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Fancy lights rusting, already!
Jyotika Sood
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
The fancy lights installed by the municipal corporation on various roads at a cost of over Rs 6 crore have started rusting.

While the work on the project is still under way, questions are being raised on the quality of material being used for the fancy iron structures, as they have failed to “survive” even the first monsoon showers.

The structures erected on various roads like the Ferozepore road, GT Road, etc. have rusted completely, taking the sheen off the surface.

The civic body had been boasting of spending a huge amount on the installation of the lights without caring about the financial crunch it had been reeling under.

The rust on the surface is clearly visible both during daytime as well as at night, putting a question mark on the rationale behind installing such expensive equipment when its durability is questionable.

According to sources, though the municipal corporation sanctioned Rs 6 crore for the project, the project would cost over Rs 15 crore to the civic body as the interlocking tiles had been uprooted and needed to be repaired.

The project was given the go-ahead by SAD councillors and the MC Commissioner during a finance and contracts committee meeting despite opposition by BJP councillors, who were also members of the committee.

The decision to install the fancy lights also drew severe criticism from various quarters, including residents and the Opposition i.e. Congress councillors, who failed to understand the need for such luxurious spending when basic amenities were missing in most parts of the city.

Senior Deputy Mayor Praveen Bansal said: “We were against the installation of these lights from the beginning and now people could see the outcome for themselves. The older poles looked much better and stronger and they didn’t rust even after so many years of installation.”

He added that the project was a white elephant for the municipal corporation and its repercussions would be witnessed in the coming days.

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Legal notice slapped on PAU VC, Registrar 
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
Turned back from the counselling session held on the campus of Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, along with about 400 other students of Guru Nanak Dev University (Amritsar) on July 6 for not possessing the final mark sheet of BSc, a student’s father has slapped an inframatory-cum-legal notice on university vice-chancellor Dr MS Kang and registrar RK Mahey.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Pradeep Sharma, an advocate and father of a girl student who appeared for the counselling for admission to two-year MSc (bio-technology) said, “My daughter Alisha studied in HMV College, Jalandhar, which is affiliated to Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, and secured 81 per cent marks in BSc. She got 56th rank in the entrance test held on June 26 for admission to MSc (bio-technology) conducted by PAU under the roll number 3902.”

However, Sharma added, his daughter was turned back from the counselling because she did not possess her mark sheet as the university had not declared the result.

“The students have been informed by the university authorities that those who did not possess their final mark sheets, are not even eligible for the second counselling to be held on July 17 and seats will be filled by those students whose attendance had been marked,” Sharma rued.

The harried father rued that the PAU had not mentioned anywhere in the admission broucher or the form that the students were required to carry their final mark sheets for counselling.

“If the GND University had not declared the result by July 4 due to which the students could not take their mark sheets for the counselling, was it their fault?” asked a harried Sharma.

He added that the students who did not possess their final mark sheets but had good ranks in the university entrance examination, should have been given provisional admission which could have been reviewed after the declaration of the final result by the concerned university.

He further added that his daughter’s result was declared o July 8 but it would take another 15 days for the final mark sheet of his daughter to reach the concerned colleges.

Accusing the PAU authorities of being discrimatory, Sharma said it was the question of the future of hundreds of students which forced him to take a legal action against the PAU vice-chancellor and registrar.

However, neither the PAU vice-chancellor Dr Kang nor registrar Mahey wasavailable for comments.

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10-yr-old found dead 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
A decomposed body of a 10-year-old boy was found from a storeroom near gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib here today.

The incident came to light when few masons employed by the gurdwara went to work near the storeroom. They complained of foul smell emitting from the room and requested the gurdwara authorities to check the storeroom.

When the authorities opened the room they were shocked to see the decomposed body of a boy.

They immediately informed the police about the incident. The boy was identified as Raja (10), who was reported to be missing since July 9.

The child resided in a densely populated colony situated near gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib.

According to the deceased’s father Saidu Sheikh, the boy was playing along with his friends when he went missing.

He said he even reported the matter to the police. The mysterious death of the boy had spread panic in the area. According to sources, a rope has also been spotted tied around the neck of the deceased.

Gurdwara authorities said the storeroom remained locked since long time, but today they found the room bolted, with no lock.

Harwinder Singh, SHO, division No. 2, said the exact cause of the death could be known only after the arrival of the autopsy report. “We have requested to the civil hospital authorities to conduct the postmortem from a team of doctors to figure out the cause that led to the death of the child,” he said.

