L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Punjab agriculture in thick of a crisis
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana November 24
The web of crisis that has engulfed the Punjab agriculture of late is becoming more scary by the day. Even to sustain the existing level of food production that has reached a plateau, the costs being incurred by the farmers are proving insufficient. In fact, costs are constantly increasing.

At the same time natural resources are also getting further depleted darkening the shadow of crisis over agriculture further.

These observations have been made in a paper by two agricultural economists of the Punjab Agricultural University. It has attributed this situation primarily to the predominant paddy-wheat crop cycle that seems to be now becoming unsustainable.

Several factors have contributed to this crisis situation: water table is falling, cost of pumping is increasing, electricity consumption is going up and shortage of electric power is resulting in increase in the number of diesel operated tube wells. All this has accelerated the cost of production.

The economists, Mr Joginder Singh and Mr R.S. Sidhu of the Department of Economics at the PAU, presented their paper "Accounting for impact of environmental degradation in agriculture of Indian Punjab," declared the "best paper presentation" winning them Dr. R.T. Doshi Foundation Award at the recently held XIV Annual Conference of Agricultural Economics Research Association, Division of Agricultural Economics, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi. The conference was held at Pantnagar.

They maintained immediate steps were required to be taken to uplift productivity through bio-physical and economic correctives. The former includes increasing water-use efficiency and greater use of biotechnology or genetic engineering to raise crop varieties resistant to insect-pests and diseases.

The economic measures include encouraging cultivation of high value, low volume crops and government market support in pricing and procurement.

At the same time, input use efficiency of water and soil must be improved and an integrated approach adopted for giving the farmers affordable production and protection technologies. The study was conducted across 12 districts of Punjab covering over 190 farmers in 19 villages.

It has revealed that factors like higher cost of pumping water, higher investments for replenishment of soil health that has deteriorated due to deficiency of macro and micro nutrients, and intensive use of pesticides because of a host of problems caused by paddy-wheat monoculture has enhanced the cost of production.

Taken together, the cost of crop production has gone up by Rs.63 per ton in case of wheat and Rs.189 per ton in rice.

They said policy measures were important to minimise excessive use of natural resources need for suitable water pricing, improving input efficiency and revamping market forces to encourage diversification of agriculture from rice to alternative crops.

The economists suggested that providing economic support to resource poor farmers, who are in a majority in Punjab, is a must for national food security.

Punjab must review its policy of supplying free electricity and water for irrigation and simultaneously farmers should be advised to avoid indiscriminate and irrational use of water and other inputs.

The farmers must also follow appropriate agronomic practices recommended by PAU scientists.



Lives lost, management blames it on bad luck!
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 24
Injuries suffered by many girl students of the Arya College, Noormahal, in the last week's accident of a college bus had not healed properly when a new bus bought by management on special request of the students was hit by a train near Gumtala this morning.

The ill-fated bus of Arya College, Noormahal, that collided with Dhanbad Express train near Gumtala leaving three girls dead and over 20 injured, had met with three accidents within the past fortnight, besides escaping being hit by another train narrowly last week only, revealed the injured girls admitted in DMC hospital.

No lessons seem to had been learnt from the previous mistakes by the bus driver, Kulwinder Singh, who could not anticipate the approaching train at the unmanned rail crossing near Gumtala.

Squarely blaming the driver, who has been booked for negligent driving by the Phillaur police, the injured students said he did not look for the train long enough at the tracks.

Anita Rani, (19), a student of BA-final Year and one of the seven injured girls admitted in the DMC Hospital here, said a few days ago they had a close shave when another train just missed hitting the rear of their bus as the driver tried to hurriedly cross the unmanned crossing.

Today, luck was not in their favour as the train ripped through the rear part of the bus only.

She said all the injured or dead were seated in the rear half of the bus.

We just heard a loud train siren and the next moment we were tossed all around.

She still was nursing her wounded knees when the bus driver had rammed straight into the entry gate of a village about 10 days ago. Besides that, the students had suffered injuries when the same bus had rolled into a roadside gorge not a few days ago.

