Fund Fretting
Centre’s ‘tight purse strings’: State to knock SC doors
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, December 11
Reeling under severe financial crunch the government has decided to file a writ in the Supreme Court to seek equitable distribution of funds for the state. Bikram Singh Majithia, minister for information and public relations, stated this while addressing an interactive session on ‘Amritsar-road map for economy revival’ organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Amritsar alleged that the central government was discriminating against the state government by not releasing funds for its overall development. The state was facing a shortfall of funds, he added. He said the state government was left with no choice but to file a writ with the Apex Court to secure their legitimate right.

Addressing a gathering of industrialists, Majithia said he would try his best to come up to the expectations of the business community and find solutions to their problems. He said the state government would leave no stone unturned to create an atmosphere pro-trade, pro-industry and pro-development. He said besides militancy the state also suffers with the disadvantage of location which requires raw material to be transported from far and wide. Besides, tax holiday to neighbouring states and the escalating prices of land makes setting up of industry very difficult, he added.

Majithia said ever since the SAD-BJP government took over reins of the government their main focus has been to boost the industry of the state and with the sustained efforts of Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, trade with Pakistan through the road route has begun. He said the trade volume at present is about Rs 600 crore annually and it has the potential to go up to $6 billion if peace prevails and trade between the countries continues to grow. With nearly 1.5 lakh NRIs coming to the state annually and a large inflow of tourists especially to Amritsar, attempts are being made to strengthen the infrastructure of the state, he added. Special focus is on setting up road corridors, express roadways and providing uninterrupted power supply to the industry by making Punjab a power surplus state within five years. Dairy development, agro based industry and education with industrial linkage will also be suitably catered.

Lashing out at the Centre for dwindling industry of Punjab, Majithia said tax benefits being indiscriminately lavished on the neighbouring states of Punjab, namely Himachal, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttranchal and Uttrakhand has put industry of the state in doldrums. He said all major investors prefer these destinations because of better tax benefits. Numerous attempts by the government of Punjab to convince the Centre either to give equivalent benefits to Punjab or set up a major Centre backed project in the state to revive the industry, has fallen on deaf ears, he rued.

Gunbir Singh, chairman, CII Amritsar Zonal Council, made a presentation on a road map for economic revival. He said Amritsar being an established gateway with logistic network of road, rail and it being a centre of tourist interest could help in the revival of industry by taking suitable measures to tap its potential.



Sidhu wants BCCI help in sprucing up Gandhi stadium
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 11
Cricketer-turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu wants the facilities at the historic Gandhi cricket stadium here to improve so that it’s ready to host international ties both in the shorter and longer version of the game. For the purpose, the former Indian opener will soon seek help of the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI).

Walking into the stadium after a gap of more than three years, to inaugurate the Punjab-Baroda Ranji trophy tie, Sidhu said his first passion would always be cricket and he would do all he can to give the ground, which has produced players of repute, a complete makeover.

Paying rich tributes to the former cricketers, including legendry left arm spinner Bishan Singh Bedi, all-rounders Madal Lal, Surinder and Mohinder Amarnath, he said it would be his endeavor to work out a solid plan to rebuild the stadium so that it’s at par with international facilities. He said he would ask BCCI to make Amritsar as a new cricketing centre. “Floodlights should be installed here. Besides, the sitting capacity also needs to be improved. Added facilities can be indoor nets and club houses for the visiting teams,” he said. The BJP MP said the ground has the distinction of hosting major matches, including India, New Zealand tie in 1996. “It has potential to become a major centre for ODIs, Twenty-20 ties and tests,” he added. He also urged the local organising committee to draw a blueprint for making it as one of the best grounds in the country. 



Come Dec 14 and there will be less fog fuss
Engineering base of AI to start operations at Rajasansi
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, December 11
An engineering and maintenance hub set up by Air-India will become operational from December 14 at Rajasansi International Airport here. The centre has been established to avoid inconvenience to passengers due to foggy weather conditions.

Station manager Ashwini Arora said Air-India had decided to set up an engineering unit to be parked at the airport to facilitate timely departure of about 120 flights a month. Arora said a team of senior officials from the engineering and maintenance wing led by DGM (engineering) J.S. Shastri visited the airport to conduct an on-the-spot survey last month to set up an engineering hub for facilitating flight operations from Amritsar airport.

