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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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TOP STORIES

BJP set for a major churn
To ‘replace’ some sitting MLAs
Chandigarh, December 30
The state BJP, which is wary of a downslide in its popularity in the past four years of its coalition government with the SAD, is set for a major churn with the party likely to replace some of its sitting legislators besides exchanging seats it has lost repeatedly with the SAD to win the 2012 Assembly poll.

YEARENDER
‘Cancer train’ remains as popular as ever
Bathinda, December 30
Yet another year has passed but the number of patients boarding from here the infamous “cancer train” to Bikaner in Rajasthan for the treatment of the disease has increased, as the Punjab Government has so far failed to take remedial steps.

YEARENDER
Winds of change blow through state police
Chandigarh, December 30
This year will be recorded as a watershed year in the history of the Punjab Police. It not only saw the start of the modernisation of the force but also an end to stagnation and enforcement of accountability to create a dynamic work force.



YOUR TOWN
Amritsar
Chandigarh
Ludhiana


EARLIER STORIES



Sikh pilgrimage train reaches its first destination
State Cabinet Minister Hira Singh Gabria (second from left) and SGPC president Avtar Singh (centre) on board the special luxury train at Anandpur Sahib Anandpur Sahib, December 30
The Sikh pilgrimage train reached its first destination Anandpur Sahib an hour before its scheduled time at 7 am today. On board, 88 passengers from an eight-month-old girl to 75-year-old elderly carried an infectious enthusiasm. Travelling in five-star facilities, they paid obeisance at Takht Keshgarh Sahib. Against the capacity of 80, 88 passengers are on board, who are from the USA, Canada, UK, Germany, France and India.
State Cabinet Minister Hira Singh Gabria (second from left) and SGPC president Avtar Singh (centre) on board the special luxury train at Anandpur Sahib on Thursday. A Tribune photograph

Division status for Ropar within 15 days: Badal
Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal being honoured at the Chamkaur Sahib gurdwara on Thursday Chamkaur Sahib, December 30
Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal again promised a divisional status for the Ropar district, within 15 days. Making an announcement to this effect during sangat darshan at Chamkaur Sahib today, Badal said a commissioner would be appointed, within a fortnight, to accord divisional status to Ropar. Keeping in view religious sanctity of historic town of Chamkaur Sahib, Badal said it would be renamed as Sri Chamkaur Sahib.

Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal being honoured at the Chamkaur Sahib gurdwara on Thursday. A Tribune photograph





POLITICS

Manpreet doesn’t rule out participation in SGPC poll
Manpreet Badal addresses mediapersons in Amritsar on ThursdayAmritsar, December 30
Former Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal did not rule out participation in the impending SGPC elections. He was talking to mediapersons here today after addressing public rallies at the border Assembly constituency of Attari as part of his ‘Jago Punjab Yatra’. With regard to participation in gurdwara elections, he replied that he would discuss the matter with his close associates after the conclusion of the first part of the yatra.
Manpreet Badal addresses mediapersons in Amritsar on Thursday. Photo: Vishal Kumar

‘Compensate Kanishka victims as per international laws’
Chandigarh, December 30
Vikram Bajwa Indian Overseas Congress president Vikram Bajwa today demanded that the families of Air India Kanishka airplane victims should be given a compensation between $10 to 15 million as per international insurance laws to compensate them for the loss of their near and dear ones in the tragedy.
Vikram Bajwa


COMMUNITY

Looking back
2010 — A year of many ups and downs
Fatehgarh Sahib, December 30
The year 2010 was marked with several highs and lows in Fathegarh Sahib, Banur and Rajpura . Several accomplishments were witnessed in the region and the government continues to make efforts and ensure better public welfare.

Oz rape accused nabbed in Jagraon
Ludhiana, December 30
The Jagraon police has nabbed a 24-year-old youth, who had fled from Australia after raping an Australian citizen in Brisbane on December 14. Satwinderpal Singh, a native of Dholen village, near Mullahpur Dakha, fled from Australia after raping the 26-year-old woman. Satwinderpal, who went to Australia three years ago on a student visa, was studying in Homes College, Brisbane, and working as a part-time taxi driver.

