Thursday, February 22, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Punjab college teachers on warpath again
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) has decided to relaunch its agitation from March 5 to press the Punjab Government to implement the decisions taken for the welfare of the teachers by its executive and legislative wings.

Mr Charanjit Chawla, General Secretary of the PCCTU, in a talk with TNS here today also appealed to the Chief Secretary, Mr N.K. Arora, to take urgent steps to honour Bill No. 4 of 1999 (The Punjab affiliated colleges (Security of service of employees) (amendment) Bill, 1999 and grant pensionary benefits like pension/gratuity in lieu of contributory provident fund to the employees of privately managed aided colleges in the state of Punjab covered under 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme.

The non-implementation of the pension-cum-gratuity Act, dated April 30, 1999 for the 140 aided colleges had "brought in to sharp focus the moral and legal dereliction of duty by the constitutional and statutory bodies of the Punjab Government, he said.

The non-compliance of the bill passed by the Punjab Assembly, which was moved by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister on March 30, 1999, and the Bill was unanimously accepted and later it was gazetted on April 26, 1999 (extra-ordinary) as notification.

By not implementing the decisions of the Punjab Cabinet, Punjab Assembly and the Governor of Punjab, the officials concerned were inviting the wrath of Constitutional bodies.

Master Mohan Lal, Minister Higher Education, Punjab, called a delegation of the PCCTU on December 29, 2000, and gave an assurance that within one month, besides pension-cum-gratuity scheme others issues would also be implemented by the education department. Later, on January 9, 2001, the PCCTU had withdrawn the proposed Vidya Bandh and march to Giddarbaha in the constituency of the CM slated for Jan 18, 2001.

The Education Department had not only ignored the fixed date by the minister but also ignored the communication, of the minister to the Chief Minister on January 12 and to Mr G.P.S. Sahi, Principal Secretary, Higher Education to honour the commitments he had made to the seven members delegation of the PCCTU on Dec 29, 2000.

"Teachers have been disappointed and disgusted over the uncalled hurdles and barriers being created by the bureaucracy against the democratic norms of the country:, Mr Chawla complained.

On April 3, 1992, the then Finance Minister made an announcement in the Punjab Assembly, accepting the retrial benefits and the union had to wage a stiff fight and finally on Jan 3, 1996, executive orders were issued in the name of Governor.

The PCCTU had met on number of occasions to the CM, FM, EM, CS and ES, held series of protest rallies in the constituencies of the important MLAs including that of EM at Pathankot and in the constituency of FM at Banur.

‘‘This seems to be case where in an elected government proposes & bureaucracy disposes’’.

About 125 crore as on date was the share of Provident Fund to be deposited in the Government Treasury by the MCs of the private aided colleges.

The scheme beneficiaries was estimated 6890 (Teachers and Non-teaching staff of 140 aided colleges.


Govt docs’ private practice thrives
Gurpreet Singh
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, February 21
Throwing all norms to the wind, government doctors continue to run private clinics from their homes with impunity

Even as the medical authorities plead ignorance, an investigation by The Tribune revealed that at least four doctors on the government rolls are clandestinely running their well-equipped clinics from their homes in the city.

While none of them has put up boards outside their homes, patients continue to make a beeline at their private clinics after office hours. Although some other government doctors are also running a parallel practice, random investigation showed that a doctor couple is running a clinic from their two-storeyed house in Model Town.

Likewise an ENT specialist at the Civil Hospital is practising from his Dhawan Colony residence after office hours. A dentist, who was allegedly caught by the then Minister of State for Health, Mr Inderjit Singh Zira, almost two years ago also has a clinic at his house.

This correspondent went to all these clinics as a patient. While these doctors charge anything between Rs 20 and Rs 40 as consultation fee, none of them issue a receipt for obvious reasons. In an apparent bid to mislead the authorities, they simply prescribe medicines on unsigned slips, which are in possession of The Tribune. Their clinics are fully equipped with necessary instruments, like vision drum, dental chairs and hearing test tools. An eye surgeon even has surgery equipment at his home. He told patients in the presence of this correspondent that he operated upon the needy on Sundays and Wednesdays. He charged Rs 40 from this correspondent for a vision test.

His wife runs a dental clinic on the first floor of the house and charged Rs 20 from this correspondent for examining the teeth.

Dr M.S. Tinna tested the hearing ability and charged Rs 30 as consultation fee. He also recommended a hearing test from a nearby chemist shop, that charged Rs 100 for the test, but refused to issue any receipt.

Later, on being contacted for their comments, these doctors claimed that they were serving humanity even after office hours. The doctor couple said that it was “morally bound” to serve the public even beyond their hospital working hours. A dentist claimed that the two dental chairs at his clinic were old ones, which he had even before he joined the profession. He added that since limited office hours prevented him from treating all patients, he attended to them in the evenings at his house.

The ENT specialist claimed that he would never let his official work suffer due to his private practice. He claimed that he did private practice only after office hours to help the needy.

However, the Civil Surgeon, Dr Prem Lata Sood, expressed ignorance about this matter. She made it clear that private practice could not be allowed by any government doctor and promised to recommend action if such specific cases were brought to her knowledge.


