Wednesday, June 21, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Edible salt: a retrograde step

THE Government of India’s contemplated move to withdraw the statutory iodisation of edible salt on flimsy grounds, perhaps at the behest of a handful of small-scale producers of salt, has stunned all concerned, especially health professionals in our country and abroad where such campaigns are going on successfully for tackling the iodine deficiency disorders (IDD).

The universal salt iodisation (USI) was decided to be introduced in this country on the well-considered recommendation of the Central Council of Health in 1984 which took into account the damage caused by IDD on the human resource, iodine deficiency being the single most preventable cause of mental retardation. As of now, over 110 countries in the world have compulsory USI.

As a result of huge investments and sustained efforts, a stage has been reached when about 70 per cent of families in India have an access to adequately fortified salt. Presently many developing countries, including India, are almost on the brink of elimination of IDD using the iodisation programme only.

However, experience from different parts of the world and our own field studies have shown that IDD invariably reappears if USI is not enforced strictly on a regular basis. Therefore, at this stage to stop USI may prove disastrous for India. Obviously, the entire scientific community in India and elsewhere cannot even think of abandoning the economically affordable, socially acceptable and technologically sound programme of USI. No doubt, such a step will be most retrograde amounting to sinking 50 years of research and efforts with one stroke.

  It is very unfortunate that just for safeguarding the interests of a few salt producers, our government is planning to undo the encouraging results achieved already while tackling a major nutritional problem with far-reaching consequences. Millions of people will once again be exposed to the risk of iodine deficiency.

The Government of India must, therefore, give a very serious thought to the whole issue and its long-term implications on the health of future generations before a final notification is issued in this connection.

(Dr) S. S. Sooch

The faceless token

The news item, “Token in hand, customer cries for payment” (The Tribune, June 4) makes a sad reading.

I am not too sure about the legal sanctity of a faceless brass token, bearing just a serial number and no other details of the payment, which a customer receives when he presents a self cheque or a withdrawal form at a bank counter.

My further worry is that what has happened to the above hapless customer may happen to anybody at any bank anywhere. So, there is need to evolve a foolproof procedure to prevent frauds and the resultant agony to the unsuspecting customers.

One such simple method would be to issue a proper receipt for a cheque presented for cash payment at the bank counter which the customer surrenders to the cashier after signing in his presence and the cashier in turn verifies the signature on the receipt with that at the reverse of the cheque to ensure that the same person who presented the cheque is receiving the payment.

A token may be good enough when I deposit my shoes at the entrance of a religious place, but surely not when I deposit a cheque worth lakhs of rupees at a bank counter for encashment.

Wg Cdr C. L. Sehgal (retd)

Crime graph

The editorial "Spurt in crime" (The Tribune, June 15) correctly analyses the rising crime graph in Punjab, especially in the two major cities — Jalandhar and Ludhiana.

The recent brutal killings of two young siblings by their neighbour in Jalandhar and another killing of a boy on the autskirts of the industrial city of Ludhiana are the classic examples of the rising chart of criminal activities.

It is high time the authorities concerned did something to prevent recurrence of such incidents.


Parking blues

The tourist season is on in Shimla. The income of those owning taxis also increase with the visit of tourists,. However, there is an acute problem of parking in many parts of Shimla.

The vehicles parked by the roadside are taken away by the traffic police. In the Boileauganj area the locals face much of the problem.

The authorities should take urgent steps to provide the parking facility in the Boileauganj area where vehicles of local residents are seized by the police time and again.



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