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Deepender accuses govt of shelving major projects; Is Deepender saying right?

Hisar :
The Congress MP from Rohtak Deepender Singh Hooda has alleged that the BJP government has derailed the state from the path of growth and development and “also inflicted much damage to the social fabric by adopting its divisive politics”.
Addressing a gathering in Narnaund town, Deepender, who is on a visit to various Assembly segments for the last three days, said political vibes of the state had made it clear that the people were eager to overthrow “the corrupt and non-performing BJP government”. Hopefully, the Congress would come to power and the state would again march ahead on the path of development, he said.

Revealing a long list of projects which has been reportedly shelved by the BJP government, the Congress MP said the previous government had planned to set up an international airport on the border of three districts – Hisar, Rohtak and Bhiwani – at an estimated cost of Rs 20-25,000 crores. “Another major project of setting up a rail coach factory in Gohana having an investment of about Rs 3,500 crore was shifted elsewhere by this government. These two projects would have drawn huge investment, besides being a major source of employment for the local youth,” Hooda said.

He alleged that the project of connecting Hansi to Rohtak via rail link was initiated when the then UPA government’s Railway Minister laid the foundation stone of the project in Hansi in 2013. But the BJP government seems to have no interest in pursuing the project and, thus, it has been hanging fire.

Hooda stated that these projects would be expedited if the Congress government came to power.

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Farmers in Punjab, Haryana lose appetite for basmati; Should the government change its farmer policy?

Chandigarh :

Farmers in Punjab are losing interest in the cultivation of basmati because of unremunerative prices and low yields.

Thanks to the apathy of successive state governments and the Centre, farmers have been left with little option but to ditch what was once a money spinning crop. The much touted crop diversification has proved to a cruel joke on debt-ridden sons of the soil, many of them are killing themselves.

While prices have stagnated, the area under basmati has declined steadily over the years, especially after huge consignments to the EU and the Middle-East were rejected due to traces of fertilisers and herbicides in the grain. There were also charges that certain unscrupulous traders were mixing low-grade produce with the approved quality of grain.

All this made the market a very uncompetitive place, also the local consumption of basmati is small. Ballooning inventories complicated the situation further, and the end result was that prices crashed and the farmers who had dared to diversify burnt their fingers.

For a farmer, it is all about economics and putting food on the plate for his family. Opting for ‘parmal’ made sense since the farmer was assured that his crop would be lifted and he would be paid on time.

A quintal of parmal would sell for Rs 1,750 (post MSP) and the average yield is 28-30 quintal per acre. So a farmer would earn Rs 52,000 per acre if he grew this variety as compared to Rs 2,500-Rs 2,600 per quintal for basmati or Rs 44,000 per acre. The only catch being that the average yield of the latter is just 16-17 per quintal per acre. A losing proposition indeed!

For all the official talk, there is no fixed price for basmati and no agency procures it per se. It is the call of the commission agents and private players who call the shots, and it is the farmer who suffers.

APEDA data shows that the area under basmati shrunk by nearly 10 per cent in Haryana and nine per cent in Punjab. It is likely to go down this Kharif too.
Paddy is a water guzzler but basmati requires less water and is labour and input intensive. It is also susceptible to diseases and pests and needs pruning at regular intervals to prevent lodging. Unseasonal rains accompanied by high-velocity winds flatten the crop, with the result that harvesting it manually often becomes a necessity. Given the labour shortage faced in Punjab, the woes of the hapless farmers can be well imagined.

The availability of quality seeds, pesticides and other inputs are also areas of concern for such farmers. The crop also suffers as unscrupulous commission agents and dealers often offload poor quality products on the unsuspecting farmer. He not only has to pay for spurious inputs but also ends up with a failed crop or produce that he is forced to sell at a pittance.

Since basmati is sown late the window for the next crop is even smaller and he races against time to secure loans for his next crop to make up for past losses.
The last variety to come out of the stables of PAU was 1121, but that too failed to click with the farmers. So it's back to square one, ‘parmal’and procurement. So much for doubling the income of farmers by 2020!

A way out had been mooted by a high-level parliamentary committee headed by former Himachal Pradesh CM Shanta Kumar. He had suggested that infrastructure should be strengthened in states for which paddy is procured so that the existing one in the North could be used to grow other crops and cereals. This would not only save groundwater but also give a fillip to oilseeds and other farm produce.

The huge recurring cost incurred in procuring, storing and then transporting food grain could be used for other purposes like processing facilities.   

All this is hampered by fiscal allocations but as the political class promises the moon, the ground reality is that basmati leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of the  farmer in the hinterland.

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State gets HC rap for inaction against unrecognised schools; Will 3200 unrecognized schools be closed?

Chandigarh :

Censuring Haryana for not closing schools running without recognition, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that the government is under an obligation to act against them.

Directing the filing of a status report in the matter, a Division Bench added that it would be compelled to require personal appearance of the Chief Secretary in case of non-furnishing of the document.

