BJP leader’s statue sparks off controversy
Vibhor Mohan / Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 21
The walkout by seven SAD councillors from the first general house meeting of the Amritsar municipal corporation on December 20 over the issue of the installation of a statue of BJP leader Dr Baldev Prakash not only created light fissures in the SAD-BJP alliance but also kicked off a debate.

After the meeting, mayor Shawet Malik and senior deputy mayor Ajaybir Pal Singh Randhawa explained that it was the personal opinion of the councillors to register their dissent.

Led by SAD councillors Surinder Singh Sultanwind and Avtar Singh Truckanwala, the protesting councillors pointed out that the move would open floodgates for putting up more such statues of political leaders.

Sultanwind said the SAD too hadseveral big leaders like Bhagat Puran Singh. So if the trend started, there would be no end to it.

We spoke to a cross-section of councillors to get their opinions for or against the proposal.

Bakshi Ram Arora: Dr Baldev Prakash was a prominent leader of Punjab and even the SAD leadership cannot deny this. Those who opposed the move were upset over the fact that they were not consulted on the issue before bringing it to the house. The item has been passed and leaders of the BJP and the SAD would be invited to the unveiling function.

Ajaybir Pal Singh Randhawa, senior deputy mayor: The issue came up as an item on the agenda for the meeting and has been duly passed by the house. As a responsible alliance partner, the SAD does not want to spark off a controversy by resisting the BJP’s plan to install the statue. As per my reports, only three SAD councillors protested against the proposal, that too in their personal capacity.

Surinder Singh Sultanwind (SAD): The fact that we have reservations about putting up of statues at the corporation’s expense does not mean we do not honour the SAD-BJP alliance. We do not have any problem with the other issues on the agenda. If the BJP is so keen on paying tributes to its leader, it should install the statue out of party funds.

Sunil Datti (Congress): The alliance should not be on paper alone, councillors of the two parties should also endorse each other’s views. The fractures on the alliance would have far-reaching consequences at the state level. It is an internal matter of the alliance and we don’t want to comment on it. Nevertheless, the corporation can afford setting up a statue.

Mayor Shawet Malik (BJP): The SAD-BJP alliance is like a family and one should not read too much into the issue. The SAD as a party supported the move and there is absolutely no conflict.

Prabhjot Kaur (SAD): There is no threat to the alliance. Our concern was that installation of one statue would start a wrong practice. If the corporation puts the statue of one political leader then the SAD and the Congress would follow suit.

Gurjit Singh Aujala (Congress): Instead of putting up statues at crowded crossings, the corporation should showcase statues of eminent personalities at a particular place in the city. This would also be an attraction for tourists and can, therefore, earn money for the corporation. However, I do not want to comment on the specific issue related to Dr Baldev Prakash’s statue.

Jatinder Pal Singh Ghuman (SAD): People’s money should not be squandered on such projects and the corporation should focus only on development works.

Fact File

Dr Baldev Prakash served as all-India vice-president of the BJP and was elected an MP from Amritsar twice. He was finance minister in the Akali Dal government in 1967. The proposed statue would be 9-foot tall and would be put up at a prominent place in the city. A sum of Rs 5 lakh would be spent on the pedestal and beautification of the area. The total proposed budgetary provision comes to Rs 14.5 lakh.



Politics not my cup of tea, says acting-happy Kolhapure
Vibhor Mohan/ Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 21
Padmini Kolhapure, yesteryear actress and heartthrob of the 70s, feels that the holy city  oozes talent.

“I have held many workshops here and I feel the youngsters, who are aspiring to be actors, have everything in them to make it big. What is required is a bit of polishing,” said the actress, who gave hits like “Prem Rog” and “Sauten”, while talking to mediapersons on Friday. She was in the city to promote a play, “Heroin Ka Sabun”, featuring students of her acting school.

Regarding her school, she said “Raj Kapoor was my idol and I learnt a lot about acting from him. Since Bollywood is a fiercely competitive arena, I decided to open an acting institution so that aspirants pick up finer points of acting before they take the final plunge.”

On the question of joining politics, the yesteryear actress categorically denied it. She said, “My frequent trips to Amritsar for holding acting workshops does not mean that I plan to fight elections from the city. I have no such intentions and the thought of joining politics has never crossed my mind.” Though Kolhapure kept emphasising on how formal training in acting would save youngsters from being exploited by “falling into wrong hands” in Mumbai, she preferred not to kick off any controversy by elaborating on it.

She said, “Even if those attending my workshops don’t end up in films, the personality development tips make it easy for them to enter other coveted professions. For instance, many girls tell me that acting is not their cup of tea, and they had got the confidence to take a shot at become airhostesses.”

On her future plans, the “Prem Rog” girl said she would soon be seen in “Daughter - Ek Pyara Sa Ehsaas”, which would also feature Vikram Gokhle and Reema Lagoo. “I look back at my career so far very fondly,” she added.

Talking about the play, she said the play has been written and directed by Nikhil Raj and would also feature her and Avinder Bhatti. It is produced by Daljit Singh Arora and would be screened at BBK DAV College on December 23.

Play director Nikhil said the play was a humorous take and showed how everything was being commercialised in Punjab. “Youngsters don’t want to eat traditional ‘makki di roti’ and prefer pizza. But they would surely eat roti if it comes with a brand,” he added.



‘Focus on nuclear power stations’
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 21
The fifth unit of the Rajasthan Atomic Plant (RAP) with a capacity to produce 220 MW of nuclear power would be commissioned by February next year, while the sixth unit would be ready by December, 2008.

This was revealed by Nageshwara Rao, director (operations), Nuclear Power Corporation, Mumbai, during the seventh meeting of the Northern Regional Power Committee held here recently. He said efforts were being made to increase power generation in nuclear power stations throughout the country.

The meeting was attended by directors and technical members of all the northern states, Power Grid Corporations and Central Sector Generators, including National Thermal Power Corporation, National Hydro Power Corporation, Nuclear Power Corporation, Tehri and Nathpa-Jhakri Power Corporation. All the delegates resolved to abide by the grid discipline to ensure security and reliability of the northern grid .

During the ongoing season, the demand for the power was the maximum and the production was minimum. The delegates also approved the decision taken by the NRPC Technical Coordination Committee to import power from the neighbouring regions to meet the energy demand. The NTPC was also authorised to immediately import cargo of liquid natural gas from international sporty market to meet the fuel shortage in its gas power stations. Talking to the mediapersons, NRPC chairman P.K. Dass said, “The state governments in the northern region should set up more power plants to meet the increasing demand of the power supply. The states in the northern grid should take measures to reduce the electricity consumption by introducing bulbs and lights that consume less power.”Urging the states to restrict their power consumption, Dass said the states could take power supply from states like Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand during the summer season when their producing capacity was optimum. Similarly, these states could support the hill states during the winter season when power-producing capacity in the hilly regions was minimal.



Now, cradle care for abandoned baby girls
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 21
Concerned over the incidents of newborn girls being abandoned by their parents, the district administration and the Red Cross Society have decided to launch the “Pangurra” scheme to ensure that the lives of these babies are saved.

The city would perhaps be the first to launch this scheme in the state which has encountered alarming incidents of female foeticide in the recent past.

Many incidents of newly born girl children being abandoned by their parents in drains, garbage heaps or elsewhere have been reported in the city and its nearby areas during the past few months. Only recently, the body of a two-day-old baby girl was found dumped in garbage in the walled city area.

The incident had come to light when people spotted stray dogs fighting for the dead body which was wrapped in a polythene bag in the dump. They gathered near the spot and immediately called the police.

Earlier, health and family welfare minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla, while strongly condemning the incident, offered to adopt the girl children. She urged the people to restrain from resorting to such inhuman acts. Terming the incident as unfortunate, she expressed her deep concern over this practice and added that if any family did not want girl child they should leave them outside her house after ringing the doorbell.

She said many families were willing to adopt girl children. “Basically the fear of social stigma and illicit relations are the major reasons which force mothers to throw their newborn babies,” says district police chief Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh. The police department succeeded to crack only one such case out of five cases reported this year, while as per the police records there were not a single case of a child being abandoned in 2006. However, the police recorded four cases of infanticide in the pervious year and two cases this year.

“Sometimes, people also throw their child in some other places to escape legal action and fear of their own relatives. It is very difficult to find out the parents or the families who have thrown the babies,” admits the SSP.



‘Sant Sipahi’ wins over US audience
P.K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, December 21
Well-known Punjabi theatre artiste Har Rajeshwar Dyal Singh is back after making waves the USA with shows of his play “Sant Sipahi” held in 19 cities. He played five different characters in the play, based on the two- century old history of the Sikhs from martyrdom of the fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev, to the sacrifice of the four sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh.

He displayed his talent as he played roles of Muslims as well as of Sikh jathedars, including Sai Mian Mir, who laid the foundation stone of the Golden Temple in the play. The play also displayed how the family of Guru Gobind Singh separated after he left the fort of Anandpur Sahib. The play was staged at New Jersey, New York, Baltimore and other cities.

Singh belongs to the ninth generation of Bhai Nand Lal Sahib and has been associated with Punjabi theatre for over 25 years. He also works for TV and films. A bank employee by profession, he began his career in theatre in 1974 from Khalsa College Senior Secondary College in Amritsar. He began under the guidance of playwright Atamjit Singh in “Gau Mukha Sher Mukha” play directed by him.

Having worked under known directors, he has done almost 5,000 shows of over 100 plays, including “Dhamak Nagare Di”, “Rishtiyan Da Ki Rakhiya Naa”, “Shaher Bimar Hai”, “Ek Tha Gadha”, “Hawa Mahal”, “Aalana Teelo Teel”, “Anne Kane” and “Ek Aurat Farido”. He travelled all over India and also performed in Canada. He also lent his voice to animation film “Sahibzade”.

