SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
O P I N I O N S

Editorials | Article | Middle | Oped

EDITORIALS

Beware! It’s not milk
Will govts of Punjab, Haryana stir?
L
AST year in China when six children died and three lakh others fell sick after consuming milk products laced with melamine, a toxic chemical, countries shut their doors to Chinese food imports. The authorities in China reacted with amazing speed in arresting the accused and the courts took a few months to sentence three of the offenders to death and award long jail terms to the others.

Handle valley with care
Elements out to spoil Omar’s pitch
Although the strike in Jammu and Kashmir has been called off, it will take time for the situation to become normal. The state government’s flip-flop in handling the situation in J&K over the alleged rape and murder of two women in Shopian had worsened it. The government first denied the incident totally, calling it death by drowning, then went in for a judicial probe and finally decided to register an FIR.



EARLIER STORIES

MP or a murderer?
June 9, 2009
Arrest of a terrorist
June 8, 2009
Terror Down Under
June 7, 2009
Washington has erred
June 6, 2009
President speaks
June 5, 2009
Pak flexes muscles, again
June 4, 2009
Treading the beaten path
June 3, 2009
Friends, or foes?
June 2, 2009
Better days ahead
June 1, 2009
The fury of cyclone Aila
May 31, 2009


Why deemed varsities?
Kapil orders review of Arjun’s decisions
U
NION Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal’s directive to keep in abeyance the deemed university status accorded to over 100 institutions by his predecessor, Mr Arjun Singh, is timely. This comes close on the heels of intervention from the Prime Minister’s Office which sought details from the HRD Ministry of these decisions.

ARTICLE

Helping Pak to fight Taliban
But India cannot lower its guard
by Sushant Sareen
Isn’t it strange that despite Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani asserting that the Pakistan Army has adequate force levels to fight the Taliban and that there is no need to withdraw troops from the Indian border for this purpose, the US administration, think-tanks and policy-makers are suggesting to India that it should redeploy its troops along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and also the international border to allow Pakistan to move its troops from the eastern border to the western border?

MIDDLE

A grand old angry man
by Nonika Singh
Meeting legends can never be easy. You always have preconceived notions and opinions based upon the reams written on them — who they are, why they are, often what they are not too. And when the man in question was none other than the thespian Habib Tanvir the baggage became even heavier.

OPED

We had our perestroika; it’s high time for yours
by Mikhail Gorbachev
Y
EARS ago, as the Cold War was coming to an end, I said to my fellow leaders around the globe: The world is on the cusp of great events, and in the face of new challenges all of us will have to change, you as well as we. For the most part, the reaction was polite but skeptical silence.

Towering blots on the peaks
by Manshi Asheri
Trying to capture the spectacular Himalayan landscape in your camera and cannot get the transmission cable out of the frame? What, to a tourist in the mountains is aesthetic nuisance or a mere spoiler of that perfect view, is turning out to be more than just that.





Top








 

Beware! It’s not milk
Will govts of Punjab, Haryana stir?

LAST year in China when six children died and three lakh others fell sick after consuming milk products laced with melamine, a toxic chemical, countries shut their doors to Chinese food imports. The authorities in China reacted with amazing speed in arresting the accused and the courts took a few months to sentence three of the offenders to death and award long jail terms to the others. India too reacted with unusual alacrity in banning Chinese milk product imports. Unusual because those in charge of public health rarely display such zeal and sensitivity when it comes to dealing with public health hazards looming within the country.

Reports about the sale of substandard milk and milk products in India keep appearing in the media with sickening frequency, and these fail to move the authorities, either at the Central or state level, into action. The Tribune has carried a two-part report on how synthetic milk is openly sold in Punjab and being allowed to be consumed by a milk-loving people. The official indifference to the havoc played with human health does not appear part of the general apathy the system is notorious for; there seems to be a criminal element to it as reports suggest the culprits often buy official silence. Some just paint “Milk not for sale” on the vehicles carrying the spurious product and the authorities let them pass. Adulterated, or synthetic milk as the culprits describe it in a dangerous understatement, sold mostly in the Delhi NCR, Rajasthan, UP and Punjab, causes a slow death. Unfortunately, the gullible public accepts it.

