National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute puts Punjab on national agri-food research map

Knowledge City expands to welcome another institution of repute

Punjab is basically an agrarian state with the majority of its population engaged in and depended on agricultural activities. Thus, it is no surprise that providing benefits to farmers and their welfare is of the utmost priority for the government of Punjab. The government has sincerely striven to provide the farmers access to facilities that are essential for their livelihood. As the world is moving towards better technologies to aid farmers, the Punjab government aims to promote the same technologies for its farmers and provide their access to achieve sustainable growth in agriculture. With most of the Punjab so depended on agriculture and food for livelihood, the Punjab government considered it sensible to have a premier institution that will focus on agriculture and food industry of Punjab with respect to development in its biotechnology sector.

National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute puts Punjab on national agri-food research mapNational Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI) as the name suggests pertains to biotechnological research in Agri-food sector but not just for Punjab. It is an institute of national importance that aims to transform the agri – food sector in India with the help of biotechnology. It is an autonomous institution established by the Government of India under the aegis of Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology. It’s is located in the Knowledge City of Mohali along with other prestigious institutes like Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER) and Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST).

The institute was formalised with a specific vision –“To be a nodal organization for knowledge generation and translational science leading to value added products based on agri- food biotechnological innovations.” The research opportunities in Biotechnology are still too few in India. But with it’s huge potential, it’s quickly gaining momentum in various industries. Agriculture and food sector can especially benefit from advancement in biotech research. The aim of the institution is also to provide scientific skills to enhance the quality of workmanship of young scientists. As biotechnology is still a new word in Indian and especially Punjab’s vocabulary, the government also encourages NABI to actively involve itself in raising awareness about the benefits of biotechnology and biotech products. Young students of Punjab can especially benefit from the presence of NABI. The science inclined pupils will not only find inspiration from this resourceful institute, but also those with interest in agri-food industry will not have to bear the stress of going out of the state to achieve quality education. An institution of such calibre is expected to generate talent, interest, innovative solutions and products to meet the needs of India.

The government of Punjab has always stressed the importance of education and worked hard to encourage the students to take up the science and mathematics field, which is the need of the future. NABI is yet another great institution on Punjab soil that will not only help in the development of Punjab, but also the nation and even the world.


Rajasthan Sirhind feeder canals being revamped

In a bid to improve irrigation services for the farmers, the Punjab government has chalked out a detailed plan for realigning of Rajasthan and Sirhind feeder canals. The initiative is part of government’s plans of giving a fillip to the reforms for improving the irrigation system in the agrarian state of Punjab. Under the initiative 196 kilometer long canals of Rajasthan and Sirhind feeder would be realigned or maintained. To be completed in four years, the project would cost about Rs. 1979 crore to the state exchequer.

Rajasthan Sirhind feeder canals being revamped - progressive punjab, Akali Dal

Joint monitoring

Punjab and Rajasthan have earlier in December 2014, signed an agreement to jointly monitor the progress of a project related to relining of Rajasthan and Sirhind feeder canals. The objective was to ensure its timely completion.

In fact, Rajasthan has been raising the issue of relining of Rajasthan Feeder (RF) and Sirhind Feeder (SF), which carry water from Harike headworks in Punjab to Rajasthan. And the agreement aimed at clearing it.

According to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal the process of relining of the canals has already been initiated for which tenders have been floated.

In fact a cross regulator was also constructed on the tail of Sirhind feeder to stop its back flow, which would meet the long pending demand of Rajasthan government to check back flow of the feeder.

Punjab, Rajasthan jointly cleaning feeder 

 The cleaning work of the Sirhind Feeder canal has already begun. The decision was taken following a meeting of Rajasthan Irrigation Minister Dr Ram Pratap Sahu with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on December 29, 2015.

The Sirhind canal which was constructed in 1954, is 136.50 km long and has an authorised capacity of 5,264 cusecs. It has a cultivable command area of 3.6 lakh hectares.

Relining of the Rajasthan Feeder and Sirhind Feeder is expected to go a long way in providing water to the farmers of two states without any wastage due to seepage, which had caused water logging in the south west districts of Punjab. Besides with relining of these canals the menace of water logging would also end and mitigated the enormous hardships faced by the farmers particularly on the bordering villages of Rajasthan and Punjab.

