Punjab’s canals in a state of neglect

We have just celebrated Diwali. But Diwali eve came with a surprise gift of three-feet deep flood water into the houses in some areas of Bathinda. This gift came by courtesy of a breach in the long neglected Sirhind Canal. Such breaches are a common occurrence all over the canal irrigated Punjab.

Most of these canals were built by the British, but they maintained these like favourite pets. Even Rajputana had to pay Punjab for the use of Punjab originated canal water. The British used to charge money from the land owners, which was used for the maintenance of the canals.

I do not blame any particular government for neglecting the maintenance of these aging canals. It is a collective failure on the part of most of the post-Punjabi Suba governments of the state.

The canals are not voters, why should any one care about them? Since no fee is charged from canal water users, there is no dedicated fund for their maintenance.

This sorry state of affairs has led to the slow collapse of the canal system. Given the poor fiscal health of the state, who can spend Rs 4,000 crore needed for their renovation? The Centre can’t give the entire amount; they would like the state to chip in something. God save Punjab!

HARJAP SINGH AUJLA, Monmouth Junction New Jersey (USA)

March for land

The 25,000 people who have walked hundreds of miles to Delhi to demand their right to land and water as assured by the UPA government in their common minimum programme were confined to the precincts of Ram Lila Grounds by the police on October 29.

This writer gained access to the place and met some of the people and their leader, Mr Rajagopal, besides Swami Agnivesh and Magsaysay Award winner Rajendra Singh. Mr Rajagopal said that the people’s march to Parliament via Jantar Mantar which started at 8 a.m. on Oct 29, was stymied by Centre’s fiat to the police to not let them out of Ram Lila Grounds. This was done without giving any valid reason and without arresting anybody.

This non-violent movement was an embarrassment to the Centre, against whom the protestors have their grouse. They condemned the government’s action in trying to create a face-off between the protestors and the police.

Maj-Gen S.G.VOMBATKERE (retd), Mysore

Maoists on the prowl

The Maoist attacks on civilian and government targets in Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal have now become a routine affair. Strangely, though the Prime Minister has described Maoist terrorism as a threat to national security, there is little appreciation of the need to combat this menace in the government he heads.

Apparently, the Union Home Ministry is ignorant of the threat posed by the Left extremists. Apart from organising jamborees for state police chiefs, the Centre has done precious little by way of fashioning and coordinating a combined assault on the Maoists.

The Centre’s claim that it is “closely monitoring the situation” is no less laughable. If it had indeed been on the job, Saturday’s massacre would not have occurred.

J. AKSHAY, Secunderabad


Protect farmland

It view of the increasing population, the government should protect agricultural land from being used for any other purpose. Surprisingly, the government is not paying heed to this and the rich are buying agricultural land by offering alluring prices to farmers.

This disturbing trend should be checked. Otherwise, it will adversely affect the production of food grains, the agro industry, supply of fodder and milk. Moreover, the farmers will migrate to cities in search of jobs. The government should ban the open sale of agricultural land. Agriculture should be made more lucrative through higher productivity and high prices of farm produce as advised in the editorial, “Leaving agriculture” (Oct 20).

R. K. JAIN, Principal (retd.), Panchkula

Middle error

Rajbir Deswal’s middle, “Chosen ones” (Sept 28) was good. However, there is a factual error. Ifteqar’s dialogue, Ye lambee race ka ghora hai (He will go a long way in life) is from the film Deewar and not as mentioned.

H. S. BADHAN, Dasuya (Hoshairpur)


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