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Goods worth lakhs gutted at hosiery unit
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
A fire broke out at a hosiery unit in Chander Nagar here today gutting material worth lakhs. However, no loss of life has been reported.

According to information, the fire stuck Rosy Woolen Mill in street number 5 around 7 am. It took around two hours for two fire tenders to douse the flames and bring the situation under control.

The fire department officials revealed that short-circuit is likely to be the cause of fire and the incident was reported to the fire department by SK Ohri, an eyewitness.

Talking to The Tribune, Ohri revealed that huge flames started coming out from the building housing hosiery in the morning and panic gripped the area. “I immediately called the fire brigade, while people tried to douse the flames with the help of buckets of water,” he added.

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Attack on tehsildar 
Three accused denied bail
Our Legal Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 16
Additional Sessions Judge Munish Singal today dismissed the anticipatory bail application filed by three persons facing accusations of stripping tehsildar Major GS Benipal (retd) and launching a murderous attack on him in public when he was on official duty.

Those who were denied bail were Gurmit Singh of Preet Nagar, Shimplapuri, Baldev Singh of New Janta Nagar and Satnam Singh of Kot Mangal Singh.

Pronouncing the order, the Judge held that keeping in view the serious allegations levelled against the accused it would not be in the interest of justice to grant them the concession of anticipatory bail.

Seeking bail, these persons had claimed that they were respectable persons of the society and innocent. It had been pleaded that they were implicated falsely in this case.

One of the applicants, Gurmit Singh, had pleaded in his bail plea that he was not present on the day the tehsildar was beaten up. He said he had gone to Patna Sahib gurdwara and also produced on record a payment receipt of “kadah parsad”. But he apparently failed to convince the court.

Shiromani Youth Akali Dal district president Simranjit Singh Bains, a councillor, and sacked councillor of the SAD Kamaljit Singh Karwal were also behind bars in this case for a long period.

Sensing the atmosphere, they have not even filed any bail application. The tehsildar was beaten in full public view by several persons allegedly belonging to the SAD. The police had not even dared to arrest them following political pressure. Bains and Karwal, however, surrendered before the police when they could not tolerate the mounting pressure upon them from all corners.

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Mayor-Councillor Meeting
Cong camp divided, half stay away
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
“Factionalism” within the Congress came to the fore once again today, as only half of them attended a meeting with Mayor Hakam Singh Giaspura at his camp office.

While Congress councillors like Pritpal Singh Ghayal, Sanjay Talwar, Rakesh Parashar, Raju Thapar, Ashok Malhotra, etc. whose wards were in dilapidated state, ensured their presence during the meeting, those whose wards were fairly developed gave it the miss.

Among those who were conspicuous by their absence were Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Hem Raj Aggarwal, Gurpreet Bassi and Balkar Singh.

Some Congress councillors on the condition of anonymity said: “Those who have direct access to the Mayor and the MC Commissioner won’t attend such meetings because development in their wards is fairly good. However, we have to give answer to public for the inconvenience caused, so attending the meeting for us is a must.”

The meeting was convened following protest by Congress councillors stating that development works in their wards had been stalled.

The meeting ended on a bitter note, with the Mayor confessing that the civic body had no fund to initiate any work.

According to sources, the Mayor instructed MC officials to make estimates of works to be undertaken in the wards of Congress councillors.

However, he emphasised that a quota would be fixed for all of them and councillors should make a priority list for the works.

Congress councillor Sushil Raju Thapar, who was present at the meeting, said: “The Mayor directed officials to ensure works were done in our wards on the pattern of SAD-BJP wards. He has assured us of meeting our other demands soon.”

The meeting witnessed heated argument between councillor Rakesh Parashar and MC officials as he raised questioned about wardwise details of sanctioning of bills amounting up to Rs 5,000.

His demands were refused by the officials on the pretext that they didn’t have any such details. Finally, on the Mayor’s intervention, the officers were told to supply the same.

Congress councillor Hem Raj Aggarwal, who stayed away from the meeting, said: “I had some work at home due to which I couldn’t attend the meeting.”

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Contractor steamrolls MC Commissioner’s orders
Carries out recarpeting work
Jyotika Sood
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
Showing a thumbs down to the MC Commissioner’s orders of not to carry out metalling work of roads during monsoon, a contractor undertook recarpeting work on the Gill Road, joining Campa Cola Chowk with Vishwakarma Chowk, here today.

