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EDITORIALS

Virtue out of necessity
Nemesis has finally caught up with Uma Bharati
B
JP leader Uma Bharati has only herself to blame for her present travails. She paid scant regard to notices asking her to appear before a Karnataka court in some 10 year-old cases.

Shady acquittals
Will Modi acquit himself well by quitting?
G
UJARAT Chief Minister Narendra Modi is face to face with the third stinging directive from the Supreme Court.

Banking on unity
Need to keep strike-prone bankers in check
B
Y going on strike on Tuesday, the bank employees have demonstrated their power to cripple the country’s financial sector. It also shows their impatience to continue the talks for a pay hike.




EARLIER ARTICLES

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
ARTICLE

Nepal under Maoist siege
Creative approach is the need of the hour
by S.D. Muni
N
EPAL is under siege. The Maoist insurgents have declared an indefinite blockade of Kathmandu since August 18. Though the Nepal government claims to be confident in dealing with the situation, ordinary citizens are feeling the pressure. Prices of essential commodities in Kathmandu are rising and tourists are leaving.

MIDDLE

Mera pani, mera pani
by Ramesh Luthra
I
stand by the sandy bed......filled with wild shrubs...... oh! Love’s labour is lost. This shabby and dismal picture upsets me....... I take a puff to get over tension. But can’t. In the distance veiled belles with pitchers perched on their heads are trudging to fetch potable water. The scene could be any poet’s inspiration. No doubt. But not in such scorching summer! Dismays, rather shakes, me.

OPED

Simple problem, simple solution
Politicians have muddied the SYL water issue
by Karan Singh Dalal
C
APT Amarinder Singh has unwittingly provided an avoidable and contentious issue to the politicians of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan by enacting the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004. Now with the Presidential reference, the ball is in the court of the Supreme Court.

How safe are mobile phone towers?
by Maj Gen Himmat Singh Gill (retd)
T
HE Post and Courier of Chareston, USA, dated June 6,2004, reported that a couple, Kenneth and Cheryi Scott, moved out of their mobile home after a cell phone company installed a tower nearby. They sued the authorities as this installation when activated interfered with Kenneth’s pacemaker.


 REFLECTIONS

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Virtue out of necessity
Nemesis has finally caught up with Uma Bharati

BJP leader Uma Bharati has only herself to blame for her present travails. She paid scant regard to notices asking her to appear before a Karnataka court in some 10 year-old cases. Instead, she sought the help of then Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh to close the cases. Unfortunately, she did not succeed in two cases in which she was charged with inciting violence at Hubli on Independence Day, 1994, in which five people were killed. She knew an arrest warrant was pending against her and that the court would declare her a “proclaimed offender” when she took charge as Chief Minister. She quit only after her last-ditch effort to get bail on Monday failed. So it was not to set an example that she resigned. Rather, it was the fear of the Karnataka police reaching Bhopal with the arrest warrant that forced her to quit.

Ms Bharati and her party have made a virtue out of a necessity. And to derive political mileage out of the impending arrest, they have unleashed a campaign that her trouble is because she dared to hoist the national flag. But all their patriotic talk will not wash away her alleged sins of hoodwinking the police by wearing salwar kameez, instead of her trademark saffron robes, entering a prohibited area and prodding the assembled to take the law into their own hands. And to compound the crime, she gave two hoots to the court. And to package all this in tricolour to sell it to the people is the height of ambition as she will realise when she takes out her threatened rathyatra from Hubli to Jallianwala Bagh.

While nemesis has caught up with Ms Bharati, who is also an accused in the Ayodhya case, the Opposition is doing a great disservice to the nation by disrupting Parliament work. Tainted politicians are a blot on democracy but the system being what it is, little can be done to prevent a Laloo Yadav or a Taslimuddin from coming to power unless all political parties scrupulously set for themselves exacting ethical standards. The BJP, which makes a mountain out of a molehill of her resignation, should not forget that Mr Yadav had also quit the chief ministership of the state and had been flitting in and out of jails in BJP-ruled Jharkhand. So what is the big deal about Ms Uma Bharati’s resignation?

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Shady acquittals
Will Modi acquit himself well by quitting?

