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Dullo attacks Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
Infighting in the Punjab unit of the Congress became more pronounced today when the chief of the unit, Shamsher Singh Dullo, launched an attack on former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh blaming him for almost all ills in the party but refrained from taking his name. The hints were enough to reveal the cracks in the party.

Dullo said the party was unshakeable, but was weakened due to leaders who ignored the workers when they were in power. Parkash Singh Badal had won due to faults and weakness of the Congress rather than anything else.

Continuing in the same vein he said anybody claiming to have managed a poll victory in the Malwa region must thank the “derawallahs” (the reference was to Dera Sacha Sauda of Sirsa). The examples were meant for Amarinder Singh.

Dullo was speaking at a function to unveil the busts of the late Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi and the late Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh at the party headquarters here.

He asked party men to get rid of the politics of opportunism and said "our leaders in the state were responsible for the weakening of the party. We have to save the Congress from some intruders in the party." However, later while speaking to the media Dullo did not take any names when asked specifically who he was referring to in his speech to party men.

Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was conspicuous by his absence at the function organised by the state unit of the Congress. Leader of the Congress legislature party Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who was present at the media conference, asserted that there were no differences among party leaders. "We are all working under the leadership of party chief Sonia Gandhi".

The function was earlier supposed to be held on April 9, but was postponed to today as it was felt that several party leaders from the state would go to Delhi to receive Amarinder Singh on his return from London, Dullo said.

"All former chief ministers, party MPs, MLAs and office-bearers were invited to attend the function," Dullo said after his attention was drawn to Amarinder Singh’s absence.

Seeking to play down Amarinder Singh’s absence, Bhattal said the "Congress is united. Please don't indulge in the number game on how many MLAs attended the function or not...several party MLAs are in Uttar Pradesh for canvassing," she said, adding: "I had spoken about the function to Amarinder on the telephone last evening".

The Punjab Congress will stand by all Congressmen, including Amarinder Singh, against whom the SAD-BJP government had slapped a case of corruption, she said.

 

No direct purchase of wheat: Badal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 11
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said the government would not allow private companies to purchase wheat directly from farmers in their villages. Private companies would have to buy wheat through mandis, he said, while adding that this was being done to ensure that the rural development fund got the share from the purchases.

The Chief Minister, who visited the Khanna grain market today to see the procurement arrangements, also hinted that there could be some delay in providing subsidised atta and dal to people living below the poverty line as the special survey ordered for this purpose was still in progress and it might take some more time.

Badal pointed out that maximum revenue for the rural development fund came through the purchase of wheat and paddy by various agencies. "If we allow direct purchase at the farms, the rural development fund will be starved of money,” he pointed out, while adding that private players could always buy the wheat from mandis which were well connected.

He claimed that during his recent visit to New Delhi, he had met a number of union ministers who had told him that the previous Congress government in the state had not availed any of the public welfare schemes whether for rural or urban development. He said, "They did not avail the available scheme, what to speak of submitting proposals for new schemes.”

In a bid to score over his predecessors who claimed to have paid money to farmers within 72 hours of the purchase, Badal said now the farmers were being paid the money for their produce within 48 hours. He said not only that, the government was bringing in a scheme where the farmers would be able to get full compensation for the crops damaged due to any reason. He said his government had already raised the compensation to Rs 5,000 per acre.

The Chief Minister said he would be available to the general public twice a week at Chandigarh. Besides, he would be holding at least one sangat darshan every week in one Assembly segment to enable people to meet him at their doorsteps.

Replying to a question about the return of the former Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, Badal said he still did not know where he (Amarinder) was. The Chief Minister said parliamentary secretaries would be appointed within a week.

 

City Centre Scam
VB ‘may not’ arrest Hanspal
Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, April 11
In the City Centre scam case, Vigilance Bureau officials are said to be adopting soft approach towards former Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president H.S. Hanspal, and may not arrest him, revealed well-placed sources.

Instructions to this effect were said to be issued by the top brass to the investigating team. Sources added for the time being arrest of Hanspal was not necessary. The VB officials had secured arrest warrants of six persons named in the FIR but arrest warrants against Hanspal were not sought.

The Bureau has booked 19 persons, including former Chief Minister Punjab, Amarinder Singh, former local bodies minister Punjab Chowdhary Jagjit Singh and H.S. Hanspal, former PPCC president, in an FIR registered on March 23.

SSP Vigilance Bureau Bathinda Mukhtiar Singh was deputed to record the statement of Hanspal in this case. It is learnt he had went to residence of the accused twice for recording his statement but could not do so due to the unavailability of Hanspal, said sources.

However, apprehending arrest in this case, the former PPCC chief had moved a bail application in a city court claiming he was not involved in any such activity.

