Monday, April 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Sidhu case: probe enters crucial phase
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Investigations in the Punjab Public Service Commission case have entered a crucial phase. Informed sources say that the investigating agency — the Punjab Vigilance Bureau — has got a lot of information about the means used to select candidates by commission Chairman Ravi Sidhu.

The important information has come from one of the middlemen arrested by the police in this case, it is learnt. In fact, the arrested person has proved to be a prized catch. He has provided vital information with regard to the holding of the examinations and the alleged leaking of the papers for monetary consideration to candidates.

According to informed sources, the investigating officials have been stunned by the information they have got about a number of VIPs, including politicians, officers and big businessmen involved in the “racket” of getting their near and dear ones recruited by the PPSC. According to unconfirmed reports, question papers were once brought to the bungalow of an important politician in Sector 9 here where these were provided to certain candidates.

The bureau has also got information, according to sources, about a retired senior police officer who got two close relations selected by the PPSC. It was reported earlier by a national daily that the police officer had played smart and gave fake notes of Rs 500 denomination as bribe for the selection of his relations. That news report was never denied. The case is in the knowledge of all concerned in the Punjab Government. The investigating agency is also expected to interrogate the police officer.

As a large number of persons, including a number of VIPs are expected to face charges in this case, it needs to be handled with care to avoid problems at the time of trial.

Meanwhile, the Vigilance Bureau has summoned experts to check the authenticity of the currency notes worth over Rs 9 crore recovered from the lockers of Ravi Sidhu and members of his family. 


Jagman’s remand extended

Chandigarh, April 21
Jagman Singh, one of the alleged touts of PPSC Chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu, who was booked by the Vigilance Bureau for corruption, was sent in judicial custody by a lower court at Kharar near here till May 4 after he expressed his willingness to become an approver in the case.

Jagman, arrested on April 18, was produced in the court of Judicial Magistrate Roshan Lal Chauhan after his police remand ended this morning.

Later, the court recorded his statement in camera, in which he stated that he wanted to give some secret information regarding the case.

The accused, a close confidant of Sidhu who allegedly spilled beans about bank accounts and lockers of Sidhu and his relatives and the modus operandi of recruitment and selection through the PPSC, had been arrested on the night of April 18 by the Vigilance Bureau who had also recovered Rs 1.28 crore from his Sector 9 residence here.

Jagman was allegedly instrumental in leaking question papers of all the competitive exams conducted by the PPSC. A case had been registered under Section 7, 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, on March 25, following a raid at Sidhu’s official residence here.

The bureau has so far detected assets worth Rs 25 crore, including over Rs 15 crore in bank accounts and lockers, held in the name of Sidhu and his relatives. Four touts, for whom the Bureau had secured non-bailable warrants, are still absconding. UNI


Custody of notes an uphill task

Chandigarh, April 21
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau faces an uphill task of keeping in safe custody about Rs 9.44 crore recovered from bank lockers in connection with the bribery scandal involving PPSC Chairman Sidhu.

The Bureau is facing the task following the modification of a court order that the money, recovered in bundles be kept in safe custody at the District Treasury Office, Ropar. PTI


No decision to cancel PPSC tests, interviews
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 21
Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) Member Amarjit Singh Chawla today clarified that no decision had been taken to cancel the written test and subsequent interviews, including screening tests, held for the posts of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Deputy Superintendent (Jails), Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPOs), District Probation Officer and lecturer recently held by the Commission.

Reacting to a news item published in a section of the press, Mr Chawla, who is a member along with Maj-Gen (retd) G.S. Riar of the Fact-Finding Committee formed by the Commission to look into the selection process adopted by Chairman Ravinderpaul Singh Sidhu (in judicial custody) for these posts, said the the selections if at all, could, probably be cancelled by the government only.

Mr Chawla said moreover as the matter was already before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Commission could not take a decision immediately on the issue. He said the Commission could, however, recommend for a review of various selections but that decision would also be taken at the full Board meeting of the Commission on April 29 when the report of the Fact-Finding Committee would be tabled before it. No decision can be taken before the report was tabled before the Commission, he added.

Mr Chawla disclosed that the two Members, including himself and Maj-Gen Riar, had been deputed by the Commission to look into the full gamut of the procedure adopted by the Chairman in custody to make selections for various posts. He said this had become necessary as the Chairman did not associate the Members with the selection process. He said among the things which were being probed were the printing of the question papers, the process of marking and answersheets and allotment of confidential roll numbers and the process under which the subject experts were chosen for various interviews.

The PPSC Member alongwith senior most Members Harjit Kaur Randhawa and R.C. Gupta have been in the forefront of the struggle to ensure “proper functioning” of the PPSC. Besides having written various letters to the Chairman to associate them with the selection process. Now with Chairman in the dock, his every action is being scrutinised.

The Members have been successful in getting former PPSC Secretary Pritpal Singh transferred from the Commission on charges of having burnt the record of the Commission, including PCS (Executive) paper answersheets without taking the Members into confidence.


Review selections made by Sidhu
Our Correspondent

Batala, April 21
Mr Shambhu Sharma, president state unit of the All India Anti-Corruption and Human Rights Safety Council, has urged the President to get the selections made during the tenure of Mr Ravi Sidhu, Chairman, PPSC, reviewed thoroughly.

