|P U N J A B||
Thursday, October 22, 1998
smog attributed to rice straw burning
disenchanted with sugar mill
anger worries Akalis
directive to MC, PSEB
Ministers meet today
"shaheedi" function on November 8
directive to MC, PSEB
SAD identifying constituencies
MUKTSAR, Oct 21 Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) supremo and Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal today said that a committee of party leaders had been formed to identify potential constituencies in Delhi and Rajasthan for fielding its candidates in the coming Assembly elections.
Talking to mediamen here today, he said that committee would held its meeting shortly and after identifying the constituencies, a formal claim would be put up on seat sharing. He said that the entire process of selection of Assembly segments and seat-sharing arrangements would be over in a week or so.
When asked whether the SAD would contest the coming Assembly election on its own symbol, he declined to comment.
Regarding the issue of Udham Singh Nagar, Mr Badal said that the decision of the three-member committee constituted by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee would be binding on all parties.
To another question he said that the Punjab Government had made a formal request to the Prime Minister, Mr Vajpayee for relaxing the specification regarding paddy procurement and monetary help for compensating affected farmers: "The ball is now in the central government's court", he added.
Earlier, addressing a function organised for inauguration of a senior secondary school, Mr Badal said the public should come forward to open educational institutions for imparting education to all.
He said that in the era of competition, education should be job-oriented so that the youth of Punjab could get employment outside of the state also. He also announced that the local regional centres of Panjab University would be converted to a university in phased manner.
He said the government
could not make any commitment for transferring Abohar and
Balluana areas of Ferozepore district to Muktsar
district. He, however, said demand of the local bar
association for such transfer would be considered. He
announced a Rs one lakh grant for the bar association.
smog attributed to rice straw
LUDHIANA: The smog which enveloped vast tracts of Punjab last Thursday (October 15) has served to underline like never before the urgency with which the problem of an environmental disaster needs to be tackled in the state.
Luckily, a spell of rain cleared the smog in less than a day. But the situation could have been serious had it continued for a longer period. It has now become clear that the phenomenon was not confined to a few areas of Punjab but stretched in a great arc from one end of the state to the other. It began from the outskirts of Amritsar and Ferozepore on one side, and stretched right up to Ambala, covering in its fold, a number of major towns and cities of the state including Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Phagwara, Phillaur, Ludhiana, Rajpura, Khanna, Samrala, Moga, Mullanpur, Doraha, Sahnewal, Sirhind and Mandi Gobindgarh.
For the residents of Ludhiana, it was a frightening experience. The sky was overcast since morning. It was in the afternoon that smog began descending. Within a short time, it thickened reducing visibility and causing irritation to the eyes and throat. In the evening, it was at its peak. Pollutants from industrial units and vehicular traffic accentuated the problem. Ludhiana is a disaster-prone area. People have lost their lives because of gas leaks and other industrial pollutants. Therefore, many in the megacity were panic-stricken and thought that it was a vast gas leak like the one in Bhopal.
The local offices of newspapers and the district administrations were flooded with calls seeking an explanation for the phenomenon. The authorities had a hard time explaining to them that while it as a matter for concern, there was no cause for panic because it did not threaten life. Appeals were issued by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Arun Goel, to the citizens not to explode firecrackers till the weather cleared.
Physicians reported a large rush by people complaining of irritation in the eyes, throat and a feeling of suffocation. The problem was particularly severe among the old and asthma patients.
The phenomenon was caused by large-scale burning of rice straw by farmers in the fields in preparation for the next sowing. The low cloud cover prevented smoke from the burning rice straw on thousands of acres of land from escaping into the sky. Although there is a ban on the burning of rice straw, there has hardly been any attempt to enforce it.
Farm experts at the Punjab Agricultural University here say that the practice of burning rice straw is resorted to by the farmers on a large- scale even though it has not been recommended because it is harmful for the nutrients present in the soil. The best way is to plough the rice straw together with stumps back into the soil which restores the health of the fields. The same practice is adopted in all rice-growing areas of South-East Asia. But farmers in Punjab, for some reason, have not adopted it. They apparently like their farms to be absolutely free of all growth before they sow the next crop.
