Need to check depletion of forest cover

I refer to the front-page anchor on the afforestation scam in Dhar region of Gurdaspur (Dec 9). The culprits deserve exemplary punishment. The Punjab and Haryana High Court should take suo motu notice of the report as this is a heinous crime.

It reminds me of Sunderlal Bahuguna’s statement that the question no longer is that of (balancing) ecological environment and economic development, but that of survival of the civilisation itself.

The Tribune report “Neglect of forests” (Dec 10) is equally educative and timely. The Punjab Government cannot be blind to the sensitive issue of the neglect of afforestation. It has not spent a pie on plantation since March 2005. This is shocking and unbelievable.

To stop nurseries from distributing the saplings free of cost and asking the nurseries to earn revenue of the government is like penny wise and pound foolish. A tree is worth Rs 98 lakh (the real worth estimated scientifically) and a sapling costs hardly Re 1. Disturbingly, the government has no reliable data about the forest cover in Punjab.

Dr G.S. BHALLA, Professor, GND University, Amritsar

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Grow vegetables on rooftops

The report “Organic wheat cultivation introduced in Haryana” is a step in the right direction. But how would the government ensure the quality of wheat produce? The consumers rightly have fears about desi wheat. The urban residents may grow vegetables on their rooftops for their daily needs. The commercially grown vegetables are tasteless because of the use of injections and pesticides. These practices, if not stopped, may lead to cancer and kidney diseases.

The simple process is to raise two-feet thick temporary soil bed about nine inches above the top-roof, where only organic (desi) manure and clean water (not sewerage water) should be used. The residents can grow vegetables in the interest of their health.

Agricultural universities must intensify research for maximising the production of all agricultural products without the use of chemical fertiliser and pesticides.


Volunteer teachers

The Centre has launched the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan to provide elementary education for all children in the 6 to 14 age group by 2010. The SSA Authority, Punjab, has appointed some school teachers under the scheme. It has asked the Village Education Development Committees to appoint volunteer teachers. Their monthly salary is: Graduate (Rs 2,500), Graduate + B.Ed (Rs 3,000), and P.G. + B.Ed (Rs 3,500) a month.

Reports in The Tribune suggest that the Punjab Government plans to recruit teachers. I would urge the government to consider the plight of B.Ed volunteers teachers and absorb them in the existing vacancies on priority. As they were recently imparted one-month training on primary education by the SSA Authority, they should be recruited.

RAKESH KUMAR MEELU, Chandpur Rurki, Balachaur


The Punjab Government’s announcement to recruit 12,000 teachers in the state is timely. It will give a fillip to education. But the recruitment should be done only through written test and interview with a view to attracting talent. We need to build up a good pool of subject teachers.

Let the appointments be made on a permanent basis and not on renewable contract basis as suggested by the Finance Department.

ONKAR SINGH, Pandori-Nijjaran (Jalandhar)

Restore the benefit

The provision contained in the Civil Service Rules provide for communication of retirement pension based on the rates adopted by the Central government for its own employees. This being a major part of post-retirement planning of a retiree, he/she depends much on this amount for settlement of pending liabilities.

However, the Punjab government did great injustice to its employees by snatching 40 per cent of this amount by amending the relevant provision. No state (or the Centre) has ever done so.

Despite repeated representations, the benefit has not been restored so far. This is unconstitutional as the employees were governed under the same Civil Service rules. The authorities should review and restore the benefit withdrawn peremptorily.

T.L. SHARMA, Nangal

Power of meditation

In the present-day turmoil of tensions, ill-will, violence and diseases, the only alternative is to go back to the basics of Indian culture and enter the meditative state of inner silence at least for one hour everyday.

No doubt, all the worldly comforts and luxuries are for the human body but the human body is not meant for luxuries alone. It is an exclusive medium to realise our true nature by looking within ourselves through meditation. This is the ultimate yoga.


Illegal practice

Whenever a payment for over Rs 500 is made towards the electricity bill, insurance premium, water tariff etc., no revenue stamp is fixed on the payment receipt by the person manning the counter; the amount of Re 1 is illegally pocketed by him for every receipt. The authorities concerned should help check this practice.

V.K. SHARMA, Shimla


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