An artist’s expression

Harwinder Singh welcomes 2011 on the tips of colour pencils in Amritsar on Thursday
Harwinder Singh welcomes 2011 on the tips of colour pencils in Amritsar on Thursday. Photo: Vishal Kumar

Municipal Councillor’s Murder
Kin stage protest
Ferozepur, December 30
A large number of residents, including politicians, social activists and the kin of municipal councillor Kulwant Singh Maggo, staged a dharna and jammed traffic in front of the office of the district police chief to lodge their protest against the failure of the police to arrest the assailants. Maggo, who was elected as MC from ward No. four, was shot dead by three persons in front of his house, located in Telu Mal street of this town, on December 1.

Entrance gate to Golden Temple may be replaced
Amritsar, December 30
The entrance (Darshani Deodhi) to the sanctum sanctorum at the Golden Temple may have a new gate as the old ones have reportedly lived out their age and can no longer be repaired.

A woman in red walks through the water under the tree reflecting the beauty of winter in Chandigarh on Thursday
Winter Beauty: A woman in red walks through the water under the tree reflecting the beauty of winter in Chandigarh on Thursday. Tribune photo: Vinay Malik

SGPC to open de-addiction centres
Ferozepur, December 30

To bring the people, especially youths, out of the vicious cycle of drug addiction, the SGPC has decided to open three de-addiction centres at Bathinda, Ferozepur and Ludhiana.

Educational institutes to expand soon
Technology oriented courses to equip students with better knowledge
Fatehgarh Sahib, December 30
The educational hub of Banur, Rajpura and Fatehgarh Sahib plans to expand by introduction of new courses in the coming year. Expansion also includes raising infrastructure for the same.

Patiala MC violating pollution norms: PPCB
Patiala, December 30
Municipal Corporation pumping station discharging domestic effulents into a drain from Shermajra village in Patiala on Thursday The Patiala Municipal Corporation (MC) is violating the provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, by discharging domestic effluents into the drains of Patiala, including the Jacob drain. These findings are out of the report prepared by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) officials after they inspected various drains in the month of November.
Municipal Corporation pumping station discharging domestic effulents into a drain from Shermajra village in Patiala on Thursday. Tribune photo: Rajesh Sachar

Goods train fails to cross over to Pak
Amritsar, December 30
A goods train between India and Pakistan once again failed to cross over to Pakistan, this time due to late arrival of Samjhauta Express from the other side of the border.

State to have cancer diagnostic centres
Patiala, December 30
The Punjab Government will start advanced cancer diagnostic centres in parts of the state in a phased manner to cater to the needs of patients suffering from the disease for affordable and early detection.

Nagarjuna S, head, Mission10X (left), Prof Rajneesh Arora, Vice-Chancellor, PTU, show the MoU at Mohali on WednesdayPTU, Mission10X ink MoU
Mohali, December 30
The Punjab Technical University (PTU) and Mission10X yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to facilitate the Mission10X initiatives across Punjab at the SAS Institute of Information Technology and Research.

Nagarjuna S, head, Mission10X (left), Prof Rajneesh Arora, Vice-Chancellor, PTU, show the MoU at Mohali on Wednesday. A Tribune photograph

240 ambulances for Punjab
Chandigarh, December 30
Punjab will soon have emergency medical response services. As a part of these, 240 state-of-the-art life saving ambulances will be rolled-in for better management of trauma. This was stated by Punjab Health and Family Welfare Minister, Prof Laxmi Kanta Chawla here today.

Patiala to observe Road Safety Day
Patiala, December 30
In order to spread traffic awareness among commuters, Road Safety Day will be observed in Patiala district on January 1. While giving this information, Patiala Deputy Commissioner Dipinder Singh said a district level programme would be organised at the Central Library on January 1.

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BJP set for a major churn
To ‘replace’ some sitting MLAs
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 30
The state BJP, which is wary of a downslide in its popularity in the past four years of its coalition government with the SAD, is set for a major churn with the party likely to replace some of its sitting legislators besides exchanging seats it has lost repeatedly with the SAD to win the 2012 Assembly poll.

The party seems to have lost ground in the state as was clear in the last Lok Sabha elections in 2009 when it won only one of the three seats and lost in 17 of the 19 Assembly segments that it had won in the 2007 Assembly poll.

There is also a sense of despondency among the cadre, which feels the SAD has ensured it has no say in governance.

