Wake up to eco-threat from Siachen

IN his article “Eco-threat from Siachen: Time for India and Pakistan to act” (June 27), Mohan Guruswamy has rightly pointed out the danger posed to generations to come. The military threat perceptions from China and Pakistan, which impede a settlement, are out-dated, a mindset of 1962 and 1984 respectively. Today no one can gain by forcibly changing the status quo on the ground. There are foolproof devices to find out encroachments by means of provisions for inspection form air and space.

The writer is right in saying the Prime Minister was close to committing himself to a settlement of the Siachen confrontation. Obviously, military advice has made him back off. It is said that war is too serious an affair to be entirely left to the generals. So is peace; otherwise, there is no difficulty in turning Siachen into, as the PM said, a mountain of peace. The generals are only keen to retain their empire by any means. As for the hardship, they only visit Siachen as VVIPs; it is the young officers and jawans who burn away their youth in a year’s tenure.

The writer’s warning that messing up the place will result in “both Indians and Pakistanis literally wallow in their own dung” should make the people of the subcontinent to think. Environmentalists should take over the peace process to make Siachen a mountain of peace.

N. KUNJU, New Delhi

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The article was timely. I feel man is the worst animal on the earth. From a nomad, he became civilised and then, he has been doing uncivilised deeds. The biggest threat to environment is none other than the man, the most evolved creature on the earth.

For his own good, man has destroyed forests, damaged ecosystems, poached wild animals, created ozone holes, polluted pure air and has created conditions unhealthy for not only other organisms but also for his own survival. India and Pakistan should discuss this vital issue and save this fragile glacier. Let nature not pay the price for man’s devil nature!


Railway pensioners deserve justice

THE monthly medical allowance of Rs 100 being given to the railway pensioners from December 1, 1997, on the recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission, is too meagre. Pensioners are senior citizens and, in the normal course, they should have been given free medicare in government and specialised hospitals. But this is not to be.

How can a pensioner meet his/her day-to-day medical needs just with Rs 100? More important, most pensioners do not opt for treatment in Railway Hospitals or CGHS for the simple reason that these hospitals are situated far away from their homes. The Railway Minister and the Railway Board should consider the fact that the Punjab Government gives Rs 250 each to its pensioners towards monthly medical allowance. In addition, it reimburses their medical bills in case of hospitalisation following major disease.

As most railway pensioners are in the evening of their life, they deserve fullest security and protection. Doctor’s fee, diagnostic charges and medicines have all become costlier today. A medical allowance of at least Rs 300 is thus long overdue.

SHER SINGH, Northern Rly Pensioners’ Welfare Assn., Ludhiana 


Glaciers in Himachal

The views in the editorial “Melting Glaciers” (June 18) are very true. Indeed, glaciers are a great store-house of water as they contribute 60 to 70 per cent of the total water resources of the country. With climatic changes, mindless exploitation of natural resources, global warming, the receding glaciers in the Himalayas sound alarm bells for the agricultural economy of the northern states.

The expansion, overtopping or breaching of glacial lakes are dangerous for downstream areas. The recent rise in the level of the Govind Sagar lake is a clear indication of the depleting glaciers.

Himachal Pradesh is much more disaster-prone than the other northern states. Avalanches, landslides, cloud burst and forest fires are common here. Since 18 per cent of India’s total utilisation of water resources are held by glaciers in Himachal Pradesh alone, disaster management assumes special importance.

Dr L.K. MANUJA, Nahan

Helpful villagers

I, along with my wife, was stuck up at Sangla in Kinnour district of Himachal Pradesh due to flash floods from June 26 to 28. So were hundreds of other tourists from all over India and abroad.

It goes to the credit of the villagers of Sangla Valley that unlike other people, they did not take undue advantage of the situation and continued to give us hotel accommodation and sold food items etc. at reasonable rates. This is something rare these days. Even the only auto workshop there charged much less for repairs. May God bless them!

Lt-Col HARBINDER SINGH (retd), Patiala

Rainwater harvesting

This has reference to the news-item “Rainwater harvesting” (June 19). The proposal to make rainwater harvesting mandatory for all buildings in urban areas in Himachal Pradesh is welcome. However, if this harvesting is done by digging underground tanks in the buildings in the hilly areas, especially in Shimla, it may prove to be disastrous. The buildings in the hilly areas are generally in the slopes, one above the other.

If building owners dug such wells, this will trigger huge landslides due to seepage of water and thus damage to life and property. The government should, therefore, allow only readymade tanks instead of underground structures.

Er C.L. GUPTA, Jaidevi (Mandi)

Violating MCI rules

I read the news-item “PGIMS debunks MCI objections” (June 29). In spite of the MCI regulations (1998) regarding minimum qualifications for the teachers in the medical institutions, some medical colleges are absorbing medical teachers having post-graduate medical qualifications not recognised by the MCI. Though the regulations are binding on the institutions, these are violated.

The MCI team itself has detected these lapses in the institutions, but did not point out the discrepancy. Apparently, the MCI inspectors are often not fully prepared during inspections and are ignorant of the guidelines.

Dr D.S. BHULLAR, Patiala

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