The smog has activated the representatives of trade and industry. They seem to be drawing cold comfort from the fact that they are not alone in creating pollution. The farmers, too, are sailing in the same boat.
"Degradation of the environment is caused by so many polluting sources", points out Mr P.D. Sharma, president of Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Punjab. "But in our country, industry alone is held responsible for it although it has adopted a number of measures at a heavy cost to control pollution. Environmentalists expect international level standards from the industry. In Ludhiana, there is hardly a unit which has not been declared as a culprit one way or the other. Criminal cases are pending against them in the courts...."
Mr Tulsi Das Jetwani and Mr Avtar Singh, leaders of different trade and industry bodies here, point out that so far as the air pollution is concerned, industry's contribution is minimal. In Ludhiana, it has been caused by vehicular traffic. It is common knowledge that autorickshaws run on fuel mixed with kerosene. Most of them do not have licences to operate. But this does not seem to be bothering the authorities.
disenchanted with sugar mill
TARN TARAN, Oct 21 Cane growers of the area do not seem to be attracted to the local cooperative sugar mills which caused several problems for them in 1996-97 due to which the cane growers had to face loss worth lakhs of rupees.
The local cooperative sugar mill has capacity to crush 22.50 lakh tonnes of sugarcane in a season for which it needs sugarcane crop of 15,000 acres whereas the cane growers of the area have grown this crop only on an area of 5832 acres. In 1996-97 season the farmers of the area grew sugarcane crop on 24600 acres.
The mills could not crush the sugarcane till the month of June whereas in routine normally the sugar mills should finish the crushing operation by the first week of April for better results in the coming season. In 1996-97 the cane growers had to face acute problem of selling the crop to the mills. Despite working for 181 days the sugar mills suffered loss of Rs 3.55 crore. In the last season of 97-98 the sugar mills had to face the shortage of sugarcane crop and could work only for 81 days whereas in the 95-96 season it worked for 199 days. According to an estimate the mills could work only for 60 to 70 days this season as it has a sugarcane crop of 5832 acres against the minimum needed crop of 15,000 acres.
Mr H.S. Mand, Managing Director of the mills said here today that the mill authorities had held 70 meetings of the cane growers of 423 villages falling under the mill area and have appealed them to grow sugarcane as it was more beneficial compared to other crops. Mr Mand said that the mills had provided disease-free seed to the cane growers and given loan worth Rs two crore for purchasing seed and fertilisers on subsidised rates. The mill has also installed two plants for the treatment of seeds to make them disease-free.
Mr Mand added that the
mill had launched a new scheme of "registered
cane-growers scheme" under which the mill will be
bound to purchase the crop of the cane growers. The cane
growers would have to grow sugar-cane crop with the
consent of the mills. This agreement will be for three to
five years for both parties. Despite all these efforts
the mill would have to face loss of crores of rupees as
these schemes launched by the mill will bear fruit only
after 14 months.
Punjabis feel ignored
NEW DELHI, Oct 21 The Rashtriya Punjabi Mahasangh today stated that Punjabis were being ignored by the BJP.The chairman of the mahasangh, Mr Hardayal Devgun, an ex-MP, said the Punjabi community was feeling alienated.
The Punjabi leaders
are being marginalised. We want that the leaders should
be gracefully involved in campaigning in Delhi, he
said.He also deplored the caste-based politics and
caste conflicts which the change of Chief
Ministership of Delhi had brought about.
Farmers' anger worries Akalis
BATHINDA, Oct 21 Resentment among farmers majority of whom is the traditional Akali vote bank, over sluggish procurement of paddy by government agencies and no relief for the damaged crop, has been worrying the ruling Akali leadership.
Worried over the fact that peasantry the backbone of the Akali Dal may turn hostile to the party if immediate corrective measures were not taken in respect of procurement and relief for the rain-affected crop given, the state government has pressed panic button.
