P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


DNA mutations reported in people drinking contaminated ground water

London, December 2
Groundwater in Punjab has been contaminated to such an extent that it is now causing DNA to mutate in people who drink it, warns a research commissioned by the Punjab Water Pollution Control Board. The study was conducted over a period of two years by a team of senior doctors from the PGI in Chandigarh.

It found that pesticides and heavy metals had entered the food chain and was now making congenital deformities, cancer and kidney damage exceedingly common.

According to the study, 8O per cent of ground water samples that were collected in the state had mercury that was far beyond the permissible level.

About 70 per cent of the samples of effluents, half the samples of tap water and 57.7 per cent samples of groundwater were also found to contain arsenic. Pesticides in a high degree were also found to have contaminated water in drains in parts of cities such as Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Nawanshahr.

When researchers analysed blood samples of people living in the area, they found that DNA had mutated in 65 per cent of the cases.

Yogesh Goel, chairman of the Water Pollution Control Board, said the recommendations to improve the grim situation now had to be debated and discussed.

“Industry is not just to be blamed, the overuse of pesticides is another reason. We have to ascertain reasons for it,” the BBC quoted him as saying.

Goel added that some of the recommendations of the study included constant monitoring of water supply and sewerage, involvement of village councils in the treatment and disposal of solid waste and the need for industries to adopt new technology in extracting groundwater. — ANI


State drafts new rules for industry
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
The Punjab government has drafted what it calls “The Punjab Industrial Facilitation Rules, 2007” to ensure proper implementation of “The Punjab Industrial Facilitation Act, 2005”. Punjab’s finance minister Manpreet Badal and cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh have indicated that Punjab will soon have a new industrial policy. The implementation of the new industrial policy will be ensured by these new rules.

The state government has been under severe criticism for doing precious little for industry in Punjab, resulting in the SAD-BJP alliance preparing a new industrial policy for the growth of the small, medium and big industrial units in the state and to check their flight to neighbouring states.

As per the draft prepared by the Department of Industries and Commerce, The Punjab Industrial Facilitation Rules, 2007, have been enacted and are ready for implementation to ensure speedy execution of industrial projects and to ensure smooth functioning of the existing industries in the State by providing single-point clearances to entrepreneurs.

According to the steps taken by the government, any applicant seeking to apply for clearances required for setting up of an industry will be able to apply to a nodal agency that will in turn make sure that all the requirements are fulfilled by the applicant before accepting it for further action. Once the application is accepted as complete, it will be entered into a register, which will be monitored and be subject to scrutiny on a daily basis.

As per the draft rules, the application will be forwarded by the nodal agency to the competent sanctioning authorities within three working days from the date of filing. After the submission, the competent authority’s decision will be conveyed back by the nodal agency, which will in turn inform the applicant about the decision within two working days of their receipt from the competent authority.

The objective of the whole exercise is to make the entire process time bound. According to the rules, while processing the application, the competent authority may, if necessary, ask for additional information from the applicant before the expiry of the time limit but not later than seven working days from the receipt of the application, under intimation to the nodal agency. All the information required will be sought at one go and not in a piecemeal manner.

Under the Punjab Industrial Facilitation Rules, 2007, priority shall be given in deciding cases of NRIs. In a bid to ensure speedy disposal of grants for setting up new industry, the new rules enacted by the government provide for initiation of proceedings for departmental action under the relevant punishment and appeal rules against the official. The administrative department concerned will then be bound to initiate the disciplinary proceedings within 15 days.

With a view to speeding up industrial investment in Punjab, the state government shall consider and determine a special package of incentives by way of relaxation of rules, regulations and provisions for legal, institutional and financial dispensations for new as well existing entities undertaking expansion. 


Varsity to revive pre-Partition village project
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 2
Guru Nanak Dev University has decided to revive the ambitious pre-Partition village project, which will depict the composite Punjabi culture on its campus, with the state government funding it to the tune of Rs 20 crore.

Chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh has agreed in principle to send two instalments of Rs 10 crore each for the project.

A meeting was held by the chief secretary here in this regard on Sunday. Darbara Singh Guru, principal secretary to the Chief Minister, Kahan Singh Pannu, deputy commissioner, Jai Rup Singh, vice-chancellor of the university, R.S. Bawa, registrar of the university, Gurmit Singh, a former director of the Village Project, Manjit Singh of the Planning Department and Raghbir Singh, dean, Academic Affairs, attended the meeting.

