Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Sacrificing greenery for minerals

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Editor,

Kudos to J.S.Lyngdoh for the letter titled “Horrible effects of quarrying”(ST November 28, 2012). I have the experience of travelling between Jammu to Srinagar, Kalka to Shimla, Kathgodam to Nainital, Visakapatnam to Araku, Siliguri to Darjeeling, Kohima to Imphal, but the stretch which is heavenly and numero uno to me was indeed the Shillong-Cherrapunji one which I witnessed 23 years ago. But what I have seen on this very stretch, during my recent trip to Meghalaya, can be best described as, “Rape of Khasi Hills”. Instead of greenery, vast expanses of barrenness dominated the horizon. Hills after hills have got blasted so as to exploit the treasures of coal, limestone and sand underneath it. Limestone quarries emanate smoke and pollute the environment. Instead of the soothing experience of greenery, it was primarily red dust and rubble all the way! Where is that pristine beauty which I experienced more than two decades ago? It is true that exploitation of mineral resources is necessary for the present and future of mankind. But wouldn’t this ruthless destruction of hills and forest lands harm the ecological balance of Meghalaya, thereby posing an adverse effect on environment and humanity? When the whole world is trying to increase the green cover in this planet and decrease the polluting elements, can Meghalaya afford to swim against the tide?

Yours etc.,

Kajal Chatterjee

Kolkata 114

 Wanted a Green Tribunal

Editor,

The setting up of a single window agency by the State for clearing all industrial projects has opened the floodgates to every Tom, Dick and Harry to invest and set up manufacturing centres of every type, from food items to consumables to minerals etc in Meghalaya. The industrial scenario in Meghalaya is such that there is rampant misuse of the law, corruption and destruction of the surrounding environment. There is no real benefit coming into the State and its people. Money invested flows out again into the same pockets. On top of it we have a government offering freebies to these companies. The fragile environment is being plundered both by those who invest and those who facilitate, which is why the Industrial Policy must include a Green Tribunal as an independent headed by a non-official, to monitor, review and sanction future industrial investments, in a way that would keep a check on land usage, pollution, disposal of wastes and environmental conservation. We need to create public opinion on this subject of importance from all readers

Yours etc.,

Dominic S Wankhar

Shillong-3

 The fishy affairs

Editor,

I absolutely agree with the letter of Mr KL Tariang (“Fish for Thought”, ST December 1, 2012) on the aspect of Fishing ‘business’ in the state and his apprehensions about the success of the Aqua-culture Mission. The reasons are there for all to see and be pessimistic about the success of the Aqua-culture Mission. There are too many rich individuals owning fishing ponds who would lobby (shaking hands under the table) with government officials and/or politicians in making them one of the beneficiaries of one scheme or the other thereby depriving the genuine fish farmers of the state. Several schemes are being implemented by the Department of Fisheries and one notable among them is the Rashtriya Krishi Vikash Yojana (RKVY) from the Government of India. So we have a problem of duplication of the Scheme as well with the Aqua-Culture Mission. The same person (may not be a genuine fish farmer) may be a beneficiary of the Mission and at the same time of the RKVY Scheme in collusion with some government officials. It is a known fact that some existing ‘fish farmers’ are the beneficiaries of the RKVY Scheme just by enlarging the edge of their ponds by 2-3 feet (in order to show some new soil on top to make it appear like new) so as to impress upon the external monitoring official/consultant that they are the genuine beneficiaries and that the whole pond is constructed from the scheme, whereas in reality that is not the case. Most of the time the amount sanctioned are not fully utilized in a proper manner. Take the case of the Umsning Fish Seed Farm which was constructed at a sanctioned amount of Rs.1.5 crores over a period of two years in 2008-09 and 2009-2010. One look at the farm is enough to conclude that the amount actually spent would not go beyond Rs 1 Crore at the most. Similar is the fate of other Fish seed farms at Mawpun, Gasuapara, and Jamge. This is nothing but sheer wastage of tax payers’ money. In fact this is a common problem plaguing almost all the projects of different departments under this scheme. If cost-benefit analysis of these projects are carried out, I am quite certain that most of them would be in the negative. It would be interesting to see their actual expenditure if there is inspection and audit by an independent, impartial and reliable agency. The saddest thing with government schemes whether Central or State is that all of them are framed with excellent intentions but the benefits hardly reach the intended stakeholders. The biggest problem lies with our delivery mechanism which don’t work the way they are supposed or are just not good enough. That is why we will keep on reading disappointing news in dailies like the one which states that “NE development not on track: Panel” which (ST Dec 1, 2012). No matter how much money the central government pumps in and financial packages and special status, et al., are doled out to the NE states, yet the same is found wanting and never yield the desired results. Perhaps the Aqua-culture Mission should also be renamed as the “Self-Enriching Mission !”

Yours etc.,

Airpeace Rani

Shillong-13

 

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