Wednesday, September 24, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



68 freedom fighters honoured
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
A portrait of legendary revolutionary Shaheed Udham Singh was installed in the Vidhan Sabha gallery during the ‘Samman Samaroh’ function held here today. Floral tributes were paid by the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and several ministers and MLAs after the portrait was unveiled by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

Capt Amarinder Singh declared to develop the ancestral house of Shaheed Udham Singh at Sunam on the pattern of the museum at Khatkar Kalan, the native village of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. A committee led by Finance Minister, Lal Singh would shortly visit London to negotiate with the UK Government so as to bring back the martyr’s personal belongings, including a revolver, a few currency notes, clothes and books.

Later, the Chief Minister, along with Speaker Kewal Krishan honoured 68 freedom fighter legislators with a memento commemorating the golden jubilee celebrations of the Punjab Legislative Assembly and a shawl. Capt Amarinder Singh exhorted the younger generation to seek inspiration from the freedom fighters as Indian history was replete with instances of selfless sacrifice and patriotism.

Among those honoured posthumously were former Chief Ministers Partap Singh Kairon, Darbara Singh and Comrade Ram Kishan, Giani Kartar Singh of the Singh Sabha Movement, Yash, Editor of Milap Ramesh Chander and Durga Das Khanna.

Among the freedom fighters who were present to receive the honour were Chaudhary Ranbir Singh, Gurbaksh Singh Chahal, Ranjit Singh Nainewalia and Diwan Jagdish Chander.

In his welcome address, Dr Kewal Krishan emphasised the need for safeguarding the hard-earned freedom. During the year-long golden jubilee celebrations of the Vidhan Sabha, next of the kin of the MLAs killed during decade-long terrorism in the state were also honoured. The Deputy Speaker, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, proposed a vote of thanks. The Akalis were conspicuous by their absence.

When CM kept them waiting

Even though freedom fighters had reached the venue well in time, they were made to wait for almost an hour for the Chief Minister, who was reportedly busy in a Cabinet meeting. As many as 11 freedom fighters, in the age group of 80-95, who had come to receive the honour, had no choice but to wait for the function to begin.

Even when the function eventually started, there was chaos as the Secretary read out the names of freedom fighters and their kin who were to receive the awards on their behalf. The names of many, freedom fighters, who were not present, created confusion while many others, who were present, were left out. — TNS


SAD not to move trust motion
Punjab Assembly session begins today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
The Shiromani Akali Dal Legislature Party today decided not to move a “‘no-confidence motion” against the Congress Government in the two-day Punjab Vidhan Sabha session which commences here tomorrow afternoon. Instead, it will submit an “adjournment motion” on corruption and law and order.

The government has decided to place eight-odd ordinances to be passed as Bills, some supplementary demands and an amendment Bill to give the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition the same salary, allowances and perquisites, as admissible to the ministers.

Speaker Kewal Krishan said the House would adjourn after the obituary references tomorrow though he had suggested to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, that business could be conducted even thereafter.

Dr Kewal Krishan said the Chief Minister replied that if there was a demand for extension of the session, it could be considered on merit. But the chances are bleak for extension of the session beyond Thursday.

After the Akali Dal Legislature Party meeting, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said: “There is much to be discussed and debated as the government is accountable to the people. The key issues on which we want to solicit information are financial status, lack of transparency in the administration, rampant corruption, absence of good governance and deteriorating law and order, little development activities, politico-administrative apathy towards the people”.

Even some Congress sources echoed the same sentiments as did Mr Parkash Singh Badal on the logic of just one-day session. They also admitted that had it not been a constitutional obligation, this session might not have been held at all.

Though Dr Kewal Krishan vehemently denied it, there were reports that the Chief Minister’s Office was keen on having a look at the questions before these were entertained by the office of the Speaker, particularly ones from the members of the Treasury benches. “On the contrary”, he said, “the Chief Minister wanted more Congress MLAs to submit questions so that government performance can be highlighted”.


How much does a session cost?

THE Vidhan Sabha Secretariat calculation is that it costs approximately Rs 2.50 lakh per hour or Rs 4,200 per minute.

Prior to effecting a hike in their salaries, the annual wage bill of 82 MLAs was Rs 6.50 lakh. Now it is Rs 21 lakh. Likewise, the annual petrol bill has risen from Rs 41 lakh to a whopping Rs 1.02 crore.


Serve summons on CM in Vidhan Sabha, says HC
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 22
Acting on an application moved by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in a defamation case filed by him, a local court today ordered to serve summons on Chief Minister of Punjab Capt Amarinder Singh in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha or in the Civil Secretariat

The UT Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr C.L. Mohal, passed order acting on the application moved by Mr Badal alleging that Capt Amarinder Singh was avoiding the service of summons.

Mr Mohal on September 20 had issued fresh summons against Capt Amarinder Singh for October 9 following non-service of summons issued upon him earlier by the court.

Giving details, counsel for Mr Badal alleged that on the last hearing on September 20, Capt Amarinder Singh did not appear in spite of knowing that he was summoned in the case. He added that the process server of the court had gone to the house of the Chief Minister, but the security personnel there did not allow him to enter the house. The security guards informed the court employees that the Chief Minister was out of station.

Mr Badal's counsel further added that now he and his client had come to know that the Punjab Vidhan Sabha session was going to be held on September 24 and 25. Counsel, therefore, pleaded that as Capt Amarinder Singh being the Chief Minister would be here on both the days, he be allowed to serve the summons on Capt Amarinder Singh either at his residence in Sector 2-A or the Punjab Vidhan Sabha or the Punjab Civil Secretariat.