He would be asked to assist the court and elaborate on reasons for not discharging the legal obligation by officials. The Bench set July 25 as the deadline for the purpose.
The order by a Bench of Chief Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Arun Palli came on a petition filed in public interest by the Swasthya Shiksha Sahyog Sangathan against the state and other respondents.

The petitioner alleged that a large number of schools within the state were running without recognition, mandatory under the Haryana School Education Act, 1995, and Haryana School Education Rules, 2003.

It was further alleged that final action had not been taken even after the issuance of notice to 53 unrecognised schools.

Referring to the previous orders, the Bench asserted that an Additional Advocate-General, vide order dated February 15, was required to apprise the court of the progress made in the matter.

Thereafter, the matter was adjourned on five occasions at the behest of the state counsel seeking time to furnish the required information.
The Bench noted the assertion of the counsel appearing for the petitioner that proceedings were initiated against some schools, but came to a halt due to undue pressure by the lobby running unrecognised schools.

“We are surprised that the authorities are not discharging their obligation under the rules to put a stop to the running of unrecognised schools and have failed to discharge their duties. As a last opportunity, a week’s time is allowed to Additional Advocate-General to bring on record the status report,” the Bench asserted.
Referring to provisions of the Haryana School Education Act and Haryana School Education Rules, the petitioner had argued that recognition of a school was mandatory.

In the absence of recognition by the government under the provisions of the Act and the Rules, no school could operate in the state, the petitioner had said.

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Farmers approach HC over ‘ban’ on paddy cultivation; Should farmers have the freedom to plant crops on their own?

Face social boycott, Rs 51,000 fine

Hisar :
Four farmers have approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court for cultivation of paddy in their fields in Paintawas Kalan village of Charkhi Dadri district against a ban by a social panchayat in the village.

Deepak Sangwan, a resident of Paintawas, had filed a petition in the High Court on July 9, stating that they (farmers) should be given freedom to plant any crop in their fields. He said a khap panchayat had issued a diktat, banning paddy plantation in the village.

The High Court had, on July 11, issued a notice to the Haryana Government, asking the state counsel to submit a status report and obtain instructions as to why the petitioners should not be given the freedom to sow paddy. The court fixed the next hearing on July 19.

Sangwan said he owned 14 acres adjoining a canal in the village, but the khap panchayat had banned sowing of paddy, arguing that it led to waterlogging in the fields and residential areas.

He told The Tribune on Friday that he stopped sowing paddy for the past two years, but planted the crop this year. “Irked over the paddy plantation, the panchayat imposed a fine of Rs 51,000 and announced social boycott of my family,” he said, adding the land was fit for no other crop except for paddy and he had little choice.

However, another section of villagers, who opposed the paddy plantation, said that due to low-lying area, paddy plantation caused waterlogging in the village. “When it rains, water floods the residential areas as the fields, which are already inundated due to paddy plantation, could not hold rainwater,” another villager said.
Gulzari Lal, the sarpanch of adjoining Charkhi village, said waterlogging was a serious problem in the village. “We are facing water problem, but the low-laying area draws rainwater from far-off places. Moreover, the Indira canal and its subsidiary minors flowing through these villages have caused waterlogging,” he said. Lal said no farmer of his village had sown paddy for many years and it was a consensual decision.

Paintawas sarpanch Dhirpal said there was no ban in the village.
Similarly, Sombir Sangwan, president of Sangwan khap, too, denied having issued any diktat on behalf of the panchayat. He said it was a collective decision of the villagers to save their residential areas from flooding due to waterlogging caused due to excessive water in the paddy fields. He also denied imposing fine or socially boycotting any family.

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No ban on Manushi taking exam: College director; Should Manushi get the chance?

Sonepat :
“There is no problem for Manushi Chhillar, Miss World 2017, to appear for her semester examination of MBBS degree provided she fulfils the basic condition of attendance of classes,” said Dr APS Batra, Director of the Bhagar Phool Singh (BPS) Government Women Medical College at Khanpur Kalan in the district, on Friday.
Dr Batra told The Tribune that it was mandatory to have 75 per cent attendance in theory and practical classes to become eligible for appearing in the semester examinations. 

These rules had been laid down by the Medical Council of India, he added. 
When his attention was drawn towards a news report that said Manushi has been banned from appearing in the examination, Dr Batra categorically stated that the college had not put any ban on her taking the examination.

“It is not a ban but a condition of class attendance which has to be fulfilled by any student to become eligible for appearing in the examination,” Dr Batra said.
He said it was good that Manushi had applied for one year leave. Otherwise, a student could appear in the examination only after fulfilling the condition of 75 per cent attendance.

Manushi, the sixth Indian to become Miss World, took admission as an MBBS student in the college in academic year 2015-16. After winning the title of Miss India in June 2017, she applied for one year leave.

Then, she was crowned Miss World in November 2017. As she had gone on one year leave, she neither appeared in the second semester examination held in January 2018 nor in the supplementary examination held in April-May.

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