Friday, March 9, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




‘Merchants of death’ get off scot-free
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 8
Even as Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, and Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar, Takht Kesgarh Sahib, had already accused the SAD-BJP coalition and the Punjab Police for the alarming rise in drug addiction in the state yet no step has been taken to curb the menace even in this holy city so far.

The first-ever “nasha virodhi squad” constituted by the then SSP, Mr Gurdev Singh Sahota, stands disbanded.

This is perhaps the reason that Prof Manjit Singh has announced the launch of a statewide movement against drug- addiction from the Hola Mohalla festival.

Sikh leaders have already expressed serious concern over the failure of the state government to curb the menace of addiction despite the serious concern expressed by the Jathedar of Akal Takht. The illicit distilleries during the Majitha byelection has also attracted criticism. They allege if a Panthic-government cannot launch any concrete movement against addiction and drug peddlers the menace will continue to claim more casualties in the coming days.

Children crawling like ants, men hobbling on one leg, some men with their arms cut and others seen in stupor is a common sight in localities, especially those dominated by Scheduled Castes.

Thanks to the “merchants of death”, the chemists are openly selling controlled drugs to patients. Mr Brij Bedi, president of the Citizens Forum, said it was a matter of concern that instead of taking a big step against the nexus between drug peddlers, politicians and the police, senior officers were busy receiving and welcoming VVIPs everyday.

Unfortunately, there is no organisation like Navjyoti, established by supercop Kiran Bedi in this city. Navjyoti has been providing residential accommodation to the addicts who come to the place for de-addiction in New Delhi. Mr Bedi said non-government organisations (NGOs) could not do much to contain drug addiction unless the police or government show serious concern on this. He said drug addiction had claimed more lives in Amritsar than terrorism in the past.

The Punjab De-addiction Society has lamented the state government had failed to take any action against the guilty persons who were selling banned-drugs to the poor people in Maqboolpura and other colonies of the holy city despite a number of complaints sent to all concerned.

Mr Ajit Singh, president of the society, threatened to launch an agitation if the government continued to turn a blind eye to the great problem. He said the society would take the widows of Maqboolpura to the state assembly and Parliament if drug peddlers were not arrested in the near future.

(This is the concluding part of the series on drug addiction).


SGPC, High Priests to meet on March 13
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 8
In an apparent attempt to break the deadlock between Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi Golden Temple, and other Sikh High Priests, the SGPC has convened a joint meeting of the SGPC executive and high priests on March 13 here.

When contacted, Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, General Secretary, SGPC, confirmed that the joint meeting of the SGPC executive and high priests had been convened to resolve the issue of ‘maryada’.

While Giani Puran Singh had refused to attend the meeting of the High Priests, other jathedar, including Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, held a meeting on February. Earlier, they had argued that a meeting of High Priests could not be held without the presence of the Head Granthi, Golden Temple.

Meanwhile, the SGPC executive, which met at Anandpur Sahib yesterday, gave extension to Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, secretary, SGPC, ‘till further orders’. He was due to retire on March 8.

Mr Onkar Singh, chief accountant, was placed under suspension by the executive for “tampering” with the budget provisions.

Mr Onkar Singh, however, claimed that action had been initiated against him due to his proximity with Bibi Jagir Kaur, former SGPC chief. He further alleged that he had been placed under suspension as he had moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court against his previous reversion.


PAU vets rush to FMD-affected villages
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 8
Punjab Agricultural University has rushed a team of experts to the villages affected by the foot and mouth disease (FMD). The team led by Dr D.R. Sharma, Head, Department of Preventive Medicine, PAU, visited all villages to suggest ways and means to check the menace of the disease.

After The Tribune carried a detailed report of the havoc being caused by the deadly disease the university authorities decided to send a team of experts to the affected area. Confirming this Dr K.S. Aulakh, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Vice Chancellor designate of the PAU said after the authorities came to know about the outbreak of the disease, they sent a team to the villages. He said the Department of Animal Husbandry of the state, however, had not asked the university for help.

