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Sunday, August 29, 1999
Chandigarh Tribune
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Carcasses appear as vultures disappear
Salim Ali centre to study problem
By Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 28 — The mysterious disappearance of vultures from the skies of northern India has evoked the interest of the Coimbatore-based Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History. The centre has decided to launch a major project to ascertain the reasons for the sudden dip in the population of the trusted natural scavenger.

The vanishing of the large bird has already generated a nationwide concern among environmentalists, village folk and veterinary officials as its absence has resulted in a large-scale problem of a huge amount of undisposed carcasses of animals lying at various disposal centres in and around villages and cities.

Even as, initially, nobody thought it fit to consider the repercussions of the disappearance, the problem has started acquiring a serious dimension and evoking the interest of people, particularly in the countryside, where the foul smell emanating from carcasses, lying there for weeks together, has turned their life into a nightmare. Such a situation has forced a number of government and non-government organisations to come forward. The Bombay Natural History Society has even sounded a country -wide "Vulture alert" to conservationists so as to keep a tab on the alarming decline of vulture population.

As a prelude to the project, Dr V. S. Vijayan, Director of the Coimbatore centre, had a round of discussions with Wildlife officials of Punjab and Haryana and inspected a number of places and dumping areas of Ambala last week.

Though the exact reason for the disappearance of vultures in the northern part is yet to be found, people of the area informed him that particularly in the case of Ambala, vultures were ruthlessly shot down by officials during the night when these were roosting about two years back and since then no vulture has visited the disposal sites in the city, leading to piling up of decomposing carcasses.

According to the pilot study conducted by the centre officials, vultures were even poisoned by some agencies. The centre has not ruled out the fact that they might have been inflicted by some viral disease in an epidemic form, or they could have been the victims of some pesticide poisoning. It has sought cooperation of the Punjab Wildlife Department in collecting samples of the bird from the state so that research could be conducted on their bodies to ascertain whether these were afflicted with some disease or not.

But the department is yet to take a decision on the request of the centre. "We are reluctant as we don't know how the centre will transport the birds from Punjab to such a distant place like Coimbatore. Otherwise, Section 12 of the Wildlife Protection Act allows hunting and killing of any animal for scientific and educational purposes," said Mr Gurmeet Singh, Director, Wildlife Punjab.

About the state of affairs, as far as the population of the bird in the state of Punjab was concerned, Mr Gurmeet Singh said though the birds was not visible near the disposal grounds in rural areas and those adjacent to bone mills in the state, where these are usually found in large numbers, they had not reached the stage of extinction. "I have noticed a few birds and nests on long trees along the Subhanpur-Kapurthala road, Harike Marginal Bundhs and the Rajasthan canal," he added.

The centre, according to Mr Gurmeet Singh, was also exploring the possibility of examining other possible factors behind the disappearance of the bird such as adverse effect of insecticides, urbanisation and disturbance of natural habitats.Back


'Avoid alcohol if your chest is not hairy'
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 28 — Men with less hair on their chests are more likely to develop alcohol-related diseases than those with hairy chests. This was revealed today at the 'Update-CME Gastro '99', a seminar on gastroenterology being held at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research.

The programme, in which topics ranging from gall bladder stone disease to non-ulcer dyspepsia, treatment of hepatitis and alcohol-related diseases, was inaugurated by Dr N.K. Ganguly, Director-General, Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi.

Reading out his paper on 'Alcoholic liver disease — spectrum', Prof Nirmal Kumar, from the G. B. Pant Hospital, New Delhi, said that almost 20 per cent of all heavy drinkers develop liver sclerosis and that women have a higher risk factor than men.

Listing the "sensible limits" for alcohol consumption, Professor Singh said that 14 units per week for women and 21 units per week for men, as per the western standards is permissible. One unit of alcohol equals 8 gm of alcohol.

Prof Raja Sambandham from Chennai, who spoke on the complications and management strategies of the amoebic liver abscess, also stressed on the need to lower the intake of alcohol, since increase in liquor intake and the consumption of country-made liquor were among the reasons for this abscess.

