Tuesday, November 28, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Bid to saffronise education
From Our Correspondents

LUDHIANA, Nov 27 — Students and teachers of more than 50 local schools and colleges were shocked after reading the contents of a test of general knowledge conducted here on Saturday. The state-level test called the Vidyarathi Jagran Gyan Pareeksha was conducted by the Chhatra Shakti, a wing of the RSS.

Before the test, students were given booklets that contained the syllabus for the test. These booklets were priced at Rs 10 each. While the first and the final few pages of the booklet included information on topics of geography, history and science, a major part of it included topics on Sikhism and the origin and working of the RSS.

Students who took the test said they were shocked to see the contents of the book. “We thought it would be like the other books on general knowledge. However, we found that about 50 per cent of the printed matter was based on Sikhism, about 20 per cent on the working of the RSS and the rest on topics of general knowledge. After reading the book, I felt that the organisers of the test were trying to promote a particular group or religion,” said a school student.

A college student who took the test said at least 25 per cent of the questions were based on the working of the RSS. He said most students had given the test unwillingly as they had not liked the syllabus given in the book.

The booklet is a clever combination of information about the Sikh Gurus, prominent Indian scientists, mountain ranges, martyrs and revolutionaries and the RSS philosophy. It traces the history of the RSS from the time of its establishment by Dr Hedgewar. It also includes information on the need to form the RSS, besides its role during natural calamities, the Partition, foreign aggressions and the struggle to free Goa, Dadra and Nagar Haveli from the foreign rule.

The front-rank bodies of the RSS and the Bharatiya Janata Party also find mention in the booklet and the multiple-choice question paper.

“The book was in Hindi and the questions of the test were in Hindi and Punjabi. As my medium of education has always been English, it was difficult for me to prepare for the test,” said a school student.

Even the principals of the schools and colleges were not made aware of the pattern of the test before it was conducted. Ms Indira Kumar, Principal of Kundan Vidya Mandir, said she was shocked to read the syllabus given in the booklet. “I was informed that an organisation would conduct a test of general knowledge in 50 schools and colleges of the city. I was also told by its member that the test would be conducted at the state and the national levels and there would be cash prizes for winners. Several organisations hold such tests, so, I said my students would participate in it. Later, when I was told that students would have to pay Rs 10 for it, I showed some reluctance. However, I was told that each student would get a book of general knowledge.”

Students securing the first, second and third positions in the test will get prizes worth Rs 10,000, Rs 7,500 and Rs 5,000, respectively. Students securing the first, second and third positions in each district, will get cash prizes worth Rs 1,000, Rs 750 and Rs 500, respectively. Students, securing more than 60 per cent marks will get certificates.

Out of the 5,500 students of the city who took the test, over 1,000 were of Bharatiya Vidya Mandir, about 320 of Kundan Vidya Mandir and 50 of the Arya College for Boys.

Even the parents of some of the students who took the test said its syllabus was unusual for a test of general knowledge. “I believe that the organisers wanted the students to join the RSS and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarathi Parishad (ABVP),” said Mr G.S. Arora, father of a student who took the test.

Mr Satish Joshi, chief coordinator of the test, is a member of the RSS and President of the local unit of the ABVP. He denied all allegations of students, parents and teachers. He said the aim of the test was to inculcate the spirit of competition and patriotism among students. He said no group could mould the opinion of the youth by conducting a test like this.

A look at the question paper showed that, out of 100 questions of one mark each, more than 25 were about the activities of the RSS or its wings. The organisers had even included words like “struggle for Ram Janamabhoomi and Babri Masjid” as well in the booklet.

When contacted, Mr Ashok Setia, Director of the Bharatiya Vidya Mandir, said there was nothing wrong in making students aware of their culture. He said students should know about eminent personalities of India, even if they belonged to the RSS. Ms Kundra, Principal of New Senior Secondary School, said, “The test was not an attempt to promote the ideology of RSS. We want that our students should know more about our history and culture and the Gurus, besides current affairs.”

