The New Indian Express – 141 schools of Punjab’s Jalandhar to acquire smart e-classrooms

As per the information out of these 141 schools, 81 Schools were primary, 22 were middle, 12 High schools and 26 were Senior Secondary schools.

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 21 October 2018. In a bid to boost education sector, the state government envisaged a plan to convert 470 classrooms of 141 schools of the district into smart-e-classrooms at a cost of Rs 6.53 crore.

The funds were recently released by the Smart City Authority to the Education department, which would execute the work on these Smart-e-Classrooms.

As per the information out of these 141 schools, 81 Schools were primary, 22 were middle, 12 High schools and 26 were Senior Secondary schools.

The Smart-e-classes would be equipped with Stick PCs with Projectors, White Board, speakers, installation, 1 KVA UPS, 20 dual desks for Students and E-Content was being developed for classes I to XII as per state Board.

On an average around Rs 1.39 lakh would be spent on every class room to give a facelift to it and make it smart.

The Deputy Commissioner Varinder Kumar Sharma said that 33500 students would be benefitted from this project.

He said that project would ensure a digital education and increase learning achievements of students, enhancement of student attendance, interactive teaching and learning and focused engagement of students in the classrooms.

Mr Sharma said that technology integration in education would inspire positive changes in teaching methods on an international level adding that through audio-visual presentations, students would understand exactly how the knowledge was applied in practice.

The Deputy Commissioner said that the step was aimed at streamlining the education system by delivering quality education.

He said that in these ‘Smart-e-Classes’ Education would be imparted to the students in a practical manner along with creative activities.

Mr Sharma said that it was an important project, which was aimed at upgrading the education paraphernalia of the district by delivering quality education facilities to the students.

The Deputy Commissioner said that this initiative would ensure that the students in the government schools get high quality education on ultra modern lines.

He said that this would also help in enabling the students of the government schools to compete with the private schools.

He said that the students emerging out from these smart classes would be able to clear any competitive exam in this cut throat competition era. – Phoolka upset over drug usage in SGPC elections, Seeks amendment in Sikh Gurdwara Act

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 18 October 2018. After resigning from the legislative assembly of Punjab, former Supreme Court lawyer Harvinder Singh Phoolka has expressed concern over the misuse of prominent Sikh bodies like SGPC and DSGMC by the political parties for their vested interests.

He has said that the politicians are misusing these Sikh bodies for their own benefits.

Harvinder Singh Phoolka has said that it was very unfortunate that the use of drugs and alcohol has become common in the SGPC elections and the politicians don’t refrain from stooping so low to take control of sacred religious bodies.

Recalling the last SGPC elections held in 2011, Phoolka said that he had tried his best to put control over use of drugs in SGPC elections by executing a campaign in collaboration with Giani Kewal Singh under the banner of “Panthik Taalmel Committee” but still these politicians succeeded in winning elections using Drugs and establishing control over the apex Sikh body.

Appealing the Sikh community to make efforts for terminating political influence on these sacred Sikh bodies, Phoolka has sought amendment into the existing Sikh Gurdwara Act so that the politicians could be stopped from misusing the resources of Sikh community.


Welkenraedt NMBS
16 September

The train from Liège to Aachen

Aachen train at the platform

Evi will not take anybody’s place

Rue de l’Eglise
16 September

Evi will not take anybody’s place

Welkenraedt – Montzen tracks

View of the town
16 September

View of Welkenraedt across the park

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

DNA India – Why Punjab CM Amarinder Singh asked for detailed ‘socio-economic profiles’ of Amritsar train victims

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 21 October 2018. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Sunday directed the Amritsar administration to make detailed socio-economic profiles of victims of the train accident which claimed 59 lives.

At least 59 people were killed and 72 injured Friday evening after a crowd of Dussehra revellers that had spilled onto railway tracks while watching burning of Ravana effigy was run over by a train near Joda Phatak in Amritsar.

The chief minister, who met some of the survivors in the hospital Saturday, was particularly moved by tales of two young women who lost their entire family including children and husbands, and in one case even her in-laws, an official release said.

Anguished at the plight of such survivors, Singh told Chief Principal Secretary Suresh Kumar that the government needed to do more than just giving Rs 5 lakh ex-gratia, especially in cases where victims were poor.

The senior Congress leader announced that a proper system would be worked out to ensure that such survivors were rehabilitated by the state at the earliest.

On Sunday, while reviewing the situation in the aftermath of the train tragedy, the Punjab chief minister directed the district officials to prepare detailed socio-economic profiles of the victims.

He also directed that ration, clothing, medicines etc be provided to the families of the victims as most were from the economically weaker sections of the society.

Singh reviewed the relief and rehabilitation work with the Crisis Management Group of ministers headed by state Health Minister Brahm Mohindra, and directed them to take immediate steps for early disbursement of the compensation.

All steps should be taken for the effective rehabilitation of the survivors and families of the victims, he added.The Crisis Management Group was set up by the state government on Friday, immediately after the disaster struck.

Dawn – Bhasha dam and Pakistan’s water crisis

Taimoor Akhtar

Diamer-Bhasha Dam – Gilgit-Baltistan – Pakistan, 20 October 2018. Pakistan will reach ‘absolute water scarcity’ and will ‘run dry’ by 2025 are two popular expressions that have been circulating in world media over the past six months.

These expressions are typically followed by strong advocacy for the Basha dam and other large storages. The advocates for the Basha dam, in particular, have been the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the newly elected government, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI).

Moreover, the importance given to the Basha dam has been so significant that the Supreme Court and the government have jointly initiated a crowdsourcing drive (probably the first of its kind on this scale), requesting Pakistani citizens to fund the multi-billion dollar mega-project.

