P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Farmer held for agitation dies
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 17
Mr Jagroop Singh, a farmer, arrested by the police for participating in the agitation launched by nine farmers organisation against acquisition of agriculture land by the government for an industrial house, died in the Rajindra Hospital here today.

The authorities concerned deployed the police in and out the hospital premises.

Mr Jagroop Singh, of Shahpur Kalan village as a precaution near Sunam town of Sangrur district, was arrested with other farmers by the police when staging demonstration to protest against the forced acquisition of 376 acres in the Barnala area by the government for handing over the same to the Trident Group of Industries on November 8. He was lodged in Sangrur central jail.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, general secretary, BKU, Ekta (Ugrahan), who was in Rajindra hospital, said though they had not decided new course of action after the death of Mr Jagroop Singh, legal action should be taken against Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Rajinder Gupta, owner of Trident Group for the ‘murder’ of Mr Jagroop Singh.

Members of different organisations of the farmers, assembled in Rajindra hospital after knowing in the death of Mr Jagroop Singh, raised slogans against the Congress government. They alleged the Congress government had been pushing the farmers to death by taking their land for industrialists, who were greasing the palm of the ruling politicians.

They alleged when Mr Jagroop Singh was arrested, he was fit and his health started deteriorating in the Sangrur jail, as he was not taken care of by the authorities concerned. They added that Mr Jagroop Singh, who was 65, was admitted to Sangrur civil hospital and was shifted to Rajindra hospital when he failed to respond to treatment given in that hospital. Mr Jagroop Singh died at 4 am.

The farmers said a high-level probe could reveal that how Mr Jagroop Singh, who was well, died within few days after he was lodged in a jail. 


Farmers held to maintain law: CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said the police had arrested farmers in Sangrur to maintain law and order. Asked about the land acquired for a private company against which farmers had been agitating for the past few months, Capt Amarinder Singh said the government could not run away from its duty to maintain law and order in that area.

He said no industrialists would make investment in Punjab, if the government did not keep the promises made to them with regard to the land, etc.

"Ours will be a lame-duck government but we have to take action against farmers involved in agitation against the industrialist", he added.


Take up yoga, Ramdev tells jail inmates
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, November 17
Yoga Guru Swami Ramdev who was in his element while interacting with 2000 jail inmates. He exhorted them to do yoga to uplift themselves from present state.

Describing Amritsar Central jail where the jail administration had launched a series of reforms as the most corrective place in the country he said the inmates had been provided with opportunity to expand horizons by undertaking courses run by distance education Centre of Guru Nanak Dev University, Swami Ramdev said it was an eye opener for him to visit this prison and felt that nowhere in the country so much had been done to alleviate condition of the prisoners.

Talking to ‘The Tribune’ Swami Ramdev said the Amritsar jail be declared a model jail by the government as it had initiated various reforms and suggested all jails in the country must visit the one here to replicate reforms.

He said he had been in more than 50 jails and had addressed inmates but the prisoners here have been found to be highly motivated and were prasticing yoga regularly. 


Farmers’ proposals put into cold storage
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
In the past one year, the Punjab State Farmers Commission has made certain well-meaning recommendations in the interest of farmers to save them from sinking deeper into the debt trap. But politicians always have their own compulsions and preferences- such as the vote bank- which override other important matters.

A few months ago, the commission had recommended that the state government should issue an order to limit the number of guests at social functions in the countryside. The objective was to stop unnecessary expenditure at such functions.There are instances when people in the countryside have held social functions after taking loans from moneylenders or banks just to maintain their status in the community.

The commission had made the recommendation after holding several rounds of meetings with representatives of farmers’ organisations such as the Bharti Kisan Union, which had taken the stand that such an order should be enforced on all sections of society. But the order is yet to be issued by the state government.

Early this year, the commission had sent the draft of a Bill to the state government suggesting that a law should be passed to regulate the use of water in the state. Extraction of subsoil water in excess is proving dangerous for the ecological balance as well as the economy of the state. The commission had recommended that by passing a law, a system should be laid down fixing the period of transplantation of paddy, one of the water-guzzling crops. The Punjab State Electricity Board, which provides free power to tubewells to irrigate paddy, had also supported the move besides several agro economists. However, the government did not pass such a law.

On the basis of various studies conducted by Punjab Agricultural University and the assessment of its own experts, the commission had found that a tractor was not viable for farmers owning less than 10 acres. The experts had found that tractors were viable for only those farmers who could utilise the vehicles for 1,000 hours in a year. On an average, a farmer in Punjab uses a tractor for 250 hours. And small and marginal farmers use it for only a few hours in a year.

On the recommendation of the commission, the RBI and NABARD had issued instructions to all banks to first check the viability aspect before advancing a loan to any farmer. The Punjab State Cooperative Agriculture Development Bank had also told its all branches to stick to viability and the 10 acre factor. However, now the government is saying that small farmers should also be given loans for buying tractors and implements.

The commission had also prepared a draft Bill on giving relief to farmers from indebtedness. Though the state government held several rounds of discussion on this issue, it failed to pass the Act in this regard or issue an ordinance.This Act would have regulated private moneylending, set up a system at the subdivisional level to resolve disputes among farmers and commission agents and regulated the rate of interest.

And then the commission had recommended direct payment to farmers through cheque of the sale proceeds of foodgrains brought by them to the market. After issuing a notification in this regard, the government stalled it and issued orders to the authorities concerned not to implement it. 


PMT muddle: senior prof in the dock
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 17
The eyebrows were raised when Guru Nanak Dev University had singled out the paper setters for debarring them from the varsity’s academic work for life while experts of the university were ‘exonerated’ by the Syndicate.

However, out of the eight varsity, one senior professor had committed a blunder while declaring right answer as ‘wrong’, leading to the PMT-muddle.

Dr Renu Bhardwaj, a senior teacher of Botanical Sciences, was not involved in finalising the answers. However, Dr G.S. Virk of the same department was one of the experts.


Power(fuel) experiments under way: Scientist
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 17
While energy resources of all forms are fast depleting, scientists based at the Institute of Plasma Research, Ahmedabad, are busy devising new forms of power.

Based on the energy released out of fusion of two hydrogen atoms as in the sun, the scientists are developing an international thermonuclear experimental reactor (ITER) which will be an alternative to coal, petroleum and nuclear fuel after about 40 years, said Dr Ravi A.V. Kumar from the institute, who was at Lyallpur Khalsa College here to attend a two-day seminar on “Physics and modern applications of laser”.

Dr Kumar said scientists would use hydrogen available from sea water which was unlimited. He said when two hydrogen atoms combined, the amount of energy released was 14.5 million electron volts (MEV). He added that the reaction was possible only when a very high temperature of 1 million degrees centigrade was maintained around the two atoms for which a part of the energy released would have to be spent back.

Also delivering a lecture during the seminar was Prof Rupamanjari Ghosh from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, who is among the first few women in the country to hold a doctorate in physics.

Prof H.S. Bhatti from Punjabi University spoke on “Laser-induced photoluminescence”. 


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