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Dy CM ropes in top cops to monitor civic works
Asked to keep tab on construction of water supply, sewerage pipelines
Bathinda, December 30
The top police officials of Bathinda and Mansa districts are now busy in performing an unconventional duty of supervising the construction of the water supply and sewerage pipelines in their respective areas.

YEARENDER
Long battle ahead before Malwa can tame the scourge of cancer
Bathinda, December 30
Cancer patients wait for a train at the Bathinda railway station to go to Bikaner for treatment Yet another year has passed but the number of patients boarding the infamous ‘Cancer Train’ to Bikaner in Rajasthan here for treatment has increased.
Cancer patients wait for a train at the Bathinda railway station to go to Bikaner for treatment. Tribune file photo


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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS


Police office staff booked on bribery charge
Bathinda, December 30
The incident involving two of the staff posted in the office of the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Bathinda Range), who allegedly took bribe to expedite the promotion of a cop, has brought the functioning of the office under a scanner.

85 food samples fail to pass muster
Bathinda, December 30
As many as 83 samples of various food and milk products failed test from January this year to November while two samples failed the test in December so far. These 85 samples were collected under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954 and rules 1955 in Bathinda district during the current calendar year by the health authorities.

Pond controversy: DC cracks the whip
Moga, December 30
The District Magistrate of Moga district Dr VN Zade has issued a show-cause notice to JS Brar, the Naib Tehsildar of Dharamkot area, for allegedly misguiding the administration on the controversy over a village pond following the recommendations of the Additional Deputy Commissioner Dr Abhinav Trikha, who conducted an inquiry into it.

Municipal employees block traffic in protest
Bathinda, December 30
Following a call by the Municipal Employees Action Committee, Punjab, a large number of municipal employees from various parts of the region today blocked the main road for about two hours near the Mini-secretariat here to put pressure on the state government to accept their long standing demands.

Candidate flees exam centre with answer sheet
Bathinda, December 30
Kotwali police booked a candidate appearing at the teachers' selection test for fleeing from the examination centre along with the answer-sheet on Wednesday.

Consumer Forum launches website
Ferozepur, December 30
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (Ferozepur) launched its own website today. The website, www.consumerforum-fzr.gov.in, was launched in the presence of senior officials who attended the function organised by the District Food and Supply Department on national Consumer Protection Day.

Dist HQ status sought for Fazilka
BJP MLA to go on fast-unto-death from Jan 5
Fazilka, December 30
To get district headquarter status for this sub-divisional town, the members of Sanjha Morcha have been observing chain hunger strike for the past 137 days. Now, local BJP MLA Surjit Jiyani would go on fast-unto-death at Clock Tower from January 5 along with the SAD (Badal) circle president and former chairman, Market Committee (Fazilka) Charan Singh for pressing the SAD-BJP alliance government for the same, said Sushil Gumber, convener, Sanjha Morcha.

NFL staff to go on token strike
Bathinda, December 30
The National Fertilisers Employees Union, Bathinda, has decided to observe daylong token strike on February 2 in protest against the non-acceptance of their demands by the NFL management. The demands include distribution of incentive/performance related pay, payment of remaining parts of agreed amounts of perks i.e. 5.5 per cent and finalisation of the pension scheme.

Martyr remembered on Balidan Divas
Sriganganagar, Dec 30
The eight Balidan Divas of Captain Navpal Singh Sidhu was observed with due solemnity at his memorial in his native village 40 RB, about nine kilometers from Padampur on the Raisinghnagar road in Sriganganagar region on Thursday.





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Dy CM ropes in top cops to monitor civic works
Asked to keep tab on construction of water supply, sewerage pipelines
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 30
The top police officials of Bathinda and Mansa districts are now busy in performing an unconventional duty of supervising the construction of the water supply and sewerage pipelines in their respective areas.

The duty has been made mandatory by the Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal after he held a meeting with the officials of the two districts, at his residence in Badal village about fortnight back, before leaving for abroad.

Highly placed sources informed that during a review meeting of the two districts-part of his wife MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal's constituency-the Deputy CM took an exception to the fact that the construction work of the water supply and sewerage projects was progressing at a snail's pace.

