Lackadaisical Government Attitude
S Kamat, Santa Cruz
The national highway near Udupi in Karnataka was blocked Monday, Jan 6, 2019 for 3 hours with protesting fishermen taking to the streets because 7 of their community have been missing at sea since December 13, 2018 and there is no concrete action that has been taken by both the State and Central governments to launch search and rescue operations to find them. This incident along with the 12 coal miners who have been missing again from December 13, 2018 in the Meghalaya rat hole mines highlights the callousness of our governments towards the people who strive hard to put body and soul together by taking up dangerous and hazardous work. The fishermen case is of a lesser order of danger since they are above ground albeit granted that they are on water but there is every chance of them drifting because of faulty engines and they can be spotted by the Coast Guard or passing ships. But for the miners who were trapped in a flooded mine serious recovery measures were initiated only after a week of the incident which is a shame since by that time they would have been dead from lack of food and air to breathe or would have drowned in the waters. Navy divers and high capacity pumps to evacuate the water arrived at the site just last week close to three weeks of the date the miners went missing. Is there any chance from this effort for bringing out the miners alive? At most they would be able to recover the bodies. While in the case of the young footballers who were trapped in a cave in Thailand, it grabbed the attention of our media and our people. But it is unfortunate that the same attention was not given to our own, the trapped miners in Meghalaya. The greatest tragedy is that the governments both at the State level and the Centre tended to be less seized of the distressed miners. This is not at all. In the Kolkata Metro recently one of the coaches caught fire because of overheating brakes leading to panic among commuters. The people had to be evacuated through the tracks and some broke windows and jumped out fracturing their limbs. Luckily there were no fatalities. The only conclusion that one can draw from this is that in India human life is cheap and it does not matter if a few people die here or there because in any case we have so many.