Air-India has already posted its staff to give clearance to the aircraft for flying to different global destinations, including Dubai, Birmingham,Toronto, New York, Frankfurt and London, besides providing connections to other destinations.

Air-India has also decided to engage Taj Flight Catering Services here to provide in-flight food on all its operations from this airport. He said the catering services had been geared up in view of the growing demand due to the additional flight operations from the city, said Arora.

Air-India would also provide night halt for its commanders and flight crew here and had entered into an agreement with different hotels to provide much-needed rest to its flying crew. He said a special customs bonds warehouse had also been set up to meet the requirement of the customs department in view of the parking of aircraft at the airport. Director (airport) Arun Talwar said Air-India had sought permission to park their aircraft at least twice a week for a night halt to provide relief to the passengers boarding the international flights here.



SC decision on poll duty for teachers hailed

Amritsar, December 11
The Punjab Heritage and Education Foundation (PHEF) and the Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM) have welcomed the decision of not deputing teachers on non-teaching work given by the Supreme Court.

In a joint statement issued to the press, PHEF president Gurbax Singh Shergill and AVM vice-president Charanjit Singh Gumtala said the decision of the Supreme Court on not allocating works like election duty, population census and pulse polio to the teachers was highly commendable. It would help teachers to concentrate more on students and complete syllabus early. The decision by the Supreme Court came after a petition had been filed by the election commission challenging the Delhi High Court’s decision given on August 11, 2004, on the petition filed by the Saint Marie School management, in which it had challenged the poll duty by their school staff.

Demanding the state government to relieve all the teachers immediately from non-teaching duties, the leaders said the decision would help improve educational environment in the state. — TNS



Notorious smugglers in police net
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 11
Police arrested smugglers Ranjit Singh Rana, a resident of Hawelian village and Jaskaran Singh, a resident of Gobind Vihar, Maqboolpura today. Rana was arrested by a team of Special Narcotics Cell as he was waiting for someone near a hotel in Golden Cloth market to deliver a consignment along with one kg heroin. In another incident, smuggler Jaskaran was arrested along with 130 grams of smack at nakabandi near Vallah railway crossing.

Rana was wanted in many cases and the police also recovered a Pakistani sim card from his possession. The heroin recovered from him is valued at Rs one crore in the international market. Ranjit Singh Rana was also wanted in various cases including that of smuggling of five kilograms of heroin and seizure of Rs 10 lakh fake currency in which he was declared proclaimed offender. Police has booked him under the NDPS Act.

According to a statement here today the police authorities have stated that Jaskaran Singh was earlier also arrested on August 21 by the Narcotic cell with 100 grams of opium. A case has been registered under the NDPS act. The release added that Raj Karan, brother of the accused was also a smack smuggler who was also nabbed by narcotics cell from Maqboolpura area with 100 gram smack. 



Motivational lessons

Amritsar, December 11
Addressing students of Lovedale Senior School, at the annual day celebrations, held here recently, Arjuna Awardee and Olympian Col Harcharan Singh exhorted the students of to work hard in whatever sphere of life they chose. 

He said the students should concentrate not only on their studies but also take part in cultural activities including sports which helps them in personality development. He also awarded those students who had excelled in the field of sports including Taekwondo, Basketball (boys and girls), Skating and other cultural events. — OC



Jatropha is answer to global energy crisis
Savreet Sandhu

With the entire world heading towards an energy crisis due to depleting fossil fuels, Jatropha, known as Ratanjyot in Hindi and Punjabi can emerge as an alternative to solve fuel shortage.

The wonder plant belongs to ‘Euphorbiaceae’ family and is known as Physic nut or Purging nut in English. More than 80 species of this plant are used to produce oil and Jatropha curcas is considered as the highest yielding variety.

The Jatropha plant is generally three to five metres in height and the plant seeds contain 31 to 37 per cent of oil content. The fuel obtained from the plant can be combusted without being modified or refined and the flame is smoke free. Its by-products, press cake, organic fertiliser are very useful. Besides, the plant is also used for curing diseases like cancer, piles, snakebite, paralysis, dropsy etc.

