Tuesday, April 9, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Will proposed panels help Punjab?
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 8
Will the setting up of committees proposed by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to tackle the state’s problems on the fiscal, agriculture and industrial fronts serve any purpose? Or will it be another exercise in futility and delaying tactics to bell the cat?

Capt Amarinder Singh has proposed the setting up of three committees. The first will pertain to agriculture and related issues like the problem of plenty and diversification, etc and will be headed by Dr S.S. Johl, an agricultural economist. The second, to be headed by a former Chief Secretary, Mr A.S. Chatha, will pertain to the revival of the industry and problems faced by it.

The third will be a high-powered committee on finance to be headed by Mr Surinder Singla, who was earlier tipped to be the Finance Minister. Another Cabinet sub-committee on finance will be headed by the Chief Minister.

However, there is a no need to set up such committees, say experts. The problems and measures required pertaining to the state’s agriculture, industry, finance, the over-all economy, etc are well documented by top-notch experts, including Dr Manmohan Singh, a former Finance Minister, Dr Y.K. Alagh, a former Union Minister, Dr S.S. Johl, a former Vice-Chancellor, and Dr G.S. Kalkat, another former Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University, and several others.

The state’s ailments have already been diagnosed by experts and what is required is to start the treatment. In fact, a delay in the treatment can prove fatal, says a senior economist.

He says there are a large number of documents and reports with the departments concerned and also with PAU about all aspects of Punjab’s economy. It appears bureaucrats have not shown all these reports to the Chief Minister.

The Punjab Expenditure Reforms Committee, headed by Dr Ashok Lehiri, a fiscal expert from the National Institute of Public Finance and Planning, has already submitted its final report to the state government. In fact, the state’s White Paper pertaining to its fiscal status issued by Capt Amarinder Singh’s government was by and large based on this report. It is a report which has dealt with all aspects of the state’s finances in detail and has suggested measures to cut the expenditure. The term of this committee is to end on April 30. It is not known yet whether it will be given an extension.

Two bulky volumes are available with the Punjab Government of the report that was submitted by the Experts Committee headed by Prof Y.K. Alagh. Its other members were Dr Johl, Dr G.S. Kalkat, Dr G.S. Bhalla, Dr V.P. Dubey, Dr H.S. Shergill, Dr Sucha Singh Gill, Mr C.L. Bains, Mr Sudhir Mittal, Mr D.S. Guru, Mr H.I.S. Grewal, Special Secretary, Planning, besides others.

This committee has studied Punjab’s agriculture and industry in detail with special reference to the WTO and has made recommendations regarding measures required in the new emerging scenario in the country. The problem of plenty and diversification, etc also forms part of this report. The committee submitted its report a few months ago.

Punjab’s top bureaucrats, including Mr Rajan Kashyap, Mr Sudhir Mittal, Mr I.S. Bindra, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal and Mrs Kusumjit Sidhu, had prepared a detailed report: “A strategy on Fiscal Management”, immediately after the financial crisis started in Punjab. Its recommendations were implemented partially.

As many as 31 top-notch experts led by Dr Manmohan Singh, a former Union Finance Minister, held a two-day brainstorming session in PAU and came out with a detailed report: “Farmers and Farming in Punjab”. This report is also lying with the Punjab Government. Dr Kalkat and several other eminent professors were involved in the preparation of that report.

Dr H.S. Shergill prepared a comprehensive report on “Rural Credit and Indebtedness in Punjab” following reports of suicide by farmers. This report highlights the level of indebtedness and role of banks and commission agents in this connection.

Besides, there are reports like “A Prospective Plan — PAU 98”, “Plan Proposals for Development of Punjab’s Agriculture — PAU 2000”, “Policy Recommendations regarding Agriculture Economy” prepared by CRRID and PAU’s vision report about the state’s agriculture and allied areas up to 2020 and reports written by Mr K. Venkatasubramanian and other experts pertaining to Punjab. In fact, the list is endless.

So, in the light of these reports, it is time to act, and to start the implementation process by fixing priorities sector wise. Setting up of the more committees to address the issuers already studied and documented earlier will be just a time-wasting exercise, say experts associated with state’s economic growth.

They say that a former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was fond of setting up committees to study various issues but he lacked the will to implement the recommendations of these committees.


Transfer of PPSC Secretary cancelled twice earlier
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 8
The case that got PPSC Chairman Ravi Sidhu in the Vigilance net had been pending with him for the past several months. It was somewhere in the middle of last year that the Punjab Government recommended a list of 13 names under the “C” register for filling one post of PCS officer.

