P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Ranjit Sagar Dam to become tourist hub: Badal
Rs 126-crore development plan for border areas

Tribune News Service

Pathankot, June 17
Recalling the days when he was housed in Katori Banga, a PWD rest house in Dhar area, during the Emergency, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal claimed that the area would soon be on the international map of tourism as the government had decided to develop Ranjit Sagar Dam into a tourist place.

The government has been making plans to rope in various tourism promotion agencies to develop Ranjit Sagar Dam area into a prime tourist hub, he said. The Chief Minister was addressing a gathering at a state-level function organised to celebrate the 468th birth anniversary of the great warrior Maharan Pratap here today. Badal said other wetlands, including Harike-Patan, Ropar, would also be tapped for their tourism potential.

He unveiled an ambitious Rs 126-crore plan for integrated development of border districts, including Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Ferozepur. Under the plan 18 blocks of the districts would be covered and Rs 7 crore would be spent on each block with regard to various development works.

The Chief Minister asked the MLAs to prepare a blueprint of the blocks falling within their Assembly constituencies so that the plan be implemented as soon as possible. He said special focus has been laid on upgrading of at least four schools, a civil hospital or community health centre, a veterinary hospital and a training centre or an ITI.

Emphasising the need to strengthen education and health sectors, the Chief Minister said adarsh schools, which are to be opened in each block, would provide free education to the needy and poor. He said 10,000 teachers would be recruited in this connection.

He said the state government had decided to celebrate the birth anniversary of Maharana Pratap every year as a state-level function. He also laid the foundation stone of a statue of Maharana Pratap near the inter-state bus stand. The Chief Minster was honoured with the Maharana Pratap Rashtriya Sanman by the Rajput Sabha.

Former Governor of Goa Bhanu Parkash Singh, Vikram Singh, all-India president of the Sanyukt Kshatriya Mahasangh, Raghubir Singh Sirohari, agriculture minister, Sucha Singh Langah, transport minister, Master Mohan Lal, Chaudhary Lal Singh, MP from Jammu and Kashmir were also present.


Insurance against SCANTY rain
Scheme launched for Patiala division farmers
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 17
The Cooperative Department has launched an insurance scheme, Barish Bima Yojna, for saving farmers from scanty rainfall. The scheme has been launched in cooperation with IFFCO-TOKYO insurance company.

Minister for cooperation Kanwaljit Singh formally launched the scheme for Patiala division at a function held here today.

He said the scheme was initially launched as a pilot project in Ludhiana district.

The farmers benefited from the scheme due to which the government had decided to launch it in other parts of the state also.

Under the scheme the prediction of rainfall by the Meteorological Department for various districts and zones of the state will be taken as a base.

If the rainfall is 30 per cent less than the prediction, the farmers would be compensated. The insurance would be provided just on the basis of lesser rain and not on the basis of damage to crop.

The farmers can get insurance against lesser rain through their respective cooperative societies. The societies will act as facilitators for farmers, who will have to pay a premium of 8.4 per cent on the total sum insured.

The minister stated that the turnover of the cooperatives stood at Rs 1,80,000 crore. For Patiala division it was Rs 66,800 crore. There were 16 lakh members of 6,644 cooperative societies in Patiala division.

S.K. Kedia, state head of IFFCO-TOKYO, was also present on the occasion.


47 years after, govt yet to fulfil Kairon’s dream
Fruits, vegetables worth Rs 70,000 crore wasted every year
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, June 17
The dreams of former Chief Minister (joint Punjab) Pratap Singh Kairon to declare this belt as a fruit zone has not been fulfilled by the state government for the past 47 years.

Due to this, fresh fruits and vegetables worth Rs 70,000 crore are going waste every year in this belt comprising Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Hoshiarpur and Jasur, a part of Himachal Pradesh.

Though 100 farmers of this belt have constituted a society, Pathankot fruit and vegetables cooperative society, by bringing 3,500 to 4,000 acres under horticulture, yet they are facing difficulty in exporting their produce. These farmers have failed to compete in the international market and bring the state on the international map of fruit-producing nations.

The successive state governments in the past 47 years have failed to take up the issue of crop diversification seriously and forced the farmers to live on their own mercy.

Talking to The Tribune, society president R.K. Mahajan said: “Though India is the world’s largest fruit and vegetable-growing country, it has been exporting only 0 .7 per cent of fresh fruits and vegetables in the international market, while the rest is going waste every year.”

He recalled that Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in his previous tenure had suggested that farmers should constitute a horticulturists’ society so that the area could be declared a litchi-export zone. Even former Punjab Governor O.P.Verma had promised the same to the farmers, but nothing has been done till date.

