Saturday, January 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



PSEB: a tool for unholy activity

The editorial "All for power" (Jan 19) briefly but very aptly describes the unsatisfactory power scenario in Punjab — all because of votes and political power. It is unfortunate that electrical power, which is basic for the all-round development of the state's economy, is being bartered for political power. The electricity board is forcibly made the tool for this unholy activity. The ultimate sufferer is not the board — it may or may not exist in this or any other form — but the overall economy of the state and the general public.

The last professional Chairman to lose his job a few months ago as a result of non-submission to the political masters is one case in a long serial. Mr Karnail Singh, one of the greatest engineers of the country and an international consultant, was the first Chairman to quit after being in office for a few months for the same reason. I followed next for my unwillingness to meet the demand of political bosses. Eight changes of Chairmen in five years is probably the worst example of mismanagement of this most important key sector of development. No wonder the Punjab State Electricity Board, which was once one of the best performing boards, both technically and financially, is now one of the worst.

It is unfortunate that no major political party has given any indication in its election manifesto of any proposal to rectify the basic malady of mismanagement and repeated power shortages. The first basic step for any political party controlling the government should be to provide a stable management in the board with professional technical and financial experts. 


With a sense of sincerity for the economic development of the state's economy, this is not a difficult job. Then the real act of importance and urgency is to eliminate the continuing and chronic power shortage and ensure thereafter that power availability is not allowed to fall short of demand. Towards this achievement, what is needed is an addition of at least 1000 MW capacity, by purchase or through new projects and thereafter an addition of about 300 MW each year to meet the annual increase in demand, apart from the replacement of the old and obsolete plant wherever necessary.

Major industrial organisations are already shy of coming into Punjab on account of lack of adequate and dependable power supply. And if this state of affairs is not rectified, employment avenues will face a great setback and so also the economy of the state. The general public will continue to face power cuts. The power system has deteriorated so much that power cuts have become a common phenomenon even in winter, which was never the case in the past. Adequate and reasonably dependable supply even to the agricultural sector would be in serious danger. Let the leaders of all political parties take a serious note of the situation and start thinking about the practical steps needed to restore the power sector to the desired level of efficient and dependable service.

HARBANS SINGH, ex-Chairman, PSEB, Chandigarh

Free power: The Punjab State Electricity Board cannot afford to continue supplying electricity free of cost to any section and it is evident from its precarious financial state. The abject state of affairs has impeded the improvement in the distribution and transmission system which require huge financial outlays. The Rajadhyaksha committee has rightly observed that the boards are often regarded as promotional agencies to be used to subsidise different classes of consumers with little or no control over their tariff policy, the matter of fixing tariff, clearly in the domain of the State Electricity Regulatory Commission, is being decided in election manifesto.

The promises of free power supply to agricultural consumers, though looking quite remunerative to farmers, will in the long run prove utterly disadvantageous as lack of finances with the PSEB will hamper the power generation plans resulting in massive power shortages.

There is a need to curb corruption from all spheres of activity of the board. Corruption is the single largest factor resulting in financial inefficiency as it renders the otherwise competent workforce become a burden.

S. C. CHABBA, Ropar

Correct spelling

In his letter “Using right spellings” (January 12), Mr H.L. Trehan has remarked that the name of a Pakistani terrorist outfit mentioned as “Lashkar-e-Toiba” does not convey the meaning intended, which, according to him, is the Army of the pure. He has pointed out that some newspapers have changed the spellings to “Lashkar-e-Tayyaba” to connote the right meaning.

The correct spelling is Tayyibah, not Tayyaba, meaning chaste, pure, good, etc. In fact Lashkar-e-Tayyibeen” means an Army of pious men. “Tayyibaat” means chaste women.

“Taibah” and “Tayyibah” are also the names of Medina. The tomb of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) being there, Medina is regarded as a holy city of Islam. With all due respect to Mr Trehan, I think “Laskhar-e-Tayyibah” means Army of Medina, just as the name of another terrorist outfit is “Al-Faaraan”. Faaraan is the name of a hill near Mecca.

Even in his recent address to the nation, Gen Pervez Musharraf clearly pronounced the name of the outfit as Lashkar-e-Tayyibah”. Yet The Tribune mentioned it as “Lashkar-e-Toiba”. Even the news-readers of Akashvani uttered it as “Toiba”.

Does the outfit, whose members indulge in ruthless killings of innocent peace-loving people, deserve to be called the Army of the Pure or the Army of Medina — a holy city? Are not these misnomers?


Sainik rest houses

I fully endorse the views expressed by Major Vikram Anand (retd) (Jan 14). What to speak of ex-servicemen, even serving defence personnel do not get accommodation in sainik rest houses. From my personal experience I wish to bring to the notice of the authorities concerned that last year a senior serving officer could not get accommodation at Kulu in spite of a request made well in time.

Civilian dignitaries have a number of choices to stay, but men in and out of uniform have a limited choice. This privilege meant for the saviours of the nation should not be snatched.

Already the seniority of defence officers vis-a-vis other services has been diluted to such an extent that it has become embarrassing. This is one of the reasons why the new generation does not opt for the defence forces.

To boost the morale of ex-servicemen the decision of one rank, one pension should be implemented without waiting for the elderly pensioners to proceed to their celestial abode.

Major P. C. GUPTA (retd), Kulu

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