Mr Badal alleged in the complaint that Capt Amarinder Singh had spread and published false information about his assets and properties.


Decks cleared for Khanna as Punjab BJP chief
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
Decks have almost been cleared for the election of Mr Avinash Rai Khanna as President of the Punjab unit of the BJP. He is a party MLA from Garhshankar. The election of the President is to be held on September 28 and nomination for it would be filed on September 27.

Sources said this evening that the National General-Secretary of the party, Mr Om Parkash Kohli, had accepted the resignation of Mr Khanna as the state Returning Officer. He was appointed the Returning Officer to conduct the organisational elections of the party in the state. Mr Harjit Singh Grewal has been appointed as the state Returning Officer in place of Mr Khanna.

For the past several days, the BJP’s top leadership has been trying to evolve consensus among senior leaders to unanimously elect the President of the state unit. However, consensus have been eluding the top leaders. Three candidates were in the race for the office of the presidentship. They were Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, Mr Rajinder Bhandari and Mr Khanna.

However, Mr Grewal and Mr Bhandari have not been acceptable to certain sections of the party. Mr Bhandari had the support of a powerful section of the RSS. It appears that now consensus have emerged in the party over the name of Mr Khanna, who has been acceptable to all groups with in the organisation.

Sources said Mr Ram Pyare Pandey, party’s Organising Secretary for Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pardesh would leave for Delhi tomorrow to discuss the name of Mr Khanna with the high command especially Mr Kohli, who has been pressing for the unanimous election of the party president to replace Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, who has completed his term. If Mr Kohli, who is in charge of the organisational election of the party in the country, approved the name of Mr Khanna then his election as the president would be certain.


Raj Babbar announces film on Maharaja Ranjit Singh
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
The love of the soil and stories of its soldiers are tugging at him again. And Raj Babbar is more than just paying attention. He is making it a movie, “The Land of The Five Rivers: Maharaja Ranjit Singh”.

In town today to attend the sanman samaroh held at the Punjab Vidhan Sabha to honour freedom fighter legislators and their next of kin, Raj Babbar announced the Rs 25-crore project and talked of the hows and whys behind the retelling of the Maharaja story. “Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s character, his philosophy and his heroism have somehow always touched me. I think the man of that intellect and stature deserves to be remembered and learnt lessons from,” said the actor.

Talking about the idea behind such ventures, he said that it was high time that real heroes were made reel heroes so that the “younger generation gets to know about such personalities”.

“The film,” says Babbar, “is about Punjab, Punjabiyat and its joint frontiers”. And interestingly there are enough sitting out there in France meaning to be part of the project. The movie is going to be an Indo-French collaboration with ample technical assistance from France as well. French and Indian historians would be working on this big and expensive project. And the film, says Babbar, would be shot in Punjab, Rajasthan and Pakistan. But what of the blood dripping barbed wires? “I don’t see any tension right now. I feel such projects can only get the two countries to diffuse tension and make a beginning of a warmer kind,” says Babbar. In fact, he’s already planned to shoot a good part of the film across the Lahore-Khyber Pass. The film, as he plans, should be ready in one and a half years.

Cast? The actor isn’t disclosing too much on this project. But he means to make full use of Punjabi troops to portray Sikhs in a large number, particularly in the war sequences. The Punjab Government, while showing keenness on the project has extended all possible help. “I do not want to ask the government for any money, even though the cost of the project is huge but if there is any provision under which they could sanction money for films on such subjects, I would be happy to seek it.’’

He disclosed that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had already given him a go-ahead for shooting the film anywhere in Punjab. “It would be an asset to use the Khalsas of Punjab for the odd 30,000 troops in the war sequences than spend big money on their make-up.’’

“To a subject that has inspired me all these years. Hope I manage to do some justice to the story of a man with such a brilliant mind,” hopes Babbar. It would be launched on November 13, the birthday of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and will be made both in Punjabi and English. For the purpose of gathering the right kind of facts, help will be sought from the libraries of Punjabi University, Patiala, and the museum in Amritsar.

Mr Babbar said, “Although a three-hour film cannot summarise the entire life of larger-than- life people like Maharaja Ranjit Singh or Shaheed Bhagat Singh, yet such films can evoke reflection of the character and interpret for the viewers’’.

He is looking forward to the release of LoC ( Line of Control) in January next year and his dynamic role as Col Khushal Thakur, who evicted the intruders from Tiger Hills. Another film of his “Sheen” deals with the problem of refugees from Kashmir. “In fact Kashmir is with us only because of the efforts of persons like Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Mokham Das, and Phula Singh in striving for a united Punjab.’’ Later, he was honoured by the Chief Minister for his contribution to Punjabi cinema and the cause of Punjabiat.


PTU stops admissions to online campus programme
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 23
To improve the “Academic Credibility” and due to “shortcomings”, the Punjab Technical University (PTU) has stopped admission to various courses run under Online Virtual Campus programme.

Meanwhile, fate of hundreds of students of the Online Virtual Campus programme, still hang in the balance even as their examinations are likely to be held with regular students in December.

