Grabbing Galore
Encroachers spare not even parks
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 29
The holy city has become a haven for land grabbers and encroachers. The encroachments have scarred the beauty of its parks and vast grounds too. The land mafia has even grabbed public utility places. The recent attempt to grab the public park near Kichlu Chowk has come as a great shock to the residents.

It took only a couple of days to construct the boundary wall around the park. With the result, the general public can no more use the facility of the park. Now the park would be exclusively used by a few shopkeepers, who have been stacking building material there.

President of the Citizen Forum Brij Bedi has alleged that the park was encroached upon in a systematic way in connivance with the local administration.

The tourists, especially non-resident Indians, have also expressed their dismay over the encroachments of open spaces in the city which was famous for beautiful gardens and playgrounds.

During his recent visit to Amritsar , Harjap Singh Aujla , a Sikh scholar and columnist from New Jersey, USA, observed that Amritsar for its size and population is terribly short of playgrounds. Most of the schools and even colleges are devoid of playgrounds.

He questions whether this is the price of progress and commercialisation? It was legendary Maharaja Ranjit Singh who was instrumental in developing and beautifying the city in the most planned way with creation of gardens and open spaces.

The only places where playgrounds are available include the GNDU , cantonment and Khalsa College. In comparison, Jalandhar and Chandigarh, have lot of playing fields. In Jalandhar, the army, BSF and the PAP have their own playgrounds. In Amritsar, every vacant piece of land is a prime property. People and the institutions want to sell these properties to construct commercial buildings.

As a result the kids play cricket even in Ram Bagh, which is a heritage park and a tourist spot. This is a big problem. In future this city will not be able to produce players like Kiran Bedi, Aujla said.

Thank God! the GNDU still has ample space for playgrounds. The

university is one of the leading universities of the country and excelled in sports. However, it still does not have a red-coloured synthetic track for athletics. The cost of such a track is just Rs 3 crore. Aujla said he had sent an email to vice-chancellor Jai Rup Singh, who told him that in the past 10 years all VCs tried for sanction of money for a synthetic track, but the University Grants Commission did not sanction the amount.



Holy city roundabouts all set for a revamp
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 29
The municipal corporation has entered into partnerships with business houses for making the roundabouts smaller in size and developing the vicinity of the crossings by laying footpaths and erecting walls to check haphazard parking and unregulated traffic.

A website has also been launched by the municipal corporation to solve the problems of lack of civic amenities of the residents.

Municipal commissioner D.P.S. Kharbanda said the website, <>, had been revamped and carried the names, mobile phone numbers and addresses of all councillors. The website also gives two toll-free numbers for making complaints about lack of civil amenities: 18001802103 and (0183) 2540902.

For visitors, the website gives details about religious and historical places and shopping hubs in the city. It also gives a brief history of the municipal corporation which came into existence in 1976. The city of Amritsar got a town committee in 1858 and a municipal committee in 1868.

The first elections to the municipal corporation were held in 1991 and the city was divided into 50 wards.

Details of the ongoing projects like the elevated road project, city bus service, gateway to India project and water augmentation scheme inside the walled city have been added to the website, besides a list of achievements made by the corporation in recent months.

Talking about the project regarding the revamping of roundabouts, Kharbanda said the response to the project had been encouraging and a host of private parties had offered to develop and beautify the roundabouts. In return, they would only be given credit for it on the respective roundabouts. No third-party advertising would be allowed, he said.

To begin with, the size of the Saifuddin Kitchlew roundabout has been reduced and a wall erected in front of the shopping complex. Footpaths and other beautification steps would follow, he said.

The estimated cost of developing each roundabout would come to Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15 lakh and the Hall Gate roundabout, Sultanwind Chowk are the next in line. The project would not only give a new look to the city’s crossings but also lead to smooth movement of traffic, said Kharbanda.



R-Day Celebrations
City takes a dip in patriotic fervour
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 29
Republic Day was celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm by students and staff of Army School, Amritsar cantonment.

Deputy Commander Col Pardeep Singh unfurled the Tricolour on the occasion, which was followed by a march-past and cultural programme by students.

Addressing the gathering, Col Pardeep deliberated on the importance of our freedom struggle and applauded the efforts of the students.

Speaking on the occasion, school principal Madhu Gandhi motivated the students to become true Indians.

Similarly, the District Congress Committee, Amritsar (Rural), celebrated Republic Day with patriotic fervour. The national flag was unfurled by committee president Sukhjinder Raj Singh.

Addressing the party workers, Sukhjinder said, “We should try our best to make India a developed nation by maintaining its unity and integrity.” Appreciating the contributions of the Congress during the freedom struggle, he exhorted the party workers to create awareness in society about the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGA), the Right to Information (RTI) Act and civil nuclear treaty with the USA.

Meanwhile, the district SC/ST cell of the Congress, led by its general secretary Narinder Kumar Teenu, celebrated Republic Day by organising a rally of school students.

The students carried a 40-metre-long national flag to create spirit of patriotism among the residents.

The march started from Kotwali Chowk and after passing through various parts of the city culminated at Jallianwala Bagh.



His kites ‘n’ music play together
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 29
This artistic kite-maker does not confine his creativity to kites only. His passion for music enables him to take out time from his busy schedule and he relieves himself by playing “tabla” and other musical instruments.

Jagmohan Kanojia needs no introduction when talked about kites. But his hidden talent of playing “tabla” is not known to many. Calling it a God’s gift, Kanojia said he never had any formal training of the instrument.

He started practising it on tins during his childhood and later his father bought him a “dholak”. Describing radio as his companion, he said he learnt playing “tabla” with songs played on the radio.

Jagmohan said, “Later I started playing ‘dholak’ in religious functions and kirtans. But as soon as I started earning, I had enough money to purchase a ‘tabla’. So I bought one as playing this classical instrument was one of my childhood dreams.”

Coming to his kites, this 42-year-old man is famous for making kites as small as ones that can pass through a needle's head to those as big as 12 feet. He adopted making kites as a hobby after watching a kite-flying competition in Lahore on TV in 1995 and soon made it a profession.

His kites embellished with photographs of freedom fighters, film actors and cricket players are a craze among youngsters. However, he rued that there was no one in his family to carry on the legacy of playing instruments and making kites as his daughters didn’t show any interest.



City girl wins gold medal in judo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 29
Twentytwo-year-old Ranjit Kaur has done the city proud by winning the gold medal in the judo Commonwealth championship, which concluded in Mauritius on January 27. Stating this to The Tribune, Brij Bedi, president of the Citizens’ Forum, said Ranjit had won the medal in the senior girls (44 kg) category.

A protege of the Citizens’ Forum’s sports wing, she is serving as a constable with the CRPF. She has won a host of junior-level competitions, besides inter-college and inter-varsity championships. Ranjit Kaur, who is ranked second in the country, stunned everybody with her performance at the trials held recently at the NIS, Patiala, earlier this month.

Her coach is Karamjit Singh. Her family runs a small workshop. Brij Bedi said Amritsar had produced several prominent judo players but unfortunately, the government had done little to promote the sport.



Celery: A promising crop for farmers
Savreet Sandhu

The cultivation of this French crop started in India in the 1930s and slowly this exotic crop became an integral part of the Indian agriculture. Commonly known as “karnouli” and celery in English, this plant belongs to family Apiaceae and is biennial. Widely cultivated for its fleshy leafstalk, the plant is used as vegetable, while its seeds are used for extracting essential oils.

This herbaceous plant generally grows to a height of 120 cm and bears white flowers. Celery seeds are very small in size, oval-shaped and greenish brown in colour. They usually contain 2 to 3 per cent essential oils.

The oil, which is pale yellow in colour, contains d-limonene (60 per cent), ß-selinene (10 to 12 per cent), sedanoic acid anhydride (0.5 per cent) and sedanolide (2.5 to 3 per cent).

Grown annually in winters, the plant is ideal for cultivation in muck soils, while well-drained soils where sufficient water can be provided can also work as habitat for growth of this plant.

