Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Residential colony construction against laws in wetland zone of Badha Lake disturbing fragile ecosystem of Fazilka, authorities silent

Sanskrit meaning of “Badha is putting someone to death so that others may be frightened, and it seems local real estate promoters doing the needful for the Fazilka residents to achieve similar cause by disturbing Fazilka’s fragile local ecological system by constructing residential colony within wetland[2] area of Badha Lake against many environmental and building bylaws. Local administration and concerned authorities are completely silent on this issue.

Yesterday, Fazilka city temperature was reported to be 47oC, highest of this season. “Global Warming”, has already started showing its impact in Fazilka region and this is primarily because of the destruction of significant areas of forest cover and wetland. Unplanned growth of concrete jungle in the form of residential units in wetland zone and nearby areas , resulted in degradation of bio-diversity.

In the year 1844, a Britisher Mr. Pat Van Agnew constructed his Bungalow (presently SDM office cum residence) on the bank of Badha Lake. He was impressed with the bio-diversity and environment of this area, later by purchasing land from Mian Fazal Watto, he founder beautiful city Fazilka in the thar desert region. Today, because of the criminal negligence of the concerned authorities, greedy deeds of the manhood and some self interest of the political leaders to win over vote bank; we have almost lose our vintage uniqueness Badha Lake, due to which our city came into existence.

Figure 1 :View of Badha Lake basin, people have encroached Badha lake area with huts

When author requested information about this upcoming colony within Badha lake zone from Municipal Council, Fazilka under Right of Information Act, 2005, Quiet revealing facts came into picture that this colony does not fall under municipal boundary limit and no formal permission for the colony has been obtained from any of the concerned authorities. This colony comes under the jurisdiction of Forest department Punjab and is a part of Badha village agricultural land. Demarcation of plots and construction of residences has already been started and green belt along Badha lake wetland zone has been deforested. Forest department is completely silent as well as no formal FIR about anybody has been lounged by the Forest department, and State pollution control department against cutting of trees and for conversion of wetland zone into residential colony without prior approval. People who booked their plots have no information from where they will get their sanitation, water supply and electric supply facilities. Figure 1 shows the encroachment of lake side area with temporary huts and other establishments.
Now a day’s dry Lake bed is a favorite spot for sand miners. Initially land has been illegally used for sand mining. Later, this has been regularized without considering its impact on the environment. Sand mining on river bed always leads to drying up of riverbeds soon after monsoon lowers the ground water table and increase salinity in ground water. Permission for sand mining from river bed from Punjab Irrigation Department under Environment Protection Act has not been obtained by any of the agency.

1. Violation of Laws

1.1 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006 by Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India from Punjab State Pollution Control Board, Patiala

Till today, no EIA screening report has been submitted to Punjab State Pollution Control Board to get environmental clearance for this colony. Impact on the ecology of Fazilka region and Badha Lake wetland due to construction of this colony has not been addressed. Figure 2 (plan view) clearly indicates the area under colony (in dashed) and the total area under Badha lake wetland basin.

1.2 Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 with amendments made in 1988

Red line in Figure 2 demarcates the Fazilka municipal council boundary. This area falls under the forest department jurisdiction. Green belt zone along Salemshal minor and adjacent area, as shown in Figure 2, has been deforested. No FIR cased under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 against the developer of this land has been registered so far. Administration is completely silent on the compensatory Afforestation plan and approval of this colony

Figure 2: Rows of tree along Salemshal minor (Source: Google Earth)

1.3 The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

Fauna of this area has been damaged due to depletion of green belt and water body, which provides natural habitat to birds like sparrows, peacocks, parrot etc. Peacock and many other rare species from this area have already been entered into endangered species list of Punjab wildlife department. So far, no strategy by the wildlife department has been formulated to protect the fauna of this area.

1.4 Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act, 1995 (PUDA)

The major obligations on the promoter under this Act are to obtain a license as a promoter, which includes approval of the layout plan of the colony and to develop the colony in accordance with the approval of the plan. The responsibility of providing internal services such as roads, street lights, water supply, sewerage, parks and green area is of the promoter. An estimate of expenditure on these works is made during the process of licensing and the promoter is required to furnish a bank guarantee of an amount equal to 25% of the estimate. Apart from internal development works the promoter is required to pay external development charges for integration of the colony to the services of the city on which colony is dependent and for improvement of urban infrastructure in that city. The quantum of the development charges varies from city to city.

PUDA website reveals that no such license by an individual/firm as a promoter for any of the colony in Fazilka region has been obtained. District Town Planner, Ferozepur is also not aware about any such colony.

1.5 Other Building Bylaws

This colony comes under the flood plain of and discharge basin of river Satluj (earlier this used to get its water feed from river Satluj) at the time of flooding.

In September, 1988 floods this entire area behind the Salemshal minor was submerged under water (shaded potion in Figure 2). Salemshal minor presently define municipal boundary limit of Fazilka and acting as a safety bund to protect Fazilka against flood. Planning residential colony in this flood plan where the plinth level of proposed houses is 1-2m below the existing High flood level (HFL) of this area is not only a violation of building bylaws but also a violation of special recommendations by Disaster Management Group, Government of India. No provisions of Green belt and park have been kept while planning this colony.

2 Fazilka’s Fragile Eco-system - Importance of Badha Lake Wetland

Till late 80’s Fazilka’s eco-system was perfectly balanced by three wetlands namely — Badha, Jhangar, and Ganj Bakhash (Figure 3). These three are among the 32 old natural wetlands in the state, which are now almost on the verge of disappearance mainly due to the unplanned development process that has transformed these sites into dry farmlands. Also the vote bank politics allows contractors to sell sand under the riverbed of Badha Lake.
In the year 2000, Punjab State Council for Science and Technology (PSCST) warned in their report to state environment department that the conservation of these wetlands is essential. However, at that time Deputy Commissioner of Ferozepur, Mr. Kulbir Singh Sidhu, assured of all efforts to retrieve these sites as the natural habitats of migratory birds. Till today long-term conservation measures by the state government on saving these wetlands has not been yet taken into action.

