Saturday, August 30, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


How to check floods and drought

APROPOS of Prof. Aditi Roy Ghatak’s article “Interlinking of the rivers” (Aug 20), the main purpose of the project is to control flood and drought. Keeping aside the political implications, technically this project will create more problems than it solves. It will neither help control floods nor provide relief from drought. Floods are caused by over-speeding rainwater combined with silt from the hills to the plains. I wonder how the project will be able to control this phenomenon. Drought is caused because of poor monsoon and interlinking of dry rivers will not provide any solution.

More than 80 per cent of the rainfall occurs in June-September. In this period, all rivers usually overflow and no state will demand this water at that time. Thus, trillion of tonnes of water go as waste into seas. During the lean periods of April-June, when water demand is more, no state will allow its water to be used by other states as in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka now.

Again, topography does not allow the natural movement of water from North and North-East to South. Thus in addition to one-time expenditure on constructing thousands of kilometres of canals, expenditure will be incurred on transporting water through these canals, every day, making this water very costly to southern states.



There is a very good alternative available to control floods and drought, which requires even less than one-fourth of expenditure required for this contractor’s dream project. This alternative is afforestation of hills and plains. According to the National Forest Policy, the country should have 33 per cent of forest cover; 60 per cent in hills and 20 per cent in plains. According to remote sensing data, the forest cover is just 19 per cent; less by 30 per cent in hills and 10 per cent in plains. So afforestation of all the remaining hills should be done with the help of universities, NGOs and forest department.

Forest cover not only hinders the speed of flowing rain water, but lowers desiltation of hills along with recharge of groundwater. Examples of afforestation of hills in making seasonal rivers into annual rivers in Kandi area of Punjab, Haryana and other parts in Rajasthan suggests that afforestation is the real solution of drought problem. In addition, it will reduce the siltation problems of dams. More emphasis should be on in-situ rain water harvesting to add more water in the system to get relief from the high water demand in lean periods.

In the plains, incentive schemes should be started to bring the land of absentee farmers and other waste land under the forest cover. This will purify our environment and give an aesthetic look to the surroundings. In addition, it will mobilise revenue and provide employment to the rural jobless youths.

Whenever man tries to control nature, nature takes its revenge with the passage of time. If we go along with nature, it will solve many of the problems by itself, bringing prosperity to the mankind.


Concern over pear trees

I must appreciate The Tribune's concern over the farming community of Punjab in bringing out the “Agriculture Tribune” which I read every Monday. This letter has reference to Mr Varinder Walia’s front page-report “Pear trees being uprooted following distress sale” (Aug 25).

As a Member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly, I am taking up the matter with the Government of Punjab at all levels, including the Chief Minister. Besides causing financial loss to the growers, this is also a setback to the diversification of agriculture programme undertaken by the state on a massive scale. The state government will have to take short-term and long-term measures to prevent its recurrence in future.

I have made the following proposals to the state government for its consideration: Market intervention by the State Government. Reasonable compensation to the growers to avoid possible up-rooting of the orchards and getting back to wheat-paddy cycle. Punjab Agriculture University may come forward to replace the “pather naakh” with “soft pear” using the same root stock through grafting material as well as the agronomic practices. Soft pear would get better returns, which sells at a higher price in the table fruit segment as compared to the pather naakh.

I hope the government would consider these measures in the larger interest of the farming community as also to strengthen its agriculture commercialisation programme. I would also request the government to come out with a statement assuring the growers of the measures being taken in this regard.

— RANA GURJEET SINGH, Member, Punjab Legislative Assembly, Kapurthala

Image of the police

The recent killing of a boy in Patiala by the Punjab police is a sad reflection of its image. Though ministers, senior police officers and others have paid their condolences (as a goodwill gesture, the policemen of Patiala have donated a day’s salary to the family of the deceased), the matter does not rest here. For, this is not the only incident where the policemen have been found guilty.

Custodial deaths, fake encounters, harassment of the public at the hands of the police have become common these days. Ironically, the authorities have not checked the highhandedness of the police. A common man, out of fear of harassment, avoids reporting the matter to the police. In the process, he/she tolerates all kinds of injustice and finally opts for an out-of-court settlement.

The policemen think that they are only meant for enforcing the law but how are they themselves following it? They challan people for not wearing helmets whereas countless policemen flout this rule with impunity. And about rash driving, remember the recent case in Chandigarh? A DIG of police hit a school truck carrying students and showed to the citizens how he was following the rules of traffic safety.

It is time the police were brought to their senses. Erring policemen should be fined and jailed. Surprise checks by senior officials will help assess their functioning. Before recruitment, they should be trained on how to deal with the people. Seminars, workshops will help sensitise the police. Regular health checkups should be conducted to ensure their sound mental and physical health. Counselling sessions with senior police officials could also be arranged in case anyone has difficulty in performing his/her duties.

— RADHA SAINI, Patiala


Incorrect report

Your news-item (Aug 23) states that Puncom has earned a work order of Rs 40.3 crore from RailTel for providing broadband long haul STM-16 telecom network. This is factually incorrect as this work has not been awarded to Puncom. Moreover, a decision regarding the allotment of this particular work is still to be taken and no company can claim that it has been given the work.

— ANUPMA V. CHANDRA, DGM (PR), RailTel Corpn of India Ltd, New Delhi

Tribune News Service replies: The report was based on a press note issued by Puncom.

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