Too late in the day
Sir — Viren J. Shah’s sudden realization about the terrible condition of the healthcare system in West Bengal comes rather late in the day (“Shah in health slap”, Oct 31). It is difficult to believe that the governor was unaware of the conditions prevailing in government hospitals for so long. Again, if Shah was really ignorant of the problems, that too does not speak well of him. As it is, the allegations which Shah has levelled against the healthcare system are neither new, nor does he make any attempt to provide a solution. As head of state, even if a titular one, surely Shah could do more than make an ineffectual speech' There are ways of wielding the stick or showing concern while maintaining the dignity of his office. If Shah’s daughter can bring a sick donkey into her house, why can’t Shah house a few of the poor and ailing in the palatial rooms of Raj Bhavan' That may sound excessive but it’s only drastic measures like these that will make the politicians sit up and notice.
B. Basak, Calcutta
Sir — Janaki Nair must be thanked for reminding us of at least some redeeming features of our city (“Beauty by Banning”, Oct 23). The standard of life in Calcutta, the abundant supply of water and other civic amenities in this city are almost unthinkable in any other metropolis. We take these for granted, but never fail to complain about the problems of the city. The lack of a sense of responsibility among its citizens probably explains the dismal state of affairs in Calcutta. It is thus that a Shabana Parveen died unattended in a hospital owing to the negligence of the doctors, while a Swapan Mandal fled hospital to get his fix of ganja. Calcutta carries on its troubled existence in the midst of all this universal condemnation.
As a citizen of Calcutta, I think it is futile to sing praises of Bangalore and Hyderabad. Let us accept that the priorities of this unreconstructed metropolis are different because of its history, its demographic profile and other factors. Beauty here cannot be imposed by a ban or by privatization of public space, and discipline cannot be enforced in an authoritative manner. But the situation may change if we act with a sense of responsibility and tolerance.
Maitreyi Sen Gupta, Calcutta
Sir — Janaki Nair is right — Calcutta is much more humane than Bangalore, despite its technological advancements. Food, transport, accommodation and education are available here at cheap rates and this has made Calcutta the favoured destination of poor migrants from Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and eastern Uttar Pradesh. Despite all this, the state government has not tried to stem the flow of migrants into the city. Bengalis also do not impose their language on the settlers, a rare trend not seen in other Indian cities. Instead of criticizing Calcutta, outsiders should try to appreciate the good qualities of the metropolis.
Kajal Chatterjee, Sodepur
Sir — This year, the Durga puja was celebrated in Calcutta with the usual fervour. Like every year, loud-speakers blared far beyond permissible levels, even as the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, the pollution control board, the government and courts kept mum.
The immersion of the idols in the rivers is another source of pollution. It leads to an increase in the percentage of suspended solids, which reduces the navigability of rivers. The shola, jari, thermocol used to make the idol also have a similar effect, while the synthetic enamel paints contain chemicals which make the river unfit for human consumption. Fish too find it difficult to survive in such waters. Puja committees make eleborate arrangements to put up a grand show — can they not ensure that they do not pollute the environment'
Manish Chandra Bose, Calcutta
Sir — There have been many newspaper reports on how well the police controlled the crowds in the pandals and streets during the pujas this year. Indeed, the police did work very hard to make the festival peaceful and incidentfree. But, there was not a single line about the contribution of voluntary organizations like the Citizens’ Volunteers Force and St John Ambulance, who also worked round-the-clock in the puja pandals and immersion ghats to control the crowds, render first aid, trace missing persons and so on.
Without the help of these volunteers, who gave up all thoughts of enjoying themselves, it would not have been possible for the police and the administration alone to do such a good job. Did they not deserve even a single line'
Phatik Das, Calcutta
Sir — Notwithstanding successive judgments by the Supreme Court and high courts, young people continue to make as much noise as they can during Diwali and Dussehra. Citizens will thus heave a sigh of relief at the Supreme Court’s recent refusal to relax the ban on the bursting of crackers. If the noise pollution during these festivals is not checked, a section of the population will surely turn deaf.
Mohan Lal Sarkar, Budge Budge
Sir — During the festive season, demands for chanda (donations) have come to be a real terror for middle-class householders. The amount demanded is often very high and those unable to pay are at times beaten up. Even traffic is stopped midway to make such demands, which are, at times, no better than extortion.
K.M. Naskar, Mathurapur
Sir — The pujas are invariably accompanied by violence and all kinds of disruptive activities. Either somebody is shot dead or brutally assaulted in donation-related violence. Even the police block traffic to enable the easy passage of puja processions. How can people tolerate such things in the name of religion'
K.C. Thomas, Majhipara, Birbhum
nSir — Some amount of disruption of normal traffic is only to be expected during the pujas. But what happens every year in Lake Town, because of the Sribhumi puja, crosses all limits. Buses are not allowed to stop at the regular stops, which greatly inconveniences pedestrians. There are a few uniformed men at the Lake Town bus stop who, in the name of “controlling traffic”, very casually break headlights of buses with their lathis to prevent them from stopping at the scheduled stop. As a result, broken glass lies strewn all over the road posing a danger to pedestrians. People cannot even cross the road since the divider is blocked with bamboo fences. If all this is done to avoid traffic jams, I am surprised that it is so totally devoid of any consideration for the general public.
Amrita Mitra, Calcutta