Letters to the Editor — June 4, 2021

No examinations

While the decision not to hold Board examinations for Class 12 can only be welcomed, the respective Boards and Ministries need to answer some related questions. It is obvious that public pressure and strong hints by the Supreme Court had a significant role to play in shaping the final decision. These raise serious questions about the sensitivity and the capacity of the Boards to respond to the situation, particularly in the light of their much-vaunted claims of ‘autonomy’. Moreover, it is only fair that the Boards also need to return the amount charged from students in the name of examination fees. Lastly, the issue seems to have been decided upon, on the basis of a health risk, whereas it needs to be registered that a majority of students not only faced financial and medical crises during this session, but also that no meaningful teaching-learning had taken place which could have been used to assess students. With grave doubts about the pedagogic meaningfulness of online transactions and the digital divide working against a majority, it would have been far better to have declared a ‘zero academic year’.

Firoz Ahmad,

New Delhi


The gharial is back

I write this as IUCN SSC Crocodile Specialist Group Member, Member, Odisha State Wildlife Advisory Board and formerly of the Wildlife Institute of India. The recent news report of the sighting of a brood of gharial hatchlings with the mother crocodile in the Mahanadi river in the Satkosia tiger reserve in Odisha is welcome news for the wildlife and the conservation fraternity. It is a celebration of the successful breeding of the species in the wild, after more than five decades, in the Mahanadi, which is the southern most distribution range of the species. It was in the 1975 that the Government of India and the Odisha government with support from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations initiated the Gharial Conservation Project at Tikerpada on the banks of Mahanadi in the Satkosia gorge region, by declaring a large stretch of river and adjoining forest as a sanctuary for the crocodilian species.

In 1975, wild-laid gharial eggs were brought from the Narayani river in Nepal to Tikerpada for simulated and artificial hatching. The hatchlings were reared in specially designed rearing pools under a “Grow and Release Head Start programme” and once the hatchlings reached a size class of about 1.2 metres from a hatching size of about 35cm in about three years, they were released in the Mahanadi river within the Protected Area. The programme continued with fthe irst reintroduction of captive reared gharials taking place in the Mahanadi in 1977 and the programme continued with gharial eggs or hatchlings obtained from Nepal and the Chambal river in Madhya Pradesh.

In 1981, the gharial also bred in captivity for the first time at the Nandan Kanan Biological Park of Odisha, and a few years later it was the State zoo that was contributing to release size gharials to the Satkosia sanctuary. However, the success of the gharial reintroduction programme in the Mahanadi was not considered a success due to the non-survival of the release stock and no breeding record of the gharial in the Mahanadi for over five decades. Crocodile biologists were considering the Mahanadi strain of the species to be locally extinct, though a couple of adult gharials still persisted in the river.

After a gap of some years, since 2017, the reintroduction programme was reinitiated and the upgraded Satkosia sanctuary (now a Tiger Reserve) also upgraded the protection and management regime with a research team monitoring the restocked and resident gharial population in the river. A strict no fishing zone has also been created with more river patrolling being the norm. In this background, the sighting of 28 hatchlings with the mother gharial in the wilderness of the river this year has raised the hopes of the State wildlife organisation that this time breeding success will bear fruitful results.

However, it is to be seen and monitored how the new brood of gharial hatchlings are going to tide over the natural monsoon flood in the river as well as the artificial rise of water level due to release of a vast amount of water from the Hirakud dam located upstream. If they survive the flood season then a population of Mahanadi gharial may well be established. There are, however, a lot of managerial, research and monitoring inputs that need to be put in as also some sound scientific advice from crocodile researchers and biologists. This may well be the beginning of the revival and the reestablishment of the Mahanadi gharial population, enhancing the species in its former historical distributional range.

B.C. Choudhury,

Dehradun, Uttarakhand


Doctors under siege

The two reports, “24 held for assaulting doctor in Assam” and “Delhi lost 107 doctors, Bihar 96: IMA” (Inside pages, June 3), highlight the plight of doctors who are waging a relentless battle against COVID-19. The mindless attack on the doctor in Assam is condemnable and exemplary punishment must be given to the accused. The Government must ensure adequate protection to doctors who are already struggling under increasing pressure.

P.K. Varadarajan,


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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 4:55:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/letters/letters-to-the-editor-june-4-2021/article34721387.ece

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