Mumbai attacks may cast shadow on Indo-Pak trade
Varinder Walia & Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, December 26
The current stand-off between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of terror attacks on Mumbai is likely to cast shadow on the growing trade from here in view of the reported misinformation campaign launched by several Pak TV channels across the border.

However, BSF DIG Mohammad Akil denied any such step by the Indian side and added that everything was normal and the trucks were moving across the Radcliff Line without any hassles.

A large number of residents in the border villages were in high spirits and told the media that they would not leave their homes in view of the heightened tension created due to hardened stance and posturing by the two neighbouring nations. The Rs 2,000 crore plus annual Indo-Pak trade is likely to be imperilled by the bellicosity generated by Pakistan as the local traders were flooded with orders. India was importing large quantities of cement, dry fruits and other miscellaneous items from this border. A leading exporter based here preferring anonymity said several rumours were being floated by Pakistan as some of the news channels of the neighbouring country were running a scroll pointing out that India has shut down its borders which have sent a panic wave among the business community on both sides of the border.

He said the present trade was being transacted totally on credit basis and with the war rhetoric being regularly shown on the TV would put the exporters in a financial dilemma. He said that on the eve of Id the demand of fresh vegetables had gone up substantially and they were dispatching 200 to 300 trucks daily and the business community in Lahore had been asking for regular supplies of goods in view of the growing demand in Pakistan. He said the business community in Pakistan had been in constant touch with them and had reported that Pakistani air force jets were making regular sorties over the key cities which had sent shivers down the spine of the people.

Meanwhile, a large number of people from across the country continued to throng the joint checkpost to witness daily the simultaneous Beating Retreat ceremony organised jointly at dusk by the BSF and the Pak Rangers.



‘Energy day’ in holy city today
Industrial workers hold rally against long power cuts
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 26
Even as the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) is going to observe December 27 as “energy day” in the holy city, the industrial workers here today organised a rally against the state government and the PSEB for long power cuts.

Piqued by the continued power cuts in this border region, members of the Textile Mazdoor Exta Union demanded uninterrupted supply to textile units in the border region to save the industry which was already reeling under global recession. The union also submitted a memorandum to the state government and executive engineer, Punjab State Electricity Board, through the deputy commissioner.

Addressing the workers, Amarjit Singh Asal, district president, CPI, said the government should ensure uninterrupted power supply to the industries, which provided jobs to thousands of people. He said the people were already under constant pressure in view of the inflation and it was becoming difficult to make both ends meet.

Lashing out at the state government for imposing heavy taxes on the industry, Asal said the industry in the state could survive only if it was provided with uninterrupted power supply so that the industrialists could reduce their losses by increasing the production. Otherwise these industrialists would be forced to shift their units to neighbouring states rendering the youth of the border region jobless.

Meanwhile, T.P.S. Sidhu, executive engineer, PEDA, said the agency in association with various department of the government, including Punjab State Electricity Board, PWD, public health and industries, would observe the day to provide information to the general public about the steps taken by the agency to save energy.

Sidhu said the programme would start at 11 am and would be presided over by Bikram Singh Majithia, minister for science and technology, environment and non-conventional energy.



Three trees ‘sacrificed’ for building room in BJP office
Neeraj Bagga
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 26
The “Go green go clean” campaign, launched by BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, seemed to have failed to cut much ice with the district BJP office where at least three trees were uprooted to construct a new room here today.

A visit to the district BJP office, named Shahid Harbans Lal Khanna Samarak, outside Hathi Gate, brought out the fact. Labourers were engaged in uprooting the trees besides pruning others to clear a small patch of land for constructing the room.

Inquiry revealed that the room is being constructed to house another office in the building since it has only one room and a hall on the first floor.

A BJP worker overseeing the work, on condition of anonymity, said the arrival of leaders had shot up and was expected to increase further near the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. He said the dearth of rooms was being felt for a long and it was decided to clear a little space for raising an office while leaving the rest of green space intact.

When contacted, Amrik Singh, president, district unit of the BJP, said no tree was uprooted from the BJP’s district office and only pruning was carried out.



Sood heads varsity officers’ association
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 26
All candidates who had filed their nomination forms for the election to the Guru Nanak Dev University Officers’ Association for the year 2009 have been declared elected to the executive of the association as there was no contest for any office, informed Dr Jaspal Singh, returning officer.