While talking to this correspondent here today, he said a huge amount of money had been stashed by certain politicians and bureaucrats of Punjab, Himachal, Delhi and Haryana.


Rs 800 cr duty exemption sought for refinery
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The Punjab Government, which wants the early completion of the refinery project worth Rs 16,000 crore near Bathinda, has urged its promoter, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), to make the refinery operational at the earliest.

The state government has assured all help to the HPCL authorities to expedite work on the project. It will take at least two years for the refinery to be operational.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, will soon meet the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to seek exemption from customs duty worth Rs 800 crore on the machinery to be imported by HPCL for the project. HPCL has asked Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman of the Punjab Economic Renewal Commission, who has been deputed by the Chief Minister to meet the HPCL authorities, to know the latest status of the project, for Capt Amarinder Singh’s meeting with Mr Vajpayee.

After a lunche on meeting with Mr M.A. Tankiwala, Chief General Manager, Mr Ravi Madan, Chief Adviser , Mr R.M.N. Marar, Deputy General Manager, and Mr Ashok Malhotra, Director, Finance, of the project, Mr Singla told TNS from Delhi on the telephone this afternoon that the meeting was fruitful. He discussed all aspects, including problems faced by the project authorities, at the meeting.

Mr Singla said Capt Amarinder Singh would also write to the Finance Minister on the customs duty issue and seek an early meeting with the Prime Minister. Mr Singla said that he had briefed the Chief Minister on the outcome of the meeting with project officials.

A proposal had also been drawn up that the Chairman of HPCL, Mr H. Zutsi, and Capt Amarinder Singh should jointly visit the project site as it would help tie up loose ends and ensure political help from the state government like holding meetings with Union Ministers and the Prime Minister at various stages of the project.

Mr Singla said that as he had “brought this project to Punjab in 1996”, when Mr Harcharan Singh Brar was the Chief Minister, he would concentrate on it the most as it would play a major role in strengthening the state’s economy. There was vast scope for the generation of employment at the project and also in the ancillary units which would come in due course. The claims of the previous SAD-BJP government with regard to the refinery project were baseless, he added.

The Punjab Government had already made a commitment to the HPCL authorities to defer the imposition of sales tax on production by the refinery for 15 years. The annual sales tax from the refinery was expected to be Rs 1,200 crore. Besides, exemption from electricity duty to the project had also been given. Only after 15 years would Punjab start getting an income of Rs 1,200 crore in the form of sales tax from the refinery.

The immediate gain from the project to Punjab would be that nearly 1,400 youth would get direct employment in it and about 7,000 others indirect. HPCL would set up about 500 sale outlets with an investment of Rs 250 crore and wanted land on lease from the state government for this purpose. However, this would not be possible. “ We would like that for marketing purposes, HPCL should manage on its own”, said Mr Singla.

Mr Singla said it had been made clear to the project authorities that the entire work force for the project should be recruited from Punjab. The government was ready to provide help to train the work force.


Race for Pbi varsity VC hots up
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 21
The race for the post of Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University is hotting up, with academicians from Punjabi University and Guru Nanak Dev University in the front line. The post is expected to fall vacant on May 15 after the end of the term of the present VC, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia.

According to sources, seven to eight persons have already been shortlisted by the government from among the 16 to 17 applications received by the Chief Minister.

Most of the names under consideration are from Punjabi and GND universities. A few scholars from Panjab University are also said to be in the race for the post. Among the Patiala scholars, those in the forefront include an FNI scholar, Dr S. S. Bir, who has served in the Department of Botany in Punjabi University, Dr S. S. Dhillon who was a member of the first Indian expedition to Antarctica, a Punjabi litterateur and recent Saraswati Samman awardee, Dr Dalip Kaur Tiwana, a former head of the Department of Geograpy, Dr G. B. Singh, former Principal of the Government Women College G. K. Dhillon, Punjabi University functionary G. S. Arshi, a former Commissioner, Linguistics Minority Commission, Dr Harbhajan Singh Deol, a former Registrar, Dr Ranbir Singh Sarao, Dr Daljit Singh, who is serving in the university, and Dr L. S. Sidhu, who has retired from the Department of Human Biology in the university.

Among the GND University scholars who are reported to be in the race are Dr Harjit Singh, who has retired as Dean Academic Affairs, and is an FNI scholar in chemistry. The others are Dr Hardev Singh Virk of the Physics Department who is scheduled for retirement in June this year and Prof Indu Banga who has worked in the university earlier.

Dr Deepak Manmohan Singh from Panjab University is also being considered, according to sources. A linguistic expert, Dr Harjit Singh Gill, who has retired from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi and is at present a Senior Fellow in the Institute of Advanced Studies in Shimla is also said to be in the race.

According to sources, Dr G. B. Singh from Patiala had earlier played a key role in collecting intellectuals towards the camp of Patiala MP Preneet Kaur in the last Lok Sabha elections. Dr Harjit Singh Gill, besides being an eminent academician, is a relative of Congressman Harcharan Singh Ajnala. The name of Ms Indu Banga has reportedly been suggested to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh by former GND university Vice-Chancellor J. S. Grewal. Dr H. S. Deol, who has been an Akali, like Capt Amarinder Singh earlier, had resigned as Member, Punjab Public Service Commission, after Operation Bluestar and had formed the Sikh Forum with Capt Amarinder Singh at the helm.

