Unreliable neighbour With reference to “NSA Ajit Doval, Pak counterpart Janjua had a ‘secret’ meeting in Thailand” (January 1), it goes without saying that we should not speculate about the likely outcome of this secret meeting between the national security advisers of India and Pakistan on December 27. It may also be added that Pakistan cannot be relied upon. Moreover, since Pakistan is de facto governed by its Army and is also known for being hand in glove with various terrorist outfits operating from its soil through the Inter-Services Intelligence, any such meetings become irrelevant and meaningless unless Pakistan proves its credentials by walking the talk with India. Pakistan has come to enjoy the dubious distinction of frequently sending self-serving messages the world over, much against its anti-India stance on ground zero given effect through its long-drawn proxy war by assisting the infiltration of terrorist outfits across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. Since old habits die hard, India should watch out. S Kumar, New Delhi Fire safety negligence With reference to “Ticking time bomb” (January 2), in June 1997, a major fire broke out inside Uphaar Cinema in Delhi halfway through a movie. The accident claimed the lives of 59 people and over 100 were injured due to suffocation in the ensuing stampede. It took nearly two decades to classify the accident as a deliberate act of violation or an instance of mere negligence. No lessons were learned and the victims were embroiled in prolonged litigation for compensation. Again, in May 2016 a massive fire gutted the National Museum of Natural History in Delhi and led to the loss of several irreplaceable specimens and exhibits in the “accident”. Once again it exposed the cavalier approach to disaster preparedness. The mishap that took place at Kamala Mills compound in Mumbai is no different.
Not only has it put to question the fixing of accountability of owners and official agencies but also triggered a debate on the punishment for those guilty of not taking into serious consideration the enforcement of safety requirements. It is unfortunate that despite non-compliance with construction codes in terms of provisioning of fire extinguishing apparatus, safe evacuation passages and structural integrity of the building, the construction companies succeed in obtaining safety clearances with impunity. It is time the laws were made more stringent and those guilty of blatant violation were prosecuted without leniency. The government should mandate the public display of building fire safety report and bring to book all such officials who exploit the bureaucratic structure to regularise such “death traps”.Shreyans Jain, New Delhi Cleanup challenge In his article, “What ails Namami Gange project”, (January 1) Surinder Sud has discussed an application of the biological water purification technique developed by an Indian research institute to clean the Ganges. I hope that the Indian government immediately starts using this technique for the purpose of cleaning the waste water flowing into the river. My own global experience tells me that most of the modern answers for the future of mankind lie in the bio and nanotechnologies. India has the scientific and institutional capacity to take bold actions in this regard. I am saying bold because the so-called right-wing extremists and the green radicals will stall such efforts to clean the very Ganga they worship and admire, respectively, because it involves modern technology that is unknown to them. This is just the way they have stalled the introduction of the successful indigenous innovation of the genetically modified mustard. Chandrashekhar G Ranade, Washington DC