P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Blatant violation of bylaws in trust colonies
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, May 7
Illegal constructions have come up in the Gurdaspur Improvement Trust residential colony on the Gurdaspur-Batala road. In gross violation of the rules many people have converted the rear side of their residence in the colony into showrooms on the national highway.

The lackadaisical approach of the trust authorities has emboldened many and the trend to violate the rules in trust colonies is increasing.

Commercial operations have also been started in illegal buildings. The people running these establishments have managed power connections despite these buildings being next to the national highway. As per the new rules, no construction can be carried out within 100 meters of the national highways. However, the rule has been given a go by.

The commercial operations in the residential colony have been creating trouble for the residents. The residents have alleged that the commercial operations in the residential area have been causing disturbance. They have complained to the trust authorities many times regarding the illegal constructions in the area, but no action has been taken.

Sources here say the trust has also lost a large amount of revenue by allowing the residential land to be converted into commercial establishments. Generally, the cost of the land sold by the trust for commercial establishments is 10 times vis-à-vis the land allotted for residential purpose. By allowing the illegal conversion of residential plots into commercial establishments the trust has lost revenue.

The Chairman of the Gurdaspur Improvement trust, Mr A.N. Kaushal, says the commercial establishments on residential plots have been constructed before he took over the charge. Those who have carried out illegal constructions have offered to pay penalty to get their constructions legalised. The case for the same has been forwarded to the government. However, till date the government has not taken any decision to regularise the constructions.

The Executive Officer of the trust feigns ignorance about the action being taken against the illegal constructions. He says he will check the facts.

The sources also disclose that the commercial establishments in the residential areas are also in violation of the PUDA and town planning rules. At many other places also some of the property dealers have brought up colonies right next to the improvement trust colonies.

They are using the entire infrastructure development by the trust of their illegal colonies allegedly in connivance with the trust officials.


Control of rural dispensaries may not be transferred
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 7
The Punjab government’s move to transfer control of government dispensaries in rural from the Punjab Health Department to Zila Parishads seems to be losing steam as over 370 of total 1193 dispensaries have reportedly failed to attract doctors on contract assignments.

Under the much publicised and criticized plan, the Punjab Health Department had selected 1193 government dispensaries in rural areas and these dispensaries were to be handed over to Zila Parishads after effecting contract-based appointments of qualified doctors at these dispensaries by Zila Parishad level selection committees. Contracts between Zila Parishads and selected doctors were to be signed by April 21 and new appointees were required to take charge of these dispensaries by April 24.

The government’s objective behind the plan, was to save Rs. 26.65 core annually by replacing permanent recruitment with contractual system in over 1374 rural dispensaries, where, government doctors were reluctant to go.

But a piquant situation has gripped the Punjab Health Department and the Zila Parishads as the selection committees, it was reliably learnt, could not find any doctors for over 370 of a total of 1193 dispensaries.

What to talk of specialists, in most of over 370 dispensaries, even not any new comers have shown interest for appointment. Absence of doctors was likely to delay the transfer of control of these dispensaries to Zila Parishads, say insiders.

While these government dispensaries have failed to attract doctors, nearly 10000 young doctors of Punjab were either unemployed or were underemployed as there has not been any appointment of doctors in the state since 1998.

“The lack of interest shown by young doctors for contract appointment has depicted that this entire plan to ‘privatise’ the health sector was ill-conceived. The number of those government rural dispensaries, which, have not attracted any ‘contract based’ doctor may even surpass the mark of 370,” said Dr. M.S. Randhawa, patron of the PCMS Association, Punjab, - a representative body of government doctors. The association has been opposing contracting of rural dispensaries.

The district-wise perusal of fresh appointments has revealed that doctors have not shown any curiosity to serve under the contract system in remote areas of the state, hence, there has been hardly any application for dispensaries falling in interiors of different districts.