However, no action was taken against the bus driver, alleged Sulakhan Singh, a maternal uncle of Sharanjit Kaur, another student hurt in the accident today.

He also revealed that Sharanjit too had suffered injuries in the previous accidents but the management turned a blind eye to the manner in which the buses were being driven.

Mr Avtar Singh, a senior management member and ex-president of the college management, who was camping in the hospital, said no complaint was received. He said it was just bad luck.

‘‘We had insured all students during admission only,’’ he stressed. He said these girls were given a new bus few days ago only on their persistent request as other students were commuting in new buses.

Of the nine girls rushed here in a serious condition, Kirandeep Kaur and Daljinder Kaur succumbed to injuries while Rajwinder Kaur, Sunita, Mandeep, Anita, Sharanjit Kaur, Rajbir Kaur and Bhavjot Kaur were reported out of danger. Majority of the girls were from the Pasla village.



Zee deactivates its channels on Siti cable
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 24
Thousands of viewers of cable TV in the city stopped getting channels from the Zee TV bouquet on their cable television today after the Zee Turner Limited discontinued its channels on the network of Siti cable for alleged non-payment of its dues to the tune of Rs 3.5 crore.

Mr Arun Poddar, COO, Zee Turner Ltd, said the local network operator had not only been failing on making payments, it was also avoiding signing of requisite subscription agreement with Zee Turner.

On account of non-payment of dues over 5 lakh viewers in Ludhiana alone were unable to get the channels, he added.

Channels from the Zee bouquet were withdrawn from Jalandhar and Amritsar as well.

As a result of the dispute, viewers were unable to get Zee TV, Zee Punjabi, Zee Music, Cartoon Network and Pogo channels.

The local Siti cable authorities termed the issue as a dispute within Zee's companies and said it would be sorted out soon.

"It is Zee's own network. They separated Zee Turner from the company that was earlier running Siti cable here. Now we have a separate company named Direct To Home Service Limited, which is distributing Zee's channels. We do not have any pending payment and we are holding talks with the channel authorities to sort out the matter," said Mr Rajwant Singh Vohra, managing director, Direct Home Service Private Limited.

Zee Turner's spokesperson said the company's decision to withdraw its channels from Jalandhar and Amritsar networks was also on account of non-payment but the same is by different parties.

The spokesperson also said there was no division of companies and that there had been non-payment.

It was subscribers who suffered on account of the dispute. "After Zee changed its look, we had been watching it regularly, but since yesterday we are not getting the channels. Why should cable operators take heavy monthly subscription if the services they provide are so poor?" rued Ms Payal, a resident of Krishna Nagar.

Mr Vohra said viewers would get Zee channels soon on their cable networks soon.



Body of missing man found in canal
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, November 24
The Dehlon police has registered an FIR under Section 302 of the IPC against unknown persons for killing a local youth, who was to leave for Canada on Wednesday.

The body of Yadwinder Singh (34), who had been missing since last Sunday, was recovered from Sirhind this morning.

A preliminary investigation raised suspicion that the youth had been killed by strangulation as it wore marks of injuries near the neck.

Though the killers seemed to have thrown the body in a canal, thinking that it would be carried hundreds of miles away, it surfaced due to a fall in the level of water.

Ms Inderjit Kaur, Yadwinder's sister, said the deceased visited her house in Ludhiana on Saturday and told her that he would return to his house.

Residents of the area said Yadwinder was also seen on Sunday. Certain papers received from his room suggested that he was to leave for Canada on November 28.

The victim’s family was shattered over the news of the death as it was the third murder in the family.



Streamlining immigration to Canada priority
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 24
For Sukh Dhaliwal, Member of Parliament for Newton-North Delta, House of Commons, Canada, the major concern of Indians was to streamline the immigration process. The representative of the Liberal Party of Canada, Mr Dhaliwal said the Canadian Government was keen to promote technical people and he, being an Indian, would try to make sure that capable youth went to Canada legally. This would certainly be a heartening development for thousands of youth in the country, particularly in Punjab, who are keen to migrate to Canada.

