P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Kalam requests Seechewal to clean Yamuna
Wants ecology on parties’ poll agenda
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Sultanpur Lodhi, July 27
Former President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam asked chairman of the Ek Onkar Charitable Trust Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal and his team to work to clean the Yamuna in Delhi which is responsible for 80 per cent of pollution in the 22-km stretch. He was addressing the concluding programme of an eight-day function organised to mark the kar sewa of Kali Bein in Sultanpur Lodhi today.

Dr Kalam added that making the Yamuna clean was definitely a national challenge which would be remembered by all citizens of the country.

The former President said Baba Seechewal had rightly chosen the mission of purifying the sacred Bein eight months ago and brought to the present stage of cleanliness through efforts of Bein volunteers. Now that the sanctity of the Bein was restored, Babaji could work in making the Yamuna clean, he added.

Earlier, in a chat with mediapersons beside the sewage treatment plant, Dr Kalam said politicians should make environment protection an agenda during electioneering. Candidates should say during electioneering that they would make their respective constituencies clean and if a political party would make environment an election agenda, the other political parties would be left with no option but to do it, he added.

To a query, he said if any politician did not work to protect the environment in a true sense, the public should keep this in mind during voting.

During his address, Dr Kalam said he had come across a model which was executed by NRI H.G.S. Gill at Karodi village in Hoshiarpur district. He used a technology through which individual toilets were connected to a central village sewerage which was being taken to a remote place through an underground closed drainage system. The sewage was treated and solid waste converted into as manure, he said, adding that both treated water and manure were being used for agricultural purposes.

The former President advised the municipalities in Jalandhar, Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur districts to associate Gill with the programme of total village or town cleanliness leading to keep clean the Kali Bein rivulet.

Dr Kalam also cited the example of total sanitation programme of Gandhi Nagar town panchayat in Vellore district where the panchayat authority in collaboration with an NGO had been able to segregate the waste into organic and inorganic items.

Supporting the Indo-US nuclear deal, the former President admitted that electricity produced by nuclear power plants (NPPs) would be expensive compared to hydroelectric and thermal power plants, but at the same time, he said, “We have to pay some price for clean energy”.

To a query on possible radiation and disposal of waste of NPPs, he said nuclear waste generated from already working 14 NPPs in the country was being safely disposed of.

Dr Kalam paid his obeisance at Ber Sahib Gurdwara, visited the sewage treatment plant and inaugurated a Nawan Nankana school for children of slum-dwellers. 


Failed candidates to be teachers
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 27
The state government has decided to appoint failed candidates of a qualifying test conducted by the director of school education as computer teachers in schools.

For a total 1,500 posts of computer teacher, over 15,000 candidates applied and 8,300 appeared for the entrance test. Only 38 candidates secured the qualifying 35 per cent marks. Another 60 candidates had negative scores. A total of 900 candidates secured 25 per cent marks.

The result of the test has put the director of school education in a piquant situation. While students have already deposited fee for the computer subject, there are hardly any teacher available in schools.

Even though the new academic session has started, no computer classes have been held so far. To wriggle out of this situation, the director has sought permission from the government to fill the posts from among the candidates who appeared for the test.

Director-general of school education Krishan Kumar said the matter was reviewed by a high-level committee, chaired by chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh. The committee has given the nod to a proposal to appoint teachers from the first 1,500 candidates in order of merit without taking into consideration the percentage of the candidates in the test.

It has also decided that the teachers, to be appointed on a contractual basis, will be given one-year time to pass the qualifying test, he added.

Krishan Kumar said appointment letters would be issued to these computer teachers shortly.

The eligibility for the post of computer teacher is BCA degree. A large number of postgraduate and some with additional qualification had taken the test. Some of these candidates hold degrees from reputed colleges and institutions.

A retired school principal said the education department was making a big compromise on the quality of education. “How can a candidate who has failed in a qualifying test be a good teacher,” he said.


Study for MSP based on input costs
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
An independent study aimed at fixing the maximum support price (MSP) of wheat and paddy on the lines of industrial production has recommended an MSP of Rs 1,561 for paddy and Rs 2,194 for wheat.

The recommendations of the study, which was conducted by Dr Bikram Singh Virk of NGSA College, Kapurthala, takes into account the actual input costs on 5 acres of land to produce wheat and paddy and adds a 50 per cent profit on the total cost according to the recommendations of the Swaminathan Committee.

The study takes into account the cost of land preparation for both crops whether by the farmer himself or on hire, the cost of direct inputs like fertilisers and pesticides, the joint cost for tilling five acres of land which has been taken as this is the average land holding, the cost of agricultural tools and implements as well as the depreciation on fixed assets.

