P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Lending rates to be regulated
Farmers owe Rs 1200 crore to arhtiyas
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 24
The state government will evolve shortly a permanent mechanism to regulate the traditional loaning system of arhtiyas to farmers in the state so that the farmers could avail themselves of the loans from the commission agents at rates of interest fixed through mutual understanding in which interest of both parties would be watched.

This was stated by Mr Lal Singh, Minister for Rural Development, Panchayats, Food and Supply and Jails while addressing mediapersons at the Circuit House here today.

He said farmers owed an amount of Rs 1200 crore to the arhtiyas. The government was also considering to waive the outstanding cooperative loans of around Rs 380 crore of the farmers in those cases where the defaulters had already returned double the amount of the loan taken.

The government is seized of the matter and would ensure that the indebtedness of the farmers becomes a thing of the past, he asserted.

The minister informed that a state-level function was being organised to observe the 11th martyrdom day of the late Beant Singh, a former Chief Minister, at Payal on August 31 and arrangements for the function were being made at the site of the function.

Mr Lal Singh said the late CM had laid down his life for the unity and integrity of the country. People would converge in large numbers from all parts of the state to pay tributes to the great patriot. He said that many senior national and state level leaders of various political parties would address the shaheedi conference. In the morning a Sarv Dharam Prayer Samaroh will also be organised at the memorial of Beant Singh at Chandigarh.

Replying to a question about the acute power shortage, the Minister admitted that the state was facing a serious problem of power shortage but the government was making all-out efforts to purchase power from every available source. During the past year power worth Rs 2300 crore was purchased and this year Rs 3300 crore was being spent for this purpose.

He said the only solution to meet out this crisis was to enhance the generation from present 6000 MW to 9000 MW.

The previous SAD-BJP government had not planned for even a single unit but Capt Amarinder Singh has prepared special scheme for the addition of 3668 MW power i.e. new unit of 500MW Lehra Mohabbat thermal plant, 168 MW from Shahpur Kandi, 1500MW would be available from 4000MW super-mega thermal Plant in Chattisgarh and 1500MWs from other three Super Mega Plants being installed in other parts of the country by the government of India.


State has to reduce paddy cultivation area, says expert
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
Punjab has to reduce the area under paddy cultivation by 15 lakh hectares and only the late sowing varieties should be planted in areas that are suitable for paddy, said Dr R.B. Singh, member, National Farmers Commission. He was here to discuss the national policy draft with farmers and Punjab Government officials.

Presently, about 26 lakh hectares is under paddy cultivation in the state.

Talking to The Tribune, he said: “Paddy itself is not that harmful if sown correctly. Without the Punjab contribution, India cannot go far in foodgrain production.”

The food security is important, he said, while adding that the farmers should plant maize, soyabean and cotton in more areas to replace paddy.

Dr R.B. Singh said the commission would be recommending that a pension scheme should be allowed for the farmers after they attained an age of 60.

“The commission will also touch upon the issue of crop diversification as the growth rate of agriculture income is the slowest at 1.5 per cent per annum.”

Replying to a question on the import of foodgrains, he said it was a temporary phase and India was well equipped to deal with the situation.

The commission opined that before going for interlinking of rivers, the rehabilitation process of the affected people must be done.

Various farmers and NGOs expressed their opinion to Dr R.B. Singh.

Mr Umendra Dutt of the Kheti Virasaat Mission was critical about the way the draft was handled, saying the opinion gathering should have started at the district level.

“The draft needs to be re-examined and it should be rejected in its present shape and form,” he said.

On Punjab, he said, the state had specific problems relating to residue of pesticides and prayed that the policy should refer to it specifically.

Mr G.S. Bajwa, a farmer from the Majha area, said whatever subsidy the government gives to pesticide or insecticide manufacturers should be withdrawn and given to the farmers directly.