While the party has initiated a multi-pronged strategy to deal with these issues, it is also taking the issue of selecting right candidates head-on.

The party has initiated an internal exercise to analyse the winning chances of its 19 legislators besides identifying candidates for the remaining five seats. The SAD has agreed to allocate 23 seats to the BJP as done earlier in 2007 though a few seats could be changed after a mutual discussion.

According to sources, the BJP has made winnability a major factor for the allocation of the party ticket for the next Assembly elections in February 2012 and even sitting legislators will have to pass this test.

Sources said a few seats are already “open”, including that of Technical Education Minister Ch Swarna Ram, who is not likely to contest due to ill health, and state Health Minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla, who has herself opted out of the fray.

Besides this, sitting legislators on the danger list include Sita Ram from Dinanagar, Bishambar Dass from Narot Mehra, Bhagat Chunni Ram from Jalandhar (South) and Jagdish Sahni from Batala.

Myriad factors, including indiscipline as in the case of Sahni, are responsible for putting these legislators on the danger list.

The party is also likely to exchange a few seats, which it has lost repeatedly with the SAD. These include Garshankar and Amritsar (West). O P Soni of the Congress represents the latter seat.

When questioned on the issue, legislature party leader Manoranjan Kalia said winnability would definitely be the main criterion but that sitting legislators would be given the first priority. He said the party had geared itself to face the poll adding that a communication gap between party workers and leaders was responsible for the sense of demoralisation earlier. He said this issue had, however, been bridged with the holding of successive training camps.

Party general secretary Kamal Sharma also feels that the party can better its prospects as there is a year to the poll and further development of urban areas is on the cards through the newly created Municipal Infrastructure Development Fund.

Sharma says the provision of street lighting, repair of roads and completion of existing sewerage systems, all targeted for completion in the next one year, would help the party on the hustings.

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YEARENDER
‘Cancer train’ remains as popular as ever
SP Sharma/TNS

Bathinda, December 30
Yet another year has passed but the number of patients boarding from here the infamous “cancer train” to Bikaner in Rajasthan for the treatment of the disease 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 only confined to Bathinda but has also 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 of “hollow promises” of 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 the treatment was piling up in the office of the Chief Minister while the Union Health Ministry has “failed” to come out with some firm assurance on opening a super-speciality hospital for the treatment of the disease. The private sector hospital coming up here might remain out of reach for 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 drinking water being supplied particularly in the Malwa belt was a cancer cocktail as it was a combination of pesticides, heavy metals and fluoride. Besides cancer, this was causing serious deformities among 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 farmers indulged in an excessive use of pesticides and insecticides badly contaminating 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 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 visited the districts of the Malwa belt recently to have a first hand information about causes for the spread of the disease. The team was specially dispatched by 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 in New Delhi with an SOS on the issue as 1,089 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 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, out of the 3,409 tests and 894 mammograms conducted in Bathinda and adjoining Mansa district, 46 cases turned out positive while 131 were rated suspects. The region has no diagnostic and treatment centre and sufferers have to travel to Chandigarh and Bikaner for the purpose.

According to official figures, as many as 2,218 cancer patients, including 1,355 women, were detected in Bathinda district within eight years till 2009, of which 1,347 had died.

Similarly, 1,058 patients suffering from cancer were detected in Mansa district, of which 695 succumbed to the disease during the same period.

Roko Cancer, an NGO, was engaged in holding camps to detect the incidence of cancer in various parts of the Malwa belt and also educating the rural folk about the early detection of the disease.

During recent camps in the three subdivisions of Ferozepur district, the NGO, after examining 2,996 persons, detected 102 patients of cancer 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 with the PGI for the treatment of cancer patients. Azad had snubbed the Punjab Government for delaying the utilisation of Central grants for setting up regional cancer centres in 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 groundwater in the Malwa region. This was causing mental retardation, physical deformities and neurological problems among children in various areas.

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

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YEARENDER
Winds of change blow through state police
Jangveer Singh/TNS

Chandigarh, December 30
This year will be recorded as a watershed year in the history of the Punjab Police. It not only saw the start of the modernisation of the force but also an end to stagnation and enforcement of accountability to create a dynamic work force.

The force inducted new weaponry and is creating its own strike force teams. It has modernised its police stations, many of which have received ISO certification, and has provided new vehicles and computers to the station staff, something that was unthinkable till a few years ago.

