Friday, October 3, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



When an NRI’s dream turned soar

This has reference to the report “Punjab’s loss is Gujarat’s gain” (Sept 29). Mr Nathu Ram Puri, an NRI, presently living in England, belongs to Mullanpur Garibdas village near Chandigarh. During 1966-67, we were together in England, where he was studying Air-conditioning in a London college and I was pursuing Human Biology at the Oxford University. I came back to India to serve my motherland whereas he stayed back to become a multimillionaire.

Last summer, Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh, while inaugurating Muni Lal Puri Senior Secondary School, Mullanpur, built by Mr Nathu Ram Puri in the memory of his father, made a public announcement that the Punjab government will provide land to Mr Puri, if he is keen to establish an educational institution in this area. Mr Puri readily agreed to this proposal. A Puri Foundation had already been established to undertake such jobs. Mr Puri requested me to join this venture since I had the requisite experience of teaching and research. For over a year, the files regarding land allotment for this project have been doing rounds of various offices of the Punjab Secretariat.

Last time when Mr Puri met me, he was a dejected man because his dream to build a world class institute of biotechnology on a piece of land reclaimed from Jainti Devi Ki Rao near the village had already turned sour because of non-allotment of the requisite land. This is a common land and belongs to the village panchayat. The panchayat had already moved a resolution to allot the land to the Puri Foundation. However, it was not to the liking of the bureaucracy. This prime land in the vicinity of Chandigarh, I am sure, will be sooner or later grabbed by some politician or bureaucrat or jointly by their nexus.



The dream of Mr Puri to do something for the people of the soil, where he toiled hard in the early phases of his life has been shattered because of the bureaucratic delay in this project. Consequently, he has decided to shift his project to Ahmedabad.

The Punjab government has always being coaxing NRIs to invest in Punjab. Why should they do so if the government cannot keep its promise? How can you expect other NRIs to come forward when they will learn about Mr Puri’s fate? It is answerable to the people of this area who would have been benefited from such a project.

I appeal to the Punjab Chief Minister to look into this matter personally. If Gujarat can do it in a month, why not Punjab? If the proposed land is immediately allotted to the Puri Foundation and all help is ensured to Mr Puri, I am sure, he could be still persuaded not to give up this project.

Prof L.S. SIDHU, Patiala


This has reference to the news-item quoting the President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr H.S. Hanspal, after a fortnight jaunt abroad, that NRIs are keen to invest in Punjab (Sept 28). How an NRI is treated in Punjab is evident from the report the next day (Sept 29) from Gandhinagar. Mr Nathu Ram Puri has been approaching successive governments since 1998 to invest crores of rupees for infrastructure development and other projects in Punjab.

Mr Puri lamented that the promise of Capt. Amarinder Singh to provide land for a Rs 25-crore information technology engineering college at his ancestor Mullanpur-Garibdas village in Ropar district had not been kept. He has also said that the money (about Rs 100 crore) spent on the Gujarat project originally was for Punjab. But Mr Narendra Modi has succeeded in “hijacking” the project to his state.

Politicians have hardly anything to say. Still they speak because they must speak! Where is the ball now? Mr Hanspal’s or Capt Amarinder Singh’s court?

D.V. JOSHI, Bartana (Zirakpur)

Has Nepal banned 500-rupee note?

During a recent trip to Kathmandu, I had an agonising experience which I would like share with The Tribune readers. The Indian currency of Rs 500 denomination or above was not acceptable in Kathmandu. Our hotel (Yak & Yeti), a large number of shops and duty personnel collecting “passenger service charge” refused to accept this and wanted payment only in Rs 100 or other denominations.

The worst happened at the security check where a policy official, having found Rs 500 notes in my possession, threatened that I can be prosecuted. He said my currency can be confiscated and I may have to pay penalty as it was illegal to keep this currency. On telling that no such notice or warning was displayed at Delhi or Kathmandu airport, the officer was rudely yelling that it was none of his business.

The Reserve Bank of India authorities and the Ministry of External Affairs should clarify the status of higher Indian currency in Nepal and take remedial steps so that the common man does not suffer such humiliation in future.

DR R.S. BEDI, Patiala


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