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Drain bane: NGO wants ecology preserved
Bathinda, November 14
The issue of the pollution of Lasara drain came to the fore again with a non-government organization (NGO), Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR), demanding the immediate suspension of the permission given to two distilleries, set up within a radius of 2 km, near village Machhana, on the ground that it will create environmental hazards in the area.

Black and untreated water flows in Lasara drain from the place where the distillery discharges its effluents.
Black and untreated water flows in Lasara drain from the place where the distillery discharges its effluents. Photo: Bhupinder dhillon


EARLIER STORIES



People light candles at the gurudwara in the historic Qila Mubarak on Divali night.
People light candles at the gurudwara in the historic Qila Mubarak on Divali night. The Festival of Lights was celebrated with fervour and gaiety. Divali passed off peacefully in the city with no untoward incidents being reported. Photo: Bhupinder Dhillon

A ceremony was held at the Vishwakarma temple in Adarsh Nagar on Wednesday on the occasion of Vishwakarma Day.
A ceremony was held at the Vishwakarma temple in Adarsh Nagar on Wednesday on the occasion of Vishwakarma Day. Photo: Bhupinder Dhillon

Pak singer says artists are born, not made
Bathinda, November 14
Singers are artists and not wrestlers who have to sweat it out in a competitive field, said the celebrated Pakistani singer Arif Lohar, while interacting with TNS here today.

Inebriated revellers keep NGOs on their toes
Bathinda, November 14
Though Divali passed off peacefully in the city, drunkards creating nuisance at various public places kept the cops and the volunteers of the NGOs on their toes.

Divali passes off peacefully
Bathinda, November 14
Barring a few incidents of quarrels and minor accidents, the festival of Divali passed off peacefully in the city.

School games for U-19 category to begin today in city
Bathinda, November 14
The 58th Punjab School Games for girls and boys in the under-19 category will begin from tomorrow. Bathinda will host the kabaddi and handball tournaments.

Motorcyclist knocked down by bus
Bathinda, November 14
A motorcyclist riding near Jassi Pauwali village lost his life after he was hit by a speeding bus.

Seven arrested for gambling near Mall Road
Bathinda, November 14
Police have arrested seven persons for gambling near the water tank on the Mall Road in the city.

Light & sound on Divali

(Clockwise from above) A birdís eyeview of the city from the historic Qila Mubarak on Divali night; the gurudwara at the Qila Mubarak brightly illuminated on Tuesday night; children burst crackers in Mehna Chowk area; the faithful pay obeisance at the Qila Gurudwara on the Festival of Lights.
(Clockwise from above) A birdís eyeview of the city from the historic Qila Mubarak on Divali night; the gurudwara at the Qila Mubarak brightly illuminated on Tuesday night; children burst crackers in Mehna Chowk area; the faithful pay obeisance at the Qila Gurudwara on the Festival of Lights. Photos: Bhupinder Dhillon







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Drain bane: NGO wants ecology preserved
Members of Association for Democratic Rights allege that distilleries discharging effluents in Lasara drain are damaging environment
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

A view of the distillery that has come up in Machhana village

A private primary school located right near the Lasara drain and the distillery.

Members of the Association for Democratic Rights, an NGO, addressing media persons at the Teachersí Home in Bathinda on Wednesday
(From Above) A view of the distillery that has come up in Machhana village; A private primary school located right near the Lasara drain and the distillery. It becomes even difficult to stand for a long time at this place; Members of the Association for Democratic Rights, an NGO, addressing media persons at the Teachersí Home in Bathinda on Wednesday. Photos: Bhupinder dhillon

Bathinda, November 14
The issue of the pollution of Lasara drain came to the fore again with a non-government organization (NGO), Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR), demanding the immediate suspension of the permission given to two distilleries, set up within a radius of 2 km, near village Machhana, on the ground that it will create environmental hazards in the area.

Accusing the owners of the distillery of discharging the untreated toxic effluents in the Lasara drain (meant for accommodating flood waters) resulting in environmental damage, the members of the AFDR said the government has blindly given its approval to the projects overriding the objections raised by the Bathinda office of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB).

The members of the fact-finding committee of the AFDR included its president Bagga Singh, advocate NK Jeet, principal Ranjit Singh, retired banker Pritpal Singh and Dr HS Ranu

Addressing media persons, Bagga Singh said the members of the AFDR met the villagers of Machhana, Sangat Kalan and Kothe Sangat Kalan, inspected the Lasara drain near the distillery and travelled along it for 45 minutes. "The situation is extremely sickening, suffocating and unbearable. Just adjoining it is a Dalit colony with around 60 families and an elementary school," said advocate NK Jeet.