In Moga, selection was to be made for a total of 52 disensaries, but, since only 24 doctors have filled contract bonds, as many as 28 contract based posts were vacant. Mansa had to shift 37 dispensaries to Zila Parishad, but, only 18 doctors have filled bonds with a result that 19 dispensaries were still without doctors. In Fairdkot and Mohali, all of 17 and 31 advertised posts were filled respectively, while, in Muktsar 30 posts were vacant as only 13 doctors preferred to fill bonds against 43 vacant posts. Hoshiarpur witnessed filling of as many as 47 of 86 vacancies and still 39 posts were vacant. In Patiala 30 of a total of 73 posts have been filled on contract basis, while, 43 were still vacant. In Ropar 14 of a total of 30 and in Nawanshahr 10 of a total of 47 dispensariers allegedly failed to find any new doctors. Ludhiana had witnessed filling of contract bonds for 80 dispensaries, while, 28 were still without doctors. In Ferozepore, 15 posts were still vacant and in Jalandhar only 54 of 94 vacancies could be filled. In case of Gurdaspur, bonds have been signed by doctors for 73 of 130 dispensaries and in Sangrur 79 of 103 posts have been filled and in Bathinda 42 of 61 posts of doctor have been filled.

“Though, we are not sure about Amritsar and Kapurthala, but, we have learnt that bonds have been filled for all of 159 and 44 vacant posts have been filled respectively,” said Dr Randhawa.


Liquor policy benefits all
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, May 7
Boozers are having happy times thanks to the new liquor policy of the Punjab Government, which has come into operation from April 1. The Punjab Government has switched over to the licence system instead of the practice of auction of liquor shops.

A large number of liquor shops have come up along all major roads of the town and these are decorated with stylish lights giving them a festive look. The liquor shops are huge in size and are attached with spacious ‘ahatas’. There is a stiff competition among the liquor contractors and some of them have even set up air conditioned ahatas.

The new excise policy has eliminated the monopoly of a few liquor contractors, who used to call the shots at the time of auction. But at the same time, many of them have been able to get a sizeable control of the liquor shops through the draw system even this time. This was possible because they filed a large number of applications for the liquor shops.

The new policy has attracted liquor contractors from Uttar Pradesh, Gwalior, Delhi, Punjab and Rajasthan.

Punjab politicians have also succeeded in getting some contracts. The days of harassment of people, who were searched on the highways by the ‘musclemen’ of the liquor barons to detect smuggling of liquor have also become a thing of the past. The liquor cartels have also started disbanding their ‘private armies’ and have started sending their henchmen back to their native states. They are now employing the local people as henchmen to run the daily show.

The competition among the liquor shop owners has become so intense that some of them even organise ‘bhangra shows’ and offers non-vegetarian snacks at cheap rates. Even otherwise, the rates of liquor have fallen between 30 per cent and 40 per cent.

The liquor contractors feel they will be losers in the long run while the revenue of the state government will increase manifold. They will have to deposit the licence fee and duty before getting the permit. In the past, permits were issued and the liquor contractors preferred not to deposit arrears with the government.

Lately the state Excise and Taxation Department has tried to discourage competition as some of the shop owners have put up big size banners announcing certain concessions. The same have been got removed. Enquiries by the reporter reveal that some of cheap brands of liquor, which were not being encouraged by the liquor contractors, have also come in the market and are now available at quite cheap rates. For example Bagpiper, which was sold for Rs 220 per bottle, is now being sold for Rs 150 per bottle. Mcdowell was sold for Rs 290 now is sold for Rs 190 per bottle, Royal Stag for Rs 210 against Rs 325 per bottle. Royal Challenge which is quite popular in the marriage parties is now sold for Rs 290 against Rs 450 per bottle. Peter Scot Rs 350 against Rs 500 per bottle, respectively. Scotch whisky have also witnessed fall in prices-Vat 69 is sold for Rs 600 against Rs 950 per bottle earlier, 100 Pipers for Rs 700 against Rs 1,100 and Black Dog for Rs 1,200 against Rs 1,800 per bottle.

