Tuesday, July 28, 2009

One Day Workshop at Arni Wala S.S. on July 28, 2009 by PCRA Organised by Dr Bhupinder Singh

Pictues of the One day Workshop being Organised by Dr Bhupinder Singh, Patron Graduates Welfare Association Fazilka in association with Petroleum Conservation and Research Association at Govt Senior Secondary School, Arniwala ShekhSubhan, Tehsil Fazilka on 28th July 2009

Team GWAF for the Cause of Energy, Ecology and Employment

Thursday, July 23, 2009

‘Locked up’ for 20 years, village demands freedom

Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohar Jamsher (Fazilka), July 21 
It is an injustice which everyone admits, but no one addresses. One thousand residents of this village along the international border with Pakistan are being allowed restricted access to their homes for the past 20 years for no fault of theirs.

The village, which is surrounded by Pakistan on three sides, had its access from the Indian side cut off with a barbed wire fence in 1989 during the period of militancy in Punjab.

Since then villagers are allowed entry to their village through an iron gate, which is manned by the Border Security Force (BSF). Entry through the gate does not mean an easy access to their homes. They have to cross the Sutlej to reach their village, which they do through a makeshift bridge built by them. The village is inaccessible during the monsoon when the bridge is invariably washed away.

Farmers cross a makeshift bridge on the Sutlej from Mohar Jamsher village near Fazilka

This cruel hand has been dealt to the village despite the fact that another barbed wire fence has come up behind the village along the Pakistan border making the fence along the Indian side infructuous. Despite repeated petitions, a case in court and even assurances from the BSF, the gate is yet to go.

"The gate has ruined the life of a generation," says village Sarpanch Gurdeep Singh while talking to TNS. Leave alone monetary losses due to difficulty in moving crops, Gurdeep says what is more shameful is the loss of face the villagers have to face every day. "Due to the inaccessibility and checks on entry and exit even our relatives are not keen to visit us. We also face difficulty in getting marriage proposals and what is especially despicable is the physical checking of our womenfolk by BSF guards," he adds. BSF sources, however, disclosed that women constables would be posted on sentry duty at the border outpost soon.

Another resident Gurjant Singh says the inability of the state government to build a bridge across the Sutlej has led to various people misappropriating the funds given to build a temporary structure by public men. Gurjant says the village has been assured that permission has been granted for an iron and wood bridge, which will be taken up after the Jalalabad byelection. The village is part of the assembly segment.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who visited the village during a sangat darshan programme recently, has promised development in the area. "He will have to do a lot," says village 'nambardar' Phuman Singh. "Our girls have to travel 8 km to study after class V due to which many give up". He says there is also need for a dispensary and a waterworks with the ground water have high fluoride content.

The village will, however, vote for the SAD. "The state government is the only hope for our amelioration," says the Sarpanch adding they were hoping that the Chief Minister, who had helped them in the past, would come to their rescue again.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

India's groundwater is flooded with fluoride

Source: Down to Earth Vol: 11 Issue: 20030331

Fluoride is an acute toxin, with a rating slightly higher than lead. It is, in fact, one of the most bone-seeking elements known to human beings. And groundwater in India shows the presence of unhealthy quantities of fluoride. A worrying scenario: daily ingestion of just 2 milligram (mg) of fluoride could result in crippling skeletal fluorosis after 40 years. Excess fluoride causes several diseases, like osteoporosis, arthritis, brittle bones, cancer, infertility in women, brain damage, Alzheimer's disease and thyroid disorders.

The very nature of fluoride increases this danger manifold. Almost half of each day's fluoride intake is retained, and is absorbed by the bones and teeth. It was Gerald Cox, of the Mellon Institute in the US, who first found in 1938 that while 1.0 milligram per litre (mg/l) of fluorine in water prevents dental caries, over 1.5 mg/l causes mottled teeth. The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) standard for fluoride content is 1-1.5 mg /l. It is believed that levels above or below this could cause dental decay. Ironically, there is an increased incidence of dental caries, yellow teeth and twisted limbs among people of all age groups in India.