Prof Manjit Singh Kadian, working president, BKU (Lakhowal), demanded a complete ban on genetically-modified seeds for brinjal and ladyfinger. He was vocal on diversification, saying that states implementing diversification on their own had no meaning as all policies like MSP or subsidies are formed at the Centre.

The BKU (Ekta) group was represented by Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan. He said the group would give its complete opinion later as they had little time to read the draft.


Stop releasing effluents into rivers, industry told
Legal action against violators after one month
Chander Parkash
Tribune News service

Patiala, August 24
In a significant move, the drainage wing of the Department of Irrigation, Punjab, has issued notices to about 30 industries to stop discharging untreated effluents into various drains, tributaries, choes and Ghaggar criss-crossing Patiala and Mohali districts within a month failing which the legal action would be taken against them.

Sources said that drainage department had issued notices to the industries after carrying out a survey of these two districts to detect that which industries were discharging untreated effluents in the drains, tributaries and Ghaggar and how much amount of effluents, these industries had been discharging into the same.

Sources said that drainage wing had asked these industries either to produce certificates by which they had been given permission by the state pollution control board to discharge their effluents or stop the same with in a month.

Mr Baldev Singh Bhullar, Chief Engineer, Drainage wing, when contacted, said that department authorities had been given one-month time to stop discharging its untreated effluents into various drains, tributaries and river Ghaggar and if it was not done, a stern action would be taken against them. He added that department authorities were actively considering to register criminal cases against the violators.

Due to discharge of effluents in the drains, tributaries and Ghaggar criss-crossing these two districts, the water flowing into same has become unfit even for using the same for agriculture purpose.

In various pockets, the hand pumps and tubewell motors, which are installed near the banks of these drains and tributaries, have started oozing out contaminated water as the effluents have gone down to that level from where the hand pumps and tubewell motors have been drawing water.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that a senior official of Rajasthan government dealing with the rural water supply of its Hanumangarh district had pointed out to senior officials of Punjab government that there was high concentration of effluents in river Ghaggar which flowed down to that area after passing through Punjab and Haryana states and hence the water of river had become unfit for any kind of use.

He added that about 300 cusecs of effluents had been found in the water of river Ghaggar.

As per officials figures, the industries which have been discharging untreated effluents into Dera Bassi Choe, Ghaggar, Jhirmal Nadi, Jangpura, Tangori Choe, Sirhind Choe, Bassi creak, Model Town drain, Sagarapara, Dhakansu Nalah, Nabha drain, Mohal Gowara drain, Samana Mandi drain, Saraipatti, Patiala Nadi, Lalru area, Banur area, Fatehpur area, Chandheri area, Nabha area, Samana area, Patiala areas of Patiala and Mohali districts.

The official figures revealed that these industries had been discharging effluents ranging from 0.05 cusecs to 40 cusecs. The highest level of effluents, which was about 40 cusecs, was being discharged in Dhakansu Nalah while 20 cusecs of effluents were being discharged in Patiala Nadi.

Information revealed that apart from industrial effluents, the sewerage water of Samana Mandi, wastewater of rice mills of Samana Mandi, sewerage water of Nabha city and sewerage water of Patiala were being discharged into various drains and tributaries.


Another Kali Bein effort can save Budda Nullah
Jupinderjit Singh

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 24
When President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam visited Sultanpur Lodhi last week to see the transformation of the holy Kali Bein, a rivulet-turned-polluted drain, Ludhianavis wished that he had flown over the Budda Nullah — the sorrow of Ludhiana — to see the extent of damage caused by industrial pollution.

The Budda Nullah, the Augean stable of the region, has been flowing dirty for the past several decades, contaminating groundwater, leaving poisonous and harmful residuals in vegetables, spreading disease in the areas it flows into before finally polluting the Sutlej after it falls into the latter near Mallikour village.

All this while, the government, the Punjab Pollution Control Board, and the Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, have been making lofty claims about schemes for cleaning the nullah.

But it seems only an initiative akin to the Kali Bein can cleanse the nullah.

The Budda Nullah has been a bane not only of city residents but thousands of others who live alongside it.

