Tuesday, March 31, 2009

burning wheat stumps and a press release from haryana govt.

A press release from the public relations office Haryana caught my eye.
Chandigarh, March 28 - The Deputy Commissioner, Bhiwani has imposed the ban to destroy the remainings of wheat through fire after the harvesting of crops.
The Deputy Commissioner had issued these orders. It had been come into the notice that after the harvesting of crops of wheat some farmers are destroying the remainings of wheat through fire.

By doing so, the farmers were not only helping in degrading the environment, but it was hazardous for the health also. Besides loss of property, such decision creates the scarcity of grass for animals. So, the decision had been taken not to destroy these remaining through fire and ban had been imposed on it.

These orders had been promulgated with immediate effect in the district and would remain effective upto May 15. Those would defy the orders, a case would be registered against them under section of IPC 188 and Environment Control Act, 1981.

This press release i thought it was interesting. Interesting due to the following reasons

* Section 188 IPC is Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant
Whoever, knowing that, by an order promulgated by a public servant lawfully empowered to promulgate such order, he is directed to abstain from a certain act, or to take certain order with certain property in his possession or under his management, disobeys such direction,Shall, if such disobedience causes to tender to cause obstruction, annoyance or injury, or risk of obstruction, annoyance of injury, to any persons lawfully employed, be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month or with fine which may extend to two hundred rupees, or with both;And if such disobedience causes or trends to cause danger to human life, health or safety, or causes or tends to cause a riot or affray, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.Explanation-It is not necessary that the offender should intend to produce harm, or contemplate his disobedience as likely to produce harm. It is sufficient that he knows of the order which he disobeys, and that his disobedience produces, or is likely to produce, harm.

* I could not find anything on Environment Control Act, 1981. However there is an Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 : An Act to provide for the prevention, control and abatement of air pollution, for the establishment, with a view to carrying out the aforesaid purposes, of Boards, for conferring on and assigning to such Boards powers and functions relating thereto and for matters connected therewith.

Some background information

After the wheat has been harvested using a combined harvester what is left are the stumps. This is because the harvester cuts the wheat plant a certain distance above the ground.

One of the ways for removing the stumps is to bring in manual labour, an expensive proposition. The cheapest way for the Haryana farmer is thus to burn the stumps. What farmers across haryana do is to set their fields on fire so that the fire sweeps the fields burning the stumps. The farmers then till the soil.

Burning the stubble allows farmers to quickly plant their next crop and is a good tool for eliminating insects and disease from their fields, which can lead to less herbicide and pesticide use.

Incidentally burning is also practiced by farmers in the USA.

So what does the above press release imply

It has to proved that the farmer burnt the stumps in the field. It is a well-known fact that over 60% of rural Haryana defecates in the fields. It is also a well-known fact that majority of rural men and high number of rural women smoke bidis. So how do you prove that the fire was not due to somebody who has thrown a bidi.

Even if it is proved somebody purposefully burnt the stumps what does he do pay a fine upto rs 200. Nobody, i repeat nobody can be sent to jail as it would require some major political and administrative guts to do that and i don’t believe it is there in Haryana at least.

Yes this imposing of a ban will certainly get some people in the pollution control and agricultural department some extra bucks in their pockets as it would be a good way to harass medium holding farmers.(no big farmer can be touched)

So is it such a lame duck ban. Actually yes, it is more like a media exercise. It is like peeing in your pants. You get a warm feeling and it doesn’t effect anything.

Burning of the fields is an extremely wrong practice which have been adopted by farmers of haryana. A better way is to continuously educate them.

