Hill farmers get to bank smart
Tribune News Service

Farms in Tehri Garhwal district
Farms in Tehri Garhwal district. A Tribune photograph

Dehradun, January 28
It is a bank with a difference. The Kisan Bank that started functioning here today will act as a facilitator for farmers for their every need — seeds, loans, technical support and marketing.

“In times of global economic recession, it will be the Indian farmer who will not only feed the country, but take it economically forward too.The Indian farmer needs more such help,” Uttarakhand Agriculture Minister Trivendra Rawat said after the bank inauguration.

As commercial banks are shy of giving loans to the farmers, a beginning has been made in the Doon valley with the setting up of this bank which will provide exclusive and holistic services to the farmers of the hill state.

Farming in the hills is considered a bane due to so several factors like small land holdings, poor irrigation facilities and poor profitability. Dr Anil Joshi, a social scientist undertook a cycle yatrafrom Kanyakumari to Dehradun last year to highlight the plight of the farming community, particularly small and marginal farmers. The Kisan Bank is his initiative.

With seed money of Rs 5 lakh that he received as award from Reliance Group chairman Mukesh Ambani, Dr Joshi of the Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organisation (HESCO), a voluntary group, along with nine other voluntary bodies decided to organise small farmers into running their own bank.

To begin with, each voluntary group will comprise 50 farmers who will become members by paying Rs 50 as membership fee.

The members will be provided with quality seeds by the bank besides technical knowhow about a particular crop. “Impressed by the idea, already Mahyco company has given us seeds worth Rs 6 lakh free of cost for distribution among members,” said Dr Rakesh Kumar, a founder-member of the bank.

"After the cycle yatra from South to North, it was clear that the farmers were suffering and their first and foremost problem was easy, accessible loan. Most banks turn their back on farmers while others exploit them," he said.

The entry of private players in the agricultural sector has added to the woes of the farmers. "This is the time for the farming community to deliberate and do something for its survival," Dr Joshi said.

"The bank will be a single-window input and output point for the member. The farmers will not only get loan but also knowledge and quality seeds. In return, the bank can buy produce directly, eliminating middlemen, and sell it in the open market and get back interest on the loan," he explained.

The Kisan Bank working in tandem with the Uttaranchal Garmeen Bank has made Kisan Credit cards for member. “We gave Kisan Credit cards to 26 members today,” said Thrish Kapoor, chairman of the bank.

Agriculture Minister Rawat said his department had posted agriculture extension officers in all 670 Nyaya Panchayats with the 7th and 10th of every month being observed as farmers and dairy development days in the state.

“Eery three months,we propose to hold a scientist-farmer interaction for feedback,” he added. Members of the bank will be entitled to common facilities such as sharing of farm equipment (small tractors, spraying pumps) that will be provided to the 10 centres of the bank manned by the voluntary groups. The members will have the freedom to either sell their farm produce to the bank or return the loan in cash. To absorb any crop loss, the bank will help obtain crop insurance for small farmers and they will be stakeholders in the bank.

Moreover, the bank will help in value addition of the crops that could fetch better return for the processed crop in the market.

In case of crop failure, the bank will not force recoveries but explore other possibilities by giving relief period and sharing earlier profits.

Dr KP Singh, a former director of extension services of Pantnagar Agriculture University, said the farmers would benefit if agri-services of the bank are linked with Kisan Vigyan Kendras run by the central government.

Dr Manju Sharma, former secretary, biotechnology department, who was present on the occasion, said that linkages between various services being provided by the governments, universities and voluntary groups was necessary for the benefit of the farmers, particularly those in the hills.

Karnel Singh, director, Khadi and Village Industries Corporation (KVIC), said he would sanction a grameen service centre fo his organisation which would work in collaboration with the bank.



Goddess Kali on yatra
Jotirmay Thapliyal
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, January 28
While many are aware of Uttarakhand’s Nandadevi Rajaat yatra, the lesser known Kali Devra Yatra is yet another religious affair of prime importance in Devbhoomi, that signifies the role of goddesses in the daily life of hill people.

