Sunday, October 6, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi

E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


Disputes over sharing of inter-state river waters

Towards cooperation and conflict resolution
Ramaswamy R. Iyer
OST of our major rivers are ‘inter-State', i.e., they flow through more than one State. There has been a history of both cooperation and conflict in relation to the waters of inter-State rivers.

Why rob Peter to pay Paul?
G.S. Dhillon
HE oft-repeated demand that our water resources be nationalised and distributed according to the demands of the different areas, need to be considered in tune with the approved Water Policy Document of 1987.

Raising living standards
Nirmal Sandhu
N large parts of the country unhindered rainwater not only goes waste (80 per cent of it is lost in 75 days of the monsoon rain), but also causes top soil erosion leading to reduced land fertility and lower production.





Harihar Swarup
Illusory target for militants
OUNGEST and the only woman minister of Farooq Abdullah Government, Sakina Ittoo must be a remarkable person. Contesting election from Noorabad constituency, she has grown up under the shadow of militants’ gun. Terrorists killed her father, Ali Mohammed Ittoo, a National Conference MLA, when she was barely 26 and had just become Deputy Minister for Education in 1996.


Chalk & cheese are same for Pak
TUNG by the success which the Indian government has achieved in the ongoing election process in Jammu and Kashmir, specially with all the three rounds till now seeing over 40 per cent turnout, Pakistan is now adopting its old trick of false propoganda regarding J&K elections.

  • Foreign Media

  • Fiery River

  • Loyalty Show

  • Khul Ja Simsim


Omar doing well in popularity chart
Humra Quraishi
VEN before the elections get finally rounded off in Jammu and Kashmir, there are what can be termed sheer surprises — Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah has already taken off — yes, he is in South Africa to visit his daughter who is married to a South African Jew. Couldn't he have waited for this travelling round till the next fortnight? Ask many in the setup here. No clear answer to that.

Salman KhanBollywood’s ‘brat pack’ in focus
New Delhi: Actor Salman Khan’s alleged killing of one person and injuring four people in an inebriated state is the latest episode in what is being seen as a disregard for the law amongst celluloid dream merchants. Salman has been accused of running his car over people sleeping outside a bakery on Hill Road junction in Bandra, Mumbai, and fleeing the scene.



Disputes over sharing of inter-state river waters
Towards cooperation and conflict resolution
Ramaswamy R. Iyer

MOST of our major rivers are ‘inter-State', i.e., they flow through more than one State. There has been a history of both cooperation and conflict in relation to the waters of inter-State rivers. Examples of cooperation are the agreement between Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh (1972) on the Rajghat Project on the Betwa River; the sharing of the Sone waters among the States of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar (1973) and the construction of the Bansagar Project; the agreement among the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra over the waters of the Godavari, which was reported to the Tribunal and became its Award (1979); and so on.

The Krishnaraja Sagar dam, Mysore, Karnataka
The Krishnaraja Sagar dam, Mysore, Karnataka.

The dry bed of the ‘Akanda’ Cauvery in Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu
The dry bed of the ‘Akanda’ Cauvery in Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu.

Nevertheless, it is a fact that disputes over inter-State river waters have tended in recent years to become difficult and intractable. As the population grows and the pressure on the finite supplies of water increases, it is evident that constructive cooperation over the sharing of inter-State rivers assumes great importance. Most of us are dismayed by the kind of confrontation that has characterised the Cauvery dispute and the apparent ineffectiveness of the Central Government. In this context, three kinds of recommendations are often made: (i) that the major rivers of the country should be inter-connected so that water can be transferred from surplus to deficit basins; (ii) that the Centre's hands should be strengthened by transferring ‘water' from the State List to the Concurrent List by a constitutional amendment; and (iii) that river-basin organisations or authorities should be established for the planning and management of our water resources on the basis of a hydrological unit such as a basin or sub-basin. Let us consider these suggestions briefly.


