Development Plan
With little resources, ADA may prove a non-starter
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, December 23
Will the residents of the holy city ever get a fully planned and developed city with the constitution of the Amritsar Development Authority (ADA) or it would remain a distant dream.

The ADA was constituted last year under government notification of July 16 with a clear agenda to have a comprehensive development plan and work as a nodal authority with good financial corpus.

The first meeting of the ADA under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was held in Chandigarh last month after one and half years of its constitution with deputy commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu being made the part-time administrator to prepare a draft plan for the authority and start working on the crucial aspects to cover the entire planning of the city.

According to the notification, the 12 members, who have been nominated under the chairmanship of the CM, include the minister of urban development and housing, the chief secretary, the principal secretary to CM, the principal secretary (finance), the housing and urban development secretary, the local government principal secretary, the chief town planner of Punjab and the chief administrator, ADA, with three non-officials nominated by the CM.

The notification has given the schedule of boundaries of the ADA and added that all powers and functions of PUDA relating to development and redevelopment of the areas in the schedule of the properties would be exercised by the ADA.

It is rather intriguing that the local BJP MP who had initiated the idea of setting up a development authority had not been included in the 12-member committee. The skeptics felt that without the representation of the local residents, the committee would have little meaning as it would fail to meet the aspirations and the needs of the citizens.

The ADA has a very limited role to play as it has to operate outside the administrative authority of the municipal corporation and the improvement trust, besides PUDA too has its control over certain pockets of the organisation.

The DC and the administrator of the ADA said on the onset the authority had decided at its meeting to first give a go-ahead to prepare a comprehensive master plan of the city. He said the work had already been handed over to a private consultant based in Ludhiana to go ahead and develop the documents, which would be the proper framework for the planned city.

He said the main focus of the master plan was to give thrust to a planned city with all components working in tandem and to make the city a vibrant commercial and religious tourist hub.

He said unlike the development authorities established in Mohali, Ludhiana, Patiala, Bathinda and Jalandhar, which have managed to establish a corpus with the sale of land which was out of the ambit of the corporation, improvement trust and PUDA, Amritsar, according to his information, has no such land at its disposal.

He said the government would have to provide a financial help for running the affairs of the authority. Secondly, the bane of the city had been the mushrooming of a large number of unauthorised and illegal colonies in its periphery.

The process initiated by influential social activists and taken up by MP Navjot Singh Sidhu to set in motion all powerful single-window authority to oversee the working of different components, including the municipal corporation, the improvement trust and PUDA.

The ADA may prove to be a non-starter with the authority without local political support as the CM would not have enough time to give his presence every time. Local leaders and social activists were wary of the functioning of the authority with limited input from the people who matter in the city.



DC directs banks to disburse advances
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 23
Deputy Commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu directed the banks operating from the district to ensure hundred per cent disbursement of advances for the various government sponsored schemes.

Presiding over a District Consultative Committee meeting convened by the District Lead Bank Punjab National Bank here today, Pannu expressed satisfaction over the disbursement/credit flow under the annual credit plan (ACP) during the second quarter ended this September.

It may be mentioned here that under the ACP, 91.13 per cent target was achieved. As against the total target of Rs 1035.24 crore, Rs 943.40 crore was disbursed/credited.

The deputy commissioner directed the bankers to make concerted efforts in achieving the target of disbursement of credit in the agriculture sector as Punjab was basically an agrarian state which needs special focus on agri sector crediting to boost the rural economy and it could be possible only if the banks take a keen interest.

He informed that keeping in view the target of Rs 508.44 crore of disbursement to the agriculture sector, the banks only managed to grant Rs 431.13 crore and asked them to take necessary measures for expediting the remaining disbursement.

He further asked them to liberally grant loans for various self-employment occupations like dairy, fishery and horticulture besides ensuring efficient distribution of areas for smooth disbursement of pensions.

Earlier, R.S. Chatha, lead district manager, welcomed all the participants and informed that aggregate deposits of the banks in the district have increased to Rs 10,462.76 crore that was 18.26 per cent more than the comparative period of last year. Similarly the advances have been increased to Rs. 5717.39 crore that was also 15.33 per cent more than last year.

He further informed that under Small Scale Industry Sector credit flow, the achievement was 92.38 per cent and the CD ratio of the district have increased to 54.65 per cent but it was still below the national goal of 60 per cent.Till date 1160 self-help groups have been formed and 979 have already been linked with Bank finance, he added.

M.S. Chauhan, chief manager, Circle Office, PNB, Amritsar asked the bankers to increase micro financing through self-help groups and to be in line with the statement of intent being signed by the CMDs of various banks, the banker colleagues should also make efforts to make sufficient improvement in deposits and advances in the district.

He further informed that Punjab National Bank has come out with a website ( wherein a lot of information was there in respect of agriculture and other related activities.



Privatisation of PSEB no solution: KSC
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 23
Activists of the Kisan Sangharsh Committee (KSC) gheraoed the office of the chief engineer (border range), Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), for hours bringing the traffic to halt here today.

Holding placards and raising slogans, the protesters voiced their grievances against the working of the board. KSC state president Sawinder Singh said privatisation of the PSEB was no solution for removing its shortcomings.

He said the states in which electricity boards were divided or dissolved had failed to deliver the desired results.

Sawinder maintained that grids, feeders and transformers were severely overloaded and needed immediate de-loading. Another leader Balraj Sigh Bhal said on the line of the Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments, the Punjab government must also pass a resolution in the assembly to scrap the 2003 Power Act and permanently close the issue of privatisation of the PSEB.