Following debates and deliberations over certain “grey areas” and “ambiguities”, found in the Online Virtual Campus programme run by the university in collaboration with its sole service-provider — the local Lovely International Trust, the university authorities have decided not to make further admissions under the programme, run through the online mode. “Though this mode of education a lot of scopes is an in-thing all over the world, but, for the time being we have stopped any further admissions to the programme. We have to streamline it first,” said Dr Y.S. Rajan, the Vice-Chancellor of the PTU. “We cannot compromise with the education standard. I am more concerned about the academic credibility of the university,” said Dr Rajan adding that the PTU was sympathetic towards existing students of the campus and would try to hold their examinations along with regular students of the PTU, probably in December. Dr Rajan admitted that the syllabi of certain courses run under the Online Virtual Campus were not approved by the university and there were certain other ambiguities in the existing system, “which needed to be removed first.”

There were about 1062 students studying under the programme and the break-down was as following — BBA-54, B.Tech (Computer System)-30, BA (Professional)-11, MBA-476, MCA-44, PGDCA-63, Masters Diploma in International Trade-26, M.Sc. (Computer Science)-70, M.Tech. (IT)-209, and B.Sc. (Computer Science)-79. Though these students were admitted in July last year, the PTU was yet to conduct their examinations.

What kicked up the row was the manner in which the programme was initiated following an agreement between the PTU and the Lovely International Trust (LIT) on June 24, 2002. As per understanding between the PTU and the LIT, just 16 per cent of the fee share would be retained by the PTU while rest of the 84 per cent would go to the LIT.

A special committee, constituted to look into the working of the online mode of education, had raised serious objections to the existing arrangements, particularly, running of some courses like BA (Professional), M.Tech (IT), and Masters Diploma in International Trade, which according to the committee could not run online. Putting a question mark on the eligibility criteria, the committee said engineering degree like M.Tech could not be given to non-engineering students like MCA and M.Sc (IT) even as eligibility fixed by the LIT for M.Tech degree was B.Tech, MCA and M.Sc (IT). The committee had also expressed displeasure with the different external and internal evaluation for regular students and students of the online campus. The committee had felt that there was need to check the eligibility criteria for admission to online campus.

The top university authorities were also of the view that more than one institutes should play role in the online campus programme. “Actually, if one institution could specialise in one stream, another might be having command of some other stream”, maintained Dr Rajan.


Wife alleges bigamy
Writes to Sonia for intervention
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
Within few months of his appointment as Moga District Congress chief, Tara Singh Sandhu is facing allegations of bigamy from his wife, Kanwaljit Kaur, who has taken the matter to AICC President Sonia Gandhi, seeking immediate intervention and probe.

Alleging that her husband has been torturing her emotionally by maintaining relations with another woman, even while she was around, Ms Kanwaljit, in a letter to Ms Gandhi, has requested her to curb immoral acts which bring shame to the fair name of the Congress.

In the representation forwarded to Ms Gandhi and also to Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh Ms Kanwaljit alleged that Tara Singh Sandhu had married another woman and had let it be known in the neighbourhood that he had divorced her.

Meanwhile Mr Tara Singh Sandhu, when contacted denied having ever threatened his wife Kanwaljit Kaur. He said he had not remarried at all. Calling today’s development as a mere conspiracy to malign his public image and destroy his political career, Mr Sandhu said he had filed a case in this regard in the court. He added that he would divulge rest of the details in the matter later.


17 fresh cases of dengue reported

Batala, September 23
Dengue fever continued to spread here for the third week, with 17 fresh cases reported today.

These cases were reported a day after Punjab Health Minister R.C. Dogra and his Deputy Ashwini Sekhri, a local resident, took stock of the dengue in this industrial town of 1,50,000 population.

Civil hospital Senior Medical Officer (SMO) Jagjit Singh Sadana said six patients were admitted to the hospital today and one was referred to Escorts Hospital at Amritsar, while private hospitals began the treatment of another seven patients.

Meanwhile, holding the administration and municipal authorities responsible for the spread of the disease, about 200 activists of the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackerey) today held a protest march in the town and submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner through the Sub-Divisional Magistrate.

Mr Dogra told reporters that of the 173 dengue cases reported in a fortnight till yesterday, 75 patients were treated in the local civil hospital, 37 underwent treatment in Ludhiana’s DMC hospital, while the remaining got treated at private hospitals. Low platelet count in blood is indicative of dengue, which is caused by Aede Egypti, popularly known as tiger mosquito, which breeds in fresh but stagnant pools of water such as in coolers.

There are only three machines to detect the platelet count in the town and even these are non-functional because of lack of a chemical doctors said. The Ministers were told that adequate supply of Stomatlyser was not available to detect the platelet count among patients who reported fever. The nature of fever was confirmed by tests of blood samples sent to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases which reported that seven of nine samples had tested positive for dengue.

Dr Sadana said except for one case, all 173 patients suffered from non-haemorrhagic dengue, while the one haemorrhagic patient also recovered after treatment at DMC hospital.

The town, which has been reduced to a slum because of neglect, has faced similar crisis in the past too because of contaminated drinking water supply and poor sanitation. — UNI


CM for fresh talks on Bathinda oil refinery
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said that the Central Government would have to talk afresh with the Punjab Government regarding the terms and conditions of setting up the Bathinda oil refinery.

The promises made by the government to the lecturers of government-aided colleges would be fulfilled and the process of paddy procurement would begin from October 1, he said.