Sukh Dhaliwal was in the city for a day as the chief guest at the national conference on 'Meeting the Challenges of Tomorrow', organised by Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College (GNDEC) here today. Mr Dhaliwal was an alumnus of GNDEC.

In an exclusive interview with Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Dhaliwal said the youth must understand the value of hard work and dignity of labour. On asking whether Indians were treated as second class citizens in Canada, Sukh said initially one had to struggle for a few years to prove himself. "One has to create ways and means for oneself and then there is no end," he said.

He further added that people in India and Pakistan may possess enmity for each other but in Canada they stayed like brothers. He said they were celebrating 100 years of the India and Pakistan community in Canada with great enthusiasm. "I am proud to be both an Indian and Canadian," he said.

Sukh Dhaliwal said he believed in Kennedy's philosophy. "We should not look what the youth can do for us. Rather, we should be doing for them. We are planning to adopt a student from GNDEC and will pay for his studies for six years. Then we expect him to adopt another and the chain would go on," he said.


‘Do not follow motivational gurus blindly’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 24
Modern-day motivational gurus are giving undue importance to outward grooming. Instead, they should stress on developing virtues which would automatically reflect in a person's attitude towards life and hence result in an overall improvement, feels management guru R.K. Chopra, founder, Chopra Institute, Ahmedabad.

Talking to the Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Chopra attributed the flourishing business related to personality development to less awareness among people on thee issues.

"These days one gets to hear a lot about management development, personality enhancement, mind development institutes etc. People too seem to be following them like never before.

“However, blindly following anyone would do no good and before opting for one such school, it is necessary to pay attention to whether such schools are talking about awareness within or not," he asserted.

Even as separate courses et al had been framed for people from various streams like students, businessmen, executives and others, it had to be learnt that the outer behaviour of a person was only reflection of his inner personality, Mr Chopra added.

He also said a culmination of Indian and western concepts was required for any self-development course to be complete. "While Indian fields of study focus on lifestyle improvement, western concepts teach several practical measures suitable to our life in modern world. A combination of two would be ideal."

Mr Chopra also addressed members of the Ludhiana Management Association (LMA) on how to feel good. He emphasised on not putting a veil and avoiding duality of personality.

"One should not deviate from nature. If the outer behaviour is in sync with one's inner behaviour, most of the problems in life would be solved," he said.

He advised the members to be genuinely interested in other people and remain pleasant by adopting a positive outlook. "In daily life its equally important to give importance to others and have a friendly approach."



This parking contractor is cops' best friend
Jupinderjit Singh

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 24
While the parking-lot contractors in the city are under fire for ‘ignoring’ cars, ostensibly stolen and parked for long on their premises, till the criminals get a right time to take them away, an owner of a parking lot in the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital stands apart in the crowd by his endless zeal to take on such criminals.

Ravinder Walia, a contractor, is not only the unsung hero behind the nabbing of several criminals and recovery of dozens of stolen cars and two wheelers but had also played a major role in the ‘prize catch’ of Jagminder alias Aman Verma, who was later on found to be the kingpin in the sensational Vikramjit kidnapping and murder case.

Parking lots of hospitals, hotels, bus stands, railway station and the multi-storey MC parking building have been found to be the favourite places of the car lifters to ‘hide’ the vehicles till they get opportunity to dispose them off.

There have been hundreds of cases where vehicles have been recovered from such places. The practice is so common that owners of a stolen car are directed by cops to look for the vehicle in parking areas.

However, driven by fear of the criminals or lured by the money, most of the parking contractors just ignore the ‘suspicious’ vehicle. It is here that the contribution of the people like Mr Walia becomes crucial.

Police officials too have revealed that it was the parking-lot owner who had informed them about his suspicion over one such vehicle parked in his lot. The cops told him to keep a watch and inform them when someone comes to take the car away.

He did not leave it to any of his employees and kept a watch himself. For his help the cops posted a constable in mufti with him. It was eventually in the wee hours of one such day that he saw a man opening the door of the vehicle.

