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Sunday, August 8, 1999
Chandigarh Tribune
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Dam helps increase farm land
By Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 7 — The construction of an earthen dam has helped residents of Rael Majra village near Ropar to increase cultivable land from 1.6 hectares to more than 20 hectares within a span of about six years.

The project, funded by the local Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute, has emerged as a role model for the adjoining villages where soil erosion continues to be the major drawback.

The earthen dam is constructed in an area where no water collected before the project began. The dam is spread over 13.7 hectares and solves the water problem. It is sustained by a pipeline of about 13 km. Officials maintain that the production had increased from a negligible quantity to about 13 quintal per hectare.

The project involves the local population which works actively for the programmes. A local society constituted for the purpose also collects rent on using water services which is approximately Rs 12 per hour.

Talking to The Tribune today, Mr Ramesh Bansal, senior scientist in the institute, said one of the main aims was to save the increasing barrenness in the land on the lower hills which resulted in increasing non-utilisation of the area, particularly in the belt of Shivalik hills.

Mr R.K. Aggrawal, head of the institute, said increasing barrenness on the mountains was only an indication to the emerging problem of reduction in productivity of foodgrains. Mr Aggrawal said the projects on their success were forwarded to the state governments for mass action and the local office catered to Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.

The dam near Rael Majra is also generating funds from the sale of fish and fodder which was more Rs 1 lakh annually.

Dr Aggrawal says such projects depend largely on people's participation and the main components of the execution included identification of the area, adopting measures and its sustainability.

Silt abundance reduces the agricultural production, Mr Bansal said. Grass plantation is a major deterrent in spreading silt and the ongoing project promised success.

Mr Aggrawal said easy availability of fodder had helped increase dairy products. There was 100 per cent increase in the number of buffaloes, according to the numbers available with the research centre. The milk production have increased from 7000 litres to 16 000 litres during past few years.

However, the institute faced some problems from the villagers, particularly in management of funds of the society.Back


Time to seek another job?
By Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

CHANDI MANDIR, Aug 7 — Seriously injured by shell splinter wounds during a fierce battle for the capture of one of the strategic peaks, Point 5113 also known as Zulu 1, in the Mushkoh valley, the desire of Havaldar P. V. Thapa of 3 / 3 Gorkha Rifles, to make the grade as a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) remains undiminished.

Convalescing at Western Command Hospital here, the 37-year-old says he would often tell his children that in spite of all difficulties and hurdles, he was going to be the first person in the family to become an officer, even if a junior one.

Hailing from Nepal, this gallant soldier settled in Notun Basti in NC Hills district of Assam and joined the Army as he always wanted to do so. He has four school-going children and no source of income other than his salary.

Aware that he might be discharged from the Army, he is trying to list out options open to him. "I would prefer to do a job as there are hardly any opportunities back home. The hearth fires have to be kept burning. Even if I did not fulfil my ambition of becoming an officer, I at least have the consolation that I carried out the task assigned to me to the best of my abilities", he adds.

Recalling the assault on Zulu 1, a peak reportedly captured nearly a decade ago by the enemy, he says "I had led an advance section, comprising 10 men, which had been asked to make the ascent a week before the final assault. We had scaled the peak on July 15 in the dead of the night and had dug in some distance beneath a ridgeline on which were the enemy bunkers.

"We were in contact with the base camp and kept them informed. We had been ordered to lie low and not make any movement which would attract the attention of the infiltrators.

"We had been lying low for a week when the message came that the assault on the peak was scheduled for July 22 and we were to go in.

"My section covered the distance between us and the bunkers and by 6.30 a.m. we could spot six concrete bunkers. As dawn was breaking, the enemy spotted our movement and opened fire with small arms.

"We took cover and returned the fire. Since the infiltrators had the advantage of height, they could fire on us more accurately. Nevertheless, the firing from both sides continued for more than two hours. Seeing that we could not be dislodged, artillery cover was sought and the enemy guns opened up from Skardu at about 9 a.m.

