MC goes into overdrive, plans major makeover for city
Sanjay Bumbroo and Ashok Sethi
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 6
Amritsar is readying up for an extreme makeover. And leading from the front is municipal corporation which has grand plans for the holy city.

Amongst slew of new things coming up are e-governance centres, elevated roads and many other civic amenities.

Says MC commissioner Hussan Lal: “The focus is on people. Coming up soon are e-governance centres which would provide a wide array of facilities, including payment of bills, taxes, to the residents. It will reduce the rush at normal counters and save people from a lot of hardship.”

The city will also get a more cleaner look. “A lot of tourists, including many devotees come here to pay their obeisance at the Golden Temple and other religious shrines. We want them to carry back a good image of the city,” said Lal.

The commissioner said there was an immediate need for an integrated approach to remove the garbage littered all around the city. People’s participation is equally important in this endevour . He said tenders would soon be floated for the sewerage works They were held up in view of the code of conduct in wake of assembly polls in the state.

Lal said recently he had led a delegation of senior officers of the corporation to various MCs in the country to study their style of working . There’s also a need for modernisation of the civic body. For the purpose, a comprehensive plan would be 
launched soon. ”

Regarding funds, Lal said money would never be a constrained to undertake projects to uplift the civic conditions, adding that a finance committee meeting, held yesterday under the chairmanship of mayor Sunil Datti, has sanctioned a grant of Rs five crore for development works.

Lal said the traffic woes of commuters would come to an end after completion of elevated road project which is coming up at a cost of Rs 213 crore. A private bridge-making company has been entrusted the job. The cost would be shared by Punjab urban development authority, Amritsar improvement trust and MC. The mayor said he’s hopeful that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal would keep his word and ensure that the project is not starved of funds.

Meanwhile, there have been reports of discontent between the new MC commissioner and mayor over allocation of funds for development projects. According to sources, Datti had requested commissioner to earmark more funds for projects in the budget, but the latter had expressed his helplessness in this regard as it would have upset the entire financial plan.

The opposition leaders claim that the budget allocations have failed to meet the aspirations of the residents as only Rs 25 crore have been earmarked for development works. The rampant urbanization and increasing population have put a heavy load on the civic body which is struggling to meet the people’s needs.

Levelling charge at the Congress that it has failed to meet the aspirations of the people, opposition councilors walked out of the budget session. They even tore the budget documents. The opposition leader and BJP Councilor Shwet Malik said the ruling party had just completed the formality of presenting the budget as the Congress councilors were dejected by defeat of their party in the assembly elections. He said Congress was not interested in the development of the city. He said the city needs proper drainage.

A considerable amount should have been spared for the re-carpeting of roads which are in a bad shape.

Terming the budget as anti-people, he said they would reconsider the proposals if they come to power in the next elections which are to be held after two months.

In reply, the ruling party councillors said the opposition was raising unnecessary hue and cry without going into the budget details. They said out of the 61 per cent establishment cost, major funds were required for paying the salaries to the MC employees. “The opposition should have first studied the budget proposals and then come to the house for raising the objections if any,” they added.

However, Malik demanded a CBI probe into the works taken up during the five-year tenure of the present MC. He alleged Congress councilors had siphoned off the money in the name of development. Also they have failed to maintain proper record of the tax collection and expenditure.

Malik said the work on the prestigious elevated road was going on at a slow pace and it would take 20 years for it to complete. He said if they came to power they would urge the SAD-BJP government to allocate more funds so that the project could be completed before July 2008.

Meanwhile, the mayor Datti said they were ready for a debate on the working of corporation.

The mayor said under the circumstances, the best possible budget has been presented. He assured the members that the present ruling dispensation would be able to maintain the momentum of development.

Under the Rs 179.34 crore Jawahar Lal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission, MC would contribute Rs 53.80 crore, while the central and state governments would contribute Rs 89.67 crore and Rs 35.87 crore respectively, he added.



Virsa Sambhal: Artists’ panel to be set up
P K Jaiswar

Amritsar, April 6
Visiting the Virsa Sambhal Kendar, Deputy Commissioner K.S. Pannu today said administration would soon constitute an advisory panel consisting of artists, painters and other connected with cultural activities to run the organisation.

The Virsa Sambhal Kendar which had been in news for all the right and wrong reasons for last four years when the building of the kendar was completed to house cultural activities and to showcase rich Punjabi folk culture.

However, the local administration was contemplating to house a passport office in the building.

The DC expressed his view that the some financial help was required to run this kendar for which the government would work out some modalities.

The artists had reacted sharply against the housing of the passport office in the building and took to streets and force the administration to backtrack on its decision. They were assured that the kendar would entirely be used for cultural, theatrical and other similar activities.

