Monday, June 12, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Hill cantonments: designs of real estate mafia

THE neglect of our hill stations, mostly established by the Raj, reflects our attitude towards nature and its bounties. The indifference of the Central and state departments in this regard is too painful to be explained in words.

Some of the hill stations were established for strategic or comfort purposes. Those of us who had the good fortune of seeing these places before or immediately after Partition would hang their head in shame when they look at what the country has done to their beautiful surroundings.

Perhaps, we had our senses intact when we were under colonial rule. After Independence we have taken leave of all our senses. This is the impression one gathers on seeing the plunder of our heritage.

With the fast increase in population, all hill stations are being exploited by the real estate mafia, with the government turning a blind eye to this.

Fortunately, the hill stations under the Military Estate Department have escaped the onslaught by the real estate “developers” though there have been encroachment attempts with the help of politicians. Certain vigilant people have exposed the dirty designs of these “developers”. But the condition of these hill stations is getting worse year after year. It is difficult to believe why the situation is so bad today, especially when one recalls the good old days when the cantonments were among the best maintained areas, reflecting discipline and commitment on the part of those looking after their upkeep.

  It is time the Defence Department woke up to realise the deteriorating condition in the cantonment areas. The authorities should allocate the job of maintenance of these areas to honest officers, and dismantle the system of dual authority wherever it exists. The Cantonment Boards should be answerable only to the area command station heads.

There are not many hill stations which have the distinction of being in cantonment areas. There was a time when they did have distinctly clean, secure and well-maintained surroundings. The walks and roads bearing the names of renowned Chiefs of the Services, or officers who laid down their lives in the service of the country, are in such a poor condition that any proud citizen would hang his head in shame.

This is an appeal from a concerned citizen to the Defence Department to end the neglect of cantonment stations, particularly in Himachal and the hilly areas of Uttar Pradesh.


Functioning of Army canteens

A successful intelligence network is the hallmark of a country's internal and external security from hostile forces. Mr Patrick French, author of “Liberty or Death”, written on Partition, attributes the long successful rule of the British in India to the effective functioning of the Indian police intelligence and the Information Bureau. In contrast, our intelligence system proved a failure during the Chinese aggression in 1962, the intrusion in the Kuchh area in 1965 and in the Kargil area in the recent past.

Efforts have not been made to insulate the sensitive army areas from the approach of unauthorised persons. For example, army canteens, which form a part of the sensitive formations, have been converted into open markets. Anybody can enter these canteens without much difficulty, provided he is in possession of a canteen card of even someone else. He can also take a couple of other persons with him to enable them to buy goods.

In these canteens civilians have been allotted shops. All this is done to increase the canteen profit but at the cost of national security. Most of the canteen goods are purchased by unauthorised persons for resale in the market, whereas this facility is meant for the welfare of servicemen and ex-servicemen.

It is high time the Defence Minister ordered an enquiry in the working of these canteens. The canteens, as functioning at present, can prove to be a grave threat to national security.


Welcome move

A news item mentioned that the Kurukshetra Development Board (KDB) with the help of the District Administration and a large number of police personnel took possession of Shri Krishna Adarsh Ayurvedic Pharmacy (SKAAP) at Nabha House, Kurukshetra, and consequently tension has gripped the town (June 5).

The pharmacy was allotted some accommodation on a lease basis at Nabha House by the government of Haryana. The lease period has expired but the SKAAP management did not bother to vacate the building. In the meantime, the government transferred this place in the name of the KDB. Interestingly, no party has relevant papers pertaining to the deed of the building. In a way, after the expiry of the deed, the SKAAP had no business to stay at Nabha House.

The pharmacy earned a dubious distinction for allegedly manufacturing substandard medicines and it is learnt that for years together it functioned without any valid licence. This is a serious matter which requires a separate inquiry.

The action of the KDB for taking possession of the Nabha House is justified and does not violate any law of the land. In a way, it has restored the place which was illegally occupied by the pharmacy management.

Interestingly, no tension prevailed in the town as alleged by the news item. Rather, most of the like-minded people have welcomed and appreciated the move.

It is suggested that Nabha House which is a prime place on the bank of Sannehit Sarover should be developed by the KDB for providing more facilities for the increasing influx of tourists and pilgrims visiting the holy land of Kurukshetra. This will also, in real sense, visualise the dreams of the late Gulzari Lal Nanda.


Pensioners’ medical problem

A letter published in The Tribune on May 12 had it that Central Government pensioners have the facility of medical cover. This is incorrect. Actually, this facility is given only in a few cities (about 16 cities throughout India).

In fact, lakhs of Central Government pensioners like me are not getting medical reimbursement even as indoor patients. I have spent more than Rs 1.5 lakh on the treatment of my wife, who remained as an indoor patient in the PGI, Chandigarh, for three months. She is still getting treatment as OPD patient.

It is a matter of great sorrow that a few years back the then Health Minister, when she visited the PGI, promised before representatives of the Press that she would provide CGHS benefits to the pensioners in Chandigarh very soon but in vain. Thousands of Central Government pensioners live in this city who do not get proper treatment for themselves and their families. They get stepmotherly treatment in government hospitals in their old age.

The Central Government pensioners should be allowed to get the treatment they desire in the Sector 32 Government Hospital.


Troubled students

Government SBS College, Kotkapura, with 1100 students, is the only college in this area having its own athletics track. It has a beautiful building in about 17 acres of land. But it still lacks proper educational facilities. Only arts and commerce classes are held in this college.

Kotkapura, the most prestigious town of Faridkot district, is without any medical and non-medical institution which causes a lot of inconvenience to the students aspiring for science education. Moreover, students have to go to other stations twice or thrice a day to get extra coaching, which parents find it difficult to afford, specially in the case of girl students.



Question: In which country is the human bomb factory located?

Answer: Sri Lanka!



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