A recent publication of the Geological Survey of India (GSI) names areas that should go on fluoride red alert: Fazilka and Jalalabad in the border district of Ferozepur in Punjab; parts of Gurgaon, Rewari, Mahendergarh, Hisar, Fatehabad and Faridabad in Haryana; Unnao, Rae Bareilly and Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh; Sidhi district in Madhya Pradesh; Beed district in Maharashtra; Nalgonda district in Andhra Pradesh and Dindigul district in Tamil Nadu.

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. Jalalabad is not much better off. Although the surface water is less contaminated, tubewells pump out water that contains high fluoride content. The affluent farmers, of course, drink 'mineral water'. The irony, though, is that unscrupulous elements are bottling canal water and selling it as mineral water.

Fluoride toxicity is taking its toll. There is a sharp rise in the number of people with 'yellow teeth'. Cases of arthritis are on the rise in Haryana. The fluoride content in the state's groundwater is often as high as 7 to 8 mg/l. Unnao and Rae Bareilly districts of Uttar Pradesh show fluoride content between 2.9 to 15 mg/l. Dental and skeletal fluorosis, known as 'lunj punj' in Unnao, is rampant in these districts. Toothless villagers with twisted limbs are not an uncommon sight. Village Siraha Khera in Unnao faces a social boycott today. No one marries a girl from the village, and no girl wants to be married into Siraha Khera.

The situation in Sonbhadra and Sidhi is completely different. Here, the groundwater fluoride content is below 1 mg/l. This causes rapid dental caries in children and adults alike.

In the vast geographical expanse and varied geological set-up of India, the causes for fluoridation of ground-water are many. Some natural, some human-made. Fluoride-bearing minerals present in rocks are leached out due to various natural processes such as soil-formation. Volcanic activity also releases gaseous fluorine into the groundwater. We have no control over the natural release of fluoride into groundwater.

The contamination of groundwater by industries — brick kilns, aluminium and steel — is, however, preventable. In Faridabad, these industries bore holes in the ground, into which they inject waste. Certain phosphatic fertilisers also cause fluoride to leach into the groundwater. In Unnao, for example, the use of such fertilisers has risen by 5 lakh metric tonnes in the past decade.

Groundwater contamination is an enormous problem. The sooner we accept that, the better. Unless we take fast and determined steps, we are headed towards a very big water crisis. The first step is to identify and seal off contaminated tubewells. Simultaneously, people must be provided with safe drinking water from state-drilled tubewells.

In the affected areas, a massive campaign effort is needed. There should also be promotion of higher calcium and vitamin C intake. Since most Indians cannot afford these, the state must arrange for free distribution. The next step is reduction of fluoride concentration through artificial recharge techniques like flooding of groundwater with surface water.

Ultimately, the impact of drinking water on human health must be acknowledged. The affluent may have their bottled water. The masses cannot afford it. Can toothless voters and crippled soldiers safeguard the world's largest democracy?

V K Joshi is former Director, Geological Survey of Indiahttp://www.environmentportal.in/node/10740

