Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Education department to get serious about students' health

The state education department plans to get serious about the health of students in government schools as, come December, it will team up with a non-government organisation (NGOs) to hold special camps aimed at diagnosing poor vision and hearing in students. 
An official on Monday said  the department, with the assistance of Sight Savers, the NGO, would organise camps at Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala, Fazilka, Amritsar, and Faridkot districts, from December 11 to 20. The decision, director general of school education (DGSE) Kahan Singh Pannu said, was taken after 597 students were diagnosed with poor vision in a recent state-wide survey conducted by the education department.

"Following the camps in December, the children with poor vision will be provided with medical aid and the required instruments for free," Pannu said, adding that the department wanted to ensure that poor vision amd hearing were not a hindrance in the studies of the students.

During the recent survey, government schools in Ludhiana district had most number of students with poor vision - 111 were diagnosed with the condition. It was followed by Gurdaspur district (68), Fazilka district (57) and Faridkot district (51). The districts that fared better were Patiala (45 students), Mansa (25 students) and Sangrur (15 students). No such cases were detected in Bathinda district.

On how the department plans to help students with poor hearing, the DGSE said special audiometry camps would be organised at the block and district levels. "At the camps, students will be provided with cordless hearing aids on subsidised rates," he said.

In a communiqué to principals and heads of government schools, the DGSE said though the department had a list of students with poor vision, it wanted to ensure that no student was left out. "At the end of the day, these conditions have a bearing on studies. And we don't want any student to suffer because of ill health," he said.

Fazilka burns least paddy straw

Hindustan Times, Page 2, Chandigarh Edition

FEROZEPUR: Fazilka has recorded least straw-burning incidents in the state. It earned a round of applause on Tuesday. Karan Avtar Singh, Punjab principal secretary for science and technology and environment (pointing), during his special visit to a field in Fazilka district on Tuesday.
Karan Avtar Singh, principal secretary of science, technology and environment, shared the figures with a gathering of progressive farmers and horticulture experts during his special visit to Farmers' Training Centre at Zamindara Farm Solutions. The principal secretary applauded Zamindara Farm Solutions for its contribution in making farmers aware of the consequences of burning crop stubble after harvest. The venture won praise for promoting better agricultural tools such as Happy seeder and roller to straightway sow wheat without burning up the residue of paddy to clear the field.

The Jawala Bhai Nathu Ram Charitable Trust, led by Vikram Ahuja, won accolades for its campaign of administering oath to farmers about not burning paddy stubble in the interest of the environment. It educated farmers about the demerits of unsustainable methods of preparing new fields. Farmers of Fazilka, Mamdot, Ferozepur, Gidderbaha, Zira, and surrounding areas joined the campaign.

"Fazilka's Zamindara Farm Solutions is a blended value business based on technical knowledge coming from the Cereal System Initiative for South Asia (CSISA)," said Vikram Ahuja. "Farmers realise at last that by not burning the wheat or paddy straw, they save a huge amount of water because the fields, after days of burning, require hours of watering for the soil to recover the moisture for the sowing of paddy or wheat."
Many farmers who had stopped burning of s t raw shared their experiences with the principal secretary. "Four years ago, I tried sowing wheat with the help of Happy seeder," said Raj Krishan, a progressive farmer from Rana village. "Better results got me to prepare more than 22 acres of field without burning up any straw." Ferozepur's deputy commissioner, Basant Garg was present.

Friday, November 23, 2012

PUDA Colony Over Wetland in Fazilka : Apex court panel’s second notice to CS

23 Nov 2012 :: Hindustan Times (Chandigarh), Bathinda Edition, Page 3

FEROZEPUR: The Supreme Court central empowered committee dealing with forest and wildlife matters has sent its second notice to the state chief secretary about the sale of prime government property for a proposed residential colony. Navdeep Asija, a social activist who took the matter to the committee, also submitted that the district forest officer and state forest and wildlife preservation department reports had ignored the threat to the environment and biodiversity of the Badha lake in Fazilka region, if 400 old trees on its banks were cut to clear the space for 56 residential plots.