During the meeting with officers of the building and roads branch yesterday, the Commissioner had directed the officials to stop all re-carpeting works with immediate effect till further orders.

However, taking advantage of Commissioner’s absence, who had gone out of station for official work, officers of the road branch and a contractor carried on with their work today.

When the work force of contractor was questioned, they feigned ignorance over the order and asked the correspondent to contact the contractor.

According to sources, the work was started by the contractor this morning and five trucks of premix, worth Rs 2.5 lakh, was laid on the road.

The municipal corporation has been questioned and rapped several times by the local bodies department and the Lieut-Gen BS Dhaliwal committee over quality of work, but no body is apparently bothered about it.

Even residents have complained about withering of freshly laid roads, but no action has been taken yet.

While many cases for poor construction of roads were already lingering on with the vigilance wing of the local bodies department, lack of action from the state government against the erring officials had only encouraged offenders.

Despite having a fleet of experts for road construction, the municipal corporation cared little about following the basic principle of road construction.

With hot-mix plants being closed due to rainy season, contractors are apparently trying to sell their waste product to the civic body without any fear.

Even last year, many roads were constructed during the monsoon and potholes had surfaced soon after the work was completed.

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Doctor-Patient Relationship - II
Elective surgeries tricky
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
A majority of incidents of violence against doctors and hospitals are followed by the death of patients operated during elective surgeries, which according to the medical fraternity, has become a matter of concern.

Leading surgeons in the city feel that elective surgeries, if unsuccessful, become a bone of contention between the hospital authorities and the patient’s family due to the money involved.

In case of the death of the patient, some families refuse to pay the dues that result in confrontation, which often ends on a violent note.

Missing transparency on the part of doctors is another reason for the outburst of families and friends of patients who die following the surgeries.

A senior physician says: “The consent form should not be a formality to safeguard the interests of the doctors or surgeons, but it should be a proper document, informing the patient’s family about the risk involved and the chances of all the post-operative complications.”

He referred to the deaths following bariatric surgeries with reference to a study, wherein the authors used summary data on bariatric surgery procedures performed in Pennsylvania for a 10-year period from 1995 to examine mortality in relation to factors such as age, sex and time since surgery. Overall, there were 440 deaths, yielding a crude mortality rate of 2.6 per cent. The cumulative death rates in the first year and the next five years were 1 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively.

Dr HS Bedi, chief cardiac surgeon at the CMCH, said surgery should be the last resort, but in cases of morbid obesity, it was therapeutic. The risk involved in the surgery of obese patients was always high, he said, adding that cardiac arrest was not unusual after surgical procedures.

But amateurs doing new procedures in the absence of experts is another problem that has added to the “risk” of patients being operated. Advancements in surgeries come with complications, which the surgeons cannot ignore at any cost.

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DMCH opens nephrology clinic
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
Department of Pediatrics at DMCH has recently started Pediatric Nephrology Clinic for management of children with Nephrotic Syndrome and other renal disorders.

According to Dr Gurdeep Singh Dhooria, pediatric consultant and nephrologist, Childhood Nephrotic Syndrome, is an illness, where the kidney loses protein in the urine. When this happens, protein levels in the blood drop and water moves into body tissues, causing swelling. There will be swelling around the child's eyes, in the belly or in the legs. Child will not go to the bathroom as often as usual and will start gaining weight from the swelling.

The kidneys are two fist-sized, vital organs found in the lower back. When they are working well, they clean the blood and rid the body of waste products and excess salt and water. When diseased, the kidneys may get rid of things that the body needs, such as blood cells and protein, the doctor said.

In most cases, the cause is not known. Although children of all ages can be affected, usually, children between the age of one and half to five years are involved.

The treatment focusses to stop the loss of protein in the urine and increases the amount of urine expelled from the body. A drug, called prednisone is usually prescribed for such disease. Most children get better on this drug. Prednisone is used to stop the loss of protein from the blood.

After one to four weeks of treatment, child should begin urinating more often.

As child releases more urine, the swelling will go away. The drug “Prednisone” can be a very effective drug, but it has a number of side effects, which include increased hunger, weight gain, transient increase in blood pressure, gastritis, higher risk of infection and slowed growth rate.

If prednisone does not work for your child or if the side effects are too uncomfortable, other kinds of medicine called immunosuppressants can also be prescribed. This drug decreases the activity of the body's immune system and is effective for most of the children. The side-effects of these drugs include increased susceptibility to infection, hair loss and decreased blood cell production.

