Saturday, March 23, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


‘Grow only recommended varieties’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 22
Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, has cautioned farmers against purchasing seed of Bt cotton being sold in Punjab by certain unscrupulous elements after bringing these from Gujarat. He further advised them to grow only those varieties of the crop, which were recommenced by the PAU experts.

He was addressing a gathering of farmers after inaugurating the Kisan Mela, organised at Regional Research Station of the university at Bathinda. He asked farmers to sow paddy nursery around May 10 and transplant the same between June 10 to 20. “The practice of early sowing of paddy, adopted by the farmers, puts unnecessary strain on the already scarce underground water. Similarly, the sowing of cotton should be started in mid-April and completed by mid-May. Late-sown cotton is more prone to attack of insect-pests and diseases,” he said.

Dr Aulakh urged the state government to release canal water between mid April to mid-May and then after June 10 so as to facilitate the sowing of these crops in time.

While sharing major research highlights, Dr Govinder Singh Nanda, Director of Research, PAU, said the University had released four new varieties of Kharif crops. The new American Cotton F-1861 had an average yield of 545 kg per acre and was resistant to cotton-leaf-curl-virus disease. The sugarcane variety CoJ 88 contained 17 to18 per cent sucrose and was tolerant to red rot disease. The average yield of this variety, he added, was 340 quintal per acre. The new ‘moong’ variety SML668 had bold grains with good cooking quality. It was resistant to fungal, bacterial and viral diseases and had an average grain yield of 600 kg per acre.

Dr Jaspinder Singh Kolar, Director, Extension Education, PAU, advised the farmers to avoid excessive use of nitrogenous fertilizer as it could prove counter productive. He also advocated for the judicious use of pesticides as these over-use resulted in development of toxicity in crop produce and increased resistance in insect and pests. He also warned the farmers against the use of un-recommended insecticides.

He advised the farmers to adopt subsidiary occupations, like dairy farming, poultry, bee-keeping and mushroom growing so as to get continuous income. He said training for these occupations was available at the Krishi Vigyan Kendras. He exhorted farmers to make maximum use of these facilities.

Thousands of farmers from the cotton-belt of Punjab and adjoining areas of Rajasthan and Haryana attended the mela and evinced keen interest in the field demonstrations and agro-industrial exhibitions. Dr Major Singh Aujla, Director of the Regional Station, said more than 10 government, semi-government, private and cooperative organisation put up stalls in the exhibition to inform farmers regarding various services and facilities provided by them.

About 5,000 bags of the seeds of different varieties of crops and 2000 kitchen gardening seed kits were sold in the mala. The stall of PAU farm literature attracted a large number of farmers, who purchased farm magazines and books worth Rs 80,000. Another important feature of the mela was the question-answer session in which the university scientists Dr M.P.S. Gill, Dr Dulcha Singh, Dr Joginder Singh, Dr H.S. Rewal, Dr J.S. Kanwar, Dr Jaswidner Singh Bhatti and Dr Sewak Singh Ahuja gave answers to the questions of the farmers. Questions related to crop production, plant protection, fruit production, dairy farming and maintenance of farm machinery. Dr G.S. Dhaliwal, Associate Director (Trg.), KVK, informed the farmers about various training and extension programmes.

Dr S.S. Gill, Additional Director (Communication Centre), said Bhatinda Kisan Mela was the third mela in the series of the five kisan melas to be organised by the university during the current month to disseminate information about the latest form technology. Earlier the kisan melas were held in the Kandi region at Ballowal Saunkhri in Nawan Shahr district and at Rauni in Patiala district.



PAU for imposing cess on farmers
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, March 22
The Punjab Agricultural University authorities have urged the Punjab Government to impose a cess of one per cent on the total value of agricultural produce brought for sale in the state markets by the farmers and sellers.

In a communication to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Dr K. S. Aulakh, has sought the release of promised and sanctioned grants for the university.

