Landed in trouble
Sir ' When 'Wipro balks at land price' (May 26), it brings out into the open the emptiness of the promises and assurances showered freely by the chief minister of West Bengal on the captains of industry and business houses. The entire state administration is full of incompetent people who are not clued in to what is happening in the other parts of the country. As a result, states like Gujarat and Maharashtra easily grab the best investments while Bengal is left picking up the crumbs. How could the bureaucrats at Writer's Buildings think that entrepreneurs will be willing to pay in Bengal four times what they pay for land elsewhere when the state lacks basic infrastructural amenities, and offers such deterrents as high labour costs, frequent disruptions, trade union militancy and so on' The chief minister is either being taken for a ride by his bureaucrats or lives in a fool's paradise.
Debarati Mukherjee, Calcutta
Sir ' There were certain errors in the article, 'Green army on clean drive' (May 16), by Anuradha Sharma Lakhotia, in the Siliguri edition of The Telegraph.
First, the article states that 'Rampant felling of trees has led to denudation of the altitude alpine forests covers.' This is not true. After the area was declared a national park in 1992, protection measures have been taken and since there is no human habitation in the area, the question of rampant felling does not arise. It should also be noted that grassland forms part of an alpine forest.
Second, it has been said that 'Singalila is home to...the Himalayan black buck'. According to the management plan of the national park and other research papers, such a species does not exist in the Singalila National Park.
Third, the species of rhododendron has not 'come down from 80 in the past to just about 20-22 now'. The management plan of the national park and other research papers have recorded about 24 rhododendron species in the park. Hence the magic figure of 80 quoted in the article is baseless.
These clarifications are necessary so that readers are not misled by the article.
R. Das, divisional forest officer, Wildlife Division I, Darjeeling
Anuradha Sharma Lakhotia replies:
A few factual errors may have crept into my article. But let me try to explain how that happened. Most of the facts used were actually provided by officials of the Himalayan Nature and Adventure Foundation at an open press meet (and were carried by The Telegraph in early 2003 and also by a few other vernacular dailies). Nobody, not even Hnaf officials, challenged us then.
It was only after I used these published facts for my article that the founder of Hnaf called to say that whatever the previous secretary had said at the 2003 press meet was wrong.
On the question of the felling of trees, it is understandable for the forest department not to admit such a thing happens within its jurisdiction. But the practice is very much a reality, although it may be less of a menace now than it was before.
Finally, the Himalayan black 'buck' should have been the Himalayan black 'bear'.
Sir ' The Telegraph deserves thanks for inquiring about the missing tigers of the Buxa Tiger Reserve, West Bengal ('Militancy snarl scares tigers', May 12).
I agree, for argument's sake, that the big cats flee to Bhutan from Buxa. But they are not alive. It's their skin, bones, nails, teeth which are smuggled to Bhutan and Nepal. The authorities of the Buxa reserve, for obvious reasons, did not divulge this to the press. It is to the credit of L.G. Lepcha, the field director of the reserve, however, that he has at least admitted that there are no tigers in Buxa now. It is common knowledge that old plaster cast impressions of pugmarks are used in tiger reserves to fudge the numbers. Tigers have started disappearing Buxa from the Nineties. Till then, I could see tigers around the Bala river bed, or on Jainti Road. In spite of having the resources, the people in charge of the reserve could not save the Buxa tigers. It is a shame for Bengal.
It would be best for Lepcha and his colleagues to refrain from using the militancy theory to explain the disappearance of tigers from Buxa. Perhaps a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry should be started against the officers of the Indian tiger reserves. Who knows what such an inquiry will unearth'
True, the lost tigers cannot be brought back to Buxa, but at least the drainage of the government exchequer in the name of tiger conservation should be stopped.
Amarendra Sarkar, Jalpaiguri
Sir ' No amount of hue and cry over the setting up of a separate department under the environment ministry for wildlife conservation, with special emphasis on tiger protection, is going to be of much help, unless people themselves seek to care for these creatures. Really, in a country where human trafficking is commonplace, it is difficult to stop poaching of animals from a moral point of view, because of the economic issues involved. The laws need to be more stringent and more important, the implementation has to be more strict.
Arjun Chaudhuri, Calcutta
Sir ' The destruction of the habitat of langurs and rhesus monkeys in the suburban areas of Calcutta and Howrah has resulted in a shortage of food and cover for the population of these animals in these areas. There are several reasons why these langurs and rhesus monkeys favoured urban areas instead of searching for fresh woodlands. These primates are actually lured by food since they have mythological associations. Their presence is also considered auspicious in urban neighbourhoods, and little effort is made to harm or chase them away. Such a 'welcome' inspires other troops of primates to join the existing ones and breed locally. It is then that competition for food and sexual rivalry generate aggressive behaviour and conflicts among the members of the herds. Behavioural changes in these primates result in ferocious attacks on unsuspecting humans.
There is a need to educate the public about ways of dealing with these animals. Alternatively, the langurs and rhesus monkeys too could be relocated away from the urban areas.
R. Banerjee, Howrah