C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


10 labourers injured as roof collapses
Our Correspondent

Injured labourers at General Hospital, Sector 16
Injured labourers at General Hospital, Sector 16. — Tribune photo by Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, November 15
Ten labourers working on the lintel of the under-construction auditorium at the Law Bhavan in Sector 37 here were injured, six of them seriously, when they came down crashing along with the roof which was being laid this evening. All labourers have been hospitalised.

Luckily, no labourer was trapped under the debris. Two labourers, who were under the roof at the time of the accident, managed to escape.

Eight of the injured labourers were hired by the contractor from the Labour Chowk this morning, while the other two were staying in hutments raised at the construction site. Most of these labourers hail from Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.

The police has arrested contractor Sarbjit Singh for endangering life under Sections 337 and 338 of the Indian Penal Code. Radical Builders has the contract to construct the auditorium. The contractor was later released on bail.

The two critically injured labourers were admitted to the PGI, while the remaining were taken to the General Hospital in Sector 16. Several others also sustained minor injuries. PGI doctors said a labourer, Gautam, had a serious injury as an iron rod had perforated through his head and he had also fractured his right arm. A CT-scan has been done.

The labourers said they were taken by surprise as the roof came down suddenly with a loud thud. On the other hand, the contractor and the police said it came down slowly, which was the reason for majority of the labourers escaping unhurt and others sustaining only minor injuries.

Mr S.S. Randhawa, DSP (South), rushed to the spot and carried out investigations.

The Bar Council has announced an interim relief of Rs 1,000 to each injured labourer.

As per police sources, 15 to 20 labourers were on the roof of the auditorium when it collapsed at around 3.45 pm. There were another 50-60 labourers working at the auditorium when the accident took place.

The general secretary of the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr C.M. Munjal, said the contractor would be made to bear the expenses of treatment of the injured and pay their daily wages till they become fit to work again.

The two critically injured labourers, Dhruv (30) and Gautam, were admitted to the PGI, while Manoj (22), Mukesh (18), Dev Kumar (35), Vinod (16), Changuri (18), Chander Shekhar (16), Ram Chander (20) and Bijal are under treatment at the General Hospital.


Deadline for cattle removal extended
Admn, MC unfazed by menace
Tribune News Service

MC staff unwilling, fearing trouble

Fearing that nabbing stray cattle will land them into trouble, the MC staff is apprehensive about it. It may be re-collected that a few stray head of cattle caught by the MC had died when being released in a jungle near Poanta Sahib in Himachal Pradesh a few months ago.

The Mayor, Mr Subhash Chawla, said “the staff is first not ready to catch and then transport the cattle to other areas without proper assurance and security cover after the incident of cattle deaths”. Already the cattle ponds with a capacity of 500 head of cattle were packed with 700 head of cattle. The proposed gaushala, which could accommodate another 800 head of cattle, would be ready in another year. 

Chandigarh, November 15
Is the Chandigarh Administration and the Municipal Corporation waiting for more deaths to occur on the roads due to stray cattle?

Within 24 hours of a stray bull killing a 23-year-old city girl, the deadline to remove cattle from villages within the MC limits was extended by two weeks.

On November 5 the MC had announced that after 10 days milch cattle from the villages of Badheri Buterla, Attawa, Burail and Mani Majra had to be removed. Sources said today the cattle rearers had been given two more weeks. The Administration would hold a draw of lots on November 19 for the cattle rearers to allot them specified area in Maloya village located just south west of Sector 39.

Mr M.P. Singh, Municipal Commissioner, confirmed that dairy owners would be given two weeks after the draw of lots to be held on November 19, at the panchayat land of village Maloya. Earlier, the corporation had given time till today to the cattle owners to remove their animals from the villages.

Confronted with the issue of stray cattle, the Mayor, Mr Subhash Chawla, said the corporation was helpless in dealing with the menace. There was no clear policy on catching the stray cattle. He said the cattle ponds with a capacity of 500 head of cattle were already packed with 700 head of cattle. The proposed gaushala, which could accommodate another 800 head of cattle would be ready in another year. He blamed the BJP for politicising the issue of cow deaths.

Mr Chawla said the resident welfare associations, NGO’s and political parties should pressurise the administration to find a solution to the problem.

The Municipal Corporation has extended the deadline for the removal of stray cattle from villages falling within the MC limits. The exercise to remove the cattle has been linked with the state of development of rehabilitation colonies.

Regarding the stray cattle, he said the neighbouring states were allowing the corporations to dump the stray cattle caught in their territory. It may be mentioned that the cattle owners had already been issued notices. But no action would be taken till the rehabilitation sites were not ready for taking over possession, said the Mayor, Mr Subhash Chawla.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Shivi Jaiswal, president of the Samajwadi Party, demanded fixing of responsibility for the death of a student yesterday. “I am surprised by the statement of the Mayor. The elected councillor are running from their responsibility. One cannot rule without sharing the responsibilities,” said Mr Jaiswal, adding that protecting life and public property was the responsibility of the state.

He said the Member of Parliament and the Mayor had adopted a path of confrontation with the administration. He said the party was seeking legal opinion on the matter.

Mr Jaiswal said if the administration allotted land the party would also generate resource from various forums to meet the demands for fund to keep the stray cattle.


Excise raids on furniture dealer’s premises
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
The Excise and Taxation wing of the Chandigarh Administration today raided the premises of a leading furniture dealer of imported furniture in Industrial Area and found goods worth Rs 50 lakh which had not been accounted for.

Raids were also conducted on the premises of a factory manufacturing gas regulators and a firm processing juice for an Australian company.

The wing formed three teams one of which went to the Adarsh Furniture and accounted its stock worth Rs 1 crore. Close to Rs 50 lakh worth of goods had not been accounted in the books and there was no proof of purchase of those items by the dealer.

The excise wing also sent its team to Pratibha Electronics where a fake bill book was found. A computer expert had been called in and his services were used to download material from the hard-disk of a computer onto a CD.

In the case of the third company, L-compex and Impex, bill books were taken into custody for physical verification.


Chefs cook a proposal
Harvinder Khetal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
Concerned about the promotion of culinary arts, chefs of the city today served up a proposal for a forum of cooks from Punjab, Haryana, J&K and Himachal Pradesh that would address issues pertaining to cookery.

A group of 15 chefs of prominent restaurants and institutions of Chandigarh got together this morning at Khyber, Sector 35, here, and cooked a new kind of recipe. Proudly turned out in their uniform—white coat, neck scarf and hat—they were unanimous on the idea of having a platform affiliated to the national-level Indian Forum for Culinary Arts (IFCA) which, in turn, would link them to the World Association of Cooks Society.

Just back from an IFCA meeting in New Delhi and full of ideas, chefs Dharam Vir (of Shivalikview), and Sanjiv Verma (Khyber), stressed on the standardisation of recipes and precision cooking.

‘‘Standardisation is required in terms of both the use of raw materials and method of cooking so that a recipe like 'butter chicken lababdar' always evokes a particular expectation. We want to popularise the rich heritage of north-Indian cuisine that is facing an onslaught from foreign fare like pizzas,’’ they said.

Promotion of social cause was also high on their agenda and towards this end, expectedly, they mooted the organisation of charity dinners. Professional issues could be taken care of by holding regular seminars, training workshops and publishing newsletters.

The chefs, who are the backbone of the hospitality industry, and increasingly rising to managerial posts or acquiring celebrity status like Sanjeev Kapoor, were also conscious of the importance of health food, said Mr Anu Bansal of GK International.

‘‘Besides hotels and restaurants, chefs are needed in hospitals as nutritionists, in the Railways and airlines and in cookery management colleges. Our field is vast. An association of people connected with the culinary arts, including chefs, nutritionists, cookery institute teachers and food critics is the need of the hour,’’ added Mr Vishal Kalia of the Food Craft Institute.

Those interested in joining the forum can contact at phone number 5191313.


Garbage dumping issue unresolved
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, November 15
Even as the three-day stand off between Sohana residents and the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) over the compensation amount was brought to a conditional end today, the issue of garbage dumping, however, remained unresolved. With the irate villagers extracting a promise from the Municipal Council that the land would not be used to dump garbage till their problem was finally solved by PUDA, the sanitary condition in the township had reached an all time low.

For four days now, no garbage had been collected from the collection points in the township and heaps of dirt and filth were dotting the inter sectoral and main roads here. Even now the MC officials had no idea where they would dump garbage in the coming days.

The Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, along with the Estate Officer, Mohali, and the Sub Divisional Magistrate here met the villagers and requested them to wind up the dharna, explaining that the award announced to them was of quasi judicial nature and a proper procedure had to be followed before it could be reviewed. Refusing to see reason, the angry villagers, carrying spiked lathis, alleged that they had been dealt with unjustly and the award of Rs 2 lakh was too little compared to the market rate.

Promising to recommend their case for another notification on next Wednesday, Mr Yashvir Mahajan, ACA, PUDA, Mohali, said he would do his best to get the villagers a better amount. The SDM, Mohali, Mr M.L. Sharma was in the end instrumental in convincing the villagers who ended their dharna only on the promise that the council would not dump garbage there till a final solution was found by PUDA.

The Municipal Council officials caught in the tussle between PUDA and Sohana residents had to return without any solution to their problem. The matter came to a head when the council chief yesterday stated that the council office would be forced to dump garbage near the PUDA office to ‘‘wake up the officials’’ to try and end the dharna.

The 13 acres acquired by PUDA was to be handed over to the council for dumping garbage, but the day the award of Rs 2 lakh per acre was announced as compensation the villagers had sat on dharna near the land and stopped the trolleys from dumping garbage.


PUDA to overhaul Mohali facilities
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, November 15
In a landmark decision which will go a long way in establishing Mohali as the future destination in India, the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) here has decided to undertake a complete overhauling of infrastructural and civic facilities in the township. The assessment of all civil amenities and community infrastructure will be conducted by special committees formed for the purpose following which PUDA will undertake these works on priority basis.

According to sources the Chief Administrator, PUDA, Mr Suresh Kumar, recently passed orders stating that in order to pave way for making Mohali a future destination the township's infrastructure and civic amenities need to be upgraded to match the standard of living of the people expected to make the township their home and PUDA should undertake this overhauling immediately.

Following this decision the Chief Engineer, PUDA issued orders constituting special committees to carry out a quick assessment of the residents expectations so that proposals could be formulated to meet the demands of the residents. The orders stated that greater thrust be given to improve the quality of roads, parks, drinking water, sewerage system and sewage treatment.

Eight committees under various superintending engineers have been formed dividing the various sectors among them. While three committees have been entrusted with the assessment of civil works in the township another three committees have been asked to report about the public health works in the various sectors. Two other committees are to report on the electrification works and one has been formed to report on the horticulture works required in the township. The committee members have been asked to contact the various resident welfare organisations before filing their reports to the Chief Engineer.

It is learnt that these works will be undertaken on a priority basis by PUDA and even those development works which are under the purview of the Municipal Council public health department will be taken care of by PUDA on one time basis. According to sources the MC will be also brought into the picture soon regarding the start of this work.

The decision according to sources has been taken following PUDA signing an MOU with IJM Malaysia to build an integrated township in Mohali.


Making even with life, despite alcohol
Kin of alcoholics trace routes to peace
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
When was the last time we abstained from sitting in judgment against an alcoholic? And when was it that we cared to caress his baffled child, assuring him that we would take care of his burdens? Sitting on the fence, seeking comfort in the routine of labelling alcoholics as "incorrigible people", we may never get close to the painful mechanics of the disease, which eats as much into the vitals of the alcoholic's family as his own. We may, however, have a faint chance at understanding the onus if we share some time with members of Alateen, the worldwide fellowship of children of alcoholics.

Many of them were in attendance at Indira Holiday Home, Sector 24, the venue for the conference of Al-anon, a group comprising partners and friends of the suffering alcoholics. Not a trifle at loss for confidence, the young ones moved from one set of people to another dividing pain and sharing joys. They have learnt this way of life at Alateen, a group they adore with all their hearts. Catching up with them was no problem. After obtaining the promise of anonymity, they went on to share the traumatic experiences, which came like bolts from the blue, exposing alcoholism in its true, ugly form.

For the 13 year old Rishi (name changed), life has never been as wonderful as it has been since the day he joined Alateen. "As far as I can recall, I was an inconsolable child, always weeping and frowning over what life had done to me. My father drank throughout the day, calling for my curse every moment. There was nothing to look forward to expect a day when he, like other fathers, would teach me maths. I was so angry with him, but could never tell him that. I could not fight alcohol, which was capturing our lives bit by bit?" Rishi joined Alateen four years ago. Ever since, hope has returned to him and he has learnt to love his dad. He admits, "The first ray of hope came when I saw others suffering with me. For once, no one was bracketing me. We were all there as children of sick people, learning to fight together. I learnt to unburden. My faith in God was restored. I could now handle dad with love. As a family, we learnt to trust each other."

