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Managing level crossings

Deaths at unmanned level crossings should be a cause for serious concern for the railway authorities (‘No stopping deaths at unmanned crossings’, February 17). The Railway Ministry shows huge profits in the budget but is not ready to bear the cost of manning the crossings. Does anybody realise the agony of the family of those killed at unmanned level crossings?

The only solution is that unmanned crossings should be attached with ‘red light signals’ on both sides from the nearest railway stations so that no vehicle or person crosses it till the light is green, as is done in the US.  The cost of installing these signals will be lesser than manning the level crossings.

If the system can work in the US, it can also work in India. There is a need to educate the people to take precautions while crossing unmanned crossings. Counselling camps at schools, villages located near the rail track and special classes for drivers should be held.

Indian Railways needs to review grey areas, be it signalling, track replacement or the status of the rolling stock, especially the unmanned crossings.

Accidents at unmanned crossings occur due to human error. It does not mean the necessary steps to avoid mishaps should not be taken.

As many as 302 deaths occurred during the period from February 2011 till February this year. We don’t expect much from today’s leaders, who would emulate Lal Bahadur Shastri. In 1956, he had resigned as Railway Minister accepting moral and constitutional responsibility for a railway accident at Arvalur in Tamil Nadu that claimed 144 lives.

HARISH K. MONGA, Ferozepur


It was disheartening to hear about the tragedy in which seven members of a marriage party were killed on the unmanned Dhuri-Sangrur crossing. An entire family was wiped out due to negligent driving. People never bother to wait at a level crossing. Erecting speed breakers on both sides of the unmanned crossing track could minimise accidents. There are ‘STOP’ signboards cautioning the commuters on both sides of the crossing but nobody pays heed in a hurry.

SUNDER SINGH GIANI, Dialpura (Mohali)

Officials in seclusion

Visiting public offices in our country, where the common man has to face the the lower staff, invariably is a nightmarish experience. An ordinary citizen in treated as an intruder. The gullible commoner is at the mercy of clever and greedy clerks and Class 1V employees.

The staff working in police stations, patwarkhanas, tehsils, inspectors' offices at the Food and Supplies Department, lower judicial courts, the Electricity Department and other such government offices ill-treat a hapless citizen who comes to these offices for getting his work done. He has to face humiliation at the hands of arrogant officials who have to be bribed sometimes. This is the lowest step in the ladder of the corrupt system.

The supervisory officials invariably try to seclude themselves in the offices by shutting their doors to be away from public glare. All entries to the office are through the haughty peon. Why are we looking for an alternative remedy like the Lokpal Bill when there are many checks already in place in the form of laws? If they are implemented effectively and swiftly we can counter corruption head on.

The government needs to be cautious and must remember that a sustained and effective action against corruption should not be substituted for a witch-hunt.


BCCI must pay tax

The rich BCCI has not been paying income tax (‘Taxman tells BCCI to pay Rs 413 crore’, Feb 20). Cricket has become big business since the IPL started. The BCCI should not be allowed to run like the fiefdom of a few powerful persons. While poor people are dying of hunger and farmers are committing suicide, how can the BCCI shy away from paying tax? A case should be filed in the court to recover the tax. It seems there is a dirty nexus between politicians, the BCCI and the government. If the BCCI fails to pay up, the I-T Department should seal the BCCI office and the government should also ban cricket matches till the entire amount is recovered.

M SARMAL, Chandigarh

Black money

It will be a monumental task for the government to get back even a small portion of the stated $ 500 billion back to India. The actual problem lies somewhere else. The government policies encourage the accumulation of black money. Speculation in real estate from time to time is due to black money in the country. If the amount of black money being generated is controlled, it will be a huge bonus for the country. A person buys a plot for Rs 10 lakh but he pays the registration fee for a lesser amount. Every individual should be allowed to invest up to Rs 50 lakh in government bonds or FDs through the Voluntary Income Disclosure Scheme. The interest generated over a long term will give the government income tax in future.


Ill-effects of alcohol

Despite knowing the ill-effects of excessive alcohol, we never think of using it as a medicine. There is a well-known proverb: If wealth is gone, nothing is gone; character is gone, something is gone; health is gone, everything is gone. The OPED article ‘Time for a new approach to alcohol’ (Feb 18) is an eye-opener not to the British society alone but to the entire world.

Alcohol taken as medicine may be good for health and digestion. However, it is said, ‘the first peg is for health, second for enjoyment, third for intoxication, and by the fourth peg a person goes senseless and by fifth he goes mad’.




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