Enquiries further show that the sale of liquor has also gone up by about 40 per cent as a result of fall in the prices and the competition among the licensees. The price of country liquor has come down to Rs 80 per bottle from Rs 130 per bottle. Beer is being sold for Rs 40 per bottle against Rs 80 to 90 per bottle earlier.

The possibility of misuse of the licenses for procuring liquor from other states is not being ruled out by them. Many of the liquor contractors have their distilleries in Punjab and other states and they have become L-I licensees under which they can procure liquor from other states.

The introduction of license system has also brought ‘three cheers’ to the officials of the state Excise and Taxation Department because they have the authority to check the irregularities. During the monopoly they had become irrelevant thanks to the political clout of the liquor kings.


Experts: injudicious pesticide use hits reproductive life
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 7
The injudicious use of pesticides and other chemicals in various forms for purposes such as ripening bananas, softening bakery products and inducing hormones in milch cattle before milking are adversely affecting the reproductive life of human beings.

These were among the important findings mentioned by experts at a “people’s dialogue” on “pesticides and environmental health crisis in Punjab with special reference to cancer and reproductive health “ organised by an NGO, the Kheti Virasat Mission, here yesterday.

It may be mentioned that a study conducted by the PGI here had blamed the indiscriminate use of pesticides in the Malwa belt for deaths due to cancer. The Punjab Government has accepted the report and will be implementing it, said a noted cancer expert, Dr B.D. Gupta.

Dr Ravi Kant from Government Medical College Amritsar spoke at length on the impact on reproductive health. Besides reducing the reproductive life in the long run, milk from buffaloes injected with oxytocin was leading to the early onset of puberty in girls and the lowering of testosterone levels in boys.

Dr Chander Bhushan, Associate Director, Centre for Science and Environment, quoted from a well-known study conducted by the CSE and said:”Punjab villagers could be carrying a killer cocktail of pesticides in their blood”. He said Punjab had been introduced to pesticides with high toxicity. A large population was living in constant contact with pesticides in one form or the other.

Later, while talking to the media, he said there was no drop in farm yields due to the use of non-chemical based pesticides. He quoted the example of Andhra Pradesh where several villages had switched over to non-chemical based pesticides.

Dr Inderjit Singh from Punjabi University, Patiala, pointed out that Punjab comprised only 3 per cent of the area of the country while it consumed 9 per cent of the total fertilisers and 15 per cent of all pesticides. These figures were of documented sales only.There was no billing in the case of nearly 80 per cent of the sales.

In his opinion there should be no free sale of pesticides as these were being used in various forms to ripen bananas and soften bakery products like “mathi”.

The mission pointed out that letters were sent to participants in today’s seminar. These letters, supposedly written by a lawyer on behalf of a Mumbai-based company, warned the participants that taking part in such a seminar or public debate would make him or her a party to ongoing litigation.

Mr Umendra Datt of the mission said “these were strongarm tactics and are clearly unacceptable. It is a violation of our right to express our views and we strongly protest against it”.

Dr Chander Bhushan emphasised that they worked for public policy and not for companies manufacturing pesticides. With privatisation, the power of companies to influence public debate would also increase, he added.


Sale of banned fish continues unabated
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, May 7
The fish farmers of Punjab are suffering due to continued illegal sale of Thai Magur fish in violation of the Supreme Court’s directions and Punjab Government notification. The seed of the banned fish was also being smuggled into the state.

Magur is freely available in the markets of Gurdaspur. While the major markets of fish are in Jalandhar and Ludhiana. Since this fish is easy to rear and can survive even in dirty ponds it is sold at cheaper rates in the market and because of this the sale of other varieties of fish has been hit.

Many complaints have been made to the Department of Fisheries in this regard but no action has been taken so far.

