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Poor upkeep of Kosi barrage caused floods

I read the editorial, “The Kosi deluge: Why should dam give way?” (Aug 30). The National Disaster Management Act, 2005, stipulates that the first action in disaster management is that of “prevention and mitigation”. This is a landmark legislation in that the responsibilities of specific office bearers have been stipulated under the Act (States are required to enact their own State Disaster Management Acts).

The Act provides for separate funds for mitigation of disasters as well as for relief, rescue etc. But the key part of the Act is the section on “offences and penalties”. Failure to discharge their responsibilities makes the heads of departments liable for punishment.

In the case of the river Kosi, the responsibility of repair and maintenance of the embankment, which was breached in Nepal, was that of the Bihar state government. Similarly, the media has brought to light that thousand of crores of funds meant for flood control had not been utilised in Punjab.

Public-spirited NGOs must initiate action to get the guilty officials in both states punished for their criminal neglect and thereby wreaking havoc on lakhs of poor farmers in Bihar and Punjab.




The editorial in question has raised important question whether the tragedy was natural or man-made. According to the bilateral agreement of 1954 between India and Nepal, the maintenance of the Kosi barrage is India’s responsibility. It was built during 1959-1963 as a multi-purpose barrage for irrigation, flood control and hydel power generation.

The Nepal government has blamed India for the neglect of breaches in embankments. There are also reports that some anti-social elements deliberately damaged the embankment and the “flood mafia” which stands to gain from flood relief which is a lucrative business. Whatever the truth, the people of Bihar have suffered due to the neglect of the barrage by the authorities. The floods in Bihar underscore the urgent need to take steps to mitigate the sufferings of the people.

M.M. GURBAXANI, Bangalore

Police verification

Police verification is generally done to ascertain the character of a person, his/her occupation, place of residence and whether a criminal case is pending against him/her or whether he has been jailed any time. However, the citizens are also harassed by the police when they are told to produce various documents regarding proof of age, etc. (details of which were already submitted while submitting the passport application form.

It is not known why the verification is held up on flimsy grounds. The police authorities should clearly seek the documents they require for verification from the applicants.

G.S. BHULLAR, Jalandhar Cantonment

No rule of law

General Musharraf has quit as Pakistan President. Earlier, he shed the military uniform. He has vacated the official residence, Army House, soon after announcing his resignation and has shifted temporarily to the quarters meant for senior Army officers till his personal farmhouse was ready for occupation.

Here, in our country, ministers, MPs, MLAs and senior bureaucrats stay put in the official bungalows for years after demitting office. They also do not pay rent for such accommodation. It results in inconvenience to public servants succeeding such functionaries and huge loss to the government treasury. The Supreme Court’s orders for prompt vacation of government houses are not given any heed. Our greatest problem is that we are not disciplined and we do not have any regard for the rule of law.



Towards regional security

Reports of Pakistan’s willingness to allow more imports from India are encouraging. But healthy and normal relations between the two countries are more important for their economic growth though it is a must for Pakistan’s economy.

For stability, peace and economic growth, Pakistan must take measures to eliminate terrorism from its roots. For bilateral peace and regional security, the Pakistan government must ensure that attacks on the Indian borders and in India do not take place any more from terrorists based in Pakistan.

M. KUMAR, New Delhi


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