Spearheading the campaign, Anita Devgan of Youth Artists Association, decreed the attempt of the government to use it for other than cultural activities.

Talking to this correspondent she said that the former Rajya Sabha members and eminent Punjabi writer Kartar Singh Duggal had donated Rs one and half crores for the construction of this special building which would be entirely used for museum artists gallery and for seminars to promote rich Indian art and culture.

She said that the artists have expressed their dismay that it had been more than four years that the government had failed to form a committee to run the affairs of Virsa Sambhal kendar.

She said that Duggal had wanted that Amritsar centre would be a premier artist’s centre which would bring the cultural generation gap between old and the young.

But his dream seemed to be turning sour as due to government apathetic towards the art and artists.



Up in arms
PSMDTA rejects govt’s move on retirement age
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 6
The Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association (PSMDTA) has decided to go against the state’s move of increasing the retirement age of medical teachers from 58 to 60.

The association said that such move would benefit only a few but will cause great harm to a number of junior level teachers including additional professors, associate professors and assistant professors who have been awaiting promotions for more than 15 years.

Dr Rajinder Singh Sidhu, Vice-President, PSMDTA, said that the government’s move to increase the retirement age will have far reaching consequences. The PSMDTA said that instead of increasing the retirement age, the government could recruitment the senior teachers on contract basis by protecting their last drawn salaries.

Seeking immediate remedies, Dr Sidhu said that state government must take corrective measures to save the Premier Medical College from being de-recognised. Listing out the remedial measures, PSMDTA said that government should ensure time-bound promotions as agreed by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in his previous tenure.

Dr Sidhu said the percentage of the medical teachers retiring at the age of 58 years is far less than the percentage of the junior level medical teachers waiting their promotions.

This move of the government has come as great frustration for them so much that they are thinking of getting premature retirement as better perks and excellent promotional avenues are available in the private medical colleges, where as they feel their career remain blocked forever.

The teacher said that if Govt. is really serious of shortage of the medical teachers than those retiring at the age of 58 years may be re-employed as is being done in some govt. and private institutions in various states. They argued that after two years the problem will be more complicated as it needs ten years of experience for senior lecturer /assistant professor which is entry level post to become professor and till than the juniors level teacher will also retire.

Many more senior medical teachers who are not sure of their promotion might resign in the coming time. At least 14 senior medical teachers had already resigned in the last one year as they found their career would be blocked.



Balle balle: Event guru Tanya takes city to world
Ashok Sethi

Tanya Chatha(right) and Amrita plan to bring more events in the city.
Tanya Chatha(right) and Amrita plan to bring more events in the city. — Photo by Rajiv sharma 

Amritsar, April 6
City girl Taniya Chatha has notched up many famous events in India as well as abroad during her four-year-long successful reign in fashion designing and event management, besides being a classic handicraft artist.

Taniya started her career as a painter purely as a hobby but soon decided to venture into business enterprise by enlisting many like-minded young entrepreneurs from northern India to display their artifacts, designer fabrics, artificial jewellery and a large assortment of gift items.

She launched her firm under the banner of fashion forecast which had, to its credit, many successful exhibitions in South Asia, London, Chandigarh, Delhi and in exclusive precincts of British and Australian embassies in Delhi.

Talking to Amritsar Plus, Taniya said she had organised many successful shows in her home town Amritsar where more than 40 designers from across the country showcased their products like handbags, kurtis, footwear, linen and home furnishing items and received immense appreciation from the discerning public.

She said she had been in touch with the new fashion designers in Delhi, Mumbai, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Chandigarh and now planned to bring a new style event back to the holy city with a show on April 7 and 8.

A unique feature of the show, to be held at Hotel Mohan International, would be a fashion show by the Frankfinn Institute of Airhostesses to showcase their talent, besides bringing famous tarot card reader Tanvi Aggarwal. She has also offered a special place for NGOs like India Vision Foundation for displaying their items prepared by the inmates of Tihar and Amritsar Central jails.



Flying Cats are here
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 6
With fifteen new airlines likely to hit the Indian skies by the year 2008 as per the recent surveys and 20,000 new passengers were being added every day, there was a greater demand of trained professionals in the booming aviation industry.

Priyanka Khosla, Managing Director, Flying Cats, who is also a renowned fashion choreographer, said this while launching an airhostess academy in the city.

She said that with Amritsar becoming the hub of aviation industry and all domestic and international airlines making the city a key destination to cater to millions of Punjabi travelers, the demand of trained professionals is increasing day by day not only here but throughout India.

