Looking Ahead
Amritsar set to take a giant leap with ADA
New body to hasten development process
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, May 1
It’s the buzz word here these days. But the million dollar question is will it prove to be a development trigger for the holy city, which is plagued by plenty of problems.

The formation of Amritsar Development Authority is on the cards and the body aims at giving a major makeover to the city just like its predecessors have done in Bangalore, Pune, Ahmedabad and Surat.

Taking a tip from these authorities having a singular command management, cricketer-turned-MP Navjot Singh Sindhu has been working with different models suitable for this holy city which enjoys the status of Vatican.

Backing up his vision a number of NGOs and individuals has provided positive feedback for the formation of this unique management system which would meet the growing need of the city. The setting up of ADA is almost a foregone conclusion as the coordination committee of SAD-BJP alliance has agreed to give it a proper shape at the behest of Sidhu during its four hour marathon meeting held at Chandigarh last week.

According to sources close to the government, the ensuing two-day visit of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to the holy city on May 05- 06, a formal announcement to this effect is likely to be made public.

The concept of ADA cleanly defines a body to plan, execute and oversee the comprehensive development matching up to the aspirations of the people representing the different hues and views of the residence.

Spearheading the campaign for such an authority, the most vocal critic of the present civic scenario, Brij Bedi of Citizen Forum felt that the corporation has outlived its utility as it has failed to meet the needs of the growing religious metropolis.

According to him, the ADA would oversee the working of the corporation, provide political and administrative input and lend financial support for running this city in a professional manner.

He suggested that an expert group should be engaged to give proper planning parameters for executing projects like solid waste management, garbage handling, management of large garbage collecting transport system, checking the defacement of the city with obscene poster and graffiti which have become an eyesore.

He suggested a special cell should be set up under the ADA for the restoration and preservation of heritage sites which were presently in the process of gradual process of decay through out the city and in the periphery of this historic town.

Listing the priorities for the ADA, Bedi said it must have the executive and magisterial powers to immediate remove all the encroachments from the public properties and maintain a proper check of ruination of green areas which were necessary to provide clean lungs to the people of the city.

He suggested that the government must provide adequate fund corpus to finance various development projects and the running of the ADA should be handed over to management experts, engineers and urban development architects.

Dwelling at length about his dream concept of ADA, Sidhu said that he proposed to work out a comprehensive framework for setting up a unified command which would oversee the working of the urban development authority, the municipal corporation and other similar allied organisations connected with running the city and its civic amenities.

Describing the holy city as a Mecca of Sikhs comparable to Vatican of Rome, the headquarters of Catholic Mission, Sidhu said that the city at an average gets two to three lakhs floating population and it goes up manifolds during the Sankrant, Gurpurb, Prakash Utsav and the occasions of Diwali and Baisakhi besides centenary celebrations connected with the Sikh gurus. He said the present infrastructure was too inadequate and requires a complete makeover with modern transportation system, roads, over bridges, water, power and sewerage system to cope up with the growing pressure of ever increasing population besides daily visitors to the city.

Sidhu said that he plans to develop a vision paper for short and long term planning and would prepare the document for 5, 10, 20 and 50 years hence so that proper development projects keeping in view the needs of the people could be produced and the document would ensure that it would be properly implemented.

He said that funds would not be a problem as he would work on public-private participation in three dimensional modes suitable for the city. He said that he foresees religious tourists charter flights to land soon at the Amritsar International Airport which would emerge as a major hub for the business and commercial activities.

The BJP MP strongly believed that the economic growth of the city on the GDP of the region was in direct proportion to the growth of the airport in the vicinity of the city. He said that more than one third of international passengers using the Indira Gandhi International Airport have their roots in Punjab and it was very important to further develop the airport with a vision to make it one of the major destinations of northern India.

He further felt that the city requires excellent tourist infrastructure with starred and un-starred hotels, tourist information centers at railway station, bus stand, airport and the Wagah Joint Check Post on the Indo-Pak border.

