High time to protect green cover

THE article “Highs of Himachal” by Pratibha Chauhan (Saturday Extra, Sept 1) read more like a sarkari bulletin than a critical appraisal of Himachal’s development. Our state has, on the whole, done well in some of the social indices of development such as primary education and women’s empowerment. For that, it deserves a pat on the back. The rapidly depleting green cover is a matter of grave concern for us.

The green state could have done without polluting cement plants. Despite public protests and objections by eminent environmentalists such as Chipko leader Sunder Lal Bahuguna, respective governments have cared two hoots about popular sentiment. They have gone ahead and set up more and more cement plants. The sublime green of the hills is yielding to the stifling grey of the factory smoke and exhaust of trucks and factories.


Hydropower generation, widely perceived to be eco-friendly, is proving to be yet another means to wreck the environment. Reckless tree-felling, slicing and hacking of entire hill slopes, dumping of debris at sensitive sites, even on water sources, and lack of eco-restorative measures by private power companies should be a cause for concern for every citizen of the state.

Unscientific and indiscriminate fiddling with the nature’s precious resources can’t go on in the name of development.

If we remain indifferent, not only are we endangering our lives but also those of the successive generations. We must shed our torpor and stem the ecological disaster which stares us in the face. Himachal lives and prospers if its green cover lives.


No relief

This refers to “Give quick relief to farmers in distress” by Pushpa Girimaji (Spectrum, Sept 2) the writer has dwelt at length on the reasons for the misery caused to farmers. They are being cheated in the sale of seeds and insecticides which are very costly. The tragedy is that those meant to nab the culprits are in league with them, thus causing losses of hundreds of crores to the poor farmers every year.

In the northern states, farmers are normally unaware about their rights to go to the consumer’s courts to get the compensation of such losses. Even if they do go, it takes 10-15 years to get the compensation. When a farmer commits suicide the government gives his family a financial grant of Rs 2-5 lakh.

Why cannot such help be given before his death to such farmers? They are under the debt of arhtias and banias who charge them 30-36 per cent rate of interest. The farmers are unable to return the loan even if no interest is charged on it. The failure of crops is another setback.

To help the farmers, the government must introduce a crop insurance scheme and issue orders that no farmer will be arrested in the event of non-repayment of loan. These steps might prevent suicides by the farmers. n



Coelho’s writing is poetic and natural

In ‘This Above All’ (Saturday Extra, Aug 25) Khushwant Singh, while speaking of his disinclination “to read bestsellers or books touted to have earned their authors advance royalties of millions of dollars or pounds”, has found the plot of Paulo Coelho’s latest novel, The Witch of Portobello “convoluted”.

Paulo Coelho (born 1947), a Brazilian novelist, is one of the most widely read novelists in the world today. He is, by common consent, a storyteller with the power to inspire nations, and to change people’s lives.

Coelho’s The Alchemist (1988) has already achieved the status of a modern classic, and has been translated into 56 languages and has sold more than 43 million copies worldwide, for it has a “life-enhancing impact on millions of people”.

The hero of the story, Santiago, is a shepherd boy, who, apart from tending to his herd, spends his time reading books, and when he feels sleepy or tired, he uses the book as “a pillow”. He now wants to read thicker books, for “they lasted longer and made more comfortable pillows”.

Coelho’s writing is poetic and natural. The Alchemist teaches us about listening to our hearts and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path and, above all, following our dreams.


It’s the universe

In the article “Unanswered questions”, Khushwant Singh (Saturday Extra, Sept 15) has conveyed his failure to understand the meaning of number 108. At first, one thought, as is his wont, he was joking. The number 108 signifies the whole universe. It is an output value of 12x9. The number 12 here is meant for the 12 signs of the zodiac and the number 9 stands for nine planets. However, the matter does not end here.

There are other calculations also. The number is also equal to 27x4. Number 27 is for as many nakshatras and number 4 denotes four directions. Reciting a rosary is not with the petty purpose of counting prayers. For a Hindu, it denotes remembering the whole of the universe as an expression of the Almighty.




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