PSEB to press for funds 
Lehra Mohabbat project delayed
From Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 21
Unable to start the 420 mw Lehra Mohabbat stage two thermal project in the targeted month of January this year for want of funds, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is likely to press for quick release of funds besides proposing the levy of a “power development cess” on electricity consumers in the state during the first visit of the new Chief Secretary to the board on February 23.

The Lehra Mohabbat stage two thermal project in Bathinda district is already running behind schedule and the PSEB was unable to get it underway in January, as planned earlier. The start of the year is the best time for initiating civil works, otherwise they may be delayed for nearly six months to one year.

The board had earlier proposed to the Punjab Government to levy a cess on all categories of consumers in the state at the rate of five paisa per unit to generate a revenue of Rs 80 crore for the project. This was likely to form the major part of the Rs 125 crore needed by the board every year for four years as its share in the project. A major part of the project is to be financed by the Power Finance Corporation. The scheme was proposed as the PSEB is in the grip of a severe financial crunch.

The project, which is being undertaken with the help of the Power Finance Corporation (PFC), needs an investment of Rs 1700 crore. Under the agreement with the PFC, 30 per cent of the project is to be funded by the PSEB and 70 per cent by the PFC.

The board Chairman, Mr G.S. Sohal, disclosed that a presentation regarding stage two of the Lehra Mohabbat project and other projects would be made to the Chief Secretary on February 23. He said the Chief Secretary would be updated about the finance needed for the project. The issue of levying an electricity development cess would also be taken up with the government again.

Two meetings had been held with Bharat Heavy Electronics Limited (BHEL) on the project. He said BHEL had principally agreed on financing the project on deferred payment basis to the tune of Rs 250 crore. The board was in the process of giving permission to BHEL for syndicating a loan for this purpose. Following this, the board may only need around Rs 60 crore to place the order for various machines to start the installation of the thermal plant. Syndicated loans could also be taken from financial institutions on need basis to ensure continuity of the project.

Regarding the delay in the start of civil works for the project, Mr Sohal said there was still time this season to start the works. He said the board had fixed an internal target of 42 months for completion of the project and that the outside target was 44 months. Both were within the four-year deadline for completion of the project. He added that he did not foresee any difficulty in completing the project as a similar project had been completed within in lesser time.

Meanwhile, the project has got clearance from the Central Electricity Authority as well as environmental clearance and only needs funds to get off the ground.


Power supply against pre-paid cards
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh February, 21
For curbing power theft in the state, the Punjab State Electricity Board has decided to supply power against pre-paid cards.

Speaking at a “ Meet-the-Press” programme at the local Press Club today, the Chairman of the PSEB, Mr G.S. Sohal, said this scheme would be implemented in SAS Nagar in the first phase and later extended to the rest of the state. A number of private firms had come forward to implement this decision.

Mr Sohal said the power meter installed at the consumer-end would operate with the induction of the pre-paid cards. Special meters would be installed for this purpose. Some financial institutions might authorised by the board to issue such cards.

A number of countries like Israel and South Africa had been successfully using the pre-paid card system to supply power to all sorts of consumers. China had also showed its inclination to introduce the system. Punjab was the first state to take a decision in this connection.

He said meters would also be installed on various feeders to record the power supplied and bills prepared accordingly. The officer concerned would be held responsible for the gap between the power supplied and the units billed from a particular feeder.

Mr Sohal said the government had given Rs 130 crore to the board in lieu of the free power supplied to the farming community. The board was supposed to pay Rs 3,700 crore as interest on the amount given by the state government as loan from time to time, he added.

He claimed that the operational loss of the board had come down from Rs 950 crore to Rs 250 crore following various steps initiated by him. He hoped the board’s revenue would increase next year.

Defending free power to the farming community, Mr Sohal said there were various reasons for losses to the board. The farming community was not responsible for these losses, he asserted. When told that the Power Minister, Mr Sikander Singh Maluka, had repeatedly said that most of the consumers resorted to power theft in connivance with the officers of the board, Mr Sohal said: “You ask Mr Maluka for the names of such officers”.

He said there were 2.5 lakh applications of farmers pending for power connections for tubewells. Farmers had to wait for several years to get power connections for tubewells whereas one did not have to wait for a second to install an air-conditioner at home or at a shop though there was not much difference in the power load of both the tubewell and the air-conditioner, he added.


PUDA set to emerge as e-enabled outfit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) is all set to emerge as an e-enabled web-based corporate entity.

Stating this, the PUDA Chief Administrator, Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, said here today that a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary project was on the verge of completion.

In the first place, the conceptual framework in respect of PUDA’s accounts, suggested by M/s Price Watehouse Coopers, had been adopted as the base for the accounting software, on the income as well as on the expenditure side. A customised accounting software package, prepared by M/s Tally, had already been successfully implemented in all eight engineering divisions in the SAS Nagar zone. All vouchers were being fed into the centralised server, leading to an online, real-time compilation of accounts and trial balances. The issue of stock and spares was also an integral part of this module. A dedicated purpose inventory control system was in the process of development which would help optimise the stock levels in all high-value items.