Samples of adulterated milk taken are too few, perhaps due to a shortage of laboratories, to cause an alarm and some just get replaced before testing. Small wonder then one rarely hears of conviction of a milk or food adulterator, let alone the award of the much deserved death sentence. There are officials keen on nailing the offenders but feel handicapped in the absence of sufficient legal backing. The laws, they say, are not stringent enough and the judicial system is notoriously dilatory. What essentially is needed is political will on the part of the governments of the region — of Punjab and Haryana. Hopefully, they will put health of the people on their agenda.

Top

 

Handle valley with care
Elements out to spoil Omar’s pitch

Although the strike in Jammu and Kashmir has been called off, it will take time for the situation to become normal. The state government’s flip-flop in handling the situation in J&K over the alleged rape and murder of two women in Shopian had worsened it. The government first denied the incident totally, calling it death by drowning, then went in for a judicial probe and finally decided to register an FIR. Had it been alive to the gravity of the situation from the start, things would not have come to such a pass. In fact, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has admitted in an interview that mistakes were made at the initial stage but the admission does not turn the clock back. He should have known in the first place that the drowning incident could become an emotive issue, which needed to be handled with extreme sensitivity. There was no need to give the impression that the government was soft towards culprits, even if unknown.

Ideally, such incidents must not take place at all. If at all they do, they must not be handled ineptly as in this case. The Centre, too, must realise that the holding of elections in the state may be an achievement but it is not a solution to the problems in J&K. The old animosities remain and any incident can lead to a flare-up again. Pakistan is there as usual to stoke the fires. The “Shopian march” call given by Islamist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who is under arrest at an undisclosed location, may have ended but the separatists have kept life at many places at a standstill for over a week. Long days of a curfew-like situation have been a setback for the valley. It has hit tourism, on the mend after a long time, badly, costing the people in the loss of incomes.

Despite elections, separatists are out in the street to exploit it and are trying to destabilise the situation. The PDP, led by Mufti Mohd. Sayeed, has, in fact, joined hands with the separatists. That is hardly expected from a responsible political party which was in power not too long ago. But narrow interests have long supplanted the larger good of the people in the valley. Much will depend on how the Omar Abdullah government is able to handle various elements which are keen to spoil the pitch for him, even if the strike has been called off.

Top

 

Why deemed varsities?
Kapil orders review of Arjun’s decisions

UNION Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal’s directive to keep in abeyance the deemed university status accorded to over 100 institutions by his predecessor, Mr Arjun Singh, is timely. This comes close on the heels of intervention from the Prime Minister’s Office which sought details from the HRD Ministry of these decisions. Mr Sibal is believed to have asked the ministry to probe the functioning of all the deemed universities and report within three months. In his last days in office, Mr Arjun Singh had allowed these institutions to drop the prefix of “deemed university”. This effectively allowed them to confuse students seeking to enroll themselves with full-fledged universities which can be set up only through an Act of Parliament or state legislatures. This decision has been challenged in the Delhi High Court.

A comprehensive review of the deemed universities has become imperative because most of them do not conform to the UGC’s norms and guidelines. Even as their number rose from 24 in 2004 to 124 in 2009, another 395 have applied for such status without having qualified faculty and infrastructural facilities such as libraries, laboratories and buildings. Worse, during the past five years, several allegations of corruption have been made against the UGC officials who have allegedly colluded with private institutions in granting the deemed university status to them. The inspection system of either the UGC or the AICTE does not inspire confidence. Small wonder, academics and government panels have raised questions about the quality of education being imparted by these institutions. Some private deemed universities also charge a hefty capitation fee for seats in violation of the norms.

Deemed universities are rated by the UGC as capable of graduating to acquire the full university status. Surprisingly, however, Mr Arjun Singh accorded the deemed university status even to brand new institutions. The Centre should implement the Yash Pal Committee’s recommendation for scrapping the policy of granting the deemed university status. This panel was appointed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to review higher education. The UGC and the HRD Ministry would do well to improve the quality of education provided by all institutions first and then bring them to the level of full-fledged universities. This will obliterate the very need for deemed universities.

Top

 

Thought for the Day

He that first cries out stop the thief, is often he that has stolen the treasure.