Random enquiries in several schools showed that the organisers of the test had selected the schools strategically. They knew that Christian missionaries would not allow the RSS to conduct the test in their schools, so, these were left out. The organisers also ignored most government schools and those run by Sikh bodies.

Most of the institutions where the test was conducted were run by the RSS loyalists. Authorities of some schools were not aware of the motive of the organisers until the examination was over.

Whether the move had the support of the top RSS and BJP functionaries, is not known, but it certainly was a veiled attempt to push their “saffron agenda”.


Is the ceasefire justified?
From Minna Zutshi

LUDHIANA: The last decade has seen the Kashmir valley convulsed with violence sponsored from across the border. All peace initiatives have so far remained non-starters. Recently, the Indian government announced a unilateral ceasefire starting from the first day of the Ramzan. This step has evoked a positive response from certain sections of Indians who feel that it could serve as an opportunity for furthering the peace process. But there are others who feel that the ceasefire would not serve any purpose as the militants are bent on derailing the peace initiatives at any cost. The recent killings seem to substantiate their viewpoint. Is the militants’ reaction to the ceasefire just an initial hiccup or are the odds heavily staked against the peace process? Will Syed Salahuddin’s statement that dismissed the ceasefire as a ‘mockery’ set the trend for the days to come or will the goodwill gesture of the Indian Government go down well with the masses in the valley?

Ludhiana Tribune spoke to a cross-section of people to know their views on the issue.

Dr Raj Dulari Kaul feels that India’s destiny is entwined with that of Kashmir. Any disturbance in the valley automatically has nationwide repercussions. She says, “The situation in Kashmir has come to such a pass due to the wrong policies adopted by the present and the past governments. However, any attempt to deal with the problem is welcome. After all, it is always good to keep hope alive because if hope dwindles nothing remains. Let the ceasefire be given a fair chance.”

Mr S.H. Khan, librarian at Panjab University Extension Library, says, “The outcome is a foregone conclusion. I am sceptical about the militants’ response to the ceasefire. The militants’ vision is blinkered by their warped ideologies, so their receptiveness to the ceasefire is doubtful. Still, the government’s efforts are appreciable. May be, something positive emerges. For now, we can only keep our fingers crossed.”

According to Mr A.C. Sabarwal (Army Postal Service), Senior Post Master, "I think that ceasefire announcement is a step in positive direction. It is basically a goodwill gesture by the government. But the moot question is how the militants would respond to it. If the militants continue with their present belligerent mood, then not much can be expected. But the government should see to it that the ceasefire does not send wrong signals to the militants. If the militants continue with the violence, then they should be dealt with a firm hand.”

In the opinion of Mr S.L. Aggarwal, a retired professor,” The militancy in Kashmir continues unabated in spite of the unilateral ceasefire announced by the Indian government. Isn’t it a portent of the future? I think, goodwill gestures seldom succeed if they are unilateral. Of course, ceasefire is welcome but the militants should not misconstrue it as a sign of weakness. The government should adopt tough measures to flush out the militants from the valley. Ever since the ceasefire announcement, the militants have started striking at soft targets. If the militants are bent on spoiling the peace initiatives, the government should reciprocate in the same vein.”

Ms Amit Kaur, a postgraduate in commerce, says, “The ceasefire does not warrant any euphoria. In fact, it brings into sharp focus the government’s inability to contain terrorism in the valley. Yes, the ceasefire may give a chance to the government to garner the support of Kashmiri masses. The government should utilise this as an opportunity to mobilise public opinion.”