On the proposed colony of the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA), the committee already has sent a notice to the CS on the various legalisation and environmental norms. The government property that was part of the wetland was sold under the non-legislative Optimum Use of Vacant Government Land scheme. No reply to the earlier notice was filed; hence, another notice has now been issued.

The Punjab and Haryana high court had disposed of the case based on an affidavit by the chief conservator officer, state forest and wild life preservation department, that the department had nothing to do with the land in question. This in spite of the fact that a 400 feet by 60 feet reserved forest along the Alam Shah minor would pass right thorough the middle of the colony. The project is not approved by the state pollution control board, which should ask for compensatory forestation. The green belt in Fazilka city is less than 1% and there's no provision to increase it. The existing green cover is under threat to facilitate unplanned development.

"It's clear PUDA is doing it to favor the land mafia," said complainant Navdeep Asija. "The colony project will jack up the price of the agricultural land nearby."
The local body responsible for the development of the city had proposed restoration of Badha lake under a master plan through resolution but PUDA took no approval from it before coming out with the colony project. "The government seems to be acting like property dealer but I have faith in the judiciary," said Asija.
The Supreme Court committee had sent its last notice to the CS more than a year ago, on August 9, 2011. The committee's role is to check the unsustainable cutting of forests and the threat of massive destruction of wildlife habitats.

Fazilka colony: SC panel directs state to guard area’s biodiversity

Praful Chander Nagpal

Fazilka, November 22
The Central Empowered Committee (CEC), constituted by the Supreme Court of India, has asked the Chief Secretary, Punjab, to initiate necessary action for allegedly compromising on environmental norms for the proposed PUDA Colony on the bank of the extinct Badha Lake wetland area in Fazilka.

Reacting on the complaint of Navdeep Asija, general secretary, Graduate Welfare Association Fazilka (GWAF), on the issue of damage to environment and biodiversity in the wetland area near the Deputy Commissioner's residence, where PUDA proposes to sell 56 residential plots by carving out a colony, the CEC has sent a letter to the Chief Secretary asking him to intervene.

Notably, the Central Empowered Committee is constituted by the Supreme Court to check pressure on the forests, the unsustainable removal and the real threat of massive destruction to wildlife. The Supreme Court intervened and played a pioneering role in its efforts to save India's forest and wildlife.

The petitioner, Navdeep Asija, has alleged that the authorities had ignored the report of the District Forest Officer (DFO), Ferozepur, in which he stated that there are 355 trees on different khasra numbers of the land where PUDA wants to carve out the colony.

The DFO has also admitted that with the felling of the trees, there could be an adverse affect on biodiversity in the area.

It is pertinent to mention here that the green belt in Fazilka city is alarmingly less than one per cent. "No sincere efforts to enhance the area under green cover are being made but contrary to it, the authorities have been sacrificing the existing green cover to facilitate unplanned development," regretted Asija.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Red Ribbon Express to halt at eights stations for aids awareness

The Red Ribbon Express, an exhibition train on HIV/AIDS, has been scheduled to halt at eight districts of the state in order to create AIDS awareness. Dr Harinder Bir, main streaming consultant, Punjab Aids Control Society (PACS), said the train focusing on the youth would halt at eight stations -- Nangal, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Faridkot, Fazilka, Tarn Taran, Amritsar and Rupnagar.
"The train, decked up with banners, posters, audio-visual clips and volunteer talks will start from Nangal on December 15 and will culminate in Amritsar on January 1. The multimedia-equipped train will halt at every station for two days except at Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Fazilka, where it will halt for three days," she said.

The train is on the move across the country to spread awareness on HIV/AIDS for the third year under the ministry of health and family welfare and National Rural Health Mission (NHRM). The state health authorities will launch awareness campaigns to encourage people to visit the train.

She said, "Mass campaigns through nukad naatak, especially in rural areas, will be conducted on five days in every region, asking people to visit the train. Workshops, Doordarshan, radio, cinema slides, railways station announcements, mobilised information, and education and communication vans will promote the campaign and encourage people to visit the train."
She said the volunteers in vans would also inform people about the symptoms and prevention of HIV/AIDS. She said district education officers had been asked to take senior secondary school students to see the train.