According to sources the seed of Thai Magur was being smuggled from Bangladesh. There are many breeding farms of the fish in West Bengal also. In Punjab the Thai Magur seed was available through migrants in Patiala.


MLA-councillor rift deepens
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur May 7
The war of words between the Congress leaders from the district intensified today. The President of the Pathankot Municipal Council, Mr Sarwan Kumar, in a press conference here today flayed the local Congress MLA, Mr Ashok Sharma, for asking the Rajya Sabha member, Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, to resign from politics.

Talking about the allegations of corruption levelled against him by a group of municipal councillors supporting the MLA, Mr Sarwan Kumar said he was ready to face probe.

Earlier, eight Congress councillors of the Pathankot Municipal Council, led by Mr Sarwan Kumar, had alleged in a press conference that the local MLA and the Chairman of the PTDC, Mr Ashok Sharma, was not giving grants for their areas.

Mr Ashok Sharma, however, alleged that municipal councillors were pawns in the hands of the Rajya Sabha member Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder.

About the allegations levelled by the Congress councillors that he was not providing them grants, Mr Sharma said as per the data available with him in the last three years amounts ranging from Rs 30 to 50 lakh had been spent in the wards of protesting Congress councillors.


5 lakh devotees to attend function
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, May 7
All possible efforts are being made to make convenient the coming of devotees reaching here on the 400th martyrdom of fifth Guru Arjun Dev.

The June 16 would be the 400th martyrdom day of the Guru. The state government, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and other religious organisations are organising functions in this regards here.

The June 16 would be the main attraction. The administration revealed that according to an estimate more than five lakh devotees are coming to attend the functions here. The state government has decided to announce the town a revenue district, according to the reports reached her.

The Kar Sewa going on under the supervision of Baba Jagtar Singh is giving a facelift to the town besides gold plating of the main gurdwara.

Huge gates are being built on a war footing at all the entry points of the town.

Kar Sewa sect has built toilets having modern facilities at different points of the town.

Baba Mohinder Singh, follower of the sect, told that about Rs 5 lakh was being spent on each toilet which is being collected from the sangat. Cold drinking water facility would be also provided.

Mr Jatinder Kumar Sood, president of the local municipal council, told that a grant of Rs 10 lakh has been given by Dr Manohar Singh Gill, member Rajya Sabha.


Vets hail SC verdict on appointment
Our Correspondent

Mohali, May 7
The Punjab State Veterinary Officers Association at a meeting held here welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court regarding the appointments made during the tenure of former Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission Ravi Sidhu.

Dr Ashok Sharma, president, stated that during the selection of veterinary officers in 1998 and 2000, the number of applicants was almost the same as the number of posts of veterinary officer. So the question of getting jobs through the back door did not arise at all. The probation period of the officers of the 1998 and 2000 batches was not being cleared and they were also not getting any increments .

He said if the vets wanted to apply for some posts outside the department, they were also not being given no-objection certificates by the Punjab Government.

The association urged the Punjab Government that the probation periods of the vets selected during the tenure of Ravi Sidhu should be cleared and the annual increments given. Similarly, in January , 2002, against 101 posts of veterinary officer, only 89 were selected, although after the arrest of Ravi Sidhu they were not issued selection letters.

The association lauded Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, for establishing Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University in Ludhiana.

It said as per his announcement made at Sarai Naga and Talwandi Sabo on the occasion of the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Angad Dev, vets in the state should also be granted non-practising allowance on the pattern of that given to medical officers and vets working in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, the Central Government, Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University and the Remount Veterinary Corps.


A cop with a difference
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 7
Mr Amarjit Singh Lalka is a policeman with a difference who always wants to show a good image of the police in the eyes of the public. Mr Lalka, a Sub-Inspector (Wireless) in the Punjab Police, is posted at Bahadurgarh (Patiala).