He added that as per rules, the distillery was to develop a good traffic management system for its vehicles to avoid congestion on public road. "But it is using a 22 feet wide circular road connecting it with the village. The distillery's traffic has destroyed standing crops in the adjoining fields, small bridges on the water channels and electric poles along the road causing inconvenience to the villagers," Jeet said.

In early October, the BCL distillery near Machhana started production. The distillery allegedly discharged toxic waters in Lasara drain resulting in health problems like headache and vomiting among the people living in its vicinity. "The authorities were informed but no action was taken against the owners of the distillery. However, people protested on October 6 and the distillery was temporarily closed," he said.

The AFDR members reasoned that the two distilleries have been allowed to draw a huge quantity of water from the Sirhind canal in the area, which is already hit by water scarcity and is battling cancer and other deadly diseases caused because of the polluted water.

Questioning the facilities allegedly granted to the distilleries, the AFDR members said, "Why would the government be so generous towards alcohol making units unless and until it does not benefit from the deal?"

The AFDR strongly demanded re-conducting of public hearings for both the units, which it claimed had been eyewash when held on previous occasions.

The members of the NGO alleged that no publicity was given to the public hearing, no meeting of the gram panchayat or gram sabha was held to discuss the issue and there was no informed public debate.

The NGO has now decided to give the entire episode the shape of a massive movement. Literature, informing about the impact of the distilleries on the villagers, is being made available in Punjabi to the people. They will be informed about the ills and asked to gear up for a massive protest.

Chairman and managing director of Bathinda Chemicals Limited (BCL) Rajinder Mittal could not be contacted for his version despite repeated attempts. Suresh Labana, the officer on special duty (OSD) to the BCL chairman said Mittal was busy with family matters and would speak about the issue only tomorrow.

Fact file

  • Wooing the villagers: Before the public hearing, the distillery owners allegedly tried to create an opinion in their favour. Two coolers were donated to the local village gurudwara where the recitation of the Holy Guru Granth Sahib was held to seek divine blessings for running the distillery. An NGO in Sangat was given an ambulance van.
  • Water scarcity: Both the distilleries shall jointly draw around 103 crore 26 lakh litres of water every year that is enough to irrigate fields in more than 260 acres round the year. The area is deficient in water for drinking and irrigation. Situated at the tail-end of minors of Sirhind canal and Kotla branch, people are battling water crisis since 1993. Allowing distilleries to draw a huge amount of water will aggravate problems for the farmers.
  • TB and cancer are widespread in these villages. As per the Cancer Survey Report, till May 2010, there were 1002 patients of which 274 are male and 728 are female in Bathinda district. 436 new cases of TB have been recorded in between January to September this year at the health centres in Sangat, Maur, Talwandi and Raman. With new distilleries, the situation is expected to become even more grim.
  • The BCL distillery will produce 250,000 litres of poisonous gases, 30 metric tonnes of ash everyday, spent oil and noise pollution, while the other factory is expected to produce even more pollution.

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Pak singer says artists are born, not made
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Arif Lohar wants visa norms for artists in India and Pakistan to be made easier.
Arif Lohar wants visa norms for artists in India and Pakistan to be made easier. Photo by writer

Bathinda, November 14
Singers are artists and not wrestlers who have to sweat it out in a competitive field, said the celebrated Pakistani singer Arif Lohar, while interacting with TNS here today. On a brief visit to the city, Arif spoke about the present music scenario in India, the love and penchant that the audience in Pakistan has for Indian music and the need to make visa norms for artists from across the border a little easier.

For Arif, singers are born and cannot be made. "Amongst my eight siblings, Allah chose me to carry on my father Alam Lohar's legacy. But I can never step into his shoes. In fact, every singer, who leaves this earth, leaves behind a void that can never be filled," he said while citing the examples of singers like Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh, Noor Jehan and Mehdi Hassan, who are still in demand by their fans.

Talking about the increasing trend of imitation in the music industry, Arif said music can never be imitated but only be inspired. "Music inspires, but one person cannot copy another. Har kise de gall ch apni koel fit hai (each throat has a nightingale of its own). Music was in my blood in the same way as Jugni has been in our family. Jugni has grown with us in all its versions that are sung around the world," said the man well-known for his "Alif Allah Chambey Di Booti", a jugni shot at Pakistan Coke Studio. Appreciating the efforts of the Coke Studio in promoting regional and folk music, Arif said more was needed to promote this art.