— William Congreve

Top

 

Helping Pak to fight Taliban
But India cannot lower its guard
by Sushant Sareen

Isn’t it strange that despite Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani asserting that the Pakistan Army has adequate force levels to fight the Taliban and that there is no need to withdraw troops from the Indian border for this purpose, the US administration, think-tanks and policy-makers are suggesting to India that it should redeploy its troops along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and also the international border to allow Pakistan to move its troops from the eastern border to the western border? Equally ridiculous is the linkage that many people in the US are drawing between a solution to the Kashmir issue (which, by definition, will serve its purpose only if it is to Pakistan’s complete satisfaction) and the Pakistan Army's capacity to successfully fight against the Al-Qaeda/Taliban-led insurgency inside Pakistan.

Clearly, either the Americans are over-blowing the insurgency inside Pakistan, or the Pakistanis are under-estimating the scale of the problem. If it is the former, then expecting political and military concessions from India for Pakistan flies in the face of logic. But if it is the latter, then surely before India can do anything to save Pakistan, it is Pakistan that must save itself by acting resolutely and unflinchingly to dismantle the jihadi infrastructure. What is more, Pakistan must end the distinction that it makes between good jihadis (those like the Lashkar-e-Toiba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa or the Hizbul Mujahidin who operate under the command and control of the Pakistan Army and spread terror in India) and bad jihadis (those who seek to fight the Pakistani state).

More than anything else, the resistance that the Pakistan Army claims to be facing from the Taliban should by now have convinced it that regardless of their hue the Islamists pose a mortal threat to Pakistan. It should have also disabused the Pakistan Army of its hubris that since it can eliminate the Taliban with a snap of its finger or a crack of the whip, it can continue using the Taliban for the attainment of strategic objectives.

Interestingly, while on the one hand the Pakistan Army is cocksure about tackling the Taliban threat without having to scale down its troops positioned against India, on the other hand it is trying to exploit US concerns about Pakistan troop levels being insufficient by impressing upon the Americans that they need to play a more active and interventionist role in resolving the disputes between India and Pakistan. Only this, the Pakistanis say somewhat disingenuously, will allow them to focus all their energies on combating the jihadis. On their part, the Americans are not averse to playing such a role, more so since it fits in well with their quest for seeking a regional solution for solving the Af-Pak problem.

But given India’s strong resistance to being directly included in the Af-Pak equation, the Americans are probably trying to rope in India through the backdoor. This they are doing by using the specious logic that India in its own long-term interest needs to create the space that will make it possible for Pakistan to slay the demons of fanaticism that threaten not only Pakistan but the entire region. And to create this space India must pull back troops from the border, re-start the stalled dialogue process with Pakistan and not do anything that disturbs the strategic balance between India and Pakistan.

While it is true that it is in India’s interest to see the end of the Taliban, India cannot afford to ignore the hostility and the ever present threat of adventurism by the Pakistan Army. Even though Pakistan today confronts what is arguably its worst crisis since it came into existence, the Pakistan Army continues to remain obsessed and fixated on the imagined threat from India. What then are the chances of any improvement in Indo-Pak relations if and when normalcy returns to Pakistan? This question acquires even greater importance when one takes into account the propaganda campaign launched by the Pakistani state against the Taliban.

Instead of admitting that the Taliban insurgency is a blowback of the disastrous policy of using jihadis as instruments of state policy, the basic thrust of the propaganda campaign is that the jihadis are being funded and directed by the Indians and the Israelis. Without a shred of evidence to back their poisonous verbiage, ministers, officials (serving and retired), clerics, journalists and politicians are all busy constructing conspiracy theories implicating India for the acts of people like Mullah Fazlullah, Baitullah Mehsud and other such extremist elements. Quite aside the fact that the Pakistanis have conveniently forgotten that just a few months back the current ISI chief called these people “patriotic Pakistanis”, the demonisation of India and the hatred for India that is being spawned through this campaign will ensure that the animosity between the two South Asian neighbours will never end. What is more, this sort of propaganda only adds to India’s apprehensions that Pakistan might redouble its efforts to export jihadi terror to India not only to keep India unsettled but also to settle scores for the imagined Indian hand in what is happening in Pakistan.

