Inland water transport
SIR, ~ In order to provide safety to passengers travelling in mechanically- powered vessels, in particular trawlers and boats, the West Bengal government intends to impose restrictions on ferry services across the state. Some of the curbs are already in place to ensure the safety of the passengers and crew. These vessels ferry thousands of passengers particularly between Howrah and Kolkata each day. Unfortunately, however, these restrictions are usually observed in the breach.
The government is planning to introduce safety measures during the monsoon. But there is a problem with the basics, which are yet to be addressed. There are hundreds of dinghies and bhut-bhuts ~ small craft fitted with diesel engines. They ferry passengers without licence. The government is yet to spell out the restrictions that are said to be on the anvil. More often than not, these vessels are overloaded. In order to avoid overloading, security personnel will be deployed at the point of embarkation. Life-jackets should be available at the ferry ghats and revolving gates installed at the jetty. Such gates can check the rush of passengers. But does the government possess the will and the wherewithal to put in place a foolproof safety mechanism? The inland water transport has not been developed with proper safeguards.
yours, etc., dk choudhury, howrah, 9 june.
In memory of Major Tolly
SIR, ~ This is in response to Pranabananda Sen&’s letter on 7 June. To respect the memory of Major Tolly, Adi Ganga or Tolly&’s Nullah needs to be urgently dredged. Because of the delay in acquiring land alongside the canal, 80 per cent of the extension of Metro Railway up to New Garia has been constructed on the elevated structure.
The present condition of Adi Ganga is extremely pathetic. It is silted and the flow of water has been severely restricted. It is a thoroughly polluted canal. The sub-structure of the viaduct is well below the bed of the canal and will not obstruct navigability. The bottom of the elevated viaduct will have sufficient space to allow modernised boats to ply.
yours, etc., prof. sudhir kumar das, kolkata 10 june.
Crimes against women
SIR, ~ Residents of Rajarhat, predominantly women, blocked the Barasat-Kharibari Road for ten hours on 8 June, demanding death penalty for those arrested in connection with the rape and murder of a 20-year-old college girl. The state&’s food minister and a Trinamul MP were also gheraoed. Palpably enough, there is a public outcry over the spurt in eve-teasing, molestation and other crimes against women. Clearly, the common people are up in arms against the authorities. Not that such incidents never occurred during the Left regime, but they were not so frequent as now. Public memory is proverbially short. The police must pursue such cases of violence and lawlessness and without favouring the party in power. It is the police ineptitude that might eventually do the government in. The present ruling party must heed the warning.
yours, etc., arun kumar bhaduri, kolkata, 9 june.
CM must answer
SIR, ~ ‘Abject lawlessness’ is the flavour of the season in West Bengal. The politically-controlled police is not in a position to function independently. Far from bringing the situation under control, the ruling Trinamul Congress has been relentless in its attacks on the Opposition and the media. The lumpen elements are being encouraged ahead of the panchayat election. The recent attack on two television journalists in Barrackpore is a blot on the administration. An attempt was made to immolate one of the journalists. The Chief Minister, who also holds the Home (police) portfolio, must answer.
yours, etc., dilip kumar sengupta, kolkata, 11 june.
SIR, ~ The Government should pass a Bill through an Ordnance only in emergency situations or if the nation is headed towards a calamity if the Bill is not passed. The Food Security Bill is urgent enough, but there is no crisis ahead. Promulgating an Ordinance on the food bill will be a fraud on the people.
Furthermore, a welfare handout such as this runs the risk of inducing laziness and complacency among the targeted group. This has been all too evident in the sphere of education ~ free, compulsory and universal. In Kolkata, I often interact with the poor slum children, who are going to school and are also dependent on private tuition. An average class VIII or IX student in a slum area doesn’t know how to multiply. He cannot write correctly in Bengali, let alone in English. This ought to be a matter of serious concern.
Free education has brought about a sense of complacency among students and guardians. The Food Security Bill might well make the people complacent. The legislation might yield electoral dividend to the Congress, but the country as a whole will suffer in the long run. Once the Bill is passed, no party will dare to withdraw it as it will result in a loss of votes. Our reservation policy is an example of wrong planning.
yours, etc., kp jhunjhunwala, kolkata, 14 june.