Mr Lalka recently released tele-film “Thanedar” in Punjabi is an effort to show the actual duties of the policemen and their behaviour in the society. The tele-film was released by the Bathinda Zone IG, Mr Rajinder Singh, some months ago.

In the tele-film, the hero of the film, an SHO, after taking charge, changed the atmosphere of the police station by instructing policemen to behave with the people like good public servants. Every visitor to the police station felt that someone was at the police station to redress his grievances. He also nabbed the producers of the illicit liquor and smugglers of the poppy husk and showed right path to addicts.

Mr Lalka says that nothing can be achieved without effecting social reforms in the society. In the monthly News Letter of the Punjab Police, some of his poems have also found mention. They are about police, police martyrs and the martyrs of the country.


Shiv Batalvi remembered
Our Correspondent

Batala, May 7
Great Punjabi poet Shiv Kumar Batalvi was remembered on his 33rd death anniversary by local residents here today.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr S.S. Nijjar, a medical practitioner, Dr Ravinder Singh, a paediatrician, and many others remembered the great poet who gave compositions which had no parallel in Punjabi literature.

Batalvi died on May 6, 1973, at his in-laws’ house after some illness in the prime of his youth.

Speakers vowed to complete the Shiv Batalvi auditorium which is under construction for the past more than 25 years.


Van catches fire, teacher hurt
Our Correspondent

Kharar, May 7
A tragedy was averted when a van carrying teachers of a school near Daon village caught fire yesterday.

The van, which was run on CNG, was damaged. The fire brigade reached the scene and put out the flames.

Six teachers and the driver managed to come out of the vehicle. One of the teachers, however, was reported to have sustained minor injuries.


62 cases settled at Lok Adalat
Tribune News Service

Ropar, May 7
As many 62 cases were settled and Rs 24.63 lakh was awarded as compensation in accident claim cases at a special Lok Adalat held in the district court complex here. A total of 229 cases came up for hearing, District and Sessions Judge Rekha Mittal said.


Beating up case: blind victim’s file goes missing
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 7
The case file of Aman, who was severely beaten up by a transporter resulting in complete loss of his eyesight, went missing thus bringing forth the callous attitude of the hospital authorities.

Aman, who was working with the transport company situated in Ram Talai area for last four months, had alleged that his employer had hit him with some blunt object after which he lost his consciousness. Later on, when he regained his conscious he was unable to see anything.

Ms Lakshmi Kanta Chawla, BJP state vice-president, talking to The Tribune, said here yesterday that a conspiracy was being hatched by the opposite party with the connivance of the hospital authorities to misplace the file to weaken the case. She said that the family members had also alleged that some men in police uniform were pressurizing the hapless patient to compromise with the transporter. She said that family members were even fearing threat to the life of Aman.

Aman (25), a resident of Jhando ke Sarhali Khurd, Tarn Taran had lost his eyesight completely when his employer, Makhan Singh of Shakri Transport beat him severely as he demanded salary from him

Aman alleges intimidation by police
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 7
Efforts to get Aman, who lost his eyesight after being beaten up allegedly by his employer, discharged “forcibly” by the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial Civil Hospital authorities here last evening foiled. A staff nurse even “refused” to attend him.

He could only be readmitted when the Deputy Commissioner intervened and took the hospital authorities to task after Ms Lakshmi Kanta Chawla, state BJP vice-president, informed him.

Aman and his family have been under pressure since his hospitalisation to reach a compromise with accused Makhan Singh.

He alleged that he was being threatened and pressurised by the in charge of the Maqboolpura police chowki to compromise with the accused. Earlier, the case file of Aman disappeared from the hospital.

Dr Subash Sharma, SMO, said he had no information that the staff had refused to treat him.


Apeejay aims for university
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 7
"Our own university is our ultimate goal," says Mrs Sushma Berlia, president, Apeejay Stya Group, a leading corporate house engaged in pharmaceuticals and life sciences, information technology and education.