Linking rivers

Three decades after Dr. K.L.Rao mooted the notion of a Ganga-Cauvery link, and Captain Dinshaw J. Dastur, a pilot, came up with the proposition of a ‘Garland Canal', these ideas, long ago discarded as impracticable, continue to beguile the minds of the Indian public, particularly in the water-short south. For over two decades the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) has been studying the resources of different basins, assessing the availability of surpluses for transfer, and identifying possibilities of storages, links and transfers. They took up the peninsular rivers first, and studied the possibility of transferring waters from the Mahanadi to the Godavari and thence to the Krishna, the Pennar and the Cauvery.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to persuade Orissa and Andhra Pradesh that there are surpluses in the Mahanadi and in the Godavari. When the National Commission on Integrated Water Resources Development Plan (NCIWRDP) was set up in 1997, the ‘linking of rivers’ was a major consideration in the Government’s thinking. However, for a number of reasons the NCIWRDP did not find it possible to make any significant recommendations in this regard in its Report (1999). Quite apart from the difficulty of persuading the States concerned to agree to such transfers and the magnitude of the financial resources that such projects will call for, it seems extremely doubtful whether any such project for long-distance water transfers will survive a stringent scrutiny, overcome all objections, find the necessary finance, and actually get implemented in the foreseeable future. We will merely be wasting much valuable time in pursuing this chimera. The answer to the future water needs of water-short areas lies in extensive local rainwater-harvesting and watershed development.

Centre’s role

In the Constitution, the primary entry relating to ‘water’ is in the State List (Entry 17), but this is subject to the provisions of Entry 56 in the Union List which gives a role to the Centre in relation to inter-State rivers to the extent that Parliament legislates for the purpose. The enabling provisions of Entry 56 have not been used to any significant extent. It is possible to argue that even within the ambit of the existing provisions the Centre could have done much more than it has. Be that as it may, it can hardly be said that the present constitutional position in relation to water is satisfactory. If the makers of the Constitution had foreseen all our present perceptions and concerns, they might well have formulated a different set of entries. However, that is a speculative reflection.

The reality is the text of the Constitution as it exists. Even if amendments to put ‘water’ in the Concurrent List are considered desirable, such amendments would be enormously difficult to put through: they go counter to the persistent trend towards greater decentralisation and federalism. (It is sometimes suggested that major rivers should be ‘nationalised’, but it is not clear what this means. Perhaps this is only another way of saying that the Centre should be able to play a role in relation to rivers, i.e., that water should be put in the Concurrent List).

Concurrent list

The River Boards Act 1956, enacted by Parliament under Entry 56 in the Union List, has virtually remained a dead letter. There are no river basin authorities or boards in India, of the kind that exist in France or Holland. The National Water Policy 1987 did talk about planning for a hydrological unit such as a basin or sub-basin and about ‘appropriate organisations’ for the purpose, but this (like most of the general statements in the NWP) was never operationalised. The National Commission on Integrated Water Resources Development Plan (1999) recommended River Basin Organisations of a representative kind, with a very large principal body of a ‘general assembly’ or ‘river parliament’ kind and a smaller (but still not very small) executive committee. However, these ideas have not made much headway. In the National Water Policy 2002, river basin organisations are mentioned, but their scope and powers have been left to the basin States. Unfortunately, a comprehensive, holistic view of a river system requires institutional arrangements of a kind that have not so far been found feasible in our quasi-federal political structure.

Basin organisations

This brings us back to the present situation. The problem of cooperation on inter-State rivers will remain with us. Determined efforts need to be made to persuade the States to agree to the establishment of some kind of organisation at the basin or sub-basin level, at least for coordination and for conflict-resolution, if not for holistic planning. All over the world such bodies exist, with varying degrees of effectiveness: on the Nile, the Niger, the Danube, the Rhine, the Mekong, and so on. In the Mekong Commission, countries which had earlier been at war with one another are now sitting together as members of the Commission. Why then is the idea so unacceptable to our States?

Even if basin organisations are not set up, water-sharing agreements at least need to be worked out.

A negotiated agreement (if necessary, facilitated by mediation or conciliation by the Central Government or by groups of eminent persons of goodwill) will be the best course, but failing that adjudication may have to be resorted to. The Constitution provides for this in Article 262, and under that Article Parliament has enacted the Inter-State Water Disputes Act 1956. The Act provides for the establishment of tribunals for adjudicating such disputes if a State makes a request to the Centre and the latter is convinced that a negotiated agreement is not possible.

The Act says that the decision of the tribunal is final and binding. It also bars the jurisdiction of the courts including the Supreme Court once an inter-State river-water dispute has been referred to a tribunal set up under the Act. That constitutionally mandated conflict-resolution mechanism has worked satisfactorily in the past. The Narmada, the Krishna and the Godavari awards are examples. The fact that new post-award disputes have emerged in some cases does not invalidate that statement.