Canals a top priority for Punjab government

Already Punjab government has spent Rs. 1293.88 crore on maintenance and repair of 160 canals between years 2007 to 2015. These canals are now benefitting farmers of more than 1574 villages by providing them irrigation facilities. Also Nara Dam and Thana Dam have been constructed in Kandi area at a cost of Rs. 136.66 crore. These two dams are now providing irrigation facilities to 12 villages in more than 1520 hectare area.

Officials in the irrigation department inform that under state specific scheme and one time additional central assistance (ACA) a sum of Rs. 370 crore has been spent on construction and renewal of canal system between years 2013 to 2015, which would benefit area of around 21000 hectare. Besides, the state government has also imposed a water cess @ Rs. 50 per acre per crop from November, 2014 by waiving off abiana at Rs. 75 per acre for canal water. The move is expected to raise coffers by about Rs. 55 crore every year.

Punjab takes a lead in taking care of cancer patients

Thanks to a number of initiatives against curbing cancer in Punjab, the state today has become a model for other states for dealing with the deadly menace. It’s a multipronged strategy of the state government, covering the poor patients that has proved effective in dealing with the disease.

Punjab takes a lead in taking care of cancer patients, Parkash Singh Badal, Shiromani Akali Dal

Amongst the most effective schemes is “Mukh Mantri Punjab Cancer Raahat Kosh Scheme. The state government under the scheme has a provided a sum of Rs 50.00 crores, for treatment of all cancer patients barring government employees and those who have health insurance cover. Under the scheme an amount of upto 1.50 lakhs is being made available for treatment of every cancer patient. So far, sanctions worth more than 54 crores have been made to the hospitals all over the state for treatment of more than 5000 Cancer patients. Besides free and cheap treatment is also being provided through financial assistance under State illness Fund through Punjab Nirogi Society, which helps not only cancer patients but also others from the BPL families who are suffering from other life threatening diseases.

Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal says these initiatives are a beginning to make Punjab a cancer-free state. “Apart from providing superlative treatment, the government is also working on prevention of cancer by banning manufacture, import and use of pesticides.
Apart from providing superlative treatment, we are also taking steps for prevention of cancer by banning the manufacture, import and use of pesticides that are injurious to health. We are also educating farmers on the use of right kind of pesticides,” he said.

Besides the government has also begun biggest ever door-to-door campaign for detecting cancer at an early stage. The campaign after beginning from Faridkot is now being extended to other vulnerable areas in the state. More than 50,000 personnel have been deployed to reach out to more than 1.25 crore people.

Punjab government had already set up Cancer Relief Fund with an initial amount of Rs 20 crore which supported the treatment of 4744 cancer patients across the state.
The government is also providing free travel facility in Punjab Roadways & PRTC Buses for cancer patients who have to avail treatment. Also children diagnosed with cancer are being provided free treatment by the Health department. PGI Chandigarh and Mohan Dai Oswal Cancer Hospital Ludhiana has been providing treatment to the children.

 Special facilities in hospitals

Moreover state of the art medical facilities are being made available in the hospitals and treatment centres to deal with the cancer patients. Brachytherapy machine has been installed at Government Medical College and Hospital, Patiala. Brachytherapy is a kind of radiation therapy which uses radiation in a focused manner/beam to treat localized cancer. Similarly Radiotherapy machine and Cobalt Unit has been set up at Sri Guru Gobind Singh Medical College Faridkot. Also Cobalt Source has been installed at Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences & Research. Centre Amritsar. For better co-ordination the Regional Cancer Centre, PGI has been linked with all the districts through Tele-Medicine facility.

Apart from this, the state government has sealed an agreement with Max Health Care for establishing a Super Specialty Hospital for Cancer & Trauma Care in the premises of Civil Hospital SAS Nagar, and for setting up of Super Specialty Cancer & Cardiac Hospital in the premises of Civil Hospital, Bathinda. Both these hospitals are fully functional.

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IISER Mohali proves to be a pride for Punjab

Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER) is a premier institution established by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). The Scientific Advisory Council advised the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who gave his nod to start the work to establish five IISERs in India. The Mohali campus of IISER now based in the Knowledge city, was established in 2007. It is one of the first IISERs to be established in the country, with full support from the Punjab government for its resource and infrastructure development.

