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Flood control measures along Yamuna incomplete; What if the flood comes, it will be responsible for the administration?

Karnal :
A sense of fear prevails among residents of more than 30 villages located along the Yamuna in the district as work on flood prevention measures is still incomplete even 15 days after the deadline.

However, the authorities claim that the work is in the final stages. The Tribune team found that JCB machines and labourers were still working of new studs. Stones were also being dumped at various places and old studs were not repaired.

Residents of various villages said the flood prevention measures should have been started four months back.

Sources in the administration said the meeting of the flood control measures was held in March and tenders were floated in April and the work of making stone studs was started in Kundakalan and Jammukhala villages at the cost of Rs70 lakh and Rs250 lakh, respectively in May, while the deadline was June 30.

The sources said if the meeting would have been held in January or February, then there would have no delay in making arrangements.

The residents alleged that the department had learnt no lessons from the past.
Suresh Kumar, a resident of Mustafabad village, alleged that their village was prone to flood, but no flood prevention measures had been initiated in the village so far.
Raj Kumar and Bunty, residents of Mustfabad village, said even the old studs along the Yamuna in their village were not repaired.

Ramesh Kumar, a resident of Jammukhala village, alleged that the Irrigation Department had started the work late.

On May 31, Deputy Commissioner Aditya Dahiya toured the flood-prone areas and reprimanded the officials concerned for slow pace of work.

Dahiya said that the officials concerned had been directed to speed up the work.
Rajesh Tonk, SE, Irrigation, said that the work was in its final stages.

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In Karnal, 5 held for giving info on RTA staff location; Did this gang give government billions of crores?

Karnal :
Five members of a gang were arrested for allegedly informing transporters through WhatsApp groups the location of Road Transport Authority (RTA) officials so that overload vehicles can have a safe passage.

The police seized three vehicles, seven mobile phones and Rs.1.11 lakh from them.

The accused have been identified as Irfan, Azam, Mubarik and Sufian, all residents of Shamli district in Uttar Pradesh, and Rehan of Balhera in Gharaunda block of Haryana. They were booked under Sections 420, 453, 186 and 120-B of the IPC, he added.

Virender Singh, in charge, CIA-I, said the police had received a complaint from RTA inspector Munish Kumar regarding a gang chasing vehicles of officials and informing transporters of overloaded vehicles of their locations.

Subsequently, Assistant Sub-inspector (ASI) Shamsher Singh and other police officials arrested five members of a gang from Meerut road near a Karnal sugar mill while conveying to transporters the location of RTA officials through a WhatsApp group on Saturday evening.

About the modus operandi, the CIA in charge said the accused had several WhatsApp groups with more than 200 transporters or truck drivers in each group. They charged Rs2,000 per month from each transporter. “Group members chase RTA officials from their office and keep on informing transporters their location,” he said.

He added, “Such groups were active in Yamunanagar and Kurukshetra districts as well. Group members convey the location of officials in code words.”

They used WhatsApp 

  • The accused has several WhatsApp groups with more than 200 transporters or truck drivers in each group
  • They charge Rs 2,000 per month from each transporter
  • They chase RTA officials from their office and keep on informing transporters their location
  • Group members convey the location of officials in code words

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Deepender accuses govt of shelving major projects; Is Deepender saying right?

Hisar :
The Congress MP from Rohtak Deepender Singh Hooda has alleged that the BJP government has derailed the state from the path of growth and development and “also inflicted much damage to the social fabric by adopting its divisive politics”.
Addressing a gathering in Narnaund town, Deepender, who is on a visit to various Assembly segments for the last three days, said political vibes of the state had made it clear that the people were eager to overthrow “the corrupt and non-performing BJP government”. Hopefully, the Congress would come to power and the state would again march ahead on the path of development, he said.

Revealing a long list of projects which has been reportedly shelved by the BJP government, the Congress MP said the previous government had planned to set up an international airport on the border of three districts – Hisar, Rohtak and Bhiwani – at an estimated cost of Rs 20-25,000 crores. “Another major project of setting up a rail coach factory in Gohana having an investment of about Rs 3,500 crore was shifted elsewhere by this government. These two projects would have drawn huge investment, besides being a major source of employment for the local youth,” Hooda said.

He alleged that the project of connecting Hansi to Rohtak via rail link was initiated when the then UPA government’s Railway Minister laid the foundation stone of the project in Hansi in 2013. But the BJP government seems to have no interest in pursuing the project and, thus, it has been hanging fire.

Hooda stated that these projects would be expedited if the Congress government came to power.

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Farmers in Punjab, Haryana lose appetite for basmati; Should the government change its farmer policy?

Chandigarh :

Farmers in Punjab are losing interest in the cultivation of basmati because of unremunerative prices and low yields.

