L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


PAU seeks Rs 100 cr for ICAR projects
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 23
To tide over the persistent perennial financial constraints, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has sought an additional Rs 100 crore from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) for its ongoing research projects in the university.

A proposal to this effect has been submitted to the Financial Commissioner, Revenue, by the Additional Director of Research (Agriculture), Dr G.S. Hira.

According to the proposal, the money is for the projects covered under eight disciplines, namely, crop science, horticulture, management of natural resource, engineering, animal science, education and agriculture extension. The funds can be released to the university directly or through the ICAR.

The project profile describes financial support as “critical” input for strengthening the research and development aimed as much for sustainable agriculture, rising per unit productivity and profitability of farmers as for national food and nutritional security. It would also help evolve affordable farm technologies for the conservation of natural resources and protection of environment.

In fact, for sustainable research, the Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh, has suggested to the state government to create Rs 100 crore corpus fund for which money could be raised either through a special tax on liquor or special market fee on agriculture produce.

He has sought provision for such corpus in the budget for 2006-07.

The demand for additional funds will be taken up by the government with the ICAR while the Planning Commission will support the same. Such back-up was assured during a meeting between Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia when Punjab’s Annual Plan, pegged at Rs 4,000 crore for 2006-07, was approved.

As per the details for additional funds, a major chunk of Rs 29.19 crore is for animal science intended for livestock improvement, veterinary science, animal feeding and management followed by Rs 26.30 crore for crop improvement in wheat, barley, rice, maize, pulses, oil seeds.

The PAU is in the process of revamping its academic and extension programmes for which Rs.13.77 crore has been sought. Likewise, for the management of natural resources, particularly soil, water, agro-forestry and environment, the PAU has demanded Rs 12.14 crore.

There is demand for Rs 18.70 crore for improvement in horticultural crops, vegetables, evolving post-harvest technologies to minimize losses, farm power and machinery, renewable sources of energy, integrated use of paddy straw etc.

The project profile submitted to the government says that additional funds are sought for new technologies to be worked out to give impetus to stagnant per unit productivity and dwindling returns from agriculture, enhance input efficiency and conserve natural resources.

To offset impediments, the PAU focus is now on low-cost, effective remunerative diversified cropping systems, integrated water, nutrient and pest management, net-house technologies for vegetable production, raising virus-free horticulture crops, precision agriculture and care of livestock health and nutrition.

On biotechnology, the PAU has stated that it is resource-intensive. It was due to the financial constraints that state agricultural universities and the national agricultural research system has lagged behind private sector in adopting biotechnology for crop improvement.

“This makes it imperative that the ICAR enhance funding of the ongoing research projects and take steps to promote biotechnology as well”, the report adds.



Controversy over naming shopping complex
Iqbal Singh

Khanna, February 23
Naming a shopping complex became the bone of contention for the Khanna Improvement Trust after it came under protest from various Hindu organisations.
After naming the earlier complexes as Guru Amar Dass market, Guru Teg Bahadur Market and Narotam Nagar, the chairman of the trust, Mr Ashok Jindal, got the idea to please Hindus and named the fourth complex as Bhagwan Shiv Shoping Complex.

Before getting the name cleared from the local body, a board was fitted at the site showing its name. Mr Jindal said when the project was sent to the government it objected to name the complex after Lord Shiva. The trust sent six revised resolutions, but the government turned down the proposal.

Now, the name of the complex is being changed to Shiva Complex after Shivaji. Mr Rajneesh Bedi, general secretary, Punjab Khatri Chetna Manch, said the Hindus never demanded to name the complex after Lord Shiva, but when it had been named changing the same was insult to the community.

Mr Sarvdeep Kalirao, president of the manch, said the organisation would protest renaming the complex. 



‘Chicken langar’ organised to dispel fear of bird flu
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 23
Distressed over the glut of chicken in the market after the bird flu scare, meat-sellers distributed quintals of chicken delicacies free of cost to residents at a specially put up shamiana in Murga Mandi here this afternoon.

Terming it as “chicken langar,” the sellers hoped that besides clearing the glut, the free distribution would dispel fears of bird flu as it would convince the masses that Punjabi chicken was free of disease.

Offered in the form of various delicacies, the “otherwise feared food” attracted many a takers. The place became today’s hot jaunt, especially for poor, who walked miles together to feast on the food, otherwise out of reach for them.

As a number of people stopped to savour the free chicken, the traffic policemen posted on the spot had a hard time controlling the traffic. Seeing that it was being served free, many persons who would otherwise not buy chicken were seen savouring it with gusto.

