Monday, March 19, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Saving Himachal’s private tree-owners

The Himachal Forest Corporation has been exploiting the owners of private trees in devious ways and now it is planning new methods on the pretext of preventing ‘malpractices’. Malpractices have been there with the collusion of the forest staff and the forest mafia. But the new policy intended to eradicate the malpractices (The Tribune, March 7) presupposes that the entire staff of the Forest Department and the Forest Corporation is honest to the hilt and that the tree-owners are cheats.

The new policy does not require the owners to see that their trees are measured, classified, accepted, rejected or valuated in their presence or with their consent. Then there is the double standard for pricing of government owned trees and private owned trees. There is no justification for denying 40 per cent of royalty on Deodar and 65 per cent on Kail and Pine to private owners in comparison with government owned trees. And there is no court of appeal.

The record of the Forest Corporation has been dismal. It has been making illegal deductions from the sale proceeds of private owners and appropriating these to its account.

Deduction of Income-tax without issuing TDS certificates speaks as much of dishonesty as of illegality. Such amounts compel the Forest Corporation to deposit income tax under VDIS (Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme). We had heard of tax evaders taking the benefit of such schemes but even a wholly government owned corporation like the HP Forest Corporation resorting to it has raised no eyebrows.

The private tree owners are being skinned under political protection by the government machinery which is assumed to be absolutely honest. The new policy has more holes than the old one.

The solution lies in breaking the official bonds on harvesting of private trees and leaving the owners to fell or sell their trees to whomsoever they like. The corporation may confine its activities to government forests and spare the private owners.



Increment denied

In February 1978, the Punjab Government servants went on a one-day strike demanding better pay scales.

The Punjab Government declared that those who did not take part in the strike would be granted one advance increment and a letter of commendation.

I, then a superintendent in the Directorate of Health and Family Welfare, and some others did not go on strike and were thus entitled to the concessions. This fact was duly notified and orders were issued on 12.7.1982 and 26.8.1982 in this regard. But these orders were subsequently cancelled on 28.12.1982, without assigning any reason.

I retired on 20.9.1980. Since Feb, 1978, I have been asking for the concession but to no avail. The denial of this increment has affected my retirement benefits in many ways.

Many of my colleagues got this concession as far back as 1992. But there are others like me who have been denied the benefit. As a senior citizen, I appeal to the Government in the name of justice and fairplay to give me what is my due.




Bio-tech boom ahead

The word has seen a boom in information technology. Now it is waiting for a bio-tech boom. The human race is the sickest on earth because of the excessive use of chemicals in food, drinks, fertilisers, clothes, medicines and what not. Most of the diseases now prevalent all over the world are the result of indiscriminate use of chemicals.

The solution lies in bio-tech, which includes natural fertilisers and natural herbs. The world is waiting for this technology and most of the pharmaceutical companies have expanded in the field of bio-tech industry. One can hope to see this industry at its peak from 2004 onwards.

The Indian culture of living with nature will be accepted the world over when Ayurveda and herbal treatment-cum-Yoga will become a source of healthy living.

S.R. MITTAL, Ludhiana

PCO service

Travelling from Mukatsar to Moga, we decided to halt at Kotkapura and ring up a friend at Ludhiana from a roadside PCO. The distance to Ludhiana being well within the revised limits of a local call, we tried to dial the number. Every time we got the ‘engaged’ tone.

The person manning the booth informed us that it was not possible to connect any outside place as per the revised local call facility extended early this year. He was therefore, continuing to connect all outside places through the STD.

As a result, the customers were paying more than the legitimate cost of the call. Will the telephone authorities look into this matter and do something about it.


Islam and terrorism

I am shocked to see a great difference between the ideology-based terrorism against India, and its handling by India’s leaders. Pakistan is stoking the fires of terrorism in India, openly using Islam as its ideological weapon. It is imperative for the defender to expose the ideological base of the enemy to be able to defend himself.

Mr Vajpayee on his Lahore trip wished for a strong and powerful Pakistan. He also declared unilateral ceasefire against the undefeated and unrepentant terrorists. Such actions are bound to confuse and demoralise the security forces and the people of India. Mr Vajpayee has claimed that Taliban’s destruction of Buddha statues is un-Islamic but the Taliban openly use the name of Islam to justify their action.

The truth must be spoken clearly or it will weaken India’s case against terrorism and embolden the enemy. Islamic scholars of India will have to clear this mist and clarify the position in this regard.


Urdu teachers

The Punjab Languages Department gives annual awards to the published works of Urdu writers along with the awards for other languages. This encourages Urdu writers as well as the lovers of this language. The Government should also consider a special award for Urdu teachers who contribute to the survival of this language with dedication and devotion.

They may not have any published work to their credit, but they are making a significant contribution to the promotion of this language which is a part of our heritage and culture. Honour given to such persons will elevate the status of this language and also of those whose commitment and devotion is keeping Urdu alive in this part of the country.



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