GUJARAT Chief Minister Narendra Modi is face to face with the third stinging directive from the Supreme Court. After transferring the Best Bakery and Bilkis cases to Mumbai and ordering the reopening of over 2,000 closed riot cases, it has now directed the State’s Advocate-General to personally examine 156 cases in which a large number of accused had been acquitted by the trial courts due to apathetic prosecution but no appeals had been filed in the High Court. Implicit in the order is the apex court’s grave doubts about the impartiality of the prosecuting agencies in pursuing the cases.

Never before has so much of humiliation been heaped on a Chief Minister. Any self-respecting person would have put in his papers. But there is no sign whatsoever of Mr Modi contemplating such an action. All that he has done in response is to keep silent and stay away from public limelight. There is no guarantee that even this much of embarrassment will be permanent. By its resolute action, the court has sent a clear message that no leader, howsoever big he may be, can blatantly circumvent the process of law and get away with it. Here was a clear-cut case of the government shielding the criminals whom it should have been eager to prosecute. The official machinery went out of its way to be on the side of the culprits, instead of the victims.

If the riots were a black mark on the face of Gujarat and the country, this misuse of the judicial process was a permanent tattoo, which the court has now sought to remove surgically. Given the sensitivity of the case, the A-G has been given only four weeks to examine all the cases. The directive provides a much-needed ray of hope to the victims living in the darkness of Gujarat. At the same time it reassures the world that even if some powerful persons try to transgress raj dharma, there are enough safeguards built into the system which can frustrate their efforts. 

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Banking on unity
Need to keep strike-prone bankers in check

BY going on strike on Tuesday, the bank employees have demonstrated their power to cripple the country’s financial sector. It also shows their impatience to continue the talks for a pay hike. They want an 18 per cent increase in their salary. The Indian Banks Association agrees to only a 9.5 per cent hike. The talks have been going on for the past 22 months after the last wage agreement expired in October 2002. Bankers are a united lot and know the value of unity. All associations of officers and employees operate under the umbrella of the United Forum of Bank Unions. They do not hesitate to display their might when the need arises.

But the times have changed. The bank customers’ expectations have gone up. He has a choice also. If not satisfied, he can move over to a more efficient bank where strikes are unlikely. Besides, ATMs, telephone and Internet banking have minimised the inconvenience to customers. This also reduces the protesting bankers’ nuisance value, capacity to cause losses and bargaining power. A growing economy cannot be taken hostage by a section of the service providers. Alternatives to ensure trouble-free functioning of the financial system have to be put in place.

Being regular, public sector bank employees know their job is secure. They may demand salaries and perks given by private sector banks but won’t like to adopt their work culture which involves job uncertainty also. The last wage pact saw a 12.5 across-the-board hike. Their argument in support of an 18 per cent increase is based on the logic that the banks were in the red then and they had accepted a smaller rise. Now their profitability has gone up significantly. So the employees’ wages should rise accordingly. But this is a flawed argument. If tomorrow the banks’ profits plunge, will they accept a scaled-down salary? Linking wages to productivity, in fact, makes sense and is eminently desirable. The trouble is, given their unity and strike-proneness, the employees may not agree to wage cuts in bad times. 
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Thought for the day

Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done and why. Then do it.

— Robert Heinlein

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Nepal under Maoist siege
Creative approach is the need of the hour
by S.D. Muni

NEPAL is under siege. The Maoist insurgents have declared an indefinite blockade of Kathmandu since August 18. Though the Nepal government claims to be confident in dealing with the situation, ordinary citizens are feeling the pressure. Prices of essential commodities in Kathmandu are rising and tourists are leaving. Those scheduled to come have started cancelling their travel plans. The Maoists have also issued notices to 24 prominent business firms and industrial concerns to shut their operations, and all of them are complying with the dictate, ignoring the government’s assurances of adequate security. Most of these establishments are owned by Royal family members and are run jointly with the foreigners, including Indian investors.

Policy-making establishments in Kathmandu and other concerned capital are wondering if the blockade is a prelude to final Maoists assault on Nepal’s power structure. Some military analysts claim that the Maoists are not capable of implementing an effective blockade as they do not have sufficient forces and adequate weapons. This may as well be so. But the Maoists have surely indicated that they have grasped the spirit of the military dictum “the art of defence is to attack” rather well. Through blockade of the capital and warning to the businesses, they are hurting the Deuba government’s fast-eroding credibility and nation’s already fragile economy. Their moves have panicked the government which is now appealing for peace and negotiations. The Royal Nepal Army (RNA) has also been providing air cover to the stray vehicles moving on the highway to Kathmandu.

