Wednesday, May 16, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Opening up defence sector

IT was heartening to read about the Cabinet’s decision to open up the defence sector to private participation. This would tone up our production, defence R&D and the supplies system considerably. It would also bring in quality consciousness in our production units, both civil and military, and make them competitive globally in quality, price and marketing.

This decision in many ways is a tribute to the “Silent Soldier” so aptly marked by a grateful government, and the nation. He is now in the mainstream of nation building while in service or retired. An immense managerial and technical talent of our forces can now be channeled profitably in the private sector which was hitherto untapped or underutilised and undervalued. A soldier would now continue doing his nation proud while in uniform or otherwise. There would be no “tehelka(s)” or “armsgate(s)” to write about — sorry my media friends.

Incidently military talent is being put to immense use in the private sector in developed countries. I am sure our industry has a lot to encash on the vast pool of this talent, if placed suitably. Our industry will have about 50,000 soldiers of all ranks in the age group of 30-52 years available to them every year for engaging in this vibrant economic activity at some level or the other.

My compliments to all those who made this decision happen. And it is a compliment from the “heart” of a soldier.



Kandi dam

This refers to the report ‘Work begins on Kandi Dam” (Tribune May 10). The Shivalik foothill region, locally known as the Kandi belt, has been deprived of the benefits of the green revolution and other development over the past 35 years. The main reason for this situation is the lack of irrigation facilities and other infrastructure. A beginning was made in 1978 when the first rainwater harvesting structure was constructed in the Kandi belt in Sukhomajri. Subsequently, a number of small and low earthen dams were constructed in Haryana and Punjab.

A review of the performance of these dams has revealed some disturbing facts. The success rate is low because of heavy salutation. The storage capacity has been lost considerably and consequently the command area. The friable nature of the catchment areas in the Shivaliks, and the heavy biotic pressure leading to denudation, have caused this problem. Experience has shown that unless the people living in the catchment area are involved and benefited from the project they will continue to denude the hills.

Secondly, the catchment area should be treated with appropriate soil and water conservation measures and afforestation works by involving the Forest and Soil Conservation Department right from the beginning. The beneficiaries should also be involved in the management and distribution of water through the concept of participatory irrigation management.

Considering the cost of the dam which is Rs 18.04 crore and the command area of only 730 hectares, the cost works out to Rs 2.47 lakh per hectare. It seems to be very high as compared to other sources of irrigation.

S. P. MITTAL, Panchkula

Clashing dates

The entrance examinations for admission to engineering colleges in Punjab and BITS, Ranchi, have been fixed for May 27. As many students want to appear in both the tests there is confusion among them. About 95 per cent of the students in Chandigarh alone want to appear in both the tests and the clash of dates is a matter of great concern for them. The authorities concerned should look into the matter and remove the confusion of clashing dates.

VIKAS, PanchkulaTop


Exploiting students

The so-called English medium public schools in Chandigarh and its adjoining states have become money making machines. These schools flout all rules to fleece the students, whereas according to the Indian Registration Act of 1860, schools are non-profit making organisations.

These schools are now charging their own students a hefty admission fee under various heads every year. As a rule, a student is supposed to pay admission fee only once at the time of joining the school and not every year. They also charge a computer fee which ranges from Rs 400 to Rs 600 for classes III to VIII for the whole year in advance along with the admission fee. As a rule they should collect this fee on a monthly basis along with the tuition fee.

Other money-making measures adopted by these schools include charging an irrational tuition fee which is raised every year, transportation and hostel fee even for the vacation period, examination fee whether tests are held or not, non-refundable security, annual charges and development fee. The schools also make money through the sale of uniforms, books, note-books and schools bags. Parents are directed to buy these articles from particular shops which pay the school a commission.

The authorities should stop such malpractices and prevent exploitation of the students.


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