He sounded the cop who called for enforcement and the accused was overpowered. He was Jagminder, the dreadful conman, wanted by cops from various states and districts.

Mr Walia told the Ludhiana Tribune that with this catch his tally of getting recovered cars had reached 20 while he had stopped counting the numbers of two-wheelers he had reported to the cops- a fact corroborated by police sources.

Mr Walia said it was common for the criminals to park vehicles stolen from other cities here. ‘‘ We get suspicious when the owner does not some for several days,’’ he informs the cops besides keeping a watch himself.



'Universal brotherhood is the essence of Guru Granth Sahib'
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 24
Universal brotherhood, humility and equality of mankind without any discretion of caste or creed. These are the moral values enshrined in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, which, when we sincerely imbibe, can change the course of our life and mitigate our sufferings.

These were the words of Sant Baba Jaswant Singh on the inaugural day of the three-day annual ‘Gurmat Samagam’ being celebrated at Gurdwara Nanaksar Sahib, Samrala Chowk, here.

Addressing a huge congregation of devotees from India, and over 300 families from abroad, he said, in this age of technology and computerisation, we had to trace our ethical, religious roots and take guidance from the rich heritage endowed by our Gurus and spiritual intellectuals over the centuries.

Expressing concern over the rampant drug abuse among the youngsters, the Sant called upon all religious preachers and heads of the religious bodies to concentrate on educating the youth and start programmes to wean them away from the menace.

"The solution is to provide spiritual guidance and providing them with avenues of livelihood. Creating imposing edifices to house our religious places is not the solution to the problems the community and the society at large is facing today," he pointed out.

The unique feature of the event was the simultaneous installation and recital of 21 Sri Guru Granth Sahibs.

Giving more details, Mr Kirpal Singh, the main spokesman of the mission, informed that eminent ragis and preachers would recite ‘gurbani’ every evening. On the intervening night of November 25 -26, kirtan would continue overnight.

Baba Jaswant Singh also inaugurated a three-day dental and medical camp organised by the doctors of BJS Dental College and Hospital under the supervision of Principal Dr Rana V.K and Vice-Principal Dr Vivek Saggar.

Others doctors present on the occasion were Dr K.B.S Kuckreja, Dr H.S. Dhooria, Dr J.R. Sofat, Dr Sameer Kaura, Dr Pawan Arora, Dr Naveen Oberoi.

The medical camp was supervised by Dr R.S. Kahlon, Dr Arvind Khurana, Dr Veena Kataria, Dr Santosh Mahajan, Dr Nitin Sood, Dr Mohini Sood, Dr Saranjit Singh Middha and Dr Narinder Singh.

Besides providing treatment like scaling, filling of cavities and tooth extraction, medicines were also being distributed free of cost at the camp.



Sarabha's statue relocated
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 24
After being at the centre of a controversy for the past many days, the statue of martyr Kartar Singh Sarabha was finally relocated at Feroze Gandhi on Pakhowal Road and the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation organised a function to mark the ceremony.

Cutting across party lines, councillors from the BJP, the Shiromani Akali Dal as well as the Congress attended the function. The Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, unveiled the statue. Commissioner, Mr Vikas Partap, was also present on the occasion.

Villagers from Sarabha village were specially invited for the function. They expressed pleasure over relocating of the statue on Pakhowal road as it connected the city to the martyr's village.

Avtar Singh Grewal, a native of Sarabha and an NRI, said they had taken up the matter with the district administration to shift his statue on this road. He said it took an year for their demand to be fulfilled.

In fact, the shifting of the martyr's statue had seen many controversies. The MC was not shifting it from under the elevated road until, Mr Parminder Mehta, a Congress leader, took up the issue.

He had argued that the elevated road was constructed over the head of the statue and if traffic passed from over the road, it would be a disrespect to the martyr. Finally, the MC moved it on the night prior to the inauguration ceremony of the elevated road. It was kept at War Memorial and the civic body had promised that they would put it up in Feroze Gandhi market by November 15.