He said that city and around was replete with Sikh history and various historic Sikh Gurudwaras dot the surrounding of the holy city which could become a major attraction for Sikh pilgrims and package tour can be arranged for them to pay obeisance at these places of worship. He said that he would strongly favour the setting up of visa centres at the Wagah Check post in India and Pakistan for facilitating the visit of tourists across the border.

Main proponents of the ADA are Gunbir Singh of the CII and Dr Surinder Singh Sandhu. As per Gunbir Singh, the authority should be an empowered committee to oversee the functioning of the various wings which administer the city. He said that the main role of the authority should be to draw out a fool proof vision paper with practical perceptions and easily implementable taking the views of the various segments of the people.

Gunbir said that it should replicate the concept which had successful moorings as Bangalore Developmental Authority which had been able to come up to the expectations of the people there.Meanwhile, Dr Surinder Singh Sandhu favored the authority to have executive powers to look into the myriad problem which the ADA may encounter while undertaking many developmental projects.

He said that authority must have brief financial autonomy with professional running the show. He said that the ADA should be a multi-dimensional committee with experts from every segment to run the authority. Ranjit Sandhu, who had been in the forefront and strong votary for setting up ADA initially, said that many different agencies working at cross purpose and overlapping each other’s administrative authority which were leading to chaotic condition.

He felt that the time has come that unified one window administrative set up which would have complete powers to initiate development projects and emerge as the model city in the country. A leading social activist Kamal Uppal felt that the concept of ADA initiated by Sidhu seems to be the only ray of hope for this city under decay. She said that a lot of promises have been made during last many years but nothing has been done to uplift the city from its deep morass.



Govt loosens purse strings for medical college

Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, May 1
Government has taken a principle stand to restore the pristine glory of the 75-year- old and one of the finest government medical institutions in the country.

Stating this, Manpreet Singh Badal, state finance minister, who has taken a day off to personally inspect the prestigious institute here recently assured that funds would not be a constraint to fulfil the long standing need of the college.

Expressing his personal dismay and concern over the deteriorating condition of pillar of medical education in the country, Badal said that he had specially come to personally interact with the medical luminary and look into the shattered infrastructure of the institution.

He pointed out that this was a pre-budget exercise so that adequate allocation of funds could be provided at shortest possible time to uplift the shagging morale of the medical fraternity.

Badal while interacting with the media said that as finance minister he would draw out a short term and long term financial package and his immediate concern would be to provide adequate teaching faculty, equipment and other necessary gadgetry so that the threat of Medical Council of India to derecognize the one of the oldest medical collage would be avoided with immediate effect.

He said that the funds would start flowing from first of July and he would also ensure that its proper utilization is undertaken under the project revival.

He said that he was worried and concerned about the decay which had brought disrepute to the institute would once flourish and would become a backbone of medical facility in the state. During his visit to the college he found ill equipped laboratories, library, Operation theatre, OPD and the wards. In his interaction with the doctors manning the medical college to prepare a contingency plan keeping in view the dire need of the institution so that funds could be allocated immediately and its proper utilization was undertaken on war footing.

Talking about the priorities of the Punjab government in the first ever budge presentation in June, Badal said the government would accord its top level allocation to medical health and education which the state government is committed to give to the people.

Questioned about the availability of funds for these priority social projects Badal hasten to add that he would rather eat grass for the sake development of the state.

The government was committed to give the people all the social welfare measures as committed in the election manifesto.

He said as finance minister he had already launched a pre-budget exercise and was personally visiting each and every department soliciting their views about its ‘wish list’ and he would accordingly provide funds in the best interest of the government. He said that he would visit other medical institutions and universities seeking first hand information about their funding of their infrastructure for providing quality higher education.

Badal said that the state government would also take funds from various central government schemes to increase its funds.



Punjab veggies pamper taste buds of Brits
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 1
The dishes in the United Kingdom are getting more and more Indian flavours. This fact is established after learning that items such as baby corn, sugar snaps, snow peas and okhra from Punjab are increasingly finding their place in continental dishes in the oldest empire.

These items are being exported from all over Punjab to the United Kingdom.