Commenting on the falling graph of Punjabi language in Indian Punjab, Arif said the situation was just the opposite in Pakistan. "In Pakistan's Punjab, all of us are in love with Punjabi and we are united on the basis of the language. It is the state of Punjab that forms the government at the centre," he added. Underlining the need to unify the two Punjabs emotionally, Arif said artists construct a bridge with their art, while diplomats and politicians complete it. "People living on the either side of the border are like two separated brothers. Our people have a lot of compassion and love for Indians and vice-versa," he added.

Arif suggested that the two countries should make visa norms a little easier so as to allow the artists to move around freely and perform. "We are artists and not anti-social elements who have to repeatedly report at the police stations," he said.

Fact file

  • Though Arif likes all the Punjabi singers, he counts the following as the most melodious ones: Yamla Jatt, who was a contemporary of his father Alam Lohar, Gurdas Maan, Sardul Sikandar, Harbhajan Mann, Surjit Bindrakhiya.
  • In 2004, his performance at the opening ceremony of Asian Games in China drew huge applause from the largely Chinese audience that could not understand him, but enjoyed his music.
  • He has performed in 46 Pakistani movies so far.
  • Riding high on the wave of Jugni in the Saif Ali Khan-starrer Cocktail, Arif is working on more such projects.

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Inebriated revellers keep NGOs on their toes
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 14
Though Divali passed off peacefully in the city, drunkards creating nuisance at various public places kept the cops and the volunteers of the NGOs on their toes.

Volunteers of an NGO, Sahara Jan Sewa, said they picked up 18 persons who were creating ruckus after getting sozzled at various places in the city.

While five of them managed to give their addresses, the others failed to do so because of their inebriated condition.

The rest were taken to the open ground adjoining the office of the Municipal Corporation where they were given blankets to sleep on the roadside pavements under the open sky.

The volunteers said that onlookers and bystanders informed the NGOs about such elements creating nuisance near the residential and commercial areas.

The cops who were on duty on Divali night said they too had to call up the NGOs like Sahara Jan Sewa, Naujawan Welfare Society and others to shift the drunkards.

The policemen said many minor accidents were also reported on the Mall Road, Amreek Singh Road, bus stand and other places due to the excessive consumption of liquor.

The volunteers of the NGOs said the open consumption of liquor outside vends and eating joints in the city has lead to a rise in such nuisance by the drunkards.

The volunteers of the NGOs were of the view that the police should tighten its noose around those who consume liquor in the open, especially outside the eating joints providing non-vegetarian fare in the city. Such open indulgence gives way to drunken behaviour and entails problems for public order, especially at the time of the festivals.

Fact file

  • Volunteers of Sahara Jan Sewa picked up 18 persons who were creating ruckus.
  • While five of them managed to give their addresses, the others failed to do so because of inebriated condition.
  • The rest were taken to the ground adjoining the office of the Municipal Corporation where they were given blankets to sleep on pavements.

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Divali passes off peacefully
No major crime or fire incident reported; peopleís only regret is crackers of poor quality
Gurdeep Singh Mann
Tribune News Service

The police cordoned off the entire city to ensure safety on Divali night.
The police cordoned off the entire city to ensure safety on Divali night. Photo: Bhupinder Dhillon

Bathinda, November 14
Barring a few incidents of quarrels and minor accidents, the festival of Divali passed off peacefully in the city.

Residents, however, were not happy with the fire-crackers that did not burst as per their specifications.

While the rockets went off the mark, the crackers which were supposed to emit only light, reportedly burst at many places.

People also witnessed a rise in air and noise pollution with the bursting of the fire-crackers despite the awareness drive launched by the NGOs and schoolchildren.

Residents said the quality of fire- crackers was inferior this Divali as many crackers did not burst as per their specifications. The rockets did not go up in the sky and instead went in the wrong direction.

"Almost one out of ten rockets went off the mark and the "chakri", which usually revolves on the floor burst this time," said Pinku Mittal, a resident of Aggarwal Colony.

Another city resident, Rajwinder Brar, a school teacher residing on Ajit Road, said his family was upset when almost every rocket veered away and the crackers that were supposed to emit light burst with a loud sound.

Rajinder Kaur, a resident of Model Town Phase-II, said the quality of the crackers was not up to the mark this time and many of the crackers appeared to be made of material that was of inferior quality and did not work at all.

"The rockets that entered the households and hit the window panes of many houses lead to heated arguments and brawls in our area," Rajinder Kaur said.

She said despite firing the rockets at a 90 degree angle, it went in a different direction and entered the houses of others and scared the passersby.

No major fire incident or injuries were reported in the city on Divali night.