According to Dr Aulakh, the farmers will not grumble to pay this nominal charge as the PAU, over the years, has not only developed credibility with the administration, but has also established a good rapport with the state peasantry.

The Vice-Chancellor has sought the release of Rs 23.25 crore for the CPF and GPF accounts of the employees. This includes interest amount of Rs 1 crore which is payable due to non-deposit of CPC and GPF contributions of employees.

He has further emphasised that there is an urgent need to do a way with the proposed cut, at the suggested rate of 10 per cent every year, in respect of non-plan agriculture veterinary scheme in the PAU budget. If enforced it would result in 50 per cent reduced budget by the year 2006-2007 which will deteriorate the financial health of the university.

Dr Aulakh has pointed out that the state government has been sanctioning additional funds during previous years to meet the deficit of the university. However, for the years 2000-2001 and 2002-2003, figures of September 1999 were taken as base year and sanctioned funds were quite inadequate.

The university has demanded that the budget be sanctioned by taking into account the total expenditure of previous year plus an annual increase of at least 30 per cent. Since 94 per cent of the state funding is spent on wages of the employees, only six per cent is left for research, teaching and extension programmes. According to Dr Aulakh, contingent grants for state funded schemes need to be increased as per norms fixed by the ICAR with animal contingent grant of Rs 40,000 per scientist.

The authorities have also sought the release of Rs 5 crore to the PAU in lieu of exchange of land and sugarcane research station at Jalandhar with the medical institute. A total of Rs 15 crore was to be paid to the university of which only Rs 10 crore have been paid by the medical institute. The state government provided 1250 acre of land of Ladowal farm to the university for the establishment of a sugarcane research station. Earlier, it was said that the land would be provided free of cost, but now the government has asked, the university to make payment for the land at a rate of Rs 1 lakh per acre.

The Vice-Chancellor has drawn the attention of the government to the decision of the government to create a fund of Rs 100 crore for the PAU which would generate sufficient interest for meeting the financial needs of the university for research work.



PAU weaves case for Bt-cotton
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 22
Though the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) of the Ministry of Environment and Forests is yet to clear commercial cultivation of India’s first genetically modified crop, Bt-cotton, the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) gave it a green signal here today.

The PAU said the crop was the only choice left to bail out loss-hit cotton farmers. The PAU Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh, said at a press conference here today that the PAU experts were in favour of the cultivation of Bt-cotton because it had been tried and tested in the West and found to be harmless.

He said it was a false projection that the genetically modified cotton could cause harm to some friendly insects or get crossed with some other crops. He also said Bt-cotton could reduce the cost of production and was environment friendly. It would also reduce the use of pesticides.

Dr Aulakh was accompanied by many scientists like Dr G.S. Gosal, a biotechnologist, Dr G.S. Chahal, a cotton expert, Dr Joginder Singh and Dr Darshan Singh, both entomologists, and Dr G.S. Nanda, a plant breeder and Director Research of the PAU.

Dr Aulakh criticised the critics of Bt-cotton and said, at this point, only this genetically improved variety could save debt-ridden cotton farmers. “Some persons with vested interests were trying to stall the efforts of the Department of Biotechnology to make a switchover to transgenic crops in India,” he said.

He said, while a huge quantity of pesticides was being used to save cotton, farmers would be wiser if they cultivated Bt-cotton because it was resistant to American white fly.

Cotton is being considered a great hope for diversification which is urgently needed in Punjab. Dr Aulakh said India could not afford to ignore cotton because it had the largest textile industry in the world. Moreover, cotton accounted for 20 per cent of India’s exports. About 70 million farmers cultivated cotton in India and 18 million person were in the cotton business.

He said many other countries had been cultivating Bt-cotton for the past six years without any harm, so, it would be safe for India as well. In the USA, transgenic cotton was being sown on 70 per cent of the area under cotton cultivation. About 35 genetically improved varieties of various crops were being cultivated worldover without side effects.



Two progressive farmers awarded
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 22
Hard work coupled with innovation helped these two progressive farmers of the state to pull themselves out of the wheat-paddy cycle and bring laurels to their villages.