At 12, Richa (name changed) traces a similar history at Alateen. "My father never understood how alcohol was killing me. Every day I rose with a prayer on my lips. Every night I slept with the burden of an unanswered call. I hated God. I avoided school out of the fear of being labelled. I was fed up with home where fights were a routine." Richa's worst fears stemmed from her father's dual personality. "When he was not drinking, he loved me. When he was drinking, he was too harsh to handle. I did knot know who he was. Then Alateen taught me how powerless I was before alcohol. I realized dad was sick and needed my love. I came to terms with my peaceful self. My prayers have been answered."

With experiences weighing heavy on the heart, one walks back with great faith in the power of healing. At Alateen worldwide, many children are learning to care for their alcoholic parents, who have devised a convenient way of ignoring the tragedy they inflict on them. The greater tragedy is that they don't know of the curious ways they have themselves devised.


MC harassing us, say Sector 37 shopkeepers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
After the controversy relating to forcible collection of lakhs of rupees from shopkeepers in the name of “Divali”, the shopkeepers of Sector 37 market have alleged that the enforcement staff of the municipal corporation was harassing them. The Market Welfare Association of Sector 37 C today held an emergency meeting to discuss the issue in the presence of the Leader of the Opposition in the corporation, Ms Kamla Sharma.

The association alleged that they were being harassed at the behest of a Congress Councillor. Mr Rohit Sood Bambi, president, Market Welfare Association, said on November 11, an Inspector of the Enforcement Department descended at a shop selling shoes, Joy Land Shoes and issued five challans at one time. Shoes worth Rs 50,000 were taken away by the enforcement staff, claimed Mr Bambi. Shopkeepers in the city were using the corridor in front of their shops to display or stack their items, said the association.

The association in a written complaint claimed that they were asked to remove the stage displaying prize items despite paying a ground rent of Rs 31,000. Mr Bambi alleged that the Inspector, Mr Jaswinder Kumar, misbehaved with them.

Officials in the enforcement wing, however, denied the allegation, saying that the receipts were issued on the spot when any shopkeeper was found encroaching on public land without permission. The Inspector said on the direction of the senior officers 12 shopkeepers had been challaned. He confirmed that five challans had been issued to the shopkeeper selling shoes.

He said the permission for displaying the prize items had expired on November 13 and the association had been given a warning to remove the display stage. The Congress Councillor, Mr Balraj Singh, said it was wrong to issue five challans to one shopkeeper.

He claimed that his name was being dragged due to political reasons as the president of the association is a BJP leader. My office was located adjacent to the shop.


Devotees throng Lord Jagannath rath yatra
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 15
Rhythmic chants of Hare Rama Hare Krishna filled the air as devotees from all over the country, even abroad, pulled the chariot of Lord Jagannath through the city roads and streets during the 16th rath yatra taken out by the local chapter of International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

The yatra started with the chanting of prayers in praise of Lord Jagannath and Hare Krishna mahamantra. After offering 56 bhogas to Sri-Sri Lord Jagannath, Baldeva and Devi Subhadra, the devotees performed aarti at the mobile temple erected in Sector 17.

Thereafter, the idols of Gods and Godesses, along with that of founder acharya S.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, were installed on the 50-feet high chariot. Sanyasis H.H. Gopal Krishna Goswami, H.H. Jayapataka Swami, H.H. Atamnivedana Swami and H.H. Navayogendra Swami were present on the occasion.

It all started around 2 pm with the local Member of Parliament, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, inaugurating the rath yatra. As the yatra progressed, a large number of sanyasis pulled the chariot, followed by devotees, who also pulled the rath chanting and dancing. City residents walked for hours together to have a glimpse of Lord Jagannath. Krishna prasadam was also distributed to devotees present at the occasion.

The rath yatra started from Central Plaza in sector 17 around 2.30 pm. The yatra passed through Sector 17-E before reaching Sector 18 and 19. It further, passed through the road dividing Sector 19 and 27, before reaching Sector 20 and 30. It then moved towards Sector 20, 21, 22 and road dividing Sector 22 and Sector 23. The yatra culminated at the Hare Krishna Dham in Sector 36.