The abscess, Dr Raja said, was due to faeco-oral contamination. He stressed on the need of safe drinking water and improved hygienic conditions.

Dr G. Choudhary, who read out a paper on 'Hepatitis B and C' said screening for hepatitis should be done for all people related with the Health Department, homosexuals and commercial sex workers. These high risk groups, including the neo-natals, all need to be immunised against hepatitis B, he added. Talking about treatment, Dr Choudhary said that the treatment for hepatitis has been made available only in the past 10 years, but the success rate for the same is very low.

Interestingly, lamivudine, a drug used for the treatment of AIDS is now being used to treat hepatitis B.

Reading out his paper on the 'Gall stone disease — Indian scenario', Prof R.K. Tandon, Head of Gastroenterology, said that there are two types of gall stones — cholesterol stone, more common among the north Indians and pigment stone, predominant in the South. He said the treatment of gall stone is asymptomatic in 80 per cent of the cases, and the symptomatic treatment can be operated through standard procedures or through the laparoscopic technique.

Professor Tandon added that almost 7 per cent of Punjabis have gall bladder stone, while only 2 per cent of South Indians have this disease. He related an interesting study which said that the excessive use of tamarind in the South Indian food reduces the production of cholesterol in the bile, which prevented the occurrence of the gall stone disease. On the issue of the prevalence of ulcers, he said liberal use of drugs like aspirin cause ulcers.

Dr Kartar Singh, Chairman, Organising Committee of the 'CME Gastro '99' talked about smoking and stress as also being the causative factors of ulcers. He revealed that AIDS patients have multiple ulcers.

Prof M.P. Sharma read out his paper on the 'Management of non-ulcer dyspepsia'. He said that the important thing was to distinguish between peptic ulcer and dyspepsia. In peptic ulcer the pain or burning sensation is periodic and lasts only for 15-20 minutes but in dyspepsia, a patient experiences continuous pain and nausea. While citing stress, anxiety and the presence of too much of fat in the body as the causative factors for dyspepsia, he added that fasting was one of the worst things to do to a body because it could aggravate this situation. Professor Sharma also said that exercises like neti or forceful vomiting were of no value.

Tomorrow's session would include papers on G I Tuberculosis, diarrhoea, cholestasis of infancy and surgical management of portal hypertension.Back


Know your candidates — III

Ms Palac Shri (Independent):

Ms Palac Shri is the youngest contestant for the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat. She completed 25 in February this year and decided to jump into electoral politics.

A model, Ms Palac Shri was Miss Chandigarh in 1991. At that time she was a student of the Sector 11 Government College for Girls. Then she took up modelling and acting as her career.

She has been inspired to enter politics by her father, Mr Jai Lal Kurlwal, a trusted man of former Haryana Chief Minister Bansi Lal. Her elder sister is a police officer in Haryana. It is her desire to serve people of the country that has brought her into politics.

Ms Palac Shri wants to blend her political life with her career in modelling and films.

She is one of the two women contestants for the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat this time.

Mr Ram Pal Hans (New Congress Party):

The 37-year-old postgraduate in economics Mr Ram Pal Hans belongs to the rare class of self-made academicians-turned-politicians. Ironing of clothes, rickshaw pulling, rehri and manual labour had been his avocations earlier in life before he took to teaching.

He entered politics in 1982 when he joined Mr Harmohan Dhawan's Janata Party. He had a brief stint in the Bahujan Samaj Party before returning to the Janata Dal's fold which he ultimately quit in 1997.

It was on August 19 last year that he launched his New Congress Party.

He unsuccessfully contested the Municipal Corporation elections in December,1996.

Mr Hans, who comes from Garcha village in Nawanshahr district of Punjab, wants to fight for liberating Chandigarh from Punjab and Haryana and convince voters to change leaders and not parties. the other items in his manifasto are free water and power for colony dwellers in the city and 80 per cent reservation for tenants in all housing schemes.

— To be concludedBack

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