Meanwhile, scientists at the PAU confirmed that the disease that was taking the toll of animals was the dreaded foot and mouth disease. Talking to The Tribune, here yesterday. Dr Jasmer Singh, Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology, said he had visited Ghudani Kalan village a few days ago and had collected samples of lesions formed on various parts of the animals. “I tested them in the laboratory and it is confirmed that the disease is FMD and it is spreading and it is definitely assuming the proportions of an epidemic,” he added.

Dr Jasmer Singh said the disease had a mortality rate of 50 per cent. He said the disease affected tongue, gums, feet and even myocardial muscles in advanced cases. He said all these parts developed lesions and there were incidences where animals died of heart attack.

Dr K.S. Sandhu, an epidemologist in the department said that there was no cure of the disease as the pathogen was a virus. The veterinarians were left only with the option of treating the secondary infections like lesions in the mouth and feet. He said the disease could, however, be prevented with the help of vaccines which were available between Rs 5 and Rs 10 in the market. He said the failure of these vaccines were commonly reported as there were many lacunae in successfully administering the preventive medicine. These included the breakage of “cold chain’’ which was must for the vaccines to be effective. The cold chain meant that the medicine needed to be kept at certain temperature failing which it became ineffective.

Dr Jasmer Singh said the worst part of the immunisation procedure was that the vaccines were handled and administered by unauthorised people who had no knowledge about the disease and immunisation. The other part of it was lack of awareness among the farmers who did not want to get their animals vaccinated. He said that the farmers believed that the administering of the vaccine could lower the yield of milk and abort the foetus.

Dr M.S. Oberoi, Head, Department of Veterinary Surgery and Radiology had published some guidelines for the cattle owners to prevent and control FMD.


Efforts on to solve discolouration riddle
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 8
What caused the discolouration of paddy grains during the last kharif season? Scientists at Punjab Agricultural University, here are trying to find the answer to this question.

Discolouration of paddy grains created a trouble for the Punjab Government and it had to seek the intervention of the Prime Minister to get such stocks procured by the FCI and other agencies. The Chairman of the FCI, Mr Bhure Lal, who had visited the state to inspect the procurement operations had ruffled the feathers not only of the state government but also of farmers by making a statement that 80 per cent of paddy in Punjab was of low quality.

Dr Sarabjit Singh Chahal, Professor, Department of Plant Pathology and his senior colleague, Dr Narinder Singh are trying to solve the mystery of discolouration.

Dark spots of various types of funggi have been isolated by a team of experts from the discoloured paddy grains. Dr Chahal said all species of the funggi isolated from grains had been identified. Some of these were like- fusarium, drechslera aternaria, aspergillus flavus and penicillium sp.

Because of the presence of funggi on the grains, they became brown and black. They look affected the marketability of paddy in the state and also, perhaps, prompted Mr Bhure Lal to make a storm-creating statement.

Dr Chahal said the appearance of brown and dark spots was a consequence. What caused it was to be established by working on this problem, he added. It would take some time to pinpoint the cause.

“We are examining all aspects, including the environmental factors and possible insect attack, to establish the cause behind the problem”, said Dr Chahal. It appeared that somehow injury was caused to paddy grains which ultimately led to the trouble.

Fortunately, these black and brown spots were only on the outer cover (husk) of the paddy. The quality of the inner part was not affected. The range of discolouration varied between 4 per cent and 45 per cent. The discolouration was more in Ludhiana, Sangrur, Moga districts and relatively less in Ferozepore and Patiala.

But according to information available, discolouration affected the germination of the grains. In case of 100 per cent discolouration, the loss of germination had been near 20 per cent. Farmers having retained such paddy for seed purpose would have to resort to seed treatment to prevent the loss of germination.

For the past three years or so, the marketing of paddy in the state has become a big problem. Procurement agencies reject the paddy stocks dubbing these as substandard not conforming to the parameters fixed by the government for its procurement. In fact, paddy has become a political problem for the SAD-BJP alliance in the state which claims itself to be a champion of the farmers’ cause.