Earlier, the project, the brainchild of former vice-chancellor S.P. Singh, was shelved by his successor Jai Rup Singh for reasons best known to him. The chief secretary asked the vice-chancellor to send a no objection certificate so that required funds could be released at the earliest. It may be mentioned here that though the university authorities were not keen to develop the traditional village on the campus, the deputy commissioner took the initiative to complete the project.

If the project is completed, it will be a treat for the tourists to see bullock-carts ploughing the fields of GND University’s ‘mud houses’ of ‘lohars’, ‘ghumiars’, ‘jolahas’ (blacksmiths, potters and weavers, respectively) and other artisans like cobblers working with their traditional tools and handlooms. The project will be constructed on five acres of the university land.

The village is likely to be recreated by carving out the land in the rear of the sprawling 500-acre university campus with an initial outlay of Rs 10 crore. The proposed village will also be an attraction to the visitors from west Punjab in Pakistan, as it will be on the Amritsar-Wagah bypass.

The proposed village will be instrumental in reviving the old culture since most of the Punjabis have forgotten their art motifs and traditional wells, village ponds and it will be the endeavour of the university to recreate a typical Punjabi village, which symbolised the erstwhile folk culture.

The proposed village is likely to be a self-sustainable unit, as a nominal entry fee will be charged. The visitors will be given a feeling of the countryside of the pre-Partition era.

As per the original plan, the second segment of the village will be on the post-Green Revolution period, which had changed the geographical face of the rural Punjab with harvesting by tractors and harvesters. The visitors will also enjoy the delicacies of Punjabi food at the ‘Punjabi dhaba’.


SAD(A) chief’s effigy burnt
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 2
Activists of the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Welfare Club today burnt the effigy of Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann in a protest against his controversial remarks on India’s great martyr, Shaheed Bhagat Singh. They raised slogans against the SAD (A) president and demanded an unconditional apology from him.

Gurinder Singh Rishi and Sarabjit Singh, president and vice-president of club, respectively, speaking on the occasion said the martyrs were a heritage of a country and such irresponsible remarks had not only hurt the sentiments of every Indian, but also mocked the sacrifices made by the great martyrs.

Mann had allegedly remarked that Bhagat Singh had no contribution in the freedom of the country. He said Mann should apologise to all countrymen and if he failed to do so, the protest would be intensified.

Earlier, a protest rally was carried out from the office of the club situated near the telephone exchange area, which passed through various bazars of the city and culminated at the Hall Gate where the effigy was burnt. 


Sukhbir, not Badal, running govt: Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 2
Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh here today said Sukhbir Singh Badal,acting president of the Shiromani Akali Dal was calling the shots and Parkash Singh Badal was only nominal Chief Minister.The state administration in Punjab was being run on the instructions of Sukhbir Badal.

In an interaction with mediapersons here today, the former Chief Minister criticised policies and programmes of the Badal government. He said whatever little income the state had now was coming from VAT and stamp duty even as the government was squandering public money on populist schemes. He added the government was frittering away finances instead of focusing on developing infrastructure.

Capt Amarinder Singh said because of incongenial industrial climate, industrial houses had started shifting units from Punjab.

He added the Trident Group had quietly shifted units to Madhya Pradesh. The former Chief Minister alleged there had been total collapse of the law and order in Punjab. He cited the example of gunning down of businessman Ashu Jain, owner of Vardhman Steels in Patiala yesterday.

The former Chief Minister, who visited the residence of Jain to offer condolences to the bereaved family. He alleged field officers of different government departments were seeking postings in view of the increasing lawlessness in the state.

He criticised the installation of portrait of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in the museum of the Golden Temple complex.

He said SGPC chief Avtar Singh was whipping up religious sentiments by such acts.


Girl phones SSP to end kidnap drama
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 2
A drama of kidnapping ended with a call to the senior superintendent of police by the ‘kidnapped’ girl herself here today. She alleged that her family members were forcing her to marry a boy against her wishes.

Confirming this, Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, district police chief, said the girl said she wanted to marry another boy. The SSP said the girl told him she would return home after a few days, adding that she was fine and had left home on her own.

