistant materials for nonstick
frying pans, utensils, stove hoods,
stain-proof carpets, shampoos

Known to damage organ


function and sexual
development in lab animals;
potentially carcinogenic

Pesticides
(2.6 per cent)

Applied to textiles, added to soap and Associated with cancer,


household cleaning products, paints, reproductive and birth defects;
wallpapers, insecticides
several are neurotoxic

Phthalates
(89.6 per cent)

Used in vinyl products such as shower


curtains, raincoats, toys, personal
care products (perfume, nail polish)
enteric coatings of some medications

Disrupt reproductive systems in


animal studies; can contribute
to male infertility; linked to
respiratory problems in children

Polybrominated Diphenyl
Ethers
(1.9 per cent)

Applied to textiles, plastics and


electrical goods such as TVs
to slow down the spread of fire

Mimic thyroid hormones; can


retard the nervous and
behavioural systems in animals

Source:Sick of Dust: Chemicals in Common Products A Needless Risk in Our Homes, Clean Production Action, New York, 2005

42

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

Lack of rules
The adverse effects of several commonly
used chemicals have been documented
decades ago. For example, it was known
as early as 1975 that fumes from hot
pans coated with Teflon can kill pet
birds. Why are these toxic substances
still in circulation? Because of lack of
legislation, says the report. As per the US
Toxics Substance Control Act, the
chemicals that have been marketed
prior to 1979 are considered safe until
proven otherwise. But these make up
more than 99 per cent of the commonly
used chemicals.
Manufacturers and retailers need
to stop using toxic chemicals which are
building up in our bodies and switch to
safer alternatives which are readily
available, says Beverley Thorpe, international director of CPA. Safer alternatives are available for most, if not all,
chemicals. But the Consumer Product
Safety Commission that regulates products has a dismal record of considering
chronic long-term health effects resulting from exposure to chemicals from
products. They are more focused on
injuries and acute poisonings, says Ted
Schettler, science director of the USbased NGO, Science and Environmental
Health Network.
CPA suggests an overhaul of regulations on chemicals using Europe as an
example. Europes new draft chemicals
management programme, entitled
Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH), is set for
enactment in a year or two. REACH
would require industry to publicly provide basic health, safety and environmental impact data on all chemicals,
both new and old. Industry also will
partly pay for REACH through registration fees.
According to the European
Commission, REACH would save an estimated 50 billion Euros in health benefits over the next 30 years and prevent as
many as 4,300 cases of cancer.
However, instead of endorsing
REACH , the American Chemistry
Council (ACC) and the Bush Administration are lobbying against it, alleges
the report. Because of REACH, ACC predicts billions of dollars will be lost in US
sales of these chemicals to Europe.
Obviously, for the US government,
monetary profits seem to be a bigger
concern than health.

O B S E R VAT I O N

Chaotic charges

S V SURESH BABU

n April 1, the second and final phase of Delhis water


price revision took effect. Domestic consumers will
now pay a fixed service charge, and a volumetric
charge revised for the second time in four months. It was in
November 2004 that the Delhi government decided to rationalise the citys extremely low water rates in two steps a
fixed access charge (FAC) along with the older volumetric rates
in first phase starting December 1, 2004 and new volumetric
charges with FAC, in the second phase.
The major change in Delhi Jal Boards (DJB) final tariff
revision is the restructuring of consumption slabs. While the
first two slabs (0-6 kilolitre, or kl, and 6-20 kl) are retained, the
third slab will now be from 20-30 kl as against the earlier 2040 kl. A steep rise in volumetric charges from Rs 2 to Rs 7 per
kl when the consumption increases from 20 kl to 21 kl will
deter water wastage. Above 31 kl (instead of 41 kl), the charge
will now be Rs 10 per kl. According to DJB officials, Most of
the consumers in Delhi use 15-30 kl water per month.
The FAC in the earlier revision varied from Rs 40-150
depending on the plot/apartment area. This worked against the
poor whose consumption was often below 6 kl (see Eyewash,
Down To Earth, December 31, 2004) and was widely opposed.

Use more, pay more

Unit rate (Rs per kilolitre)

But lowest consumers still pay a high price


Chennai
Highest domestic segment in Delhi
April 1, 2005
Bangalore
Lowest domestic segment in Delhi
April 1, 2005
Domestic segment in Delhi
upto November 2004

10.42

20.00

8
Unit rate (Rs per kilolitre)

Revised water rates for Delhi

Water consumption
Rate as per the bill
Actual rate as per the tariff structure during billing period
7.35 7.41
6.83

99

7
6

8.39
7.47

4.58
3.82

57

60

3.56

40
37

1.34

20

1
0

Low income
group
(Pul Pehladpur)

Type II
quarters
(Alipur)

Residential
50-100 sqm
(Alaknanda)

Plots
100-150 sqm
(Moti Bagh)

Luxury
apartment
(Green Park)

9.38

6.67
5.00

Source: A few bills collected by Down To Earth

The latest revision has reduced FAC categories from five to two
Rs 40 will be charged for plots up to 200 square metres and
Rs 120 for those measuring more. Explains Ashish Kundra,
additional chief executive officer, DJB, With many sub-categories within domestic segment, billing was problematic.
Besides, the revision of FAC will not affect DJBs revenue because
the slabs and unit rates have also been restructured, he adds.
However, for consumption up to 6 kl, FAC still needs rationalisation. In Durban, South Africa, from where DJB got the
idea of 6 kl free water, there is no FAC and each household
has a legal right to 6 kl free water per month. But in Delhi and
other cities such as Chennai and Bangalore, those consuming
up to 6 kl pay more (considering the unit rate) than those in
higher slabs (see graph: Use more, pay more).
Says D M Narang, President, Old Rajendra Nagar Resident
Welfare Association, Our fight is against the lack of transparency in fixing FAC/ service charges. Retorts Kundra,
Service charge is nothing but the maintenance charge of the
distribution network.
Surprisingly, two water-guzzling areas the New Delhi
Municipal Council and the Delhi Cantonment are being
charged a flat Rs 5 per kl. Kundra justifies this saying they have
their own distribution network.

8.10
6 to

20

Service any better?

15.63

9.94
7.15
4.10
8.73
1.50
20 t
Con
6.50
o
sum
ptio 32
1.48
n (k
iloli
32 t
tre)
o 54

12.22
12.02
10.22

2.82
Note: Consumption levels
calculated for a family of five. Litres per
capita per day assumed for 6, 20, 32 and
54 kilolitre at 40 (basic minimum through stand posts), 35 (national norm),
211 (average supply in Delhi) and 363 (ideal supply in Delhi master plan).

Source: Delhi Jal Board, websites of Chennai Metrowater and Bangalore Water
Supply and Sewerage Board

Note: All figures for respective billing periods; Pul Pehladpur Oct 1- Dec 31, 2004; Alipur Nov 17,
2004-Jan 24, 2005; Alaknanda Dec 15, 2004-Feb 21, 2005; Moti Bagh Nov 28, 2004-Jan 10. 2005;
Green Park Dec 1, 2004-Feb 7, 2005

19.68
16.50

100
80

5.47

77

5
4

92

120

Water consumption (kilolitre)

Below the mark

Water bills are undercharging consumers

Only bills have increased threefold, not the water availability, says Narang. But the bills, too, are plagued with irregularities (see graph: Chaotic charges). A few bills that Down To
Earth got hold of had no information on the new rates.
Though FAC was compulsory, it wasnt charged in places such
as Pul Pehladpur. Even the slabs differed with location. For
instance, in Pul Pehladpur the slab was 30 kl instead of 10 kl.
Another major problem is metering. Says Kundra, Out of
10.3 lakh domestic connections, about 77 per cent are metered
but only 30-40 per cent meters are working. In such a situation, billing is often based on an average use calculated for a
household irrespective of whether it has 2 or 10 members.
Rues Narang, Even the working meters are not read.
Meanwhile, DJB has extended the deadline for installation
of metres from April 1 to September 30. Any of the 9 brands
DJB has approved can be used, says Kundra. If strictly implemented, the new water pricing could promote judicious use.
But, DJB will also have to improve its service and plug the leakages amounting to 25 per cent of the city's water.
April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

