I fail to understand the song and dance being carried out in our state over illegal mining and transport of coal. The public, the Nokmas, the man on the street and almost every citizen of Meghalaya confirms and is sure that the above mentioned illegal activity is not only rampant but is being carried out right before the eyes of those mandated to stop crime – the police. On the other hand the Government and its supporters firmly deny this claim of the public and are actually ready to defy the electorate on the issue. Every trick in the book even bending that flexible spine of the Department of Mining and Geology have been employed to prove the voter wrong. Now what can be more precious than a vote to our politicians? I believe the ABBAs got it right first time as they quipped “Money, money, money it’s a rich mans world”. Money is important for one can buy votes with money! Elementary Dear Watson. Elementary.
However, my take on the issue is somewhat different. Illegal coal mining is going on in full swing with or without the knowledge of our blind, innocent, righteous and guiltless law makers. (Hey, hey I’m not trying to defame you guys. I am simply describing your guileless take on this illegal coal mining thing. So cool it!) It’s also obvious that mining the coal is meaningless unless it can be transported to the market to be sold. As far as we know there is no transport aircraft nor train operating in Meghalaya. So the most obvious means of transport is by road, which in turn is manned and patrolled by uniformed policemen, whose duty is to prevent crime. It does not require rocket science to put two and two together to come to the interesting conclusion that politicians in power are using the police to perpetrate a crime. Everyone knows this so why all this drama denying a known and accepted fact?
The public knowledge also comes with a rider – the need to stop illegal mining of coal. This pinches and this is the reason for all the hemming and hawing from the donkeys. Now my point is since the illegal coal has to move by road; since police stations are usually situated along such roads/highways, why not equip each police station with a CCTV to catch/record the movement of illegal coal. Caught on camera the policeman on duty can be punished. The possibility of him then naming the involvement of higher mortals cannot be prevented. The chain of command indulging in criminal acts will then be revealed. Political bigwigs caught with their hands in the cookie jar will make more and better headlines than all the political fence jumping we are now witnessing. The holy claim that all this is being enacted for the benefit of the electorate; for stability of Government (as if that ever mattered) will then simply come out as hogwash. That of course will never do. The primary duty of the Government to protect crime must never be challenged. So press on regardless, for money in 2023 will determine through the ballot box the criminal from the innocent. That’s political justice!
Cancer: The threatening storm
The news report, “Cancer patients need better facilities: HC” has thrown the spotlight on the Meghalaya healthcare system which is yet to catch up even with next door Assam which already has in place its eighth medical college hospital inaugurated recently. Northeast India is slowly becoming a hotbed for cancer cases and markers such as proper nutrition, routine medical checkups, mental conditioning and proper follow-up procedures are some of the steps which can help to minimise the risk of cancer. But in 50 years of statehood the trust has surely been broken in a state like ours which seems to lack direction and realistic goal setting. Providing basic amenities such as clean water is becoming a far-fetched dream.
Military hardware spending in India is gaining traction and focusing on a more deadly enemy such as re-emerging microbes is not on the agenda. The lack of change across cultures coupled with disparities among the rich and poorer segments are clearly showing up. To ramp up measures in order to fight not only cancer but any infectious disease is proper surveillance which can be expanded if there is political will in a joint effort with the private sector. Science journalist and author Laurie Garrett in her groundbreaking book ‘Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health’ highlights the challenge of public health and it is upon ourselves to understand evolutionary change of microbes in a fast paced environment.
Poll season and party hopping
The major ally of the MDA government, the Nationalist People Party ( NPP) has been ‘ poaching’ the members of its own allies, the UDP, PDF and BJP. It is not surprising since there wasn’t a “no poaching agreement,” when these parties joined the NPP led MDA alliance. Despite large scale poaching by NPP, the regional parties keep up with alliance and have never thought of exiting from it. The reason is that these ‘ power- hungry’ regional parties don’t want to be out of power. In the words of Alder,”The power-hungry individual follows the path to his own destruction “.
Through this letter, I wish to reiterate once again that the Pine Walk Gate has to be reopened. This is in the interest of ordinary citizens and the Cantonment has no right to obstruct civilians from walking through a particular path/road that connects to civilian areas. The MLA, South Shillong Constituency, Sanbor Shullai needs to approach the Shillong Cantonment Board authorities to reopen the Pine Walk Gate. The world is returning to normalcy, thanks to the receding Covid-19 cases, and since every possible sector of the economy is opening up, why is the Pine Walk Gate being locked up and on what grounds? This path connects the town’s commercial hub, Police Bazar, as a short cut and is used by hundreds of pedestrians throughout the day. Reopening this path is becoming extremely crucial now since local taxi fares have increased threefold. This path can also save us commoners our hard earned money besides saving all of us from the messy traffic jams.
Are we to understand that the Shillong Cantonment Board is wary that Covid-19 may still hit this lane even if it is leaving the rest of the world? We all know the role played by Sanbor Shullai in erecting the 58 – GTC Gate at Mawshbuit village and shifting the same to another location for the convenience of the villagers last year. But the inaction on his part to reopen the Pine Walk Gate in his own constituency and for his electorate is not understood, so far. After all, what purpose is this locked up gate serving? What the Cantonment does is often without any rationale.
Shillong – 4
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