P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Controversy mars SLIET appointments
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 23
After the information collected through the Right to Information (RTI) Act by some teachers from the authorities of the Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology (SLIET), Longowal, the appointment of some assistant professors (APs) in various departments of SLIET seems to be in the thick of controversy as resentment prevails among some APs (already promoted to the posts of AP under the career advancement scheme (CAS) in various departments of the institute) as they were not appointed as AP (through the direct recruitment process).

According to information made available to The Tribune by some faculty members, the interview for the posts of AP and a post of professor was conducted by a selection committee in May 2007 at the SLIET campus. However, the selection committee at the time of interview reportedly preferred not to consider the APs (already promoted to the posts of AP under CAS) for the posts of AP (appointment through direct recruitment). The promoted APs say it is still unclear whether AP (CAS) is equivalent to AP (Direct) in all regards, especially with regard to seniority between directly appointed AP and the AP promoted under CAS.

For the posts of AP in the Department of Electronics, Jaspal Singh Aujla, Jagpal Singh Ubhi and Manpreet Kaur were called for interview, but declared ineligible as shown in the marks list of the interview.

In the interview for the posts of AP in the Mechanical Engineering Department, Rajesh Kumar got 70.9 marks and Vikas Rastogi 56.7 marks. But both were not recruited under AP (Direct) on the plea that both were already APs under the CAS, while the first two candidates who got 63.9 marks and 52.6 marks were selected.

In the Department of Chemical Technology, Pushpa Paul Jha who appeared in the interview for the post of professor and got 53 marks in it was offered the post of AP, resulting in putting Avinash Thakur on the waiting list of APs. On the other hand, P.P. Kundu who got 52.7 marks in the interview for the post of professor was not selected as he was given 3 marks (interview marks), whereas Pushpa was given 14.5 marks (interview marks).

In the Mathematics Department, Vijay Kukreja who applied under CAS (Direct) for the post of AP was promoted under CAS, whereas his claim to the direct post was reportedly ignored by keeping one post vacant. Kukreja was on No. 2 position on the marks sheet.

In the Computer Science and Engineering Department ,Sukhwinder Singh who got 61.8 marks and Birmohan Singh who got 44.5 marks (both already AP under CAS) were not considered for direct appointment of AP, whereas the candidate who got only 42.5 marks topped the selection list.

Director of SLIET S.K. Pandey said today that the decision regarding appointments of the APs was of the selection committee. With regard to seniority between promoted APs under CAS and directly appointed APs, she said as no seniority criterion had been established so far, all were equal. She said there was no difference between promotion under CAS and direct recruitment in the case of APs as the selection committee had taken uniform decision at the time of interview. She also said the APs promoted under CAS had not been selected by the committee on the posts of directly selected APs as the committee was of the view that they would become eligible for the post of professor in a couple of years. 


Groundwater depleting at fast pace
Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Sangrur and Moga are the worst-hit districts, where experts foresee acute shortage of water with every passing season
Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 23
The groundwater resource in Punjab is depleting at an alarming rate. Not only depletion, even the quality of water has suffered to a great extent due to its overexploitation.

The overuse of groundwater is for diverse purposes like irrigation, drinking, industry and power generation.

A study conducted by the Water Resources and Environment Directorate, Punjab Irrigation Department, has found that while 103 blocks (75 per cent) are overexploited, five (4 per cent) are in a critical state and four (3 per cent) are in a semi-critical state. Interestingly, only 25 blocks (18 per cent) have been found safe. While there is an urgent need to recharge water in overexploited areas, it is also needed to develop available shallow water in safe blocks to avoid waterlogging.

It has been observed that the state is facing dual phenomena of rising water table in south-western parts, where water extraction is limited due to brackish or saline quality, whereas water table is falling in areas where it comes fresh and is fit for human consumption.

Experts have emphasised that present groundwater is unable to meet the demands of future development in the state. Net groundwater available for irrigation development has been continuously decreasing as per various studies.

Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Sangrur and Moga are the worst-hit districts, where experts foresee acute shortage of water with every passing season.

The fall in level of water table has been drastic from 8cm per year to 95 cm per year. The districts suffering from poor water quality include Bathinda, Sangrur, Faridkot, Ferozepur, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar.

Groundwater in these districts has high levels of salinity and fluoride content.

Experts point that water guzzling paddy crop and spurt in the use of heavy-duty tubewells in the state are deepening the crisis. There are more than 11 lakh tubewells in the state (around 8 lakh electrical and 4 lakh diesel-operated).

Noted environmentalist from the the Gandhi Peace Foundation and receipient of Dr TN Khoshoo Memorial award for 2006, Dr Anupam Mishra, feels that without political will, the water crisis cannot be arrested.

Talking to TNS from Delhi, he added that two things are urgently needed in Punjab - shift from water-guzzling crops to water-friendly crops and harvesting monsoon water along with stopping depletion.

"A famous Hindi saying goes that ‘kanak ke saath dhaan mat lagao’ (don't sow wheat and paddy in an area). However, after the construction of Bhakhra Dam, people forgot this saying and today are reaping the aftermath of an experiment gone wrong," says this expert on traditional water harvesting structures and writer of famous book “Aaj Bhi Khare Hai Taalab”.


Central Varsity in Amritsar
HR ministry wants 700 acres free of cost
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
The Union government has sought 700 acres, free of cost, from the Punjab government for setting up world-class Central university at Amritsar. Union human resource minister Arjun Singh has written in this regard to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Badal today said Punjab would extend all help to the Union government for setting up the university. He would request the Union government to review its demand for 700 acres. He said for the university, 100-150 acres should be enough when technology was available to build 30/40-storey buildings easily. “The government was prepared to provide the land, free of cost, but the Union government should lower the demand for land,” said Badal.

At Amritsar and nearby areas, the minimum cost of land is Rs 1crore per acre. To provide 700 acres of land, Punjab will have to spend Rs 700 crore and it will be a huge investment if judged from the angle of setting up an academic institution. The Union government is for setting up 16 Central universities in the states which have no such university and want to take up the job at the earliest. Badal was not aware of the area of focus of the university.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is from Amritsar, has particularly selected the city for the world-class university. As Amritsar has connectivity by air with various cities of the world, the Prime Minister had told the Union Human Resource Development Ministry to set up the university there.

Badal said the police university,to be partially funded by the Central government,would be set up at Laddowal, near Ludhiana. “We were keen to set up it at Phillaur, but there was not enough land available for the purpose. At Laddowal, the police has its own 50 acres,”he said.

Though Badal did not disclose, but Punjab is also keen to set up a vocational university that will focus on job-oriented training to class X and XII pass students. There is a huge demand for skilled youth in the private sector, but there is no institution to provide them systematic vocational training.

Punjab, virtually destroyed by certain politicians, who, when in power, allowed the setting up of several third-rate institutions in medical and general education sector, is now emerging as a hub of some highly rated educational institutions, thanks to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Because of him, Punjab has got the National Institute of Science and Research, the National Institute of Nano Technology, National Bio-technology Park, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and the Indian School of Business (ISB) and some other institutions which are in the pipeline.


Use Punjabi language or face the music
Ordinance on its use in govt, semi-govt offices soon
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 23
The ordinance on the use of Punjabi language in all government and semi-government offices and to introduce it as a compulsory subject in schools, is all set to be implemented in the state. If the statements issued by ministers are any indication, the state government will act tough (in the form of legal action) with officials, bureaucrats, employees etc if they fail to comply with the directive.

For the preservation, promotion of Punjabi language and culture and to accord the language its due status in the country, this ordinance will be implemented soon in 
the state.