Agricultural burning impacts both local and regional air quality and has been linked to increased asthma and pulmonary infections.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

isse kya hoga

'isse kya hoga' is a comment i so often hear. it amazes me and angers me when students and young adults use this phrase specially at outlandish ideas.

why the amazement and anger? well i believe youth is all about dare, craziness and brashness. something you would do which nobody would think of doing. however we seem to give premium to sanity and thoughfullness.

i picked up this video from youtube about a small simple idea. wonder why gurgaon, kochi, indore, pune etc never figure in such ideas, maybe 'usse kya hoga'


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

purity and pollution

it is wierd but the basis of religion is purity. faith cannot be argued with. so when the faithfull feel that feeding the poor is a means to salvation it cannot be debated. however if it leads to a public nuisance than one wonders. the next step to the above picture is the community or municipality sweeper coming and setting the garbage on fire.
so where is purity, concept of community and salvation. any thoughts .....

Friday, March 20, 2009

yes we can

Earth Hour is about taking simple steps everyday that collectively reduce carbon emissions – from businesses turning off their lights when their offices are empty to households turning off appliances rather than leaving them on standby.

Here are 10 different ways to spend Earth Hour and reduce your carbon footprint:

1. Attend a local Earth Hour event or organise your own by throwing an Earth Hour street party with your neighbours
2. Gather family & friends for a night picnic in your local park and look at the stars
3. Enjoy a family dinner by candlelight
4. Organise a treasure hunt in the dark
5. Take the dog for a night walk
6. Have a candle-lit bath
7. Sit in the dark and share stories
8. Organise a family night playing board games
9. Share a romantic night in with your loved one
10. Upload your ‘on the night’ photos and videos to flickr and YouTube respectively, and then add them to the Earth Hour flickr group and the global YouTube Group.

There are no hard and fast rules surrounding participation in Earth Hour. The only condition is that you flick that electric switch and have fun doing whatever you choose to do during that time.
courtesy: http://www.earthhour.org

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

welcome to a new world

a newsitem in today's indina express. Welcome to the new world order. we are worried about Indian culture where the very existence of Indian and the world is at stake.
With a severe dust storm raging in Guwahati, airlines including Air India, Jet Airways, Kingfisher and Indigo, were unable to land here on Monday. The situation was compounded as the Instrumental Landing System was not functional at the Gopinath Bordoloi Airport.

“Nobody had ever imagined that dust storms would throw air traffic in Guwahati out of gear. And it is now happening almost every day,” SK Borthakur, a professor of Botany at the Gauhati University, said. With Guwahati reeling under the impact of duststorms he is worried that the government does not have a contingency plan to tackle this new disaster.

The dust storm follows a six-month long dry spell in the Northeast which has also led to rampant forest fires in the region. The fires have caused large-scale destruction in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim over the last few weeks.
“Increasing incidence of forest fire is an alarm bell for the Northeast. Forests are becoming dry and thus more combustible. But I think some of them are also man-made fires, with the intention of encroaching land by destroying forests,” Borthakur added.

The dry spell has also resulted in a severe water crisis. With most of the residents dependent on tube wells, depletion of the ground water table has only made things worse.
Scientists at the Assam Science, Technology & Environment Council (ASTEC) are worried about the impact of climate change which is behind these alarming developments. “Wanton destruction of forests and hills has added to the woes in the Northeast. “ said Ranjit Barman, a senior scientist with ASTEC.

Officials at the Regional Met Centre here have described the dry spell in the Northeast as unprecedented. DK Handique who currently heads the Regional Met Centre said that there had been a time when not a single day went by without it raining in some part of the Northeast. “But except for a few showers in the Upper Assam districts and parts of Arunachal Pradesh, there has been no rain at all,” he said.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Government way to promote Solar devices

As per a press release from the public relations department of Haryana Government, Gurgaon and Faridabad Cities of Haryana havebeen selected for development as Solar/Green Cities under the schemeof Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Govt. of India. The release goes on to say that the project aimed at a minimum 10 per cent reduction in projected demand of conventional energy at the end of five years.

Now the funny part, let me share the ground reality of the government endeavor to promote non-conventional or renewable energy. I wanted to promote solar lantern among my domestic help as well as among people providing everyday services like the vegetable vendor, gardner etc. So i called up the Aditya Solar Shop in Gurgaon and wanted two solar lanterns. As the official concerned knew me i coordinated with him the date and time when i could pick up the lanterns.