Explaining why he had taken these parameters, Dr Virk said the aim of the study was to compute the direct and indirect cost of production of both crops and bring out the price fixation on the lines of industrial production.

In land preparation costs the study took into consideration the cost of tilling with discs, double tilling with tillers, hard pressing/ sowing with drill, taking produce to the market and the total diesel consumption to calculate land preparation costs. All these have been calculated at Rs 4,500 for wheat and Rs 3,250 for paddy for one acre each.

Under the direct inputs heading costs on seed, fertilisers and pesticides were calculated. These includes money spent on DAP, urea and zinc fertilisers, wheat and paddy seeds, paddy transplantation cost in case of paddy, weedicide, spray and harvesting costs. These come to Rs 4,670 for wheat and Rs 5,105 for paddy for one acre tilled by the farmer.

Dr Virk said the study also calculated the joint cost involved in producing five acres of wheat and paddy. This came to Rs 28,550 for wheat and Rs 27,550 for paddy for one acre tilled by the farmer and included the salary of one labourer, interest on an average loan of Rs 50,000, repair of pump set, emergency expenditure and repair of agricultural tools.

The study has also for the first time taken into account the investment made by farmers on agricultural implements, including tractors and taken into account the depreciation of his fixed assets. Taking all costs into consideration, it held that a farmer spent Rs 1,332 (Rs 1,592 for land taken on hire) for producing wheat and Rs 973 (Rs 1,107 for land taken on hire) for producing paddy.

By taking the average cost of land tilled by the farmer as well as that hired out by him, the study recommended a 50 per cent profit in both cases. This comes to Rs 1,561 for paddy and Rs 2,194 for wheat.


‘Geneva talks to hit Punjab farmers most’
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
Punjab farmers would be badly hit in case India gives its approval to the Doha proposals put forward by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) at the mini-ministerial meet being held in Geneva in two days time as the current proposals are aimed at reducing safeguard mechanisms on essential commodities like rice, wheat and sugar.

Talking to the TNS here today, Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security representative Devinder Sharma said the Special Safeguard Mechanisms (SSMs) of the WTO presently allowed countries to increase duties in case of import surges. He said the Geneva round was aiming to change the manner in which the SSM measures could be enforced. While these could be imposed in case of an import surge of more than ten per cent of the total volume of the commodity produced in the country, the percentage was proposed to be increased to 40 per cent.

Sharma said in another move against the developed countries, the Geneva round proposed to reduce the products on which SSM measures could be taken.

These had had been reduced to 2.5 per cent of the total 695 food products identified by the WTO. He said under the new proposals these import duties could be enforced only for one year on a particular product.

The agricultural expert said Indian farmers, particularly Punjab farmers, who were the largest contributors to the national food grain pool, would be hit by the decision as they would have to compete with farmers of more advanced countries.

Sharma said the Doha round also proposed to reduce the products designated as “special products” to just 12 per cent of the total products. He said this meant only 84 products could be protected. This protection would also be for a period of only three years, as the government would have to reduce the import duty on these products by 36 per cent each year, he added.

The expert said the WTO was biased towards the developing world and had allowed both the US and the European Union (EU) to continue to provide subsidies to its farmers. He said even in the Doha round the US and the EU had maintained an upper cap which they could revert to even while reducing subsidies to its farmers. The US farm bill of 2008 had a provision of $307 billion subsidy to farmers, which was $20 billion more than that given to farmers in the last bill five years back.

Sharma claimed that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was being pressurised to yield to the US interests and that the Indian negotiators should withdraw from the Geneva talks.



Libra followed his conscience: Khangura
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh,July 27
In a letter to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Congress MLA from Qila Raipur, Jasbir Singh Khangura has stated that Sukhdev Singh Libra deserved national and international recognition for his sacrifice.

“He will forever have a special place in the hearts of Punjabis long after they have forgotten your questionable service. He voted with a conscience that long ago deserted your party,” states the letter sent to Badal today.

The recent endorsement of confidence motion by Parliament to pursue the nuclear deal, poses special challenges for your SAD-BJP ruling alliance in Punjab.

“Despite six decades of public service you failed to sense the mood of Punjab masses and enforced the rule of a select few over the majority opinion in your party and ignored the aspiration of almost every Sikh here and abroad. Dr Manmohan Singh deserved the particular support of Punjab MPs at this critical juncture,” he has written.