Dr Upinderjit Kaur, education and languages minister, Punjab, told The Tribune that this bold step had to be taken as present generations were going away from their rich culture and tradition. "It is unfortunate that people settled abroad are keen to adopt and preserve the rich heritage of Punjab, while our own generations here feel inferior while using their mother-tongue. I am sure our future generations will be indebted to Parkash Singh Badal for initiating this step," she said.

Dr Upinderjit Kaur was in the city today to receive the Baba Farid Award. Accompanied by Hira Singh Gabria, minister for jails and cultural affairs, she made it clear that all orders issued by the state government would be in Punjabi. "Action will be taken against officials using other language than Punjabi," stressed both ministers.

On asked why the Badal government wanted all Adarsh Schools in the state to be affiliated with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and not with the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB), Dr Upinderjit Kaur said the students often faced problems while getting admissions in other states.

"There will be no problem if they will be from the CBSE. We are in touch with CBSE officials to make Punjabi language compulsory till class X in all Adarsh schools", informed the minister.

The state government is encouraging the participation of the private sector for providing good quality education to students. By providing land at cheaper rates along with other facilities, the Punjab government has proposed to set up a chain of Adarsh Schools, at least one in each block for providing high-quality education even at the village level. The government also proposed to have at least one Senior Secondary School for boys and girls at each block headquarters to 
provide education in streams like humanities, science, commerce and vocational groups.

Dr Upinderjit Kaur further added that the state government wanted to revamp the whole education system. She said 14,000 vacancies of government school teachers and 3,000 vacancies of computer teachers would be filled after the panchayat elections. "We will hand over the appointment letters after the elections", she added.


‘Meteorite’ found in field
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sunam (Sangrur), April 23
After the fall of a suspected meteorite on August 1, 2007 night in a farmer’s field at Hotipur village (near Khanauri), one more suspected meteorite fell in this district today morning. The suspected meteorite fell in a field on the Jawandha Road at 3 am today, 3 km from Sunam.

Harjinder Singh son of Amrik Singh a farmer, when he was irrigating fields near Sunam at 3 am today morning, he saw a fireball coming from sky at speed towards his field, which extinguished on its own at a distance of 100 metres from earth before falling in the field. He went near the site where the object had fallen and lifted the rock- like piece from there.

The meteorite is of light green colour, in which some small holes can be seen with naked eye. It weighs 200 gm while its length is nine cm and width three cm.

Police station in charge Davinder Attri said farmer Harjinder Singh informed the police about the suspected meteorite this afternoon and a police party went to the field of the farmer and took the rock- like object (suspected meteorite) in his possession. He said the object was now with him and it would be handed over to the SSP for further proceedings.

Sangrur SSP Arun Pal Singh said he would now take up the matter with the authorities of the Geological Survey of India (GSI), Chandigarh, to hand over the suspected meteorite to them for research on it found from a f field near Sunam.

Earlier a suspected meteorite, found by farmer Pargat Singh of Hotipur village in August 2007, was of a light grey colour, 9 cm in length, 6 cms in width, about 150 gm with number of small holes on it. Then a three-member team of the GSI had taken the suspected meteorite for scientific research and assess the size, shape and other properties of the meteorite.


State’s share in UT: Badal to meet PM
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said today that he would take up with the Prime Minister and the Home Minister the issue of restoring 60 per cent share of state employees in the administration of Chandigarh.

Replying to a question, Badal said he had written recently to the UT administration against the repatriation of doctors, who were on deputation there, to Punjab. In due course the UT had set up its own cadre of employees, denying 60 per cent share to Punjab employees in various UT departments. At the time of declaration of Chandigarh as UT, Punjab was assured that 60 per cent employees in the UT administration would be from Punjab and 40 per cent from Haryana and there would be no UT cadre.

However, in the past 40 years the scenario in UT has changed drastically. Punjab’s share in the UT administration has become less significant. Recently, secretary-general of the SAD Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa had written a detailed letter to Badal for getting Punjab’s share restored in UT administration.

