Sir — “I draw butterflies because I want to be like them,” said little Kakoli, one of the kids showing their paintings on the walkway near the national museum. When asked about her parents, she said that has never seen her mother and her father has left her recently. She lives on the footpath, begs and can manage only one meal a day. Stories like this, which reveal the harsh reality of childhood in Third World countries, are common. If educated and moneyed people came forward to help these children, they would be able to lead a better life.
Bipul K. Debnath, Dhaka
Sir — The time is not far when our future generations will read about elephants in books only (“Killer track”, Jan 7). According to the forest and environment minister of Odisha, from 2005 till date, as many as 147 elephants have died in the state of various unnatural causes. Some of the jumbos were killed by poachers, some were poisoned, while others were electrocuted in the forests.
In states like West Bengal and Assam, elephants are frequently killed by speeding trains because a considerable portion of railway tracks passes through elephant habitats. Ultimately, we are responsible for all these deaths because we are encroaching upon areas that rightfully belong to the animals. We are yet to adopt adequate measures to ensure the safety of the elephants. In the aftermath of the rape in Delhi, we are talking about the destruction of all humane tendencies. The regular mowing down of the elephants also reveals this. Almost everyday, we read reports about these killings in newspapers. Yet we do not care to do anything to prevent such gratuitous deaths.
Let us take some stringent measures which will stop the killings of elephants and other animals like rhinos or tigers. The steps taken by the forest department of India are evidently not effective enough.
Robin Cintury, Gangtok
Sir — Animals, in particular, elephants, were often knocked down and killed on the railway tracks passing through the forest area between Motichur and Dehra Dun in Uttarakhand. Then the forest department and the railway authorities worked out a plan which prevented such accidents. The forest department guards patrolling the railway lines would warn the nearest railway station of the presence of elephants. Those in charge of the station would halt the trains until the animals have crossed. Further, it is mandatory for the drivers to sound the horn while crossing this vulnerable area. Ever since this system has been put in place, accidents involving elephants and other animals have stopped. When Tipu, the well-known elephant of the area, had been wounded badly in a fight, the forest guards followed him all the way till he fell down and died. The forest guards and the railways have to be sensitized. But then, as far as humans are concerned, how does it matter? It is only an animal!
Reyhan Datta, Dehra Dun
Sir — The traffic situation in Dhubri is worsening by the day. This is chiefly because the vehicles of the BSF or the CRPF are parked on the wrong side of busy roads. Out of fear of the jawaans, nobody dares to ask them to park those vehicles in the proper place. Hence it takes about 30 minutes to walk a distance that should not take more than five minutes to traverse.
Amit Kumpawat, Dhubri