As per the notification issued by the returning officer, A.C. Sood, assistant registrar (general) has been elected president, while Dr H.P. Singh, senior medical officer of the university, vice-president of the association. H.S. Tinna, assistant engineer (construction department), has been elected secretary, Rajesh Kalia, assistant registrar (colleges), joint secretary and Sant Singh, superintendent (guest house) treasurer.

Subhash Chander Mahna, superintendent, re-evaluation branch, Hira Singh, assistant engineer, construction department, Major Singh Gill, superintendent, boys’ hostel-I, Tejinder Bhalla, office superintendent, press and publication department, Tirath Singh, programmer, computer science and engineering department, and Sandip Kumar Arora, superintendent, UMC branch, have been elected executive members.



PCCTU hails UGC pay scales for teachers 
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 26
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) has hailed theclearing of UGC pay scales for college and university teachers by the central government.

In a press statement issued today, PCCTU president Dr Iqbal Sandhu, general secretary Dr Jagwant Singh and vice-president prof H.S. Walia said the new pay scales would attract young talented persons towards the teaching profession. However, they also criticised the government for diluting the UGC recommendations of grade pay and central assistance to the states.

Walia said grade pay for assistant professors had been reduced from Rs 6,600 to 6,000 and for assistant professor (senior scale) from Rs 7,200 to 7,000.

While the central government has approved 80 per cent of the additional burden for the first five years while UGC had recommended 100 per cent for the same period and 50 per cent for the next five years.



Philanthropist’s body donated to hospital
Tribune News Service

Amritsar December 26
Philanthropist Basant Singh Hanspal’s body was donated to SGPC-run Sri Guru Ram Dass Hospital and Medical College as per his written and registered will. Basant passed away after a brief illness at Escorts/Fortis hospital.

This was disclosed by Dr Chanjit Singh Gumtala, patron, Amritsar Vikas Manch, here today. Earlier, his eyes were donated to the Guru Ram Dass Eye Bank.

Born on Basant Panchmi, January 31, 1915, he was 94 and left behind two sons, Jasbir Singh Hanspal, director of Development Technology at the Bank of Montreal, Canada, and Harbans Singh Hanspal, an Amritsar-based businessman.

The principal and faculty of Sri Guru Ram Dass Medical College welcomed the hearse and as per his wishes no rituals or rites were conducted after his death.

Hanspal had been associated with a number of social and political organisations like the Communist Party of India, Amritsar Vikas Manch, Ramgarhia Bhai Bandi, Bhai Kanahya Mission Society and Nari Chetna Manch.

He was a chairman of the Thekedar Bishan Singh Hanspal Charitable Public Trust, Amritsar, and spent his life working against female foeticide and other social ills. He personally funded a pension scheme for widows, orphans and elderly of his native village Modey Dhanoey, near the border. He built the cremation ground for the village.



Amritsar youth attends URI global assembly
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 26
Sikh youth ambassador for peace from Amritsar Anantdeep Singh Dhillon participated in the second Global Assembly of the United Religions Initiative (URI) held in Mayapur this month.

He was one of the 100 young leaders selected from 40 countries representing all major religions, spiritual traditions and indigenous faiths invited for the young leaders programme as part of the URI 2008 Global Assembly. They all came together in the small temple town of Mayapur in West Bengal’s Krishna Nagar district. It is the global headquarters of ISKCON and has the samadhi memorial of its founder Srila Prabhupada.

After the pre-assembly youth programme, he participated in the Global Assembly that brought together 300 global inter-faith leaders from 44 countries. The Global Assembly served as an opportunity for members, all of whom are working on inter-faith projects worldwide; to speak face to face, learn from one another's successes and to build further alliances within the URI network. The theme of the assembly was “Pilgrims of peace many paths, one purpose”.

Incidentally, Dhillon was the only Sikh youth delegate invited for the assembly. He is the youth, inter-faith and community development coordinator with United Sikhs and also member of the Earth Charter Youth Initiative. During the pre-assembly programme for young leaders he presented a session on “Earth Charter and youth involvement for sustainable development”. In the assembly he co-chaired two different sessions covering topics of environment, peace and inter-faith harmony.