Under these circumstances, India quite simply cannot be expected to lower its guard against Pakistan, especially since much of the terrorism that India has faced has emanated from the supposedly modern and moderate Pakistan and not from a Talibanised Pakistan. As things stand, there are a lot of doubts and questions are being raised in India over the Pakistan Army's motives, its seriousness and indeed its tactics and strategy in fighting the extremists. Is the military operation in Swat, Dir and Buner merely an effort to be seen to be acting resolutely against the Taliban and thereby to pre-empt the threat of a unilateral strike by the Americans in this region? Is it only an operation designed to convince the Americans that the Pakistanis are actually earning the dollars that the Americans are handing out to them and to keep the dollars flowing? Has the operation been undertaken because the Taliban has crossed the red line set by the army, which is now bludgeoning the Taliban only to make it amenable to once again operate only as strategic assets of the army? Or is it the case that the Pakistan Army has finally realised its jihadi folly and decided to eliminate once and for all the threat that Islamic extremism poses to the Pakistani state?

If it is any of the first three cases, it would be completely untenable and rather senseless for anyone to ask India to create any political or military space for Pakistan because it means that whatever is happening in Malakand division is a carefully calculated, choreographed and calibrated action. Of course, the scale of the refugee crisis that this operation has created is perhaps an unintended consequence, but one that in a rather cynical way demonstrates the costs of defying the Pakistan Army.

Only in the case that the Pakistani establishment is committed to completely rooting out the jihadi infrastructure and putting Pakistan on a liberal and progressive path will it make any sense for India to try and take measures that assist Pakistan in this effort. But with an important caveat: if at the end of this war, India is saddled with the sort of Pakistan that it has faced for six decades — outwardly liberal and moderate but at the same time virulently anti-India — the very purpose of helping Pakistan out of its existential crisis will be defeated.

Top

 

A grand old angry man
by Nonika Singh

Meeting legends can never be easy. You always have preconceived notions and opinions based upon the reams written on them — who they are, why they are, often what they are not too.

And when the man in question was none other than the thespian Habib Tanvir the baggage became even heavier. Gossip had it that the grand old man of theatre was actually an angry one, mercurial, could be ruffled at the slightest provocation. So it was with great trepidation that I had braced myself for this one-to-one interface with the octogenarian phenomenon.

Did the celebrated theatre person live up to his fiery image? Yes! The fire was there, evident not only when he smoked his famous pipe, but more so when he spoke passionately about his work, about the play Rajrakt he had brought to Chandigarh and which he had created out of Tagore’s writings. He elaborated upon the play, letting us into its scene-by-scene account, even as the journo in me secretly wished for crisper sound bytes.

He seemed equally proud of his adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream which he had transposed to an authentic Indian setting and of his ability to transform yet another play Ek aur Dronacharya.

As for the anger, I had feared, well it was in place too. Visibly peeved with the arrangements, my very first query was met with an angry repartee, too. Humility did not seem to be one of his virtues, but then he had no reasons to be pretentiously humble or to suffer ordinary fools like us. Former Member of the Rajya Sabha, recipient of Padma Bhushan and many other honours, wasn’t he the man who had bequeathed to Indian theatre a new refreshing idiom.

His Naya Theatre wasn’t just naya in name but in letter and spirit. As he went on to work with Chhattisgarh tribals, experimented with and revived folk styles, his plays were frequently in Chhattisgarhi dialect.

Often he would return to Hindi too. But then language was no barrier for the man who transcended divides.

Trained at the Royal Akademy of Dramatic Arts, folk forms and Bertolt Brecht both influenced him. Yet he forged his own path creating milestones that others longed to reach.

His seminal work Charandas Chor became synonymous with his name, a benchmark, almost a litmus test for other theatre groups too. The play that always played to full houses never failed to excite audiences.

The man who unravelled the enigma of theatre for masses, however himself appeared an enigma to me.

In fact, my first introduction to Habib was through his play. I had a gnawing desire to meet, nay know, the man behind the magic. Later, I got the chance only to be reminded that great men are best revealed through their art.

Will his autobiography Matmaili Chadariya unveil him more? We don’t know yet. Just as we don’t know if gifted daughter Nageen Tanvir, who sings beautifully and poignantly, will fill her father’s shoes.

This is a question one didn’t dare to ask him when he was alive for even at a formidable 84 he had seemed so much in control, monarch of all that he surveyed, certainly in no mood to quit, either his zeal or his rage. Alas, the tempest within has fallen silent.