The Maoists have retaliated against the killings and arrests of their leaders in recent encounters and the claims of the RNA that they were planning to hit at Maoist-dominated districts. The blockade notice was issued by the Maoists leader Subhash Tamang. He heads the Maoist-affiliated United Revolutionary People’s Council of Dhading, Nuwakot and Rasua. These districts surround Kathmandu and if history has any relevance, the Gurkha King Prithvi Narayan Shah had also captured Kathmandu with the help of the inhabitants of these districts. The blockade of Kathmandu is also politically critical because Nepal’s power structure is entirely Kathmandu based. When Kathmandu collapses, Nepal collapses.

The principal objective of the Maoists seems to be defensive; to relieve military pressure on them in the interior and in turn, to pressurise the government for releasing their comrades and cadres detained in security operations. They may also want the government to agree to their terms of peace negotiations; through UN mediation. They are not in favour of the Western attempts to get a so-called peace secretariat established in Nepal and dialogue started within the framework desired by the Palace. The Deuba government is also keen to get India directly and more actively involved in not only helping Kathmandu deal with the Maoist challenge but also in backing the peace moves made by the government. The Maoists have put their demands in a package of 11 issues that also include the disclosure of the place where their detained leaders and cadres are kept.

Within days of the imposition of blockade, one of the Ministers, Mohd. Mohsin, declared that the government would soon disclose the whereabouts of the Maoist detainees and start peace talks with them. While keeping the blockade of Kathmandu, on Saturday the Maoists also launched a massive attack in Jumla district’s Khalanga headquarters to get their leaders released. They destroyed the prison, police station, bank and other government buildings and took away six policemen as hostages. They have had encounters with the security forces in other areas as well.

It is not important to assess the success or otherwise of the Maoists’ blockade. The message of the move is clear; that the Royal Nepal Army is nowhere near the point where the Maoists can be forced to sit on the table and accept the terms imposed by the King’s government. Nor for that matter are the Maoists in a position to overwhelm the capital militarily. Both sides must acknowledge the ground reality that a way out lies only through negotiations. The stumbling block in starting genuine negotiations is the King and his RNA. The King does not want any compromise on his unfettered powers being exercised through handpicked and pliant Prime Ministers. The Maoists’ basic demand for any meaningful peace discussions is the grant of Constituent Assembly and writing of a new Constitution which will not accept monarchy except in a ceremonial role. The RNA has gradually developed vested interest in the persisting conflict. It gives them procurements, foreign trips in the name of US supported training programmes and funds to spend in the name of ensuring security. There are analysts who see the RNA inching towards the status of a separate power centre on its own, even independent of the Palace.

Political parties are deeply divided. While the Communist Party (UML) has been co-opted into the government, the Nepali Congress is being marginalised. There are internal bickerings and dissensions in almost all the political parties, including the Royalist Rashtriya Prajatantra Party. The Nepali Congress has the potential to reassert itself but at the moment no political party is in a position to exercise decisive influence either on the King or on the Maoists.

India has been directly affected by the Maoists insurgency, in general and the present move of Kathmandu blockade and industrial/business shut down, in particular. The Maoists networking with the Indian left extremist groups have reinforced and emboldened the latter, the business establishments adversely affected have significant Indian stakes. The Government of India’s approach to the Maoists insurgency in Nepal has so far been to treat them as a terrorist group, as done by the US. Accordingly, it has tilted towards the Royal government, refusing even to engage with the Maoists so far, even to nudge them towards mainstream politics. This is an unrealistic approach, as could be seen also in the declaration of the Deuba government asking for greater Indian involvement.

Stability in Nepal is in India’s vital interest and this cannot be ensured through a military approach in Nepal. No other South Asian country knows this better than India. If military approach could resolve insurgencies, India’s northeast would have been peaceful long back. A creative and unconventional approach is the need of the hour and Indian policy makers must think about it seriously, if Nepal has to be saved from destruction and anarchy.

The writer is Professor, South Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University,
New Delhi


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Mera pani, mera pani
by Ramesh Luthra

I stand by the sandy bed......filled with wild shrubs...... oh! Love’s labour is lost. This shabby and dismal picture upsets me....... I take a puff to get over tension. But can’t. In the distance veiled belles with pitchers perched on their heads are trudging to fetch potable water. The scene could be any poet’s inspiration. No doubt. But not in such scorching summer! Dismays, rather shakes, me.

