Monday, March 10, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Nuclear power plant in Punjab

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann’s demand, like that of many others before him, that the Union Government put up a nuclear power plant in Punjab, is unwise as it is fraught with many potential dangers for the people of Punjab and the adjoining areas.

While it is true that Punjab has no coal, I feel we could accumulate enough excess water for electricity generation provided we follow proper water conservation policy and cooperate with the neighbouring states. However, being a border state with Pakistan, in close proximity to Kashmir, a nuclear power plant here can become an easy target of attack in case of a limited military incursion by any neighbour or by Kashmiri militants.

What is more, we can never rule out the possibility of an accident like the one in Chernobal in the Ukraine due to a human error. Were any of the above three events to occur, the whole population of Punjab would be contaminated by radioactivity with horrendous consequences for both the living and future generations of Punjab.

There is considerable controversy about the pros and cons of developing nuclear energy. Countries like the U.S.A., Japan and France are going ahead and putting up new nuclear power plants. But there are other countries which are more concerned about the danger of accidents and about the problem of looking after the nuclear waste from the power plants which remains dangerously radioactive for many thousand years. For example, Sweden decided after a national referendum to decommission all its 13 nuclear power plants over a period of 20-25 years despite the fact that most of them were in good working condition and not obsolete. Keeping in mind the special geo-political position of Punjab and the other risk factors involved in developing nuclear power, no well wisher of Punjab would recommend the putting up of a nuclear power plant here.


If Mr Mann is serious about improving the lot of the Sikhs and of all Punjabis, as I am sure he is, he should ask the Union Government for more research funds to develop alternative sources of energy in Punjab. Harnessing solar energy to meet the needs of those using air-conditioners and other cooling devices in summer alone would go a long way to release electricity for use in agriculture and industry.

Technology for the development of solar energy has made considerable advances in the West and can be further developed for adoption and use in Punjab. Similarly wind energy has been used with good effect in Denmark. I am sure that in time both these sources of energy can become economically viable in Punjab but to get the consumers to pay for the use of electricity and to overcome the problems of stealing electricity is another important matter which will need to be addressed.


Appreciate cricketers

This refers to the letter “Is it a match or war” (March 7) which is in bad taste. Surendra Miglani appears to be irritated over our leaders “extending congratulations to the Indian cricket team on its victory over Pakistan on the ground that there is no such tradition. Traditions are made and can be unmade. If Pakistan team had won, would Musharraf & co. not have given vent to similar jubilation?

Cricket has come to symbolise national pride and has become a great uniting force in India.

K.L. BATRA, Yamunanagar

The defence budget

This refers to the letter by Brigadier Harwant Singh titled “Sharafat Ali ko sharafat ne mara” (March 6). I beg to differ with Brigadier Singh when he comments “why we could not force Pakistan to deliver anything substantial in a year long stand-off because we were not as strong as we should have been in conventional forces.”

It is a highly irresponsible statement from a senior retired officer which may send wrong signals to our neighbours and may also result in lowering the morale of our public in general and defence forces in particular (because the comments are from a senior retired officer). He should understand that wars also have other factors like international relations and economic statistics.

The last para of the letter also does not have relevant logic. Gentlemanliness never stops or inhibits any one from exercising or demanding their rights. It may be that some part of the Budget could not be planned to be spent because of tedious procedures. But no sensible person will ever buy this logic that polite submissions resulted in a casual bureaucratic approach towards releasing the defence budget.


A malpractice by employers

A bizarre system is adopted by most of the private organisations in engaging staff. Each appointee is required to submit an undated and signed letter of resignation before handing over the letter of appointment. This opens the floodgates for black mailing and torturing the needy and helpless unemployed on a later date by the unscrupulous and cunning employers.

To curb this malpractice it is proposed that only those letters of resignation that are submitted on a minimum value non-judicial stamp paper, purchased not earlier than one week of the signing and submission of any resignation letter, be treated as legally valid.

It is requested that rules to this effect be incorporated in the country’s labour and company laws with immediate effect to prevent exploitation of the employed.

T.C. JAIN, New Delhi



His pleasure for cricket

Mr Sahib Singh Verma, Labour Minister, was seen dancing on the victory of the Indian team against Pakistan and contributed Rs 1,01,000 for the “cause” of Indian cricket. What a noble cause. Has Mr Sahib Singh Verma ever contributed from his own pocket for the earthquake affected people of Gujarat or the draught affected people of Orissa or the flash flood affected people of Chirgaon in Himachal Pradesh? No, because this has not given him the pleasure. But he is pleased now and contributed Rs one lakh one thousand which is more than the annual salary of less than 40 per cent people of India and pity our per capita income (annually) is less than what Mr Sahib Singh Verma has contributed for the welfare of the Indian team. So I request the Government of India to direct the India Today group to stop the gimmick.


Heartless neighbours

Chandigarh has been often called a “city without soul”. But I did not realise that it can be so heartless also till my sister-in-law died. She had been living in a block of two kanal house in Sector 8 for the last 25 years. The funeral van came thrice since her children were living abroad, the body was sent to the mortuary, brought back and then for the last journey taken to the cremation ground all during day time.

Not a single neighbour came forward to utter a few words of sympathy, what to talk of any assistance. Since childhood we have been taught that in our culture at the time of a tragedy of a girl’s marriage, all enmity is set aside and even enemies join the families concerned in ceremonies. This practice is still in vogue in the rural areas and in Punjab towns.

Have Chandigharians become over-westernised or is it a high society (neo-rich) syndrome?


The killing of ITIs

The news item “133 ITIs face closure” (Feb 27) is, to say the least, an eye-opener for any rational person. It speaks volumes of apathy of the state government, which claims to have taken a numbers of initiatives for creating employment opportunities.

ITIs were conceived to provide an appropriate mix of knowledge and skill which can convert the raw youth with bare minimum qualifications into employable tradesmen. It is well known that there is nothing like unemployment, only those are unemployed who are not employable. No one can find a good mechanic, craftsman, electrician or a plumber without a job. As a matter of fact, good tradesmen get away by demanding their price.

There is nothing wrong with ITIs but there is definitely something wrong with the vision that can be translated into pragmatic plans and of course the process of implementation of such plans, within the blueprint of government policies.

Unfortunately, those who matter don’t have either the vision or the experience of using these wonderful institutions for generating employment.

Government inaction has already converted these extremely useful institutions into white elephants. Soon a bureaucrat will render many qualified and experienced human resources jobless and convert plant, machinery and equipment worth hundreds of crores into museums of junk, with the single stroke of a pen.

What a gift to Punjabis from a “popular” government!

Col D.S. CHEEMA (retd), Chandigarh.

Where should she cycle?

I am a student of 5th standard and a resident of Hoshiarpur. My exams are over. I want to do cycling and go on walks but I find it very risky because the roads are broken and garbage lies at many places. There are stones, pieces of bricks and sand lying everywhere. Most of the roads have no footpaths. Where there are footpaths, shopkeepers and vendors have encroached on them.

Cars, buses and other big vehicles can pass safely, but the pedestrian and the cyclist face a great difficulty. No one gives them the way and it is very risky to move on the sides. Public servants, who should look after the city, come in their cars which have black glasses. They neither see outside nor smell the stink in the air. I would request the Deputy Commissioner and others to cycle or walk occasionally and see the difficulties the common road users are facing.

One of the dirtiest roads is that in front of the S.S.P.’s office. Often there are large piles of garbage. The drains remain blocked. After the last rain, mosquitoes are breeding freely in the stagnant water of the drain.

I think the roads should be clean, safe and beautiful, not only in my city but in the whole country. The public as well as the public servants should understand their duty.

MRINALINI SHARMA, St. Joseph’s Convent School, Hoshiarpur.

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