Ms Sheela Langar, a home-maker, dismissed the ceasefire as a sham that would not make much of a difference in the valley. She feels that the militants were being given too much leverage. Her suggestion was a tough stand combined with a uniform policy at the state and the Centre.Back


Mystery surrounds couple’s death
From Our Correspondent

KHANNA, Nov 27 — Balwinder Singh (37) died under mysterious circumstances at Kaurri village, near Khanna, here yesterday, a few hours after the death of his wife. According to the police, both died a natural death. Post-mortem was done in the Civil Hospital and both were cremated by the evening.

According to the information available, Balwinder Singh, a painter, was drunk. His wife, Balbir Kaur, was ill for the past few days and she died on the previous night. According to the DSP, Mr Mohinder Pal Singh Shokar, villagers informed the police that the husband had killed his wife.

According to the information supplied by another group of villagers it looked as if his wife died a natural death. The DSP said that Balwinder had taken drinks with a relative to which his wife objected.

The father and other relatives of his deceased wife reached the village in the morning. In the afternoon the condition of Balwinder deteriorated and he died. According to sources from the Civil Hospital, in post-mortem report a head injury and broken rib on left side of Balwinder Singh was reported.

The police had claimed that both died a natural death and husband died due to excessive intake of alcohol and stress due to the death of his wife.


96-year-old clock tower awaits new life
From D.B. Chopra

LUDHIANA, Nov 27 — The city’s best known icon, the Ghanta Ghar clock , has been out of order for the past fortnight.

The original watch, installed nearly 96 years ago when the tower was built by the British, had to be wound manually and was replaced with an electronic watch about seven years ago as the old watch had warm out.

Mr S.N.Tripathi, Executive Engineer, (Lights) who looks after the tower clock as well, told Ludhiana Tribune that the watch had been sent to Chandigarh about two weeks ago after the machine developed a snag having been hit by flying pigeons who live inside the tower dome.

Mr Tripathi said there was no electronics engineer in the city who was capable of repairing the machine. He said on an earlier occasion when the tower chronometer had developed a fault, they had tried very hard to locate an expert in the city, but had failed.

He said the experts in Chandigarh had assessed the damage to the watch and disclosed that the motor of the watch had got damaged. A new motor has been procured from Delhi. It will, however, still take about a couple of days before the watch starts functioning.

About the broken glass panes on all the four dials of the watch, Mr Tripathi said new panes would be fitted in the meantime.

All efforts were on to restore the working of Ghanta Ghar, the pride of the city, he said.

Built in 1904, the clock tower is popularly known as Ghanta Ghar to the city residents. It was inaugurated the same year by Deewan Tek Chand, the then Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana. The rulers of the day had chosen the spot for the tower keeping in mind the proximity of the business centre and the railway station.

There have been clock towers in other Punjab towns as well, but over the years Ludhiana came to be especially known as the city of the Ghanta Ghar. The clock tower at Amritsar had collapsed long ago. In those times, the common people depended upon Ghanta Ghar to keep a track of the time.

During Giani Zail Singh’s tenure as Chief Minister of Punjab, the tower was named as Bhagwan Mahavir Clock Tower at the insistence of the town’s Jain community.

Old timers recall very vividly the time when city residents used to synchronise their watches with the Ghanta Ghar clock.Back



Subhani building in dire straits
From Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Nov 27 — The imposing heights, delicately designed and carefully crafted wood work and the hanging galaries of wood on all sides of the Subhani building speak of its past. But the dirt and filth that had accumulated inside its numerous rooms over the years had made its condition miserable.

Subhani Miyan, a businessman, had constructed Subhani building in 1931. The building was believed to be one of the few tall buildings in Ludhiana with six stories. Its spacious rooms and multiple stairs speak of the motive of the man who had constructed the house and rightly named it after himself.

The Subhani building is located in the heart of the city, with the Christian Medical College and Hospital in the east, railway station in the west, wool market in the north and Field Gunj in the south. Subhani Miyan is said to have constructed this huge house to establish his superior status in society.