The processes of adjudication were found to be deficient in some ways. There were delays at every stage, and if the award was not implemented there was no remedy. These deficiencies have been sought to be removed through some recent amendments to the Act, prescribing time-limits at various stages, and giving the tribunal’s award the status of an order of the Supreme Court. We have yet to see how these improvements work in practice. The adjudication process ran into serious difficulties in the Ravi-Beas and the Cauvery disputes. In the former, the award, received in 1987, was found politically difficult to implement; a reference back to the Tribunal for clarifications was made (as provided for in the Act) and the matter is still pending.

In the Cauvery case, an interim order given by the Tribunal in 1991 became the subject of a secondary dispute, and efforts to resolve that secondary dispute through the establishment of a high-power political committee called (misleadingly) the Cauvery River Authority (CRA) have not been conspicuously successful. The matter has been shuttling between the CRA and the Supreme Court.

Whether the final award of the Tribunal, when received, will mark the end of the dispute or the beginning of new trouble, is not clear. Given the politicisation of the dispute and the generation of chauvinistic sentiments and popular frenzy, the latter (i.e., further trouble) seems more likely.

Civil society

What is the solution? If the constitutionally mandated machinery does not command respect and the law of the land is not obeyed, there can be no legal or institutional answer. Directions by the Central Government can be tried, but they are unlikely to command greater respect than the decisions of the Supreme Court. Recourse to Article 356 is an extreme measure that cannot be easily thought of, and is not really a solution, as a popular government, when it eventually comes into being as it must, may well go back to an intransigent position. The answer lies in the political sphere and in what is known as civil society. A spirit of constructive cooperation has to be generated. If the political parties fail to rise to the occasion, then persons of goodwill in the contending States must take upon themselves the responsibility of educating public opinion, providing information, clarifying issues, exploring solutions acceptable to both sides, and in general promoting good relations and understanding.

It has been possible for India to enter into treaties with neighbouring countries over river waters. Despite our difficult relationship with Pakistan, the Indus Treaty 1960 has been working reasonably well, and has survived several wars. Similarly, a prolonged and bitter conflict over the sharing of the waters of the Ganga stands resolved through the India-Bangladesh Ganga Waters Treaty of December 12, 1996, and that treaty has been operating fairly satisfactorily. Why then should we find it difficult to settle inter-State disputes? In the India-Bangladesh case, efforts by non-official institutions (known as ‘Track II initiatives’) to promote better inter-country understanding and find a solution to the dispute made a significant contribution to the final outcome. Cannot similar efforts be made within the country?

The writer is former Secretary, Water Resources, Government of India.


Indigenous water technology

  • Many community managed water distribution projects centering round the traditional water harvesting system are being tried out in various parts of the country with a certain degree of success.
  • With the revival of the age-old Johad system in 650 villages of perpetually drought prone Alwar district of Rajasthan, drinking water problem has become a thing of the past and crops are grown round the year.
  • Johads are the simple mud and stone barriers built across the contours of a slope to arrest rain water. They have high embankments on three sides while the fourth is left open for the rain water to enter.
  • In the opinion of Magsaysay award recipient Rajendra Singh, “There is not a single village in the country which cannot quench its thirst and that of its fields through the revival of traditional water harvesting techniques”.
  • In the tribal dominated Chhotanagpur belt of Jharkand, the traditional system of conserving water is a ahar or surface gravity irrigation tank which continues to be a popular mode to end water shortage. It is essentially a hill technology but has been extended to the gently sloping pains with the help of run-off diversion called pynes.
  • An ahar involves building earthfill check dams across the natural drainage joining the uplands for harvesting the runoff water. R.Radhakrishna Rao


Rainwater harvesting

  • In the arid Kutch belt of India bordering Pakistan, the nomadic Maldharis have developed a unique rainwater harvesting system called Virdas.
  • Virdas are shallow wells dug in low depressions where enough rain water is collected to ensure the availability of fresh water throughout the year. After rainwater infiltrates the soil, sit gets stored at a level above the salty ground water because of its density difference.
  • To store more fresh water, Maldharis dig many Virdas in the upper layers of the freshwater up to about one meter above the ground water. Between these two layers of sweet and saline water, there exists a transition zone of brackish water.
  • In the mountainous Meghalaya state, an indigenous system of tapping streams and spring water using bamboo pipes is used to irrigate farms and fields. Water is transported over hundreds of meters using interconnected bamboo channels.
  • Each region of India has its own indigenous water technology which evolved in harmony with the local environment to meet he needs of the local community. While the revival of traditional water harvesting system is on in many parts of the country, community-oriented water supply schemes too are making their own contribution to the mitigation of water shortage.
  • In many villages of Rajasthan, the community managed water supply schemes centering round the Indira Gandhi Nahar Pariyojana (IGNP), one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the world, have freed the women folk from the drudgery of walking long distances under scorching sun to fetch a pitcher of water. Similar community based projects are having a successful run in various parts of India. RRR