“Unlike you, I do not for a moment wish to play on religious sentiments, but as a Sikh I feel utterly ashamed that this country’s first Sikh PM was denied the majority support of Punjab’s Lok Sabha MPs,” Khangura states in the letter.

“You have every right to question the judgement of Manmohan Singh, but it was your duty to explain clearly your differential position to the electorate. That you failed to do so and merely parroted the BJP’s position, leaves one to wonder whether the Akali party will ever be able to play a constructive role in Parliament,” he adds.

“These allies that allow you to cling to power in Punjab, where were they when this state was burning, when the Congress Union government guaranteed yours and your family’s personal safety, and when various members of your family sought refuge on those very shores that now are party to this nuclear deal? But there is still time for you to apologise to the hard-working and electricity-deficient people of Punjab for this gross error of judgement,” says Khangura to Badal in the letter.


Election of Sarpanch
Panches allege irregularity
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
Panches from Landa village in Moga district today alleged that officials on duty at the counting station had refused to acknowledge their representative as sarpanch though six out of total 11 panches were on one side.

The complaint made to the state Election Commission claimed that the tehsildar on duty had taken the vote of one of the panches - Gurdev Kaur into his own hands. It said the deputy superintendent of police was also present in the counting room in violation of rules and had threatened them that if they did not elect the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-aligned panch as sarpanch. All six panches, Raghbir Singh, Gurdev Singh, Budh Singh, Budh Singh, son of Baljit Singh, Charanjit Singh and Kiranjit Kaur, have submitted a joint complaint in this regard.

Official admits to political pressure

Amritsar: Resentment prevailed among various farmer unions over the alleged malpractices in the conduct of sarpanches’ elections.

District president of the Jamhoori Kisan Union Rattan Singh Randhawa said they, along with the Dehati Mazdoor Sabha, would launch a struggle against the district administration for the alleged murder of democracy. He said villagers of the Beas, Ajnala, Attari, and Rajasansi areas would hold a series of dharnas near the office of the deputy commissioner besides filing petitions against him in the High Court.

Randhawa alleged SDM (II) Manpreet Singh had ignored the rules while conducting the elections due to political pressure, he alleged.

One of the senior officers of the district administration admitted that they were under political pressure from SAD ministers and had to declare the sarpanch from the groups which do not even have the majority. In Lahori Mal and Neshta villages, the presiding officers submitted election reports without informing the majority group. When villagers approached the SDM, he expressed his helplessness.

Meanwhile, panches of Neshta village, a majority of them belonging to the BJP, met health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla.


‘Minority group man elected sarpanch’
P.K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, July 27
The presiding officer has nominated one Jasbir Singh of minority group as sarpanch showing the majority group absent in the proceeding book on July 22, allegedly on back date.

The majority group led by former senior vice-president SGPC, Dalip Singh Gill, alleged that the officer fled during the elections on July 22 on pretext of calling the police and had not returned. The member panchayats said as per the government instructions to hold the elections on July 19, but after passing the necessary resolution the officer adjourned the meeting to July 22. They had brought this matter in the notice of Brahmpura and the DC on July 24 itself. The DC had then directed the DDPO to hold elections.

It is pertinent to mention here that earlier the majority group led by Dalip Gill had alleged that presiding officer Balwinder Singh, was delaying the election under political pressure to help the minority group led by one Jasbir Singh who belonged to the SAD.


Property of 3 drug smugglers to be attached
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 27
As a measure to prevent smuggling of drugs in the state, the Department of Revenue under the Union Ministry of Finance has allowed the Punjab Police to attach property of three accused in smuggling of drugs cases registered recently in different parts of the district.

A senior police officer, requesting anonymity, said, “The matter of drug-trafficking gains importance in context of Punjab being one of the transit points of drugs from outside the country. It is a fact that Afghanistan is one of the major narcotic producers in the world. The route through Pakistan leaves the option of entry through Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Rajasthan. Recent findings pointed out that the exercise also involved arms and fake currency. The police is keeping tab on possible routes of the contraband".

Confirming the development regarding property attachment, Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, senior superintendent of police (Rural), said, “We have received the permission to attach property of Amarjit Singh from Kulgera village, Sukhdev Singh from Akhara village and Budh Singh from Rasheel village. The property will be attached and the police has sent two more cases, which are the consideration of the Ministry of Finance”.

Drug deals were being carried out in Jagraon, Sidhwan Bet and Dehlon areas. The accused have been booked under the Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Property) Act formulated under the NDPS Act, 1985.

