Time to help Punjab’s rural youth

IN his article “Trauma of Punjab’s jobless” (Jan 7), Mr P.P.S. Gill has very rationally examined the problems which stalk the rural areas of Punjab. He rightly holds the Centre and the state government responsible for the pitiable condition of the jobless youths in rural Punjab.

I don’t agree with Ms Asha Narang (Letters, Jan 12) when she says that reservation is unjustifiable. I think merit and upper caste are not synonyms: actually they are poles apart. She glosses over a simple reality in Punjab and in other parts of the country that the most exploited sections of our society, the SCs, the STs and many backward classes, are still on the periphery. Even Punjab has a high percentage of the Dalits, and a university scholar is expected to appreciate their genuine problems.

I would also like to refer to Ms Gurpreet Kaur’s letter, “Quotas of all kinds must be scrapped” (Jan 8). She opines: “Poverty in India is no more based on castes”. There is an English proverb: “He jests at scars who never felt a wound”. The message of this letter is loud and clear — ‘We must survive, you may perish’.



The comparison between the Dalits and the upper castes is not judicious. No one can ask them to fend for themselves. Article 16 of the Constitution ensures the “right to equal opportunity” for every Indian. If the specific castes (whom the state identifies as socially and economically backward) are given reservation, it does not violate the “right to equality before law” under Article 14. So, the reservation policy is not “pactum illictum”. Then, united we always rise, divided we always fall. Only the upper castes are not capable of making India a super power.

Dr R.B.YADAV DEHATI, Fatehabad

Protectors as offenders

THE Punjab Chief Minister’s ‘One-time settlement’ scheme for compounding violations of building bylaws (Jan 13) is irrational. In case of serious obstructive non-compoundable constructions, remodelling of houses affected by illegal structures involves huge expenditure. Therefore, because of its failure to implement the building bylaws, the government has to pay full compensation to the affected residents (say Rs 10-15 lakh per house). The government should deal with the cases of non-compoundable violations of serious nature on merit and not under the 'One-time settlement' scheme. Simultaneously, illegal constructions should be removed promptly.

The ‘One-time settlement' scheme will affect the well-laid-out residential colonies in towns and cities and the urban landscape. Why punish innocent, law-abiding people and protect lawbreakers? The violations are possible only because of the nexus between the civic officials and the offenders. As condoning violations may become a permanent feature with every succeeding government, the government should put an end to this forthwith.

Just as the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s decision on encroachments, a similar decision has become imperative on the ‘One-time settlement’ scheme for compounding of violations of the building bylaws. The High Court should take cognisance of the public resentment on this issue and treat the same as a public interest litigation.


Just call it ‘deaf’

Apropos of your news-item “Teacher held for molesting hearing-impaired girl” (Jan 22), I must take issue with the use of the term “deaf and dumb” in the piece. Deaf people are not necessarily dumb, and dumb does not mean mute. Just the term “deaf” would suffice. I believe that descriptions of whether the person could or could not speak are insignificant.


House tax in Solan

The definition of house tax in Solan is not clear. Whenever the map for making a new building is passed by the Town and Country Planning unit of the Municipal Council, one has to get a “No Objection Certificate” (NOC) for water and electricity connections. The NOC is given only after assessing the house tax.

However, if one sees the reminder notice for the tax, surprisingly, it is “sanitation tax”. There is no sewerage facility in Solan. Every house has a septic tank and flush. But there are no scavangers. Then, why should the Municipal Council collect sanitation tax from us?

Further, the Municipal Council is imposing 15 per cent house tax on built-up areas (apparently rented out buildings or areas without tenants). This inflicts a huge burden on the house owners. I urge the Himachal government to look into the matter.

R.K. KAPOOR, Solan

DA merger

The Centre’s reported move to merge a substantial part of DA with the basic pay in line with the recommendation of the Fifth Central Pay Commission is most welcome. Employees have been demanding the merger for long. The merger means an automatic increase in various allowances and benefits such as HRA, CCA and NPA for doctors, etc, and post-retirement benefits.

The Union Finance Minister is urged to make the DA merger effective from January 1, 2004, for the employees and pensioners in tune with the NDA government’s “feel good” slogan. The merger will benefit more than one crore employees, including defence personnel and pensioners.


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