The mother of the girl in her complaint to the police had alleged that her daughter was kidnapped by two clean-shaven youths near Ghannupur village in a white Maruti car (number: applied for).

The SSP, with other senior officials, visited the residence of the alleged victim as the marriage of the girl was to be solemnised on December 23. She is the daughter of a retired Army Captain .


Thefts: Residents angry over police inaction
Tribune News Service

Nangal, December 2
Residents of the town are living under constant fear of thieves due to a large number of thefts and the failure of police to nab them.

The complacent attitude of the police towards thieves is brewing anger among residents. Recently residents of Rajnagar locality here caught a thief who was trying to steal an iron manhole cover. The people handed him over to the police, which, to their surprise, let him off after two days without registration of a case. They alleged that now the culprit had started threatening them with dire consequences.

Avtar Singh, SHO, said he was not informed by the lower officials that the accused had been caught on theft charges. “I told them against keeping a person under custody without registration of a case against him. Now that the matter has come to my knowledge, we will again arrest the culprit and register a case against him.”

Over 100 theft cases have been reported in the town in the past one year. In some localities, like Shivalik Avenue, the people have taken up the onus of guarding their areas. Their move yielded result as they caught a group of thieves. In that case also the police claimed credit by pretending that thieves were caught at a naka from Mojewal area, the residents alleged.

Even public properties like parks have not been spared by thieves. They have removed the railings and other equipment installed in parks.


Social welfare: Govt keen on corporates’ role 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
Manpreet Singh Badal, Punjab finance minister, yesterday stated that the state government was keen on corporates involving themselves in social welfare schemes and was considering providing a matching grant to any amount a company spent on such initiatives for the poor, including education and healthcare.

Badal was speaking at the corporate social responsibility (CSR) best practices meet at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here.

Badal recounted his younger days, when the Green Revolution was being implemented and the problems of Punjab “seemed as if they were over.” However, 40 years later, Punjab was facing same hurdles.

“As the finance minister today, I daily look at how I can provide funds for providing adequate potable water, quality education and better quality healthcare. It is here that the corporate sector can fulfill its social responsibility and contribute towards the development of the state as well as the nation,” he added.

Earlier, D. K. Jain, chairman of the CSR sub-committee of the CII, stated that it had become very important for industry to associate itself with nation building and implement programmes that underscore their keenness to live up to their social responsibility.

In the past, there has been a general feeling that it was not financially viable for small and medium industry to engage in CSR activities. “This is just a myth,” stated Srikant Sastri, managing director, Solutions Integrated Marketing. 


Govt should set up sangeet academies: Ishmeet 
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, December 2
The state government, in order to promote music in the state, should set up sangeet academies which will help in promoting hidden musical talent among the youth of Punjab.

Ishmeet, Star Voice of India, stated this to the media after paying obeisance at the Golden Temple here this morning. He said there was no dearth of musical talent among the youth of the state, but they needed the required platform for presenting themselves.

The Star Voice of India-winner said though there was the Patiala Gharana in the state, which had been rendering yeoman’s service in the classical musical world, a middle-class person could not get training due to financial constraints.

He said Uttam Singh, renowned Punjabi composer from the tinsel world, had promised to give him a break in his next venture. He said it would be his endeavour to guide talented persons for competing in various musical competitions on various TV channels. He said he would give preference to the best talent in the state to sing with him in future. He expressed gratitude to the people of Punjab for voting him as the Voice of India. Later, he was felicitated by the hundreds of local fans who had gathered near the Golden Temple complex from the wee hours of the morning. They took him out in a procession organised by the Akal Purukh Ki Fauj from the Golden Temple to Gurdwara Shaheedan Sahib. He was also presented a siropa and memento by SGPC officials.

Melodious Sikh Icon of India

The young heart-throb and winner of realty show, Star Voice of India, was honoured with Melodious Sikh Icon of India Award by the Kes Sambhal Parchar Sanstha during SAGA-2007 function organised by the Sanstha late in the evening today.

Later, he enthralled the audience present on the occasion by singing Hindi and Punjabi songs.

The audience remained spellbound during his performances when he sang Punjabi song “Mere ma de hathan diyan pakkian rotian khan nu bada jee karda” on the demand of the audience showing equal hold on Punjabi singing. The song was originally sung by famous Punjabi pop singer, Malkiat Singh.