Not only do the residents have to confront water-borne diseases every year, they also have to bore deeper tubewells to get drinking water, as the groundwater has been contaminated with pollutants from the nullah.

Notwithstanding the claims of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) that all industrial units in the city were treating industrial waste, effluents, including lethal heavy metals like lead, nickel, cadmium and chromium, are finding their way into the nullah and the groundwater.

A number of studies have established how industries have been polluting the nullah. The Tribune had earlier this year exposed how three treatment plants, working for the past several years, treated just the sewer waste and not the industrial waste flowing into it.

Under the board rules, an industry can allow only a certain amount of pollutants to flow into the sewer, which joins the nullah.

But as the water has not been treated for industrial waste, the pollutant level has gone up considerably over the years.

A study carried out by a team led by Dr Mukand Singh Brar, Department of Soils, Punjab Agricultural University, had stated that a high concentration of toxic metals was present in tubewell as well as handpump water samples taken from the areas adjoining the nullah.

An earlier study by Prof B.D. Kansal (retd), Department of Soils, PAU, had shown that the nullah was clean till Dhanasu village, from where it entered the city. After that the presence of heavy metals shot up considerably.

The presence of heavy metals in the groundwater has become a cause for concern for city residents as these are known to cause cancer in humans.

Ironically, the water of the nullah, which eventually falls in the Sutlej, is consumed downstream in the Abohar-Fazilka belt and further down by residents of Rajasthan.

Ludhiana has already been grappling with air pollution, caused by effluents from industry, which has led to respiratory disorders.

According to an estimate of the TB Eradication Society, Ludhiana, over 10,000 persons have been afflicted by tuberculosis due to air pollution. The study reiterates that the flow of effluents is leading to the presence of high concentration of toxic metals in vegetables grown alongside the nullah.

The study claims that the concentration of lead, chromium, cadmium and nickel in the groundwater around the nullah was 21, 133, 280 and 300 times higher, respectively, than the permissible limit.

Similarly, the concentration of these metals in vegetables and other crops irrigated with this water was 4.88, 3.95, 0.25 and 3.68 mg per kg. The study suggests segregation of industrial and domestic waste as the only measure to save the nullah and the groundwater from contamination.


New turn to Dasam Granth row
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, August 24
Contrary to the statement of Giani Gurbachan Singh, head granthi of Harmandar Sahib, Amritsar, regarding the recitation of Bani of Dasam Granth during his stint at Darbar Sahib, Muktsar, his successor Giani Gurcharan Singh today said neither was Dasam Granth installed at Darbar Sahib nor its Bani recited during his term.

Giani Gurcharan Singh said he had replaced Giani Gurbachan Singh as the head granthi of Darbar Sahib, Muktsar. He said he had worked on various posts at Darbar Sahib prior to his elevation to the post of head granthi. He said during his long association with Darbar Sahib he had never seen Dasam Granth being installed there let alone recitation of its Bani. On the presence of ‘Birs’ of Dasam Granth in any nearby gurdwara or residences, he said nothing of this sort came to his notice. Giani Balwant Singh Rasia, who served as sewadar and granthi at Darbar Sahib from 1969 to May 19, 2002, also said he never heard about the installation of Dasam Granth and recitation of its Bani. He said he was associated with Darbar Sahib as a devotee for the last 50 years. He said prior to 1984 three ‘birs’ of Guru Granth Sahib were installed at the old building of Darbar Sahib, while after Bluestar Operation single ‘Bir’ was installed at its new building. Bhai Harpreet Singh, who is serving as head granthi here since 1998, also echoed the statements of Giani Gurcharan Singh and Giani Balwant Singh Rasia. Various people residing around the Darbar Sahib for over 50 years also denied any knowledge of Bani of Dasam Granth being recited there.


SGPC, govt to hold parallel tercentenary celebrations
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 24
The stage is set for parallel celebrations of the tercentenary of the compilation of Guru Granth Sahib by the SGPC and the state government, both of whom have come out with their programmes.

