punjab
P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


300-cr subsidy backlog to be cleared in 2 yrs
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 30
The state government plans to clear backlog of the entire pending subsidy of over Rs 300 crore within the next two financial years. This will include an additional Rs 100 crore disbursement this financial year itself.

Plans were afoot to review cases of units that were closed during this period.

Pending subsidy had become a sore issue with industrial units, majority of which had been waiting for its disbursement for over a decade. Punjab Local Bodies, Industries and Commerce minister Manoranjan Kalia, who handed over cheques of pending subsidy of Rs 22.53 crore to 330 industrial units here today, said the government was committed to clear the backlog so as to provide relief to the industry.

Today’s disbursal cleared the backlog of sanctioned cases of subsidy till November 1998. “We plan to give away Rs 100 crore within this financial year and an equal amount each financial after that,” said Kalia.

Capital subsidy, declared in 1996, was calculated at Rs 565 crore of which only Rs 112 crore had been disbursed in 10 years. Hundreds of industrial units, many of which even availed loans in hope of paying them off through subsidy at later stages, had lost hope and several had to shut operations. While the cases of those, which have closed down during this period, had not been cleared so far, the government said it would consider a review of these cases.

Industry leaders expressed happiness over the government’s decision on subsidy. “The subsidy issue had started looking like dream which would remain unfulfilled. But it is finally being realised. This subsidy would improve functioning of units and if cases of closed units are reviewed even such units can be expected to re-start operations,” said V.P.Chopra, president, Federation of Punjab Small Industries Associations.

Industry representatives, however, felt that the government should also consider interest on subsidy and inflationary factors. They said for the units that had closed down a special incentive package for revival should be framed.

He said the state government was also working towards obtaining a package for Punjab’s industry from the Centre. 



Tribune Impact
Principal secy told to tour jaundice-hit areas
Two more admitted to Civil Hospital
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, April 30
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has directed his principal secretary D.S. Guru to tour jaundice-hit areas of the city even as two patients in a serious condition were admitted to the Civil Hospital today.With this the district administration and senior officers of the Department of Health and Municipal Corporation have started steps to stop the spread of jaundice in the worst- affected areas in the periphery of the city.

Deputy commissioner K.S. Pannu accompanied by a medical team today visited the areas under near epidemic-like conditions and after hearing grievances of people gave directions to the officers of the Health Department and the Municipal Corporation to take steps and provide medical aid to the victims.The DC also issued instructions to provide clean drinking water through water tankers treated with chlorine in the area.

Four persons have died of jaundice in the Sunder Nagar area in the past few days and more than 200 reported affected with the disease and admitted to private and government hospitals.Other areas affected with the epidemic are Pawan Nagar, Tandon Nagar, Sawan Nagar, Amarkot, Krishna Nagar and Judge Nagar.

Residents of these areas came out in large number to protest against the inefficient working of the municipal authorities which had been taking water samples from the area without bothering to give the reports of water’s contamination.The DC assured the residents of proper water testing in the area and urged them to get water samples tested from private laboratories and hand over the report to him for taking corrective steps.

Lehmber Singh, civil surgeon, said medical check-up camps were being organised where 39 new patients had reported for treatment in the area. He said separate wards had been created in the Civil Hospital for giving treatment and medicines free of cost to the patients. 

 

State of Finances
Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana
Money crunch hits research, employee benefits 
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 30
Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, gets an annual grant of Rs 80 crore from the state government, an amount almost equal to what the government gives to all other universities put together. Yet the 4800-employee institution finds even this whopping grant Rs 10 crore less to even meet its total salary bill.

The only university in the state that has more employees than students has an annual budget of about Rs 110 crore. Established in 1962, the PAU is spread over a sprawling campus of almost 1,500 acres in the heart of Ludhiana and another 4,600 acres at regional stations.

With its main focus on high-end agricultural research, there are only 1,500 students in the university pursuing various Master’s and PhD programmes.