Jhangar wetland near the Nirmal checkpost on the international border has been substantially claimed by the local farmers. Although some birds arrive here around this time every year, their number is now declining due to changing ecological conditions. Ganj Bakhash is a wetland located at the Sadiqi checkpost near Pakka Chisti village. Interestingly, the site has now shrunk into a small lake, where a few ducks can be seen. Both these wetlands are surviving because defense forces in this area are performing their duties about the environment very well.
Badha wetland appears to be the worst hit, because of diverting Satluj river water to the adjacent state by the Central Water Commission, Government of India. “This has been done to undoubtedly win over vote bank, the diversion has made the lake fluoride-ridden, with an increase in the total dissolved solids in groundwater”, said Urja Purash of Uttrakhand Dr Bhupinder Singh, retired professor IIT Roorkee.

Figure 3: Location Map of Wetlands in Punjab (Source: Punjab State Council for Science and Technology)

3 Losses due to Badha Lake wetland to the Fazilka region

3.1 Damage to the Flora and Fauna of Fazilka region - National Bird (Peacock) and National Flower (Lotus)

The peacock population in Fazilka has already fallen down due to habitat loss, unplanned growth of concrete jungle in the form of residential units, contamination of food sources due to disposal of household waste and plastics nearby Badha Lake. Out of many only two peacocks have been reported alive in the Badha wetland area of Fazilka. Presently the Fazilka peacock entered into critically endangered species list of birds for this region. Ducks have also been disappeared from this wetland. This has in turn adversely affected on other declined species inside water.
Badha Lake was famous because of its Lotus (कमल) flower (Nelumbo nucifera L.). Lake was breeding centre for Lotus. As the complete lake catchment basin has been converted into dry farmland, many other aquatic plants like Cattlails, bulrushes, Sedges, Water Lilies, and floaters like duckweed have also been disapeared from the region. One senior citizen recalled his good old days spent on this lake, “we used to collect Kalalis (Fruit of Lotus, the seed cup) from lake and eat lotus seeds inside seed cup”; as the flowers, seeds, young leaves of lotus are all edible.

Figure 4: Lotus seed cup and seeds inside that

No countermeasure by the state government has been taken up to tone down the extent of damage caused to nature with this. This is the way how our concerned state and centre government departments along with local administration respect our National bird and flower.

3.2 Other Migratory Birds

In late 60s Badha lake wetland got popularity due to arrival of migratory birds there. Birds from Siberia used to come to this lake earlier. Badha Lake wetland area was popular as a small bird Sanctuary.

Palla's Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucoryphus) was one of the famous migratory birds at Badha Lake wetland. This lake was one of the breeding ground for Palla’s fish eagle after Harike-Pattan in Punjab. Due to drying up of Badha Lake and other wetland this bird has entered into International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resource’s (IUCN[3]) Red List of Threatened Species.

Figure 5: Palla's Sea Eagle

3.3 Ground Water Quality and Health

In an article by V K Joshi, former Director, Geological Survey of India (GSI) named Fazilka on fluoride red alert list. Recent studies have shown that the fluoride content in tube-well water in Fazilka is 6 to 12 mg per litre. Almost 70 per cent of Fazilka’s population suffers from dental decay. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for fluoride content is 1-1.5 mg /l. This high content of fluoride further has been linked to aching joints, graying of hair, arthritis, and fluorosis both skeletal and dental has already taken over the disease list[4]. The Fazilka Civil Hospital is treating an average of seven fluoride-poisoned people every day[5]. After 60 years of Independence, Municipal Council of Fazilka is still pumping this highly sub-standard ground water to its residents for drinking.

Now a day’s farmers are spending on gypsum and zinc every year to counter the effects of increased salinity in groundwater. Salts in water also blocks percolation process that facilitates recharging of ground water, resulting in increased salt concentration of ground water.

Way Ahead....

Natural systems of ground water recharging through wetlands of the region has almost lost due to criminal negligence and greedy deeds of mankind and political leaders. Wetlands are rich in biological diversity and are recognized amongst the most productive ecosystems in the world. Wetlands are important in an account to regulate the hydrological cycle, maintain water quality by recharge of ground water, provide refuge to large number of endangered plants and animals, support diverse food chains & food webs and provide ground for migratory water fowl. This also helps in trapping energy and carbon dioxide[6].

The only ray of hope for Fazilka region people is recharging Badha Lake wetland with fresh water feed from river Satluj through existing networks of canal. This will not only maintain the bio-diversity, but also improve the ground water quality of this area. Come forward and save our region from “Climate Change”.


Navdeep Kumar Asija

M.Tech (Geotech and Geoenvironmental Engineering), IIT Delhi

Date: 10th June, 2007


[1] The Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Sections CCLIX to CCLXIV, Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli

[2] “Wetlands are areas of marsh, fen, peat land or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salty, including areas of marine water, the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meters. Wetlands may be either natural or manmade”.

[3] International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources


[5] Earth Island Journal, Winter 2005, Vol. 19(4)

[6] Ladhar S S.2002. Status of ecological health of wetlands in Punjab. India Aquatic Ecosystem Health & Management. Vol. 5(4) 457-465 pp.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Achievers from Fazilka - Fazilite Sh N R Munjal, Managing Director Ind-Swift Laboratories

Some are born with a silver spoon in their mouth and some are blessed. But if you are not one of those, then you should have what it takes to fight your way to the top. This ideal drives Fazilites N R Munjal , the Managing Director of Ind-Swift Laboratories. Ind-Swift Laboratories has a significant presence in more than 45 countries, in addition to a strong position in the domestic market. Its research and development centre employs over 150 scientists

Born in a middle class family in Fazilka. Fazilite N R Munjal has beautiful and vivid memories of his childhood, his friends, family and the place he calls 'home'.

Based in Chandigarh now and having travelled extensively all over India and abroad, for him there is no place like home. "In comparison to Chandigarh, Fazilka was definitely like a village. We didn't know anything of the outside world and what was happening elsewhere in the world. But we were happy just playing around with friends and family," he says.
Not easy!

