Letter to the Editor
by Partha Bhattacharya

Dear Mr. Sen, I live in the USA and India and have heard for quite a while that Joshimath is in danger due to unrestrained construction and Mr. Sati's protests about the same.  In fact this week the matter has been reported in the local daily and as a Civil Structural Engineer and builder, I support his logical objections against building at the cost of the mountains and the imperilled populace.

The Himalayas from my undergrad classes in Geology at Shibpur BE College and Geophysical Exploration at the graduate level in the USA, I cannot scientifically recommend cutting formations without making sure they are stabilized.  As a former Asst Executive Engineer in the Ministry of Transport Border Roads wing, I have first-hand knowledge of how expensive and difficult mountain roads are.  We built miles of roads straight and curved, zig zag portions of which got washed away in monsoon damage and landslide, taking the retaining and breast walls that supported portions of these roads and costing the government a huge bundle.

I am sure the present builder has qualified and sensible engineers.  It is not a "Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread" situation.  And yet, I am very concerned that Mr. Sati has been put under house arrest sometimes to  silence and intimidate him.  It is extremely unfortunate.

- Partha Bhattacharya, BECE (Cal); MS, PE (USA)