On the income side, a comprehensive software package had been developed, in collaboration with Trident Infotechnologies Ltd, for processing the instalment receipts for the plots and flats already sold. All schemes that were alive and operational as on January 1, 1996, would be put on to the central server. All historical payments data, up to date, was being put on the computer. The data entry work would be given on contract, as a one-time job. However, all receipts of instalments, with effect from March 1, 2001, received at the SAS Nagar Estate Office would be fed in by PUDA’s own employees. Similarly, the banks designated for the receipt of these instalments would also be enjoined to supply this information on a fortnightly basis, in the form of a compatible soft copy. In essence, the record of instalments of every individual account would be thus available on the server. Apart from efficiency and accuracy, this would also enable faster calculation of interest, including penal interest, in the case of delayed payments. The software would also help track defaulters, and automatically generate defaulter notices and, in the case of persistent default, resumption notices. Eventually, it was planned to put all this information on the PUDA web-site ( for the clients to access through the Internet.

The PUDA chief said the two packages would be integrated so that accurate, real-time snapshots on the accounting position were available to the top management, at the click of a mouse.

Mr Sidhu said the recent scheme for residential plots in the five new sectors at SAS Nagar would be totally computerised, right from the stage of the draw of lots. Computer generated letters of intimation of allotment would be sent on the date of the draw itself. The instalment payments would also be managed through software.


Water crisis grips Malwa region
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 21
Due to inadequate rains and repeated closure of canal-based irrigation system, a drought-like condition has started prevailing in Bathinda, Mansa, Faridkot, Muktsar and Sangrur districts of the Malwa region of Punjab.

The acute shortage of water has started affecting the growth of wheat crop. If such conditions persist, the average yield of wheat will touch a record low.

Sources said the acute shortage of water had occurred as canals had been closed repeatedly as there was an unprecedented fall in the water level of Gobind Sagar Lake.

Irrigation officials said such a crisis of canal water was witnessed in 1987-88 in the state.

The sources said to use the available water judiciously, the canals falling in this region were being closed in rotation.

The Bathinda branch of Sirhind canal had witnessed two closures in the past eight months.

Mr Gurdial Singh Khera, Chief Agriculture Officer, Bathinda, said there were not enough rains this season.

The supply of canal water for irrigation purposes was not sufficient and the summer was here.

These circumstances could adversely affect the growth and yield of wheat in the region.

The closure of canals had also affected the supply of potable water in the rural and urban areas.

About two years ago, Kotkapura had reported a number of deaths due to water-borne diseases. The canal water supply had remained closed for 22 days.

Irrigation Department officials pointed out that they had intimated public health officials in advance to make arrangement for the storage of water in tanks which could cater to the needs of consumers for about 15 days.

The health officials pointed out that presently the rural water works were not functioning continuously in the Budhlada block of Mansa district and Phul and Maur Mandi blocks of Bathinda district due to the shortage of water.

The sources said adequate water had not been coming into the canals as the present level of Gobind Sagar Lake was 1,543 feet against the requirement of 1,685 feet.

The inflow of water into the lake was 4,000 cusecs while the outflow was 13,000 cusecs.

The officials said to save the region from power crises, adequate quantity of water had been supplied to the Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant, Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant, NFL, Bathinda military station and some parts of the Dabwali region.

Agriculture officials said in the absence of adequate quantity of canal water for irrigation, farmers had started using underground water.

As underground water was unfit for human consumption and for crops, the growth of wheat crop could be affected.


Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s coronation
Punjab to celebrate bicentenary
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
The Punjab Government proposes to celebrate the bicentenary of the coronation of the only Sikh ruler in history, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, in a big way.

The celebrations will be held in April this year and will include participation by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Governor of Madhya Pradesh, Dr Bhai Mahavir, the Governor of Uttar Pradesh, Prof Vishnu Kant Shastri. Interestingly, the celebrations of the Sikh ruler are bound to acquire political overtones because the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has always sought to project his administration as the one modelled on Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s regime.

Punjabi University too has drawn up a comprehensive, multi-pronged programme to mark the event. The programme includes seminar in New Delhi on April 12 on contribution of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the last sovereign of India before the whole country came under the British colonial raj.

According to Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala and chairman of the organising committee of the celebrations, over 100 eminent historians, writers and scholars from different parts of the world, will participate in the conclave. Maharaja Ranjit Singh being the symbol of Punjabiat, his secular polity, equal respect for all religions and recognition to all the communities in Punjab — would be brought under focus through seminar papers and presentations which, will be published later in a book form.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s role in initiating process of modernisation, will also receive attention at the international meet, for which an organising committee has been formed of which Lala Lajpat Rai, MP, is the co-chairman.

Punjabi University will prepare a commemorative volume on Maharaja Ranjit Singh. This will be prepared by Prof. Prithipal Singh Kapur of the department of Encyclopaedia of Sikhism of the University, Patiala. Another research work of Dr Param Bakhshish Singh of Punjab Historical Studies Department is also on. Selected original Persian manuscripts will also be translated into Punjabi and English and will be published. Dr Ajmer Singh, Head of the Punjabi Literary Studies Department has been entrusted the task of preparing a book on Maharaja Ranjit Singh. 


When sun went through turmoil
From Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 21
The sun went through a spectacular turmoil created by rather unusual filament eruption following a coronal mass ejection from its surface on January 6 and 7, but fortunately enough, it had no direct impact on the earth since the loop was not directed towards the earth.