Parents also should be aware that children taking immunosuppressive drugs may become ill if they are exposed to chickenpox. Therefore, you should notify your doctor immediately if your child is exposed to chickenpox while on these medications. A child might be given diuretics (water pills). Diuretics help the kidney rid the body of excess water.

Most of the children will have no other problem, however, a child with the nephrotic syndrome can develop a serious infection in the belly or blood clots in the legs. Both of these required immediate medical attention, observed the doctor.

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Sidhu Hospital Case
Human rights body demands action against culprits
Our Correspondent

Doraha, July 16
The Human Rights Protection Mission, Punjab, has demanded action against the culprits responsible for creating ruckus and manhandling the senior doctors and staff of Sidhu hospital.

Satinder Jawanda, president, women cell of the mission, said the government should order an inquiry into the matter. How could any person, throwing all sanity and regulations to winds, engaged in such merciless manhandling of a doctor and the staff,” Jawanda said.

Sadbalihar Singh Guru, president of the mission, said as per Punjab Protection of Medicare Service Persons and Medicare Service Institutions Act, 2008, any act of violence against a medicare service, person or damage to property in a medicare service institution, will be prohibited. "Further, an offender, who commits any act in contravention of the provisions of this act, will be punished with an imprisonment, which may extend to one year or with fine, which may extend to Rs 50,000 or with both.

Also, any offence committed under this act, will be cognisable and non-bailable and the offender will be liable to pay a penalty of twice the amount of purchase price of medical equipment damaged or loss caused to the property, as may be determined by the court," he added.

Chairman Navneet Shergill said the way the leaders and workers of the BJP created panic among the patients, their attendants and the hospital staff and destroyed the hospital’s equipment, is highly condemnable. The mission demands stern action against the ones responsible for taking law in their hands and creating panic among the staff and the patients at the hospital.”

The mission has demanded that an expert medical committee be constituted and action initiated against the doctor only in case the negligence is thoroughly proved on the latter’s part. Further the withdrawal of criminal case against the doctor too is demanded, for they opine that the doctor can be indicated only if the case is proved and in no case before that.

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IMA’s statewide strike today
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
With Dr Gursharan Sidhu, wife of Dr Gurdip Singh Sidhu, giving the computerised records of the investigations of Jagat Bhushan Johar, the local BJP leader who died following a bariatric surgery at Sidhu Hospital, Doraha on July 11, to the district health authorities, the medical fraternity is hopeful of getting justice for Dr Sidhu.

Civil surgeon Dr SP Sharma said the exact cause of death would come out after the viscera report, as his heart and lungs had been sent for the test.

Maintaining anonymity, a doctor on the inquiry board constituted by the civil surgeon said the findings of the post-mortem examination did not point to “medical negligence”.

Retaliating against the registration of criminal case against Dr Sidhu for medical negligence following the death of the BJP leader, the state body of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) today announced a statewide strike on July 17.

IMA state president Dr Yash Sharma said IMA members in the state would observe a token strike from 9 am to 12 noon by boycotting work at their hospitals, nursing homes and clinics.

However, doctors would carry on with the emergency services.

The medical fraternity has demanded action against the mob, led by local BJP leaders, that had vandalised the hospital property, beaten up doctors/staff on duty and resorted to violence against patients undergoing treatment at the hospital.

However, BJP leaders and activists in the city are demanding immediate arrest of Dr Sidhu.

Ashwani, a close friend of the deceased, alleged that the hospital staff, including Dr Sidhu, were playing a foul game with the patients. “We just want to teach the doctor and his staff a lesson so that he can’t play with the lives of the people anymore.”

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Help centre set up for filing VAT return
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
A help centre for e-filing of value added tax (VAT) was set up at the sales tax office here today.

Assessees who do not have their own systems or lack computer knowledge can take the assistance of the help centre in filing their VAT returns. e-filing is compulsory for those exporters claiming VAT refund and whose annual turnover is Rs 5 crore.

Excise and Taxation Deputy Commissioner Parampal Singh said those filing their returns in the first quarter of the current financial year from April to June could take the aid of the help centre in filing their returns.

The help centre will be opened on routine days during office hours, while it will be opened from 9 am to 7.30 pm on the last date for filing returns. The last date for e-filing has been extended up to July 30.

A private agency has been authorised to run the help centre. Each person taking the help from the centre will be charged Rs 200.

Jatinder Khurana, president of Taxation Young Lawyers Association, said the centre would be of great help for the assessees. “Generally people find it difficult to file their returns on their own as it is technical in nature,” he said.