Dr Harinder said the train had four exhibition coaches with exhibits on HIV/AIDS and NHRM.
"The eight-coach train would comprise first three coaches containing information on HIV/AIDS, while the fourth coach would give information on NHRM exhibits on tuberculosis, malaria, reproductive and child health services and general diseases."

She said the fifth coach would provide training to people in batches of 60 and five batches would be covered in a day. The training session would be held even with stakeholders, including Asha workers, ANMs, Nehru Youth Kendra workers, self-help groups and other health workers.
To provide training to the people, special teams of volunteers including doctors, NSS officials, NGOs had been prepared.

"Coach No 6 will have counselling sessions and HIV testing services wherein two doctors, counsellors and lab technicians would be there, who would inform people about sexually-transmitted diseases. Coaches No 7 and 8 will be for officials."
She said the other attraction would be taped versions ongoing inside the train disseminating information on HIV/AIDS and other diseases. The train timing will be from 9.30am to 5pm.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Punjab steps up drive against illegal mining; 24 more FIRs

Chandigarh: Stepping up its drive against illegal mining, the Punjab government has registered 24 more FIRs during the last three days. 

Over 30 vehicles were also impounded, a spokesman said, adding that total number of FIRs in last one week has touched to 53. 

The industry department was continuing with stringent action against illegal miners, the spokesman said. 

District-wise details of FIRs registered are Pathankot (8) Amritsar (2), Ferozpur (2), Jalandhar (2), Kapurthala (2), Ludhiana (2) Moga (2) and Fazilka (1), Batala (1), Bathinda (1), Hoshiarpur (1). 

Pathankot district has turned out to be the worst affected area with 8 FIR's in the last three days and in total 12 FIR's have been lodged in this district in the last one week. 


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Punjab's Sukhbir bats for Indo-Pak border trade

Deputy chief minister of Punjab Sukhbir Singh Badal on Tuesday said Pakistan and India must make an initiative to increase the volume of trade through the Attari-Wagah land route.
Sukhbir said he favoured the use of land routes on Hussaniwala and Fazilka border to boost trade between the two nations. 
Sukhbir was speaking in Lahore at the Pakistan- India Business Round Table organised by Pakistan Board of Investment and Trade.
Sukhbir is leading a delegation of traders from India in Pakistan. Sukhbir said better economic exchange could help strengthen the relationship between the two countries. 
He added that the trade through the integrated check post (ICP) at the Attari-Wagah international border boosts the traders in both countries. He also hoped that the negative list of items, which are not importable from India, would be scrapped or shrunk by December 31.
"It would open new opportunities for trade and development in Punjab in India and Pakistan. We have to prepare for a quantum leap in trade by strengthening infrastructure and logistics at the checkposts on both sides. 
There should be no delay or bottlenecks in import and export of goods," Sukhbir said. Vikas Kahol in Chandigah

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Differently-abled Fazilka lad shines in cricket

Praful Chander Nagpal

Physically-challenged Neeraj Kumar of Fazilka in action at Navrangpur Stadium of Ahmedabad.
Physically-challenged Neeraj Kumar of Fazilka in action at Navrangpur Stadium of Ahmedabad.

Fazilka, November 5
He is like any another teenaged fast bowler, determined to send the batsman back to the pavilion. But the difference between him and the other bowlers is that Neeraj Kumar, 19, had lost his left hand in an accident six years back.

But the youth from Fazilka displayed courage and determination in the Indian Premier Cricket League (IPCL) that concluded today at Ahmedabad.

The son of a vegetable vendor, Neeraj Kumar, represented the India Blue team. The matches were telecast live on the DD sports channel. Neeraj took two wickets while conceding 33 runs in his four over quota against the South Eagles at Navrangpur Stadium.

Neeraj uses his other arm to bowl. The only limitation it imposes on him is that he can't bowl with a high arm action.

"Initially, I faced difficulties and was uncertain about my future in cricket but thanks to the unflinching support of my family, I was back on the fields," he said.

"My dream has come true. I cannot describe the feeling in words. I now want to prove myself in big tournaments," said the fast bowler. His parents, Hem Raj and Moolan Devi, said they were proud of their son's achievement.