Mrs Berlia, the first woman to head an apex Chamber of Commerce in India, is a strong exponent of quality education and believes that hallmark of any developed economy are the education, health care and law and order in the order of priority.

In case, the Apeejay Group decides to locate its university in Punjab, it will become the second group after Lovely enterprises to have a private university here. At present,the Apeejay group has three schools and two higher education institutions in Punjab.

In an informal chat with The Tribune, Mrs Berlia, not only laments the present education system for both its low employability and access but also feels that for the overall growth of quality education, public-private partnership is essential.

"It is a strange situation in India where industry is crying for skilled manpower while we have hundreds of thousands of educated unemployed youth," she says holding that the country needs a "voucher system" to break the "monopoly in school education".

"The government should fix the minimum standard and make it mandatory that any child who comes with a voucher should be guaranteed a minimum quality education. The choice should be left to the child as to which school he wants to go," argues Mrs Berlia whose Apeejay Education Society runs 13 schools and as many higher education institutions throughout the country with as many as 32,000 students on its rolls.

"Our group is not for mere expansion just for commercial gains. We have a mission of giving society intelligent, informed, socially responsible and well rounded citizens by imparting all round quality education to them, early in life. Churning out numbers has never been our priority. We believe in learn to learn for life," she said.

When asked about the location of the proposed Apeejay University, she says, "Negotiation and discussions are on with three-four State Governments. Once we start our university, we want to have collaboration with good universities from abroad which enjoy worldwide standing and repute. The idea will be to make a university of global excellence which should serve as an education hub for neighbouring nations.

"We may venture out of India by setting up a couple of centres abroad. As far as our institutions are concerned, we have been constantly evolving, adding new courses to meet the changing needs of the society in general and the industry in particular. We also plan a few more schools in the region," says Mrs Berlia.


Professor presents paper in USA
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 7
Professor Lakhwinder Singh, Dean, Academics and Head of Electronics and Electrical Engineering Department of Baba Banda Singh Bahadhur Engineering College, here presented his research paper entitled “Surrogate worth trade-off method for economic-emission dispatch” at an International Conference held at Clemson University, South Carolina, the USA, recently. The college yesterday organised a function in his honour to facilitate him.

Dr D.S. Hira, college Principal, congratulated him and said Lakhwinder Singh was the only Indian who presented his research paper in the conference. He said it is a matter of pride for the college as the research paper of its faculty member got published at the conference.

He said 68 papers from all over the world in the field of electrical engineering were selected in the conference.


Students excel in MBA exam
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 7
Students of the Desh Bhagat Institute of Management and Computer Sciences, Mandi Gobindgarh, a pioneer institute in the field of hotel management, have excelled in examination held by Punjab Technical University (PTU) recently.

As per the results, Sorabh Kumar bagged 1st position, Naresh Kumar got 2ndnd position and Rajvir Singh secured 3rd position in the MBA-I examination.

Aarti Kansal bagged Ist position, Pooja Kansal got 2nd position and Neelika secured 3rd position in the MBA-II examination.

Rajbir Kaur bagged Ist position, Rajender Singh got 2nd position and Amit Phogat secured 3rd position in the BHM-II year examination.

Karam Saraf bagged Ist position, Rahul Bedi got 2nd position and Sanmeet Singh secured 3rd position n the BHM-III year examination.

This was stated by Dr Zora Singh, Chairman of the institute, here today. He congratulated all students and their parents.

Ms Shalini Gupta, Director of the institute, said it was a result of combined efforts of students, staff, management as well as parents. She highlighted various achievements of the institute.


Health camp for students
Our Correspondent

Kharar, May 7
A health camp was organised at Ambika Public School in Badali village near here. A team of doctors examined students of pre-nursery to Class X. The doctors, apart from carrying out a dental, general, ENT and eye check-up, made the students aware of hygiene and the need for keeping themselves neat and tidy. Immunisation was also undertaken. Teachers were briefed on first-aid techniques.

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