43

GRASSROOTS

Dial Rx for telemedicine


Rural patients consult city doctors via satellite link
ner, a 21-inch colour television and
connectivity through Very Small
Aperture Terminal Satellite (VSAT).
Patients far away can share medical
data/test results through free video conferencing at the nearest health centre.
ISRO, which funded the project, has
now established 100 telemedicine nodes
across the country. 22 of these are
located in super speciality hospitals like
NH, TMH and Apollo Hospital, and 78 in
remote rural areas, including in the
Andaman and Nicobar Islands. ISRO
provides VSAT, diagnostic equipment
and satellite bandwidth to the hospital,
and setting up one such centre costs

NIDHI JAMWAL Mumbai


and DEEPA KOZHISSERI Bangalore

iving in remote villages or smaller


towns can mean being cut off
from good medical facilities. One
could make an occasional trip to city
hospitals for a planned surgery or a onetime diagnosis, but consultation on a
regular basis is unfeasible.
Not any more. Welcome to
telemedicine, a medical concept thats
gaining ground in India as hospitals get
linked with patients far away. Like
Nabam Aetum, 60, throat cancer
patient in Naharlagun, Arunachal
Pradesh. Aetum is due for a consultation via telemedicine with his doctors at
the Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH),
Mumbai, where he had his throat operation three years ago. Senior radiooncologist R L Balavat and senior surgeon K A Pathak will study Aetums
latest reports and recommend a future
course of action. The session will be
conducted at the local general hospital,
where his doctor, Mari Basar, is waiting
with him. Soon, Balavat and Pathak link
up from the TMH telemedicine centre. In
the next 15 minutes, they study Aetums
latest test reports and affirm that he has
made good progress. They suggest some
medicines and wish him good luck!
With hospitals across India getting
connected, more people are linking up
to the convenience of telemedicine.
The network is also growing to include
hospitals in neighbouring countries.
Kolkata-based Asia Heart Foundation
(AHF) launched its integrated telecardiology and tele-health project in
2001 with hub centres in Narayana
Hrudalaya (NH), Bangalore and
Rabindranath Tagore International
Institute of Cardiac Sciences (RTIICS),
Kolkata. It has now set up telemedicine
centres in Pakistan and Malaysia as well.

NIDHI JAMWAL / CSE

A typical telemedicine session in progess

over Rs eight lakh. Says S Krishnamurthy, ISRO, We provide a telemedicine network only if the hospital provides free medical consultation and
conducts regular follow-ups. If a private
hospital wants to set up such a centre,
then it has to provide treatment at government hospital rates. We want to take
the telemedicine network first to every
district of the country and then down to
every taluka.

The brainchild of Indian Space Research


Organisation (ISRO), telemedicine uses
satellite to link up rural centres with city
hospitals. A typical session needs a computer, a web camera, an advanced scan44

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

cialists need telemedicine consultation


the most. The NH network connects
with 39 secondary centres through VSAT,
extending from remote Tinsukia in
Assam to Yadgir in north Karnataka.
20-35 per cent of patients may still have
to travel to NH for treatment, but 60-65
per cent can be treated locally. Together,
NH and RTIICS have treated 16,000
patients with the help of telemedicine.

An economical option
Remote no more

How does it work?

options. Earlier, such patients would


have had to travel across states to access
treatment at TMH and NH. Says Rekha
Batura, officer in-charge, telemedicine
project, TMH, One fifth of our patients
are Mumbai locals. About one third
come from other western states of the
country. But a huge chunk of cancer
patients come from the northeast, contributing 50,600 patients out of an
annual total of 220,000. We estimate
that through telemedicine, almost 25-30
per cent of our patients will avail of
latest cancer treatment close to their
homes.
Isolated areas with a shortage of spe-

Already used in other branches of medicine, telemedicine is a new step in cancer treatment. The connectivity is a
blessing for the seriously ill in rural
areas who can neither access highly
trained doctors nor speciality treatment

Telemedicine, besides being free, also


cuts costs like outstation travel and stay.
Typically, diagnostic work and treatment for cancer could take up to four
weeks, and patients are often accompanied by a relative. Telemedicine could
save a minimum of Rs 25,000 per

GRASSROOTS

patient visit. Of the 63 patients TMH


treated via telemedicine, only three were
advised to come to Mumbai.

ISRO

has set up 78 telemedicine nodes in remote

rural areas and 22 in super speciality hospitals

Doctors want it too


Telemedicine also strengthens treatment options available in rural centres.
Doctors in far-flung outposts lack regular training and exposure to latest medical research. An important advantage of
telemedicine, therefore, is judicious
consultation. Local doctors can now
discuss their cases with specialists and
send their patients to town only if
surgery is required. As Basar says, We
often need timely consultation, which
we get from senior doctors at TMH. Since
there is a rise in cancer incidence in the
northeast, many patients from nondescript villages of Arunachal Pradesh,
who do not have the resources to travel
to Mumbai, come to us. In these situations, telemedicine is the saviour. Our
patients are very happy with this service. Like Aetum, who has already had
his operation and needs only regular
follow-ups and expert consultation
from time to time. Telemedicine fulfils
this need right in his hometown. Yet, as

Basar says, We never get to know the


latest advances in medicine. There
should be more e-conferences involving
doctors from far off centres. If we could
also see surgeries being performed, it
would really help us.

Expanding the scope


Telemedicine is trying to push the envelope and do more. Soon, services boosting timely data interpretation, like
telepathology (sending pathological
slides through the server) and teleradiology (interpreting CT scan and MRI
reports), may be possible. TMH has a
three-phase plan. In Phase I, from
September 2003 to December 2004, 14
centres were connected via telemedicine. Phase II will link four regional
cancer centres between January and
December 2005. Telepathology services
will also be available at eight hospitals,
seven of them in the northeast. During
the last phase, from January to

December 2006, the other centres


across the country will also get linked
Telemedicine is clearly growing.
Karnatakas telemedicine project was
launched in 2002, with ISRO, NH and the
state government as partners. 20
telemedicine centres for coronary care
were set up in 12 districts and the doctors trained. In the second phase, 17
centres are coming up, with the state
spending Rs 15-20 lakh per centre.
ISRO is also poised to widen the
nations network. We have reduced
hardware-transmission costs by 20 per
cent in less than three years. Its a good
opportunity to reach space-based applications to the community and extend it
to mobile vans, dedicated terminals,
high-tech service deliveries and
telemedicine-trained doctors, said
Madhavan Nair, chairperson, ISRO
recently at Intelemedindia 2005, in
Bangalore. The picture for outstation
patients can only get brighter.
Advertisement

April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

45

INTERVIEW

You cannot balance an economy


by unbalancing human lives
Development economist SIR RICHARD JOLLY has been Principal Coordinator of
UNDPs Human Development Report. He is also Chairman of the Water Supply
and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC). He spoke to ATUL DEULGAONKAR
in Dakar, Senegal at the first Global WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene)
Forum on human development. Excerpts:
How did human development achieve
such prominence?

All credit goes to the late Mahbub Ul Haq


and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen! They
saw the importance of putting people at
the centre of development strategy.
It is the human development index
(HDI) that takes life expectancy, adult literacy, and educational enrollments into
account, so expressing the real development of people. Many economists,
including me, at first criticised Haq
when he developed the index. But Haq
realised that if GNP is to be displaced as
the dominant measure of development,
we would need another measure of the
same level of vulgarity as GNP but not as
blind to social aspects of human lives.
Sen also contributed, by analysing
human development as an expansion of
human choices and a strengthening of
human capabilities. These ideas have
been carried forward in the Human
Development Reports, which have
tackled peoples participation, human
security, gender, poverty, globalization,
technologies, democracy and the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Haq said growth in 1980-1990 was
jobless. What did he mean?

