Monday, April 22, 2024

Magic Cook fire incident and aggrieved residents


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I write this letter to articulate the concerns of the residents of the neighbourhood regarding the protracted aftermath of the major fire at Magic Cook flour mill on Luckier Road, Shillong-2, which occurred on December 2, 2023. The uncontrollable blaze on that fateful night had in fact caused chaos and panic among the entire residents of the neighbouring localities, who were very worried about their well-being and safety.
It is now almost 45 days since the incident, yet the embers continue to smoulder within the factory premises. For over three weeks the “clouds of smoke” were seen covering the entire locality. Many aggrieved residents had knocked on the door of the Rangbah Shnong with complaints of pollution of the environment and health hazards. Numerous residents, particularly the elderly suffering from asthma, expressed their deep sense of frustration due to the continual smoke emissions. Additionally, until two weeks ago, many residents experienced severe eye irritations, even burning sensation.
The blatant neglect in clearing the burnt debris completely has not only exacerbated pollution but also led to an unusual increase in “houseflies” during this winter season, much to the dismay of the residents. A local man who runs a betelnut shop says that the sudden emergence of pests raises concerns about potential health risks due to the spread of harmful bacteria.
Moreover, the “offensive smell” coming from the site, as pointed out by Nongsohpoh-Upper Mawprem’s headman, Johnny Kharmawlong, and secretary, Hardeep Ryntathiang, is a reminder of the ongoing pollution. This issue gravely impacts the quality of life in our neighbourhood.
One wonders what is cooking in the pot of Magic Cook that the factory did not bother to douse the smoke-emitting bags of wheat or whatsoever completely. Will that yummy cooked stuff be equally served to all the people around? There is much more than that meets the eyes. A lady lecturer at the nearby college retorts: “This deliberate lackadaisical attitude in managing the fire’s consequences is utterly uncalled for. Why do we residents have to be at the receiving end for so long?”
Hence in the greater interest of the locality, I sincerely urge upon the concerned district authorities, the police department, and the pollution control board to take necessary action as promptly as possible. It is essential to investigate why the debris has not been completely cleared till date. The authorities should ensure that at any fire incident, such a dereliction is not “repeated” by anyone in the future. No one has the right to wreak havoc on the precious environment or the health and well-being of the public. The government should investigate the matter without further delay. This letter, written on persistent requests by the residents, should not go up in smoke.
Yours etc.,
Salil Gewali,

Water woes persist in Mawbah: Concerns over new RCC tank leakage
In a bid to enhance the water infrastructure in Mawbah (Lower Barapathar), authorities recently replaced the ageing metallic water tank with a new RCC tank. However, instead of providing relief to residents, the installation has given rise to a new concern—excessive water leakage from the tank onto roads and drains.
The installation of the new water tank was anticipated to resolve the long-standing water supply issues in the locality. Unfortunately, a considerable amount of the precious resource is now being wasted, flowing freely into the streets and drains during designated water supply hours.
Residents, who had hoped for improved water access, are expressing frustration over what appears to be the mismanagement of this crucial project. We were optimistic that the new water tank would address our water woes, but the current situation is disheartening. Water is literally going down the drain, leaving our taps dry.
The leakage issue has prompted calls for prompt action from authorities. Concerns have been raised about the environmental impact of water spillage and the potential for water scarcity during the dry months from March to the end of April.
As the residents grapple with the paradox of a new water tank exacerbating their water scarcity concerns, there is a collective hope that authorities will take immediate and effective measures to rectify the leaks and ensure improved water access for all.
Yours etc…
Krishna Chettri

Well done
South Africa
South Africa deserves our gratitude for pleading with the UN top court to order an immediate halt of Israel’s devastating military campaign in the Palestinian enclave. This act of humanity shows that Nelson Mandela’s country can really walk the walk.
What drove South Africa to approach the International Court of Justice against the ongoing slaughter of the people of Gaza is pure humanity as there is no question of South Africa having religious affiliation with the Palestinian Muslims. South Africa is a Christian majority nation with Islam being a minority religion. Less than 2 percent of the total population of South Africa are Muslims. Moreover, its geographical location is far away in a different continent.
Therefore, South Africa’s filing of an application on December 29, 2023 before the ICJ to stop the butchery in Gaza has its origins neither in a blinkered national interest nor in a parochial religious bonhomie but in an exemplary display of empathy. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa explained the reason for their empathy with the Palestinians when he said, “As a people who once tasted the bitter fruits of dispossession, discrimination, racism and state-sponsored violence, we are clear that we will stand on the right side of history.”
On the first two days of hearings at the ICJ, South Africa rightly pointed out that Israel’s offensive demolished much of the coastal enclave and killed more than 23,000 people as per the report of Gaza health authorities. It did not mince words in accusing Israel of aiming to bring about “the destruction of the population” of Gaza.
South African lawyer, Adila Hassim aptly told the judges and the audience in the packed, ornate room of the Peace Palace at The Hague, “Genocides are never declared in advance, but this court has the benefit of the past 13 weeks of evidence that shows incontrovertibly a pattern of conduct and related intention that justifies as a plausible claim of genocidal acts.” According to Reuters and the Committee to Protect Journalists, indiscriminate bombing by Israel in Gaza even on hospitals, schools and refugee camps killed over 23,000 Palestinians, displaced 19,35,000 Palestinians from Gaza, destroyed 40,000 homes, partially damaged 2,34,000 homes, ruined 352 schools and destroyed 240 health facilities, 100 heritage sites, 104 mosques and damaged 1,612 industrial facilities.
This bloody massacre of innocent civilians, the pictures of dead bodies of children and fatally injured children make me weak at the knees. I couldn’t agree more with what another lawyer, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi said, “The scale of destruction in Gaza, the targeting of family homes and civilians, the war being a war on children, all make clear that genocidal intent is both understood and has been practiced. The articulated intent is the destruction of Palestine life.”
After the Hamas attacks on southern Israel on October 7, 2023 the United Nations secretary-general Antón Guterres said that Hamas attack did not take place in a vacuum. His comment was as right as the observation that Indian Rebellion of 1857 did not take place in a vacuum. The truth is that 15 million Palestinians have been suffering the brutality of Israel’s oppression for decades.
The American government needs to reflect on what Khaled Abou El Fadl has said, “The people in the United States don’t like to hear it, but puritanical Islam has been on the rise because of our unequivocal policy of absolute support for Israel, regardless of what Israel does – even if they invade Lebanon and bombard a major city like Beirut, full of civilians.”
The USA ought to take a neutral role and help the United Nations to effect a permanent two state solution for a lasting peace in West Asia. The International Court of Justice should issue a prompt order to stop the wholesale slaughter of innocent people and children in Gaza.
Yours etc.,
Sujit De,



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