Anand Utsav- Environment Festival of Fazilka

Dainik Bhaskar, 22nd July 2009 

Dirty Politics to Spoil Beauty of our City Fazilka

Dainik Bhaskar, 22nd July 2009, News by Mr Madan

India's First Car Free City - Car Free Zone Fazilka Pictures

Picture Courtesy : Mr Pardeep Kumar, Unique Studio, Fazilka

कैनेडा देगा पंजाब में फूड प्रोसेसिंग इंडस्ट्री को बढ़ावा

फाजिल्का-बागवानी के लिए पंजाब के कैलिफोर्निया के तौर पर पहचान बना चुके फाजिल्का व अबोहर में फूड प्रोसेसिंग इंडस्ट्री के लिए बहुत कुछ उपलब्ध है। यह बात पंजाब में फूड प्रोसेसिंग इंडस्ट्री की संभावनाएं तलाश रही कैनेडा की यूनिवर्सिटी आफ मेनीटोबा के शिष्टमंडल ने भी स्वीकार की है। शिष्टमंडल ने फाजिल्का व अबोहर के विभिन्न बागों, जूस फैक्ट्री, नहरी पानी की उपलब्धता व कृषि और बागवानी कार्यो के रिकार्ड की मेंटीनेंस जैसी बुनियादी सुविधाओं के बारीकी से अध्ययन किया। इसके बाद शिष्टमंडल ने यूनिवर्सिटी द्वारा पंजाब एग्रो के साथ मिलकर पंजाब में फूड इंडस्ट्री को प्रोत्साहित करने संबंधी योजनाओं की विस्तृत जानकारी दी। फाजिल्का स्थित उत्तर भारत की सबसे बड़ी कृषि सेवा कंपनी जमींदारा फार्मसाल्यूशंस पर दैनिक जागरण के साथ बातचीत में यूनिवर्सिटी आफ मेनीटोबा की चीफ आपरेटिंग आफिसर कम जनरल मैनेजर लिंडा लौरी, कैनेडा की कृषि सेवा कंपनी क्रोयेकर फार्मस लिमिटेड की प्रेजीडेट सीईओ वेन रेंपल, अनिवासी भारतीय एवं यूनिवर्सिटी आफ मेनीटोबा के वाइस प्रेजीडेट (रिसर्च) दिगवीर जायस व मिस राबिन मैक्रे ने बताया कि यूनिवर्सिटी आफ मेनीटोबा पंजाब एग्रो के साथ मिलकर किसी बागवानी पर आधारित क्षेत्र में उत्पादित वस्तुओं के वेल्यू एडीशन के लिए सेंटर आफ एक्सीलेंस की स्थापना करना चाहते है। इसके लिए फलों के उत्पादन के लिए प्रसिद्ध फाजिल्का व अबोहर क्षेत्र के अलावा होशियारपुर इलाके में फूड प्रोसेसिंग इंडस्ट्री को बढ़ावा देने की संभावनाएं तलाश की जा रही है। उसके तहत ही फाजिल्का व अबोहर का दौरा शिष्टमंडल ने किया है। इस दौरान अबोहर स्थित पंजाब एग्रो द्वारा निर्मित जूस फैक्ट्री के साथ विभिन्न किन्नू, अमरूद व अन्य फलों के बागों का दौरा किया गया है। शिष्टमंडल यह भी जाना है कि बागवानी या फूड प्रोसेसिंग इंडस्ट्री की संभावनाओं के लिए पर्याप्त पानी के लिए नहरों की क्या व्यवस्था है। साथ ही बागवानी व कृषि क्षेत्र की जरूरतों जैसे कि कृषि कार्यो के लिए आधुनिक तकनीक से लैस लेबर, अत्याधुनिक कृषि यंत्रों व उनकी आम किसानों व बागवानों को आसानी से उपलब्धता के साथ उत्पादन संबंधी सारे रिकार्ड की मेंटीनेंस का प्रबंध है या नहीं। शिष्टमंडल को यह सारी खूबियां कृषि सेवा कंपनी जमींदारा फार्मसाल्यूशंस के पास नजर आई। शिष्टमंडल ने अब आगामी संभावनाओं के लिए पंजाब कृषि यूनिवर्सिटी के लिए रवाना हो गया है। होशियारपुर व जालंधर में बागवानी की संभावनाओं को देखने के बाद ही यूनिवर्सिटी आफ मेनीटोबा पंजाब में सेंटर आफ एक्सीलेंस की स्थापना करेगी, जहां कृषि उत्पादों का वेल्यू एडीशन कर उनकी सीधे खपत कर फूड प्रोसेसिंग के जरिये अधिक लाभ कमाने के ढंगों की जानकारी और सहायता दी जाएगी। इस मौके पर कैनेडेयाई शिष्टमंडल के साथ जमींदारा फार्मसाल्यूशंस के एमडी सुरेद्र आहूजा, डायरेक्टर विक्रम आहूजा, अनु नागपाल, संजीव नागपाल, कृषि विशेषज्ञ प्रेम बब्बर आदि मौजूद थे http://in.jagran.yahoo.com/news/local/punjab/4_2_5638933.html

Thursday, July 9, 2009

'Sanjha Chulhas': A Way To Unite People In Punjab

Not everything lasts for long. This comes after we carried a story on how Sikkim still retains their culture. Angora shawl is still a favourite among people there, and the tourism Dept. has taken the initiative to do the best the preserve the same. But this, may not be the case in the northern state of India, Punjab.