Mr Nek Singh of Agol village in Patiala district and Mr Aman Behl of Gurdaspur were given the “Dalip Singh Dhaliwal memorial award for innovative farmer” in the Kisan Mela that concluded on the PAU campus today. They were awarded a cash prize of Rs 2,500 each and a citation.

The story of Mr Behl puts an example of other farmers who can take a cue from him and make a name for themselves in the field of agriculture. A postgraduate in economics, Mr Behl is now known as an exporter of vegetable seeds in various countries. Around 16 years ago he decided to diversify his agriculture and started sowing vegetables, including radish, carrot, brinjal and cauliflower.

Today his seeds are in a great demand in countries like Vietnam and Holland. He has put up various machines at his farms for processing and grading of seeds.

Mr Nek Singh, the other farmer, is a name who is known for diversifying his agriculture and switching over to other crops like maize, barseem, potato, chilly, melon and pulses. He has also adopted the work of production of seeds at the international level. His seeds are famous in the agricultural circles of the state.

He has virtually turned his farm into a research farm. 



Kisan Mela competition results
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 22
In the potato cultivation contest, Gaurav of Ghanini village (Ferozepore) won the first prize whereas Nanak Singh of Mianpur, (Ropar) bagged the second prize. In the tomato cultivation contest, Manjit Singh from Sangrur was adjudged the best, while the second prize went to Nok Singh of Patiala.

In the competitions organised by the College of Home Science, Amandeep Kaur was declared first in potato peeling and Surinder Kaur (Dulera) won the first prize for ‘saag cutting’. In the knitting competition, Mohinder Kaur (Pakhowal) was given the first prize. Gurjit Singh, son of Mr Jagjit Singh, was declared the most healthy baby in the Healthy Baby Contest.



PCTE students shine in MBA exams
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 22
Students from the Punjab College of Technical Education (PCTE) have won top positions in MBA first and second year examinations conducted by Punjab Technical University this year.

In MBA II, seven out of the top 10 positions have been bagged by the PCTE students. Shilpi Mittal secured top position in the university with 703 marks out of 800. Manisha Dhiman got third position by scoring 700 marks. Fourth position in the university went to Gurpreet Singh. Suriti Bali, Gurpreet Kaur, Rupinderjit Kaur and Amarpreet Singh, all from PCTE, stood fifth, eighth, ninth and tenth position, respectively.

In MBA I, the top three positions have been bagged by the PCTE students. Monica Chawla stood first in the university by scoring 708 marks out of 800. Shivani Bector grabbed second position with 702 marks and Cheenu Garg achieved third position with 693 marks. The fifth, seventh and tenth positions in the examination also went to PCTE students.

Dr K.N.S. Kang, Director of the college, said it was seventh time in a row that students of the college had bagged first positions in the university in the MBA examinations. He further said the students of his college had topped in MBA first and third semester also this year. He said that regular tests coupled with hard work of the students as well as faculty had helped in achieving top positions. 



PSEB told to refund sum
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 22
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has stopped the Punjab State Electricity Board from recovering Rs 7,200 from a man, Mr Prahlad Yadav, who lives in Sherpur Kalan. The charge was for drawing an excess load, but the PSEB was told to refund the amount that Mr Yadav had deposited against the bill. It was also told to pay him an interest at a rate of 12 per cent per annum from the date of the deposit to the day of the payment.

The complainant’s representative had told the forum that the sanctioned load was only 0.40 KW and the consumer had never overdrawn. He also said the penalty imposed on the consumer was illegal and arbitrary.

The PSEB’s plea was that the power-supply meter at the complainant’s house had been checked on May 16, 2001, and it had shown a load of 4.072 KW then. The PSEB said the penalty had been for drawing an excess load and there had been no deficiency in service.

The forum said the meter report of the PSEB did not have the consumer’s signature on it or any mention of him having been there at the time of the checking.


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