Though low profile solar turmoil or increase or decrease of a number of black spots on the surface of the sun is a continuous phenomena usually the coronal mass ejection at such a large scale is witnessed after a long gap of 11 years. Even as there is no concrete and in-depth research about the effects of such solar developments on the earth, it is presumed that such temporarily enhanced solar turmoil, during which the number of black spots and subsequently the number of energy ejaculating spots increase on the surface of the sun and energy in shape of ionised gases, affects life in more than one way.

According to observations made by the Royal Observatory at Brussels in Belgium and 18 other premier observatories across the globe, the number of black sun spots, from where energy is ejaculated and where there is 1000°C less than the normal sun surface temperature of 5800°C, started shooting up from January 1. When there were just 87 sun spots they rose to 131 on January 7, the highest in the month of January. The maximum number of spots from where loops of energy kept oozing in the space where around 200 sometime in the first quarter of 1990, followed by 131 on January 7 this year. Such black spots on the sun’s surface, though in lesser numbers, could be observed by the naked eye on evenings when the sky is clear. The observations show the spectacular phenomena had started subsiding gradually on the same day.

Dr H.S. Gurm, an internationally acclaimed space scientist and the Vice-Chancellor of the Punjab Technical University, when contacted by this correspondent said the ejection of the coronal mass, the size of which was many times that of the earth, from the sun did not harm the earth since it was not earth directed and the energy so released got diffused in space.

The second biggest safety weapon of the earth against the space turmoil, solar flares, or solar winds which sweep the space with a speed of up to 300 km per second, is the magnetic field of the earth, making a safety ring around the earth at an average distance of 70000 km on all sides from the surface of the earth.

As soon as the solar flares and particles reach and touch the earth’s magnetic field, these get diverted towards some other direction, even as some solar particles sometimes manage to creep in through two funnels of the magnetic shield facing the North and South Poles of the earth.

Maintaining that though low-intensity solar turmoil is not a very unusual happening, he said space scientists across the world were still to make research on its impact on life on the earth. “If the lunar eclipse could create waves in the sea, why not this kind of solar turmoil which happens at a much larger scale?” he said. “The log of a large tree has been kept at the Forest Research Institute, Dehra Dun, and its rings depict the 11-year cycle of solar turmoil,” said Dr Gurm.


Cong to boycott poll for RS seat
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 21
The entry of the Sukhbir Singh Badal, SAD general secretary and son of the Punjab Chief Minister, to the Rajya Sabha has become imminent as the PCC has decided to stay away from tomorrow’s voting for the lone Punjab Rajya Sabha seat lying vacant following the resignation of Dr Brajindera Singh Hamdard.

As there is no rival, except for the Independent candidate, Mr Manjit Singh Khaira, who is backed by some 10 members of the Punjab Assembly which is a breakaway group of the SAD and owes allegiance to the SHSAD. The group has not yet got recognition as a separate group in the House.

Though the Congress has chosen to boycott the election since it had no option as it has just 14 members in the current 116-member House.

Mr Khaira had issued formal appeals to the members of the CPI and the Congress. The House consists of 116 members of which 62 members belong to the SAD, 14 to the Congress, 18 to the BJP, 12 to the SHSAD, one to the BSP, two to the CPI, five Independents and one to the SAD (A). Even if nobody votes in favour of Mr Sukhbir, except the SAD and the BJP, he was likely to get all 80 votes.

The leader of Opposition in the House and senior Congress leader, Mr Jagjit Singh Chaudhary, talking to The Tribune, said his party had decided to boycott the election tomorrow since it had neither the required strength nor it could support the SAD-BJP candidate or a candidate backed by the Tohra group.


Cong man expelled
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 21
Mr Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, president of the District Congress Committee (rural), today expelled Mr Nanak Singh, president of the Municipal Committee, Majitha, from the primary membership of the party for six years for allegedly opposing the official candidate, Mr Savinder Singh Kathu Nagal, during the Majitha byelection. 

In a press note issued here today, Mr Sarkaria claimed that the approval for expelling Mr Nanak Singh was obtained from the PPCC President.


BSP to contest on own manifesto
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 21
The Punjab unit of the BSP which has witnessed a number of splits in the past few years, has decided to contest the coming Assembly elections in the state on the party manifesto for the first time.

Finding itself isolated in the Punjab political scene, the state leadership of the BSP decided to widen its base by bringing members of all caste and communities into its fold.

Mr Mohan Singh Phallianwala, President, BSP, Punjab, talking to TNS, said the party would field its own candidates from all 117 Assembly segments. He said the exercise to find suitable candidates had started.

Mr Phallianwala said the BSP would contest the coming Assembly elections on its own and no alliance would be made with any political party.

He pointed out that base of the BSP was being widened to make it a real “Bahujan samaj”. The move of the BSP to bring members of all communities into its fold would also help in the creation of a casteless society, he said.

A big state-level rally would be held in Ludhiana on March 15 to unfold the part’s plan for the coming elections. He said the main items on the manifesto would include electricity free of cost, water and education for all those belonging to the backward classes.

He said the BSP would implement the Mandal Commission report if it came to power. Special emphasis would be given to the development of industry so that more jobs could be created.

The party would also hold series of meetings in the 27 Assemblies and three parliamentary segments of the Doaba region comprising Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Nawanshahar districts. The state-level rally would be addressed by the party’s national President, Mr Kanshi Ram.

