Time to have quake-proof buildings

The importance of earthquake and tsunami-resistant houses has become greater today. For seismic-prone areas, codal instructions ask for a design suitable to meet higher intensity of the seismic zone.

All the buildings including residential houses must be made earthquake resistant. It must be made mandatory for a house owner to obtain the green signal from an independent structural engineer before going ahead with the construction work.

Nowadays, architects employ engineering graduates to certify the buildings as structurally safe. Some thumb rules, being adopted instead of evolving a proper design, make the buildings heavy and uneconomical which is again unsafe. This practice needs to be curbed. The government should enact legislation in this regard.

Er JAGVIR GOYAL, Chandigarh


Since 7/10th of the earthís surface is covered by the oceans, 70 per cent of the earthquakes are likely to occur under the seas though all may not give rise to killer tsunamis. The loss of life due to tsunamis caused by undersea quakes may be much more as one may find no safe spot to run as against an overland quake.

If houses on the coast are designed to have door openings on all sides to allow unhindered flow of tidal waves, the damage may be much less, enhancing the chances of survival of those perched on the rooftops. The proposal for a sea wall is not sound. Instead, a thick vegetation belt may be more effective.

Wg-Cdr C.L. SEHGAL (retd), Jalandhar



Schools for social cohesion

The common-cum- neigbourhood school system will provide equal educational opportunities for all sections, particularly for the poor, underprivileged, disabled and mentally challenged people. It will also promote social cohesion and emotional integration. The affluent and enlightened parents can help schools to overcome their infrastructural deficiencies and work for providing quality education.

The mushrooming of substandard B.Ed colleges should be checked forthwith. Eligibility qualifications of the faculty should be raised to attract bright teachers for secondary schools.

The in-service educational programmes, being devised and conducted by schools, should be handed over to universities so that these could be enriched in content and methodology. Investment on improving the inputs (including teachers) in secondary schools should be adequate and continuous.

Dr T.R. SHARMA, Professor of Education (retd), Patiala


Oil price hike

There is need for an urgent overhaul of domestic pricing of petroleum products. With international crude prices likely to remain sticky at high levels, the Petroleum Ministry has to go in for long-term plans for effective trade barriers for refining crude and monopoly rights for retailing products. The prices of petrol and diesel are routinely left untouched as a populist measure.

In a liberalising economy, it would be a folly to provide protection for oil refining. The giveaways on cooking fuels are close to Rs 20,000 crore. Leakages will be ruinous for oil companies anywhere in the world. The price regime is such that the oil sector is most profitable. There is no real incentive to cut costs and improve efficiency.


Circus animals

The death of 21 circus animals in a Mumbai fire mishap is shocking. Though the circus owners are prohibited from training or exhibiting bears, monkeys, tigers, monkeys, panthers and lions, the animalsí acts in circuses are still in vogue.

Circus animals have might but no dignity. They are shifted from their natural environment and trained by humiliating techniques without compassion. They are kept in degrading living conditions in claustrophobic confines of the wheeled cages. Their dignity is reduced to submissiveness. It is an offence to exhibit and train performing animals.

When Russians, the front runners in circuses in the world, perform exceedingly well without the animals, why canít we do the same in India? We have no dearth of human artistes with talents and skills to entertain the public. Circuses can prosper well without imprisoned animals.


Red Cross shop

Medicines at the Red Cross shop at Kharar are sold at exorbitant cost and without bills. Some of them are substandard. Doctors prescribe costly medicines which are available only in this shop. The poor people are unable to afford them. In the absence of a pharmacist in the night, a servant sells medicines here to the patients.

This shop is run on contract and not by the Red Cross Society. The Deputy Commissioner had ordered its closure in September 2004, for irregularities, but it has opened.

Capt MANJIT SINGH GILL, Desu Majra (Ropar)


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