Cloud seeding for rains

  • Karnataka is now opting for artificial rains through cloud seeding, after a futile wait for good south-west monsoon, according to Chief Minister S.M.Krishna. Cloud seeding is a deliberate treatment of certain clouds or cloud systems that affects the precipitation process within them.
  • This is the third time Karnataka is going in for cloud seeding. The project is estimated to cost Rs 6 crore. Last time, the attempt was made during the chief ministership of the late R. Gundu Rao following failure of the monsoon in the Sharavathi catchment region.
  • The Karnataka Government is now waiting for an aircraft from California-based Atmospheric Inc., for undertaking the cloud seeding operations. Earlier, it had hired an aircraft from Tamil Nadu for the purpose.
  • Karnataka’s Water Resources Minister H.K.Patil recently discussed the idea of cloud seeding, also known as “weather modification”, with rain experts, including the chief of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune.
  • In the 80s and 90s, Tamil Nadu had gone in for cloud seeding thrice to mitigate drinking water problems.



Why rob Peter to pay Paul?
G.S. Dhillon

THE oft-repeated demand that our water resources be nationalised and distributed according to the demands of the different areas, need to be considered in tune with the approved Water Policy Document of 1987. Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala recently said at Kaithal that he was the first person who raised his voice for the implementation of the recommendations of Dr K.L. Rao Committee for equitable distribution of river waters. He further observed that if the proposed Ganga-Cauvery Link had been built, the dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka might not have arisen.

A view of the abandoned SYL Canal near Fatehgarh Sahib
A view of the abandoned SYL Canal near Fatehgarh Sahib. — Tribune Photo Karam Singh

Let us examine where do we stand after the approval of the National Water Policy Document (1987). While introducing the ‘Draft Document’ to the National Water Resource Council on September 1987, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi maintained that water should be treated as a scarce and precious national resource. The planning, development and conservation of this resource must be conducted on the premise and in this resource must be conducted on the premise and in this perspective. The foundation of the National Water Policy Document being considered will have to ensure optimal use of water resource in the national interest and not confined to the state boundaries. The ‘Drainage Basin’ should constitute the basic unit of planning and water resource development. He also maintained that development of river basins need not always be directed at the people living within that basin. Our rivers, if properly harnessed, can adequately meet the requirements of the people living in the basin and still have something left over the others less fortunately placed.

The document, approved after detailed deliberations and in regard to the above aspects, envisages two salient features. First, water is a prime national resource, a basic human need and a precious national asset. Planning and development of water resource need to be governed by the national perspective. And second, water should be made available to the scarcity areas by transfers from one river basin to another, based on national perspective, after taking into account the requirements of the areas/basin.

Where do we stand in regard to the water dispute between Punjab and Haryana, considering the National Water Policy Document since approved and made operative? All the available water resources of the two states (considering the Satluj, the Beas, the Ravi and the Yamuna rivers) need to be ‘pooled’ and redistributed considering the requirements of the two states. For this an independent expert committee needs to be appointed. The findings of the above committee will help solve the ongoing dispute. This will meet the “demand” of Mr Chautala for nationalising the river water resources and their redistribution.

Hence, the beginning of the nationalisation of river waters should be made from Haryana and Punjab. Mr Chautala has sponsored the idea. The Punjab Chief Minister has expressed similar idea of ‘redistribution’ of available water resources by adding the waters of the river Yamuna to the waters of the Ravi-Beas being considered at present.

The Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) is under construction. The national water policy document provides that water need only be carried out after taking into account the requirements of the area/basin. This implies that the construction of SYL is only justified as per our National Water Policy if, after considering the requirements of the area/basin, that water can be spared or is “surplus” to its requirements.

It is an accepted fact that when SYL starts operating, there will be a shortage to the extent of 5,000 cusecs all the year around at the Ropar Headworks. There are two canals off taking from the Ropar Headworks, the Sirhind Canal with full supply capacity of 12,625 cusecs and the Bist-Doab Canal of 1,408 cusecs capacity from the right bank for the Doaba Area.

