Wednesday, September 27, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Tunnel as no deterrent

A number of letters by Mr S.P. Malhotra and others have appeared in The Tribune in the past few months suggesting and supporting the construction of a tunnel to divert the waters of the Chenab to the Ravi to act as a deterrent to Pakistan. The government response is missing as usual.

To my mind, the step would pose no serious threat to Pakistan. Their water-works or the dependent power projects will be definitely affected adversely but not paralysed as is being visualised.

We have seen both drought and floods of the worst type but survived each one. The survival instinct is at its best when one is pushed to the wall.

The step may, in fact, prove counter-productive. If its effects would be as devastating as being claimed, Pakistan could then, finding itself in a hopeless situation, press the nuclear button and press it hard, causing untold miseries to us before meeting its own doom.

Since the debilitating effect of the tunnel cannot be instant doom, at best only a slow and prolonged affair, international pressure would meanwhile mount on India to undo the trick.


Besides, the votaries of the tunnel idea, advocating even a breach of the Indus Water Treaty of 1960, may give a thought to the proposed overland gas pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan with a treaty between the three for the security of the pipeline.

Wg Cdr C. L. SEHGAL (retd)

Is it saviour?

The military in Pakistan is being projected as the saviour, believed to be the panacea for all political, economic and social ills. Therefore, its constant meddling in civilian life and subverting the constitution is considered in “supreme national interest”.

The huge military establishment is, in fact, at the very core of all shortcomings, apart from gobbling up a colossal chunk of the national budget, this “white elephant” has brought tremendous humiliation most of the time it has been called in to do its primary duty.

This large military apparatus is also infested with internal decay and corruption involving huge kickbacks — to the tune of several million dollars in shady defence deals. People are fast being disillusioned by its motive.

The newly-assumed duties are managing cricket (Commander, 8 corps at Mangla) and hockey (till recently by the Chief of the General Staff ).

The Pakistan Army is, in fact, performing all petty civilian functions. A three-star General, along with a team of Brigadiers, manages the country’s electric supply corporation (WAPDA).

The cold response at the UN Summit meted out to Pakistan shows where the country stands internationally.

Nadeem Khan
Lahore (Pakistan)

Row over diagnosis

Apropos of the recent news item regarding the IMA (Indian Medical Association) giving a clean chit to Apollo Hospital, and AIIMS still maintaining the authenticity of its diagnosis, even without understanding the medical jargon, as a layman, one can infer that Kumaramangalam was suffering from a type of cancer which later proved fatal.

Since the two hospitals had given different diagnoses, it seems a lapse occurred at some point. However, the medical community seems to hold the deceased responsible for such a condition. When the patient was not made aware of the seriousness of disease, it was difficult to expect him to visit the hospital frequently.

To err is human. The IMA would have displayed high standards of professional ethics if it had not shifted the responsibility to the patient.

Tejinder Sharma


The article ‘Paying too much for too little’ by Mr J.L Gupta (September 19) is thought provoking. A clerk is the real power in the government. His note passes through 6 or 7 stages before a final nod from the minister and nobody dares to defy him. He has to be sounded in advance to get a favourable note, where the powers that be are interested to do a certain thing in a certain manner.

A simple letter written to the government by a common man becomes ‘PUC’ (Paper under consideration) and is transformed into a bulky file moving from the first stage to the last. The government is run through such notings. There are piles of files on the tables of every official right from an assistant to the minister.

The writer has gone very deep into all aspects of governance but persons at the helm of affairs hardly bother. There is lack of will and things are not likely to change in the near future.

Now that the Internet has come to stay, let us hope the top-heavy administration gives way to e-governance.

R.S.D. Bansal


Ex-servicemen’s unending wait

As per a news item published in The Tribune on March 13, 1999, the Government of Punjab had approved changes in the Urban Rent Act. This was to provide the right to have immediate possession of residential and non-residential property by serving or retired Servicemen.

A meeting of the Rajya Sainik Board was held at Chandigarh on July 20, 1999. This was presided over by the then Governor, Lieut-Gen B.K.N. Chhibber, and attended by Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, among others. A proposal to set up special designated courts for disposing of landed and other property disputes concerning ex-servicemen and serving defence personnel quickly was accepted, as per a news item in The Tribune dated July 20, 1999.

Another report (Sept 9, 1999) had it that the Urban Rent Act was to be amended by issuing an ordinance to enable defence personnel to get their property vacated.

Almost two years have passed but the envisaged amendment to the Urban Rent Act has not come about so far. No separate courts for disposing of property disputes of ex-servicemen and serving defence personnel quickly has been established.

The Government of Punjab should go in for an early enactment of the law.


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