It was submitted in the bail plea he had been president of the PPCC but had no locus standi to intervene in government matters. Actually, he was framed due to political vendetta, as the previous Congress government had registered corruption cases against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son.

That’s why the SSP, Vigilance Bureau, Bathinda, had come in the local court, when bail of Hanspal was fixed for hearing on April 2. But on the request of the accused’s lawyers the hearing of the bail application was adjourned for April 13.

 

Duleep Singh’s bust: SGPC to take part in auction
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 11
In a significant development, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has decided to send a four-member team to participate in the open auction of the rare sculpture of Maharaja Duleep Singh, scheduled to be held on April 19 at Bonhams, London.

This was stated by Avtar Singh, president, SGPC, while talking to The Tribune here today. It is for the first time that the SGPC has decided to purchase the statue of any Sikh hero.

The bust of Maharaja Duleep Singh would be kept in the Sikh museum in the Darbar Sahib complex. The SGPC chief said the four-member SGPC team had been authorised to present bids as per the prevailing situation there.

The four member team comprises Jaswinder Singh, advocate, and Rajinder Singh Mehta, both SGPC members, besides Joginder Singh and Kuldip Singh, officials of the SGPC.

However, Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, general secretary, SGPC, reportedly opposed the idea to send a team to the UK as it would incur huge expenditure. It is learnt that Bhaur had suggested that the Akali government should be persuaded to participate in the open auction through the Anandpur Sahib Foundation. However, Jaswinder Singh advocate said nobody had the right to question the participation of the SGPC in the open auction since it was an effort to preserve the age-old Sikh heritage, a major part of which had already been vandalised.

Manjit Singh Calcutta, an SGPC member, also opposed the move of the SGPC to participate in the auction. He said there were plenty of Sikh organisations in the UK itself which could have been persuaded to purchase the bust.

He alleged that precious money of the Sikh Sangat would be wasted by sending four persons to England for this purpose.

The bust of the Indian prince and Sikh hero, Maharaja Duleep Singh, fashioned by British sculptor John Gibson almost 150 years ago, is estimated to sell for £25,000 to £35,000.

Maharaja Duleep Singh, the Maharaja of Lahore and King of the Sikh Empire, was born on the September 6, 1838, to Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The sculpture was produced in Rome in 1859-60.

 

Medical Colleges
Emergency steps to tackle shortage of teachers
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
Emergency measures have been planned by the Punjab government to deal with the crisis created in government medical colleges because of the shortage of teaching staff.

The medical council of India ( MCI) is ready to wield the axe to cut the number of seats in the MBBS course because of inadequate teaching staff in these colleges. Several warnings as well as opportunities have been given by the MCI to the authorities concerned to fill the vacant posts of teacher to meet the norms fixed for medical colleges.

However, the Punjab government has urged the MCI to give it some time to tackle the situation, it is learnt.

Sources said that 75 seats in the MBBS course are to be frozen in the government medical college, Amritsar, and 100 in the government medical college, Patiala. However, no seat is to be frozen in the government medical college, Faridkot. Punjab has just 350 seats in the MBBS course in its government medical colleges. As far as the staff are concerned, the situation in the government dental colleges is also equally bad.

The sources said the state government had decided to increase the superannuation age of the teaching staff in medical colleges to 60 years from 58 to retain teachers who are on the verge of retirement for two more years. The ad hoc recruitment of teachers will be made as an emergency measure. And medical officers posted in these colleges will be re-designated as lecturers, it is learnt.

When asked in this regard, Tikshan Sud, minister for medical education and research, told The Tribune there were 110 vacancies of teaching staff in the government medical colleges. “ I have discussed the scenario in the medical colleges with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal”, said Sud.

“ The issue of enhancing the retirement age of the teaching staff by two years and making ad hoc recruitment will be presented to the cabinet for approval either tomorrow or at the next meeting”, said Sud. “ It is an emergency situation for us and we want to tackle it accordingly”, he added.

There are 529 sanctioned posts of teaching and other staff in the government medical colleges. Of these, 110 are vacant. The Punjab Public Service Commission ( PPSC) was authorised to make recruitment to 90 vacant posts in 2004. But the PPSC has recruited only 26 persons. The neglect of government medical colleges during the previous government’s tenure has brought these to the brink of closure.

In the government dental colleges, there were 41 sanctioned posts of teaching staff and 21 are vacant. The government dental colleges at Patiala and Amritsar have 40 seats each in the dental course. In the government ayurvedic college, of the 59 sanctioned posts, 35 are vacant.