A happy childhood was followed by a tumultuous youth. While Punjab was going through the terrorism crisis, Munjal was handling his own personal turmoil. His father, running an engineering business, suffered a paralytic attack. That's when they decided to shift from Punjab to Chandigarh.
The crisis coupled with the added responsibility of running his father's business in Ludhiana. The work pressure, however, did not deter him from visualising a new company. He started Ind-Swift Ltd as a small formulation unit with his brother and a friend. While several business families are falling apart, this trio has stood the test of time and is still intact. But why did he choose pharma when his experience was with an engineering factory? The reason is simple—the pharmaceutical business is promising! "In a city like Chandigarh, there was no scope for an engineering unit. One of my partners and my younger brother were working in a pharmaceutical company. They used to talk of the huge margins in pharmaceuticals. That's how we dreamt this and created a pharma company ourselves," he says.
Hard work pays
Being very close to home and complete Indians at heart, they named the company Ind-Swift to represent Indians (Ind) and swift representing the second fastest bird in the world. "We called it swift as we wanted to take the company to great heights just like Ranbaxy," he says, adding that his role model is Dr Parvinder Singh, the former Head of Ranbaxy Laboratories.
The inception of a company is never an easy task especially when you are a first-generation entrepreneur taking the plunge into deep cold water. "Those days, bank financing was not very easy. And the rate of interest too was as high as 19-20 percent," he recalls. Moreover, bankers asked for collateral and they had no sufficient surety. "It was not easy to get a loan but we managed to get a term loan and the working capital and we established a factory in a rented place. Slowly and steadily, we built our credibility with the bankers."
Soon after the company commenced operations, the partners' hard work, determination and teamwork spearheaded it to good heights. But Munjal was stretched between his work at the engineering factory in Ludhiana and Ind-Swift in Chandigarh. After two years, he took the difficult decision of selling his father's business and devoted himself totally to his present concern.
While Ind-Swift was doing well, there was more to it than a formulation company. Hence the idea of Ind-Swift Laboratories. "Ind-Swift Ltd was a formulation company and sales are difficult to come by in formulation. The bottom-line was good but the top line was not very lucrative. At that time in the corporate world, everybody was looking at the top line. We thought of going for backward integration into formulation and that's how we came up with Ind-Swift Laboratories, which we formed with a joint venture with Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC)."
For Munjal, the best came when they went the IPO way in 1994. After that, there was no turning back. Today, Ind-Swift Laboratories is a Rs 250 crore company which started off with a Rs 2 lakh capital. However, it was not a smooth ride all the way. "It was really very hard. I remember that in one month, the total sales were equal to the total expenditure. But hard work pays," he asserts.
Management basics
Munjal joined his father's business soon after his graduation, and his tryst with the business world ensued. He never went through a formal management course. Yet, with all his experience, he has formulated his own management tenets. One of which is his style of decision-making. According to him, listening to any opinion from any corner of the company is absolutely necessary. He shares his plans with his workforce and lends an ear to their apprehensions before taking a decision. "I believe that employees should not be deprived of voicing their opinion. Any thought coming from any quarter of the company should be taken seriously," he says. With all the groundwork done, when a decision is agreed upon, implementation takes place smoothly.
Munjal also believes in being an exemplar to his employees. "Being the boss, everything you do is monitored by the people in your organisation. If I come to work by eleven or twelve and leave by four, how can I expect my employees to be punctual?" he asks. That's so true. Apparently, he is the kind of man who sows virtues to reap gold.
A lesson well learnt
Munjal did endure a lot to reach the stage that he did. But then, he learnt a lot of lessons in the process. "One of the biggest lessons I learnt was that a sales transaction is not complete until you receive the money," he says.
Sounds strange! Did he have a bad experience before the valuable lesson? Yes he did. While in his twenties and still assisting his dad in business, he made a brilliant sales transaction with a very high margin. When a jubilant Munjal conveyed the good news to his father, he realised that in spite of selling it, he never received the payment. It was a case of 'operation is successful but the patient has died'. "My father bashed me over the loss," he laughs it out and adds, "Well! You always learn the hard way."

Boisterous youth - Fazilka

When you have friends around, any place is interesting. Being one of 'just wanna have fun' boys in Fazilka, there was an incident where he played the bad home alone kid. Once it so happened that while he playing chor sipahi with friends, he was so caught up in the game that he ended up jumping from the second floor of a building to escape the imaginary cop. "We used to take a lot of risks and both my legs were broken," he smiles. Now that he looks back on it, he is amazed at himself, "How could I jump from two floors? Today, I will not even jump from a height of five feet."

Monday, June 4, 2007

Fazilites to Celebrate World Environment Day : 5th June

Ek Bangla Bane Nyaara……

The Nagriks of Fazilka are celebrating 160th year of the establishment of their town. To celebrate this 160th year of Fazilka establishment, project “EK BANGALA BANE NYARA...” has been launched by GRADUATES WELFARE ASSOCIATION FAZILKA under the able guidance of its founder Urja Purush of Uttrakhamd, Dr Bhupinder Singh, Counselor & Consultant Formerly Professor, Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, IIT Roorkee. The main aim of this project is to unite talent and well-wishers of Fazilka town under one roof for the development it people in terms of education, employment and ecology.

In continuation of the same project an Eco-Cycle rally was organized successfully on April 15 on the eve of the Earth Day (April 22, 007). The senior citizen of Fazilka region rode on their bicycles between two historical points of the city. The main aim of the rally was to bring awareness about “Global Warming” amongst the residents.

