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Punjab, Haryana farmers suffer as crop gets ‘electrocuted’



farmers crops

Chandigarh, April 14 : Farmers in the agrarian states of Punjab and Haryana are often blamed for causing environmental and health concerns by burning crop residue but scores of farmers also suffer burning of their crop for no fault of theirs.

Incidents of standing wheat crop being burnt to cinder across hundreds of acres in Punjab and Haryana have come to light in the past 10 days, just ahead of the harvest.

The reason? Short-circuiting of overhead high-tension electricity wires that criss-cross agricultural fields in both states.

In Punjab’s Patiala district, for instance, the crop over nearly 200 acres in Kathgarh Chana and Khagta Kalan villages was burnt last week.

“The short-circuit can happen anytime — day or night. While in the daytime, the fire is noticed by someone and steps are taken to control it, at night it can cause extensive damage,” farmer Jagir Singh of Patiala district told IANS.

“We had been complaining to the electricity department officials that the loose overhead electricity wires are dangerous, but they have not replaced these on time. This has led to the damage,” he added, pointing to his own loss of over Rs 2 lakh.

The Sangrur-Patiala highway was blocked by farmers for some time last week near Sohiyan village after the wheat crop — ripe and ready after four to five months of intense effort — was damaged on five acres of land. The fire was caused by a short-circuit.

“A similar incident took place last year. The authorities failed to replace outdated electricity wires,” farmer Balwinder Singh of Jheormajra village pointed out, adding that he was going to harvest the wheat crop when the incident took place.

Officials of the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) say that they try to replace the defective wires but sometimes the exercise takes time.

“Whenever we get complaints from farmers and village panchayats regarding faulty and loose wires, we try to repair them on priority. However, sometimes a delay occurs and farmers have to suffer,” an Executive Engineer with PSPCL told IANS.

Farmers rue the fact that they are forced to fend for themselves as the fire brigade facility is available only in major towns and cities.

“The fire brigade reaches the spot after one hour or even later. By that time, the fire spreads. At times, villagers use local resources to douse the fire,” farmer Gurjant Singh of Bathinda district pointed out.

On Wednesday, wheat crop on 23 acres of land of two farmers was damaged in Chugte Khurd village of Bathinda district due to a short-circuit in the overhead electricity wires.

Revenue officials have to calculate the loss suffered by farmers in such incidents so that the authorities can provide some compensation to the farmers.

Green Revolution state Punjab, which occupies just 1.54 per cent of the country’s geographical area, contributes nearly 50 per cent of foodgrain to the national kitty. The production in neighbouring Haryana is nearly 40 per cent of that of Punjab.

By : Jaideep Sarin

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at [email protected])


Flamingos migrated from Gujarat’s Kutch seen at Mumbai’s Airoli, Watch video



Flamingos migrating from Kutch

Flock of flamingos which migrated from Gujarat’s Kutch seen at Mumbai’s Airoli on Saturday. Every year Mumbaikers witnesses an estimated 20,000-25,000 flamingoes.


The places where the birds can be seen in abundance are Thane creek, Airoli, Mahul and Sewri. Most of the flamingo population that comes to the city consists of Lesser Flamingoes; the rest are Greater Flamingoes.



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The strange trio of Sex, Science and the State — and its consequences

Though her thesis is not brought out very exhaustively, she makes a fair enough case and that is enough to make this a must read — especially for ministers.



Sex and Gender

An Indian minister has made himself notorious all over social media for his comments questioning Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, but can we take this to show that the two worlds — of politics and science — are exclusive or even antagonistic? Not at all, and scientific disciplines that apparently seem farthest placed from human affairs may be the most influential.

For science has done more for setting the course of nations and their governance and economy than we can suspect — beyond its part in helping develop powerful weapons or technologies.

While this alliance of politics and science is a far more recent development than we think, it owes its genesis to botany, and two 18th century natural scientists who furthered this combination, as Patricia Fara shows in this book, part of a special set chronicling key turning points in science.

And this — in the last three decades or so of the 18th century — qualifies well enough for it shows how science progressed beyond the pastime or patronage of rich, idle noblemen to become institutionalised with government support.

And as Fara, from the History and Philosophy of Science department at Cambridge University, shows it not only saw the rather incongruous trio of the “Three Ss” — sex, science and the state — coming together with so many consequences, but also brought the subject of sex out into the public discourse, though against much opposition.

It also set in train a process — in Britain initially — that would lead a few decades later to Darwin boarding HMS Beagle to make the observations that enabled him to formulate his theory of man’s origin and development — a theory which has stood the test of time despite what some misguided or willfully ignorant politicians may think.

At the heart of this development, shows Fara’s account, were two naturalists, not as famous as Issac Newton or Darwin but contributing to science’s progress at a time “science started to become established and gain prestige”.

And both of Carl Linnaeus and Joseph Banks, along with the other Enlightenment contemporaries, “fought hard to establish that scientific knowledge was valid and valuable”.

Linnaeus was a gifted but eccentric and self-propagandising Swede whose classification system for all living organism still rules today, but raised hackles of his conservative society by using sexual parts to order flowers and using human terminology for the purpose.

Banks was his British “disciple” -turned-science administrator — and no less self-propagandising — but also managed to make “science work for the state — and the state to pay for science”. A key cameo is played by that intrepid explorer, Captain James Cook.

And in telling their story, Fara ranges over small Swedish towns and the country’s unforgiving terrain, the mansions and the seats of power of Georgian England as well as its lush countryside, hazardous voyages over uncharted oceans, encounters with uninhibited, pre-industrial societies in South Pacific islands, ambition and professional jealousy, to show how the underlying root was something more heartlessly mercenary.

For, as she contends, “scientific exploration in the Age of Reason was driven by an imperialist agenda to own, to conquer and to exploit”. But apart from the above spin-offs, there were some other positive benefits too, as she brings out. Say the way, men, especially white Europeans, began to see rest of humanity and themselves in the world, or what women could be allowed to study or not — though it would still take time before all these would be tangibly realised for all.

Along with her lucid and telling discourse on the birth of modern botany with Linnaeus and Banks — almost concurrently with its economic uses, Fara also enlivens it with a colourful account of their explorations in various climes and encounters with exotic races and, above all, the contemporary public reactions to their discoveries and doings. And this could have a thing or two to teach protesters today.

Though her thesis is not brought out very exhaustively, she makes a fair enough case and that is enough to make this a must read — especially for ministers.

By : Vikas Datta

(Vikas Datta can be contacted at [email protected]

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France ditches plans for controversial west coast airport

Activists on the 1,600-hectare rural site say they have developed it into a utopia of organic farming and political debate.



Edouard Philippe

The French government on Wednesday formally abandoned decades-old plans for a controversial new airport on the west coast that became a site of resistance for environmental activists.

In a keenly awaited announcement, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the divisions unleashed by the proposed new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes near the city of Nantes made it impossible to proceed.

“The project cannot go ahead in a climate of bitter opposition between two sides of the population that are nearly equal in size,” he said, adding: “The project is therefore abandoned.

The decision ends years of debate over a project first mooted in the 1960s — but sets the stage for a possible standoff with environmental activists who have been occupying the airport site for the past decade.

Activists on the 1,600-hectare rural site say they have developed it into a utopia of organic farming and political debate.

Philippe gave them until the spring to leave voluntarily, after which they would be evicted.

“We will put a stop to the no-go zone which has flourished in this area for nearly 10 years,” he said.

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