Tuesday, January 4, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Engg institute flouting norms

THIS is to point out that the Thapar Institute of Engineering & Technology (Deemed University), Patiala, did not amend its rules/regulations regarding the age of superannuation of the faculty from 60 to 62 years as directed by the UGC/AICTE in its latest recommendations on pay revision. However, the Board of Governors (BOG) of the institute changed the age of superannuation of the Director of the institute from 65 to 70 years on its own in contravention of all the rules of the UGC and Punjab Government.

It is pertinent to mention that the UGC has prescribed the age of superannuation as 65 years for the Directors/Vice-Chancellors of the institutes/universities. The BOG of the Institute has since given three years further extension to the Director of the institute on August 9, 1999 — the day he attained the age of superannuation i.e. completed 65 years of age after having served the institute for more than five years. This was done without the concurrence of either the UGC or the Punjab Government — both of which are the funding agencies of the institute.

  The institute receives funds to the tune of Rs 225 lakh and Rs 240 lakh annually from the UGC and the Punjab Government, respectively. This act of the BOG of the institute — enhancing the superannuation age of the Director of the institute from 65 to 70 years unilaterally — not only amounts to flouting the norms prescribed by the UGC/AICTE in the interest of maintaining standards and coordination of higher education throughout the country but also having double standards. Since the present Director is continuing in office illegally, all the decisions taken by him are illegal, unconstitutional, ultra-vires and null and void in law. It is urged that the Punjab Government and the UGC must intervene immediately to save the Thapar Institute — the pioneer in engineering education in the state.


Cellular phones

Theft of cellular phone instruments in India has become a common feature. While all the nationalise insurance companies of government-owned General Insurance Corporation had started insuring for theft of cellular phone instruments, most of these companies had to discontinue such insurance schemes because of too many theft claims of these instruments.

In foreign countries, use of stolen cellular phone-instruments is very risky. In these countries, chassis-number of the instrument is also on record with cellular companies together with the mobile number of the sim-card. Such cross-matching of chassis number of the instrument and the mobile number of sim-card enables easy catch of the user of a stolen instrument!

To effectively check the fast-increasing cases of theft of cellular phone-instruments in India, cellular-operators in the country should be asked to make for similar arrangements in our country also, where chassis number of the instrument used with a sim-card may be registered on computer records like mobile number is presently registered. Such a system will make it possible for arrest of persons using stolen cellular phone-instruments.


Insuring success

It cannot be gainsaid that the micro-institutional and legal reforms are absolutely necessary for the success of privatising the insurance sector. However, the focus must shift from the single-pointed agenda of attracting foreign capital inflow to providing efficient and courteous services to customers.

It is hoped that the LIC will also rise to the occasion and do its best to retain the customer loyalty, through its new and exemplary service to its customers and agents. We hope the government would soon set up a really strong and independent regulatory authority for the entire insurance sector, which must be considered a sine qua non for the success of privatisation of the insurance sector.

New Delhi

Trees deserve care

I have had the opportunity for over 30 years to frequently travel on GT Road between Chandigarh and Delhi, and on state highways in Haryana. I am extremely sorry to see the bad condition of various varieties of 25 to 30 years old trees planted on either side of these roads. These trees are mostly of kikar, shisham, neem and eucalyptus varieties. Many of these trees are dead and have gone dry. The remaining trees are aged and in the process of dying or growing out of shape.

The trees over which power lines pass are cut mid-way their height. These have neither branches nor green leaves. The wood of dead trees has started deteriorating and is being eaten by termite. Before long, what to talk of using this wood for making furniture or building material, it will not remain usable even as fuel wood.

This situation has arisen owing to the apathy of the Forest Department. It is, therefore, suggested that all dead and mature trees should be felled without further loss of time. Their wood should be put to best possible use. To replace them, saplings of new shady trees such as neem, shisham and peepal should be planted. These saplings should be properly looked after by timely irrigation and saving them from stray animals.

It has been observed that on vast stretches of vacant land, thousands of saplings of trees are planted by various government and non-government organisations during Van Mahotsava every year. But this exercise has remained only a ritual. The scheme needs to be adopted as a movement.

Saplings once planted during Van Mahotsava are left to fend for themselves. A majority of these can hardly grow beyond their infancy. Only a negligible number of them reach the adolescent stage and adulthood. In my view, efficiency of Forest Department officials should be judged on the annual rate of mortality of newly planted trees. They should be accountable for the healthy growth of trees and should ensure that these are properly taken care of. Mature trees should be felled in time and replacements provided quickly. This, apart from ensuring a substantial revenue to state, will improve the environment. It is most essential in these days of high pollution.

Ambala City

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