Food first

Food first
Ever since the Supreme Court ordered non-cng (compressed natural gas) public vehicles off the road, Delhi commuters have been in the grip of a crisis. The Bhure Lal Committee's preference for cng won the day over the earlier Mashelkar Committee report, which recommended multiple fuels, including diesel, for Delhi. The latter finding also had support from Tata Energy Research Institute director, Rajendra K Pachauri. That Pachauri's bid for chairpersonship of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was backed by the Bush administration, against the incumbent us chairperson, speaks volumes for his credibility.

In the choice between cleaner air and the alleged heavy burden on industry, the us government had no option but to heed to practical problems. The Indian Supreme Court, however, is in a luckier position. It is not answerable to public sentiment, even if both the Central and state governments are tearing their hair out, faced by the wrath of millions of daily commuters.

I do not wish to comment on the comparative merits of cng and low-sulphur content diesel buses. But I do believe that the court, in attempting to lay down Euro environmental standards, is losing sight of ground realities, which is that it is the developed countries that have benefited from environmentally offensive trade in the last hundred years, and are principal offenders to this day. It is also important to note that since 1989, more than 500 attempts have been made to export toxic waste from Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (oecd) countries, which generate 98 per cent of all hazardous waste to non- oecd countries.

Even principle 11 of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Envir-onment and Development says, "Standards applied by some countries may be of unwarranted economic and social cost to other countries, in particular, developing countries.'

Though recognising the effects of pollution and consequential global warming, we must not forget that it has to be co-related to the development needs of each country. This is emphasised by Jagdish Bhagwati, un economist, who says that the setting of

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