The PAU is heavily dependent on government grant, which was fixed at Rs 80 crore five years ago. Any increase in expenditure is now the university’s own burden, which is finding itself in the midst of serious financial crises.

The university has been struggling to pay employees their salaries and due emoluments. Leave Travel Concession (LTC) has not been paid to employees and pensioners since 2004-05.

The university has not been able to deposit Rs 6 crore of its share of the GPF of its employees. The pension fund of the university is also depleting fast.

Other than the employee’s burden, the university is having problems meeting the 25 per cent state’s share of the various Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) projects, pointed out A.C. Rana, the university comptroller.

Several steps have been taken to reduce expenditure. There has been a merger of departments, pooling of vehicles and restricted use of air-conditioners.

The staff strength has also being trimmed to about 4,800 against the sanctioned strength of 6,782. Regulated use of electricity alone saved the university Rs 72 lakh in one year. The estimated savings in the committed expenditure was shown as Rs 15 crore in 2005-06.

Efforts have also been made to generate income through the sale of seeds, plants, milk, poultry, farm products, honey, literature and consultancy services. Student fee, too, was hiked. Even the morning walkers fund has generated Rs 5 lakh in one year. The net income of the university has doubled from Rs 5.65 crore to Rs 10.43 crore in past five years.

Research and development was the worst hit due to the financial crises. The Union government announced a package of Rs 100 crore to the university last year and the first installment of Rs 30 crore has just been received.

“We have brought to the notice of the new Vice-Chancellor today that we need at least Rs 128 crore from the government to meet our expenditure for this year. Out of this, Rs 6 crore will be used for the GPF, Rs 3 crore for LTC and at least 20 crore for the pension fund,” said Rana.

Former VC Prof K.S. Aulakh had forwarded a proposal to the new Akali government demanding a grant of Rs 125 crore, but nothing has been heard from the government so far.

 

State Congress in turmoil
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 30
The Punjab Congress is in turmoil. Indecisiveness on the part of the party high command in naming the new president of the Punjab pradesh Congress committee (PPCC) may not be the immediate provocation. But the expected return of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to the state, a little more than three weeks after his return from the UK, has party leaders aligned in parallel camps.

A majority in the party is reportedly keeping itself aloof from Amarinder Singh and his trusted group of some young legislators, maintaining that the central leadership is looking for a change and they all are for it.

While senior leaders of the PPCC as well as the Punjab Congress legislature party (PCLP) are maintaining an eerie silence over his return, a group of young legislators and first-timers is getting enthused by the expected return of Amarinder Singh.

Jeetmohinder Singh, legislator from Talwandi Sabo, for example, issued a statement this evening claiming that there was a “wave of enthusiasm among party workers and leaders who are getting ready to receive their hero at the Shambhu barrier on May 2.”

Intriguingly, when Amarinder Singh returned from London on April 9 after spending almost a month there, senior leaders had preferred to stay back than be seen with the crowd at Indira Gandhi international airport.

There has been little change in their position even now. They may not be with the young legislators in welcoming Amarinder Singh as they continue to pursue a “wait-and-watch” policy, presumably in line with his cold- shouldering by the party high command.

Equally surprising has been the silence Amarinder Singh has maintained ever since his return. This, sources say, is at the instance of the party high command, which is not very happy with him over a couple of issues, including the debacle the party suffered in the last assembly elections.

While the party high command is still busy with the Uttar Pradesh elections, it is certainly looking for a new leader for the PPCC who can reorganise and rebuild the party in time for the next general elections.

One reason for the senior leaders of both the PPCC and PCLP to feel upset is the volte-face by Amarinder Singh in the Ludhiana city centre scam in which he has taken bail after making a statement that he would face the SAD-BJP onslaught boldly rather than seek relief from the court.

They also maintain that ever-changing announcements about the impending return of Amarinder Singh to Punjab and his seclusion in Delhi are clear indications that the party high command wants him to maintain a low profile for the time being. The young legislators maintain that a big public reception would be held in Punjab for him from the Shambhu barrier. 