The force is receiving new equipment both for the use of new SWAT (special weapons and tactics) teams, which are undergoing training under Israeli experts, and constables doing field duty at the thana level. Personnel, who have to confront rioters, will have sufficient gear to ward off any threat in 2011.

The Punjab Police has also witnessed a boost in its morale with the Director-General of Police, PS Gill, doing paper work to end stagnation in the force this year by promoting 4,500 personnel. As many as 150 officers were promoted as DSPs while over 1,600 personnel were promoted as head constables. Recruitment for 5,000 constables has started after a long gap and the force has even recruited 500 women constables this year.

Among the many firsts is the establishment of a special crime branch police station at Mohali. This will take up cases of organised crime; inter-state gangs and major scandals. As many as 38,000 police personnel are being trained on the use of computers. The functioning of every district police chief is being monitored on a monthly basis and a special drive has been launched to nab around 18,000 proclaimed offenders in the state.

In 2011, the force will be concentrating on narco-terrorism. The state has requested the Centre to allocate two battalions to it so that it can form a second line of defence along the Indo-Pak border in the state behind the BSF. The battalions will work to stop the smuggling of arms and narcotics into the state.

Also in focus will be community-related activities with police outreach centres, which have been christened Sanjh being opened at all 418 police stations. These centres, which will offer various services, including police verification for passports, will start operating from April next year.

Reforms will also being put in place in thanas. Investigation will be separated from policing and time limits fixed for investigations. Senior constables will be allowed to investigate small crimes to ensure quicker disposal of complaints.

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Sikh pilgrimage train reaches its first destination
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, December 30
The Sikh pilgrimage train reached its first destination Anandpur Sahib an hour before its scheduled time at 7 am today.

On board, 88 passengers from an eight-month-old girl to 75-year-old elderly carried an infectious enthusiasm. Travelling in five-star facilities, they paid obeisance at Takht Keshgarh Sahib. Against the capacity of 80, 88 passengers are on board, who are from the USA, Canada, UK, Germany, France and India.

The train belongs to the Maharashtra Government, which had sent the train unoccupied from Mumbai to Delhi.

The CEO (The Luxury Holidays), Sajive Trehan, said the train was being run on the pattern of Palace on Wheels, wherein passengers’ comfort was the prime factor.

“I always wanted to run a train for the five Takhts on the pattern of Palace on Wheels. I met Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal at New York, where he agreed to the proposal. With the help of the Punjab Government, this Shan-e-Khalsa train chugged out on its maiden visit,” Sajive said.

He has been promoting the train for the past over two months and has seen an unprecedented enthusiasm for it. State Cabinet minister Hira Singh Gabria was also among the passengers. SGPC president Avtar Singh welcomed the passengers. He said all the passengers would be given free literature on the five Takhts.

After visiting Takht Keshgarh Sahib, pilgrims were taken to Guru Ke Lahore, Bhakra Dam and will leave for the Golden Temple, Amritsar, at 10 pm. Later, the train will traverse Malwa plains and reach Bathinda from where passengers would be taken to Damdama Sahib at Talwandi Sabo.

Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal will flag off the train for Damdama Sahib. It will reach Jaipur on January 2. The train will then move to Nanded town in Maharashtra to visit Takht Hazoor Sahib and subsequently move to Mumbai.

After spending a day there, visitors will fly to Takht Patna Sahib. The journey will end in New Delhi after the visitors fly back from Patna.

Meanwhile, Gabria said the Punjab Government had paid Rs 70 lakh to the Railways for this train. “The journey in the train is indeed out of reach of the common man as expenses per head are Rs 2.10 lakh. If the Centre waives this amount, the fare of the train will dwindle to almost half,” he said.

Another journey of the train will start from March 23 next year.

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Division status for Ropar within 15 days: Badal
Tribune News Service

Chamkaur Sahib, December 30
Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal again promised a divisional status for the Ropar district, within 15 days. Making an announcement to this effect during sangat darshan at Chamkaur Sahib today, Badal said a commissioner would be appointed, within a fortnight, to accord divisional status to Ropar.

Keeping in view religious sanctity of historic town of Chamkaur Sahib, Badal said it would be renamed as Sri Chamkaur Sahib. He said the theme park, in memory of elder Sahibzadas Baba Ajit Singh and Baba Jhujar Singh of Guru Gobind Singh ji, would be completed soon.

