CONGRATULATIONS to Frontline for focussing on a controversial project that will have calamitous consequences for the environment and tribal communities (Cover Story, January 27). The exposé has come at a time when the government is facing a major challenge because of land subsidence in Joshimath resulting from similar unscientific construction activities. The Central government’s decision to go ahead with construction activities in Great Nicobar Island (GNI) is a classic case of the fence eating the crop. In its haste to implement the project, the government went to the extent of denotifying the protected biosphere.
The government’s proposal of compensatory afforestation in Haryana is illogical because the destruction of rainforests on the islands cannot be compensated by planting trees in a faraway place. One hopes the government will refrain from destroying the virgin forests and beaches of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
IN whatever way one looks at it, the mega infrastructure project planned in GNI is a “reckless venture” of mega proportions as the Cover Story articulated with no room for ifs and buts. In the name of infrastructure development, the government is throwing caution to the wind, threatening the very existence of the island’s forest-dwelling tribal communities, causing habitat-compression by raising its population, divesting the pristine forest of lakhs of trees with the eyewash of compensatory afforestation, and investing public funds to the tune of Rs.72,000 crore in areas prone to severe seismic hazards.
THE Cover Story dilated on the whole gamut of problems the native communities of GNI are facing because of the development the government has proposed there. It will make them aliens in their own land. The treatment being meted out to them is reminiscent of the attitude settlers had towards the Aborigines of Australia and the native Indians of the US, to mention a few.
Because of global warming, the world is already experiencing unpredictable weather conditions, and felling eight lakh trees will make the archipelago region susceptible to needless risks.
The plan to carry out afforestation in Haryana to compensate for deforestation in GNI is preposterous and sounds like the logic expounded in the Sufi story wherein people searched for a needle not in the house where it was lost but in the marketplace because there was light there.
When flora and fauna are knowingly destroyed, the nation is bound to pay a high price. Our fellow citizens should not be displaced and forced into deprivation.
Anthony de Mello
BARRY O’BRIEN is incorrect in stating that Anthony de Mello was an Anglo-Indian (“A buffet treat on Anglo-Indians”, January 27). He was not. He came from a Saraswat Brahmin family that originated in Kashmir. Members of the family moved south, and some were forced by Portuguese Jesuits to become Catholic in the late 17th century. Those who were converted took Portuguese surnames.
Anthony Stanislaus de Mello, born in Karachi in 1900, went to England to study at Cambridge University and became a successful businessman and cricket administrator. He is buried in a small shrine outside the Catholic Cathedral in New Delhi.
RECENTLY, Karnataka witnessed a fiery churn in the name of dress code (“Beyond the veil”, January 27). In what way does the hijab impede the process of imparting education, and what are the rights of women to education and dignity? It is imperative that these questions are answered if the hijab is going to be banned in schools and colleges. Muslim girls wear the hijab the same way that Sikh men wear turbans or Hindus wear bindis/the tilak. No one has ever worn saffron stoles in protest against turbans. All the trouble raked up over clothes is nothing but a farce and a path to polarisation of society.
In Iran, young women have been protesting against the hijab, while in India, Muslim girls are raising their voices for the right to wear it. What is common in both cases is women fighting for the right to choice.
CONVERSION means change and must not be feared (“Bogey of conversion”, January 27). In a secular democracy, freedom of religion and conversion go hand in hand. Any attempt to suppress them violates an individual’s human and religious rights and promotes communalism. A law must be enacted to ban existing anti-conversion and love jehad laws and prevent them from being reintroduced through ordinances.
Besides this, laws should be enacted to make the Prime Minister or Chief Ministers and the President or Governors resign/be impeached if they give their assent to anti-conversion and love jehad laws. Opposition-ruled States must set the ball rolling by scrapping these laws in their States.
IN his interview, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge gave reasons why the opposition was duty-bound to support his party (“India is looking for change in 2024”, January 27). This could happen if the Congress had a leader other than Rahul Gandhi for the post of Prime Minister as it is the only party other than the BJP to have an all-India presence.
What Kharge failed to say was that he and the “first family” are forcing the opposition to accept Rahul Gandhi as the next Prime Minister even though he is not acceptable to other parties. It will be a miracle if the opposition is able to come up with a Prime Minister candidate other than Rahul Gandhi.
IT was disheartening to read about the Bombay High Court order that gave the go-ahead for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project (“Gone groves”, January 13). It is unfortunate that in the name of development, rampant exploitation of nature continues unabashedly, resulting in disasters time and again. While natural disasters cannot be wished away, their magnitude can be minimised if one adopts eco-friendly measures.
The recent flooding in Bengaluru and the extensive death and destruction caused by incessant rains in Kerala over the past few years are examples of the myopic concept of “growth” and “development” that is achieved through rampant overexploitation of nature. The article brought into focus the need for ecological conservation and highlighted Frontline’s commitment to environmental issues.
B. Suresh Kumar
Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
TECHNOLOGY plays an important role in life today (“Digital foray”, January 13). Sometime ago, all countries were worried over the Y2K issue, which many people believed was going to cause problems for computer systems.
Now there are reports of cyberattacks taking place across the world. Ransomware has reportedly attacked computers in 74 countries. Almost all business activities and education hubs depend on information technology (IT). One can just imagine what kind of harm cyberattacks could do.
It is the responsibility of all countries facing cyberattacks to work in tandem to tackle the latest threats to the IT field.
P. Senthil Saravana Durai