P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


70,000 celebrate Gurta Gaddi in San Francisco

Yuba City (San Francisco), November 3
Over 70,000 Sikhs converged from across the US, Canada, the UK and India to participate in the 29h Annual Sikh Parade taken out here, about 125 miles from San Francisco Bay Area, on Sunday. The nearly five-mile religious parade was taken out to mark the tercentenary celebrations of Gurta Gaddi Diwas of Guru Granth Sahib.

Panj Piaras led the parade carrying Sri Nishan Sahib.

With chants of “Satnam Waheguru” and “Bole so Nihal”, the general mood in the parade was religious.

Many US Congressmen and representatives of the Governor’s office took part in the parade, besides Sikh devotees.

As the procession stared from the Sikh Temple of Yuba City, a helicopter showered flowers over the procession. Thousands of Sikhs walked alongside hundreds of floats.

Along the parade route, Sikh families had set up food booths, offering free drinks, snacks and cooked food to the participants.

Sikhs have been a part of the American landscape for over 130 years. And, the Yuba City area has some of the best agricultural land, which is known for the largest Sikh population of farm owners.

Rajinder Singh Chauhan, one of the organisers of the Sikh temple of Yuba City said: “It demonstrates our political and economic strength along with the unity among the Sikhs. It has to be political, economic as well as social strength.”

People feasted on traditional Sikh food and American traditions such as cotton candy and popcorn.

“It was a special joy of distinction, recommended for one and all to explore at least once in a lifetime,” said Daljeet Kaur, a visitor from Los Angeles.

“Such programmes help us to overcome an identify crisis which Sikhs in the US have been facing since the 9/11 incident. For every Sikh living abroad it’s an occasion to express solidarity by joining wholeheartedly”, said John Gill, another organiser of the parade.

Dr Pritpal Singh, coordinator of the American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (AGPC), said special occasion witnessed a large religious gathering and offered a platform to the Sikhs to discuss their issues.

Dr Amarjeet Singh, an eminent Sikh leader from Washington D.C., said the grand scale of the celebrations all over the world was a befitting reply to the forces that were trying to mislead the community.

“Sikhs hold Guru Granth Sahib, the only living guru of the community, with utmost love, respect and the dedication all over the world. In Argentina, the only Gurdwara in South America, the celebrations were organised in a big way. Sikhs in Fiji and in Punjab (India) and around the world have held big celebrations and it will continue round the year,” he said.

The anticipated number of people for the annual parade (100,000), however, was marred by poor weather conditions. — ANI


Jathedar dispels doubts about Dasam Granth
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 3
The Jathedar of Takht Hazur Sahib, Giani Kulwant Singh, in his message delivered from Nanded today, called upon the Sikh sangat not to raise any objection over the authenticity of the Dasam Granth.

The message, delivered on the tercentenary of Parlokgaman (when Guru Gobind Singh left for heavenly abode), the Jathedar claimed that the Dasam Granth was the creation of Guru Gobind Singh. He said Guru Gobind Singh was credited with shaping the Sikh dharam and turning timid and oppressed people into brave opponents of tyranny.

Hence, giving due honour and respect to this holy granth was the moral duty of all Sikhs.

It may be mentioned here that the hymns of the Dasam Granth are recited at Takht Hazur Sahib and Takht Patna Sahib simultaneously along with that of with Guru Granth Sahib. The “Mukhwak” (order of the day) is also taken from both granths at Takht Hazur Sahib and Patna Sahib. However, the maryada of all three Takhts in Punjab are different from that prevailing at these two Takhts.

The Dasam Granth has not been fully accepted by the entire Sikh Panth, for they do not fit into a rigid interpretation of the Sikh religion. From 1892 to 1897, eminent scholars assembled at Akal Takht, Amritsar, to study the various printed Dasam Granths and prepare the authoritative version. Some scholars, including certain Sikh organisations, determined that the Dasam Granth was entirely the work of Guru Gobind Singh. The controversy and reluctance to fully accept it has lingered.

