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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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M A I L B A G

Divergent views on crop diversification

The articles on crop diversification (Feb 18 and 25) evoked divergent views from the readers. The proponents of diversification entirely blame rice cultivation and its high irrigation needs for the decline in the groundwater table and depletion of soil fertility in Punjab.

However, their argument is not wholly correct and is, perhaps, based on their incomplete understanding about the dynamics of field water balance. They seem to consider that the entire irrigation water applied to rice is lost only through evapo-transpiration (ET), and that contributes to the decline in the groundwater table. They do not to realise that 50 to 70 per cent of the applied irrigation water is returned to groundwater.

Significantly, water lost as ET from timely sown rice is marginally higher than that from maize and much lower than from cotton, sunflower and sugarcane. In fact, the main culprits for declining water table are adoption of highly intensive cropping/agriculture system and large-scale summer cropping together with inefficient management of water. Why blame rice cultivation alone?

 

 

There is a need to enforce timely planting of rice. Similarly, contrary to popular belief, research data show improvement in soil health with rice cultivation. Burning of rice straw has to be effectively banned to control air pollution.

All the same, water table is declining at an alarming rate in Punjab. For arresting this decline, extensive research and development efforts should be made to ensure efficient on-farm and off-farm management of water resources. To diversify from rice, a comprehensive strategy for precision crop diversification should be followed through eco-region specific selection of crops and cropping systems based on soil suitability, water availability and efficient management of inputs and natural resources.

Dr M.S. BAJWA, Former Director (Research), (PAU), Ludhiana

Manauli Fort in ruins

The Manauli Fort, 7 km from Mohali in Ropar district, is in a dilapidated condition. The Archaeological Survey of India should take over this important monument immediately and develop it. Though the fort is in ruins, history lies buried under it. It can be developed into a good historical site and tourist spot.

The Fort has four towers. The Hathi gate was just like Delhiís Lal Quila. Inside the fort, there were barracks of the soldiers, stables, palaces and big halls. Nawab Kapur Singh, a great Sikh warrior, conquered it in 1763. It calls for urgent attention of the Government of India.

R.S. BAIDWAN, Mohali

Undoing the wrong

The All-India Speakersí conference has expressed concern over the interference of the judiciary in the affairs of the legislatures. However, the Supreme Courtís order of March 9 cannot be called as interference. It only sought to undo the fraud committed by the Jharkhand Governor.

The Pro-tem Speakerís attitude too was one of defiance and smacked of mala fide. The Supreme Court had to intervene to ensure justice and fair play. People heaved a sigh of relief after the courtís timely directive. Surprisingly, the Pro-tem Speaker continued to show his defiance till an exasperated Prime Minister clinched the issue by directing Mr Shibu Soren to resign as Chief Minister.

The judiciary has admirably risen to the occasion in the hour of distress. The recent withdrawal of the Taj Corridor case by the CBI against Ms Mayawati and the closure of the fodder scam investigation against Laloo Prasad Yadav and their retrial on the orders of the Supreme Court are glaring examples.

R.L. SINGAL, Chandigarh

II

Since the Governors and Speakers of Goa and Jharkhand acted in a partisan manner, intervention by the Supreme Court is welcome. Governors and Speakers are expected to be fair and non-partisan. In any case, Governors should not be selected on the basis of their loyalty to the party in power but should be persons of high calibre and integrity.

Major SARDAR SINGH (retd), Jalandhar City

Health hazard

The Entrance Gate in front of the Railway Octroi Post No. 11 at Sirhind Junction is very badly maintained. There is a dirty pool of water and the nearby garbage bin is full, emitting foul smell. It has become a health hazard. The authorities concerned should intervene promptly and get the area cleaned up.

Dr D.D. BHALLA, Sirhind

Itís just a fantasy

I cannot make out why Harish Dhillon, in his middle on ďImmortalityĒ, was so much concerned about a manís immortality when he is basically a mortal. Once you are gone, it does not really matter whether you are remembered or not. Itís just a fantasy which does not pay in any way. Though social recognition and wealth in our lifetime matters, nothing really matters after we are gone.

JASLEEN SINGH SETHI, Bangi Kalan (Bathinda)


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