Mahajan further revealed that numerous reasons, including marketing, post-harvest storage, packaging, grading of fruit, transportation, cold storage, and processing units of international standard have hit the farmers adversely. Setting up of a high-tech laboratories for leaf analysis and soil testing were needed for competing with fruit and vegetable-producing countries in the international market, he pointed out.

Secretary of the society Bhupinder Singh claimed that the absence of foggers and sprinklers of international standard, tube-well connections and electricity supply had also hit farmers hard.

The society members have urged the government to exempt fruit and vegetable industry from the excise duty and VAT, besides declaring it as litchi-export zone.


‘Is apna desh still the same?’
Vibhor Mohan

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 17
In what could be a scene straight from Yash Chopra’s “Veer-Zaara”, Bibi Ghulam Fatima, who migrated to Pakistan during Partition, has sent her grandson to find out if Amritsar, her native city she fondly refers to as “apna desh”, has changed over the years or not.

Resident of Khainvhi Amar Sidhu village, located on the outskirts of Lahore, she has spent all these years desperately wanting to visit Amritsar and relive the cherished moments from her past.

So, Mohammad Shehbaz, 23, crossed over to India yesterday to see the holy city for her grandmother. The visit has been made possible by the Sai Mian Mir Foundation.

Talking to The Tribune, Shehbaz said: “My grandmother is so much in love with this city that whenever she thinks of it, tears roll down her cheeks. The night before I was to leave, she asked me to check out ‘apna desh’ and if it is still the same, find out the procedure for taking me there.”

“She wants to know if people of Amritsar remember those who had crossed over to Pakistan as much as they do. She is also apprehensive if people would welcome her after all these years,” he said.

“When she came to Pakistan with my grandfather, Rahat Ali, she wanted that the name of the place they settle in should have some resemblance with Amritsar’s name. Therefore, they chose Amar Sidhu village.

She can recite the Gurbani and can even read Punjabi. She fondly remembers the passing of ‘palki’ from outside the Golden Temple. My grandparents used to life in Haveli Jamadaran, which is located close to the Golden Temple.

When I came to India, the attitude of immigration and Customs staff was a bit matter of fact. But when I went down narrow streets of the walled city, I could make out why my grandmother loves the city so much. People here are very friendly and the city has a culture of its own,” Shehbaz said.

“My grandfather too died with the wish of visiting India some day to meet his old friends. All these years, my grandparents had no contact with anyone in India and there was nobody to guide them about the immigration procedure even in Pakistan. I recently met a Lahore-based journalist, who helped me complete the formalities. I look forward to bringing my grandmother here next time,” he said.


Youth Cong may gherao Punjab Assembly
4,000 cases registered against Congressmen by Badal govt, says PYC chief

Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 17
In protest against the alleged politically motivated cases against Congress leaders and workers by the SAD-BJP government in the state, the Punjab Youth Congress (PYC) may gherao the Punjab Assembly or hold a big demonstration in front of it during its ensuing session to express solidarity with ‘innocent’ Congressmen.

In reply to a question here yesterday, PYC chief Vijay Inder Singla said a final decision to this effect would be taken by the state body of the Youth Congress in a day or two. He alleged that as part of the political vendetta against the Congress, the Badal government had registered about 4,000 politically motivated cases against Congress leaders and workers in just three months throughout the state.

With regard to no support or any “haa da naara” by any Congressperson in favour of B.I.S. Chahal, former media advisor to former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, in connection with the alleged torture of Chahal by the police, the PYC chief virtually adopted silence on the issue. However, he said the youth Congress would obey the orders of the Congress high command on the Chahal issue.

The PYC chief, however, extended his support to former Beas MLA and Congress leader Jasbir Singh Dimpa by saying that he had been “wrongfully implicated” in a case by the police. He also condemned the alleged torturing of Dimpa by the police in custody.

The PYC chief declined to comment on the on-going tussle between the followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda and Sikh organisations by saying that as it was a religious matter. However, he advised the Punjab Chief Minister to initiate all steps to maintain law and order in the state.


State not to widen Ldh-Malerkotla road: Dhindsa
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 17
The Ludhiana-Malerkotla and Khurala-Tapla roads will neither be strengthened nor widened under the build operate and transfer (BOT) system as these roads come under the World Bank-aided projects. Therefore, no toll will be charged from those commuting on these.

This was disclosed by minister for public works department Parminder Singh Dhindsa while talking to mediapersons at PWD Rest House here today.

The previous government had signed agreements with private companies for making almost all state highways four-laned under the BOT system. Private companies had started collecting toll from those who commute on those BOT roads which had been completed.

The SAD-BJP government had not formulated any policy for giving any relief to those using BOT roads in the state. However, according to his personal views, commuters who were residing in the vicinity of toll-plazas and regularly using the BOT roads should get some concession. He would take up this issue in the state Cabinet meeting.


