Tuesday, August 13, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Petrol pump scandal: liberalise oil policy

This is in response to the news items regarding the petrol pump scandal. After the dismantling of the administered price mechanism and opening of the oil sector to private companies, why does the Ministry of Petroleum need to allot petrol pumps?

The new guidelines should encourage not only free enterprise but also competition. Anybody anywhere should be allowed to establish a petrol pump or a gas agency as per the demand and supply dynamics, provided he follows all the safety norms.

Petrol stockists should be allowed to purchase petrol from any oil company. There are no restrictions on selling adulterated petroleum products illegally, but the public sector petroleum companies impose many unnecessary restrictions on their dealers for selling products legally. The Petroleum Ministry itself should be abolished to promote the spirit of free enterprise and consumerism in the oil sector.


Allot these to widows: Petrol pumps and gas agencies should be allotted to only the widows of security personnel killed in war or while fighting militants, disabled personnel, retired defence and security personnel in lower ranks and the handicapped.

This will honour those who have made a supreme sacrifice for their country. This will also ensure better management of these agencies.


Lt Col HARISH BAHL (RETD), New Delhi

Power crisis

The worst-ever power crisis has hit Punjab and it has affected all sections of society. Unscheduled, long power cuts are resorted to meet the crisis due to which the paddy crop has been damaged on a large scale and industrial production has also gone down.

The 24-hour power supply scheme started by the PSEB a few years ago has been reduced to a mockery because of the power cuts and irregular power supply to the villages covered under the scheme. The PSEB has collected a large amount from each village covered under the scheme, but has failed to meet its commitment. The villages covered under the scheme are feeling cheated.

The power crisis is not new to the state. It hits the state every year from June to September. It has become more acute this year due to the delayed monsoon. But the PSEB and the state government has never taken special measures to meet the situation. Rather faulty policies of the PSEB and the successive governments, devoid of far-sightedness and good planning, are responsible for the present mess.

Instead of the extension of hydel projects, our planners are running after thermal projects which are totally unsuitable to Punjab by virtue of being situated far away from coal mines.

Unfortunately, the PSEB is contemplating to increase the power rates, which is absolutely uncalled for because when the board is not able to provide sufficient power supply to its consumers, is it entitled to increase the power rates? Instead of burdening the consumers, the PSEB should look inward and find the solution by ending corruption, red-tapism and taking austerity measures.


Yadavindra bridge

The bridge linking Panchkula and Zirakpur over the Sukhna choe on NH-22 was probably constructed by the erstwhile Maharaja Yadavindra Singh to link Patiala and Kalka via Banur. Prior to this Ambala was linked to Panchkula via rail-cum-road Bridge near Dera Bassi. There were no road bridges over the Ghaghar except the one on NH-I. The old alignment of Ambala-Kalka road still exists from the Panchkula barrier through the Mubarakpur industrial estate upto Dera Bassi.

The Yadavindra bridge seems to be no one’s baby; though it is a major link between Himachal Pradesh and the rest of the country. Peripheral townships around Chandigarh depend heavily on it. The responsibility lies solely with the national Highway Division of the Punjab PWD. What to talk of taking up widening the bridge on priority, they have not found time and resources to regularly fill the potholes on the bridge. Increasing the life of bridges by instant repairs, it appears, is against the ethos of the PWDs, irrespective of the state they belonged to.

It is appropriate that Capt Amarinder Singh makes on-the-spot study of the bridge before an enthusiastic labourer paints off the name of his illustrious father. He should expedite the provision of an additional bridge parallel to the existing one and also accelerate the construction of the rail overbridge on the Zirakpur-Panchkula road, since this entire area falls under Punjab territory. The action of his will show his concern for development of the region, leaving narrow parochial considerations aside.

Brig K.S. GREWAL (retd), Panchkula

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