Free power to farmers must go

The editorial “Time to save Punjab” (Sept 6) makes a forceful appeal to the political leadership to rise above vote bank politics of appeasement and take tough measures in the interest of the state. The startling revelations made in the State of Environment Report prepared by the Council of Science and Technology should ring the alarm bell for our political bosses.

Though free power is neither economically viable nor environment friendly, the political parties, cutting across party lines, have subsidised electricity to the farm sector. Free power is ruining the financial health of the state as it causes huge revenue loss. Also it is damaging the ecology of the state as free power has distorted the cropping pattern and led to overexploitation of ground water.

If the water levels decline further, the green revolution may not be sustained in the long run. With the agricultural production and productivity having reached the plateau, the growth rate in agricultural sector has stagnated which is adversely affecting the state’s economic health. Punjab, No.1 of the country, has slipped to No. 4 in per capita income.


The perfect recipe to squander resources is to dole it free but we can't afford to waste our scarce water and electricity. For conserving water and check the inefficient and irrational use of electricity, it is essential to levy user charges on the use of electricity. Let the revenue generated through the economic pricing of power be directed towards investment in the power sector so that assured and adequate power can be made available to all the sectors of the economy.

RAMA KASHYAP, Chandigarh


The Punjab State Council for Science and Technology’s report on the damage caused to environment is cause for concern. This report shows that while the indiscriminate use of fertilisers and pesticides has disturbed the soil health, the irrational use of ground water for paddy cultivation has led to a sharp decline in the groundwater table.

The farmers over-irrigate their crops because they don’t have to pay for power. The government’s policy of free power to farmers is a burden on the exchequer and wastage of precious groundwater.

Worse, this has created an imbalance in the state. Instead of supplying adequate power to the industry which pays for electricity, it adds to the government coffers in the form of various taxes and gives employment to lakhs of qualified, illiterate, skilled and unskilled people.

The government provides electricity to those who do not pay for it and also take benefit from the subsidies in the form of minimum support price.



Arrest the trend

The report “Change of land use” (Sept 20) was timely. There is limited arable land in Punjab. Increasingly, it is being lost to housing colonies and for other such purposes. In this rush to convert, landowners are happy for the high price they get, those giving sanction for conversion and the builders are equally happy. It is Punjab that is losing good agricultural land.There is a pressing need to lay down some policy to limit this conversion.

Around Chandigarh, innumerable colonies are coming up on good agricultural land. Punjab, including Chandigarh, must arrest this trend and instead go in for high rise buildings. Some ‘fat cats’ and self-appointed prominent citizens of Chandigarh do not want multi-storeyed housing complexes, house tax and even IT parks, because these do not serve their personal interests. How self-serving we Indian can be!

We must look at other countries three times our size, in this case the US, which have had open space preservation programmes for the last 10 years. Land is acquired and maintained though local county taxation.There is no reason to devise a new model; it already exists.

PAVLINA BAINS,Philadelphia (USA)

Population boom

During the last few years, India has been constantly maintaining economic growth between 7 per cent and 10 per cent. In spite of all this jubilation in economic circles, development is taking place at a snail’s pace. The reason for this is the skyrocketing population growth in the country.

According to the US Census International Programme Centre, India’s population has reached an incredible figure of 113 crore in July 2007. Every year, India is adding about two crore i.e. Australia’s total population, to its already bloated kitty.

Unless this trend is checked, fast population explosion will cause irreversible social and economic turmoil in the country.

For this, the government will have to take some hard decisions. The parents of every third and subsequent children can be nominated to collect taxes in the specified areas for a premium. To rectify the already skewed sex ratio, all male children can also be taxed.

Col KULDIP SINGH GREWAL (retd), Patiala 



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