News Cover Wars
Cover story: On the Trail of the Tiger Killers
What it says: Our tiger conservation efforts are bleak and ineffectual at best, with poaching continuing almost unchecked in most parts of the country (we’ve lost two-thirds of our tigers in the last eight years). Skilled nomadic tribes called the Pardhis and Bawariyas infiltrate reserves across the country posing as hawkers till they figure out the movement of particular tigers. Setting up iron traps, the poachers wait until a tiger is caught before spearing a bamboo pole through the tiger’s mouth, packing it with mud to make sure it dies quietly. The tribes pass down tiger killing as a family vocation, also killing leopards, bears, lions and elephants, as well as conducting other scams involving the Narmada Valley Project compensation. As India Today‘s undercover correspondent discovers, the Forest Department and National Tiger Conservation Authority have full knowledge of the poacher’s identities and their whereabouts, but a combination of apathy and corruption make them turn a blind-eye to the massacres.
Wtf revelation: Orders from China reach up to 60 tigers per year, split mainly between two poaching gangs. After Panna tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh lost all 35 tigers to poaching (despite repeated warnings from naturalists), officers from the Panna Forest Department were later promoted.
Cover story: How Safe Are You When You Fly?
What it says: The eight-page article outlines how airlines are compromising safety regulations for commercial gains, and how the country’s infrastructure has not been able to keep up with the growth in passenger load. Air Traffic Control systems that were handling less than 100 flights a day are now handling eight times the traffic, while pilots aren’t getting the recommended amount of rest, and airlines are reducing turnaround time (the time an aircraft’s tyres take to release the heat absorbed from landing at high altitudes) to cram in more flights and make more money. Concerns raised by NGOs are repeatedly ignored by authorities: at the time the Mangalore airport was being built in 1996, the Bangalore-based Environment Support Group had opposed the construction of the second runway saying it was too close to a gorge. Closer to home, the construction of the proposed airport in Navi Mumbai involves removing mangroves, which the Bombay Environment Action Group has pointed out, could make the area flood-prone.
Wtf revelation: In June 2008, pilots flying an Air India plane from Jaipur to Mumbai overshot the destination because they had fallen asleep.
Cover story: Killing You Softly
What it says: A report of the study conducted by Tehelka and Cogent EMR Solutions Limited, a Delhi-based company that tracks electromagnetic radiation levels across the country elaborates how telecom towers are endangering the lives of people in Delhi. According to the study which tracked 100 spots across the city, the number of cell towers in the capital has increased from 1,800 in 2006 to 6,000 today, leading to a thousand-fold increase in radiation levels. It reveals that almost four-fifths of Delhi’s residents live in areas where the radiation levels are “borderline” (9 spots); “unsafe” (31 spots); or “highly unsafe” (40 spots). The highly unsafe areas include popular markets, schools and hospitals. The areas where the Commonweatlh Games will be held in October fall into the unsafe category. The high radiation levels—that can cause health problems from headaches and sleeping disorders to leukaemia and brain tumours—are attributed to cell phone towers being set up in violation of official guidelines that prevent them from being located near schools and hospitals, in narrow lanes, and in front of other buildings.
Wtf revelation: In 2000, Delhi industrialist Rehaan Dastur suffered a paralytic stroke caused by electromagnetic radiation that passed through a crack in his cell phone. Though he recovered a month-and-a-half later, he subsequently put up potentially toxic lead sheets in his office and home to block out the radiation emitting from cell phone towers nearby.