 

IAS officers “violating languages Act”
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 11
“Despite the fact that usage of Punjabi language was made mandatory for official work in Punjab in 1967, IAS officers of the state were using English for making noting on files. This is a clear violation of the Punjab Official Languages Act, 1967. However, the government is not taking any action against such officers.”

Members of the World Sikh Intellectual Council levelled these allegations at a press conference organized here.

The president of the association, Prof BS Balluana, said as per the Act, all official work in the state, including notes, comments and orders were to be written in Punjabi. However, all officers without exception write their orders in English. Lower staff also makes proposals in English.

The Punjab Official Languages Act is actually toothless. Under the Act, there is no provision for action against the defaulters. The Languages Department that monitors the implementation of the Act has also failed in its duty. No regular checks are held to monitor the implementation of the Act.

The previous Congress government neglected the Languages Department. No new recruitment was carried out in the department in the past five years. The post of district languages officer is vacant. For lack of funds, the Languages Department has failed to hire the services of Punjabi scholars, he alleged.

Members of the council said the state advisory board on implementation of the languages Act should be changed. It should be manned by eminent and veteran scholars of the language who have made significant contribution to the cause of Punjabi.

They also demanded that the annual Shiromani Award given by the government should be based on merit rather than on other considerations.

 
 


Tension in Lehragaga
VHP, Bajrang Dal men burn religious material
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 11
Tension prevailed in Lehragaga town today following the burning of printed material of the Christian religion and starting of “Akhand path” of a religious granth allegedly by activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal in the Christian Parchar Kendra (Church) in Kathpul Mohalla of the Lehragaga town, 40 km from here.

Earlier activists of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal from different parts of the state visited Lehragaga and got people gathered near the Christian Kendra and started delivering speeches on the conversion of Hindus and Sikhs by the Christians and other such issues.

They were protesting against an alleged incident, which occurred yesterday in Lehragaga. In this incident, a Christian preacher was caught by people in the kendra with a young woman allegedly in an objectionable position. They were also demanding the registration of a case against the preacher under Section 376 of the IPC (rape), in place of Section 109 of the CrPC.

Leaders of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal also alleged the Christian preachers were doing not only objectionable activities but also playing a role in the conversion of Hindus and Sikhs into Christianity.

The Lehragaga SHO and the city in charge of the Lehragaga visited the spot and both police officers declined to talk over the issue.

However, it is learnt that the Lehragaga police stated it would initiate action if it got any complaint from the Christians.

 

Rs 1,730 cr credit plan released
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 11
K.S. Pannu, deputy commissioner-cum-chairman, District Consultative Committee, released annual credit plan of the district envisaging total disbursement of Rs 1730.41 crore for 2007-08 here today so that banks, government departments and agencies could implement the plan.

Releasing the plan, he said annual credit plan targeted 25 per cent more disbursement than the previous year. Total of Rs 914.66 crore will be disbursed to agriculture sector while Rs 388.08 crore would be spent on non-farm sector and Rs 427.67 crore on other priority sectors like housing, finance etc.

Pannu underlined need for accelerated co-operation between bankers and government departments/agencies. The growth of allied agriculture activities and rural industrialisation through small scale industrial development was very necessary for balanced rural development. Besides, the implementation of anti-poverty and employment generation programmes should be catalytic for overall development of rural economy.

S.K. Chopra, chief lead district manager, Punjab National Bank, informed micro credit innovation "self help groups" were being tapped for women’s empowerment and to provide financial assistance to the rural poor to free them from clutches of money lenders. So far 940 SHGs had been formed in the district, he added. He said banks had also started forming the farmers clubs to ensure people's participation in development. He said these clubs were expected to work as extended arms of banks for propagating various banks’ schemes, technology transfer etc for diversification, besides taking care of socio-economic needs of the villagers.

 

Round-Up
Rs 71 cr released as relief for farmers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
The Punjab government has released Rs 71.39 crore as compensation to farmers for their crops which were damaged due to the recent untimely rain and hailstorms.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said this amount had been released to the deputy commissioners of the affected districts. They had been asked to disburse the amount among the people concerned immediately, he added.

The Chief Minister said compensation of Rs 62.11 lakh had also been released for the residents of some districts whose houses were affected by heavy rainfall. Financial aid of Rs 1 lakh each had been released in the case of loss of human life in Amritsar and Ferozepore districts. For the loss of livestock, Rs 98,400 had been released.

Interest on tractor loan

The state government has directed the Punjab cooperative agricultural development bank (PADB) to lower the rate of interest on loans advanced to farmers and provide hassle- free and prompt service in order to free them from the traditional moneylenders.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, cooperation minister, directed the PADB to reduce the profit margin and pass on the benefit to the farmers. Also the loan amount would be paid direct to the farmers instead of the present system of third party payment.