 

No differences with BJP: Badal 

Badal (Muktsar), April 30
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today declined to comment over the BJP’s demand for the post of state’s deputy chief minister even as he claimed that there were no differences between SADand BJP over any issue.

He said that the leadership of both parties was addressing the issues relating to the functioning of SAD-BJP combine government jointly. Badal, who was presiding over the silver jubilee function of local Dashmesh Girls Senior Secondary School, said that it was encouraging that many NRIs were contributing for development of education in Punjab.

Everyone, expressing desire to invest in this field, would be given full support by the Punjab Government.

Manpreet Singh Badal, finance minister, presented prizes to deserving students. — TNS

 

NOC confusion Cong legacy: Govt 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 30
The Punjab government today said the controversy generated due to the cancellation of no-objection certificates of builders and mega project developers in the state was a legacy of the previous Congress regime.

While presenting documents on the matter, a spokesperson of the government said former chief secretary K.R. Lakhanpal on February 17, 2007, gave an affidavit before the Punjab and Haryana high court stating that the department of science and technology had been directed to cancel/withdraw all NOCs granted to the developers. He went on to state that an inquiry was being ordered to fix responsibility for the lapse in the issuance of these certificates.

The previous government had earlier categorically "revoked, cancelled and withdrawn" the NOCs issued by the Punjab pollution control board to these projects, said the spokesperson.

The reaction of the government comes a day after a builder, Vikas Singhal, allegedly committed suicide at Panchkula. NOCs for two of his projects in Dera Bassi were cancelled. The Panchkula police had said that financial loss in his business could be one of the reasons for the suicide.

The Punjab government claimed that the previous government did considerable damage by misleading key players in the field of industrial and other projects and keeping them in the dark about the implications of the judgement of the Punjab and Haryana high court. “We are determined to undo the damage and boost investors' confidence in Punjab as a model destination for their investments," said the spokesperson.

The entire mess and confusion on the issue of mega projects and the cancellation of NOCs belonged to the period of the previous regime. On the other hand, the present government had initiated action on framing fresh, suitable and consolidated guidelines for the setting up of projects in the vicinity of industrial units and industrial areas, said a press release.

 

RDX Seizure
Police to quiz Ravi Inder, Rode 
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 30
In what could add controversy to the intense political fight in Punjab, the Punjab police has decided to question Ravi Inder Singh and Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode in the case relating to the seizure of 11 kg of RDX in December last year.

The police will question Ravi Inder Singh, former Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, and Rode, former Jathedar of Akal Takht. Sources in the Punjab government confirmed the move, adding “the two will not be arrested but just questioned about what they know about the case and the individuals involved in it”.

The police has already initiated the move and the two will be asked to join the probe. No formal request has been sent so far. A decision in this regard was taken on Friday by the team investigating the case.

When the RDX was seized last December, Parkash Singh Badal had alleged that he had information that it was meant to kill him or his son Sukhbir Badal in the run-up to the assembly elections. The Punjab police had then arrested UK-based Paramjit Singh Dhaddhi from a place near Ropar.

In his reported confession to the police, he is said to have admitted that he was to “carry out a big task”. The police believes that Bhootna, Dhaddhi and a few other UK-based hardliners were in touch with Rode and Ravi Inder Singh.

Supporters of Ravi Inder Singh have gone on the offensive and say the police is trying to frame him and Rode in false cases. Allegations of political vendetta have been levelled. Ravi Inder Singh is the president of the SAD-1920.

Police officials here said the main focus was to find out if a second consignment of RDX was also routed through a neighbouring country. The police theory is that it may be the first assignment, for which Dhaddhi was arrested, and was just a “smoke screen”. A second consignment of RDX could be a reality. Was it brought in or did the plan fail?

 
 


Harmander Sahib
  Intach against air-conditioning 
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 30
Reacting to the issue of installation of air-conditioners in Harmander Sahib, Punjab state convener Intach, Dr Sukhdev Singh, said it would not serve any purpose as its doors were open on all four sides and had an upward direction through the stairs. Hence, there would be no cooling effect. He said if the doors were closed, it would be against the Sikh tradition. Moreover, the structure had water on all sides, which had a natural cooling effect.