No Cabinet nod to N-plant, says Sekhon
Our Correspondent

Ferozepur, June 17
Irrigation minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon today denied that the proposal to set up a nuclear power plant in the state had been given approval by the Cabinet. However, the government was contemplating on the issue but no decision had been taken so far.

Addressing mediapersons here, Sekhon said the government had envisaged a project for cleaning and remodeling of channels so that the irrigational water could reach every village. A sum of Rs 4,237 crore would be spent on the project.

The minister said the government had been able to bring record area of 6.50 lakh hectares under the cotton cultivation. He said since most of cotton-sowing areas were located at tail end of distributaries, the government had already started cleaning of channels.

He said remodeling of channels in the Upper Bari Doab Canal system had been completed. The government had decided to construct nine dams in Kandi areas.


400 acres washed away as Beas changes course
Dharmendra Joshi

Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, June 17
Residents of Baghuwal village, falling under Sultanpur Lodhi subdivision, had in recent past lost about 400 acres of their agricultural land which was washed away after the Beas changed its course.

Now, the villagers fear that their houses might also submerge in the Beas. About 1,100 people reside in 150 houses in Baghuwal located between the dhussi bund (No. 1) and the Beas.

Village sarpanch Balbir Kaur said the situation worsened after the administration failed to take any step for saving their land and houses from submerging in the Beas.

State irrigation minister Janmeja Singh had visited the site on May 3 and announced that the studs would soon be installed to save the village. He had sanctioned Rs 2.22 crore for this purpose. But, the work was yet to start, villagers alleged.

Sultanpur Lodhi SDM Kuldip Singh Chandi said: “Since the village is located near the Beas it submerges every year and there is nothing to worry.”

Meanwhile, Kapurthala SDM Gurpreet Singh Khaira along with tehsildar Varinder Pal Singh Bajwa visited the site. Khaira said only low-lying areas got submerged due to rains in the past few days.

The SDM further said that the work of installing studs would start within a day or two. Two boats have been given to the villagers and a police post, equipped with wireless set, established, he added.


Quacks: Centre asks states for strict action
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 17
Taking notice of an increase in the incidents of cruel treatment of innocent mentally ill persons in the name of exorcising evil spirits from them by the so- called tantriks and quacks etc, the Government of India recently issued instructions to all state governments and union territories in the country to take strict action against them.

According to official sources here yesterday, joint secretary of the Union Home Ministry K. Sikandranan through a letter stated that it had come to the notice of the Home Ministry that fake tantriks and quacks were not only, in the name of removing evil spirits from the mentally or physically drained persons, beating and torturing them, but also making money from their families.

The joint secretary has instructed the home secretaries of all states and union territories to gear up law and order maintaining agencies of their respective territories against anti-social elements and take stern action against the fake tantriks and quacks.

The chief secretary of Punjab has asked the DGP to instruct all police officers to prepare and send him a report (ATR) in this regard.


Hansi-Butana Canal
Khaira flays Badal for his silence
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
Congress MLA from Bholath Sukhpal Singh Khaira has criticised the Badal government for its silence with regard to the statements given by the Haryana irrigation minister Ajay Singh about the construction of the Hansi-Butana canal to take water from the Bhakra canal to the southern parts of Haryana.

Khaira has drawn Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s attention towards the statement given by union irrigation minister of state that the Central Water Commission had no objection to the construction of the canal to draw water from Bhakra.

In a letter written to Badal, Khaira has asked him what the Punjab Government was doing on the issue of the Hansi-Butana canal which he described as an attempt by Haryana to construct another SYL canal. The under-construction canal is proposed to be linked to the Bhakra canal near Samana to take water to the southern parts of Haryana.

Khaira said the Haryana irrigation minister had also stated that 3 MAF of Ravi-Beas waters was going waste to Pakistan from the Harike barrage. To safeguard Punjab’s interest, comments made by Haryana irrigation minister should be rebutted, said Khaira. He has also suggested that a barrage be made upstream Ravi near Dera Baba Nanak to tap its surplus water. The tapped water could be put into the Upper Bari Doab Canal. He has also proposed the release of water to the full in the Bist Doab Canal to recharge the declining subsoil water table in the Doab belt.


Lovers commit suicide

Hoshiarpur, June 17
A married man and his beloved committed suicide by swallowing poison here.

The bodies of Naresh Kumar (30), son of Parshotam Lal of Rebhalana PS Rahimpur (Himachal Pradesh), and Meena Sharma (21), daughter of Som Nath of the local Una Road, were found near Balmik Ashram, Old Tanda Road, here this evening. After taking them in custody,the police has sent the bodies to the local Civil Hospital for postmortem.

