Tuesday, February 8, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Tree felling: unwise decision

OUR timely intervention may save the state, the nation and the country’s delicate ecological balance from getting destroyed. My allusion is to the Himachal Government’s decision lifting the 16-year-ban on green felling.

Needless to point out that with the population of the country having already crossed the one-billion mark, productive and sustainable use of natural resources is terribly essential for enhancing human welfare and sustainable development.

Unfortunately land, water and forest resources are being depleted irrationally at breakneck speed. Studies have shown that at the rate the forests are being cut, between 1.3 and 1.5 million hectares of forest land is getting denuded every year, and most of it in the Himalayan region.

  Whereas the country as a whole should have at least one-third of its geographical area under forests, the latest “State of Forests” report (1997) shows that the total forest cover is not more than 19.27 per cent with a good tree cover limited to 11.17 per cent only. Satellite pictures show that Himachal Pradesh, which was once home to the popular varieties of timber-producing trees, has got reduced to balding patches of a thin forest cover.

In this situation, therefore, going in for green felling is not a wise decision.

The estimated income of Rs 50 crore is just peanuts in the face of a colossal loss that will be suffered later on.

Moreover, there are many alternatives open to be milked. In my view, this much amount the government can conveniently save every year by practising austerity, provided the endeavour is sincere.

The path the government has chosen, seemingly endorsed by its professional forest managers, should, however, be avoided for the present and for several weighty reasons. A cursory glance at newspaper reports, analyses and reactions of the people underlines this. One can go through The Tribune’s “Editor’s Mail” column also to find such views.

MLA and former Speaker,
Himachal Vidhan Sabha

Hope & despair

I write on behalf of the silent majority of Mohyals settled in Mohyal Colony, Gurgaon. Our silence, I fear, is in danger of being mistaken for indifference. For too long we have stood by and suffered silently at the hands of the authorities. For too long we have practised forbearance. But not anymore now for our safety and security even after a span of nearly two decades is in danger.

Despite long-drawn correspondence and meetings with the authorities concerned, matters did not improve. The service of unexpected notices under Sections 4 and 6 subsequently followed by Section 9 for the acquisition of the land where we have invested our hard-earned savings to raise constructions has come as a shot in the arm. Reeling under the trauma of Partition, which left a deep scar on our psyche, we finally reconciled to our homeless status and raised our houses brick by brick in Mohyal Colony after investing our hard-earned money. The only home we ever knew was our ancestral home in West Pakistan where we were born and brought up and where we spent our childhood. Despite living in different parts of the country, the memories of our ancestral homes still haunt us.

We are naturally worried over our uncertain fate and feel mentally harassed due to the growing indifference shown by the authorities. In the wake of unexpected notices served under Sections 4 and 6 followed by Section 9, the Mohyal Housing & Welfare Association (Regd) was left with no alternative but to file a civil suit in the Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh, seeking stay for the protection and safety of plot-holders and redress of their grievances.

A major segment of the residents of Mohyal Colony consists of displaced senior citizens, retired pensioners and/or salaried class persons. We have a genuine grievance and feel alarmed at the growing apathy and stepmotherly treatment meted out to us by the authorities.



Fallout of Badal-Tohra feud

The apparent reason for the differences between Giani Puran Singh and Bibi Jagir Kaur is the implementation of the Nanak Shahi calendar. Giani Puran Singh, in my views, has not followed the basic Sikh doctrine and practice in issuing the “hukamnama”.

The common era calendar is in vogue in the entire world. The Government of India is not following the traditional Bikrami calendar but the Shaka one.

The Sikhs are not bound by any calendar, as, according to the Gurbani, all months, days and occasions are auspicious: “Mah divas moorat bhale.” The advent or the departure of Divine Light (Gurus) is beyond time and space.

Since Sikhs are spread all over the world, the common era calendar should be used to fix permanent dates to observe Gurpurabs, including the birthday of the Khalsa. The Bikrami calendar could continue to be used for observing Diwali and other seasonal festivals.

The present conflict is a fallout of the Badal-Tohra feud. They should sink their differences for the well-being of Punjab and the Panth.


For Sardar Majithia chowk

Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia, a great visionary of Punjab, founded The Tribune in 1881, and the paper has been serving the nation since then uninterruptedly.

The Tribune is a marvellous gift to the nation by Sardar Majithia. Why shouldn’t his gesture be reciprocated? The Tribune Trust should come forward with a scheme for such a noble deed.

The Tribune Chowk, being maintained by The Tribune Trust, should be renamed Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia Chowk in recognition of his contribution to the nation. This is the best way to pay tributes to Sardar Majithia.



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