This list included the names of Mr Bhupjit Singh, Excise and Taxation Inspector and close friend of Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, besides a District Food and Supplies Officer, a couple of doctors, a veterinary surgeon, a teacher and a technical assistant.

Mr Bhupjit Singh, who ultimately decided to “catch the PPSC Chairman in his own net”, had been reportedly initially toying with the idea of moving a writ petition to allege rampant corruption in the PPSC.

A first divisioner throughout, he reportedly has a good track record and with the support of his friend, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, he was confident of making it to the state civil service.

But the alleged “dilly-dallying tactics of the commission” reportedly made him read between the lines that “without a hefty bribe”, his ambition of joining the PCS would not be fulfilled. All recommendations made in his favour by his well-wishers to the PPSC Chairman had not yielded any result. Normally, once the state government makes its recommendation supported by the personal record of each candidate, it does not take long for the commission to scan the record, fix the interviews and then declare the results. Ideally, it should not have taken even a month to complete the process.

But since nothing was happening and the state went in for the Assembly elections, he established contact in the PPSC and was reportedly able to reach the Chairman. The initial modalities were reportedly finalised.

Investigations reveal that it was at this stage that he consulted his friend, Mr Chander Mohan Munjal, at present the Secretary of the Punjab and Haryana Bar Council here, who reportedly advised him to “go for the kill”.

Mr Munjal, who moved to the city from Ferozepore in the late 80s, practises at the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Interestingly, Mr Munjal is not the counsel of Mr Bhupjit Singh but only a friend. Then they reportedly worked in tandem and established a link in the Police Department before the “trap” was laid.

Though the Punjab Pradesh Congress chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, had been alleging even before the elections that the PPSC had become a “den of corruption”, little was done by the authorities concerned to take any corrective measures. Investigations reveal that even the transfer of the PPSC Secretary was cancelled twice during the past one year. The third time it was stayed by the Election Commission. His recent shifting from the commission was a sequel to the fourth transfer order after members of the commission called on the Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, and presented to him a signed letter demanding his removal from the commission.


New PPSC Secretary assumes charge
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 8
Mr Satwant Singh today assumed charge as PPSC Secretary here. The former PPSC Secretary, Mr Prithpal Singh, was earlier transferred on the demand of the members. The members had demanded his transfer on the ground that he might tamper with the documentary proof.

It may be recalled that the members had demanded an explanation pertaining to the burning of records in the year 1998 and 1999.

Mr Prithpal Singh had pleaded that if the records were burnt on the directions of the Chairman, then it was not necessary to inform the members in this regard. However, the members were not satisfied with the explanation given by him.


SHSAD backs govt on corruption issue

Phagwara, April 8
Sarab Hind Shiromani Akali Dal General Secretary Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra has supported the Punjab Government’s campaign against corruption and setting up of a judicial commission to prove corruption charges against several Akali-BJP minister, including former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, and civil and police officials, stressing on need for a clean, honest, transparent and impartial steps against corruption.

Talking to the media here today, Mr Chandumajra alleged that Mr Badal had not learnt any lesson from the shameful defeat in the Vidhan Sabha elections and the Malout byelections and continued to support “wrong, communal and selfish policies of the Bharatiya Janata Party.”

Mr Chandumajra opposed the proposed water dispute Amendment Act and said this would harm the interests of Punjab.

He opposed procurement tax on wheat to only 4 per cent from the 13 per cent procurement tax being imposed in Punjab now he said the state would have to face a loss of Rs 300 crore on this count. Mr Chandumajra condemned the recommendations of the Finance Commission and claimed a loss of Rs 400 crore per annum due to these recommendations.

Mr Chandumajra urged the Union Government to review its decision to not send any Sikh jathas to Pakistan.

To a question on municipal corporation elections in the state, Mr Chandumajra said these elections should be contested on a personal level instead of the party level. However, the “Vikas manchs” would be formed in all nagar nigam towns to select “able, honest and deserving candidates” to contest the civic elections.

Jathedar Sarup Singh Dhesi and Mr Rajwant Singh Jhikha were present on the occasion. UNI


Civic body polls challenged
Legal Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 8
The decision of the newly-elected Punjab Government to hold elections to the Municipal Corporations of Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar, without fresh delimitation and fresh rotation of reserved wards, was challenged in a writ petition by Mr Satish Kumar Khurana and three other residents of Ludhiana in the Punjab and Haryana High Court today.

