Heritage library faces neglect
Sunaina Kaul
Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 9
Built by Maharaja Ranbir Singh in 19th century and having the heritage status, Ranbir Library, situated in the heart of the city, is in bad shape.

The library has 308 rare manuscripts, over 70,000 books, periodicals and magazines. It also contains books and documents of great historical and literary importance and one also comes across with the treaties and agreements signed between the Dogra rulers with the rulers of neighbouring states and countries in this library.

All the books and literature available in the library throw light on the early history of Jammu and Kashmir right from 1835 to 2008. The wedding album of Maharaja Pratap Singh and pictures of Maharaja Hari Singh and Maharaja Ranbir Singh are also seen in the library.

“Shanama Firdoosi” (1874 A.D.) written in Urdu is one of the oldest books in the library, says M.R. Bhagat, deputy director-cum-chief librarian.

The library has five sections, comprising Hindi, Urdu, English, Children and Raja Ram Mohan Roy section where books are provided free of cost by Raja Ram Mohan Roy Library Foundation.

"We have above 10,000 readers who are members of the library and around 500 readers visit library daily. They are mostly unemployed youth. Most of the IAS and KAS officers produced in the state had taken help of study material available in this library," says Bhagat.

However, despite being a treasure house of knowledge, the upkeep of the library is poor. Cracks have surfaced on the walls of the building. The reading room of the library lacks adequate seating capacity and a shift system has been introduced to accommodate maximum readers.

The library is also short of staff. There are around 18 people who are maintaining the library. Posts for chief librarian, senior and junior librarians, library assistant and classifier are vacant due to which the work is suffering, avers Bhagat.

Being located in a busy market, members lament that there is a lot of noise pollution in its vicinity. "Constant flow of traffic and protest demonstrations do not allow us to concentrate on reading,” says Narender Khashu, a library member.

On the library's poor condition, Bhagat says the directors of the library are usually recruited from other fields and they hardly get any time to look after the library. He rues that funds released by the government for the maintenance of heritage buildings are spent on the renovation of Mubarak Mandi Complex and G.G.M. Science College only whereas this heritage library was ignored. However, with the efforts of Mahmood Rana, director, Directorate of Libraries, the renovation work has started, he adds.



Providing yeoman service to thalassaemia patients
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 9
Despite constraints, the paediatrics department at the SMGS Hospital is doing yeoman service for children suffering from thalassaemia.

In 1995, department head Ashok Gupta took the initiative to set up a daycare unit and since then thalassemic children have been regularly undergoing blood transfusion.

Talking to The Tribune, Dr Gupta said in a bid to provide better treatment and improved care to such children, “we started the daycare unit where on an average 10 children undergo blood transfusion”.

It may be stated here that India today has the highest number of thalassaemic patients- over 20 million- and 7,000 children are born every year with thalassaemia.

Dr Gupta said initially, “we had only four beds for thalassaemic patients in ward number 15 which was grossly insufficient and as their number continued to show an upward trend, we started the daycare unit with the sole objective to provide them hassle- free treatment.

Such children not only need regular blood transfusion but also require chelation therapeutic drugs to keep their iron content in blood under control as frequent transfusions increase iron content that can lead to complications and may cause death”.

Dr Gupta said at present, 150 thalassaemic children registered with the hospital regularly underwent blood transfusion and they also got chelation therapeutic drugs worth Rs 4000 to Rs 5000 a month free of cost.

He said the strength of beds had been increased to 16 and “we have also set up a laboratory, a waiting hall for attendants,a staff room, nursing counters and doctors’ chambers at the daycare unit”.

Though the union government, in 2007, had assured to provide two equipments, viz, electrophoreses and high-pressure liquid chromatography for detecting thalassaemia, the department hasn’t yet received them.

However, he admitted that with the rise in the number of thalassaemia carriers, there had been a tremendous pressure on the hospital’s blood bank.

“Though we provide them the requisite blood units, we request their families for arranging at least one replacement (donor) to help us help other needy patients”, he added.Normally, they got five units in lieu of one, for which their attendants had to arrange a donor, he added. The 150 patients registered with the hospital included infants of six months to adults up to the age of 25. Dr Gupta said after the 200-bedded paediatrics structure was completed,”we hope to provide much better care to such children”.

A thalassaemic child normally has to undergo blood transfusion after every two to four weeks.



Pheran in great demand
Rajesh Bhatt

Jammu, December 9
Come winter and the traditional Kashmiri pheran is in high demand, both in Kashmir and Jammu divisions. But this season, there appears to be a `political reason' for the robe to be used as an `electioneering tool'.

While the commoners have been using this typical dress for centuries to protect themselves from the harsh winter, the pheran has, of late, become a collector's item. It now dons the wardrobes of the affluent, who use it on certain occasions, suiting to their political and personal tastes.

