P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


3,500 teachers to move
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune New Service

Ludhiana , August 9
At least 3,500 teachers across the state will be transferred in the current session (2008-2009) in the coming week under “rationalisation” of work force in schools. Apart from transfers to schools in cities, a large number of teachers will be moved to schools in rural areas.

Harish Rai Dhanda, chief parliamentary secretary, showed a file of applications of 70 teachers wanting transfers stalled on “various technical grounds”. As many as 540 teachers in Ludhiana district are to be transferred.

Dhanda claimed irregularities in the deployment of teachers in government schools of the state. “Under the existing conditions, we found schools where certain teachers took only five/six lectures in a week and even lower,” he said. Each teacher is expected to take at least 30 lectures in a week.

The government has initiated a move to shift lecturers, masters and mistresses from schools which had surplus teaching staff. “Teachers will be shifted to vacant posts in their own towns or villages, in their first preferences, or to a nearby village, in case of need,” Dhanda said.

The government has fixed the teacher-taught ratio at 1:40 for classes VI to X. For plus II classes, the ratio is 1:60. In case, the quota crosses the maximum strength by 10 per cent, a separate section will be provided for in the school concerned. The teachers not conforming to the requirement of minimum classes for plus II classes will also be expected to take classes IX and X.

Schools are expected to appoint teachers for subjects which have at least 10 students and classes having less than 10 students will likely be wound up. A section of teachers is demanding a uniform transfer policy. A woman teacher said, “Teachers, like us, who have no political or official connections always end up paying for any changes by the department. Those having connections always manage the place of choice”. A senior teacher said, “We don't mind transfers in case the state announced uniform transfer policy even if it meant being moved out after three or five years".

The policy clarifies that the teachers with more than 50 per cent physical disability or those suffering from cancer or serious heart diseases will not be moved out. It has been clarified that a city or a town should be treated as a single unit and a surplus teacher should, in the first place, be shifted within the city of his current posting. In case, a teacher was surplus, he could be moved anywhere in the tehsil. It has also been clarified that in case no proper vacancy for a teacher was found in the city concerned, town or tehsil, a teacher could be moved anywhere in the state.


DEOs asked to consult MLAs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
The Education Department authorities at the district level will consult SAD-BJP MLAs before ordering the transfer of a school teacher in rural areas. Instructions in this connection were given to officials concerned after a meeting of MLAs of the 20 districts.

Most of the SAD-BJP MLAs were unhappy over the transfers of teachers by the department.

The education minister has met MLAs of all 20 districts and told them to discuss all transfers of teachers related to their constituencies with district education officers and finalise the lists in this regard. In case of transfer from one constituency to another, MLAs of both constituencies should find the solution. There are several constituencies not represented by SAD-BJP MLAs. In those constituencies, in charges nominated by the party have been asked to look into the matter.

There are three types of transfer. First, teachers promoted as lecturers and transferred to other districts. Second, transfers of teachers declared surplus and are either under transfer or to be transferred in days to come. Third, masters transferred in routine.

Sources said at the meeting, the MLAs informed the minister of mishandling of the transfer issue had created ill-will among teachers against the government.

The sources said 2,500 teachers were promoted lecuturers. Most of them have been adjusted in their respective districts.

However, some of the lecturers, especially of English, have to be posted at faraway places. For instance, 40 lecturers of English were promoted in Amritsar district, but there were only five vacancies available. The remaining 35 will have to be posted out of the district. Likewise, 80 masters were promoted as English lecuters in Gurdaspur district, but only 36 vacancies were available in that district. And 44 had to be posted out of the district.

Same is case in Ropar, Sangrur and Patiala. In Mohali, 14 masters were promoted lecturers, but only one vacancy was available. The remaining had to be posted out.

But Pritpal Singh, president, Punjab Gazzetted and Non-Gazetted Employees Organisation, said the Education Department should explain why the process of promotions and transfers was not made transparent.

He said the government represented all people of the state and not relatives or friends of politicians. Justice should be given first to those employees who had no influence. He said why was the government not responding to queries raised by district education officers. People had to chase their cases even on small issues such as to get their name corrected in transfer orders or to get the name of station spelt correctly.


Derecognition threat looms large
Another professor of Amritsar medical college resigns
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 9
Even as the local Government Medical College, the premier medical institute of Northern India, has been facing an acute shortage of funds and a staff that has virtually crippled its working, Dr K.S. Sodhi, another associate professor of bio-chemistry has resigned.

