Reforms needed to arrest urban decay

THOUGH Jagmohan’s views on the theme “Urban decay: An outcome of flawed policies” (Perspective, June 19) brings to the fore the ugly faces of the Indian urban scenario, blaming it entirely on the chosen policies will not be fair and just. India was left battered and tattered by the British 58 years ago. As it began its independent walk by taking small, unsteady steps, illiteracy stood in the way leading to population explosion which later proved to be the mother of all problems.

Urban infrastructure couldn’t keep pace with population growth due to lack of funds and magnitude of the problem. The result was the lack of civic amenities, severe shortage of housing, poor power position, rise of slums and steep environmental deterioration.

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Urban decay has, therefore, been the result of a chain reaction of problems, one leading to another before it was tackled and eliminated.

As the current urban population of 30 crore is expected to be double in the next 25 years, massive urban reforms are needed to make our cities self-sustainable, economically and environmentally. The focus should be on roads and transport, power and water, telecom and tourism, housing and slums upgradation in addition to agriculture, industry and education.

A national campaign is overdue to clean up the country and make it germ-free, disease-free and pollution-free. For this, public participation is vital. Let the next year be declared as the ‘Year of Civic Amenities’. NGOs should help clean the cities and upgrade the slums.

JAGVIR GOYAL, Chandigarh


Every year taxes are raised and more people are brought under the tax net, but no attention is paid to keep the slums clean and hygienic. Even in small towns and rural areas, the basic amenities provided to its residents are of poor standard.

Drinking water, if tested in laboratories, will not be safe for drinking. Our roads and streets are not cleaned up regularly. The sewerage system is very old. It needs to be replaced. Otherwise, it will pose a big health hazard.

I do not know whether India is a developing or undeveloped country. We boast of achievements in science and technology, space research and what not. But most of us live in squalour. Who will reverse the trend?

USHA TANEJA, Fatehabad

Documentary on B. R. Chopra

IT is heartening that the Films Division of the Government of India has produced a 60-minute documentary on the journalist-turned film director-producer B.R. Chopra (Spectrum, June 26).

The Films Division has produced many a documentary film on legendary figures of various fields in the past too, but these films have not reached rural India, particularly the educational institutions. The same is the case with the documentary films produced by the Sahitya Akademi.

Proper arrangements for the sale of copies of these films to the educational institutions for screening can help the student community know about the inspiring personalities of various fields, such as literature, music, art, education etc and, of course, theatre and films.



Sinha’s transfer

In his profile of Yashwant Sinha (Sunday Oped, July 3), Harihar Swarup seems to have mixed up his facts about Yashwant Sinha’s transfer from the post of District Magistrate, Santhal Parganas, in 1968. Sinha had a tiff with the then Chief Minister when he had visited his district as he had objected to the rowdy behaviour of some student supporters of his party and he had used the word “riff raff” to describe them.

The Chief Minister and his Cabinet had ordered that Sinha be suspended forthwith. The IAS Officers’ Association of Bihar had protested against the arbitrary orders.

Jayaprakash Narayan might have come into the picture later. B. D. Pande, who was the Chief Secretary, got Sinha a posting under the Central Government in Delhi and persuaded the Bihar Cabinet not to insist on his suspension. His transfer orders were thus not withdrawn or cancelled as made out in the profile.

S. S. DHANOA, IAS (retd), New Delhi

The harassed police

J.L. Gupta’s article “Police as agent of social change” (Sunday Oped, June 12) is informative. I would like to record my observations during a survey of the police force in Batala.

One, of the 4,000-strong police workforce, 1,000 are in need of housing. There are 100 staff quarters for hardly 10-12 per cent of the force. Two, the police are on duty for 24 hours. No Saturday, Sunday or festival holidays for them. Constables are paid house rent for only 4-5 months in a year.

Three, compared to their volume of work, the salary is too meagre. Four, excessive political interference makes the police helpless victims. Truly, the police are the agents between the government and the general public. But a minor negligence, that too unintentional, on the part of the police, leads either to suspension or transfer.

Five, unions exist at the level of PPS and IPS cadres only, which come to the rescue of the aggrieved members. But there are no unions for lower staff (constable to inspector level), thus leaving them at the mercy of the higher authorities.

A policeman’s life is not a bed of roses, but full of thorns. The police do collect money from the drivers of trucks and other vehicles at certain places. To stop this, their salary should be raised by 40-50 per cent. Still, if a policeman is found accepting bribe, he should be dismissed from service.



The article betrays stark ignorance of the harsh ground realities on the subject. No doubt, the role of police in a democratic set up, is radically different from the one under an authoritarian regime. But the question is: does the police enjoy independence to discharge its legitimate role? No.

One has to dance to the tune of political masters for survival. If he performs his duties independently, he will face reprisals. The elected “gods” virtually act as veritable despots.

No wonder, the reports submitted by various police commissions ostensibly to improve police functioning have been gathering dust in New Delhi’s South Block.

TARA CHAND, Ambota (Una)

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