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PCBs must act as guides

The study of an environmental NGO,  Centre for Science & Environment (CSE), has criticised the central government for turning a blind eye to the increasing levels of air pollution, which has caused a haze over the Delhi skyline. The smog has increased the levels of respirable particulate matter (RPM) by 47% and nitrogen dioxide levels by 57% (editorial Choking, yet in denial', November 10). According to the CSE, the Western world also experienced such severe pollution levels, during the 40s & 50s (especially the infamous London smog, which killed 4,000 persons within a week in December 1952).

Although the burning of biomass on the fields of Punjab is illegal, yet fields are turned into a furnace, as farmers use a shortcut to clear fields for the next crop. Punjab burns 85% of the husk, producing energy equivalent to the burning of 30-40 MT of coal. Ideally, biomass should never be burnt but composted, as it should go back into soil, so that its nutrients can be saved and reused.  Another area of concern is the pollution generated by increasing number of private vehicles. Industrial pollution can be effectively controlled by the installation of effective air-pollution control devices (APCDs) and through water treatment plants.

The respective pollution control boards of all states should play the role of ‘guides’ to the already depressed industries, instead of policing them with threats of penal action and closures.

Government should ask the financial institutions to grant interest-free loans payable on easy installments for the installation of pollution control devices, as it is a non- profit making expenditure. The small-scale industries cannot afford to do it without the support of government and the pollution control boards.


Who is right?

Regarding FDI, citing examples from across the world, the CPM has said, "Supermarket prices for foods and vegetables and other basic food are higher than those in traditional markets." That the retail giants generate employment or help producers get a better price is also a myth, it has claimed (Tarvinder Singh Chahal’s article Why India needs FDI in retail,” Nov 8).

The UPA-I government had first proposed FDI in retail in its 2004-05 Budget speech and the Left parties, whose support was crucial for the then UPA-I government, opposed it firmly. The Left parties highlighted that retail trade, on the basis of a conservative estimate, contributes around 11% to India's GDP and employed over 40 million people.

"Crores of Indian people are dependent on retail trade for their livelihood. By permitting the entry of multinational giants, more people will be pushed into poverty and misery," the Left party has said. The common man doesn’t know who is right.  Both UPA-II and CPM should explain their sides so that people can know facts.


Karnad’s jibe

Girish Karnad’s critical jibe against Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore calling him a second-rate playwright is condemnable. Has Karnad ever read or witnessed ‘Muktodhara’, ‘Raktakarabi’, ‘Chirakumar Sabha’ or ‘Seshraksha’ where Tagore had not only packed the most modern thoughts in the traditional form but had also used the western theatre form.

Who can forget his musical plays like Shyama, Taasher desh and Chitrangada which were classics.  Moreover, Tagore's works, including his plays, are taught in schools and colleges across the world, even discussed and talked about passionately by intellectuals and common people alike.


Losing heritage

In a country where people are trying their best to imitate western culture and folklore and are abandoning age-old traditions, India's diminishing heritage deserves utmost importance among policy makers (editorial 'Cultural imperatives', November 10). Our neglected heritage sites have been abused over the years, have faced illegal encroachments and faced the wrath of weather and time. The diverse physical and geographical barriers might be an impediment in maintaining them, keeping in mind the length and breadth of the country.

The situation calls for dedicated efforts towards conservation of relics and artifacts. Devolution of powers to some extent to the local inhabitants enabling them to act as protectors of these sites would be a welcome move. With a newly-appointed Culture Minister, one can only hope that some fresh initiatives would be undertaken for saving India's diverse cultural heritage. Learning lessons from other countries regarding heritage promotion and conservation and tailor-making it according to Indian needs could be a step in the right direction.


Provide security

Not mere assurances, as mentioned in the news report "Centre assures help to J&K vis-a-vis panches' resignations" (November 9), but concrete steps must be initiated to counter the threats of militants. The panchayat elections were hailed as a leap of faith towards democracy. Threats to panchayat heads and their killings can prove regressive. The state has sufficient security forces to meet the evil designs of their fellowmen, supported from across the border. More coordination and cooperation between the security forces and the panchayats is required to make peace effective. The village-level defence committees must be activated to maintain peace. Panchayat members may also be empowered administratively and financially to fulfill their duties towards people in an efficient manner. With a sincere approach and enough security cover, democracy may soon flourish in J&K.

SC VAID, Greater Noida

Positive critique 

An anguished Congress MP from Madhya Pradesh launched a bitter attack on his party’s leadership for not doing enough to bring the Congress back to power in MP. He minced no words in alleging that  the state Congress party leaders were comfortably ensconced in air-conditioned rooms and cars in Delhi and were no match for the industry and legwork which the RSS workers put in for the BJP at the ground level.

He drove home the point that that the state Congress leadership had, instead, divided the party into different warring groups with each group involved in bitter infighting with the other. While the state Congress leadership has taken a strong notice of the MP’s outburst, he did succeed in bringing to light a crucial anomaly afflicting the Congress party.




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