The college has been facing the prospect of de-recognition by the Medical Council of India (MCI) due to staff shortage. The resignation of another senior teacher may compound the problems for college authorities.

To avoid the derecognition by the MCI, Amritsar’s Government Medical College covers up staff shortage by deploying doctors from elsewhere. During the MCI inspections, new nameplates are hung outside rooms to make good the inadequacies. The two other medical colleges at Patiala and Faridkot do the same when their turn for an inspection comes. A simultaneous MCI inspection may expose the games played in the state’s three medical colleges.

After he joined Government Medical College, Amritsar, in 1972 as a first-year MBBS student, Sodhi had seen many downfalls in the history of the college which once ranked in the top 10 medical colleges of India. Today, the college had been served notice under Section 19, MCI, and is still written on the website of MCI as to why the college may not be decrecognised.

Sodhi has been at logger-heads with the authorities and written many letters to the health minister and authorities concerned recently due to his tussle with the head of the department of bio-chemistry. He had written to the state government that the head of the department was not eligible as she had obtained a degree from Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana. However, the head of the department claimed that she was eligible. An inquiry was initiated against Sodhi for raising this issue.

Earlier, Sodhi had highlighted the alleged tampering of the result of MBBS ( first professional), conducted by Baba Farid Health University. The health university had to withhold the results of 150 students of MBBS (first professional) for some time, following a tussle between two internal examiners over the signing of “extra award lists”. Kuldip Singh Sodhi, the then internal examiner, had refused to bow to the alleged pressure of a senior professor of the college who forced him (Dr Sodhi) to put his signature on the “extra award list”. It may be mentioned here that the MCI sent a team of three inspectors to inspect the medical college on June 14 , 2006, and found 33.9 per cent shortage of teaching faculty.

After the MCI inspection, some senior teachers, including Dr Amrit Kaur, prof and head, retired on March 31 last year, thereby creating a shortage of one more professor. Dr Baljit Singh Dhillon, associate professor, left the medical college and joined the SGPC-run SGRD Medical College, Valla. Another inspection (called compliance) was done in January, 2007, and more teachers were found short. The MCI conducted yet another compliance in June, 2008, and found no improvement in the staff position. The notice issued is still displayed on the website of MCI till today.


Fresh challan against Virk illegal: Son
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 9
Pradeep Virk, son of former DGP of Punjab S.S. Virk, today stated that the supplementary challan filed by the investigating agency in his father’s case in a local court here yesterday was not just illegal but also violative of the orders of the Supreme Court. Pradeep pointed out that the Supreme Court had had held Virk’s repatriation valid and had directed Punjab to send any material found against him to the Centre.

“Moreover, no sanction has been obtained while presenting the challan. In this case the sanction for prosecution had to come from the government of India and that too after the entire case material had been sent to the Maharashtra government. The allegations in this challan are exactly similar to that of the main challan presented earlier, which, too, was filed without sanction. It is merely an attempt to malign my father’s image in public,” he said.

Pointing out at holes in the investigating agency’s method of investigation, Pradeep said investigation in Virk’s case began on February 15, 2008, and S.K. Asthana presented the interim report within four days to the home secretary, Punjab, indicting Virk. “The High Court, vide its order dated January 17, 2008, had made it clear that the officer, who would probe the allegations against Virk, would not rely on any material given to him by the Vigilance Bureau, Punjab. If the orders were adhered to, then how was it possible for Asthana to complete such a detailed inquiry in such a short period?” asked Pradeep.

Pradeep, who is also now Virk’s counsel in the Mohali court, added: “The allegations that Chimney Heights Resort has been constructed in violation of the law, CLU charges have not been paid and government approvals were not obtained are absolutely false. Loans worth crores were obtained from banks, which have not been taken into consideration and media propaganda has been launched as if money has been obtained illegally.”

Denying that Virk and his family members have 37 bank accounts, Pradeep said all of them are income tax payees. “The so-called 37 bank accounts do not belong to Virk or his family. In order to increase the number of bank accounts, the investigating agency has added accounts of cousins, uncles and also included their closed and dormant accounts,” he said.

Pradeep pointed out that since each account was opened using the same PAN number how could Virk attempt to conceal his identity? “If the money alleged by S.K. Asthana in the challan was unaccounted for, why would my father put the same in bank accounts, statements of which are furnished to the income tax authorities?” he asked.

Stating that the allegation that Virk bought property at a rate much lower than the market rate is also false, Pradeep said it was a matter of record that the land was registered at prices much higher than those of all other lands in the vicinity. “Every purchase of land was duly informed to the government,” said Pradeep.