Every 12 years, the Devra Yatra of Goddess Kali is taken out in the Garhwal hills of Uttarakhand. The yatra draws its existence from the tradition of taking out the idol of Goddess Kali from the famous Kalimath Temple for the holy bath in the Ganges in Deoprayag, the holy confluence of the Mandakini and Alaknanda.

The yatra is on its return journey with the winding hill roads reverberating with slogans in praise of Mother Kali.

The yatra left for Guptkashi this morning after a day’s stay at Semi village. On Monday, it visited Khakra near Rudraprayag.

“The yatra today left Semi village for Guptkashi and will reach Kalimath on Vasant Panchami after brief halts in a number of villages en route,” said Rama Singh, a sewakar who has been accompanying the yatra.

The Devra Yatra that began on December 8, 2008, from Kalimath in Ruderprayag halted at Baduli, Jaggi Bedula, Raau Lake, Burwa, Mansuna, Bastti, Saruna, Chunni, Chanderpuri, Agastmuni, Rudraprayag, Srinagar and Baghwan before reaching Devprayag on January 13 after covering 104 km.

The Devra Yatra of the goddess will conclude in 2011 with a Mahayagya, which will be organised in Kalimath.

The locals, who carry the palanquin with the idol of Goddess Kali, walk barefoot on hilly serpentine roads. The doli is carried from village to village where it is received by the devout. Throughout the journey, the devotees chant slogan in praise of Goddess Kali in Garhwali.

The yatra comes at the initiative of the Badrinath Temple Committee. As many as 85 devotees are accompanying the deity this year, most of them from Kalimath, Kaviltha, Bahula, Jaggi and Byukhi on the periphery of Kalimath Temple in Rudraprayag.

The yatra today left for Guptkashi.



26 colleges may face action for quota bungling
Raju William
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, January 28
The Uttarakhand SC/ST Commission is studying the report of the inquiry committee, which detected irregularities in admissions against reserved seats in several private B.Ed colleges affiliated to the HNB Garhwal University.

Its vice-chairman Suresh Rathore said on Saturday that the commission would order registration of a police case against the guilty colleges for violating the constitutional rights of students belonging to the SC/ST category.

The university sat on the report even as it should have initiated action as recommended by the inquiry committee. “The university sent the report only after the commission instructed it to do so,” added Rathore.

The report by the four-member committee was discussed in the executive council of the university in its meeting held on January 11. Besides notices to eight colleges, it also recommended disaffiliation of five colleges of Dehradun and Haridwar.

The recommendations also included that answer sheets of students admitted against rules should not be evaluated. Registrar HB Thapliyal said the university would send the report about the irregularities to NCTE, Jaipur, and the state government.

Of the 37 colleges, nine were found to be functioning as per rules. Serious irregularities were detected in admissions for the session 2007-08 in the remaining 26 colleges.

Notices were issued to them but five colleges did not respond. It was found that guilty colleges admitted students who had secured marks below the cut-off merit besides admitting students of science against seats meant for arts students.

Committee member Yogendra Nath Sharma said the managements of the colleges did not spare the seats reserved in the SC/ST category. Neither any college nor the university has any right to convert SC/ST seats into general category.



Virasat begins today
Tribune News Service

Roorkee, January 28
A three-day long Virasat Fest is starting tomorrow at the Indian Institute of Technology.

During the cultural fest many renowned artistes of the country, including Sufi Qawwal Qadar Niazi, 'veena' player Salil Bhatt (son of famous Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Grammy Award winner) and Uttarakhand folk dancer Nandlal Bharti would give live performances.

Classic art movies, including, Suraj ka Satwa Ghoda, by Shyam Benegal and Parash Pathar by Satyajit Ray would also be screened during the event, being held under the aegis of Spic Macay.

“Apart from this, the other events like Hindustani vocal (Rajnish Mishra and Ritesh Mishra), Rajasthani folk (Langas), rangoli competition and Quiz-India, would not only entertain the audiences but also apprise them of the cultural traditions and the values of the other states of the country", said an organiser.

