PM comes home, leaves goodwill
Ashok Sethi

Two high-profile and momentous visits by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to his home town were nostalgic and sent out positive vibes to the people of the holy city during 2006.

Mr Sunil Khanna, a leading shawl exporter, who interacted with the Prime Minister during his last visit on December 20, was touched by his warmth and words of encouragement that Amritsar would have a rapid make-over in next six moths. Taking up the advice, Mr Khanna plans to venture into new areas of business and tourism in the border district.

Mr Khanna is not the only exception. There were numerous others who followed Dr Manmohan Singh’s advice to take up major development projects to give the city a modern look.

On the contentious issue of the Special Economic Zone, over which uncertainty hangs due to the confusion over the de-notification of the 1,218 acres of prime agriculture land on the main Amritsar-Jalandhar GT road, the Prime Minister seemed to be determined to push through the prestigious project, may be at a different location.

The Chairman of the Amritsar Zone of CII, Mr Gunbir Singh, sounded a note of optimism, saying he sees a silver lining in the dropped SEZ project. The new modified SEZ, with multi-product segments in its full form, would be ideally suited for the business community of the holy city. He expected the Prime Minister to follow up on his commitment for the launch of full-fledged SEZ which would become the mainstay for the revival of the sagging industrial moral in the border belt.

The approval for the multidimensional and multi-product Indo-Pak trade, through the high-tech and modern integrated check post at the Wagah border would facilitate the business flow between the two countries. The government had already approved the construction of six-lane custom terminal point at the border.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Government notified to acquire 120 acres which would house high-tech customs post equipped with special veterinary station for the export of livestock, large X-ray machines for container export cargo besides plant quarantine services for facilitating the export of perishable and other similar items.

Mr Rajesh Setia, a leading exporter to Pakistan, was delighted that the government had given its nod to the ICP project. He said that there was a tremendous potential for growth of trade but infrastructure constraints had become a stumbling block.

The holy city also became part of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. The project, with Rs 3605 crore to be spent in the next 10 years, awaits the final nod of the Union Ministry of Urban Development. It would include mass transport system, Metro Rail, Sky train, besides other infrastructure. The project requires generation of funds to maintain this high-tech system for next 15 years.

The Guru Ram Das Integrated Project with an outlay of Rs 256 crore for providing water supply and sewerage system to the inhabitants of the city have already received its final nod. Former commissioner of the Municipal Corporation, Amritsar, Kang said the government has already sent its first installment of Rs 21 crore for the construction of the modern supply system.

The Prime Minister had reiterated the government’s resolve to further cement ties with the neighboring country. A leading academician and expert on Indo-Pak relations felt that both the countries have shown a lot of interest to develop trade between the two nations and offer visa services at Amritsar and Lahore to facilitate the easy movement of people across the Radcliff line. The PM’s speech during his last visit once again generated a lot of hope especially people living in the city that this would augur well in the coming times. The growth of Amritsar hinges on good business relations with Pakistan.

The Guru Granth Sahib Research Centre is likely to be established as an autonomous body at Guru Nanak Dev University in next few months. The Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jai Rup Singh, confirmed that the formal clearance of the project was in the pipeline and was expected to take shape soon.

There were some disappointments also. With the expectations levels high, skeptics pointed out that the Prime Minister should have come up with special economic package for the beleaguered industry of the border belt of Punjab on the lines of similar package given to Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.

The Biotechnology Park to be set up here as announced by the Prime Minister during his first visit to the holy city in September 2004 too slipped out of the grasp of the local politicians as it was set up at Dera Bassi near Chandigarh. It is the failure and the lack of vision of the local public representatives who were unable to cash on the promises made by the Prime Minister.


BJP leaders bring down “illegal” kiosks
P. K. Jaiswar

The pulling down of temporary kiosks installed by shopkeepers in the IDH market and other parts of the city took a political turn with the BJP openly coming forward against such installation at such a pace. The kiosks were put up by the Municipal Corporation, Amritsar, allegedly at the behest of Congress leaders.

