Help Punjab tide over farm crisis

SS Johl’s article, “Debilitated Punjab economy: Leadership is responsible for the mess” (Feb 24), depicted a true picture of the state of affairs of Punjab’s farm sector. Some harsh policy decisions to pull the ailing state economy are imperative.

First, Free power to the farm sector must go; it has proved to be a failure politically. In the last two state assembly elections, no party could garner votes on this plank. Moreover, in the last 10 years, despite free power, there has been no major improvement in the farm output. Worse, it failed to check farmers’ suicides.

Secondly, the government should give heavy subsidy on dip-irrigation system to help poor farmers; this will restore the underground water table and help reduce their power bills too.

Thirdly, the Centre’s Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices should include the water and power costs while calculating the cost of production of wheat and rice so that MSP of the same may be raised as per their international market prices.

Fourthly, set up special farmers’ markets here, as in many countries, so that the farmers can sell their produce directly to consumers on retail prices and they can also earn maximum from the trade. 

And finally, the state government should set up Kisan Seva Kendras to provide genuine seeds, fertilisers and pesticides at control rates to check exploitation by the private companies.


A valid point

In his article “The crisis in agriculture research”, I. P. Abrol rightly suggested shifting the crop-focused research and development agenda to an eco-regional approach. Lack of this approach has resulted in our soils losing their essential nutrients, depletion of the underground water and the surface water resources becoming scarcer and polluted.

Even in hilly and mountain regions, the natural water springs have either dried up or are showing diminishing outflow. There are large gaps between the yield of a variety and the potential realised. Resource degradation is a major reason for this widening gap year after year. Additional dose of nutrients should be added to maintain the yield level of the previous year and thereby increasing the cost of cultivation.

We must first identify, characterise and quantify the available resources in a particular agro-eco region before suggesting and implementing any crop plan to avoid over-exploitation of the natural resources. While this will give a boost to crop diversification, the ICAR and the agricultural universities should follow this approach in research.

Dr C. L. ACHARYA, (Former Director, Indian Institute of Soil Science, Bhopal), Palampur

Raw deal for Services

The apathy towards defence forces by successive governments at the Centre since Independence is detrimental to the national interest. Resultantly, there is a shortage of 14,264 officers in the Defence Services.

Moreover, the morale of the personnel is low today because of charges of corruption. The younger generation is also not motivated properly to join the Services. The politicians should be vigilant and not force the defence personnel to resort to agitational approach.

The ex-servicemen are also part and parcel of the defence forces. Any help to them, monetarily or socially, will help raise the morale of the defence personnel and attract the new generation to join the forces.



Call it Gourav Rath

The Railway Minister has promised some more Gharib Raths in this year’s budget even though some of those proposed in last year’s budget are yet to be started. By the way, I feel that the word “Gharib” sounds derogatory and an affront on the poor and disadvantaged sections. Why this class differentiation with respect to the railway trains? I suggest that the name of ‘Gharib Rath’ be changed to ‘Gourav Rath’.

K.J.S. AHLUWALIA, Amritsar

Breakfast sans tea

Heard of a breakfast without tea? If not, travel by the Indian Railways and get the answer. Strangely, while tea/coffee forms part of breakfast for the Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express passengers, the Railway Minister’s much-touted Aam Aadmi are treated in a different manner.

Laluji will admit that he never had his breakfast ever without tea, milk or coffee. That being so, how would the Railway Ministers and his mandarins in Rail Bhavan feel that passengers could have breakfast without tea?

R.L. PATHAK, New Delhi 

Stop at Phagwara

Phagwara is an important industrial town of Doaba. The Shatabdi Express trains from Amritsar to New Delhi and back should stop at Phagwara. Haridwar is an important pilgrimage centre. Thousands of people of Phagwara and neighbouring areas face a lot of inconvenience for boarding the Shatabdi Express from Jalandhar. So this long-standing grievance of the public should be met by providing a stoppage to the Shatabdi Express train at Phagwara in both directions.

O.P. SHUKLA, Phagwara



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