Glacial damage to hit water security

Your editorial “Glacial damage” (March 8) is very apt and timely. Recently, the Minister of State for Environment, while making a statement in Parliament, stated that there was an accelerated melting of glaciers in the Himalayas, which poses a long-term environmental threat. While thousands of glaciers in these hills are retreating at the rate of 10 to 12 metres a year, the Gangotri glacier is receding at a much faster rate.

Outside the polar ice caps, the Himalayan glaciers are a source of the world’s largest supply of water. Excessive melting due to increased human activity and global warming leads to increased water in lakes and flash floods. Excessive sediments affect power generation.

In the long run, the receding glaciers will affect water security and cause droughts. It is possible that the huge Indo-Gangetic plain, the granary of India, which is one of the densest populated regions in the world, may turn barren. Devoid of sufficient water, the canals in Punjab and Haryana may contain only sand and gravel. The Thar desert may extend further.

You have rightly pointed out that there is lack of enough studies on scientific lines. Micro-level research on glaciers and rigorous data collection and analysis is the urgent need of the hour.

L K MANUJA, Principal (retd), Nahan

Bt cotton unsafe?

I am a research scholar from the University of Delhi, doing PhD in agricultural anthropology and intend to comment on the news item “Bt cotton is biologically safe” (March 17).

 Bt cotton has been released in Punjab since 2005. During interviews with farmers, I was surprised to know that more than 90 per cent of them were not interested in planting Bt cotton in the coming kharif season.

Farmers and agricultural labourers have developed skin-related itching problems in the past two years. Hardev Singh of Chaina village said: “We have been exposed to pesticides for 15 years but never had any skin problem in the village. With Bt cotton I have noticed cases of skin problem increasing”.

The corporate sector has developed genetically engineered seed which they are trying to market aggressively. Genetic engineering is now increasingly seen as the only alternative to increasing productivity, food security and removing hunger and indebtedness.

 SWARUP DUTTA, Chaina village (Faridkot)

Callous schools

Schools often force the low-scoring students in class X to leave. Before punishing a student, the school should think of its own responsibility too. If a student has failed to excel, the school has equally, if not more, failed to discharge its desired duties. The onus must be shared.

Every school can produce good results by removing the weaklings. What about the performance of teachers in such cases? It amounts to deficiency in service on their part.

Lt Col (retd) BHAGWANT SINGH, Mohali

Cricket: national game?

I really don’t understand why hockey continues to remain the national game of India. Most people seem to have lost interest in this game. We keep losing tournaments one after another.

The selectors easily manage to oblige their favourites by inducting them into teams for prestigious international tournaments and get away with it. In fact, the game is fast becoming a “national shame”.

On the other hand, the people’s craze for cricket crosses all limits. Observers often say that cricket is not a game but a religion in this country. During a game players constantly remain under the watchful eyes of people. So it is difficult now for the management to manipulate selections.

Thanks to generally fair selections, the players often bring laurels to the country. Will it not be proper to declare cricket as the national game of the country now?



Cruel Railways

Railway pensioners who reside at a distance of 2.5 km or more from a railway hospital are paid a monthly medical allowance of Rs 100. In an emergency like a heart problem, expenses incurred by a pensioner are not reimbursed on the plea that the patient was not referred by a railway doctor. Such claims are rejected outright as non-referral cases. Is it not a joke with the patient?


Welcome initiative

The initiative taken by the UT Administrator, Gen (retd) S.F. Rodrigues, to hear public grievances at his office in the UT Secretariat is certainly welcome. It would be better if the duration of his sitting is increased from two to four days in a month with at least two hours for each sitting He should take decisions on the spot instead of following a cumbersome procedure created by a bureaucratic-political nexus

S K KHOSLA, Chandigarh

Bias in jobs

The districts of Yamunanagar, Ambala and Kurukshetra have been overlooked by the successive Harayana governments, particularly in matters of employment.

The leaders in power mostly belong to south Haryana. This is the reason that about 75 per cent of the government employees in Haryana belong to Hisar, Bhiwani, Rohtak, Jind and Sirsa districts. Government jobs should be given on the basis of qualifications rather than constituency.

NEETU, Chandigarh

Caution foreigners

It should be made mandatory for the government to issue printed instructions for visiting foreigners reaching India by whatever mode in order to protect them from crimes like rape. It will positively help foreign visitors to also take care of themselves.

S K HANS, Jalandhar

Petrol prices

The petrol prices in Punjab are the highest in the northern zone. The petrol prices in the neighbouring states and Chandigarh are lower by Rs 4 a litre. To remove this anomaly, the Punjab government should reduce the VAT on petrol from 27.5 per cent to 12. 5 per cent. This will automatically increase the sales and compensate the loss in revenue.

H. S. GHAI, Khanna



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