By strange coincidence, Kalpana Sharma's article on the abysmal state of sanitation in an urban slum located adjacent to a posh locality in Mumbai (June 7) has appeared a day after TV channels were beaming images of the interiors of toilets renovated in Yojana Bhavan ( Planning Commission) at a cost of Rs.30 lakh. There was also the report (“Rs.30 lakh spent to renovate Planning Commission toilets,” June 7). So much for our talk of austerity and skewed priorities.

It is also significant that the article appears adjacent to another article on the editorial page about India's pretensions to match China as a so-called superpower (June 7). So long as the majority of our population lacks basic needs such as adequate food, drinking water, shelter and sanitation, this obsession of comparing ourselves with China and aspiring to be a superpower is totally misplaced. We should at least catch up with some of our smaller neighbours who have better Human Development Indices.

K. Balakesari,

Chennai

Kalpana Sharma deserves appreciation for the open minded article on a delicate but essential topic.

The untold sufferings undergone by the urban poor and the plight of women are pathetic. It is a shame that a country which boasts of various achievements in the fields of communication and technology has a large majority of its population living without basic sanitary amenities.

Vathsala Jayaraman,

Fremont, California

“Taking the stink out of city sanitation” is a timely reminder to our planners. Poor sanitation adds to health problems due to its impact on the quality of life of slum dwellers.

S.D. Mukherji,

Hyderabad

It is unfortunate that the Centre and the State governments are reluctant to even consider renovating sanitation facilities around Mumbai. It is pathetic to hear that even after 20 years of globalisation we forget about the poor and the disadvantaged. It is ironic that we have icons like Bill Gates attempting to provide solutions in this area.

At one end we are able to compete with the best in the technology sector, while on the other, we grapple with instances of financial corruption and a lack of basic sanitation facilities.

Vedula Krishna,

Visakhapatnam

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