The tragedy in Tehri was avoidable

THE editorial "The Tehri tragedy" (Aug 6) is admirable because it raises the basic question as to why this should have happened at all in the first place. As an expert member of two high power committees that examined the safety of the Tehri project comprising the Tehri and the Koteshwar dams, I have examined all the technical reports on the safety and the dam-break analysis of the project.

I found that the Tehri dam is the most riskiest project. A sit is being built at the edges of two crushing tectonic plates with a seismic potential of 8.5 magnitude site which is rejected even in Russia for such a massive rock-fill dam as the standards there do not permit construction at places with seismic potential above intensity 9 on the Modified Mercalli scale which is equivalent to 7 on the Richter scale here.

Those who are qualified to decide on the safety of the site are the seismologists. Those who decide on the structural safety of the dam are the civil engineers. In the decision-making process, reputed seismologists like Prof V.N. Gaur and Prof Khattri have rejected the site for this project. Surprisingly, however, it is the bureaucrats who are neither qualified in seismology nor in structural engineering, who have decided that the Tehri site and the dam are safe.



As regards environmental safety, the authorities have not prepared the disaster management report for dissemination of information and a suitable public hearing. The mass media have not highlighted this crucial problem and thereby the right to information is denied to the people of the Gangetic belt. US experts have warned of an impending disaster in the next 20 years or so. The Supreme Court has also not been briefed adequately about various lapses of the project.

Prof T. SHIVAJI RAO, Director, Centre for Environmental Studies, Visakhapatnam (AP)

Safety of Indians in Iraq

THE Bush Administration has stated that it "cannot guarantee the safety of Indian and other South Asian workers" in Iraq (Aug 6). So, what is the big deal? When the American soldiers are on the run and cannot look after their own lives in the face of mounting attacks from Iraqi groups, how can they assure the safety of nationals from India and other countries?

To be honest, it is time Uncle Sam did some serious soul-searching. It will have to do an about-turn from the land of the Tigris and the Euphrates for the well being and honour of the people of the US.

Wg-Cdr S.C. KAPOOR (retd), Noida


Package deal

Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram first gave a good package to Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav's Bihar in the Union Budget. Then, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh sanctioned a substantial amount for flood relief in that state. Now, it's the turn of the Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports to donate a hefty amount to Bihar from his MP fund. One need not stress oneself to find reasons for these out-of-the-way financial packages for Bihar, coming liberally from the Prime Minister and his colleagues in the Cabinet.

The Prime Minister has himself given the reasons in his Bangkok statement. He said: "The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) are powerful constituents of the Congress-led UPA government, without whose cooperation, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would have come to power."

No doubt, JMM's Shibu Soren was not asked to resign as Union Minister for Coal and Mines by the Prime Minister immediately after he had absconded on the arrival of the Jharkhand police in New Delhi to arrest him on the court's order. Ultimately, the Jharkhand police had to paste a copy of the court's summons outside Mr Soren's residence.

V. M. SETH, Hisar

White House event

We are dismayed at the stand of World Sikh Council-American Region Chairman Kuldeep Singh, who has declined the White House invitation to attend the event related to the 400th anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib (Aug 17).

It is misleading to imply that "Dr Rajwant Singh, as organiser of the event, will be calling the invited guests and request that they wear a medallion with a small Kirpan image in it instead of their usual Kirpan." No one is being called to wear a medallion. That has not happened and is categorically denied.

The Kirpan issue was discussed at length with the White House officials. We are accepting this invitation to go to the White House in the spirit in which it was given. We greatly appreciate their initiative to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib. This is a great honour for the Sikhs. We look upon this as an opportunity to increase awareness about the Sikhs and our traditions and to build upon this relationship.

Dr RAJWANT SINGH, National Chairman, Sikh Council on Religion and Education, Washington DC

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