Tuesday, May 15, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Free power for PAU farms
First university to get this facility
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 14
Punjab Agricultural University has probably become the first university in the country to be provided with free power for its farms by the government.

Giving its nod to a request made in this regard by PAU, the Punjab State Electricity Board has in a letter to the Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh, informed him that the PSEB has decided to provide free power to the farms of PAU.

Confirming the receipt of the letter, the Vice-Chancellor said that the university would not have to pay any bills for electricity consumed by the tubewells from May 10 onwards.

Dr Aulakh said that the university would save more than Rs 1.5 lakh every year due to free power to tubewells. He said this would help in making up the budget deficit incurred by PAU to some extent.

He said that although the total energy utilised by all the tubewells was yet to be assessed, the last electricity bill for the power consumed by the tubewells in two months amounted to about Rs 25,000. He added that the PSEB had given free power to local PAU farms only and he would take up the matter to get free electricity for all farms of the university in the state.

He said that this was an encouraging development for the university.

With these orders the university has received a shot in the arm as it was earnestly demanding free power to its farms on the lines of the free power given to farmers by the state government. The university had argued that if the rural areas were being provided free electricity to boost agriculture, PAU which was working for the progress in the field of agriculture also deserved the same benefit.

The Vice-Chancellor on the very first day after taking over as VC on April 1 had said that he would ask the board for free power for PAU farms. He had written to the PSEB demanding free power only on April 4. He said: "It is for the first time in the history of PAU that free power has been given to its farms. I was seriously following up this demand and the result is positive."

It is worth mentioning here that the state government supplies free power to about seven lakh tubewells being used for crop cultivation in the state. Due to the free supply the state exchequer has to bear a financial burden of about Rs 400 crore every year.

According to sources, PAU has 15 tubewells on its all farms all over the state. Dr Aulakh had written to the local Municipal Commissioner to remove octroi from the university electricity bills as the varsity had been exempted from octroi on all the research equipment.


Physically challenged bear heat, harsher officials
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, May 14
Day: Monday; time: 9:55 am; place: office of the Civil Surgeon. Hundreds of physically and mentally challenged persons are here to obtain certificates of disability for jobs and some other concessions. They are made to stand for hours in long queues in the scorching heat. They patiently bear the heat, but attendants of the CMO office are more harsh because they push them around mercilessly.

About 50 applications for obtaining these certificates are submitted every Monday in the office, but only a few lucky persons return with the certificates. The others keep coming again.

Physically and mentally challenged persons wait outside the office in the heat to obtain certificates of disability.
Physically and mentally challenged persons wait outside the office in the heat to obtain certificates of disability. — Photo Inderjit Verma

Mr Rajinder Singh, 60, comes all the way from Mehrnakalan village to get the certificate for his mentally challenged son, Talwinder Singh. He says, “This is perhaps my 10th visit to the office. Officials raise a new objection every time. The attendants here are always harsh and rude. Sometimes, they mercilessly push us out of their cabins. There are no drinking-water taps and a place to sit here.”

Ms Baljit Kaur, a resident of Dhamot village, has high hopes from the authorities concerned. Perhaps, this is her first visit to the office. She is here to get the certificate for her 13-year-old blind and physically challenged son, Avtar Singh.

However, Avtar is restless since morning. His mother says, “He did not get water to drink. He was tired because we came here early today and could not find a place to sit in shade.” The certificate will help her son get admission in the local Vocational Rehabilitation Centre.

Mr Pappu, Mr Gyan Singh and Mr Karamjit Singh are some others who come here every Monday from nearby villages. They are upset over the unsympathetic and non-cooperative attitude of officials.

Mr Hari Krishan Jain, an octogenarian, comes here every Monday to help such persons fill and submit their forms accurately. He says, “Physically challenged persons should be treated nicely. Fate has been unkind to them, but we should understand their feelings.

The authorities concerned should arrange for drinking water, bathrooms and sheds for those who stand in the queue here. Dr Rajinder Kaur, Civil Surgeon, said, due to a lack of funds, the Health Department had been unable to provide these facilities here.

