The Indian Express – Parched Punjab finds a source of water: rejuvenated village ponds

Sandeep Singh, a former sarpanch of Manak Dheri village in Hoshiarpur district, now irrigates his three acre farm with water from the village pond. A 2-km underground pipeline network now supplies water to his farm free of cost from the rejuvenated village pond.

Anju Agnihotri Chaba

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 07 June 2019. Farming had been a difficult proposition for Kans Ram. A resident of Nasirewal village in Sultanpur Lodhi sub-division of Kapurthala district, Ram is a marginal farmer owning 2.5-acre land. He doesn’t own a tube well – the boon and the bane of the farming community in Punjab.

Till last year, he had been dependent on the other farmers for water to irrigate his fields. The water, however, came at a cost and with a precondition that he won’t sow a crop that requires too much water.

“I was not able to sow the crop of my choice because water was not available to me. Those who used to provide me water used to put a condition that I’ll sow only that crop, which needs less water,” says Ram who used to pay Rs 3,000 to Rs 4000 for irrigating his fields every crop season.

A pilot project launched by the state soil conservation department, however, has changed all that. Ram can now grow any crop of his choice on his land and never worry about the availability of water.

A 2-km underground pipeline network now supplies water to his farm free of cost from the rejuvenated village pond. Sandeep Singh, a former sarpanch of Manak Dheri village in Hoshiarpur district, too now irrigates his three acre farm with water from the village pond.

“The water is good and we don’t need to put too much fertilizer to improve the crop quality,” says Sandeep Singh. The underground pipeline network in his village stretches over 3.5km.

Saranjit and Sarwan Ram, both marginal farmers with around two acres of land at Nasirewal village, have a similar story to tell. So does Surinder Singh, a small farmer from Jalandhar’s Rurka Kalan village, who now doesn’t have to plead before other fellow farmers to let him use their tubewell.

These farmers are among hundreds across Punjab who are beneficiaries of the pilot project through which the soil conservation department has rejuvenated 54 village ponds in the over-exploited blocks of eight districts in state. These ponds now irrigate 1,139 hectares (2813 acres).

In Punjab, 83 per cent of total land is cultivable and there is huge demand of water, which if not checked, may turn the state into a desert in the next 25 years. With 80 per cent of the agricultural blocks in Punjab coming under overexploited category, the state has been looking at alternate sources of irrigation.

The pilot project is a step towards achieving that, especially for the small farmers and those who don’t have their own tube wells.

There are over 13,000 villages in the state with around 15,000 ponds and other water bodies.

The waste water from the village households flow into these ponds. With piped drinking water supply system making its way to the village households, the water flowing into these ponds has increased considerably over the years.

Often the village ponds overflow and the water enters nearby houses.

“Under the project, the ponds were renovated and rejuvenated to increase the water holding capacity and to ensure that water quality was fit for use in agriculture. Underground pipelines were laid from these ponds to take the water to agricultural fields.

Solar Photovoltaic (SPV) Pump sets were installed for pumping the water through the pipelines,” said Map Officer, office of chief conservator of soils, Punjab, Gurvinder Singh Dhillon.

The stagnant water in these ponds had often led to various health hazards in the villages besides numerous other environmental, economic and social impacts, he added.

“For instance an area with a population of 500,000 and a water consumption of 120 litres per day per person produces about 48,000 m3/day of waste water (assuming 80 per cent of the water used reaches the public sewerage system).

If this waste water were to be used in carefully controlled irrigation at a rate of 5000 m3 per hectare per year, it could irrigate some 3500 hectares”.

“If all the water bodies or ponds in the state are utilized in agriculture, it will not only help in checking ground water exploitation but will also provide farmer an assured irrigation water source besides avoiding drought incidences in agriculture as household water flows into ponds regularly irrespective of climatic variability’s,” he said.

“Besides it also helps in recharging of ground water. The projects are self sustainable with no operational costs,” said Naresh Gupta Gupta, Divisional Soil Conservation Officer, Hoshiarur.

Sub-divisional soil conservation officer, Jalandhar, Lupinder Kumar, said that in Ruruka Kalan, 2.4 lakh litres of pond water is lifted through solar pump and supplied in 2 km long area through underground pipeline system.

In Nasirewal and Rurka Kalan villages, the ponds are providing water to 60 farmers to irrigate over 100 acres of land.
The project was launched under under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichayee Yojana (PMKSY) in Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana, Patiala, Kapurthala, SAS Nagar, Faridkot and Gurdaspur districts of Punjab. 1580 hectare area is to be brought under these 54 ponds. – Hazoori Ragi Bhai Ravinder Singh opens Gurmat Kirtan Sangeet Academy in Jalandhar

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 07 June 2019. A special effort has been made by Sri Harmandr Sahib’s Hazoori Ragi Bhai Ravinder Singh to connect the children with Gurmat Sangeet and Kirtan with the establishment of Guru Ramdas Gurmat Kirtan Sangeet Academy. This Gurmat Sangeet Academy has been started near Ladhewali Chowk, Rama Mandi, Jalandhar on the demand of Sikh sangat.

Sharing the development with media, Bhai Ravinder Singh informed that people of all age groups including children will be able to get education of Gurbani Kirtan in this Gurmat Sangeet Academy.

“Currently, the classes of Raga based Gurbani-Kirtan are being started and after that the class for Gurbani remembering will also be begun,” he added.

He further informed that expert specialists have been appointed in this Gurmat Sangeet Academy to teach vocal and beat lessons to the students.

