MC generators to keep the show going
Come summers and taps won’t run dry
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 20
To ensure regular water supply even during power cuts, the Amritsar Municipal Corporation is making alternative arrangements by installing generators at tubewells in areas worst hit by water crisis last year.

The corporation has to deal with the task of providing water supply to the city through its 270 tubewells and 930 km-long water supply line. However, it remains to be seen if the corporation would be able to fulfil its promise of providing regular water supply when city residents need it the most.

“Almost every other house even in the posh localities has two water tanks installed and water which is collected in the tank on the ground floor during the limited water supply is pumped to the tank on the terrace to ensure uninterrupted water supply in the house,” says Rajinder Pannu, a resident of Tilak Nagar.

“It is definitely a big ask for the corporation to provide regular water supply in summers, with increased consumption and frequent power cuts. There is need for a concerted effort to deal with the problem and the district administration should strictly implement a ban on watering of lawns and washing of vehicles in the city,” chips in Col Baljeet Singh (retd), a resident of Ranjit Avenue.

Residents of various colonies along Ajnala Road said they had a history of facing water shortage and fear that the same situation may not arise this season as well as when the temperature soars. “In many colonies, there is problem of unclear water, which is not fit for drinking. Since it happens every season, the authorities should draw a long-term strategy to deal with the problem,” says S.K. Sharma, a resident of Guru Ram Das Avenue.

The corporation authorities say a lasting solution to the water crisis would come in the form of Guru Ramdas integrated development plan, which has been given a go-ahead by the Centre. Besides, over 2.5 lakh residents would be benefited through 170 km-long water pipeline to be sponsored by the Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, which would cater to the water needs of 17 localities.

Meanwhile, chhabeels have been put up in the city at various places to offer cold water to passers-by on the main roads on hot afternoons. Many charitable organisations have also installed water coolers in the city.



Solar cells to light up campus
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

No more groping in the dark at varsity.
No more groping in the dark at varsity. — A Tribune photograph

Amritsar, April 20
The street lights on the Guru Nanak Dev University campus would continue to shine even during power cuts this summer. Thanks to solar energy installations made by the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA), students and faculty would be saved from groping in the dark on the internal roads of the varsity.

To begin with, about 200 street lights on the campus have been linked to the solar energy system and half of them can be used at one go. The solar lights have the capacity to glow for 11 hours at one go and the feature would be a major advantage during long power cuts during the season.

The equipment in the form of solar cells fitted inside the solar lights have been provided at concessional rates by PEDA to the university authorities under its scheme for educational institutions. The 200 watt lamp used in the street lights work on solar cells which come for around Rs 25,000, said university sources.

The solar system would also come handy in winters when hostellers can avail the facility of boiled water. It had been a long-pending demand of hostellers that arrangement should be made for providing hot water in winters.

A university teacher said the installation of solar lights would ensure that the entire campus is not plunged into darkness every time there is a power cut in the city. This feature is also important from security point of view. Over time, solar lights can be installed in other parts of the campus as well.

University authorities say introduction of use of unconventional source of energy would not only bring down the electricity load but would also inspire students to take such innovative steps to find a solution to power crisis.



Farmers told to use fertilisers judiciously
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 20
A seed treatment campaign was organised at Doburji village, which has been adopted by the Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Usman, by assistant professor (plant protection) Parminder Kaur under the guidance of deputy director of the kendra Sat Pal Saini for the benefit of farmers.

Saini emphasised on the judicious use of fertilisers, especially nitrogen, by using leaf colour chart and to save water in paddy by using laser leveller.

The future activities of the kendra were also discussed with the farmers.

Parminder Kaur imparted training to the farmers and demonstrated effective ways of paddy seed treatment to protect the crop from various seed-borne diseases.

She elaborated on different methods of seed treatment of different crops and control of paddy diseases.

Extension specialist (plant protection) Paramjit Singh talked about the right ways of storing foodgrains, solar heat treatment of wheat and control of insects and pests in paddy.

About 50 farmers took part in the campaign. They said that the training and demonstrations had made them aware of scientific methods of treatment of seeds.



‘Encroachments will go’
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, April 20
Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh has taken over as Senior Superintendent of Police.

Talking to The Tribune, the SSP said that he had held a series of meetings with the senior police officers along with the subordinate staff to iron out a draft proposal for removing snarls which had created a major nuisance on the roads, especially leading from the GT Road, near the bus stand, towards the Golden Temple and near the railway station.

He said that a proposal would be implemented in a phased manner with the active support of the public and the representatives of the political parties.

He said that his major concern had been the encroachments on the GT Road which is the major entry point to the city and said that he had requested various NGOs and the social activist Brij Bedi to actively support his crusade to allow free flow of traffic to the relief of thousands of pilgrims and tourists visiting the Golden Temple and other important destinations in the holy city.

He said that he had prepared a traffic plan for the highly congested Lawrence Road, Mall Road, Albert Road, Court Road, Queens Road, Cooper Road, Hall Bazaar and other areas and hoped to implement this plan with suggestion from the people who would be participating in this traffic management project.