Meanwhile, Forum for Educational Action and Reform (FEAR) President Amarjit Singh Dhillon, who has been in the forefront of the agitation against present incumbent, Dr J. S. Ahluwalia, and himself is stated to be in the race for vice-chancellorship but denies the same, while talking to TNS said the submission of applications was not enough to select the new VC. He said the government should only consider that candidate who had an understanding of the ground realities, who knew the real character of the university as well as its teachers and who could remain above politics which has been the bane of the university.


3 lecturers level sexual harassment charge against vice-principal
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 21
As many as three women lecturers of Shri Lakshmi Narain Ayurvedic College, being run by the Shri Durgiana Education Foundation, affiliated to Baba Farid University of Health Sciences have alleged that the Vice-Principal of the college made indecent remarks against girl students and women staff.

In an affidavit, a former safai sevika, has also levelled similar charges against the Vice-Principal, Dr Vibhakar Sharma. The affidavit reads: “Dr Sharma tried to outrage my modesty and made sexual advances”. She alleged that she was forced to resign as she failed to fulfil the wishes of the Vice-Principal. She was appointed for 89 days in 1997 on compassionate grounds after the death of her husband. She served the college for about three years.

However, Mr Santosh Gupta, president of the college management, Dr D.C. Pandey, Principal, and Dr Sharma refuted the charges and claimed that she had been dismissed from service on charges of theft.

In a complaint, faxed to the Governor, the Chairman, Human Rights Commission, and the Vice-Chancellor, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, the three women teachers — Dr Anjlika, Dr Suman Srivastava and Dr Jasbir Kaur — have alleged that Guru Nanak Dev University had already initiated action against Dr Sharma due to his “continuous outrageous behaviour” and was debarred from all remunerative assignments, apart from withdrawing his approval as a teacher for allegedly molesting a student in 1994.

They alleged that despite punitive action taken by the university, Dr Sharma was promoted as Professor. “As a continuation of his mischievous acts he comments on women staff and girls and uses abusive and indecent language.”

It may be mentioned that the college management had already placed three male teachers under suspension on various charges. The management had closed the college indefinitely as students went on a strike against the “arbitrary decision” of the management to suspend the teachers.

Dr D.C. Pandey admitted that the case of Dr Sharma was still pending with the Governor-cum-Chancellor of the university.

Dr Sharma had appealed to the Chancellor that Guru Nanak Dev University had taken an ex-parte decision to withdraw his approval as teacher, apart from debarring him from giving any remunerative assignments. The punitive action was taken on the complaint of a girl that Dr Sharma had tried to outrage her modesty.

However, Dr Sharma described the allegations of “sexual harassment” as a cock and bull story. He said he was above 55 years of age and was on the verge of retirement. He said he was a member of prestigious clubs and other social organisations and hence concocted allegations were levelled against him due to ulterior motives.

Meanwhile, Mr Santosh Gupta, president of the college management, and Dr Pandey, held a press conference at the Services Club here and levelled serious charges against the agitating teachers. The management alleged that the three teachers were placed under suspension as they indulged in indiscipline. Mr Gupta, however, said the management was ready to accept all genuine demands of the teachers and the striking students.

Dr Suresh Chauhan, Dr N.K. Chaturvedi and Dr Amitabh Singh, however, claimed that they were placed under suspension on flimsy grounds and they never indulged in misconduct or destructive activities as alleged in the suspension letters.


Vedanti asks Giani Kewal Singh to surrender
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 21
Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, today appealed to Giani Kewal Singh, former Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, to surrender before the police as the Supreme Court had rejected his bail appeal.

Jathedar Vedanti assured Mr Amarjit Singh, brother of Sharnjit Kaur, daughter-in-law of Giani Kewal Singh who was killed under mysterious circumstances on May 18, 1997, assured that whenever he (Jathedar Vedanti) establishes contact with him (Giani Kewal Singh), he would ask him, to surrender before the police. Mr Amarjit Singh who had come from Sirsa Haryana, urged Jathedar Vedanti to direct Giani Kewal Singh to surrender before the police immediately in the larger interest of the Panth.

Jathedar Vedanti said since the matter was subjudice, he did not want to comment on the case but he would surely persuade him to surrender.

Later, Jathedar Vedanti said that he would direct the SGPC to form a sub-committee to frame rules and regulations for the appointment and removal of Sikh high priests. This committee must submit its report within a month of its formation.

The Jathedar of Akal Takht said that the Sikh clergy would also take up the case of Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple, at the forthcoming meeting of Sikh high priests as he had been absenting himself from the meetings of Akal Takht. He said he would also direct the SGPC chief to persuade Giani Puran Singh to uphold the ‘maryada’ (Sikh tradition) by attending the meetings at Akal Takht. He said Giani Puran Singh should not insist on the ‘hukamnama’ (edict), issued by him in his capacity as Jathedar Akal Takht from Guna in violation of Sikh traditions.

SGPC probe into Tarn Taran clash
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 21
The SGPC has formed a three-member inquiry committee to probe the episode that happened at Tarn Taran on Friday. The city was witness to a clash between followers of Swami Sharaddha Nand Jagriti Sansthan and Sikh organisations over certain words used against Sikh Gurus.