The building with about 20 rooms had all the facilities which may be considered a luxury even from the modern standards. Subhani Miyan had several children and he had constructed one room for each son, besides several guest rooms with a central lobby. The entrance to the house was decoratively designed, the remains of which can be seen even now.

The building appears to have been constructed not with an architectural design only but also with an aesthetic sense. The wood work still makes the visitor feel awe-struck. The quality of wood, apparently deodar, is too good to have succumbed to the vagaries of weather for the past so many years.

But he could not live in it for too long. The partition made him and his family to migrate to Pakistan. The building remained uncared and unattended for over a decade. It was in 1959 that the building was purchased by a local businessman in an auction by the government. It was renamed as Grand Hotel. The hotel was supposed to be one of the best and most visited during the sixties.

The hotel was closed down in the seventies and was rented out to the PSEB. However, the PSEB also left the building. Except for about 10 shops in the ground floor, the entire building remains deserted now.

The proud and imposing structure from outside is filled with filth and dirt from inside. While on the ground floor there is a restaurant and on the first, second and third floors it is difficult to walk as the rooms are being used as latrines.

Mr Jagdish Bajaj, who migrated from Pakistan after partition and settled down in the vicinity of the building, has seen its rise, decline and the fall. He recalls that in the sixties it used to be one of the most frequentely visited place. After the hotel was closed down, the decline started. "And now it has fallen from grace," he remarked.


Computer centre in unsafe building
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Nov 27 — This is a computer centre unlike any other of its kind as this centre in the Haibowal area of the city is running from the unfinished premises that threatens the safety of all those who come here to become computer savvy.

Some students at the institute feel that the construction should be completed as it is very risky to carry on the work under such unsafe conditions and the charge high fee but do not provide enough services.

The basement of the building is still under construction. The prime location of the building was one of prime attraction for the owner of the computer institute. She reportedly had to do a hard bargain to get the building on the rent. She admitted that we liked the location of the building as it is situated on the main road.Back



Party men hail Amarinder’s reelection
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Nov 27 — Workers of the Congress distributed sweets at several places in the city to celebrate the reelection of Capt Amarinder Singh as the President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee.

At a function organised by Mr Palwinder Singh Taggar, President of the Block Congress Committee 11, in Simla Puri here, sweets were distributed among party workers and the public. A former Punjab minister, Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, the PPCC Secretary, Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, and the President of the Indian Youth Congress Urban Development Cell, Mr Pawan Diwan, were among those who attended the function.

Mr Bawa and Mr Diwan said they were confident that the party would gain strength under the leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh and give a tough fight to the ruling SAD(B)-BJP combine in the next Assembly elections.

Several other workers of the District Congress Committee have also hailed the election of Capt Amarinder Singh. In a joint statement issued to press here today, the Congress activists said the unanimous reelection of the PPCC president would boost the morale of the party workers.

Those who gave the statement included Mr Balraj Singh Sekhon, Vice-President of the DCC (Urban), Mr Varinder Gandhi, General Secretary of the DCC, Mr Chander Shekhar Sahota and Mr Rajan Shukla, Presidents of the Block Congress Committee, Mr Gurmel Singh, Mr Tajpal Parashar, Mr Harmel Singh, Mr Kimti Lal, Mr Niranjan Singh, Mr Rakesh, Mr Sohan Singh, Mr Mulkh Raj, Mr Manoj Kumar, Mr Gurdip Singh, President of the Shopkeepers Association of Haibowal and Mr Avtar Singh Ghulal, Vice-President of the DCC (Rural).


Chrysanthemum exhibition
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Nov 27 — An exhibition-cum-sale of chrysanthemum will be organised by the Landscape Division of the Estate Organisation on November 29 and 30, in collaboration with the Department of Floriculture and Landscaping, Punjab Agricultural University.

In the exhibition, 3000 pots of eight classes and 50 varieties of Chrysanthemum would be displayed for exhibition and sale purpose in the open-air theatre of Mela Ground of the university.