It is generally cultivated using the technique of transplantation and requires a frequent irrigation. It is harvested in the month of July.

The crop is used for flavouring tinned food, sauces and pickles. Coming to the nutritional value of the plant, its leaves are a rich source of calcium, phosphorous, iron, vitamins A and C.

The seeds are slightly bitter in taste and are sometimes used in giving flavours to various food stuffs. Besides, the seed oil is used in the pharmaceutical and perfumery industries.

During the researches in Germany and China in the 1970s and 1980s, respectively, it was proved that the oil obtained from the plant has a calming effect on the central nervous system as some of its constituents have antispasmodic, sedative and anti-convulsant properties.

Even, studies in China have confirmed that the oil is very useful in treating high blood pressure. The crop is mainly grown in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh.

Amritsar is the leading suppliers of celery seeds and oil in northern India and the Jandiala belt of Amritsar is the most important centre of cultivation.

Presently, celery is mainly cultivated for the purpose of exports as the domestic consumption is almost negligible.

The main reason is probably it is not used in Indian cuisines. However, it is vastly used in Italian dishes like pizzas.

Interestingly, countries like the USA, Europe and Japan are the major importers of it as it is commonly used in salad dressings and seasonings.

Since the crop holds an important position when it comes to exports and is profitable for the farmers, efforts should be taken to encourage its cultivation.



A guide to Parkinson’s disease
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 29
In order to help the patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease, city resident Balbir Singh Ahuja has published a booklet to create awareness among them on how to lead a quality life.

The 16-page booklet is titled “My 18 years’ battle with Parkinson’s disease but still living near normalcy.”

Giving details, Ahuja said, “Parkinson’s disease generally strikes after the age of 60 years and its symptoms include shaky body movements, difficulty in writing and lack of initiative.” However, he maintained that it is not compulsory that symptoms tally in every case.

Talking to Amritsar Plus, Ahuja said, “The most important part in controlling the disease is to get it diagnosed by a competent neurophysiologist. The patient suffering from it generally does not remain active after suffering from the disease and here family plays a vital role by taking good care of him.”

Balbir, who himself has been battling with the disease for the past 18 years, said “Since I have made yoga, breathing exercises and half-an-hour walk part of my daily routine, I have been able to lead a normal life. Similarly, the patients suffering from this disease can adopt exercises along with medicines for leading a healthy life.”

Ahuja said, “Though many exercises have been able to benefit the patients, walking with big steps and brisk walk in the morning and evening are very effective.” For those who cannot get up from their beds or chairs Ahuja advises them to raise their hands slightly above their heads and bring them down quickly to the arms of the chair and get up fast.

Besides, taking long breathes and lifting chest, with hands on ground, while resting are useful. However, he cautioned that one should discontinue the exercise if they bring pain or discomfort.

Urging patients to refrain from alcohol and smoking, Ahuja said the booklet would help the patients in managing the harmful effects of the disease and added that the resources generated by him would be used for helping the patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.



Diamonds let loose
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 29
With gold prices zooming, Devine Cut Solitaires, a pioneering brand of perfect cut, loose diamonds has been launched in the city, at just the opportune moment.

Certified by internationally reputed labs like the IGI and the GIA, Devine Cut Solitaires is India’s first and only brand of loose solitaire diamonds and it aims at bringing transparency in the market to assure the customer of a high standard product.

The company provides additional guarantee beyond the usual 4Cs such as absence of cavities or naturals, polished girdles and pointed cutlets, no brown or grey overtones and protection from conflict diamonds, artificial colour and clarity enhancement.

Director (marketing) Bhavesh Sheth, while talking to the media said in most diamond jewellery cost of diamonds is 95 per cent of its total value and the customer should not ignore the quality of diamonds they were buying from the market.

Sheth said the company was showcasing its diamonds in the fair organised at PS Seth Sons Jewellers from January 28 to February 3 and would offer “buy one get two” scheme.

The company was offering free, worldwide, all risk insurances policy for one year, endorsed by astrologer Bejan Daruwalla, he added.



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