‘Honeymoon wives’ turn to airport authorities for help
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 15
Having strong apprehensions that their NRI husbands might never return, newly wed girls of the region, with no alternative left to save their marriage, have thought of writing to the airport authorities for help.

The situation can be gauged from the fact that the authorities at the Rajasansi international airport are receiving around dozen letters every month. The letters carry desperate pleas from wives of the NRI grooms, asking the airport authorities to hold back their husbands from flying away to foreign shores. However, since there is no legal provision to do so, the airport authorities can only sympathise with such girls.

Airport director Arun Talwar said his office receives about a dozen such letters every month, which are either written by girls married to NRIs or their family members, who are apprehensive that the boy might leave her behind forever.

“Since we cannot act on these letters, we forward them to the grievance section of the airport or to the immigration department to find out if there is any crucial information about the persons flying abroad,” he says.

The immigration officials say, “If a passenger is possessing valid and legal papers, there is no way he can be stopped, even if he is suspected to break his marriage and leave behind his wife”.

In one such letter, the girl said her husband, to whom she got married a year ago, has been offered a job in Australia and is planning to settle there. “However, since he has not informed my family about his plans, it amounts to a breach of the trust and therefore he should not be allowed to board the flight,” says the letter.

“In Punjab the trend of girls getting married to NRIs has gone up in the recent years. In many such cases, the arrangement has not worked out. At a seminar organised by the Department of Women Studies of Panjab University, many such girls narrated their tales of woes. “These NRIs should rather 

be termed as non- reliable Indians,” said a Professor at GND University.

The Rajasansi Airport is already offering international flights to Europe, the Middle-East, America, Birmingham, London, Bratislava, Kabul, Dubai, Sharjah, Ashgabat, Tashkant and Moscow. On the domestic circuit, the Amritsar airport is linked to Delhi. Various airlines have expressed interest to start more flights both on the international and domestic destinations and some agreement is expected to materialise soon.

The passenger traffic at Amritsar has seen tremendous growth in recent years, from 12,000 passengers in 2000-01 to 1,12,000 in 2001-02. Last year saw an increase of 40 per cent of international and domestic passengers at the airport. While the number of international passengers swelled to 4, 09,166 the domestic circuit saw 77,974 passengers flying on the nine airlines offering their services during 2006.

“The airport is developing at a fast pace and air passengers from the region can look forward to better facilities once the expansion plan is implemented over a period of 7-8 months. There are already 10 departures per day, which include eight international and two domestic flights,” he said.



Forest dept launches ‘green city’ campaign
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, June 15
“Land banks,” each comprising a large track of land, will be offered to NGOs and corporate houses for the plantation of saplings and their subsequent maintenance for a period of three years, which can be extended for longer period.

Divisional forest officer Nirmaljit Singh Randhawa said several “land banks” had been carved out of the vacant land made available by the local self-government in the vicinity of the city to go in for a large-scale afforestation for providing the necessary green lungs to the city.

He said the department, in collaboration with the district administration, the municipal corporation and the improvement trust, had launched a major “green clean” of the holy city project.

Randhawa said the government had sought the support of industrial houses, educational institutions, banks and individuals for signing an expression of interest agreement for executing the major plantation project.

BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, who had masterminded the greening concept, has offered to set up a corpus with his own savings for funding the project. A comprehensive plan has already been prepared by experts of landscaping, who have envisaged the planting of more than 2.72 lakh saplings.



Govt urged to make city smoke-free
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 15
The Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM), an NGO, has urged the Punjab Government to make Amritsar India’s first smoke-free city.

Dr Charanjit Singh Gumtala, in a missive to Chief Minster Parkash Singh Badal, said the Chandigarh Administration was working to get the city declared smoke-free by July 1.

He said as per the plan, Chandigarh would have designated smoking areas at all public places and buildings to ensure that smoking was restricted and the general public was not forced to inhale smoke passively.

Dr Gumtala said Amritsar deserved this status because this is a holy city and also known as the Mecca of Sikhs where Guru Granth Sahib was written.

He said the holy Sikh scripture preaches against the habit of smoking.

Keeping in mind the importance of the holy city, cigarette and meat shops were banned around the 200-metre periphery of the Golden Temple by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1982.

The AVM patron said, besides protecting children and other citizens from the harmful consequences of tobacco and smoking, such an initiative would improve the global image of Amritsar and would help in promoting tourism and business in the city.



GND varsity scholarships for 69 students
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 15
Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) is committed to provide financial assistance in the form of scholarships, fellowships and awards to the poor, needy and intelligent students to pursue their higher education, said vice-chancellor Dr Jai Rup Singh.

He was addressing the South Asian Foundation (SAF) scholarships of recipients of various Associate Institutes of Distance Education of the GNDU organised in association with SAF-Madanjit Singh Scholarship Foundation, New Delhi.

