Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Action against garbage dumping in the drains


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We are writing to express our grave concerns regarding the ongoing issue of indiscriminate garbage dumping in the drain that begins at Barapathar and runs down to the Gorkha Pathsala football ground and then flows towards the Kanya Pathsala School and the District Council office in Garikhana. This situation has worsened since many residents discharge their latrine waste directly into the uncovered drain, creating an unbearable smell that spreads across the area and poses serious health risks. Very regularly, huge piles of dumped garbage, including plastics packed with waste products, clothes, shoes, furniture items, and more, obstruct the normal flow of water.
Despite multiple complaints to the Cantonment Board, this environmental degradation persists due to the authority’s nonchalant attitude. However, in response to repeated requests from elderly citizens, a reputed writer, Mr. Salil Gewali, has highlighted this issue by writing several letters to the editorial column published in the Shillong Times, including one under the caption ‘Dealing Firmly with River and Drain Polluters’ on April 27, 2023. These letters by Salil Gewali, along with the photograph of the garbage dumping, were duly forwarded by us to the Deputy Commissioner, East Khasi Hills.
In response to our email, the Deputy Commissioner immediately replied through letter dated May 8, 2023, directing the Shillong Municipality to install CCTV cameras and take other necessary actions. But, although more than a year has passed, it is disheartening to report that no concrete action has been taken so far by the Shillong Municipality or the Cantonment Board. The continued absence of CCTV cameras at strategic junctions, uncovered drains, and the lack of signboards prohibiting dumping garbage are clear indicators of the negligence of our municipal authorities.
This ongoing negligence and inaction by the authorities, including the Shillong Cantonment Board, has severely affected both environmental and public health, exacerbating the pollution issue and increasing health hazards in the neighbourhood.
We therefore urgently request the Deputy Commissioner to intervene in this matter of public concern and ensure prompt implementation of essential measures. It is highly recommended to completely cover the drain with slabs and install traps at strategic points to alleviate these problems. It is also requested that penalties should be imposed on individuals who discharge their latrine waste directly into the drain.
Our community deserves a clean and safe environment. It is crucial that our local authorities fulfill their responsibilities to protect and improve our living conditions.
Yours etc.,
Hardeep Ryntathiang
(General Secretary) &
D. Wahlang (Rongbah Dong)
Dorbar Shnong, Nongsohphoh
Upper Mawprem, Shillong-2

All roads lead to one gridlock
This past week, I have had to care for a loved one by taking her to the hospital to have the mandatory injections after a surgery. Living in the heart of Laitumkhrah and rushing between work, home and the hospital and finding the best time to do it has been a challenge, to say the least.
All routes heading towards Laitumkhrah, whether it is (1) from MES taking the road from Goraline towards Laitumkhrah Police Point (2) from Dhankheti to Don Bosco Square, towards Laitumkhrah Police Point (3) from Shillong Commerce College to Don Bosco Square towards Laitumkhrah Police Point (4) from NEEPCO towards Laitumkhrah Police Point, these routes are usually in gridlock for most parts of school and working hours and would remain so, if not for the able traffic personnel managing the junctions.
Hence, it is a commendable trial by the Superintendent of Police, East Khasi Hills District, Shillong in its press release dated May 2, 2024 for a “one way trial run to ease traffic on NEEPCO-Laitumkhrah road.”
However, with this arrangement and with the MES road leading towards Nongrim Hills/ Rynjah also closed, the pressure on the road leading towards Don Bosco Square from St.Mary’s School will be multiplied.
It is therefore a humble suggestion that Upland Road be made one way in the other direction, that is from Don Bosco Square towards DHS, so that cars heading towards NEEPCO are diverted and do not add to the traffic towards Laitumkhrah Police Point, Nongthymmai, extending up to Laitkor.
Yours etc.,
A concerned educator, caregiver and citizen.
Name withheld on request

Gambling an addiction
A Class Xll student was found hanging in an abandoned building near his home in Kolkata in March this year. Police said that the 17-year-old boy was in “debt” and into “online gambling”, a habit of his that his family and teachers were unaware of.
Online gambling has become a deathtrap, especially for those who are victims of poverty. The lives of many young persons who do not have a comfortable cushion of wealth to absorb the shock of addiction-driven expenses are being destroyed.
Parthiban was the sole breadwinner of his family. The 28-year-old autorickshaw driver had two young daughters. He died by suicide in Tamil Nadu in November 2022, allegedly because he lost money in online gambling.
In the same month, a woman migrant worker from Odisha, Pandhana Maji ended her life in Tamil Nadu after she allegedly suffered losses in online gambling. B. Sivanraj, a cab driver, died by suicide after losing over 15 lakh to online gambling in January 2023. Gunaseelan, a restaurant employee, died by suicide after telling his coworkers that he lost almost Rs 2 lakh in gambling.
Advertisements for gambling are given in such a clever way that they make audiences believe that online gambling will rescue them from poverty. Thanks to those lucrative advertisements, some of which are presented by celebrities, online gambling has been highlighted as a safe entertainment and a sure road to success. Moreover, the statutory warnings against online gambling are given in a hurried manner, which is extremely difficult to comprehend.
Every day, 154 farmers and daily-wage workers die by suicide. The 2022 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report recorded a 4 percent increase in suicide rate. The highest group among 1,22,724 male suicides was the daily-wage workers. The report says as many as 41,433 male daily-wage workers were suicide victims in one year.
Extreme poverty can drive a person to suicide. But if he does not want to end his life then two death-traps await him. The first trap is gambling which he or his children may step in out of despair to save their souls.
When they lose money in gambling, the second trap is waiting for them in the form of unauthorised digital lending platforms and mobile apps that give quick loans. Several reports highlight that these platforms not only charge excessive interest rates but also demand hidden fees. They do not hesitate to use aggressive recovery methods and to breach borrower’s online privacy.
Lottery and gambling have become a lucrative business. The biggest purchaser of the electoral bonds turned out to be not a big business group but a lottery company that had spent Rs 1,368 crore in 21 separate bouts of purchases between October 2020 and January 2024.
The Central Consumer Protection Authority under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution issued a press release on March 6, 2024 reminding, “Betting and gambling are strictly prohibited under the Public Gambling Act 1867, and are considered illegal in the majority of regions across the country.” However, it admitted, “Despite this, online betting platforms and apps persist in advertising betting and gambling directly, as well as under the guise of gaming.” Here is a question. How can such platforms and apps dare to persist when the authority in the same press release also acknowledged, “Endorsements of such activities presents considerable financial and socio-economic implications, especially to the youth”?
Yours etc.,
Sujit De,


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