Annoyed over the slow progress made by the construction company as well as the officials of the department concerned, he pulled up the staff 
concerned. The Deputy CM then came up with the idea to award each town to senior officials of the district to personally supervise the work and monitor the pace.

Meanwhile, making the supervising officers personally responsible for the progress of the projects, Sukhbir clearly mentioned that if any delay was reported in the towns assigned to them, it would be taken seriously.

While assigning the job, he asked Bathinda SSP Sukhchain Singh Gill to personally monitor the progress of the development works at Maur Mandi, while Mansa SSP HS Mann was asked to look after the construction work in Mansa city.

Meanwhile, he assigned similar duties to two DSPs -DSP Bhucho, Baljeet Singh Sidhu and Phul, Vinod Chaudhary, for Bhucho and Phul towns, respectively.

Then, the DC Bathinda, has been given the duty to personally monitor the work related to laying of sewerage at Rama Mandi, where the situation is reported to be the worst.

However, the other towns of the two districts, like Sangat, Kotfatta, Goniana, Rampura, Budhladha and Sardulgarh, where also related works are going on, the duties have been assigned to ADCs and SDMs.

Now following the directions, all officials have started visiting the towns assigned to them twice or thrice a week and are busy in preparing a dossier as the Deputy CM is expected to call a review meeting in the coming few days.

Visiting Maur Mandi (which is assigned to the SSP, Bathinda), this correspondent found that the residents of the town were unaware about the development and were surprised as to why the police officials were frequently visiting the construction sites for the past about ten days.

Bathinda SSP Sukhchain Singh Gill said the off-beat duty would not hamper their prime duty, and added, "We are happy to perform the duty as it would enable us to improve our public dealings. It would further help in developing better relations between the police and the public."

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YEARENDER
Long battle ahead before Malwa can tame the scourge of cancer
SP Sharma
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 30
Yet another year has passed but the number of patients boarding the infamous ‘Cancer Train’ to Bikaner in Rajasthan here for treatment has increased as the Punjab government has so far failed to take remedial steps. Besides cancer, other diseases have also taken roots in the area because of contaminated groundwater.

The disease is not confined to Bathinda but has over the years spread its tentacles in the entire Malwa belt consisting of the districts of Muktsar, Faridkot, Moga, Barnala, Mansa and Ferozepur where the patients were fed up with the hollow promises made by the Central and the state government. The area has emerged as the epicentre of the disease and has come to be known as the cancer belt of Punjab .

The number of applications from patients for financial aid for treatment was piling up in the office of the Chief Minister while the Union Health Ministry has failed to come up with some firm assurance on opening a super-specialty hospital for treatment of the disease.

The private sector hospital coming up here might remain out of reach for the financially weak patients.

A series of studies conducted by the Chandigarh-based PGI, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and various other reputed institutions have indicated that the drinking water being supplied, particularly in the Malwa belt, was a cancer cocktail as it was a combination of pesticides, heavy metals and fluoride that were causing more harm than good. Besides cancer, this was causing serious deformities among the children.

Residents of the Malwa belt believe that many people in the area became prone to cancer only after the green revolution was launched followed by the introduction 
of Bt cotton for which the farmers indulged in excessive use of pesticides and insecticides, badly contaminating the groundwater.

While the disease was on the rise, the officialdom of Punjab has somewhat remained insensitive to the issue, that was troubling most households in the rural areas. They were unable to furnish the exact number of cancer patients to a high-level team of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) that recently visited the districts of the Malwa belt to get first-hand information about the causes for the spread of the disease. The team was specially dispatched by the Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on the request of Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and his wife and MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal who met him at New Delhi with an SOS on the issue as 1089 persons have lost their lives because of the disease in the past three years in the Bathinda parliamentary constituency.

Researchers have found very high level of uranium concentration in the hair samples of children, and also traces of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, strontium and barium.

According to the data provided to Azad by Sukhbir Singh Badal, out of the 3,409 tests and 894 mammograms conducted in Bathinda and adjoining Mansa district, 46 cases turned out to be positive, while 131 were rated as suspects. The region has no diagnostic and treatment centre and patients have to travel to Chandigarh and Bikaner for the purpose.

