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Killer TB

The annual number of tuberculosis (TB) deaths in India is more than 4 lakhs ("The Bacteria Tracker" by Harihar Swarup, Oped, Nov 20). India is home to more than 30% of the global burden of TB. It kills more people in India than HIV/AIDS, Malaria, STDs and other communicable diseases together. TB has greater prevalence in malnourished destitute population and yet the development of first line anti-tubercular drugs have been stalled for nearly four decades. The pharmaceutical industry is more keen to focus research on lifestyle diseases affecting the affluent population that can afford expensive drugs. It usually takes about 4 to 6 months to confirm a single drug resistant case of TB. Therefore the Union Health Ministry's TB Control Programme has recently introduced the Line Probe Test which can detect the multi drug resistant bacteria strains within two days.

Dr. D. C. Bhatt, Associate Professor, GJUST, Hisar

Paradise lost

Appropos 'From Simla to Shimla' ( Spectrum, November 27), how we pine for Simla which had lion-headed taps,(whose 'ears' were twisted to get cool and clear water), Simla whose dense green forests flamed with red rhododendrons, which had 'fern underfoot' and 'roses in the rain.' Indeed, Shimla, the Queen of Hills has lost her crown! Shimla is a classic example of how we destroy the places we love. Congested markets, traffic jams, spill-over of condemned vehicles right at the entry point to Shimla are enough to dishearten visitors. From a charming hill town, it has grown to an ugly city. There isn't anything to hold tourists' interest even for two days.

Roshni Johar, himla


Appropos 'From Simla to Shimla' (Spectrum, November 27). Once a destination that people looked forward to visiting, Shimla has indeed been reduced to just a local, weekend get-away ex-Chandigarh or ex-Delhi. Shimla once boasted of good weather and an idyllic feel but because of haphazard development, it has lost every bit of its charm and now looks more like a big town built on a slope. There are traffic snarls, cramped accommodations and Shimla has been witnessing temperatures often even higher than in the neighbouring plains.

Surface covered naturally balance heat, energy and the budget. Extra energy absorbed by the texture of sub-surface soil ensures a balance between day and night temperatures. But due to large scale denudation and hill cutting, uncovered or deforested land surface breaks this balance and shows desert like weather, i.e. higher temperature during the day and lower temperature at night. Hills provide shelter to many species ranging from tigers to birds or snakes, etc. Hill cutting has affected their movement and shelter. It will also hamper the food chain among different species of life, killing some species or pushing them away. As a consequence their interdependence for food will break and life will be endangered. Destroying hills is the kind of crime whose impact will be far-reaching, to be felt over centuries.

Ravi Chander Garg, Ludhiana



From Simla to Shimla' (Spectrum, Nov. 27) was timely and rightly exposed forces, which have disturbed the natural environment of Shimla. Shimla should remain a tourist place and not allowed to become a business centre. The main attraction of the town such as the Mall Road, beautiful colonial structures, the cottage culture, the ice-skating centre of Kufri, Jakhu temple etc must be preserved at all costs.

Inderpreet Singh, Via email


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