The BJP leaders termed the installation as a political move to gain votes as the Election Commission announced the date of Assembly elections in February. The BJP activists led by Mr Bakshi Ram Arora, district president, along with shopkeepers brought down three such kiosks.

The corporation authorities then put up new kiosks at the same place.

Meanwhile, the shopkeepers alleged that the MC authorities and certain ruling party leaders were threatening them of dire consequences and pressuring them to withdraw written complaints. Mr Arora said they were with the shopkeepers and would protest against the government if it tried to install any kiosks.

Public anger against the illegal kiosks in the busy IDH market near the bus stand swelled as the market shopkeepers pulled down several kiosks allotted by the corporation to their near and dear ones.

The incident had occurred on very next day of the retirement of the corporation Commissioner, Mr K.S. Kang. Elected representatives of the municipal corporation who were reportedly instrumental in the allotment of these kiosks remained mute spectators in view of the Assembly elections. A number of kiosks have come up in the city on land belonging to corporation allegedly on the behest of various Municipal Councillors and political leaders.

The spokesman of the IDH market alleged that the two new kiosks came up on the green belt of the market at night. Expressing resentment at the illegal construction of kiosks in the congested market near the bus stand, the association said they had conveyed their annoyance to the Commissioner and other municipal authorities. However, finding no action on part of the MC to remove the kiosks, they decided to take action and remove the kiosks.

The association sought a high-level probe into the illegal allotment and erection of the kiosks in the market and other areas of the holy city.

The spokesman of the association said they would not allow any new encroachments in the market area and would resist attempts to foist new stalls. The shopkeepers said they had purchased the land in the market at an exorbitant rate during open auction and now the unscrupulous representatives were facilitating the erection of the kiosks.

He said if the administration failed to take any action against these persons they would be forced to take action themselves.

Mr Sunil Datti, Mayor, said he had not recommended installation of any kiosks.

He said such erections were illegal and he would not allow any such construction in the city.



Man who made difference to many lives
Ashok Sethi

A community is enriched each time a prime mover questions the way things are done,and makes way for the new. One such visionary was Sardar Dilbir Singh whose wise counsel would tide over the rough times and pave the way for development and growth of enterprise.

He was also an astute mediator who could resolve many a political or social differences. Be the issues of labour union, war-mongering, strife in communities or salvaging lost situations, his interventions were especially sought during the era of militancy in Punjab -- many lives were saved and misunderstandings cleared. The best part was that he was acceptable to people of all hues. He was trusted for fairplay and known for positive approach. These qualities came to the fore during his apprenticeship in student politics.

He was resourceful and well connected. The collage of photographs in his drawing room shows him side by side important political figures . He struck a close relationship with each and every President and Prime Minister of the country .He visited Giani Zail Singh when he the latter was jailed. The friendship was valued and the then President hosted a wedding reception for Dilbir Singh’s son at Rashtrapati Bhawan . People listened to his reason, whether it was Bhindranwale or Longowal,the Congress or the Akalis, Army Generals or the militants, the industrialists or Satpal Dang.

In his prolonged stints as the Honorary Secretary to the Chief Khalsa Dewan, he sowed the seed of the public school in the region, which has today blossomed into the Guru Harkrishan Public School movement with over 37000 students. He is remembered for starting the B.Com course in Khalsa College . The college was given 16 acres of prime land by the government during his tenure . As Senator or Syndic of Guru Nanak Dev University Sardar Dilbir Singh had the ear of every Vice Chancellor and Chancellor . It was on his initiative the MBA programme was started. The idea of setting up the university itself was drawn at his residence. It is also well known that he was the moving spirit behind the Sant Singh Sukha Singh institutions, and the reason for setting up of the Miri Piri Academy at Amritsar for the believers of Yogi Harbhajan, a dear friend to this educationist. As the Chairman of the Academy a new experience, a blend of spirituality, yoga and academics was initiated for students from various nations at Amritsar.