Among them were some policemen who said they were eating chicken to express their solidarity with “poor” poultry farmers, who had already suffered losses worth lakhs.

“Unable to manage the widening gap between supply and demand, we distributed around 700 kg of chicken and around 10,000 to 12,000 people consumed it. I spent around Rs 50,000 on it. Though there were fears of bird flu, we were not left with a single broiler. When we wound up at around 4 pm, there were people still asking for more.” said Mr Bhupinder Singh, owner of Punjab Hatchery and president of the Ludhiana Poultry Trade Association.

He was accompanied by Mr Harcharan Singh of Broiler Masters. “We slaughtered 5 quintals of chicken in the morning and added 2 quintals of onions, tomatoes and other material to cook it. The distribution continued till evening and thousands of persons tasted the delicacy in disposable plates.”

“By making so many people eat chicken, we want to show the residents that there is no flu in Punjab. If there is any flu then many people are going to contract it by tomorrow as thousands have consumed it today,” said a poultry farmer present on the spot.

He added that it was saddening that though there was no disease in the state, the poultry industry was suffering losses for the past seven days. He said he was left with 20 per cent of the work

Mr Bhupinder Singh said it was ironical that the state government had not done any serious effort to dispel the wrong notions. That was why they had to distribute chicken free of cost.

He said the state government was getting a full page advertisements published in newspapers about its achievements every now and then but it failed to do anything for the poor poultry farmers. “The Animal Husbandry Department officials have not held any meeting to tide over the crisis. They should provide us with some guidelines and launch some massive campaign to tell people that Punjab chicken is disease-free and there is no harm in consuming it.”



Move to impose service tax on docs draws flak
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, February 23
The indication that the medical fraternity might be brought under the ambit of service tax has evoked protests from medical professionals and public alike. They apprehended that the tax would further push up the cost of treatment, thereby hitting the weaker sections and the under-privileged people, the hardest.

Dr Gursharan Singh, state secretary of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), rued that instead of increasing the Budget allocation for health and medical services, the government planned to slap service tax on doctors. Terming it as an ill-conceived move, he said it was the primary duty of the government to provide basic health facilities to its people.

In the dismal health scenario prevailing in the country due to the lack of resources and infrastructure, the burden of service tax will achieve nothing else than a sizeable increase in the cost of treatment for the poor, who even now have little or no access to medical services.

“The people are already criticising the government for the levy of service charges by AIIMS, New Delhi, and many other government medical institutions”.

The move to tax medical professionals, maintained the IMA secretary, would have negative fallout on the healthcare status of the nation in view of the fact that between 50 to 70 per cent of the ambulatory care was being provided by the medical practitioners. “In the absence of a credible government health care system for all like in the UK the practitioners are serving the middle class and a significant section of the poor. As the government does not provide any subsidy or concessions to medical services in the private sector, it has no moral right to add to the cost of treatment by way of service tax”.

Dr Gursharan Singh further observed that there were corporate hospitals to serve the rich. By bringing healthcare under service tax the government itself would be responsible for the escalation in the cost of treatment, as the burden of tax would have to be passed on to patients.

Echoing similar sentiments, Dr Gurcharan Avasthi, Medical Director of SPS Apollo Hospitals, remarked that the imposition of service tax on medical services would have a direct bearing on the delivery of services and a large number of people would stand deprived of quality healthcare.

He said in the wake of mounting cost of medical and surgical treatment, even the upper middle class people were finding it difficult to afford the quality medical care. Any further addition to the cost of treatment resulting from service tax would make the matters worse, particularly for the poor.

Dr Avasthi was of the strong opinion that the move, if any, to tax medical professionals should be dropped.



Bureaucrats justify saying no to politicians
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 23
The recent outburst of legislators against bureaucrats has evoked sharp reaction from the officers. Several senior officers have regretted that the legislators have been feeling aggrieved without any valid reason.

The officers suggested that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, to whom they (the legislators) complained, should ask them to furnish the list of works which the officers refused to do at the behest of the legislators or the ministers.

A senior officer disclosed that the legislators seemed to have developed “an aggrieved complex” that the bureaucrats were not listening to them. He said, “The legislators manage to get most of their work done anyway, including the work which would not be done under ordinary circumstances”. Sometimes, may be it is not be possible to oblige them as the nature of work could have disastrous consequences for the concerned officer, he added.