Reliable sources said that state government passed secret instructions to officials of all procurement agencies early morning today to procure paddy which was discoloured and damaged to the extent of 8 per cent as against 3 per cent fixed by the Food Ministry.
The State Food and Supply Minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, admitted that paddy growers might turn against the Akali Dal and said that the Punjab Government would go to any extent to procure the damaged paddy.
He said that even if the Punjab government had to suffer losses, it would compensate the farmers and procure the damaged paddy. He claimed that he had personally made efforts to start procurement operations at 14 purchase centres in and around Bathinda.
He said that a meeting of officials of procurement agencies of Muktsar, Faridkot, Ferozepore and Mansa was held at Muktsar today at which the officials concerned had been asked to be fair in procurement and give maximum relief to the farmers whose harvested and standing crops was damaged due to unseasonal rain.
On the other hand, a senior official of the procurement agency pleading anonymity said that the delay in relaxation of specification by the central government was benefitting the rice mill owners as they were purchasing paddy according to their whims. He said that if the central as well as the state government was serious about the welfare of the paddy growers then the announcement of relaxation should be made immediately.
Reliable sources said that to check exploitation of farmers by commission agents in association with rice mill owners and officials of procurement agencies raids on the shellers were expected anytime.
The farmers who are camping in grain markets awaiting their turn of procurement for the past 10 days talking to The Tribune said that they would be able to sow the next crop only enough money was generated for purchasing seed and fertiliser and diesel.
Official sources said that
only 5000 to 6000 bags of paddy were being procured at
main purchase centres of this district. More than 80000
bags of paddy were still lying in Bhagta Bhai Ka grain
market, 15000 bags in Malooka, 40000 in Jalal and 60000
bags in Bhairupa and little paddy was being procured in
these markets, the sources added.
PATIALA, Oct 21 Farmers of the region are busy in drying their paddy after a three-day spell of rain to secure a reasonable price for it and not going in for any distress sale of the commodity.
"Adhe rate te kyon daeye," says Ajmer Singh of Bathoi village while drying the completely soaked half-germinated paddy emitting as foul smell at the Dakala mandi in the district. "I will take the damaged paddy home to dry it properly and if I do not get a good rate for it I will use it as fodder for the milch cattle," he says.
Harsewak Singh of Bathoi Kalan, whose paddy was partially soaked, is more optimistic. He is drying his produce to upgrade its quality. Harsewak Singh said his paddy was stocked on a little higher ground in the Dakala mandi so it suffered less damage.
Harjinder said a majority of the produce could have been saved had there been a proper drainage facility.
Farmers are blaming the Mandi Board more than the rain gods for not providing proper drainage facilities in the mandis. "We can cope with rain but when there is no drainage facility there is no way to save the produce," they say.
Raj Kumar, an arhtia, says around 20,000 bags of unpurchased paddy is lying in the Dakala mandi. He said the damage to the crop has been between 2 and 10 per cent. This is the case in most mandis of the district except in the Nabha block where farmers have suffered huge losses.
However, in Nabha the rain only compounded the problem as large stocks of paddy had accumulated there by the time rain started on October 15. Farmers at the Nabha mandi disclosed that they had started bringing paddy to the mandi on September 20 and had to face two spells of rain. They alleged the procurement was very slow leading to a large scale accumulation of paddy in the market. Here the damage has been as high as 25 per cent. Similarly, in the nearby mandi of Mandor 1.25 lakh bags of paddy were lying when the rain came, leading to an extensive damage. This was due to the fact that the FCI was not able to procure paddy.
However, in most places in this as well as surrounding districts, kutcha mandis have caused real damage to farmers. With most of them having turned into ponds due to rain and service roads being in poor condition, grains could not be lifted from there in case of bad weather.