The police also faces how to tackle sale of intoxicants off the counter by medical shops. R.K.Jaiswal SSP said, “Drugs sold off the counter are not under the purview of the police. It is very difficult to check it till addicts can buy addictive pills and syrups off the shelf from chemists”.


4 chartered planes to transport postal material
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 27
After the successful use of a chartered aeroplane to transport postal material in the eastern sector (Kolkata, Guwahati, Agartala and Mizoram etc), the Department of Posts has plans to charter four aeroplanes for transporting postal material in the northern, southern, western and central sectors of the country.

Chief postmaster general (CPG), Punjab circle, Prithvi Raj Kumar, said here that the proposed introduction of the chartered aeroplane service in the four remaining sectors would bring a revolution in transporting postal material at a very fast speed throughout the country.

The CPG said in the Punjab circle of the department, there were 3,908 post offices, of which 807 big post offices situated in urban areas would be fully computerised in two and a half years.


Sikh heritage vandalised in Pakistan
Varinder Walia/Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 27
The Pakistan Evacuee Property Trust Board, which controls the religious shrines in Pakistan, including gurdwaras, has whitewashed frescos at historical Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore, in utter disregard to the Sikh heritage.

This vandalisation act has been despite tall claims of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) and the board about the preservation of the Sikh heritage. A senior teacher of Guru Nanak Dev University, Balvinder Singh, took the pictures of the destruction of Sikh heritage during his recent visit to Pakistan. He said while a portion of the old frescos had been whitewashed, coloured glasses had replaced the fresh ones on the other side of the gurdwara. Gurdwara Dera Sahib is situated opposite Lahore Fort near Badshahi Mosque. This is the place where fifth Sikh master Guru Arjan Dev was tortured to death in the Ravi on May 30, 1606 AD.

At the site where the Guru attained martyrdom, a Thara (platform) Sahib was built by Guru Hargobind in Samvat 1619 when he came to Lahore on a visit to religious places. Later, Maharaja Ranjit Singh got the building of the gurdwara constructed.

It was Balvinder Singh who first raised the issue of fast vanishing frescos (Mohrakashi) at Gurdwara Dera Sahib about three years ago. However, the Pakistan authorities did not consult the conservationists or heritage experts before taking up the renovation work at the gurdwara.

A similar damage to Sikh heritage had been done at Indian gurdwaras during “kar sewa” by babas. Earlier, allegations had been levelled against the Pakistan authorities for using national green colour on certain Sikh shrines.


Fatwa against terrorism
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 27
Shahi Imam, Jama Masjid, Maulana Habib-ur-Rehmann here today issued a fatwa against the persons behind serial blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad killing several.

He said the accused in the case could not call it jehad as Islam terms such killings cowardly. But the government had to take care not to harass innocent Muslims in the name of searching terrorists.

He said the accused should be hanged publicly.


Student thrashed by teacher
PSHRC seeks report from govt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
Taking cognisance of a report in an English daily regarding thrashing in a school leading to hearing problem of a child, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) asked the Punjab government to submit a report on the issue.

As per the news, Simrandeep, a student of class VII of St Soldier School, Phagwara, in Kapurthala district, lost hearing power in one ear as a result of thrashing by his teacher.

His MLR has also been issued by the Civil Hospital, Phagwara. It is feared that the ear drum has been damaged. Yash Pal Sharma, principal of the school, showed ignorance about the incident till parents of the boy reported it to him.

The PSHRC also took suo motu notice of a news regarding unqualified persons running clinical laboratories in the Civil Hospital, Samana, in Patiala. The PSHRC has asked DHS & FW Punjab, Chandigarh, to submit a report on it.

Taking cognisance of a report in a daily, the PSHRC has called for a report from the Punjab government. The news appeared from Samana in Patiala district.

It was reported that six clinical laboratories were being run by unqualified persons near the Civil Hospital and on the Tehsil Road, Samana. Dr Panthi, the then SMO of the Civil Hospital, Samana, got the laboratory functioning near the said hospital closed, but with his transfer the laboratory again started functioning.

It was stated that there are so many laboratories in this town being run illegally by the unprofessionals, who were playing with lives of people. It was also alleged that some Civil Hospital doctors connived with the owners of these illegal laboratories and referred patients to these laboratories.


CAT order to chief postmaster
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
Disposing of the application of Vijay Kumar Pandora, the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has asked the chief postmaster to consider the plea of the applicant if he is acquitted in the case of missing passbooks that is pending in the trial court.