He said the loans by the PADB would be advanced to the extent of 75 per cent of the land value instead of the existing 70 per cent fixed earlier by the district collectors. The loan procedure would be simplified to save the farmers from hardship, he added.

Fill backlog

Chief Minister Badal today issued instructions to the social security department to make arrangements to clear the backlog of 3 per cent quota in the services for handicapped persons at the earliest.

Instructions to this effect were issued when certain handicapped youths complained regarding the non-advertisement of posts by various departments for them at a sangat darshan held here today.

Hundreds of persons thronged Punjab Bhavan to meet Badal to seek redress of their grievances.

 

Baisakhi: Devotees start coming to Takht Damdama Sahib
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, April 11
Thousands of devotees from Punjab and other states of the country have started coming here to pay obeisance at Takht Damdama Sahib on Baisakhi, the occasion connected with the creation of Khalsa by 10th Sikh Master Guru Gobind Singh at Anandpur Sahib in 1699 and start of the harvesting of wheat.

Baisakhi at Takht Damdama Sahib, the fifth Takht of Sikhs, is also organised every year as it was the place where Guru Gobind Singh rested for more than nine months after fighting the last battle with the Mughals at Muktsar and compiled Adi Granth here. Guru Gobind Singh, also celebrated Baisakhi here in 1706, baptised more than one lakh people on that occasion.

Takht Damdama Sahib is also the place which is last departing point of Guru Gobind Singh from Punjab as the Guru never came back to Punjab after leaving Talwandi Sabo. Guru Gobind Singh accorded the status of Guru Granth Sahib to Adi Granth compiled by him with the help of Bhai Mani Singh at Hazoor Sahib, in Maharashtra.

Bhai Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, expects 15 lakh devotees to visit the place to pay obeisance on Baisakhi during four-days festival. Thousands of devotees have started coming to the place. Devotees from foreign countries were also coming.

On the occasion of Baisakhi, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has decided to open a sub office of its Dharam Parchar wing, to fight evils of drug addiction, female foeticide apart from preaching Sikh religion. Avtar Singh, president, SGPC, will inaugurate the sub office on April 13.

About 28 km from district headquarters town of Bathinda, Talwandi Sabo housing Takht Damdama Sahib, which was visited by Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Tegh Bahadur , was accorded the status of Guru Ki Kashi by Guru Gobind Singh.

Bharpur Singh, manager, Takht Damdama Sahib, said the SGPC had made arrangements for the convenience of devotees. For the first time, space allocation on the premises of Takht Damdama Sahib complex had been done with convenience of devotees in mind.

He expressed disappointment at the authorities ignoring Talwandi Sabo for development. He said the town had been facing acute shortage of drinking water. sewerage system was not functioning. He also demanded connecting Talwandi Sabo with other parts of world, including other four Takhts of Sikhs with rail link.

 

Takht Damdama Sahib outside holy city limits
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, April 11
Takht Damdama Sahib, the fifth Sikh Takht here due to which the town got the status of ‘holy city’, has been denied the status as it was not included into the area limits of holy city stipulated by the authorities concerned.

Though the Takht Damdama Sahib complex, spread across in hundreds of acres where 10th Sikh master Guru Gobind Singh compiled the ‘Adi Granth’, is being denied the status of a ‘holy city’ for the past more than 10 years, neither the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) nor the SAD, which ruled the state from 1997 to 2002 and now is in power, have bothered to do the needful.

Dalmegh Singh, secretary, SGPC, expressing surprise said he was not aware of the fact.

However, he added that the SGPC would take up the matter with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to bring the Takht Damdama Sahib Complex in the limits of holy city.

On the other hand, Balwant Singh Nandgarh, jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, terming the situation as a cruel joke with Sikhs, said in this holy city, sale of drugs and liquor continued unchecked. He said many youths were getting addicted to smack available easily in this semi-urban town given the status of ‘Guru-ki-Kashi’ (seat of learning) by Guru Gobind Singh.

He pointed out that even the house of Bhai Dalla, a local chief who welcomed Guru Gobind Singh when he reached here after a battle with the Mughals at Muktsar and located adjacent to the Takht Damdama Sahib complex, fell into the area limits of holy city, the status given to this town by late Chief Minister Beant Singh.

He added that Takht Damdama Sahib was kept out from the limits of holy city by the then authorities when the limits were fixed when the town was accorded that status.

He said he would take up the matter with SGPC chief Avtar Singh so that Takht Damdama Sahib could be brought in the limits of holy city. The Chief Minister would be urged to declare the area of Talwandi Sabo town as holy city. He added he had spoken to the SSP, Bathinda, in connection with the sale and use of drugs here.

