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Value of heritage must be understood

With news report Victorian architecture in for change (March 7) by Neeraj Bagga, The Tribune has once again brought to public notice the pitiable plight of our heritage that we continue to destroy with impunity and callousness. While fully supporting Balvinder Singh’s lamentation, I wish to point out the cock-eyed view of the Divisional Railway Manager who uses what I call “the logic of convenience” which, in tandem with assertions of ignorance, makes a deadly combination. Indeed, he vainly seeks to justify an inherently distorted “beautification plan” that aims at a new design which, he says, is being made in conformity with the Sikh architecture.

The austerity of Victorian architecture sharply contrasts with the exuberance of Sikh architecture, and their juxtaposition would make a mockery of both. Vishwesh Chaubey’s view that the Victorian architecture of Amritsar railway station is not of a grand scale is hopelessly misplaced. The architectural merit of a building inheres in its essential character (not scale), which can be big in small and small in big. If Ms Mamata Banerjee reads this comment, I would implore her to use some of her ebullient energy to save this heritage which has been a witness to the growth of the holy city for 150 years.

Dr S.S. BHATTI, former Principal, Chandigarh College of Architecture, Chandigarh

ITBP’s clarification

To the news report Whistleblower being ‘harassed’ by ITBP (Feb 25) I would like to add that the report was published without the ITBP version. ITBP would like to clarify certain facts. Sudesh Kumar, who had served in the ITBP as a sub-inspector (S I), was compulsorily retired from service on grounds of gross indiscipline. He had challenged various orders of disciplinary authorities, first in the M P High Court and then in the J&K High Court. As on date, the Division Bench of the J&K High Court had ruled in favour of the ITBP on appeal against the reinstatement order of the Single Judge of the J&K High Court. Even the contempt petition filed by Sudesh Kumar was dismissed in favour of the ITBP.

With regard to the matter of alleged Rs 300 crore training allowance scam in the force 23 years ago, I want to clarify that no such scam took place. Sudesh Kumar seems to be referring to the 30 per cent of basic pay training allowance sanctioned in terms of the Department of Personnel and Training (Govt of India) Office Memo dated March 31, 1987, to faculty members of all training institutions not only in the ITBP, but in all the organisations of the Government of India, which was reduced to 15 per cent of the basic pay due to economic crunch with effect from July 9, 1992, by the government. Sudesh Kumar has no connection whatsoever with this decision. We are also not aware how this figure of Rs 300 crore has been arrived at. It is clarified that no such alleged scam of Rs 300 crore regarding training allowance has occurred in the ITBP, nor has Sudesh Kumar, an ex-sub-inspector of the ITBP, any connection with having saved any public money in this regard.


Tougher PM

In response to the letters PM’s integrity beyond reproach (Feb 21), I want to say that indeed Dr Manmohan Singh’s integrity as a Prime Minister cannot be questioned. However, his being soft-spoken and honest are not enough to lead a nation of over one billion people.

India’s law and order situation has been worsening day after day. Doesn’t the Prime Minister understand that his prime duty is to take effective steps to maintain the laws of the land? Why has it been so difficult for him to enact laws to keep criminals from contesting polls? Why have there been no laws to stop Chief Ministers and politicians from grooming their sons for politics?

Despite having an honest Prime Minister for so many years, nothing has improved on the front of governance. The need of the hour is that Dr Singh should act tough. 


Terror alert

Pakistan has the undeclared status of a terrorist state, and its duplicity/helplessness towards terrorists and freedom of speech is like running with the hare and hunting with the hound (editorial, Killing field called Pakistan”, March 4).

Salman Taseer’s brutal murder and the aftermath of treating the assassin as hero, followed by celebrations, spell out the mindset, miasma and the nation’s peril.  However, the biggest threat is if jehadis ever lay their hands on nuclear weapons, there would be no mercy and reason with them. India should keep Mossad- like surveillance and intelligence to save the nation from the real threat.

B M SINGH, Amritsar

Sikh CMD

Recently letters have appeared in The Tribune favouring a Sikh for the position of CMD for Punjab and Sind bank. It must be remembered that it is not a religious but a commercial institution like other nationalised banks.

It is spread in all states; its employees and customers are from all communities. If a Sikh CMD is appointed for the sole reason that he is a Sikh, then he may be partial to the Sikh employees and customers and thus harmonious working in the bank would be disrupted.

Other banks were also started by distinct communal, religious, caste and regional leaders. Other communities will also raise such demands, damaging the secular character of the nation. Such demands should be rejected.


Peacock poaching 

The series of felonies by the poachers, traders and locals speaks volumes of the apathy of the wildlife department to conserve peacocks, our national bird (news report, 20 peacocks found dead in the fields”, March 2). That the reported deaths can be due to poison-laced grains seems neither convincing nor factual as no rodent, bird and other creature was found dead along with the carcasses of peacocks.

There is no peacock specific poison. Poaching of peacocks is rampant because of its fat, feather and meat. Peacock fat is reportedly exported to other countries. The traders know that peacock is a creature of habit. They strangle it and pluck out all the feathers to be sold to tourists and others for religious purposes. People who can lay their hands on peacocks slaughter them to consume their meat. Wildlife crimes need to be prevented with determination because many species are on the brink of extinction. It is a pity that the conservator of forests has now come out of its slumber to launch a campaign to educate the public and farmers not to spread poison-laced grains to guard their crops. Why was it not a part of the charter of duties of the wildlife department so that the deaths of peacocks could be prevented? 




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