Asked about the fall in Punjab’s share in the UT police, Badal said this matter would be taken with the Union Home Minister. Recently, it had come to light that only one ASI from Punjab was selected in the UT police whereas most were either from Haryana or from certain other states. Likewise, the number of those selected from Punjab at the constable level were far less as compared to Haryana. It was argued that physical standards of Punjab youth were not up to the mark for recruitment in the UT police.

However, no one in the Punjab government is agreeing with this plea of the UT administration. A senior officer of the state government said in the past years several hundred youths had been recruited in various commando battalions in Punjab. “If Punjab youth can be fit to be recruited in commando battalions, how can they be unfit to be recruited in UT police,” asked the senior officer.

Badal said he would urge the Union government to include Punjab’s representatives on the board set up to recruit constables and other ranks in the UT police. He said he would also take up the issue with the authorities concerned regarding giving the charge back to Punjab officers, on deputation in the UT, of departments which were allotted to them in 1960s when Chandigarh was declared a UT.


Kargil-Skardu trade route with Pak sought
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
While it is the poor infrastructure that is coming in the way of re-introducing Indo-Pak trade through the Hussainiwallah-Ganda Singhwallah route, new trade routes proposed by India include opening the Kargil-Skardu route, besides making Attari a full-fledged trade centre.

The road that connects Hussainiwallah on the Indian side with Ganda Singhwallah on the Pakistan side has been found unsuitable for truck traffic, as it is narrow with deep ravines on either side, says external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee.

In a letter to Rajya Sabha member Tarlochan Singh, Mukherjee revealed that initial survey had been conducted on the possibility of opening the Hussainiwallah-Ganda Singhwallah land route for furthering trade between India and Pakistan. Mukherjee has assured Tarlochan that infrastructure to facilitate opening of this land route both for traffic and trade and enhance security in the area “is constantly under review and are being upgraded”.

Tarlochan had raised the issue as to why the Hussainiwallah-Ganda Singhwallah land route was being utilised for facilitating travel and trade between India and Pakistan. All other land routes, including the Khokrapar-Munabao route for the Thar Express, Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalkot bus routes, had already been made operational.

At Attari, trucks from both sides cross over the border to load and unload goods.

Mukherjee informed Tarlochan that even there was expansion of road traffic with new buses from Amritsar being operationalised.

“We are continuing our efforts to open more passenger and trade routes, but these are the measures to which the government of Pakistan also has to agree. We have, for instance, suggested that a Kargil-Skardu route be operationalised and the Attari border be opened fully for trade,” wrote the external affairs minister.


State to give 90 lakh tonnes to Central pool
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
Punjab is likely to contribute 90 lakh tonnes instead of 80 lakh tonnes of wheat to the Central pool this year. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said today that yield of wheat was good this time. Last year’s contribution to the national pool was 69.5 lakh tonnes.

Compared to last year’s 43 lakh tonnes 44 lakh tonnes of wheat was procured for the Central pool till last evening. On Monday the arrival of wheat had touched the figure of 7 lakh tonnes, beating all previous records. Admitting problems in clearing markets of the procured wheat stock, Badal said senior officers had been deputed to supervise the stock clearing operations.

He said 1,230 acres of wheat crop had been wiped out due to fire. “I have told the PSEB chairman Y.S. Ratra to compensate the farmers who suffered losses because of fire caused by sparks from overhead electric wires,”he said. Badal said the Union government should introduce crop insurance schemes acceptable to farmers.

CM for another cricket match

Badal today said his party MLAs were prepared to play another friendly match with the Congress MLAs but Opposition leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal would have to show courage in this regard. The earlier match had created political problems for Bhattal, he said. “I can say from my long experience in politics that like a cracked mirror, there could be no patch up between two leaders after a break up,” he added.


Punjab Roadways, PRTC to have 100 more AC buses
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
The Punjab government will add 100 more AC buses in a fleet of Punjab Roadways and the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) from this month.