Meanwhile, a section of residents of the town alleged that Akalis, who claimed to be representatives of the Sikhs, whenever they came to power ignored religious interests of Sikhs.

They added they had high hopes from Parkash Singh Badal and were expecting he would make announcements for the overall development of the town when the SAD (B) holds political conference here on the occasion of Baisakhi on April 14.

 

Sixth round of SGPC drive ends
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 11
The sixth round of the “Virsa Sambhal Lehar” of the SGPC concluded here today.

Giani Gurbachan Singh, head granthi of Sri Harmandar Sahib, Giani Baldev Singh, head of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha International, and Hardalbir Singh, member, Dharam Parchar Committee, addressed the participants.

Meanwhile, the SGPC has condemned the threatening calls made to Giani Ikbal Singh, jathedar of Takht Sri Patna Sahib, by an unidentified person. In a press note issued here today, SGPC secretary Harbeant Singh said the incident was unfortunate and worth condemning.

 

Axing heritage trees violation of Constitution: SAD (A)
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 11
Terming the axing of 47 heritage trees at Saragarhi Memorial School as clear violation of Section 49 of the Constitution, the Shiromani Akali Dal, (Amritsar) has decided to file a writ petition in the high court.

The school, which was opened by the British government in 1851 and later named after great martyrs of the battle of Saragarhi, was razed down by the district administration for constructing a multi-storeyed parking.

Ram Singh, general secretary of the party, in a press note here today, said Section 49 bound the governments and people for the preservation and upkeep of heritage property and buildings. He said the respective governments which had already failed to provide clean atmosphere and environment to citizens of this holy city, were also hurting the sentiments of the Sikhs in particular. Ram Singh said the BJP party had not shown any interest to save these trees, including the 150-year-old peepal and bohar trees.

The SAD (A) general secretary alleged that under the very nose of the SGPC a three-storeyed building had come up in front of the gate of the Golden Temple. He said the present committee had also failed to provide green and clean environment around the holy shrine.

 

‘Scrap disturbed area notification’
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 11
As Punjab is no longer a terrorism-affected state, the union government should immediately scrap the notification under which the state was declared a disturbed area more than two decades ago.

In reply to a question here today, the MP from Sangrur and secretary general of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) said Punjabis and Muslims visiting Punjab from Pakistan had been facing many problems though terrorism was a thing of the past.

Dhindsa said he would also raise the issue in Parliament as Muslims coming from Pakistan to meet their relatives in Malerkotla could not get direct visa for the state. They first had to go to Delhi for visiting Punjab, he added.

Dhindsa disclosed that he had met the Prime Minister on April 9 in Delhi in this connection. He said even the Union Law Minister agreed with his demand. The Union Home Minister was not present on the occasion, due to which a decision could not be taken on this issue.

The Sangrur MP also said that he would raise various Punjab-related issues, including damage to crops and problems of farmers. To a question regarding reservation for other backward classes (OBCs) Dhindsa said quota benefits should be given only to weaker sections and the creamy layer should be kept away.

Regarding 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and state assemblies, Dhindsa said only the central government could give a proper reply on this issue. He said SAD would not oppose reservation for women in Parliament or assemblies.

Referring to the atta-dal scheme, Dhindsa said a survey was being conducted to identify people below the poverty line as per new guidelines. 

 

2 undertrials escape, 5 cops suspended
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 11
Five cops of the Khanna police district were booked and suspended for the dereliction of duty when two undertrial prisoners escaped from their custody near Neelon this evening.

Taking advantage of an a unauthorised stop over of a bus carrying 11 undertrial prisoners, two of them escaped from a restaurant near the Neelon canal bridge on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh road late this evening. They were on the way to the central jail after attending court hearing in Samrala regarding a case. Two other undertrial prisoners were, however, were caught while escaping.

The escapees Rupinder Singh and Sandeep Singh are facing trial in a case of murder and another of fraud and cheating registered against them at Samrala. They belong to Lalla Kalan village.

SP Detective Khanna, Sushil Kumar said the five cops including a head constable and four constables, have been booked under Sections 223 and 224 of the IPC for the negligence of duty.

He revealed escapee undertrial prisoners had got the bus stopped on the pretext of paying obesiance at a roadside religious place. However, after alighting from the bus, they ran in opposite directions.

He said the stop was unauthorised and an inquiry was on about the connivance of the cops. He said it was possible other undertrial prisoners might also be involved.