Dry parched land with deep patches the deadly drought has carved on it meets my eyes. Reminds me of scaly and knotted skin of a leper. Looks like ugly hell yawning before me. I look heavenwards with screwed eyes — azure skies with glowing globe perched therein. Morning had brought some hope — might rain today. Much awaited and longed for. Cheered every eye. But the clouds deluded — played like an “awara baadal” floating here and there finally disappeared in a short while leaving everyone high and dry.

I take another puff — may help me to relax. Incidentally, a cart driver passed by humming, “pani re pani tera rang kaisa..........” Bitter truth of life. Deep philosophy. The rustic understands it well. No colour as such.......Simple, pure....... ‘nirmal’.......transparent........... hides nothing, favours none. Ever running, ever flowing, impartial in behaviour. “Gangajal” alone is not privileged to be called sacred. In fact water — the very word sounds something life giving and rejuvenating — hence sacred. Very vividly do I remember granny throwing a coin or two in every river or canal that the bus or train she travelled by crossed. She would bow her head uttering ‘Pranam Jal Devta’. At home she would keep a bowful of water for the birds. And the religious ones still organise “chabeels” in summers.

They say God created man in his own image. Hard to believe. Sometimes the self-motivated of the species grudge sharing even the nectar of life with others come what may. Born to grind their own axe on this planet. As if it is the personal property of the inhabitants of a particular stretch of land alone. Surprise of all surprises. Deserves to be recorded in the Guinness Book. Two born political rivals have perforce joined hands on the water issue. Till yesterday one of them had sworn to put the other behind bars and virtually did. Claimed accolades too for his sheer chivalry. Good heavens! Is the water issue such an impeccable binding force? Earlier, we saw their enmity, now their professed “friendship”. Water has acted as a “friendship band”. Emboldened the two “political heroes” of ours went to the extent of getting all water pacts with other states terminated. Amounts to threatening our very federal system. So crucial is the issue to the two “gentlemen politicians” Isn’t the fear of political doom keeping them united at the moment? Seems so.

Wonderful are the ways of God. Instantly, I feel a few drops on my head, shoulder and all over. Heavenly waters are a blessing, indeed. So is the water on the earth. Not meant to be a scapegoat of the so-called dirty and filthy games the politicians play and indulge in countless allegations and counter-allegations! The sport they relish. Their “mera pani”, “mera pani” down the poor common man in the gushing waters of vote catching slogans only the gods can help him. Wish the monster of politics stays away from swallowing the nectar. The black looming shadow of politics over water nags my mind and soul, in fact, my very being. God bless this ever-flourishing fraternity of our leaders. Water may remain “nirmal” and quench thirst of land irrespective of man made boundaries. I can’t help gazing at the dry sandy tract before me again and feel like taking another puff to escape tension. Alas! I cann’t though I long so strongly.

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Simple problem, simple solution
Politicians have muddied the SYL water issue
by Karan Singh Dalal

Political considerations have kept the construction of the SYL canal in abeyance
Political considerations have kept the construction of the SYL canal in abeyance

CAPT Amarinder Singh has unwittingly provided an avoidable and contentious issue to the politicians of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan by enacting the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004. Now with the Presidential reference, the ball is in the court of the Supreme Court. But the solution to the contentious problem of sharing river waters and completion of the SYL canal is not with the Supreme Court as the scope of the Presidential reference is limited to the question of constitutionality and legality of Punjab’s enactment.

The dispute regarding the sharing of Ravi-Beas waters and completion of the SYL canal are technical in nature and should have been decided by water and irrigation experts. But the situation has come to such a pass that unscrupulous politicians of both states have pre-empted the usage of Ravi-Beas waters for cultivation of their votes as a superior right over the usage by farmers of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan for the cultivation of their crops.

I humbly caution the blood-thirsty enthusiastic politicians of both states not to arouse emotions and spoil the peace and goodwill in the region as enough blood has already been shed in the eighties and early nineties. The SYL canal is meant to carry the river water and not the blood of innocent people.

The seeds of the problem of water were sown about the same time when Punjab was reorganised in 1966. The food deficit in the 60s prompted the Central Government to adopt a new agriculture strategy, the thrust of which was on increasing the production of rice and wheat as a measure of food security.