He said the blueprint of the manifesto, which would be used for the first time during the coming elections, was being prepared carefully to make it people-oriented and relevant to all sections of society.

Meanwhile, Mr Rameshwar Dass Punia, a municipal councillor, Maur Mandi, has joined the BSP after leaving the Congress.


CPI activists stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 21
Activists of the Communist Party of India (CPI) today staged a dharna to press for their demands at Arya Samaj Chowk of the city.

Mr Jagdish Singh Ghai, district secretary of the CPI, alleged the state government was not serious about the development of the city. Although the city boasted of many distinctions in the area of industry and railway transportation, the state government had always given a stepmotherly treatment to the district.

Even the thermal plant of the city, which was a jewel in the crown for the city, had started causing pollution in the city. About 1800 cases of TB were being reported from the district and the surrounding areas on account of this, he added.

Mr Ghai said the residents of the city had to bear losses on two counts. First, they had to suffer the pollution factor and secondly they lost on the revenue factor. Octroi was being paid on the coal which was bought to be used in the thermal plant and again octroi was being charged on the electricity that was produced, he lamented.

Although the district had got two thermal plants but still its residents did not enjoy the facility of no power cuts. The recent increase in power cuts revealed the treatment the state government was giving to the heartland of Malwa. Even the setting up of private cement producing plants in the district has done nothing towards cutting the pollution of the thermal plants of the districts, he lamented.

Mr Ghai regretted the state of civic amenities and sanitation in the city which was very poor. He said the sewerage board had proved to be a white elephant for the government. The services of boards can be taken care of by the municipal council and these should be dissolved, he said. The contract system adopted in certain areas of the city was being misused by the authorities for personal gains, he alleged.

Mr Jasbir Singh, Deputy Secretary, said the city had expanded and local bus service and a municipal corporation for the city were a must. The trans-railway localities have been demanding an overbridge for the past one decade but that is still a distant dream. He lamented the lack of civic amenities in the city, the stray animals, the choked sewers and lack of dependable water supply even after 52 years of Independence.

The members of the executive body of the CPI district unit later met the Deputy Commissioner and submitted a memorandum to him which was addressed to the Chief Minister.


Impose Central rule in J&K: Billa
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 21
The All-India Shiv Sena President, Mr Surinder Kumar Billa, today urged the Central Government to impose President Rule in Jammu and Kashmir as the state government had failed to protect the life and property of minorities there.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Billa said the Kashmiri militants should not be allowed to leave for Pakistan to hold talks with the hostile country. He alleged that many ISI agents had entered India by the Samjhauta Express and the Delhi-Lahore bus. Mr Billa also demanded an immediate rehabilitation of Hindus, who were uprooted from Jammu and Kashmir.


From purdah to paying guest culture
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

After Partition in 1947 the region witnessed migration by a large number of people and in this process a large number of refugees came from Pakistan and settled here. These refugee succeeded in making the local population follow their traditions.

‘Purdah’ (to keep women out of view of others), ‘ghunghat’ (to cover the face by drawing the dupatta down to hide the face) and ‘palla’ (to hide one part of the face with dupatta), which were observed not so significantly, became prominent after the migration and it became an essential practice for a married woman in this region.

The position of the fair sex in this region was such that about four decades ago parents used to hesitate to send their daughters to colleges. In 1975 the strength of total students in the college at Talwandi Sabo was 200. Out of this the number of girls was six.

The girls were generally not allowed to go to college for higher studies after the completion of their schooling.

In some pockets of old Bathinda district, including Mansa district, namely Talwandi Sabo and the Jhunir area, mothers-in-law used to draw the veil from their sons-in-law.

These traditions dominated in this region because the modes of communication of the people with the outer world were very rare due to inadequate road and rail transportation.

With the development of road and rail transportation facilities and setting up of schools and colleges things started moving in the right direction. Women in rural areas started getting government jobs. This also motivated the rural women to shed the system of ‘purdah’ and ‘ghunghat’.

The main shift in the conservative culture in this district came after the setting up of a thermal plant, the National Fertiliser Ltd (NFL) factory and the cantonment. The interaction of the local population with the residents of colonies of these projects changed the complexion of this town and other areas.

In this area where education for girls was considered a privilege of the elite classes of society, fashion shows, kitty parties, visits to the cinema and hotels became a common occurrence.

As the facilities increased here residents started opening up more and over the years. Bathinda town came to be known as the best centre for coaching for entrance tests to medical and engineering colleges of the country.

The shifting of a large number of students from various districts of Punjab and neighbouring states to this town led to scarcity of accommodation. The scarcity of accommodation gave rise to the culture of paying guests in this town, which was unheard of in this area about 10 years ago.

Most of the residents of the town have converted one or two rooms of their houses as accommodation for paying guests. In this way they were earning handsome amount.

Apart from this, a number of residents have converted their entire accommodation into girls’ hostels to cash in on the situation while the boys have taken rooms on rent at scattered places in the city.


Sangrur gears up for disasters
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 21
In view of major disasters in Gujarat recently by the earthquake and its aftermath effects and complications, the district administration has drafted a disaster management plan for the district to tackle natural calamities and other disasters, if any, in an effective manner in future.