According to official figures, as many as 2218 cancer patients, including 1355 women, were detected in the Bathinda district within eight years till 2009 of which 1347 had died.

Similarly, 1058 patients suffering from cancer were detected in the Mansa district out of which, 695 succumbed to the disease during the same period.

Roko Cancer, an NGO, was engaged in holding camps to detect incidence of cancer in various parts of the Malwa belt and also educating the rural folk about the early detection of the disease. During the recent camps in the three sub-divisions of the Ferozepur district, the NGO, after examining 2996 persons, detected 102 cancer patients in Ferozepur, Fazilka and Abohar.

Another NGO, Kheti Virasat Mission, has raised doubts about the data of cancer patients built by the Punjab Health Department and has demanded a scientific approach on the matter to prepare an authentic list as the NGO suspects that the number of patients was more than what was claimed by the authorities.

The Centrally funded ONCONET project for the districts of Bathinda, Muktsar and Sangrur has remained in the doldrums because of the laxity of the Punjab government. The project would have provided the district hospitals a direct link to the PGI for treatment of cancer patients. Azad had snubbed the Punjab government for delaying utilization of Central grants for setting up regional cancer centres in the Faridkot and Patiala medical colleges.

Another alarming factor that came to light during the year was the presence of uranium beyond the permissible limits in the groundwater of Malwa region. This was causing mental retardation, physical deformities and neurological problems among the children in various areas.

The worst affected was the Teja Rohela village near Fazilka in Ferozepur district where over 100 children were congenitally, mentally and physically found challenged by an NGO working in the area.

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Police office staff booked on bribery charge
Rajay Deep/TNS

Bathinda, December 30
The incident involving two of the staff posted in the office of the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Bathinda Range), who allegedly took bribe to expedite the promotion of a cop, has brought the functioning of the office under a scanner.

Though the Civil Lines police, after a detailed inquiry conducted by a Superintendent of Police (Detective), booked the two accused- superintendent and a senior assistant (dealing clerk)-under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, on Wednesday, it failed to arrest them till today.

According to details available, the district police recently received a tip-off that a superintendent and a senior assistant (dealing clerk), namely, Harbhajan Singh and Ramesh Kumar, respectively, posted at the DIG office, had accepted a bribe of Rs 10,000 each from an accountant of the office, Prem Kumar, to expedite his promotion as a sub-inspector, which was due for some time.

Acting upon the information, the district police chief, with the permission of the DIG (Bathinda range) marked an investigation to the SP (D) Jatinder Singh Behnipal.

During the probe, the SP (D) found the allegations to be true and after recording the statements of the accused as well as the person who had paid the bribe, recommended registration of a case against the two.

After the case was registered at the Civil Lines police station on Wednesday, a further probe was marked to the ASP (City-II) Bikram Pal Singh Bhatti. Speaking to The Tribune, SP (D) Jatinder Singh Behnipal said, "The allegations were proved against the accused. Moreover, during the investigation, they themselves admitted to the crime." About the involvement of the accused in some other crimes of a related nature, the SP (D) said the police was investigating the matter in detail.

ASP (City-II), Bikram Pal Singh Bhatti said, "To escape arrest, both have fled. We conveyed a message to their family members that their appearance before the office was required as there were various facts which are yet to be ascertained but we did not get any response."

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85 food samples fail to pass muster
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 30
As many as 83 samples of various food and milk products failed test from January this year to November while two samples failed the test in December so far. These 85 samples were collected under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954 and rules 1955 in Bathinda district during the current calendar year by the health authorities.

As per information, the authorities collected 602 samples of various food products till yesterday, of which, the results of 39 samples are awaited while 85 failed the test. The failed samples were of various food and milk products, including ghee, salt, milk, cheese, turmeric powder, grinded maize, curd, banana, mixed milk, wheat flour, papaya, sweetened carbonated water, desi ghee, gur, brinjals, tomato sauce, bread pakora, maida, burfi, jeera powder, gulab jamun, milk cake, iodised salt and tomato ketch-up.