Malwa: Test of political sagacity of Badals, Amarinder
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
“The General is back. Now we can take on Akali leadership that had made life miserable for our activists in the countryside”. Congress leader from the Malwa region Rampal Daipee commented on former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s return to Punjab’s political scene.

The Malwa region under Amarinder had wiped out the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)politically in the last Assembly elections. The SAD, in its stronghold Malwa, had not suffered such a humiliating defeat earlier.

Malwa, most significant political region in the state, is again set to be a political battle ground between Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, his son Sukhbir and Amarinder as the region has seven Lok Sabha seats and the rest of the state six. Amarinder’s political brief is win maximum number of Parliament seats. Badal and his son will go all out to wrest Malwa from Amarinder, whereas the latter will try to retain it.

“The Congress has for the first time a leader in Amarinder, who politically is as tall as Badal not only in the Malwa region, but in the state,” says Harnek Singh Gharuan, a former Congress minister. “In fact, I would say in politics former Chief Minister is sharper than his political rival Badal,”adds Gharuan.

“For 50 years Malwa had by and large stood with the Badals and Akalis, but it was Amarinder who broke their hold on that region,” claims Gharuan. Amarinder has political advantage in his understanding of Jat-Sikh psyche and use of Sikh religious idiom for political purpose. It will not be a surprise if all anti-Badal Akali factions start moving towards the former Chief Minister openly or discreetly in the days to come. In the Congress, he dominates clearly in Punjab. Amarinder will need to focus more in urban political constituency where the Congress used to be strong earlier.

With the former Chief Minister being made chairman of the campaign committee in Punjab, the Congress high command has sent first clear signal that it is ready to take on the SAD leadership. In one and half years, the Congress high command has clearly adopted a soft line towards the SAD-led government.

Senior Congress ministers, especially Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Delhi, gave respect to Badal and tried to accommodate the demands raised by him. The Congress-led government at the Centre never needled the Badal government. The Congress high command was, perhaps, expecting that in case of its political separation from the Left, it can ask for political support to the Sikh Prime Minister in Parliament. And the Congress did ask for support.

Badal denied support to Dr Manmohan Singh. The very next day of the voting on trust motion in Parliament, a senior Congress leader had told The Tribune from now onwards, the Congress would take a tough line against the SAD-led government in Punjab. The appointment of Amarinder should be seen in that context.


Speakers’ Conference
Kahlon unhappy with finance dept
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
A strong protest by speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon regarding his visit to Malaysia for a conference of speakers of Commonwealth countries has created an embarrassing situation for the Punjab government.

Kahlon was unable to attend the conference as clearance to the visit was not granted by the Finance Department till August 1 evening, the day conference began at Kuala Lumpur. The conference will conclude tomorrow. The speaker has summoned a senior officer on August 11 for “gross negligence on the part of the Finance Department in dealing with the issue”. The speaker today said he had decided to hand over the matter to the Privileges Committee of the House.

Kahlon, a member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, had informed Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on July 18 regarding his visit to Kaula Lumpur. Badal had given his nod to the visit. Though the expenses of the visit were to be borne by the Vidhan Sabha, its approval was to be given by the Finance Department. So, the Vidhan Sabha secretariat had forwarded the case of visit on July 21 to the Chief Minister’s office that forwarded it to the Finance Department for action.

Kahlon said whenever the Vidhan Sabha secretariat asked about the progress of the case file, the Finance Department said it would inform when processing was completed. On the evening of August 1, the approval was sent to the speaker. By that time it was late because the conference had begun on that day. Kahlon said he had spoken to finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal to expedite the matter and he (Manpreet) had responded positively.

Kahlon added the authorities concerned had tried to belittle the status of the speaker by dealing with the file of his visit in a most casual manner. He said he would question the Finance Department officer concerned in this regard on August 11. He said Punjab remained unrepresented at the conference whereas speaker of the Haryana Assembly, some other states and even of the Lok Sabha attended it.

“I have been denied right to attend the conference,” he said.



Sakki-Kiran nullah to be tamed
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 9
Efforts made by senior officials of state irrigation and drainage department have yielded result with the central water commission (CWC) clearing the Sakki-Kiran nullah (flowing through Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts) canalisation project, which has been hanging fire for the past 20 years.

Earlier, attempts to get funds for the project from Nabard and the LIC had failed.