 

Power tariff hike unlikely
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 11
With corporation elections in sight, the Punjab government might not allow the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to affect a power tariff hike. Despite strong recommendations from the PSEB and power engineers association, the government till date has not allowed the board to file the annual revenue requirement (ARR) report before the state power regulatory commission.

The regulatory commission has fixed April 15 as the deadline for filing the ARR report for the PSEB. With just two working days to go for the deadline, there is still no clear direction from the government on the issue. If the board fails to file the report before the commission, it might not be allowed power tariff hike for whole financial year.

PSEB chairman YS Ratra when asked to comment on the issue said: “We cannot file the ARR before the regulatory commission without clear directions from the government. The matter has been taken up with the government but no decision could be taken in the matter,” he said.

Sources here said last year being the election year, the Congress government also did not allow the PSEB to present its ARR report or case for power tariff hike before the regulatory commission. Due to this, the PSEB was not allowed to hike power tariff.

Board authorities, speaking on the condition of anonymity, however, alleged that if the power tariff hike was not allowed this year, it might have an adverse affect on the power availability in the state.

The revenue gap between receipts and expenditure of the board has increased to Rs 2357 crore this year. The board needs hard cash for buying power this summer to give adequate supply to tubewells in the coming paddy season.

This season, revenue receipts of the board are at the lowest ebb as cuts have been imposed on industry and free power is supplied to tubewells. Given the current financial situation, financial institutions might not extend further loans to the electricity board. Hill states like Himachal which have surplus power this summer have already increased the price to over Rs 7 per unit due to lopsided demand and supply situation.

Due to involvement of middlemen in the purchase of power, hard cash is needed to purchase power during summers. To make arrangements for the same, the PSEB authorities are demanding over 30 per cent power tariff hike.

However, such a steep power tariff hike would have a serious backlash at a time when the civic poll is not far away.

 

Rally by PSEB staff
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 11
Employees of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) held a rally at the subdivision No. 1 here today to express resentment over proposed distribution of electricity bills through the Department of Posts.

Hem Raj, circle president, Balwinder Singh Sandhu, circle secretary, technical services union, Jarnail Singh, Chiman Lal, Shyam Nath and Gian Singh were among those who addressed the rally presided over by Balwant Singh. They strongly criticised the board and the state government for deciding to retrench regular bill distributors all over Punjab and assign the work to post offices. They regretted that the board had earlier resolved to authorise the contractors to collect payment against the bills on the spot. The PSEB, they alleged, had been going ahead with the process of privatisation in a phased manner by adopting similar tactics in laying special transmission lines under the 24-hour supply scheme through contractors. The TSU had been assured that steps would be taken to scrap the electricity bill, 2003, but no positive step was in the offing so far. The board had not initiated filling of vacancies for a long time even when large number of employees had retired during the past five years. This overburdened the employees besides bringing down quality of service. The TSU leaders warned that a decisive agitation would be launched with active participation of consumers as they too had suffered a lot and were not expected to get any relief during the ensuing summer season.

 

Memo to SDM on ‘excesses’
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 11
Congress workers, led by Sunil Jakhar, MLA, today participated in a protest march from the new grain market to the subdivisional office complex here today.

They submitted a memorandum to the sub divisional magistrate. The memorandum signed by the presidents of three Congress committees of this Assembly segment sought the administration to check alleged excesses of the ruling parties after the formation of the government.

The Congress alleged that presidents of different unions/association had been removed undemocratically for their leaning towards the Congress. The party also expressed concern over “deteriorating” law and order situation.

 

Pharmacy council to tackle drug menace
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
Expressing concern over the growing drug menace in Punjab, medical education and research minister Tikshan Sud today said the state pharmacy council would take drastic measures to counter the menace.

Addressing a press conference here, Sud said two-day workshops would be held in all districts to educate pharmacists against selling drugs to youth and the harm being caused to society by the drug problem. Inspectors would be recruited to inspect premises where drugs were compounded or dispensed. Only duly registered pharmacists would be allowed to compound and dispense drugs.

Wholesalers would be asked to recruit pharmacists for business purposes. No one would be allowed to manufacture drugs banned by the union government under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

Private hospitals would also be asked to recruit pharmacists at the drug stores on their premises.

For upgrading the knowledge of pharmacists regarding new drugs, an information centre would be set up on the pattern of Karnataka and Maharashtra, he added. Healthcare had emerged as an important area in the country and pharmacists were required to be well aware of it.

The council would institute three annual awards for topper pharmacist students.Likewise three awards would be given to professionals in the pharmaceutical business, he said. There were 28,738 registered pharmacists in the state besides 6,000 wholesalers of medicines.