Here chaos is order of the day
Road project work has left commuters a harried lot as mismanagement is causing huge traffic snarls on NH everyday
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 20
The ambitious elevated road project has become a source of inconvenience for scores of commuters taking the national highway everyday. The roads on both sides of the upcoming elevated road are potholed and mismanagement of traffic leads to frequent traffic bottlenecks.

The Rs 173-crore project would provide devotees a shorter link to the Golden Temple and the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial. Work on the project is under way and Rs 20 crore has already been spent on its construction.

With construction work in full swing, vehicle owners have to deal with loads of dust flying all over the place, besides negotiating the potholes.

The uneven barricading of the road for construction purpose leads to traffic jams and it is a nightmarish experience for commuters to get stuck in traffic in scorching heat, said Ranjit Bhullar, an LIC agent, who takes the road every day for going to Jalandhar.

Various social organisations have taken up the issue with the Municipal Corporation, demanding that the roads running parallel to the elevated road should be repaired to save commuters from inconvenience.

The Amritsar Vikas Manch recently submitted a demand charter to Amritsar Municipal Corporation commissioner Hussan Lal on different civic problems in Amritsar city, and improvement of condition of the roads along the elevated road to avoid any mishap was one of them.

Manch president Harbhajan Singh Gill said they had also demanded regulation of traffic on the city roads to avoid traffic jams, construction of public toilets at different places and a ban on the entry of heavy vehicles on the road leading to the Golden Temple after 11 p.m.

Ravinder Pal, a shopkeeper in the area, said: “The very first impression one gets on entering the city is that of bad roads and traffic mismanagement. The issue has been taken up with both the district administration and the municipal corporation.

Some strategy should be chalked out to ensure that the highway is properly maintained till the time the elevated road comes up. Upkeep of the existing roads should be made a part of the financial grants for the project.”

The elevated road is one of the most-talked about projects planned for Amritsar. During his visit to Amritsar in April 2006, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced 50 per cent central grants for the project.

As per the original plan, the elevated road project was to be funded by the Municipal Corporation, the Improvement Trust and the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA), giving 20 per cent of the total budget.

The remaining 40 pc was to be borne by the state government. All parties, except PUDA, had given their share of funds. PUDA has agreed to follow suit shortly.



School row: Rivals trade allegations
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 20
Some unscrupulous elements are trying to grab the property of Shri Ram Kanya Mahavidyala Sabha (SRKMS) by forcefully occupying the school premises.

Stating this to The Tribune, SRKMS president R.C. Grower said that Ramesh Talwar, along with some accomplices, had tried to forcibly take over the properties of the school and tried to create terror on the school premises recently. He said they came to know about his move and had to close the school for a few days. He said they had also complained to the superintendent of police (city-I) in this regard who had provided security for the school children and the members of the staff.

He said though the education department had granted approval to the appointment of Prem Khanna as correspondent, a particular group led by Ramesh Talwar who was dismissed by the managing committee of the school a few years back, was trying to take political mileage by forcibly occupying the school premises.

When contacted, Talwar alleged that the so-called committee was illegal and had forcibly occupied the school premises, besides involved in various cases of embezzlement. He said the cases were already pending in various courts against them.

Grower said that earlier too Talwar had formed a parallel committee and had also filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the present managing committee, who directed the director of public instruction (S) to re-examine the whole matter. He said after re-examining the case, the director had remarked that the committee had rightly expelled Talwar



Prosperous Punjab
GNDU urges govt to frame new agri policy
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 20
The Punjab government should frame an agriculture policy by setting up a committee of agricultural experts, politicians and representatives of the farmers as lack of agricultural planning was responsible for the present plight of farmers in the state, said Dr R.S. Bawa, registrar, Guru Nanak Dev University).

He was speaking during a seminar on ‘Tackling crisis of agricultural sustainability in northern region: Role of state, civil society and agribusiness’ organised by Indian Society of Agribusiness Professionals (ISAP) and Oxfam.

Dr Bawa said that the contract farming started by various multinational companies in the state would only be successful if the state government protected the interests of the farmers by fixing minimum price for their yield besides providing crop insurance scheme.

He said proper planning at the district level needs to be initiated by the state government which include educating the farmers and train them about the contract farming. He said the government should also set up processing industries in rural areas and provide the necessary training to the children of the farmers so that they could get a job in these units.

He said the government should try to bring down the input costs besides initiating some policy to absorb the farmers in some occupation or ensure their participation in the special economic zones to be set up by the government where multinational companies were going to set up their units.

Earlier delivering the keynote address, K.S. Pannu, deputy commissioner, said that it’s not only small farmer important for the government but the farming. He said the food availability was the major issue for the government and it was working towards agricultural sustainability.

Speaking on the occasion Uminder Dutt, member Krishi Virasat Mission, an NGO, said that the government should thoroughly investigate the matter that why farmers in the state were committing suicide. He said there was also need to investigate that where the money of the green revolution in Punjab had gone as it had not reached the poor or the marginal farmers.

He said their NGO had stated organic farming at various places in the state and were successful in uplifting the plight of the marginal and poor farmers by cutting input costs besides getting them better price for their produce.

