The Indian Express – Punjab soil & water conservation department submits rainwater harvesting plan to state, Centre

“Punjab has been facing the problem of depleting groundwater for over two decades now, but the state’s successive governments seemed to have no political will to get a real solution to tackle the issue except making statements,” said an expert.

Anju Agnihotri Chaba

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 23 June 2019. Punjab’s soil and water conservation department has prepared a Rs 213 crore action plan for ‘Rain Water Harvesting and Rain Water Recharging (RWH&RWR)’ systems to address the issue of fast-depleting groundwater. It has been submitted to both state and central governments.

Experts say that this plan, once implemented, can save huge amounts of rain water and reduce groundwater usage to a large extent.

“Punjab has been facing the problem of depleting groundwater for over two decades now, but the state’s successive governments seemed to have no political will to get a real solution to tackle the issue except making statements,” said an expert on ground water from the state agriculture department, adding that RWH&RWR systems are the need of the hour here where ground water is depleting by over half a metre each year.

Punjab receives around 650 mm rainfall annually, 75% is received between June and September.

“For average rainfall of 1,000 mm, approximately four million litres of rainwater can be collected a year in an acre of land post-evaporation.

So if Punjab gets around 650 mm rain, then around 2.5 million litres can be collected,” said Gurvinder Singh Dhillon, map officer, chief conservator office, Chandigarh.

“In urban areas, more than 65% to 70% rain water get wasted, either going into sewer lines or evaporating due to lack of kuccha places and green belts.

If we start harvesting and recharging rain water from big buildings, use of groundwater will decrease and water level will automatically go up in a few years,” said a senior officer of the department’s town planning wing, adding that several such projects had been proposed in the state in the past but nothing was done.

“We have made an action plan because in Punjab, 70% of the population depends on groundwater for drinking and irrigation purposes,” said Dharminder Sharma, IFS, chief conservator of the soil department.

He further said that in the Kandi belt (sub-mountainous) more than 60 water harvesting structures and over 500 smaller check dams have been constructed in the past two decades.

The plan has been submitted to the Centre in January and the state government in May, and shall be implemented in the coming couple of years, he added.

“The action plan has been prepared with a total outlay of Rs 213.75 crore which includes Rs 73.75 crore for installing 305 rain water harvesting structures in Kandi area, Rs 112.50 crores for constructing 2500 rain water recharging Shafts across state, Rs 2.50 crores for constructing 50 units of recharge ground water at tail ends of the canal system and Rs 25 crores for constructing 100 units of rejuvenation of village water Bodies for recharge and Irrigation source Creation,” said Dhillon.

“Besides focusing on water recharge, the plan also includes interventions for reducing ground water withdrawal by utilising harvested water for irrigation,” said chief conservator Sharma.

The action plan also includes suggestions of micro-watersheds in earthen or RCC dams.

How rainwater recharging/harvesting is done

Rain water collected on rooftops/open spaces of houses/buildings is added to soil through underground pipes laid from the rooftop to the ground. On ground, two tanks are constructed as per the requirement of the premises and the collected rain water through pipes goes into the first tank directly, gets filtered and then goes into the second tank.

Expenditure varies from Rs 50,000 to Rs. 5 lakh depending on the area.

Rain water harvesting is collection of rain water by storing it in a different ways, for example, by constructing ponds in low-lying areas from where it is later lifted for irrigation purposes and watering plants in parks. Wells are also constructed in sub-mountainous areas and from there, water is supplied to the fields through underground pipes. – Rise of Hindutva: Singer Hard Kaur blames Indian leaders for terrorism and political murders

Sikh24 Editors

London – UK, 22 June 2019. Taran Kaur Dhillon, also known as Hard Kaur has recently expressed fury over the rise of the right-wing and Hindu nationalism in India. Taran is a hip hop and Bollywood singer. She settled in the UK after her father was killed during the state-sponsored 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms.

She has openly condemned and labelled the BJP and RSS as terrorists, responsible for mass murders in India.

Amongst those targeted by Taran are Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, RSS leader Mohan Bhagwat, and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Hard Kaur has taken a strong stand against the rise of right-wing Hindutva in India on various social media platforms.

Labelling Mohan Bhagwat as a terrorist, Taran said, “He is responsible for all terrorist attacks in India including 26/11, Pulwama Attack.

The face of all problems in India. Constitutional casteism is a crime. You were banned by Sardar Patel ji after Gandhi’s murder by Godse. You are not a Nationalist.”

In another post describing Yogi Adityanath, Taran alleged that he was a rapist.

Rise of Hindutva: Singer Hard Kaur Blames Indian Leaders for Terrorism and Political Murders

Gent-Sint-Pieters – Brussel Noord

Bloemekes – Flowers
11 June 2019

Wildflowers in front of Sint-Pieters station

Deep purple !

Madeliefjes – Daisies

11 June 2019

All station train from Mechelen to Zeebrugge via Gent

 I took  a train to Brussel Noord

Brussel Noord

11 June 2019

TGV Thalys from Amsterdam to Paris via Brussel Midi

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The – Garda management feared Sikh members could win discrimination cases over turban ban

Earlier this year the force announced a change to rules in relation to uniforms to allow the wearing of turbans and hijabs.

Michelle Hennessy

Baile Átha Cliath – Éire, 23 June 2019. Garda management feared that Sikh members of the force could win discrimination cases over the restriction on wearing a turban with their uniform, an internal report has revealed.

In April ‘An Garda Síochána’ announced a decision to allow alterations to be made to the uniform for religious and ethnic reasons. Under the changes, the wearing of the turban for members of the Sikh community and the hijab for Muslims is now allowed.