She said that Flying Cats was all set to provide quality education to the students in chic environment to gear them for the stylish aviation and hospitality industry.

The fashion choreographer said that at Flying Cats, people from the world of fashion, glamour and Bollywood are working in collaboration with aviation and hospitality stalwarts to take training in the aviation, tourism, hospitality sector by a storm and ensure that each and every student acquires top of the line education and exposure to cater to this aviation boom in India.

The new centre in Amritsar is its 25th centre in India.

She said that Flying Cats is the only institute offering a university diploma in collaboration with leading Annamalai University in the field of cabin crew training and ground handling thus providing students added advantage of serving as cabin crew or at Airports. In addition to prestigious University diploma, students will get certification from Flying Cats, Polished Cats, English Cats, Galileo CRS System, Global School of Beauty and Red Cross beside getting inflight training and swimming sessions without any additional cost, she added.

She said that all the top quality brands, stars and leading aviation and hospitality experts were associated with Flying Cats to ensure that every student of Amritsar benefits from the unique concept of grooming and quality education. The students of first batch were given on board training as well as in Singapore they were trained by professionals of Singapore tourism board with an international perspective of the aviation and hospitality sector, she said.



Redefining ghazals
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 6
He wants to redefine ‘ghazals’ with shorter and peppy versions and simplified pronunciation, aiming at catching the fancy of youth. Audience would get a chance to hear the innovative form of ‘ghazals’ in his maiden album expected to be out by the end of this year.

For Ramesh Bhagat, the need for making ‘ghazals’ more vibrant has been inspired by his numerous stage performances in different cities, where he had a chance to get instant reactions from audience.

“I still remember his performance at Lohri celebration organised by Service Club at Amritsar in 1991. It was my first big performance and soon after the show, a senior citizen walked up to me and started showering praise on me in a rather strange way like ‘tussi aag la diti’, ‘bomb sitt ditta’,” he recalls.

Ghazal singing has come a long way and today there is no market for songs of the heart-broken. “That is the reason why romance would be the overriding feeling in my album.

The ‘ghazals’ which would have words by Arjun Ludhianvi, would be sung to western music,” he adds. Stage singing, says Bhagat, has been his first love, ever since he won the first prize at the Hari Vallabh Sangeet sammelan in 1992. “I started getting classical training in 1981, first from Pandit S.L.Awasthi and then from Pandit Baldev Verma of Indore School of singing. Taking out an album of my own has been a long-cherished dream, which would be fulfilled soon,” he says.



‘Ensure one-time settlement for sick units’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 6
Various industrialist associations here have urged Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to subscribe to the policy of one-time settlement of all the ailing units in the border districts of Punjab.

Narinder Kumar Jain president Amritsar printers and processors’ association told newsmen here that the Punjab financial corporation have issued auction notices against 200-odd sick units which would likely to disturb the industrial climate in the state.

Narinder Kumar said that it is imperative that the government must launch a rehabilitation scheme to revive these units. Jain said Punjabis are known for the entrepreneurial spirit but due to faulty policies, the industrial sector was suffering.



Rly station bears brunt of MC apathy, turns into dumping ground
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 6
Heaps of garbage greet passengers alighting at the Chheharta Railway station.

Due to absence of regular garbage disposal by the municipal authorities, residents of the adjoining colonies say they have no choice but to use the open space along the boundary of the station as dumping ground.

Gobind Pura is one colony located right next to the boundary wall of the railway station. According to the residents of the colony, there is absolutely no garbage collection from the area and the dumping ground which was operational sometime back has also been closed down. Rajinder Singh, a resident of the area, says the open space along the boundary wall of the station has turned into a large dumping ground and at some places heaps of garbage can be seen spilling over from the wall onto the main road.

“There are flies all over the places and situation becomes worse after a brief shower. Since the train service to this station is only up to Attari, it is not considered a very happening station and could be one reason why it is not being looked after properly,” he said.

Ex-MLA Satyapal Dang said the railway authorities should get the area levelled so that there is no water logging as the pits all over the station act as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

The large quantity of garbage is also a health hazard for people living in the area and the municipal authorities should get it removed immediately, he added.

The railway authorities were right in constructing a boundary wall but they would have never expected that the open space along the wall would be turned into a dumping ground. Both the Municipal Corporation and the railway authorities need to wake up to the problem.

The situation is equally bad in the adjoining Pratap Bazar, where there is water logging all over the main road. Shopkeepers say the problem is aggravated by the absence of drainage system in the market as the drains on both sides of the road are completely chocked.

“The shopkeepers have to engage labour to take out water from inside their shops during rains. Numerous representations to the district administration have fallen on deaf ears,” said Rakesh, a shopkeeper in the area.



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