Federation of Arhtia Associations of Punjab president Bal Krishan Singla said the recent spell of rain had caused limited damage in the state as 60 per cent of the crop had already arrived in mandis before the rain. He said while 60 lakh tonnes of paddy had arrived in mandis 25 lakh to 30 lakh tonnes was awaited. He said in most mandis only accumulated paddy was left in the open and that before the rain only five lakh tonnes of paddy was lying in various mandis out of which most was in bags. He said these bags, which had been auctioned, suffered very little damage. The paddy lying in the open suffered damage between 2 and 10 per cent.
Ten artistes honoured
PALAM VIHAR (Ludhiana), Oct 21 The 20th Prof Mohan Singh Memorial Mela ended here today. Ten artistes from various fields were honoured during the two-day cultural mela organised by the Prof Mohan Singh Foundation.
Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, PPCC vice-president, was the chief guest today. He said that he had always idolized Prof Mohan Singh and had drawn inspiration from his poetry. He also announced a grant of Rs 21,000 to the Prof Mohan Singh Foundation.
During the two-day mela,
seminars were held and competitions organised in the
fields of dance, poetry and music. Last night, a drama
session was also organised which was presided over by Mr
Sewa Singh Sekhwan, the Information and Public Relations
Minister. Two plays dedicated to the tercentenary
celebrations of the Khalsa panth "Sant Sipahi"
and "Eh Khoon Kis Da Hai" were also displayed
during the drama session.
BATHINDA, Oct 21 Wreaths were laid on the police martyrs memorial here by the DIG, Faridkot, Mr G.S. Mann, SSP, Bathinda, Mr Harnek Singh and SP Mr Amar Singh Chahal on the commemoration day organised in the police lines today.
According to a press note issued by the police authorities, retired police personnel, army officers and prominent citizens participated in the function to pay their homage to those policemen who had laid down their lives for the sake of country.
Mr Mann, while addressing the public said that they should cooperate with the police so that police could maintain law and order effectively.
Education Ministers meet today
AMRITSAR, Oct 21 The state Education Ministers Conference, proposed to be inaugurated by the Prime Minister at Vigyan Bhavan tomorrow will discuss instituting an All-India Education Service (AIES) for better management and administration of education. The service would be managed by educationists.
A high-powered autonomous national commission for educational reforms may be constituted having representation of elementary, secondary and university education, teacher education vocational education (medical, technical and management etc). Industrialists, research council, national, state and district education mission with the Human Resource Development Minister as chairman and renowned educationist as vice-chairman with executive powers.
The conference would also
discuss comprehensive programme for mother tongue as a
medium of instruction at all stages of education. This
would also consider the contribution of Sanskrit to the
development of Indian languages and its unique
contribution to the unity of the nation and ancient
wisdom and hence the language (Sanskrit) may be made
compulsory subject from third standard to 10th standard.
team meets Mittal
CHANDIGARH, Oct 21 A four-member central team headed by Mr B.B. Patnaik, Joint Commissioner, Union Food Ministry, today called on Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Punjab Food and Supplies Minister, to discuss the damage caused to paddy in Punjab.
The team will visit
different districts. The Minister apprised the team about
the loss to the standing and procured paddy due to rains
during the harvesting and procurement operations. The
strike by millers also added to the producers' misery.
"shaheedi" function on November
AMRITSAR, Oct 21 The Punjab Mazdoor Dal has set up a three-member committee for making arrangements for the "Shaheedi" function of Jaswant Singh Khalra a human rights activist who allegedly kidnapped and killed by the police three years ago. Death anniversary would be held on November 8 at Khalra village.
Mr Harbhajan Singh Brar,
president of the Mazdoor Dal, in a press statement,
issued here today, said that Jaswant Singh Khalra was
kidnapped and then killed by the police as he had
highlighted cremation of about 3000 unidentified bodies
during hay day of militancy.
plea to BSP, CPI
LUDHIANA, Oct 21 The vice-president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, has called upon the BSP, the CPI and the CPM to join hands with the Congress to defeat communal forces led by the SAD and the BJP in the Adampur byelection.
Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Brar said the Adampur byelection would be an acid test for the Congress as well as the SAD as the result would determine the standing of the two parties.