Depleting green belt of Fazilka is a main cause of concern amongst the citizen. Because of the unplanned growth, green belt of Fazilka urban area has already been reduced to less than 2%, whereas to maintain ecological balance minimum 33% green belt is a must, said Navdeep Asija, Secretary Admin, GWAF

Mr. Vikram Ahuja, a progressive farmer in the region and founder member of GWAF has taken this responsibility on his shoulders to enhance green zone of Fazilka. In continuation of the same tomorrow i.e. 5th June, Vikram’s Zamindara Farm Solutions, along with GWAF, Press Club of Fazilka and other prominent personalities and social organization are celebrating “World Environment Day”. Vikram has already adopted one barren land of around one acre near railway station to develop as a green zone for the city and has started leveling work of the same. Tomorrow the Fazilka’s visionary SDM Mr. Rajiv Prashar will launch plantation on this auspicious occasion. Mr. Prashar played an important role as a coordinator between railways and forest department to increase the green zone for Fazilka when GWAF approached him with its plans.

Vikram Ahuja has a strong affection for his motherland. “Every business comes up with some social responsibility”, when we earn something by living in a society then it’s our moral duty and responsibility to return the same to our society in the form of well maintained physical and social environment for them”, said Vikram

Dr. Bhupinder requests all citizens to participate in the project “Ek Bangla Banye Nyara…” for the betterment of the region. Mr Umesh Kukkar, President GWAF informed “many events are planned to celebrate 160th year of Fazilka establishment in this year like Consciousness about Global Warming, Health programme through Breathing and Yoga, Rejuvenating Badha Lake by feed of water from Bhakra canal system for improving quality of ground water, Plantation and maintenance scheme for Food Street and other streets of the town. Advocate S. Jaipal Singh Sandhu who is a very staunch believer in the enhancement of Neem trees around his neighborhood is already on the scene with his plans for TRIVENI (Bar, Peepal and Neem triumvirate trees)

GWAF is a team consisting of professionals (lawyers, engineers, doctors, business men, educationists) and all those who have achieved success because of the special personality traits inherent to the sons and daughters of Fazilka region. The main aim of GWAF is to develop Fazilka region with its physical and social environment whilst working on improvement of quality education and value systems, creating more employment opportunities by online and offline methods like bridging citizens from various walks of life, our society, media, corporate, political and bureaucratic circle.

**BANGLA: Fazilka is also known as Bangla

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Fazilka Eco Cycle Rally for Senior Citizen : 160th Year of Fazilka Establishment Celebration

Respected Fazilites,

GWAF is organising Eco-Cycle rally for the senior citizen on the occasion of 160th year of establishment of our City Fazilka on 15th April, 2007. The Aim of this rally is to bring harmony amongst the people from various walks of life, to promote Pedestrianisation and Cycling facilities within the city, to make city pollution free and alarming the citizen about the effects of Global warming.

This rally will promote the use of bicycles amongst the citizen especially youngsters of the city and reduce the causalities on the road caused by increase number of fast moving motorised vehicle withing the city.

Inaugural lecture on Energy Conservation and Global Warming shall be delivered by senior fazilite, Urja Pursh Dr. Bhupinder Singh, Retired Professor IIT Roorkee followed by Flag off ceremony. Flag off to the rally will be done by two of our worthy senior citizen Sh. Surinder K. Ahuja, (a progressive entrepreneur and man behind green revolution in the region) and Sardar Gurbachan Singh Brar (Ex Captain Indian Hockey Team in 1950 ) along with the members of GWAF.

Rally will be lead by our respected senior citizen Sh. Hans Raj Madaan, a famous automobile engineer from Fazilka. This rally will cover the route of 3km from Sadhu Ashram to Rampura on National Highway No. 10 via Gaushala Road, Sanjeev Cinema.

Flag off ceremony will be held near Sadhu Asharm at 9 AM sharp. Mr Ravi Khurana and Pankaj Dhamija will coordinate the whole event.

Please join us to accomplish this noble cause

PS : Please circulate this email to your known, and join us to make this event as mega success.

IIT-ians steer Fazilka's 160th year fest: Times of India, Chandigarh Edition: 13th April, 2007

Anilesh S Mahajan TNN
Fazilka: From April 15, there would be celebrations of the 160th year of Fazilka's establishment. Brainchild of a 28-year-old IIT Delhi alumnus, Navdeep Asija, these celebrations would be organised for the first time. The origin of the town dates back to April 1847. It is believed that the town was established by Oliver and paid Rs 144 to the original owner of the land, Mian Fazil Watoo. The present name was derived from there only. Dr Harpal Singh, HoD of department of electronics and communication, Wayne State University (US), Dr Bhupinder Singh, former teacher at IIT Rorkee, Surinder Ahuja, pioneer of contract farming in the state, and Gurbachan Singh Brar, former captain of Indian hockey team, are also part of Asija's NGO, Graduates' Welfare Association of Fazilka (GWAF), and are playing their part. ''It was my childhood dream to bring the town together, and this would turn it on,'' said Asija. He is working with a UK-based MNC and believes the economy of smaller towns like Fazilka could boom if tourism input increases with such projects. ''The local authorities are not taking any interest in that,'' he laments. The celebrations would start with a cycle rally on April 15, where senior citizens would ride bicycles between two historical points in the town.
''They are the best carriers of the message,'' said Surinder Ahuja. It would be followed with lectures of Dr Bhupinder on energy conservation. The month-long celebrations would include a food festival of traditional Fazilka cuisines and a film festival.