The exhibition will be inaugurated by Dr G.S. Kalkar, Vice-Chancellor (PAU) on November 29, at 11 a.m. Pots will be available for sale after the exhibition, on all working days, in the Landscape nursery, PAU, till the stocks last.

Chrysanthemum belongs to family compositae and is a native of China. It is a short-day plant and flowering starts as the day length shortens towards the winter season. Its flowering period, in Punjab, extends from November to December. According to Mr H.S. Grewal, Assistant Landscape Officer, PAU, the flower is broadly classified into two groups, Japanese (standard ball type) and Korean (spray type). It is further classified into 10 different classes depending upon the arrangement and prominence of its ray and disc florets. The major classes of chrysanthemum are: incurved, incurving, reflexes, spider, pompon, anemone, Korean single, Korean double, spon and button.Back


YC activists hold demonstration
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Nov 27 — Youth Congress workers held a demonstration to protest against the killing of Hindus and Sikhs in Jammu and Kashmir by militants after the Union Government had declared a unilateral ceasefire in the valley during the month of Ramzan. Carrying banners and placards, the demonstrators, led by Mr Nirdosh Dhand, Vice-President, Punjab Youth Congress, marched from Kundan Puri to Domoria Bridge, where the effigy of Gen Parvez Musharraf was burnt. They also raised slogans against the military rulers of Pakistan and the ISI.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Dhand charged the ISI with fomenting terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the country. He commented that the declaration of ceasefire had, for all practical purposes, been rejected by the militant groups and it was being seen as a sign of weakness on the part of the Indian Government.

He called upon the government to deal with the situation firmly and also to initiate the necessary diplomatic measures to get Pakistan declared a terrorist state.


Advance course on art of living ends
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Nov 27 — An advanced course on art of living organised by the Vyakti Vikas Kendra, which has its head office in Bangalore, concluded at Punjab Agricultural University here yesterday.

Mr Jasminder Singh, who is a teacher of art of living, said that more than 300 participants from all over the north zone took part in the course.

According to the organisers of the course, Mr Sanjay Mahajan, the course in art of living enables a person to delve deep into the inner recesses of one's mind and helps discover the vast resources of latent energy and inspiration. He claims that the course also helps in establishing a proper coordination between the body, mind and soul.

The course, he explains, consisted of discussions, simple yoga, meditation, etc. In addition, the course also involves Sudarshan Kriya. According to him, Sudarshan Kriya is such an exercise involving breathing technique which enables a person to get rid of such negative feelings as jealousy, envy, hatred, anger, sufferings, depression, fear and sorrow and helps one to experience joy and peace.

He revealed that basically there were two types of courses in the art of living — basic course and the advanced course.

In the basic course, a participant is required to pay Rs 700 for life membership, while for the advanced course one is required to pay Rs 1,600 for a period of four days. The fee for the advanced course includes board and lodging expenses.

Mr Sanjay also claims that the World Health Organisation has recommended Sudarshan Kriya as an alternative to allopathy. He revealed that the research done at NIMHAS, Bangalore, has also acknowledged Sudarshan Kriya as a substitute to allopathy for quick healing.

Mr Dinesh Ghodake from Bombay is delivering the lectures. He further informs that the art of living has 3,500 centers in 108 countries.


Improve law and order, water supply: YC
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Nov 27 — The District Youth Congress (DYC) had strongly reacted to the worsening law and order situation in the city and has flayed the Municipal Corporation for the stoppage of water supply during the day time.

DYC activists, led by its president Parminder Mehta held a protest rally at the Mini-Secretariat here today and submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, calling for immediate intervention of the state government to curb the increasing lawlessness, streamline the police functioning and to restore the water supply in the city in the afternoon.

Addressing party workers, Mr Mehta rued that killings, robberies and crime against women had become the order of the day. Emboldened by total inaction on part of the police, the criminals, patronised by politicians, were ruling the roost, while innocent persons and at times, the complainants were being harassed by the police.