Talking to mediapersons after the Sanman Samaroh function, Capt Amarinder Singh said the recent Supreme Court judgement which stayed the disinvestment of the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited ( BPCL) was a pointer that the Bathinda oil refinery would now be taken up by HPCL, which earlier seemed a remote possibility.

The Chief Minister said the earlier terms and conditions, including the waiver of sales tax to the tune of Rs 15,000 crore for 12 years, as agreed upon by the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, were not acceptable to the present government.

Keeping in view the financial crisis in the state, his government could not afford to bear the loss of Rs 700 crore to Rs 1200 crore on this account to the state exchequer.

In response to a question, he said the procurement of paddy, which was slated to begin from September 21, would now commence on October 1. He had written a letter to the Prime Minister and met Mr Sharad Yadav in this regard.


Baba Farid Aagman Purb concludes
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 23
Over 50,000 men, women, children and representatives of various social and religious organisations, besides Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, and other district officers, paid obeisance at Gurdwara Godri Sahib, 4 km from here on the outskirts of the town, on the concluding day of celebrations of the Sufi saint Baba Sheikh Farid Aagman Purb, which started here on September 15.

A large number of devotees also hand a dip at the holy Baba Farid Sarovar near the gurdwara. On the occasion, a congregation was organised by the management committee of Gurdwara Godri Sahib and the Tilla Baba Farid Committee. A number of senior working and retired government employees, social workers and writers, including Mr Padamjit Singh, Chief Engineer (operations) PSEB, Dr Harbhag Singh, a neurologist at Government Rajindra College and Hospital, Patiala, Mr A.Venu Prasad, Secretary, Punjab Mandi Board, and Mr Akattar Singh a retired Superintendent, Jails were honoured for dedicated service rendered in different fields.

Mr Padamjit Singh and Dr Harbhag Singh were awarded a robe of honour, Rs 50,000 and a citation each. They were also awarded Baba Farid Award for Honesty and the Bhagat Puran Singh Award for Service to Humanity, respectively. Mr Prasad and Mr Akattar Singh were awarded the Baba Farid gold medals and Rs 20,000 each.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Inderjit Singh Khalsa, chairman of both bodies, said the tradition of awarding dedicated members was started three years back to spread the teachings and message of the Sufi saint. He said the Aagman Purb celebrations were started in this town by the North Zone Cultural Centre, Patiala, in 1986.

To mark the concluding function a communal harmony procession was also taken out through main streets of the town which culminated at Gurdwara Godri Sahib, 4 km from the town. People threw petals of flowers on the vehicle carrying the Guru Granth Sahib and the processionists. A large number of religious and social organisations arranged langar, chhabeels, besides distributing sweets.


Sanjhi festival being revived
Monica Ahluwalia

Patiala, September 23
Sanjhi, a day for rituals, prayers and celebration which unfortunately most of the urban people have not even heard off, is celebrated in October. Sanjhi is the name given to the images of the Mother Goddess designed by rural women of Punjab and Haryana during Navratras.

Made of cowdung paste, the form of the Goddess is a symbol of health, wealth and prosperity. According to folklore, the Goddess of wealth only enters those houses the walls of which are decorated with the form of Sanjhi.

The image is designed on the first day of the nine days of Durga puja. The Goddess on the front wall of the house is also offered food.

To revive this dying art form and to make people aware of the rich culture and heritage of Punjab, the North Zone Cultural Centre has organised an open competition of making Sanjhi especially for the women of rural areas of the city and nearby places. The sole aim of this competition is to encourage these women to preserve the dying art form of Punjab.

To preserve this traditional art form the North Zone Cultural Centre (NZCC) has contacted women of nearby villages and encouraged them to participate by providing them the material required to create Sanjhi. Participants have been divided into various age groups. Each group has two participants.

An exhibition will also be held on September 26 to display the Sanjhi designs made by these participants. The Centre has also decided to give prizes to these participants.

Parmindeer Kaur, a resident of Sanjay Colony here who is also participating in the competition said it was sad that most of us were not even aware of the culture of our area and were going far away from our roots.

She added that the people should realise the importance of such festivals as they bring people together and create feeling of brotherhood and unity.

Savtri Devi, another participant, said she wanted her grandchildren to preserve these traditional art forms. There were various etymologies for the word Sanjhi. One opinion is that the word Sanjhi means decoration and is connected with the Hindi word “Sajavata”.

According to the folklore, Sanjhi also refers to “Sandhya”, the time when the worship of the goddess is carried out.

Traditionally women sing various folk and devotional songs while creating Sanjhi designs. It serves as the background against which variations in the tale of making Sanjhi designs are unfolded.

In Punjab, one of the popular folksong related to the festival of Sanjhi goes like “Sanjhi aayi Sanjhi nu, gail basanta pat, vaas kardi navrate’ ch, Sirandi jal bahate” Ch’. This means that the festival of Sanjhi comes with navratras and ends with the immersion of Sanjhi on the day of Dasehra.


Civil Hospital lacks post-mortem facilities
Bipin Bhardwaj

Dera Bassi, September 23
Even after being awarded the status of a sub-division, residents of this town lack facilities like those for conducting post-mortem examinations in local civil hospital. Despite repeated reminders over the past five years, the governments have failed to take note of the increasing number of accidents in and around Dera Bassi.

The main accident-prone stretches are the Zirakpur-Lalru stretch of the Kalka-Ambala highway and the Zirakpur-Lalru section of the Kalka-Ambala railway line. Bodies of people dying or those committing suicide have to be sent to Rajpura, around 25 km away, as no facilities exist here.