Working as a sub-postmaster at Anandpur Sahib, Punjab, Vijay Kumar stated that 400 blank passbooks were stolen from his locked almirah with help of a duplicate key. Thereafter, inquiries were made to find out the reason. It was further added that from April 27 to May 1, 2004, entries were made in the error book by Vijay Kumar and he reported the loss in writing. The department then imposed a minor penalty on the applicant and issued a charge sheet to Vijay Kumar, holding him responsible for loss of the passbooks on May 29, 2005. In reply to the charge sheet submitted on June 22, 2005, by the applicant, it was stated that the passbooks were stolen and an inquiry was demanded to ascertain the loss.

Subsequently, the department imposed a penalty of holding back the increment of the applicant for two years without recording reasons for not holding inquiry.

While pronouncing the orders, the CAT observed: “To conclude, we record that it is a case of evidence in which, on the basis of material on record, charge has been proved against the applicant. He has been given due opportunity to defend himself. The orders passed by the department meet the requirement of law as the points raised by the applicant have been dealt with. The punishment imposed upon him is a minor one and not a major penalty. However, we are informed that a criminal case is pending against the applicant in regard to loss of passbooks and if he is exonerated, the applicant may be given liberty to represent the department on basis of such acquittal.”


Lyallpur College, varsity at loggerheads
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 27
Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar, students’ future seems to be uncertain as Guru Nanak Dev (GND) University and the college management continue to be at loggerheads over the appointment of a regular principal.

The assistant registrar of the university in a letter to the president of the governing council, Lyallpur Khalsa College, has said the university would not entertain any correspondence with the college management till the appointment of the seniormost teacher of the college as principal.

The appointment of the junior-most professor, Gurvinder Singh Samra, as vice-principal of Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar, had led principal Satish Kapoor to resign in protest against the appointment.

However, taking a serious view of not appointing regular principal in the college in violation of the university calendar, the university had instructed all colleges affiliated with it to fill post of principal by July 31. 


Early monsoon boon for cotton, paddy; Malwa farmers upbeat
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
The mood in Punjab’s countryside is upbeat due to very good paddy and cotton crops. Good kharif crops mean record paddy and cotton produce if all goes well till the harvesting of paddy and picking of cotton in October-November. Power problem bothers farmers the most at this stage. Prolonged power cuts have made life miserable for people. Heat and humidity have made life hell in rural areas.

After visiting paddy and cotton-rich belt of Malwa, including Patiala, Sangrur, Mansa and Bathinda districts, The Tribune found that the cost of production may fall by about Rs 1,500-Rs 2,000 per acre on the nursing paddy, courtesy the early breaking out of monsoon in the region. But for certain parts of the Bathinda region, other areas have had good rain.

“We are thankful to the rain gods this year,” says Bogh Singh, a progressive farmer near Budhlada. “Two spells of rain will be good in the next two-three weeks and if the latter half of August and September-October is free from rain, especially in the cotton belt because cotton will be in the flowering and maturing stage and so will be paddy,”he says.

“Earlier even after the supply of power for eight hours by the PSEB, farmers had to run diesel sets to irrigate paddy. But this year, good rain in June and the first fortnight of July saved farmers from this expenditure,” says Joginder Singh of Sajuma village, near Sunam.

“We had to spent Rs 600 to Rs 800 per acre extra this time owing to shortage of labour, but good rain compensated us as we have spent less on diesel this year so far,”he says.

“There is mealy bug attack on cotton crop, but it is not widespread and intensive. With pesticide spray it can be managed,” said Bogh Singh. “At this stage crops are doing very well,” adds Bogh Singh, who has sown cotton on 16 acres, but transplanted paddy for the first time as he is expecting good return from it.

“Tillering of paddy plant is far better compared to last year. Early breaking of monsoon has a positive effect on paddy and cotton crops,”says Gurdev Singh of Gill village near Rampura Phul.

“Cotton and paddy are excellent and free from disease,”says Balwinder Singh Sidhu, director, Agriculture, Punjab.

Punjab’s average yield of paddy has been 24 quintals per acre, but this time it may go up to 26 quintals and some progressive farmers may get up to 36 quintals. The area under paddy is expected to touch 27 lakh hectares against the government’s target of 23.75 lakh hectares. Area under cotton this year is 5.30 lakh hectares, less by 70,000 hectares compared to last year. The government expects 24 lakh bales of cotton from it.

As Maharashtra, Karnataka and some other adjoining states are facing drought-like situation, cotton price this year is likely to go up to Rs 4,000 per quintal. There are reports cotton traders are in touch with farmers in Punjab to buy cotton at a price varying between Rs 3,500 and Rs 4,000 per quintal in November-December.


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