The authorities had collected 20 samples each in January and February, 31 in March, nine in April, 31 in May, 73 in June, 53 in July, 74 in August, 70 in September, 78 each in October and November and 65 in December till December 29. While two samples failed test in April, four samples each failed the test in January, March and July, seven samples each in February and May, nine samples each in October and November, 10 samples in June, 12 samples in September and 15 samples in August. However, two samples failed the test in December so far.

When contacted, District Health Officer Dr Raghbir Singh Randhawa said the present Food Inspector of the Health Department was now preparing cases to launch complaints in the courts against persons whose food and milk product samples had failed the test.

On the other hand, the Food Inspector Rajinder Pal Singh said he had submitted five cases so far to the assistant district attorney to initiate proceedings in the court.

As per information, one person was convicted in 2009 by a Talwandi court as his milk sample had failed the test. The person had reportedly gone in appeal in the sessions court.

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Pond controversy: DC cracks the whip
Kulwinder Sandhu/TNS

Moga, December 30
The District Magistrate of Moga district Dr VN Zade has issued a show-cause notice to JS Brar, the Naib Tehsildar of Dharamkot area, for allegedly misguiding the administration on the controversy over a village pond following the recommendations of the Additional Deputy Commissioner Dr Abhinav Trikha, who conducted an inquiry into it.

The ADC, in his inquiry, has written that Brar did not go into the facts of the controversy over a common pond of Rajji Wala village, which invited legal complications and contempt of court proceedings against the administration.

It may be mentioned that the then DM Satwant Singh Johal issued orders on December 12, 2008 to ‘close down’ the pond, which was being polluted by some residents, who discharged sewage into it.

Lovepreet Singh and some other residents of the village went to the High Court to get the DM’s orders implemented and the court issued orders in their favour.

However, another group of villagers filed a review petition against these orders contending that some villagers were trying to grab this piece of land due to which the pond was closed down.

On July 23, this year, the High Court passed the orders that if there was an apprehension of grabbing of this piece of land, the DM could review its orders.

When contacted, JS Brar said that as per the revenue record, the pond did not exist in the ‘abadi deh’ area of the village. There was a small piece of vacant land, about 10 marla, surrounding some houses, which appeared to have been dug just a few days back. The actual pond in about three acres of land exists outside the redline area of the village.

"I gave the opinion that if sewage is discharged in the vacant land, it can lead to hazardous diseases as some families lived near this land and suggested to the DM to fill up the dug up vacant land as the main pond already exists in the village,” he said.

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Municipal employees block traffic in protest
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 30
Following a call by the Municipal Employees Action Committee, Punjab, a large number of municipal employees from various parts of the region today blocked the main road for about two hours near the Mini-secretariat here to put pressure on the state government to accept their long standing demands.

They also raised slogans against the state government and in favour of their demands. The memorandum, enlisting demands, was received by the Naib Tehsildar Karnail Singh Bhullar from the protesters.

The main demands of the employees included regularisation of services of part-time employees, daily wagers, contractual employees and mohalla sanitation committee workers; ban on contractual system and starting of new recruitment, implementation of equal work, equal pay policy, jobs to wards of deceased municipal employees and workers on compassionate ground without any condition, state level seniority list for clerical cadre and scrapping of new pension scheme.

Among others who were present or addressed the protesters included convener and co-convener of the Municipal Employees Action Committee Kuldip Kumar and Parkash Chand Jaichand, respectively, vice-president of Safai Karamchari Union, Punjab, Nand Lal, president of local Safai Karamchari Union, Veer Bhan, district secretary of Safai Karamchari Union, Punjab, Ram Charan, Ramesh Kumar Bhanwar and Roop Chand Parocha.

CPI dharna

Bathinda: The CPI led a dharna on Thursday at Hardev Nagar here against the alleged attempts by some persons to forcibly evict the people in Hardev Nagar. District secretary, CPI, Jagjit Singh Joga said the protest may be intensified if eviction continued.— TNS

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Candidate flees exam centre with answer sheet

Bathinda, December 30
Kotwali police booked a candidate appearing at the teachers' selection test for fleeing from the examination centre along with the answer-sheet on Wednesday.