The special attraction of the programme was the mobile temple pulled by a pair of great white oxen carrying majestically Sri Sri Nityananda Gaurasundara Dev and Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

The mobile temple has visited villages and towns, besides innumerable holy places, at least four times accompanied by devotees from different nations. Another unique feature of the yatra was “Garuda” a grand mobile van with inbuilt Lord Jagannath temple with preaching facilities.


Rotary Governor reviews work
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 15
The District Governor, Rotary District 3080, today visited the Rotary Club, Panchkula, to review the various ongoing community projects initiated by the club.

Accompanied by president Rajneesh Garg and senior vice-president Parveen Goel, she visited Government Middle School, Railley, where vocational classes were being organised by the club. She also visited Rotary House, where a free homoeopathic dispensary, was operating and classes for educating poor women, besides embroidery and stitching classes, and a beautician course for women were being conducted.

She was also apprised of the social work done by the club at Saket Hospital, where the club had distributed gifts to the inmates and how they had been celebrating various festivals at the hospital. Mrs Bedi informed them that polio corrective surgery camps would be held all over the district , including Saket Hospital. Today, four mattresses were also donated to Saket Hospital by the club. 


MC central naka remains closed
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, November 15
Some of the township’s industrialists were put to great inconvenience today as the central naka of the Municipal Council remained closed for over four hours.

According to sources, the central naka is supposed to be manned round the clock by three employees of the MC to cater to various octroi collection disputes. “But the naka was locked for over four hours during the evening and many industrialists had to go unattended from here,” said Mr M.S. Sethi, a councillor.


Children enthral audience in Plaza Carnival
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 15
Charlie Chaplin, peacock, parrot, Barbie doll and witch, all could be seen during the fancy dress competition organised as a part of a Plaza Carnival in Sector 17 today. The carnival was sponsored by The Tribune, About 36 kids participated in dance and fancy dress contest. One minute games were also conducted.

Kids danced to the tunes of latest English, Hindi and Punjabi numbers.

The results in the order of merit are as follows: Dance competition: Saurabh Parashar, Inayat and Kritika Arora. Fancy dress competition Anmol Nikita Garg and Saloni Aggarwal.


Martyr Atul Sharma remembered
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
City residents today paid homage to their hero, Capt Atul Sharma, who sacrificed his life fighting militants at Baramula on November 5, 2000. A kirtan and ardas was held in the memory of the martyr in Sector 32 here today.

Among the prominent people who were present on the occasion were the Member of Parliament, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal.


2 crushed to death near ITBP camp
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 15
Two persons were allegedly crushed to death by a speeding truck near the ITBP camp, Bhanu, this afternoon, while a pillion rider was seriously injured.

Sushil Kumar and his one-year-old son, Vishu, were killed on the spot and the pillion rider, Narinder Singh, sustained serious injuries when a truck (HR-40-1205) ran over their motor cycle (DL-9 SA-1454). They were reportedly taking Vishu to General Hospital, Panchkula, for treatment, when the accident took place. Narinder Singh was rushed to General Hospital, Panchkula, from where he was referred to the PGI, Chandigarh.

The truck driver, Bhupinder Singh, reportedly fled away. The police has registered a case against the truck driver.

Raped:- A 15-year-old girl was allegedly abducted and raped by a 23-year-old labour, Krishan, from Mansa Devi Complex two months ago. The two were taken to the hospital for medical examination after the accused was arrested and the girl was recovered on Saturday.

Theft:- Miscreants stole all four tyres of a car (CH-01B-9252) and the music system of another car (HR-03C-3392) belonging to Mr Bansi Lal. He had parked his cars outside his house, in a vacant plot on Friday night. However, in the morning he found that one of his car had been perched on bricks and its tyres were missing. He also found that the music system of his another car was missing.


DLF to spend 160 cr on space for IT companies
Tribune News Service

What will be there...

  • DLF to build 8 lakh square feet of space in IT park .
  • It will be state of the art office space spread across 12.4 acres.
  • Trademark glass and steel facade for buildings in Chandigarh.
  • Will be ready in one year.