Master Mohan Lal, transport minister, stated this at a meeting with department officers here today. He added that the government had formulated a transport policy aimed at providing best public transport services at affordable rates.

The minister added that to provide comfortable, hassle-free services , the SAD-BJP government in one year had added 258 more new buses to the Punjab Roadways and the PRTC.

Master Mohan Lal directed officers to draft the rules regarding insurance of Roadways and PRTC buses at the earliest. For this a committee has been constituted to place a report within week.


Tenders not floated for canal repair: Contractor
It’s our discretion: Executive Engineer
Tribune News Service

Madhopur (Gurdaspur), April 23
Officials of the Irrigation Department have been allegedly doing repair works of the main canal and Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC) without floating tenders. The alleged misappropriation of huge money is being done by officials of the department in alleged connivance with certain contractors.

A local contractor, Sham Chaddha, alleged that the officials of the Irrigation Department had been going in for the repair works at various sites without floating any tender for the past one year. Moreover, raw construction material was being removed from the beds of the canals in violation of the norms, he said. He further alleged that substandard material was being used at various other works.

Meanwhile, high drama was witnessed at a UBDC headworks main canal at Madhopur when Chaddha, along with a Press party, reached the spot and tried to take pictures. Certain officials of the department restrained Chaddha and the Press photographers from clicking pictures. After a small tiff with the departmental officials, Chaddha tried to flee from the site but the security guards closed the entry and exit points and stopped his vehicle. A complaint was later lodged against him at the Sujanpur police station.

T.K. Gupta, SDO, Irrigation, in a complaint to the police alleged that Chaddha disrupted government officials from performing their jobs. He even entered restricted area and took photographs.

A.K. Juneja, executive engineer, Irrigation, Gurdaspur, said since the site needed immediate repair work so it was the discretion of the department to float a tender or not. The repair work was being done after a sanction from the higher officials. He said the repair work was being carried under the supervision of a competent officer. Juneja further claimed that certain contractors had been creating nuisance for vested interest.

Meanwhile, Chaddha met the Gurdaspur SSP this afternoon and complained that the officials of the Irrigation Department manhandled him and impounded his vehicle.


GND varsity Syndicate sacks finance and development officer 
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 23
The Guru Nanak Dev University Syndicate today decided to dismiss Varinder Pal Sharma, finance and development officer (FDO), following two different inquiries conducted by retired judges.

However, Virsa Singh Valtoha, an Akali MLA and Syndic, who is a close friend of Sharma, opposed the decision of the Syndicate by giving a dissenting note.

A number of inquiries were ordered against Sharma that included approaching the media against the university authorities without permission, causing financial loss to the institute by depositing employees’ funds on a lower rate of interest in different banks.

Rajinder Mohan Chhina, senior BJP leader and member of the Syndicate, confirmed that the FDO stood dismissed on the basis of the two inquiry reports. However, Sharma alleged that the decision to dismiss him was taken in violation of service rules.

There is no mention of the decision on dismissal of the FDO in the press note issued by the varsity. However, the latest chargesheet, served on the FDO, pertains to keeping “secessionist” materialfound from his office which was sealed after his suspension. This material included a handwritten and signed letter to then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Valtoha had written the forwarding letter of the open letter to Rajiv Gandhi in his capacity as secretary of the AISSF. The open letter was authored by late Harminder Singh Sandhu, secretary-general of the federation. This chargesheet was served two days after Valtoha sought an inquiry against the VC on the floor of the Punjab Assembly.

Rough handwritten notes in Punjabi and English related to the Sarbat Khalsa and movements of Sikh hardliners were also seized. At the Sarbat Khalsa on January 26, 1986, the proclamation for ‘Khalistan’ was made.

