Thursday, January 6, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Ignoring valuable views

IT is, indeed, sad that valuable suggestions made by Mr S.P. Malhotra, a former Chief Engineer, through at least half a dozen letters published in The Tribune during the past one year or so (the latest one appearing on December 2) regarding the recharging of ground water by artificial methods to combat the problem of the fast depleting ground-water level in Punjab and Haryana has fallen on deaf ears.

I must say that the dogged determination shown by Mr Malhotra in repeatedly raising the issue has been fully matched by the indifference and apathy shown by the two governments to the impending disaster.

This is not an isolated case. Almost all other issues raised in the letters are blatantly ignored. Gone are the days when letters to the Editor used to elicit instant response from the government. I am sure there was then a system in place for this purpose. Let us revive and strengthen this long forgotten system.

  Any democratic government must not only be responsive to the public opinion but also appear to be so. I would, therefore, suggest that the Central and the state governments should have a separate cell which should monitor and initiate follow-up action on various issues raised through letters and bring out action-taken reports periodically, say once in three or six months, brief and to the point, and copies of the same made available for general information through the Press and/or district libraries.

This will not only satisfy the public in general that its voice is being heard but also enhance the government’s own image and thus improve its chances in future elections.

The newspapers are doing their bit by providing valuable space in their pages to accommodate people’s views. Now it is the turn of the “people’s government” to respect these views.

Wg Cdr C. L. SEHGAL (retd)

Issues affecting the aged

Mrs Maneka Gandhi has done well by announcing a comprehensive policy for the aged simultaneously setting up a national council for such people. The council is unique in its own way. This body aims at opening a public grievances cell which will attend to the complaints of old people.

She is also contemplating a project for a “long-term savings scheme” based on the experience in the USA, the UK and other European countries.

There is need to highlight certain problems related to the older people along with some recommended remedial measures.

1. The span of life of an average person has increased considerably due to advances in medical science, but it is a pity that special security programmes are limited and the quality of life with age worsens. Ageing is, of course, inevitable but should not lead to loneliness.

2. Some meaningful scheme is required to be devised for senior citizens as their plight is miserable. Many of them are not eligible for pension, having retired before the pensionary benefits scheme was announced.

3. Speedy settlement of retirement and other pensionary benefits, including the implementation of the law protecting their rights is required.

4. Children should be motivated not to turn a deaf ear and close their eyes towards old parents immediately after their properties have been transferred in their names.

5. State governments are not implementing health care schemes, thereby violating the Directive Principles of the Constitution.

6. Social and religious organisations must come forward and lend a helping hand to the older people at this critical juncture. On the part of elders, it is suggested that they too should change their attitude and outlook towards their children and bridge the generation gap.

Lastly, it will be in the fitness of things if all right-thinking persons help senior citizens so that they can see some light at the dark end of the tunnel.


Bus stands in Punjab

This has reference to a news item published on 30-10-99 which said that the Punjab government had decided to modernise its bus stands through private participation.

Any move for improving and modernising the bus stands at this juncture does not only seem hollow but also unbelievable and impracticable in view of their deplorable condition.

It is a pity that the issue of bus stands being very important was never taken care of seriously by any government during the past 40 years. The condition of the bus stands in the towns and cities of Punjab is so poor that one dithers to enter there. Broken sheds, damaged floors, kutcha and dirty floors, open and stinking toilets, deserted water taps, etc, greet the passengers.

After the formation of Haryana in November, 1966, the first thing the government did was that it constructed decent and spacious bus stands in the state. One finds that in Haryana even small towns have neat and spacious bus stands.

A bus stand that would have cost Rs 5 lakh 35-40 years ago will now require over Rs 1 crore, and likewise the cost of a bus stand in big cities has mounted to several crores. It is not understood from where hundreds of crores of rupees needed for the purpose will come.




Clash of test dates

As per the available information, the CBSE and also Panjab University have fixed May 14, 2000, as the date for holding the PMT entrance tests. The former organisation has fixed it for its own test, while the latter has fixed it for admission to Government Medical College, Chandigarh.

It is obvious that the fixing of a common date for both examinations may cause avoidable hardship to the candidates desirous of appearing in both examinations.

It would thus be in the fitness of things if the two institutions effect a change in the date for holding their entrance test. It would earn them the gratitude of the student community.



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