The hub of all this export activity is the Amritsar international airport where tones of these products, brought from all over the state, are packaged at the perishable cargo centre run by the council for value added horticulture in Punjab.

According to Sanjay Budhiraj, deputy chief executive officer and in charge of the cargo centre, these commodities are a big hit with the British who relish these Indian ingredients in the soups, continental cuisine and even some Chinese recipes much more than the local varieties.

The cargo centre became functional on May 1, 2006 and the first consignment of vegetables was sent to the United Kingdom by an Air India flight on July 27 last year.

Field fresh, a Ludhiana-based company, which specialises in export of okhra, a variety of lady finger, green chillies and baby corn, was the pioneer company in the export of perishable vegetables from this centre. Soon to join in the exports were Namdhari Seeds, a Bangalore-based company which operates in parts of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh exporting snow peas, sugar snaps and baby corn.

Ran Raj farm is another regular exporter of snow peas through the perishable cargo centre, a Government of Punjab undertaking.

Budhiraj says that till date the centre had handled 110 tonnes of perishables all of which has been exported to the UK. This year the volume of business was not up to expectations because of untimely rains and hailstorms in parts of Punjab which adversely affected the standing crops of these perishables.

He says that the exports have caught the fancy of a large number of reputed firms which are now evincing keen interest in exporting perishable vegetables. Negotiations, he says, are on with Ranbaxy for export of a host of pharmaceutical items.

Budhiraj says that the cargo centre is equipped with the state of the art equipment and nominal fee is charged for handling the cargo. He maintains that terminal, storage and processing charges at the Amritsar centre were nominal at 70 paise per kg on the net lot in comparison to the rate of rs 1.80 at the Delhi cargo centre.

The low charges are apparently an added attraction for the exporters who also find the geographical location of the centre more convenient compared to Delhi.

He says that the Jet Airways has been the only airline which has handled this cargo to the UK and Ranbaxy is the first company keen on engaging Singapore airlines for airlifting its cargo.

Baby corn is almost always sweet corn, harvested just as it has begun to develop. Many farmers produce baby corn from standard varieties as well. Growing, harvesting, and preparing baby corn for export requires a great amount of hand labor because successful production requires a high level of attention and is not well suited to mechanical agricultural techniques.

Production of baby corn varies by region but generally is divided into either production that is focused on baby corn alone, or production that is based on baby corn but also yields a secondary crop of other corn products. Thai production usually falls into the latter category; Thai growers harvest the highest-quality ears in immature form and sell them as baby corn. Lesser-quality ears are allowed to mature and are then sold mainly as animal feed.

Budhiraj said that he recently met the director of horticulture of Jammu and Kashmir and he was pleasantly surprised when told that exporters did not need to go all the way to Delhi for export of perishable items. He sounded optimistic that there could be business coming from J-K as also adjoining Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

He said that citrus fruits could be the next item that has huge potential in the international market.

Fresh peas are often eaten boiled and flavored with butter. Salt is also commonly added to peas when served. Fresh peas are also used in pot pies, salads and casseroles. Pod peas (particularly sweet cultivars called mangetout and sugar peas, or the flatter snow peas are used in stir fried dishes, particularly those in American Chinese cuosines. Pea pods do not keep well once picked, and if not used quickly are best preserved by drying, canning and freezing within a few hours of harvest, says an exporter.

Dried peas are often made into a soup or simply eaten on their own. In Japan and other Southeast Asian countries, the peas are roasted and salted, and eaten as snacks. In the UK, marrowfat peas are used to make pease pudding, a traditional dish. In North America a similarly traditional dish is split pea soup, he adds.



Sarpanch, 4 others in police net
P K Jaiswar

Amritsar, May 1
The special narcotics cell, Punjab, has arrested five persons including a sarpanch of Chak Pandori village involved in drug trafficking, arms and fake currency smuggling from across the border.

Accused identified as Baldev Singh, the sarpanch of Manj village, Kashmir Singh alias Matta, Balwinder Singh and Persan Singh of Chak Pandori and Gursahib Singh of Makhan Pura was waiting for a person to deliver the consignment when they were arrested with the contraband.