“The CWC has cleared an investment of Rs 118 crore for the project. It will contribute 75 per cent of the cost as grant-in-aid. The remaining cost will be born by the Punjab government. The matter has been sent to a high-powered committee of the planning department and finance department of the Centre for further action,” said Baljeet Singh Sandhu, superintendent engineer, irrigation and drainage department.

The canalisation of 150-km Sakki-Kiran nullah, which included deepening of its bed, construction of 36 new high-level bridges, remodelling of nine existing bridges, setting up new regulators and construction of permanent outfalls, would benefit about 40 villages falling in Fathegarh Churian, Ajnala and Dera Baba Nanak subdivisions.

The nullah, which originates from the Dinanagar area of Gurdaspur and merges into the Ravi near Swailpur Kohlian village in Ajnala sector of Amritsar district, is a major source of floods in about 40 villages apart from soil erosion. Other three nullahs falling in the Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC) tract of both districts have been canalised.

Apart from causing floods and soil erosion every year, the overflowing nullah in rainy seasons would cut a number of villages in border areas from the main land. Even the canalisation of the nullah is important from the Defence point of view.

Sandhu said work on the project would start immediately after the rainy season.


NREGA scheme for all dists
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) Scheme, already been successfully implemented in Hoshiarpur district, will now be extended to all districts of Punjab and the state will focus on 100 per cent utilisation of NREGA funds.

In a review meeting on the subject, Ranjeet Singh Brahmpura, rural development and panchayats minister, Punjab, recently directed officers to plan proposals for works in villages at the earliest so that Central funding could be achieved and the state could make budgetary allocations for participation.

Brahmpura said the NREGA scheme had already been successfully launched in Hoshiarpur district by covering entire rural areas and ensuring 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every rural household, whose adult members are willing to do unskilled manual labour. He added that 1,328 projects had been implemented in the district generating 15.57 lakh man-days by utilising Rs 2,500.21 lakh.

He asked the officers to highlight the benefits of these Centrally sponsored developmental schemes in rural areas so that beneficiaries could avail benefits of these schemes. Brahmpura said the major achievement of NREGA was that idle youth who were taking drugs had come back to work. The rural men and women, who were engaged in development works under NREGA, had already changed their lifestyle.

In the meeting, besides reviewing progress of development works undertaken by various departments/gram panchayats and for further successful implementation of the scheme, he asked the officers to ensure proper utilisation of funds.


Front appeals to J-K Muslims for peace
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, August 9
Leaders of the Rashtriya Muslim Front have urged Muslim leaders of the Kashmir not to object to the handing over the land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board.

A group of Muslim leaders across the country, under the banner of the Pegam Aman Yatra, reached here last evening. They included Maulana Kari Hirzab Rehman, Shahi Imam Jharkhand, Dr Salim Raj, state minister of Chhattisgarh, Tanvir Ahmed, convener and former president, Central Haj Committee, Salawat Khan, chairman, Rajasthan Wakf Board, and Imam Umer Ahmed, president, Bharatiya Muslim Parishad. They appealed to the Muslim leaders of the Kashmir to adopt a national approach and not create hindrance in the handing over of the land to the Board.

Addressing a rally, Tanvir said the land in question should be transferred to the Board.This would end the row and bring peace and harmony in J&K and adjoining areas of other states.

More than 300 activists of Hindu organisations welcomed the Muslim leaders.


Report on separate gurdwara panel in 15 days: Hooda
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 9
Chief Minister of Haryana Bhupinder Singh Hooda inaugurated an advanced hernia and piles surgery centre at Dewan Hospital here today.

Addressing mediapersons after the function, Hooda said the committee constituted under Cabinet minister Harmohinder Singh Chaddha to look into the issue of Haryana Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee would submit its report in 15 days.

Replying to a query on the Mohali International Airport, Hooda said: “The airport is not the Mohali airport, but it is the Chandigarh airport. It is a matter of pride that it is being named after the great freedom fighter Shaheed Bhagat Singh,” he said.

The Haryana government has increased the prize money for Olympic gold medalists from Rs 1 crore to Rs 2 crore followed by Rs 1 crore and Rs 50 lakh for silver and bronze medalists, respectively.

“I am preparing for international veteran tournament of lawn tennis to be held in Turkey from October 22 to 24,” stated Hooda.

Commenting on the Dera Sacha Sauda issue, he said it was the duty of the state to control law and order situation. At the same time all religions should be free to preach and practise their doctrines, he added. “No one is above law. If it is needed, the government will initiate action against the Dera Sacha Sauda chief,” said the Chief Minister.