Since the start of this year over 65 people have died in road accidents and another 23 have either committed suicide by jumping in front of trains or have been accidentally crushed under the trains.

Several of those killed are from far flung areas and even long-route passengers. Their relatives are needlessly harassed as they have to travel all the way to Rajpura.

Most affected are the family members of accident victims who have to travel from far flung areas of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Delhi and other neighbouring states to get the bodies of their relatives from the Civil Hospital, Rajpura. Their problems further aggravate when the hospital authorities take time in conducting the post-mortem examination.

The problem is not only faced by general public but also by the local police and the Railway police.

Being an important industrial hub, the population of this sub-division has increased manifold.

It is worth mentioning here that fast growth of the Zirakpur, Dera Bassi, and Lalru areas, absence of four-lane of the Chandigarh-Ambala highway and the Zirakpur-Patiala highway and easy availability of jobs in industrial units in this area, are some major factors that add to the number of accidents.

In the last decade, the government has been boasting of working on widening these highways but till now the work has not been completed. These roads have turned into death traps for motorists.

Absence of railing along the railway line at sensitive points also contribute to the casualties.

The increasing number of unidentified dead bodies have been putting the local police and the Railway police at Lalru to great hardship. The police has to make arrangement for the last rites of the victims.

Moreover, expenditure on the cremation of dead bodies is also borne by the police, which further has to approach social organisations for the cremation of unidentified bodies.


Scheme for village pond launched
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 23
Duckweed technology was launched at Sidhwan village here today.

The project, under the aegis of the Punjab Council for Science and Technology, seeks to divide the village pond into two parts. Mr N. S. Tiwana, Executive Director of the council, said initially the waste water coming to the pond would be kept in a sedimentation tank. The water would then be stored in a partitioned portion of the pond. In this portion, duckweed would be grown and the top layer would be partitioned with bamboos so that weed layers would overlap. The weed would feed on the organic waste of the pond.

Duckweed had the potential of reducing 100 mg/litre to 150 mg/litre biological oxygen demand in water to 30 mg/litre.

The purified water would then automatically flow into the other portion of the pond where six varieties of fish were being reared.

The cost of implementing the scheme was about Rs 3.5 lakh, he said, adding that the panchayat likely to earn Rs 50,000 per annum from the pond.

Deputy Commissioner Seema Jain said a scheme of a cheaper sewerage system was also being planned for the village.

The Minister of State for Public Health, Village Development and Panchayats, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, dedicated the duckweed project to the people of the area. He announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for Navodaya Vidhyalaya in the village.


Benefits of contraceptives as therapeutic device stressed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 23
The 15th annual conference of the Patiala Obstetrics and Gynaecology Association on Sunday saw noted gynaecologist and Padma Shree — Dr Sheila Mehra — talk on the benefits of women contraceptives as a therapeutic device.

Dr Sheila Mehra of New Delhi delivered the keynote address on “Merina — a contraceptive/therapeutic device”. Prof Sarla Malhotra from the PGI, Chandigarh, highlighted the screening and management issues of “Pregnancy and diabetes”. She said a large population of young diabetic women formed a special class, which needed to be cared for methodically to prevent mother and child mortality.

Dr Deepa Goel and Dr Umesh Jindal highlighted the issues in infertility, while Dr Promilla Jindal stressed on advancements in obstetrical practice to prevent the growth retardation of the baby. The association president, Dr Ashi R Sarin, stressed on positive health programme for women to enable them to realise their rightful place in modern, competitive society. She said women empowerment was a slogan only for the nation as a vast majority of women did not have access to even primary healthcare.

Dr Sareen said that the association had earlier given a call to all its members to take an oath not to go in for medical termination of pregnancy following sex-determination tests. She said this had resulted in a move against this practice amongst all members of the association.

The conference organising secretary, Dr Sunita Modi stressed upon the aims of society, which she said included promoting knowledge, fostering education and promoting research in the subject to promote services for the betterment of community. About 200 delegates from all over Punjab and Haryana attended the conference.


Youth found dead in hotel room
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 23
The body of a youth was found in a room of Surya hotel situated near the bus stand in mysterious circumstances.

According to officials, the hotel authorities called the police around 3 pm today after they failed to get any response from inside the room despite repeated knocking at the door. The room had been hired by Raj Kumar of Patran yesterday.

The mystery regarding the circumstances of the death of the youth deepened with the hotel authorities claiming that Raj Kumar had checked in at the hotel alone.

However, the local police, while going through the hotel register, found out that one more person had checked in with the youth.

Evidence in the room also suggested the presence of another person. The police found two glasses half filled with liquor in the room and an open window, suggesting that the other person could have used it as an escape route.

The police has sent the body of Raj Kumar for a post-mortem examination to the local Government Rajindra Hospital.

His viscera is likely to be sent for chemical examination to the State Chemical Laboratory here.

The police is also looking into the contradiction in the version of the hotel authorities and the evidence that has been gathered from the room.


Homoeopathy practitioners’ plea to CM
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 23
Members of the Central Council of Homoeopathy today appealed the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to ensure that those who could not get themselves registered with the Council of Homoeopathic System of Medicine, Punjab and Chandigarh area, be given another chance to do so.

The council had yesterday cancelled the registration of those practitioners in the state who had failed to get their registration renewed. As per Section 16-A of the Homoeopathic Practitioners Act, 1973 (amendment, 1993), every registered practitioner who is practicing in the state has to renew his registration every five years.