If air-conditioners were fitted, it would damage the structure and wall paintings, as it would require drilling into walls to make holes; a wire mesh would also be needed. The cooling systems would also generate heat.

“There is no comparison between Mecca, Vatican church and Harmander Sahib as the former are closed-door structures with open door on one side only “, he said.

Harkamaljit Singh, a member of Intach, Amritsar chapter, added that the installation of ACs might cause electrical accidents, as the AC compressors would work continuously because of the free flow of air.

Intach, Amritsar chapter, co convener Hira Singh said the SGPC should build a public opinion against raising high-concrete structures around Harmander Sahib while Gopal Johri objected to the multi-purpose parking near Harmander Sahib as it added to the heat and air pollution around it.

 

Dismissal of SGPC secy imminent
Refuses to appear before panel
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 30
Even as Raghbir Singh, secretary, SGPC, has refused to appear before the sub-committee of the Shiromani committee, scheduled to be held at Chandigarh on May 3, the committee may take the extreme step to dismiss him from service for having failed to avail the "last opportunity" given to him through public notice.

However, Raghbir Singh, who was placed under suspension last year on charges of indiscipline alleged that he could not appear before the sub-committee as "suspended secretary" since he had already got a stay from the Sikh gurdwara judicial commission (SGJC) against his suspension orders.

Moreover, he didn't want to make an appearance before the committee as he feared for his life. He alleged that he had been receiving threatening calls at behest of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and SGPC Chief Avtar Singh.

He alleged that he was being pressurised to withdraw the cases, which were filed in the SGJC and High Court against the SAD Chief, SGPC President and Surinder Kaur Badal.

However, the SGPC chief said that Raghbir Singh wanted to preempt action by levelling "wild" allegations.

A member of the SGPC's sub-committee, however, said that the SGJC had no locus standi to stay the suspension orders of Raghbir Singh as the Punjab and Haryana High Court had already given its ruling that service matters could not be heard by SGJC.

Raghbir Singh said that instead of appreciating his services for getting gurdwara land, worth several crore cleared from encroachment, he was being "victimised". He alleged that his security had been withdrawn even as he had been fighting a number of legal cases on behalf of the SGPC.

 

PCMSA calls on Chawla
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 30
A deputation of the Punjab Civil Medical Services (PCMS) Association called upon Punjab health minister Luxmi Kanta Chawala under the presidentship of Hardeep Singh, state president of the PCMS and Puneet Girdher, PCMS, Dental president to apprise her of the resentment among the government doctors over the denial of grant of non- practising allowance (NPA) on the dearness pay.

Ajay Bagga, press secretary of the association, said here todaya emorandum was submitted to the minister at Chandigarh bringing to her notice clarifications on certain points raised by the director health and family welfare. The state government clarified the NPA was to be computed on the basic pay only. Criticising this clarification, they stated that the Punjab government’s circular of June 1, 2004 clearly mentioned dearness allowance equal to 50 per cent of existing pay will be converted into dearness pay which shall count as pay for the purpose of all allowances.

 

Docs up in arms against govt order
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 30
Rural Health Officers, appointed as service providers in rural dispensaries through Zila Parishads last year, have declined to obey the order of the Punjab Government, vide which they have been asked to get their attendance sheets attested from the sarpanches of their respective places (villages) of posting.

They have also termed this order of the government as “unfortunate” on the plea that it will create conflict between the doctors and sarpanches on the one ground or other.

 

Tributes paid to Swami Keshwanand
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 30
Brig Bhupinder Singh, Commander, 89 Infantry Brigade, paid tributes to swami Keshwanand, a former Rajya Sabha member, at the silver jubilee celebrations of Swami Keshwanand Senior Secondary School in the Sahitya Sadan complex here yesterday.