This plan will develop a procedure for helping the district administration in preventing disasters to the possible extent and make timely arrangements for providing relief and rehabilitation in the post-disaster period.

In the plan, disasters have been divided into five categories which are water and climate-related disasters like floods, hailstorm, droughts and lightning; accident-related disasters like fires, bomb blasts, air, road and rail accidents, and major building collapse; geologically-related disasters like earthquake and dam bursts; biologically-related disasters like cattle epidemics, pest attacks and food poisoning and chemical, industrial, and nuclear-related disasters.

The draft of the disaster management plan mentions that the district has not seen any major disaster so far except natural disaster by floods almost every year in Khanauri and Moonak areas of the district. But any type of disaster may occur at any time, so in view of the geographical location, demographical and economic characteristics of the district, the administration has identified probable areas of occurrence with regard to different types of disasters.

To meet with any eventuality during any major disaster in the district, the administration has also drawn up a plan to computerise a detailed data with regard to health network (number of hospitals, doctors, ambulances, medicines, communication network (police, army, mass media, public address system, cell phones, transport network (road, rail, air and water transport), manpower network (lists of civil and police employees, NGOs, NCC cadets, food, water and civil supplies network, specialised equipment (mobile cranes, fire engines, recovery vans, earthmoving equipment, safe shelter’s lists of government and private buildings, and control rooms locations and contact numbers.

Steps will also be taken to evaluate disaster specific capability and preparedness of administration with regard to tackling disasters with the available infrastructure. Checklists will also be prepared by a core group to evaluate the preparedness of different departments.

Talking to this correspondent, Mr Anirudh Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner, said a high-level meeting of the district officers would finalise the plan on February 23 at a meeting which would be chaired by him. He said suggestions had also been sought from different departments to make any additions or changes in the plan.

Mr Tiwari said after the meeting, work to execute the plan in letter and spirit would be started soon so that challenges of any type of disaster could be faced firmly. 


Punjabi language facing ‘crisis’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 21
The Folklore Research Academy, Janwadi Lekhak Sangh, Maa Boli Sangharsh Manch, Amritsar Vikas Manch and Association for Democratic Rights Punjab have asked officials of the Census Department to record the mother tongue of Punjabis honestly.

Representatives of these organisations, in a joint press statement, said the Punjabi language was in deep crisis not only in east Punjab but in west Punjab as most of the people had “disowned”it Dr Harbhajan Singh Bhatia, a Punjabi critic, alleged that Punjabi was the only language in the world which had suffered alienation in its own area by its own people.

They urged the people of Punjab to record their language honestly during the current census.


Shifting of hospital opposed
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 21
As many as 15 social and voluntary organisations of this city today formed the Old Hospital Save Committee to stall the shifting of the children’s and general hospital from its present location to the civil hospital here.

Mr Dinesh Vasisht, general secretary of the Vigilant Citizen Forum, in a press note issued here this evening, said at the meeting in which office-bearers of various organisations participated that it had been decided to present a memorandum to the Chief Minister, Punjab, Mr Parkash Singh Badal to stop the shifting of the hospital from the heart of the city.

He added that Mr Prem Bhatia had been made convener of the committee and it had been decided that if the authorities concerned carried out the shifting of the hospital from its present location to the civil hospital a mass movement would be launched against it.

He added that at the meeting it was felt residents of Bathinda were feeling agitated over the move of the district administration to shift the hospital from its present location to the civil hospital premises as it would deprive them of medical care in case of emergency.


Cops asked to vacate guest house
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 21
So far as encroachments are concerned, the police also do not log behind. At least this impression was got at a police-public meeting here today. Mr Ram Saroop Arora, vice-president, Municipal Council, bemused everyone when he pleaded with Mr Iqbal Singh, SSP that the municipal guest house in the local town hall should be got vacated from the police.

He said that the guest house had long back been turned into office-cum-residence of the DSP. The council had constructed it for councillors.

The SSP assured Mr Arora that it would be vacated at the earliest but sought time to make alternative arrangement/site for the office of the DSP. 


Khalsa Divan
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 21
The management of Khalsa Divan, which is the oldest religious institute of the district, today passed a resolution that anybody involved in the alleged misappropriation of funds of the institute would not be inducted into the management or the executive body of the institute.

Mr Baldev Singh, president of the Khalsa Senior Secondary School, said this today in a written statement that politicians and officers of the district administration should also not help the culprits.


Forest Rangers to get motor cycles
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 21
In a significant decision, the state government has taken up a project to provide motor cycles, arms licences and arms to officers of the rank of Forest Ranger.

This was stated by Mr Surjit Kumar Jayani, Punjab Forest Minister, at a press conference here this noon. Mr Jayani said the state government had devised an ambitious plan of Rs 408 crore with the help of Japan to increase the forest cover of the state.

Trees would be planted along the roads, rivers, drains and rajwahas of the state. Saplings of poplar, sagwan, tahli and neem will be planted. During the past three years plantation drives on a large scale have been taken up and the survival rate of these is about 80 per cent, he added.

Mr Jayani added saplings were being planted on the link roads and in the fields of people which were adjacent to the roads. Saplings planted like this were the property of the farmers concerned. The department was giving free saplings to people, schools, panchayats and social service organisations.