The short-sighted political leadership, the spineless bureaucracy and careerist agricultural scientists introduced, propagated and promoted the cultivation of rice, which is the maximum water-consuming crop meant for high rainfall areas, above 1,200 mm. In Punjab and Haryana the annual normal rainfall is around 500mm. Dwarft rice varieties were brought from the International Rice Research Institute, Manila, which were highly responsive to the application of high doses of chemical fertilisers. As assured irrigation was the pre-requisite of this technology, Punjab, Haryana and western UP were found to be the best suited and the results could be achieved in the shortest periods with least efforts.

The Central Government enthusiastically provided additional irrigation facilities by liberally sanctioning special rice-shoots from canals and 24-hour supply of electricity to the tubewells during paddy cultivation. The Punjab and Haryana agricultural universities organised special paddy campaigns by deploying their scientists in farmers’ fields. As a result, paddy cultivation became remunerative and paddy replaced pulses, oilseeds, maize and other coarse grains in Majha and Doaba in Punjab and northern parts of Haryana.

The dominance of paddy-wheat crop rotation has converted water-surplus Punjab and Haryana into water-scarce states. The cultivation of paddy requires 18 mm water per day for at least 100 days and for wheat about 500 mm. Assuming 25 cloudy weather days when evapo-transpiration losses are reduced, for one ha paddy the depth of water requires is 1,600 mm out of which 500 mm can be available from rainfall and 1100 mm will have to be provided by irrigation, the quantity of irrigation water for the crop will be 11,000 cubic metres.

In this way paddy crop in Punjab and Haryana, which was 3.24 million ha in 2001-2002, consumed 30.92 million acre feet of water. The bone of contention between Punjab and Haryana is for just about 1.88 million acre feet, as 1.62 MAF already being drawn by Haryana from Beas waters stands admitted and undisputed by Punjab.

Similarly, 5.72 million ha of wheat in Punjab and Haryana consumes another 21.08 million acre feet of irrigation water. In this way paddy and wheat alone consume irrigation waters of canal and underground water to the tune of 51.37 MAF.

Dr S.S Johl has suggested in his article in The Tribune (August, 2) that the power crisis can be avoided, if one million hectare of land is withdrawn from paddy-wheat rotation. By implementing his proposal in addition to power, the saving in irrigation water will be around 13MAF. While the estimated surplus water in the Ravi-Beas to be distributed among Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and J&K is 17.17 MAF.

Farmers are caught in the vicious circle to grow paddy and wheat which has depleted the soil health and ground water. This has become a threat to the environment in the region as both soil and ground water are being heavily polluted. A farmer’s vision does not go beyond a year, and the political leaderships’ vision is just five years. Stop and think if tomorrow the Central Government refuses to procure rice and wheat from Punjab and Haryana, what will happen to the farmers of the two states? Forewarned is forearmed.

The problem is common for the people of both states. Instead of competitive politics, let us have complimentary and supplementary politics. Pause and sit together and call for persons like S.S. Johl to deliberate and formulate plans to save the future of both states.

Both states are plagued by the same disease. The disease is the rice cultivation, Water scarcity is the symptom. We raise a hue and cry for the symptom, and forget the disease. Symptomatic treatment cannot cure the disease. AIDS cannot be controlled unless HIV is controlled. For more than 30 years the Chief Ministers of both states have put pressure on the Central Government to enhance the procurement prices of paddy and wheat and force the FCI to procure even damaged produce. Though this annual exercise is shown to be done to benefit the farmers, in actual effect it is so for the procurement of votes instead of crops. The Central Government loses at least Rs 10,000 crore annually on this account and another 5,000 crore is being borne by the people of both states just to grow rice and wheat in excess of their requirement. Cannot the Central and state govts spare just 1,400 crore annually to implement Dr Johl’s report?

I would like to share with the readers the rationale of completion of the SYL canal. Undisputedly the SYL canal is designed to carry the allotted share of Ravi-Beas waters to the Yamuna system. But the allotment of river water is still under dispute which our elder brothers in Punjab argue. Even under the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act the allotment of 1.62 MAF of Beas waters to Haryana has been protected which Haryana is drawing through the Bhakhra main line. First, BML is designed to carry only the Bhakhra share and not this additional 1.62MAF water. Secondly, this 1.62 MAF water is to be utilised in the area of the Western Yamuna canal system, so to carry this water to the Yamuna system, the completion of SYL is a must. Third, BML is 50-year old, its capacity is bound to reduce and in emergency or in case of repair, the SYL can act as an alternative channel to draw water.