Agitated over the decision of dismissing the FDO, Valtoha claimed the state government had also ordered two separate inquiries against vice-chancellor Jai Rup Singh. He said he would also move the Privilege Committee of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha against the university authorities for mentioning his (Valtoha’s) name in one of the chargesheets served on the FDO.

The vice-chancellor also told the Syndics that the UGC had sanctioned a research grant of Rs 1.76 crore for different research projects of various teaching departments. He said out of this grant, Rs 1.29 crore had already been received by the university.

The Syndicate also approved the interest rate of 9.64 pc on GPF/CPF of the teaching and non-teaching staff for the financial year 2007-08 compared to last year's interest rate of 6.61 pc. Thus, the employees will get the benefit of 3.03 pc on GPF/CPF contributions

The vice-chancellor said the university had inked an memorandum of understanding with China’s University of Political Science and Law, Beijing (China) for academic exchange programme of faculty and students.


Sarabjit’s family leaves for Pak
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Attari, April 23
"I want to call him Papa for the first time in my life before I hug him and experience what a father’s love is like," said Poonam, younger daughter of Sarabjit Singh, Indian prisoner on death row in Pakistan, before crossing the international border with her kin at the Indo-Pakistan joint check-post here today.

Poignant scenes were witnessed as Sarabjit’s sister Dalbir Kaur, his wife Sukhpreet Kaur, two daughters Swapandeep and Poonam and brother-in-law Baldev Singh embarked on the long-awaited journey to meet him in Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore.

Carrying a large tiffin, with ‘sohan halwa’ and ‘petha’ Sarabjit’s favourite sweets in it, Sukhpreet Kaur said she was looking forward to meeting her husband.


Police forcing me to forgive him, claims rape-bid victim
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 23
The victim of an attempt to rape in a bus may not have thought after going through the nightmarish experience the police would rub salt on her wounds in her pursuit 
of justice.

The woman said she felt she was being raped every minute. “It seems I am the criminal, who is accused of making a false allegations against the bus driver. The police is bent upon proving that I wanted to settle a score with the driver. They are pressurising me to forgive and forget. Would they suggest this to a woman of their family?” asked the victim.

Supporting a 16-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son, the woman has nobody to come to her help. She lost her husband some years ago and the relatives preferred to admonish her for travelling late instead of helping her to get justice. ''I want to knock the door of the deputy commissioner, who I heard had helped a gangraped minor recently,” she said.

The police had booked the driver following her statements. He was caught by the police after the incident but was still to be arrested. To cap it all, the police wanted to inquire into the allegations first. ''Throughout that night they kept on coercing me to affect a compromise. The wife of the driver, too, met me and begged me for forgiveness. I told her if I let him free this time, he would make more women his targets in future,” she said.

The woman was travelling in a Ludhiana-bound bus on Sunday when the driver had tried to impose himself on her.

Meanwhile, SSP R.K. Jaiswal said justice would be meted out to the victim. “We are conducting raids to nab the accused. The SP, City-I, Ashish Chowdhry, was told to inquire into the matter as the allegations were serious.”


Shift Swaraj Mazda unit, says AISSF
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 23
Panthic organisations have urged the Punjab government to initiate steps to shift the Swaraj Mazda factory near Ropar in order to save the heritage associated with Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

In a press note, Manjit Singh Bhoma, president, AISSF, said the hillock dates back to era of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He added that earlier too a metallic (ashth dhatu) pillar which was situated near the Nishan Sahib was removed by the anti-Panthic forces in 1984 which had the inscription of an agreement between the British and the Maharaja. He said a case in this regard was registered at Kathgarh police station last year. The federation had organised the death anniversary of the Maharaja on June 29 last despite opposition by the company.

He said there were only few monuments left in the state associated with the Maharaja and steps needed for their maintenance.

Mohkam Singh, convener, Khalsa Action Committee, alleged that the so-called descendants of Maharaja Ranjit Singh were involved in the demolition of heritage in Ropar hills as no one else had the courage to remove these.

