Tourists lap up free bus service to Golden Temple
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 18
With the district administration launching a crackdown on autorickshaws in the vicinity of the Golden Temple, the free bus service run by the SGPC from railway station to the Golden Temple is drawing even more crowds.

Even as passengers arriving at Amritsar railway station take no time to get on an autorickshaw or cycle-rickshaw, one group of tourists can be seen patiently waiting for the bus during any part of the day.

Over the years, the bus service has become a hit with tourists who want to head straight to the Golden Temple to pay obeisance. Two buses provided by the SGPC shuttle between the railway station, the Golden Temple and the inter-state bus terminus every half an hour.

The first bus arrives at the railway station at 4.20 am and the free service is available till 9 pm.

Lakhwinder Singh, in charge of the counter put up at the railway station, tells us that the mini-buses usually ply packed with passengers. “Many of them are foreigner tourists and devotees from far-off states, thanks to the mention of the free bus service in the latest editions of many tourist guides,” he says.

“On the way back from the Golden Temple, the bus also stops at the bus stand before coming to the railway station. It takes about 15 minutes to reach the Golden Temple. About 50 passengers are on the buses in every round,” he says.

The popularity of the bus service, launched about seven years back with Bibi Jagir Kaur as the SGPC chief, has grown over the years. With private transporters charging exorbitantly for ferrying passengers, the bus service has been widely appreciated by devotees from all parts of the country.

The district administration has banned entry of autorickshaws during peak hours after a recent survey conducted by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) blamed the rising pollution level in the environs of the Golden Temple on autorickshaws and other diesel-run vehicles.

Pratap Randhawa, a tourist from Ambala says: “After getting down from the train, I asked an auto driver if he would take me straight to the Golden Temple. I was told that I would have to alight a little before the shrine.

Then one of my fellow passengers told me about the bus service which takes pilgrims up to the Golden Temple, that too free. The frequency of the service is also good.”



Hypertension reaches a new high of 66 million
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 18
Hypertension or high blood pressure is one common ailment in adults. It is estimated that more than 10 million people may have high blood pressure but are unaware of their illness. As per research conducted in India, about 25 per cent adults in cities and 10 per cent in rural areas suffer from hypertension. The overall incidence of hypertension in India is estimated to be 66 million.

This was pointed out by Dr Sanjeev Mahajan, assistant professor, Department of Community Medicine, Guru Ram Das Hospital, on the occasion of World Hypertension Day on May 17. He delivered a talk on the emerging concerns about hypertension in India.

He said blood pressure is the force of blood against the blood vessel walls and hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. A person is hypertensive when his blood pressure increases about the average normal level of 120/80 mm Hg to 140/90 mm Hg or higher. Hypertension is known as a silent killer as usually there are no clear warnings in form of symptoms.

Hypertension is the leading cause of stroke and heart attack. It is known to result in damage of organs such as blood vessels, brain, eyes and kidneys, including the heart.

Hypertension is more likely in those with a family history of high blood pressure, heart diseases, diabetes, those over 50 years, overweight, excessive intake of salt and alcohol, smoking and following a stressful lifestyle. Treatment of hypertension mainly involves lifestyle modification and drug therapy. Lifestyle modification, being the key to maintaining normal blood pressure includes regular exercises, bringing smoking and drinking, under control.

“Drug therapy is often incorporated if the patient does not respond to lifestyle measures or because of the severity of the condition. Every hypertensive patient must take blood pressure medications regularly and visit a doctor for regular blood pressure check up. Patients should not discontinue. Their medication without consulting their doctor as abrupt withdrawal can be harmful,” he said.



On anvil: Facelift for Jallianwala Bagh
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 18
An action plan has been chalked out by the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust (JBNMT) for the beatification, cleanliness and renovation of the memorial site to develop it as a world class monument.

A meeting to this effect was held in New Delhi recently under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. Prominent amongst others who were present in the meeting included Chief Minister Punjab Parkash Singh Badal, Union Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs Ambika Soni, Governor of Punjab Lt Gen S.F. Rodriguez, former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, veteran Congress leader and former Punjab minister Umrao Singh besides the members of the JBNMT.

In order to familiarise the tourists with the various facets of the April 13, 1919 tragedy in which hundreds of people lost their lives, the meeting also decided to start light and sound programme every day in the evening at the earliest besides the videos and CDs of the proposed light and sound show to be organised at Jallianwala Bagh Memorial should be made available through out the country as part of awareness campaign.

The meeting also decided to hand over certain adjoining buildings to JBNMT by Improvement Trust Amritsar for the expansion and beautification of the memorial. The Chief Minister also agreed to raise some portions of the outer wall of the Jallianwala Bagh memorial besides taking corrective measures to immediately check the high level of pollution in the ambient air in the periphery of memorial were also deliberated upon.