"Like our previous programmes, this year also we have invited top artistes from different fields and the states as well. Where Qadar Niazi is one of the most famous qawwali singers in sufi styles, Aastana Gayaki as well as in the modern qawwali traditions, Salil Bhatt represents the tenth generation of the famous Bhatt lineage. To give wide range, we would also include the students of different schools of the city in our quiz competition,” said Prof S Chakravorty, Department of Electronics and Computer Engineering, an organiser.



White Field Estate
Probe on into ownership dispute
Anmol Jain

Mussoorie, January 28
To prevent the wife and daughter of the deceased owner of White Field Estate, located near Barlowgunj here, from entering the estate, the wife of the caretaker of the estate threatened to commit suicide on Saturday.

There is an ownership dispute between Sushil Kumar, the caretaker of the property, and Deepa Mathur and Nivedita Mathur, the wife and daughter respectively of the deceased owner.

White Field Estate is spread over 10.24 acre. The market value of the property is estimated to be in crores.

The estate was the property of NK Mathur, who was a senior IFS officer of Himachal cadre.

When Deepa and Nivedita, who are based in Panchkula, Haryana, came to Mussoorie after NK Mathur’s death and tried to get the property transferred in their name, they came to know that Sushil had claimed to be the legal heir and had already submitted papers in the Nagar Palika to get the property transferred in his name.

Sushil Kumar has produced a will made by NK Mathur wherein he is shown as the beneficiary. According to Nivedita, “That will states that Sushil will inherit the entire property from my father.”

Nivedita said, “That will is a fake and the signatures of my father have been scanned and pasted on it. This is my ancestral house and how can anyone else claim ownership rights over it?”

Deepa Mathur had filed an FIR against the caretaker based on which Sushil Kumar was arrested.

But things took an ugly turn on Saturday evening when Deepa and her daughter were prevented from entering the property by the family of Sushil Kumar. Sushil’s wife poured kerosene over herself and threatened self-immolation.

The police then arrested the wife and mother of the caretaker.

But there was further drama as members of the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal made a ruckus at the police station and opposed the arrest. Sushil, his wife and mother were subsequently released on bail.

The police are now investigating the matter. Policemen have been deployed at the estate and the possession of the main cottage has been handed over to Deepa Mathur.



Yoga-trained youth on fast
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, January 28
The dharna staged by the yoga-trained youths entered the ninth day yesterday along with Jai Prakash Kainswal staging an indefinite fast since Monday.

The Yoga trained youths have been demanding employment in government schools and other government departments as Yoga teachers. The youths, owing allegiance to Yog Prashikshit Society staging a peaceful dharna in support of their demands at Gandhi Park, were forced go on indefinite fast after they were lathi-charged by the police last week.

The district general secretary of Yog Prashikshit Society Arvind Rana said the state government has not taken any action against the police. “Two of our boys received serious injuries after being lathi-charged, however, government has not initiated against them. We were leading a peaceful rally,” he said.

The members submitted a memorandum to the District Magistrate. They undertook a rally that culminated at Gandhi Park. The youth also wore black bands staging a silent protest at Gandhi Park in support of their demands.



Haj Sewa Samiti protest
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, January 28
The Dehradun Haj Sewa Samiti held a protest at Gandhi Park, on Sunday. Led by Sufi Khaliq Ahmed, the Dehradun Haj Sewa Samiti members alleged the state BJP government for ignoring Muslim community in the works of development.

Submitting a memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister, the protesters charged that the welfare programmes started for muslims by the previous Congress government has been brought to standstill by the state government.

“While muslims are being deprived of benefits, a man of dubious distinction has been made the head of Haj Committee,” Khaliq Ahmed accused the chairman for resorting to large-scale irregularities. He also accused the government for interference in the works of Waqf Board.

The issue of vacancies of Urdu teachers and Urdu translators were raised in the memorandum. Significantly, the Haj Sewa Samiti members have also demanded probe into alleged acts of corruption during the rule of Congress government.

The protesters asserted that muslims have been left out of development process and asked the state government to be more sensitive towards their issues. Latafat Hussain, Irshad Ahmed, Shakeel Ahmed and Aftab Ahmed were part of the protest.



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