L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Farmers seek Rs 5 cr for PAU
Want agricultural base to be strengthened
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 16
The Punjab Farmers’ Commission has recommended to the state government to grant Rs 5 crore to Punjab Agricultural University to strengthen its net working of krishi vigyan complexes in the state. The project submitted by the Vice Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh, to the commission has the support of Chancellor, Gen. S.F. Rodrigues (retd.).

The project envisages net-house protection for cultivation of vegetables, strengthening farm infrastructure and wherewithal to demonstrate new agricultural technologies in adopted villages, organise farmers and farm women training programmes and provide adequate funds for transport and mobility of subject matter and specialists for communication and extension in villages.

All 15 PAU KVKs have been set up with 100 per cent financial assistance from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. The expected financial intervention by the state government will give a fillip to the concept of krishi vigyan kendras and enable PAU implement ICAR mandate.

This was revealed by Commission Chairman G.S. Kalkat in an interface with the staff of the Centre for communication here today. Dr. Kalkat has informed the government that PAU research and use of net-technology had shown convincing results to boost vegetable production. This experiment had led to higher production and better quality produce. The use of integrated pest management had decreased spray of synthetic chemicals and made net-sown vegetables available in the off-season. Promising results have been obtained in respect of tomato, brinjal etc., he added.

Dr Kalkat strongly favoured a symbiotic relationship between the state government and PAU and said: “Committed government policy support to technologies evolved by the university would go a long way to help small farmers in improving their incomes and economies”. He described the commission as “catalyst” between the government and the university.

PAU Director of Research B.S. Dhillon, who was present at the interface, said Nabard had agreed in principle to give Rs 8 lakh for a net-house on one acre for demonstration purposes at PAU farms. The commission, however, has the selected Samrala-Morinda belt to popularise use of nets for vegetable cultivation.

Dr Kalkat also stated that state government must give requisite incentives to industry for specific farm produce to promote agro processing units. These incentives, concessions and rebate must be made crop or produce-specific to ensure commitment of the private sector in promoting the processing industry. This will help in value addition to farm produce and benefit farmers.

To begin with the commission has selected maize and soybean for processing. Dr Dhillon added that processing of durum wheat for bread and confectionery should also be included.

On commission’s priorities, Dr Kalkat said water management and conservation topped the list. Rapid depletion of sub soil water due to overdrawls particularly in the central districts was a matter of deep concern. “We fear Punjab will show desert signs in 10 years from now when nearly 90 per cent tubewells would have submersible pumps”. Thus area under rice must be reduced as part of water management.

A report of the Punjab State Electricity Board has revealed that already 32 per cent tubewells have been replaced by submersible pumps at a huge cost. These were a drain on electricity. If water was not managed and sub soil water not recharged, the worst effected would be small farming families, owning between 2 acre and 4 acre holdings and having tubewells of 3 hp to 5 hp. The commission is concerned over this evolving scenario.

Next on the commissions’ priority was economic emancipation of small farmers and how to mitigate their hardship. For them dairy and poultry were best alternatives. The commission has prepared a blueprint to establish dairy units of 20-30 crossbred cows or milch animals on Patiala-Nabha axes. Financial help would be available to these farmers on low rate of interest, 7.5 per cent from UTI and 8 per cent from State Bank of Patiala. “We are fine-tuning this proposal with Punjab Dairy Development Board for 30 odd villages and 200 dairy farms are proposed to be established. The farmers would also be provided insurance cover and veterinary services.



Martyr’s father sees son in everyone
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 16
Sixty-year-old Surjit Singh is so shaken with the death of his son, Sepoy Harjinder Singh, that he recognises everybody as his son, who had laid down his life while fighting infiltrators in Kargil in 2001.

At a function held on Vijay Divas today, Mr Surjit Singh’s plight moved the hardest of the hearts when he, having lost his mental balance, asked every other person whether he was his beloved son — Harjinder Singh. ‘‘Tu Jinder hai? (Are you Harjinder?)’’ he even asked the mediapersons who went to speak to him.

For not being able to understand the purpose for which he was made to sit at the venue and honoured, Mr Surjit Singh looked at everybody searching for his son who will never come back to him.

After waiting for sometime before the announcement of awards while staring blankly in the oblivion, Mr Surjit Singh rushed to the dias when his name was not even announced. But his faculties did not help and he could not anticipate the stairs to the podium till finally he was escorted by a relative and was handed over a cheque for Rs 5 lakh by the Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, in recognition of his son’s sacrifice.