The 1980s was a lost decade for development in Africa and Latin America. Even
in countries that experienced economic
growth, poverty and unemployment
increased. Haq used the terminology of
jobless growth to emphasise the point
that economic growth does not necessarily bring individual development.
At the same time, even in African
countries with declining GNP, it was possible to reduce child mortality by
actions such as immunization. The
1980s also saw a big expansion in access
to safe water and basic sanitation in
46

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

many countries. Thus, growth is not


necessary to improve human condition.
Today these challenges are brought
together in the MDGs. What is the meaning of development if 1.1 billion people
lack access to safe water and 2.4 billion
do not have basic sanitation facilities?
When 2.2 million people in developing
countries, most of them children, die
every year from diseases associated with
lack of access to safe drinking water,
inadequate sanitation and poor
hygiene? Priorities for human development bring all such issues center-stage.
As Haq put it, you cannot balance an
economy by unbalancing human lives.
Do you feel the present economy
reveals an urban-industrial bias?

It is not just urban or industrial. It is the


dominance of an urban middle classcentered economy within countries, and
dominance of resources and power of
the developed countries globally. Both
over-influence the pattern of national
and global development as well as the
balance of power, and influence in bargaining, in global markets. A long-run
restructuring of resources and global
governance are key here.
How have the UNs ideas on
development shifted over the years?

In the 1970s, the UN was committed to


human rights and development within
countries and to narrowing the gap
between the richest and the poorest
countries, and people. But in the 1980s,
structural adjustment displaced concern
for the poor. Margaret Thatcher and
Ronald Reagan led the shift politically.
Neo-classical economists like Milton
Friedman led the shift in terms of economic doctrine. It was too narrow.
Some remedies, like setting strict limits
on money supply, became deeply dis-

credited. Many developing countries


ended up much poorer than before. In
the 1990s, the countries of the former
Soviet Union were disrupted by
attempts to introduce market capitalism
overnight, ignoring UN advice to first
build some institutional structure.
Is UN support to Africa sufficient?

Of course not!
So how will it go ahead?

African leaders know that they have to


find their own way. That is why they
have formed NEPAD (New Economic
Program For African Development),
with national priorities for the MDGs
and other aspects of development.
Programmes for water, sanitation and
hygiene are high on the agenda.
Can we achieve the MDG goal on safe
water and sanitation?

In Johannesburg, WSSCC worked with


others to include sanitation and hygiene
as a key goal for 2015. Six months later,
in Kyoto, we defined the critical steps:
The priority of software and capacity
building, in addition to wells, taps and
such hardware; ensuring decisive roles
for women in decision-making, design
and management of systems; giving
priority to small-scale and low-cost
approaches for poor and marginalised
communities in both rural and urban
informal settlements; re-allocating
finance from high cost approaches to
low-cost schemes that directly serve
poor peoples needs; and, in general,
pursuing people-centered approaches
that include children as agents of
change.
Since Kyoto, we have made further
progress, specially in African countries.

32
22
14
48
52
50
23
23
84
23
26

min
min
min
min
min
min
min
min
min
min
min

Duration

750
750
750
750
750
750
750
750
750
750
750

Rs

O R D E R

25
25
25
25
25
25
25
25
25
25
25

US $

A N D

VHS
VHS
VHS
VHS
VHS
VHS
VHS
VHS
VHS
VHS
VHS

Format
/
/
/
/
/
/
/
/
/
/
/

VCD
VCD
VCD
VCD
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VCD
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VCD

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Cost

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D E TA I L S

systems of water har vesting and ingenious


system of growing and maintaining sources of
fodder in the harsh Indian desert environment of
Thar in Rajasthan. Today, it is these villages that
have water and fodder during periods of drought,
unlike other developed villages who wait for
water and fodder from neighbouring states.

5. Thar Secrets Of The Desert: See amazing

management is simplicity conserve water


where it falls. But we tend to chase hydraulic
nightmares: big dams and canals. Travel through
Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. See
the profound science of the people and a variety
of water management systems as a function of
differing ecological terrains.

4. Harvest Of Rain: The basic principle of water

completely changed the landscape and lives here.

P E R S O N A L

English
English / Hindi
English
English / Hindi
English / Hindi
English
English
English
English
English
English

Language

F O R M

Rajasthan has revived the river Arvari and its


tributaries. Water management techniques have

3. Arvari: A major peoples movement in rural

Waterworks India: Four Engineers &


A Manager: Meet five ordinary barefoot Indian
rural engineers, who kept the intricate traditional
science of water management alive. The camera
moves from Leh to Rajasthan and then to Kerala
and Tamil Nadu to capture the techniques
and social management practices governing
community water management.

2.

and noted Danish journalist and writer Knud Vilby


discuss the issue of air pollution, governance and
how we move ahead. Development in a poor
nation, like India, is not cheap. The film records the
initial stages of CSEs Right To Clean Air campaign.

1. The Living Word: Environmentalist Anil Agarwal

on solutions. It equips you to make a change.

Reality that makes you aware of issues and ponder

Inspiration comes from viewing reality.

| SEEING IS BELIEVING |

GRAND TOTAL (add Rs 65/- for non-Delhi cheques + Rs 200 / US $50 for courier)

11.
22.
33.
44.
55.
66.
77.
88.
99.
10.
10
11.
11

Film
Film
no.no.

FILMS & VIDEOS

http://csestore.cse.org.in

TO ORDER ANY OF THESE FILMS FILL


IN THE ORDER FORM OR SIMPLY VISIT:

11. Smog Inc.: While we chase the American


dream of a car for everyone, we pay a heavy price
with health disorders. Cities across India are
choking from vehicle exhaust. A classic documentary that takes an incisive look at the science
and politics of vehicular pollution.

10. Bandits And The Backhanders: With large


scale corruption in natural resource management, people lose respect for nature. The film
takes viewers to look at irrational policies (not
based on scientific understanding, but on vested
interests) in management of rivers, floods,
forests, and urban planning; and highlights the
results of such distorted practices.

9. Wrath of Nature: In this three part series,


environmentalist Anil Agar wal presents the
problems of Indias increasing susceptibility to
floods and droughts and seeks to understand the
impact of degradation of the environment on this
problem.

8. Life Under Wildlife: Looks at the conflict


between man and animal. Traditional inheritors
of forests are evicted and rehabilitated to inhospitable terrains, all in the name of protecting
wildlife! A case study of the situation in the
Nagarhole National Park in Karnataka and the
Rajaji National Park in Uttar Pradesh.

(contd.)

7. The Spirits Of Forest: Sacred groves are


social practices, the cultural codes which are
embedded through years of practice and ritual.
They preach prudence in the use of natural
resources in the long term interest of the
community. For them to remain, local community
control must be strengthened and the faith that
forests are wealth must be rebuild.

Siwalik; Ralegaon Siddhi in the Deccan Plateau;


Seed in Aravali and Penchgani in Baripada; are
not just a few Indian villages, but the true temples
of modern India. They have dared to take control
of their environment and change their economic
fate. They depict that environmental management, in rural India, is a matter of giving power to
the people to manage their natural resources.

6. The Village Republic: Sukhomajri in the

Centre for Science and Environment has produced films on


science, environment, development and their intricate relationships with
people. The films promote informed debate
and suggest practical solutions to the growing challenges of sustainable development.
Here is a compilation of these films,
many of which have won prestigious
national awards.

| SEEING IS BELIEVING |

Inspiration comes from viewing reality.


Reality that makes you aware of issues and ponder

4. Harvest Of Rain: The basic principle of water


management is simplicity conserve water
where it falls. But we tend to chase hydraulic
nightmares: big dams and canals. Travel through
Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. See
the profound science of the people and a variety
of water management systems as a function of
differing ecological terrains.

completely changed the landscape and lives here.

on solutions. It equips you to make a change.

1. The Living Word: Environmentalist Anil Agarwal


and noted Danish journalist and writer Knud Vilby
discuss the issue of air pollution, governance and
how we move ahead. Development in a poor
nation, like India, is not cheap. The film records the
initial stages of CSEs Right To Clean Air campaign.
2. Waterworks India: Four Engineers &
A Manager: Meet five ordinary barefoot Indian
rural engineers, who kept the intricate traditional
science of water management alive. The camera
moves from Leh to Rajasthan and then to Kerala
and Tamil Nadu to capture the techniques
and social management practices governing
community water management.