Eiffle Tower of Fazilka

Fazilka is a sleepy sub-divisional headquarter on the Southern tip of Ferozepore district close to the border with Pakistan. Before 1947 partition of Punjab, it used to be a thriving business center, but after the creation of Pakistan, it fell on bad days. The Northern big cities located along the Grand Trunk Road can be easily interlinked for television, telephone and radio services through inter-connecting terrestrial towers, but the Southern areas located in the Bhatinda, Muktsar, Abohar and Fazilka belt are difficult to connect terrestrially with Northern big city grid. Being at the South-Western corner of Punjab, Fazilka’s location is quite remote from the point of view of superior quality sound and picture transmission linkage with Northern communication grid. Technically speaking Fazilka deserved a high standing self supporting tower of its own. According to stories published recently in some newspapers including “Ajit” and “The Tribune”, Fazilka has finally got a 1000 foot tall self supporting communication tower. The reason I call it Fazilka’s Eiffel Tower is that its height is comparable with the height of France’s World famous Eiffel Tower. It may not be as beautiful.
Before we discuss the capabilities of this tower, it will be appropriate to share a brief history of broadcasting in Punjab. To the British Colonial rulers, Punjab was a province of extraordinary importance. Under the direct control of the Indian government, a central broadcasting authority called All India Radio was formed in 1936. In addition to the four metropolitan cities of Calcutta, Bombay, Madras and New Delhi the fifth and the sixth radio stations were opened in Lahore (Punjab) and Peshawar (North West Frontier Province). Originally all these stations were equipped with one 5 kilowatt medium-wave transmitter each. Between 1941 and 1943, these transmitters were replaced at each station with 10 kilowatt medium-wave transmitters. Theoretically the range of a 5 kilowatt medium-wave transmitter during day light hours is only 30 miles and the fringe area extends another 20 miles. This means that All India Radio Lahore with 5 kilowatts barely reached Amritsar, but after up-gradation to 10 kilowatts, it became local in Amritsar. On August 14, 1947 Pakistan got independence and from 15th of August, Radio Pakistan Lahore became a hostile station. This rang alarm bells in New Delhi and since high powered transmitters were unavailable in India, two low powered 1 kilowatt medium-wave transmitter each were dispatched to Amritsar and Jalandhar. Thus All India Radio Jalandhar-Amritsar came into existence. This arrangement continued for five years. Soon after independence the authorities in Pakistan increased the power of Lahore radio station from 10 kilowatts to 50 kilowatts. In 1953, All India Radio also installed a 50 kilowatt medium-wave transmitter at a place called Goraya, located equidistant from Ludhiana and Jalandhar. This arrangement continued until the nineties. Pakistan added a 100 kilowatt medium-wave transmitter to its existing 50 kilowatt station in Lahore in 1965. India opened a 1 kilowatt medium-wave station at Chandigarh in 1965. Another radio station was to be opened at Amritsar, but due to the 1965 war with Pakistan the idea was shelved. In the meanwhile Radio Pakistan and Pakistan Television Service increased its presence in the border areas with India.
Radio Pakistan slowly and steadily kept opening new radio stations after independence in Rawalpindi, Multan, Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Mianwali, Islamabad and Sialkot. Pakistan television also dotted entire border area with Indian Punjab with powerful transmitters. India started its second phase of expansion of broadcasting services in Punjab during the nineties. During the nineties both Bhatinda and Patiala got relay centers for Doordarshan and also got FM transmitters of All India Radio. The mother station at Jalandhar was up-graded with two high powered medium-wave transmitters along with a 10 kilowatt FM transmitter. All India Radio Chandigarh was strengthened with a 10 kilowatt high altitude transmitter at Kasauli extending its range up to 110 miles radius.
Punjab’s border area was all along better served by Pakistan Television Service and Radio Pakistan and poorly served by Indian broadcasting services. Hence there was a need to strengthen All India Radio and Doordarshan services in the border belt. Sushma Swaraj was the first Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, who realized that the entire border belt in Punjab was shabbily served by All India Radio and Doordarshan. She was surprised to find that Amritsar was served with a local quality radio service of Radio Pakistan Lahore and did not have its own radio outlet to be local in Lahore. She had two options. Either she could open four radio cum TV transmitting centers in Fazilka, Ferozepore, Amritsar and Pathankot. Or she could order the construction of very tall towers at Fazilka and Amritsar and serve Ferozepore and Pathankot from those two centers. She decided to have just two 1000 foot high towers at Fazilka and Amritsar. The one at Fazilka has just been completed and the one for Amritsar is yet to be built.
The 1000 foot high steel structure may not be as magnificent as the famous “Eiffel Tower of Paris”. But it is almost as tall. Before the construction of the tower in Fazilka, the tallest tower in India was the Bombay Doordarshan Tower, which is 984 foot tall. The Bombay tower is supporting the antennas of several Doordarshan channels and accommodates a number of government owned and private radio channels. The Fazilka tower is as much capable. As I hear this tower will carry at least the National Channel of Doordarshan and perhaps one or two Punjab based channels. Its radio outlet will carry several FM channels. Within a sixty mile radius, its transmitters will cover most of Ferozepore district with the exception of Ferozepore City and cantonment area as well as Zeera Tehsil. These areas will be covered by Amritsar station. Fazilka tower will also cover Abohar Tehsil and Muktsar District in Punjab as well as Sri Ganganagar District of Rajasthan. All India Radio Bhatinda is a full fledged FM radio station. Considering the height of the Fazilka tower, a point to point linkage with Bhatinda tower is possible. This means that the Fazilka tower can pick up the signal of Bhatinda and relay it. We congratulate the people of Fazilka for earning this state of the art broadcasting facility and hope it will spread knowledge in the area.
[Writer and engineer Harjap Singh Aujla has done engineering calculations to determine the ranges and radius of coverage and are accurate. He can be contacted at 16 Junction Pond Lane, Monmouth Junction, New Jersey 08852, USA

Institute of Transport Planning and Traffic Engineering, Technical University of Vienna Appreciated Fazilka's Pedestrianisation Work

Institute of Transport Planning and Traffic Engineering, Technical University of Vienna Appreciated Fazilka's Pedestrian Street work through Mehak Sarhad Di-2006, Fazilkas's Annual Art, Culture and Food Festival. They published my full case study on their Website


Many people believe that nonmotorized modes (walking, cycling, and their variations) have an inferior right to use public roads compared with motor vehicles. This reflects the belief that motor vehicles are more important to society than nonmotorized modes, and that roads are funded by motorists. Pedestrians and cyclists are sometimes forbidden from using a particular public road to avoid delaying motorized traffic.Thats the reason Transportation planning practices are often unintentionally biased toward motorized travel. To quantify the benefits of nonmotorized transportation facility, 300m long stretch of Fazilka city local road was converted into Pedestrian Street. Case study was performed to quantify the direct and indirect benefits of Nonmotorized facilities within the city. Fazilka has an estimated urban populated of 67,424 (2001) and registered motor vehicles 45000 (Appox.) This paper highlights the results of statistical analysis performed amongst the selected visitor of Pedestrian Street through random sampling and importance of nonmotorized facilities for the sustainable development of city.


Pedestrian Street in Fazilka (Food Art and Cultural Street and Car Free Zone) planned by Graduate Welfare Association Fazilka (GWAF) with the thought to generating more number of pedestrian and cycle trip and to create eco- friendly zone withing the city. This pedestrian street is further linked to the culture and heritage of city and reflects by and large the various phases of city’s life. After the 1984’s blue star operation and abysmal era of militancy in Punjab the city life closes between 7 to 8 PM. Pedestrian Street is aimed to reinstate the same nightlife and lost cultural glory of the city. This paper gives results of opinion survey conducted amongst the visitors of Pedestrian Street based upon the random sampling. These opinion survey results are the indicators, after studies results highlighting direct and indirect benefits of pedestrianisation like harmony amongst people, improved economy of the weaker section of the city like vendors and hawkers, law and order within the city and awareness about the culture and heritage amongst people of the city

The Exquisite Embroidery of Fazilka

Gauri Sharma 'threads her way through the bazaars of Fazilka and comes across karigars who are keeping traditional crafts alive while getting market savvy in the process.Last week, I went to attend a marriage where I met an old friend of mine. “Hey! You're looking great in this embroidered suit! Which designer created it ? It seems to be very, very costly. Surely, you have spent a bomb on it,” I said.She went into peals of laughter. “It's not some hi-fi designer's creation!” She exclaimed! “And nor is it as costly as you probably think.” She told me that her native place, Fazilka, in district Ferozepur, near the Indo-Pak border, is famous for hand embroidery and hand painted suits. I couldn't believe it and planned to visit the place at the earliest.Indian fashion has come a long way. Not only has it grown rapidly, but there has also been a revival of traditional Indian fabric and embroidery.Embroidered suits have always been popular with women, especially in Punjab. Fazilka is famous for its embroidery, because of its high- quality work, sold at reasonable rates. Hand embroidery is done by Muslim karigars, who came from Barelli and settled down here. The handiwork is so delicately done that it takes your breath away. I was amazed to see the range and variety of work on different types of fabrics.The suits, saris, and kurtis that you can purchase in the Fazilka market, are much cheaper than similar ones available in the bigger cities. This creative art has given self-employment to the ladies and karigars of Fazilka. All Fazilka women, rich or not so- rich, certainly wear embroidered suits.The business of the embroidery has risen over 20 percent per year on account of the growing demand for hand embroidery. Most of the big exporters, who supply to fashion houses keep the identities and addresses of the Karigars, a closely guarded secret, for obvious reasons. Traditional Karigars are employed exclusively by them. A lot of crystal work is used in floral and contemporary patterns. Meenu Nagpal, 38-year-old, who is running Mehrab boutique in Fazilka, has been in this business for the last ten years. She started learning it as a hobby but later adopted it as a profession, which with her spirit of enterprise started growing day by day. “We are famous for hand painted suits and thread embroidery and most of my customers are from Punjab— Chandigarh, Panchkula, Sirsa, Malout, Muktsar, Amritsar, and even Delhi. We also supply embroidered suits to different dealers in Punjab. Almost all the patterns are designed by me, and I always decide on the colour scheme and then hand the work over to the karigars. Our rates are comparatively lower than those of the designer clothes in the city but the quality of the work is the same.”Meenu's inspiration is Razia Gandhi, the embroidery doyen, who has dressed the likes of Hillary Clinton, Catherine Zeta Jones, Princess of Wales, and Sharon Stone. She is the woman behind some of the biggest labels in the world with her embroidery skills and her talented team of handpicked karigars. “It just depends on how efficient you are”, says Meenu.24-year-old Mushtaq Ahmed, from Barelli, who is doing embroidery since fifteen years says, “It's a tough job. Flawlessness and perfection in this art can be achieved only through constant practice. I am better at thread embroidery than in moti-sippy work. I charge according to the pattern and material used on the fabric. Thread work and tilla embroidery is costlier than moti-sippy work. Jitna paisa utna kaam. The rate starts from one hundred and fifty rupees and goes beyond two thousand. My customers are from all the surrounding areas and I also get work from the boutiques. Many Punjabi women who come from abroad get their suits done by me.” There are different types of embroidery like thread work, tille ki khadai, moti-sippy work. Nowadays, moti-sippy work is more in fashion than others, but tilla is evergreen and mostly done on formal suits. The intensity of labour, which is required for such delicate embroidery, definitely strains the eyes but still these Muslim karigars are undeterred and try their best to outdo one another. The new generation is also keen to take up this profession because it generates self-employment and embroidery will always be 'in'.29-year-old Manju Verma from Fazilka, who started working three years ago says, “I have learnt this art from Muslim karigars and today, I am earning my own living. The better work you do, the more you earn.”Indian embroidery has made its mark internationally also. Worldwide designers are impressed with the detailed craftsmanship of the Indians when it comes to embroidery, weaving of fabric or unique block print styles. From beading to sequin work, the richness of traditional fabrics, designs and colours, with a modern techno feel gives it a whole new interpretation that is appreciated the world over.The visit to this small town was an eye-opener. I couldn't stop myself from purchasing wonderful embroidered suits and kurtis. Thank goodness, I was staying with a friend who could sponsor my bus ticket for back home because I had emptied my purse in the Fazilka market.