Sort of an uncut cloak, pheran's `unusual' use was found during the ongoing electioneering in various constituencies of the state by canvassers as well as the candidates who wanted to identify themselves with the commoners.

From UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah, pheran was used by elite leaders while visiting different assembly segments in support of their respective party candidates.

On December 3, when Sonia Gandhi visited the Uri and Doda areas, she was spotted elegantly dressed in typical Kashmiri embroidered “pheran”, apparently trying to woo the voters by identifying herself as the descendent of the Nehru-Gandhi clan that had Kashmir roots.

Farooq Abdullah did not lag behind in `protecting' himself with the warmth of the pheran while attending various election meetings in Doda and Kishtwar districts of Jammu division. Some Jammu- based NC leaders and workers, in a bid to follow suit, also wore this dress, otherwise considered a symbol of `Kashmiriyat'.

Politics apart, Pheran has, in fact, is in great demand even in Jammu city, particularly after the migration of the Kashmiri Pandits, who, like Muslims, have not given up its use, as they have not come up with its suitable replacement so far.

Pheran is generally worn in a pair. The under-layer called 'potsh' is light white cotton while the upper robe is generally made of tweed, flecked with mixed colours. Ideally, both men and women wear it but the dress for ladies looks stunning with heavy embroidery. There is also a slight difference observed in the stitching of a pheran put on by Hindus and Muslims.

“ It is because of those nostalgic days of Kashmir that I purchase pheran every winter even here also'', says Autar Krishan Chetan, a retired teacher, putting up at the Bantalab locality. Also, no other dress gives him the level of comfort that he enjoys in his pheran.

Others, however, regret that the dress is fast losing its sheen amongst the new computer savvy generation, who prefer jeans and jackets to pheran. “ The circumstances have also forced the Kashmiri Pandits to disband the typical dress. There are not more than a dozen surviving Kashmiri Pandit women using `taraga' (a head gear) and pheran now", regrets, Pushkar Nath of Subash Nagar.

“But then, it has a high cozy touch and one feels at ease even in the office'', believes Abdul Rehman, a Darbar Move employee who uses the dress along with a `kangri' even in Jammu when the secretariat functions here for six months.

Some valley-based tailors visit Jammu every season to specially stitch pherans on demand. “I sell scores of pherans between November and March '', says Bhushan Lal, proprietor of Cheap Cloth House at Old Janipur.

Bhushan is hopeful that with a slightest dip in the temperature in coming days, he would find more customers to stand in line outside his shop ready to pay between Rs 600 and Rs 800 per pheran depending upon the texture of the cloth.



Bag-e-Bahu garden
Poor upkeep lets down visitors
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 9
Even as the famous Bag-e-Bahu garden is probably the only getaway from the city's maddening traffic and pollution for its residents, its poor upkeep leaves visitors disappointed.
The monkey menace in the garden.
The monkey menace in the garden. Photo: Inderjeet Singh

Situated on the banks of the Tawi, the garden has a beautiful landscape. However, stagnant fungus-laden water of fountains with stench emanating out of them, mosquitoes, monkey menace and beggars at its main entrance spoil what otherwise could be a wonderful experience. It may be mentioned here that the authorities charge Rs 10 per visitor at the garden.

The terraced garden developed around the ancient Bahu Fort also attracts a large number of tourists, apart from the local populace.

Rajesh Kumar, a city businessman, says, “Earlier, I used to bring my children here on weekends, as they loved spending time in the lush green environs of the garden. However, its poor maintenance and increasing monkey menace has forced me to explore other options”.

There are hordes of monkeys at the garden and at times they pounce upon the visitors carrying along some eatables. The monkeys have also virtually taken over the play area meant for children and can be seen enjoying slides. “My 10-year-old daughter had a close shave once when a big monkey jumped towards her while she was having some snacks with her friends,” says Sarita Gupta, a housewife.

Small children begging at the entrance also irritates visitors, as they pester the latter for alms and follow them to a distance.

However, the visitors too are at fault, at least on one count. In the absence of any watch and ward staff, some visitors leave behind the leftovers after having snacks or food at the garden instead of discarding them in refuse collectors. Though there are dustbins, more needs to be done on this front.

Probably the only saving grace at the garden is a beautiful underground aquarium that has been drawing huge number of people since it has been thrown open to public. It has 400 varieties of freshwater and marine fish.



FIL’s Juice Plant
Hallmark of technological excellence
Afsana Rashid

Srinagar, December 9
The government may not have invested much in industry in the valley but some private players have made their mark.

A fruit juice concentrate manufacturing plant and controlled atmosphere (CA) storage of FIL Industries Limited at Rangreth is a hallmark of technological excellence.

