Working as a ground engineer of an airline, I had the opportunity to fly in and out of Calcutta quite often. Even 10 years after retirement, the memory of shuddering take-offs and landings is so disturbing that I often wish for a magical action to make Calcutta runways flat and smooth (Bumpy ride to runway repair, April 28). Vibration is the greatest enemy of airplane structure, more so on ground than in air. This problem prematurely wrecks the complete airplane, which is held together by millions of rivets. The huge foreign exchange outgo associated with maintenance of aircraft owned by our nationalised and private airlines can be surely reduced if runways are smooth. The National Highway Authority of India has built magnificent roads for heavy vehicles throughout India and the Airports Authority of India has built super-terminals in metros. Why can’t they mobilise expertise and money to make Calcutta’s primary and secondary runways flat and smooth?
Sujit Ghose, New Alipore
Rogue taxi drivers should be arrested and put behind bars for at least six months (He scared us with his behaviour, May 19). At 8.30pm on May 5, I was refused by a cab (WB 04-C0097) in Burrabazar. I wanted to go to Hind Inox and the taxi driver demanded Rs 250. When I asked him why I should pay him extra, he said he would only go to the airport and for any other destination he would charge extra. I told him he could be fined for refusal and overcharging, but he seemed least bothered and said I could do what I wished.
On the morning of May 13, Metro service was disrupted and I had to take a cab from Golf Green to Park Street. I had an exam at 10am and after much running around I finally managed to get a cab around 9.50am. The driver of the cab (WB 19B 0455) asked for Rs 150 (the meter fare would have been around Rs 125). I had no choice but to agree. All through the journey the driver kept telling me he had to go to Tollygunge and that he had agreed to go only because I was in distress. He insisted that he would not get any passenger on the way back. I took him through the shortest route possible and we reached in around 20 minutes. But on reaching Park Street, the driver started shouting at me, saying I had taken a longer route and Rs 150 wouldn’t do. I was already late and didn’t have time to argue. I handed him two Rs 100 notes and asked him to take Rs 160. As soon as I stepped out, the driver sped away without returning the change.
I would like to point out that most taxi meters, new and old, are tampered. The reading on the tampered meters changes to Rs 27.40 as soon as the meter shows 2km without any waiting. It should actually change to Rs 27.40 only on reaching 2.2km. This is a growing menace.
It was heartening to note that the city will soon have more air-conditioned buses (AC bus fleet set to expand, May 20). I would like to suggest a few points for the better running of AC buses:
4 The buses should not stop at any spot other than the designated stops.
4 The timings of the buses should be displayed at the stops.
Here are my observations about the city’s public transport system. I believe opting for public transport is a sign of development. But in Calcutta, the public transport system seems to be getting worse by the day. There are fewer buses on the road and so those that ply are overcrowded. I stay in Behala Parnasree, from where most buses go to Salt Lake, Howrah and Sealdah. But there is little option for commuters headed for other destinations. Even these buses are often irregular, their frequency is low and there are no buses at night, in fact after 7.30pm. There are four Volvo buses on this route but one has to be really lucky to spot them. There are also few Behala-bound buses from other parts of the city like Howrah, Salt Lake, Sealdah and even Esplanade, leave alone north Calcutta. There are hardly any buses to Behala from Bhowanipore, Hazra, Gariahat and Ballygunge either. Another problem is the conditions of the buses that do ply.
Out of service
The condition of service roads along the EM Bypass is a telling commentary on the quality of repair work (Off the Bypass, bone rattlers May 15). The 150m stretch from Calcutta International School to the Ruby crossing deserves special mention because of its dusty, dirty and bumpy condition. The feeder road along Eastern Calcutta Township Housing fares no better.
Manager & messiah
Russi Mody was a towering personality but very down to earth despite his affluent background. He was humane, sporting and lovable. He had a knack for spotting and grooming talent. Before he became vice-chairman of Tisco, the subsidiaries of the Tata Group were being managed by individuals reluctant to nurture capable managers. Russi changed everything not only in India but also in overseas organisations. He encouraged young managers to be decisive and to gain corporate experience by inducting them into various boards. He championed events and encouraged his managers to participate in public seminars, be on governing councils of various chambers of commerce and industry and participate in social, cultural and sporting events. He was at ease with workers, employees, bureaucrats, industrialists, businessmen, politicians and media. He never shied away from visiting the humble homes of workers and sharing a cup of tea or a meal with them.
The Tata Group owes its prosperity and stature to Russi Mody, who had contested the decision to nationalise Tisco. The employees, workers and unions (of different political leanings) at the works, mines and collieries lent their support to his style of management, telling the government of India that they were happy with the Tatas. Had Tisco been nationalised like banks, insurance companies and mines, it would have been the death knell for the Tata Group.
Russi was the only manager to have become chairman and managing director of Tisco. He had not only modernised the plant, mines and collieries but also embraced modern corporate philosophy and communication systems, ensuring their adoption in the organisation, and ventured into the global market. He thus built a team of dedicated professionals who were ordained to keep abreast with the current management, financial and technical processes by participation in executive programmes in India and even overseas. He had a firm belief in human investment for the prosperity of the organisation.
Venkata Rao Vedula
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