Earlier, Akal Takht had directed the Sikh Panth not to touch this sensitive issue till a final decision was taken by the five Sikh high priests on it.


PUSA 1121 notified basmati
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
The ministry of agriculture has notified PUSA 1121 variety as basmati. The price of this variety, already brought to mandis of Punjab and Haryana, is likely to rise with its being classified as basmati.

Official sources said a decision to notify this variety as basmati was taken by the Central Sub-Committee on Crop Standards and Notification of Varieties last month. Since geographical indications (GI) of this variety had not been listed earlier, it took time for the variety to be notified as basmati. The official notification by the Ministry of Agriculture on October 29, lists the variety grown in the Indo-Gangetic plains (three states of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi) as basmati variety.

Following the notification, declaring PUSA 1121 as basmati, its prices in mandis in the region went up. The price of this variety went up to Rs 3,400 per quintal today in Ladwa mandi in Haryana, from Rs 2,700/ Rs 2,800 per quintal last week.

Similarly in Rajpura mandi, the variety fetched Rs 3,200 per quintal in auction today. In Khanna, the largest grain market in Asia, the variety was sold in auction at Rs 3,070 per quintal today. Last week, this variety fetched only Rs 1,800/Rs 2,100 in Punjab mandis.

For its elongated grain and aroma this variety had become very popular with exporters and found market in West Asian countries. Due to growing demand and good price offered to farmers, farmers in Punjab and Haryana had shifted to cultivation of PUSA 1121. Last year, this variety was sold for Rs 2,600 in the procurement season, but reached a high of Rs 3,800 in open market.

As a result, area under this variety in Punjab and Haryana increased considerably this year. However, the Centre banned the export of all non-basmati varieties earlier this year. Though the ban on export of this variety was lifted, but it was declared non-basmati variety, leading to a crash in its price. Punjab and Haryana had appealed to the Centre to declare this as basmati.

Ashok Sethi adds from Amritsar: The Central government notifying PUSA 1121 as basmati has pushed up the price of this variety which was developed under the Basmati Development Mission a few years ago.

Farmers of Punjab and Haryana who have adopted this variety reaped a bumper harvest in the current paddy season. The price which started at Rs 2,000 per quintal at the beginning of arrival has risen to Rs 3,200/ Rs 3,500.

A spokesman of the Agriculture Department said farmers would get Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 per acre from an average yield of 18/19 quintal per acre. He said in the current paddy season the area under 1121 had swelled to more than four times against the same period in 2007-08. He hoped if the trend continued, the farmers would come out of the debt trap.

Exporters expressed satisfaction at the decision of the government to term 1121 as basmati. They now urged the government to withdraw Rs 10,000 per tonne export duty on basmati rice, a major damper on exports. They urged the government to withdraw the duty in view of a bumber crop, rising dollar and stiff competition from Pakistan.



Majha leaders rally to retain Amritsar flights
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
Ministers, MPs and MLAs of the Majha region, led by MP Ratan Singh Ajnala and Information and public relations minister Bikram Singh Majithia, today called on Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here to request him to write to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, union civil aviation minister Praful Patel and union commerce minister Kamal Nath to take immediate steps to ensure that ongoing international as well as domestic flights from Rajasansi Airport, Amritsar, were not discontinued and expansion of the airport be completed at the earliest.

They pleaded that the ministry should be asked to immediately lower the landing charges for flights in Amritsar in comparison to that at the Delhi airport. They said the basic purpose of starting international flights from Amritsar was to decongest the Delhi airport as 29 per cent international air traffic there was from Punjab. At present, the ministry was charging Rs1.54 lakh landing fee per flight in Amritsar from Singapore Airlines compared to Rs 75,000 charges at eh Delhi airport.

Similarly, Jet Airways was shelling Rs 94,000 as landing charges compared to Rs 69,000 paid by it in Delhi. They said nearly double the landing charges in Amritsar were making flight services from this airport unviable.