The setting up of the help centre has been welcomed by traders. “It will be easy for us as we will be able to file the return at the office and submit it there itself. It is a good step taken up by the department and assessees will be benefited by these,” said Satish Khanna, an exporter from the city.

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Additional security upsets industrialists
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
After putting the local industry through unscheduled power cuts, the state government, instead of mitigating their misery, has added another problem by demanding additional security for electricity.

The recent decision of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) that consumers getting monthly bills would have to pay security equal to the power consumption of two months has spelled more trouble for the industry.

The PSEB has started enforcing the new security provisions under Section 16.1 of the Supply Code as approved by the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission.

Industrialists alleged that while stimulus packages were being given to safeguard industry in other countries, the state government was bent on ruining the industry here.

Kirpal Singh Sagar from the Ludhiana Machine Tool Manufacturers Association said with recent directive, consumers who received monthly bills would have to pay security equal to power consumption of two months.

Consumers who got bimonthly bills would have to deposit security equal to the power consumption of three months.

“Industry is in a miserable state due to global economic meltdown. There are severe constraints on the industry. Unscheduled power cuts and erratic power supply has further aggravated the problem. The state government should revoke the decision and save the industry from destruction. To protect and safeguard the industry is in the interest of the economy of nation,” he said.

President of Federation of Tiny and Small Industries of India Joginder Kumar said the industry had opposed the move.

He said when they were already giving advance consumption charges, there was no logic behind shelling out more money in the form of security.

“All baseless decisions are being taken by the board as it is not capable of managing its finances properly. The additional charges are not viable, specially when the industry is in a bad state,” added Joginder Kumar.

Perturbed over the new burden, another entrepreneur at Focal Point, Hitesh Jain, said if the government was so adamant on closing the industry, it should convey it in a straight manner.

“The Punjab government has not taken any decision in favour of industrialists since its formation. Industry, which generates so much revenue, is being grossly neglected,” he rued.

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Anti-power theft police station a fiasco
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, July 16
The anti-power theft police station, set up with much fanfare by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) in all five distribution zones, including Ludhiana, in July last year, has still to become fully functional and yield the desired results.

Even as a year has passed since the establishment of the police station, which has a jurisdiction over three revenue districts - Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib and Moga - along with two police districts - Khanna and Jagraon - the PSEB authorities are still grappling with the problem of providing adequate manpower and infrastructure to enable it carry out the assigned task of prevention of enforcement of law against power theft.

The fact that the performance of the police station has been dismal, to say the least, during the past one year, is attributed to the lack of manpower and infrastructure.

Against the sanctioned strength of one deputy superintendent, one SHO of inspector or sub-inspector rank, three assistant sub-inspectors and six constables, so far there is just one inspector, one assistant sub-inspector and six constables at the police station.

Also, just nine FIRs have been lodged with the police station, that too, from February, 2009 onwards. Also, no arrest has been made to date and not even a single charge-sheet has been filed against any accused in power theft cases.

With three districts to cover, the police station has been allocated a single vehicle, which also is not in a good condition.

“There is no lockup, and just a couple of rooms with a few chairs and tables make up the entire infrastructure provided to the police station,” rued an official requesting not to be identified.

Sources in the PSEB said the idea behind setting up these police stations was to check power theft by consumers and non-consumers worth several crores of rupees every year and to create fear among offenders.

However, the desired results could not be achieved due to several reasons.

“We have taken up the matter with the headquarters to take necessary steps for making available adequate manpower and other facilities to enable the anti-power theft police stations to carry out their duties, which include routine patrolling to keep an eye on habitual offenders and kundi connections, besides taking action against reported cases of power theft,” a senior PSEB official said.

Even though track record of Ludhiana zone with regard to loss of electricity during transmission, distribution and through theft was better than the state-level average of the PSEB, the zone suffered around 11 per cent loss of electricity, which, when translated in terms of money, stood at a staggering Rs 25 crore every year.

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Youth shot in Canada 
Police still groping in dark
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, July 16
Pal of gloom descended on Rachhin village in Ludhiana district near here as news of death of Manpreet Singh Thind Money, an NRI settled in Surry, Canada, came in yesterday.

He was reportedly shot dead by an unknown assassin at a party two days ago. Even after three days of brutal murder of the youth the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was yet to identify and book the killers. In absence of any authoritative information, villagers suspect the attack to be the outcome of racial hatred.