'Tosha' still a favourite sweet among Pakistani Families

Fazilka (Punjab), Nov.29 (ANI): Tosha, a traditional Punjabi sweetmeat, has been a favorite with both Indians and Pakistanis for generations, and the small Punjabi border town of Fazilka has acquired fame for making this sweetmeat so popular.
"Tosha" in the regional Punjabi language means happiness and satisfaction. In Fazilka, ass many as 45 large and small units churn out this delicacy.
Traders and manufactures of this delicacy feel Tosha has improved its taste and even its appeal since it was brought to India by their ancestors.
"Earlier it was Pakistan's favourite sweet. After the partition of India, our fathers migrated from Pakistan and started making 'Tosha' in Fazilka. In Pakistan, the manufacturers do not use Khoya (or, dried milk) and cottage cheese. Here we use cottage cheese because it makes the sweet softer and tastier. It is no longer black, but golden brown. Even the taste is much better," says Daulat Ram, a manufacturer.
The residents here gift "Tosha" to their loved ones, while visitors take it away as gift to remember Fazilka. A kilogram of "Tosha" costs about 1.5 dollars and can be safely consumed for at least five days. The big manufacturers even supply the sweets to many in \nIndia and even abroad. Many residents living in Fazilka have developed a strong liking for this sweet. They don't hesitate traveling long distances to grab a bite of it. Some say that it is a symbol of friendship between the two sub continental neighbours. "I have traveled to different parts of the country - Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Goa, but I have never found such sweet anywhere. We prefer to gift 'tosha' to our guests. The best thing about "Tosha" is that it is a symbol of friendship between India and Pakistan," said, Manish Bhateja, a customer. Relations between the two neighbours has warmed in the last 20 months Experts believe that apart from the efforts made by both the governments to speed up the peace initiative, cultural and people to people ties can bring out a new dimension to the relation. (ANI)

Fazilka's very own Free Email Service-Love Fazika

Important announcement about Love Fazilka email services

Graduates Welfare Association Fazilka (GWAF) and Love Fazilka has partnered with Google to provide customized services to Fazilka Citizen spread world over. With this partnership Fazilites will be getting access to a host of customized services. The services immediately available to our Fazilites are: EMAIL services hosted on Gmail ServerYou can have an email address . With this our long pending dream of a life time Fazilka’s exclusive email address has come true and with this we have also become the first amongst all to provide this facility to our Fazilites With 2 gigabytes of storage and innovative search tools, you no longer need to worry about email quotas. And with instant messaging right from the browser, you can do real-time messaging with online alumni without additional software. Google Talk Keep our Fazilites in contact through the instant messaging and voice calling over the Web. We will soon have customized Gtalk software carrying our logo. Google Calendar One of most requested products, Google Calendar makes it easy to organize our schedule and share calendars with others, making it a snap to set up that a weekly get together. Fazilites can also subscribe to calendars that Love Fazilka publishes, viewing yearly planned events side-by-side with their personal information. There are a host of services which we will keep on adding from time to time. Please make your start page and do google searches using the search box on the top of the page because each search will help Fazilka. User, who already got their Love Fazilka E-mail ID, please visits to logon to your account. Please write to to obtain your new Love Fazilka Email ID

Fazilite Honoured with Padamshree : Paradmshree Mrs Pushpa Hans (Chopra)

An Eternal Cultural Dimension of a of Fazilka Who contributed to enrich the heritage of Punjab

It is a great news and proud moment for citizens of Fazilka that Mrs. Pushpa Hans, a veteran Punjabi singer from this town has been given Padamshri Award, the most prestigious and coveted civilian award for Indian citizens of the sub continent by the President of India, for her outstanding contribution in the field of Art and Culture.
It is heartening to note this as she has contributed immensely to the cause of Punjabi folk and classical music.
Padamshri Pushpa Hans, a heart-throb of millions of cinema fans in the 40s and the 50s, acted in movies as a singing star and also did play back singing for actors of yesteryears. She hails from Fazilka and is now settled at New Delhi. Her acting added laurels and dimensions to movies of Mr. V. Shanta Ram's "Apna Desh, 1949”, Mr. Sohrab Modi's "Sheesh Mahal, 1950”. These are a few out of the many movies which were appreciated by the cine goers of 50s. She sang playback for the Punjabi film "Chaman" and many other films. The melodious compositions are still sung by contestants especially in “Awaz Punjab Di” sponsored by several agencies on TV channels. Older generation still makes it a point to recollect her melodious songs which they still hum at the time of marriages and social functions.
All the musical compositions to which she gave her voice still enthrall the audiences all over the world. Her song "Channa kithan guzari raat wey", "Gallan dilan diyaan dila vich reh gayiyaan" & "Tarean to puchh Chann wey " still hold the public in awe. She is a remembered for her legendary Punjabi folklores and classical renderings. She is one of the few female play back singers for whom the Government of India has recorded a Documentary. The others artistes are Lata Mangeshkar Ji & Asha Bhonsale Ji. Even at a ripe age she continues to sing on TV, launch CDs, and perform on stage. Mrs. Pushpa Hans has been conducting live stage concerts all over the world. She has performed on the prestigious stages of USA, Canada and the UK. She was the leading singing artiste of film actor late Mr. Sunil Dutt’s “The Ajanta Arts” troupe“ which visited the border areas to entertain Jawans on the front. May be her husband’s being in the Defence Services motivated her to do her bit for the Jawans serving on the border under harsh living conditions and rigorous climate.
Padamshri Mrs. Pushpa Hans has brought name and fame to the small town of Fazilka.
We, the citizen of Fazilka congratulate Mrs. Pushpa Hans for bringing laurels to the name of our town of her birth and pray for her long and high quality life. Her achievements in classical music will inspire the younger generations.
- Padamshri Award, on the eve of Republic Day, 26th January, 2007, Government of India
- Punjabi Bhushan Award (2007)

Famous Punjabi Songs by Mrs. Pushpa Hans;
· chan kithan gujaari saari raat ve
· sari raat tera takni ha raah tarean to puchh chann wey
· gallan dilan diyaan dila vich reh gayiyaan
· channa meri bah chhad dey
· chunni da palla
· lutti heer wey faqir de
Famous Hindi Songs sung by Mrs. Pushpa Hans

· aadmi woh haay musibat se pareshan na ho
· bedard zamaana kya jaane
· bhoole zamaane yaad na kar yaad na kar
· dil kisise lagaake dekh liya
· dil-e-naadaan tujhe kya hua hai
· koi ummeed bar nahin aati
· meri khushiyon ke savere ki kabhi shaam na ho
· taqdeer bananewaale ne kaisi taqdeer banaayi hai
· tohe dil ki qasam tohe dil ki qasam
· tu maane ya na maane
· tum dekh rahe ho ki mite saare sahaare
Personal Details
Husband: Colonel Hans Raj Chopra (Retd)
Parents: Mother: Mrs. Janak Rani Kapoor, Father: Advocate Ratan Lal Kapoor, of Fazilka

New Dimension to our Town's Administrative structure by Mr Prashar

Mr Rajiv Prashar is a regular net savvy and motivating Fazilka citizen's to use the internet facilities for the sustainable and global development of this border region of Punjab.