The cell recovered 700 grams of heroin, two Chinese pistols (.30 bore), four magazines, 20 live cartridges and Rs 12,000 fake currency of Rs 1000, 500 and 100 denominations. A case under Section 21/ 61/85 under the NDPS Act, 489-A,B,C of the IPC and 25/54/59 the Arms Act at the Lopoke police station falling under Majitha police district here.

Jasbir Singh, inspector, said that Kashmir Singh was close associate of notorious Indo-Pak smuggler, Sarwan Singh alias Samma of Chak Pandori who was arrested with one kilogram heroin and fake currency worth Rs one lakh last year and currently was in jail.

He said the cell acting on a tip off constituted police parties and nabbed the accused near Kohali Bridge on Chogawan road where they were waiting for a person to deliver the contraband.

However, the cell is still investigating to whom it was to be delivered. He said the accused had dug out the illegal imports from Pakistan near the village where it was hidden.



Banned drugs seized from store
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 1
After seizing major haul of banned drugs, the health department along with the police has seized another major haul of intoxicant drugs from a medical store in Rani Bazaar, Sharifpura area in front of the bus stand here.

As many as 53,000 capsules and other tables namely Microlit, Lomotil, Nitraz Palm, Sobimol, Miclet Parvon Spas and Proxywon, were being sold without license and without any other document in the Sagar medical store.

The owner of the medical store was not present when the drug inspector and police team raided the shop. The police caught Ravinder, a worker of the store. A case has been registered against the accused under NDPS Act at A Division police station here.

The health team got the information that the store owner had taken a house on rent in new Tehsilpura area. The team raided the house and seized the contraband. According to reports the health team found 134 different types of medicines including capsules, injections, intoxicants used for addiction. The team also found medicines with ‘not for sale’ seals.

Rajesh Suri, drug inspector, said that the all the drugs found from the store and the house were illegal. He claimed that this was for the first time that such huge quantity of drugs meant for government hospitals had been seized.



Move to exempt langar ration from VAT hailed
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 1
The Durgiana managing committee (DMC) has hailed the decision of the state government to exempt value added tax (VAT) on the raw material and ration items used for ‘Langar’ (community kitchen) prepared in the Durgiana temple complex.

Expressing his gratitude to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for exemption of VAT Harish Taneja, joint secretary talking to the Tribune said that with this they would be able to speed up the gold plating of the temple as they would now be able to save considerable amount due to exemption in VAT.

It is pertinent to mention here that Badal today has directed the excise and taxation department to grant exemption of VAT on the ration item and other materials used for the community kitchen in Durgiana temple on the pattern of exemption already granted to the Golden Temple.

The joint secretary DMC said that the committee led by Ram Parkash Chopra Patron, had met the Chief Minister today. He said president Harnam Dass Arora, secretaries Satpal Mahajan and Ramesh Sharma were among those present in the meeting held at Punjab Bhawan.

He said the Chief Minister has also asked the DGP to depute SSP to examine the feasibility of handing over the Police Chowki within the Durgiana complex as the site which would be used for constructing Dharamshala. The CM also asked the local government PIDB to put up a proposal for extension of elevated road project up to the Goal Bagh near Durgiana to facilitate the devotees for hassle free approach to the ancient shrine besides setting up of water treatment plant in holy sarovar (tank) in the shrine complex, he added.



‘Stipend must be exempted from IT’
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune news service

Amritsar, May 1
Taking up the cause of the non-PCMS junior resident medical students pursuing MD and MS courses in the medical college here, The Punjab Employees Rights Protection and Welfare Union of Amritsar have said that students’ stipend should not fall under income tax net.

According to B. R. Preenja, general secretary of the union, the medical college authorities here started deducting income tax from the stipend being paid to the medical students doing their post graduation after getting a clarification from the local income tax office.

The rationale behind the deduction is that the stipend is being treated as their salary.

Preenja said that the clarification given by the income tax officer, Amritsar, way back in 2003, was based on the judgment of the Madras High Court in the case of Dr Mahadev versus the commissioner of income tax (1990).