Dr P.S Ranu, member of the Central Council of Homoeopathy, said in 1997 the amendment was implemented but majority of practitioners took it lightly and failed to get their registration renewed. He added that in 2002, on receiving a letter regarding the renewal from the council, these practitioners deposited the requisite fee but were informed that their names had been struck off from the council’s register and their registrations stood cancelled.

The members of the council said though the action of the council was legal and within the jurisdiction of law of the Punjab Homoeopathic Practitioners Act, it was against the natural justice as the future of more than 3,000 practitioners was at stake. They added that most of them had never received any type of show-cause notice regarding the cancellation of their registrations in the past five years.

The members of the council have urged the Chief Minister to intervene in the matter and save the future of hundreds of practitioners in the state.


100 shops being raised illegally
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 23
About 100 shops are allegedly being raised illegally in the industrial area of Chheharta.

A lane is being constructed to allow easy access to the shops from GT Road. The shops are being constructed without any sanction plan. The property, worth crores, is spread over 15 acres. It earlier belonged to Lal Woollen Worsted Mills.

Benami deals have reportedly been struck by some top functionaries of the municipal corporation in connivance with businessmen and property dealers. Demarcations have been made and foundations of the shops have been laid.

The house of the Mayor, Mr Sunil Datti, is at a stone’s throw from the site. He could not be contacted as he had gone abroad.

The town planning scheme of the area does not permit the construction of commercial shops on industrial land on this side of GT Road. The Commissioner of the municipal corporation, Mr K.S. Kang, said the area was unplanned and did not fall under the zonal scheme.


Cultural programme organised
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 23
The Youth Club in association with the District Cultural Society organised a mega cultural programme at Amloh on Saturday night. Mr Sadhu Singh, MLA, was the chief guest, while Mr S.K Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner ‘cum’ Chairman of the District Cultural Society, presided over the function.

Punjabi folk singer Manpreet Akhtar regaled the audience with variety of songs, while Ashok Sharma, a magician, displayed his magic skills.

The programme was organised to promote cultural activities in the district. Mr Sadhu Singh appreciated the efforts of the society and said cultural activities gave the message of communal harmony.

Addressing the gathering, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, said the society had been formed to revive cultural activities in the district. He highlighted the various activities conducted by the society within a short span. Prof Dharminder Singh Ubha, organising secretary of the society, also addressed.


Motor cycles collide; 2 die
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 23
Two persons were killed and two others injured in a head-on collision between two motor cycles near Star Resort, bypass road, Sirhind, today evening.

Those killed were riding pillion. Later, they were identified as Manpreet of Behbalpur village and Amrik Singh of Sirhind. The bodies were handed over to the respective families after a post mortem examination. The injured were taken to private hospitals.


PUDA cuts penalty rates
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) at its 23rd meeting held here today revised the rate of penalty on late payment of instalments in respect of plots, houses, commercial sites and institutional sites.

As per the revised rates, an allottee depositing an instalment late by two years will be charged penalty at the rate of 16 per cent against the prevalent rate of 20 per cent per annum. PUDA has also made a provision of Rs 1 crore for the training of its employees.



Order on effluent treatment plant
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
Taking up a petition filed by the Punjab Leather Federation and other petitioners regarding the setting up of common effluent treatment plants, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered Jalandhar’s District Judge to carry out an inspection and submit a factual report in the matter.

Issuing the directions, the Bench, comprising the Chief Justice, Mr B.K. Roy, and Mr Justice Ashutosh Mohunta, further directed that the report should be submitted within four weeks of receiving the order’s copy.

In their detailed order, the judges also asked the Punjab State Pollution Control Board to assist the District Judge in carrying out the inspection and submission of the report. The case will now come up for further hearing on December 17.

Earlier during the proceedings, counsel for the petitioners submitted that two plants were to be set up. One had already been established. Contracts for the construction of the second plant were yet to be awarded because there was a dispute as to whether the contractor was to be paid by the state or the Punjab State Small Industries and Exports Corporation Limited the (PSIEC). Counsel for PSIEC, on the other hand, asserted that there was no such dispute.

After hearing the arguments, the judges ruled that it was imperative on their part to take a factual report. As such inspection should be made by the District Judge into claims and counter-claims.


Police remand for two cops
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 23
The Vigilance Bureau produced Sub-Inspector Karamvir Singh, Additional Station House Officer (ASHO), and head constable Avtar Singh before Mr K.S. Cheema, Chief Judicial Magistrate, here today who remanded them in police custody up to September 25.

They were arrested by the Vigilance Bureau, Jalandhar, while they were allegedly trying to escape in a car after taking illegal gratification of Rs 5,000 following a raid yesterday.

It is reported that the police had arrested Ajay Kumar and seized a huge quantity of CDs from him. Karamvir Singh and Avtar Singh threatened Surinder Mohan of Bajwara to pay them Rs 10,000, falling which they would implicate him in the CD case. After negotiation the amount was fixed at Rs 5,000. Surinder Mohan, however informed the bureau.


HC notice to govt on old-age pension
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 23
The Punjab and Haryana High court has issued a notice to the state government regarding public interest litigation filed by Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, former BJP MLA, about the non-payment of old-age pension for the past few years. Informing this Ms Chawla in a press statement issued here yesterday said that the next date of hearing in the case was October 16. She said for the past couple of years the state government had not issued old age or widow pensions.