Many Pakistanis have responded positively to this request and are contributing to the dam fund. There are many stakeholders though, who have reservations on the development of the Basha dam, or any other large storage within the Indus basin.

For instance, people of Sindh have historically had serious reservations regarding construction of large surface storage reservoirs, primarily due to their potential catastrophic impact on the Indus delta.

If there is more water upstream, less will flow into the delta, drying up the region, and severely affecting the coastal communities of Sindh.

It seems though that the public opinion is in favour of Basha, maybe because people are fearful of the country’s impending ‘absolute water scarcity’. Yet, do we fully understand the meaning of ‘absolute water scarcity’?

Furthermore, do we understand the role of Basha dam and other large storages in tackling our water scarcity challenges?

The term ‘absolute water scarcity’ actually has two distinct formal definitions. According to the Falkenmark Indicator, ‘absolute water scarcity’ is reached when a country has less than 500 cubic meters of water available per capita.

This definition is hard to comprehend without knowing the per capita water demand of a country. For instance, countries like Singapore and the UAE have per capita water availabilities that are significantly below the ‘absolute water scarcity’ thresholds.

However, since these countries have insignificant agricultural water demands, their water availability levels are sufficient for other consumptive uses such as drinking water, domestic demands, and industrial demands.

Pakistan, on the other hand, is an agricultural-centric economy (the Falkenmark Indicator was developed bearing Israel, a developed country with a highly industrialised economy, in mind) and hence, has a significantly higher water demand (per capita) than Singapore and UAE.

This is where the second definition of ‘absolute (or physical) water scarcity’ becomes relevant. According to the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), ‘physical (or absolute) water scarcity’ is reached when a country’s water demands, both human and environmental, exceed its available renewable water.

A recent analysis published in UNDP’s Development Advocate Pakistan (DAP) (Issue 3, Volume 4) reports that Pakistan is already extracting more than 74 per cent of its renewable water resource annually.

It is highly likely that this extraction/availability percentage estimate is based on average annual water availability, but what about drought years?

Today’s reality of climate change and the natural variability of river flows mean that annual freshwater availability (in most river basins) can vary dramatically. This is the reason why the Indus basin experienced massive flooding in the 2010-11 water year with total freshwater availability exceeded 150 Million Acre Feet (MAF).

The droughts of 2000-01 were the other extreme of the variability spectrum, and freshwater availability was less than 100 MAF in 2000-01. The net annual crop water demand of Pakistan’s Indus Basin Irrigation System (IBIS) alone is around 100 MAF.

Pakistan’s agricultural demand (excluding conveyance and field losses) is around 90 per cent of total consumptive demand.

Hence, assuming that an additional 10-15 MAF may be required for domestic, industrial and environmental use (environmental flow requirements to the Arabian Sea may be more than 10 MAF per annum), Pakistan’s current water demand may easily exceed the water availability in a drought year, as was the case in 2000-01.

If such drought conditions are encountered in the future, and for extended periods, Pakistan will indeed face ‘physical (absolute) water scarcity’.

This is where new large storage dams like Basha can be extremely important. They can assist our water decision makers in providing surplus water supplies (stored in non-drought years) in extended drought periods.

According to a recent analysis conducted by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), the country is likely to experience an extended drought by 2025.

In-fact the current year, 2017-18, is a drought year. The Basha dam makes eminent sense in the context of sustaining the country through such droughts.

Is Pakistan ready to manage drought?

However, is our current reservoir management framework equipped to use Basha effectively during extended periods of drought? Are drought predictions incorporated into the management of our current reservoirs?

Management of the Mangla reservoir during the 2017-18 drought seems to indicate that we are not equipped to manage our reservoirs during droughts.

The reservoir management framework in Pakistan follows a very familiar pattern every year.

Our two current large storages, i.e., Tarbela and Mangla, are filled during the wet season of Kharif, from April to September (and mostly during June-August), and emptied during the dry season of Rabi, October to March – primarily, to fulfil water requirements for wheat production.

Since both dams are filled and subsequently emptied within a year, they cannot really hedge us during drought years.

This management phenomenon is understandable for Tarbela reservoir, that has lost more than 30 per cent of its storage capacity since inception, and hence, has to consume its entire storage for irrigation demand in every Rabi season.

However, the story for Mangla is different. Mangla dam was raised in 2009 that increased the storage capacity of its reservoir by more than 50 per cent.

The added storage should have given the reservoir managers an opportunity to change its filling pattern, and carryover its storage over multiple years to hedge for drought periods.

However, even after a significant increase in storage capacity, the management of Mangla has continued to follow the within-year fill-and-empty pattern.

A consequence of this static management pattern is that the current storage (at the start of the current Rabi season) of Mangla stands at less than 40 per cent of its capacity.

Rethinking reservoir strategies

The significant annual uncertainties of river flows in the Indus Basin demand a rethink of our reservoir management and operations strategies. But can we predict these uncertainties in advance?

Recent advances in satellite-based hydrological predictions and geospatial data analytics indicate that concrete indicators of seasonal water availability predictions such as snow cover area and glacial extents can be estimated, and algorithms for these estimations for Upper Indus Basin are available.

Hence, predictions of droughts are possible, and should be used by reservoirs managers in Pakistan to hedge for droughts.

It is high time that our reservoir managers incorporate these technological advances into their decision-making process, and showcase a well-informed, dynamic and creative reservoir management thought process. Only then can we attempt to tackle our future water challenges.

Only then, we may deserve to spend billions of dollars on building new large storages.

This article was originally published on The Third Pole.