Speaking on the occasion he said besides the love of people and the grace of God, keeping his original ‘sarup’ also the main cause of his success.

During the function which was organised to choose ‘He-Khalsa and She-Khalsa’ from various Sikh girls and boys participating in the competition., the Sanstha also honoured famous Punjabi folk singer Gurmeet Bawa with the Koyal of Punjab Award who also performed during the function. Gurmeet Bawa also blessed Ishmeet for his success. 


All famed sarangi players have instruments made by him

Nawanshahr, December 2
Krishan Singh Ramgarhia (63) of Punjab has earned a name as a maker of sarangis, the traditional bow-string instrument used during Gurbani recitation and musical concerts. Krishan’s claim to fame is supported by the fact that nearly all accomplished sarangi players possess those made by him.

Belonging to Nawanshahr, Krishan Singh says that sarangis were in much demand during the days of his forefathers. He laments that the new generation is hardly enthusiastic or interested in learning to play the classical music instrument. “This should be taught to the children. The number of the makers of these instruments is coming down,” he said.

He blames it on the absence of enough good teachers who can impart proper training and motivate youngsters to practice it. “The ustads should be there who can teach the art of playing these instruments to the young generation. The youths today will get benefit from it,” said Krishan.

Despite being popular for his mastery in sarangi making, he has never craved for public attention. He believes in enjoying an ordinary lifestyle.

Krishan learnt the art of making sarangis from his paternal and maternal grandfathers. Even today, he still uses the same tools used by his forefathers.

“Today, Gurbani is rendered in English too. So when the English recite Gurbani followed by kirtan, it looks really great,” he said.

He is particular about the type of the wood used for making these, as he maintains only toon wood-based sarangi resonate the perfect sound. While learning sarangi-making a person should have a good sense of sur and taal of its playing, he says.

Krishan and his son today sell around 50 sarangis a year. The cost of each is between Rs 6,000-Rs 20,000, depending upon the material and decoration of the instrument.

“When we hear that people are not coming forward to make all these instruments, it hurts. We should know how to play and make the equipment that are being used in Guru ghar,” said Rajinder Singh, his son.

Krishan is today preparing his grandchildren to carry forward the lineage by becoming quality sarangi players as well as makers. — ANI


Ban goes on ‘Aaja Nachle’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
The Punjab government today lifted the ban on the screening of Madhuri Dixit’s comeback film ‘Aaja Nachle’, but told officials to ensure that the objectionable lines with a caste-based comment in the title song were removed.

In a communication to all deputy commissioners, an official spokesperson said that they should deploy personnel who would personally check that the objectionable portion was cut from the song.


After Boparai, 24 senior functionaries follow suit
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 2
In solidarity with the outgoing vice- chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai 24 senior varsity functionaries have also submitted resignations in five days. Seven high officials, including the directors of regional centres, controller examinations, technical advisers, horticulture adviser and OSD to VC have resigned after the resignation of the vice- chancellor. This is rare in the country in the history of universities. With this 28 positions have fallen vacant in the university. The functionaries who have resigned are distinguished in their fields.

Those who have resigned in the wake of VC’s resignation include Prof S.P.S. Virdi director Yadvindra college of engineering, a scholar of physics and former dean academics affairs and dean colleges . Professor U.C. Singh director regional institute of management and IT at Mohali is former dean academic affairs Punjabi university . Professor Sunder Singh, director university college of engineering, neighbourhood campus Rampura Phul was senior faculty at Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Patiala. Professor T. A. Sarma OSD to vice- chancellor is noted botanist, a former dean research, dean faculty of life sciences and head, Department of Botany. Hardyal Singh Johal, adviser horticulture, former director horticulture Punjab . M. S. Gurm, technical adviser was retired chief engineer government of Punjab.

Those who relinquished charges are dean academic affairs, prof Sucha Singh Gill, an economist, Registrar, Dr. B. S. Sandhu ,professor of psychology. dean college development council Dr Jagtar Singh, a chemistry scholar, dean research, Professor S. K. Verma physiotherapy and sports science, dean students welfare, Dr H. S. Bhatti a professor of sociology, dean resource mobilisation, Dr. A. S. Chawla, academic of management, dean alumini, Dr Jaswinder Singh Punjabi writer and critic. Provost, Dr Rakesh Mohan Sharma professor of forensic science. Director youth welfare, Dr Sunita Dhir theatre and film personality. Director public relations, Dr Gurmit Mann a journalist and head of journalism department.