“For the time being, the training classes will be held twice in a week, i.e. on Monday and Thursday evenings, but these will be extended later,” he informed while adding that this training will be provided free of cost.

Hazoori Ragi Bhai Ravinder Singh Opens Gurmat Kirtan Sangeet Academy in Jalandhar

Mechelen NMBS – Gent: Vlaanderenstraat – Duivelsteen – Bisdomplein

Mechelen NMBS
16 May 2019

Waiting for my train to Gent

Tracks to Brussel and Gent

All station train to Halle

Groen Gent
Vlaanderenstraat – Duivelsteen – Bisdomplein
18 May 2019


Duivelsteen: Tram 4 to Muide

Groen Gent in front of the Bishop’s Residence

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

News 18 – Sikh-American to be First Airman to be allowed by US Air Force to keep turban, beard on active duty

Airman Harpreetinder Singh, who joined the Air Force in 2017, was unable to follow the practice due to the military branch’s grooming and dress codes.

Washington DC – USA, 07 June 2019. A Sikh airman has been allowed by the United States Air Force to serve with a beard, turban and unshorn hair, making him the first active-duty airman to be granted such a religious accommodation.

Airman Harpreetinder Singh, who joined the Air Force in 2017, was unable to follow the practice due to the military branch’s grooming and dress codes.

The Air Force granted him an accommodation after Bajwa gained representation from the Sikh American Veterans Alliance, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), NBC news reported.

Bajwa, a crew chief at McChord Air Force Base, Washington, is now the first active airman who has been authorised to adhere to Sikh religious grooming and dress principles while serving in the Air Force.

“I’m overjoyed that the Air Force has granted my religious accommodation, said Bajwa.

“Today, I feel that my country has embraced my Sikh heritage, and I will be forever grateful for this opportunity,” he said.

Bajwa says be initially asked if he could request a waiver during tech training a year ago in Charleston, South Carolina, and said he was never told “no” by leadership.

“I’m extremely happy I can practice my faith and serve my country,” said Bajwa.

A first-generation American, Bajwa was born to an immigrant family.

In 2016, Captain Simratpal Singh, a decorated Sikh-American officer and combat veteran, received a long-term religious accommodation from the US Army to serve with long hair, a beard, and turban. The Army updated its regulations the following year directing commanders to allow accommodations for observant Sikhs.

Heather L Weaver, a senior staff attorney for the ACLU, praised the Air Force’s decision.

“No one should have to choose between following their faith or serving their country,” Weaver said.

“We’re pleased that the Air Force granted our client’s request, and we hope that all branches of the military come to recognize the importance of religious inclusion and diversity.”

The Hindu – Pakistan PM, FM send congratulatory letters to Narendra Modi and Jaishankar

Letters follow a phone call from Imran Khan to Mr. Modi, as well as an exchange of tweets between the two leaders after the election results.

Suhasini Haidar

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 07 June 2019. Days after the formation of the National Democratic Alliance government, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to congratulate him on his victory, while Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has written a letter to his Indian counterpart Minister for External Affairs S. Jaishankar, congratulating him on his appointment as well, sources in Delhi and Islamabad confirmed.

The letters follow a phone call from Mr Khan to Mr Modi, as well as an exchange of tweets between the two leaders after the election results.

The letters, which New Delhi hasn’t yet responded to, conveyed official greetings as well as a hope that India-Pakistan bilateral ties will improve in the future. They were both handed over to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad earlier this week.

According to Pakistani diplomatic sources, the letters sought “peace and stability in South Asia with the peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” as well as “collective endeavours” for regional peace and prosperity, a possible reference to a SAARC summit, which Pakistan is keen to organise, but India has refused to attend.

The past few weeks have seen tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad rise over the tit for tat surveillance and harassment of their guests at ‘Iftar’ functions in each other’s capital.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a public protest against Pakistani police officials who intimidated guests at the Indian High Commission’s Iftar event at a hotel in Islamabad on June 1, and the Pakistan Foreign Ministry wrote two letters protesting similar actions by Indian security agencies against guests to the Pakistan National Day function on March 23 as well as the Iftar event at the Pakistan High Commission on May 28.

Despite the bitterness on the ground, however, the leaders of both the countries have kept up a steady set of exchanges over the period. Mr Modi wrote a letter to Mr Khan ahead of the Pakistan National Day, saying it was “time for the people of the sub-continent to work together for a democratic, peaceful, progressive and prosperous region, in an atmosphere free of terror and violence.”

Mr Khan welcomed the letter, calling for dialogue between the two countries. After the BJP’s win, Mr Khan telephoned Mr Modi to congratulate him.

The conversation, which reportedly lasted about 15 minutes according to one source, included the need to improve bilateral ties, India’s “neighbourhood first policy” and a desire to “fight poverty jointly.” Both leaders have also exchanged public messages over twitter.

In addition, former Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan Foreign Minister met for a short “exchange of pleasantries” at the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) Foreign Ministers’ meet in Bishkek in May, when Pakistan made an exception to the ban on flights to and from India to allow Ms Swaraj’s flight to travel through Pakistani airspace.

This week, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Sohail Mohammad, who was High Commissioner to India until last month, was accorded full security and all diplomatic courtesies when he travelled to Delhi on a “personal” visit to celebrate Eid with his family, and accompanied them back to Pakistan.

When asked if all the exchanges were building up to a possible bilateral meeting at the SCO summit in Bishkek on June 13-14 that Mr Khan and Mr Modi will attend, diplomatic officials in both capitals have declined to confirm the possibility of a one-on-one between the two leaders. On Thursday, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said there were no requests or plans for the leaders to meet to the best of his “knowledge”.