Canals need better maintenance

Punjab's farmers have turned the state into India's granary. To keep agriculture viable in the state, assured water supply to farmers is a must. The British left behind in Punjab and neighbouring areas the world's best canal irrigation systems. During their rule, the canals were well maintained and the farmers received their due share of canal water.

Now, after 60 years of Independence, many canals are fast turning into ‘ganda nallahs’. A Tribune report (Sept 21) about Sidhwan canal going the Budha Nallah way is alarming. In fact, Punjab’s most canal banks are badly damaged and are crisscrossed by cattle tracks. Wild growth near the banks is never cleared. Buffaloes can be seen wallowing in canals. As these interfere with the smooth water flow, the water carrying capacity of the canals also gets reduced.

It was encouraging to read Mr Sukhbir Badal’s statement in The Tribune that the SAD-BJP government was working on a big irrigation project worth Rs 4,000 crore. This plan, if implemented properly, will help increase the state’s canal water by 40 per cent.

Brig DALIP SINGH SIDHU (retd), Batala



When canals were dug up for irrigation, bridges on canals were constructed in brick and lime mortar. These bridges, almost 125 years old, were actually meant for carts and light loads. The visionary British engineers and administrators were able to lay a network of railway track. The Bathinda Railway junction was made functional in 1890.

However, our politicians, bureaucrats and engineers have no vision except to follow corrupt practices, jeopardising our economy and public safety. Fazilka has not been rail linked with Abohar, only 30 km away. Canal bridges are not remodeled to meet the requirements of heavy vehicles carrying 35 to 60 MI loads on 10 wheeled trucks and trailers to meet public and defence needs.

The field staff remains insensitive when someone gives a wake up call to remodel canal bridges with the advent of link roads for tractors, buses and trucks. We have money for schemes like free Atta-dal and free electricity for farmers, but not a pie for canal bridges for public safety.

Lt-Col DAYA SINGH (retd), Bathinda

Need of the hour

Sunit Dhawan has rightly analysed the problem of ad hocism in education and stressed the need for a well-defined policy on education to tackle the problem (Sept 4). However, I don't agree that some capable and socially-oriented educationists should come forward and take the initiative which the top brass always do not recognise.

Our policy makers are myopic. But while reviewing the education policy, the government should take the NGOs into confidence. They must be included in the committee. I do agree with the writer that heads appointed by the state government are frequently shifted and the implementation of the policy remains on paper. But in case the NGOs are made a part of the committee, it will work wonders.

HARISH K. MONGA, Ferozepore City

Incorrect report

This has reference to the report “Discoms demand tariff hike” (The Tribune, Oct 8). BSES, which supplies electricity to over 23 lakh consumers spread out in around 1000 sq km, has since its inception in July 2002 made consistent efforts to improve the quality of power supply in the national capital. This effort has been acclaimed by reputed organisations and individuals who have witnessed and understood the benefits of the power reform process.

BSES alone has ensured a savings of Rs 7614 crore to the Government of Delhi in the first five years of its operations -- Rs 3800 crore by way of reducing the AT&C losses, Rs 2950 by way of capital expenditure and Rs 864 crore by way of repaying the loan provided by the Delhi Power Corporation Ltd. This success of BSES has ensured that Delhi’s consumers pay the lowest tariff in the country.

It is, however, a matter of regret that some motivated individuals for reasons best to known to them make consistent efforts to undermine BSES’ success by making unsubstantiated and false allegations. Their one-point agenda seems to be to tarnish the image of the company and arrest the company’s efforts to make Delhi a truly world class city.

They seem to be against all development. Doubts over their intentions also arise because they prefer political dividends instead of finding solutions to issues concerning the consumers. They are rarely seen at various forums provided under the system to address consumer issues.

We, at BSES, hold The Tribune in very high esteem and are, therefore, pained to read in its columns baseless allegations made by such vested interests. We would like to point out that the statement “Discoms are in the pink of health. Their stock prices are at an all-time high” is incorrect. The fact is that there is still a substantial revenue gap and BSES along with other stakeholders is vigorously engaged in finding out ways and means to meet it with little cost to the consumer.

PRASHANT DUA, Corporate Communications, BSES, New Delhi

Spirit of RTI missing

The Right to information (RTI) Act came into force in October 2005, but the public authorities are reluctant to provide information to the people, especially the one that has the potential to expose the corrupt practices of the government departments, officers and employees.

In the absence of cooperation from public authority, under the RTI Act, one has the option of complaining to the State Information Commission. It is at this point that the complainant’s nightmare starts. The Punjab State Information Commission consists of eight Information Commissioners, but the pendency of cases here is very high. People make several rounds to this office, but in vain.

The spirit of providing time-bound information to people is simply not there. Many a time, people are forced to make payment for the information sought even after the authority’s failure to provide the same within 30 days. This is in violation of the RTI Act.




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