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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

New Zuari Bridge a Must-I

THIS is with reference to the news item, ‘Construction of new Zuari Bridge must begin now’ (NT, July 20). Keeping in mind the dismal record of collapsed bridges in the country,

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How Not to Fight Naxalism

BY PRAFUL BIDWAI

INDIA’S higher judiciary only rarely tells the executive to uphold Constitutional values in national security matters. The courts have never asked the army and paramilitary forces to employ strictly legal methods against separatist insurgents in Jammu and Kashmir and in the Northeast.

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Return to Ferry

Return to Ferry

N three years time those who have to cross the Zuari River to get to Panaji will have three options. One, walk on the road bridge which by then will be too old and unsafe to bear the weight of vehicles. Two, leave your car behind, use a ferry and then hitch a ride on a KTC bus. Three, walk on the KRC rail bridge and hope you are not hit by a train. Why three years? Because in three years the Zuari Bridge will reach the end of its life span, unless refurbished and rehabilitated by an engineering firm with near miraculous powers. This is a problem staring our politicians in the face and yet they fail to see it. Perhaps, most of them are still mesmerised by the view of the Zuari meeting the Arabian Sea to notice the cracks in the bridge or read the fine print in the warranty document which says, ‘best before 2014’.

Politicians react only when there is a groundswell of anger. It’s like trying to build a dyke when a 100-foot wave is threatening to crash down on the working crew. But that is how politics works. Love it or hate it, democracy has its pitfalls. (The only deterrence is that in a dictatorship, it could be worse.) The Public Works Department (PWD) has assured us that they have everything under control and construction of the bridge would start as soon as the money to fund it is found. That isn’t much of an assurance especially if one considers that there are a lot of conditions linked to the money. To put it plainly, the situation that the state finds itself in is: it does not have the money to build a new bridge, but breathes easy because it has a blueprint.

The new Zuari Bridge is linked to the NH-17 expansion project which was slated to cost ` 1,795 crore when it was worked out by Wilbur Smith Associates in 2008. A modest escalation of 10 per cent over two and half years would add another ` 179 crore. The project has been held up for several reasons, land acquisition being one of them and toll rates another. The Chief Minister, Mr Digambar Kamat and the PWD Minister, Mr Churchill Alemao have been assuring citizens that they would seek concessions from the Centre on toll. They have somehow given the impression that the Centre would provide funds for the project when in reality road users will be the ones contributing 70 per cent of the cost through payment of toll.

The immediate concern is construction of a new bridge across the Zuari and the government needs to focus on this project before it reaches crisis stage. Most experts in civil engineering acknowledge that it is next to impossible to construct a bridge in three years.

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Shift from Tobacco

THE chief ministers of 11 states including Goa have pledged their support to a ban on tobacco products. This was done on prodding from patients suffering from oral cancer. But how good is the pledge?

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Cuncolim Bus Terminus

THE Cuncolim Bus Terminus was declared as the Number One terminus in our country when it was commissioned a few years ago. But sadly, if you visit this terminus now, you will be appalled. Its toilet/cloak room is filthy, although there are maintenance people eager to collect fees for its use, without putting in any efforts towards maintaining its cleanliness.

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Lokpal: People’s Backing Needed

BY KULDIP NAYAR

CIVIL society in India may not have succeeded in forcing the government to adopt a radical bill to constitute the Jan Lokpal, an ombudsman, to eliminate corruption. Yet the threatened movement and fast by Gandhian, Mr Anna Hazare has put the fear of God in the mind of the government. It has begun cleansing its stable.

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A Milestone in Gorkha Hills

NOW many would give credit for the historic Gorkha accord to Mr Prashant Tamang, the winner of the ‘Indian Idol-Season 3’? He was not present when the accord was signed between the Gorkha Janmukthi Morcha (GJM), the West Bengal government and the Centre.

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Cost of Cleanliness

IT is heartening to note that the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has become pro-active on mid-day meals, a job it should be doing throughout the academic year. However, the style of governance leaves one wondering as to how long this vigilance spell will last.

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Dog Registration Policy

THIS is with reference to the news report, ‘Dog bite cases on the rise’ (NT, July 15), which states that over 1,100 people are bit by stray dogs every month.

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Land Acquisition: Need for a Fair Law

BY PRABHAKAR TIMBLE

THE trend to consider the power of land acquisition as supreme is on the wane. The use of the 117-year-old Land Acquisition Act is questioned at each and every stage. Earlier, the courts invoking the ‘eminent domain’ theory and pervasive power of the state were reluctant to quash acquisition notifications.

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