Another officer pointed out that earlier there was no awareness and there was far less accountability. He observed, “The politicians just ring you up and issue verbal orders and it is the officer concerned who has to put his signatures and put everything on record. Naturally, the responsibility would be that of the officer and not the politician or the legislator…nobody comes to anybody’s rescue in case of adverse consequences”.

The officers maintained that the politicians whether belonging to the ruling class or the Opposition, had the power hangover when there was not much awareness about holding people accountable. Particularly, after the Right to Information Act, all “omissions and commissions” of the officials could be subjected to public scrutiny. He said several officers in the state and even outside had to face the charges of “omission and commission” which they did at the behest of the politicians. Nobody touches the politicians and it was the officials who were made to answer, the officer remarked.

The officers, however, appeared grateful to the Chief Minister who has more or less made them function independently. There has not been much interference in the day-to-day functioning of the administration from the Chief Minister’s office. Otherwise things become difficult. The officers said, “The Chief Minister had always tried to maintain a balance between legislators and his supporters on the one hand and the officers on the other. Only if the legislators could follow the suit the same way”, one of the officer wished. 



Write-up shows Micky’s hatred for Reema Jain
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 22
The Jagraon police has got an opportunity to peep into the mind of Micky Jain, prime accused in the sensational Reema Jain murder case, when it found a page of the Oberoi Hotel writing pad on which the accused had reflected his hatred for the business woman and expressed the earnest desire to take revenge.

The write-up also throws light on the pain and sufferings of Anil, alias Micky Jain, who felt that he was wronged by the false implication in the murder case of his brother at the behest of Reema. In the write-up, Micky had dreamt of occupying Reema’s house after her death.

Micky had on June 15, 2005, written on both sides of the page while his stay in the hotel in Shimla. He had analysed his life from 1982 onwards and assessed the years as good and bad. He specially referred to the year 2000, and later, when he was incarcerated in Central Jail, Ludhiana, on the charges on killing his younger brother Sunil Jain, also the husband of Reema.

“I had suffered a lot these years”, he wrote referring to his innocence in the case. He was later acquitted by a district court. I would level the scores with you, he wrote, referring to Reema Jain, before July 31, 2005. Reema was kidnapped and murdered on July 29.

SSP Jagraon R.K. Jaiswal said the page was found from a pile of documents recovered from the house of Micky. He said apart from helping the police in analysing the mind of an alleged criminal, the page pinpointed Micky’s hatred and property dispute with Reema. Micky wrote that everything would be sorted out by July 31, and the House No 110 would be his. He mentioned that several years before 2000, as excellent periods of his life, but after 2000, life was full of sufferings.

SSP Jaiswal said Micky had admitted to writing the piece. 



Residents resent verdict in Jessica case
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 23
The fact that Manu Sharma and other eight co-accused in the Jessica Lal murder case were let off has created a sense of resentment among all sections of the society. Most of the people have flayed the Delhi Sessions Court’s verdict of acquitting prime accused Manu, son of a Haryana minister Vinod Sharma, in the blatant murder of Jessica at a crowded South Delhi bar seven years ago.

All other eight co-accused, including Vikas Yadav, son of former Rajya Sabha MP, were also let off due to lack of evidence. The prosecution could not establish evidence as 20 of its key witnesses turned hostile and the case fell flat.

The way the case was presented and the alleged murderer being let off has shaken the faith of the residents in both police and the judiciary.

Sapna Nihar, an interior decorator, who filled with disbelief, said, “When in the crowded bar run by the famed fashion designer, Manu shot Jessica with his licensed pistol in front of the elite crowd, then how can he be let off? I cannot accept it and have a reason to believe that some connivance is there between the law and the rich involved. What was Jessica’s fault? She had just refused to serve a drink in the bar after midnight? Does it give another person a reason to become so enraged that he takes out a revolver and snuffs out one promising young life? I cannot come to terms with the fact that in spite of several police and government officials being present at the party, the prosecution could not build a solid case”.

Neelam Kapur, who runs a nursery, was equally perturbed over the court’s decision, she said, “It was all due to the longer trial period in the case. The system failed to provide the witnesses required protection so they turned hostile. It is really a shame that such a highly-publicised case ended like this. It sends the signal that there is no value attached to the human life especially if the killers are among the high and the mighty”.

A city lawyer, on the condition of anonymity and to escape the contempt of the court for passing comments on the verdict, said, “It is obvious that government agency read public prosecutor failed to collect evidence. Since the court gave its verdict based on the facts, the evidence was missing and the accused were let off. Obviously, we have to amend our laws so that the witnesses sign their statement once and should not be allowed to change them. Law against perjury has to become strict”.