FILMS & VIDEOS

VCD
VCD
VCD
VCD
VCD
VCD
VCD
VCD
VCD
VCD
VCD

No. of
copies

Total
Cost

D E TA I L S

5. Thar Secrets Of The Desert: See amazing


systems of water har vesting and ingenious
system of growing and maintaining sources of
fodder in the harsh Indian desert environment of
Thar in Rajasthan. Today, it is these villages that
have water and fodder during periods of drought,
unlike other developed villages who wait for
water and fodder from neighbouring states.

VHS
VHS
VHS
VHS
VHS
VHS
VHS
VHS
VHS
VHS
VHS

Format

/
/
/
/
/
/
/
/
/
/
/

P E R S O N A L

3. Arvari: A major peoples movement in rural


Rajasthan has revived the river Arvari and its
tributaries. Water management techniques have

Language

A N D

US $

F O R M

Rs
25
25
25
25
25
25
25
25
25
25
25

English
English / Hindi
English
English / Hindi
English / Hindi
English
English
English
English
English
English

750
750
750
750
750
750
750
750
750
750
750

O R D E R
Film Duration
Film
no.no.
11.
32 min
22.
22 min
33.
14 min
44.
48 min
55.
52 min
66.
50 min
77.
23 min
88.
23 min
99.
84 min
10.
10 23 min
11.
11 26 min
GRAND TOTAL (add Rs 65/- for non-Delhi cheques + Rs 200 / US $50 for courier)

Name: Mr/Ms/Institution ____________________________________________________________________


Designation________________________ Institution______________________________________________

Res _____________________________________________________________________

Department_________________________________ Profession:____________________________________
____________________________________________________ City: _______________________________

Address: Off

State:______________________ Country: _________________________ Pin / Zip Code


Ph: Off Res ____________________________ Fax: ______________ E-mail : ____________________
Cash / MO Cheque/Demand draft
(add Rs 65 for outstation/non-Delhi cheque)
DD/Cheque No Dated ___________________ payable to
I wish to pay by

CENTRE FOR SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT

Rs ____________________

Credit Card:

Visa MasterCard Amex Diners


Date of Birth _______________
Valid till
**Card Verification Value No Signature __________________

Credit Card No

*For Amex card DBC code

*Four digits on the top of the card number **Last three digits on the reverse of credit card.
Please visit out website http://csestore.cse.org.in and pay online or through Credit Card/Bank transfer
Note: Order will be executed on realisation of your remittance. Please allow 4-6 weeks for your orders to process.

Centre for Science and Environment has produced films on


science, environment, development and their intricate relationships with
people. The films promote informed debate
and suggest practical solutions to the growing challenges of sustainable development.
Here is a compilation of these films,
many of which have won prestigious
national awards.

6. The Village Republic: Sukhomajri in the


Siwalik; Ralegaon Siddhi in the Deccan Plateau;
Seed in Aravali and Penchgani in Baripada; are
not just a few Indian villages, but the true temples
of modern India. They have dared to take control
of their environment and change their economic
fate. They depict that environmental management, in rural India, is a matter of giving power to
the people to manage their natural resources.
7. The Spirits Of Forest: Sacred groves are
social practices, the cultural codes which are
embedded through years of practice and ritual.
They preach prudence in the use of natural
resources in the long term interest of the
community. For them to remain, local community
control must be strengthened and the faith that
forests are wealth must be rebuild.
(contd.)

8. Life Under Wildlife: Looks at the conflict


between man and animal. Traditional inheritors
of forests are evicted and rehabilitated to inhospitable terrains, all in the name of protecting
wildlife! A case study of the situation in the
Nagarhole National Park in Karnataka and the
Rajaji National Park in Uttar Pradesh.
9. Wrath of Nature: In this three part series,
environmentalist Anil Agar wal presents the
problems of Indias increasing susceptibility to
floods and droughts and seeks to understand the
impact of degradation of the environment on this
problem.
10. Bandits And The Backhanders: With large
scale corruption in natural resource management, people lose respect for nature. The film
takes viewers to look at irrational policies (not
based on scientific understanding, but on vested
interests) in management of rivers, floods,
forests, and urban planning; and highlights the
results of such distorted practices.
11. Smog Inc.: While we chase the American
dream of a car for everyone, we pay a heavy price
with health disorders. Cities across India are
choking from vehicle exhaust. A classic documentary that takes an incisive look at the science
and politics of vehicular pollution.
TO ORDER ANY OF THESE FILMS FILL
IN THE ORDER FORM OR SIMPLY VISIT:

http://csestore.cse.org.in

LIFE

& N AT U R E

Stand up again
The tsunami is a chance to rebuild self-reliance
and governance of the Nicobar Islands. SURESH BABU
returns from the islands to tell NITIN SETHI how

hen on the islands do not think Land. Think Water.


The Tsunami has wreaked havoc. The government
is drowned up to its neck in relief work. No, they call
it rehabilitation. On one island sit 150 metric tonnes of mostly
perishable goods, milk packets and food, waiting for someone,
anyone. There is no one to pick them up, 8,000 odd people on
this island apart. For the islanders, the Nicobarese and the
Shompen (the two tribes on the Nicobar islands), this is dole.
Bait to make them dependent on the government. They watch
the mainlanders on the islands relish the dole. Some fall prey
to the idea of being spoon-fed. They are made to wait at camps
built in cities like Port Blair. They sit around, 3,238 on the last
official count in 15 relief camps of Campbell Bay, the township
on the Great Nicobar Island.
While people wait, the different arms of the administration
and government get enmeshed in silly games of one-upmanship. The civil administration is livid. The army uses its maps
and information to make better presentations (slick and
aggressive like a battle plan) and wins praise. After all its a
game worth Rs 2,731 crore the money earmarked for reconstruction of the union territory.
Caught in the business of relief, the administration has forgotten: people need to go back. Restart lives. But, they are also

L I F E & N AT U R E
Narcondam

North
Andaman

6h
ou
rs
by
bo
at

so central to the theatre of rehabilitation.


tions. They dont need milk packets.
What if another Tsunami hits, it would
They need boats. They have been the
Mayabunder
be oh-so-tough to go fetch these tribals
perfect example of how cooperation and
Middle
Barren
Andaman
again. Keeping them huddled together is
optimum use of resources can ensure life
an administrative necessity; easy to proin frugality. How else would 2,500 of
vide rations, easy to manage.
them survive on an island with only one
South
There is some convoluted logic to
freshwater source? They know how to
Andaman
this: the last time, the government took
harvest water from rooftops. Without
Port Blair
more than a month to reach the west
the government telling them how.
ANDAMAN &
coast of the Nicobar islands. Some they
NICOBAR
Now live in sheds
just flew over. A few islanders survived,
Little
ISLAND
Andaman
But now the government wants them to
riding on pure luck or presence of mind.
live in cubicles made of corrugated tin
Like the shaman priest, Pothe of
Car Nicobar
sheets. The walls, the roof, the window,
Pulobaha island. He kept on telling the
the doors, all are of corrugated tin, tin
village a day before that the earth would
sheds that consultants from Delhi told
shake, the waters would rise. No one
Chowra
them would serve as perfect temporary
would listen to him; he left the village in
Terressa
abodes while the heat and humidity
a huff, returning the next day only to see
Kamorta
Nancowry
beats down on the islands. The Nicohis omens come true. He took out a
Katchal
barese say they would rather cook a pig
dungi (the small locally crafted boat) and
Little Nicobar
in these ovens. Not one of them is occua hodi (outriggered canoes) to the sea
pied. But 3 lakh GI sheets have reached
and survived the massive 20 metre
Great
Nicobar
the islands.
waves, also saving 43 lives. Then there is
Indira point
To reach out to the people the govAghu, from Mayabundar island, who
ernment is building roads that cut
clung on to the top of a standing tree as
through dense forests. Obviously, priceless timber shall be
the huge waves broke on the land behind and under him. He
felled. Without doubt, there are lucrative contracts in the offsurvived for 16 days with his two shoulders broken and walked
ing. But neither the islands nor the islanders need roads. The
back on his own.
islanders also dont need the 100 motorcycles that the governA resilient people
ment has brought as relief.
The Nicobarese are resilient. What other way is there to keep
Ah, more timber
your sanity intact when surrounded by such devastation and
There is so much wood lying around, all the trees that the
loss? They itch to begin life anew. 50 youth have gone back to
tsunami brought down. One just needs to transport them to
their island, Chaura to do what they do best, fish and take care
where its needed. Instead the government has lifted the ban
of their small plantations. 150 more are ready to join them,
on timber felling lifted for six months to cut the surviving
only if the government would give them a dungi to travel back
trees. Its going to be a free for all. Officials on the islands in
in. The tsunami ransacked their hodi and dungi. They need
fact want the ban-lift extended. The Central Empowered
implements to fish, to kick-start their self-sustaining planta12

s
ur
ho

by

at
bo

at
bo
by
urs
ho
36

PHOTOGRAPHS: SURESH BABU

Where simply a hundred


boats would have done
a road is carved through
the forest

L I F E & N AT U R E

Arial view of the tsunamihit Katchal Island. Smashed


to ground; yet to recover

Nicobarese would rather


cook pigs in these tin sheds
built for them post-tsunami

Perhaps the first fish catch after tsunami: The people need
fishing gear and boats to get their lives back on track