Recession hits festive season
Neeraj Bagga
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 23
Global economic recession, imposition of fresh taxes on luxury rooms and banquets among others have taken the sheen off from Christmas and New Year festivities.

Consequently, only a few hotels and restaurants across the city are organising New Year bash.

Hotel Association secretary A.P.S. Chattha, confirming the development, said regrettably they would not be in a position to welcome 2009 as they previously used to do.

Even as shopping markets across the city are decked with glitzy, eye catching colourful objects to attract shoppers, shopkeepers rued that the sales had failed to pick up so far.

Ramesh Malhotra, running a garment shop in Katra Jai Mal Singh market, said ramifications of international and national events had a telling effect on the retail business in the general and not-so-essential items in particular. He recalled that sales of garments, especially children’s clothes, used to soar close to Christmas and New Year. However, the same was not the case this year.

Another leading shopkeeper dealing in gift items, Maninder Singh, opined that winter holidays in schools and colleges used to be a major factor in bringing the shoppers to the market. He rued that even after commencement of the holidays, the market was missing the buzz it used to experience earlier.

According to him, discounts being offered by national and multi-national companies have failed to enthuse buyers. “A majority of outlets dealing in readymade ladies and gents apparels, woolen clothes, shoes, gift items resorted to rebate ranging from 30 to 60 per cent. However, response was still not encouraging”, he said dejectedly.

Hotels and restaurants have resorted to marketing for attracting customers. They are offering discounts in the shape of a free item in the shape of buy one get one free and other lucrative options.

For instance, order of a mouthwatering ‘shahi paneer’ would fetch another plate free of cost.

The Christian community is holding special masses in the churches of the city.



Children express concern for wildlife
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 23
Students of the junior sections of Shri Ram Ashram Public School showcased a presentation on “Family closeness” and “Wildlife conservation” through song, dance and drama on the annual day here today.

The theme of programme was “Ma and Pa-let’s rock” underlining family values.

On the occasion, three first ranker students, Gaurav Mahajan (non-medical), Nischay Arora (commerce) and Kriti Seth, were awarded “Scholar’s insignia”. School magazine "Lakshay" was released by chief guest SDM Sandeep Rishi.

Among others, president school management Dr Harbilas Rai, principal Preeti Sharad and educational adviser S.N. Joshi also became part of the event.

ENT camp

An ENT camp was conducted at Spring Dale Senior School to educate and advise the students suffering from problems related to ENT. The camp was conducted under the supervision of medical officer Dr Priyanka and representative of Simply Health Plus Pvt Ltd, an organisation that conducted the school health programme throughout the year.

As many as 300 students of classes I to XII were examined. The precautions to take care of their ears were also shared with them. ENT specialist Dr Swarn Singh was there to examine the students.

Gala fete

An art and craft exhibition-cum-gala fete was organised at Sri Guru Harkrishan Senior Secondary Public School in which various art and crafts like pot, wall panels, table cloths, hand-knitted sweaters, things made of waste material, science and maths models and murals, were displayed. Deputy commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu was the chief guest on the occasion. As many as 70 stalls of games and eatables were also put up.

Annual day

Tiny-tots of the Sunshine wing of Delhi Public School of classes pre- nursery, nursery and prep, explained the importance of “zero” in a dance drama at the annual day of the school.

As many as 125 students traced the history of India from the British period to the present day, outlining the progress of the country from slavery to freedom in the play "India Our Country". Earlier, students presented a classical dance on “Vande Mataram”.

Vice-principal of the Khalsa College of Education Rakesh Kapoor and an expert in “Early childhood care and education” graced the occasion.

X-Mas celebrations

Sun Valley public School celebrated the christmas with great fervour and enthusiasm. Children were dressed up like Santa Clause and fairies. They sang jingles and performed dances like group dance, giddha and bhangra.



No danger to Punjabi poetry, say poets
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 23
A two-day symposium on modern Punjabi poetry titled “Is Punjabi poetry dying?” was held at the Mohindera House. No matter what the title suggests, the scholars seemed optimistic about the future of Punjabi literature.

The scholars said fact remains that poetry isn’t dead or dying and it is wrong to say that it doesn’t have much of a pulse left. The Punjabi scholars from different states, including New Delhi, participated in the first-ever symposium, held on this subject.

Delhi-based renowned Punjabi critic, Dr Satinder Singh Noor said there are many poets who have been writing excellent poetry which can be compared to the works in any other language of the world.

He said in California and other developed countries too, writers had been expressing their concern over the “death” of the future of poetry in different languages.

Efforts were being made to revive the poetry of America. The organiser of the symposium Dr Manmohan Singh, a senior IPS officer said such meetings, seminars would be held in future in collaboration of Punjabi Akademy, New Delhi.

On the first day, papers were read on books authored by Rajwinder Meer, Madan Veera, Neeru Asim, Manmohan, Ambrish and Bhupinderpreet. Punjabi critics and writers, Dr Harwinder Bhandal, Shabdish, Taskeem, Dr Surjit Juj, Devinder Saifi, Prof Ram Murti, Dr Joginder Kairon, Gurbachan, Parminderjit, Mohanjit , Gurpreet, Darshan Buttar, Balwinder Sandhu, Nirmal Arpan, Dev Dard, Talwinder, Manmohan Bawa, Jagdish Sachdeva, Bhupinder Kaur Preet, Sandeep Singh, Prof Sukhbir and Darshan Kaur participated in the discussion that followed.

The Kavi Darbar was held in the evening.



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