Monday, August 12, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Construction of SYL canal can benefit
Punjab too

The article on the SYL canal by Harbans Singh was a comprehensive analysis of the water dispute between the two states. Taking a cue from that, I give below a few ideas without touching the problem of sharing waters. I feel that there is a strong case for implementation of the directive of the Supreme Court for the construction of an alternative canal even without waiting for a decision on sharing waters.

I was one of the engineers who was employed in 1950 on the construction of the Bhakra Main Line (BML), which is now more than half a century old. With the passage of time the condition of the canal has deteriorated making it vulnerable to breaches and damages to pucca works. Some years ago a breach did occur and the canal had to be kept closed for a month causing a huge loss to crops in addition to an expenditure of over a crore of rupees in repairing the breach. It is, therefore, desirable that a dependable alternative be kept ready for such emergencies.

The BML has silted up considerably. Desilting is not possible as it is a pucca work. So to pass the same quantity of water we have to go on raising the water level necessitating the precarious running of canal with resultant fear of breaches. If an alternative canal is available, we can safely pass some water through it thus avoiding dangerous running of the BML.

At time there is enough surplus water in Bhakra but we cannot utilise it as the capacity of the BML is limited. In such cases, the alternative canal can be used for passing extra water thus bringing more areas under irrigation.


Sometimes rains fail, but there is sufficient water in the Bhakra reservoir. Take the case of this year. Rains have failed in Punjab and Haryana. Even though the BML is running to capacity, drought has affected the Southern parts of Punjab and Haryana. Had an alternative canal existed we would have allowed Punjab to use the water meant for Haryana and Rajasthan now passing through the BML while the share of these two states in the existing BML could have passed through the alternative canal. The step would not only have mitigated the drought conditions in the state but the extra money for drought relief proposed to be spent could also have been avoided. Even by running the alternative canal fully the extra water could have proved a boon to the drought-affected parts of Haryana and Rajasthan. The water level in the Gobindsagar reservoir is 25 feet higher than what was the level this time last year. But it is a pity that we cannot use the surplus water for want of an alternative canal.

Even Punjab is going to benefit if the SYL is constructed because in addition to utilising some head for producing power, the high areas around Morinda can be irrigated by lifting the water from the new canal.

The notion that once the SYL is constructed, Punjab will have to give water to Haryana is not tenable as the head of canal is in Punjab and no water can be let into the canal unless Punjab agrees.

The global warming up is responsible for the failure of rains this year and it is feared that such conditions may repeat. It is, therefore, obvious that an alternative canal is a necessity for optimum utilisation of existing waters that would always be available in the Gobindsagar lake due to its location in hill areas.

K. K. LAKHANPAL, Chief Engineer (retd), Haryana, Chandigarh

Canal & drought: Himachal stores water potential in its catchment areas and generates power for the national grid and provides water for irrigation in the process. There are villages in the state where drinking water is not available even after 50 years of Independence. That doesn’t mean that state government is ignorant about the people and places beyond reach. It has put lift irrigation schemes into service and pumping water against odds at greater heights and that should be the spirit. Whereas Punjab is putting resistance to the gravity flow of water through the SYL canal. Is it not shameful on our part? This canal was built 25 years back and till date it is lying in the state of utter neglect. Should we take this as a yardstick of the progress made in the state?

Had this canal been put in service we would have faced the acute drought situation in Haryana this year boldly and perhaps this canal was built for this day.

It is better to be late than never. We should resolve our differences and sit across the table to decide over the issue.

Y.D. BALERA, Yamunanagar

Slashing of allowances

Nearly eight lakh employees and former employees of the Punjab Government are up in arms against the state government’s decision to freeze dearness allowance, suspend leave travel concession, slash benefits pertaining to commuted pension, leave encashment, non-practising allowance & medical reimbursement.

The decision of the Punjab Government is the toughest of the measures ever taken during the past 50 years and is tantamount to a murderous attack on the employees and pensioners in the state. “The government has taken away in one go, what the employees and pensioners have got through struggle during the past four decades. They will oppose the anti-employee” approach of the government tooth and nail.