A Division Bench consisting of Mr Justice J.L. Gupta and Mr Justice N.K. Sud issued notice of motion to the state of Punjab, Punjab State Election Commission and Mr Jagjit Singh, Local Govt. Minister, for April 23. The Judges also ordered that the summons be served on the respondents. The Additional Advocate-General accepted the notice for the state of Punjab.

The petitioners stated that as per Article 243 of the Constitution, Section 6 of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act and Clause 6 of the Delimitation of Municipal Corporation Wards Order, 1997, the Punjab Government was bound to rotate the reserved wards during every election. However, they alleged the government wanted to hush up the whole matter without following the procedure as laid down by law and without rotation and fresh delimitation of wards. They alleged mala fides against Mr Jagjit Singh, Local Govt. Minister, and stated that he was pressuring the department to hold the elections bypassing legal provisions on political and mala fide considerations.

They prayed that the decision should be quashed and the state government should be directed to hold elections to the Municipal Corporations, as per law. They also stated the government and the minister were bound to follow the provisions of the Constitution, the Act and Delimitation Order, which was binding on all.


Badal alleges booth capturing in Malout poll
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 8
Former Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal President Parkash Singh Badal today alleged that widespread booth capturing had taken place during the Malout Assembly elections.

He said the election result did not show the popularity of the Congress-supported CPI, but the muscle power and unfair means used. He also alleged that hundreds of persons had indulged in booth capturing and his party workers had been subjected to harassment.

Speaking at the ‘barsi’ of senior Akali leader Jasdev Singh Sandhu here, Mr Badal said that the new government had failed to raise the minimum support price of wheat, which would affect the farming community adversely.

Earlier, Mr Badal held a meeting of members of the urban unit of SAD at the Circuit House here to discuss his party’s strategy for the forthcoming municipal corporation elections on May 19. It was decided that a seven-member committee, which would include Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Mr Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur and Mr Surup Singh Seghal, besides prominent members of the district urban committee, would be entrusted with the selection of candidates and preparations for the elections.

The former Chief Minister also said his party would hold a meeting on April 10 in Amritsar to discuss the immediate issues before the party and to decide on its future strategy.


Regional parties to form front on April 13
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 8
Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, SHSAD General Secretary, said today that formation of a national front of regional parties (NFRP) will be announced at Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, on Baisakhi for strengthening states and off-set the NDA Government’s move usher in a “unitary system” in the country.

Talks were on with the TDP, the DMK, The Samata Party and the Third Front parties in this connection, he told newspersons here. “We are votary of a strong state for a strong Centre”, he said.

The NFRP would be floated at the initiative of the SHSAD headed by Mr G.S. Tohra, he said.

Prof Chandumajra flayed former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for creating hurdles in way of the proposed elections of the four municipal corporations by threatening to approach the court against it.

He flayed the Vajpayee Government for not permitting Singh jathas to visit Pakistan. He flayed the SAD and the SGPC for not protesting against this decision of the NDA Government of which the SAD was also a partner.


Witness identifies 2 photographs of hijackers

Patiala, April 8
A CBI court, hearing the IC 184 hijacking case here, today recorded the statements of two witnesses who were passengers in the Indian Airlines plane which was hijacked and taken to Afghanistan in December, 1999.

The eyewitnesses, Mr Pawan Kumar Garg of Delhi and Mr Satnam Singh of Dasuiya in Hoshiarpur district, appeared in the court of designated Judge S.N. Aggarwal and gave their respective statements.

Mr Satnam Singh identified two photographs out of five snaps of the accused hijackers shown to him in the court today. He will be put to cross-examination tomorrow by the counsel of the accused.

The other witness, Mr Pawan Kumar Garg, today contradicted his earlier statement by saying that the deceased Rubin Katyal was travelling in the economy class and not business class as stated earlier. UNI


SAD (A) denounces death sentence to Bhullar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 8
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) while denouncing the death sentence to one Devinder Paul Singh Bhullar, who was deported from Germany, said that a person extradited from an other country could not be awarded death sentence.

In a press note faxed to the Press, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President SAD (Amritsar), appealed to the German authorities to put political and diplomatic pressure on India so that he (Bhullar) should not be hanged. He appealed to the Supreme Court that it should not reopen another chapter as the Sikhs had already suffered at the hands of the state.

Earlier, a delegation of the party comprising Mr Mann, Prof Jagmohan Singh, Mr Gurjatinder Paul Singh Bhikhiwind, Mr Satnam Singh Behru and Mr Gursharan Singh Delhi met Bhullar at Tihar jail. Mr Rubinder Paul Singh, advocate, also met Bhullar in Tihar jail today.

