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The Hindu on : Not a healthy model

Online edition of India's National Newspaper on
Tuesday, December 28, 1999

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Not a healthy model

Sir, - The trouble with environmental activists is that they overstate their case. Mr. Ashish Kothari, in his article, Do rivers go waste into the sea? (The Hindu, Dec. 22), has described several horror stories of what happens when river waters are used up for irrigation. There are two examples he has overlooked. Ninety to 95 per cent of the Cauvery is utilised for irrigation and the water does not flow into the sea. In the other extreme, 90-95 per cent of the Ganga-Brahmaputra is not used and the water is allowed to go into the sea. Though the Ganga delta is named Sunderbans with plenty of mangroves (about which the environmentalists are much concerned), it is one of the most impoverished areas of the country. In contrast, the Cauvery delta is the granary of the south.

Mr. Kothari is welcome to the opinion that it is better for the world to be like the Sunderbans than like Thanjavur. But it is not fair on his part to say technocrats are interested in ``a murderous model of development.''

Engineers are humble enough to accept that they do not have the perfect solution; environmentalists are confident that they know best. Calling the engineers murderous will not lead to a better solution (that is all that engineers hope for). Why not debate the issue? As the immediate past president of the Indian National Academy of Engineering, I invite Ms. Medha Patkar, Ms. Arundhati Roy, Mr. Kothari and any other aggrieved activist for a discussion. I guarantee them that top engineers will attend. However, there is one condition. While the activists are free to hold the opinion that the Sunderbans is a more beautiful habitation for humans than Thanjavur is, they should concede the fact that using Cauvery waters to the full through the engineers' ``murderous model of development'', has saved millions from starvation.

P. V. Indiresan,

New Delhi

Section  : Opinion
Previous : Let the Govt. explain
Next     : Insensitivity in the air

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