According to Gurbant Singh, sarpanch Rachhin, the assailants had shot Money on the face, which was injured beyond recognition.

Investigations revealed that Money was killed by some unknown persons who were ‘enjoying a party’ at a Canadian Auto Body Paint Shop at 76 Avenue of Surry in Canada on the fateful evening. Though Money was not a regular visitor to the place, he had gone there in connection with some work relating to his car. He had talked to his wife about half an hour before the incident.

Referring to the information received from family sources, Gurbant Singh informed this reporter that during his last telephonic conversation with his wife Money had made no mention of attending the party where he was killed. He had no intimate relation with the owner of the body shop who had thrown a party to his friends.

“Money lost his life only due to entry at wrong place at the wrong time,” Prit Pal Kaur Deol, sister of the deceased, told the villagers. The RCMP is yet to establish antecedents of the owner of the premises and those who were present at the party there.

Money had moved to Canada, along with his mother, about five years ago. He had visited India about a year back to get married to a girl of Khotey village.

Though he owned sufficient agricultural land in the village, he preferred to do a private job abroad instead of undertaking ‘non-remunerative peasantry’. 

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Cloned buffalo calf operated upon at vet varsity
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
The cloned buffalo calf (Garima), who had a rare congenital anomaly “persistent urachus”, was operated successfully by surgeons of the Guru Angad Dev Veterinary Sciences (GADVASU), Ludhiana.

In this condition, the new-born calf excreted urine through the persistent opening in the umbilicus, instead of natural opening. The cloned calf had swelling in the umbilical region and was passing the urine through persistent opening present at the level of umbilicus since birth.

A team of surgeons, comprised Dr NS Saini, professor-cum-head and Dr M Raghunath, assistant professor, department of surgery and radiology, College of Veterinary Science, GADVASU, Ludhiana, operated upon the cloned calf at NDRI, Karnal.

The fistula is a source of infection to the bladder and may prove fatal if not corrected surgically at the earliest.

Dr Saini added that it was the first reported case of persistent urachus in a cloned buffalo calf.

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Snake charmer dies of snakebite
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, July 16
A snake charmer has apparently died of snake bite near here yesterday. A deadly snake was said to be living in the bricks kept in the fields of numberdar Harpal Singh of Sidhwan Kalan village.

Harpal’s brother contacted the snake charmer of Kishanpura village in Moga district. Nanak, the snake charmer, along with his accomplice, reached the fields of Harpal yesterday and searched for the snake.

When the snake came out of its hiding, Nanak caught hold of it from the centre of its body.

The snake bit him in retaliation, but Nanak did not let off the snake and instead chewed its head. Both of them died on the spot. Nanak (50) was a famous snake charmer.

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PAU goes big with GM crop research 
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
While critics continue with their crusade against Bt crops, extensive research at the PAU is being carried out on transgenic crop varieties in rice, maize, sugarcane, brinjal, and tomato. At the moment, cotton is the only Bt crop which has been commercially released.

The PAU has already developed Bt Basmati which due to the Central Government’s policy has not been tested. Experiments are being carried out to transfer the Bt gene from transgenic Basmati to other commercial rice varieties through conventional hybridisation in the transgenic glasshouse.

Prof MS Kang, VC, is learnt to have perused results on genetic engineering of sugarcane, maize, brinjal and tomato, in which efficient and reproducible transformation methods have been developed and attempts are being made to introduce cloned genes for developing resistance against biotic and abiotic stresses.

Experts feel that a fungus, phytophthora, is the major cause of citrus decline in Punjab. In order to develop resistance against this pathogen, chitinase gene has been cloned from the local strain of another fungus.

Dr SS Gosal, director of the School of Agricultural Biotechnology, said insect pests (borers) caused huge losses in certain crops. In maize, there was only one stalk and in case of borer attack, the entire plant died.

However, the Kheti Virasat Mission is opposed to the Bt variety of crops. Umendra Dutt, executive director, said: “Genetically modified (GM) foods are created unnaturally by taking genes from unrelated organisms and inserting them into the cells of plants like brinjal, rice, tomato, cauliflower and potato. Science and technology of genetic engineering is imprecise and irreversible and is documented to show that it has health and environmental impacts.

“In India, the first GM food crop in the form of Bt brinjal is being sought to be introduced by corporations seeking profits in agri-business. Bt brinjal has been created to get the brinjal plant to produce a poison inside the plant to kill some pests that attack the crop and farmers would not have to spray a lot of pesticides.”

