Up against a plastic wave
By Akila Dinakar
IT IS all about alternatives to plastics, coir brushes and ropes, mango leaf `thoranams', banana leaves and plates of arecanut bark, not to mention the mundane broomstick and the `goli' paneer soda. It is all under one roof with a palm frond exterior, and will move from spot to spot, school to school taking the message against plastics to the people.
No. This is not some green effort by any NGO, but the brainchild of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) which is doing some aggressive plainspeak on the evils of excessive use of plastics.
Needless to say, the mobile exhibition mounted on a 30-feet trailer was attracting large Sunday crowds at Elliots Beach, inquisitive children, eager mothers and fathers taking a cool stroll, all gathering at the one-stop display on traditional alternatives.
Enter through the ramp and we find Mr. P. Radhakrishnan, a TNPCB employee saying in Malayalam that his `Teekadai' is very eco- friendly. ``E teeshoppil plastic cuppugal illa'', he says showing his glass cups.
Next is the fruit stall. The no-list shows plastic nets to hold fruits, plastic baskets and the yes-list displays fruit bags of hosiery material. Checklists show nylon ropes-cloth ropes, plastic bags-palm leaf bags, plastic buckets and kudams with stainless steel substitutes and mud pots, `Donnais' made of mandarai leaves, nylon floor brushes, plastic dish scrubs versus fibre of ribbed gourd, bamboo mats and their nylon counterparts, stainless steel cloth hangers instead of plastic ones, fresh flower garlands instead of plastic ones, bamboo lamp shades and eco-friendly shops with glass containers instead of PET bottles.
Everyone, from flower vendors to the `Sundal' sellers, strollers on the beach don't miss the exhibition and Ms. Anne Josephine of the TNPCB points out that on Saturday visitors were trooping in as late as 11 p.m.
Students like Akshay who came with his mother were listening to Ms. Sheela Rani Chunkath, Chairperson, TNPCB and asking questions on the time taken for items to degrade naturally. The answer: Banana peels - 4 weeks, Paper Bag - 1 month, Cotton Rag - 5 months, Wollen Socks - 1 year, Wood - 10 to 15 years, Leather Shoe - 50 years, Tin Can - 50 to 100 years, Aluminium - 200 to 500 years, Plastic Bags - One Million years, Styrofoam Cup - Eternity and Glass Bottle - Unknown.
Event managed by Mr. Ashok Arumugam, the TNPCB plans to convert their own laboratory trailer for a permanent mobile exhibition. The exhibition will now carry the message of plastics, toxins, dioxins, carcinogens and other facts and figures about plastics to each school.
Fears on CNG will be conveyed to SC: Naik
NEW DELHI, AUG. 6. The Government today said it would convey to the Supreme Court the feelings expressed in the Rajya Sabha on safety aspects of CNG in the background of recent spate of accidents involving public transport vehicles.
``We will make sincere efforts to bring every small detail conveyed in the House to the court at the next hearing,'' the Petroleum Minister, Mr. Ram Naik, said after the Deputy Chairperson, Dr. Najma Heptulla, observed that the fears of the members on the safety aspect of the CNG vehicles - especially in view of school buses having to be converted - should be conveyed to the court.
Asking why the Government had not conveyed to the court fears about the safety aspects and non-availability of CNG in the capital, Dr. Heptulla said, ``please ask the Government to go before the court. Judges too have a soft heart.''
The members speaking on the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2000, expressed fears that unlike vehicles rolling out of manufacturing units, the conversion units did not issue any safety certification to the CNG vehicles, which was fuelling grave doubts among the public.
Assuring that the Government, with approval of the Supreme Court, would set up a study group of senior scientists to look into the safety aspect, Mr. Naik said the ``CNG alone'' as fuel in the capital was ``not practical or feasible''.
Dr. Heptulla asked the eminent constitutional lawyer, Mr. Fali Nariman, on ways to convey the fears and feelings of the House to the court.
Mr. Naik said the Government would, ahead of the court deadline in September, bring up the number of CNG filling stations to 87 from the 80.
'Alarming rise in lead poisoning cases in city'
Bangalore, Aug. 6.: The introduction of unleaded petrol has led to a decrease in lead poisoning cases due to vehicle exhaust among children below twelve years of age in Mumbai and New Delhi, but Bangalore had shown an alarming increase, Director of National Referral Centre for Lead Poisoning in India (NRCLPI), said today.
T. Venkatesh told PTI at the NRCLPI launch that the "suprising trends" were the result of Mumbai and New Delhi introducing unleaded petrol much before Bangalore and the other metros in the country, emphasising the benefits of unleaded petrol.
According to a study by the George Foundation, which along with St. John's National Academy of Health Sciences launched NRCLPI here, in Mumbai 76 per cent of children above 12 had lead content more than the safe limit of 10 mg per 100 ml of blood.
However, only 61 per cent of children below 12 were found to have more than the safe limit of lead in their body, indicating that the lead poisoning cases in the largest Indian city was on the decline. This showed that lead content in children born in the last 12 years was gradually coming down.
New Delhi also showed a similar trend with about 68 per cent children above 12 have lead content more than the safe limit, while 54 per cent children below 12 had lead deposits above the prescribed levels.
Surprisingly, the trends were reverse in the cases of Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore, where unleaded petrol was introudced on uniform scale only three years back.