Wednesday, April 26, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Water balance in Punjab

A look at the present-day water balance map of Punjab reveals a glaring disparity in the sub-soil water balance of different regions. Whereas over 70 per cent of Punjab’s northern region is in grip of a severe table decline, its south-western districts are suffering from the waterlogging problem. In this region the annual rise of water table is .5 to 1 metre.

About 5.25 lakh acres of land has got waterlogged and, as seen from the figures, there has been a steep increase in the past few years. Also 1.85 lakh acres of the south-west region have got affected by salinity or alkalinity.

Of the total canal water that becomes available at “outlets”, over 52 per cent is spread over south-west Punjab having a geographical area of hardly 34 per cent. The higher allocation of canal water has been done for over half a century under the plea that the area lies in the low rainfall region. Consequently, the water allowance had been fixed much higher compared to the rest of Punjab. Whereas in the former region it ranges from 3.05 and 3.5 cusecs per thousand acres, in the latter region it ranges around 2 cusecs per thousand acres.

Also, the canal system feeding the south-west region runs all the year around, but the other systems run for around 268 days in a year.

These factors have led to a change in the cropping pattern.

Lining of the canals and the distributaries of the south-west region was undertaken under the modernisation programme (a World Bank-aided project), and the amount of water saved on account of reduced seepage was to be used elsewhere, thus correcting the water balance of the region to some extent. The amount of water involved was around 1425 cusecs and it was expected to make a significant impact.

Unfortunately, the L-sections of the main canals and branch canals were not revised to transfer the savings to the head of the system. So the “saved water” is still being used in the region. This led to the negating of the intended impact of the World Bank project.

As with the coming up of the Ranjit Sagar Dam (Thein Dam) the pattern of water releases during the year round is going to be different, it is essential that the entire problem is taken up for consideration. For this purpose, a “task committee” comprising experts in water resources and agronomists should be appointed to take up the reallocation of water to the different command areas of Punjab’s canal systems — refixing the water allowance and capacity factors, etc. as well as recommending changes in the cropping pattern in these areas.



Cricket and integrity

The recently exposed match-fixing scandal involving players and bookies is not at all surprising. Cricket has ceased to be a game. It has become a business. Since a lot of unaccounted cash is involved, the mafia has moved in with its sleeping partners in such a shady business — politicians and bureaucrats — who protect them. This team-work ensures that eventually everything will be properly covered up.

Contrast this with what some of the all-time greats did and said. When Prof. D.B. Deodhar received the prestigious Dadabhai Naoroji Award in 1990, he was asked for his advice. He said: “Play the game on and off the field. Above all, lead a clean and honest life. Without it, all achievements are meaningless.”

Don Bradman, asked in a rare interview in 1996 what he would like best to be remembered for, said: “Integrity”.

West Indies player Malcolm Marshall, who died recently, was offered a huge sum to play in a South African team during the days of apartheid. He refused as he was strongly opposed to apartheid. The disappointed promoter said: “You are very good cricket player, but a foolish young man.” Malcolm Marshall never regretted.

Today the willow has wilted. Most money-maniac players have forgotten that when their life’s stumps are drawn, the great Fourth Umpire will give a verdict which will endure, and not their “records”, nor their ill-gotten money.



Unpleasant remarks

During US President Bill Clinton’s visit to India, Ms Monica Lewinsky’s photograph appeared on the front page of The Tribune on March 24. The next day, on March 25, Ms Tavleen Singh mentioned in an article that Mr Bill Clinton’s image might still be clouded by memories of Ms Lewinsky.

So much so good. But on the third consecutive day, on March 26, The Tribune carried an item on the subject in its “Delhi Durbar” column, which was extremely in bad taste. The write-up contained words bordering on discourtesy for the visiting dignitary: “Ms Lewinsky continued to haunt him during his visit; he took a special fancy for cinestar MP Jaya Prada; his next rendezvous was with elegant Renuka Chowdhury, the Congress MP; another lady to be charmed by him was Malika Sarabhai.”

I may say that the worthy writer just fell short of using the word “flirting.” And what was the provocation? None, except that our distinguished guest exchanged pleasantries with the lady MPs with a smiling face. Did we expect the US President to close his eyes or to turn his back whenever he came face to face with a pretty woman?

Whether it happened by design or accident or by sheer over-zealousness, I as a devoted admirer of The Tribune for decades consider it my duty and right to offer an apology, on behalf of our indiscreet friend, to our honoured guest as also our honourable ladies whose names have been unnecessarily mentioned in the write-up.

We must endeavour to preserve our glorious tradition of honouring our guests and not do anything otherwise.

Wg Cdr C. L. SEHGAL (retd)

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