She said, “I try to ensure that my staff is polite to physically challenged persons who come here, but I have still received complaints against attendants and I will look into the matter.”


Armed men raze two shops in Sarabha Nagar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 14
In an act of lawlessness arising out of a property dispute, two shops were razed by about 10 armed men near Hotel Baron on the Main Sarabha road at about 3 in the morning.

The police has registered a case against one person, who is yet to be arrested.

According to the Sarabha Nagar police, the owner of the shops, Nachattar Singh, wanted the tenant Ram Swaroop to vacate the shops even as a legal battle over the issue was going on in the court.

Naresh Kumar, son of the tenant, said about 10 men armed with guns, swords , rods , sticks and a bulldozer demolished the shops after beating the security guard posted there.

The complainant said he rushed to the spot after being informed by the security guard. He said he saw Ajaib Singh, a relative of the owner, and other persons armed with guns and sticks demolishing the shops. He said he went to the police station, but by the time the police arrived, the shops had been razed.

The police has registered a case against Ajaib Singh and the identity of other persons was being ascertained.


Students threaten to boycott exams
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 14
Agitating students of the College of Agriculture (COA), Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), today said that they would boycott the examinations which were scheduled to start in the last week of May if the government failed to meet their demands.

Students of COA, while addressing mediapersons here today, said that if their meeting with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal tomorrow failed to bear any fruit, they would intensify their stir. Gurmeet Singh, spokesperson of the Punjab Agricultural Students Association (PASA), said that they would join all associations related with agriculture and fight for the cause.

He said that students from CCS Hisar Agricultural University (HAU) were also joining the students of PAU for their cause. Student leaders from HAU were visiting the campus today to chalk out a plan for the future.

He said PASA was hopeful that something would be done tomorrow after they meet the Chief Minister who was scheduled to visit the city tomorrow.

He also said that the students were adamant to get their demands fulfilled as this was a question of their future. He said that despite the fact that the Vice-Chancellor was trying to fix a meeting with Mr Badal for the past many days he could not do so for 15 days.

The spokesperson of PASA said that with the WTO posing challenges, it was a must for the children belonging to rural areas to read agriculture as a compulsory subject.

Meanwhile, the relay hunger strike of students of COA entered sixth day today. The students of the College of Agricultural Engineering also boycotted their classes to press for their demands. The students were seen sitting outside the college and the classrooms wore a deserted look.

They said their main demand was the implementation of the recommendations of the Arjun Singh Committee which gave its report on Agricultural Engineering in Punjab in 1998.


Record purchase of wheat in Ludhiana
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana May 14
The district has created a new record of wheat procurement with the total purchase touching 8,55,085 metric tonnes till May 13 during this procurement season. Giving this information, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, said today that last year up to this date 7,04,445 tonnes wheat had been procured by government agencies out of the total procurement of 7.4 lakh metric tonnes of wheat.

He said that out of total wheat produced, the government agencies had procured 8,54,324 MT and the traders only 76 MT (.09% of the total procurement). The Deputy Commissioner added that the procurement had been smooth except for minor problems of lifting in a few mandis. The problem of lifting occurred only because of the sudden heavy arrival in the mandis.

Mr Sandhu said that even though all arrangements regarding bales, crates and storage space were adequate, due to limited availability of transport and some shortage of labour from Bihar due to panchayat elections in that state, some delay had occurred in lifting of wheat only in a few mandis. The government had also allowed the use of all kinds of transport. In addition to the labour provided by labour contractors, labour available with arhtias was also used for loading and unloading of wheat.

Mr Parveen Vij, District Food and Supplies Controller, while giving details of the procurement informed that of the total 8,54,324 MT procured by government agencies, the Food and Supplies Department had purchased 73,566 MT, Markfed 1,53,491 MT, PUNSUP 1,78,710 MT, Punjab State Warehousing Corporation 90,947 MT, Punjab Agro Industries Corporation 97,509 MT and Food Corporation of India 2,60,101 MT.


Man dies of pollution’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 14
The state vice-president of the Bahujan Samaj Party, Dr D.P. Khosla, today alleged that due to the dust rising out of a pulse factory in Chhowni Mohala area one person lost his life and the district administration was not taking any note of it.

