Published: Friday 15 January 1999

Dying Darjeeling

The article "Small towns, big mess" ( Down to Earth , Vol 7, No 13; November 30) was a study limited to eight towns. But many more Indian towns can be compared to the towns you have studied. Here I would like to mention Darjeeling, a tourist town often referred to as the queen of hill stations.

Over the past few years, Darjeeling has become an urban nightmare. Deforestation and unplanned construction have aggravated the problem of landslides during monsoons. The town lacks a proper sewer system and one often sees open drains overflowing into the streets. No one is bothered about waste disposal either. Traffic has grown by leaps and bounds. The roads remain narrow and filthy. These are just a few problems ailing the town. But no one seems to be concerned -- neither the residents nor the government.



Green crusader

The interview with Justice Bhagwati Prasad Banerjee ( Down To Earth , Vol 7, No 11; October 31) made interesting reading. The efforts of the judge in making Calcutta green are laudable. One of the main sources of noise pollution in the city is the loudspeaker used during religious functions. The courts have done well to prescribe the noise limits for different times of the day. Still, a great deal of noise pollution persists in Calcutta. This is because although our laws are stringent, the implementation is weak. The implementing agencies must be brought to book for not taking appropriate action.

However, I do not agree with Justice Banerjee's statement that there is no information on the health effects of pollution. Many organisations have carried out detailed investigations to prove that pollution-related deaths are on the rise in cities. The courts would do well to go through such information and take up an activist role in curbing pollution. Their role is important because the state has failed in this direction.


Received on email

Damp squib

This is with reference to the article 'No Armageddon, this'( Down To Earth , Vol 7, No 14; December 15). I too, like thousands, stayed awake to watch the promised "spectacular display of God's own fireworks". But it turned out to be a big let-down. Although it was clearly visible in China, in India, we could see only a few of those so-called "shooting stars".

It amazes me that even with all the modern equipments and satellites, astronomers could not predict the exact time of the meteor "shower". It took place 16 hours early. Let's hope the scientists are accurate in predicting the next shower.


New Delhi

Bureaucratic bane

The Sukhomajri experience has once again shown that whenever bureaucrats and officials interfere in a people's project, they destroy all the hard work of the community ('Sukhomajri at the crossroads', Down To Earth , Vol 7, No 14; December 15). Rajiv Gandhi once said that for every rupee spent for development, only 30 paise reaches the common man. There are numerous examples where officials have diverted funds that were to be used for development. The solution lies in giving power to the people. The success of the conservation programme in Jabua, Madhya Pradesh have shown how communities, when they are empowered, can deliver when the babus fail. The article rightly says: "...the changes... will survive only if the government has a healthy attitude towards them....

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