During winter months, the water available at Ropar is at present far short and minimum flow of 3,200 cusecs. So the operation of SYL will cause even more severe shortages in the command areas of the Sirhind Canal, particularly in the tail-end areas of Batinda and Sangrur. In the case of the Bist-Doab canal, the water table decline is very severe and the closure of the canal will make the situation much more worse.

Consequently, the National Water Resources Council should appoint a committee to study the effect of withdrawals of flow at Ropar Headworks. The policy of robbing Peter to pay Paul is not permissible under the national water policy. Certainly, one hopes that this is not the intention of Mr Chautala.

The writer is former Chief Engineer (Research) & Director, Irrigation & Power, Government of Punjab.


Raising living standards
Nirmal Sandhu

IN large parts of the country unhindered rainwater not only goes waste (80 per cent of it is lost in 75 days of the monsoon rain), but also causes top soil erosion leading to reduced land fertility and lower production. About “5334 million tonnes of top fertile soil is being eroded (countrywide) annually due to water erosion”, point out Dhruva Narayana and Ram Babu in the “Indian Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering”, 1983.

The forest cover is fast shrinking, particularly in Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. The latter has a 9 per cent forest cover as against the minimum 33 per cent norm fixed by the Centre. Worse, the Punjab Government has asked the Centre to scrap Section 4 of the Punjab Land Conservation Act, which prevents the forest land owners from cutting trees.

To replenish the underground water reserves, increase the area under trees, make drinking and irrigation water available throughout the year, here are lessons from a fascinating tale of some committed scientists who changed the face of 17 extremely backward villages, perpetually facing water scarcity and an abysmally low agricultural yield, in Satna district of Madhya Pradesh through a soil and water conservation programme.

The project was started on January 10, 1996, by the Krishi Vigyan Kendra of Deendayal Research Institute at Majhgawan in Satna district in cooperation with the Madhya Pradesh Government’s District Rural Development Agency under the Rajiv Gandhi Watershed Mission. How the project was carried out needs to be told in detail as it could perhaps inspire the political leadership, officials, agricultural scientists, awakened citizens or some NGOs to replicate the success story in the backward areas of this region.

To implement the project, watershed development committees were formed. Each consisted of nine members — an agronomist, an agricultural engineer, an agro-forestry specialist, a horticulturist, an animal husbandry scientist, a home scientist and two field workers. When they first visited the targeted areas, the villagers greeted them with indifference and none turned up for their meetings for two days. How this group succeeded, where others had failed before them, was their “entry point” tool. To start with, they offered to build whatever structure the villagers needed the most — a well, a road, a school, a temple, anything.

The residents of Patni village asked for a road. The officials agreed and work started. They organised the villagers and themselves acted only as guides. Funds came from the Madhya Pradesh Government under the Rajiv Gandhi Watershed Mission at the rate of Rs 3,000 per ha. This central scheme has now been discontinued and replaced by the Integrated Wasteland Development Programme with an increased allocation of Rs 6,000 per ha.

With panchayat help, they identified common problems: shortage of drinking water, low crop productivity, lack of viable cropping pattern, declining underground watertable, large tracts of barren and uncultivable land, soil erosion, low milk yield because of the poor breed and health of milch animals, lack of marketing facilities, and low purchasing power.

Next, the social map of the village was drawn up. The village of Patni was 200 years old, had 67 farmer families, totalling 362 persons — 184 of them male and 178 female. Sixtyfive of the 67 families belonged to the SCs/STs. Although there were two hand pumps and seven wells in the village, only one hand pump provided water throughout the year.

Then the village livestock, cultivable land, irrigation facilities, cropping pattern, fruit trees, timber etc were identified. The rain was often erratic and uneven. The village had no pond or water harvesting structures. The health profile and seasonal workload of the villagers were analysed to ensure how many can work for the project and when.

Armed with all the relevant data, the KVK scientists explained their action plan to a gathering of villagers organised with panchayat help. Committees were formed to ensure that the villagers themselves carried out the work. Fifteen earthen check dams and three percolation tanks using low-cost technologies were constructed. Soon measures for the construction of trenches, loose boulder check dams, stone dykes and water harvesting were initiated and put in place.

To control soil erosion and boost the villagers’ income, 800 fruit trees were planted amid field crops and three other plantations were established with a total of 7,050 fruit, fodder and timber trees. Each plantation was entrusted to the care of a self-help group consisting of actual users.