"So heavy was the shelling that any movement was impossible. During this time I was injured by a shell splinter which sliced away a major part of my left hip. One is so charged on the battlefield that it took some time before the reality dawned on me. I was again hit after a few minutes and this time the splinter tore open by stomach.

"The intensity of the shelling could be gauged from the fact that only one person, other than me, survived. He too was seriously injured and is convalescing at some other hospital.

"By this time, the main assault party had reached and reinforced our positions. Our troops finally overran the enemy positions. A party finally brought me down and I was shifted to Gumri, then Srinagar and to Chandi Mandir.

"I would have given anything to storm the bunkers myself," he added with fire in his eyes. Back


‘Live show true test’
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 7 — “The true test of a singer is only in front of a live audience. Otherwise, with the present technology, it is fairly easy to become a singer today,” said Shibani Kashyap, a pop singer of the ‘Ho Gayi Hai Mohabbat’ fame. She was in the city today to perform at a rain-dance party, called ‘Rain-Storm-99’, at Go-Kart near Zirakpur.

In an exclusive interview to TNS, she talked about her music videos and her work as a music composer and a television hostess. “I began my career as a singer doing a number of live shows with big names like Remo Fernandes, Bally Sagoo and Baba Sehgal,” she said. She added that she had been trained in both Indian classical and Western music.

“With more and more people joining in the race, the competition is certainly tough. But this also means that only the best will remain. People have a wider choice than before. No artist can now afford to be complacent,” said Shibani.

“I have a hands-on experience with organising music and composing music, primarily because I started while I was still at college. And since I got into singing a lot of jingles, I also started doing my own compositions. Today I am also about to cut my single album,” she added.

The popular AIR-FM jingle that plays daily on Delhi-FM radio has been sung by her. She is also the playback singer in a cola advertisement. She has composed the title tracks of a couple of prominent television shows as well.

“I basically cannot act to save my life but I can certainly express myself to music. I feel that since in films we have a lot of beautiful faces and playback singers, why should the singers who cut their music albums not feature in videos. It certainly sounds more earnest if one sees Asha Bhonsle listening to her ‘Janam Samjha Karo’. I do not see any harm in the popularity of any music video, because the same helps in eventually getting recognition for the artist”, she said.

Shibani is busy hosting the music quiz, ‘Shibani Music Quiz’, on Music Asia, along with the recording of her second album, which will be her first solo. Her new music video ‘Dil Se Dil Ko’, from her first album, is also due for release.



Never look at sun directly
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 7 — It is innate curiousity that compels human beings to observe eclipses, often without any protective gear or with untested and unsafe means.

Lack of scientific information on safe viewing of the eclipse, time of the year, height of the sun, degree of the eclipse and amount of cloud cover are vital factors that combine to produce injury to the eyes— the eclipse blaindness — temporary or permanent, or what is called in the medical terminology, solar retinitis.

Every eclipse brings to light a number of such cases, possibly because the intensity of solar radiation is misjudged due to one or more of the above mentioned reasons.

Let us look at how many of eminent personalities, including scientists, viewed solar eclipses.

Socrates advised that a solar eclipse should be observed only by looking at its reflection in water. Today we know it is dangerous.

Constantine VII is said to have lost his eye sight after looking at an eclipse.

Galileo, looking at the sun with his telescope, injured his eyes. It is interesting to note that in their study of images Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton and Joseph Plateau all suffered considerable inconvenience after looking fixedly at the sun.

Cases are also cited of scientists who sustained a retinal burn while observing the transit of Venus through the telescope.

Ordinarily, when we look at the sun directly, we are protected from injury only by thefleeting duration of the glance and by lack of fixation which distributes the concentration of energy at any part of the retina, only on prolonged fixation is injury sustained.

Never look at the sun directly, except during the period of totality during a total solar eclipse.Back

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