Mr Brar alleged that SAD-BJP government had failed on all fronts. He pointed out that because of the untimely rain, paddy lying in the markets was destroyed causing losses to farmers. He said the government should come to the rescue of the farmers at the earliest.
The Congress leader also alleged that corruption was rampant, prices were rising and cases of suicide by farmers were on the rise.
He informed that the party
would organise three-day protest from November 1 in the
districts of Faridkot, Moga and Muktsar against the
anti-people policies of the government. He also informed
that a high-level committee had been formed to decide
about the tercentenary celebrations of the Khalsa.
BJP to be poll partners
LUDHIANA, Oct 21 The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will contest the coming assembly elections in alliance with the BJP in Delhi, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
This was stated by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD president, here today. He said a meeting of the two parties would soon be held in this connection. The names of the candidates would be finalised by the end of the month, he added.
Mr Badal, who returned
from Delhi after his meeting with the Prime Minister Mr
Atal Behari Vajpayee, said he had presented the case of
the state farmers who had suffered heavily due to
untimely heavy rain. The response of the Prime Minister
towards the Rs 300 crore relief demand, he said, was
paid to Basant Khalsa
LUDHIANA, Oct 21 Rich tributes were paid to late Mr Basant Singh Khalsa, ex-minister and senior Akali leader at a function organised to observe his second death anniversary here today.
In the morning, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab went to the house of his son, Mr Bikramjit Singh, MLA, to pay homage to the departed leader.
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, MP and president, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, said that Mr Khalsa's politics was based on principles and he had always struggled for the rights of the poor. He said Mr Khalsa had made enormous sacrifices while fighting against injustices done to Punjab by the different governments.
Mr Maheshinder Singh Grewal, Medical Education Minister Punjab, said Mr Khalsa had always preferred to work for the poor and raised issues concerning them at various fora.
Among others who paid
their tributes were Thekedar Surjan Singh, senior
vice-president SAD, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, MP, Mr
Sukhdev Singh Libra, MP, Mr Jagdev SinghTalwandi senior
Akali leader, Mr Jagdish Garcha, Mr Hira Singh Gabria, Mr
Harminder SIngh (All MLAs) and Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha,
Court directive to MC, PSEB
PATIALA, Oct 21 Additional Civil Judge Birender Singh here has decided to grant time till November 11 to the Municipal Committee as well as the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to provide complete streetlight in the city.
The time was given following a joint meeting arranged by the court between officials of the corporation and the PSEB which was held on October 14.
The Public Interest Litigation Forum which had instituted a suit in this regard, today disclosed that the meeting observed that as many as 70 to 80 per cent of streetlights in the city were working properly. The forum said the meeting decided to put special staff in each subdivision to achieve complete working of all streetlights. It was also decided to put two gangs into service in each subdivision with at least 50 per cent spare material as compared to the registered complaints to cover all contingencies. The minutes of the meeting were presented before the court which granted time to set right all defects, the forum said.
Earlier the forum had
instituted a suit against the corporation and the PSEB
stating streetlights were not working properly and had
urged the court to direct the corporation and the PSEB to
ensure efficient functioning thereof.
CHANDIGARH, Oct 21 (PTI) The CPI and the CPM today expressed dismay over the decision of the Punjab Congress to field its own candidate in the Adampur Assembly byelection to be held on November 25.
Describing the Congress move as "unfortunate", both Left parties in a joint press release said that this move went against the common feelings of the people to defeat the Akali Dal (B) candidate.
Mr Balwant Singh, Secretary, CPM and Mr Joginder Dayal, Secretary, Punjab CPI, reiterated their stand of fielding a common candidate of secular Opposition parties on a common symbol. They said they would continue their efforts for the realisation of a correct approach to defeat the Akali Dal (B) candidate.
CHANDIGARH, Oct 21
The Punjab Government has issued a notification stating
Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, MLA, is the Leader of the
Opposition in the Vidhan Sabha in place of Ms Rajinder
Kaur Bhattal, MLA, who ceased to be the leader of the
opposition with effect from October 11, according to a
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