Thanks to the apathy of successive state governments and the Centre, farmers have been left with little option but to ditch what was once a money spinning crop. The much touted crop diversification has proved to a cruel joke on debt-ridden sons of the soil, many of them are killing themselves.

While prices have stagnated, the area under basmati has declined steadily over the years, especially after huge consignments to the EU and the Middle-East were rejected due to traces of fertilisers and herbicides in the grain. There were also charges that certain unscrupulous traders were mixing low-grade produce with the approved quality of grain.

All this made the market a very uncompetitive place, also the local consumption of basmati is small. Ballooning inventories complicated the situation further, and the end result was that prices crashed and the farmers who had dared to diversify burnt their fingers.

For a farmer, it is all about economics and putting food on the plate for his family. Opting for ‘parmal’ made sense since the farmer was assured that his crop would be lifted and he would be paid on time.

A quintal of parmal would sell for Rs 1,750 (post MSP) and the average yield is 28-30 quintal per acre. So a farmer would earn Rs 52,000 per acre if he grew this variety as compared to Rs 2,500-Rs 2,600 per quintal for basmati or Rs 44,000 per acre. The only catch being that the average yield of the latter is just 16-17 per quintal per acre. A losing proposition indeed!

For all the official talk, there is no fixed price for basmati and no agency procures it per se. It is the call of the commission agents and private players who call the shots, and it is the farmer who suffers.

APEDA data shows that the area under basmati shrunk by nearly 10 per cent in Haryana and nine per cent in Punjab. It is likely to go down this Kharif too.
Paddy is a water guzzler but basmati requires less water and is labour and input intensive. It is also susceptible to diseases and pests and needs pruning at regular intervals to prevent lodging. Unseasonal rains accompanied by high-velocity winds flatten the crop, with the result that harvesting it manually often becomes a necessity. Given the labour shortage faced in Punjab, the woes of the hapless farmers can be well imagined.

The availability of quality seeds, pesticides and other inputs are also areas of concern for such farmers. The crop also suffers as unscrupulous commission agents and dealers often offload poor quality products on the unsuspecting farmer. He not only has to pay for spurious inputs but also ends up with a failed crop or produce that he is forced to sell at a pittance.

Since basmati is sown late the window for the next crop is even smaller and he races against time to secure loans for his next crop to make up for past losses.
The last variety to come out of the stables of PAU was 1121, but that too failed to click with the farmers. So it's back to square one, ‘parmal’and procurement. So much for doubling the income of farmers by 2020!

A way out had been mooted by a high-level parliamentary committee headed by former Himachal Pradesh CM Shanta Kumar. He had suggested that infrastructure should be strengthened in states for which paddy is procured so that the existing one in the North could be used to grow other crops and cereals. This would not only save groundwater but also give a fillip to oilseeds and other farm produce.

The huge recurring cost incurred in procuring, storing and then transporting food grain could be used for other purposes like processing facilities.   

All this is hampered by fiscal allocations but as the political class promises the moon, the ground reality is that basmati leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of the  farmer in the hinterland.

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State gets HC rap for inaction against unrecognised schools; Will 3200 unrecognized schools be closed?

Chandigarh :

Censuring Haryana for not closing schools running without recognition, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that the government is under an obligation to act against them.

Directing the filing of a status report in the matter, a Division Bench added that it would be compelled to require personal appearance of the Chief Secretary in case of non-furnishing of the document.

He would be asked to assist the court and elaborate on reasons for not discharging the legal obligation by officials. The Bench set July 25 as the deadline for the purpose.
The order by a Bench of Chief Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Arun Palli came on a petition filed in public interest by the Swasthya Shiksha Sahyog Sangathan against the state and other respondents.

The petitioner alleged that a large number of schools within the state were running without recognition, mandatory under the Haryana School Education Act, 1995, and Haryana School Education Rules, 2003.

It was further alleged that final action had not been taken even after the issuance of notice to 53 unrecognised schools.

Referring to the previous orders, the Bench asserted that an Additional Advocate-General, vide order dated February 15, was required to apprise the court of the progress made in the matter.

Thereafter, the matter was adjourned on five occasions at the behest of the state counsel seeking time to furnish the required information.
The Bench noted the assertion of the counsel appearing for the petitioner that proceedings were initiated against some schools, but came to a halt due to undue pressure by the lobby running unrecognised schools.

“We are surprised that the authorities are not discharging their obligation under the rules to put a stop to the running of unrecognised schools and have failed to discharge their duties. As a last opportunity, a week’s time is allowed to Additional Advocate-General to bring on record the status report,” the Bench asserted.
Referring to provisions of the Haryana School Education Act and Haryana School Education Rules, the petitioner had argued that recognition of a school was mandatory.

In the absence of recognition by the government under the provisions of the Act and the Rules, no school could operate in the state, the petitioner had said.

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