Thursday, September 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Govt must nab killers of Kaithal scribe

In a democratic country, the journalists must not be bullied, brow-beaten and murdered. It is shocking to know that the Kaithal-based journalist, Mr Parmanand Goyal, has lost his life at the hands of some anti-social elements. This is the second murder of a Haryana journalist within a year.

The Sirsa-based journalist, Mr Ram Chandra Chhatrapati, also lost his precious life for his courage of conviction. If a journalist does not have security to his life and limb, he will hesitate in writing the truth. If truth is suppressed, democracy will become a farce. It is the sacred duty of the elected rulers to protect the journalists. It stands to reason that the murderers must not go scot free. In fact, Chhatrapati and Goyal were symbols of some ideas which cannot be killed by gun-trotting anti-social elements. These unfortunate killings are signs of an anarchic society.

Mr Goyal's house is situated just 200 metres away from the police post, but the police reached there one hour after the killing of the journalist! This puts a big question mark on the efficiency of the police. Such incidents embolden the criminals of all hues and forces the common people to distrust the police.

The common people also have some role to play in ensuring the safety and security of our journalists. They have to stand by the pen-pushers who raise the voice of the silent majority. They can help trace and identify both the conspirators and killers. Through demonstrations, protests and rallies, they can force the government to nab the killers.

R.B. YADAV DEHATI, Fatehabad


Hand-pump scheme in HP

In Himachal Pradesh, rivers, tributary nalas, natural springs, open wells, tubewells, percolation wells and infiltration galleries are serving as sources of drinking water. Based on the exploratory work carried out prior to 1991, the state government has launched a historic programme of deep bore hand-pump installation in hard rock areas to develop the ground water resource in the higher reaches of the state.

More than 12,500 hand-pumps have so far been provided by the Irrigation and Public Health Department in different parts of the state. They have served as supplementary source to the existing system and, in certain cases, even provide drinking water. Most of these hand-pumps are in Kangra, Mandi, Hamirpur and Solan districts.

Even the remote tribal areas of Lahul and Spiti, Kinnaur and Chamba districts have been covered and the number exceeds 300. Majority of the hand-pumps are operated by hand, providing 15 litres of water a minute and are operated to optimal depth of 90 meters below ground level. Around 300 hand-pumps have been energised to gain larger drawls of water. The movement of truck-mounted drilling rigs along the roads have resulted in the concentration of deep bore hand-pumps along roadside leaving off the road habitations still uncovered.

The water developed through hand-pumps in general is well within the drinking water quality norms barring a few tracts where iron concentration is beyond the permissible limits or is saline. The state government has already spent Rs 125 crore on the hand-pump programme. The installation of deep bore hand-pumps now needs a pause so that the maintenance of the installed structures get due attention.

The continuance of turbidity in water drawn from hand-pumps in valleys, quality problems due to inherent characteristics of rock formations, providing water to habitations far away from roads, installation of hand-pumps in drought-prone areas, indiscriminate energisation and lack of public participation need to be reviewed to delineate the priority areas for future installations and ensure trouble-free running of the ground water structures.

HARI PRAKASH SHARMA, Lower Samkhetar, Mandi

Police modernisation

Kudos for the pithy editorial “Friends of people” (Sept 18) hailing the Union Government’s proposal for a three-tier Central funding scheme for the states to help modernise their police forces as also focussing attention on some glaring problems of the police. I fully share the tone and tenor of the editorial.

No doubt, the duties of the state police have increased manifold because of myriad factors like terrorism. Modernisation of the police force has become imperative. However, as the financially-poor states like Himachal Pradesh would not be able to accomplish the needful without adequate fiscal assistance by the Centre, the importance of the three-tier Central funding scheme cannot be overemphasised.

Shifting the police from their main duty of civil policing and assigning them the task of providing security to VIPs even in cases where there is no threat perception to the protectees, as in states like Himachal Pradesh, is another area crying for attention by the powers that be. Admittedly, most politicians and officials flaunt security just as a status symbol.

It is said that the recommendations of the National Police Commission to reform the police still await implementation. However, non-implementation should not be used as an alibi by the mandarins of the police department for inaction. The way Mr A.K. Puri, Director-General of Police, Himachal Pradesh, has transformed the state police into a people-friendly force over a short period of time goes to prove that there is sufficient room for improvement even within the existing constraints, given the requisite will to achieve the desideratum. Let us hope that the editorial would attract serious notice by the powers that be.

TARA CHAND, Gen Secy, HP Lok Sewa Mandal, Ambota (HP)

Games parties play

To suit their narrow partisan ends, politicians follow double standards in the games they play. They, no doubt, justify these games in the name of “people’s cause”. While Mr Harbhajan Lal is supporting the students against the bus fare hike in Haryana (The Tribune, Sept 18), his Congress party in Punjab is suppressing the students’ demand on the rollback of the fee hike.

The politicians are much more interested in playing their own games for short-term benefits rather than serving the people in a long way.

M.P.S. RANDHAWA, Dhapai (Kapurthala)

Combating terrorism

Umpteen suggestions have been offered on how to tackle the growing menace of terrorism — from big thinkers to laymen. One such suggestion which I have come across a couple of times in these columns is from Mr S.P. Malhotra regarding the construction of a tunnel to divert the water of the Chenab into the Ravi. Another letter (Aug. 21) supporting this suggestion is worth mentioning. When we have tried so many, why not think about the feasibility of this as well?



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