Wednesday, September 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

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Upgrade marketing facilities to boost farm output

Apropos of the report Indian No. 2 in rice export (August 20), of the 25 million tonnes of world trade in rice, India exported 4.5 million tonnes between April, 2001 and July, 2002. Of this, Punjab's contribution was 3.5 million tonnes i.e. nearly 80 per cent of rice exported from India was contributed by Punjab alone. Various studies conducted in this regard show that Punjab enjoys the highest comparative advantage in rice production and the export competitiveness of Punjab rice is also the best.

To give a push to improving the competitiveness of Punjab agriculture, there is need for reducing the costs of production with proper management of resources and improving the marketing facilities. The imposition of levies such as market fee, rural development charges, infrastructure cess, etc. inflate the price of Punjab rice or any other crop artificially by 10-12 per cent.

It is a happy augury that the market fee and rural development charges paid on the exported rice are refunded. But lowering or abolishing of other levies and on other crops would reduce the costs, thereby making exports more competitive internationally. This would also discourage imports since reduced levies would mean lower domestic prices vis-a-vis international prices. The only side-effect would be that it will further squeeze the resources of Punjab economy, which is passing through a severe resource crunch. But its benefits in terms of increased demand for Punjab foodgrains might more than compensate the losses.

Further, when exports of rice or any other agricultural crop are pushed up because of some fiscal concessions (which do not come within the purview of WTO), the state government has the legitimate right to seek compensation from the Centre or at least upgrade the marketing and research facilities for agricultural production.

JANAK RAJ GUPTA, Punjabi University, Patiala



 

No lecturers in many colleges

Punjab's Education Department wastes a lot of time in the name of rationalisation of posts of Government College lecturers every year. So much paper work has been done without any solid output. In the rural colleges, students suffer due to lack of teachers but the colleges in prime locations like the Government College, Mohali, have three or more lecturers in some subjects against the workload of just one teacher. The kith and kin of higher ups have been recruited even though there is no workload.

The situation was the same during the tenure of the Parkash Singh Badal Government. Little has changed with the transfer of power from the Shiromani Akali Dal to the Congress. I request Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to look into the matter seriously and send surplus lecturers to colleges where there is a dearth of teaching staff despite heavy workload.

MOHAN SINGH JASWAL, Chandigarh

Army inspection

The report on the inspection of Col. Raghu Kapoor, President, Cantonment Board, and Station Commander of Subathu (Aug. 28) is incorrect. He visited the civil area of the cantonment on July 28, 2002, with a view to inspecting various activities there. He was accompanied by the CEO, SEMO and J.E. of the Cantonment Board and Admn. Commandant.

No Army jawans were with them. It was a routine inspection aimed at having a first-hand view of the various activities in the civil area like sanitation arrangements, selling of unhygienic eatables, temporary or permanent encroachments on government land and unauthorised construction activities in the civil area.

During the inspection, Col. Kapoor issued directions to the CEO to take necessary action such as issuance of notice, lodging of FIRs and collection of food samples being sold in the civil area. He also visited a few sites where unauthorised constructions were being carried out and where encroachment on government land has taken place. Here also he issued directives for taking necessary action against the defaulters after following proper legal procedure. He also inspected some buildings against whom appeals for unauthorised constructions are being heard by him in order to see the extent of unauthorised construction involved.

Every President is supposed to visit such sites before giving his judgement. No where did the President, Cantonment Board, talk to any civilian residents or made any forcible entry as alleged in the report. At no point of time coercion was employed by any of the officials of the team. The instructions issued by the President were meant for the concerned officials like the CEO, the SEMO and the JE etc., not for the public.

In this regard, it may be highlighted that inspections by the President of every Cantonment Board are routine affairs in every Cantonment as he is the highest civilian authority in the Cantonment. The civil administration in the Cantonment is run under his guidance and control. During the visit in question, he was accompanied by only civil officials except one and the instructions issued by him are in his capacity as President of the Cantonment Board and not as the Head of 14 GTC. The 14 GTC has nothing to do with the civil affairs of the Cantonment. Therefore, the charge that 14 GTC is harassing civilians and issuing directions for unauthorised constructions etc. are baseless.

YOGESH KUMAR, Cantonment Executive Officer, Cantonment Board, Subathu
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