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Sat11182017

Last updateSat, 22 Jul 2017 6am

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Turning a blind eye to cell tower radiation risks

By Darryl D'Monte

The Maharashtra government has finally accepted that nearly half of Mumbai’s cell towers are illegal. However, the government is still not admitting the health risks posed by these towers

cell tower radiation

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Acting globally and locally

If internationally climate change is tackled with the fig-leaf of annual global conventions, India is doing its bit by setting up endless committees and sub-committees, writes Darryl D'Monte

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Softening the diesel blow

Those who protest the government’s long overdue moves to hike the price of ‘dirty diesel’ on grounds that it will turn the screws on the poor ought to remember that 600 million Indians do not buy any form of commercial energy whatsoever, and the subsidies mainly benefit the middle classes and rich, writes Darryl D'Monte

hike in diesel prices

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From ‘Garibi Hatao’ to ‘Garib Hatao’

By Darryl D'Monte

What are the implications of the decision to allow the Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) to fast-track clearances for infrastructure projects worth more than Rs 1,000 crore?

Garib Hatao

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Deluge of delusion

By Darryl D'Monte

Despite a battering from Superstorm Sandy and subsequent economic losses of $33 billion, the US still prevaricates on the connection between a cataclysmic hurricane and climate change

 Climate change

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In defence of ‘green terrorists’

The India Today cover story ‘Green Terror’ indicates that mainstream media have now joined industry, bureaucracy and politicians in proclaiming environmental activism the major obstacle to 8% growth. Whatever happened to the basic journalistic principle of presenting both sides of the story, asks Darryl D'Monte

 Environmental journalists

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Towering infernal radiation

By Darryl D'Monte

Mumbai is possibly the city worst-affected by radiation from cell phone towers, with roughly 80% of its 10,000 towers allegedly illegal and unsafe. An aggressive campaign by citizens has finally brought attention to the serious health risks and the transgressions of the law

Towering infernal radiation

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Biting the fuel subsidies bullet

A new set of studies make a convincing argument for reducing fossil fuel subsidies, writes Darryl D'Monte, and demolishes the claim that raising diesel prices will impact the poor most and send inflation spiralling

Reducing diesel subsidies

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How much do Indians consume?

By Darryl D'Monte

While India's per capita material consumption is still low, a new report reveals that in 50 years India’s consumption of fossil fuels increased 12 times, construction materials 9 times and industrial materials and ores 8.6 times. How will India support its growing economy sustainably?

Ecological Economists

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Prising open official reports

By Darryl D'Monte

In a decision with important implications, the CIC has forced the MoEF to upload the report of the Western Ghats Ecology Experts taskforce headed by Madhav Gadgil, ruling that information must be put in the public domain as decisions are being made, not after

Dr Madhav Gadgil Right to Information Act

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A price tag on nature

TEEB estimates that every year the world loses $2-4.5 trillion worth of natural capital. Does it make sense to put an economic value to our natural resources? Darryl D'Monte explores

giant squirrel natural resources

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Gloom and doom unlimited?

Three recent reports underline once again the impending global ecological crisis. Will Rio+20 this June help us arrest the race to catastrophe, asks Darryl D'Monte

Climate change

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Linking rivers: Tragedy of errors

The river-linking project needs to be given a decent burial, says Darryl D'Monte, but instead, the Supreme Court has exceeded its brief and asked the centre to implement it

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The high costs of poor sanitation

Despite the Total Sanitation Campaign launched since 1991, just 30,000 of 600,000 villages are free of open defecation today. The economic impact of poor sanitation in India is Rs 2.46 trillion or 6.5% of the GDP, writes Darryl D’Monte

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Exit endosulfan

By Darryl D'Monte

India manufactures 70% of the world’s endosulfan, which explains why there has been such a strong lobby against its ban, despite evidence of its health hazards. But India has finally dropped its opposition to a ban on endosulfan, thanks largely to the campaign against the pesticide by Kerala’s people and government

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Making sanitation as popular as cricket

By Darryl D'Monte

700 million Indians have cell phones, but 638 million still don’t have access to proper sanitation. At this year’s South Asian Conference on Sanitation, social solutions to the problem were discussed, including “naming and shaming” and the CLTS programme which gets villagers to map the open areas where they defecate

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Rethinking fossil fuel subsidies

The government has proposed direct cash transfers instead of subsidies on essential items including kerosene and diesel to the poor. The country certainly cannot permit the huge losses from subsidies any more, says Darryl D’Monte, but it remains to be seen whether cash transfers or a coupon system, or even a combination of such reforms, will work

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Small green hope in India's burgeoning construction industry

By Darryl D'Monte

Most of India’s construction industry mimics the energy-inefficient glass-and-steel buildings of the West. But with the introduction of two green rating systems for buildings, the revival of traditional architecture and 30 architecture/engineering colleges introducing green certification courses, the country is slowly building up capacity to construct green buildings

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Ecological illiteracy regarding Mumbai

By Darryl D'Monte

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh recently increased the floor space index in Mumbai’s coastal belts. It’s a move doomed to fail; and will only add to the city’s cup of environmental woes, writes Darryl D’Monte

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Renewable energies as big business opportunities?

