Apropos your editorial “Asif Zardari’s mea culpa” (Mint, 10 July), let us not start celebrating. The last 60-odd years have indicated that the Pakistani establishment should never be taken at face value. This is either part of a strategy to impress Western powers to force India to solve the Kashmir issue, or it could be that Zardari is having problems with the military and wants to refurbish his image. At a future date, when the military creates problems for him, he can try to seek help from the US and other powers. Another view could be that by making such an admission, Pakistan can canvass that the problem in Kashmir is not supported by it any more, while quietly encouraging separatists. It could be an attempt to kill several birds with one admission.
— S.D. Israni
This is with reference to Rohini Nilekani’s “A fine balance in Kutch” (Mint, 3 July). This news is not shocking to many of us, who have been closely observing the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) with its tall claims more than exposed in the face of stunning facts. Your reporting on Kutch is, however, revealing.
While Gujarat is able to use only 7-10% of the reservoir water, this is nothing but a Tuglaq way of carrying water from one end to the other. No doubt, the people of Kutch have approached the apex court over the promised water of SSP not reaching them.
Even today, at least 200,000 people in submergence areas are yet to be rehabilitated and SSP is yet to spend Rs20,000 crore more, after the Planning Commission estimated the current cost of the project to be Rs45,000 crore and the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) passed strictures against the government of Gujarat for misutilizing the funds granted to it under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme.
This is the right time, even though late, for the Planning Commission to review the entire cost-benefit status of SSP. It can save the valley, where alternative river basin management is still very much possible, feasible and more sustainable, if more water is not to be wasted but instead used effectively—beginning from the first stretch of the tribal belt to the local small and marginal farmers, including those affected by the reservoir and settled with many problems in that stretch of the command area.
— Medha Patkar
I totally disagree with the view expressed in Niranjan Rajadhyaksha’s “After bank nationalization” (Mint, 15 July). After liberalization, many private sector banks such as Times Bank and Global Trust Bank were set up; but they could not succeed, and had to be merged with public sector banks or other well-run banks. The reason for the failure is itself an indication that bank nationalization was right.
In addition to the above factor, I wish to draw attention to the huge salary and perks paid by private sector banks to its executives and officials. The chairman of the State Bank of India draws about Rs6 lakh while the chief executive of ICICI Bank draws more than Rs6 crore (per year). Also compare the prime lending rate of public sector banks and private sector banks. While public sector banks charge around 11-12%, private and foreign banks charge around 14-16%.
I can pinpoint many items where public money is used for private pleasure by officials in the private sector. Hence, government intervention in running the economy is a must; that is the reason for the Congress’comeback to power.
Both the Narasimha Rao and A.B. Vajpayee governments lost elections when they handed over public sector companies to the private sector. People know that their interest will be served better by the government sector rather than the private sector.
However, I agree that more professionalism and less interference from the ministries may give more returns than at present.
— K. Vital Shetty