Monday, July 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Building norms relaxation: politicians out to destroy green open spaces in HP towns

APROPOS Rakesh Lohumi’s report/analysis (July 9, 12) relating to the H.P. Cabinet’s relaxation of building norms in the hitherto banned core and restricted areas of the hill state’s main towns, it is sad to notice how political parties are now routinely inflicting permanent damage on the physical environment for their short-term political gains. This is being done by these so-called people’s representatives brazenly and in the face of definite, yet sullen, popular resentment.

It is most unfortunate that the towns where the building norms have been relaxed, including Shimla, Manali, Dharamsala and Dalhousie, and which had been neatly developed during the regime of a colonial power, have ironically been allowed to be reduced to concrete jungles by our own political parties in power.

The present political dispensation in power in the state seems to be sounding the death knell of whatever is left of green open spaces in these towns. And pray, who is going to benefit from these blatantly partisan, but ecologically disastrous, relaxations in rules? Obviously, the upper crust of society owning plots in the core areas exceeding 250 sq. metres in size.

If it is being done to win votes in the coming elections, then let the party in power be forewarned (if it does not have the common sense to foresee it itself) that while this class of people rarely exercise their voting rights at the time of elections, those others who do, might be seething with rage at such retrograde policy decisions and they will surely wreak vengeance at the hustings. For illusory political gains, the politicians will leave these towns’ landscape irretrievably damaged.


Will the scattered environmentalists of the state now come out of their ivory towers to create an operational forum for a strong movement for the conservation of the state’s ecology and against the ecological depredations of our political class? Are there any green activists in the state’s legal fraternity to take up these issues through appropriate PIL? Will the hoteliers come forward, in their own interest, to lobby for saving the hill towns for their potential patrons, the tourists, who obviously visit the state for its scenic beauty and an ambience free from congestion and filth?


Amrita Pritam’s poem

This refers to Bhagwan Singh’s letter “Honouring Amrita Pritam” (July 15). The letter is overly pedantic and lacks in grace and aesthetic sensitivity. At a time when Amrita Pritam has been honoured with the life-time achievement award, Bhagwan Singh utters not a word of praise for her, but instead chooses to vivisect and (mis) judge Amrita’s legendary poem on the Partition from a very narrow technicist and prosaic angle.


Poetic liberties: I am reminded of an incident during my college days when on my presenting my critique of Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, I had found a thousand grammatical faults, Dr Jagdish Chander a renowned Professor of English and critic by all standards, asked me. “Does it all make him any less a poet than he was?”

I was stumped. Mr Bhagwan Singh, can you see an analogy here? Poets can assign new meanings to the words which are commonly being understood!


Callous approach: I have always been appreciative of Bhagwan Singh’s letters which speak very high of his rich knowledge of Urdu poetry. But this letter on Amrita Pritam’s poem is gravely disparaging and suggestive of his mathematically callous approach to such a sensitive subject as poetry. Amrita’s emphasis is on bringing out the agony and trauma of the people, especially women, during the Partition.

C.L. ARORA, Ferozepur

Grammar doesn’t matter: All readers of your paper must be very familiar and appreciative of the learned letter writer for his many “gagar me sagar” letters. But in this letter he has hurt sentiments of many generations of readers. Who says poetry should follow middle school grammar rules? This is one poem with which we engineers, doctors, managers have claimed to know the language in many gatherings in and outside the country. Before the letter writer bulldozes me with the might of his pen, let it be said for record only that my first letters to this paper were published in 1967-68 and this is the second set only — need it be said more, how strongly we feel?


Corruption rates

The report “Tehsil office shows rates of graft” (July 13) makes interesting reading. It cannot be gainsaid that the offices of the revenue Department, by and large, stink of corruption/bribery these days. The noticeable part of the story emanating from Tohana (Haryana) is that the tehsil office under question, as per the report, has audaciously put up a public notice spelling out the prevailing rates of graft for various revenue-related jobs — registration of sale deeds/wills, mutations etc.

The report that an official in this tehsil office has, through his own resources, engaged an additional hand to cope with the “business” is startling, to say the least.

Mutual bickerings among the “partners”, in all probability, would help spoil the “flourishing show” to the disadvantage of all concerned. Candidly speaking, the moral of the Tohana episode is: Eat/let others eat and be merry; bicker/fall out over the matter and be damned!

TARA CHAND, Ambota (Una)



Stray dog menace

Perhaps few know that more than 30,000 human deaths and an unaccounted number of animal deaths occur every year in India by the bite of rabid animals. Since 95 per cent bites are inflicted by stray dogs, the control of stray dogs needs priority at the national level. The deaths due to bites of rabid dogs and consequent rabies are much more than the much talked about deaths caused by militancy, earthquakes, floods and communal riots.

The strict ban on the destruction of dogs and failure to check the ever-increasing dog population has created a situation detrimental to public health. The Union Ministry of Culture has notified the Animal Birth Control (Dog) Rules, 2001, to control the stray dog population as a means to control rabies and curb cruelty to dogs. Under these rules, street dogs will be sterilised and vaccinated by the participation of animal welfare organisations, private individuals and the local authority. A monitoring committee under the chairmanship of the chief of local authority (Municipal Corporation etc.) will manage and plan the dog control programme.

The dog capturing squad of the local authority will humanely capture and bring stray dogs from a particular locality to the dog kennel/pound, managed by the AWOS, where they will be sterilised and vaccinated by their veterinary doctor. These stray dogs, rendered harmless and unfit to propagate, will be put back to the place from where they were lifted. It is strange and flabbergasting that the ABC (Dogs) Rules put the onus of sterilisation and vaccination on the AWOS which sustain on paltry funds and can hardly engage a part-time veterinary doctor, what to speak of a whole time vet. In Punjab there is no AWO which has a permanent veterinary doctor to do this onerous task. Without the participation of the veterinary surgeons of the Animal Husbandry Department, the ABC (Dog) control programme can never be result oriented.

Sterilising a few thousand dogs in India is ostentatious and meaningless as a bitch matures at the age of 10 months and rears successfully four puppies in a year. The vaccinated dogs will need to be revaccinated after one year for which there is no schedule in the ABC (Dog) Rules. This is an egregious lapse and needs to be pondered for decision.


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