He was into everything the city, state or country had to offer. He provided leadership to Rotary, social clubs, the Citizens Council, Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan, Sri Guru Singh Sabha, industries associations et al. An interesting story goes that Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister and the then Finance Minister accepted the post of President Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya sadan with the precondition that Dilbir shall be the Vice president. Their association goes back to the days where they shared the same bench at school in Peshawar.

The man stood tall in all sphere of life and enjoyed his existence to the fullest. When struck with a heart condition ,he would say that he would like to meet the end on his feet.

Dilbir Singh was respected and loved in his community by most, and envied by some.



Early liver transplant can save babies
Tribune News Service

Liver transplant within four weeks of birth could save babies who have jaundice at birth. Jaundice later develops into biliaryatrisia and, if detected early, it could save precious lives.

Dr Anupam Sibal, Managing Director, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, Delhi, said about 3.8 per cent of the population suffered from hepatitis B and C and if not treated, it could cause liver failure and cancer. It was important that children be given three doses of vaccine and precautions. Children suffering from hepatitis C should not be exposed to persons suffering from cold or other infectious diseases.

Dr Sibal, a senior consultant, Paediatric Gastro-entrology and Hepatology, said the diseased liver could be replaced with a healthy whole liver or part of a liver. It could come from a brain-dead donor or from a living and related donor. From a brain-dead donor the whole liver is transplanted and from others only part of the liver is transplanted. 



Prof H.S. Bhatia: an academician of distinction
Our Correspondent

Dr Harbhajan Singh Bhatia, Professor, School of Punjabi Studies, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, has joined as the Director, Academic Staff College of the university.

A noted critic, Dr Bhatia has about 20 original, edited and translated books in Punjabi to his credit. Metaphysical study, literary theory and literary criticism are his areas of specialisation.

His books have been published by the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi; Punjabi Akademi, Delhi; Punjabi University, Patiala; and Guru Nanak Dev University Amritsar. He has also been awarded Ravi Purskar - 1993 and Hari Singh Yadgari Purskar - 2000 and honoured by the Progressive Writers Association, the UK, Punjabi Sahit Sabha Wolverhampton, UK. Punjabi Sahit Sabha, South Hampton, Glasgow (Scotland), Lester, UK and Dr Kesar Singh Kesar Yadgari Kalam Purskar-2005. He has attended and presented papers in many international, national and regional conferences and seminars. He was one of the jury members of the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, which decided the award this year.



GND University scales new heights
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, got recognition at the international level by identifying three new cataract-causing genes in Indians by the Centre for Genetic Disorders of the university in 2006. This research was the result of 30 years of hard labour. The three genes identified were responsible for ‘fan-shaped cataract’, ‘cerulean cataract’ and ‘sutural cataract’.

The university also established a counseling centre for drug de-addiction to check addiction among youth. The university, in association with the psychiatrists from medical colleges and Mental Hospital, Project Director of the Punjab Red Cross De-Addiction Centre of GNDH, Amritsar, and Psychology Department of the university, established a ‘Helpline’ for drug addicts.

The Centre for Genetic Disorders provides diagnostic services to patients and families suffering from various genetic disorders and brings about awareness among people regarding their management. It also carries out research related to identification of genes causing different diseases and has collaborations with institutes in India and Germany in human genetics.

The university took education at the doorstep of the Amritsar Central Jail, establishing a distant education centre at the jail. The university introduced courses in dress designing, tailoring and cutting, fabric designing, and computer maintenance for the inmates without any charge.

Special efforts have been made for spreading the teachings and philosophy of Guru Nanak Dev. Under Centre for Guru Nanak Studies has been established under the Guru Nanak Study Department in the 10th plan of the UGC. Punjabi Week was celebrated for the development of the language, literature and culture.

This university won the Inter-University National Youth Festival for the sixth consecutive time. It also won the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Trophy, Music Trophy and Theatre Trophy in the festival.

Special efforts were made for the beautification of the university campus. A drive was launched for promoting floriculture, horticulture, herbal and medicinal plants. Vermi-composite fertilizer plant, use of solar energy for streetlights and free bus service within the campus were other achievements of the university. 



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