Monday, June 30, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Need to protect the beauty of Kasauli hills

APROPOS of Mr Baljit Malik’s article “Kasauli’s rich and famous face eviction” (June 17), the situation in Kasauli hills is most reprehensible. The foothills of Kasauli was one of the grounds for the selection of the site for Chandigarh. It was the closest hill station for Chandigarhians and the Monkey Point, a favourite picnic spot.

The master plan prepared by Le Corbusier, the creator of Chandigarh, had forbidden all types of construction activity in the dunes to the north-east beyond the Capital and the Sukhna lake, because many VIPs and the rich and professional developers would certainly have liked to construct houses and colonies by beautifying the dunes.

However, the military succeeded where none was permitted, to set up their Command Headquarters. The multi-storeyed white building of the Military Hospital now sticks out of the backdrop as a sore thumb. The whole of the original pleasant green drive from Panchkula to Surajpur along the River Ghaghar is now marred with a strip of distracting olive green sheds and rows of cannon and army trucks and, sudden veering of the Army MT convoys into the road from either sides converting it into a virtual death trap.

The local tourists now going to Monkey Point are no longer greeted by the natural scenery all round but the drab grey buildings of the Air Force, and there is hardly any spot left for picnics. Surely, situating the all-important radar a couple of 100 metres this side of the Monkey Point or the other could not have made much difference, but given the opportunity, the military must commandeer the place the civilians like the most.


The Gobindgarh fort built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh on the western outskirts of Amritsar was with the Army. Yet, it was a glorious landmark for the city and Sikh history. But the Army built a housing colony all around it and marred the grand site. The fort is not visible at all. It would have made an excellent tourist attraction and ought to have been converted into a museum of Sikh history. But what else can you expect from the people who pilfered away and destroyed the valuable heritage from the Sikh Reference Library and Museum in the Golden Temple during the Operation Blue Star?

Well, shouldn’t the warriors who stake their lives for our defence have the first priority? They locate their cantonments and stations around the main cities and towns to avail themselves of the facilities the civilians have to offer and then snatch the best they have, whenever they can. Then they sit in their messes over the patialashahis. How could Kasauli be safe from these blue-eyed boys of Defence Minister George Fernandes in such circumstances?

Aridaman Singh Jhubal, Amritsar


I fully share the concern of Mr Baljit Malik. If the Army has shortage of accommodation and the government had given them money, why did they not construct new houses as the Air Force has done? There is no dearth of space in the Kasauli hills.

Why has the Army not resumed the fresh illegal constructions on the defence land in Kasauli such as Ravi Sidhu’s palatial house and the huge complex of multiple houses commonly known as Panchvati buildings?

The century-old Kasauli Cinema Hall having antiquated designs, fixtures and ceiling, has been converted into a shopping complex which also includes a restaurant and a boutique. It has been rented out to a businessman who has defaced the vast pristine frontage and the old patterened roof. Designating this business establishment as the Army’s ‘wet canteen’ has not succeeded in hiding the Army’s real intentions of making money even by discarding heritage.

The Army authorities have also failed to safeguard and protect another heritage building housing the elite Kasauli Club of 1780 vintage which was destroyed by fire in early January, 2002. Surprisingly, though only six months back it was renovated at a cost of Rs 27 lakh, fireproof equipment, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, sand and water buckets were not provided. Old and worn-out electric wiring in one of the rooms, which is believed to have caused the fire, was not replaced.

Despite gross negligence of the management and sustained public demand, the fire episode has not been probed so far. Nor anyone has been made accountable even though the management is headed by the Kasauli-based Brigade Commander as the president and assisted by a serving Army Colonel, as its secretary. It is, therefore, imperative that the Army authorities realise the situation and act accordingly.

Vidya Sagar, Kasauli


A delightful experience

IN the past, many articles have appeared in The Tribune about the fun of travelling in the train on Shimla-Kalka rail track but no details have appeared about the stretch of the National Highway from Shimla to Kalka. It is one of the best highways passing through the dense forests. Driving on it during the rainy season is the most enchanting as one comes across floating clouds.

The bypass to Solan town offers a majestic view of the greenery. If one wants to rise to the towering heights, then he should follow the old road passing through Barog. Otherwise, the newly built bypass gives a delightful experience unknown even to many old timers. There are hundreds of shops offering steaming hot tea and pakoras on both sides of it. It provides many picnic spots for the weekends. The Himachal Government deserves appreciation for maintaining it in excellent health.

V.K. Sharma, Shimla

Hill agriculture

With reference to Mr Subhash C. Sharma’s letter “Hill Agriculture” (June 14), it appears that he has missed the real essence of the article on the subject. Anyone having basic agricultural background would appreciate that the issues raised in the main article of Ranjodh Singh are of vital importance for agricultural development in the hills.

The information and knowledge on these issues is critical for any policy planning in agriculture and farmers. The Himachal Pradesh Agricultural University, Palampur, has indeed made appreciable contribution to generate appropriate technology for stake-holder farmers. However, there exists a gap between the lab and the farm which needs to be bridged in order to boost agricultural production in the hills.

In fact, it is time for us to demonstrate and bring the much-needed awareness about the potential of existing technologies by joining hands so that through their effective dissemination, agriculture in the hills could become productive and profitable.

Prof G.S. Sethi, Krishi Vishvavidyalaya, Palampur

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