HRD Singh is an approved artiste with Jalandhar Doordarshan and has worked in over 30 plays for this channel. These include “Lakeeran”, “Dabbi Agg”, “Akhara”, “Maharaja Ranjit Singh”, “Navi Musibat Aaye” (Alpha Punjabi), “Dal Dal”, “Sipahi Ki Diary” (Delhi Doordarshan), among others. He also worked in various telefilms, including “Dharam Di Chadar” and “Assin Doon Sawaye Hoye”. He played the character of a Sikh jathedar in Punjabi film “Anokhe Shahid-Baba Deep Singh Ji” and a sarpanch in “Sardari”.



India In Unison
Glimpse of India at DAV
P.K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, December 21
Presenting a glimpse of Indian crafts, a two-day craft exhibition, “India in unison”, was opened at DAV Public School here. The event exhibits traditional crafts of nearly 20 states created by students from pre-nursery to class X. The event that strode from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and east-west of the country was inaugurated by Mayor Shavet Mallik. In addition to the exhibition, special food courts and games have been put up for fun.

While a flower girl, “shikara”, saffron flowers and “namda” carpets gave feel of Jammu and Kashmir, the famous Himachali cap and basket of apples aptly exhibited Himachal Pradesh. Famous pottery, “lak” bangles, colorful “torans”, “ghagra-cholis” and headgear on the stall of Rajasthan added a vast palette to the colours from India.

“Phanoos” with gossamer lights and mirror work on files from Gujarat were casting a spell of their own on the spectators. Magazine holders, natural-dyed necklaces and bracelets made of jute from West Bengal added to the event’s charm.

The stall of Assam displayed a variety of bamboo mats, ornate photo frames and lamp shades made of natural grass. Kerala’s coconut tree bounty helped in making jewellery boxes, stationery holders and belts, while the state’s famous fishing boats and nets gave a glimpse of “mysterious waterfronts”.

Bihar’s “chhaj and deh”, Manipur’s kites and Nagaland’s wall masks spears and elaborate headgear and hats from Goa added to the vast display of art. A display of traditional painting styles by class XI and XII students too was able to attract a huge number of audience.



GNDU takes a green step 
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 21
“Due to lack of human vision, biodiversity is being lost and soil being rendered barren,” said Dr Inderjeet Kaur, president, All-India Pingalwara Society, Amritsar, while inaugurating the refresher course in environment studies at Guru Nanak Dev University here on Wednesday.

Dr Inderjeet Kaur stressed that the energy resources were needed to be saved for future through the use of non-conventional energy resources and made a fervent appeal for simple living and nature-oriented balanced life. She dwelt on burning issues like use of pesticides, solid waste disposal, global warming, deforestation, desertification and loss of biodiversity in India.

She also impressed upon the delegates to use natural farming, mixed cropping of cereals and pulses, waste segregation into compatible and non-degradable, protection of natural resources like, air water and soil.



Drop Mohali airport project, says AVM
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 21
The Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM) today urged Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to drop the Mohali international airport project. In a communiqué to Punjab Chief Minister, manch patron Charanjit Singh Gumtala said the proposed airport at Mohali would only encourage shifting of industry from Punjab to Baddi in Himachal Pradesh and some areas of Haryana.

He expressed the view that Mohali airport would not be of much use to Punjab as 12 out of 20 districts of the state were nearer to Amritsar than to Chandigarh.

Among the eight districts which are close to Chandigarh, Patiala, Ropar and Mohali constituted only 2 per cent of the total passenger traffic to foreign countries as per the report of Delhi-based firm Consulting Engineering Services (India) in association with the ICRA Management Consulting Services.

Moreover, all these districts comprised only 23 legislative constituencies out of the 117 in Punjab.

The manch leader said it would not be wise for the state government to waste a staggering amount of Rs 700-800 crore on a project the benefit of which would be shared by Chandigarh, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. They urged Parkash Singh Badal to prevent the wastage of public money to be spent for acquiring land for the proposed airport.

The financial position of the state was already very poor and it is proven by the fact that the Punjab government had given a grant of Rs 100 crore to the holy city after mortgaging property of the Amritsar improvement trust.

Thus, the government, on one hand, did not have Rs 100 crore for improving the basic infrastructure of the holy city and, on the other, it was providing Rs 700-800 crore for the proposed international airport at Mohali, which is not essential for the state.



Five books of Dr Kairon released

Amritsar, December 21
Renowned poet and Sahitya Akademy Award winner Surjit Patar released five books of noted Punjabi writer Dr Joginder Kairon, including “Neele Tarian Dee Maut”, depicting the post-period of Operation Bluestar, at a function held at Sri Guru Harkrishan Public School here today. Patar was the chief guest on the occasion.

The other books released were “Roza May,” “Punjabi Sahit Da Lokdhari Pichhokar,” “Punjabi Lokdhara Adhiyan” and “Lok Kahaniya.” — OC



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