Others who resigned are Dr A. K. Dham, in charge RTI cell and university nquiry Dr Gurcharan Singh, senior wardens Dr Ritu lehal and Dr Kulwinder Singh and wardens Dharmveer Sharma and Dr Deepak Kumar. 


Rahul’s assurance on better farm techniques
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 2
Amardeep Singh Cheema, member, agriculture working group, Planning Commission, had taken up the cause of Punjab farmers with AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi at a meeting earlier this week. He had sought Central aid for the introduction of agricultural processing, knowledge upgrading at village level and setting up of effective extension services.

Talking to The Tribune, Cheema said Rahul gave a patient ear to these issues and gave an assurance that these would be brought to the notice of the department concerned so that steps were taken towards replacing outdated farming practices which were a hurdle in increasing the agricultural yield in the state.

He said there was a need to replace the decade-old variety of wheat seeds being used by farmers in the state at a cost of Rs 600 crore. “The Government of India can help by providing financial aid for the project,” he said.

Cheema, who is also director of Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation Limited, said there were no major food processing units in the state. At times, the entire yield is lost due to sudden change of weather.


Virk’s joining back may be delayed 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
In what could cause further delay in the suspended Director-General of Police S.S Virk joining back, the Maharashtra government has succeeded in getting three months’ extension in service to DGP, Maharashtra, P.S. Pasricha from the union home ministry.

Virk and Pasricha are batchmates from the 1970 batch of the Maharashtra cadre of the IPS.This will mean that no post is vacant for Virk to be adjusted for another three months.

Pasricha was to retire on Friday. 


24 kg of gold seized
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 2
In a major haul, the Excise and Taxation Department has seized about 24 kg of gold jewellery worth Rs 2 crore from a goldsmith Mahinder Singh of Bazaar Gujranawala here today morning.

Rajpal Singh, assistant excise and taxation commissioner, mobile wing, said Mahinder brought the contraband from Delhi and was nabbed near Beas after specific information. He was coming in an Indica car (PB02-AX-4046) when he was intercepted by the department.


Can govt turn dreams on tourism into reality?
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
There is no planning wing. There is no execution wing. And there is only one director, one deputy director and six clerks and one retired sub-divisional engineer on its rolls. With such a state of affairs of its Tourism Department, can Punjab be made an international tourism destination ? This is the question that begs an answer from the authorities concerned.

For the past several weeks, the Badal government has been making statements on making Punjab an international tourism destination. But ground realities are different. The Punjab Tourism Department is in such a paralytic state that it even does not have the capacity to spend funds being provided by the Union Government.

Recently, the Punjab government had engaged Robert Cleverdon, an international expert, to find out the potential of promoting tourism in the state. However, his comments in the report he prepared in this regard must have shocked the state government.

Cleverdon in his report has observed: “You do not have personnel with professional qualification in tourism. Neither are you taking part in national or international shows meant for promotion of tourism. And you do not have any plan to market Punjab as tourism destination. There is no involvement of NRIs in tourism programme(s), if there is any prepared by you for this purpose. And you have kept only a few lakhs of rupees as non-plan expenditure for tourism”. With such an attitude, tourism cannot be promoted. Otherwise, Cleverdon has stated in the report that Punjab has the potential to be a significant tourism destination.

The Union Government is virtually flooding the states with funds as far as tourism promotion is concerned. It had approved Rs 63 crore for Punjab and Rs 36 crore has already been released during the past three years. However, Punjab has contributed only Rs 5 crore instead of Rs 23 crore from its share. The money has been released for the manufacture of a luxury tourism train on the pattern of “Palace on Wheels”.

Sources said for the current year, the state government had given only Rs 10 lakh as non-plan fund to the tourism department. During a recent meeting of the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board, all these issues came up. At that meeting the Chief Minister promised to give Rs 20 lakh more to carry out the job of tourism promotion.

Even the department has no money to get reports prepared from consultants of various districts for tourism promotion. On the basis of reports, the Union Government releases money to various districts. Consultants charge Rs 10 lakh to Rs 30 lakh per district, depending on its size, to prepare the report.

The Board has even failed to launch the much touted pilgrim circuit scheme that included a plan to visit to all religious places in Punjab.


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