Saturday, March 1, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Railways ignores HP

HIMACHAL Pradesh does not exist on the railway map of India. However, a narrow gauge railway line from Kalka to Shimla and from Pathankot to Mandi is the gift given by the British for which Himachalis always remain grateful. The Shimlaites celebrate 9th November every year and halwa is distributed to their friends and neighbours because on this very day in 1903, the first engine of the small rail entered Shimla.

For the past many years the successive Railway Ministers were approached to allot necessary funds to HP but all our requests have fallen on deaf ears. In the absence of a broad gauge railway line, this small hill state cannot progress. Mules and trucks are the only sources of carrying vegetables and fruits from one place to another.

In other parts of the country, new railway lines have been constructed and in some cases metre gauge lines have been converted to broad gauge lines. But there is always a scarcity of funds for HP. Himachalis are struggling hard for the progress of the state. It will be in the best interest of the country and the state if special attention is paid in this regard. The dream of becoming a developed country by 2020 cannot be fulfilled unless small hill states like HP get special attention.

Since our country is celebrating 150th year of the Indian Railways, it is high time that sufficient funds are allotted to Himachal Pradesh to construct a broad gauge railway line, which would be the line of prosperity for the state.


At the initial stage a broad-gauge railway line should be introduced from Kalka to Rampur Bushehr. Afterwards, it can be extended to other parts of the state. In this age of science and technology, it may not be much difficult to achieve this goal. The only requirement is that immediate attention should be paid in this respect. As far as finance is concerned, a part of the expenditure can be met by industrialists of the state. At the same time some new industrialists should also be invited to open their industries in the state.

The proposed broad-gauge railway line should be from Kalka covering Barotiwala (industrial town), Patta, a tunnel up to the Ghammar bridge, Dumehar, Darla Mor (Ambuja cement factory), Naugaon, Bharmana (ACC cement factory), Tattapani, Sunni, Chaba, Luri and Rampur Bushehr.

This route will cover the central part of HP and many industries will benefit. This will be an all weather route and there is no snowfall on this route. Afterwards, the railway network can be extended to other parts of the state.


The Iraq imbroglio

Apropos your editorial “Strengthening anti-war drive” (Feb 17) which is lucid and incisive.

The US and British military and naval buildup in Persian Gulf is ominous. Both the Western powers want to dethrone President Saddam Hussein, who had led Iraqis as secular Muslims which is a big deal. What Guarantee there is that after Saddam there would not be militant bursts against the Western intransigent attitude! The Iraqi pride may get hurt as they are fully cooperating with the UN inspectors as has been certified by Mr Hans Blix.

Mr Vajpayee had rightly called the “lone” super power for a “super restrain” for the war would not bring a lasting solution. The allegations hurled following the Bin Laden tape by the US Secretary of State Gen. Powell that Iraq has links with Al-Qaida are frivolous and are uncalled for from the second most powerful man in the USA as Bin Laden had been denouncing President Saddam Hussein as an infidel for his secular outlook.

There has been an unprecedented show of opposition to impose war by tens of millions of people throughout the world. The other big powers — France, Russia and China — along with European economic giant Germany also want to avoid war and want to give more time to the UN inspectors. Russia has hinted at the use of its veto power in the Security Council.

Indian foreign policy was never so good. The erstwhile governments in New Delhi would unnecessarily antagonise the USA. By making nuclear weapons, the Vajpayee Government has shown its strength with the result that the USA now knows that it needs India as a friend. The basis of mutual friendship was laid by none other than Mr Jaswant Singh. Indian foreign policy is following the true path in consonance with world opinion.

SUBHASH BARU, Kaluchak (Jammu Tawi)

The stigma of being divorcee

THE response (Feb 11) to Anjali Dewan’s letter “When marriages split” (Jan 30) is very welcome and well said. Yes, it is not easy to live without a companion but that does not mean that one should continue killing oneself mentally and spiritually, if not physically in remaining with the socially recognised meaningless relationship than opting out of it.

The word “divorcee should stop being a stigma; first of all in your own eyes only then you can expect a change in society. It is people like you and me who are part of this social setup and who need to contribute their bit towards the change, instead of merely accepting brickbats or at times even striking another, if chance permits.