Meanwhile, expressing concern over the pitiable conditions of the Railways. Ms Chawla said the Railway Minister did not know the difficulties being faced by the passengers.


Arrangements for procurement of paddy
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 23
The district administration has made arrangements for the procurement of paddy in all 104 mandis in the district.

This was disclosed by Mr Anurag Agarwal, Deputy Commissioner, after he addressed representatives of commission agents, rice-sheller owners, officials of procurement agencies, transporters and labour agencies at a meeting here today.

Mr Agarwal said the agencies concerned had been directed to ensure sufficient space for the storage of paddy, efficient lifting and tarpaulin sheets to cover the produce in case of rain.

He pointed out that if paddy husk was discoloured and the grain was in good condition, it should be procured by agencies. He said all concerned had been directed to ensure that commission agents did not impose a cut on farmers’ produce.

An announcement should be made daily through the public address system in all 104 mandis, he said. Farmers should get the minimum support price and their payment should be made in time, he added.

Commission agents had been directed to ensure proper filling, and stitching of bags and lifting of paddy to make space for fresh arrivals, Mr Agarwal said. The total production of paddy in the district was expected to be 6.06 lakh metric tonnes, he added.


Travel agents booked
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 23
In its campaign against unscrupulous travel agents, three criminal cases have been registered in the past four days.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, in a press note issued here today, said a case under Section 420 of the IPC was registered against Raman Kandhari, Managing Director, 3 ARP Company, Patiala; Narang, driver of the company, and other staff members on a complaint of Ms Saranjit Kaur, a resident of Burj Kahan Singh Wala village in the district. In her complaint, she alleged that the company took Rs 40,000 from her for getting her a study visa for Canada. After some time, Raman Kandhari took Rs 3 lakh more for the task. Later, Raman Kandhari told Ms Saranjit Kaur that she would not be able to get the study visa and hence his company would arrange a tourist visa for her. However, so far she has neither got a tourist visa nor her money back.

Another case was registered against Amritpal Gulati, a resident of Gaziabad, Krishan Kumar, a resident of Ludhiana, and Amarjit Kaur on a complaint of Mrs Surinderpal Kaur, a resident of Kot Shamir. In her complaint, Mrs Surinder Kaur alleged that the suspects took Rs 20,000 each from her, Kuldeep Kaur, Janardan Jassi, Darshan Singh and Indira Rani for sending them to New York.


3 killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Batala, September 23
Three persons died when the car in which they were travelling met with an accident at Udhowal village, 10 km from here, on the Batala-Gurdaspur road this morning, according to Mr Ram Singh, chief of Batala police district.

He said Mr Sarwan Singh, Sub-Inspector, had been deputed to conduct an inquiry. The cause of accident, however, could not be ascertained. A case has been registered under Sections 279, 304-A, IPC. The bodies had been sent to Civil Hospital, Batala, for post-mortem.


Shopkeeper damages neighbouring shops
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 23
The police has registered a case against Mohinder Pal Singh, a shopkeeper of Akali Market Sirhind, his son and four of his employees under Sections 427, 379, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC for causing damage to neighboring shops. Two of his employees have been arrested, while other accused are still at large.

Earlier in the day, employees of the Municipal Council, Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib, led by Mr Darshan Singh, SDM, and Mr P.S. Gill, DSP, Fatehgarh Sahib, had removed encroachments on the municipal land in Akali Market, Sirhind town, by demolishing a shop as the Civil Judge, Fatehgarh Sahib, had vacated the stay order in the case. Hundreds of people gathered on the spot and appreciated the anti-encroachment drive launched by the district administration.

The shopkeepers of the market said the night watchman informed them that Mohinder Pal, along with others, was causing damage to their shops. They informed the Deputy Commissioner at midnight. He immediately sent the police and the culprits fled from the scene and thus others’ shops were saved from further damage.

Shopkeepers of the market, led by Mr Bachan Lal, president of the Cloth Merchants Association, have alleged in a complaint to the police that the accused took this step out of frustration due to the demolition of their shop.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, along with Mr B. Chandra Sekhar, SSP, visited the market and assured the shopkeepers that action would be taken against the culprits. The shopkeepers expressed satisfaction over the role of district administration and the police.

Meanwhile, addressing a press conference after the demolition drive, Mr V.K. Mehta, MC Executive Officer, said as per the directions of Mr S.K Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, the council had filed petitions in respective courts to get the stay orders vacated in encroachment cases. He said a shopkeeper had encroached upon municipal land by constructing shop. Later, he got a stay from the court. He said the council contested the case and the Civil Judge vacated the stay. After completing all formalities, council removed the encroachment.

He said the council was also contesting other such cases and as soon as a stay order was vacated or the case was decided in favour of council, the encroachment would be removed.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia and Mr B. Chandra Sekhar said the anti-encroachment drive initiated by the district administration was yielding good results and it would continue. They urged the people to vacate encroachments at their own, otherwise the administration would take strict action. They warned that stern action would be initiated against anti-social elements.


Death of woman: case after 6 months
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 23
On the directions of Punjab and Haryana High Court the Ajnala police station under the Majitha police district today registered a case of murder against in-laws of Gurmit Kaur who was allegedly poisoned to death in March this year.

The police has booked four persons of the in-laws family including the husband Satnam Singh of Nangali Majha. The others who were booked includes Tarlok Singh, father in law, Sartaz Singh (brother-in-law) and Piari (mother-in-law).