According to police sources, Naresh, who was already married, was a tenant in the house of the family of Meena where he had fallen in love with the latter. When the parents of Meena came to know about their relationship, they had thrown out Naresh from the house about two months ago. — OC


Blast: Army responsible, says union
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 17
The Cantonment Board Employees Union today held the Army authorities responsible for negligence that resulted in the blast near the cantonment garbage dump on the Amritsar-Wagah bypass road here yesterday injuring four board employees, two of them seriously.

Baldev Raj, one the employees, lost his right arm and leg, while Paramjit Singh, another critically injured person, was admitted to the hospital with serious injuries.

An Army official, who did not want to disclose his name, said going by the nature of injuries sustained by board employees, it seemed that they might be looking for metallic scrap in the garbage.

The employees have urged the defence minister to hold an independent and high-level probe into the incident. They also demanded appropriate compensation for the victims’ family.

Meanwhile, Army PRO Naresh Vij, however, said it could not be held responsible for the blast. He said the Army authorities had already ordered an inquiry.


No ‘naam charcha’ allowed at bhog
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 17
As Jarnail Singh, a follower of Dera Sacha Sauda, neither succeeded in getting Guru Granth Sahib from the village gurdwara nor could hold “naam charcha” for the bhog ceremony of his wife at Bahadurpur village, near here, today, he along with his family performed the rituals by paying obeisance to Guru Ravidass.

Earlier, after the death of his wife when Jarnail Singh had asked the village gurdwara for taking the holy book for organising a path, the management of the gurdwara had declined to give him the same in the light of a call by Akal Takht for the boycott of “premis”.

Meanwhile, heavy security arrangements were made by the police at the village. On the other hand more than 100 members of the Sikh community were also present at the village gurdwara.


‘Construct Kanshi’s memorial in Chandigarh’

Amritsar, June 17
The Bahujan Shakti Party, the splinter group of the BSP, today demanded to set up a university in the name of Sikh warrior Baba Jeevan Singh in Punjab besides including his life story in the school syllabus.

Addressing mediapersons here, Hira Lal Jawaddi, national general secretary of the party, urged the government to construct a memorial of Kanshi Ram either in Chandigarh or in Mohali. He said the party would work for the welfare of the Dalits.

Sukhdev Singh Chauhan, state president, said the party would contest on all seats of the municipal corporation elections in Punjab. — OC


Ex-DSGMC chief returns from Pak

Amritsar, June 17
Officials of the Pakistan government, Sikh scholars and Wakf board authorities have mutually agreed to establish a university in the name of Guru Nanak Dev at Nankana Sahib in Pakistan. This was revealed by former DSGMC president Harvinderpal Singh Sarna, who returned today after attending the meeting under the leadership of Waqf Board chairman Zulfikar Ali Khan.

Meanwhile, a delegation of Sikh pilgrims today returned from Pakistan. — OC


Jobless teachers hold protest
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 17
Hundreds of unemployed B.Ed teachers today brunt copies of the SAD manifesto here to lodge their protest against the state government for its failure to fulfil its promise to provide employment to them.

Sukhdarshan Singh, president, Unemployed Teachers Front, said they would give memoranda to ministers in Chandigarh on June 19.

MOGA (UNI): Tension gripped this town on Sunday when agitating unemployed teachers had a tussle with the police over carrying an effigy of the education minister during a protest march.

The trouble arose when members of the Unemployed B.Ed Teachers Front, protesting against the recent police lathicharge on unemployed teachers in Kapurthala, were not allowed to participate in the march. The police snatched the effigy from them and the protesters started raising slogans against the government and the education minister.

Later, they were allowed to take out the march without the effigy. The protesters demanded action against the police officials responsible for the Kapurthala incident.


‘Kaua Chala Hans Ki Chaal’ staged
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 17
“Kaua Chala Hans Ki Chaal”, a humorous one-man play, was presented in the 22nd Annual Production-Oriented Theatre Workshop, organised by the National Theatre Arts Society in S.D.S.E. Senior Secondary School, here today.

Director of NTAS Pran Sabharwal said the workshop was a purely non-commercial venture, introduced at the school. He added that the workshop, held daily at 4 pm, would be open for persons of 13 years and above.

At the function, Dr Vijay Sharma, a retired civil surgeon, took a vow to save people from the menace of smoking.

The participants will get an opportunity to interact with well-known personalities in a programme to be organised at the end of the workshop.


Religion exam topper

Fatehgarh Sahib: Devinder Singh of Doraha has topped the Sikh religion examination (SRE) conducted by Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College, Fatehgarh Sahib, on behalf of the SGPC here today by getting 49 out of 50 marks. — OC


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