Giving details, police officials informed that the Principal of the local MHR School, in his complaint, informed that the school was selected as an examination centre for the Teachers' Selection Test, conducted by the C-Deck, Mohali.

During the examination, when the officials were about to conduct a videography of the examination hall, a candidate, Gurmukh Singh of village Nalagarh (roll number 55009187), stood up from his seat and to avoid the videography, fled along with the answer-sheet.

Acting upon the statement of the school Principal, the Kotwali police booked the accused under section 406 of the IPC (criminal breach of trust). However, the accused was still at large. — TNS

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Consumer Forum launches website

Ferozepur, December 30
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (Ferozepur) launched its own website today.

The website, www.consumerforum-fzr.gov.in, was launched in the presence of senior officials who attended the function organised by the District Food and Supply Department on national Consumer Protection Day.

The function was attended by SSP Kaustab Sharma, Sanjay Garg, president, District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum, Ferozepur, Harjinder Singh, SSP (Vigilance), GS Pannu, SDM and Lovkesh Sharma, District Food and Supply Controller.

Sanjay Garg said the website would help in checking the latest judgments and is linked with the website of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. — TNS

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Dist HQ status sought for Fazilka
BJP MLA to go on fast-unto-death from Jan 5
Chander Parkash/ TNS

Fazilka, December 30
To get district headquarter status for this sub-divisional town, the members of Sanjha Morcha have been observing chain hunger strike for the past 137 days. Now, local BJP MLA Surjit Jiyani would go on fast-unto-death at Clock Tower from January 5 along with the SAD (Badal) circle president and former chairman, Market Committee (Fazilka) Charan Singh for pressing the SAD-BJP alliance government for the same, said Sushil Gumber, convener, Sanjha Morcha.

The agitation was launched by Sanjha Morcha (Fazilka) on August 15 this year. “Either we will die or get district status for Fazilka,” said Jiyani, adding that a number of delegations, which had met CM Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal in this regard, could not yield positive results so far.

Charan Singh said that what he intends to do by going on fast-unto-death is be to protect the interests of the SAD (Badal).

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NFL staff to go on token strike

Bathinda, December 30
The National Fertilisers Employees Union, Bathinda, has decided to observe daylong token strike on February 2 in protest against the non-acceptance of their demands by the NFL management. The demands include distribution of incentive/performance related pay, payment of remaining parts of agreed amounts of perks i.e. 5.5 per cent and finalisation of the pension scheme.

In a press note, issued here today, president of the union Harish Chander said that besides Bathinda, the strike would also be held in all other units and offices of the NFL at Nangal, Panipat, Vijaipur, Central Marketing Office and Corporate Office, Noida. — TNS

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Martyr remembered on Balidan Divas
Our Correspondent

Sriganganagar, Dec 30
The eight Balidan Divas of Captain Navpal Singh Sidhu was observed with due solemnity at his memorial in his native village 40 RB, about nine kilometers from Padampur on the Raisinghnagar road in Sriganganagar region on Thursday.

The Army contingent that offered salute and laid wreaths at the memorial was led by Brigadier Dinesh Sharma, who had been an eyewitness to the ambush that Navpal had led in the Surankote area of Jammu and Kashmir.

On the occasion, the Shaheed Navpal Memorial Committee honoured widows and other members of the families of the 18 soldiers, who had sacrificed their lives during the Indo Pak wars or anti-militancy operations.

Brigadier Sharma was joined by District Collector Subeer Kumar, Sriganganagar MLA Radhey Shyam, former minister Surinderpal Singh, District Congress president Prithvipal Singh Sandhu, former MP Nihal Chand, District BJP president Mohinder Singh Sodhi and Rachna Bhatia, the first ADM of Padampur in offering floral tributes.

Navpal's father Colonel Agyapal Singh Sidhu (retd) welcomed the officials and others, who had joined the Balidan Divas function. They also paid their reverence to the Granth Sahib.

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