Dr Gosal, however, claimed that a lobby with vested interests was opposing Bt crops. “India is spending about Rs 2,800 crore every year on insecticides and Punjab alone is spending approximately Rs 500 crore on these every year. The overuse of these chemicals is causing water, soil and air pollution, which is becoming a health hazard. The Bt technology should be assessed along with the conventional chemical technology. The cultivation of Bt cotton has reduced the use of insecticides by at least 70 per cent,” he said.

“The biggest assessor for any crop variety is the farmer who grows it in his fields. Widespread cultivation (more than 90 per cent area) of Bt cotton in Punjab and excellent crop yields prove my point. The only hassle with the Bt cotton is that it is hybrid and the farmer cannot retain the seed for next generation. The PAU is aiming to introduce cloned genes into open pollinated varieties to reduce the seed cost,” he added.

There is a stringent regulatory mechanism for testing and release of GMOs. Transgenic research is being monitored by several committees like Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee, Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation, and Genetic Engineering Approval Committee.

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Fee Hike-VII
Notice issued to private schools
Sheetal Chawla
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
Deputy Commissioner Vikas Garg has ordered issuance of show-cause notices to the private schools affiliated with the CBSE to explain their conduct why they have raised the school fees and other charges steeply.

This order comes in the wake of inquiry conducted by Deputy Commissioner Kuldip Singh into the allegations of hefty fee hike and other charges by the managements of the private public schools affiliated with the CBSE.

The inquiry was conducted on the complaint of the Hindu-Sikh Jagriti Sena and the Parents’ Association, which had launched agitation against the fee hike and other charges.

Deputy Commissioner said he had passed on the orders a week ago and the Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) would issue the show-cause notices. The ADC is away to Hyderabad for one week training.

The ADC, in his inquiry report, has submitted, "From the record submitted by the schools are in increasing the fee every year, which is against the public policy and instructions of the CBSE. The educational institutions are run only to impart education and not on any profit motive."

Kuldip Singh in his report has recommended framing of a uniform policy for increasing the school fee with some nominal percentage applicable to the schools equally. The school authorities should also seek the consent of the parents before making increase, he had observed. The ADC has also approved the sale of books and supply of uniforms from the open market.

Meanwhile, the Hindu-Sikh Jagriti Sena, which spearheaded agitation, has formed a state-level Punjab Parents’ Association to fight against the unjustified and unreasonable increase in the fee and other charges by privately managed public schools in the state.

Praveen Dang, president of the Punjab Parents’ Association said today that they would revive their agitation soon.

Dang sought the implementation of the ADC’s report and action against the defaulting school managements. He said some of the school managements had not submit their record to the Additional Deputy Commissioner and the record of these schools should be examined.

Meanwhile, the Punjab government is also contemplating to set up a regulatory authority to check the malpractices of the private-public schools.

According to Dang, a deputation of the Punjab Parents’ Association has also met Education Minister Upinderjit Kaur and sought action against the private schools affiliated with the CBSE, which are fleecing the parents.

Dang added that the attitude of the Education Minister was positive and she assured that the state government would soon enact a law to regulate the functioning of the private schools.

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Teacher accuses clerk of taking bribe
Sheetal Chawla
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
A government school teacher today alleged that a clerk at the office of the district education officer (secondary) had taken Rs 20,000 from her as bribe to get her a posting of her choice.

Rachna Rani, a teacher at Government Middle School, Daudpur, near Samrala, alleged that the clerk had taken Rs 20,000 as bribe and promised to give her a posting of her choice. She alleged that the clerk demanded another Rs 10,000 for getting the posting orders.

Even as DEO Amarjit Kaur was listening to the allegations of corruption against the clerk, he managed to “escape” from the office.

Three more teachers from the same school were present as they had also come to get their posting orders. There were reports that these teachers were also asked to pay a bribe fro the posting orders, but the DEO said three teachers had given in writing that no money was demanded from them and they had sought posting orders in routine.

Inquiries made by The Tribune revealed that Government Middle School, Daudpur, had been closed before the summer vacation following the orders of the state government as there was not much attendance of students.

Contrary to the claims of the government that the education standards in Punjab were improving and the attendance in government schools was increasing, it was learnt that there were only 12 students in the school and the teachers were not performing their duties regularly.

The DEO admitted that the teachers were not teaching, as a result that the students dropped out. It was shocking to know that a school had only 12 students. Asked for how long had the school not been functioning properly, the DEO said she had taken over only two months ago and she could not give the details.