Sanjha Chulha or, traditional common oven has been a part of Punjabi tradition for ages, however, it has been losing it popularity for quite some time. But the non-governmental organisation is making efforts to save it from being forgotten. So far, the N.G.O. has installed six 'Sanjha Chulhas' or common ovens across Fazilka to popularlise it, and at the same time enable poor housewives to cook their meals twice a day.

When asked on what their take on the issue is, the N.G.O. Says, "In modern times, when prices of LPG cylinders are skyrocketing, it will help poor people cut costs". They add: "A traditional oven like this enables 10-15 families to cook food besides being eco-friendly as well."

Varun Gagneja, project coordinator, Graduates Welfare Association further explains: "We want to send out a message to the whole world that we care about global warming. The fossil fuels generate carbon dioxide, nitrogen and other poisonous gases, which harm the atmosphere. So we have come up with Sanjha Chulha project." He adds: "This will reduce the use of fossil fuel at homes. The natural fuels like wood and coal don't harm atmosphere like fossil fuels. In this way, we will be able to help in the progress of our country and the differences among people will also be reduced when they cook food together."

In this way, we will be able to help in the progress of our country and the differences among people will also be reduced when they cook food together.
So, what does the newly introduced technique involves? The Sanjha Chulha brings together women from different communities to cook meals at the common oven. And, it strengthens bonds. The process had been quite a popular thing in rural punjab, but with time, less people opted for it.

However, by reviving the tradition of `Sanjha Chulha', Fazilka's Graduates Welfare Association has done a great service to community. The testimony is what people say about it today. "This oven should be kept in different areas of the villages and the cities," said one of the residents. He adds: "It will help improve relations among people. They can share all their happiness, sorrows and pains with each other."

Meanwhile, people of Fazilka are savoring delicious meals cooked in an earthen oven. Breads baked in such ovens are considered good for health and tastes distinctly. So, for those who are planning to be heading to the state of Punjab, one thing is for sure: some relishing time awaits you.

The process has been a part of the initiative by the Graduates Welfare Association, an NGO, working to save the environment and strengthen the community


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Gallant Hero- Havaldar Jassa Singh of 14 Punjab-1965 India Pakistan War

Hand-to-hand combat is a legacy of the past, though cases of individual valour have occurred in modern wars also, more as an exception than as a rule

One such unreported case was that of Hav. Jassa Singh of 14 Punjab (Nabha Akal) who fought gallantly against the enemy during 1965 Indo-Pak war. The NCO was a tall man with a jolly disposition. Always willing to lend a helping hand to his colleagues, he was both loved and respected by his juniors and seniors alike. He was an indispensable part of unit's tug-of-war team which was legendary from 1940 to 1954.

The unit was deployed in the Fazilka Sector, some 10 kms off Fazilka on the Sulaimanke Road. Anticipating an enemy offensive from Sulaimanke, the unit was ordered to occupy defences astride Subuwana Drain which was seven kms off Sulaimanke, flowing almost parallel to the international border. Lt Col C S Bhuller, the then Commanding Officer, decided to occupy a defensive position with two companies each to the north and south of the drain astride the road axis. B and C coys moved towards north. Jassa Singh was Platoon Havildar of the centre platoon of B coy. On September 7, 1965 the enemy attacked A coy from the flank, but failed to gain a foothold. They again attacked C coy on September 9, but this turned out to be a diversionary move, and the main attack came on B coy that night.

After heavy shelling, the enemy unit (later identified as 1 Baluch) mounted a well coordinated attack on B coy. Hav Jassa Singh effectively engaged the enemy by ensuring proper fire control and boosting the morale of his men. The determined enemy came forward further and, sensing trouble, Jassa Singh plunged at a lurking shadow which turned out to be a Pakistani JCO. The latter raised his sten to fire at Jassa, but the JCO rose quickly, parried the sten and battered the surprised JCO to death with the butt of his rifle.