Focussing on the widespread resentment against the discontinuation of water supply during the day, the DYC president expressed surprise that almost without exception, the councillors from all political parties, including ruling SAD(B)-BJP, had opposed the move. But the adamant civic administration appeared in no mood to relent.

The DYC further urged the administration to ensure that the local buses halted at the designated bus stops, provided for this purpose, statues and memorials of martyrs were properly maintained and grievances of the public were redressed in a time bound and efficient manner.


Reena is Miss Khanna
From Our Correspondent

KHANNA, Nov 27 — Reena Sharma was adjudged Miss Khanna at the Khanna Punjaban Mutiar 2000 contest held yesterday evening at Government Girls Senior Secondary School. The contest was organised by the Sanjha Sankalap Kala Manch Punjab, Khanna. Satinder Hurm was the first runners-up, while Anuradha was adjudged the second runners-up.

The Sports Minister of the State, Mr Nusrat Ali Khan, was the chief guest on the occasion. Noted Punjabi singer Harbhajan Shera made the audience dance on his song Aaja Aaja Ni Padosane.

Contestants came dressed in traditional dresses. They were asked questions about the city, general knowledge and Punjabi culture.

TV artist Ms Kamaljit Kamal performed as compere. Some personalities attached with Punjabi culture were honoured on the occasion.


Kidnapped mother, child found
From Our Correspondent

SAHNEWAL, Nov 27 — The Sahnewal police has succeeded in solving a case of kidnapping in which a woman and her child were abducted by some persons from Mangarh village.

According to the FIR registered at Sahnewal Police Station, the mother of the victim, Sallo, alleged that in the wee hours of September 16, her daughter Manno and her one- year- old grandchild were kidnapped by some persons from Mangarh village.

Manno had been married to Billu three years ago. She had since then been divorced and remarried. The mother of the victim, however, suspected the hand of Manno”s former husband in the kidnapping.

Mr Jatinder Singh Khaira, SHO, Sahnewal Police Station, said that on November 22, a police party under the command of ASI Narinder Kumar succeeded in arresting the main accused, ‘Sheru’, from a dhaba on the Kohara road. Three of the accused had been arrested earlier but they were on the look out for the main culprit. On interrogation, Sheru said he and his brother Balbir, along with their companions, took the woman and her child to Pathankot where they sexually abused her. In the meantime, acting on the information given by the parents of Manno, the police reached Pathankot from where the abductors had brought Manno and her child to Tibba village near Sahnewal. There Sheru and Balbir continuously tortured her physically as well as mentally. One of them always kept guard over her. Mr Khaira said one of the accused was still at large. “He too will soon be behind bars”, he said. Manno and her child have been handed over to her parents. The girl was medically examined and a rape case has been established. In view of this, Section 376 of the IPC has been added to the earlier Sections of 364, 148 and 149 of the IPC, added Mr Khaira.Back


Minor girl abducted
From Our Correspondent

JAGRAON, Nov 27 — Des Raj of Abupura village lodged an FIR stating that his minor daughter, Kamaljit Kaur (14), had been abducted. Ms Harobai, mother of the minor, has said in her complaint that her daughter had been abducted by Gurbax Singh, alias Devi, son of Sher Singh, of the same village in connivance with some people with the intention of marrying her. Gurbax Singh is already married. The Sidhwan police has registered a case under Sections 363, 366 and 120-B of the IPC.


Fresh power cess opposed
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Nov 27 — The Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertaking (CICU) has strongly opposed the proposal of the government to levy 5 paise per unit as power development cess on all industrial, commercial and domestic consumers.

Mr Inderjit Singh Pardhan, President and Mr Avtar Singh, General Secretary of the CICU have said in a statement that this move of the government will ruin the industry in Punjab, which is already passing through a tough phase.