POTA for partisan ends

This refers to your editorial “POTA for partisan ends”. As a member of Parliament representing an important minority in India, I had seen the writing on the wall when POTA was being debated in Parliament and knew very well that it would be misused against the minorities, liberal and secular opinion and those of us who supported liberation struggles for political freedom. As such I had specially sought Mr Vaiko’s intervention as his party M.D.M.K. was a partner in the BJP-led N.D.A. coalition in Delhi.

I then told Mr Vaiko that he and his colleagues in the Badal Akali Dal were not only digging their own graves by supporting this right wing, ultra-nationalist legislation but also driving the Indian state towards totalitarianism, intolerance and despotism. I said the same thing to the two MPs representing Mr Badal’s faction. However, my advice fell on deaf ears. Mr Vaiko and Mr Badal’s men preferred to vote for P.O.T.A.

Lately when nemesis is catching up with Mr Badal and his lieutenants for their misdeeds and blatant corrupt practices, Mr Badal has begun making the usual noises to threaten the Punjab Government and warned that if the government continued with what he calls “repression” Punjab would relapse into disorder like Kashmir.

I would like to tell Mr Badal that the Congress party is no stranger to adapting draconian laws like POTA. Mr Badal has misled us in the past and like drum-driven cattle we Sikhs had followed him into the Punjabi Suba Morcha, (60,000 Sikhs courted arrest), the Emergency morcha, the Kapoori morcha, the Dharm Yudh Morcha, the last one being the most frightful and valiant of our resistance against a repressive state.

Of all these morchas, no good came to the Sikhs, but each time Mr Badal was rewarded of Chief Ministership. During his latest stint Mr Badal did not raise any political issues of the Sikhs, the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, condemnation of Operation Bluestar in the Punjab Assembly or Parliament, punishment to police, military and para-military personnel for the genocide of Sikhs after the Dharm Yudh Morcha, not allowing pilgrimage of Sikhs to their shrines in Pakistan, the river water issue, Punjab-speaking areas of their and Chandigarh’s incorporation in Punjab, no-war pact with Pakistan as Punjab would become a nuclear battlefield and lead to our total extinction.

Mr Badal must have seen that the heavens did not come down with Mr Vaiko’s arrest, though I and my party condemn it in the strongest terms. I must tell Mr Badal that though we still have fight left in us to challenge the state in support of our political demands, we will not follow him into another morcha if he wishes to make us suffer to defend his, his family’s and lieutenants’ ill-gotten wealth from the governments scrutiny.


Dental colleges

This has reference to the news item “Staff shortage may lead to cut in seats in dental colleges” (July, 31). Since the gap between the medical and engineering education has already starts widening up with opening of various engineering colleges in the state, the shortage of faculty in dental colleges has made the situation grim for medical students in the state.

According to a rough estimate, every year at least 3 to 4 engineering colleges are being added-up in the list of engineering colleges in the state. Whereas, few medical and dental colleges are functioning in the state that could easily be counted on fingers.

The worst affected are the dental colleges, three out of whom are on the verge of derecognition by DCI due to the shortage of teaching staff. There are only four seats each at Amritsar and Patiala for postgraduation in dental sciences as compare to 250 seats for MD/MS in Punjab. As mentioned in the news report state govt had to adopt unfair-means to show the strength by hiring the faculty from other states is really a unfortunate thing.

A health survey carried out in the state a couple of years ago, shows that more than 40% school going children are suffering from Dental related deseases besides the Geriatric patients. To avoid the things getting out of the control, the state govt should immediately increase the intake in Post-Graduation courses as per the recommendations obtained from the Health Ministry in Dec, 2001 to pave the way for deserving PG aspirants in the state.


Sainik rest houses

The Director Sainik Welfare has enhanced the rent of the sainik rest houses without doing anything about the bed sheets, pillow covers in rags, the furniture mostly having only three legs and the curtain are only “nam ke waste.”

Brig K. S. CHAUHAN (retd), Shimla


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