Committee to the Supreme Court on forests is likely to say no


but it is inclined not to allow use of the much-needed fallen
timber as well. Perhaps they fear misuse. Its yet another
administrative game that people are getting crushed between.
The tsunami was a disaster. The tsunami is such a great
opportunity. Its cleaned up the slate. Its a chance to undo
what the government has done to the islands in the past 50
years. Its a chance to do things the administration wouldnt
dare do normally. Like break the business monopolies on the
islands. Take the copra (coconut) business. You could count
on your fingertips the traders who monopolised the business
of selling copra to the mainland. It was the one of the biggest
source of incomes for the island. Each island had its own
monopoly and its monopolists. Another example: the arecanut trade completely controlled by a clutch of businessmen who would pay a rupee for every ten they made on the
mainland. Now the government can get in, reach out directly
to the people or their representatives the captains (village
heads), empower them with assets not dole. Say, to break the
monopolies give the islands copra processing units, create a
village-level coir industry. Let them add value to their limited

produce, something the government has not been able to do in


all these years.
The monopolists made life on the island miserable, ensuring that everyone remained economically shackled. They shall
again. Unless the government realises that, post-tsunami,
these islands need the entire governance system to reconstruct
itself and let people rebuild self-reliance.
Soon administrative fatigue will set in, media focus will
dissipate and the relief money will disappear. Life for the
Nicobarese and the Shompen will come full
circle living under the shadow of a government that thrives on treating them as poor
dependents. If this tsunami cannot change
the governments ways what will? If this
tsunami cannot bring us closer to them and
remove the alienation then nothing can.
Suresh Babu is a research scientist at the School
of Environmental Studies, University of Delhi.
He has been working on the islands for several
years now
April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

51

FOOD

Health is skin deep


Peel of fruits and vegetables is more nutritious than the food
R

LEMON PEEL SHARBAT


Normally, juice is squeezed out of
lemons to make the sharbat. But if
one wants a slightly tangy taste,
then without peeling, cut the
lemons into small pieces. Add them
in water along with sugar to taste.
Blend in the juicer. Add a few ice
cubes and the sharbat is ready to
be served.
POTATO PEEL WAFERS
Take thick potato peels and sprinkle salt and other spices to taste.
Sun dry till they become crispy. Fry
for less than a second. The raw
ones are equally lip-smacking, but
more healthy. Serve with pudina
chutney or sauce.
DEBOJYOTI KUNDU / CSE

can even try this out with some mango


varieties such as the baiganpalli one
octors insist that some foodstuffs
of the first mangoes that appear in the
should be eaten along with their
market during summers; mango peels
skin. The peels have vitamins,
are also kept intact while making the
trace minerals and dietary fibres a fact
mouth-watering pickles.
unknown to many. Peeling off the skin
The peels are useful in many other
dramatically reduces the nutritional
ways powder of lemon and orange
value of a food item, reveals a study by
peels can help whiten teeth. Powdered
the University of California, USA. This
lemon peels can also be used as cake
also holds true for processed
pudding or to flavour coffee.
foodstuff. For example, milling
The inside of ripe banana and
Peeling off important facts
strips off more than 20 vital
papaya peels can be used as a
Outer skin of foodgrains contain vitamins, fibre
nutrients like iron, vitamin
face scrubber. Powdered peel of
B1, 2 and 3 from whole grains.
and trace elements necessary for human growth
ripe banana is even good for
Apple skin has anti-cancer effect. Skin from an
Fibres are particularly conpolishing metallic goods.
apple has the same antioxidant potential as 820
centrated in the peel, stalk and
Orange peels can help treat
milligrammes of vitamin C found in two quarts of
husk. Hence too much processpimples and acne. Cucumber
orange juice
ing of food items means conpeels can keep cockroaches
Potatos skin has far more fibre, iron, potassium
suming a fibreless diet. Shelly
away. In other words, the peels
and vitamin B than its flesh
Sinton, a well-known US health
are wealth, not waste.
Peels of citrus fruits contain natural chemicals
expert, asserts: Our ancestors
like limonene D, terpenes, hesperidin, coumarins
Rajeev Betne is working as an
consumed more fibres than we
and carotenoids, which have medicinal value
assistant coordinator with the
do. As a nation, today we eat less
Lemon peel contains the natural binder pectin
Centre for Science and
of carbohydrates than we
Environment, New Delhi
did generations ago. This
RAJEEV BETNE

52

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

unhealthy phenomenon is also becoming common in India and other developing countries, especially in the urban
and peri-urban areas.
So next time you eat, try to do the
following: replace white bread for whole
wheat bread; prefer brown rice to
superfine and polished rice; eat skinned
pulses, potatoes, pumpkins, carrots,
legumes, cucumbers and apples. One

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April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

53

CROSSCURRENTS

And the World Bank president is...


...Paul Wolfowitz. And you thought you couldnt be surprised

KEVIN RAFFERTY
aul Wolfowitz, deputy US defence
secretary, will take over as president of the World Bank (WB)
when James Wolfensohn steps down in
mid-2005. The ultimate shareholders of
the World Bank the people of the
world with their shares held by proxy by
their respective governments deserve
better. Wolfowitz has been compared to
Robert McNamara, who was a giant of a
WB president after his controversial time
as a warmongering US defence secretary.
But McNamara had important pluses
over Wolfowitz: he was full defence secretary, had experience as chief executive
of Ford and lived in different times.
Even so, he was controversial.
There are compelling reasons for
rethinking the global financial edifice.
For one, it was devised in the dying days
of World War II, and most of todays
economic powers were not involved.
More importantly, the gas-guzzling,
spendthrift, heavily indebted US is not a

good model for global development. Is


of the poor. Still, after ten years in the
Wolfowitzs vision for democracy in
job, Wolfensohns achievements have
Iraq brought by US guns a workbeen modest. He began dialogues with
critical non-governmental organisaable system for the world (or the WB)?
Surely, the nominee for WB should not
tions and tried to make them partners in
be a candidate pursuing George Bushs
his development dream. Wolfensohn
lawfully elected agenda, but the leader of
refocused the bank to look at its clients,
a development mission for the world.
the developing countries, strengthened
The sad fact of life
the country offices and cretoday is that while new The spendthrift, ated career opportunities
multibillionaires are being
outside the Washington
created
in
hundreds heavily indebted headquarters. In the last two
(though in the US they are
years, not before time, he
often built on flimsily mort- US is no global also spoke out against corgaged paper called the US
as a major stumdevelopment ruption
dollar), several billions are
bling block against economin danger of falling off the model. Its time ic development.
edge without the resources
Wolfensohns efforts to
to survive. At the same
we realise this reform the management
time, Chinas tearaway ecostructure were more mixed
nomic growth since Deng Xiaoping
and many of his best ideas were ruined
opened its doors to the world has chalby his volcanic temper and an appalling
lenged conventional economic wisdom.
judgement of people, with some really
India has also begun to show its potenpoor senior appointments. And for all
tial and should demand a say in a crucial
of Wolfensohns efforts, the battle
appointment for the world. A WB
against global poverty is far from being
revamped under a leader of greater
won. It needs a general who can understature than Wolfowitz could have been
stand the issues, preferably a general
the forum for better action on global
who knows where the battlefield is.
development.
There are some critics of course who
Whatever his many faults,
say that the Bank is irrelevant to real
Wolfensohn cared cares passiondevelopment.They cite the example of
ately about development and the plight
China. But lets not forget that even
China has benefited from the Banks
advice and aid. For smaller countries
with fewer resources, a WB package
might be a vital catalyst to unlocking
private capital inflows.
Given that so many major development issues are linked to trade and that
stalemate in negotiations under the
World Trade Organization (WTO) is a
problem for many developing countries, I am surprised that no one has
tried to link the two bodies.This is good
opportunity to do so and then let the
developing countries choose the WTO
head. Someone from Latin America
might remind the US that it does not
own all of America.
Kevin Rafferty was managing editor at
the World Bank, 1997-99
ILLUSTRATIONS: EMKAY