With an investment of Rs 200 crore, FIL has brought the state-of-art Austrian technology here. The juice plant, one of biggest in Asia, is well equipped to manufacture concentrates for fruits like apple, pears, cherry, apricot and plum.

The plant was commissioned in 1999. FIL is the largest exporter of apple juice concentrate from India.

The finished product is exported to countries like US and several European nations. Within the country, it carries out business with big banners like Nestle, Parle, Godrej etc.

The CA storage, first of its kind in India, has a capacity to increase shelf life of fresh fruits by seven months. Besides, CA storage in warehousing division of 4,000 (integrated) metric tonne, another CA having capacity of 16,000 (integrated) metric tonne has been installed. The former had a grading line of two tonne per hour and in latter’s case it is 15 tonne per hour with colour grading.

After procurement, 'A' grade apples are stored for 6-7 months in CA. “Apples are kept under controlled gas levels. Oxygen level is reduced from 21 to 2 per cent, thus increasing their shelf-life," says Basharat Ahmad, general manager, FIL Industries.

Installed capacity of 400 metric tonne a day remains static due to the non-availability of raw material.

Once ‘C' grade fruits and culls are procured, washing is followed by manual sorting, crushing and pressing for juice extraction.

Juice is sent for pasteurisation followed by aroma recovery section where a byproduct obtained in the form of water is exported, used for cosmetic purposes and apple flavour. De-aromised juice after filtration is put for final concentration.

The final product is put to two types of filling: aseptic and non-aseptic. In former case, a sterilised bag is used and is costlier while in the latter plastic drum is used.

FIL started its business in crop protection, beginning with the trading of agro-chemicals and started production and manufacturing for agro-chemicals in Jammu in 1984.

It diversified from crop protection to crop processing and consumer division was set up primarily to manufacture and export fruit juice concentrate. Brands like Kohinoor, Fruitfil, TUK3 and Frugo add to its credit.



Candidates’ educational qualifications
No tool to influence voters
M.L. Kak

Jammu, December 9
Educational qualifications of candidates contesting elections are not a tool to influence voters. Had it been the case then Qazi Mohd. Afzal, who has passed eighth standard, would have not defeated National Conference Chief Omar Abdullah, who holds a B.Com degree from the Ganderbal constituency, in 2002. The two are pitted against each other again in the current elections.

Rachpal Singh, who has studied upto 10+2, defeated Congress candidate Ashok Kumar Sharma, a law graduate, in 2002 elections. Rachpal is again a National Conference candidate from the Kalakote constituency in Rajouri. While filing his nomination papers a former Minister Nawang Rigzin Jora has written in his affidavit that he is literate and could read and write. It created some misgivings among people but later it was revealed that Jora is a graduate from St. Stephen's College, New Delhi. In the previous election, he was elected unopposed from the Leh constituency and this time he has a law graduate Thupstan Chhewag, as the main rival.

Mohd. Khalil Band and Mohd. Khalil Naik, only matriculates, had defeated better-qualified opponents in 2002 from the Pulwama and Wachi constituencies respectively. The two are again in the field from the same constituencies. This time Naik, who is a nominee of the CPIM has to face a tough challenge from PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, a law graduate, who has filed her nomination papers from the Wachi constituency. Majority of the candidates in the field are either simple graduates or law graduates. Several candidates hold postgraduate degrees including Congress candidate from Uri Taj Mohiuddin is M.Sc. LLB, Panthers Party candidate from Ramnagar constituency Harsh Dev Singh is MA, LLB.

Nirmal Singh contesting from the Gandhi Nagar constituency on the BJP ticket is the only candidate with a doctorate degree in history. Manohar Lal Sharma is another candidate holding Ph.D degree in chemistry and is contesting from the Billawar constituency in Kathua.

While Shoab Lone contesting from the Sangrama constituency is the candidate holding B.Sc. degree in forestry. Ghulam Mohd. Mattoo holds postgraduate degree in medicines and is contesting as an independent candidate from the Baramullah constituency. Though there are three other candidates with degree in medicines, Mattoo is the only candidate who has been a practising doctor. 



Stray cattle menace

Despite being the winter capital of the state, the city continues to grapple with the stray cattle menace. Scores of cattle can be seen roaming on city roads, posing a threat to commuters. The Jammu Municipal Corporation has miserably failed to deal with the menace. The need of the hour is to set up more cattle pounds in view of the rapid growth of the city. The authorities should also crack a whip on the dairy owners who are running their business in the city limits by throwing all norms to the wind. These dairy owners let their cattle off after milking them in the morning hours. They also disown milk-yielding cattle when they cease to be beneficial. It not only leads to road accidents but also harms the cattle as they sustain grievous injuries after being hit by vehicles. The authorities should wake up to the menace and initiate corrective measures.

Manjeet Singh, Jammu

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