Going for a better deal
Sir — Just what suits her (“Sadhvi steps in, cajoles Singhal to keep open mind on Ayodhya”, June 25). Uma Bharti should by now be quite certain that she will lose the assembly polls to more- saffron-by-half Digvijay Singh. Which is why she is rehearsing her role as a go-between between an increasingly belligerent sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party government. Given her more fierce former self, it is difficult to believe the sadhvi could have settled for a compromise, and worse, suggest it to her compatriots in the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. But the sanyasin must be convinced there is something for her in the deal. She had been one of the most prominent characters in the show when the Babri Masjid came rolling down one fine day in 1992. If the Ram temple happens, at the cost of Kashi and Mathura, she can once again project herself as a frontrunner in the movement. And wait for the Madhya Pradesh cake to fall easily into her lap.
M. Chaturvedi, Bhopal
In one fell swoop
Sir — The left’s policy of withdrawing English from the primary level seems to have come full circle at last. Otherwise, how can a tree be not defined as a “tree” unless it is more than four metres high (“Bengal cuts tree to size”, June 25)' The Chambers dictionary defines a tree as a perennial plant having a single trunk, woody and branched. There is no mention of height.
We all knew the inevitability of the state government’s environmental policy, but none had expected it to come from the current regime headed by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who had once been a bright student of Presidency College, Calcutta. I had expected Bhattacharjee to outdo his smart legislators, who are determined to sell Bengal to realtors for obvious reasons. To us living in North America, where we almost breathe green, the changes in Bengal are painful.
Sir — The weird proposal that trees which are not more than four metres high can be felled is ridiculous. If the contention is accepted, then most of the trees in this city would have to be chopped off. At a time when environmentalists and governments at the Centre and states are advocating afforestation, such a retrograde move will definitely upset the environmental balance. West Bengal has been losing a lot of greenery to the mindless proliferation of a concrete jungle that has been gobbling up wetlands and all available space. The draft of the West Bengal Trees (Protection and Conservation in Non-Forest Areas ) Act, 2003 should be rejected and those behind it be suitably admonished.
S. Ram, Calcutta
Sir — Days ago, the Silver Spring project was given a green signal despite allegations of environmental damage. In this case the veteran leftist, Jyoti Basu, rode roughshod over the environment minister, Manas Mukherjee, who had raised a feeble voice in protest. Now the state government seems hellbent on dispensing with the last vestiges of environmental concern. What is wrong with it' Development does not mean turning a blind eye to the environment, Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
S. Samanta, Calcutta
Sir — There is a big jamun tree close to the boundary wall of the West Bengal state government’s housing complex in the BC block, Salt Lake, which reportedly houses some senior bureaucrats and ministers as well. The best fruits on the tree are always concentrated on the topmost branches. Every year there is a mad rush among the servants and caretakers to partake of the produce, but this year seemed exceptional. The mad rush for jamuns led the men to tear and chop off the thick branches with gay abandon in collusion with the newly appointed security guards, who incidentally led the show in uniform. Surprisingly, no one from the compound objected to the merciless felling of a sizeable portion of the tree. Every right-minded citizen will agree that it is futile to formulate laws if the lawmakers do not practise what they preach in their own backyard.
Susenjit Guha, Calcutta
Sir — Plastic has brought to the modern world innumerable benefits. But it must be kept in mind that plastic bags are nonbiodegradable and stay in the environment for years. The environmental costs have become so immense that the West Bengal government has had to bring in a stringent law that bans the manufacture and sale of plastic bags of a thickness less than 20 microns. But which government has ever been able to enforce such laws without the genuine cooperation of both customers and traders'
Concern for Calcutta is planning a pilot project in a suitable area in Calcutta to collect solid wastes, including plastics of all kinds, and have them recycled. What can the city’s retail trade, hotels and restaurants do in this regard' For one, they can stop handing over plastic carry bags to customers and have them replaced with more eco-friendly material. This will not only make Calcutta relatively free of the plastic menace, but also generate employment among the poorer sections of society. Groups of poor women are being trained to make carrybags from old newspapers. They can be made to specifications and designs and have logos printed on them. If these prove inadequate, brown paper bags can also be made in larger numbers . These are being increasingly used in Bangalore and Mumbai. Why can’t they used here, in this city whose health and wellbeing are just as important as those of businessmen’s families and their trade'
Partha Ghose, president,
Concern for Calcutta