He released a souvenir and presented mementos.

 

Punjab seeks more power from Centre
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 30
The Punjab state electricity board (PSEB) has petitioned the union ministry for power for extra power from the unallocated Central quota for the forthcoming paddy season.

According to sources, the state has sought 15 per cent of the unallocated power quota available with the ministry in May and 25 per cent in June, July and September.

The ministry has about 1,300 MW in its unallocated quota from various power generation facilities of central corporations including the NHPC and NTPC that is up for grabs by power deficit states during summer months.

At present, Punjab is not getting any share in the unallocated power share of the union power ministry. However, the state is making a strong case to get the maximum share out of that on the plea that power was required for the sowing of paddy.

Other power-deficient states have also filed petitions for a share in the Centre’s unallocated power. Officials, while speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the petition of the PSEB was at the mercy of the ministry.

The former Congress government had last year ensured eight-hour power supply for tube wells after spending a fortune on buying power from other states. Due to overspending on buying power at hefty rates, the revenue deficit of the PSEB had increased beyond Rs 2,300 crore.

The present government wants to maintain the standards achieved by the previous government during the election year. The top agenda of the government is to ensure maximum power supply for farmers in forthcoming paddy season and that too free of cost.

Recently, the government also did not allow the PSEB to file a petition before the power regulatory board for tariff revision. While the board was seeking 30 to 35 per cent increase, the government was not willing to affect even a minor increase keeping in view the forthcoming corporation elections in the state.

Instead, the state government has increased the credit limit of the PSEB to enable it to buy more power after raising loans from financial institutions.

Concerns over the financial position of the PSEB have already expressed by Manpreet Singh Badal, state finance minister. However, political considerations have once again prevailed over the harsh facts.

 

PCCTU flays move to quash union poll
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 30
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) denounced the decision of its general secretary Jagwant Singh to cancel the unanimous election of prof Tarlochan Singh Sangha and prof Avtar Singh as president and secretary, respectively, of the Kapurthala district council.

The nominations, which were required to be submitted to the president of the Kapurthala district by April 20, were not given within the stipulated period by any other candidates. In this connection, Jagwant Singh did not hold any enquiry and unjustifiably cancelled the unanimous election, said prof S.S. Hundal, who is also a candidate for the post of president.

The candidates also alleged that the general secretary had not provided the authentic list of the delegates which constitute the electoral college, thus deprived the contestants of their genuine right to information.

The candidates also charged the general secretary of proclaiming unconstitutional acts by rejecting the fees of members in Malwa College, Samrala and Baba Budha College, Bir Sahib.

 

Homoeopaths celebrate founder’s day
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 30
Members of the Homoeopathic Education and Research Foundation celebrated the 252nd birthday of the father of homoeopathy, Samuel Halnemann, at Bhasha Bhawan here today.

A seminar was organised in which lectures on various medical subjects were delivered by Dr Katoch, head of the pathology department, Chandigarh, besides doctors from Lord Mahavira Homoeopathic Medical College, Ludhiana.

The delegates paid tributes to the founder of homoeopathy. A book “Selected Remedies for the Problems of Children” was also released on the occasion.

The members of the foundation also discussed cases of chronic patients. Secretary-general of the foundation Dr P.S. Sondhi said the foundation tried to bring awareness about the treatment available in this stream of medicine.

 

Genetically modified crops ‘becoming popular’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 30
Opposition from various non-government organisations notwithstanding, the area under genetically modified (GM) crops is increasing rapidly in the country.

Farmers' preference for Bt cotton can be gauged from the fact that 70 per cent of the total area under this crop was covered by Bt seeds. " In the next two or three years, Bt cotton will be spread over 90 per cent of the total area under this crop", said Dr P.Ananda Kumar, principal scientist, national research centre on plant biotechnology, and chairman, monitoring-cum -evaluation committee.

Dr Kumar told The Tribune that in 2002, only 0.5 million hectares was under Bt cotton and last year the area went up to 3.8 million hectares. The use of pesticides to save the cotton crop from pests, mainly the American bollworm, had gone down by 75 per cent, he claimed.

