In 1945 the catastrophe was inflicted by the enemy. In what remains till date the most horrendous attack on human beings, over three lakhs were killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and many more continued to suffer because of radioactivity related ailments. Today it is self-inflicted catastrophe for Japan . What makes the tragedy of this most ill fated nation on earth, from the point of view of nuclear mishaps, more ironic is that it had resolved not to develop a nuclear weapon programme. The Japanese argument was that they would not like any other human population on earth to suffer the way they did in 1945 attack. In spite of this noble resolve they chose to go ahead with a big nuclear energy programme for power generation. They would have never imagined that their nuclear power plants would one day bring back the nightmares of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to haunt them.

There seems to be no end to the horror at Fukushima . The emergency crew is on the job to contain damage round the clock but new reports of radiation release pour in every day. In a ridiculous attempt to allay public fears first the Tokyo Electric Power Company reported a radiation level is water at the reactor No. 2 in Fukushima Daiichi plant to be 1 crore times higher than permissible limit causing panic among workers but later retracted it claiming it to be erroneous and conveyed the radiation levels were in fact only 1 lakh times higher! Should that be considered a cause for relief. Even one lakh times higher radiation levels can be fatal for human beings. Already radiation release from this accident has affected large parts of water, soil, food in this area and probably made it inhabitable, at least for some time to come. Already people are leaving the place as they don’t consider it safe living here.

One can only salute the emergency crew members who are trying to bring the plant under control knowing full well the dangers that their government is exposing them to. In Hiroshima and Nagasaki people had no choice as they were caught unawares. In Fukushima even though the earthquake and tsunami caught them unsuspecting, the scientists who built the nuclear power plants were well aware of the dangers involved in this technology. The Japanese government has put its population to tremendous risk by adopting the nuclear energy programme and it must accept its mistake.

Japan had seriously begun researching the renewable energy options and hopefully would over a period of time rely more on such technologies which will be safer, cleaner and cheaper to meet its energy demands. But the earthquake-tsunami came a bit too early, maybe as a warning not only to Japan but to the rest of the world too. Japan has resolved to be a low Carbon society in near future. Now it must commit itself to be no nuclear society too.

The Japanese accident has shaken the confidence of people all over in nuclear energy as never before. Countries which were toying with the idea of either starting or reviving their nuclear energy programmes are having second thoughts now. It is people’s awareness which has not allowed a single new nuclear power plant to be initiated in Europe and US for the last 25-30 years. Nuclear power plants are turning out to be the most costly and dangerous method of producing electricity. Most developed countries which have a nuclear power programme would be phasing out their nuclear power plants in the years to come.

An important reason for abdication of nuclear power programme is that scientists have not been able to solve the problem of safe disposal of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants. The spent fuel is cooled at the plant site in pools and continue to pile up. One doesn’t know what to do with a host of radioactive elements produced in the process of fission of Uranium atom. They continuously contaminate the water, soil and atmosphere in the surroundings.

The most common hazards faces by human beings due to exposure to radiation are cancer or leukemia and genetic mutation potentially affecting future generations. The high dose of radiation at the Japanese plant site may not prove to be immediately fatal to workers involved in clean up but is likely to manifest itself in the form of cancer some years later in life. They could also produce deformed babies. The people will suffer for no fault of theirs. It is the Japanese energy policy makers who will be held responsible for the resulting misery.

No government has a right to expose its innocent citizens to radiation hazards causing health risks. They should adopt benign technological options for producing electricity. People should have a role in determining the energy policy of the government. Well informed public debate must precede any such decision making.

Consider the nuclear power plant at Narora in Bulandshahar district of UP in India . It is situated on the banks of river Ganga . In 1993 there was a major fire at this nuclear power plant. It was sheer luck that this did not get out of control. If an accident of the scale which took place at Union Carbide plant in Bhopal were to happen here it which would jeopardize all life along the bank of river for much of the breadth of UP, Bihar and West Bengal and parts of Bangladesh. Depending on the direction of wind Delhi could be affected too as it is merely 50-60 km from here.

We must not play with nature. The safest place for Uranium is beneath the earth. This only naturally occurring radioactive material must not be mined. There are better ways of producing our electricity and meeting our energy demands, some of which may be fulfilled without electricity. Hence a wise and sane energy policy is required in consultation with the people.

Dr Sandeep Pandey is a Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for emergent leadership (2002) and leads the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM). He did his PhD from University of California, Berkeley in control theory (used in missile technology) and taught at IIT Kanpur before plunging full-time in social activism. He is also a member of national presidium, Lok Rajniti Manch. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Our Planet Earth has so much to give us! From the beautiful natural surroundings to the rich flora and fauna, Planet Earth has loads of things to offer that only make the life more beautiful. However, have you given a thought to how many individuals actually respect this planet? Have you ever felt responsible towards Planet Earth? April 22nd is known the world over as Earth Day. This day was first celebrated in the year 1970. 

The celebration of Earth Day on April 22nd began in the United States in 1970 and was the brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson, who had long pondered about finding a way to "put the environment into the political 'limelight' once and for all". Earth Day is celebrated in order to create more awareness about our planet and situations that we need to take care of to ensure our Planet Earth is well loved and cared for. We are all aware that the earth is on a dangerous apth with our climate becoming less stable and more volatile. The earth is also burdened with effects of pollution,accumulation of wastes and many other ills. 

Earth day network was founded on the premise that all people, regardless of race, gender, or income or geography have a moral right to healthy and sustainable environment. The mission of earth day is to broaden and diversify the environmental movement worldwide and to mobilize it as the most effective vehicle for promoting a healthy environment. The importance of Planet Earth is something that should be taught to children in their early years, at home and even in the school. Only then will the young and old alike, understand the issues such as global warming, deforestation, energy conservation and the importance of recycling. 

There are actually two Earth Day celebrations one on 22 April and other one in March 21 which are equinox days. This article focuses on the April 22 Earth Day, which is now celebrated in most countries of the world. Earth Day is a perfect time to reflect about what you are doing to help protect the environment. There are many ways that you can celebrate alone and with others.

The contribution of Andaman and Nicobar Islands to climate change is insignificant 0.03% but our islands can be the first one to face the brunt of climate change. Climate is one of the harshest realities facing mankind today. We have to cut down on green house gases, a change in 2 degree centigrade can change productivity ,yield and pattern of agricultural practices. Urbanization causes more climate change, the challenge is to build climate friendly and climate resilience, resilience for giving a margin for survival of species. The time has come for focusing on alternative economic pathways. 

The first thing you can begin with is turn off the lights when not in use. Whenever possible, use natural day light for activities such as reading. 93% of power in our islands is generated from diesel imported from mainland and only 7.2% is obtained from sustainable energy resources. The islanders enjoy 64% subsidy. The following activities can be undertaken on earth day.

Cleaning up part of your local area can be a great way to celebrate Earth Day. 

Avoid the use of plastic. Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle and Refuse as often as you can. 
Keep your neighborhood areas clean. Make sure everyone in your neighborhood is equally enthusiastic and aware of their duties towards the planet. 
Avoid leaving your phone for charging overnight. Most cell phones have an indicator that shows when the charging process is complete.
Do not throw garbage in the drains and the garbage reaches the nearby sea causing pollution also it chokes the drains which can lead to diseases like malaria, dengue and chikun guniya.
The coral reefs of Andaman’s are affected by bleaching and are slowly dying.
So let us pledge an act of green today, together we can make the world a more sustainable place on earth day and every day.

Aparna Singh, assistant professor, environment studies, JNRM Port Blair


(CNS): An appeal has been sent to the heads of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Stop TB Partnership by noted health advocates to come forward in support of Dr Binayak Sen - a medical doctor who is allegedly wrongly serving a life sentence in India. Dr Binayak Sen, a medical practitioner and a civil liberties' activist, was sentenced to life imprisonment in Chhattisgarh. Probably his stand for human rights exposing gross injustices meted out to tribal population by the state, and a report had irked the government which slapped upon him violation of two draconian laws: Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

His wife Ilina Sen, who is a Professor at the Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya in Wardha, said to CNS: "It is a sad reflection on our system that once a false case is registered in the name of security, it is almost impossible to turn the clock back, even if facts stare us in the face indicating that the case had no basis. To this, if we add dimensions of face saving, prestige, and drubbing the nose into the ground of uncomfortable critics, we have Chhattisgarh and Binayak Sen" said Ilina Sen.

So what is the 'evidence' against Dr Binayak Sen? According to Ilina Sen, the 'evidence' against Binayak Sen in court is as follows:

- Hearsay evidence from police officers about Binayak's presence in naxal meetings, his supposed association with 'hard core naxals' who are not even named in any case anywhere in the country

- Supposed seditious literature pertaining to resistance of US imperialism and atrocities committed during the salwa judum seized from their house during police search

- Correspondence addressed to the ISI (not Pakistan's ISI but to Walter Fernandez, Director of Indian Social institute (ISI) in New Delhi)

- Correspondence with people bearing Muslim names constitutes the rest of the evidence

Authorities claimed Dr Binayak Sen is a 'fake doctor' because no stethoscope was found in his house. Should every doctor hang a stethoscope in his house as well? Does a gold medal from second-ranked medical institute in the country - Christian Medical College (CMC) Vellore, the 2004 Paul Harrison Award, Global Health Council's Jonathan Mann Award 2008, founding Shaheed Hospital in Chhattisgarh and serving tribal communities for close to thirty years are not evidence enough to give him due recognition as a medical practitioner?

That is why civil society from a range of stakeholders has appealed to the WHO and also to the Stop TB Partnership to come out in support of this medical doctor who has been victimised unduly in Chhattisgarh.

"He has also fought actively for the state to examine and redress the social determinants of poor health and huge burden of malnutrition that contributes to and co exists with the significant burden of TB amongst the marginalised tribal communities" said the letter submitted to the heads of WHO and the Stop TB Partnership.

"Dr Binayak Sen is a paediatrician and public health specialist who has dedicated himself to the welfare of the poorest and most disadvantaged members of society, and since 1978, well before DOTS was introduced in India, has been working in the field of tuberculosis (TB). In 1978, leaving his academic career at the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Dr Sen joined a Quaker-supported rural tuberculosis center in Central India. It was here Dr Sen practised innovative and needs-based approaches to control TB by convincing the authorities to be flexible in providing anti-tubercular drugs to communities who would otherwise discontinue their treatment for specific and understandable reasons, for example, difficulties to access health facilities during monsoon. We believe his approach was similar to community DOTS that has been adopted at a much later stage" further reads the letter submitted to the WHO and the Stop TB Partnership.

"Subsequently, during 1982-87, Dr Binayak Sen established a DOTS centre at a hospital run by mine-workers in Chhattisgarh state which he helped set up and initiated TB promotion involving the mining communities themselves in awareness activities. Later, in 1994, founding a non-governmental organisation, Dr Sen focused on poverty and malnutrition in TB control and spoke about it in various forums, governmental and non-governmental. In a recent writing he expressed his concern about the growing trend of drug resistant forms of the disease in India and emphasised the need for systematic WHO studies to explore the relationship between TB and body mass index (BMI) in the country" said the above mentioned letter to the WHO.

"Dr Chan and Dr Ditiu, it is in this context we would like to bring to your attention that Dr Binayak Sen's incarceration is a huge tragedy and loss to the field of public health. At the local level we fear that the loss of this champion and also the services he provided and have not been replaced will contribute to an increased risk of further spreading of tuberculosis. Dr Sen has and would have continued to contribute tremendously through public health policy formulation and advocacy at the state level and the education and training of health activists and through his own practice to the effective control of tuberculosis in India. But Dr Sen is now in prison on false charges, sentenced for life. India urgently needs him to be free" said the letter submitted to Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the WHO and Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership.

Let's hope that the apex institutions in the world on health and TB will come out strongly in support of public health champions like Dr Binayak Sen. (CNS)

Bobby Ramakant – CNS

(The author is a World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General’s WNTD Awardee 2008 and writes extensively on health and development through Citizen News Service (CNS). Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., website: www.citizen-news.org )


Despite numerous and regular reports in the media about the presence of pesticides and other chemical contaminants in food and water, we have not been goaded into searching for and demanding food grown in a non-toxic way. We are also very isolated from the food production process - many of us do not have the faintest idea where our food comes from or how it is grown.
 
While the latter is a matter of personal interest, we need to understand that chemical agriculture operations and the wanton commercialization of farming affect each one of us adversely, even the city dweller ensconced in a high-rise for whom life begins and ends in a city. Their effect on the environment and wildlife is also well-documented. The cruelty of modern-say animal husbandry, whether for milk, eggs or meat is horrifying and repulsive.
 
The organic farming initiative is not new and has been taken up in various parts of the country over time. Organic farming is being adopted in parts of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bihar, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Bangalore, Karnataka and Punjab etc. In India, as against 42,000 hectares under certified organic farming during the 2003-04, initial estimates for 2009-10 indicate organic agriculture under certification has grown to 1.05 million hectares. Out of this, nearly 750,000 hectares are fully certified while the remaining 300,000 hectares are under various stages of conversion.
 
The International Panaacea Limited (IPL) is the country's pioneer’s organization of grassroots organic farmers. Since Indian agriculture continues to remain a source of livelihood for mostly small farmers and peasants. IPL is the organization working in this arena leading the organic movement through implementation of large scale organic farming projects sponsored by various agencies which broadly involves awareness about the benefit of organic farming, organizing them to form clusters, training management practices and documentation, facilitation for certification and establishment of marketing channels for better returns to the producers.
 
“Promotion of organic farming will not only ensure increased availability of organic and biological sources of nutrients, but will also provide technologies and information which will help other forms of agriculture in restoring soil health and conservation of resources.” said by Mr. Suraj Bhagchandka, President , IPL. 
 
“Besides farmers, consumers too, stand to gain in many ways by switching over to organic produce. One of the major benefits is that the consumer can safely consume organic food products in the knowledge that no harmful chemicals were used in their production. Organic products are more nutritious, and in many cases, also taste better than those produced using chemicals. It is also found that food produced organically last longer than conventionally produced ones” said by the President, IPL.
 
Apart from India, IPL has undertaken a project in Ethiopia. In the near future, IPL products will be available in many European countries, Asian Countries as well as African countries. IPL has pledged to revolutionize agriculture by its innovations in the organic civilization.
According to The Lancet, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), mainly heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancers, and chronic respiratory disease, are responsible for two out of every three deaths worldwide and the toll is rising. A landmark global alliance between leading scientists and four of the world's largest NGOs brings together evidence from a 5-year collaboration with almost 100 of the world's best NCD experts and proposes a short-list of five priority interventions to tackle the increasing global crisis. Reducing tobacco and salt use, improving diets and physical activity, reducing hazardous alcohol intake, and achieving universal access to essential drugs and technologies have been chosen for their health effects, cost-effectiveness, low costs of implementation, and political and financial feasibility. 
 
Just 5 months ahead of the UN High-Level Meeting (HLM) on NCDs, only the second of its kind to focus on a global disease issue and with the potential to stimulate action globally as well as nationally, The Lancet NCD Action Group and the NCD Alliance launch a clear set of commitments in The Lancet that they would like to see from the meeting.
 
"The most important outcome of the UN HLM on NCDs will be sustained and strong high-level political support for a framework of specific commitments to tackle the NCD crisis as part of a costed national health plan", explain the authors. The aim is to reduce NCD death rates by 2% per year which will avert an estimated 36 million deaths over 10 years.
Despite numerous national and international policies, strategies, and plans to tackle NCDs progress has been slow—partly, say the authors, because of the "pressing nature" of other global health issues.
 
In the lead up to the UN meeting, the authors call on heads of state and governments to commit to a coordinated set of feasible actions and interventions for which specific and timed targets and indicators can be developed, and against which progress can be measured.
 
The top priority must be to reduce tobacco use followed by lowering salt intake, say the authors. Key to the success of this intervention will be the accelerated implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to achieve the proposed goal, "a world essentially free from tobacco by 2040", where less than 5% of the population uses tobacco; achieving this goal would prevent at least 5.5 million premature deaths over 10 years.
 
By 2025, they would like to see salt intake reduced to less than 5 g per person. They point out that reducing global salt consumption by just 15% through mass-media campaigns and reformulation of processed foods and salt substitution could prevent an estimated 8.5 million deaths in just 10 years.
 
Importantly, the costs of these interventions will be small, say the authors. The yearly cost to implement tobacco control and salt reduction will be less than US 50 cents per person per year in countries like India and China. The total package of priority interventions will require a new global commitment of about $9 billion per year.
 
Key to the immediate delivery of these interventions is a set of priority actions—securing broad political leadership at the highest levels nationally and internationally, support for strengthening health systems (with a strong focus on primary care), building international cooperation and consensus for priority interventions (particularly primary prevention), and establishing independent monitoring systems and accountability mechanisms for assessing progress. (CNS)
 
Bobby Ramakant – CNS
 
 (The author is a World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General’s WNTD Awardee 2008 and writes extensively on health and development through Citizen News Service (CNS). Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., website: www.citizen-news.org)