Flight from hell
Sir — On October 17, I took a flight to Singapore from the Calcutta airport. In India, international passengers are required to report at least two-and-a-half hours before take off. I did so, and after going through security checks, I still had more than two hours to spare. In the cramped area in front of the departure gates, every seat for waiting passengers was filled. Many passengers like me had to stand, and were thus given a rare chance to prove their physical fitness. What a mess and what a hell!
Asok Mukherjee, Erlangen, Germany
Sir — We, the daily commuters from Rourkela to Jharsuguda/Belpahar, have been facing a lot of hardships after the Jnaneswari accident. Since May 29 last year, all night trains in the Kharagpur-Rourkela route have been stopped. The daily commuters from Rourkela to Jharsuguda are having a hard time reaching their destinations. Most of the trains have been rescheduled in such a way that there is no train from Rourkela to Belpahar during office hours. Lately, the Samaleswari Express has been started, but it reaches Rourkela at 3.00 pm and so does not solve the problem.
Daily commuters have to start as early as 5.30 am for office, which usually commences at 10.00 am. After 5.30 am, the next train is a passenger train at 8.00 am from Rourkela that always reaches Jharsuguda after 10.00 am. So daily commuters have to depend on the 5.30 am train, and wake up in the middle of the night to catch it. Similarly, on the down route, there is only a single passenger train at 6.00 pm that never reaches Rourkela on time. We have complained repeatedly to the railway authorities but they are not bothered.
As far as statistics are concerned, Orissa is the one of the most ‘happening’ states of India. Jharsuguda is the main town in northwest Orissa. Lots of industrial plants have come up in the Jharsuguda-Belpahar belt that include the Bhushan steel plant, Vedanta’s aluminium factory, the cement plant owned by Ultratech, which is a part of the Aditya Birla Group, and many sponge iron plants. But the infrastructure of this region has not developed enough. So people have to travel there from nearby places, including Rourkela.
In the last decade, several trains have been introduced. Most of them were gifts to the people of Bihar and West Bengal by Lalu Prasad and Mamata Banerjee respectively. In the last two or three decades, there have been no railway ministers from Orissa. So this state has been deprived of the benefits of vote-bank politics. On behalf of all my fellow passengers, I request the authorities to introduce an express train from Rourkela to Belpahar that will start any time between 7.15 and 7.30 am. That train should return at about 5.30 pm from Belpahar.
Soumitra Sarkar, Rourkela, Orissa
Sir — The investment of more than Rs 3,600 crore in the tobacco industry by the Life Insurance Corporation last year is an instance of myopic government policy (“LIC’s tobacco stain shows”, Oct 13). Ethical questions apart, this is clearly a suicidal business strategy. Since increase in tobacco use causes an increase in the mortality rate, such an investment will certainly have a telling effect on the insurance company. The government’s desire for capital-intensive growth while not addressing the problem of unemployment displays a similar mindset. Because health and education have been neglected, assets like the country’s youth are turning into liabilities.
Sujit De, Sodepur