To provide gainful employment training opportunities for unemployed youth, four skill development centres and one ITI is being set up in area. The ITI is expected to come up in Bhalan village.

Over 65 village panchayats and municipal towns of Chamkaur Sahib and Bela attended the sangat darshan programme with their grievances. Badal distributed cheques worth Rs 3.50 crore, as grants for various developmental works, to 65 village panchayats. He directed the Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd. to issue power connections for tubewells, on priority, lying in common village land (SHAMLATS) to panchayats.

He said Chamkaur Sahib and Bela would be provided improved facilities for water supply, sewerage system and better roads at a cost of Rs 20 crore. Also a sub-divisional complex would be constructed at a cost of Rs 2.90 crore.

Badal also gave financial assistance to the tune of Rs 9.50 crore for overall development of villages in assembly constituency of Chamkaur Sahib. The Chief Minister also laid the foundation stone of a conference hall at Baba Ajit Singh Baba Jujhar Singh Memorial College, Bela, and announced Rs 10 lakh grant for the college. 

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Manpreet doesn’t rule out participation in SGPC poll
Neeraj Bagga/TNS

Amritsar, December 30
Former Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal did not rule out participation in the impending SGPC elections.

He was talking to mediapersons here today after addressing public rallies at the border Assembly constituency of Attari as part of his ‘Jago Punjab Yatra’.

With regard to participation in gurdwara elections, he replied that he would discuss the matter with his close associates after the conclusion of the first part of the yatra covering the Malwa region at Muktsar on January 14 next year.

Political analysts believe that Manpreet by showing interest in gurdwara elections attempted to attract Akali leaders and voters to his side.

Upon floating a new party, he said he would announce his future plan of action after the the completion of the 117-day yatra. The second phase would stretch between January 23 to March 23 concentrating on the Doaba region and the third on the Majha region.

In reply to his participation in the next Assembly election, Manpreet’s answer was in affirmative but he ruled out to speak at length over the issue at present.

He said the Bihar Assembly election was an epoch-making event in the evolution of the democracy as electorates chose their leaders on the basis of performance.

He further said electing the leaders while ignoring the caste, religion and creed politics would set a new trend in the country’s politics.

He had covered 30 Assembly constituencies in the yatra, which was started on November 24. He said the yatra taught him so much about the state and its people which he was not able to learn during his 15-year stint as a MLA.

Sharing his experiences of the yatra, he said he found the youth as the most disgruntled section of the society.

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‘Compensate Kanishka victims as per international laws’

Chandigarh, December 30
Indian Overseas Congress president Vikram Bajwa today demanded that the families of Air India Kanishka airplane victims should be given a compensation between $10 to 15 million as per international insurance laws to compensate them for the loss of their near and dear ones in the tragedy.

Addressing a press conference along with Amarjit Kaur Bhinder, the widow of Satwinder Singh, one of the pilots of the fateful aircraft, the Overseas Congress president said it was unfortunate that the Canadian government was playing politics with the souls of the Air India martyrs.

Bajwa said the compensation offer of $20,000 offered by the John Major report was a joke and was unacceptable to the families of the Kanishka victims. Bhinder said families had been waiting for 25 years for justice in the case. — TNS

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Looking back
2010 — A year of many ups and downs
Gurdeep Singh Mann/TNS

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 30
The year 2010 was marked with several highs and lows in Fathegarh Sahib, Banur and Rajpura . Several accomplishments were witnessed in the region and the government continues to make efforts and ensure better public welfare.

The outbreak of swine flu in December, 2009, continued to haunt people through January 2010. Health department officials remained on tenterhook till it was controlled.

The monsoons during August and September, recorded highest, spelt disaster for farming community. The vegetable growers of region lost 50 per cent of their crop in the floods.

Later, this monsoon turned out to be a blessing in disguise due to the increased water table. This promises to bring better news for the coming farming season.

On the development front, the foundation stone of 1,320 MW capacity Rajpura Thermal Plant was laid at Nalas village despite protests by the farmers whose land was acquired for the project. Similar protests were seen for setting up of the IT Park at Rajpura in 1,300 acres of land. Yielding to the pressure, the state government has decided to drop the project in principle.