Mann writes to SGPC chief
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 23
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Akali Dal (Amritsar), has opposed any fresh construction in the Harmander Sahib complex and has suggested that the SGPC acquire another 100 acres for the additional infrastructure needs, including administrative blocks, staff quarters, parking lot, lodging facility for pilgrims and museums and educational institutions.

In a letter to the SGPC president, Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, Mr Mann has maintained that Shri Darbar Sahib complex has been saturated with much construction activity in the recent past and has gone far beyond the optimum threshold and capacity to accommodate more building activity. The proposed museum as well as the proposed administrative block adjacent to Guru Hargobind Niwas should not be built.

Opposing the handing over of the langar sewa to individuals, Mr Mann has observed that the sewa of any langar should not be given to any individual.

Providing separate meals other than in the langar to VIP members and staff of the SGPC must also be stopped. The langar should be served only in the langar hall and not in Samundri Hall to the members of the SGPC.

Mr Mann has also taken exception to the sending of cooked langar from Damdama Sahib for the conference organised by the SAD in Bathinda

Making allegations of discrimination, Mr Mann said he requested Mr Makkar for arranging “shamiana” and mats for the function at Fatehgarh Sahib on February 12 to observe the birth anniversary of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala and he arrogantly refused to do so saying the SGPC did no such thing. But he did everything at the behest of Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Mr Mann questioned the claim of the SGPC that 7,000 tents were supplied to the Sikhs in Uttaranchal Pradesh and maintained that during their visit to Uttaranchal they found that only 34 Sikh families lost their property and they were provided shelter under the used fertiliser sacks stitched together and there were no proper tents.

Mr Mann urged the SGPC chief to show “independence, transparency and accountability” in all his actions.



Farmers stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 23
Activists of five farmers’ organisations — the All-India Kirti Kisan Sabha, the Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, the Punjab Kisan Sabha, the Bharti Kisan Union Ekta and the Khetibari Vikas Front — staged a dharna in front of the Mini-Secretariat here today to protest against the import of wheat and inadequate power supply.

At least 300 farmers participated in the dharna and raised slogans against the government’s move to import 5 lakh tonnes of wheat.

They also protested against the proposed hike in petrol, diesel and domestic gas prices.

The farmers submitted a memorandum to the district administration, to forward it to the Prime Minister, demanding the cancellation of wheat import and the acceptance of their demands.



Roshani Fair from today

Jagraon, February 23
Thousands of devotees have started reaching Jagraon to pay obeisance at the ‘dargah’ of Baba Mohkam Din here.
The three-day Roshani Fair will be held from tomorrow. Circus, swings, well of death and stalls will be put up. ‘Quawwalis’ will be sung in the praise of Baba Mohkam Din tomorrow. OC



Nickel worth Rs 4.5 lakh stolen
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, February 23
In yet another incident of nickel theft in the city, a gang of 10 to 12 persons stole nickel worth Rs 4.5 lakh, besides Rs 50,000 from Jain Manufacturing unit in the Division No. 6 police station area around 2 am today.

There were more than 10 guards and employees of the unit present in the factory at that time. However, they could not put up much resistance. The accused forced them into submission and locked them in a room in the factory.

SHO Gursewak Singh said an FIR had been registered against the accused on the complaint of the factory Manager, Mr Ram Prakash Pathak.

Rs 55,000 stolen: Thieves decamped with Rs 55,000 after breaking into the house of a property dealer in Guru Angad Dev Nagar here on Thursday.

As per information, Surinder Singh along with his wife had left for Salana village around 11.30 am and returned after two hours. He found the lock at the door broken and household goods scattered all over the rooms. The thieves took away Rs 55,000 after breaking open the cupboard lock.

Purse snatched: Sarabjit Kaur, a resident of Gazipur village and who works as a clerk with the Panchayati Raj Department at Samrala, was returning to her village on a moped yesterday when two persons riding on a Hero Honda motorcycle drove close to her and the one riding pillion picked up her purse from the moped basket. The purse contained Rs 1,000, some important documents and keys. A case under Section 356 of the IPC has been registered against two persons.

2 held with liquor: The Sidhwanbet police has arrested two persons and seized more than 30 litres of illicit liquor from their possession in two separate incidents. Jaspal Singh of Bahadur Ke was arrested from Fatehgarh Sivia while Buta Singh of Beer Baloki was arrested in the Sidhwanbet area and liquor was seized from them. cases under the Excise Act have been registered. 


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