The plant is a drought-resistant species and is adapted to arid and semi-arid conditions. It grows well on drained soil with aeration and is well adapted to marginal soils with low nutrient content too. However, it may thrive on any soil, whether sandy, gravelly or saline.

The plant starts yielding from the second year onwards and is sustainable for 40 to 50 years. In fact, from the plantation of one hectare, one can obtain around 3.5 - 3.75 tons of oil. On an average, each plant produces 10 Kg of seeds per year, which yields three litres of bio-diesel. To get bio-diesel, the triglycerides of oil are converted into methyl ester by the process of transesterification. Due to higher cetane number, the oil reduces emission of carbon monoxide by 44%, sulphates by 100% and unburnt hydrocarbon by 68%. Even the ozone forming potential of bio-diesel is 50% less than diesel, thereby lowing cancer risks by 90%. In the present arena, 21 countries have started producing bio-diesel. However, India started working on it just four to five years ago.

Interestingly, Indian Oil Corporation and Indian Railways have recognised bio-diesel as a natural and viable alternative to petrol and diesel. Being the largest consumer of diesel, the Indian Railways has started a drive to produce bio-diesel for its captive consumption. The Northern Railways, taking a lead, ran Delhi - Amritsar Shatabadi Express on December 31, 2002 and used 5% bio-diesel as fuel. As far as usage is concerned, the fuel can be used alone or can be mixed in any ratio with mineral oil or diesel. The preferred ratio of mixture ranges between 5 to 20%. With the increasing awareness, several organisations have now started planting Jatropha on wastelands. As the plant has a number of uses, farmers should be motivated to grow it more. 



DPS clinches skating title
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 11
Hosts Delhi Public School beat Guru Harkishan Public School, GT Road, by 75 points to 25 to win the overall trophy at the fourth inter-school skating championship-2007. SL Bhavan bagged the third position with 21 points.

Four DPS players scored top position, three won the second, while five of its skaters bagged the third position. Participants aged between six to 16 years took part in 10 different age groups in rink races I and II.

In the under-six girls tiny-tot category, Sargun Sawney of DPS won the first prize while Rashi Jain of Springdales won the second position. In the under-six boys, Hirday Sareen secured the first position followed by Kritarth Gupta at the second spot.

In the six to eight girls category, Urvashi of SL Bhavan bagged the first position, while Manpreet Kaur of Shri Ram Ashram Public School secured the second position. Upreet Singh of Ram Ashram stood first, while Dharamveer Singh of St Fracis’ School secured the second position among the boys.

In the gith to 10 girls group ,Bani Madaam of DPS won the first position, while Aditi Sharma of DAV International School bagged the second position. In boys category, Saganpreet Singh of DPS secured the first position, while Akash Gaurav of Springdales stood second.

In the 10 to 12 girls category, both the first and second positions went to DPS with Devki Kaila at the first spot and Twinkle Sharma at the second. In the boys category, Sameer Sharma of DAV International stood first, while Baljeet Singh of SGHP, GT Road, secured the second position.

In the 12 to 14 girls category, Vishakha Dhawan of SL Bhavan stood first, while Manvir Kaur of DAPS secured the second spot. Among boys, Tanveer Singh of St Francis’ and Loveavtar of DPS secured the first and second 
positions, respectively.

In the 14 to 16 girls category, Gaganjot Kaur of SGHP and Hifajot of DAV International secured the first and second positions, respectively, while among the boys of the same age group, Rishabh of RR Convent and Aditya of DPS secured the first and second spots. The winners were awarded shields by Ajay Maheshwari, member of the school management committee.



Virasat mela brings village life alive
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 11
Students of JDS Public School, Fatahpur Thande, brought village life alive with their talent on their school premises. The students displayed a typical household of village by cooking “rotis” and “dal” on “chulhas” run by burning cow dung cakes in earthen kitchen.

The presence of ancient “charkha”, “phulkari” and other art forms were some major attractions for the urban students. Punjabi traditional and folk songs by students along with performances on stage cast a magical spell on the audience. To add to the atmosphere, the school management had put up traditional things used for decorating bride and grooms during wedding. A “rangoli” competition for the students was also held.

