Wednesday, May 10, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



A fiery warning from Bharatpur

This refers to the editorial “Bharatpur: a fiery warning” (May 1) and the front page write-up, “It may be Baddowal next”.

With my vast experience in ensuring the implementation of adequate security measures in defence installations as a Field Security Officer, I can say that the ammunition depots at Bharatpur and Baddowal are unwisely located. Around Bharatpur and beyond there are several places with adjoining pockets surrounded by hillocks providing natural safety covers where an ammunition depot could have been planned to be situated thereby avoiding any risk to life and property in the event of any mishap like the one under discussion.

Take the case of Baddowal ammunition depot which is located not even 1000 yards away from my native village in existence for centuries. Why was the depot planned to be so closely located to a residential area knowing full well the safety zone limit laid down in the defence regulations of yore. No wonder, there are frequent brawls between the villagers and Defence personnel while enforcing safety measures as per rules. The unit personnel’s living and family accommodation itself is situated next to the ammunition depot in utter disregard to the laid down regulations.

  A common sense survey of the area while planning this ammunition depot would have led the authorities to a couple of miles north-west of the present location where huge sand-dunes of mountain-like heights were then available for security cover of the ammunition dumps. Besides, for expansion purposes, several villages vacated during Partition days were available where refugees from Pakistan, settled sparsely, could have been allotted alternative sites. No common sense was used while planning this depot.

An indifferent attitude of the Army authorities to implement safety zone measures in the early days of the location of the ammunition depot resulted in the mushrooming of the spasmodic structures in the close vicinity of the depots.

Lt-Col DALIP SINGH (retd)

Painful axing of trees

It was painful to go through the news-item “50,000 trees to be axed” (February 6). The Punjab Forest Corporation and the Punjab government acted hurriedly by giving an order to axe such a large number of kikar and shisham trees. The reason for the order was that the trees were hit by a mysterious disease. It was, however, too early to declare that all the trees were dying because they were afflicted by some disease. Till date there is no evidence to prove any viral, fungal or bacterial disease. The main reasons for the unhappy development are:

(i) Every plant has a definite growing season which is governed by the hereditary potentiality, climate, geographical location and the availability of inputs like water and mineral nutrients. The growing season is generally spring and summer in temperate and subtropical areas. In colder months of December, January and February, plant metabolism slows down. The plants often become dormant. Some older parts or all the leaves may develop senescence and die. The drying of kikar and shisham trees in colder months is a normal phenomenon.

(ii) Water-logging is another factor for drying of these trees in some areas. As the problem of water-logging gets solved, metabolism in the roots becomes normal, resulting in the sprouting of leaves from those plants.

(iii) Termites or white-ants destroy the trees at some places by eating up the roots and bark of the trees resulting in their drying.

(iv) People remove bark from the trees. Bark is a tissue that is associated with the conduction of food from the upper parts to the all other parts of the tree. This also results in the drying of these plants.

Most of the dried trees on the Patiala-Nabha, Patiala-Patran and Patiala-Bathinda roads sprout leaves at the onset of the spring season. The trees which are still dry should be studied thoroughly to find out the exact reason for drying. This work should be assigned to some renowned pathologists from the universities in Punjab.


IT: survival of the fittest

Informing technology is burgeoning in enormous proportions in the entire country. The educated people in every segment of society are mad after IT to grab a lucrative job offer. They need right guidance as the emergence of numerous IT branches has lead to ambiguity among the professionals as to which course to pursue.

There will be the survival of the fittest. Only the computer buffs with thorough knowledge will rule the roost.



Guess as to what the military rulers of the world should realise sooner than later.

Answer: The noise of democracy is better than the numbness of dictatorship!



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