Sir — Nothing is permanent, no matter how culturally significant it is. But some endings leave a bitter taste in the mouth. With the rise of ‘Instagrammable’ cafes — aesthetically designed places where delicacies are secondary to taking photographs for social media — the whimsical bakery that had a quirky decor long before Instagram burst onto the scene, Mrs. Magpie, seems to have lost its appeal. Mrs. Magpie, run by Sohini Basu, is all set to bid the city adieu. Hearteningly, Basu has promised to publish the recipes of the beloved items on her menu — the hot chocolate, in particular, was a crowd favourite. One hopes that these recipes do not fall prey to bizarre food experimentations on social media. They should continue to sweeten the palates of Calcuttans.
Sobhona Das, Calcutta
Rescued, at last
Sir — A portion of the under-construction Silkyara-Barkot tunnel had collapsed on November 12, trapping 41 workers inside. After over two weeks of continuous rescue attempts, the authorities have succeeded in bringing out the trapped labourers. It was the rat-hole miners who finally succeeded in digging their way to the trapped labourers. In 1989, 65 miners were rescued using capsules by Jaswant Singh Gill in a colliery in Raniganj. Rescue missions such as these should be studied in order to better prepare for future calamities.
Samares Bandyopadhyay, Calcutta
Sir — China has carried out extensive construction work in the Himalayan region, including dams, tunnels and railways, by employing innovative technology and research. China’s trans-Himalayan ventures prove its expertise in such engineering. India must seek China’s help to ensure that the tragedy of the Uttarkashi tunnel is not repeated.
H.N. Ramakrishna, Bengaluru
Sir — Even though the auger, shaft and rotor of the machine drilling through the debris of the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel broke down recently, rescuers have finally managed to dig through the debris to reach the trapped workers. But this incident is proof that the security of labourers is not a priority in India. To make matters worse, the tunnel was planned without taking adequate measure of Uttarakhand’s fragile ecology. Workers’ safety must be prioritised in developmental work.
Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee, Faridabad
Sir — Be it the Madras Sappers regiment of the Indian army’s corps of engineers who had been called in for the rescue operation in the collapsed Uttarkashi tunnel or the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, which established a two-way communication system between trapped workers and their anxious family members, those involved in the Uttarakhand tunnel rescue mission must be lauded. The volunteers who helped with free food, water and warm garments for the labourers and their families also deserve to be praised. The workers may have been rescued now but the long-drawn crisis exposed the unpreparedness of the authorities to handle such disasters. The Centre must rope in international agencies to provide insight and training regarding such rescue operations.
Bal Govind, Noida
Sir — Construction projects undertaken in the Himalayas are often ill-thought-out (“Glare on ‘myopic’ projects”, Nov 27). They also lack adequate safety infrastructure for the workers. This was the reason behind the collapse of a section of the under-construction Silkyara-Barkot tunnel. The rising population puts undue pressure on transportation infrastructure. This, combined with the populist demand of the political dispensations in power to finish projects within a certain time, leads to poorly-planned construction work. The damage caused to fragile ecosystems as a result of this is bound to lead to disasters such as the one in Uttarakhand. The authorities must consult experts before embarking on projects in such precarious terrains.
Aayman Anwar Ali, Calcutta
Sir — While speaking at the inauguration of this year’s Constitution Day celebrations, the Chief Justice of India, D.Y. Chandrachud, said that the Supreme Court has acted as a “people’s court” and iterated that citizens should not be afraid of appealing to the courts. Chandrachud also elaborated that just like the Constitution, the courts, too, help in resolving many disagreements through established principles and processes. His words should be heeded, especially given the times we are living in.
Bhagwan Thadani, Mumbai
Sir — Three elephants were mowed down by a goods train in the Buxa Tiger Reserve (“Train mows down 3 elephants”, Nov 28). Since the metre-gauge track between Alipurduar and Siliguri was converted to broad-gauge in 2003, almost 80 elephants have been killed in such accidents. Although the railways has invested in state-of-the-art technology to prevent accidents and man-animal conflict, it is yet to be implemented. It is shameful that the loco pilot was travelling at such great speed that he could not stop even after spotting the tuskers.
Khokan Das, Calcutta
The Gabba anew
Sir — The iconic Australian cricket stadium in Brisbane, popularly known as the Gabba, will be revamped for the 2032 Summer Olympics. While the Gabba is not as popular as the stadiums in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, its very mention strikes fear in the hearts of visiting teams. The Gabba became a household name after the Indian cricket team breached what was an Australian fortress until 2021. The former Australian cricketer, Bill Lawry, had it right when he said, “It is all happening here at the Gabba.”
Ranganathan Sivakumar, Chennai