He said the students having strong will and determination blended with hard work have always achieved respectable and honorable place in the society.

A total number of 69 students hailing from various associate institutes of the university located at Bathinda, Batala, Dinanagar, Jandiala Guru, Gurdaspur, Phagwara, Jalandhar and Nikke Ghumman were presented the cheque of an amount of Rs 4500 each as scholarship.

Dr Singh said education is becoming very expensive day by day and is out of reach of the common man. He said the university has its own limitations to reduce its fee structure as the state government is providing only 15 per cent as financial assistance of its total budgetary expenses. He said remaining 85 per cent of total budget has to be arranged by the university by its own resources.

The vice-chancellor said the university is always keen to encourage and help the poor, needy and intelligent students by providing them scholarships, fellowships and awards received from various NGOs and other funding agencies.

He disclosed the university has already contacting some alumni's of the university who are presently occupying respectable status in the society through their 
hard work. 



‘Link education with industry, commerce’
P.K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, June 15
Academic institutions are entrusted with the responsibility of imparting skills and knowledge to students, which is necessary for the progress of society. However, academia alone cannot discharge this responsibility.

Industry and business, which employ the product of educational system, equally share this responsibility. The mismatch in skills required to be successful in business and industry and what is acquired in the school system is partially responsible for under or unemployment of the youth.

Many countries, such as Canada, have addressed this issue by instituting cooperation programmes in schools and colleges and by formalising engagement between business and academia.

As part of the formal education, schools and colleges have developed cooperation programmes whereby students are encouraged and supported in spending a term/semester in business to learn the requirements of the real world.

It also helps business to select the right candidates. Furthermore, advisory committees have been formed in colleges to engage business leaders in making the curriculum relevant to the market place.

These views were expressed by Jasbir Singh Hanspal, technical director of the Bank of Montreal, Canada, while addressing the teachers attending a summer vacation seminar in Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Mahan Singh Road.



Adolescent education for school kids 
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 15
In order to equip students with better knowledge on adolescence period, an adolescent education and HIV/AIDS awareness programme was organised at DAV Public School premises recently.

Dr Gaurav Thukral, SMO and critical care specialist at Fortis Hospital, Amritsar and alumni of DAV Public School Amritsar organised training sessions in the school premises in which more than 1,700 students from 9th to 12th standard and about 300 teachers, from five DAV schools, participated in the programme.

The programme was carried out in 15 sessions. Dr Gaurav conducted a survey about the preliminary knowledge of students through a questionnaire. The survey revealed that they have major misconceptions about their sexuality. The critical care specialist was able to settle 80 to 90 per cent doubts during the discussions.

DAV principal Neera Sharma, said presently CBSE has made adolescent education mandatory in schools and Dr Gaurav’s sessions were the first stepping stone in this regard. Two of the senior school teachers are scheduled to attend training for the same by the CBSE.

Dr Gaurav said he would be visiting the school every month as a counsellor on honorary basis. He said other schools of the holy city have also approached him for conducting similar sessions. He said he was thankful to his alma mater and Fortis to be able to give back something to his own city. Dr Gaurav was formally trained as Peer Educator by Modicare Foundation Delhi and was instrumental in spreading awareness to thousands of youngsters in Chandigarh.

Under the guidance of Dr Sonia Trikha, Director Union Territory State AIDS Control Society, he also conducted sessions in Panjab University, Punjab Engineering College and many other school and colleges in Chandigarh. He is also a resource person for adolescent education programme by the CBSE.



‘More awareness needed on VAT’
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 15
The Punjab government must hold conferences, debates, discussions on weaknesses of the VAT Act and difficulties faced by the trading community, on the lines of Delhi government. Besides, it must open a large number of customer, tax payer care centers to spread legal knowledge.

Stating this Dr Naveen Rattan, said earlier the trading community was subjected to Punjab General Sales Tax Act and was quite familiar to its provisions but the new VAT is difficult to understand, he added. Rattan has been elected president, Sales Tax Practitioners Association (STPA), Amritsar, unanimously for the year 2007-08.

Dr Rattan is a practising taxation lawyer for the past two decades. He has been elected president for the second time and is the first person to do a Ph.D on Sale Tax in India, he claims. His lecture on Value Added Tax in the All India VAT Conference in New Delhi in December 2006 was widely appreciated and since then he is a regular guest speaker in various VAT conferences organised at different places.

Dr Rattan said his main job as president will be to highlight the various shortcomings of Punjab VAT and spread awareness about its complicated provisions. He admitted that Punjab VAT Act is relatively a new form of the Sales Tax family.

VAT forms, returns, procedures, proceedings are beyond the understanding of not only traders but also for those who implement the law as tax officers, he said. As a result the compliance of law is an uphill task and his successful implementation can not be ensured unless legal awareness is imparted, he added.