The legislators explained that the discontinuation of flights from Amritsar would hurt the business besides causing inconvenience to the pilgrims coming to Sri Darbar Sahib and Mata Vaishno Devi. Besides, the discontinuation of air services would cause inconvenience to thousands of passengers every month.

They also brought to the notice of the Chief Minister that Rs 140-crore expansion work of the Raja Sansi Airport was to be completed by October 31, 2008, but till date not even 40 per cent work had been completed. This had also resulted in drop in air traffic to the Amritsar airport.


Sidhu plans protest at Rajasansi airport
Sanjay Bumbroo and Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, November 3
BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu said today that he, along with party activists, would hold a rally at the local international airport on November 5 to derive home the point that the airport needed to be used to its optimum potential. He said he would take up the issue of disparity with regard to landing rates at the airport here and in New Delhi in Parliament during winter session.

He said a large number of peripheral services had come up around the airport, including the hotels, multiplexes and commercial hubs. Airports provided jobs to the youth, he added.

The Amritsar Vikas Manch, an NGO, has also urged Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Sidhu to approach Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the continuation of international flights from the city. Dr Charanjit Singh Gumtala, patron of the manch, said the silence of the state government over the issue was creating doubts about its seriousness for the development of the international airport.

He said it seemed that the state government was more worried about the Mohali airport rather than the development of the local one.


Congress blames Delhi hoteliers
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, November 3
Senior Congress leader M.M. Singh Cheema, member of the All-India Congress Committee (AICC), while alleging that a section of hoteliers and transporters of the Delhi region were behind cut in flight services from the Amritsar international airport for their vested interests, has urged UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene in the matter.

Cheema, who is also vice-president of the PPCC, today urged Sonia and Manmohan Singh to pass instructions to the civil aviation ministry not to discontinue the Amritsar-New Delhi-Nanded flight, which was started in view of the tercentenary celebrations of Gurta Gaddi Diwas, from tomorrow.

Though high fare is being charged from the passengers for this service, its termination will cause heartburn among the devotees, he added.

“A high rate of landing charges at the airport and the discontinuation of air services by certain airlines indicate that a strong lobby has been opposing airport’s growth, to the benefit of Delhi-based international airport and hotel industry,” he claimed, while talking to The Tribune.

He said development of Amritsar, which had been developing as hub of religious and medical tourism and opening horticulture export industry to the West Asia, European Union and the Far East and North America, would be affected.

He supported the demand of union minister of state for sports and youth welfare Manohar Singh Gill for the continuation of the Amritsar-Nanded flight. 


Remand for doctor held from HP
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, November 3
The police arrested Dr Khursheed Ahmed from Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh, along with two local persons, a few days ago in the case pertaining to post-operative complications among nine patients, who were operated upon at a free eye camp on July 16 here.

The reports from Dharamsala, headquarters of Kangra district, revealed that the doctor had been working with the Rotary Eye Foundation (Palampur) at its eye hospital at Paragpur in Dehra subdivision for the past couple of months.

The doctor was produced before a local court that remanded him in judicial custody at Ferozepur.

Dr Ahmed and his colleague Dr Mohammad Amzad Khan, who conducted surgeries at the eye camp sponsored by the Guru Ram Dass Charitable Trust here, could not produce their degrees as eye surgeons before the local assistant commissioner (grievances), who conducted a magisterial probe into the incident.

Police sources said two persons associated with the Trust, Karnail Singh and Ranjit Singh, had also been arrested and were in judicial custody. The local president of the trust, Harvinder Singh, managed to get an anticipatory bail from the High Court and since had joined the police investigation, the sources added.

After the incident, the district administration had blacklisted the said trust.

Neither the CMO, nor any other official of the department had been arrested even as their negligence had been mentioned in the FIR registered on the basis of the magisterial probe.