Asked when the state government had ordered the closure of the school, she said oral orders had been received before the vacation.

She said she had been busy and would be attending the meeting of the Deputy Commissioner when asked if any action had been initiated against the erring teachers of the Daudpur school.

She said she had sent the case of the clerk to the head office for action.

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PAU Notes
Tree Growers’ Association to meet on July 29
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
Annual function of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) Tree Growers' Association will be held on July 29 at Students' Home on PAU campus here.

This was stated by officiating director of extension education Dr DS Dhillon in a press note here today.

Tree-growers from various parts of the state will participate in the meet.

Experts from the department of forestry and natural resources will provide technical tips for successful tree growing. Arrangements have been made for holding the programme, he said.

Use of chart recommended

Soil scientists of Punjab Agricultural University has recommended the use of leaf colour chart for the need-based application of nitrogen fertiliser.

Giving details, head of the department of soils, Dr AS Sidhu said the leaf colour chart in paddy led to saving of nitrogen by about 20 per cent, thus curtailing the cost of production beside reducing soil pollution.

He said currently the chart was recommended for paddy crop and had also shown encouraging results in wheat and maize crops.

He said the leaf colour chart had been priced at Rs 35 per unit. The chart was available from the department of soils. Farmers interested to have the leaf colour chart may also contact the KVKs, Farm Advisory Service Scheme or regional stations of PAU in various regions of the state for obtaining it, said Dr Sidhu.

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GGNIMT students excel
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
The MCA 6th semester students of GGN Institute of Management and Technology (GGNIMT) once again brought laurels to the institute by securing 100 per 
cent result.

Kanika of MCA 6th semester, who got 7th position in the university examination held in December, 2007, stood first in the institute with 97.5 per cent marks. Shilpa Jain of the same class who was the 5th rank holder in the university examination held in December, 2007, bagged the second position in the institute with 97.25 per cent marks. Anil Kumar scored 96.25 per cent marks and stood third.

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Brothers go missing, case registered
Our Correspondent

Raikot, July 16
Two brothers who went to irrigate their fields last night have reportedly been missing.

Baldev Singh (32) of nearby Jalaldiwal village had gone to water his fields around 9 pm while his elder brother Gurmeet Singh (47) went to the fields around 11 pm. Both have been missing since then.

In the morning when both of them did not return, their family members went to the fields and could not trace them.

The matter was reported to Mohan Dass, in charge of the Jalaldiwal police post. The police and villagers searched for them but in vain.

A case of kidnapping has been registered against unknown persons at the Raikot police station under Section 361 of the IPC on the statement of Jagjit Singh. 

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BDPO suspended for dereliction of duty
Another asked to explain use of MPLAD funds
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
Acting tough against erring officials, Deputy Commissioner Vikas Garg today put under suspension the Block Development and Panchayat Officer, Macchiwara, for dereliction of duty and also sought an explanation from the BDPO, Doraha, for the mismanagement of the MPLAD funds.

Garg was attending a review meeting of the district development committee. When he found the BDPO, Machchiwara, Kanwaljit Singh, absent from the meeting, he immediately suspended him.

The DC said he had already issued several warnings to the BDPO, who often used to be missing from duty. He had directed him to report to the SDM concerned about his whereabouts, but this did not help matters.

“The BDPO did not reach the meeting today and I have put him under suspension. I will not spare anyone who would not take his work seriously. Development of district is the top priority and if an official cannot come for a review meeting, what would he deliver?” he asked.

Throughout the meeting, that went on for more than an hour, the DC repeatedly asked the officials to pull up their socks. When he asked for the record of the MPLAD scheme funds from the BDPO, Doraha, the latter was not able to do it convincingly.

He then asked the BDPO to explain in writing. At the same time, he directed all the officials to submit utilisation certificates immediately after the completion of the work.

He also directed the district development and panchayat officer (DDPO) to convene a meeting with BDPOs on July 18 and ask them to submit utilisation certificates.

He asked the SDMs to take a personal interest in development projects that were under way and submitted a report to him immediately if they detected any irregularity.

“I want the welfare schemes started by the government to reach at the grassroot level. These should be implemented in toto. Anybody found taking these casually would be punished,” he said.

Garg reviewed the repair of roads and the newly constructed main and link roads of the district; water supply projects and NREGA schemes. The officials were told that they must give priority to the completion of development works.

The DC asked the officials to start a massive sapling plantation drive and rope in NGOs, institutions and panchayats for the purpose.

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