22 Mar 2023  |   05:47am IST

Letters to the editor ( 22 March 2023)

Help stop cancer

This is an alarm to create and raise awareness about the ill effects of consuming packaged drinking water and other soft drinks packaged in PET plastic bottles and transported on top of open delivery trucks by the supply companies, exposed to direct sunlight, dust and other hazards. We notice on a daily basis as we move on the roads, that many trucks with no enclosure or canopy, transporting soft drinks and packaged drinking water fully exposed to direct sunlight. As such, direct exposure to the sun, the plastic containers and bottles may lead to chemical reactions and release harmful chemicals like dioxin that increases the risk of breast cancer.

The point here is the hotter it gets, the more the toxins released by plastic can move into food or drinking water. Consumers should avoid food or water with persistent exposure of plastic to direct sunlight or extreme heat. In fact, the soft drinks or packaged water bottles specifically advise us to keep the product away from direct sunlight or heat, but they or the suppliers do otherwise. Many of these supply companies load their products exposed to direct sunlight, dust pollution which are unhygienic conditions. It is also the duty of the licensing authorities, be it Bureau of Indian Standards or FDA, to ensure that these companies adhere to their strict rules and regulations as laid down by the competent licensing bodies to safeguard the health of the people. 

Apart from smoking and other vices causing cancer, getting too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is also an active cause of cancer. When water bottles warm up from sunlight, one may notice a slight change in the water’s taste, smell or colour. Many molecules are volatile when broken from the polymer chains that we know as plastic. This problem is known as UV degradation and is a common problem to just about anything exposed to sunlight. Natural and synthetic polymers are broken down by ultra-violet radiation in sunlight and the process happens within seconds of UV exposure. Therefore, let us be aware and further create awareness of the fact that we can avoid what is bad for our health. The local FDA should be able to raise the flag on this issue and ask the supply companies to adhere to what is written on their product that it should not be exposed to direct sunlight. That too, for the whole day or until the next day as they move from place to place are merchandising their products on top of open trucks degrading the plastic that can give us ill-health.

Saturnino Rodrigues, 

Per Seraulim


Relief needed from government

Since June 2022 the price of petrol and diesel has remained constant at around Rs 97.70 and Rs 90 respectively, whereas there used to be an almost daily change in prices prior to June 2022. At a time when the prices shot above Rs 100 for petrol, there was a huge hue and cry from citizens, and opposition parties held lots of protests. It appears that though the price is still high the population has got used to this new price and the protesting voices have died out.  International oil prices were ruling at USD 122 a barrel in June 2022 whereas currently the prices are around half of it at USD 68  and no relief is passed on to the consumers giving the excuse that it is kept on the higher level to absorb the losses of marketing companies. Even the price of an LPG gas cylinder has crossed Rs 1,100.

If fuel prices were brought under the GST regime it would have benefited a great deal; but when the Centre and States are charging a whopping 60% tax on petroleum products which benefits both, why would they settle for only 18% under the GST regime?   Hence, the heavy burden is laid on the citizens. If the agricultural sector, which has 1/7th of the GDP of India, was brought under the income tax and the GST regime, the benefit could have been passed on to the entire population, whereas currently only the rich farmers with huge holdings benefit.

The Centre has withdrawn all concessions for air travel and Indian Railways, which had benefited the senior citizens and deserving passengers, who could avail the discounted tickets. Only a small percentage of the older population enjoy retirement benefits like pensions whereas the bulk of the senior citizens have no source of income and have to dip into their savings or avail of family support and the price rises play into their monthly budgets.  Even the insurance premiums for medi-claim have hit the roof and they rise with age. This was one area where the government could have exempted the GST or alternately put the onus for GST on the hospitals which charge exorbitant fees.

Thankfully, inflation is under control and prices of food grains and vegetables including the volatile onion have remained under manageable levels.  Besides, the Generic medicines give a bit of relief to the citizens. The government needs to reduce fuel and gas prices, provide travel rebates and work out schemes specially which will alleviate the burden, which falls heavily on the non- earning senior citizens and the unemployed.

Alwyn M D’Sa, Miramar


Old pension scheme will be a disaster

The old pension scheme was discontinued by the BJP-led NDA government in December 2003. The government had then launched the NPS as a substitute for the old pension scheme.  Several States are reversing back to the old pension scheme. States like Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand have already implemented the old pension scheme and discontinued the National Pension System. The OPS is a pension-oriented scheme, the NPS is an investment-cum-pension scheme where a part of the money is invested in the market, thus generating more returns.  The confusion over pension schemes in India will likely worsen in the days ahead. On one hand, the reintroduction of the OPS has become a poll plank.  With the number of pensioners increasing every year, there will be no money left for development, welfare, or infrastructural growth.  The RBI has cautioned States against switching back to the OPS represents a big financial risk.  The OPS will eat into the revenue of States and is unsustainable over the long run. Also the reckless borrowing in neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka and Pakistan has left these countries reeling under debt burdens. 

K G Vilop, Chorao

Compensate woman who fell in a pit

The Imagine Panaji Smart City Development Limited should immediately compensate fully the woman, who was grievously injured after falling into a “pit” at Rua de Natal, Fontainhas in Panjim as she sustained head injuries requiring six stitches and major fractures to the foot due to the sheer negligence of the contractors. The compensation should cover the entire hospitalisation bills, medicines and her entire recuperation and convalescence as well as for the emotional distress caused as a result of the fall. The authorities concerned have the moral duty to provide immediate succour to this woman, who is being treated in a private hospital in the city. Immediately, also the areas around the chambers and dug up areas should be filled with rubble and compacted with the help of a heavy road roller. Meanwhile, all the work should be fenced during and up to completion of operations. Especially the elderly people are advised not to step on the surrounding areas of chambers and other dug up areas, but to walk on the asphalted portions of the streets only.

Elvidio Miranda, Panjim


Idhar Udhar