Monday, June 16, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



The truth behind SYL canal issue

APROPOS of Mr Harcharan Bain’s article, “Punjab's combustible waters” (June 9), going by his logic, a state which does not have a perennial river passing through it will never get irrigation facilities.

This issue has become more political than an engineering one. If an issue becomes predominantly political, it can rarely be solved. However, left to engineers of the two states, this issue can be solved in no time.

First, three rivers of Punjab i.e the Sutlej, the Ravi, and the Beas have a flow of 32 MAF in a normal monsoon year. Only 8.5 MAF has been allocated to Rajasthan. The rest 23.5 MAF if entirely used in Punjab, will play havoc by causing extreme waterlogging conditions through intense irrigation. The districts of Ferozepore, Bathinda and Faridkot are floating on water. Hence it is in the interest of Punjab to divert some of the flow to other neighbouring states. The tubewells of Punjab can never go dry because of three big reservoirs in the foothills.

Secondly, storage dams had been constructed across all the three rivers i.e the Bhakra dam across the Sutlej, the Pong Dam across the Ravi and the Ranjit Sagar Dam across the Ravi. The Bhakra Dam was constructed when Haryana was part of Punjab. The Pong Dam was completed in 1970 and the Ranjit Sagar Dam in 2001. The cost of the three major projects was born totally by the GoI and Punjab did not spend anything. Hence the GoI has every right to utilise this water for downstream states for optimal use. Of course, larger share going to Punjab.


In fact, the quantity of stored water is so large that it can quench the thirst of three states without any problem. Basically, the three rivers originate in Himachal and submergence caused by these dams has been borne almost entirely by Himachal Pradesh (J&K only 10 per cent). The three reservoirs of the stored water still lie in the territory of Himachal Pradesh. Hence 90 per cent of this water belongs to Himachal Pradesh. Since Himachal Pradesh cannot use it, the water is being released gradually for irrigation and power generation for the benefit of downstream states.

Going by the logic of Mr Bains, Himachal Pradesh and J&K should have the exclusive rights over both water and power generation from these projects. Unfortunately, the real claimants are not getting even the 12.5 per cent royalty in power generation.

Thirdly, before bifurcation or in the undivided Punjab (1965), the water of these rivers was to be distributed in a manner that even extreme southern parts of Haryana were to be irrigated. Had Punjab not been bifurcated, the SYL canal would have been constructed long ago and all parts of Haryana would have been irrigated with this water and no body would have raised an eyebrow.

And finally, at the time of bifurcation, the assets were divided in the ratio of 60:40 and irrigation water was considered as a dividable asset. Moreover, the concept of SYL canal came from the inter-basin transfer of water from the Ravi to the Sutlej through the Beas-Sutlej link.

Therefore, the enlightened people of Punjab should come forward to help construct the SYL canal as directed by the Supreme Court.

Ram Niwas Malik, Engineer-in-Chief, HSIDC, Panchkula

It was Rafi’s wild guesswork

IN his letter, "Rafi deserves Phalke award" (May 17), Mr B.D. Sharma states that Rafi sang more than 25,000 songs. No doubt, Rafi had made such a claim before his death and, consequently, his name had been bracketed with Lata Mangeshkar in the Guinness Book of World Records. However, intensive research work done by film and music buffs like Harmandir Singh ‘Hamraaz’ and Iqbal Ahmed Ganam in the subsequent years has shown that Rafi’s claim was actually a wild guesswork.

‘Hamraaz’ and Ganam have concluded that the number of Hindi film songs rendered by the legendary singer was only 4,513. Of these, 2089 were solos and choruses, 2,131 duets and 293 songs in which he had more than one co-singer. Interestingly, the researchers have included in their lists even the numbers which were included in certain unreleased movies and even those discs which were never released.

Ganam has also compiled a list of 294 songs which Rafi did not sing for Hindi movies. These include 197 natiya qawwalis and 97 film and non-film songs rendered in regional languages. However, the lists of these categories may not be complete and some more research work needs to be done to arrive at the exact number.

Well-known film journalist Raju Bharatan, in an article a few years ago, concluded that the number of Rafi’s non-film and regional language songs is likely to be less than 1,000. He gave several convincing reasons in support of his contention.

In any case, even after giving the benefit of doubt to the late distinguished singer, it can now safely be stated that the actual number of songs rendered by him was not more than 6,000.

Surendra Miglani, Kaithal



Reduce tax rate

The Government of India has recently increased the rate of service tax as also included 10 new items to increase the revenues of the Government and to widen the service tax net. The increase is from 5 per cent to 8 per cent i.e. an increase of 60 per cent. This increase has been made at a state where probably all the services have not been fully tabbed so far. These 51 services include professional services like architect, management consultant, chartered accountant, cost accountant and company secretary. These services are mostly provided only by those who have attained professional qualification in the respective fields.

However, what is not understood is leaving out the service being provided by the legal profession.

I offer three suggestions for the consideration of the government. First, reduce the tax rate, i.e. roll back from 8 per cent to 5 per cent as the increase is high and will affect the consumers adversely. Secondly, extend the service net to the legal services as well. And thirdly, set some lower limit for registration of the service provider: where there is very nominal amount involved, the returns could be made half yearly or yearly.

H.S. Arora, Cost Accountant, Patiala

PM’s successful tour

Kudos to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for his successful three-nation tour. His interaction with the heads of G-8 nations has projected India in a better way and these nations will now have a new perception of the world's largest democracy. This is the sunshine time for India and should be exploited to its advantage. India should follow up vigorously its claim for permanent membership of the UN Security Council.

B.L. Tekriwal, Mumbai

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