By Darryl D'Monte

Biomass and biogas are the cheap, decentralised renewable energies to choose for India. But the ministry of renewable energies -- and the technocrats and entrepreneurs surrounding it -- appear to favour hi-tech solutions such as grid solar power, with only a few exceptions such as the project to produce power from rice husk in 10,000 villages in eastern India

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Extreme action from green campaigns

From B Corp certification for environment-friendly businesses to baby carrot vending machines exhorting school children to ‘eat ‘em like junk food’, hundreds of innovative campaigns across the world are getting the message of social and environmental well-being across, says Darryl D’Monte

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The wrongs and rights of 'watsan'

By Darryl D'Monte

Why has it taken so many years for the UN to pass a resolution on water and sanitation as a human right? Why did countries like the US, UK and Canada oppose such a resolution, leaving it to Bolivia, which has experienced the negative impact of privatisation of water, to propose the resolution and the poorest nations to support it?

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The real costs of oil

By Darryl D'Monte

The recent Mumbai oil spill ought to serve as a wake-up call to the authorities on the reckless manner in which the country is building and maintaining its ports. In Mumbai, the outdated MbPT was to have made way for the modern JNPT on the mainland, but MbPT is hanging on to its 1800 acres of prime real estate, exposing the city to the threat of more oil spills and hazardous chemicals

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A new measure of poverty

By Darryl D'Monte

On the 20th anniversary of the Human Development Report, Oxford University and UNDP are bringing out a Multidimensional Poverty Index that will replace and refine the Human Poverty Index. The new measure, which uses 10 different indices, threw up a startling fact: just eight Indian states have more poor people than the 26 poorest African countries combined!

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Putting a price-tag to nature

By Darryl D'Monte

Can you put a price-tag to nature and biodiversity? Unfortunately, we may have to, as all decision-makers today base their choices on economic considerations. Which is why there have been attempts to put a value on, for instance, natural forests, fuelwood, animal species and so on

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The environmental fallout of conflict

By Darryl D'Monte

Since the time the US army dropped the terrible defoliant, Agent Orange, on the Vietnam countryside, war and conflict have had a devastating impact on people and the environment

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Brave green world

By Darryl D'Monte

Things are not all doom and gloom on the global environmental front. In France, 1,000 homes are being renovated every day to make them more energy-efficient. And California has a comprehensive plan to reduce emissions by 29% below 1990 levels, by 2020

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The power to choose

By Darryl D'Monte

During the Copenhagen summit, a seminar on renewable energies was held on the island of Samsoe, entirely powered by windmills and waste-to-energy plants. But Samsoe has a population of just 4,000. What will it take to switch a substantial part of India and China to renewable energies?

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Cities should be for people, not cars: Enrique Penalosa

By Darryl D'Monte

Denver, San Francisco and Seoul are demolishing their freeways and highways and attempting to return their cities to their people, not their cars, says Enrique Penalosa, former mayor of Bogota and founder of the BRTS in his city, advising India to learn from the mistakes of these cities

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India's climate volte face: Tragedy or farce?

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has suggested to the PM that India opt out of the Kyoto Protocol, jettison the G77 developing countries, and voluntarily accept cuts in emission without any guarantee of funding or technology from industrial nations in return. This goes against every principle which India has articulated on behalf of all developing countries, says Darryl D’Monte

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Watching our wasteline

By Darryl D'Monte

Every year the UK alone chucks 484 million unopened tubs of yoghurt, 1.6 billion untouched apples, bananas worth £370 million and 2.6 billion slices of bread. In his recent book Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal, Tristram Stuart documents the extent of waste in the food industry worldwide

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Negotiating on climate change

The Indian position on climate change ought to be unequivocal -- we should not agree to any cap or cuts on emission until G8 countries agree drastically to cut their own emissions, says Darryl D’Monte, adding that the Global Responsibility Capacity Index might serve as a more progressive climate tax

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How cities are changing the world

By Darryl D'Monte

Cities do play key roles in contributing to and combating climate change. But is Jeb Brugman, author of ‘Welcome to the Urban Revolution’ going too far when he extols slums like Dharavi for the environmental economies of scale, density and association when 200,000 residents live and work in the same location?