He said that ever since the medical post graduate students having been making representations that the stipend being paid to them was to meet their cost of education and was therefore exempt under Section 10 (16) of the Income Tax Act.

He said that their latest representation had been forwarded by the principal of the government medical college to the income tax officer, range V, for clear cut guidance.

Preenja said that there had been other decided cases wherein stipend paid to the post graduate students was held exempt under Section 10 (16) of the Income Tax Act, 1961.



DAV girl makes it to ‘Little Champs’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 1
As many as 367 students of local DAV Public School, who excelled in their respective sports fields and co-curricular achievements, were awarded prizes at the annual function here.

SSP Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh. called upon children to be the 'little guards' of society and help the police and law enforcing agencies not only in spreading awareness about obeying traffic rules and regulations but also informing about petty and other crime in their vicinity. The SSP inspired them to work with dedication in academics and participate actively in other activities of the school.

The function started with tributes to goddess Saraswati with lighting of traditional lamps. Principal Neera Sharma read out the annual report highlighting the achievement of the school.

Making them aware about the fresh initiatives taken by police, the SSP said "sealed complaint boxes" have been placed in all police stations for benefit of public grievances whose keys would be kept solely with him.

Besides this a special police helpline e-mail at [email protected] has been widely publicized for registering complaints and FIRs depending upon their authenticity. Earlier the Chief Guest released the school magazine "Gatha" to mark the occasion.

Meanwhile, Amandeep Singh of class 7th was awarded for being ranked 45th in Asia in Chess while Abhinav Dudeja was honored for being adjudged overall best swimmer in CBSE nationals this year and Ayush Mintri for achieving silver in (singles) Junior National level tournament in Lawn Tennis. In co-curricular activities Hargun Kaur (std VII ) was awarded for her selection in ‘Little Champs’ singing competition on Zee TV and second position in National level competition organized by 'Sur Sangam Kala , New Delhi. In the arts segment Tanushree Khanna was bestowed honour for not only her painting being selected for National level Painting competition but also for the same artwork being selected for display in renowned "Mistubishi Asian children ENIKKI Fiesta -2006-07" in Japan.



Develop good reading habits, students told
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 1
A talk on ‘Books-our constant companion’ was organised at Mahant Kaushal Dass DAV Public School, Neshta (Attari) to celebrate the World Book Day. The talk, which aimed at encouraging students to develop companionship with books, was delivered by Rajiv Arora.

On the occasion, students interacted with the principal and teachers. Motivating kids to develop good reading habits, Arora said, “Books introduce us to the world of wisdom, besides inspiring us to pursue our dreams with more eagerness.”

He said right education helps in identification of child’s hidden strengths and potential. “It gives him them a positive self image. Education has to be given top priority because it generates awareness which in turn leads to competence and confidence to overcome impediments. Through books, children get knowledge which steers them to enlightenment.”

The country is in dire need of enlightened, awakened and righteous youngsters, he said, adding that these spirited youth can restore the pristine glory of India.



Cultural bonanza mesmerises audience
Tribune news service

Amritsar, May 1
Students of Guru Nanak Dev DAV Public School, Bhikhiwind, presented a cultural bonanza and regaled the audiences with their “bhangra”, “giddha” and singing performances.

The occasion was a cultural festival to mark Baisakhi celebrations. The theme of the performances was Baisakhi and each performance had an underlying message highlighting the Baisakhi spirit.

School principal Yogesh Gambhir dwelt on the rich Punjabi heritage and the importance of historical Punjabi festivals. He recalled that Baisakhi had a special significance as it marked the end of harvesting of the wheat crop by the farming community.

Listing the achievements of the school students in different spheres, Gambhir said that two students, Navpreet Kaur and Manpreet Kaur, had scored 91 per cent marks in the Class X examination and had been given a special award by the Central Board of Secondary Education. The two girls had brought laurels for the school by bagging gold medals.