The members also decided to set up a mini library, museum and art gallery besides installing life size painting/photo of Jallianwala Bagh massacre at the proposed museum and other national museums and the Parliament Bhawan for instilling feeling of patriotism and nationalism amongst the younger generations.

It was also opined to regularly hold national level seminars/symposium on the historic day of Jallianwala Bagh tragedy.

Raising the demand for the reconstitution of the managing committee of the JBNMT, the Chief Minister had recommended that the names of the local Members of Parliament from Amritsar district and President Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee should be included in the managing committee.

It is pertinent to mention here that in the 1991 the central government headed by former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao had promised to sanction Rs 3 crore for the development and beautification of the park in the memory of the martyrs. But the government has not spent a single penny from the sanctioned amount that is lying around in some bank.

Even as whopping grant of Rs 2.5 crore was received for it in 1998, it was alleged that a part of the sum was allegedly ‘misused’ while the rest lay un-utilised.

The money was sanctioned for installing a son-et-lumiere (light and sound) at Jallianwala Bagh and expansion and repairs of the national memorial besides maintenance of its gardens and open spaces.

The son-et-lumiere was proposed by Maninderjit Singh Bitta, the then president of Indian Youth Congress to the then Prime Minister, Rao, who had even sent a jatha of 300 youth Congress leaders to Andaman and Nicobar Island for spot survey of impressive light and sound programme installed there. However, the concerned authorities failed to take appropriate action to implement the decision.

Earlier the municipal corporation as a facilitator of Trust had taken upon itself the task to clean, beautify and augment drinking water supply at the historic site. Under this plan the MC has contacted experts from Guru Nanak Dev University  to draw plans on water supply in congruence with the historic architecture of the place.

The bloodshed of hundreds of innocent men, women and children on that fateful day, shook the conscience of even the imperious British, one of whose army general ordered the mindless firing on an unarmed crowd, trapped in a partly enclosed ground. Many in Britain demanded action against the man responsible for the massacre, Brigadier General Reginald Edward Harry Dyer.



No one gives a damn to this historic ‘sarai’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 18
Even though Punjab government has decided to convert heritage “havelis” and monuments into heritage hotels like it has already done in states like Kerala, Gujarat and Rajasthan, many historic buildings in Amritsar are crying for care.

One such over 150-year-old structure is Sarai Sant Ram located outside Hall Gate, which has become a haven for encroachers. With no government department making any effort to preserve the “sarai”, large portions of the heritage building have already collapsed. The main gate of the “sarai” has been pulled down to make trucks pass through it and the remaining structure has developed cracks. A pond, which was an integral part of the “sarai” has been filled up to construct shops.

Ram Pal of Rohtak District Transport Cooperation Society Limited, which has its office inside the main gate of the Sarai Sant Ram, said it was believed that the structure was built more than 150 years back as a rest house (sarai) for traders coming to Amritsar.

“At that time, the entire population lived within the walled city and the ‘sarai’, Circuit House and District Courts were the only structures located outside the 12 gates of Amritsar city. It is said traders from adjoining cities used to come to Amritsar, which was a commercial hub, on horses. The horses were provided water from the pond. The traders would stay here for the night and head home early morning,” he said.

“When we shifted here soon after partition, people would tell us that the ‘sarai’ was built by a landlord, Sant Ram. Since he had no heirs, the property was inherited by his accountant who was his namesake. His next two generations kept collecting rent from the shopkeepers for some time but eventually sold off most of the property,” he added.

Those who have their shops inside the “sarai” premises point out that no effort has been made by the district administration to maintain the heritage building, which could have been developed as a window on the past, attracting tourists keen to know more about the holy city.

“This despite the fact that last month, secretary, public relations, tourism and cultural affairs, had declared that on the directions of Hira Singh Gabaria, tourism minister, Punjab, 100-year-old ancient heritage havelis, castles, forts and inns would be converted into hotels and as places of tourist importance. This would not only attract the tourists both from within and outside India but also highlight and depict many aspects of ancient cultural heritage of Punjab. The upward trend in the tourists arrivals would result in a substantial increase in the exchange earnings,” said Puri.



Social sciences course to open doors of opportunity
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 18
To help those aspiring to have a career in civil services, mass media, corporate sector or higher teaching and research, Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) has taken a lead in providing an innovative, integrated course in social sciences.

As part of its three year (six semesters) course after Plus Two, the students enrolling for the same would not only get a graduation (honours school) degree, but would also step out fully prepared to make it to professional courses.

The course has been specifically prepared to make it sought-after professional course which would prepare young students for various competitive examinations conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and the State Civil Services Commission.

In the course curriculum, adequate note has been taken of the syllabi of social sciences and comprehensive general studies course of various competitive examinations. The students would get elaborate exposure and training in communication skills-both written as well as oral - through elaborate discussion sessions, term paper writing, presentation and project report writing.

Besides courses in computers, the students would be exposed to academic challenges, which aim at tapping their potential to the fullest. The course is unique in terms of its scheme, content and pattern of instruction. Even the examination scheme and evaluation methods are different.