The role of agriculture experts and business professionals should be evaluated as Punjab was in the grip of a terrible environmental crisis emanating from the intensive farming practices in vogue for the past four decades. He said that excessive use of chemical fertilizers has rendered the soils infertile and much of these leaches into the groundwater making it not only unfit for drinking but also for irrigation. He said the severe environmental impact from the green revolution practices, agricultural scientists did not advocate a mid-term correction by bringing in sustainable practices.

He rued that despite all this Punjab Agricultural University still continues to push in pesticides knowing well that thee were not required in the first place. He said that farmers in Bangladesh, Philippines and Vietnam have successfully opted for pesticide free rice cultivation. 



Kids dazzle at cultural meet
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 20
A cultural programme was organised by the Service Club in the summer palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh with a view to bringing out talent among the children.

Children in the different age groups gave excellent performance in singing, both vocal and instrumental, and dancing. Agam Shingari (6) gave a scintillating performance on tabla, Gaurav Kumar on violin and Ashim Khanna in dancing.

Rupali Chhabra and Shruti showcased their talent in singing, while Ravi Singh got big cheers for his superb bhangra, according to president A.L. Adlakha and honorary secretary H.S. Dhot. V.K Mehta and Harinder compered the programme. Prizes were given to talented artists and all the participants.



MC likes to dump garbage at grain market
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 20
Right in the middle of the grain market, there exists an unofficial dumping ground of the Municipal Corporation, spread over around three acres of prime land.

Heaps of garbage, which go up to six feet in height, are not only an eyesore but are also a health hazard for traders operating from the grain market.

Officials of the market committee of the Punjab Mandi Board say the issue has been taken up with the municipal authorities several times but to no avail. Every day, loads of garbage is brought to the grain market from the adjoining areas.

“On one occasion, the main gate of the grain market was closed to stop trolleys full of garbage from entering inside. But safai karamcharis turned the tables on us by unloading the entire garbage right outside the main gate. We had to pay to get the garbage removed,” said a market committee official.

He added that the road passing through the heart of the grain market had also been closed due to the dumping ground, which has become a convenient place for getting rid of garbage from the city. Many private traders, who had their offices near the dump, have shifted away. They feel convinced that the garbage dump is here to stay. Considering that the Mandi Board is planning to set up shops in the grain market and develop the area into a commercial hub of Amritsar, it becomes all the more important that the dump should be removed.

The private traders dealing with wheat procurement are upset about the inaction of the municipal authorities and demand that the garbage dump should be immediately shifted out of the municipal limits.

Dhanwant Singh of Upkar Trading Company said the dumping ground is a source of unbearable stench and it is difficult to sit in his office even after switching on the airconditioner. It has become the condemned part of the grain market and even farmers don’t want to come this side, he said.

Rashpal Singh of Tarsikka Trading Company said a chunk of around three acres of land, which is a notified area of the grain market, has been covered with filth. The existence of a dumping ground is contrary to the claims of the state government about development of grain markets. The dump, which has turned into a breeding ground for mosquitoes, is also a health hazard for farmers and arhtiyas.

Even though there is problem of garbage across the city, the misuse of government land, which has been notified for farmers to sell their wheat produce, should not be allowed. The dump should be immediately shifted out of the city limits, chips in Karamjit Singh of Gurjit Trading Company.



‘Ecological degradation will spell doom
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 20
Excessive exploitation of natural resources is nothing but our invitation to doom. This was said by Lieutenant General Noble Thamburaj, GOC, Vajra Corps, while delivering a lecture during a two-day seminar on `Biodiversity and Environmental Management’. The event was organised by Panther Division, Amritsar.

Thamburaj said the sharp decline in the groundwater level, rising pollution and global warming were indicators of our folly. The need of the hour is to generate ecological awareness and sensitise people on the importance of preserving environment. Suggesting remedial measures, the officer said rain water harvesting can ease pressure on water table. “Also garbage recycle plants should be set up in 
every town,” he said, adding that people’s participation is a must to make such projects 
a success.

Speakers from Central Ground Water Board, Chandigarh, Environment Society of India, Pollution Control Committee and Guru Nanak Dev University also put forth their views on issues. Earlier, welcoming the guests Major General KMS Shergill, GOC, Panther Division, said Army has been at the forefront when it comes to nurturing and developing the environment. A large number of representatives of NGOs were also present on the occasion.



Milk testing camp
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 20
To create awareness among the consumers about milk and milk products, a free milk testing camp was organised at the Sultanwind Road and at Kabir Park near Guru Nanak Dev University.

Parminder Kumar, deputy manager (Marketing), Amritsar District Cooperative Milk Products Union Ltd, appealed to people to use only Verka pasteurised milk which was free from pathogens, adulterants besides having full nutritional value.



Office-bearers elected

Amritsar, April 20
The following have been elected office-bearers of Amritsar Division of the All-India Postal Employees Union: chairman - Amar Singh; vice-chairman - Ashish Gupta; convener - Gulab Singh; joint convener - Balwant Singh; assistant convener - Sukhvinder Singh; cashier - Ashwini Puri; assistant cashier - Lakhwinder Pal Singh. — TNS



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