Sir — It is worrisome that while people in India seem to observe World Forest Day and the Earth Hour in all earnestness, little attention is paid to the genuine problems in the path of environment protection. Protecting the forests is vital to saving the environment. But recently, India’s forests and environment ministry revealed that in Tamil Nadu alone, a total of 70 hectares of forest land was diverted for non-forestry purposes. All citizens must come together to protest against this.
Sir — For some, mornings without the newspaper is like food without salt. But ever since India was hit by the pandemic caused by the coronavirus, delivery of newspapers has suffered in several metropolitan cities. According to government notification, the print media, along with other essential services, is exempted from the lockdown announced by the Centre (“CM: Access to dailies a must”, March 25). Even doctors affiliated to the Indian Council of Medical Research have declared that there is no evidence that Covid-19 is transmitted through newspapers. People should, of course, take care while reading the newspapers and wash hands right after, just as one has to do after having touched any other item coming from outside the house these days. Accessing newspapers cannot be more dangerous than touching currency notes. In fact, these notes are handled by many other people before they reach us.
Scientists have also found that the sterility of ink and the process of printing make newspapers especially safe. Moreover, nowadays newspapers are printed automatically, without human contact. The risk of the papers getting contaminated is therefore further diminished. International agencies, including the World Health Organization, have corroborated this. The WHO has also said that the likelihood of “catching the virus” from a delivery package is low as is the chance of an “infected person contaminating commercial goods”.
Without the newspaper reaching their doorsteps, hundreds of readers, especially the elderly, in self-quarantine will be cut off from the most trusted source of news during this crisis. The government must look into the matter and ensure that this does not happen.
Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee,
Sir — In spite of the appeal of the chief minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, that uninterrupted supply of newspapers is vital even during the lockdown, vendors are not delivering newspapers. Many electronic and print media houses have been repeatedly showing to readers what initiatives have been taken so that the readers get to safely read their papers daily, but to little avail. It is unthinkable, especially for retired citizens like me, to pass days without having access to newspapers, particularly when the country is under complete lockdown.
Sir — Avid readers of the newspaper eagerly wait for their favourite dailies every morning, and the vendors deliver those newspapers to the readers’ doorsteps everyday without fail, braving various difficult situations. Even now, during the Covid-19 pandemic, these delivery people are doing their job, so that we, the newspaper readers, can start our mornings during this period of lockdown with fresh news. Their efforts should be appreciated.
Sir — Panic can cause great harm because it reduces one’s capacity to think logically. It seems that many people across the country have begun fearing the newspaper because they think that it might transmit the coronavirus. However, if one follows the news, it would come as no surprise that newspapers are not carriers of the virus. Porous objects — books and newspapers, for instance — have very little chance of having the coronavirus. One hopes that with time, the panic surrounding the coronavirus will diminish, and people will start readings newspapers as they usually do.
North 24 Parganas
Sir — Along with the state government, the Union home ministry too has clarified that the transportation of newspapers will be allowed during the lockdown. All online news portals and television channels should be instructed to carry this declaration. The press is already under enough pressure from authoritarian governments as well as the advent of alternative media. The pandemic should not needlessly add to its woes.