Political observers feel that though the occasion has great religious significance, the celebrations on the concluding day may well have a political tinge and turn into a "show of strength" in the wake of the forthcoming Assembly elections. "It is virtually impossible for Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Captain Amarinder Singh to restrain from political talk in front of a massive gathering," they opined. As per their separate programme, the SGPC is organising an Akhand Path to mark the occasion at Gurdwara Damdama Sahib, while the state government is holding it at Gurdwara Likhansar Sahib. Both the gurdwaras are located on Takht Sri Damdama Sahib premises. While the state government would hold a seminar on Guru Granth Sahib at Yadvindra College auditorium on August 29, the SGPC will organise the same at Guru Kashi Gurmat Institute on August 27. The government will also arrange a three-day exhibition of relics and weapons of Guru Gobind Singh on August 28-30.

The SGPC has chosen August 28-29 for Kavishri and Dhadi Samagam, while the government will hold Dhadi Darbar on August 30 prior to its state-level conference. Other programmes to be held under the aegis of the SGPC include religious dramas at Bhai Dall Singh Hall on August 25-30, Khalsai Kheda at Mata Sahib Kaur Girls College on August 27-28, Kirtan Samagam based on ragas on August 29 and Shatabdi Samagam on August 30 during which jathedars of all five takhts would deliver their message for the Sikh community. Nagar Kirtans from Sri Akal Takht, Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib, Takht Sri Patna Sahib, Takht Sri Huzur Sahib apart from various other places will arrive at Talwandi Sabo in the next five days. A 200-strong jatha from Pakistan is also expected to participate in the celebrations.

Meanwhile, Takht Sri Damdama Sahib manager Mr Bharpur Singh said that they had made all arrangements for the lodging of devotees. He said apart from 250 rooms in the newly built Bhai Mani Singh Sarai and 60 rooms in their old sarai, they had also roped in various schools and colleges for accommodating pilgrims. A large number of town residents had also offered their houses for lodging devotees. He said 30 langars would be put up at various points in the town and added that 15 acres near the Takht had been allocated for parking.


Met Dept dumps valuable equipment
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, August 24
Valuable equipment of the Metrological Department is gathering dust for more than one year at the Hydrological Research Centre, Malikpur. The department has failed to install the equipment despite repeated reminders from the local authorities, who on the condition of anonymity told that the equipment might get damaged if it was not installed immediately.

The department has set up its facility to collect data regarding rainfall in the area in 1975. About two years ago the department decided to upgrade its facility here and sent an evaporation tank, wind direction and speed evaluator, humidity measuring equipment and maximum-minimum temperature measuring equipment to collect wide-ranging data regarding the climate of the area.

The equipment was supplied by a Poona-based company. However, no one from the department or the company came to install the equipment, which had been dumped in a ramshackle building of the centre where it was just gathering dust.

The department has hired the staff of the Irrigation Department posted at the centre to collect the data on their behalf. The data is being sent through fax almost every day to the department at Delhi.

However, the staff posted here said they were sending data regarding rainfall only, as for other information the equipment was yet to be installed.

Meanwhile, the authorities here have observed that while there has been drought like situation in the rest of the state, rainfall has been normal in the Pathankot area, which recorded 111 mm of rainfall in June and 421.4 mm in July as compared to previous year’s 36.6 mm in June and 415 mm in July.


SAD to probe CM’s Dubai visits
Tribune News Service

Moga, August 24
If voted to power, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) would look into the visits of Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to Dubai. SAD general secretary and MP, Sukhbir Badal stated this while talking to mediapersons here today. He had come to Moga district to address public rallies in different parts.

Mr Sukhbir alleged that the Chief Minister was frequently going to Dubai on “one pretext or the other to settle his accounts there”.

Mr Sukhbir had demanded about a week ago an inquiry into Amarinder’s Dubai visits by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and other Central agencies.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |