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gtboy.gifI am writing to point out an error in the WSF issue of Gobar Times dated February 15, 2004. When you talk about Asma Jehangir on page 75 you write: "she leads agitations against public flogging, executions and chopping off limbs ordained by hooded ordinances promulgated during the regime of President Zia-ul Haq." What you probably mean is the Hudood Ordinances against theft, adultery and rape that were formulated by Zia on 20 February, 1979.
Debjani Sengupta
New Delhi

GT replies: The error is regretted.

Rainwater harvesting has been implemented all over Chennai. But the roads still take the brunt of rains and get flooded. Instead of diverting all the water to storm water drains, I think some of the water should be converted to groundwater and excess water should be diverted to canals, dams or the sea. There should also be some way of diverting water from the kitchen, bathroom and washing machines and nullifying the effects of soaps and chemicals.

Murali Ramsamy
Via Email

GT replies: If a city has a good working network of stormwater drains and percolation pits, then rainwater will automatically recharge groundwater, reach tanks, lakes, rivers and finally the oceans.

As far as disposal of bathroom and kitchen waste (greywater) and toilet waste (blackwater) is concerned individual houses can use such types of water. Methods have been devised to use greywater for landscape irrigation, certain types of kitchen gardens, soilbeds, soilboxes amd ponds.

For more information on how to do that, log on to www.graywater.net or http://doityourself.com/garden/graywater.htm.



Your excellent Gobar Times issue on rice (January 15, 2004) relating to water requirements of rice has perhaps understated the figure. I make it 20 tonnes of water as usually used to grow 1 kg of rice.

The figure for water requirement usually used by irrigation engineers is 2,000 mm of water per crop. Yet the physiological needs of the rice plant for optimum growth is about one fourth of this figure. Why then the other 1,500 mm?

When you work this out, it is clear that it is all used as a component for 'weed-control'. Water is now rapidly becoming the most expensive 'herbicide'! It is used for softening the ground for ploughing (weed-control), and then for mudding and levelling (for controlling weeds). It is then re-admitted gradually for drowning competitive weeds while the young seedlings grow.

Sadly, none of the systems devised for 'Water Management' have delved thus deeply into the actual and basic reasons for this excess water apart from that needed for the growth (physiology) of the rice plant.p65.jpg (9058 bytes)

Those of us who have also worked (and farmed, ourselves) on 'upland' or rain-fed rice (e.g. with Oryza glabberima in Africa) will know that whether rice is grown from seed (rainfed) or laboriously transplanted (into puddle fields) provides identical yields provided that the competing weeds are equally well managed. The fact that 'weed-management' is the key to 'water-management' in the growing of rice, appears consistently to have evaded rice scientists.

Nor is the use of chemicals (herbicides) the only alternative, although these also work as well, but also other (natural?) techniques for successfully managing the growth of weeds as in the systems very effectively used by Masanobu Fukuoka in Japan. And also by many farmers of Africa who also manipulate shade and fertility of other crops (some of them symbiotic with rice and others allelopathic (toxic) to weeds). Other techniques include 'perennial rices' and 'rattooning rices' which have proven far lower in cost.

But it is unlikely that these techniques will receive the funding for R&D which goes into industrially and/or chemically based techniques. Now should we forget that di-hydrogen-oxide is also a chemical, albeit one that flows from a tap rather than from a bottle on a shelf. But that too will doubtless change, like 'bottled-water' and 'metered-water' which are now taking over.

Vidya-Jyothi Raw Wijewardene

Moratuwa University, Sri Lanka

We always enjoy Gobar Times, which is very useful and helpful for our activities. The idea of a rice reporter (January 15, 2004) is also interesting. Our network groups also surveyed the rice culture in our area.

Satoko Chatterjee
Ecology and Natural Resource Education Project, Kolkata