The eagerly awaited project of 2011 will be completion of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib World Sikh University in Fatehgarh Sahib. The building is nearing completion and its first session is expected to begin in January.

On the crime front, the year saw revival of the Kala Kachchha gang wherein sporadic incidences of their presence were reported from Rajpura and Banur areas. The gang created havoc in many houses situated in remote areas in the month of August.

On the religious front, several devotees paid obeisance at the Jor Mela held recently in Fatehgarh Sahib to observe martyrdom day of younger Sahibzadas. Despite Akal Takht’s edict to not air political views during the religious function, all major parties indulged in scathing attacks against each other.

While PPCC president Captain Amarinder made a comeback after four years at the mela, Sukhbir Badal could not attend the function due to his commitments.

The Chhatbir Zoo at Banur saw a flurry of activities with increased animal births. This also marred functioning for the zoo authorities. Twelve newborn ghariyal’s died, followed by death of Gullu (tiger), Chitra (tigress), a jaguar, chimpanzee and a caught leopard. 

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Oz rape accused nabbed in Jagraon
Mohit Khanna /TNS

Ludhiana, December 30
The Jagraon police has nabbed a 24-year-old youth, who had fled from Australia after raping an Australian citizen in Brisbane on December 14.

Satwinderpal Singh, a native of Dholen village, near Mullahpur Dakha, fled from Australia after raping the 26-year-old woman.

Satwinderpal, who went to Australia three years ago on a student visa, was studying in Homes College, Brisbane, and working as a part-time taxi driver.

On the night of December 14, Satwinderpal received a call asking him to ferry a woman from a deserted street in Brisbane. The woman complained to the Australian police that the accused had raped her in the cab.

Following the incident, the accused fled from Australia and returned to India. Subsequently, the Australian police registered a case and informed the Indian High Commission about the incident.

A Red Corner Notice was issued against Satwinderpal and the matter was handed over to the Interpol for further investigation.

The Jagraon police received the Interpol notice and copy of the case on December 22, following which Jagraon SSP Gursharan Singh constituted a special investigation team (SIT), headed by SHO Mullahpur Dakha Jangjit Singh.

The police today received a tip-off that the accused was visiting his parents in Dholen village.

The police laid a trap and nabbed the accused. The Jagraon police has also informed the Interpol about the arrest of the accused.

However, in police custody Satwinderpal claimed himself to be innocent and added that the woman was drunk and requested him to take her to her room. “When they reached the room the woman latched the door from inside and slept with me. Next day, she accused me of raping her. I got panicky and fled from Australia to evade arrest,” said Satwinderpal.

Meanwhile, Satwinderpal’s family claimed that they would fight the case in the Australian court.

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Municipal Councillor’s Murder
Kin stage protest
Chander Parkash/TNS

Ferozepur, December 30
A large number of residents, including politicians, social activists and the kin of municipal councillor Kulwant Singh Maggo, staged a dharna and jammed traffic in front of the office of the district police chief to lodge their protest against the failure of the police to arrest the assailants. Maggo, who was elected as MC from ward No. four, was shot dead by three persons in front of his house, located in Telu Mal street of this town, on December 1.

The protesters, including Raju Khattar, president, Sports and Cultural Cell, Congress, Ferozepur, raised slogans against the district police and alleged that the assailants were not being arrested under political pressure.

The three assailants, identified as Kuku Pradhan, who was once an important leader of the ruling SAD (B), Charan Dass Honda and Sita Tarapuria, fled away from the spot after committing the crime.

Maggo died in a hospital at Ludhiana on December 4, after he was shifted there for treatment. He had suffered two bullet injuries.

Though a case against the three accused was registered, they could not be arrested so far. The protesters lifted their dharna and traffic blockade after an assurance form SP (headquarters) Surjeet Singh that the accused would be arrested at the earliest.

Khattar said if the police failed to arrest the accused within a week, they would resort to agitation again and observe a bandh in the city.

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Entrance gate to Golden Temple may be replaced
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 30
The entrance (Darshani Deodhi) to the sanctum sanctorum at the Golden Temple may have a new gate as the old ones have reportedly lived out their age and can no longer be repaired.

This issue came up for a discussion here yesterday at a meeting of a sub-committee formed to look into the matter. Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh is the chairman of the panel.