Shanti Kaur, a resident of Tera Kalan village and mother of the deceased girl in the complaint lodged stated that on April 28, she got a call from Gurmit’s in-laws that her daughter had consumed poison. She alleged that the accused cremated the body of the girl after stamping her thumb on a suicide note. The police she said registered case under Section 174 of CrPC. She however, suspected that her daughter was murdered. She filed a writ petition in Punjab and Haryana High Court which directed the police to file a murder case against the accused.


4 financiers arrested
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 23
The district police yesterday busted a five-member inter-state gang which used to first finance two or four wheelers and then sell these in other states after conniving with bank and transport officials. The police has arrested four persons.

The arrested include Ashwani Kapur and Ashish Kapur, two brothers, Madho Ram and Ashok Kumar, all residents of Amritsar. Jaswinder Singh, a resident of Sangrur has absconded.

The police has seized three cars and as many Kinetic Hondas from the accused. During preliminary investigations the accused revealed that they had sold about 25-30 cars. A case under Sections 420, 411, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC has been registered at Civil Line police station.


Man rapes relative
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 23
Gurdev Singh, a resident of Harraipur village in the district allegedly raped his close relative for several days by keeping her in his house on the pretext of taking her on a pilgrimage.

The victim, a resident of Bangi village in the district, went to the house of Gurdev Singh a few days ago. When she was to return Gurdev Singh asked her to stay put for some more days so that he could take her to various places of worship.

Suspecting no foul play, she decided to stay for some more days. One night, Gurdev Singh allegedly mixed some sleeping tablets in milk, which was consumed by his wife. He then raped his relative. He allegedly raped her for several days. He used to threaten the victim that he would kill her if she complained against him.

Police sources said the victim managed to reach her house yesterday and narrated the whole story to her parents. Her father admitted her to the local Civil Hospital and informed the police.

A case under Sections 376 and 506 of the IPC was registered against Gurdev Singh on a statement of the victim. Police parties had been despatched to arrest the culprit, the sources said.


JE held for graft
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 23
A vigilance team allegedly caught a Junior Engineer of the PSEB while accepting a bribe of Rs 5000 at Lehragaga yesterday.

Mr Baldev Singh, DSP, said today that Mr Jagtar Singh had complained that Mohan Lal had been demanding money from him in connection with an alleged power theft case.


Man robbed
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 23
Three scooter-borne persons looted Rs 30,000 from Panchu Ram of Sahalpur village while he was going on a cycle to his village after withdrawing the money from bank this afternoon.


Students hold victory rallies
Tribune Reporters

Patiala, September 23
Five suspended student leaders and seven former students of the university who had been barred from entering Punjabi University, today entered the campus amidst celebrations.

They were garlanded and laddoos were distributed among the students.

Meanwhile, the Punjabi University Students Confederation, which had been spearheading the agitation on the issue of fee hike, said victory rallies would be held all over the state.

The university authorities have issued a notification regarding the reopening of all departments.

SANGRUR: Activists of the Punjab Radical Students Union (PRSU) on Tuesday organised victory rallies at the local Government Ranbir College and Akal Degree College, Mastuana Sahib, after their demands were accepted by the Punjab Government on Monday.

The government has announced the revocation of suspension of student leaders, withdrawal of cases against students, and rollback in fee hike.

Mr Sukhwinder Singh, district secretary of the PRSU, said the union would unite students in support of their other demands, including bus passes.

At Akal Degree College, PRSU district chief Sukhcharanpreet said the union would oppose privatisation of educational institutions at all levels.


Engineers should become entrepreneurs, says Prof
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 23
“Entrepreneurs are not afraid of implementing WTO, regime but are wary of the Government industrial policy which changed very frequently. One day they apply Exim policy other day it is VAT so it is highly unpredictable” said Mr Alok Saini, Director, Kad Group of Industries, Patiala, while presiding over the inaugural function of one week training programme on entrepreneurship development organised by the Technical Teachers’ Training Institute (TTTI), Chandigarh, held at Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College, Fatehgarh Sahib.

Dr Dilbag Singh Hira, Principal BBSBE College here was the chief guest.

Addressing the function, Mr Alok Saini said due to these policies Indian entrepreneurs abroad were more successful than in India as they get better environment and stable policies there.

Prof B.S. Rathore, Head of Entrepreneurship Department of TTTI said more engineers should become entrepreneur as they could give better quality product as compared to people from other stream. He said it was difficult to set up technical units as it needed lot of finance but there were large number of government financial scheme to assist such entrepreneurship.

Dr S. K Dhameja of the TTTI in his lectures said the purpose of this programme was to teach to technical teachers about the entrepreneurship so that they could motivate their student to start their own business. He gave detailed information of the topics to be covered under this programme.

Prof K.S. Panesar, local coordinator of the programme, Prof I.P.S. Gill Training and Placement Officer, Prof Jasmine Kaur also addressed the function.


Salaries not paid in 120 colleges
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 23
Member of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) today flayed the indifference of the government regarding the non-payment of salaries to staff of non-government colleges.

Dr V.K. Tewari, general secretary of the PCCTU, alleged that out of 172 colleges, staff of nearly 120 colleges had not been getting salaries for a month to eight months.

He said the annual grant had been reduced and the pension-cum-gratuity scheme had been shelved by the government.

He said an agitation would be held on September 25 in this regard.

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