Wednesday, May 31, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Grant for border farmers
Centre accepts Punjab demand
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, May 30 — The Centre today agreed to Punjab’s request for extending special grant providing compensation to farmers on Indo-Pak border for the current year while providing relief on several other issues to mitigate problems of people residing in those areas.

At the end of a 90-minute high-level inter-ministry meeting called by the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, to discuss the issues, the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said the Planning Commission had agreed to provide compensation this year, too, while promising to look into the possibility of converting the same into a regular provision.

Last year the Centre had released a special grant of Rs 8 crore to compensate farmers who had suffered as their land was beyond the fence on Indo-Pak border. He said cultivation was affected in nearly 30,000 acres and last year the grant was paid at the rate of Rs 3000 per acre.

Apart from Mr Advani, the meeting was attended by the Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, the Rural Development Minister, Mr Sunder Lal Patwa, the Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, Mr K.C. Pant, the Home Secretary, Mr Kamal Pande, the Director-General of Border Security Force, Mr E.N. Rammohan, and other senior officials.

The meeting also agreed to provide more women Home Guards at

border to frisk women labourers who work in the fields beyond the fence, construction of toilets for women, issue identity cards to all members of families who cultivate across the fence and need to adhere to curfew timing.

Briefing correspondents after the meeting, Mr Badal expressed happiness that the Centre had responded to problems being faced by people residing in border areas of Punjab and it was for the first time that such a high-level meeting was called to address these issues.

It was decided that the Punjab Government and the BSF would conduct a joint survey to determine the areas where bridges were required especially in the riverine areas to enable farmers cultivate lands across the fencing. Mr Badal had demanded a special grant to construct village road bridges on defence drains under the Punjab Action Plan.

Regarding the problem of maintenance of border roads used by the security forces, the Home Minister said a way had to be found so that the Defence Ministry could look after the issue.

Mr Badal claimed that Punjab had to suffer due to discrimination in the past in the process of notification of border roads. He said of the 20,000 km border roads maintained by the Border Roads Organisation only 52 km fell in Punjab while neighbouring states like Jammu and Kashmir (5862km), Himachal Pradesh (1108km) and Rajasthan (3150km) had more.

The Rural Development Minister, Mr Patwa, said he would personally visit the border areas to acquaint himself with the problems being faced by people residing there. This was in response to the state’s demand for Rs 50 crore assistance for improvement of facilities in border villages.

Referring to Mr Badal’s request for higher loan assistance for counter-protective measures along the border on Ravi and Sutlej rivers, it was pointed out that the report of a committee which had gone into the matter need to be studied first and it might require consultation with the Water Resources Ministry, an official release said.

Punjab had demanded that funds should be released as the recommendations of the Committee on Remedial Measures to increase the Central loan assistance from Rs 1.5 crore to Rs 5 crore every year for counter-protective river training works in border areas.

Mr Badal also highlighted the need for a grant-in-aid for protection of vital defence installations and flood protection embankments.

Regarding the request of the state government for special concessions and increased assistance, including tax incentive for setting-up industries in border areas, the Home Minister said that these were some of the issues that need to be further discussed in consultation with the Finance Ministry.

Last week, Mr Badal had led a delegation of MPs and MLAs from the border districts of Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Ferozepore to meet the Home Minister, the Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission and Agriculture Minister to highlight the problems of people residing in border areas.


Tipnis asks IAF to remain alert
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, May 30 — The Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal A.Y. Tipnis, today highlighted the role the Air Force would play in future.

Inaugurating the Western Air Command (WAC) Station Commanders’ conference here, the Air Chief while stressing the need for the Air Force to further sharpen its skills, said the air power would play a decisive role in all future conflicts.

He stressed the need for the Air Force to maintain a high level of preparedness and capability to desist any adversary from attempting any misadventure against our national interests. Assessing the geopolitical situation and the threat to national security, he stressed the necessity for sharpening skills and enhancing ability to remain flexible to act in any operation.

The Air Chief commended the WAC for its efforts in maintaining and demonstrating excellent operational capability in all facets of air operations. He congratulated the WAC for having set a record on air maintenance to Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh through the year despite inclement weather.

In addition to the air operations over the entire northern sector, the WAC is also responsible for providing support to the two most potent commands of the Army.

The Air Chief urged the commanders to continually upgrade the capability and tactics in keeping with the demands, the objective being speed and minimal losses. He stated that being assured of resources, the Air Force modernisation programme was being given the right priority and push. “Our objective is to maintain a high margin of effectiveness over the potential of our adversaries”.

Air Chief Marshal Tipnis, who was received by Air Marshal S. Krishnaswamy, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, WAC, called upon the commanders to exert fresh and persuasive efforts in identifying operational risks and eliminating these. He emphasised the need to conserve resources and prevent losses in terms of accidents.

He urged the commanders to spare no effort in enhancing the quality of training of our operational crew, technical and supporting manpower and the effectiveness of operational infrastructure. The Air Chief also stated that the IAF had embarked upon a crusade for expeditious communications, air defence networking and computerisation.

These projects would act as a force multiplier and enhance the capabilities of the Air Force. He identified the need for increased focus on information warfare and information technology, as these were the important arenas of future wars.


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