Mr Mann said grave injustice to Sikhs continued while the apex court had remitted the death sentence of Kishori Lal who was convicted of five murders during the massacre of Sikhs in November 1984. The press note, however, said that during the meeting at Tihar jail, Bhullar was found to be in high spirits.


Southern bypass takes shape finally
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 8
The southern bypass, a project which had been hanging fire since 1981 and is likely to be a boon for the city with traffic going to Sangrur no longer needing to enter the city, is finally taking shape with the government issuing a final notification for acquisition of the remaining part of the land to build the bypass.

Once the 9-km-long bypass is constructed, traffic destined for Sangrur could take the bypass road from Urban Estate and join the Sangrur road outside the city after passing the Bhakra Main Line Canal.

This is expected to remove congestion on The Mall road to a great extent.

The government has issued a notification for the final 53 acres of land which were still to be acquired under Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act. Public Works Department officials disclosed that they did not expect any problem in the acquisition of the 53 acres of land and that the acquisition would be done within one-and-a-half-months.

The project could very well have taken longer to get off on the ground. The notification of Section 6 was issued just in time a few days before a notification under Section 4 was set to elapse.

Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh disclosed that a notification under Section 4 had been issued last year, disclosing the government’s intent to acquire the land so that anyone having any claims of any immovable property in the land could put his claim to the government. He said the second notification had been delayed but the administration was able to gear up for the final notification before it elapsed.

A total of 197 acres of land are to be acquired for construction of the bypass and a total of 147 acres have already been acquired. PWD officials disclosed that the bypass once constructed would cross the Sanaur road, Patiala-Pehowa road near Ghalauri village, Patiala-Dakala road near Ramgarh village, Patiala-Maine road and the Patiala-Samana road near Shermajra village before joining the Sangrur road.


Snag in health training scheme
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 8
All is not well at the Multipurpose Health Workers’ (Male) Training School in Amritsar. Functioning under a centrally-sponsored scheme, almost 98 per cent expenditure is on salaries.

Due to poor job prospects, there is a gradual fall in the last three years in the percentage of students completing the course. The course itself is outdated, obsolete and irrelevant. Though plenty in numbers, models and charts are also not relevant to teaching. The trainees are de-motivated. What they are taught has no social relevance. Books in Punjabi are not available.

Private institutes engaged in similar training have outsmarted the government-run school.

These are the findings of an evaluation study by the Population Research Centre of the Chandigarh-based Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, commissioned by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The study team comprising Pawan Kumar Sharma, Komila Parthi and Monica Munjial, met the trainers but not the trainees while conducting the study. In Punjab there are 11 training schools/centres (three exclusively for men, six for women and two co-ed). In the three multipurpose centres at Patiala, Kharar and Amritsar, each has 60 seats. For admission to these, the state has been divided into three zones and all districts clubbed together for the purpose of admission to the three institutions. The course is for 18 months. There is no service bond but a security of Rs 10,000 is charged.

The drop-out percentage of trainees admitted has been declining from 98 (1998-99) to 80 (2000-01), while, funding pattern shows that expenditure has outstripped outlays in these three years. Against an outlay of Rs 739,000, expenditure was Rs 1,947,489 in 1998-99; against Rs 1,423,000, it was Rs 1,875,439 in 1999-2000; and against Rs 937,000, it was Rs 1,897,787 in 2000-01.

Interestingly, a team of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (that funds the programme) visited the school for inspection three years ago but there has been no feedback on its observations.


Court dismisses plea against demolition
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 8
The issue pertaining to the unauthorised construction of a shopping complex on a huge piece of Wakf Board’s land in the heart of the city took a new turn when Mr Gurbir Singh, Civil Judge (Senior Division), dismissed the application of Baba Santa Singh for permanent injunction against Municipal Council authorities to restrain them from demolishing it.

According to a copy of order, in the application, Baba Santa Singh had pleaded that huge investment had been made to construct shops after the municipal council authorities had got the requisite money deposited for approving the site plan. The municipal council authorities pointed out that the site plan for the shopping complex had not been sanctioned. The area in question had been reserved for special purposes and declared unbuilt area in the town planning scheme. Mr Gurbir Singh held that it had been proved that the plaintiff had done the construction without any sanctioned site plan. The application filed by the plaintiff was without any merit and was accordingly dismissed.

