Bleak future; Right step; Welcome back; Safety first; Parting shot
• Sir - The article, "At Ground Zero, Ground Giving" (Dec 24), highlights the suffering of the people of Mousuni island of the Sunderbans in India. Global warming and the consequent rise in sea levels have caused severe erosion in the coastal areas and the low-lying islands, reducing the availability of land for people to live on and cultivate. In spite of the numerous studies that have been undertaken, these problems remain ignored. Interventions at the local level, such as planting more trees, placing stone boulders on the shores and checking population can be of help. A World Bank report states that India is losing Rs 1,290 crore annually due to environmental damage in the Sunderbans. The lack of strategic planning has spelt doom for several natural islands in India.
• Sir - When leaders are corrupt, can much better be expected from the common people? The editorial, "Clean the mess" (Dec 27), rightly says, "Power corrupts". It is shocking that so many representatives of the people have criminal cases pending against them. Their crimes often go unreported because the victims are fearful of what might happen to them or their loved ones if they complain against powerful people. Hence, it is likely that the Centre's decision to set up 12 fast-track courts in different parts of the country to dispose of the numerous pending cases against various elected members will be met with resistance. The planning and implementation of this step have to be foolproof so that the accused cannot avoid trial.
Our Constitution states that all citizens are equal in the eyes of the law. Unfortunately, this tenet does not translate into practice in real life. Ordinary citizens have to run from pillar to post in order to get justice. If elected representatives expect their own wishes to be fulfilled at the speed of light, then they ought not to complain when their trials are conducted speedily as well.
Asit Kumar Mitra,
• Sir - The government's decision to set up fast-track courts for accused politicians is commendable. This should have been done much earlier. Allowing people with criminal records to govern the people has adversely affected the democratic ethos of India. Fast-track courts can be instrumental in eliminating crime and corruption in politics, provided the government is serious about this move.
• Sir - The former captain of the English cricket team, Alastair Cook, deserves praise for making a comeback with 244 runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the Ashes series. His rough patch has finally come to an end. In fact, with his score of 244, Cook has amassed 11,956 runs in Test cricket, making him the sixth-highest run-scorer in this format of the game. However, the southpaw still has a long way to go.
Sir - Alastair Cook should be lauded for becoming the second overseas batsman in the history of Test cricket to score a century in all the major Test venues in Australia. Before him, it was the Indian batsman, Sunil Gavaskar, who had achieved this feat. Cook also holds the record of being the youngest player to score 10,000 runs in Tests.
• Sir - Road accidents can occur at any time. The recent accident in Rajasthan, where a bus veered off a 100-foot bridge in the Sawai Madhopur district, points to the carelessness of the drivers of motor vehicles ("33 dead as bus veers off bridge", Dec 24). Drivers often do not slow down while crossing a bridge. The Union transport ministry should implement proper measures to check accidents. Parapet walls and railings on either side of a bridge should be strong enough to withstand the impact of a crash. More and more vehicles are plying the roads; it is, thus, little surprise that the number of accidents, too, is increasing. Building more roads cannot solve the problem entirely but can definitely improve the situation.
• Sir - Air pollution in Calcutta is at its worst. Due to the ineptitude of the state government and the pollution control board, ordinary citizens have to breathe poisoned air. Delhi has introduced the use of compressed natural gas as an alternative to fuel, but Calcutta has not been able to fully implement such measures.