Asked about reports that genetically modified crops created health problems like skin diseases, he said there was no such report from any part of the cotton belt so far. " I believe it is just propaganda against such crops and there is no authentic report in this regard", he added.

G. Balachandharan, joint secretary, union ministry of environment and forests, said here today that after the introduction of Bt cotton in various parts of the country, now the focus was not on water-guzzling crops like rice.

Balachandharan was here to preside over a training workshop on bio-safety issues hosted by the Punjab state council for science and technology. Asked about the high price of Bt seeds, Balachandharan said it was true that in first years of Bt cotton, companies charged a high price. " But now we are recommending the Bt seeds of various companies to introduce competition in sales." Last year, we recommended the cotton seed of various companies and it brought down the price from Rs 1,400 per bag to Rs 700-800. We expect that the price will come down further in two or three three years", he added.

Punjab chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh, who inaugurated the workshop, listed the steps taken to promote bio-technology in the state.

Others who spoke at the workshop were Dr N.S. Tiwana, Dr Manoranjan Hota, M.P. Singh, Jatinder Kaur Arora and P. Ananda Kumar.

 

 

Eleven PCS officers shifted

Chandigarh, April 30
The Punjab government today ordered the transfer of 11 Punjab civil service officers.

Prem Chand is the new SDM, Nihalsingwala. Harcharan Singh Sandhu becomes the DTO, Faridkot, while Pradeep Kumar goes as the EO, PUDA, Amritsar. Puneet Goyal is the new SDM, Ajnala.

J.C. Sabharwal becomes the DTO, Ropar. Nirbhai Singh has been posted as SDM, Moga, while A.P.S. Sandhu becomes the SDM, Anandpur Sahib. Gurmit Singh is the new SDM, Patiala, while Upkar Singh goes as the SDM, Jalalabad. Gurpreet Singh Thind will be the new DTO, Sangrur, and Gurjit Singh becomes the SDM, Mansa. — TNS

 

Five die in mishaps
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 30
Five persons were killed in separate incidents in the district during the past 24 hours.

The body of head constable Nachhatar Khan (34) of Karmo Lubana police station Sadar, Patiala, was found lying in a pool of blood in front of the Punjab Recruit Training Centre (PRTC) hostel, Jahan Khelan, today morning.

The deceased had enrolled for a short course of four months and had joined the training centre on April 28, 2007. Last night, he went to the third floor of the PRTC hostel from where he accidentally fell down and died. After conducting a postmortem, the body was handed over to his family.

Kuldip Kaur (23), daughter of Baldev Raj, and Balwinder Singh (22), son of Buta Ram, both of Daulowal (Mukerian) village, died at the Civil Hospital, Dasuya, due to consuming wrong medicines.

In another incident, the body of Sudu, alias Cho, son of Dhadi Singh of Soos village, was found in the house of Avtar Singh of the same village, where he worked as a servant.

According to police sources, Avtar Singh found him dead and a bottle of poison was found near his body. The police has initiated proceedings under Section 174 of the CrPC.

Suresh Kumar of Joora police station, Bulhowal, had succumbed to his burn injuries at the Civil Hospital, Hoshiarpur, last evening. He was admitted to the hospital on April 27 with serious burn injuries.

 

Folk singer held with 195 kg opium
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 30
Folk singer Jagjit Singh, a resident of Ghagha (Patiala), has been arrested under the NDPS Act, along with his accomplice Sukhwinder Singh Ramdasia,the Sriganganagar police said today.

According to sources, the police intercepted a Ford car (DL-3CJ-2690) on its way to the inter-state border.

During the search 195 kg poppy husk, packed in five bags, was recovered from the vehicle.

The singer reportedly told the police that his arrest would delay the release of his album but the police paid no heed to his request.

Preliminary investigation has revealed that they purchased poppy husk from Dhanuri (Rajgarh) village.