Kapil Bansal, a resident of street number 7 in Pukhraj Colony, said fire erupted near his house but the fire brigade reached the spot within minutes. The fire, he said, assumed alarming proportions at around 4.30 am after a cracker burst in the dry grass near the residential area. He said a formal complaint to the Municipal Corporation would be made in this regard so that the dry grass adjoining the residential areas is destroyed to prevent such incidents in future.

Bathinda SSP Ravcharan Brar said the Divali passed off peacefully in the district. "The entire city was cordoned off and I thank the police force for doing a commendable job on Divali night," the SSP said.

He claimed that not even the slightest scope was left for the petty criminals and other anti-social elements to operate during the festival and their designs were frustrated. 

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School games for U-19 category to begin today in city
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 14
The 58th Punjab School Games for girls and boys in the under-19 category will begin from tomorrow. Bathinda will host the kabaddi and handball tournaments.

Education Minister Sikandar Singh Maluka will inaugurate the games tomorrow. A meeting to review the arrangements for the event was held at Teachers' Home. District Education Officer (Secondary) Hardeep Singh Taggar presided over the meeting.

Taggar said the kabaddi matches for boys will be held at the DAV College playgrounds, while that of the girls will be held at the Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Bathinda. The handball matches will be held at St. Xavier's Senior Secondary School.

While interacting with the members of the tournament committees, the DEO directed the organizers to ensure safe stay for the participating players and facilities for providing good food. Assistant Education Officer (Sports) Pavittar Kaur, members of the district tournament committee were also present on the occasion.

Pavittar Kaur said the Education Minister will inaugurate the games on November 15 at the multipurpose stadium in the city.

Prominent among others present at the meeting included Sukhbir Singh, Daljit Singh, Krishna Gupta, Joginder Singh, Mahinder Pal Singh, Rajvir Singh, Harmandar Singh, Prem Mittal, Randhawa Singh, Baljit Singh, Nazar Singh, Sukhjinder Pal Singh, Raghubir Singh and Rakesh Narula.

The city had only recently hosted the school games for the under-17 category. 

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Motorcyclist knocked down by bus
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 14
A motorcyclist riding near Jassi Pauwali village lost his life after he was hit by a speeding bus.

The deceased has been identified as 50-year-old Sukhmandar Singh of Jassi village. Another resident of the village, 22-year-old Kulwant Singh, riding pillion, received serious injuries in the accident.

Volunteers of the NGO Sahara Jan Sewa who rushed the accident victims to the hospital said the bus hit the men on the bike and then bumped into a roadside tree. The passengers and the bus driver had a narrow escape in the accident.

In another accident that took place on Thandi Sarak, a motorcyclist got seriously injured after his bike skidded off the road. Volunteers of Sahara Jan Sewa rushed the injured biker to the Civil Hospital where he was admitted to the emergency ward. His condition is stated to be critical. 

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Seven arrested for gambling near Mall Road
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 14
Police have arrested seven persons for gambling near the water tank on the Mall Road in the city.

The accused were found gambling after a raid was conducted by cops from the Kotwali police station. Police arrested Parkash Chand, Darshan Singh, Baldev Singh, Vishal Kumar, Janakraj, Malkit and Surjeet Chand, all residents of Bathinda. Police recovered Rs 5,210 from the accused.

The accused were brought to the police station where a case under sections 13, 3, 67 of the Gambling Act was registered against them.

Five booked for assault

Police have registered a case against five persons for beating up a resident of Bhagta Bhaika. In a complaint to the police, Makhan Singh said the accused attacked and inflicted serious injuries upon him. The victim was rushed to the hospital where the police recorded his statement. A case under sections 452, 341, 323, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC was registered against the accused at Diyalpura police station. The accused have been identified as Bikkar Singh, Jasvir Singh, Shamsher Singh, Jaspreet Singh and Sukhpreet Singh, all residents of Bhagta Bhaika.

Two arrested for stealing paddy bags

Police have arrested two residents of Jalal village for stealing 90 bags of paddy from a rice sheller.

In a complaint to the police, Gurlal Singh of Diyalpura Bhaika village said Vinod Kumar and Buta Singh had stolen 90 bags of paddy, worth nearly Rs 40,000, from his rice sheller.

The accused were brought to the police station where a case under sections 457, 380 and 411 of the IPC has been registered against them.

Beggarís body found in trainís compartment

A beggar was found dead in one of the bogies of a train at the Bathinda railway station.

The body of the deceased was shifted to the Civil Hospital by volunteers of Sahara Jan Sewa.

The volunteers of the NGO said the identity of the deceased could not be ascertained.

The railway police was informed about the death and inquest proceedings were be initiated in this regard by them after making efforts to identify the man. The body was kept in the mortuary of the Civil Hospital. 

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