UAE setting standards for others
Ongoing global issues ranging from economic uncertainty to political conflicts, sidelined the climate action plans (“COP27 climate summit to test the resolve of the world battling war, inflation, November 2). Most people still need to be made aware of the impacts of global warming.
Even the governments need to assess the impediments and challenges during the transition of net zero targets and beyond. Many countries have already set unrealistic emission targets and continue their current activities as before. Time is running out. If we do not correct ourselves within the window period of the upcoming two decades, Nature will correct us with disastrous consequences.
The wildfires, extreme weather conditions in Europe, and the recent flood in Asia are examples of ongoing corrections by Nature. Unfortunately, the perpetrators are not always the victims. Innocents will suffer disproportionate punishments for the environmental crime committed by others. The UAE’s effort and leadership in mitigating the climate crisis is laudable. The UAE set net zero emission targets in advance and started preparations to meet the challenges during the transition. However, we can’t see this level of urgency and preparation in many other countries, as they are under the notion that “they are safe”. Nobody is safe until everybody is safe. The large coastal regions in the Middle East and their very low altitude with sea water levels pose a permanent threat. So, instead of remaining mute spectators, countries in the area should come forward and lead the global march towards a net zero carbon target in a meaningful way.
From Mr Girish R Edathitta
Bridge collapse in India: A wake-up call
Recently, the collapse of the 150 years old pedestrian suspension cable bridge over the Machhu river in Gujarat’s Morbi district in India, sent scores of people tumbling into the river below. The accident should serve as a wake-up call for the authorities, urban planners, and structure engineers. India has a large number of old bridges constructed during the colonial era. This tragic accident has claimed over 130 lives, including 49 children, making it one of the most devastating accidents in the country in recent years. The primary reason behind the collapse of such bridges in India is that they were constructed in the colonial era and are poorly maintained. What’s shocking is our apathy and acceptance of these human tragedies as routine. Scant attention is paid to public safety in India. Similar incidents of collapsing bridges in the past were also due to the same reason.
Every Indian state government should have a dedicated and incorrupt technical committee to oversee the safety aspect of these bridges. Furthermore, there should be periodic thorough technical safety audits as per the national building code of all such old structures in the country with the help of reputable independent technical experts. Though the Indian government carried out the rescue operation on a war footing by deploying the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams, the government should also order a thorough probe in a time-bound manner to fix responsibility as the bridge was reopened with the necessary permission.
From Mr Ramesh G Jethwani
Genetically modified crops in India
Is it a positive move to allow genetically modified (GM) mustard to be commercially grown in India to benefit the people? (GM mustard given environmental nod, Gulf News,October 28). Various GM crops are available in the international market today, and it is developed using three essential traits: Resistance to insect damage, resistance to viral infections and tolerance towards certain herbicides. Now, GM mustard seeds, called Dhara Mustard hybrid 11, are produced by the Delhi University. It is said that this transgenic mustard hybrid will provide a 30 per cent higher yield than other varieties. But on the other hand, it is said GM mustard seeds will pose severe health hazards, male sterility being one of them, as well as environmental issues. The main concern regarding GM for human health is allergenicity, gene transfer and out-crossing, which is now widely debated by scientists. So far, research is still going on in various universities to find the exact reason.
India has legislation for GM crops, and a few tough questions are to be answered. The most important thing is that we follow Codex, an intergovernmental body responsible for developing standards, codes of practice, guidelines, and recommendations that constitute the international food code. GM products sold in the global market have passed all safety assessments. When GM soya bean was introduced in Europe for the first time, it did not benefit the consumers. However, we should focus on the risk factors of the “risk-benefit” equation concerning the environmental impact and health hazards.
India spends more than $10 billion on the import of edible oils. If we can have GM mustard which protects the economic safety of farmers with the least impact on other agricultural crops, the project should get a go-ahead. Also, the government needs to give more financial aid to Agricultural Universities for research and development for the benefit of the common people. The previous UPA government has put a moratorium on the commercial cropping of Monsanto’s BT Brinjal. Now, in India, we are on the path of precision farming and greenhouse technology, but it did not revolutionise our agriculture sector. The government will have to invest more in research with the involvement of scientists, biotechnologists and, more importantly, farmers!
Congrats to Kohli and Team India
Kudos to Virat Kohli, whose unbeaten 64 runs enabled him to be the leading run-scorer in Men’s T20 World Cup history, surpassing the record of Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardene (“Virat Kohli makes first entry into ICC Player of the Month nominations”, Gulf News, November 3). This event is more memorable as Kohli has taken just 23 innings to beat this record, which Jayawardene had achieved in 30 innings. Congratulations to Surya Kumar Yadav, too, for capturing the world’s number one batsman position in T20. He, too, is in a purple patch like Kohli, and I wish for both to continue with the same tempo to enable the Indian team to progress during this World Cup Tournament and regain the Trophy after 15 years.
From Mr Vinay Mahadevan