Meanwhile, Mr Hardev Singh, Executive Officer of the local Municipal Council, while expressing ignorance about any such order, said he had joined duty about three days back. Information gathered by TNS revealed that the matter pertaining to the unauthorised construction of the shopping complex had come to the notice of the district administration about three weeks back, but no action had been taken.


Strike in hospitals as doctor assaulted
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 8
Doctors of Government Medical College and associated hospitals called a strike here today following an assault on a doctor on Saturday night in the emergency ward of Guru Nanak Dev Hospital.

The incident is likely to bring up the proposal for private security for the medical college and associated hospitals. The proposal, which was mooted a year ago after such incidents of assault and manhandling of doctors and staff, is likely to be forwarded by the Director of Medical Education and Research for approval to the Minister for Health and Family Welfare and Medical Education and Research.

The proposal favours using the services of ex-servicemen and private security agencies which is likely to incur an expenditure of approximately Rs 12.6 lakh a year.

The associated hospitals include Guru Nanak Dev Hospital, children ward, Ram Lal Eye and ENT Hospital and the Department of Tuberculosis and Chest Diseases, SGTB Hospital.

Meanwhile, a four-member inquiry committee was set up today after a two-and-a-half-hour meeting of the Medical College Council presided over by Dr O.P. Mahajan, Principal Medical College, Medical Superintendent, H.S. Gill and 22 heads of department. Sikh members of the medical faculty took cognisance of the situation.

The committee comprising Dr Inderjit Shergill, Dr Bhola Singh, Dr H.S. Gill and Dr Jagdish Gargi, will probe the incident in which a criminal case was registered against Gagandeep Singh and his friends Jagpreet Singh and Manpreet Singh who had allegedly manhandled a doctor due to differences in the medical report prepared by the doctor.


Ensure adequate water supply’
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 8
While disposing of the complaint of the residents of the local Chand Singh Chahal Street, Mr M.R. Garg, president, and Mr Sarat Chander, member of the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, respectively, issued directions to the Executive Officer, local municipal council, and the SDO, Punjab Water Supply & Sewerage Board (PWS&SB) here, to ensure adequate supply of potable water to the residents of the street, including the complainant.

They have been further directed to formulate a scheme under which hours may be fixed for the supply of water with adequate pressure. Besides, the forum ordered that if the council and the PWS&SB felt handicapped to give supply of potable water with adequate pressure for nay reason, no water charges shall be recovered from the complainants for the period.

The complainants had alleged that they were not getting water supply with adequate pressure despite regular payment of water charges against bills issued by the PWS&SB from time to time. They also alleged that there was absolutely no supply of water for long and repeated requests by them to the council and the PWS&SB proved futile.

In its reply, the council said the management of water supply had been transferred to the PWS&SB w.e.f. August 1, 1999, and since then the PWS&SB was responsible to give the water supply and it was entitled to collect the water charges from the complainants.

The PWS&SB, in its reply, said a project with an estimated cost of Rs 447.36 lakh was prepared by the municipal council to augment water supply with full pressure and for this purpose the council had approached HUDCO to get a loan which was not granted as the council was already a defaulter of HUDCO. In these circumstances, an overhead tank could not be provided to give proper water supply to the people of the city living on the other side of the railway line.

The subsoil water of the district is not fit for human consumption as it contains high content of fluorine due to which many persons living in the district have been crippled. The state government has provided canal-based water works to save people from fluoride. Even a large number of canal-based water works have been provided in the interiors of the district for providing potable water to the residents, who are advised by the doctors not to drink subsoil water.


MCs facing financial crisis
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 8
The municipal councils in the district are facing worst type of financial crisis apparently caused by the abolition of octroi by the erstwhile Badal government just before the Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections.

The local municipal council has not so far been able to pay two bills amounting to Rs 6 lakh issued by the Punjab State Electricity Board for the supply of electricity for streetlights. The supply can be switched off anytime by the board, thereby throwing the city into darkness.

It has not paid salaries to its employees for the past three months. Mr Pawan Kumar Matti, president of the council, said the income of the local municipal council from octroi during the year 2000-01 was Rs 182.22 lakh while during financial year 2001-02 it has shrunken to Rs 142.34 lakh.

He said after the abolition of octroi the state government released grants twice which were hardly sufficient to clear the pay bills of employees.

He said the municipal council had sought loan of Rs 1 crore from the local branch of Jammu and Kashmir Bank Limited to overcome the financial crisis and to undertake some development works.

Ms Sunita Yadav, president of the Budhlada Municipal Council, said the council was facing acute financial crunch due to abolition of octroi duty. She said the decision of Badal government to abolish octroi duty in the state was wrong and have pushed the municipal councils in the state to the brink of bankruptcy.

She urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to reverse the wrong decisions taken by the outgoing Badal government, especially in the last months of its office.


Sculpture kicks up row
Anirudh Gupta

The sculpture of a mermaid installed at the border checkpost, where hundreds of persons come daily to witness the Retreat ceremony by the BSF and the Pakistani Rangers, has become a subject of criticism.

The sculpture, which was installed by the BSF, probably as part of its beautification drive, was made by Prof G. L. Kaim of the College of Fine Arts, New Delhi, on the request of the then Commandant of 106 Battalion of the BSF, Mr S. S. Bhinder, on January 5,1992. It was installed at the present location on February 29,1992. Mermaid Point, as it has come to be known, was inaugurated by Mr P. S. Gill, DIG, BSF, Ferozepore.

Most of those visiting the checkpost say the sculpture is “indecent” and looks out of place. A BSF officer said that in certain coastal areas, people worshipped the mermaid sculpture.

Visitors, especially women, have a cursory look at the sculpture and usually ask why it has been put up. The wife of a senior officer said that it should be removed and installed elsewhere as it depicted neither chivalry nor patriotism. There is a temple situated near Mermaid Point and the site where the Retreat ceremony takes place is hardly a few metres away.

Visitors feel that instead of the sculpture there should be something which symbolises the spirit of sacrifice in keeping with the BSF motto: “Duty unto death”.

Interestingly, when the then Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, visited this place on March 23, 2001, for the inauguration of the Shan-e-Hind gateway at the international border, the sculpture had to be covered with a dupatta.

Residents have demanded that the sculpture should be shifted as soon as possible.


Health services in a shambles
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 8
Health care in the district is a shambles and the worst affected area in this regard is the border belt. As many as 55 posts of medical officer are lying vacant. Most of these vacancies are in the primary health centres at Narot Jaimal Singh, Bamial, Taragarh, Kalanaur and Dera Baba Nanak.

The primary health centres at Behrampur and Kalanaur are in bad shape and need to be whitewashed. When this correspondent visited the Behrampur Primary Health Centre a few days back, he was told that it has been whitewashed hardly a month back, though it did not seem so. When he asked officials of the department to explain this, they said the maintenance of the building was the jurisdiction of the Public Works Department (B&R).

The bathrooms at the primary health centre stink and water taps keep running. The laboratories at the hospitals at Narot Jaimal Singh, Bamial and Dera Baba Nanak are not being used due to the absence of laboratory staff. No patient is admitted and the rooms meant for patients are used either as godowns or as places of rest for Class IV employees and their friends.


Conference of panches on April 10
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 8
A conference of Panches, Sarpanches and members of Gram Sabhas is being organised here on the administrative complex on April 10. This was disclosed by Mr Baldev Singh Sidhu, A D C (Development), here today.

An exhibition showing development in different fields by the various departments would be inaugurated by Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, at 11 a m at the administrative complex. Social organisations, Mahila Mandlas, NGOs, Panches Sarpanches would participate in the conference.

There would be lectures on agriculture diversification, education system, dairying, horticulture and industrialisation.


Ultra remanded in police custody

Amritsar, April 8
Dreaded terrorist Gurdev Singh, alias Pappi, was today remanded in police custody for three days by Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Kishore Kumar here.

Pappi, a local resident and member of the outlawed Khalistan National Army, had surrendered before the CJM on Friday. He was remanded in judicial custody by the CJM and was produced in his court today where the district attorney appearing for the state pleaded for a police remand on grounds that certain cases pending against Pappi needed to be investigated.

After the court hearing, Pappi was taken into custody by the Civil Lines police for investigating a murder case pending against him since 1991. UNI


Zaffarwal acquitted in 2 murder cases
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 8
Mr C.D. Gupta, Additional Sessions Judge here has acquitted Wassan Singh Zaffarwal, KCF chief, in two murder cases.

The Dasuya police had registered a murder case against Zaffarwal January 25, 1985, under Sections 382, 307, 216 and 120-B, IPC, and Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act.


Constable killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 8
Sawinder Singh (32), a constable posted here, died in a road accident near Jodhpur village last night when his motorcycle was hit by a matador. The police has registered a case under Sections 302A, 279, 427 and 337, IPC, against Tarsem Singh, the matador driver.


Monkey bites 5 children
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 8
A monkey has bitten five children in the local Chandsar basti which created panic among residents in the past few days. The residents said the monkey had come there about five days ago and one of them took the monkey away and left it at an abandoned place.