He has now been nominated as member of the global youth coordinating team that will help give shape to the youth programme of the URI, a global peace and inter-faith NGO headquartered in San Francisco-California (USA).

Anantdeep as youth leader and peace activist is of conviction, strongly denounces violence and inhuman killings of people across the globe at the handd of fanatics and terrorists. In an era where common challenges affect every nation, the young leaders rejected the notion that religious intolerance and violence need by a given part of life. The meeting incidentally coincided with the acts of violence in Mumbai. These acts contradict the universal human values taught by all sincere spiritual paths, chief amongst which are peace, compassion and truth, he feels.

During his stay there he led sessions on leadership, visited local village to engage in a hand-on service project and helped paint a peace mural.



3,000 artistes from country to perform
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, December 26
The government has prepared a final blue print and have taken a major initiative to involve general public by holding live performances during the seven-day-long national youth festival to be held in the holy city from January 12.

Deputy commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu told The Tribune that the national youth festival sponsored by the central government in active association with the Punjab government was being held for the first time in the state and would bring in more than 3,000 young artistes from across the country. He said the government had also invited 1,000 participants from Nehru Yuvak Kendras in the country who would be categorised in the non-competitive segment of the week-long festival.

Pannu said the organising committee had agreed in principle to arrange the winning teams in various events to give live performances at prominent public places for involving the public into this mega festival. He said the committee had decided to hold public performances at Lawrence Road, Jallianwala Bagh, Gol Bagh, Ranjit Avenue and some other places on the recommendation of the management of the festival. He said this had been done to showcase the talent of youngsters in the midst of public of the holy city.

The DC said the organising committee had finalised four venues in the city, including Guru Nanak Dev University, Khalsa College, BBK DAV College for Women and SR Government College for Women, while the opening and closing ceremonies would be held on the university campus. He said Vice-President Hamid Ansari would inaugurate the festival on January 12 in the presence of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

He said the government had earmarked more than Rs 3 crore for this major event and the central government would contribute 50 per cent share. He said the state government had already given its approval and already released Rs 25 lakh as initial payment.

Meanwhile, the GND University has already made elaborate arrangements to host the mega event on the main grounds as well as in various auditoriums and other complexes on the university campus. The participants would be lodged in the boys and girls hotels of the university and have postponed the winter vacations to festival dates. The participants of the Nehru Yuvak Kendras would be put up at Khalsa College complex.



Panel to check brick-kilns spreading pollution
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 26
On the instructions of Hira Singh Gabria, Punjab minister for jails and tourism, the district administration has formed a three-member committee to check the brick-kilns situated around the town allegedly spreading pollution.

The administration formed the committee when the matter in this regard was raised in the meeting of the district grievances redressal committee organised here today, which was presided over by Gabria.

Tara Singh Khehra, district secretary, CPI, raising the issue said the brick-kilns situated around the town had been spreading pollution in the town and the officials concerned were not taking any action against them.

Khushi Ram, deputy commissioner, said committee would submit its report within 10 days and due action would be taken.

Encroachments, lack of civic amenities at the local Officer’s Colony and other problems being faced by the residents were also raised in the meeting. SSP Harinder Singh Chahal and other officials were present in the meeting.



Absent veterinary officer faces probe
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 26
Deputy director of animal husbandry Dr Pawan Kumar Gandhi in a letter to the higher authorities has said the veterinary officer of civil veterinary hospital, Thathi Sohal, is running absent from his duty.

The matter was brought to the notice of Punjab minister for animal husbandry Gulzar Singh Ranike a few days back. He was told that the hospital had been without the veterinary officer for the past three months.

It is alleged that the salary of the veterinary officer is being withdrawn, though he is not coming to the hospital. Dr Gandhi said a probe would be ordered into the matter.



DC’s directions on tenants

Amritsar, December 26
Expressing concerns that many of the tenants do not reveal their identity and disappear after committing crimes, the district magistrate has passed an order asking residents to deposit the photographs of their tenants along with their identity and original residential addresses with the nearby police stations.

Imposing section 144, CrPc, deputy commissioner-cum-district magistrate Kahan Singh Pannu said that it had been brought to his notice that many tenants did not show their real identity and it became very difficult to locate them in case of any crime happened. Therefore, the owners should give the identity and photographs of their tenants within 15 days of renting their house or properties, he added. — TNS



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