They have been remanded in police custody.

 

Acid thrown on scribe
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla , April 30
Acid was thrown at Anwar Mehboob, a local journalist and an Akali supporter, by three youths at his residence in Mohalla Maler on the intervening night of April 29 and April 30.

He was admitted to the local civil hospital here today where his condition was said to be critical. His eyes and face were badly damaged in the incident.

The police has booked five persons - Malerkotla Youth Congress chief Mohammad Shakil, Munir Mohammad, Ilyas Mohammad, Ashraf Mohammad and Abdul Rashid and registered a case under Sections 307 ,326, 120B of the IPC.

The police arrested three among the five accused in the afternoon. Mohammad Shakil was admitted to the civil hospital following an injury on his head.

According to information, the incident occurred when Anwar Mehboob answered the door after returning home from office last night. The youth threw acid on him and fled from the scene on their motor cycle.

 

M.S. Kang joins as PAU VC
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana April 30
Manjit Singh Kang, an Indian-born professor in a US university, today joined as the ninth vice-chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University(PAU). The post had fallen vacant after Dr K.S. Aulakh resigned in protest against the “government interference” in the functioning of the university.

Earlier in the day, the PAU Board of Management, which met at Chandigarh, approved his appointment, which was later accepted by Governor S.F. Rodriques, who is also the chancellor of the university,

An internationally-acclaimed scientist, Kang was working as a professor of Quantitative Genetics at Louisiana State University, USA. He is fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and Crop Science Society of America. He has also been a Fulbright senior scholar to Malaysia in 1999. Besides, he is the president of two bodies, the Association of Agricultural Scientists of Indian Origin (AASIO) and the Louisiana State Conference of American Association of University Professors.

After taking the charge as the VC, Kang said he had come here with a vision of giving fresh impetus to the research work. He said the demands and expectations from the research institutions like the PAU had not just multiplied but changed as well. He maintained that moulding the research activity according to the modern day needs would be his top most priority.

Kang also happens to be an old alumnus of PAU where he got his B.Sc. Agri (Hons) in 1968. Thereafter, he went to the USA where he did masters in plant genetics from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, in 1971, and MA in botany from the same university’s Carbondale Campus in 1977. He obtained his Ph.D. in crop science in 1977 from University of Missouri, Columbia.

Starting his career as research associate at Washington University, St. Louis in 1977 Kang, since then, has served in many prestigious American universities like University of Missouri, University of Florida and Louisiana State University. Besides, he has been Research Manager with Cargill, Inc.

 

Varsity officials used sponsorships to go abroad, alleges Dean
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 30
Foreign visits of the Punjabi university officials, Patiala are in a controversy. Baltej Singh Mann , dean, Resource Mobilisation ,who recently resigned from his post, today alleged the senior officials of the university, including VC Swaran Singh Boparai and his wife Satwant Kaur Boparai had used sponsorships of university donors to go abroad.

Talking to The Tribune here today Mann alleged in the past more than one year, the university officials had been using sponsorships being sent by donors.

The university officials, who had visited foreign countries availing sponsorships from donors besides the VC and his wife include Baldev Singh Sandhu director public relations, Jodh Singh, Rajinder Gill and Satnam Singh Sandhu, he alleged. According to documents with The Tribune the university officials, including the VC, visited Frankfurt,the UK, Canada and the USA on invitation from foreign universities or sponsorships from donors to the institution. Mann has alleged while he and his wife had been denied the permission to go abroad on the apprehension they might misuse sponsorships from university had not other said officials been allowed to misuse the sponsorships?Mann today submitted resignation from the post of director- cum- coordinator, university enquiry and information centre.

He said I had resigned to redeem by pride. I would file a defamation suite against the university authorities, he said.The vice chancellor described allegations levelled by Mann as baseless.

He said he along with wife visited abroad about three year ago. Only my visit was official while the cost of the visit of other family members was private. At that time the sponsors were not the university donors.