Speaking on the occasion, school chairman Kanwar M.S. Pannu said the main aim of holding the Virasat mela was to inculcate the value of positive competition among the rural students studying in remote areas and to make urban children familiar with Punjab’s culture and tradition.

Meanwhile, chief guest on the occasion MLA Makiat Singh said he was impressed by the students’ efforts and announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the construction of a museum on the school premises. He also distributed prizes to the winners of the “Punjabi gabru” and “Punjabi mutiar” competitions.



Golden Years
Penetrators celebrate silver jubilee
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, Dcember 11
The Penetrators Officers’ Mess celebrated 25 glorious years of their service to the nation by organising three-day silver jubilee celebrations at New Amritsar Military Station which was presided over by Colonel of the regiment Brig D.R.N. Soni.

A large number of senior serving and retired officers, junior commissioned officers and jawans who had served or have been associated with the regiment in the past, participated in the celebrations held from December 8 to 10. The regiment also organised a trekking expedition in Himachal Pradesh during October so as to infuse the spirit of adventure amongst its troops as also to interact with the retired soldiers of the area.

The celebrations in the regiment included a special sainik sammelan in which a first-day cover was released to commemorate the occasion. A pagal gymkhana was organised on the occasion, which included a band display by the bands of the Armoured Corps Centre and the Garhwal Rifle Regimental Centre. A “bara khana” was also organised for all officers, ladies and men of the regiment. 



Vigilance week highlights need to stem corruption tide
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 11
The “vigilance awareness week” observed at the DAV Public School here highlighted the corrupt practices plaguing society. The week was observed in pursuance of the directions issued by the Central Vigilance Commission of India.

School principal Neera Sharma said the awareness week was aimed at making the students aware of the significance and effectiveness of the need to be watchful about the regressive and widespread corrupt practices that had diseased our social fabric structure.

The annual “vigilance awareness week” in the month of December is observed in memory of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel whose legendary struggle for independence and guidance led to country’s integration into a united, independent nation. He had also a pioneering influence on the administrative structure of India.

Fiormer income tax commissioner B.R. Abrol, addressing the students on the Right to Information Act and its impact on governance, stated that in order to stall the erosion of basic values the RTI Act must be implemented in letter and spirit. He talked about various stratums of society wherein human rights were trampled upon by denial of the right to information.

Meanwhile, during the course of the week, senior teachers like Tripta Sekhon, Sanjiv Kochar, Simi Sharma, Inderjit Sandhu, Neena Batra and Radha addressed the students in the morning assembly on the topics of “human rights”, “Consumer Protection Act”, “public interest litigation”, “Right to Information Act” and “rights and duties of students”.

The programme also included paper reading, seminars and essay competitions on topics that highlighted unethical practices of our society.



Citrus Magic
Little lemon is high on curative properties

Savreet Sandhu
Among the Asian countries, India is the largest producer of limes and lemons and is grown in the northern plains of the country comprising the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh where lemon has gained the importance of a kitchen garden fruit. Various types of lemons are grown in different regions. In Punjab, “baramasi” lemon is quite popular. It is cultivated mainly in the arid-irrigated regions and also in the sub-mountain zone. A lemon tree has the ability to tolerate infertile and poor soil.

In Amritsar and surrounding areas lemon cultivation is mainly found in Ajnala, Chogawan, Harsha Chhinna, Jandiala Guru, Rayya, Verka, Tarsikka, Patti, Valtoha, Khadoor Sahib and Chola Sahib. The maximum area under lemon cultivation is in Patti (16 hectares) followed by Verka (11 hectares) and Ajnala (10 hectares). The area under lemon cultivation in Amritsar and Tarn Taran districts is approximately 82 hectares.

Lemon cultivation is becoming exceedingly popular because it can be utilised in more ways than any other citrus fruit. A lemon is known as limone in Italy, limon real in Spain, limonen in Germany, citronnier in France and citroen in Holland.

