Giving in to vandalism

Sir, - This refers to your Editorial ``Giving in to Vandalism'' (Nov. 23). It opened up many perspectives on several issues. To wit, the same governments that you charge with lethargy and incompetence seem to have acted with efficient despatch when issuing 15,000 new licences after 1996, and moving to have the Master Plan amended now. Is it because taking to the streets is a political act and governments are political creatures? Or would you equate ``street vandalism'' with ``floor-crossing'' since both seem to bring governments to their knees, no matter what the merits of the issue are? And why is executive inaction for four years more horrendous than judicial fence-sitting for ten? It is, of course, heartening to know that the court laid down fairly detailed guidelines for worker compensation in 1996. But why is it that deadline after deadline has passed since then and not one worker has actually received compensation, other than those fortunate ones who happened to be working for a much-maligned government unit?

Of particular note is your emphasis that a tension exists between livelihood and environment. A few simple calculations will show that if two-thirds of Delhi's population suffers from respiratory problems and the financial costs are as much as Rs. 5,000 crores, then that is roughly Rs. 7,500 per person. On the other hand, each worker stands to lose an additional Rs. 24,000 per year. Will either the ruthless implementation or the proposed modification of the Master Plan resolve this tension? Your Editorial does not say much about the ability to find a way to bring about economic growth in tandem with environmental health through peaceful democratic processes.

Dunu Roy,

New Delhi