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Choking the Goose

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We, the Government

By HUGH AND COLLEEN GANTZER

Our dearly beloved netas have just been struck sharply on their bare knuckles. Their bumbling attempt to amend the definition of a forest, in our verdant state, has been struck down. We pointed out the grave consequences of this ill- conceived amendment in our GP column of 5.11.’19, “Our Fell Forest Rules”, and someone up there, probably, reads! According to a forestry expert with considerable experience, such an amendment needs approval of the Supreme Court. We presume that our MLAs did not know this. After all, politicians don’t go through the rigorous training that our bureaucrats do in the LBSNAA. If, however, our civil servants did advise our legislators against making those strange interpretations of the laws governing our forests, and our netas went ahead and did what they did, then our MLAs have a problem. They could face the same consequences that the former government of Maharashtra did. Bluster, braggadocio, before-dawn hocus-pocus, might bolster a fleeting image of being muscular, but in the cold, analytical, light of day the pathetic netas emerged from this encounter with khichidi on their faces! Many of the voters, We the Government, who elected our netas feel sad about their humiliation. The buzz in Mussoorie is that they allowed their positions to go to their heads. They began to believe that they were above the people who had elevated them to their positions. But then they are better that their fellow legislators in much larger states in the plains. Those worthies had allowed themselves to be treated like commodities. Traders sometimes create shortages in onions and potatoes to extract a higher price from the market. So do political parties, by secreting their human potatoes and onions in five-star warehouses. Every neta should take the President of India’s words to heart. He said that Rights and Duties are two sides of the same coin. Many years ago, this was the introductory lecture one of us gave in the Defence Services Staff College when conducting the entire law course for the Naval Wing. Remember, MLAs, that your Rights, your Perks and Privileges, have to be earned by you. You have to perform your Duties to the people who elected you. Have you consulted them before you took decisions that will affect their lives? Specifically, did you ask for your voters’ opinions before you, our netas, 1. Decided to make it easy for ‘developers’ to destroy our green cover and make Mussoorie into an unsightly, high-rise, tourism slum? 2. Agreed to the cable car from Purkul to Mussoorie with its likely environmental impact on our town? 3. Proposed free transportation for cess-paying trippers to our traffic- congested hill resort? 4. Ignored the reasons for the delay in completing the long-delayed Jumna- water project to ease the chronic water shortages of the people who elected you? 5. Failed to enquire into why the Jal Sansthan gives No Objection Certificates to the MDDA for new constructions even when the same aqua-engineers admit that they cannot meet all our citizen’s daily needs? 6. Turned your backs on the chronic and growing traffic-congestion problems when the ‘gate system’ provides a tried and feasible solution? 7. Did not investigate why so much money was spent on laying sewer pipes for our Sewage Treatment Plant system and yet it still lies uncompleted so many years later? We have many more questions but these are enough for this week. Please remember, dear netas, that Mussoorie is, essentially a Business Town. Its residents are engaged in the very serious business of Tourism. Politicians might be interested in ‘footfalls’. Most netas are engaged in the matter of mass illusion: the greater the mass the greater the illusion, the jumla. Mass tourism, uncontrolled hordes of day-trippers, would choke our goose that lays the golden eggs. Most professionals in our Tourism-centric town would prefer one tourist spending a Thousand Rupees than a thousand tourists who spend just One Rupee each. A thousand visitors would create a thousand times more pollution! And don’t tell us that this government is in musth and will not listen to reason. Even the maha-hathis, from the financial capital of our great land, were forced to do so. Illusions vanish under a drenching bucket of cold reality!