IISER Mohali proves to be a pride for Punjab, Shiromani Akali Dal, SAD

Recognising the need to have a solid foundation for cutting edge research in the budding areas of emerging as well as basic sciences, the government proposed the idea for IISER. Initially it started off from a transit campus of Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration (MGSIPA), Chandigarh. After the allotment of 125 acres of land for development of a permanent campus in Sector 81, Knowledge City of Mohali by the Punjab government, the work to realise the full potential of this institution began.

The foundation stone of the IISER Mohali campus was laid by the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. By continued efforts and encouragement from the government of Punjab, shifting of the campus from Chandigarh to Mohali started in 2010. By 2013, transit campus at MGSIPA shut down officially and the move to IISER Mohali’s permanent campus came to fruition. Today it is recognised as an Institute of National Importance by the Government of India.

IISER offers distinct programs for both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. The Integrated BS-MS degree, started in 2007, is offered directly after +2 through a common entrance test for all the IISERs. In this, a student attains Bachelor’s and Master’s with a sustained focus on developing research capabilities. The Integrated Doctoral program began in 2012 and is unique in its approach as it gives a student entry into the master’s as well as the PhD after the student has completed at least three years of bachelor’s education. IISER also offers a doctoral program which started in 2008 where a student can gain entry only after completion of their Master in Science degree. Apart from the basic sciences, IISER also recognises the importance of Humanities and social sciences in the development of society. Thus, it offers doctoral degree in these fields as well.

The government of Punjab not only welcomes the development of such institutions but also strives to provide every assistance necessary for their timely completion and smooth working. The Punjab Government recognises that not only will it boost the budding talent in the state but also bring in scientific flora from the other states. The main objective for the development of IISER is to take India to the frontiers of scientific advancements, to tackle the plethora of problems being faced by humanity in this age and to encourage young minds towards the path of science and discovery. IISER since its establishment has worked extensively towards fulfilling all its motives; for the betterment of India as well as the entire world.

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Punjab cares for its Animals: People, NGOs coming forward for the cause

In what is was being seen a unique scheme, the Punjab Government six years back came up with the policy of animal adoption. This came as a welcome move especially among animal activists who had been fighting for more laws to prevent cruelty to animals.

Punjab cares for its Animals: People, NGOs coming forward for the cause. Bikram Singh Majithia, sukhbir singh badal

While the scheme is on, the government’s initiative in this direction have been sincere and now very recently the Punjab Zoos Development Authority, also responsible for running the adoption scheme has announced a rebate in the income tax if anyone goes for animal adoption.

Income Tax Exemption

The Society which runs the scheme at Chhatbir zoo has said that whatever sum is contributed to the society for animal donation will be eligible for exemption under the Section 80G of the Income Tax Act, 1961. As per officials 50 percent of the said amount will be considered for exemption.

Free entry into the zoo

In addition to this those who come forward for this cause are allowed free entry to the zoo four times in a year, besides also a certificate to acknowledge their gesture. The donors are also invited whenever there is a state function at the zoo besides a souvenir kit. Their names also find a mention at the board near the concerned animal enclosure besides having a mention on the official website of the Punjab Wildlife Department.

Encouraging Community Involvement

The main objective behind the scheme is to encourage community involvement in caring for the birds and animals in all important zoos of Punjab. The scheme is open to all individuals and organisations who can adopt a bird or animal for one year, which will go in not just the food for animal but also hygiene besides also costs incurred in medical treatment whenever required.

In addition to Chhatbir zoo, this scheme is applicable in other zoological parks like Ludhiana, Bathinda and Patiala. Those who are kind enough to adopt an animal are regularly informed about the well-being of the animal.

NGOs also pitching in

The government has got an encouraging response from the individuals and even NGOs as is the case in Ludhiana where an NGO has adopted 10 birds and animals and is also working towards encouraging people to adopt animals.

The Adoption Cost

The most expensive is the upkeep of a lion which goes beyond Rs 1.5 lakh for a year, while maintaining a deer comes to around Rs 15000 while for a bear one has to pay around Rs 60,000 annually.

The adoption scheme doesn’t end with just people adopting animals but there are people who donate money for these animals by organising community langars and the money collected is donated to the zoo authorities.

Authority to keep a check

Those who adopt animals are also given the authority to keep a check on the diet of the animal and also the living condition of the animal adopted. In case the donors find anything which is not satisfactory they can lodge their complaint with the concerned authorities and also seek action-taken report for the same to know what remedial measures were taken.

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