To reclaim the denuded hills and develop pasture wastelands, grass seeds were planted The existing cropping pattern was studied and the causes of low productivity were identified. It was then replaced by new crops. The land was found more suitable for growing pulses, black gram and pea.

The impact of the watershed management on the socio-economic life of the villagers was evident from the first year itself. By the time the project was completed, about 60 per cent of the villagers were no longer living below the poverty line. Studies have been conducted since then to make improvements. Some of these suggestions are: (a) focussed project approach; (b) flexibility in implementation; (c) well-defined role of state, district and village-level institutions; (d) greater role for women; (e) role for panchayat raj institutions; and (f) credit facility with help from financial institutions.


Illusory target for militants
Harihar Swarup

YOUNGEST and the only woman minister of Farooq Abdullah Government, Sakina Ittoo must be a remarkable person. Contesting election from Noorabad constituency, she has grown up under the shadow of militants’ gun. Terrorists killed her father, Ali Mohammed Ittoo, a National Conference MLA, when she was barely 26 and had just become Deputy Minister for Education in 1996. Her uncle too was slain by ultras. Her family was number one on the hit-list of militants because Ali Mohammed was against militancy and dissuaded young men from falling a prey to the gun culture.

No wonder why militants were after Sakina’s blood and, they thought, there was no better occasion to bump her off when she was on campaign trail. Routinely, they were already attacking her house once in a month for the last three years but, each time, she proved an illusory target. It appears, as if the God or, as Kashmiris believe, “Allah” was on her side. True indeed, call it the “Allah” or, the hidden power that moves the universe had saved her life.

Militants mounted deadly attack on Sakina four times during the current election and each time, she had providential escape. In one of such attacks, just five minutes before the IED blast, which destroyed her escort vehicle, the car of a PDP candidate had passed by the same spot. How does one explain the gunning down of the popular leader and Law Minister Mustaq Ahmed Lone, with 101 per cent security cover and the survival of 31-year old Sakina despite four murderous attacks?

Only “Allah” has come to her rescue and prayers of her late lamented father and uncle helped her survive. Just few days before Lone’s assassination, an independent candidate, Abdul Rehman Sheikh, was mercilessly gunned down while shockingly his security guards looked on helplessly.

Mustaq Ahmed Lone was contesting from Loab constituency of Kupwara district and pitted against a high-profile rival, Abdul Haq who had resigned from Hurriyal conference to jump in the poll fray as an independent candidate. Sakina, who was since elevated to the rank of Minister of State and held Tourism portfolio was more desperately sought by militants than Lone. Having romped home with a comfortable margin of over five thousand votes in 1996 elections, she faces a formidable rival this time in PDP’s 76-year-old Abdul Aziz Zargar. This has truly become a contest between the youngest and oldest. Zargar is, in fact, a rebel NC candidate. Having been denied ticket by Dr. Farooq Abdullah, he walked over to PDP.

Sakina’s house in her constituency has been a veritable fortress with police rings, armed guards, barbed wires and sniffer dogs snooping around. She naturally feels suffocated in these surroundings. Those who had met her say she hardly smiles, looks a bit scared but not deterred by repeated militants attack. She is not good in PR exercise and, despite sympathy she evokes following militants’ attack, a question mark is put about her success in elections. It would be sad indeed if this brave woman faces defeat in the battle at hustings. Had she not jumped in the hurly-burly of politics, she would have been practicing medical doctor by now. She was in the final of MBBS when she discontinued her education to join politics and her success was instantaneous; she became an MLA and a minister.

Sakina’s constituency is a difficult one, located in remote area of South Kashmir and haunted by militants. People were often heard saying “we are left to militants and mercy of the God”. Many houses harbour terrorists who had blown as many as 26 bridges and burnt many school buildings.

In the last elections she covered 133 remote village on foot but in the present election she moved in the bullet-proof car with police escorts. Apparently, she could not campaign as vigorously as her rivals. She has reportedly said: “This is infested area. We construct during the day and in the night militants pull everything down”.

Sakina is on the crossroad of her short but hitherto successful political career. She has survived militants’ attack and waiting for the people’s verdict. Will she return for the second time?


Chalk & cheese are same for Pak

STUNG by the success which the Indian government has achieved in the ongoing election process in Jammu and Kashmir, specially with all the three rounds till now seeing over 40 per cent turnout, Pakistan is now adopting its old trick of false propoganda regarding J&K elections. The plants of Pakistan authorities in local newspapers have already taken the shape of jungles. Pakistani television has been showing footage of alleged coercion by the security forces forcing voters to come out and vote even though there have been hardly any such incidents.