Awareness among the masses was the key to increasing the forest cover of the state, he added. Mr Jayani said about 700 vacancies of forest guard would be filled soon. The degradation in the environment of the nation was mainly due to large-scale cutting of trees and deforestation.


Extension to acting director opposed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 21
The Punjab PCMS Association yesterday expressed its resentment against the decision of the Punjab Government to grant extension to Dr R.S. Sandhu, acting director, Family Welfare Department, who was due to retire on January 31.

In a statement issued here yesterday, Dr M.S. Randhawa, association’s patron Dr D.S. Gill president, and Dr Manjit Singh general secretary, alleged that a wrong precedent had been set by the outgoing Chief Secretary, Mr R.S. Mann, by passing orders of extending the services of Dr R.S. Sandhu during his last few days in office.

They said the PCMS cadre already had very meagre promotional avenues and added that there were only 43 promotional posts in the Family Welfare Department.

The association said it opposed granting any service extension to retiring senior officers as it would block the promotional avenues for the PCMS cadre.

The association leaders in a written communication to the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary have urged the government not to clear the case of extension in the next meeting of the state Cabinet.

Doctors oppose extension to Director
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
In a representation submitted to the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the PCMS Association said today that there was resentment among its members against the extension in service granted to Dr R.S. Sandhu, Director, Family Welfare, by the previous Chief Secretary, Mr R.S. Mann, on the last day of his retirement. Mr Mann retired on January 31.

The association urged the Chief Minister to withdraw the order extending the service of Dr Sandhu, who was to retire on January 31.

Dr R.S. Randhawa, patron, Dr D.S. Gill, president, and Dr Manjit Singh, general secretary, said the extension in service to Dr Sandhu would block a chain of promotions. The association leaders said for the PCMS cadre there were only 43 promotional posts at the higher level though the cadre had more than 4,000 doctors.

Meanwhile, Dr S.S. Sharma, vice-president of the General Category PCMS Association, has urged the government to fill the vacant posts at the senior level by calling a meeting of the Departmental Promotion Committee. He said the vacant posts should be filled in the light of the Janjua case judgement.



4 arrested in murder case
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 21
The district police has solved the murder of a British National, Pritam Singh, in his ancestral house at Paragpur village, near here, on February 17 by arresting four accused in the case.

Pritam Singh had a land dispute with his brother Baldev Singh and both were entangled in a legal battle over the issue for a long time. Baldev Singh was arrested earlier in connection with the murder of a servant of Pritam Singh but was released on bail on September 15 last year.

Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP, said the Special Investigation Team(SIT) formed to probe the murder unveiled a gruesome tale of fratricide. To grab the family land, Baldev Singh, his son Harvinder Singh, Avtar Singh Tara and Mohinder Kaur, an alleged keep of Baldev Singh, entered into a conspiracy to eliminate Pritam Singh and they contacted Avtaar Singh, an active Bhindrawale Tigers of Khalistan Force member who was allegedly responsible for a number of murders in the state. Avtaar Singh and Harvinder Singh allegedly entered the house of Pritam Singh and shot him dead with the licensed gun of Baldev Singh on February 17.


Undertrial used pipe to escape
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, February 21
Even as the state jail authorities have started an inquiry into the escape of a jail inmate, Sonu, on the night of February 18 from the sub-jail here, the preliminary investigations have revealed that the accused had used a water pipe to scale the wall of the jail.

Official sources said Sonu, an undertrial in three criminal cases, two relating to theft and one to smuggling of poppy husk, escaped from his barrack by cutting an iron rod of the gate and then using a water pipe after cutting it to scale the wall of the jail.

The sources said he had been in the jail for the past six months, and worked as a labourer when a new block for prisoners was being constructed. He managed to take a cutter with which he cut a water pipe. This reportedly happened when jail security staff was roaming on the premises.

Police sources said there were 16 more inmates in the barrack where the accused was put and production warrants were being issued to question the inmates.

The sources said accused had cut the iron rod in several days and it was being probed how the jail authorities did not come to know about it.

They said there were 38 persons who were manning the security of the jail. About 10 persons manned the jail security at night in rotation.

The police had also been raiding the premises of those who had come to meet the accused in the past few days. Police parties had been despatched to raid the suspected hideouts of the accused.

The jail authorities said though the accused escaped from the jail at night, they came to know of it in the morning. All staff members who were on duty at night when he escaped had been identified and their statements had been recorded.


2 Pak intruders shot dead
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, February, 21
Jawans of the 42nd Battalion of the BSF on Bejki border of observation post near Roopnagar village of Fazilka subdivision shot dead two Pakistani intruders on the night intervening February 20 and 21.


Jacob opens meet on higher education
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 21
The Punjab Governor, Lt Gen J.F.R. Jacob (Retd), has emphasised the need for compelling changes in the structure and processes of higher education in view of widespread growth of knowledge, information technology and internationalisation of higher education.

The Governor was delivering opening address at the inaugural session of international conference on “Challenges before Higher Education” at the local BBK DAV College for Women here today which was jointly organised by DAV College and Indian Colleges Forum. Hoping that this conference, where a galaxy of scholars have assembled to deliberate upon important issues concerning higher education, will give a new direction to policy planners in the education sector, the Governor said it would also enable Punjab to achieve what states like Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh were achieving in the field of information technology.