Most of the children received injuries on feet and hands.


Grant released for farmers
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, April 8
The district administration of Ferozepore has released Rs 16 crore to the SDMs of the district for distribution among the farmers affected due to the laying of mines and other activities of the Army in the irrigated lands of the border areas.

Mr S.R. Ladhar, Deputy Commissioner, a grant of Rs 18 crore was received last week from the Ministry of Defence through the state government to compensate the loss of crop to the farmers of the border areas. He said that initially 50 per cent of the crop loss amounting to Rs 5,5000 per acre would be distributed among the affected families.


CMs urged not to withdraw BBMB staff
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 8
The Beas and Bhakra Employees Federation, Sunder Nagar, today urged the Punjab and Haryana Chief Ministers not to withdraw their staff on deputation with the BBMB.

A letter that Mr Dip Singh, General Secretary of the Federation, wrote to the two Chief Ministers said the Punjab and Haryana Governments usually withdraw their staff a few years before their retirement. In doing so they incur heavy financial burden because on retirement all these employees were entitled to draw pension from their parent states.

Mr Dip Singh said the Punjab Government pays 55 per cent of the expenditure incurred on the salary of the staff. It also shares the burden of the staff recruited directly by the management of the BBMB.

He claimed that the Punjab Government had a staff share of 8,000 employees, although only a few hundred employees were working with the BBMB. He urged the Punjab Chief Minister to withdraw the letter that the state government had written to the BBMB on September 22, 1997, and send more employees to the board against its quota of employees.

In a separate letter to the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, Mr Dip Singh requested the Haryana Government to withdraw a letter written by its Irrigation Department on December 14, 2001, recalling its staff with the BBMB. Haryana had to bear 33 to 34 per cent of the total amount spent on the salary of the staff, even if directly recruited by the BBMB.


MC employees strike work
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 8
Members of the local Municipal Employees’ Union today began an indefinite pen-down strike and organised a dharna in the complex of the Municipal Council here, protesting against the non-payment of salaries to them for March. They also raised slogans against the Punjab Government.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Jeeta Ram, president of the union, said only clerical staff and sewadars of the council participated in the strike. He warned the Punjab Government and the municipal authorities that if their demands were not accepted till April 9, the staff of the sanitation, fire brigade, water supply and sewerage wings of the council would also join the pen-down and tool-down strike.

Mr Mahesh Kumar Singla “Meshi”, president of the Municipal Council, said the council was unable to pay the salaries to its staff as after the abolition of octroi, it had limited resources to run the affairs of the council. He said the state government had not sent funds to the council for the payment of salaries for the past two months. He added that the council had paid salaries to its staff for February from its own sources.

Meanwhile, the Joint Municipal Employees’ Struggle Committee today submitted a memorandum to the municipal authorities, demanding payment of salary by the 7th of every month, depositing of the deducted provident fund amount of Rs 40 lakh into their provident fund accounts and dissolution of the Mohalla Sudhar Committees.


Civil Hospital gets X-ray, ultrasound
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 8
With the installation of an X-ray machine and hi-tech ultrasound equipment, Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital, here, has become the second best government hospital in the district after the 100-bedded one at Ferozepore, said Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar, former minister, and Mr Sunil Jakhar, MLA, while inaugurating the new facilities on Saturday.

Mr Sunil Jakhar said that doctors opting for government jobs had a more important role to play, as compared to private practitioners, as they served the poor and needy, selflessly.

With medical facilities becoming out of reach even for middle class families, he said that the government should promote other systems of medicine in addition to the allopathic system of medicine.

Mr Sunil Jakhar said that doctors in civil hospitals should improve the image of the government as people had lost their faith in such institutions. There were reports that doctors posted in rural dispensaries generally do not attend to their duty, he said.

Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar said that although Rs 130 lakh had been sanctioned for the construction of new OPD building, X-ray and ultrasound centre, canteen, rest rooms for attendants of the patients and mortuary but the former government had imposed a cut of Rs 45 lakh due to which the construction of first floor was held up.


New assignment for Tejinder Kaur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 8
The Punjab Government today appointed Mrs Tejinder Kaur as Principal Secretary, Social Security, Women and Child Development, besides, Managing Director, Punwac.


She relieves Mr J R Kundal of the additional charge, as per a Press note.


Dogra takes over as PCCF
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 8
Mr A.S. Dogra, IFS, has assumed charge as Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Punjab.

He is the senior-most IFS officer in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. He belongs to the 1970 batch.