During their graduation period, students would not only get the chance to complete the entire syllabi of two optional papers for civil services but also learn about the six papers in general studies and essay writing. While in the traditional master’s degree level courses, students who prepare for civil services examination start thinking about the second optional, preparing for the general studies from scratch.

Dr Gurnam Singh, head, School of Social Sciences, said the success of the course can be gauged from the fact that from the very first batch, two students of the school have made it to top business schools of the country.



Pak delegates visit GNDU
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 18
A delegation from Pakistan led by renowned television artist Aysha Tasleem, publication consultant of National Council of Arts, Pakistan, visited Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) campus to explore the possibilities of promoting cultural and educational exchange programmes for mutual interests of the two neighbouring countries.

Aysha Tasleem and other delegations held discussions with GNDU Vice-Chancellor Dr Jai Rup Singh and other senior faculty members of the university and explored the possibility of closer cultural and educational cooperation between GNDU and reputed academic institutions of Pakistan.

Dr Jai Rup Singh said since GNDU is located close to the border, academic institutions of Pakistan can look at educational exchange programmes under which students, faculty and research scholars could go across the border to get more exposure.

Besides, joint seminars, talks, research projects and cultural programmes could be organised.

He told the delegation from Pakistan that GNDU is a leading university of the region, running a host of courses with state-of-the-art infrastructure.

The delegation took a round of the campus and also performed at the function organised by the GNDU students to welcome them at the Department of Music.



Dipin sings his way to ‘Star Voice of India’
Tribune News Service

Dipin Kumar Adhiwal auditions for the show along with music composer Aadesh Shrivastav.
Dipin Kumar Adhiwal auditions for the show along with music composer Aadesh Shrivastav. — A Tribune photograph

Amritsar, May 18
With both his parents trained vocalists, Dipin Kumar Adhiwal, a city lad was bound to enter the world of music with a bang.

His dream of performing in front of music icons like music directors Jatin-Lalit, singers Alka Yagnik, Abhijeet and Shaan came true when he auditioned for “Star Voice of India” show.

“I sang a semi-classical song 'More Saiyan' originally song by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

The very fact that I got to meet all these celebrities made it an experience worth cherishing. To add to it, I qualified for the show. The show would be starting on Star Plus from May 18,” he says.

“Five candidates each were selected from the six zones and the competition carries a cash prize of Rs 1 crore, besides a lavish flat,” he adds.

“I have won gold medicals for guitar playing twice and was awarded by actor Sunil Dutt and cricketer Azharuddin.

“I am getting classical training from Pandit Mani Prasad in Delhi and my parents run a music academy known as Natraj Sangeet Kala Kendra in Amritsar,” he says.

“Both my parents are trained vocalists and when I told this to the judges of the show, they too quipped that music was in my blood,” he smiles.



Diamond jewellery store opens
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 18
P.S Seth Sons Jewellers private limited launched Amritsar's first diamond jewellery store at the Mall Road that has been fully certified by the International Gemological Institute (IGI), the world's largest independent laboratory for testing and grading gemstones and fine jewellery.

Based on cut, carat, clarity & colour the diamond jewelry has been graded by highly trained IGI gemologists lending the ultimate stamp of assurance, quality and authenticity to these elegant and stylish jewelry pieces. Speaking on this occasion, Sandeep Seth, director of the showroom said, “our objective has always been to provide our customers with good quality diamond jewelry. With IGI certification, our clients will now have further authentication of the quality of our diamond jewelry. We are delighted that every piece of jewelry in our store will carry the internationally accepted IGI certification.”

The collection consists of traditional kundan jewelry, kundan diamond polki, antique jewelry, solid bangles, imported chains, navrattan jewelry and all the latest trendy styles.



Boom time for illegal kiosks
Tribune News Service

One such structure at the Railway Station entry point.
One such structure at the Railway Station entry point.

Amritsar, May 18
Taking advantage of the municipal corporation turning a blind eye to widespread encroachments in the city, several illegal kiosks have come up on the very entrance of the railway station.

Various social organisations have taken up the issue of encroachments but MC’s alarm bells are yet to ring. The latest addition is an illegal cigarette selling kiosk which has stationed itself on the main gate.

Brij Bedi, president of Citizens’ Welfare forum said the municipal corporation does not seem to be concerned about the growing encroachments in the city. The railway station, which should ideally be beautified to have a lasting first impression on visitors, seems to be in a state of neglect. “This issue has been raised several times but the municipal corporation seems to be standstill,” he said.



Gardener gets felicitated
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 18
Lifetime service award to its gardener was given by one of the prestigious clubs situated in Ram Bagh, the summer palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh here.

Recognising the services of gardener Muni Lal, who has put in more than 40 years of service in the club as a silent worker, the management of the Service Club headed by Dr A.L. Adlakha presented him a shawl, Rs 500 and a bouquet.



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