According to sources, Baba Kashmir Singh Bhuriwale, a member of the panel, submitted a chemical analysis report of the gate prepared by a Dehradun-based lab at the meeting as per which it has lived out its age and cannot be repaired for further use.

SGPC chief Avtar Singh said they would look into the issue at their executive meeting once they received the report of the sub-committee.

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SGPC to open de-addiction centres

Ferozepur, December 30
To bring the people, especially youths, out of the vicious cycle of drug addiction, the SGPC has decided to open three de-addiction centres at Bathinda, Ferozepur and Ludhiana.

SGPC president Avtar Singh, who was here yesterday in connection with a religious function, said all arrangements for the opening of these centres had been made. The SGPC had been looking for suitable doctors to run the centres and had approached the PGI, Chandigarh, and other institutes for the same.

“Doctors will be given all facilities apart from handsome salaries. The entire expenditure will be met by the SGPC,” said the SGPC chief, adding that 10,000 persons had been treated at a centre being run in Guru Ram Dass Medical College, Amritsar, by the SGPC so far.

The SGPC chief further said they would approach Gurdwara Election Commissioner Harphool Singh Brar and urge him to hold the SGPC elections by February-end next year.

He said the SGPC had also been laying stress on spreading religious teaching among the masses. Students belonging to the Sikh religion would be educated about their culture, history, language and heritage and those who would be “absolute” Sikhs as per the SGPC, would be sent to a foreign university for higher studies, he added. — TNS

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Educational institutes to expand soon
Technology oriented courses to equip students with better knowledge
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 30
The educational hub of Banur, Rajpura and Fatehgarh Sahib plans to expand by introduction of new courses in the coming year. Expansion also includes raising infrastructure for the same.

Run by the SGPC, Mata Gujri College in Fatehgarh Sahib started with postgraduate degrees in economics and Punjabi. Keeping pace with the advances in technological education, the college now boasts of courses like MBA, MCA, M Sc in biotechnology, bio informatics, chemistry, microbiology, mathematics and IT. It also has M Com, computer electronics and communication engineering and electrical engineering.

Similarly, more than a dozen private institutes in Banur and Rajpura have made their strong presence felt in the past couple of years.

Dr Geetika Thapar, dean (academics) of Shaheed Udham Singh Group of College, Tangori said our college now has five different branches of engineering and technology, college of pharmacy, institute of computer and institute of information and technology and research.

Des Raj, director, Gurukul Vidhyapeeth said boost in the education sector, in Chandigarh, was due to its increasing students base. “ Currently, seven percent of rural students reach higher education. Most of the school drops-outs either opt for small time technical jobs, like vehicle repair mechanic, or immigrate. With most of colleges situated near rural pockets, a high number of rural students have started pouring in thus increasing the student base,” he said.

Students from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Rajasthan study in these institutes.

Increased in the number of institutes have also generated employment in the industry. “There is competition and quality education. There are around 50 big and small educational institutions in Banur, Rajpura and Fatehgarh Sahib, which offer several courses on different subjects, including engineering, academics and professional courses. This rise is witnessed only in last five years,” he said.

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Patiala MC violating pollution norms: PPCB
Umesh Dewan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 30
The Patiala Municipal Corporation (MC) is violating the provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, by discharging domestic effluents into the drains of Patiala, including the Jacob drain.

These findings are out of the report prepared by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) officials after they inspected various drains in the month of November. The board has also written to the MC Commissioner, Manjit Singh Narang, instructing him to ensure that pollution norms were not flouted.

As per the report, a copy of which is with The Tribune, the PPCB team had visited various drains on November 16. They found out that were a number of outlets, in the drains flowing in the city including the Jacob drain, which were being used for discharging domestic effluents directly. The report states that MC was not checking the illegal discharge of domestic effluents in the drains.

The MC has constructed permanent disposal works, a pumping station for the disposal of sewage into the Jacob drain near Shermajra village. The board has instructed the MC to ensure that domestic effluents are not discharged into any drain.

According to the information, there is there is no sewerage treatment plant (STP) in Patiala, due to which the MC has been discharging untreated domestic effluents into the drains. Patiala residents said the Jacob drain near Shermajra village, where the MC discharged sewage through the main pumping station (MPS), was rarely cleansed and foul smell kept emanating from the drain. “The underground water quality has also deteriorated because of discharge of sewage waste into the drains,” informed residents of Shermajra village.