Akal Takht chief leaves for Hazur Sahib
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 9
Giani Gurbachan Singh, Jathedar, Akal Takht, today left for Takht Hazur Sahib, Nanded (Maharashtra), where he will be honoured by P.S.Pasricha, president, Takht Hazur Sahib Management Committee, tomorrow ending an era of confrontation between the Sikh clergy of Punjab and outside.

The Sikh clergy of Hazur Sahib, headed by Jathedar Kulwant Singh, had supported the stand taken by Jathedar, Patna Sahib, on Dasam Granth. Both Takht Patna Sahib and Hazur Sahib had rejected the Nanakshahi calendar, approved by the SGPC and Akal Takht. However, after his installation as Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Gurbachan Singh had said he would try to bring uniformity of maryada (Sikh code) in all Sikh institutions.


Graveyard ‘encroached on’, burial delayed
Chander Parkash
Tribune News service

Gurdaspur, August 9
The family of deceased Bashir Masih, a Christian of Devi Dass village of this district, was forced to wait for 72 hours to bury his body at the Christian graveyard, thanks to an alleged encroachment on it.

Members of the family buried the body late this afternoon after the court of the additional district and sessions judge directed the police and the panchayat to do the needful in the matter.

Bashir died on Thursday. The land belonging to the Christian graveyard was under the possession of certain persons. They had even got a stay order from the court of the additional district and sessions judge against the vacation order passed by SDM, Gurdaspur, Iqbal Singh Sandhu.

Mintoo, a kin of the deceased, said today that the panchayat moved the court of additional district and sessions judge seeking adequate land for the Christian graveyard to bury the body of Bashir.

The alleged encroachment has led to resentment among members of Christian community. The place has been mentioned as graveyard in the revenue record. Certain members of the community had to bury their dead at the village cremation ground.


Shaheed Dhadhogal remembered
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 9
The 70th martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Dhadhogal, freedom fighter of the Riyasti Parja Mandal Movement, was observed in his Dhadhogal village, near Dhuri, today.

A shaheedi conference was also organised at the village, which was addressed among others by Punjab PWD minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, MLA Balbir Singh Ghunas, MLA Iqbal Singh Jhundan, national vice-president of the SAD Rajinder Singh Kanjhla, SAD general secretary Balwinder Singh Bhundar, former MLA Gobind Singh Kanjhla and SGPC executive member Sant Baba Tek Singh Dhanaula. All leaders paid rich tributes to the martyr.

Earlier in the day, Sangrur deputy commissioner V.K. Ohri, SSP Naunihal Singh and Dhuri SDM Diprava Lakra paid tributes to the martyr by garlanding his statue situated at Bagrian Chowk at Dhuri.


Gill is acting chief of SAD legal wing
Tribune News service

Ludhiana, August 9
Iqbal Singh Gill has been appointed acting president of the legal wing of the SAD. An announcement in this regard was made by Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, local MP, here today. Harish Rai Dhanda, chief parliamentary secretary, continues to be the president of the wing. Dhillon said: “Dhanda is burdened heavily with government and party work because of which he was unable to devote adequate time to the legal wing. Gill will reach out to the legal fraternity in the entire state”.


Treatment of freedom fighters distressing: HC
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
The Punjab and Haryana High Court says denying freedom fighters their due amounted to “disservice”, especially when the state exchequer was available to the government officers for enjoying freebies. The state of affairs, the High Court has made it clear, was distressing.

In a significant ruling that ought to serve as an eye-opener, Justice Ranjit Singh has held: “It is distressing to notice that freedom fighters still continue to struggle to get their dues and have to fight litigation to get it.”

The judgment is one of the many pronounced by Justice Ranjit Singh on the issue. In almost all the pronouncements, Justice Ranjit Singh has expressed anguish that freedom fighters’ struggle has not ended with the country’s independence.

In the recent judgement on a petition by freedom fighter P.N. Kapoor, Justice Ranjit Singh has further held: “The state government of Punjab or the officials dealing with such cases may like to refresh themselves about the purpose for which Freedom Fighter Pension Scheme was introduced by the Central government on 25th year of Independence of this nation.”

“Apart from being a financial help, it is basically an honour, which has been conferred on such persons, who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the country’s freedom.

To put them to any disadvantage would be doing disservice to those persons, who fought for the freedom of this country, where the state exchequer is available for freebies to various rungs of government hierarchy”.

