Where are we headed?

Editor,

Having read the article, “Is Sustainable Tourism a Myth, by Patricia Mukhim (ST July 12, 2019), I too have this feeling of frustration about the way things are here in Shillong town and in the Khasi- Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya. Shillong is actually quite lawless. It is next to impossible to try and make sense of it all. Last Saturday two of my friends and I went for a drive to Mawkdok in the evening. We left Mawkdok at around 6 PM and got home at 11Pm.

The traffic jam was well past Mylliem main market. Yet in all of this there were private cars with tinted windows and siren blaring, overtaking in order to bypass this jam. How is that allowed? And if it is not allowed then who is going to take action against these people? Our Ministers, Government Officials, Army, Air Force and Cars with AS number plates use these same tactics to get through traffic even on weekends! So the common man is, in most of these instances, the victim because we are not related and do not have any BIG-WIG connections.

Even within city limits how is it that cars, buses, tourist taxis, local cabs, two wheelers are allowed to park all day by the roadside without having to pay a single rupee by way of parking fees? These vehicles further reduce the width of the already narrow roads of Shillong! Shopping complexes are allowed to open without providing parking spaces for customers. How? Vendors and hawkers are everywhere. They occupy walking space, bus stops and taxi stands. Therefore where can people walk except on the road? This also causes traffic to slow down considerably. Classic examples are Laitumkhrah and Civil Hospital.

Our tourist spots are completely ruined and clogged with so much garbage and traffic that instead of finding peace and quiet one feels like tearing the hair out of one’s head out of sheer frustration. How is it that all these hawkers are allowed to set up shop anywhere? And where do they throw their garbage? Generally it’s by the road side, down the hillside, streams and drains. Examples are Ryndang Briew on the way to Umiam, Wards Lake, Mawkdok bridge to name a few. The list could very well fill your newspaper.

Suddenly, now its jump on the bandwagon of, ‘Save Umiam.’ What about Wah Umkhrah, Umshyrpi and the stream that flows through Malki – Dhanketi etc. Here again how is it that people are allowed to live and build so close to and in fact right over these streams beginning from Malki,  Dhanketi, Lumparing, Riatsamthiah to Polo etc.

Mr Toki Blah recently wrote an insightful article about Urban Governance and whose job is it? As a lay person I have to assume that it’s our Ministers and MLA’s responsibility. So when these say they go to work and that too is questionable then what is it that they do when they are in their offices? Yet they so often flaunt their authority by going around with sirens blaring, escorts and pilot vehicles. Do they need so many? And how many of them have actually walked on our pavements or sat in three hour traffic jams ? But they all feel this constant need to travel ABROAD.  Recently our Chief Minister went to Switzerland and came back to tell the people of the state that corporations were going to adopt a number of villages in Meghalaya. The question is why and what for? In the whole scheme of things even if it were only on paper the idea seems so bizarre.

At this point there seems to be only questions, and the answers my friend as the wise Bob Dylan wrote is ‘Blowing in the Wind?’

Yours etc.,

Christine Tina,

Via email

Space exploration

Editor,

In a speech on space exploration in 2006, APJ Abdul Kalam said, “The Moon is very important because it has the potential to become an intermediate space station between Earth and Mars.” Yes, the Chandrayaan mission is therefore very important to India and ISRO has carried on further its efforts to materialise the Moon mission through Chandrayan-2.

The ISRO team pursued the lunar mission plan and discussed it with the then President of India APJ Abdul Kalam. Being an ardent space-technology loving man, Kalam gave the green signal and India’s first Moon mission plan – Chandrayaan -1 was concretized. On October 22, 2008 Chandrayaan-1 was launched from SatishDhawan Space Centre with Moon Mineralogy Mapper aboard the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, which could confirm the presence of solid ice on the Moon.

With the successful launch of the Chandrayaan-1 and with the detection of water contents on the surface of the Moon, ISRO’s eyes now set on sending another Moon mission. But this time it would be grander, hence the plan is now to go a step ahead and soft land a rover on the Moon. This is a rare feat only a few countries have achieved it so far.

Having received government approval, the mission Chandrayaan-2 aims to carry forward the work done by Chandrayaan -1 and explore the Moon surface further. The ISRO also is zealous about the study of the frozen helium on the Moon. Frozen helium is an excellent source of clean energy and so it will become one of the most sought after resources when the world turns to production of energy through fusion. This energy produced using helium in the Moon can also energise the vehicles for transporting materials from the Moon to man’s future habitats in Mars and to his natural abode, the earth.

ISRO will be all set to launch Chandrayaan -2 on July 15. If successful, it will make India the first country to soft-land a rover on the Moon’s South Polar Region which is known as the dark side. The six-wheeled rover, named Pragyan will explore the Moon’s surface and travel around 500 meters from the landing spot. The fresh data from Chandrayaan-2 will bolster ISRO’s Gaganyan mission that aims to send humans to space by 2021-22.

Certainly, the exploration of the Moon through Chandrayaan will excite and electrify the entire nation. The whole nation is single-mindedly praying for the successful launch of Chandrayaan-2. Wish all success to ISRO team.

Yours etc.,

TK Nandanan,

Via email