54

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

CROSSCURRENTS

Forget oil
Create a culture that places a premium on human power
bers more than 450 million. When a toilet is connected to biogas plants run on
cattle dung it produces good cooking
fuel. A biogas plant that generates 2
cubic meters of biogas every day costs Rs
15,000. The effectve fuel value of 1 cubic
meter biogas is 2,828 kcal. And it requirres very little running cost.

human power with that of petrol and


diesel. Presently, they cost Rs 29 and Rs
42 respectively. The respective calorific
values of these fuels are 2,940 and 3,470.
If human power has to be given due justice or taken as a bench-mark, petrol
and diesel will have to be sold at Rs 220
VR JOGLEKAR
and Rs 260 per litre respectively.
Conversely, if the fuel values and the
ndias total energy requirement has
Human power and oil
present day cost of petrol are to be taken
Let us assume that a person consumes
doubled over the last three decades:
as benchamrk, the daily wages should be
food equivalent to about 2,440 kilocalofrom 147.05 million tonnes of oil
fixed at Rs 11.40 or Rs 6.70.
ries (kcal) of energy. Of that 800 kcal is
equivalent (MTOE) to 437.69 MTOE. Its
All this, we know, is highly impractiof course well known that indiscrimiutilised for routine body movecable. This is mainly because the govnate burning of hydrocarbon fuels
ments.
800
ernment and a few people who consume
causes much global warming.
oil in bulk manipulate their
According to several press
prices. Our planning strategy
reports, several Europeans died
should be reoriented so as to
of oppressive heat last summer,
not depend on these energy
many glaciers vanished from the
resources. Huaman and aniface of the Earth and even the
mal power should be given
height of the Himalaya was
the highest preference.
reduced. But we havent learnt
We should then review the
much. Last year, the director of
projects underway in view of
the Oil and Natural Gas
fiscal returns, the quantum of
Commision noted that the per
oil they consume and the envicapita annual energy consumpronmental degradation they
tion of India is merely 0.32 TOE;
cause. Such evaluation will
the corresponsing figure for the
force us to drop a few of the
US is 8.55 TOE. The ONGC chairprojects or at least slow
person stressed that his corpothem down. The money thus
rations goal was to bring Indias
saved could be used in underenergy consumption on par
taking labour intensive projects
with the US. One shudders to
such as constructing bunds
think what environmental cataaround agricultural lands,
strophe might ensue once
afforestation programmes,
Indias energy consumption is
biogas plants and creation of
at par with that of the US.
decentralised electricity genMany suggest use of alternaeration systems. In urban
Annual energy consumption of India is
tive energy such as solar power,
centres biogas plants based
wind power and tidal power
on public toilets should be
merely 0.32 tonnes of oil equivalent (TOE); built and run on a pay and
stations as laternatives. But
these non-conventional energy
use basis.
that of the US is 8.55 TOE
sources are quite expensive.
Our strategy of developoMoreover, mini-hydel power
mental activities based on oil
stations are restricted to areas such as
kcal is expended in physical and intelland other conventional sources of
hilly tracks, where there is sufficient
lectual labour and the remaining 800
energy should be diluted and a new
rainfall to support them.
kcal are discharged as excreta. In Sanglibeginning should be made on the basis
But there is another non-convenTasgaon area, the average daily wage is
of human and animal power.
tional energy resource apt for Indian
Rs 60. In other words, the value of
VR Joglekar is director, Shivsadan
conditions: biogas. Let us not forget that
human power is Rs 60 per 800 kcal of
Renewable Energy Research Institute,
we have a population of more than a bilenergy.
Sangli, Maharashtra
lion and the countrys livestock numLet us now compare the value of

April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

55

REVIEW
P H O T O G R A P H Y > > DRIVEN by Jason
Taylor India International Centre,
New Delhi 10-16 March 2005

On the road
LINA KRISHNAN

or those of us who live in cities,


trucks have nuisance value. Either
they clog city traffic at night or are
hazards to watch out for on the occasional driving trip. Few of us think
about the drivers or their lives.
Well, someones just forced us to do
that. Jason Taylor put in three months
on the road, hitting all the major highways in India, on over 30 trucks. His
photographs are flavoured with diesel,
dhaba food and the dust that comes
with life on the national highways (NH).
As he puts it, I wanted to show them in
their environment, on the road. Theyre
people, with lives and families. But
theres so much negativity associated
with them.
The negativity Taylor is talking
about comes from truckers being on the
list of high-risk groups in the context of
HIV / AIDS . The idea here is not to deny
that drivers are at risk, but to support
them in the campaign for safer sex and
against the stigma that often comes as a

A harsh life on
national highways

by-product. Taylor is candid. Everyone


drinks. Businessmen cheat on their
wives when they travel. Why stigmatise
this segment alone? Some of these pictures, showing the drivers with sexual
partners, are also pointers to the other
group that has suffered HIV discrimination, the sex workers.
Many of the photographs are about
the intervention sessions with truck drivers, including the condom education
routine. But the real pull of the show is
seeing the drivers and their young
helpers getting on with their lives,
behind the wheel or at the next
stopover. In other words, driving for
days on end, eating at odd stops, bad
roads et al. It was always a harsh life for
Indias 5 million trucker drivers and
helpers, the hard working, badly paid
people who keep our lifelines going. But
the discrimination has hit them hard.

F I L M > > THE FUTURE OF FOOD directed by Deborah Koons Garcia 88 minutes

Hunger is big business


VIBHA VARSHNEY

he Future of Food is about genetically modified (GM) crops sneaking


into our lives. Its about transnational
companies turning hunger into a lucrative proposition. Companies brandish
GM technology as a means to ensure
food security and reduce use of harmful
chemicals. But the technology has failed
on both accounts thats the message
of this movie, which suggests shifting
over to real solutions such as organic
and sustainable agriculture.
The movie brings up a variety of
issues that show that there is a need for
strict legislation to control GM crops.
Allergic reactions to GM products afflict

56

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

many. But transgenic


crops have been put in
the generally recognised as safe category in
most North American
countries there is no
need to indicate their
presence on the label.
The film charges US government officials with being in hand-in-glove with
GM transnationals such as Monsanto.
The documentary has been shot in
the US, Canada and Mexico. The machinations of the GM majors are exposed
through the case of Percy Schmeiser, a
Canadian canola farmer. Schmeiser
grew seeds he himself had developed.
Then some of his plants acquired

Even getting married is tough now.