 

ITI student dies in scuffle
Our Correspondent

Nabha, April 11
A student died in a scuffle in the ITI here. According to police sources, Davinder Singh (20), of Hira Mahal area of the town, was attacked by two local youths on the institute premises when he had gone there today morning to ask for leave with his brother Balihar Singh.

Accused Ravneet Singh Bagga, a student of ITI, Patiala, and Jagdeep Singh Soni gave him blows and kicks causing spleen injury. According to sources, the victim had an altercation with the accused yesterday at a function in Ludhiana.

Davinder was taken to the Civil Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

 

Suicide by girl, boy
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 11
Sita Ram, a resident of Dangarkhera village, 7 km from here, was today found unconscious with multiple injuries in his house.

According to information, other members of the family had gone to Sriganganagar to attend a function. On return today, they found Sita Ram injured seriously with sharp-edged weapons by unidentified person(s) who might have forced entry into the house last night and attacked him.

The culprit(s) left the place believing he had died. Sita Ram was admitted to the Civil Hospital here and was not in a position to give any statement till the evening, the police said.

Surinder Kumar, a resident of the same village, in a complaint to the police alleged a person attacked him and snatched Rs 87,000 he had withdrawn from a bank today. His mother was also injured as she tried to intervene, the complainant said. She was also hospitalised.

Usha (17) today reportedly committed suicide by consuming poison at her Dayal Nagri residence. Her father Amar Dass told the police a youth from Prem Nagar had been teasing her for a long time. This made her end life, he alleged.

An unidentified youth last night committed suicide by jumping before a train between the railway station and goods yard, sources said. The Railway Police found the body this morning.

A person was found dead outside a liquor shop near Rani Jhansi market this morning. Some persons on the morning walk spotted the victim’s body and informed the police. The victim was identified as Deepak Brar, a rickshaw pullar.

 

Shifting of transformer raises hackles
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 11
Residents of New Garden Colony here have protested against the shifting of a transformer in their colony. The residents have alleged that the 200 KVA transformer, installed behind the residence of an influential person, has been shifted to the middle of the street. Besides, its capacity has been reduced to 100 KVA.

The house of the kin of a VIP is being given connection from another transformer. Sukhminder Singh SDO (PSEB) said with the shifting of the transformer, the power supply to the area would improve. The load of the colony had now been put on two transformers, he added.

 

Protest against drug peddlers
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 11
Residents of Arya Nagar, a locality known for the highest number of daily wage earners, today held a demonstration to draw the attention of the administration towards the alleged inflow of drug peddlers and other anti-social elements in a historic dera there.

The protesters, including schoolchildren and women, said the dera had become a den of drug addicts and suppliers in the past few years and no action had been initiated on the complaints filed by the residents of the locality. A part of Arya Nagar, they said, had become a crime-prone zone as gangsters clashed many a times late at night endangering the security people.

Those anti-social elements, who had left the dera six months ago following protests by residents, were assembling there again for the past few days. Most of them were outsiders, the protesters rued. The residents demanded an extensive screening of such places to identify those running the dera besides their involvement in drug trafficking.

 

IAS, PCS officers transferred
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
The Punjab Government today ordered the transfers and postings of IAS and PCS officers D.S.Guru, principal secretary to Chief Minister has been given additional charge of civil aviation and R.L.Mehta has been asked to look after the work of the post of secretary, Punjab state election commission.

Gurdev Singh has been posted as director, rural development and panchayats and Iqbal Singh Sidhu has been posted as special secretary, public grievances and pensions. Anurag verma becomes managing director of the PSIDC and director local government. R.K. Ganta has been posted as director, technical education and Raj Kamal chaudhari as executive director of Punjab scheduled castes land development and Finance Corporation.

Manisha Trighatia has been sent to housing and urban development department for posting as additional chief administrator of PUDA at Mohali and Sukhwinder Pal Singh has become additional deputy commissioner, Jalandhar. Shurti Singh has been sent as SDM at Chamkaur Sahib and Balraj Sekhon as SDM to Nabha.

Pritam Singh has been posted SDM at Phillaur, Sukhwinder Singh Gill at Khanna and Harminder Singh at Balachaur. Jaskiran Singh becomes SDM at Muktsar, D.P.S. Kharbanda at Ferozepur and Ravinder Kumar at Khamano. Mohinder Pal has been posted deputy director, local bodies, at Ludhiana and Uma Shankar as SDM at Rampura Phul. Karnail Singh has been posted as SDM at Hoshiarpur, Kuljeet Pal Singh Mahi at Bathinda and Anil Kumar Garg at Talwandi Sabo.

 

Madan Mohan is officiating secy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
Madan Mohan has been given officiating charge of secretary of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.

