Children of all ages need special care and attention; most importantly children between the ages of 1-5. That is the age when they need all the love, care, comfort and attention from their elders both at home or at school. There are tender and sensitive periods in their lives that must be handled with utter sensitivity and sensibility. These are the formative years when the young ones begin to observe and absorb all that they see and to understand how they are being treated. Hence one was appalled to reading the news report and letter to the editor of April 28. While in one event, a three year old child was beaten by a teacher and the child received several injuries, in the other one reads the angst of a parent whose child, in pain, was left unattended and neglected. These events have left one saddened, concerned and also worried about the plight of our children once they are sent to schools. The atmosphere and ambience of a school ought to be one like a loving home but is it so?
On September 5 every year teachers are revered and cheered by their students as a token and an expression of love and appreciation. Should it not be the responsibility of every single teacher to fulfill their roles as teachers and role models of their wards? Should they not be setting good examples and help to mould them as good and responsible people in future? When an individual takes up the role of a teacher and educator he/she must understand that it is not a mere vocation or a job that he/she is doing. A teacher is to mould minds and hearts. Certainly beating a child and ignoring or neglecting a child is the worst sort of role that a teacher can portray. When we, the parents enroll our children in a school we entrust them unto safe and secure hands, and expect care and supervision. The least that we wish to see and hear from our children are frightening experiences which will hamper their growth both mentally and physically. Thus every school authority, whether public or private, must ensure that their teachers are the most befitting individuals from all perspectives before they are appointed as teachers.
Acquiring catchment areas imperative
The issue of catchment protection particularly that which relates to drinking water supply has come to the fore in Meghalaya with the state government recently announcing that it may acquire land in the catchment areas (Government to buy land to save catchment areas ST 14th April 2015). This is perhaps to circumvent the land tenure system where the Government seems to find it hard to regulate land use or to control detrimental activities in the catchment areas. With domineering vested interests of some and fragile system at times and with desirable consciousness and attitude of many not forthcoming now and probably in the near future, it would be perhaps too optimistic to expect sustained regulations and control throughout. Destructive activities in the catchments therefore resurface from time to time everywhere because of short-lived prohibitions. Moreover one’s economic interests derived from one’s private property may not be easily given up for the overall good unless alternatives are provided for or one is adequately compensated. It cannot be expected that the National Green Tribunal or a similar quasi judicial body would come in to tackle every problem.
The result of the Shillong Times poll on the 16th April 2015 interestingly indicated that 71 % of those who participated in the Poll supported the government’s plan of procuring land in the catchments .Therefore this is not a dangerous notion for many as some may profess it to be and it also shows that those who support the plan dispel dubious motives behind the move. There is a growing realization that non-concrete, vague and inconsistent approaches are not dependable and therefore it would be convenient to have something in hand which can be nurtured at will and to shape it for better and lasting results. In any case Government has been acquiring land down the years , some for purposes which do not have wide and far reaching impacts, so when the purpose is for a sustained flow of quality water from the catchments for the wholesome existence of human life for perpetuity it is perhaps more than worth it. The focus should however be on acquiring land in critical areas and on those having potential for intensive human activities and not necessarily on the catchments as a whole .
Incidentally, it was reported in the same news item that the State Government Program Implementation Monitoring Committee exhorted the Public Health Engineering Department to preserve the catchment areas. I wonder if catchment areas preservation should come under the purview of this Department alone or it should at all come under it. The Forest Department may have a bigger role to play here and the Water Resources Department by its very name should perhaps be involved, since a deteriorated water catchment would as well adversely affect its many irrigation projects in the long run. Likewise the Soil Conservation Department which was renamed as the Soil and Water Conservation Department through a Cabinet decision some time back to encompass the policies, strategies and activities to link and manage soil and water resources and to protect their environment, should have a role here too. Ultimately a convergence approach under a defined authority would bring better results.
Various organizations may come out with ideas and thoughts on water preservation during deliberations in small circles. These, however, do not seem to have been applied in the open field enough to show convincing positive results nor has extensive awareness been created. Meanwhile, time is running out and government needs to decide quickly on the approach or approaches towards catchment area protection and to follow up aggressively thereafter. It cannot afford to be complacent. Let us hope for wise decisions to come in right from now so that water crisis of unimaginable proportions will never arise in the state .