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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Too much of the same man

Sir ' If reports are to be believed, the worst fears of a section of television viewers are coming true. The return of Kaun Banega Crorepati can only mean that there will be more of Amitabh Bachchan for our eyes ('Finishing touch to KBC comeback', Feb 23). Poor Bachchan does not seem to have realized that he has become as commonplace as the ubiquitous mobile phone. From endorsing polio-drops to 'worm-free' chocolates to teaching the deaf and the mute, he is literally lording it over the screens, big, medium or small. The KBC's second coming is hardly going to impress quiz aficionados either. For isn't the show yet another run- of-the-mill attempt to improve the TRP ratings for a particular channel and ward off stiff competition' The serious quizzer, mercifully, still has the option of turning to the more cerebral Mastermind in times of crisis such as this.

Yours faithfully,
Taniya Mukherjee , Calcutta


Killer wheels

Sir ' Bus accidents have become a dime a dozen in Calcutta ('Bus crushes boy on birthday', Feb 18). Recently, a private bus snuffed out the life of six-year-old Sourav Das on his birthday. It is a shame that the transport minister refuses to do anything to make our roads safer. Rather than pass the buck on the reckless bus driver or the owner, he should think about the safety of the citizens. There are a number of reasons behind the spate of bus accidents of late. First, the lack of space on the footpaths forces pedestrians to walk on the roads. Second, road repairs are never carried out in the way they should be. As a result, the roads are full of potholes throughout the year. Finally, the infrastructure needs to be improved to make any difference. Sadly, Buddhadeb Bhatacharjee seems more interested in wooing IT giants to the state, rather than improving safety standards on the roads. What will the Tatas and Wipros gain by investing in a state where even the most basic rules regarding public safety are flouted with impunity' Instead of spending so much of time and energy in making West Bengal an IT hub, Bhattacharjee would be better off concentrating on core issues like public safety. Otherwise, he might follow in the footsteps of another IT savvy chief minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, out of office.

Yours faithfully,
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta


Sir ' It is difficult not to agree with the views of the editorial, 'Calcutta Kills' (Feb 21). Thanks to the administration, there are flyovers coming up in every nook and corner of the city. But wouldn't it have been better if the authorities had enforced traffic rules more sincerely' For starters, this would have made buses stop at bus stops and not in the middle of the road forcing people to scamper after them. This is commonplace in Calcutta's busiest spots ' Ultadanga, Sealdah, and Park street.

Traffic rules do exist but only in books. Otherwise, what explains the alarming rise in the number of accidents' The police undertake programmes to instil discipline in the public off and on. For the rest of the year, jaywalkers have a free run on the roads.It is time that the government realizes that its foremost duty is to serve the people and not to cater to the whims of militant transport unions. Stringent implementation of safety norms and meting out exemplary punishment to errant drivers are the only ways to curb the number of deaths on the streets.

Yours faithfully,
Kajal Chatterjee, Sodepur


Sir ' One cannot blame bus drivers alone for the road accidents in the city of late. Autorickshaws plying on different routes are at fault too. These three-wheelers can be found parked across major crossings, making them unsafe for the unwary pedestrian. For instance, the mouth of Biren Roy Road (West) is completely blocked by autos, waiting to pick up passengers at all hours of the day.

What makes matters worse for pedestrians is the problem of encroachment on roads. The pavements have been virtually taken over by vendors, forcing passersby on to the dangerous streets. Perhaps the only way the administration can check rash driving by bus and auto drivers is by enforcing spot fines rigorously. A penalty of this nature would make the drivers abide by the traffic rules. Remember how such a fine forced unwilling motorcyclists to don helmets earlier'

Yours faithfully,
Ajit Kumar Bajpai, Calcutta


Sir ' Not a day passes without news of people losing lives in bus accidents. Though I stay out of Calcutta now, things were not very different during the 24 years I spent in that city. Even then, one would see near-empty buses wasting time to pick up passengers. Later, they would speed to make up for the lost time, knocking down unsuspecting pedestrians on the way. It is a pity that the Calcutta police continue to turn a blind eye towards these killing machines. How long would the citizens suffer death and a waste of their precious time for no fault of theirs'

Yours faithfully,
Bappaditya Das, Raigad, Maharashtra


Sir ' The lack of discipline on Calcutta's roads is a matter of grave concern. As long as Subhas Chakaborty continues to protect bus unions,there is little hope of any change in the present state of affairs.

Yours faithfully,
Shiv Shanker Almal, Calcutta


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