When contacted, Narang said in order to ensure that sewage waste of Patiala city was discharged in the Jacob drain only after it was treated, STP’s were being set up in the district. “Under the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small & Medium Towns (UIDSSMT), at an estimated cost of Rs 9.56 crores, a ten MLD STP was being set up in Ablowal village and another 46 MLD STP, costing Rs 24.98 crore, was coming up at Shermajra village.

Both plants will be functional by November 2011 following which, sewage waste will also be treated before it gets discharged into the Jacob drain,”Narang said.

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Goods train fails to cross over to Pak

Amritsar, December 30
A goods train between India and Pakistan once again failed to cross over to Pakistan, this time due to late arrival of Samjhauta Express from the other side of the border.

Samjhauta Express, which usually arrives at 12.30 noon, reached at 4pm today at the Attari railway station, said the railway authorities. They said as per drivers of the Indo-Pak passenger train, it got delayed due to the derailment of another train on the Pakistan side. RK Mehta, stationmaster, Attari railway station, said the goods train would now, leave for Pakistan tomorrow. — TNS

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State to have cancer diagnostic centres
Aman Sood/TNS

Patiala, December 30
The Punjab Government will start advanced cancer diagnostic centres in parts of the state in a phased manner to cater to the needs of patients suffering from the disease for affordable and early detection.

The move comes following the visit of a high-level team of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to the state, which was keen to start this service as early as possible in association with the Punjab Government.

Sources in the Health Department confirmed that a few months ago, the team proposed the setting up of such centres following reports of spread of the disease in the state. “The state government has agreed to set up such centres initially inside medical colleges in Patiala, Faridkot and Amritsar and later consider more such centres across the state,” they said.

A senior medical education and research official told The Tribune, that these centres would be equipped with the latest technological equipment. “It would be linked to a centralised laboratory and collected samples of cancer patients would be forwarded to the lab concerned, which would send all details to the patient in a fixed time frame”, they stated.

A senior functionary at the Government Medical College and Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, who met the ICMR team, said the team visited the state a few months ago and agreed to set up cancer diagnostic centres in Punjab due to the rising number of cancer patients in the state.

“We are expecting that these centres would be operational after January next year,” claimed Dr Jai Kishan, Director, Research and Medical Education.

“The facility would be cheap and help poor patients,” he said.

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PTU, Mission10X ink MoU
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 30
The Punjab Technical University (PTU) and Mission10X yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to facilitate the Mission10X initiatives across Punjab at the SAS Institute of Information Technology and Research.

Talking at the signing ceremony of the MoU, Prof Rajneesh Arora, Vice-Chancellor, PTU, said, “We have always strived to enhance skills and knowledge of students.” Nagarjuna S, head, Mission10X, said, “The signing of the MoU with the PTU is a very significant milestone for our journey, it marks our entry into Punjab and in a sense marks the beginning of the second phase of the Mission10X. As we continue to traverse the length and breadth of this country.”

“We are certain that the PTU will be an ideal partner for us in this state and will play an important role in helping us achieve our goal of empowering 25,000 faculties in this phase,” he added.

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240 ambulances for Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 30
Punjab will soon have emergency medical response services. As a part of these, 240 state-of-the-art life saving ambulances will be rolled-in for better management of trauma. This was stated by Punjab Health and Family Welfare Minister, Prof Laxmi Kanta Chawla here today.

Director Health Dr JP Singh and Director Family Welfare Dr Ashok Nayyar were also present. Discussing the achievements of the health department, the minister said owing to efforts made by the health department, Punjab attained the first position among the states under full immunization as per the CES Survey conducted in 2009 and 2nd Position in NSV-Family Planning (as per 2008-09 Survey). Punjab has also bagged 6 different awards under AIDS Control Programme- RRE including an award of Secretary level.

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Patiala to observe Road Safety Day
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 30
In order to spread traffic awareness among commuters, Road Safety Day will be observed in Patiala district on January 1.

While giving this information, Patiala Deputy Commissioner Dipinder Singh said a district level programme would be organised at the Central Library on January 1. “A seminar will be held during the programme to educate the students of various educational institutes and the auto rickshaw/taxi operators regarding the traffic rules,” said DC.

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