Addressing a press conference here today, Dr Khosla alleged that a middle aged man Krishen Kumar, died of asthama, which had been caused by the dust of the factory. He said though the matter was raised at the sangat darshan programme also, the Deputy Commissioner bailed out the factory owner without providing any compensation to the victim’s family.


Panthic unity finalised: Tohra
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 14
In a significant development, which may have far reaching consequences on the political scene in the state, president of the All-India Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, said today that the panthic unity between his party, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) led by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Akali Dal (Democratic) let by Mr Kuldeep Singh Wadala and the Akali Dal (Panthic) led by Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode had been finalised and only the formal announcement was to be made. Mr Tohra also set at rest all the controversies regarding the “martyrdom” of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale saying that the SGPC had already declared him a martyr.

Addressing a press conference, after attending a meeting of party workers at the Gurdwara Akalgarh, here today, Mr Tohra said, the announcement has been delayed in view of the indisposition of Mr Mann, who is to undergo a heart surgery in New Delhi. However, he clarified, the formal announcement would be made in this month only.

The former SGPC chief also clarified that his doors for the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had been shut for the good. He denied that he conceded to the move of panthic unity only after all chances of rapprochement with Mr Badal failed. He claimed, there was no such move. “I was never inclined towards unity with Mr Badal and these moves were the creation of media only”, he said.

Mr Tohra declared that the panthic groups will contest the elections together and probably on a single manifesto and single election symbol. However, it would be decided only after the announcement of panthic unity is made.

He said with the formation of the joint panthic front, the scope for third front had increased to a considerable degree. He hoped that the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will also join the front as Mr Kanshi Ram had made it a precondition that all the panthic groups should join hands before inviting others. He said other non-Congress non-Akali and non-BJP groups will also be approached to join the front and hoped that it will materialise.

Mr Tohra also said the SGPC had already declared Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale as a martyr and had honoured his family during the World Sikh Conference held in 1996 for his martyrdom and there was no need to rake up the issue again.

He also criticised the appointment of Mr Didar Singh Bains as the president of the World Sikh Council and said Justice Kuldip Singh was the real head of the council.

Earlier, in a resolution passed at the meeting, the party criticised the Shiromani Akali Dal, the BJP and the Congress for their anti-people policies. It alleged that Mr Badal had usurped all the authority of panchayats, zila parishads, planning boards and other development agencies by announcing grants of his own during his sangat darshan programmes. The resolution described it as an “election stunt only”. 


Protect bee colonies from heat: experts
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 14
The experts at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), have advised the bee keepers and poultry farmers to protect honey bee colonies and poultry from the harsh summer.

The experts have advised that the bee colonies should be placed under thick shade of the trees. The farmers have been advised to put sticks or bushes in the water tanks of tubewells so that bees can sit on while licking the water. In summers, arrangements to ensure proper ventilation in the colonies should be made. These include enlarging the entrance gate of the colonies and replacing of thick gunny bags on the top with thin burlap.

For the poultry farmers, the experts have advised that a special care of the flock is required in view of the high temperature during this month. The poultry houses should be white-washed from outside as well as inside as it will help in reflecting the sun rays and helping in less heat absorption by the shed.

The number of water containers should be doubled and water should be doubled and water should be changed more frequently. The farmers have also been advised to provide light in the morning hours so as to enable the birds feed in cool morning hours. Experts say due to rise in temperature, the intake of feed reduces by 10 to 20 g per bird per day. To cover the deficiency of low feed intake, the proteins, minerals and vitamins should be increased proportionately. In case of mortality or low egg production, experts should be consulted immediately.


Dharna by industrialists
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, May 14
Indefinite strike and dharna in steel re-rolling mills, induction furnaces and weigh bridges continued for the third day here today in the main Loha Bazar. The main road of the bazar leading to the railway station, hospital and schools was completely blocked and the traffic had to be diverted.

The agitators were demanding suspension of enforcement staff, registration of FIR against the ETO and end to harassment of traders.

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