Encroachment removed
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 8
The local administration removed the temporary encroachments on both sides of Landran Road and the Town Road here today.

Mr Devinder Singh, SDM, and Mr Amandeep Singh Bhatti, Tehsildar, supervised the whole operation. They asked the traders to remove the illegal sheds in front of their shops. Meanwhile, many traders criticised this action of the administration.


8 held for immoral trafficking

Moga, April 8
The police, in a special drive here, has arrested eight persons, including a husband and wife team, involved in immoral trafficking.

They have been remanded in police custody till April 12 by a judicial magistrate here, under the Immoral Trafficking Act.

District Police chief Varinder Kumar told reporters here that following a definite information, a police party, headed by the DSP raided the house of Arjun Singh, which was being used as a brothel last evening, and caught his wife Swaran Kaur, another woman identified as Paramjit Kaur of Jagraon and other people indulging in immoral trafficking.

He said the police was investigating as to how such immoral trafficking was going on in the town and who were the other persons behind running this brothel. UNI


REC students want Principal to retire
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 8
While criticising the Punjab Minister for Technical Education, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, for his alleged failure to retire the college Principal, Mr H.S. Sagar despite the clear instructions of the Central Government in this regard, the striking students of Regional Engineering College (REC) today burnt the effigy of Mr Sagar on the college complex here to register their protest.

The students, who have been on strike since Thursday, demanded that the college Principal be removed immediately from his post since the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) had already stopped annual budgetary grant for not following its instructions pertaining to the retirement of the REC Principal.

This is to mention here that the MHRD had asked the state government not to give any extension to Mr Sagar and instructed it to appoint a new principal in place of the present incumbent, who was to retire in September last year. But the then Punjab Minister for Technical Education, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, who was exofficio Chairman of the Board of Governors of the REC, ordered the extension to the Principal forcing the MHRD to stop annual grant to the college. Another setback to the college came in the shape of the MHRD’s decision not to accord the status of Deemed University to the REC till it complies with its instructions.

Though the students had held a protest dharna for three hours at the residence of Mr Kaypee here on Saturday for turning a blind eye towards their demand for the removal of the Principal, but the minister had failed to take any action so far. The minister reportedly told the students that he was not aware of the matter and action would follow after properly scrutinising the whole case.

The students alleged that they were unable to concentrate on their studies since the MHRD had been reportedly considering to derecognise the degrees, which would be awarded to them in the next academic session. Interestingly, though Mr Sagar had reportedly submitted his resignation to the Board of Governors on Saturday, but the minister concerned had not accepted the same.


PG college in Ferozepore sought
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, April 8
Most of college-going students in the city, especially those belonging to the rural areas, are unaware of their future prospects.

With no clear priorities, most of them drift through college, wasting precious time and money.

Harmeet Singh, a graduate in arts from the local RSD College, recently secured 57.8 per cent. He could have pursued higher studies, but with no one to guide him at home he is now helping his father and brothers in farming.

Sukhpreet Kaur completed her B.Ed from the Dev Samaj College for Women and wanted to study further. However, no college in the city was offering a postgraduate degree in education. Her parents did not allow her to go to Ludhiana or Chandigarh for further studies and she was married the following year.

Even her in-laws did not permit her to opt for job and her dream to become a teacher is now shattered.

There is not a single government college offering arts or science subjects in Ferozepore city or the cantonment area. The population of both urban settlements is about 4 lakh. The parents who cannot afford to send their children to a private college often have to discontinue their studies.

Interestingly many villages in Ferozepore district do not even have graduate. A survey of a few villages, including Kishore Singhwala, Kalu Aryian, Chak Bhange Wala, Gatti Maata, Pojoke, Maboke, Tibbi Khurd, Tibbi Kalan, Lakha Haji and Jamalke revealed that these too did not have a single male graduate.

Although 70 per cent of the children in these villages go to primary schools, half of them drop out at the middle school level and only 5-10 per cent make it to college. Interestingly, there are girls who are graduate in some of the villages. For example, in Kishore Singhwala village, Devinder Kaur is a graduate. But she too had to leave the village after marriage, thereby leaving her ‘record’ unbroken.

People of the rural areas are unaware of the changing trends in the education system which is why their children rarely have an aim or a goal in life.

The state government too has failed to create awareness among the rural population of the district.

Even though there is an engineering college and a B.Ed. college in Ferozepore, but most of the students studying there are not from the district.

Local population has been demanding a government postgraduate college at Ferozepore exclusively for the local students, but this demand has never been considered by any of the governments.

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