Granth Sahib teachings still relevant: President
Rs 40-cr centre to be set up at Hazur Sahib
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 3
President Pratibha Devisingh Patil has appealed to the people to follow the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib for the welfare of mankind. Speaking at a function, organised by the Takht Hazur Sahib Management Committee at Nanded today to mark tercentenary of Parlokgaman of 10th Sikh master (when Guru Gobind Singh went for heavenly abode), she said Guru Gobind Singh worked for the welfare of weaker sections.

The President said Guru Granth Sahib’s teachings were still relevant for the mankind. Talking about Guru Gobind Singh, she said, he was brave and a great philosopher who fought throughout his life for ensuring justice to the downtrodden .

Meanwhile, union home minister Shivraj Vishwanath Patil, while addressing educationists and scholars, said a Rs 40-crore Guru Granth Sahib Centre would be opened in Swami Rama Nand Tirath Marathwara University, Nanded. Being the chairman of the celebrations committee, the minister said the proposed centre would be instrumental in the translation of Guru Granth Sahib into Indian and foreign languages.

Meanwhile, SGPC office-bearers and employees were conspicuous by their absence at the function. However, chairman of the management committee P.S. Pasricha and members of the local Municipal Committee were present at the function.


Farm scientists asked to develop crops resistant to global warming
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
Minister of science technology and environment Bikram Singh Majithia today called on farm scientists of the world develop strains of crops resistant to global warming.

Inaugurating a conference on climate change, biodiversity and food security in the South Asian regions organised by the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology (PSCST) and the United National Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), here today Majithia said there were reports temperature of the earth could increase by 1 o C to 6 o C in 50 to 100 years.

Majithia said every 1 degree C rise in temperature could reduce global wheat production by four to five million tonnes impacting availability of food especially in poorer countries. He said changes in temperature and humidity could also affect production and quality of vegetables, fruits, basmati rice and medicinal plants in north Asia regions and crops like tea, coffee and spices in southern regions.

Cecelia Barberi, representing Unesco, New Delhi, highlighted global importance of the subject especially following global economic meltdown and urged states to act to prevent economic crises which could result in damage to natural resources due to excessive anthropogenic pressure on the environment.

Dr Neelima Jerath, additional director-environment and organising secretary of the conference said the government of India had prepared plan on climate change and eight national missions were being set up.

Nearly 150 scientists, environmentalists, representatives of government departments, NGOs, including 15 experts of international bodies and scientists from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ghana, Iran and Pakistan are attending the conference.

The focus areas of the conference include effect of climate change on major ecosystems and biodiversity, food security, livelihoods and socio-economic issues, economic challenges and carbon credit mechanisms, related to agriculture and Industry, development of region- specific strategies, policies and programmes, sustainable development and energy issues and research agenda. 


Farmers face DAP shortage
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 3
Farmers are facing unavailability of DAP fertiliser and the sowing of wheat has almost started. Acute shortage of the fertiliser has affected the sowing of wheat and if the fertiliser is not arranged in a week, the yield will be affected.

Farmers alleged that they had made advance payment to the cooperative societies for DAP fertiliser, but the societies had not received the stock. It is not available with traders either. Only IFFCO and IPL distribute DAP fertiliser at controlled rates.

Jarnail Singh of Rajgarh Kubbe village said IPL was distributing only 10 bags to a farmer, whereas the need was at least 50 bags. Buta Singh Burj Gill, general secretary, BKU (Ekta), said although he was an Akali, the party's policies had ruined farmers as they had never faced such humiliation earlier. He had been trying for 10 days to get the fertiliser and failed to get it.

Farmers were being forced to purchase substitutes of DAP. Jagdeep Singh of Gudha village said DAP was not available in market. He and his family members had been waiting for a week, but had not got even a single bag.

J.S. Gill, storekeeper, IFFCO, said the shortage of the DAP fertiliser had occurred due to non-supply by the government. He said the demand for DAP was 20,000 bags daily, but he was getting only 2,000 to 3,000 bags. 