The themes of the three-day conference on information technology and its impact on the teaching learning process, student’s evaluation and research, management of colleges in the era of IT, globalisation and international higher education are all very important in the fast changing scenario of technology.

General Jacob said one of the most important challenges before education today was to make learning process interesting and easily accessible to the masses.

The world has entered a new age of information and convergence and is characterised by extensive use of global communication networks.

The Governor pointed out that the emergence of IT had significantly changed the pattern of approach of students towards research methodology. It had shattered age-old conventions that students and teachers need to meet face to face. It has brought about a profound shift from “classroom to online education,” he added.


SGPC-run college bags top 7 positions
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 21
The SGPC-run Sri Guru Das, institute of Medical Sciences and Research has bagged the top seven positions in the pre-final MBBS examination results declared by Baba Farid University of Health Sciences.

The toppers are Garui Saini and Ritu, who obtained 308 marks each out of a total of 400. Anu Sharma (301), Sarika Mohan (300), Preeti Padda (294), Ravneet Pannu (293) and Seema Aggarwal (291) stood second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.

Dr U.S. Dhaliwal, director-principal of the institute, claimed that the credit for bagging the top seven positions went to the staff and the latest facilities provided by the management.

Interestingly, students admitted to this college had the lowest merit in the competition test in the state.


Women’s hostel in bad shape

Bathinda, February 21
The moment a woman finds a job away from home, the foremost problem she confronts is of an accommodation. She searches for a place which is safe, decent and economical as everybody cannot afford the high rent accommodation, which may not be as safe as a girls’ hostel. Here a working-women’s hostel suggests a solution to her problems.

Although there are plenty of girls’ hostels in the city yet many are not aware of the fact that there is a working-women’s hostel in the heart of the city. This hostel, which provides residential facilities for working women in lower-middle income groups, was constructed by the Department of Woman and Child Development in 1981.

Although the hostel is spacious, airy and economical yet the women living here are not satisfied as the hostel building is not being maintained properly for the past many years. The authorities concerned too have not visited here to check the condition of the hostel which is deteriorating day by day.

There are 48 rooms in the hostel and 36 working women are living here. The hostel has large grassy lawns and wide corridors. The basic facilities like water, electricity, newspapers, and telephone are available but what irritates the occupants is the ‘uncovered’ water tank placed on the roof of the building. All hostelers have to use the water for their routine work.

The hostel also lacks a common room where the hostelers could sit together. There is also a shortage of staff. The warden of the hostel has to take care of everything from managing files to collecting fees. The warden also has to take attendance. There is a need of a clerk in the hostel but the authorities concerned have turned a blind eye to all these even after the repeated pleas of the warden.

There is a residential facility for the warden in the hostel but the chowkidar, mali and other staff members are living outside the hostel as the accommodation for them is not available in the hostel. The warden’s house too is not in proper condition. There are cracks in the house and for the past many years repairs have not been carried out in the hostel.

The cracks in the hostel building, broken plaster, loose electricity wires in the rooms and corridors, the parapets which might fall any time and water leakage from roof have spread fear among the hostelers that the hostel building could collapse at any time. Some of the hostelers have made up their mind to leave the hostel. There is also a parking problem in the hostel. The hostelers have to park their vehicles in the corridors, which create problems for others. The hostel also does not have a generator and when there is a electricity cut, which is a routine here, the work of the hostelers suffer. The facility of a canteen is also not available in the hostel.

One of the hostelers, on the condition of anonymity, expressed her resentment against the authorities concerned regarding the poor condition of the hostel. She said during the day time they felt safe as all women go to their respective work places but during night they had to stay under leaking roofs of the poorly maintained hostel building.

Mrs Dhanveer Kaur, warden of the hostel, said the hostel building was in bad shape and it should be repaired as early as possible. She added that although she had made repeated pleas to the concerned authorities yet nothing had been done so far for the proper maintenance of the hostel building.


Rs 108-cr training project launched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 21
With a view to provide quality technical education in Punjab, a World Bank sponsored vocational training project has been launched at a cost of Rs 108 crore, according to an official press note. The Technical Education Minister, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, said the percentage of girl students in various technical courses had gone up to 31 per cent from 14 per cent in the past four years.

He said1450 MoUS had been singed with the industry to improve the quality of training for students. He said the government was giving priority to opening industrial trianing institutes (ITIs) in the private sector . As many as 34 more institutes had been opened in the state, he said.

Latest machinery and equipments had been inducted in polytechnics and ITIs to improve the standard of education and training, he said.

Disciplines like secretariat practices and communication and information technology had been started in technical institutions, he added.

Work on B.Ed College begins
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 21
Taking action on the news item published in The Tribune, local MLA and Minister for Science and Technology, Punjab, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, today said work on the construction of the building of the B.Ed College had begun formally and claimed that the building would be completed by the May-end this year.

Mr Garg, who chaired a meeting of district and railway officials today, said construction work on the railway overbridge at Khooni Phatak would be started from March 15. Mr Garg also visited Kustha Ashram and appealed to patients to take utmost advantage of the anti-leprosy drive of the government. He announced a grant of Rs 11,000 for the ashram.

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