Not to be outdone, a section of the enemy rushed towards Jassa with their bayonets fixed. Jassa tried to dodge but was seriously injured at three places. Nevertheless the lion in him surfaced. Grabbling his rifle by its barrel, he hit three Pakistanis. As his fire slipped due to blood on his hands, Jassa picked up a shovel and with brute force struck two more down. The shovel too was snapped from him. With a herculean effort, he then grabbed a slung ammunition box off an enemy and knocked down a few more Baluchs by swinging the heavy ammunition box over his head.

When Jassa's men too joined the attack, the few remaining Baluchis were seen running away leaving their equipment behind. They were given a chase and the attack soon petered out. For this singular act, Hav Jassa Singh was awarded a Vir Chakra in 1965. Thus, he added a lustre to the pages of history of the Punjab Regiment.

- Col Anil Shorey


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Punjab farmers adopt direct seeding method for paddy cultivation

From ANI Ludhiana, July 7: To overcome the problems caused by shortage of farm labourers and scarcity of water for irrigation, farmers in Punjab have adopted direct seeding methodology for paddy cultivation. The technique has come as a major blessing for paddy growers. The 'directly sown paddy' without the troublesome puddling exercise is a boon for the farmers. The technique brings about a saving of as much up to 150 USD per acre.
The method, which is currently being used in Patiala, Amritsar and Fazilka, helps in tackling the problem of labor shortage and in saving water up to a whopping 60 per cent. The paddy growers are extremely happy with the technique. "I gave up the traditional method of paddy sowing. It required water to be filled for 15 days. With direct sowing technique we can save water. I have increased the area under paddy cultivation from 10 acres to 14 acres," said Manohar Singh, a farmer. "We learned about direct paddy sowing from other farmers, who successfully used this technique last year. It is better than the traditional 'puddling'. We are able to save time and water, which is in short supply," said Sarat Singh, another farmer. To promote direct paddy sowing in the state many NGOs like Zamindara Farm Solutions have come forward to provide implements and share knowledge about the technique. "As far as global warming is concerned, we need to stop it by preventing Green House Emissions. We have made a thorough research on the net about the direct sowing technique. We realized that 'puddling' also involves large amount of gases. It is a big source of green house gas emission. We have to save water for a better future," said, Vikram Ahuja, owner, Zamindara farm solutions. Many corporates like PepsiCo, working with farmers from Punjab on contract basis also promote 'direct seeding' for paddy. The success of direct paddy sowing will help to increase the total area under paddy cultivation in Punjab and rest of India. The Agriculture department is also coming up with a 100-acre exhibition plot to make the farmers better informed about the new technique.

By Avtar Gill(ANI)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fazilka Achievers : Dr. Devinder Singh Sandhu, Cancer Specialist

Dr. Devinder Singh Sandhu was born on December 2nd 1964 in village: Hamid Saide Ke (near Mandi Ladhuka), Tehsil Fazilka, Distt. Ferozepur. He completed primary school education from Govt. Primary School Hamid Saide Ke; middle and high school from Govt. High School Ladhuka; Plus I and II from RSD College Ferozepur. He completed MBBS and MD (Medicine) from Govt Medical College, Patiala.

Then he was selected for doctorate of medicine (DM) in Oncology at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. He was only one from Punjab and among three from all over India to be selected for this course at AIIMS. In AIIMS he had the distinction of having published maximum number of papers ever by a student of AIIMS in 3 years residency program.

He is member of many national & international cancer societies including American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). He is pioneer in cancer treatment especially blood cancers in the state having performed Punjab's first ever bone marrow transplant (BMT) at Ludhiana in 2006.

He went to USA and received training from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre (MSKCC) in New York. This center is rated as world's number one cancer center. He is the only AIIMS trained as well as USA trained 'Oncologist' (Cancer Expert) in the northern region of India.

He is the youngest member of the governing body (Trustee) of SGPC run Sri Guru Ram Das (SGRD) Medical & Dental College, AmritsarPresently he runs a 'cancer clinic' at 70-C, Udham Singh Nagar, Near Lions Club, Civil Lines, Ludhiana. He is also involved with DMC, Ludhiana as an Senior Consultant Oncologist