Abhijit Banerjee in Not air-conditioned (The Poverty Line, February 13) rightly described the plight of the poor in our country. The number of the poor and the deprived is increasing every day as the government hasn’t taken any tangible action to mitigate their sufferings. A case in point is the mining districts of Orissa where large tracts of forestland have been leased out for coal and iron ore mining. Widespread mining is not only leading to deforestation and land degradation, but also adversely affecting the area’s ecology, natural water resources and agriculture, which, in turn, are making the local people poorer. Thanks to the government’s apathy, the people of the most mineral-rich districts of Orissa are the poorest in the country.