During the last 38 years on at least 15 occasions Punjab could not and did not draw its allotted share from the Bhakhra Dam in spite of the persistent request and warnings by the BBMB, which had to discharge the water into the down flow river. In such an eventuality instead of wasting water and causing loss to farmers down stream, the waters can be discharged by the BBMB through the SYL.

At a time of heavy downpour and flash floods, this canal can be a boon to Punjab for draining its flood waters and Haryana can utilise it in the deserts of South Haryana.

The farmers of Patiala district who are on the downstream of the SYL are also waiting for the completion of this canal as they will get the canal water otherwise even in Punjab they are without it. The completion of SYL is essential even on humanitarian grounds to make the drinking water available for the people of South Haryana, where they are in dire need of it.

Otherwise also the completion of the canal cannot and doesn’t confer any right over waters. Already 700 crore of rupees have been spent; a dilapidated structure is there. So except political considerations there is no logic in keeping the construction of this canal in abeyance. The problem is very simple, but the vested interests of politicians of both states have spoiled the atmosphere of brotherhood of the people in both states.

The writer is a former Agriculture Minister of Haryana

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How safe are mobile phone towers?
by Maj Gen Himmat Singh Gill (retd)

THE Post and Courier of Chareston, USA, dated June 6,2004, reported that a couple, Kenneth and Cheryi Scott, moved out of their mobile home after a cell phone company installed a tower nearby. They sued the authorities as this installation when activated interfered with Kenneth’s pacemaker. “It’s like a needle poking you”, he said. Nearer home, a resident of Chandigarh has objected to the tower put up by a telecom company in the back lawn of a house and has taken up this case with the local MP, who has called for “a policy regulating the construction of such towers”. Such towers today dot the commercial and residential areas of our cities, including Delhi.

The telecom companies may claim these towers are not a health or structural hazard and that before installation permission has been taken from the competent authorities. Yet here are a few posers for consideration. First, the health hazard. A recent press report quoted the Director of Health Services, Chandigarh and the Head of the Neurology Department of the PGI as saying that the waves and radiation from mobile phone towers can affect the human body. Depending on the tower’s location, there could be a ‘probable impact’ on the heart and the brain.

Second, what is the Centre’s policy on the installation of these towers? And whether there was any national debate on the subject so that those who could eventually suffer the consequences, be forewarned what they were in for?

Third, who has authorised these constructions in towns and cities? Did anybody in each case check whether these towers were in commercial or residential areas and whether the residents were even asked if they would like to have a tower there. When we do not permit a school in a residential area, should we permit a tower of this kind?

There are other troubling questions. Have the IAF and agencies dealing with electronic monitoring been consulted before putting up such structures near airfields and defence installations? If so, what are their views on these structures mushrooming all over our cities and the adjoining areas.

What is the government policy on setting up these towers on agricultural land? What happens if such a tower is installed on a not-very-high building and later on the house owner next door decides to put up another floor on his own residence? A newspaper in Delhi has reported recently (July 24) that the Delhi administration has threatened to demolish cell towers since commercial activity is not permitted in residential buildings except in cases “of essential or emergency services”. Is the government considering a rethink on the whole question of setting up of these towers on a countrywide basis and whether the loose clause about emergencies and essential services is liable to exploitation by interested parties?

The towers on the top of buildings may cause damage all round in case of a severe storm, a seismic disturbance or earthquake. Legally, the agreement signed by an obliging house owner and a telecom company may even turn out to be valid and the authorities may get away with it saying the rules permit it, but morally are we justified in putting up these towers in congested places where humans reside in large numbers?

It is suggested that the government should look into all aspects of the installation of mobile phone towers all over the country. A contract or an agreement between one individual and a telecom company to put up a structure for some monetary gain cannot defy the collective will and wisdom of the larger segment of society.

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I recognise no God except the God that is to be found in the hearts of the dumb millions… And I worship the God that is Truth…through the service of these millions.

— Mahatma Gandhi

I was a bard out of work; God has blessed me with His service.

— Guru Nanak

Test me as the money-changers test their coins. You mustn’t believe me till you have tested me thoroughly.

— Sri Ramakrishna

Resist all evils, mental and physical; and when you have succeeded in resisting, then will calmness come.

— Swami Vivekananda

All growth that is not towards God, is growing to decay.

— G. Macdonald

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