Indian securitymen have been shown in file shots seemingly coercing people out of their houses to exercise their franchise. However, the visual evidence against India went a little too far when the Pakistani television showed large-scale rigging with a party worker going about stamping on “ballot paper”. What the overzealous Pakistanis forgot is that there are no ballot papers in Jammu and Kashmir this time as voting in the entire State is through electronic voting machines. Obviously, the managers of Pakistani propaganda machinery forgot to differentiate between chalk and cheese.

Foreign media

More than the Indian media, it is the foreign media which seems to be keen on Jammu and Kashmir elections. If there was any doubt about it, a recent press conference held at the Election Commission headquarters demonstrated this fact. There was virtually no space left in the EC’s conference hall. The foreign media outnumbered Indian reporters at the press conference. In fact, the trend seen in the three EC briefings so far held after each round of polling is that the number of Indian journalists attending the post-polling EC press conferences steadily declined while that of foreign journalists increased. Obviously, the EC officials are gleeful over the interest being shown by foreign media. It only strengthens the government’s position that polls in J&K are being conducted in a free and fair manner despite efforts from Pakistan-sponsored militant outfits to disrupt the polls.

Fiery river

Uneasy lies the states that have the Cauvery waters flowing through their territories. Though the Cauvery meanders through three states and a union territory — Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, in that order— it is mainly Tamil Nadu and Karnataka that are fighting it out between them over a larger share of Cauvery waters. The political storm has not subsided even after the recent Supreme Court directions and Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna is now facing a contempt petition, filed by his Tamil Nadu counterpart J.Jayalalitha. The non-plussed Krishna is clearly banking on the Almighty for a way out. Krishna has gone on record saying that he was praying for rain. “I have visited almost all the temples in my state to offer prayer. I am now planning to offer puja at a “Jagrata” Shani Dev Temple in far off Pondicherry to propitiate the rain gods,” he says. Will the rain gods listen?

Loyalty show

It was meant to be a brainstorming session to discuss women empowerment. That was indeed discussed at the Congress session at Talkatora Stadium here this week. But what stole the show was a brazen display of loyalty by Congress leaders to their President Sonia Gandhi. The moment they saw Sonia get up from her seat and hold hands with other leaders on the dais while patriotic song “Hum Honge Kaamyab” was being sung in the backdrop, they got into action. Immediately, senior Congress leaders, including Congress Working Committee members, sprang up from their seats close to the dais and started doing exactly what their leader was doing: clasping hands, waving to the crowd and the like.

Women participants, who had come from all parts of the country, seemed like the ones possessed and some even were dancing. A Congress MLA in the VIP arena was so taken in by the atmosphere that she had to be reined in.

Khul ja simsim

Like anything related to rural, even placement services remain less organised for rural sector employees and employers. Millions of unemployed grope in the dark, not aware where to look for a job. Similarly, innumerable vacancies remain unfilled with employers, not knowing where to get right employees from. Keeping this in mind, entrepreneur Ajay Gupta, who has done his doctorate in management from the Delhi School of Economics, recently launched a unique portal for rural, social, agri-business and allied jobs. works in an employee-friendly fashion. Employers post their jobs on the website at a cost of Rs 400 per job posting for one month. The service is free for employees.

Job-seekers can log on to the site from any part of the country and apply online for the job that is in line with their education, work experience, location etc. All they have to do is to go to the site, register themselves and feed their resume in terms of education and work experience, they can view the jobs relevant to them. They just need to click on ‘Apply’ button for each job that is of their choice. Computer picks up the resume automatically and sends it to the employer.

As soon as a job is posted, automatic sorting software picks up those resumes from database of employees whose details match with the posted job and e-mails are sent to such employees advising them to apply. The jobs posted have offered salaries ranging from Rs 4,000 to Rs one lakh per month. The portal may well prove to be a “khul ja simsim” for both the employees and the employers.

Contributed by Girja Shankar Kaura, S Satyanarayanan, Prashant Sood and Rajeev Sharma.


Omar doing well in popularity chart
Humra Quraishi

EVEN before the elections get finally rounded off in Jammu and Kashmir, there are what can be termed sheer surprises — Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah has already taken off — yes, he is in South Africa to visit his daughter who is married to a South African Jew. Couldn't he have waited for this travelling round till the next fortnight? Ask many in the setup here. No clear answer to that.

