R E G I O N A L   B R I E F S

Regional potpourri

  • He built bunkers for Saddam

  • In memory of Bhagat Singh

  • Vultures  sighted


New Year fERvour:
The city is ready to welcome the 2007. Different organisations organised functions to welcome the new year. Hotels, restaurants, clubs and bazaars were decorated with lights. The police formed patrolling parties while Lawrence road area was sealed to vehicular traffic in the evening.

Saddam hanging DEcrIED: The Khalra Mission Committee (KMC) on Sunday condemned the hanging of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein by the America-backed Iraqi administration. It termed US President George W. Bush a murderer of humanity. They said Saddam Hussein was killed under a political conspiracy.

Tarn Taran
SEMINAR ON HERBAL DRUGS: A seminar on “Challenges and Techniques Involved in Standardisation of Herbal Drugs” at Shaheed Bhagat Singh (SBS) College of Pharmacy, Patti, 25 KM from here concluded on Saturday evening. The All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) sponsored the seminar. One hundred delegates from Punjab, U.P, M.P., Uttaranchal, J&K, Haryana, and New Delhi participated. Dr V.K. Arora, Registrar PTU Jalandhar, Dr S.H. Ansari, Professor of Pharmacy of Pharma cognosy, Jamia Hamdard, Dr A.N. Kalia from MDU, Rohtak, Dr P. Gupta, from Apolo Hospital and others delivered lecturers on the standardisation of herbal drugs.


ELECTED: The following have been elected office-bearers of Philips India Employees Union, Mohali: President - Mr Kuldeep Dogra; vice-presidents - Mr Vijay Kumar and Mr Manoj Kumar; general secretary - Mr Arjun Singh Thakur; and joint sectretaries - Mr Gurpreet Singh and Mahesh Bhoir.

CELEBRATIONS: Employees of Ind Swft group today celebrated New Year by organiSing a cultural event here on Sunday. More than 600 employees of the bank participated in the celebrations.

Regional potpourri

He built bunkers for Saddam

Manmohan Singh Virdi
Manmohan Singh Virdi

Having served in Iraq as an architect as well as the Diwan of Royal Court, Muscat, the capital of Oman, Mr Manmohan Singh Virdi is now helping his motherland by setting up a nature park alongside Budda Nullah in Ludhiana district.

One of the persons behind the architectural design of Muscat as well as Iraq, where Saddam Hussein had ensured bunkers in all establishments before attacking Iran in late seventies, Mr Virdi has chalked out a plan for setting up health walkways alongside the killer drain after it would be cleaned by kar sewaks of Baba Jaspal Singh Baddowal.

To be set up on 30 acres alongside the nullah, the walkways would comprise underground cellars, health huts where residents would be provided with health spas, steam bath treatments, colour therapy and other nature therapies.

"We have already got the land sanctioned from the government. We would be importing exotic trees and plants of medicinal value where just a walk would ensure curing of several diseases. The King of Muscat had got such an institute set up in Muscat, which has been successfully running, " says Mr Virdi.

He said he wanted to provide a similar place of natural treatments to his countrymen and his dream was being realised by Baba Baddowal's efforts.

Recalling his days with the Iraq's dictator, Mr Virdi said he was a man of great enthusiasm and willpower. Before attacking Iran in 1979, he had asked me to ensure that all houses, car parkings, markets, schools, clubs and all other buildings in all townships had a bunker each to escape the bombings. Once we reported to him with the completed task, he started bombings on Iran and the war continued for 10 years, he added.

It was after that war that he immigrated to Muscat, where he served as Chief Architect for 15 years. At that time the King of Oman asked Mr Virdi to study about medicinal values of natural products and set up an institute where extracts of plants and other natural substances were available in his institute where people could be cured of chronic diseases.

"I want to use my expertise here. The work of identifying the trees has started and we would soon start planting these along the nullah. The naturopathy institute would soon be a reality," he said.

In memory of Bhagat Singh

Inspired by the ideals of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, some social activists and intellectuals of Sirsa have decided to set up an institution to commemorate the great martyr in his birth centenary year.

"Our objective is to propagate Bhagat Singh's ideals by undertaking some constructive social work in the fields of health and education," said Mr Puran Mudgal, a patron of the Bhagat Singh Sansthan.

The voluntary organisation proposes to provide financial assistance to the poor patients in need of blood, apart from giving scholarships to meritorious but needy students.

As of now, a person giving blood for a relative has to shell out a considerable amount required for testing the blood. The organisation would provide this amount in case the patient is not in a position to meet the expenditure.

In the initial phase, it has been decided to institute a fund of Rs 2,30,000 for the purpose. The amount will be raised by way of donations and the minimum amount fixed by the body is Rs 2,300 per donor.

There is an interesting aspect to this figure of 23. "The figure 23 has a sentimental appeal for our countrymen. Shaheed Bhagat Singh was 23 when he kissed the gallows on March 23, 1931...the figure has assumed significance in the birth centenary year of the martyr, who was born on September 28, 1907," explains Mudgal.

The consultative group of the body includes former Haryana minister Jagdish Nehra, INLD leader Ramesh Mehta, Communist leader Swaran Singh Virk and others. Former DEO Narendra Talwar is the president, while Zila Parishad member Suresh Mehta is its secretary.

Vultures sighted

A white-backed vulture perched on a tree in the Salol village area. The village is located between Nagrota Suriyan and Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh
A white-backed vulture perched on a tree in the Salol village area. The village is located between Nagrota Suriyan and Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh; and (below) A fledgeling vulture in the same area. — Photos by the writer

A fledgeling vulture in the same area

Here is good news for vulture lovers. Certain places in Himachal Pradesh have noticed the presence of white-backed vultures.

Three of the nine species of vultures found in India — white-backed, slender-billed and long-billed Gyps vultures — are almost extinct.

The vultures, which figure in Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, have been listed in International Red Book as a highly threatened species.

Studies of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) attribute their decline to the use of diclofenac, loss of habitat, use of pesticides, competition for food among other scavengers and change in livestock management.

Mr S.K.Guleria, Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife), Hamirpur, and Dr R.S.Kishtwaria, a wildlife expert, have spotted a colony of white-backed vultures near Salol village. The village is located between Nagrota Suriyan and Dharamsala. They recorded five vultures near the nests and two chicks. They also photographed them.

Dr Vibhu Prakash, Principal Scientist, BNHS, who had documented the rapid vulture population decline in the Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan in 1999, says the sighting of the white-backed vultures is a good news for biologists. He says as the area is rich in flora and fauna, white-backed vultures might be breeding there.

Contributed by Kanchan Vasdev, Sunit Dhawan and Vishal Gulati

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