The KAC convener said Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti should convene a meeting of all Panthic parties in the state to safeguard cultural heritage of the Sikh community in various parts of the state.


Seniority of ayurvedic teachers
List drawn up after 11 years cancelled
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 23
The list drawn up by the fixation committee relating to the seniority of professors working in the government ayurvedic colleges of the state has been rejected by the Medical Education and Research Department (MERD).

Sensing some discrepancies in the list, a delegation of the Ayurvedic Teachers Association met medical education minister Tikshan Sud and secretary, MERD, Jagjit Puri and apprised them about the anomalies in the list.

Apparently taking notice of the anomalies, Sud recommended cancellation of the list.

In 1996, the government segregated the departments of medical officers, lecturers and professors. Professors, lecturers and other teachers were under the control of the MERD while medical officers were put under the control of the Health and Family Welfare Department of the Punjab government. The seniority list drawn up after 11 years, now stands cancelled.

The delegation met the minister and the secretary, MERD, and brought to their notice the Punjab Ayurvedic Technical Services Rules, 1963. After hearing the association members, Puri asked chairman of the fixation committee M.S Oberoi to cancel the list prepared by the committee.

While cancelling the list, Puri also asked the chairman to draw up a fresh list based on the joining date of the professors and lecturers. He also asked the chairman to see the new list also conformed to the Rules.


High Court
Notice to Punjab on overcrowding of sub-jail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
Taking cognisance of overcrowding and lack of medical facilities at the Ropar sub-jail, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued a notice of motion to the state of Punjab, through principal secretary (home), the director-general of police (prisons) and Ropar deputy commissioner.

They have been asked to show-cause why directions should not be issued for upgrading the sub-jail into a full-fledged jail. Issuing the notices, the Bench of Justice M.M. Kumar and Justice Sabina also asked the respondents to appraise the court of the action taken against jail warder Jagtar Singh, facing allegations of permitting visitors to handover articles and eatable to the under-trials.

The directions follow suo-motu cognisance of the state’s failure to inform the court about the action taken against Jagtar Singh. On the previous date of hearing, Justice M.M. Kumar had observed that another warder Kamal Kumar’s two increments were stopped without cumulative effect on the same allegations. It was also decided to forfeit the salary for the suspension period. But, despite orders, information on Jagtar Singh was not furnished.

As the matter was placed before the Bench today, the judges added apart from the issue of action against the warder, the Ropar jail was overcrowded. It was accommodating 416 prisoners, against the capacity of 250. Out of the total, 346 belonged to Ropar, while 68 were from Nawanshahr.

The Judges added the prison, it was found, was to be declared full-fledged jail. But, it was postponed for reasons best known to the respondents. As a result, the medical facilities were lacking. Besides, facilities for screening patients for HIV were not available, though the population of “drivers” was large. The matter will now come up for further hearing on May 5.

Stay on Virk’s arrest extended again

Acting on blanked bail petition filed by Punjab’s former director-general of police S.S. Virk, Justice H.S. Bhalla today extended the directions against his arrest till April 28.

Virk, in his petition had earlier sought pre-arrest bail or issuance of 10 days advance notice in any case likely to be registered against him in the state by any wing of the Punjab police.

Virk had asserted that he could not expect the vigilance bureau to act independently and in a professional manner. Elaborating, he said it was abundantly clear that the state was determined to re-fashion the vigilance bureau as per its own vested agenda. It was for the first time in over 15 years that an important wing of the police was under the total control of IGP’s rank.

Paddy sowing: Punjab withdraws ban

Just over a month after Amritsar’s deputy commissioner passed prohibitory orders, banning the sowing of paddy before May 10, Punjab today announced its withdrawal. As a petition challenging the orders came up for hearing before Division Bench of Justice M.M. Kumar and Justice Sabina, state counsel placed on record an order, dated April 21, withdrawing the impugned notification.

