Wednesday, January 24, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


Jawalamukhi temple

Recently I visited the Jawalamukhi temple in Himachal Pradesh. I was disappointed to see its condition. The temple is extremely dirty and one tries to avoid walking barefoot as the floor is sticky with all kinds of offerings. Heaps of garbetge lie around the temple and give out a stink. The presence of animals such as goats and dogs add to the filth.

What hurt me the most was the attitude of the pujaris, Most of them were rude and unhelpful to the visitors.

This famous temple is visited by people from all over the country. The authorities concerned should look into the matter and set things right.




New districts in Himachal

Your editorial on new Himachal districts has rightly pointed out that carving out four or five new districts in Himachal Pradesh will be a luxury rather than a necessity. Perhaps the Himachal Government has taken the cue from Haryana and Punjab without taking into account its economic health. The Himachal Government should in fact pay heed to its industry, health and education of the people, and its road transport system in which serious accidents take place every now and then, claiming precious lives. The creation of four more districts will involve an additional expenditure of Rs 20 crore. Where will this big among come from when the state is already in deficit?

It will be advisable for the ministers to move out of their bungalows and visit the remote corners of the state to remove public grievances. The Chief Minister should also visit the districts and talk to the people face to face. There should be no political reason to cut the size of districts where the opposition is in a majority.



Unfair surcharge

The Himachal Pradesh Government has imposed winter surcharge on the consumption of electricity above 300 units per month at a flat rate of Rs 2.25 per unit. This surcharge adversely affects people living at high altitude, forced as they are to use more electricity during these cold months. Earlier, people used to burn wood for this purpose, but of late they were encouraged to use electricity to save the forest wealth. Now the Government has suddenly imposed this unfair levy.

Winter surcharge has also hit children, women and old persons. They are being denied the use of hot water for bathing and washing. In many a home the use of electrical heaters has been discontinued. Old persons remain in bed to keep themselves warm and many of them have fallen ill on account of restricted movement and cold interiors.

The HPSEB claims to collect Rs 7 crore from this surcharge. The board would earn more revenue by enhancing the tariff by just 10 praise per unit. That would be just and equitable and would not hit badly the tribals living in the high hills.

The surcharge is economically unfair, administratively inept and politically suicidal.



Indian Diaspora

This refers to the article 'Recognising Indian diaspora's contribution' by Mr Surinder Kumar Singla (Tribune Jan. 7). The Government spends crores on producing engineers, doctors and other professionals every year but the services of these brilliant professionals are being utilised by other countries. It is certainly a loss to our country. Our hardworking professionals are excelling abroad because they are exposed to modern techniques and technology which help them grow in their professions. Such facilities are lacking in our country. Growing population, unemployment and low wages are the major factors which force our skilled workers to go abroad. Once they settle there, they hardly like to return to India. In such circumstance, can we expect them to contribute significantly to the development of our country? They can surely bridge the gap between their motherland and the world by bringing knowledge of new technology to India.




One rank, one pension

In March 2000, the Defence Minister announced at Anandpur Sahib that the principle of one rank, one pension had been accepted and orders would be issued soon. So far the orders are nowhere in sight.

Bureaucrats cleverly watered down the Government's orders last time by allowing pensions at the minimum of the current scales of pay. Now they appear to be working on a final solution. By the time it comes, the last of the beneficiaries may have proceeded to the next world.


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