The later visits being alleged by Mann were made specifically for raising funds for the academic programmes the university intended to run for poor students. The visits were legal and I am willing to declare the names of the sponsors .

Mann was not submitting in writing the names of the sponsors of his proposed US and Canda visit. The VC added the visit of Mann was private in nature and he could not be allowed to use the official donors of university as sponsors.The VC, however, declined to comment on the reports regarding the suspension of Mann.

Meanwhile the members of the joint action committee demanding the removal of VC have demanded that an inquiry into allegations and counter-allegations of the former dean and the university authorities.

 

School building inaugurated
Tribune News Service

Gandiwind (Tarn Taran), April 30
Brig V. Narayanan, Commander, Dograi Brigade, today inaugurated the building of the primary school in Gandiwind in Tarn Taran district which was renovated by the Army as part of the ongoing process of cementing the bond between the Army and the civil population of border areas.

Due to prolonged negligence, the school was in a dilapidated condition and lacked basic amenities for staff and students. The Multan Battalion (Jat Regiment) had adopted the school and renovated the building giving it a new look and provided furniture for its students. The Army has also provided for a water storage tank, electrical fittings and a park for children.

Speaking on the occasion, Brigadier Narayanan urged the people to thwart the attempts of the forces across the border to pump in drugs and counterfeit notes. Such incidents should immediately be reported to the police, he said.

 

Punjab a key market for scotch whisky
Ruchika M. Khanna
 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 30
The Punjabi taste for finer blends in liquor has led to a 50 per cent rise in liquor sales in the state. Though sales across various categories of liquor have increased manifold in the past one year, increase in sale of scotch whisky has led many premium liquor manufacturers from Scotland to now launch their brands in India.

Loch Lomand Distillers, a leading scotch distiller from Scotland, will be launching scotch whisky in Punjab, in association with Goa-based Vasco Da Gama Distilleries next month. Pawan Aggarwal, director, Vasco Da Gama Distilleries, informed TNS that with the country having annual sale of 300,000 cases of scotch whisky, there was a huge market for growth.

“Punjab, which has the second largest per capita consumption of liquor, is a key market for us. With two brands - King Bruce and William Mac Donald - we hope to sell 2000 cases of Scotch whisky a month in the state and 500 cases a month in Chandigarh,” he said.

With the government promising to reduce the cut in the custom duty on scotch whisky, their sale is bound to increase manifold in the coming year. The custom duty on scotch is proposed to be reduced from the present 350 per cent (on bottled scotch) and 170 per cent on bulk scotrch. This will drastically reduce the price of Scotch and make many consumers of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and regular whisky, upgrade themselves to Scotch whisky.

Sunil Mehdiratta, secretary-general, International Spirits and Wines Association of India, informed TNS that it was difficult to determine the number of duty-free scotch whisky sales in the country. “But in the past one year, sale of scotch (including scotch bottled in India and duty paid scotch) has gone up from 7000 cases to 9000 cases, showing a 140 per cent rise. With the government allowing an increase in amount of scotch that an individual can carry from abroad and allowing the hotels to spend 5 per cent of foreign exchange earnings to buy imported scotch, the sales have gone up substantially,” he added.

Though no separate figures for sale of scotch in Punjab are readily available, trade pundits say that the state is a premium market because of the high paying capacity and social custom of living it up. In the past one year, sale of IMFL in Punjab has gone up by 49 per cent from 32.26 lakh cases in 2005-06 to 48.15 lakh cases in 2006-07. The sale of liquor in prestige whisky segment has gone up by 89 per cent in the past year (from 7.33 lakh cases in 2005-06, to 13.87 lakh cases in 2006-07), while that of regular whisky has shown a remarkable increase in liquor sales (from 29.33 lakh cases to 44.25 lakh cases).

It may be noted that Punjab boasts of the second highest per capita consumption of liquor (at 22.6 proof litres per person per year). The revenue collection from liquor in the past 10 years has increased from Rs 1143.51 crore in 1997 to over Rs 1600 crore in 2006-07. 

 


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