Give every butcher his due
Sir — The director-general of the Confederation of Indian Industry, Tarun Das, could certainly do better than fly down from New Delhi to apologize to Narendra Modi. How can the head of one of the most powerful business lobbies in the country be so servile to the wishes of a particular religio-political group (“CII says sorry to miffed Modi”, March 6)' Das must have got his calculations wrong somewhere. Modi and his ilk are hellbent on destroying the secular and democratic fabric of the country, and consequently, its socio-economic stability. This would ultimately hurt the interests of the CII. Das and his friends are ignoring long-term business interests in their pursuit of the short-term goal of investing in what is now one of the more affluent states of India. At the rate Modi is going about spreading hatred among communities, Gujarat is likely to lose this status soon. Perhaps Das should think of hiring a person to call Modi “the butcher of Gujarat” at every CII conclave to which the Gujarat chief minister is invited.
Amartya Chatterjee, Surat
A bend in the river
Sir — It is unfortunate that the Bharatiya Janata Party, or any political party for that matter, chooses projects for the prospective kickbacks at various stages during their implementation (“River link-up plan in Delhi pipeline”, Feb 12). No matter what the government might say about generating employment, enhancing tourism and riverine transportation, with the project cost being estimated at some hundred thousand crores, where most of the money will go is not too hard to guess.
There are other projects, that too involving India’s rivers, that need to be taken up much more urgently. The pollution of the rivers for instance. With worn-out banks and regular floods, remedial measures such as afforestation should have been started long ago. Spending huge sums on such lofty projects is justified only when the basic problems have been addressed.
Besides, the government should be all the more careful about making such promises to the people. Previous prime ministers had all envisaged facilitating irrigation with the building of dams, although with little foresight. Today, areas around the existing dams have become wastelands in many cases. The socio-economic consequences of the so-called beneficial projects have to be carefully considered before the government decides to go ahead with them.
Mahesh K. Rathi, Calcutta
Sir — The National Water Development Agency’s project to link up 31 rivers of the country is certainly an ambitious one (“Should we bend the rivers'”, Feb 23). This is because of the number of practical problems that are likely to come in the way of its implementation.
Rivers are nature’s own drainage system. If the dirty water with toxic wastes is not allowed to be discharged into the seas, the toxic content would increase, making the water unfit for human consumption. This will disturb the ecological balance beyond our imagination.
The opposition to the Narmada and Tehri dams is also not without reason. The hardness of the upper crust of the earth varies at different places. So, any attempt to increase the weight on this crust with huge reservoirs containing billions of tonnes of water can cause serious problems, including earthquakes, in the surrounding regions.
Further, embankments of rivers are formed by the maximum force of the water, especially during monsoon season. Any additional pressure of water owing to the new grid formation would cause further breach of embankments. It would cause floods and spell disaster for people living besides the embankments. The government needs to keep these concerns in mind and also the fact that nature’s resources are best left untouched.
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta
Sir — It is disheartening that india has been ranked 120th for poor water quality by the United Nations in the World Water Development Report. The major Indian rivers have become dangerously polluted, while industries beside them continue to discharge effluents into the water. Ground water has been depleted and little has been done about it. Besides the provision of safe drinking water, the government also has to take the responsibility of proper water conservation.
B.S. Ganesh, Bangalore
Sir — If the plan of linking the major Indian rivers is indeed taken up by the government, it will ring the death knell for the ports of Calcutta and Haldia. As things stand now, the two ports of West Bengal are already ailing. Because of the silting of the Bhagirathi-Hooghly delta, most of the traffic of these ports has been diverted to the ports of Paradip and Vishakhapatnam. Whatever little business Calcutta and Haldia gets will be taken away if the water of the Ganges is diverted to the Deccan plateau. A project worth thousands of crores will thus ruin a state’s economy completely.
S.P. Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — The new format of tickets — 40 rides, valid for 30 days, and 80 rides, valid for 90 days — introduced by Metro Railways is terribly inconvenient for those who travel daily, but only one way. Rides worth nearly double the money saved on these tickets are lost in the bargain. It defies explanation that a public amenity should have customer-satisfaction lowest on its list of priorities. Metro Railways should immediately make these new-format tickets valid for at least double the period currently specified, if not for an indefinite period.
Subhra Gupta, Calcutta