He is working as additional secretary in the Vidhan Sabha. The post of secretary fell vacant recently following the retirement of Nachhattar Singh Mawi.

Meanwhile, with the giving of officiating charge to Madan Mohan, the process of allotment of flats to Punjab MLAs will begin soon.

 

Minor abducted, raped by 2 neighbours
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 11
A minor girl was allegedly abducted and raped last night by two youths, her next-door neighbours, at Bal Sikandar village, under the Rajasansi police station.

In a statement to the police today, the victim (13), said she was abducted by Manjit Singh (20) and Tarsem Singh (25), residing in her neighbourhood, last night when she had gone to the terrace of the house to check electricity wires after a power failure.

She added she got up around midnight and found power supply only to her house was snapped as she could see light on in the locality. To check wires, she went to the terrace. The two accused, who were already present on the roof of the neighbouring house, caught her.

The victim said she was threatened with a sharp-edged weapon if she raised the alarm. Her hands were tied and was brought to their house and taken to a deserted room near a factory outside the village, on a bicycle and raped there.

The accused, who fled the scene after the crime were nabbed by the police this evening. Medical examination of the girl was done at the local civil hospital here today.

A case under Sections 363, 366, 376 of the (IPC) Indian Penal Code at the Rajasansi police station was registered. The police, said two accused were cousins and worked in a woollen mill near Ajnala. Medical examination of the youths was also conducted and samples sent to Patiala.

 

Cop booked on rape charge

Abohar, April 11
The police has booked a Punjab police constable on for outraging the modesty of a woman, SHO Sanjiv Setia confirmed this morning.

DSP Parampal Singh had asked the SHO to rush to Waryam Nagar on receiving a message late last night that the police constable had allegedly forced entry into a house and indulged in indecent behaviour with the woman.

The SHO registered a case under Sections u/s 354, 249 of the IPC, against the cop. The culprit has absconded. — OC

 

Plan to recruit 600 lecturers
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 11
To make technical education job oriented, new courses, including information technology, would be introduced in polytechnic colleges.

Naresh Nagpal, additional director, Technical Education, Punjab, stated this while talking to mediapersons at JR Government Polytechnic College here today. The government had sanctioned 600 posts of lecturer in polytechnic colleges and the recruitment process would begin soon. He said the Indian Institute of Management and the International Indian Institute of Science would set up six technical colleges in the state.

Later, Nagpal inaugurated the 36th inter-polytechnic annual athletic meet in which 507 athletes of 41 polytechnic colleges are participating.

 

For them, charity begins at classroom
Charu Chhibber/Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 11
Social work starts right in the classrooms for the students of the department of social work, Punjabi University, here. These students are taught not only how to deal with social issues but are also trained to solve problems of the underprivileged.

The faculty and students have been organising camps on social issues like environment, marriage, drug deaddiction, child and women welfare, female foeticide, literacy regularly. Dr Manjeet Singh, head of the department says, “The organisation of such camps is an initiative that we have taken on our own. Actually giving training to the students about the various facets of social issues is part of the curriculum. But, in my opinion, practical training along with theory is very important for the understanding of social problems.

“That is why, in spite of it not being mandatory in any university, we organise camps on various social issues.”

“Such camps not only help our students gain first-hand experience, but also help solve problems of many aggrieved people who do not have the means and awareness to take proper expert advise and treatment.”

The students of the department go to different villages and slum areas, evaluate the problems of the inhabitants, collect information and discuss it at the weekly group conference in the department. The conference analyses all facts and figures, decides upon the issue to be taken up, suggests expert and specialist agencies to deal with the problem and the students contact and invite the aggrieved persons to a camp on a selected issue. It is organised in that particular area, with students being assisted by faculty members and experts on the subject.

There are 38 students in the department and seven faculty members, all of whom are regular participants in such camps.

“We started organising camps in 1987. Besides counselling people, we also refer cases to specialised agencies or experts, depending upon the seriousness of the case,” says Dr Manjeet Singh.

The department does not have any source of funds and has to look for sponsors. “On an average, our students organise around 25 camps per year,” remarks Dr Singh.

Khushboo Dixit, a second year student of Masters of Social Work (MSW), says, “Helping someone solve their problems is a great feeling and all the hard work is worth it if we can see even one person smile because of our efforts.”

 

Students showcase talent
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 11
The University College of Engineering, Punjabi University, here organised its annual fest “Runbhoomi”, which concluded yesterday.

The fest provided a platform for the students to showcase their talent. The events at the fest included paper presentation, web designing, C programming, group dances, solo singing, rangoli making, collage making, etc.

The fest, organised by a team of 3rd year students, was inaugurated by Dr S.S. Gill, dean, academic affairs.

 


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