They said the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) hiked the power tariff by approximately 10 per cent in the month of July, raised the monthly minimum charges in August, followed by another upwards revision of 6 paise per unit as fuel surcharge with effect from October 1. Now the imposition of power development cess will surely invite wrath of the industrial consumers of the state as industrialists are in no mood to accept the increase in electricity charges every month.

The chamber has time and again been reminding the PSEB to bring down the transmission and distribution losses and also to set its own house in order, but it has taken the least resistance path of collecting money by increasing the power tariff every now and then, they said.

Mr Pardhan and Mr Avtar Singh, have urged the Chief Minister of Punjab not to give a nod to this proposal and direct the PSEB to desist from forming ‘anti-industry’ policies.


Need to boost fish farming in Punjab
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Nov 27 — Farmers and other entrepreneurs in the state are taking to fish farming in a big way, with 10000 hectares of land coming under fish farming compared to just 1521 hectares about 14 years ago. Many progressive farmers of the state are partly shifting towards fishfarming, while several small farmers have taken village ponds on lease from the panchayats concerned and renovated these for the purpose of fish farming.

This was stated by Dr Asha Dhawan, Assistant Professor, Fisheries, at Punjab Agricultural University. According to Dr Dhawan, “Fish farming was started in Punjab about three decades ago. However , due to lack of technical knowledge and personal prejudices, it did not gain much popularity. A major breakthrough has been made in fish farming only in recent times consequent on the development of fish culture technology by scientists and its dissemination among the farming classes of the state.”

In addition, sustained extension efforts by scientists and financial support by the Punjab Government has helped generate considerable interest in fish farming in both urban and rural areas. In fact, aquaculture is a new avocation with a great potential for development in an agriculture-dominated state like Punjab, according to Dr Dhawan.

Recounting efforts to promote and popularise fish farming, Dr Kamaldeep Kaur, Head of the Department of Fisheries, PAU, says that the government has set up fish farmers development agencies (FFDA) in each district of Punjab. The FFDA provides details on fish farming to these farmers, including tips on technology, extension services , finance, inputs, etc, to fish farmers in an integrated way. PAU also set up a separate Department of Fisheries in 1994 to develop region-specific technologies with a view to promoting the avocation of fish farming in the state. The PAU Department of Fisheries, says Dr Kamaldeep Kaur, in its lab-to -land programme helps fish farmers in a variety of ways which include training programmes, practical demonstrations talk, on radio and television, consultancy services , relevant literature , and supply of quality seeds.

As a result of these measures, fish production has increased to 4,100 kg per hectare a year which is double the national fish production of 2105 kg per hectare, say the two scientists.

Both are of the view that there is big potential to raise fish production manifold in Punjab. They say that in Punjab, 94 per cent of the net sown area is irrigated — 38 per cent by the surface water resources and (62 per cent) by underground water. Unlike the surface water, they add, the ground water in many parts of the state is of a poor quality, containing various concentrations of soluble salts that make it unfit for irrigation. Added to this, there is the acute problem of water-logging in the south-west districts of Punjab, namely, Sangrur, Muktsar, Faridkot, Ferozepore and Bathinda.

According to the PAU scientists, the salt-affected and water-logged areas of the state, together with the plain zones of Kandi area and the Shivalik foot-hills, which are either unsuitable for agriculture or have low productivity, offer excellent opportunities for fish-farming. Not only that, the scientists emphasise, Punjab has rich water resources in the form of rivers, canals, lakes, wetlands, etc., which hold immense promise to develop intensive aquaculture.

Integrated fish farming, i.e, fish farming combined with other farming systems, such as, crop production and livestock-rearing, is a multi-commodity farming system which needs to be promoted in the areas where agriculture and livestock- raising are traditional occupations.

Dr Kamaldeep said, “The government of Punjab ought to treat fish farming on a par with agriculture so that fish farmers may also avail themselves of such concessions, incentives and subsidies as are available to agriculturists.”

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