In fact, there is no clear answer to the role of the foreign observers too — I mean we have several men of integrity still around (yes, still left in the country) who could have been asked to act as observers but then GOI seems infected with the foreign bug. And as I had mentioned in the last column, envoys from the Middle Eastern and South Asian countries were omitted rather blatantly and because of the diplomatic code of conduct they can't voice their opinion on this.

And even before elections are over election — jokes have travelled from Srinagar to New Delhi — there's this popular one: there are so many agencies and counter agencies operating in the Valley that they contact foreign observers to cross-check facts and figures, who in turn have to get back to their respective governments before speaking out, which in turn get to the White House for the final clearance.

Another one — stray dogs have been seen getting shooed away from polling booths by securitymen because they were not equipped with valid ID cards. Another one for your Sunday morn — Omar Abdullah seems to be doing well on the popularity chart. Why? Because he is a complete man chant the electorate and pray what's a complete man. “He has a Europeon mom, a Sikh wife and vagabond father!”

Bypassing these, talk to the Kashmiris in the Capital and their comments are laced with cynicism. I was personally shocked to know that any Kashmiri from the Valley visiting New Delhi or other metro has to first report to the nearest police station. “It is like visiting a foreign country — it is humiliating to tell the police reasons of the purpose of our visit as though each one of us is a suspect or associated with terrorists...”

And till GOI doesn't heed to these details it is difficult to win back the people in the real sense. Holding elections is one thing, but to hold a people together is another. And since I have been travelling in the state for the past several weeks I feel it is time “Operation heal the wounds” gets started and you will get back the people. Otherwise you can send back a fresh lot of MLAs to look after roads etc and that's about all...


Bollywood’s ‘brat pack’ in focus

New Delhi: Actor Salman Khan’s alleged killing of one person and injuring four people in an inebriated state is the latest episode in what is being seen as a disregard for the law amongst celluloid dream merchants.

Salman has been accused of running his car over people sleeping outside a bakery on Hill Road junction in Bandra, Mumbai, and fleeing the scene. The actor was arrested eight hours later but released on bail after he paid Rs.950.

Other stars before Salman have gotten away scot-free in similar predicaments. In 1965, actress Tanuja was arrested for rash driving, which led to the death of one person. She was let off with a fine of Rs.1,500.

In 1993, Puru Raaj Kumar, son of the legendary Raaj Kumar, ran over a group of people sleeping on a suburban road in Mumbai, killing three and maiming another. He too was let off with a fine.

But Salman seems the most notorious of Bollywood’s “brat pack” after Sanjay Dutt, one of the accused in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts case and who has been in the news for his alleged links with the underworld.

Earlier this month, Salman barged onto the sets of Aziz Mirza’s film being produced by Shah Rukh Khan and abused his former friend, actress and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai.

In an interview, Aishwarya admitted she and Salman split up in March but Salman was unable to come to terms with the break-up. She claimed he was hounding her.

Last year Salman created a flutter outside the actress’ residence one night. On a complaint by her father, police warned him of arrest if he disturbed Aishwarya’s privacy.

Also last year he bumped his car into Aishwarya’s vehicle in a fit of rage after she refused to accompany him.

Salman’s first serious brush with law was in 1998 when he was accused of shooting the endangered blackbuck while shooting for a film in Rajasthan. He was also accused of possessing firearms without valid licence.

Last year, police summoned him for questioning while investigating the nexus between film financers and the underworld.

While Bollywood big shots like Sanjay, filmmaker Mahesh Manjrekar and financer Bharat Shah appear to be making news for alleged links with the underworld, some actresses are known as gangster molls.

But the demand for Sanjay Dutt’s “Hathyar” shot up following the release of an alleged taped conversations between him and alleged mobster Chhota Shakeel. Sanjay has been doing the rounds of courts ever since he was named as an accused in Mumbai’s serial bomb blasts in 1993 that killed nearly 300 people.

Today, actors like Abhishek Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan and even Shah Rukh Khan don’t even blink before assaulting reporters and photographers. After filmmaker Shashilal Nair filmed scenes of a body double in “Ek Chhoti Si Love Story”, allegedly without actress Manisha Koirala’s consent, the latter sought the assistance of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray to stall the screening of the movie in Maharashtra.

Nair is now accusing Manisha of threatening him and using coercive tactics to get him to delete certain scenes in his film. He has accused Manisha of putting pressure on him through politicians, industrialists and the mafia. IANSTop

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