But it was done only today. The only saving grace was that it was a common function as it involved a martyr and councillors from all parties attended the function.



With Garcha looming over Payal, Gill supporters up ante
Our Correspondent

Doraha, November 24
Prominent Akali leaders and workers of Payal constituency have urged their chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to grant the party ticket to Mr Jagjiwan Pal Gill, a party activist of the area, which if denied may lead not only to loss of support but also result in negative response from the party workers of Payal who view their bright future only in Gill's leadership now.

Akali leaders, including Jathedar Bharpoor Singh Rauni, circle president Hardev Singh Matharoo, vice-president, rural (SAD), Mr Gurmail Singh Sangowal, member, SGPC, Mr Balwant Singh Ghaloti, general secretary, youth wing, Mr Mohinder Singh Lalton, member, general council, Mr Janail Singh Shahpur, member, general council, Mr Rajvir Singh Roobal, Mr Darshan Singh Rabbon, member, general council, along with a good number of supporters gathered today at Payal and lauded the services offered by Mr Gill and wished that he should get his due.

Jathedar Bharpoor Singh Rauni termed Mr Gill as a man of the masses who took all pains to give a patient hearing to the needs and demands of the villagers and tried to resolve them with due concern. He said till date Gill had organised a countless number of meetings and left no stone unturned to gather public support in favour of his party.

SGPC member Gurmail Singh Sangowal too said they should vote and support none other than Gill and a heavy victory could be gained only by Gill’s selection as a final candidate as he alone had devoted all his energies for the growth of the party.

It is worth mentioning that lately Mr Mann Singh Garcha, too is eyeing the party ticket from this constituency for which he too is busy organising meetings here to win public opinion and establish his hold.



Despite SC ban, many children love to labour
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana November 24
The Supreme Court order imposing a ban on child labour is turning out to be a difficult one to implement as the employed children do not have any alternative to fall back upon.

A number of working children say they have nothing else to do if they leave their work. A majority of children inheriting their ancestral professions feel that the rules should be relaxed so that they can continue with their traditional professions.

Aslam, a 12-year-old boy, does hand-embroidery on suits with his father and cousins at Sunet village near here. He said the profession was in his blood.

"I was never interested in studies. Though my father persuaded me a lot to be at least a matriculate but I was never interested. Being the only son in the family, I want to take over the responsibility of my father as soon as possible. No one has ever forced me to do work here but I love continuing in my forefathers’ profession," said Aslam.

Geeta (not her real name), another 13-year-old girl works as a domestic help at HIG Flats, Rani Jhansi Road, here. Her mother said she was aware of the SC order as Geeta's employer had told her about it.

"I am an asthmatic having two daughters. My husband, who is an alcoholic, is good for nothing. The family depends on my as well as on Geeta's earnings, who is getting Rs 1,200 a month for looking after a small baby.

“Being a mother, I make sure that my daughter is in safe hands. When she is not having any problem and is enjoying working there why should others object to it?" asked the mother.

Ramesh, working at a tea stall in Bhadaur House, said if he stopped working today, he would have to loiter around.

"I am happy with my work which gives me Rs 600 a month. My father (a rickshaw puller) expects me to work and I am helping him out," he said happily.

The Prevention of Child Labour Act says that children under 14 years of age cannot not be employed at teashops, restaurants, hotels, recreational centres or as domestic helps.

But children, who are working on their own, will love to continue with the same despite the fact that they are less than 14 years.



1.5 kg of opium seized
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, November 24
In a major breakthrough, the Machhiwara police seized 1.5 kg of opium from Prem Kumar of Rajasthan this afternoon.

Such a huge quantity of opium had been seized for the second time by the Machhiwara police.

SHO Parkash Singh was going patrolling towards Garhi Tarkhana village, adjacent to the Sirhind canal, while he found a suspicious youth near the canal bridge.

When he investigated the person, the opium was recovered from him.

Prem Kumar used to supply the opium from Rajasthan to Punjab.

He belonged to Sriganganagar. The police booked the culprit under Sections 18, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.



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