His another son, who was accompanying him to the function, said Mr Surjit Singh was never the same after he got the news of his son’s death. Regular medication was not of much help as he continued to have hallucinations of his deceased son.

Highly emotional scenes were witnessed at the function when relatives of five Kargil martyrs were given away the grants announced to them. Seated in the first row of beneficiaries were the two widows and mother of some martyrs, wiping their tears as tributes were being paid to them.

For these women, their grief was constant, which would only end when war would stop on the planet. ‘‘Death of a soldier, be it a Pakistani, an Indian or from any other part of the world, is always scarring, especially for women. It is they who suffer the most. I lost my son to this long-stretched enmity of two countries. Why cannot they broker peace?’’ asked Ms Charanjit Kaur, mother of the late Sepoy Major Singh.

‘‘For the last four years, I have not been able to control my tears. Even my eyes are losing vision gradually. But how can I forget the loss of my beloved son.’’ she said, adding that the money given to her would not compensate for the loss ever. But she would have appreciated had the help reached her doorstep instead of making her make numerous rounds of various offices.

Similar views were expressed by Mr Santa Singh, father of the late Sepoy Pardeep Singh. ‘‘We already suffered the cruelest jolt of life. Then we had to move from pillar to post. Why cannot they do something and at least make the benefit reach us?’’ he asked.

Earlier Lt-Col S.S. Kular of Jat Regiment, belonging to Bija village, was awarded with a Sena Medal for gallantry in an encounter in which six militants were killed.



Families of Kargil martyrs get cheques
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 16
The Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Jails and Defence Services Welfare, Mr Malkit Singh Birmi, has said the state government is committed to the welfare of ex-servicemen, their widows and defence personnel. He was addressing a state-level Vijay Divas function organised at the Mini-Secretariat after paying floral tributes to Flying Officer Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon here today.

Mr Birmi said the state government had set up a War Memorial in Ludhiana to pay a tribute to gallant soldiers of the state. He said the state government had enhanced the old-age pension of ex-servicemen from Rs 300 to Rs 500. He announced a grant of Rs 10 lakh for the renovation of the local Sanik Rest House.

Mr Birmi presented cheques for Rs 5 lakh each in lieu of plots to members of families of five Kargil martyrs and presented five sewing machines to needy widows of ex-servicemen. He honoured Mr Sukhminder Singh Sekhon, brother of Flying Officer Sekhon.

Others present included Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, Group Captain R. Marwaha, Commanding Officer at Halwara, and Mr G.S. Bahia, Assistant Commissioner.



Woman’s body found, family rules out foul play
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 16
Mystery shrouds the Death of a married Dalit woman of nearby Akalgarh village, whose body was found in a brook near Waraich village yesterday. The Sudhar police registered a report under Section 174 of CrPC on the statement of father of the deceased as neither her parents nor the in-laws suspected any body for causing her death. However, the viscera of the deceased have been sent for chemical examination for establishing the exact cause of death.

Baldev Singh, former sarpanch of Waraich village, reported to the Sudhar police yesterday that he had spotted a body of a woman in the brook passing near the village. Residents of Waraich and surrounding villages failed to identify the body after it was fished out.

It was late in the evening that Darshan Singh of Khadur village, whose married daughter had been missing since the previous day, contacted the police to see the body as he had heard a public announcement regarding the recovery of a body. The body turned out to be that of his daughter, Sukhjit Kaur, alias Pammi (35).

According to Darshan Singh, Pammi had been married to Ranjit Singh, son of Natha Singh of Chowkiman village. She had a son, studying in Class VI and a daughter, studying in class III student. As Ranjit was serving in the Army, presently posted at Pathankot, and the couple did not have good terms with his parents, Pammi used to live with her children at Akalgarh. She had temporarily shifted to her father’s house a few days earlier.

“It was on Wednesday, that she left my house for Akalgarh on the pretext of bringing woolens from her house, but she did not return. Today, after receiving information about an unidentified body I visited the police station and identified my daughter, who probably ended her life out of frustration,” submitted Darshan Singh before the police. The parents and in-laws of the deceased, including her husband, who reached today, however, did not suspect anyone for abetting Pammi to end her life.

The police registered a report under Section 174 of CrPC and sent the viscera for chemical examination for establishing the exact cause of death.

Preliminary investigations revealed that Pammi had not reached her house at Akalgarh and there were no visible marks of injuries except some bruises on knees.



Chill brings cheer to hosiery industry
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 16
As the region continues to shiver under the influence of a cold wave, the hosiery industry here is in high spirits, with the sale of woollens having reached an all-time high.

According to market observers, the sale of woollens has witnessed an increase of at least 25 per cent within the last two or three days.