Open zero balance accounts for farmers, govt tells banks
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
The Punjab government today asked banks to open zero balance account for farmers to facilitate payment of the paddy bonus to them. According to an official spokesman, it has been decided to pay bonus to farmers directly into their bank accounts instead of making payments through shellers.

The spokesman said some banks were demanding Rs 2,500 to 5,000 for opening their bank accounts. Food and supplies minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon has taken a very serious note for this. He has strongly advised the banks to open their accounts with the zero balance facility. The spokesman said any bank failing to adhere to above would be de-paneled from handling food accounts. 


Ruckus at anti-drug state function
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 3
A state-level drug de-addiction function organised by the Department of Social Security and Women and Children Development in Bathinda proved to be a mismanaged affair. At the function, the mayor, deputies and other councillors of the Bathinda Municipal Corporation (BMC) alleging maltreatment staged a protest and boycotted the event.

The protesting councillors lashed at the district administration and accused J.R. Goyal, secretary, Red Cross Society, Bathinda, for misbehaving with them. They further accused Rahul Tewari, deputy commissioner, Bathinda, of ignoring them in front of the defeated candidates of the recent Assembly polls.

All this happened in the presence of Chaudhary Swarna Ram, minister of the department, who was the chief guest of the event here today. However, the minister opted against involving himself in the issue.

Expressing anguish, the mayor said he would take up the matter with the Chief Minister and get the officials in question punished for their behaviour. To pacify the protesters, the DC assured them of proper action in the regard. Later, he said he was going to issue show-cause notice to the officer in question.

Earlier, talking to the TNS, the minister had said the state government was ready to shower largesse for the development of village, which would prove itself to be total drug-free village of the state.

In the programme, various departments, including police and wings of the DSSO staged a number of stalls to make people aware about the harms of drugs addiction.

The main attraction of the event was a play named, “Mitti Rudan Kare”, by actors from the Repertory Department of Punjabi University. The play was based on Baldev Singh Monga’s script and directed by Dr Gurcharan Singh, which the actors had performed a number of times in various corners of the state to spread the message against drug abuse.

Later, appreciating the performers, Swarna announced a sum of Rs 1 lakh to them. He added that if any political leader was found peddling drugs in the state, he would have to face the brunt of legal action.

State secretary Harjeet Singh and Rakhi Gupta Bhandari, director of the department, also addressed the gathering.


PSEB cancels contract of engineers
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 3
Two superintending engineers (SEs), appointed by the PSEB after their superannuation, were removed by the Board management.

The Tribune yesterday carried a story highlighting how the two retired SEs were reinstated following which the PSEB Engineers Association had protested.

More than 150 PSEB engineers of Patiala region, including many chief engineers, gathered in the PSEB head office and met the member transmission to protest against the board granting extension to two superannuated SEs.

The PSEB Engineers Association met Y.S. Ratra, chairman, PSEB, today and discussed the issue. Thereafter, the board cancelled the re-appointment of the two superannuated officers Surinderjit Singh and B.P.S. Gill.

He also assured to review cases of all other re-employed engineers soon. 


Dengue takes epidemic form
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 3
Dengue has acquired epidemic proportions as its deadly claws have already claimed 12 precious lives and affected 2,466 persons ‘officially’ in Punjab.

Ironicaly, it was, however, a different matter that the Punjab Civil Services Medical Association (PCSMA), a body of government doctors, “disbelieved” the official figures. The PCSMA had estimated that the number of “serologically tested positive” dengue cases could be anywhere around 25,000 and blamed ‘poor follow-up’ for the low official figures.

The situation has turned out to be so alarming in the state that it has attracted attention of the Central government. The deputy director (Vector Borne Diseases), government of India, was already in the state to take stock of the “deteriorating” dengue situation in Punjab. Deputy director (Malaria), Dr Varinder Mohi, confirmed that Punjab suffered as many as 12 deaths on account of dengue and there were 2,466 “serologically tested positive” cases of dengue fever in the state.