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Greener borders

By Darryl D'Monte

The world is only just beginning to focus on environmental threats posed by legal and illegal trade, with hazardous substances crossing borders and putting human health and the environment at serious risk

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How now, Brown Cloud?

By Darryl D'Monte

In 1991, India dismissed the Asian Brown Cloud theory as “unfounded”. Environmentalists termed it a ploy to distract attention from the contribution of rich countries to climate change. Today, most people accept that there is indeed a pall of “black carbon” hanging over Asia, the result mainly of millions of wood stoves burning in South Asia and China. What do we do about it?

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Media in the time of crises

By Darryl D'Monte

Did the media – and indeed all the economic gurus – miss the telltale signs of the impending financial meltdown? The Asia Media Forum in Bangkok recently analysed media in the time of crisis

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Crouching and creeping disasters

By Darryl D'Monte

At a recent workshop in Delhi, participants discussed how there are two kinds of disasters: one, sudden and unpredictable like the 2005 floods in Mumbai and the earthquake in Pakistan; the other, the slow-onset phenomenon of which the most alarming and widespread is climate change. In both, perhaps the single biggest lack is information

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Time to get tough on emissions

By Darryl D'Monte

At the Delhi Summit on Sustainable Development in February, US Senator John Kerry remarked that India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change lacked fixed targets and timetables. Is it time for developing countries to move beyond old uncompromising positions?

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Living in an Urban Age

By Darryl D'Monte

Sao Paulo is arguably the most violent city in the world, with 120 murders per 100,000 population in the poorer areas of the city. At the second Urban Age conference in Sao Paulo, participants discussed the problems of crowded urban areas and looked for ways to make these spaces less violent and more inclusive

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Emphasise quality of life, not growth

The present financial crisis may signal a shift from globalisation to a deglobalised economy. This would mean production for local markets, equity in income and asset distribution, more democratic arrangements, progressive taxation, and a move from fossil fuels to renewables, says Darryl D’Monte

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Living sustainably, Asian-style

By Darryl D'Monte

Japan has introduced the 3R approach to waste management, China has introduced the Circular Economy and Green Growth, and Thailand's Magic Eye drive coaxes children not to waste. What exactly has India done to promote sustainable development?

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Corporates consult on climate change

By Darryl D'Monte

Given the projected rise in energy costs within the next 20-30 years, reducing the ecological footprint of companies has become a corporate necessity. And corporate India is finally getting its act together on the environment front

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The crow and the broom: Progress on sanitation in the South

By Darryl D'Monte

Kerala has made remarkable progress in the area of sanitation. As many as 96% of its houses have toilets -- close to 600,000 have been built in the last decade. The state’s cleanliness campaign has a strong parallel with the literacy movement for which Kerala is famous throughout the world. Other Southern states are not far behind

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Re-imagining public spaces in cities

By Darryl D'Monte

By conventional standards, Mumbai has perhaps the least amount of open space per person -- 0.03 acres per 1,000 people. But, as a recent study by the design cell of the Kamala Raheja College of Architecture in Mumbai shows, a little ‘re-imagining’ can throw up innovative solutions to enhancing public spaces in Indian cities

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Hot air in Hokkaido

By Darryl D'Monte

One of the worrying outcomes of the recent G8 summit in Hokkaido was the general euphoria about the revival of the nuclear industry, supposedly in the fight against climate change. This is an illusion at best. Only 3% of India’s electricity is produced by nuclear plants, and with the Indo-US deal this will increase to 7%, which is by no means radical

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Lille: City of the future

By Darryl D'Monte

The city of Lille on the French-Belgian border likes to describe itself as a 'Eurometropolis'. A major European industrial and services hub, the most interesting dimension of Lille is its greening. Lille is the only city in France to convert household waste to biogas, which is then used in public transport

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Green or greenwashing?

At one stage, Bajaj Auto was using captive wind power to generate 90% of its electricity from its own turbines and “banking” the rest. There are indeed businesses that are going green, but the majority of these claims are still greenwash, says Darryl D’Monte

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Green capitalism

By Darryl D’Monte

Can the collateral damage of a growth-at-all-costs economic model be addressed by a “regenerative” economy as opposed to a “degenerative” one based on fossil fuels and outmoded notions of industrialisation?Veteran social activist K R Datye believes it can

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We are what we eat

By Darryl D'Monte

There are three ideal attributes of food, according to Carlo Petrini of the Slow Food movement: It should appeal to the senses; it should be clean and environment-friendly; and most of all these days, it should be fair

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Genuine progress, or so much 'Balihoo'?

By Darryl D’Monte

The best that can be said about the recently concluded Bali climate change conference is that negotiations didn’t break down altogether. Although India is being unnecessarily self-congratulatory about the correctness of its stand at the UN conference, it should adopt a much more proactive position on energy consumption at home  

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The great green rush

By Darryl D'Monte

Everyone -- including venture capitalists -- seems to be jumping onto the global biofuels bandwagon. But the ethanol needed to fill an SUV just once requires 200 kg of corn, which could feed a person for a whole year

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Can man and beast co-exist?