Justice Ranjit Singh has added: “I wonder if being a freedom fighter pensioner could be considered a disadvantage. Rather, such person should be treated to advantage as he has sacrificed the best part of his life for the cause of the nation. He should be given this as honour, instead of being deprived of those benefits to which he is entitled to”.

Referring to Kapoor’s petition, Justice Ranjit Singh has asserted: “A freedom fighter, recipient of freedom fighter pension from the Punjab government, is before the court to seek reimbursement of amount spent by him on his sick wife, who unfortunately died on May 17, 2005.

“The state government will not budge from its adamant attitude and would invent one reason or another to deny his claim, rather than showing any compassion or grace”.

Coming down heavily on it, Justice Ranjit Singh allowed the petition and held Kapoor was entitled to seek reimbursement of medical expenses. The state was also asked to pay Rs 10, 000 cost to the petitioner.


BKU wants quality education to all
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Khanna, August 9
The Bharti Kisan Union (BKU) has urged the Punjab government to ensure quality education to all students regardless of economic status.

The BKU resolution at a gathering near here said the government should end discrimination in the education sector in the state. “Whereas some of the students belonging to rich families get the chance to study in the best schools and benefit from the latest knowledge, there are thousands who are not provided even with teachers in government schools,” said Balbir Singh Rajewal.

Such a social divide in education was leading to problems in the state, he added.

He said denial of quality education to students in rural areas had become a norm rather than an exception and the BKU would make it an issue. For several years, the education system in rural areas had collapsed. The successive governments were responsible for chaos in the education system, he said. For years, government schools had not been provided with teachers. Moreover, higher education had been made so costly that wards of small and marginal farmers and landless people could not think to study engineering, medical and other professional courses. “There should be area schools where all students of the area should study, all getting equal opportunity,” he said. The schools meant for students from rich families should be closed and likewise schools meant for rural students should also be shut down,” he added.

Let there be uniform education for all. He urged teaching community to understand its social responsibility. There were 14 lakh unemployed youths in Punjab. They should be trained for skilled jobs.


Seed farm across fence near Ravi planned
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
The Punjab Agriculture Department has worked on the proposal mooted by Amritsar deputy commissioner K.S. Pannu to set up a seed farm across the fence near the Ravi in the Indian territory along the Indo-Pak border.

Sources said about 1,000 acres were available across the fence. In fact, that piece of the land is located between the two fences. One fence is just near the Indo-Pak border and the other is along one bank of the Ravi. Of the available land, about 250 acres is owned by the Punjab government, while the remaining chunk belonged to the Punjab Forest Department.

Only wheat seed farm could be set up there. “As the Army does not allow the sowing of crops with tall plants near the fence, only crops with small height will have to be grown there,” said a senior officer of the department. “We are preparing the proposal accordingly,” he added.

Meanwhile, widespread rain in this region during the past 48 hours will give boost to the paddy crop.


State industry hit hard by Jammu agitation
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
The ongoing agitation in the Jammu region has hit the Punjab industry hard.

The most affected is the hosiery industry of Ludhiana that has suffered a loss of several hundred crore during the past six weeks. Besides industry, the public transport sector, especially truckers and mini-truck operators, have been hit hard.

“The hosiery industry has suffered a daily loss ranging between Rs 10 crore to 15 crore. Maximum woollen material is sent to Jammu and Kashmir, especially the Srinagar region, during June, July and August. But this time the agitation in the Jammu region made things difficult for the industry,” said a senior office-bearer of the Ludhiana Small Scale Industry Association.

Because of the blockade near Jammu, most of the truckers have stopped taking goods to Kashmir valley. “Truckers don’t want that their vehicles should be torched on the way to valley,” said Charan Singh Lohara, president of the National Transporters Congress.

He said about 10 to 15 trucks used to be loaded from Ludhiana for Srinagar daily, but this operation had been suspended because of the agitation.

Venodh Thapar, president of the Knitwear Industry, said for Ludhiana, the Kashmir valley is a big market during the summer season.

“As sentiment in the market is low at the moment because of agitation, shopkeepers have been facing difficulty to clear payments,” said a bulk supplier of woollen clothes to the Kashmir valley. He said a large number of trucks were stuck near Lakhnor, Samba and Madhopur. Truckers were not daring to move, fearing their vehicles would be damaged.

Meanwhile, the agitation would have also spread to Pathankot, Mukerian and Dasuya. However, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had asked the BJP to control its cadres in the Pathankot belt and stop them from resorting to any sort of blockade.


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