The Committee will submit its report on April 24, the SGPC President said here today.


Cong anti-Sikh, alleges Badungar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 21
The SGPC has labelled the alleged revoking of the National Security Act against Baba Baniara, responsible for acts of desecration, as an anti-Sikh stand taken by the Congress government.

SGPC President Kirpal Singh Badungar in a press note here today stated that the Congress had always pursued anti-Sikh policies. The revoking of the Act had sent wrong signals to the entire Sikh community.


SAD threatens stir
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 21
The present government has crossed all limits while committing atrocities on people and had forgotten democracy. The allegation was levelled against the members of ruling party by a former Punjab Minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, while interacting with sarpanches of villages of the area at his residence today.

He said SAD would not tolerate the atrocities being committed against their workers and leaders by officials allegedly at the behest of the ruling party.

He added that the government was conducting the panchayat election before time, which was against the constitutional norms. He said the sarpanches could go to the high court against the decision.

Mr Garg further said they would launch an agitation against the alleged atrocities of the Congress government against Akali leaders and workers.


Farmers forced to sell sugarcane juice
Jaswinder Paul

Bathinda, April 21
“If my kin and relatives come to know of my profession here they would make fun of me, therefore, I avoid inviting them here and ask them to see me at my native village,” said Pritam Singh, a native of Fatehgarh Sahib district and seller of sugarcane juice in the city.

Pritam Singh is one of those sugarcane sellers of the city who hail from different villages of Punjab and come here, along with their families this time of the year for earning some money. Many of them own land in their native villages, but holdings are so small that these do not produce enough for the entire family.

Ram Saran, another sugarcane seller hailing from Bhuchre village on the Sirhind-Chandigarh road, comes to city every year for two-three months. He said that he and two of his brothers, who are in the city, would earn nearly Rs 20,000 during this period. He said that his uncles and their children till the land back home. Nevertheless, as the holding was small compared to the number of members of the family, some of them had to go to other places for earning some money.

Besides permanent sugarcane juice shops in the city, there are several like these who have fixed small sugarcane crushing machines on tricycles. Nearly, there are 350 mobile and stationary shops in and around the city, which crush sugarcane for juice.

As the “migratory” juice sellers could not set up permanent shops in the city they use mobile crushing machines. One crushing unit, diesel engine and other equipment fitted on the tricycle costs about Rs 22,000. If the things are fine a mobile juice seller could earn up to Rs 100 per day.

Pritam Singh, Ram Saran, Balkar Singh and Ram Rattan said that they told their kin back home that they had big business at Bathinda. He said that they did not want sarcastic comments from their relatives who were in farming. They echoed that it was not possible for them to do labour in the village or nearby city due to social stigma attached to it.

Pritam Singh said that his grandfather owned 55 acres of land in the village but his father and uncles sold a large part of it. He said the land holding decreased but the number of family members increased, forcing them to find some other options of earning livelihood.

They purchase sugarcane from Gidderbaha as it is of better quality. On an average, every juice seller uses 80 quintals of sugarcane per month, which they purchase at a rate of Rs 160 per quintal.

They have to face many problems in the new profession, as they have to compete with the permanent juice sellers, canned juice. Moreover, shopkeepers do not allow them to halt in front of their shops. “Even the price of sugarcane is higher for them. The farmers sell sugarcane at a sugar mill at Rs 100 per quintal but charge them Rs 60 more per quintal. They have no choice but to buy the same,” said Pritam Singh.

The mobile sugarcane juice sellers are convenient for the residents of localities away from main markets where permanent juice shops are not situated. Although they serve the residents in a big way, but sometimes behaviour of customers hurts them.

“I feel hurt sometimes with the rude behaviour of customers and think of going to my village to do farming on whatever land I have in the village. But later when I think of the plight of my cousins and other kin there I again start for the job, said Ram Saran.


Confusion over shifting ammo depot
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 21
There seems to be confusion between the district administration and officials of 17 Field Ammunition Depot over the shifting of the depot from its current location. While the administration was conveyed by the Home Department, Punjab Government, that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had conveyed “in principle” its decision to shift the depot as a special case, the Commandant of the depot has been maintaining that there is no such proposal.

According to a recent letter written by the Deputy Commissioner to the state Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, the Commandant of the depot, Col R.S. Dhillon, has been “conveyed from his head quarters vide letter no. 61212/OS-7 dated March 21, 2002, that no proposal has ever been either submitted or suggested for the shifting of this depot by them”.

The letter to the Chief Secretary was in response to a communication from the state Department of Home Affairs and Justice, dated January 17, 2002, wherein it had been mentioned that the Ministry of Defence, had conveyed “its ‘in principle’ approval as a very special case, for shifting of this depot, provided the state government provides in advance and unencumbered suitable alternative land to the Ministry of Defence on an exchange basis”.

Interestingly, this letter says that the MoD has constituted a four-member committee headed by the Chief Secretary and three senior Army officers to find a suitable site, Colonel Dhillon, according to the Deputy Commissioner, says otherwise. The Deputy Commissioner, in his letter to the Chief Secretary said the administration had “already selected three proposed sites for the depot” and a meeting was also held with Colonel Dhillon in this context. But he had expressed his inability to review the sites.

A meeting of the committee was scheduled to be held on April 10 in Ludhiana, which was later postponed for unspecified reasons. The Deputy Commissioner is learnt to have requested the Chief Secretary to convene a meeting of the committee “so that next action in this direction is taken at the earliest”.

The issue assumes importance as over 4000 families, who have constructed their houses within a 1000-yard radius of the depot, will have to be shifted if the dopot is not relocated. A number of marriage palaces have also come up there. While the matter is pending in the Supreme Court, the Commandant recently issued public notices saying that the process of demolition of these buildings had already been initiated. 


Revised TB programme for 8 Punjab districts from August 15
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
After comfortably meeting the target of conducting over one lakh new sputum tests last year, the State TB Control Society, Punjab is all set to implement the Revised TB Control Programme (RNTCP) in eight fresh districts of Punjab. Implemented in Patiala last year, the programme will now be introduced in Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr, Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ludhiana, Sangrur, Bathinda and Amritsar from August 15, well before the October 2 deadline set by the Central TB Division, Government of India.

It may be mentioned that after the miserable failure of the National TB Control Programme started in 1962, the strategy was revised in 1993. Under the new RNTCP, DOTS strategy (directly observed treatment, short course) was considered as the best. The same strategy implemented in Patiala last year yielded a success rate of 103. 4 per cent, with the State TB Control Society, Punjab conducting 1,14,711 tests as against the given target of 1,10,917 sputum tests.

The Society now plans to extend the strategy to whole of Punjab. As per its latest survey, there are 34,000 TB cases in Punjab, out of which 8,468 are sputum positive. The same will be targeted this year. With preparations for the implementation of the programme in the fore-mentioned districts nearly over, the State TB Control Society, Punjab has formed 29 tuberculosis units in all RNTCP districts. Each such unit, with one medical officer, TB control, called MOCT, will cater to five lakh people.

Giving details of the implementation strategy to The Tribune on Saturday, State TB Officer, Punjab, Dr G.S. Chahal, said, “The networking is nearly over. We will have district TB control societies headed by respective DCs. The Civil surgeon will be the vice chairman of each such society.”

The important part is that 20 MOCTs have already been given training in state tuberculosis demonstration. Meanwhile, all district TB officers have also been trained in Delhi by the visiting WHO Expert, Ms Tone Ringdal, who was present in Chandigarh today. On her fourth visit to the Punjab, Ms Tone will return to Delhi today to hold further training in TB consultancy. Deputed by the WHO for supervision training within the RNTCP, Dr Tone today addressed nine district TB officers of Punjab and 35 MOCTs on supervision techniques to be adopted within RNTCP. The session, held at Punjab State TB Control Society headquarters in Sector 34, was attended by Mr Rajan Kashyap, principal secretary, Punjab, Department of Health and Family Welfare and Dr DPS Sandhu, Director, Health Services,. Punjab.

Speaking to the Tribune after the session, Ms Tone was highly appreciative of Punjab’s reaction to RNTCP. She laid emphasis on DOTS (directly observed treatment, short course) strategy as the biggest prevention of TB. Under this strategy the health worker himself administers dose to the patient. She said, “RNTCP implementation in Patiala is satisfactory. The DOTS strategy is the best because you are reducing the infected load. However, microscopies need to be intensified in Punjab.

Also registration facilities for patients being treated at various stations needs to be improved.” Ms Tone will be submitting her report to the WHO.

Meanwhile, talking to The Tribune about the success achieved in Punjab, Dr G.S. Chahal, State TB Officer, Punjab said, “At every microscopy centre under each TB Unit there will be facility of free sputum test and free medicine for six months. Once the patient is registered, the TB register will have details of his progress, In case of default, our senior treatment supervisor will personally trace him and administer the preventive dose to him. We have renovated laboratories all over the said districts.”

After the, fore-mentioned districts, the Society plans to cover the last eight districts of Punjab by the next year. 


Epidemic feared as garbage stinks
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 21
An epidemic may break out in Sangrur as several parts of the town are stinking with heaps of rotten garbage and overflowing drains dotting the streets and bazaars following the indefinite strike by safai sevaks of the local Municipal Council since April 10.

The safai sevaks along with employees of other wings of the council are on a pen-down and tool-down strike in protest against the non-payment of their salaries for March and non-depositing of their deducted provident fund amount of Rs 40 lakh into their provident fund accounts by the council authorities. The adamant employees stick to their stand that they will not withdraw or suspend the strike till the acceptance of their demands.

A visit of the town reveals heaps of garbage lying in the main streets and bazaars. With the passage of 12 days, these heaps have started stinking to such an extent that one has to cross the area with nose covered. At one or two places, the residents have even burnt the garbage heaps once or twice.

Due to the strike of the safai sevaks, the worsening condition of sanitation in the town is worrying the residents because sewage is continuously overflowing the drains and spilling on to main roads and streets. Besides, the heaps of garbage are increasing everyday.

The residents fear that an epidemic may break out any time due to the accumulation of garbage in different parts of the town if timely steps are not taken by the municipal authorities to end the strike of the safai sevaks. They are also of the view that the district administration should come forward to end this stalemate.

Some prominent residents of the town said the responsibility of the breakout of a possible epidemic would fall on the shoulders of the top brass of the Punjab Government who could not make arrangements to pay the salaries of this section of the society. 


Fire destroys industrial unit
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 21
An industrial unit in Sirhind town was completely destroyed by a devastating fire which broke out early in the morning today. The factory- owners estimated the loss due to the fire in lakhs of rupees.

According to information available the reason for the fire had not yet been ascertained. The owners of Jai Durga Plastic Industry told Ludhiana Tribune that they received a message from a factory worker at about 8 a.m. that fire had broken out in the factory. They said that they immediately rushed to the factory and residents tried their best to control the fire but in vain.

Fire tenders were summoned from Rajpura, Patiala and Mandi Gobindgarh. The fire tenders continued to fight the fire for five hours but nothing could be salvaged including the building of the factory.

Meanwhile, there was a great deal of resentment among the people gathered at the site. They flayed the Municipal Council of Sirhind- Fatehgarh Sahib for not having a fire tender.

It is worth mentioning that about Rs 12 lakh were earmarked by the District Administration for the purchase of fire-tenders out of Rs 50 lakh released to the municipal council by the then Chief Minister during a sangat darshan programme. But the money was diverted to other works by ignoring the repeated instructions of the Deputy Commissioner for purchase of fire-tenders. People have resented the move of diversion of funds and Mr Subhash Sood, a Congress leader, alleged that the money had been diverted just to get commission as it was not possible in the purchase of fire-tenders.


MLA shielding suspects’
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 21
The district police on the complaint of Mr Jasdeep Kaur has registered a case against her husband, Bhupinder Singh, and her sister-in-law, Harvinder Kaur, both residents of Chambalan village, for injuring and trying to murder her.

The suspects are still at large and the complainant is alleging that the Congress MLA from Amloh is shielding them.

Ms Jasdeep Kaur, who is admitted to the local Civil Hospital with burn injuries, alleged that her husband is a drug addict and whenever she tried to stop him from taking drugs he used to thrash her mercilessly and last time he threw her out of the house. She said she then went to her parents’ house at Bhalmajra village. She said on April 9 the Bhalmajra panchyat made a compromise between them. She alleged that her husband and her sister-in-law continued to harass her. One day they beat her up and tied her arms and her sister-in-law sprinkled kerosene on her. She said as soon as her body caught fire she ran out of the house and cried for help. Neighbours informed her parents and her brother reached the village and admitted her to the Civil Hospital, Fatehgarh Sahib.

Her brother alleged though the police had registered a case, the accused had not yet been arrested even the District and Sessions Judge has rejected their bail application. He alleged that the MLA from Amloh was supporting them.


Shun bad aspects of Western culture: Lee
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 21
Dr Surjeet Lee, from the Linguistics Department of Punjabi University, speaking at a seminar here today said negative aspects of the western culture should not influence people.

The seminar, which was organised by the Punjab Lok Sabhayacharak Manch, was attended by intellectuals, and professors, of various universities, artistes, novelists and others.

Dr Lee said it was not possible that a nation or society could remain aloof from the impact of cultures of other societies in this time of globalisation.

He said some kind of check was necessary so that only the positive aspects of western culture could be adopted by the youth.

Prof Gurdial Singh, novelist, said as per a study, the upper middle class was the worst-affected by cultural invasion. He said while adopting the values and lifestyle of other countries, we forget that there were many vices in those countries. He said the crime rate was maximum in the USA.

Mr Atarjeet Singh, president of the manch, said the seminar aimed at creating an awareness about the negative aspects of western culture.

Others who spoke on the occasion included Dr T.R. Vinod, Dr Labh Singh Kheva, Prof Ajmer Singh Aulakh, Dr Satnam Singh, Mr Sukhdev Singh, Prof Gurcharan Singh and Dr Dharminder Sapolia.


Three safai karamcharis die of suffocation
Our Correspondent

Budhlada, April 21
Three safai karamcharis have died here while cleaning a private sewerage tank. Enquiries reveal that Naresh Kumar (35) and his son Vicky (18) were removing the sullage from the tank, nephew of Naresh Kumar was standing outside the tank. 

Naresh Kumar and Vicky attempted to come out of the tank caught hold of the hand of Sushil Kumar. But Sushil Kumar also fell into the sewerage tank and all three died due to suffocation. Their bodies were taken to the Government Hospital, Budhlada for a post-mortem examination. The tehsildar Budhlada reached the place to take stock of the situation.


Celebrate B’day with ‘blood donation’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 21
“Celebrate your birthday with blood donation”. This was the slogan given by local NGO United Welfare Society to motivate the residents for donating blood. Following this the Kandiala family of the city organised a blood donation camp on the birthday of their son Romi today.

At the camp, family members along with 12 other persons donated blood. The volunteers of the NGO helped the family organise the camp. Mr Vijay Bhatt, president of the club, said they launched the campaign so that blood donation could be made a people’s movement. 


Ram Navami celebrated
Our Correspondent

BATALA: A mammoth religious procession was taken out here to commemorate the birth anniversary of Lord Rama. Thousands of residents of the town and nearby villages participated in the procession. The procession started from old Grain Market and passed through the Dera Road, Gandhi Chowk, City Road, Nehru Gate, Chakri Bazar, Gurudwara Kand Sahib, Basanwala Bazar, Quadi Hatti and Khajuri Gate areas of the town. Langars were also served at various places.

FATEHGARH SAHIB: Ram Navmi was celebrated with great enthusiasm in all towns of the district.

The main function was organ- ised at the Sanatan Dharam temple, Sirhind, where Swami Mukta Nand Giri of Kailash Ashram, Rishikesh, performed the bhog ceremony of Ramayan path and unfurled the flag on the annual day of the temple. Pt. Radhey Shamm, head priest, performed the havan and other religious ceremonies. On this occasion, a shobha yatra was taken out and langar was served.



Man found dead near rly crossing
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 21
Bholo, a handpump mechanic, was found dead near the Sirsa railway crossing, near the city, today. The cause of death could not be known. Another unidentified youth was killed when he was accidentally drowned in a canal near the city today. The body was taken out by an NGO. Both bodies were cremated by the NGO, Sahara Jan Seva.


Harvesting boon for poppy husk vendors
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, April 21
The harvesting of wheat in the state seems to have become a blessing in disguise for poppy husk vendors in Rajasthan, near the Punjab border. As the harvesting is picking up in the state, so is the sale of poppy husk from these vends.

To cash on this unprecedented spurt in the demand, the vendors have increased the prices. The poppy husk, which was available at the rate of Rs 170 per kg from the licensee vends till about two weeks ago, is now fetching Rs 200 for the same quantity. In Punjab 1 kg is being sold at a rate ranging from Rs 400 to 600.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the demand of poppy husk had increased manifold, as compared to the last year, as harvesting was mostly being done manually this year. Last year, most of harvesting was done by combine harvesters.

Over the years, it has become a tradition in the state for farmers to give a certain quantity of poppy husk every day to labourers engaged in cutting of wheat. In some of the rural areas, drug peddlers have been selling it right at the doorstep of their customers.

It was also revealed that vends located near some villages, including Kandu Khrea, Malla Rampur Doda and Alipur have started attracting a large number of buyers, apart from addicts, during the past two weeks. On an average, a vend daily gets about 600 customers, mostly from Punjab, as compared to 400 customers it used to get before the start of the harvesting season.

Over the years, these vends have become second home for the addicts from the state. Some of the addicts, who were earlier landlords have now turned paupers as they have exhausted all their assets to arrange money for their daily dose.

Meanwhile, the police in various districts has been put on an alert to check the smuggling of narcotics, including poppy husk into their respective areas. The police is laying special nakas and cultivating informers to nab the smugglers.

When contacted Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, Bathinda, said about 12 cases, against drug peddlers had been registered in this month. He said that two cars which were being used for smuggling, had also been impounded along with considerable quantity of narcotics.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, Moga, said the police had arrested Sikander Singh and seized 1 kg of opium from him, which he was going to sell at Thathi Bhai village to farmers engaged in harvesting. The accused had brought the opium from Rajasthan, he said.


Payment of procured wheat ‘within 48 hrs’
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 21
Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Rural Development and Agriculture Minister, Punjab, assured the farmers that each grain of wheat would be purchased by the government procurement agencies this season. Besides, the government would also ensure the payment of procured wheat within 48 hours, she added.

Mrs Bhattal stated this while visiting grain markets and purchase centres of Khanauri, Andana, Bhullan and Mandvi villages in Lehra Assembly constituency yesterday.

She also stated that the government had made comprehensive arrangements for the purchase of wheat and farmers were not facing any problem. She also asked the authorites of the government procurement agencies to ensure that the farmers should not face any harassment at any level.

Mrs Bhattal also warned the procurement agencies that in case any negligence on their part was brought to her notice by any farmer with regard to purchase of wheat, strict action would be taken against the “erring” officials. She also directed the officers of the mandi board to make appropriate arrangements for the supply of drinking water and shelters for farmers at the purchase centres.


Fire destroys 60 acres of wheat crop
Our Correspondents

Moga, April 21
Standing wheat crop spread over 60 acres was destroyed when it caught fire reportedly following a short-circuit in wires passing over fields at Rania village yesterday.

The farmers whose crops had been gutted demanded compensation from the PSEB for the losses suffered by them.

GURDASPUR: Standing wheat crop spread over more than 30 acres at Bhulle Chak and Bhander villages was destroyed in fire following a short-circuit in wires passing over field on Saturday. The crop belonged to Sadhu Singh of Bhulle Chak village and Joginder Singh of Bhander village.

A tractor was burnt when its owner Paramjit Singh, tried to plough fields near the burning crop to prevent the fire from spreading to other fields. 


7 acres of crop damaged in fire
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, April 21
Standing crop worth around Rs 2 lakh was destroyed in two incidents of major fire near here.

The in charge of the local fire station, Mr B.S. Sidhu, said the crop in around seven acres was destroyed in the fires which broke out along the Kurali-Morinda road and at Chunni.



Sarpanch, spouse arrested
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 21
The police yesterday arrested Mrs Pushpa, sarpanch of Pandori village, 9 km from here and her husband for a bid to embezzle Rs 40,000 from the panchayat funds. A case under section 182 of the IPC has been registered against the accused.

Mr B.K. Uppal, SSP said here today that the couple falsely complained to the Sadar police station here yesterday that four motorcycle-borne persons in police uniform with stengun stopped them near Naushehra Bahadur while they were on their way to their village and snatched Rs 73,000 and gold ornaments including mangal sutra and ear-rings from them. The complainant said that the sarpanch withdrew Rs 40,000 from local Punjab National Bank, took Rs 30,000 from their relations at Dhariwal and Rs 3000 were in their possession and the sarpanch was wearing mangal sutra and ear-rings.

Mr Uppal said that police party searched for the culprits but in vain. When the police visited Naushehra Bahadur and asked the couple why they were adopting the longer route to reach their village Pandori. The couple fumbled for reply. 


Held for bid to rape
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 21
The Phagwara police today arrested Mohinderpal of the nearby Gandwan village under Sections 376 and 511, IPC, on a charge of attempting to rape a minor girl of the neighbourhood.

A press note by Mr Gurmel Singh, SHO, Sadar police station, said this evening that the 55-year-old Mohinderpal had tried to rape the girl on April 18 and had absconded since.


3 held, let off
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 21
Two men, one claiming himself to be a journalist of a Himachal newspaper, were caught with a woman last night on the Guru Nanak Dev University campus. The security staff on duty caught the three near the boys’ hostel. All three were let off after a severe reprimand by the university security staff. The three were handed over to their respective families.


Hotels as dhabas evade ST in crores
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 21
If planning to set up a hotel or a restaurant and also want to save Sales Tax running into crores just run the restaurant or hotel under the title of a dhaba.

It sounds unbelievable but many “intelligent” hoteliers or restaurant owners have been running well-furnished, spacious eating joints and evading Sales Tax amounting to crores by naming the establishments as “dhabas”, even though these restaurants and hotels did not fit into the official and the lesser known definition of a dhaba.

Turning a blind eye to the large scale evasion of Sales Tax by officials concerned has been the single largest factor behind the mushrooming of hundreds of roadside ‘dhabas’, offering all facilities available at good hotels and restaurants, in Punjab in last one decade.

Investigations revealed that it has been common for any hotelier and businessman, intending to set-up a hotel or restaurant, to circumvent established procedures to evade tax, by naming his establishment as a ‘dhaba’, and this has been going unchecked under the very nose of the Sales Tax Department. Hundreds of such well-furnished ‘dhabas’ have been serving thousands of people daily on roadside and in big and busy markets of all major cities of Punjab including Jalandhar, Amritsar, Patiala, Ludhiana, Hoshiarpur and Bathinda, though, the official definition prescribed that a ‘dhaba’ (generally on roadsides) any food outlet would be considered a ‘dhaba’ if it was running from a shed or a kutcha structure and served food, cooked in front of customers, in the open. But in practice none of the many food outlets was heeding this definition as all big ‘dhabas’, which came up in the past about one decade, boast of facilities — ACs, air coolers, water coolers, huge buildings, nice seating and even aquariums and well-furnished rooms — in most cases, matching three-star hotels.

A round of such hotels, with the tag of ‘dhabas’ on the GT Road, Model Town, Adarsh Nagar, Shastri Market of Jalandhar and adjoining townships revealed that their daily turnover ranged between Rs one to Rs five lakh, but still these were named ‘dhabas’, allegedly to circumvent tax law by the owners, usually politically influential people.

A number of Sales Tax officials confided that though under norms, ‘dhabas’ were exempted from the sales Tax, owners of hotels and restaurants ran the outlets because usually they had powerful political clout. And this sounded true, as this correspondent, saw a number of pictures of owners of these “dhabas” with powerful people like ministers and chief ministers, displayed inside such food outlets in and around Jalandhar. “Actually, we know that the daily turnover of some of such ‘dhabas’ crossed the Rs four lakh mark, still, we cannot do anything as either they don’t give receipts to customers or they try to force us with political and bureaucratic might”, said an official on the condition of anonymity.

Even certain three-star or good hotels of Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and others towns, on one hand, according to Excise and Sales Tax Department sources, were evading Sales Tax by booking marriage functions, birthday parties, in ‘kutcha’ receipt books, which conceal more and also offer small discounts to please customers. “Customers are also to blame in this case, since they either don’t press for receipt or they satisfy themselves with fake receipts,” said Mr H.S. Nanda, Divisional Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Jalandhar. He said that his department would try bringing such ‘dhabas’ in the Sales Tax net.


Live concerts in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Pepsi has announced a series of seven live music concerts in Punjab as part of its unique musical talent hunt in the state “Pepsi Banjaa Staara Yaraa Contest”.

Twentyfour quarter-finalists of the contest – divided into groups of six each - will perform live at four venues – Khalsa School, Bathinda (April 22), Guru Nanak College ground, Moga (April 24), Roshan Grounds, Hoshiarpur (April 26) and Sun City, Amritsar (April 28), based on which eight semi-finalists will be chosen. The contestants will be judged by well-known musical artistes such as Harbhajan Mann, Gursewak Mann, Chandan Dass, Paramveer Singh, Atul Sharma, Harry Anand, Romy Gill, Shankar Sawhney and Dabbu Malik.

The semi-finals and the final will also involve live performances by the selected contestants. All rounds of the contest will be telecast on the ETC Channel (Punjabi).

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