It is not just the divorced women who have to fight it all alone. Each one of us is essentially alone, be it a man or woman. Yet if one needs to compare, the physical strength of men is hardly any match for the mental toughness of women. Instead of blaming society, we need to peep within ourselves. Do you respect a divorcee? If not, then first of all the individual needs to change. Think and perform to earn self-confidence and self-respect. If men think that the single or divorced woman is an “easy catch” the fault primarily lies in the woman since she needs to be strong enough to counteract any uncalled for advances by men.

It is high time we women realise that wives are not merely socially acceptable commodities for particular men. In this she may have to fight it all alone, even as a married woman, let alone being a divorcee. If her parental family doesn’t give her due importance, she should strive to be on her own feet so that she doesn’t need to look upon others to grant her respect. Come what may, we all should strive to not only educate the girl child but also to make her self-sufficient. The ground reality is first of all the independent income of the woman and then her own strength, clarity and self-confidence to be able to face life on her own terms or either form a group having similar ideas.




The disabled on IA flight

This refers to the news item “Airlines putting the disabled through hell” (Feb 13).

As per security guidelines there are certain prohibited items for carriage in the aircraft. There are some restricted items also which are allowed to be carried in the aircraft by a passenger but after security checks. A walking stick falls into the latter category.

Mr S. Deshpande, a 32-year-old blind passenger, travelled from Bangalore to Pune by Indian Airlines flight IC 917 of January 27, 2003. On account of the red alert being notified and the walking stick falling in the restricted category, CISF personnel entrusted with responsibilities relating to pre-embarkation security check had to follow the guidelines. The passenger was, therefore, requested not to carry the walking stick in his hand on board the flight.

Indian Airlines had in fact offered to take Mr Deshpande to the aircraft in a wheelchair. He, however, preferred to walk. The IA staff helped him to board the plane and was properly seated. Even the commander of the flight took personal care in making Mr Deshpande’s journey comfortable.

He was further assisted in deplaning at Pune and his walking stick was handed over to him.


Nuisance of loudspeakers

There are many places of worship in Bhucho Mandi. The gurdwaras at the back and in front of the railway station are hardly 100 metres from each other.

They play loudspeakers in such high volume that each tries to undo the other. The meaning of Gurbani is lost in the din. Students, patients and elders are the worst affected.

CHAMAN SINGLA, Bhucho Mandi (Bathinda)

Water price hike

Recently the Amritsar Municipal Corporation’s Water Supply & Sewerage Department issued water supply bills to its consumers charging Rs 100 per month per connection. Earlier, it was charging Rs 30 per month. So the increase in the water supply rate is more than three times, which has disturbed the budget of an average consumer. It is an anti-consumer action on the part of the Amritsar Municipal Corporation and requires to be reversed at the earliest.

R.K. ARORA, Amritsar

Terrible roads

I refer to the letter “Need for privatisation” by Subhash Sharma of Amritsar (Feb 10). Government machinery is too sick to do anything. The road condition in India is very disgusting. The National Highway-1 (NH-1) used to be a smooth road, but now it too requires maintenance. The patch between Murthal and Samalkha is crippled. The National Highway-2 (NH-2) has unpredictable bumpy patches at frequent intervals. There are no public toilets or drinking water facilities. If the national highways are in such a sorry state, the condition of other roads can be well imagined.

The plight of the Jalandhar to Nakodar road has been disheartening for many years. This very road links cities like Moga, Ferozepur, Abohar, Ganganagar, Jaipur from Jalandhar. When the authorities are confronted about the same, they reply very curtly, “we are used to it now.”

The road from Fatehpur Sikri, which links NH-2, via Bharatpur and Mathura is fractured at so many places. One has to drive through so many patches of pebbled road. The most dangerous aspect of this link road is the occurrence of speed-breakers after every eight to 10 minutes. The speed-breakers are too small to be viewed from an appropriate distance. Moreover, there is no prior warning.

To add to the misfortune of the drivers, people without any traffic sense barge into roads. An intense knowledge of traffic rules needs to be imparted to the drivers. I feel, Chandigarh is one of the proud examples of having a disciplined traffic. Even Delhi, the national capital, offers terrible driving experiences. Much needs to be done in this sphere.


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