In India lemons are primarily used for a cooling effect in summers. The principal byproducts obtained from the fruit are citric acid and pectin from the juice and lemon oil from the rind which has a variety of industrial and cosmetic uses. Lemon juice is widely used in the preparations of soft drinks and possesses special dietary and medicinal values, associated with its high vitamin C content. It is also used for making pickles, squashes, jams, jellies and marmalades. In certain countries, it is also used with tea. The lemon juice treatment still proves the power of the strong antiseptic and digestive qualities of the fruit. It is a quick acting medicine. The lemon is one of the speediest acting enemies against germs. Harley Street specialists in London give the children of royalty, lemon and honey for sore throat. A high vitamin C lemon juice cure is effective for scurvy.

The lemon peel marmalade graces the breakfast tables of continental resorts. Age spots and freckles become lightened with the application of lemon juice. Lemon has a host of uses for hair and scalp. A lemon scalp massage helps to get rid of dandruff due to its powerful tonic properties and its ability to combat many scalp infections.

Lemon juice is also incorporated into some facial cleansing creams. It is also valued in the home as a stain remover.

But simultaneously, there is a very serious problem of fruit cracking with the lemon. The disorder causes considerable loss of the marketable fruit which makes it inconsumable, leading to heavy losses to the growers. However, spray of various growth regulators, nutrients and maintenance of adequate soil moisture and nutrient status have curbed this malady to a great extent.



Cupid Beckons
Changing trends of marriage
Rashi Sharma

Beware! Cupid is active nowadays. The stage is all set for the sumptuous feast. Cupid is ready with all his festooning to strike your heart. And why not? This is the season of marriages. Today the glitz and glint of marriages encircle the very thought process 
of every youngster.

Young doves dream of seeking the pleasure of a happy married life. For this they need a perfect match. From the time immemorial, lovers have been wooing their heartthrobs through variegated methods.

Trace history and you will find Kalidas creating a wonderful situation in his imperishable work of art “Meghadoot” in which the protagonist pleads “megha” to reach his beloved and give his message of love. The tradition of “swayamber” too was in vogue. This system made it easy for the lovers to choose their counterpart. As the scenario changed, the system of arranged marriages started dominating the social set-up.

One needed a lot of spunk to move out of this set custom. Gone are the days when youngsters used to nod at the tailor-made decisions of their elders with calm resignation. Nowadays people are cautious enough to make a right choice regarding their life partner. After all this is the question of their whole life. The display of a girl with coy looks, having a tea tray in her hands is absolutely obsolete today.

In this high-tech era, you do not really need to rely on such traditional sources. A click of the mouse can do wonders for you. Internet is all here to help you. You need not hanker after the perfect match any more. The match will come to you. Scores of people are searching, bharat and for a suitable match. The results are encouraging. This is truly the microcosm of the high-tech world.

Along with the adventures this act comprises some imperils too. There may be fake persons surfing “net” either for their petty enjoyment or some ulterior motive. On the whole this is a gamble. Luck plays a vital role in determining the future course of action. So be alert. Enjoy the tickling sensation of Cupid’s flowery bow but with great care and caution.

(The writer is lecturer in English, Ramgarhia College, Phagwara)



Plastic surgery facility
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 11
A new plastic and cosmetic surgery OPD complex was inaugurated by mayor Shawet Malik at Amandeep Hospital here. Dr Ravi Mahajan, chief plastic micro-vascular and cosmetic surgeon, gave a presentation about the various facilities available. He said the department of plastic surgery had been expanded in which he would be assisted by three more surgeons. Dr Avtar Singh welcomed the chief guests. He said the department would also have all the sub-specialties of plastic and cosmetic surgery in addition to general plastic, reconstructive and micro-vascular surgery. 



US chain to open retail outlet
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 11
Indo Rama Retail Holdings Pvt Ltd has announced the opening of its first-ever retail outlet “Ist Office1Superstore” in Amritsar. The showroom would be inaugurated by Vishal Lohia, director, IRRHPL.

Ashok Srivastava, chief operating officer, IRRHPL, said the company forayed into the Indian retail space in 2006, in collaboration with Office1Superstore International, a US-based company. It aims at providing a complete range of office products, business machines and office furniture to customers, through a multiple delivery format, including self-service superstores.



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