The announcement was made as the force opened a new recruitment competition, which was advertised under the slogan ‘The Difference is You’.

An internal report, obtained under Freedom of Information by ‘Noteworthy’, the investigative journalism platform from, was completed in March this year by Chief Superintendent Tony McLoughlin.

As part of his report, he explored the case law around prohibiting the wearing of the turban, including a case taken by a garda reserve applicant who was a member of the Sikh community.

The man had attended training in the Garda College in Templemore and when he went to collect his uniform he was told the turban could not be worn with it. The garda reserve took a discrimination case to the Equality Tribunal and then to the High Court in 2013.

His case failed due to the fact that he was not considered an employee under the Employment Equality Act, a garda reserve is an unpaid volunteer.

In his report, Chief Superintendent McLoughlin noted that the employment acts would apply to a member of the Sikh community who applied to be a full time member of the force. A decision not to allow the turban, he said, “could be seen as discriminatory due to the manifest nature of the turban as part of the religion”.

‘Cultural change’

He explained that the importance of the turban to a Sikh goes back in history, where “turban wearing Sikhs have preferred death and torture to having their turban removed or their hair cut”.

The report also pointed out that there was already one exemption to the general ban on symbols and adornments. In 1923, then Garda Commissioner Eoin O’Duffy allowed garda members to wear the pin of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association of the Sacred Heart, in a bid to encourage them to join.

McLoughlin suggested that increased diversity in An Garda Síochána can “make it more open to cultural change and more responsive” to the diverse community it serves.

Research indicates that when the public believe that the police serve and understand them, they perceive the police as fair and accountable, which directly and indirectly increases trust and confidence levels in the service. To this end, a more reflective and open-minded culture in An Garda Síochána can aid the contemporary drive to reform institutional culture.

A presentation attached to the report highlighted that just 1% of the more than 14,500 members are born outside of Ireland. However it warned that An Garda Síochána must not “lean towards positive discrimination”.

“Applicants must continue to be screened on job qualifications and police effectiveness, not solely screening candidates upon the diversity needs of the organisation”.

Internal garda correspondence released to shows there was concern that the inclusion of non-Irish actors in its ‘The Difference is You’ recruitment advertisement would be seen as “tokenism”.

The head of the force’s communications unit recognised that the lack of minority actors in the ads could draw criticism from the Policing Authority.

However he referenced the low levels of members from minority communities and said feedback indicated they “don’t want tokenism, but want us to be seen to be engaging with them fairly and appropriately”.

A barrier

Chief Superintendent McLoughlin’s report stated that the Sikh community in Ireland had complained that the force is “only partially open to ethnic minorities” and that Sikhs were discriminated against.

He said the Sikh community had said applicants would be “willing to sign a contract to indemnify the state against liability” as a result of members not wearing a protective helmet.

The chief superintendent made reference to the fact that other police forces, such as the PSNI and NYPD already allowed Sikh members to wear the turban and that Canadian police have been allowed to wear them since a legal challenge in 1990.

The report recommended that the turban should be allowed as part of the garda uniform, stating:

“The ban on the turban is seen as a barrier by many communities who otherwise have a healthy and positive relationship with An Garda Síochána.”

The force is currently working towards the roll-out of a new uniform for all members. A pilot for a summer uniform was launched in three stations last July.

The pilot summer uniform was unveiled at last year’s GRA conference. Source: Michelle Hennessy/

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) criticised the proposed new design for the summer uniform, calling for “a dramatic overhaul and modernising” that goes further than pockets on trousers and a breathable summer t-shirt.

“We need our uniform to reflect the work we do and it should provide the comfort and security to allow us to do our job effectively,” it said.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has said the force is aiming to go to procurement for the new uniform by the end of the year.

He said management will look at “innovative solutions” to get the uniform to the frontline as quickly as possible.

The Hindu – Foreign governments have no right to question India on religious freedom: MEA

India is proud of its ‘secular credentials’, says spokesperson Raveesh Kumar

Kallol Bhattacherjee

New Delhi – India, 23 June 2019. Foreign governments do not have the right to criticise India’s vibrant democracy and dedication to rule of law, said the Ministry of External Affairs on June 23 after the USA State Department’s annual report on religious freedom pointed out India’s failure to protect minority communities.

“We see no locus standi for a foreign government to pronounce on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights,” said Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

The report sets the backdrop of the visit of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that begins on June 25. The Hindu reported earlier that the report was released by Mr Pompeo himself and he referred to the issue of religious freedom as a “deeply personal” priority.

The State Department’s 2019 Report on International Freedom referred to multiple instances where the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre and various State governments of the Bharatiya Janata Party took steps that hurt the Muslim community.

The official spokesperson, however, maintained that India was proud of its “secular credentials”, saying, “it is widely acknowledged that India is a vibrant democracy where the Constitution provides protection of religious freedom, and where democratic governance and rule of law further promote and protect the fundamental rights.”

Protect minority rights

Apart from the murders and lynching by cow vigilante groups, the report pointed out that there were several attempts to undermine minority institutions and change names of cities that reminded of the pluralistic nature of India. In this regard, the report highlighted the change of the name of Allahabad to Prayagraj.

The MEA did not answer if the report and its observations about India’s failure to uphold and protect minority rights would feature in talks with Mr. Pompeo during his visits here between 25-27 June.

The report implicated the BJP and several of its leaders for making “inflammatory speeches against minority communities”. It made specific mention of the NRC in Assam and targeting of the Muslim community in the State.

We all know that the State Department’s report is correct, but it is somewhat strange to see such a report from a country whose president is himself in the habit of making ‘inflammatory speeches’.
The Man in Blue