Chemist body says it won’t support traders
P K Jaiswar

Amritsar, May 1
Even as the district police have decided to tighten noose around the pharmaceutical units and chemist shops indulging in unauthorised selling of intoxicants and drugs, the wholesale dealers of Punjab and Amritsar chemist association have categorically decided not to support any such chemist shop owner selling drugs for reasons other than medical treatment.

They took a pledge that they would boycott any chemist shop which is found selling the drugs without prescription of doctors and proper bills. The association urged the chemists to restrain from such practices for mere gains and support the drive launched by the district police.

Surinder Duggal, additional secretary of Punjab chemist association said that at present there were about 25,000 chemists running their shops. He pointed out that the government has given permission to sell these drugs but the lack of control at the marketing level need to be checked properly.

The association suggested that the government must regulate the sale of these drugs through its own approved government outlets and should not be allowed to be sold openly at the chemist counters.

The association also cautioned the chemist shops not to sell these drugs without prescription and bills and maintain proper records. In the meanwhile the chemist association felt that the police was needlessly harassing the licensed drug stores in the state and suggested that it should desist from harassing the drug dealers otherwise they would be forced to launch an agitation against the police highhandedness.



Hope floats for lung, liver cancer patients
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, May 1
A leading radiologist Dr Atul Kapoor has provided a new cure for liver and lung cancer patients with the setting up of latest radio-frequency ablation therapy. Releasing, advance diagnostic an institute of imaging, first news letter in this region, Dr Kapoor said that it was for the first time that image guided therapuy had been launched for the patients suffering from kidney cancer lung cancer and patients suffering from osteoid osteoma (treatment of choice).

Dr Kapoor who had been selected as a member of the American society of Neuro-radiology during its annual meeting told the Tribune that this therapy was a very simple procedure and requires only one single sitting and effectively used across the world.

He said that the radio-frequency ablation is a minimal invasive treatment for cancer and is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

He said that the physicians were using radio-frequency ablation to treat hundreds of patients of liver and kidney tumors and patients suffering from bone cancer pains. Talking about the procedure Dr Kapoor said that a thin needle is inserted through the skin into a tumor guided by computer tomography, or in common language known as ultrasound. He said electrical energy delivered through the needle heats and destroys the tumor and in a small period of time dead cells turn into harmless scars. In most of the cases the tumor can be easily treated with one treatment session.



Janata Dal (S) to stage dharna at Jalandhar on May 31
Sanjay Bumbroo/Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 1
The Janata Dal (S) would hold a dharna at Company Bagh in Jalandhar on May 31 to expose the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for its involvement in human trafficking in 2001.

Stating this to the media Balwant Singh Khehra, member national executive JD(S) said that they would also demand from the state government Rs 3 lakh as compensation for the families of victims of Malta Boat Tragedy in which various youths from Punjab had lost their lives.

He said they would also urge the state government to provide wheat and pulses at cheaper rates to poor people as promised to them during recent assembly elections in the state.

Lashing out at Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief, for trying to promote his son Sukhbir Badal as the next chief minister of the state, Khehra said that the Akali Dal supremo had been befooling the people of the state by using the religious platform for fulfilling his political aspirations.

He said they had already filed a writ petition with the Election Commission for debarring the SAD from contesting the elections and using its party symbol for using the religious platforms.

Khehra said that they have formed Punjab Vikas Manch (PVM), a non-political organisation with Rattan Singh Bagi as its president.

He said the PVM would try to fulfill the dreams of Lok Nayak late Jaypraksh Narayan who was against the participation of the political parties in the elections to the local bodies. He said the Manch would put its candidates in the forthcoming municipal corporations in the state.

He said they would seek support from likeminded parties to project people’s candidates, who could defeat the candidates of the Congress and the SAD-BJP combine as the political parties in the state have become irrelevant.



Atta-Dal list: Govt to keep tabs on beneficiaries
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 1
Prof Rajinder Kumar Bhandari, state BJP chief, said the alliance partners in the state would closely monitor the prospective beneficiary list of blow poverty line for atta and dal distribution system.

Prof Bhandari said that the coordination committee monitoring the functioning of the government had a four hour long meeting at Chandigarh recently which deliberated at length the progress of identifying the poor families in the state.



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