* * * * ** * * *

Chandigarh, November 15
Glass and steel facade buildings, which have become a trademark of DLF builders in Gurgaon, will be seen in Chandigarh also. The real estate developer will build 8 lakh square feet of space for IT companies in the upcoming Information Technology park.

DLF signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chandigarh Administration yesterday and promised that the buildings will be ready within a year. DLF will invest Rs 160 crore in Chandigarh.

The MoU will mean that DLF will be setting up state-of-the-art ready-built space at the IT park in Kishangarh village on the north eastern tip of the Union Territory. DLF has been selected after a process of short-listing and financial bids involving some of the leading developers of the country. The ready-built space will be a part of the 111-acre IT park. By April 2004, the companies which want to set up offices here will be given the space for their own fittings.

According to the DLF plan, the complexes will be four-storeyed. Each office block will have an independent lift. Recreational amenities like gymnasiums and swimming pools will be provided. The project will also include a modern retail and entertainment complex.

As a result of today’s MoU, a joint venture company (JVC) is being set up. This company will construct, manage and lease out the space. The Administration and DLF will be partners in the JVC. The MoU was signed by Mr Karan Avatar Singh, Secretary, Information Technology, and Mr Yogesh Verma, chief executive, DLF Universal Limited.

The Administration has already appointed Jones Lang LaSalle as consultants for the project. The Urban Planning Department has formally notified the park and detailed rules for allotment of land in the park have also been notified. Only high quality, large companies are to be allotted land, whereas space in the entrepreneur development centre and the ready-built space would be allotted to all kinds of technology companies according to these rules.

The Engineering Department is providing the basic infrastructural facilities for the IT park like roads, power supply, sewerage, storm water and approach roads.

The Software Technology Park of India and the BSNL and other organisations are providing the connectivity and telecom facilities. An agreement has been signed with Infosys Technologies Ltd to make it the anchor company for the CTP. They are being allotted 20 acres of land at the CTP for setting up a software development centre.

To capitalise on the recent upsurge in the Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) industry, which also includes Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) call centres and Geographical Information System (GIS), etc the Chandigarh Administration announced in January, this year, a special ITES policy, which contains incentives for the ITES industry. These include round-the-clock operations. The MoU was signed yesterday in the presence of UT Administrator, Justice O. P. Verma (retd), the Adviser-cum-Home Secretary Mr R.S. Gujral, the Commissioner, Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, Mr M.P. Singh, the Chief Architect, Mrs Renu Saigal, the Chief Engineer, Mr V.K. Bhardwaj and the Chief Executive Officer, Chandigarh Housing Board, Mr K.S. Wahi.


Safed musli cultivation lucrative, claims firm
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
Farmers in the region can earn up to Rs 2 lakh per acre by investing Rs 3 lakh for the cultivation of ‘safed musli’— desi viagra. Nandan Agro Ltd, a Hyderabad based company, which has tied up with local firms, is offering assured returns of up to Rs 2 lakh per acre.

The company has entered into tie-ups with ICICI Lombard, and is offering 80 per cent insurance coverage to the farmers to promote its cultivation, said Mr C.S.Yadav, Director Marketing, Nandan Agro Farms Ltd, here today.

Addressing a press conference, he claimed that in the wake of the increasing shift towards ‘natural products’ and natural remedies across the world, medicinal and aromatic plants had come to hold out an immense promise as a business opportunity. While India and China had equally 30 per cent of plant resources, China earned foreign exchange of over Rs 22,000 crore each year through cultivation and value added products and, India earned just Rs 500 crore annually.

To tap the vast potential of the market, the company is promoting the cultivation of safed musli along with other medicinal products. Some farmers in Panchkula, Patiala, Ludhiana and other towns in the region, have signed agreements with the company to sell dry musli at the price of Rs 1000 per kg.

Mr Sukhvir Singh of Ludhiana, with whom the company has tied up, said,” Farmers will have to invest about Rs 2 lakh on 400 kg seed per acre, and about one lakh on infrastructure to grow the crop of safed musli. The company will provide training at Hyderabad, besides consultancy in cultivation, grading and marketing.”

He added that farmers would get an insurance cover of Rs 1.60 lakh by paying an annual premium of Rs 6000 per acre annually. But at the end of year, they could expect production of 500 kg dry safed musli, to be sold for about Rs 5 lakh to the company at the assured price. The company has already huge orders from the USA and Gulf countries to supply this most wanted product.

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