On the other hand, official sources have pointed out that the number of “serologically positive” patients, undergoing treatment at Ludhiana hospitals alone, has already crossed 3,059. Out of 12 dengue deaths, six were from Ludhiana, three from Mohali, one from Ropar, one from Bathinda and one from Amritsar.

If the estimate of the PCSMA is to be believed, the number of “clinically diagnosed cases” of the dengue fever could be as high as 25,000. While, Dr Mohi put the number of dengue affected patients in Patiala as 78, the PCSMA said as many as 128 persons had already been admitted and treated at the special ward of the local Rajindra Hospital.

The health department statistics revealed that after Ludhiana (1,876) cases, Jaladndhar followed the suit with 1,100 cases, Mohali (177 cases), Bathinda (140 cases), Amritsar (134 cases) and Patiala (78 cases). The figures indicated that the malady had taken all regions-Malwa, Majha and Doaba, in its grip.

Private hospitals and practitioners further revealed that there could be thousands of unaccounted patients “clinically diagnosed as dengue patients with decreased platelet counts” with varying severity of symptoms. A private practitioner at Moga confided that he alone came across around 100 such patients during last month.


No quota for wards: HC
If parent married into foward class
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today made it clear that a student, even with a Scheduled Caste certificate, was not entitled to reservation, if one of the parents was now a member of the “forward class” by the virtue of marriage.

A Division Bench of the High Court also expressed anguish over the fact that even after 60 years of Independence, people were finding ways and means to claim the benefit of reservation.

The ruling came on a petition filed by Harpreet Kaur against the State of Punjab and others. The petitioner had sought admission on the basis of PMET-2008 in Bachelor of Dental Science course against seats meant for the Scheduled Caste 
category .

The Bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Nawab Singh noted: “The case of the petitioner is that her mother belongs to the Schedule Caste and as per the Government of Punjab policy instructions dated May 21, 1977, regarding caste status of offspring of inter-caste marriage, such as the petitioner, the scheduled caste certificate was rightly issued by the tehsildar.

“But the petitioner was not admitted against the seat meant for the Scheduled Caste on an objection raised by the welfare department to the effect that the petitioner cannot be granted the benefit of the reserve category seats”.

The Bench held: “The benefit of reservation is to provide opportunity to the persons who faced handicap on account of social, cultural and educational backwardness. When the mother of the petitioner married a forward class man, she became a member of such family and got herself transplanted in the family.

“By such manner, social backwardness, which her family might have suffered before her marriage, got obliterated. With such a marriage, the status of the family is not downgraded. The law of the nature is to flow and not to obstruct the natural growth.

“It is strange that even after 60 years of Independence and reservation policy in place, persons are finding ways and means to claim the benefit of reservation, rather than denouncing it

“In fact, the craving is for the state largesse on one or the other ground, even though social, educational and cultural backwardness is not suffered by the family”.

Before parting with the orders, the Bench added: “The petitioner has been been rightly denied admission”. 


SSP to probe

Chandigarh, November 3
The high court has directed Bathinda senior superintendent of police (SSP), vigilance bureau, to look into the “genuineness” of expenditure incurred in the setting up of a rose garden at Mansa.

As the matter came up before the Bench of Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Jasbir Singh, SSP Balkar Singh present in the court said inquiry had been conducted till November 2003 into the genuineness of expenditure incurred in setting up the garden and a stadium.

The Bench added: “The entire controversy in our opinion requires a thorough probe by the vigilance bureau. We, accordingly, direct the SSP (VB) Bathinda to look into the matter and submit a report after proper investigation as to whether the expenditure allegedly incurred after November 2003 till September 2005 ever occurred.

“The report shall indicate whether there are any benches available at the site and whether there are any signs of water pipes having been fixed.

The “genuineness” of expenditure incurred by the MC on filing of the areas by dumping sand shall also be verified with reference to the source to where the sand was procured from and the agency employed for the purpose”.

Fixing January 28 as the next date of hearing in the matter, the Bench added the needful shall be done expeditiously - at the most within two months. — TNS


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