Top

 

We had our perestroika; it’s high time for yours
by Mikhail Gorbachev

YEARS ago, as the Cold War was coming to an end, I said to my fellow leaders around the globe: The world is on the cusp of great events, and in the face of new challenges all of us will have to change, you as well as we. For the most part, the reaction was polite but skeptical silence.

In recent years, however, during speaking tours in the United States before university audiences and business groups, I have often told listeners that I feel Americans need their own change — a perestroika, not like the one in my country, but an American perestroika — and the reaction has been markedly different. Halls filled with thousands of people have responded with applause.

Over time, my remark has prompted all kinds of comments. Some have reacted with understanding. Others have objected, sometimes sarcastically, suggesting that I want the United States to experience upheaval, just like the former Soviet Union.

"The time has come for “creative construction,” for striking the right balance between the government and the market, for integrating social and environmental factors and demilitarizing the economy.

"I have no ready-made prescriptions. But I am convinced that a new model will emerge, one that will emphasize public needs and public goods, such as a cleaner environment, well-functioning infrastructure and public transportation, sound education and health systems and affordable housing.

"The current global crisis demonstrates that the leaders of major powers, particularly the United States, had missed the signals that called for a perestroika. The result is a crisis that is not just financial and economic. It is political, too.

In my country, particularly caustic reactions have come from the opponents of perestroika, people with short memories and a deficit of conscience. And although most of my critics surely understand that I am not equating the United States with the Soviet Union in its final years, I would like to explain my position.

Our perestroika signaled the need for change in the Soviet Union, but it was not meant to suggest a capitulation to the U.S. model. Today, the need for a more far-reaching perestroika — one for America and the world — has become clearer than ever.

It is true that the need for change in the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s was urgent. The country was stifled by a lack of freedom, and the people — particularly the educated class — wanted to break the stranglehold of a system that had been built under Stalin. Millions of people were saying: “We can no longer live like this.”

We started with glasnost — giving people a chance to speak out about their worries without fear. I never agreed with my great countryman Alexander Solzhenitsyn when he said that “Gorbachev’s glasnost ruined everything.” Without glasnost, no changes would have occurred, and Solzhenitsyn would have ended his days in Vermont rather than in Russia.

At first, we labored under the illusion that revamping the existing system — changes within the “socialist model” — would suffice. But the pushback from the Communist Party and the government bureaucracy was too strong. Toward the end of 1986, it became clear to me and my supporters that nothing less than the replacement of the system’s building blocks was needed.

We opted for free elections, political pluralism, freedom of religion and an economy with competition and private property. We sought to effect these changes in an evolutionary way and without bloodshed. We made mistakes. Important decisions were made too late, and we were unable to complete our perestroika.

Two conspiracies hijacked the changes — the attempted coup in August 1991, organized by the hard-line opponents of our reforms, which ended up weakening my position as president, and the subsequent agreement among the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus to dissolve the Union. Russia’s leaders then rejected the evolutionary path, plunging the country into chaos.

Nevertheless, when I am asked whether perestroika succeeded or was defeated, I reply: Perestroika won, because it brought the country to a point from which there could be no return to the past.

In the West, the breakup of the Soviet Union was viewed as a total victory that proved that the West did not need to change. Western leaders were convinced that they were at the helm of the right system and of a well-functioning, almost perfect economic model. Scholars opined that history had ended. The “Washington Consensus,” the dogma of free markets, deregulation and balanced budgets at any cost, was force-fed to the rest of the world.

But then came the economic crisis of 2008 and 2009, and it became clear that the new Western model was an illusion that benefited chiefly the very rich. Statistics show that the poor and the middle class saw little or no benefit from the economic growth of the past decades.

The current global crisis demonstrates that the leaders of major powers, particularly the United States, had missed the signals that called for a perestroika. The result is a crisis that is not just financial and economic. It is political, too.

The model that emerged during the final decades of the 20th century has turned out to be unsustainable. It was based on a drive for super-profits and hyper-consumption for a few, on unrestrained exploitation of resources and on social and environmental irresponsibility.

But if all the proposed solutions and action now come down to a mere rebranding of the old system, we are bound to see another, perhaps even greater upheaval down the road. The current model does not need adjusting; it needs replacing.

I have no ready-made prescriptions. But I am convinced that a new model will emerge, one that will emphasize public needs and public goods, such as a cleaner environment, well-functioning infrastructure and public transportation, sound education and health systems and affordable housing.

Elements of such a model already exist in some countries. Having rejected the tutorials of the International Monetary Fund, countries such as Malaysia and Brazil have achieved impressive rates of economic growth.

China and India have pulled hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. By mobilizing state resources, France has built a system of high-speed railways, while Canada provides free health care. Among the new democracies, Slovenia and Slovakia have been able to mitigate the social consequences of market reforms.

The time has come for “creative construction,” for striking the right balance between the government and the market, for integrating social and environmental factors and demilitarizing the economy.

Washington will have to play a special role in this new perestroika, not just because the United States wields great economic, political and military power in today’s global world, but because America was the main architect, and America’s elite the main beneficiary, of the current world economic model. That model is now cracking and will, sooner or later, be replaced. That will be a complex and painful process for everyone, including the United States.

However different the problems that the Soviet Union confronted during our perestroika and the challenges now facing the United States, the need for new thinking makes these two eras similar. In our time, we faced up to the main tasks of putting an end to the division of the world, winding down the nuclear arms race and defusing conflicts. We will cope with the new global challenges as well, but only if everyone understands the need for real, cardinal change — for a global perestroika.

The writer, the last general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, heads the International Foundation for Socio-Economic and Political Studies, a Moscow-based think tank.

— By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

Top

 

Towering blots on the peaks
by Manshi Asheri

Trying to capture the spectacular Himalayan landscape in your camera and cannot get the transmission cable out of the frame? What, to a tourist in the mountains is aesthetic nuisance or a mere spoiler of that perfect view, is turning out to be more than just that.

With the commissioning of many big and small hydroelectric projects (capacity of 15000 MW to be realised by 2012 in Himachal alone), the need for transmission of this power to the consumption centres outside the state means that the mountains are criss-crossed by a web of transmission lines.

These lines, along with the towers to support them, have many detrimental consequences that are resulting in the affected people being forced to come together to oppose this intrusion into their lives.

Spontaneous protests and agitations have emerged in at least four to five sites in Himachal against the setting up of tower lines. The movements have raised issues of agriculture fields being destroyed, horticulture, especially apple trees being affected and massive deforestation in areas which the lines are being hauled through.

Very little is known about the impact of transmission lines running overhead of fields and homes but research from other countries indicates that there are serious health issues as a result of the electro magnetic fields.

Accidents during farming activities due to stray voltage from the lines and towers, especially in the rains are common place in many mountain areas now.

While the massive environmental fallout of hydropower projects has been the centre of debate, little has been spoken about the damage caused due to transmission lines.

According to a recent report, ‘Mountains of Concrete: Dam Building in the Himalayas’ published by the International Rivers Network, “A unique feature of the Himalayan dams is that they are planned in areas that are far from major load centres.

“Hence, these projects will require construction of long transmission lines, which will push up the cost of energy from the projects. The transmission lines will require land and thus more people could be displaced”.

Furthermore, as these lines will traverse through difficult terrain and fragile ecosystems, they are likely to have significant impacts on the environment. Yet there seems to have been little assessment of these impacts.

These problems become even graver because there is no monitoring to ensure that existing safety standards and norms are being followed. “The prescribed height for the tower is 18 metres but this is practically not followed and in many cases the sag of the wires comes down to about 7 metres – the height of an apple tree is at least 9 to 10 metres – thus making it difficult for the tower lines and apple trees to co-exist”, says Vishambhar from Prini village in Kullu.

The problem of transmission lines has exacerbated as private players have entered the power production scenario and are laying their own lines across mountains and valleys in the state.

An Asian Development Bank report on hydropower looks at ‘right of way’ as a cost ‘constraint’ rather than a ‘ social concern’ in the building of transmission lines.

Compromising on the scale of hydropower generation itself is perhaps the answer to not just dealing with the transmission issue but holistically addressing the degradation of the Himalayan ecosystems by these projects. But that is unfathomable with our ‘power’ centred policy-making.

Even alternatives, which may be more conducive from the environment, health and safety point of view like underground transmission, bundling of lines and insulated bonding are not being considered as it would raise the cost of transmission manifold.

And the sole objective of power transmission is making sure that it is provided cheap to our power guzzling centres even if it means that the costs are borne out by those trapped in the web of transmission lines.

The writer is an environmental activist.

Top

 





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |