Monday, February 10, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Amarinder meets MPs today
Shiromani Akali Dal to hold ‘rasta roko’
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 9
As the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, meets Members of Parliament here tomorrow, the Badal-led SAD will hold a “rasta roko” agitation in the state.

While the Chief Minister aims to draw up a strategy to resolve pending issues of the state with the Centre, the Akalis will block major roads in pursuance of their ‘’people-oriented’’ 15-point agenda of October 20.

If Punjab is stuck on fiscal/economic reforms and development for want of adequate support from the Centre, a major part of the blame must be apportioned to the ministers. They seldom meet the Central ministers concerned or take up the unimplemented agenda related to fiscal/economic issues. The MPs too are yet to brace up to the ground realities and plead Punjab’s case for shifting to fast-track development.

On other hand, by its inaction, the ruling Congress is inadvertently yielding ground to the Akalis, who repeatedly target the government for its agenda of “injustice, tyranny and repression”, as Mr Badal puts it.

The agenda for the MPs’ meeting is almost a repeat of the one circulated to them earlier. It covers several aspects of governance, including seeking a special economic package for revival of industry, as available to neighbouring states. The MPs will be urged to take up agriculture-oriented issues like early announcement of a remunerative minimum support price for wheat. Punjab has sought Rs 790 per quintal, while the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices is against any hike over that of last year’s Rs 620 per quintal.

The problems of the border districts, in terms of roads and bridges and compensation for hardship due to troops’ deployment, will again be reiterated. Financial matters like exempting states from contributing their share of 25 per cent even in the centrally sponsored schemes will also be taken up, besides reiterating that the Centre must reimburse Punjab to the tune of Rs 4,342 crore it spent on foodgrain procurement. Punjab is also fighting for a quick movement of foodgrain stocks and relief from the sugar crisis because of a huge stock and pending payment to sugarcane growers Punjab is yet to get its share of “relief” for fighting drought in kharif-2002.

Punjab is also stuck on old wheat stocks since 1997-98, which are becoming unfit for human consumption. Markfed proposal to avail of the Open Market Sale Scheme of the Centre, which if MPs pursued, would enable clear the stocks and result in huge savings to the state procurement agencies. This will clear the stock’s of 1998-99 to 2000-01, which had been “rejected” for takeover by the Food Corporation of India.

Punjab is keen that MPs take up the issue of setting up a medical education grants commission on the lines of the University Grants Commission or All-India Technical Education Council for funding of medical education in all states. Till such time, the UGC be urged to create a special Medical Education Cell.

Narco-terrorism is another serious problem posing a threat to Punjabi youth and the state wants the MPs to impress upon the Centre to help curb the menace of drug abuse. There are, other issues like the release of pending money to the state, as per the recommendations of the 10th and 11th Finance Commissions or funds due under the centrally sponsored schemes. Under this the Centre owes to Punjab over Rs 600 crore. Even under the additional central financial assistance scheme, 2002-03, the Centre owes Rs 250 crore.

Meanwhile, industrialists of the state are due to have a meeting with the Principal Secretary, Finance, Mr K R Lakhanpal, who holds the additional charge of industries and commerce tomorrow. He will deliberate on the much delayed industrial policy.

Mr Lakhanpal told TNS that a policy to be effective and implementable it must be time-tested and as per established rules. It has to reflect the views of all players, private and government, to help the latter to act as a “facilitator”. The administrative departments will be consulted and the policy recast.

The industrial policy will either be announced before the next Budget session or alongside the Budget.


PSEB, govt clarifications contradictory
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 9
In an endeavour to dispel the impression that raids conducted on industrial units belonging to the family members of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal were not “politically motivated”, both the Punjab Government and Punjab State Electricity Board have come out with yet another set of separate clarifications, without realising the factual contradictions therein.

The Punjab Government claimed that 67 industrial units were inspected in Jalandhar alone that day. These included five units belonging to the family members of the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister.

On other hand, the PSEB said that a total number of 236 connections of various categories of consumers — industrial, commercial and domestic — were checked in Jalandhar city, Jalandhar cantonment and Ludhiana as a part of the regular exercise to check power theft. Of these, 17 violations were noticed in Jalandhar and 50 in Ludhiana.

A fine of Rs 26 lakh was imposed as penalty on the basis of these checkings.

The Punjab Government maintains that 220 of these connections were checked in Ludhiana and 67 units in Jalandhar, thus contradicting the number given by the PSEB in its written clarification.

Both denied the allegation of victimisation, saying that politicisation of the issue was “unwarranted, incorrect and sheer political propaganda”.


Factories not sealed: CM’s kin
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 9
The Dhumal family has denied that any of its factories had been sealed by the PSEB authorities.

Mr Rup Singh Dhumal, elder brother of the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Prof Prem Kumar Dhumal, and Managing Director of the local Sant Valves, said none of the factories belonging to the family had been sealed. “We had not created any obstruction in the work of PSEB officials.

Moreover, we had forewarned them that they should not take any action under political pressure. We have received no notice from the PSEB so far,” said Mr Rup Singh Dhumal.


Hospitals cock a snook at PPCB
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 9
Health institutions are reportedly flouting the Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998. Many government hospitals are still operating without the authorisation of the prescribed authority, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), despite the fact that hospitals with more than 50 beds had to obtain authorisation from the PPCB till December 31, 2001, and those with less than 50 beds and treating more than 1,000 patients per month till December 31, 2002.

To get authorisation from the PPCB, it was mandatory for the health institutions to either make their own arrangements for the disposal of bio-medical waste or to avail the central facility installed by the municipal corporation in Ludhiana. After December 31, 2002, even the municipal authorities had been prohibited to lift untreated waste of these institutions. Moreover, any contravention to these rules by any institution is punishable under Section 15 of the environment (Protection) Act, 1986, which includes imprisonment for five years with fine up to Rs 1 lakh, or both.

Talking to TNS, Mr P.K. Garg, Environmental Engineer of the Sangrur region of the PPCB, said in Sangrur district they had received applications for authorisation from 82 private health institutions and 17 government hospitals while 122 private and 17 government hospitals had been identified to implement these rules. He said though most of the private institutions had attached proof of joining the central facility in Ludhiana, yet none of the government hospitals had done so.

Mr Garg said in the absence of joining the central facility or creating its own facility, the government hospitals would not be granted authorisation. He said action would be taken against the “erring” institutions once the applications were processed.

Dr Suresh Singhal, Deputy Medical Commissioner (DMC), Punjab Health Systems Corporation, Sangrur, said all 13 hospitals under the corporation in the district had applied for authorisation by depositing the requisite fee, but without attaching proof of joining the central facility. He said an MoU had been signed by the Punjab Health Systems Corporation with the central facility in Ludhiana. However, the contract was yet to be signed at the individual level by the hospitals. For the time being, the bio-medical waste generated in the hospitals was being buried in deep pits at the civil hospital.

Regarding the implementation of the bio-medical waste (Management and Handling) Rules, Dr Surinder Singla, state secretary of the Punjab unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), said private health institutions had taken the required steps for the disposal of bio-medical waste, whereas government hospitals were yet to do so.


Suspended Tehsildar held in church land scam
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, February 9
The police today arrested Subhash Padam, who had been suspended as a Tehsildar and was allegedly the main accused in the multi-crore church land scam, for amassing property disproportionate to his known sources of income.

According to sources, the police had registered a case last month under Sections 420, 467, 458, and 471 and 120-B of the IPC against Subhash and arrested Bhag Mal Lambardar, an attesting witness of a fake registration deed. Subhash was also booked under Sections 12 and 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

On the recommendations of Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, the Financial Commissioner, Revenue, Punjab, suspended the Tehsildar on February 5.

The Tribune had highlighted the irregularities.

Mr Varinder Kumar, district police chief, said Subhash had purchased property worth lakhs of rupees and was operating various bank accounts and lockers.

The church land scam came to light last year.

The sources said before Partition a large number of churches were managed by the Ecclesiastical Department of the provincial government and since the department was closed, the government handed over all churches along with the building and cemeteries to the church authority in 1948.

According to the police, some influential persons, allegedly on the basis of fake documents, executed a sale deed of 72 kanals of the total over 90 kanals belonging to the church, a part of which was used as a graveyard by Christians. The same deed was executed on December 5 last year for Rs 29.25 lakh. While the value of the land was reported to be in crores.

The police pleaded for a police remand of the accused before Mr Bhajan Ram, Sub Divisional Judicial Magistrate-cum-Duty Magistrate, here today on the ground that more bank accounts and lockers in the name of the accused and his relatives were to be located.

The Magistrate remanded the accused in one day police custody.

The police said an accomplice of Subhash was yet to be arrested and he had already applied for anticipatory bail. The police had reportedly recovered Rs 52,436, gold jewellery worth Rs 1.9 lakh and keys of bank lockers from the house of the suspended Tehsildar.


AITUC opposed to PSEB privatisation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 9
The All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) has said it will not allow the Punjab Government to privatise the PSEB, Punjab Roadways and other public sector undertakings.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, the general secretary of AITUC, Mr Gurudas Gupta, said Punjab was the only state in the country which had started the process of privatisation and disinvestment in various PSUs.

The decision was anti-people. While the state government was not paying any attention to revive 44 per cent sick industries, it was moving fast to privatise the existing profit earning units, he added.

Dr Joginder Dayal, secretary of the state unit of the CPI, and Mr Bant Singh Brar, secretary of the state unit of AITUC, were also present at the press conference. He said AITUC would hold demonstrations to oppose it. Mr Gupta who visited Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar to mobilise workers for participation in the march to Parliament on February 26, said because of the anti-people economic policies of the union government, six lakh industrial workers had become unemployed.


Wheat yield to touch 140 lakh tonnes: Bhattal
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 9
Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, today said if the weather continued to be favourable, the yield of wheat was expected to touch 140 lakh tonnes, even as the crops of fruits and vegetables have suffered extensive damage due to the cold wave. Mrs Bhattal, while talking to newsmen here, said the Centre had not announced the minimum support price wheat as yet while the same should have been declared before the sowing the wheat. She added that the MSP of wheat should be increased to Rs 760 per quintal.

She claimed that the Punjab Government had made a long-term sustainable plan to diversify agriculture where in the farmers were sure of getting quality seeds and insecticides. She said the Bt cotton was still being tried in Punjab and added that it would be accepted or rejected only after the recommendations of experts.

Before leaving for Kot Shamir village, she was given a memorandum by the president, Punjab Pardesh Beopar Mandal, wherein traders alleged that the Congress had backtracked from poll promises on octroi abolition, hassle-free trade and reduction of paper work for traders. While addressing an impressive gathering at the village in connection with a sports meet organised by Bhai Kanhaiya Sports Club, she said sports provided the right channel to utilise the energy of the youth.

She laid the foundation stone of the grain market, for which the village panchayat donated 6 acres of land and gave a grant of Rs 15 lakh for the same. She returned the Rs 50,0000 gift announced by organisers of the mela and urged the youth to contribute to the development of the state. Mr Gurjant Singh Kuttiwal, and Mr Sher Singh Gagowal, both MLAs accompanied Mrs Bhattal.


Rs 240-cr budget for pension schemes
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 9
The Punjab Government has filled 4,149 of the 5,623 vacant posts in various departments as per the directions in the welfare of handicapped Act 1995 in which 3 per cent quota had been reserved for the physically challenged. Presiding over a state-level seminar at Bachat Bhavan here today, the Social Security Minister, Punjab, Mr Santokh Singh, said the backlog had been filled according to the Act. The two-day seminar was organised by the Punjab Physically Handicapped Association.

The minister said the state government would spend Rs 240 crore on various pension schemes in the current financial year for 6.5 lakh beneficiaries, which also include 42,000 pensioners under the disabled category. Besides, Rs 10 lakh had been spent for providing stipend to children of this category.

The minister said 1.08 lakh old-age pension cases had been found bogus during a special survey conducted by the state government recently which were facilitated by the previous Badal government. He pointed out that there was an extra burden of Rs 26-crore on Punjab revenue due to these bogus pensions. Giving the details of the schemes for the physically challenged, the minister said the Punjab Government would provide liberal loans up to Rs 5 lakh at a minimum interest rate through the SC Land Development and Finance Corporation for self-employment to these people.

Mr Santokh Singh said the Act, which provides many facilities to the physically challenged, would be implemented in the same manner and a special seminar would be organised by the Social Security Department in the first week of March to educate the concerned people. He said some new directions had been given to the PWD and other departments concerned that special facilities may be provided for the physically challenged. He said three rehabilitation centres were being run in the state for the physically challenged.

He said a two-day special training would be provided to 31,000 women panchayat members by the Social Security Department besides Rs 62 lakh to educate them about their rights. He announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for the association. He also distributed tri-cycles to the handicapped persons on the occasion.


Ardas divas for Bhuller held
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 9
“A peaceful struggle for the release of Prof Davinderpal Singh Bhuller will continue till the mother is resolved,” Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, announced at the ardas divas held for Professor Bhuller at Diwan Hall, Manji Sahib, in the Golden Temple complex here today. Giani Vedanti in a brief speech said, “Death penalty to Professor Bhuller is a Sikh issue and this is the first phase of the struggle for his discharge, which will continue.

The ardas was performed by Bhai Dharma Singh, granthi, Darbar Sahib, in the presence of Jathedar, Akal Takht SGPC members and members of Sikh organisations.

The chairman of the Prof Davinderpal Singh Defence Committee, Justice Ajit Singh Bains, in a statement said a delegation of human rights organisations and Sikh bodies would submit a memorandum to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Union Home Minister L.K. Advani in this regard.

Justice Bains said a signature campaign would also be started for the release of Professor Bhuller. Petitions were being sent to every village in Punjab for starting the campaign with the help of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee.

Justice Bains gave a call to the Sikh organisations to not hold separate protests in support of Professor Bhuller. He said a stronger line of a massive joint protest would be adopted if these peaceful demonstrations failed to move the President of India, Dr A.P.J. Kalam.

Earlier, bhog and kiran were organised after an akhand path for Professor Bhuller, which started on February 7.


Bitta lashes out at Hanspal
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 9
Former Indian Youth Congress President and Anti-Terrorist Front Chairman Maninderjit Singh Bitta has condemned Punjab Pradesh Congress President H.S. Hanspal for pleading for grant of clemency to Devinderpal Singh Bhullar who was recently awarded the death sentence for his role in a bomb blast in New Delhi in which a number of persons were killed and many injured, including Bitta.

Mr Bitta, who was addressing a press conference here yesterday along with front district president Harpal Singh, also urged Congressmen ‘to wear bangles’ if they were so afraid that they could not explain the credentials of Bhullar to people.


Irish ‘rebels’: SAD (A) to hold service
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 9
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) will hold a service in the memory of the Irish soldiers, who sacrificed their lives for liberty in the lesser known rebellion against the British. One thousand Irish soldiers had laid a siege of Jalandhar Cantonment and declared it the seat of “Free Irish govt-in-exile: in the summer of 1920.”

The Irish soldiers-turned-freedom fighters belonging to the Connaught Rangers were part of the British Armed Forces.

They had rebelled against the British after news reached them that their brethren back home were being tormented by the British.

The mutiny went on till November 1920 when supplies depleted and when disease afflicted a number of soldiers, followed by capture of their leader Jim Daley, who was shot dead by a British firing squad in November 1920. Mr Phillip McDonagh, Ambassador of Ireland, also visited barracks of soldiers during his visit to Jalandhar last month.

Following The Tribune published a story in this respect on January 30, SAD (A) chief Simranjit Singh Mann wrote to Mr McDonagh wishing to hold a commemoration service in the memory of those who died for liberty and freedom.

Mr Mann said the service to be held if approved by the Irish government.

The rebellion of the Irish unit is a landmark in our Punjab history and our party is very interested in learning more about it,” said the letter. Mr Mann also urged the Ambassador, he should send a book to him on the rebellion of the Irishmen in the Connaught Rangers in Jalandhar.

Mr Mann said The Tribune article inspired him to correspond with the Irish Ambassador.

He said he was also corresponding with Mr McDonagh on human right treaties of the UN which the Indian state was “not signing”.


Technical error blurs youths’ Army dream
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, February 9
Youths belonging to Sikh Mazhabi and Sikh Ramdasia castes, aspiring to join the Sikh Light Infantry, have been facing problems as these posts though are reserved for the Sikh Mazhabi and Sikh Ramdasia castes but the caste certificates being issued to them by the government officials concerned do not include word ‘Sikh’ with their castes Mazhabi and Ramdasia.

This fact came to light here during the ‘satellite recruitment rally’ organised by the Army here on Thursday at the ITI grounds. The turnout at the rally was low as a number of aspirant youths had to go back as they were ‘ineligible’ due to this technical error. Some aspirants told this correspondent that though they had been urging the officials concerned to issue them caste certificate showing their caste as “Sikh Mazhabi” or “Sikh Ramdasia”, the officials had been refusing to do so as in a Punjab Government notification No. 113-WG-51 dated January 15, 1951, signed by Mr M.R. Sachdeva, then Chief Secretary, Punjab, and circulated to all administrative secretaries vide letter No. UO No. 3641WG-1-51 dated June 2, 1951 mentioning certain castes for the purpose of issuing Scheduled Caste Certificates the world Sikh had not been mentioned with the castes Mazhabi and Ramdasia. However, some persons had manipulated to get the word ‘Sikh’ added in their caste certificate. Ironically, about 34 years ago, the then Secretary, Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes, Government of Punjab, vide letter number 5836-6 SW-69/26062 dated November 26, 1969, had clarified that keeping in view the convenience of the persons the word ‘Sikh’ could be added to the castes Mazhabi or Ramdasia as it did not in any way affect a caste certificate. But till now the Sikh Majhabi and Sikh Ramdasia youths have been suffering due to the adamant attitude of the officials concerned.

Brig Ajay Pahwa, DDG (Recruitment), North, while talking to this correspondent said this minor ‘technical problem’ had been causing inconvenience to both the Army and the unemployed youths aspiring to join the Army.

Lieut-Col Jernail Singh, vice-president, Ex Servicemen Cell (PPCC), Punjab, while talking to this correspondent said he would take up the issue with the local Deputy Commissioner, Chaudhary Santokh Singh, Social Welfare Minister and the CM, Capt Amarinder Singh, so that the necessary amendments in the notification could be made for the convenience of the unemployed youths. 


Sugar mill to be set up in Kapurthala
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, February 9
Rana Gurjit Singh, a local Congress MLA, has announced that a sugar mill will be set up in the Dona area of the Kapurthala constituency soon to boost the morale of cane-growers of the area.

Addressing a meeting of prominent citizens, members of voluntary organisations, lawyers, municipal councillors, doctors and educationists in Jagatjit Club here yesterday Rana Gurjit Singh said a technical college would also be opened at Dham village on the Kapurthala-Subhanpur road. He also announced the opening of a co-educational commerce, science school and college in Kapurthala town. For this purpose he announced to give Rs 10 lakh.

Rana Gurjit Singh also admitted that Jagatjit distillery, Hamira, was spreading pollution in the area. He directed the Deputy Commissioner to take up the issue with the mill management for stoppage of pollution.

Rana Gurjit Singh announced to give Congress ticket to persons with clean image persons in the elections to local municipal council.

Rana said a voluntary organisation had come forward under the leadership of Mr Inderbir Singh, a Congress leader, to undertake the repair of buildings of the local Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia Government College and local Government Randhir Senior Secondary School. He urged the non-resident Indians who studied in these institutions to come forward and donate liberally for this noble cause.

The meeting was convened at the initiative of Mr Harvinder Singh, an advocate and Congress leader, to apprise the local MLA of the grievances being faced by residents of Kapurthala town.


Second phase of polio drive ends
Tribune Reporters

Hoshiarpur, February 9
Punjab Health and Family Welfare Minister Romesh Chander Dogra inaugurated the second phase of the pulse polio programme by administering polio drops to children below the age of five at the local Civil Hospital today. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Dogra said polio drops were being given to more than 36 lakh children up to the age of five in the state.

About 17,000 teams consisting of 70,000 employees along with members of various voluntary organisations, sarpanches and social workers administered polio drops to children in rural areas, urban areas, bus stands, railway stations and slum areas.

Dr Devinder Singh Sandhu, Director, Health Department, Punjab, said polio was still existing in nine underdeveloped countries of the world and India was one of them.

Dr M.L. Kakkar, Civil Surgeon, Hoshiarpur, said polio drops had been administered to 2,14,000 children in Hoshiarpur district.

AMRITSAR: A large number of children under the age of five were given polio drops during the second phase of the pulse polio programme here on Sunday. As many as 2000 teams had been formed for the second phase.

BATHINDA: The second round of the pulse polio campaign was completed here on Sunday. Thousands of children up to the age of 5 were administered polio vaccine drops by health workers and volunteers of NGOs. The campaign was launched here by Dr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, and Mr Surinder Singla, MLA, by administering drops to kids.

SANGRUR: During the second phase of the pulse polio campaign, polio drops were administered to more than two lakh children below the age of five at 1068 booths by 35 mobile teams in Sangrur district on Sunday.

Dr J.R. Bansal, Civil Surgeon, Sangrur, said the drops would also be administered to the children who could not be covered on Sunday by teams in a door-to-door campaign during the next two days.


Don’t form corpn, say staff of Supplies Dept
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 9
Employees of the Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Department have threatened to launch a “do-or-die” agitation if the government makes a move to form a corporation after dismantling the department. The employees, claiming that they were not in any way responsible for the poor state of the department, said they would seek the help of associations of employees of other departments, who were also suffering due to “wrong policies” of the government, for the agitation.

Mr Gurjant Singh Grewal, state senior vice-president of the Food and Civil Supplies Department Ministerial Staff Union, said members of different political parties misused the money of the department due to which it was in a financial loss. He was addressing a meeting of employees of the department here yesterday. He alleged that vested interests were misleading the people and were advocating the formation of a corporation in place of the department without taking into account the ground realities.


Cosmetic mammoplasty ‘becoming popular’
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 9
Dr Kulwant Singh Bhangoo, Assistant Professor Plastic Surgery, State University of New York, at a seminar organised by Jalandhar Surgical Forum said here today that mammoplasty for the reconstruction of breasts following a disease was gaining popularity in India. Women usually feel low after surgical removal of breast following a disease, he said, adding that now it had become possible for surgeons to create a natural-looking breast. “Breast reconstruction can be done by using the patient’s tissues from the abdomen by the TRAM flap technique. Where skin is inadequate, temporary device tissue expander is inserted first and inflated to expand the skin,” Dr Bhangoo added.

On mammoplasty techniques for augmenting breasts, Dr Bhangoo said that saline implants can be inserted via small incisions in the armpit, around the nipple or in the breast fold. There are inconspicuous and enhanced contours of the women who have complexes due to small breasts. The technique is also used to correct the size of breasts after parturition and to balance difference in breasts’ size,” he maintained. Dr Bhangoo said that deformities like deep creases form, between the nose and mouth, folds and fat deposits appear around the neck can be corrected through cosmetic surgery.


MLA takes up traders’ cause
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 9
In an unprecedented move, the local MLA and Chairman of high-powered finance committee, Punjab, Mr Surinder Singla, took up the matter of taking a bribe of Rs 2,000 from a trader by a government official at the sales tax information collection centre (ICC), Doomwali in the district, with the Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, sought action against him.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that Mr Singla, who talked to Mr Ratra on phone last evening, said he would submit proof to establish the fact that officials of sales tax departments had started harassing traders at ICCs on the pretext of exim forms, which was yet to be introduced by the state government.

Yesterday evening, a section of the industrialists met Mr Singla and lodged a complaint to him that sales tax officials deployed at ICCs had started harassing them for submitting exim forms in connection with the transactions of goods being made by them. They alleged that though they had started submitting exim forms despite the fact that state government was yet to introduce the same, they were forced to give bribe to the officials.

They also alleged that sales tax officials had started selling the exim forms despite the fact that the department was bound to supply the same to the traders free of cost. They added that they had brought the matter to the notice of the Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner (AETC), Bathinda, Mr M.S. Kundlas.

Mr Kundlas, when contacted, said he would enquire into the matter tomorrow. He added that first the official who had harassed the traders and taken bribe from them, would be identified and suitable action would be taken against him.


Denny wins dog show trophy
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 9
Hundreds of dog lovers, particularly, youngsters, swarmed the local Guru Gobind Singh Stadium to have a look at more than 200 pedigreed dogs of varied breeds that participated in the annual dog show organised by the Kohinoor Kennel Club.

The star attraction of the event was Denny, a two-year-old stout St Bernard, imported by Harnek Singh of Sunam in Sangrur district from Russia last year. Talking to TNS, Harnek Singh, who is a farmer, said Denny loved porridge, meat, chappatis and soyabean cakes.

Similarly, Amritsar-based dog lover Karaj Singh, the owner of Fips, a brown German Shepherd, said it was great care and proper food which made his pet healthy and brainy.

Later, the prizes to the winners were given away by Mr R. Sandhu, Commissioner, Jalandhar Division, while the event was inaugurated by Mr Vijay Chopra, Chief Editor, Punjab Kesri Group of Newspapers.

Among others who were present on the occasion included Mr Davinder Singh Babbu, president of the Punjab Youth Congress, Dr S.S. Bhatti, club president, Mr Chander Gaind and Wg Cdr P.P.S. Bains, club Chairman.


Fire in thermal plant, one hurt
Tribune News Service

Lehra Mohabbat (Bathinda), February 9
A major fire broke out in the generation room of unit No. 2 of Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant here this evening as oil allegedly leaked out from the oil tank or pipes and caught fire.

One fireman Charanjit Singh, a fireman who tried to break the glass of the enclosure in which the fire broke out, was injured when a piece of glass hit his face and made a deep cut. Charanjit Singh has been admitted to Civil Hospital, Rampura Phul, where his condition is stated to be stable.

Information gathered by TNS from the spot revealed that had the oil tank caught fire, it would have resulted in a big disaster as about 40 members of technical staff were working in the unit No. 2 and there was about 2000 litres of oil in the tank when the fire broke out.

Mr Thind, Chief Engineer, GHTP, who was on the spot to supervise the fire-fighting operation, said the fire was brought under control in about an hour. He added that both units had been shut for safety.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner and Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, who also reached the spot, said an inquiry could be held into the incident only after the GHTP authorities approach them.

Mr Thind ruled out any sabotage in the incident.


EPF scam: action sought against plant officials
Our Correspondent

Ropar, February 9
The All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) has demanded action against those officials of the Ropar Thermal Plant (RTP) who were allegedly responsible for the EPF scam.

The general secretary of the AITUC, Mr Gurdass Dass Gupta, told newsmen here yesterday that the workers’ union would take up the matter of the EPF scam with the Central Provident Found Commissioner.

Mr Gupta was here to address a gate rally of workers at the RTP.

He said the rally was aimed at motivating workers to oppose the economic policies of the government.

The government privatisation policies decided to jointly oppose these. In this context about 25,000 workers would march to Parliament House on February 26.


‘Declare cow a national animal’
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 9
Swami Virendranand Giri, state president of the Rajasthan Sadhu Samaj (Jaipurwale), has urged the Prime Minister Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to declare cow as a national animal, and impose a ban on cow slaughter in the country.

Swami Virendranand, in a press statement here, said till the cow was not declared a national animal, any ban on cow slaughter could not be implemented in an effective manner.

Swami Virendranand said though there was a BJP-led government at the Centre, but Hindu organisations like the Vishva Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and the RSS were not serious about preventing cow slaughter.


Tips to cope with stress given
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, February 9
The six-day national interaction programme for senior police officers and paramilitary forces on “Stress Management for High Stress Managers” was held at Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Police Academy here from February 3 to 8. Officers of the rank of Additional DGPs, IGPs, DIGs Commandants and SPs attended it. Valedictory address was delivered by Mr Joginder Singh, former Director, CBI.


Councillor’s son held for hunting sambar
Our Correspondent

Ropar, February 9
Buoyed by the media reports regarding the daylight killing of a sambar by hunters in Nangal town on Friday, a police team, led by the DSP, Anandpur Sahib, Mr Varinder Brar, today arrested Rakesh Kumar, son of a Nangal municipal councillor, Mr Bishan Dass, on the charges of killing the animal.

Besides Rakesh Kumar, the police also arrested Mohinder Singh, driver of the tempo in which the hunters picked up the dead animal. The other two accused, who were part of the team of hunters which allegedly killed the sambar, have been identified as Raj Kumar and Surinder Kumar, both kin of Rakesh Kumar. They are, however, still missing.

A case under Sections 9,39 and 51 of the Wildlife Act, 1972, has been registered against the accused on the complaint of the Wildlife Inspector, Ropar, Mr Balwinder Singh.

The DSP while talking to newsmen later here today said the arrested hunters had admitted that they killed the animal in the DD locality of Nangal. Later they carried the carcass to the slaughterhouse of Nangal and skinned it. The meat was sold at their shop near the EE colony of Nangal.

The SSP Ropar, Mr G. P. S. Bhullar, while talking to this correspondent said that till date involvement of policemen in the hunting of sambar at Nangal could not be established.


Punjab Science Congress ends
Tribune News Service

Longowal (Sunam), February 9
A three-day sixth Punjab Science Congress, organised under the auspices of the Punjab Academy of Sciences (PAS) at the Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology (SLIET), concluded here today with the adoption of certain recommendations to boost the sustainable innovations in science and technology for regional development.

The valedictory function of the congress, held today, was dedicated to the first Indian woman astronaut Kalpana Chawla.

Dr R.C. Chauhan, Director, SLIET, who presided over the valedictory function, gave away three Young Scientist Awards, instituted by the PAS, to Ms Mini from Punjabi University, Patiala, Ms Randeep Kaur, and Mr H.S. Khurana, both from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, for their contribution in different fields of biotechnology and life sciences, chemical and physical sciences, and agricultural sciences, respectively.

Dr Chauhan also gave away poster presentation awards to Mr Anupam Sharma of Panjab University, Chandigarh, Mr B.R. Chhabra from the PAU, Ludhiana, and Dr S.S. Gill from the Beant College of Engineering and Technology, Gurdaspur.

During the congress, Dr R.C. Chauhan, Director, SLIET, was declared as one of the patrons of the PAS. After the valedictory function of the congress, a new chapter of the PAS was inaugurated at SLIET here.


50 schools for destitute children face closure
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 9
Nearly 2000 children studying in 50 schools of the city run under the National Child Labour Project face closure as funds for the project have not been received since February 2002.

The project is run with assistance from 23 non-government organisations (NGOs). Most of the children who study in these schools do small-time jobs, including that of shoeblacks, rag picking and door-to-door selling small items along with studying.

Ms Lakshmi Kanta Chawla, a former MLA, on the plight of the children said the incentives by the government were the main attraction for these children for attending these schools. She said if the stopped incentives were not resumed, they (children) would leave schools and chances of their going astray would be high.

Ms Chawla said according to the National Child Labour scheme started in Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana in September 2001, every school was to have 50 students, three teachers, one clerk and a peon. As per rules every student was to be given Rs 100 as stipend, which was to be deposited in a bank Rs 2.50 for daily diet. She said now for the past one year that the stipulated funds had not been given to the staff of schools.

She said to ensure that the schools were not stopped, NGOs were spending on their own but it would be difficult even for them if the situation remained so. She said their pleas for the release of the amount fell on deaf ears.

Mr Navkiran Grover, Chairman of one of the NGOs Inner Wheel Amritsar South, said she had spent around Rs 1 lakh from her pocket in the past year and had not been reimbursed that amount yet. She said in schools a teacher got Rs 1500 per month, a clerk Rs 1400 per month and a peon Rs 800.

Gopal (14), who sells match boxes, says that he studies in class III and lives in a basti near Rego Bridge. For him it was a rare chance to go to a school but he is doubtful whether he will be able to carry on as the monthly stipend and daily diet funds had been stopped. He said he had family obligations. Sunil (13) and Ajay (16) have similar stories to tell.


Debate on social issues organised
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 9
Lyallpur Khalsa College here today organised “Synergy, 2003” — a debate to improve communication skills of students to enable them understand issues facing society.

“There is no threat to secularism in India” Indians are not materialistic” and “Liberalisation of Indian Economy”. Thirteen teams from various colleges of the state debated on Bandna and Samriti of Kanya Maha Vidyalaya here won first position. Students of Lyallpur Khalsa College for Women and Doaba College were stood second and third, respectively.

Kumud of Ludhiana Government College was declared the best speaker for her presentation on “Liberalisation of Indian Economy”.

Mr Sukhbir Singh Chatha, Principal, Lyallpur Khalsa College, said aim of the debate was to create awareness among students on issues, affecting the society. “The students should be prepared to face reality. It will also generate a sense of responsibility among students, probably the only ones who can guide India to greater heights”, Mr Chatha added.

Teams of Guru Nanak National College for Women, Nakodar, DAV College, Jalandhar, Hindu College, Kapurthala, Guru Nanak College, Phagwara, Government College, Tanda Urmur, Ramgarhia College for Women, Phagwara, B.D. Arya Girls College, Jalandhar Cantonment, Kamla Nahru College, Phagwara and Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar, participated.

Mr Chatha gave away the prizes to winners. Competition in dance and advertisement drafting was also held.


Boost to student entrepreneurs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 9
To encourage entrepreneurial spirit amongst the students of technical education, the Punjab Government has promoted an autonomous, para-statal body christened “The Punjab Council of Technical Education and Entrepreneurial Development”.

Mr M.S. Kay Pee, the Punjab Technical Education Minister, who heads this agency in ex officio capacity, stated that the council, the legal structure of which is that of a society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, shall raise its own resources, independently of the state exchequer.

In a sluggish economic scenario, where salaried jobs are scarce, such ventures are the obvious alternative, especially when bank credit is cheap.

Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, Secretary Technical Education, stated that the basic objectives of the council, apart from promoting risk-taking abilities, included facilitating the enhancement of quality in technical education, pursuing prospective manpower requirements, studies and placement efforts and post-placement surveys. The council may also introduce scholarship on merit-cum-means basis, as well as encouraging group insurance schemes and group thrift and investment funds amongst students and technocrats. Gaps in the existing technical education infrastructure may also be plugged in by the society. Special emphasis would also be laid on the study of stock markets, including the hedging instruments available through the Futures and Options (F&O). The council would also be an umbrella organisation for the institute management committees at the level of the industrial training institutes (ITIs).

The Director Technical Education, Dr Roshan Sunkaria, who is the secretary of the newly promoted council, stated the council shall also provide a forum for consultation amongst educationists, academicians, entrepreneurs, government administrators, funding agencies and trade and industry.


Students seek CM’s help
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 9
Students of Desh Bhagat Dental College and Hospital, Muktsar, have sought the intervention of the Punjab Chief Minister in connection with their admission to the first year of the BDS course at the college. The students while showing the letter to the correspondent here yesterday said they had been admitted to the college in accordance with the policies of the government. They claimed that the Punjab Government had authorised the college to admit students and the college had issued advertisements in this regard.

Swatika, a student, said they had been admitted to the college as per a state government letter and claimed that they fulfilled the conditions laid down by the Dental Council of India. She alleged that they had not been issued registration numbers by the university although the college had submitted the registration fee to Baba Farid University of Health Sciences. Interestingly a section of students, who were referred to the college by the university during the counselling held in January, have alleged that they were not being admitted by the college. They said the matter had been brought to the notice of the Registrar of the university.

Rajni (name changed) alleged that while she had not been able to secure admission in the counselling held last year she was allotted Desh Bhagat Dental College this time by the university, but the college authorities refused to honour the orders of the university. Highly placed sources in the university said though the college was allowed to start BDS course in 2002, they were not allowed to violate the conditions laid down for admitting students.


‘Faulty’ higher education blamed for backwardness
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 9
Fall of standards of higher education in the country has hit the growth of the Indian economy towards making it a developed nation.

Stating this in his speech at the annual function of SSD Girls College here yesterday, Chairman, High-Powered Finance Committee Surinder Singla said three crises — access of a few people to higher education, its poor standard and lack of relevance were hampering country’s march to a progressive and developed nation.

Mr Singla speaking on various facets of the crisis of higher education, said in India the privilege of higher education was available only to 7 per cent of the people between 17 to 23 years even though there were 12,000 colleges and 300 universities in the country. He added that excess of fewer people to higher education was one of the main factors, which kept India’s economic growth stunted.

Besides access of limited people standards and education being imparted was poor. He added that most of the teachers had been teaching what they had been taught and they had not been updating their knowledge. They had been passing the same to the students in the shortest possible time to equip him or her to meet global challenges in job markets.

To overcome this, the managements, educational institutions, should provide with computers and other facilities. The teachers should also inculcate the spirit of getting themselves updated with the latest in the world.

The third crisis, he pointed out, was that most of the colleges had been producing only graduates, who faced all sorts of difficulties in the jobs market.

Earlier, Mr Singla gave prizes to those who excelled in academics, sports and extra-curricular fields.


PCCTU rally postponed
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 9
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) has decided to postpone the zonal rally of the units of the GNDU area colleges, which was scheduled to be held in Jalandhar on February 12.

This was stated here today by Prof S.S. Hundal and Dr V.K. Tewari, president and general secretary, respectively, of the PCCTU. However, the union asserted that the February 19 rally in Patiala (Punjabi University area), February 26 rally in Ludhiana (Panjab University area) and March 5 rally in Patiala (mass casual leave in Punjab and Chandigarh) would stand till the government entered into a negotiated settlement.

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