The lanterns are actually very well made and cost rupees seven hundred a piece. Now comes the interesting part. The purchaser has to fill a full-page form. The official confided that the form was more important than the seven hundred rupees i was giving him.

A form to buy an item which saves electricity and does not emit green house gases. which century are we living in? :(
The form has columns like

Subject: Request for purchase of _________________
Name of the beneficiary
Fathers Name
Village/Tehsil/District(Full Address)

If this was not all, you are supposed to submit a photocopy of either a ration card/voter id card/passport/ any other residence proof. (gosh!)

Then comes the best part. It says “ I hereby swear that i will not sale or shift the system purchased from Aditya Solar Shop under subsidised program. This is followed by a signature and seal from the sarpanch/counsellor of your area. :)

So what happens to the bengali maid who does not have any residential proof or the vegetable hawker who comes from U.P etc. Well they should not acquire a solar device as they don’t have a residential proof and hence they can’t go green.

So for whom are these devices for? People who have money and have a residential proof. Unfortunately most of these people don’t care about going green or environment. I have neighbours who have bought a heavy-duty generator so that all AC’s in their house can be switched on in case of a power cut. They won’t consider a solar device.

The government and its enlightened officers want to go green on its own steam without taking the public along, specially the teaming masses who actually would make a difference to the ambitious programs of the government. Does somebody actually care or is it just good for press releases, disbursal of funds and then restart on the ambitious program once again.

The success of a program lies with the people who are the target segment. A little moving out might do a whale of a good to officials who draft and implement government programs and then actually the government can reduce the demand of electricity by over 25% in the next 5 years.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Environmentally sustainable ideas for valentine day

The amazing part of Indian culture is its ability to soak all that is alien into it and in the process Indianize it. This is the reason we have been to incorporate things from people who made India their home as also from those who just came to plunder this country.

Ok, accept it or not valentine day is here to stay. This day in 2009 makes more sense then earlier years as there is so much gloom around regarding the financial markets and the loss of jobs.

Here are some ideas for expressing love in an environmentally sustainable way

Gift your love a replica of Taj Mahal. Taj is not only among the new seven wonders of the world but defines indian culture and is a symbol of love. The only condition is that the replica is not made of Ivory. (for the uninitiated ivory comes from the tusks of elephants who are killed mercilessly for their tusks) This will not only be a memorable gift for your love but would also encourage the indian handicraft industry. It would be durable and can lie in the showcases of your love’s house/room.

Gift a sapling or better plant a sapling together. If love is what you are expressing what better way than presenting life. In case both of you plant the sapling then you can actually see the sapling grow as your love grows. The sapling can be planted either in a public place or in a friends house. It would be great if the sapling is that of a flowering tree. As the tree grows and flowers, each flowering season will remind you of your love.

Gift a flowerpot. Gifting roses is lame. They wilt within a few days. On top of it you wrap it in plastic which is non-biodegradable and either clogs drains or pollutes air as normally people like to burn garbage. Give a rose plant. This can lie in your lovers garden, balcony or terrace. The flowering plant will be a reminder of your love for days, weeks or years depending on your intensity.

Gift pottery. It could be a pen stand, a vase, ornamental piece etc. Pottery is so cool and can decorate the room of your love. On top of it you will be helping the rural artisan earn a livelihood rather than giving your money for a product created by a multinational company who will anyway take that money out of India.

Gift ethnic ware like lampshades, mirror etc. In Dilli Haat and on roadsides I have seen a lot of ethnic mirrors.

Go visit Yamuna Biodiversity Park, Dilli Haat, Lodhi Gardens. Malls are lame, in fact today mall seems to be more rural than urban. these are the places visited by people who have not seen a big shopping complex. you don’t need to see a shopping complex, you need to see and talk to your love. Find a peaceful environmental place. Make sure you don’t litter or etch your name on the wall or bench of the place.

Love is in the air. Time to show it and also time to tell all those who say this is alien to Indian culture. If this is alien then lets destroy the Khujuraho temples, The Taj Mahal and burn all the karma sutra books.