By Darryl D'Monte

Ranthambhore has becomes the latest wildlife sanctuary to express fears about 'missing' tigers. Will this jewel in the Project Tiger crown go the same way as Sariska? Does the answer lie in relocating villages outside national parks, thereby minimising contact between man and animal?

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The truth about subsidies

By Darryl D'Monte

A Swiss cow gets a subsidy that will allow her to fly first-class around the world! And Queen Elizabeth gets farm subsidies of over $ I million annually. Subsidies don't always work as they are meant to in India either

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There's wealth in waste

By Darryl D'Monte

Five companies are bidding to manage the 7,000 tonnes of waste New Delhi generates every day. But surely it's more important to reduce garbage generated at source than to apply lucrative but environmentally unsound technological solutions to waste management?

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Are supply-side solutions to water access sufficient?

By Darryl D'Monte

While overall access to water supply infrastructure in cities is increasing, coverage remains uneven. But are dams and so-called "flexible water allocations", as advocated by the World Bank, the answer?

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Are GMOs spiralling out of control?

By Darryl D'Monte

To argue that genetically-modified crops will solve the problem of hunger thanks to their higher productivity, is like saying that Bill Gates developed Microsoft software to solve the world's illiteracy problem. And what if the technology runs amuck?

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Northeast of Eden

By Darryl D'Monte

India chooses to showcase the northeast as an exotic tourist destination of great natural beauty. Several documentaries at a recent environmental film festival in Guwahati showed it as a neglected corner of the country, with gaunt tribals and civil and political unrest

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Killing ourselves slowly

By Darryl D'Monte

With growing calls for the reintroduction of DDT to fight the resurgence of malaria worldwide, we must not forget the reasons why many countries have banned this toxic substance and other dangerous chemicals that cause cancers and other persistent diseases that impair health and possibly prove fatal

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A bottom-up approach to sanitation

By Darryl D'Monte

South Asia has 900 million people without sanitation. The problem, as the success of recent total-sanitation community projects have demonstrated, is not a lack of funds but a lack of conviction amongst people that they need sanitation, and that they can meet those needs themselves

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Sweden's green agenda

By Darryl D'Monte

Ninety-five per cent of all Swedes believe it is important to do something about climate change; two out of every three think it is very important. Sixty Stockholm families have embarked on a novel experiment related to 'smart consumption'

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Breathing life into farming

By Darryl D'Monte

The guarantee of 100 days of work in a year cannot by itself provide food security. The trick, says alternative technologist K R Datye, lies in using the NREGA not to build roads but to regenerate the land and create permanent rural assets which will facilitate sustainable livelihoods

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Everybody loves a good flood

By Darryl D'Monte

Although the intensity of floods has been increasing, it is not primarily due to deforestation. It is the failure of the so-called modern world to come to terms with this natural phenomenon that is aggravating the situation. As long ago as 1937, the chief engineer of Bihar, Captain G F Hall, said that by building embankments "we are storing disaster for the future"

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Saving the tiger, the Indian way

By Darryl D'Monte

If relocating the 66,000 families that live in India's 28 protected areas is not feasible, the solution, according to tiger task force chairperson Sunita Narain, is to include the tribals in the protection of this endangered species, giving them a share in the profits from the tourist trade in the sanctuaries

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Katrina or Cassandra?

By Darryl D'Monte

Last year, weather-related losses crossed $100 billion for the first time, and 30 million ecological refugees were displaced by drought, flood or other environment-related causes. Whether it's New Orleans or Mumbai, the lessons are virtually identical, as climate change intensifies across the globe

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Secret pact on climate change

By Darryl D'Monte

The United States recently unveiled the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate, a regional pact that seeks the support of the world's most populous countries to bypass the Kyoto Protocol, take a "business-as-usual" approach and solve the global warming crisis through technology rather than global law

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Indian solutions for Indian waste

By Darryl D'Monte

India generates mind-boggling quantities of waste: 320 million tonnes of agricultural waste and 4.4 million tonnes of hazardous waste every year. But Indian garbage, which consists of around 85% organic matter, is not suited to the burn technologies that we are importing from the West to manage our solid waste. What are the alternatives?

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Why Mumbai is choking

By Darryl D'Monte

Every progressive city has shown that improving public transport is the best way to clean up the air. Mumbai, on the other hand, is geared towards providing 55 flyovers, sea links and coastal highways to the 9% of the population that uses private vehicles. Surely these are examples of topsy-turvy priorities, says Darryl D'Monte

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