The Judges, on the previous date of hearing, had asked state counsel to seek instructions and inform the court as to how the order could be passed by the deputy commissioner under Section 144 of the CrPC. 


Benefits of Organic Farming
Nabha farmers show the way
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
Organic farming seems to be becoming popular in Nabha district. Farmers are happy and earning profits, courtesy organic farming. Some of the farmers came to promote the benefits of organic farming on World Earth Day at Panjab University here yesterday.

Farmers in Nabha have formed an association, the Kheti Virasat, Nabha, and 200 farmers are its members. Organic farming has gained popularity among farmers in Nabha and crop spread over 300 acres in the region.

While some farmers in Punjab are committing suicide, farmers in Nabha have a different story to share.

Balwant Singh (80) was among the first few in the area to grow crop without using pesticides.He said, “After I retired from the military as clerk, I came to my hometown and started farming. One of my friends suggested to me to start growing organic crop. He told me that during the first two years harvest was going to be poor, but would improve gradually.” Balwant grows wheat, sugarcane and vegetables in the organic way.

The farmers growing organic crops are upbeat as they sell organic wheat at double the price of the wheat grown with fertilisers.

Surinder Singh, director, Kheti Virasat, Nabha, explains, “We have come all the way to Chandigarh to spread awareness among people. Vegetables and wheat grown naturally are healthier than those nourished on fertilisers. The sale of organic crop at double the price is an added asset, but that doesn’t attract us. Selling wheat without fertilisers attracts us”.

On the benefits of organic food, Balwant Singh said, “A crop nurtured in an organic way is very good for health as no pesticides are used in it. People in towns are educated and a number of them have already switched over to organic food.”


Fire destroys 125 acres of wheat crop
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Sultanpur Lodhi, April 23
While several farmers of four villages, Dariawal, Fattudhinga, Mehmadwal and Sabuwal in Sultanpur Lodhi subdivision of Kapurthala district, were awaiting relief from the Punjab government for the standing wheat crop burnt in a fire on Monday, more standing wheat crop on 125 acres of four other villages in the same subdivision was destroyed in two separate fires today.

Wheat crop on over 200 acres was damaged in Bhulana, Khaira Doan and Hussainpur villages located on the RCF road in a fire, whereas crop on 25 acres was burnt at Kheeranwali village on the Mand road in another fire incident on Wednesday, said the farmers of the affected villages.

DC J.M. Balamurugan said according to preliminary reports wheat crop on total of 125 acres was burnt in the two fire incidents. Loss would be assessed only after girdawari, he added.

Both fires reportedly broke out due to sparking from overloaded electricity cables. Over 20 farmers lost standing wheat crop due to the fires.

While the farmers tried to douse the fire, fire engines from RCF, Kapurthala and Kartarpur were also pressed into service to extinguish the same.

Meanwhile, the DC said he had sent a final girdawari report to the Punjab government on Tuesday itself for compensation for the suffering farmers whose crop had been gutted in the Monday fire. 


Land Grab
SHO told to take action
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, April 23
Taking note of the new item “15 acres of shamlat land grabbed” published in The Tribune on April 22, block development project officer (BDPO) Ram Lubhaya has written to the SHO, Shahpur Kandi, to take action against the suspects involved in the illegal exercise at Manwal village.

In a complaint to the SHO the BDPO has said a demarcation of the disputed land had already been conducted on the directions of the Gurdaspur deputy commissioner. During the demarcation process it was found that the suspects, Jarnail Singh and others, had lifted soil from the shamlat land. The BDPO had also made a complaint to the SHO on April 16 for registration of a case against the suspects but no to avail.

The BDPO said he had again asked the Pathankot tehsildar for conducting a fresh demarcation of the said land.

M.P. Singh, additional deputy commissioner (development), however, said the DDPO had been asked to stop Jarnail Singh and other from lifting soil and levelling the fields at the disputed site. Necessary action would be taken against the defaulters, he ascertained. 


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