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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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M A I L B A G

Pak must save water going into the sea

IN his column, “Inside Pakistan”, Syed Nooruzzaman has referred to the water war (Jan 20). Nawa-i-Waqt, the Pakistani newspaper, cannot blame India for the abnormal water-table decline in and around Lahore city.

The problem is mainly due to the proliferation of tube wells and the absence of recharge measures to counteract the excessive withdrawal. This phenomenon is not unusual and the water decline on the east of the Wagha border is much greater.

As regards the sharing of river waters between India and Pakistan under the Indus Water Treaty (1960), Nawa-i-Waqt should refer to my article “Should Kalabagh Dam on River Indus be built?” in Engineering News: The Journal of the Pakistan Engineering Congress (Vol 42, No. 2, July-Sept 2004).


 

In this article, I had maintained that following the Indus Water Treaty, Pakistan got the right to use 144 MAF (million acre foot) of water of the total 177 MAF, leaving hardly 33 MAF for India. As Pakistan’s present-day water utilisation is 105 MAF, nearly 39 MAF of water is going waste into the sea. Pakistan should take effective steps to utilise some part of the water going waste to increase the water recharge and stop blaming India which has got a meagre quantity of water.

The erstwhile East Punjab and West Punjab should pool their knowledge and experience to increase the water recharge and collectively fight the problem.

Dr G.S. DHILLON, Former Chief Engineer (Irrigation, Punjab), Chandigarh

Tube-wells going dry

In the Doaba area, particularly in the Haryana belt, tube wells are drying up. Some farmers have, with submersible pumps, sunk deep tube wells of 300-350 feet depth. It won’t be a surprise if this marks the beginning of desertification of the area in a decade or so.

In the recent past, the average rainfall too is declining the natural source of recharge of acquifers by rain and choes. The choes which used to inundate the area during the rainy season have been canalised and diverted to the Sutlej, thanks to Kandi area canal project.

I offer some suggestions. We need to plant more trees to get more rainfall. The Agro Forestry and Industries Departments should activate the timber industry. Don’t supply free power to the tube wells. If rich farmers are lulled to sell water due to huge diesel operated pumping cost, it will result in undue load on the water reserves.

The cropping pattern, extensively discussed in The Tribune time and again, should be enforced though legislation. Otherwise, no farmer will individually stop paddy etc.

Famous choes like the one in Hajipur should be retraced and made canals for recharging the aquifers by controlled water flow. This can be achieved through weirs at suitable places. The farmers who cannot afford deep tube wells may be allowed to resort to lift irrigation from such sources.

P.S. SIDHU, Patiala

 

US policy on Iraq draws flak

WITH Saddam Hussein’s execution, US President George Bush has accomplished the mission left unfinished by his father in 1992. But Iraq continues to be in turmoil. His popularity ratings are an all-time low. More than 3,000 US troops have fallen since the invasion on Iraq. Tony Blair is under pressure to de-induct British from Iraq. France has always opposed the invasion.

The new US policy on Iraq has already drawn severe criticism. Any quantum of force would get sucked in an insurgency scenario. Thus, an additional 21,000 US troops to the existing 1,32,000 would be of little significance. Ironically, the US has learnt no lesson from Vietnam.

The US ought to craft a policy that would bridge the Shia-Sunni divide, induce a process of reconciliation and persuade the Iraqi government to fulfill the people’s aspirations. Further escalation of the conflict would be counter-productive.

Lt-Col BACHITTAR SINGH (retd), Mohali

IT for pensioners

Recently, the Punjab government revised the scales of pensioners from January 1, 1996. But a big chunk of arrears will go as income-tax and part of it has already been deducted at source.

Normally all invest in tax-saving schemes to avoid paying income-tax. This would have been the case had the scales been revised in time. The pensioners should not be penalised now for the government’s delay.

To meet the ends of justice, pensioners should be saved from paying income-tax if they invest the income-tax amount accruing from the arrears in tax saving schemes over and above the admissible limit of Rs 1 lakh under Section 80 C.

D.K. AGGARWALA, Hoshiarpur
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