They are uptight about the spotlight.
Yes, they know theyre taking chances.
But its par for the course when a wrong
turn or a sudden crash is a more likely
route to an early death.
The documentation is part of an
ongoing project of HIV-preventive
intervention. The extensive operation,
which is being implemented along
major national highways, at 40 halt
points, aims to touch around 20,000 to
30,000 truckers per point in a
year. Taylors carefully put together
show, which comes with an installation
of 320 images, was made possible
through a collaboration between
Sexual Health Resource Centre, New
Delhi, the Transport Corporation of
India, the non-governmental organisation Seher and British Council,
New Delhi.

genetic material from the neighbours


farm. Monsanto sued him for patent
infringement; Schmeiser lost
the case, had to destroy his
seed stocks and pay Monsanto
compensation. This is wellknown. But the film also goes
into the repercussions of the
case: farmers now accept contamination of their traditional
crops as a fait accompli. Many
pay compensations demanded
by the transnationals. Meanwhile, Monsantos GM maize seed has
now found its way to traditional maize
fields in Mexico. Would they have to be
destroyed to keep Monsanto happy? But
there is hope. In March last year, the
food-safety organisation GMO Free
Mendocino got a law passed banning
GM crops and livestock in California,
USA : an indicator of things to come as
people become more aware.

REVIEW

E X H I B I T I O N > > WOMEN & SANITATION Dilli Haat New Delhi 21-24 March 2005

Undercover activity
D

illi Haat often has rural visitors,


usually craftspeople. But last
month, this venue of many a colourful
mela offered a different glimpse into life
in a rural district, particularly for those
without access to basic rights like sanitation facilities. This photo documentation is about a harsh reality.
Curated by Amit Pasricha, the travelling exhibition is a collaborative effort
of the Aga Khan Development Network
(AKDN) and its partners. AKDN has pioneered water and sanitation systems in
rural communities in Delhi, Andhra
Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and
Rajasthan.
The stories, from a spectrum of 125
villages in Gujarat, were revealing.
Farida, a 15 year old in Nagalpur village,
near Kutch, went to a school without a
toilet. As her home has both a bathroom
and a toilet, rare luxuries in this arid
region, she and her six sisters were

luckier than most. But when their home


was destroyed in the 2001 earthquake,
they too had to visit the open fields.
Kokilaben Parmar, eight months
pregnant, tries to eat very little, to avoid
ablutions. But her condition forces her
to relieve herself every two hours, to trek
more than a kilometre to the community toilet.
Men can relieve themselves anywhere, says Kamiben Rabari, resident
of Shergadh village, Junagadh. But for
women, it becomes covert by default.
What if men or vehicles pass by? We
cant let them see us! Going out also
means exposure to even the dangers of

Going out for ablutions is


often dangerous for
women; constipation is
thus a common aliment

defecating in the open. At times, women


get molested or raped. So they go in
groups. Theres also a constant fear of
interruption, so constipation is a common ailment.
According to the Census 2001, 80
per cent of rural households in India do
not have a toilet. Community facilities
become unviable without maintenance.
In many areas, people of different castes
refuse to use a common toilet.
Its worse for the disabled.
Romatben and her daughters are all
vision impaired. They have to wait until
someone can go with them to the nearby forest. Understandably, Romatben is
reluctant to marry her daughters into
families that dont have toilets at home.
Narayan K Banerjee of the Centre for
Development Studies, agrees. Monsoon and winter are difficult seasons,
especially for the elderly and the handicapped. Karmaben Rakhya Ahir of
Bhalot, Kutch, would agree. She has
spent a lifetime going to the fields in the
dark or using a sand pot at home. But
my life will improve now, she says. At
75, she has finally managed to have a
toilet built. At home.
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April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

57

MEDIA
P R E S S F R E E D O M > > COMMUNITY RADIO Nepal

> > > The Gujarat government will con-

Gagged
RAJESH GHIMIRE

fter a recent five-day mission to


Nepal, representatives of the
South Asian Free Media
Association assured Nepali journalists
that they would initiate a campaign for
press freedom in the country. But
things wont be that easy, reckons
Bhairab Risal, a veteran Nepali journalist. Once a haven for journalists, Nepal
has become a veritable hell for them
after the monarchy took total control
on February 1 this year. Three of
them are behind the bars and according
to the Federation of Nepali Journalists
around 1000 radio journalists have
lost their jobs.

Shepherds on pastures heard studio discussions on Radio Karnali, while bus


drivers along the highways in Chitwan
got important information live on the
status of the roads through their radios.

The royal coup

The February coup changed all that. On


4 February this year, Nepals information ministry released a circular to all FM
stations, which forced them to limit
broadcasting pure entertainmentbased programs and not air news,
information, thoughts/ideas and
expression. Most FM investors from
outside Kathmandu have been so frightened about losing their licenses that they
havent challenged the ban. There is no
organised lobbying by FM
groups and associations
to get news reinstated,
says Gopal Guragain
from Communications
Corner, which provided
radio content to a network of stations all over
the country via satellite.
Says Raghu Mainali, president of the Community
Broadcasters Association
says, They (the government) do not allow us to
even talk about the
importance of polio vaccine. People were
addicted to information,
Radio Sagarmatha still defies royal strictures
now they do not have any
source for it except the
Once a shining example
government or the Maobadi (the
The most affected are the countrys FM
Maoists) radio. They choose the latter,
community radio stations. Before the
says a journalist from Siraha. The
crackdown, Nepals community radio
Maoists run around 10 mobile FM radio
stations were held up as great success
station, which have capacity of 100 watt
stories. The countrys radio revolution
and can reach 30 sq km.
began with the launch of Radio
Not all have, however, given up.
Sagarmatha in 1996. The countrys first
Radio Sagarmatha does broadcast procommunity radio station that opened in
grammes related to dalits and on health
a shabby Kathmandu room set the trend
issues. And Nepals information minfor 46 others. Some such as Radio
istry has also asked them for explanaMadanpokhara in Palpa began in a cowtion. Mohan Bista, station manager of
shed. A new design of dokos (a basket)
the radio says, Since we are the piowith small wicker pockets where women
neers in this field, we have to show some
gathering fodder could put their radios
courage, but then we have not criticised
became the vogue across Nepal.
government in any form.
58

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

NEWS S N I P P E T S

nect over 6,000 villages by March 2006,


under the e-gram project, the panchayat
minister of the state informed the state
assembly in the first week of April.

> > > The Jawaharlal Nehru International


Stadium in Kochi, Kerala, which recently
hosted a one-day international cricket
match between India and Pakistan, was
declared a non-smoking zone. Kerala was
the first state to introduce a ban on smoking in public in July 1999. While the ban
makes it an effective tool for the Greater
Kochi development corporation (which
owns the stadium) to take action against
people smoking in public places, the cricket
match provided an opportune moment to
send the message across against smoking.

> > > Greenpeace has started an online


signature campaign against the Union governments move that threatens to turn
Kakinada port in Andhra Pradesh into a
ship-breaking yard.

I N C E N T I V E > > MINISTERS


Mauritania

Clean money
T

he government of Mauritania has


found a new way to check corruption amongst its ministers or so it
claims. 26 ministers in this tiny African
nation have been offered whopping sixtimes hike in salaries. Decent wages,
hopes the government of this tiny
African nation, will make ministers less
obliged to supplement their income by
embezzling state funds. Their salaries
have been increased from 150,000
ouguiyas (US $570) to 950,00 ouguiyas
(US $3,600). This, when according to the
World Bank, the countrys per capita
income is around US $430 a figure
that disguises gross inconsistencies in
the distribution of wealth, with the
majority of the population scratching a
living out of less then one dollar a day.
The money is expected to come from oil
exports. Offshore production is expected
to start later this year and Mauritania
could be exporting 250,000 barrels of
crude per day by 2007. But will high
salaries make the ministers less venal?

MEDIA

LETTER>>
CARS USA

FUEL

EFFICIENT

ONLINE

www.aboriginalaustralia.com

Secure?
A

COLONIALISM VINDICATED

group of former national


security officials have
taken up the cause of weaning
Hybrid cars have new champions
US drivers from their oil addiction normally the realm of enviadvisor, and James Woolsey, Central
ronmental groups and in a letter
Intelligence Agency director under
asked the Bush administration to
Bill Clinton. The security experts
spend US $1 billion over the next five
sought input from groups such as
years on lighter, more fuel-efficient
the New-York based Natural
automobiles. This (fuel-inefficient
Resources Defense Council which
vehicles) really constitutes a national
have long lobbied for more fuel-efficrisis in the making, said one of the
cient cars. The letter also urged the
signatories, Frank Gaffney head of
government to encourage makers to
the Center for Security Policy, a
design vehicles from lighter materials
thinktank, and a former Defense
to improve mileage. It also endorsed
Department official under former
the use of hybrid vehicles that can run
president Ronald Reagan.
on internal batteries for short trips
Other signers included Robert
before switching to their internalMcFarlane, Reagans national security
combustion engines.

