Reckless speeding of VIP’s escort vehicles
I read with concern the report ‘CM’s escort vehicle meets with accident’ (ST, November 26, 2023). It was rather unfortunate that the pilot vehicle collided with a pickup truck at Upper Shillong. Luckily, though, according to the report, the entourage escaped unharmed. But, many a time, I have observed that escort vehicles of VIPs drive with high speed through traffic putting at risk the lives of pedestrians and other motorists on the streets. Several times, it was noticed that these escort cars overtake other vehicles with scant regard for traffic coming from the opposite direction thereby increasing the risk of accidents for its occupants. It is therefore, prudent, that escorting a VIP vehicle should not be at the risk of accidents for other road users.
Stanley LK Diengdoh
Grouse over the Catholics procession!
On November 12, the Roman Catholic Mission of Laitumkhrah Cathedral took out their annual Eucharistic Procession which passed through the busy thoroughfares of Laitumkhrah in which a massive number of devotees had participated and these unique scenes were highlighted live in manifold social media. This annual event is something to write home about! However, in the aftermath of these religious rituals we have read in the print media that scurrilous objections were raised over these celebrations for affecting road communication and the city being brought to virtual standstill since roads were choc-a-bloc with processionists.
The point to note is that such religious cortege by the Catholic faithful in Laitumkhrah has become a legacy of sorts since the arrival of the Salvatorian missionaries from Germany over a century ago. Nonetheless, wonders never cease that in course of these prolonged years of the solemnity in question we have not heard such unfriendly reactions as this one. Incidentally, in my interactions with many knowledgeable Hindu friends I have asked them why such unaffable adrenaline levels have been on the hike since the past few years? These friends have aptly asserted, to my utter bewilderment, that these aggressive barbs against the other religions, other than Hinduism, have spiralled since 2014 when the saffron party had grabbed power from the Congress thereby paving the trajectories for an unprecedented upswing of Hindutva oriented sentiments amongst the hitherto significant latent sections. Additionally, they have impressed upon me that if the saffron led party is re-installed in upcoming parliamentary elections next year, the reactions will turn more vitriolic!
This self-confession from the horse’s mouth and that too from enlightened Hindu friends has left me nonplussed!
Jerome K Diengdoh,
Give Farmers their dues
Through your daily I wish to thank Salil Gewali for his touching letter captioned, “Why Daphi shouts for our attention,” (ST November 27, 2023). I am one of the regular readers of Gewali’s letters, but this present piece deeply moved me. Therefore I can’t help but write a few lines and share my sympathies for such poor farmers. What Gewali has written is a real story and similar kinds of hardships are shared by the many villagers who come to the town to sell their agricultural produce on a daily basis. Outside the Tura Super Market, we always see many Daphis sitting there to sell their green vegetables and fruits. What really disappoints me is when rich people bargain with these poor vendors. Most of the vendors come walking all the way from distant villages. After reaching Tura Bazar, they continuously shout to solicit customers. Nobody cares to know what has forced these impoverished farmers to come to town. Why can’t those town people visualize farmers as their mothers, fathers and brothers?
I also wish to point out here that most people in the town think that if they go to market after dark, they will get vegetables and fruits at cheaper rates. Their motive behind this is that before the farmers leave for their homes, they reduce the price of their crops by half. Is this not the degraded attitude of the rich? Will they do the same thing when they visit the branded shops? I absolutely agree with Gewali who writes in his letter that the true worth of one bunch of mustard greens should be Rs 100. But society has completely undervalued the labour put in by the farmers.
Why can’t the Government make a systematic arrangement to purchase the crops of farmers directly from their respective villages? We have enough of empty rhetoric from leaders during election time. They show empathy for farmers at that time. During elections they take photos with farmers and post them on their Facebook and Twitter. I think they are only making fools of us. When they come to power with our votes, they will not come back to us. Then farmers will have to take prior appointment and they have to wait for many hours to meet them in the secretariat. These are all my personal observations and they are true. Lastly, I request the leaders to display genuine empathy for the underprivileged communities or stop claiming yourselves as the leaders for farmers.
Unjustifiably high rentals for commercial space
What has become a matter of great concern for the business community in Shillong are the unjustifiably high charges for commercial space and exorbitant security deposits that are stifling local entrepreneurship.
In a particular instance, at Laitumkhrah, a 500 sq ft commercial space demanding a monthly rent of Rs 35,000 and a security deposit ranging between 10 to 15 lakhs is not only financially burdensome but also raises questions about fair and standardized practices.
Given that Laitumkhrah falls within the municipal jurisdiction, it is imperative for the government to intervene and establish a transparent and fair pricing system for commercial spaces. A government-set price per square foot would not only curb overcharging but also ensure that businesses, especially small enterprises, can operate without facing astronomical financial hurdles.
The exorbitant security deposit requirements further exacerbate the challenges faced by local entrepreneurs. The government should consider implementing guidelines to cap these deposits at reasonable levels, making it more feasible for businesses to establish themselves in the area.
I urge the relevant authorities to review and regulate commercial space pricing in Laitumkhrah promptly. The establishment of government-mandated prices per square foot, aligned with fair and reasonable security deposit norms, is crucial for fostering a supportive environment for local businesses to thrive.
It is my hope that the government will take swift action to address these concerns and contribute to the sustained growth of the business community.
Name withheld on request,