The situation is exactly the opposite as compared to last year, when a mild winter caused a disappointing season.

Not only can one witness discount sales by every second woollens dealer, companies have started encashing the plummeting temperatures by launching new collections.

“The last two days have come as a surprise. It seems as if people have started their purchase of woollens now. Fall in temperature has boosted sales,” says Mr Ramesh, a shopkeeper in Chaura Bazaar here.

Hosiery markets in the city like Dal Bazaar, Chawal Bazaar and Hazori Market are abuzz with activity following the fall in temperature.

As per estimates, domestic annual consumption of woollens in the city on an average is around Rs 1,500 crore. The demand is catered to by nearly 4,000 units.

Manufacturers and traders are expecting good business while last year, business remained lukewarm.

To encash the growing demand, several companies are launching and re-launching their winter collections.

It is the low-end market where the maximum increase in demand is being witnessed.

“Demand during these two days is need-based. It is not the fashion conscious who are the major buyers, but the low-end consumers, who need woollens to protect themselves from the vagaries of the weather,” says Mr Vinod K. Thapar, president of Knitwear Club.

Of the total increase in demand, the low-end segment is contributing to over 70 per cent whereas around 20 per cent of the demand is from the middle segment and the remaining from the high-end fashion conscious buyer.

Though a spurt in the demand is being witnessed, manufacturers are yet to benefit as they had made initial sales in October and

Traders are taking out their stocks and for around a fortnight, will bargain with manufacturers for high discounts.

“The benefit is yet to pass on to us because traders are not picking up stocks. They are asking for discounts. It will take at least another fortnight for the benefit to accrue,” says Mr Thapar.

Manufacturers and traders are keeping their fingers crossed this winter whereas earlier trends had witnessed a boom of at least three months.

Last year, the early onset of winter had seen a sudden rise in sales, but sales declined heavily thereafter.

“We hope that the winter continues for a long period as only that will keep our business booming,” says a trader.



DBA poll: charges flow thick and fast
Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, December 16
As the canvassing for the annual elections of the District Bar Association (DBA) is intensifying, allegations and counter-allegations have already started flowing. The District Bar Association, president, Mr Balwinder Goel, today refuted the allegations levelled against him by a section of young lawyers yesterday evening in the district courts complex.

A section of young lawyers led by Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, former bar president, had held a ‘’candle light march’’ to protest against the working of the present executive of DBA and distributed questionnaire seeking clarification on several issues. They had termed the “bhoomi pujan’’ for new chambers complex to be an election gimmick, just to mislead young lawyers.

These young lawyers had alleged that even the site plan was not approved yet and what was the fun of conducting “bhoomi pujan”.

Addressing the mediapersons, Mr Balwinder Goel claimed that the site plan for the Yadvindra Lawyers Chambers Complex was approved by the building committee of the High Court on July 26, 2004, but certain miscreant members of the Bar were misleading the chamber applicants. He alleged that those members were not even the applicants for the chambers and just wanted to delay construction by creating hindrances.



Lok Suvidha camp held

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 16
Around 2,000 persons from 40 villages of Malerkotla Kanungoi availed themselves of various kinds of services provided by various departments at a Lok Suvidha camp organised at Bhudan village, near here, today.

Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, inaugurated the camp and Ms Razia Sultana, MLA, Malerkotla, and Parliamentary Secretary, was the chief guest.

Dr Indu, SDM, Malerkotla, who supervised the camp, claimed that more than 2,000 persons from 40 villages of the area availed themselves of the facilities provided by at least 21 departments. Besides disposing of pending revenue cases, the authorities issued birth certificates, domicile certificates, caste certificates, sworn affidavits, learner’s driving licenses, mutation certificates and documents required for various welfare schemes.

Dr K.C. Goel, District Health Officer, told Ludhiana Tribune that a team of specialist doctors examined more than 1,000 persons for various ailments. — OC



Gang of thieves busted, five arrested
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 16
The Ludhiana police today claimed to have busted a gang of five thieves who were planning to strike at various places in the city. They have been identified as Raj Kumar, alias Ghoda, Vijay Kumar, alias Sonu, Monu, Sucha Singh and Sunil Kumar, all belonging to various villages in the district. A pistol, 2 cartridges, knives and rods were recovered from their possession.

According to the police the main accused, Raj Kumar, had been recently released from jail and had regrouped his gang. He was staying in a rented apartment in the city and was notorious for having committed various thefts. The police said they were planning a dacoity while sitting in an open plot in Lohara village when they were nabbed. A number of cases of theft might be solved with their arrest.


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