E D U C A T I O N > > ENVIRONMENTAL


POLICY India / Canada

Its a fun jaunt


A

fter ignoring all


advise from nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) on the
New Environmental
Policy (NEP), the government is now playing footsie with the
industry. The Confederation of Indian
industries has led a

DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY>>
PANDAS China

Panda caf
C

hinas biggest nature reserve, the


Wolong Giant Panda Nature
Reserve, in the foggy mountains of
southwest Sichuan province is now
wired for broadband. The great digital
leap forward is aimed at panda protection. This will enable researchers to
process real-time data on the pandas,

team of ministry officials and on a


trip to Canada to study the countrys
environmental policies. The draft NEP
though has been afloat since August
last year. When last heard,
the secretary union
ministry of environment and forests had
refused to discuss NEP
with NGOs. The policy
had been slammed for
being pro-industry and
too generic.
One wonders what
wisdom the ministry has
now seen in sending a
team to Canada?
EMKAY

including photos and video


signals, around the clock at
any given corner of the nature
reserve, or observe giant
panda cubs on a daily basis
without having to step out of
their offices, the Chinese
news agency Xinhua said.
Digital technology will help
promote information sharing
on giant panda protection,
added Zhang Weimin, director of the reserve.
Wolong covers 200,000 hectares

We dont own the land, the land owns


us, is the declaration on the mast head of
the site under review. But dont go by such
lofty statements. Run by the Alice Springsbased, Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre,
the site takes us on a guided tour of the
history and culture of indigenous people
of Australia. Its aim: The achievement of
a situation where our community members will be able to develop an economic
base and raise their social status to a point
where they can enjoy the same fundamental, civil, social and economic rights as
other Australians. So far so good
But how does the Aboriginal Arts and
Culture Centre propose to do all this? By
promoting aboriginal culture as a rich
tourist attraction. If you did not know
what the didgreedoo is, here is the place to
go. You can even learn to play this
indigenous Australian instrument. And if
the introduction leaves you sufficiently
impressed there are cultural tours where
one can see aboriginal artists working on
their traditional crafts. Seems that the
colonial project of making museum
objects of the indigenous people has been
vindicated.
The exoticisation casts a gloss over the
sites few useful aspects. There are links to
other sites related to indigenous people in
Australia. There is a very good reading list
on aboriginal life. But dont hope for anything remotely political. Even the section
called news is a rehash of items culled
from other sites. Worse it has very little on
the aboriginals. Seems all is hunky dory
for Australias indigenous people!

and is home to 76 giant pandas one of the worlds


most endangered species.
Statistics from Chinas state
forestry
administration
released last year show the
number of pandas in the wild
in China has risen by more
than 40 percent from 1,110 in
the 1980s to 1,590. But
despite this, the animals
existence is menaced by
problems including loss of habitat and
low reproduction rate, Xinhua rued.
April 30, 2005 Down To Earth

59

 FA C T S H E E T

Price of progress
High degradation of ecosystems, biodiversity loss
Fraction of potential area converted (per cent)
10 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
Mediterranean forests,
woodlands and scrub
Temperate forests,
steppes and woodland
Temperate broadleaf
and mixed forests
Tropical and sub-tropical
dry broadleaf forests

24 per cent of the earths terrestrial systems have been


converted to cultivated systems. More land was converted to
cropland since 1945 than during the 18th and 19th centuries put
together. Marine and freshwater ecosystems, temperate
broadleaf forests and grasslands and tropical dry forests were
among those most significantly altered by human activities

Increasing for human use or enhancement of the service


Decreasing for human use or degradation of the service
Mixed (increases and decreases over the past 50 years or some
components/regions increase while others decrease)

Note: For regulating and cultural services, human use increases if the
number of the people affected by the service increases

Reversing ecosystem degradation can be partially achieved


under four scenarios with varying success. The first assumes a
globally connected society with emphasis on creation of markets
for goods and services. The second emphasises regional
markets with scant attention to common goods. The third lays
stress on regional and local ecosystem management strategies
and shows the best result. The fourth is a globally connected
world relying on technology and highly managed ecosystems
100
80
Improvement 60
40
20
0
20
Degradation 40
60
80
100

Down To Earth April 30, 2005

Scenario II

Scenario III

Industrial countries

Scenario IV

Developing countries

Note: Six provisioning services, nine regulating services and five cultural services are evaluated; 100 per
cent improvement/degradation means that all the services in the category improved/degraded in 2050
compared with 2000; 50 per cent improvement could mean that three out of six services were enhanced
and the rest were unchanged or that four out of six were enhanced and one was degraded

Source: Anon 2005, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Synthesis Report ,United Nations, Delhi

60

Scenario I

Cultural

NA

The degradation of ecosystem services will worsen in the


next 50 years driven mainly by climate change and pollution. The
largest impact would be on inland water and coastal
ecosystems, which had already suffered significantly

Regulating

Enhanced or
degraded

Provisioning

Provisioning services
Food crops
Livestock
Capture fisheries
Aquaculture
Wild plants, animal food
Timber
Cotton, hemp, silk
Wood fuel
Genetic resources
Biochemicals, medicines
Freshwater
Regulating services
Air quality regulation
Global climate regulation
Regional and local
climate regulation
Water regulation
Erosion regulation
Water purification and
waste treatment
Disease regulation
Pest regulation
Pollination
Natural hazard regulation
Cultural services
Spiritual values
Aesthetic values
Recreation and ecotourism

Human use

Changes in ecosystems substantially increased human wellbeing but at a growing cost. Food production increased by 160
per cent, water use doubled and timber production increased by
nearly 60 per cent. But 60 per cent of the ecosystems services
evaluated were being degraded or used unsustainably

Cultural

Projected loss 2050

Regulating

Boreal forests

Provisioning

Temperate coniferous forests

Cultural

Loss by 1950
Loss between
1950 and 1990

Regulating

Tropical and sub-tropical


moist broadleaf forests

Provisioning

Deserts
Montane grasslands
and shrublands

Cultural

Tropical and sub-tropical


coniferous forests

Regulating

Tropical and sub-tropical


grasslands and savannas

Provisioning

Flooded grasslands
and savannas

Service

Rapid growth in demand for food, freshwater, timber, fibre


and fuel changed ecosystems faster and more extensively in the
last 50 years than in any other period of human history, resulting
in substantial and irreversible biodiversity loss

SEA-LEVEL RISE
POLAR MELTDOWN
GLACIER RETREAT
MORE DROUGHTS
DEVASTATING FLOODS
TERRIFYING STORMS
HEAT WAVES
MORE MALARIA
CROP LOSS
DISTRESS MIGRATION
SPECIES EXTINCTION

CLIMATE CHANGE
AFFECTS EVERYTHING
AND EVERYONE
See for yourself
A bouquet of four films that explains Climate Change the way you want it: with clarity, with truth and with conviction.

Changing Climates : The Science

Changing Climates : The Politics

Changing Climates : The Impact

Changing Climates : The Future

27 Minutes VHS-PAL/VCD Rs.450/


The first of four films on climate
change, it examines 200 years of
evolving scientific thought - sometimes confusing and contradictory that has shaped the global warming
debate.

27 Minutes VHS-PAL/VCD Rs.450/


In the second of four films on climate
change, this video explores how
difficult it is to align what science
dictates with what the international
community is prepared to do.

27 Minutes VHS-PAL/VCD Rs.450/


Is there concrete evidence that the
greenhouse effect is changing our
climate? This video travels to Africa,
Asia and North America to find out how
climate change is already having an
impact on society and the economy.

27 Minutes VHS-PAL/VCD Rs.450/


Explores how entrepreneurs and
individuals around the world are using
new, sustainable technologies to
generate power from clean and
renewable resources.

PRODUCED BY TVE INTERNATIONAL. BROUGHT TO YOU BY CSE.


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