He further pointed out that the compliance of Punjab VAT Act can be secured if the traditional mind of assesses, assessing officers and tax consultants are changed. Every tax payer must come forward voluntarily to pay the full amount of tax due, he added. “They should understand that they are contributing towards the progress of the nation and hence avoid evasion of tax. The job of their tax Advocates is tremendous and cannot be underestimated. They should not fight for tax evaders or encourage taking penalty as a business loss and continue to commit offences against in the larger interest of society,” he said.



Indo-Pak artistes to stage Partition pain
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 15
The stage of Punjab Natshala would soon come alive with real life stories of partition narrated by artistes from India and Pakistan. An Indo-Pak theatre workshop with 15 artistes from Pakistan and 20 from different parts of India is being held in the city by Manch Rang Manch, in collaboration with the National School of Drama.

Kewal Dhaliwal, director, theatre workshops, Manch Rang Manch, said such workshops with participants from Pakistan have been organised for the past seven years. “The theme is 60 years of partition, which was a harrowing experience for people of both countries and left over 10 lakh innocents dead.

Artistes from both countries have picked real life stories of their grandfathers, which would be narrated in plays. The message is that a nightmarish thing like partition should never happen to any country,” said Dhaliwal.

Teachers from the National School of Drama are helping the artistes with their acting skills and martial arts. Two shows would be held at Punjab Natshala on July 4 and 5. “The play is yet to be named and whatever predominant feeling comes across would become the title,” he said.



Dhupia still in search of dream role
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 15
“I am in search of a dream role, which will project me as the person I am rather than being somebody else. A role, which is closer to my heart,” stated bollywood actor Neha Dhupia.

Dhupia was in the city to attend launch party of Flying Cats, an airhostess training school.

Giving tips to the students at the academy, Dhupia asked them to possess self-confidence, which was an important factor to get famous.

“Confidence and success come along with faith in your abilities,” said Dhupia.

“One should always strive to achieve more as it is the motivating factor to reach the highest peak in career, besides the secret of survival,” she added.

“The presence of an international airport has provided a lot of opportunities for those in the aviation sector.

The students should make most of this opportunity by acquiring the skills needed in this sector,” said Dhupia.

Terming the visit to the holy city as homecoming, Dhupia said the girls from Punjab were far more beautiful and different from their counterparts in other states.

“Little confidence coupled with right training and these girls can beat anyone in Bollywood,” said Dhupia who wanted to join Indian Foreign Services.

Talking about the movies, Dhupia said films were mirror of society.

“However, the main aim of the movies would always be to entertain the public and give a new direction to the society,” she added. 



Sidhu’s plan - clubs can pay for Ram Bagh maintainence
Compromise formula ‘in offing’ on clubs in Ram Bagh
Sanjay Bumbroo and Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, June 15
To douse the raging controversy over the eviction orders passed by a former SDM to vacate the century-old clubs from the historic Ram Bagh Garden, BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu along with BJP MLA Anil Joshi and other leaders of the holy city have come out with an alternate proposition.

Principal secretary, cultural affairs and tourism, Geetika Kalha has invited the representatives of the club for detailed discussion with the managements to find an alternative to the eviction of clubs.

The managements of the clubs have prepared proper briefing to impress upon Kalha for the continuation of the clubs in the historic Ram Bagh Gardens as part of the heritage.

Sidhu had been camping in Chandigarh lobbying for permanent solution on the issue of the vacation of the clubs.

Sidhu has apprised Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Manoranjan Kalia and senior officials of the department of the local self government and from the department of tourism and culture of the matter as the latter had been strongly opposing the move of Sidhu.

The likely options Sidhu and his supporters would give to the members of the clubs include that the managements of the clubs would provide adequate funds for the maintenance of Ram Bagh and also its heritage.

According to sources, the lease of the clubs in lieu of their agreement would be extended by 30 years as per the resolution passed by the municipal corporation in November last year.

Sidhu would also discuss in detail with the members for the restoration of the old historical buildings and the club managements were likely to agree to the new proposals to save the clubs from eviction.

The clubs are part of the Amritsar heritage and have been in existence since 1908 when the Britishers had established firstly the Lumsden Club and later Amritsar Club and the Services Club.

According to the historical data available here, the British officers posted here had started using the portion of the Ram Bagh gardens immediately after the annexation of the Punjab province from the Sikh rulers.

It was known as smaller forest area, which was later extended by the British administration to protect it by raising boundary wall as a private secure place for the members of the club.

The clubs have continued to cater to more than 4,000 members served by 500 strong group of employees.

A senior octogenarian member, Y.P. Mehra, said the daily visit to the club had been his habit for the last many decades and had helped him in leading a quality life.

Many such old members, who visit the club with their families, have expressed similar sentiments.

The Archeological Survey of India and the department of tourism and culture had hardened their stand for the eviction of these clubs but Sidhu using his charm and persuasive powers managed to stall their axe on the clubs.

The department of archaeological survey had denotified the part of the historical Ram Bagh gardens for setting up Maharaja Ranjit Singh Panorama from the protected area of the garden.

The clubs have been pressing the government to denotify the club premises on the lines of the panorama.

The ensuing civic poll to be held in July has played a major role in the BJP taking a strong stand on the issue.

However, various NGOs who had been fighting for the eviction of the clubs said the government should consult them before taking any final decision in the matter.

SDM Vimal Kumar Setia, who had passed the eviction orders against all three clubs under the public premises act, has been transferred as the district transport officer.



Assurance to clubs flayed
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 15
Former MLA Satyapal Dang has objected to the political assurances given to members of the three clubs being run in Ram Bagh for their restoration in the summer palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

In a letter to deputy commissioner Kahn Singh Pannu, Dang said: “The three clubs are admittedly for the enjoyment of the elite and the rich classes of the city.

To the best of my knowledge, they pay very nominal fees. A consequence of this has been that the historic Ram Bagh too has become a preserve of the rich.”

“To the contention that the club members had been given an assurance by political leadership that the clubs are part of history and continue in Company Bagh, I would like to point out that the ‘crorepati cricketer-turned-politician’ alone does not constitute the political leadership of the party,” he added.

The clubs should go and the municipal corporation should find the means to develop Ram Bagh as a garden for the common man, at least the middle class to begin with, demanded Dang.



Rain ushers in water woes
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 15
A heavy downpour this week, a much-awaited respite from the scorching heat, has also brought with it problem of widespread water-logging in different parts of the city.

Posh areas like Lawrence Road, Madan Mohan Malviya Road, Court Road, Tej Nagar Chowk, McLeod Road and Putli Bai Chowk were filled with water,
giving commuters a hard time.

Commuters are in for a tough time during the forthcoming monsoon season. The faulty drainage has been exposed and residents say it cannot handle even brief showers.

Even the posh areas like Lawrence Road, Madan Mohan Malviya Road, Court Road, Tej Nagar Chowk, McLeod Road and Putli Bai Chowk were filled with water, giving commuters a hard time.

“Rains on Thursday night filled the low-lying roads in our locality with water and I had a nightmarish experience going to office this morning. Bigger vehicles passing by splashed mud and slush on scooterists,” says Rajiv Bhatia, an LIC agent, who lives in Tej Nagar.”

“The situation is likely to worsen when the monsoons actually begin. The municipal corporation should repair the drainage system in time so that commuters are not put to unnecessary inconvenience.

The authorities should take a cue from the water-logging in different parts of the city,” says Praveen Kumar, a businessman on Batala Road.

“It is the responsibility of the councillors concerned to provide a list of the affected areas to the MC authorities for repair of the drainage system.

The other day, my son reached school with water filled in his shoes and even schoolbag. These problems should not be faced in a big city like Amritsar which has a relatively wealthy corporation,” chips in the manager of a nationalised bank.



Health dept to issue licence for selling eatables
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 15
The health department has asked the shopkeepers and vendors involved in selling and storing of any type of eatables to take licence from the department for the year 2007-08 instead of the municipal corporation by June 30.

The licence fee for dairy owners and ice-cream makers, sweet shops and fast food is fixed at Rs 10,000, Rs 2,000 and Rs 5,000, respectively, while Rs 1,000 had been fixed as licence fee for fruit juice and grocery shop.The wholesalers of these items could procure the licence by depositing Rs 8,000. The tea vendors were also required to take licence by depositing Rs 500 as licence fee. — Civil surgeon

In a press note, Civil surgeon Dr Lehmber Singh said as per the notification issued by the state government in 2004, the rights of issuing licence of the PFA were exclusively entrusted with the department and not with the corporation.

Giving the details, he said all wholesale and retail shopkeepers, including dairy owners selling milk and milk products, fast food, sweet shops, vegetable vendors, grocery stores, were required to have the licence as per the notification.

He said the licence fee for dairy owners and ice-cream makers, sweet shops and fast food was fixed at Rs 10,000, Rs 2,000 and Rs 5,000, respectively, while Rs 1,000 had been fixed as licence fee for fruit juice and grocery shop.

The wholesalers of these items could procure the licence by depositing Rs 8,000.

The tea vendors were also required to take licence by depositing Rs 500 as licence fee.

The civil surgeon added that the shopkeepers had to renew the licence next year also by depositing the requisite fee.

He said in case any shopkeeper failed to take the licence in the prescribed period, action would be initiated against him and he would not be allowed to sell food items.



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