To make administration open and impartial and also to narrow down the gap between Fazilka's administration and citizens, he made himself available online through our love Fazilka website at His this step added new dimension to the Punjab's administrative structure. All citizens of Fazilka can now write/share directly their grievances, views and ideas for the progress of the area. He has promised to extend all his administrative and personal support to the people, for the enhancement and overall development of our city. People can also directly write him at I request all online community members of Fazilka, come and share your ideas with our very own SDM.

As a person, Mr Prashar, is a found of playing cricket, photography, internet and adventurous trips. In year 2003, he completed 2000km long motorcycle tour from Muktsar to Khardungra Pass (World's highest motor road) for the spirit encouraging national integration and the desire to create awareness among the people of Northern region of India.Hats off to Mr Rajiv Prashar for his visionary and unique approach for the upliftment of this area. We the Fazilites pray for his and his families long and quality life ahead

More Green cover for Fazilka

Dear Fazilites,

It gives me immense pleasure to announce that, with the initiation of our young and dynamic worthy Sub Divisional Magistrate Mr Rajiv Prashar, soon Fazilka is going to have another one acre area of Green Zone near railway crossing towards Badha Lake. Presently this area is creating foul smell because of the collection of sewage disposal for the residents of Jhule Lal colony and civil lines Fazilka. Within a three days time he made this possible with the help of ministry of railways and forest department of Punjab. For this noble cause, Mr Vikram Ahuja, a progressive farmer from our region has extended his free services for the requirement of manpower and machinery to construct this Green Zone.
To maintain the ecological balance we need minimum of 33% green belt cover whilst Fazilka's greenbelt has already reduced to less than 2%. When GWAF team met Mr Prashar and highlighted this Fazilka region's major environmental problem, he took this on a priority and within almost no-time; Mr Prashar organized this for us. We, the citizen's of Fazilka salute our SDM for making this possible within shortest possible time. He has added a new chapter to the history of Fazilka town.

Peacocks in Fazilka

Peacocks in Fazilka: The national bird of India and beauty of Badha Lake Fazilka is struggling for survival

On dated 20th February, 2000, seven peacocks had died after consuming some eatable sprayed with the insecticides including two peahens and five peacocks in Fazilka. Out of many only two peacocks have been reported alive in the badha region of Fazilka near periwal garden. Ironically, until today no census has been conducted of the peacock by the state and centre government. The sole stock-taking of the peacock population in India was done by WWF India in 1991. It revealed that India was left with only 50 per cent of the total peacock population that existed at the time of Partition in 1947. Wildlife Department of India officials admit that in India out of 100 killings of a peacock, just one is reported.

The peacock population in Fazilka has fallen down due to habitat loss, unplanned growth of concrete jungle in the form of residential units, contamination of food sources due to disposal of household waste and plastics nearby Badha Lake. While the green peacock is already believed to be extinct. Municipal Council Fazilka violating both Forest Conservation Act, 1982 and Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 under the able guidance of our so called municipal counselors and technocrats. Presently the Fazilka peacock entered into critically endangered list of Birds for this region. Now a day's peacocks are mercilessly hunted down due to great demand for their feathers and flesh peacocks and their fat, which some mistake as a cure for arthritis.

In an article published in "The Tribune" by Aditi Tandon where she mentioned the statement of Punjab Wildlife Department official, says, "It is easiest to kill a male peahen during the mating season when it dances around in the open and can be easily targeted. You can well imagine how threatened the peacock species would be when the male birds are being killed just before mating. It is also easier to hunt peacocks down because they sleep in the same trees every night

Fazilites will no longer able to witness a peacock dance in the rain in this Sawan, if we will continue to show our laziness towards environment. The peacock is protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, India 1972. The Act prescribes a maximum imprisonment of six years, Rs 25,000 fine or both for hunting animals and birds specified on Schedule I. We need to ask our municipal council and other district authorities, for their role to protect fauna of our region that what kind of remedial steps they are taking to save this natural identity of our town.

The office address of the Chief Wildlife Warden of Punjab is given below; please spare your time made them aware about their responsibility towards the wildlife in Punjab

Chief Wildlife Warden
Punjab, SCO No. 2463-64
Sector 22-C, Chandigarh

पंजाब में अब मोर का नाच दुर्लभ

03 जून 2007

फाजिल्का- पंजाब के कुछ क्षेत्रों में मदमस्त मौसम सावन के शुरू होते ही जो लोग राष्ट्रीय पक्षी मोर के मनमोहक नाच का आनंद लेते थे उनके लिए अब यह दृश्य शायद दुर्लभ हो जाएगा।बड़ा झील के आसपास मोर के आवासीय क्षेत्र में पिछले कुछ वर्षो से आवास के लिए कंक्ररीट के जंगल का तैयार होना, घर के कूड़े कचरों और घातक प्लास्टिक के के कारण भोजन के दूषित होने से मोर की संख्या घटती जा रही है।इसके अलावा मोर के पंख की माँग और उसके स्वादिष्ट मांस के कारण शिकारी इस पर हाथ साफ करते रहते हैं। कुछ समय पहले तक पंजाब में बड़ा झील ऐसा क्षेत्र था जहाँ मोर बेखौफ होकर घूमते थे और मौसम के मदमस्त होते ही अपना जलवा दिखाते थे।वन्य जीव विभाग के आपत्ति के बावजूद स्थानीय नगर पालिका वन संरक्षण अधिनियम 1982 और वन्य जीव सुरक्षा अधिनियम 1972 का उल्लंघन कर रहा हैं।