On the other side, the State Agriculture Department and the PAU authorities concerned had urged farmers to cut area under paddy from two to 10 lakh hectares. Recently, Mr G.S. Kalkat, outgoing Vice Chancellor of PAU said the state could afford to nourish paddy in 16 lakh hectares with resources at its command while it normally covered over 25 lakh hectares under the paddy crop. He was all for diverting the excess land under paddy cultivation to other crops like oil-seeds, vegetables, etc.


Jawan missing, father writes to PM
Tribune News Service

Kotbhai (Muktsar), March 8
Mr Gurdev Singh, a Dalit of Kotbhai village falling in Muktsar district, goes to various offices daily to know the whereabouts of his son, Lance Naik Jagsir Singh, who has been missing since September 19, 1999, from Kargil.

Tragedy struck Mr Gurdev Singh (65), when his 22-year-old son, Sukhminder Singh, died in 1999.

Mr Gurdev Singh, who works as a cobbler, has not lost hope and has been writing regularly to various authorities to locate his son who was posted in Kargil.

The Army authorities have declared Lance Naik Jagsir Singh as absent without leave (AWOL) with effect from September 17, 1999.

Narrating his tale of woe here today, he said his son was in 108 Engineer Regiment and came on long vacation in May 1999. On July 10, he reported back.

He said he received a letter from the Company Commander, Major Neeraj Chohan, through the SSP, Muktsar, in which it was mentioned that Jagsir Singh had been absent from duty since September without any leave.

He said his son could not desert the Army. After receiving letter, he inquired from his relatives regarding the whereabouts of his son. He said he had written several letters to the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister and other authorities.

He said instead of finding out whether Jagsir Singh had been kidnapped by militants during Operation Vijay, the Army authorities had declared him AWOL.

The Democratic Citizens Forum, Abohar, has also taken up the matter with the Prime Minister and Union Defence Minister George Fernandes.


No review of VDS: Sohal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana March 8
The much-publicised Voluntary Disclosure Scheme (VDS) of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has failed to generate any significant interest among the industry in the state. According to PSEB officials, till date, only three industrial units have applied for the regularisation of their load in the city, though the scheme is closing on March 31.

While addressing the industrialists here yesterday, Mr G.S. Sohal, Chairperson, PSEB, said,‘‘ Under the Punjab Pollution Control Board and High Court directions, the PSEB cannot provide any connection or regularise the unauthorised loads of the industrial units functioning in the residential area or those which come under the pollution category. So even they would have to get a no objection certificate (NOC) from the pollution control board. In case of units in side the city limits, the NOC would have also be taken from Municipal Corporation.’’

A meeting was organised by the Apex Chamber of Commerce and industry with the Chairman of the board and other officials to discuss the problems related with the industry. Industrialists from all over the state are participating in the meeting.

Mr Sohal assured the industry representatives that the board would announce VDS for large scale units soon. Since the board was incurring heave financial losses, so it had not been possible to provide any relief to the consumers. Regarding the demand of providing immediate sanction to the industrial units for installing generators as a standby measure, he assured them that sanction would be provided soon.

Mr P.D. Sharma, president of the Chamber urged the board chairman to involve industry representatives in the dispute settlement committee. He said,‘‘ Justice cannot be expected from the functionaries of the board whose sole purpose to maximise revenue, instead of providing any relief to the consumer.’’

Mr Sohal declined to make any commitment in this regard. He disclosed that more than 60 per cent cases out of the total admitted cases have been settled. So there was no plan to review the present setup. Only about 80 cases are pending with the dispute settlement committee.

The chairman accepted Mr M.S. Bhogal’s suggestion that the board should not insist on the registration of rental deeds for giving connection to the rental premises. He assured that the board would examine the issue of providing incentives to consumers.

Mr Sohal appealed to industrialists to help the board in checking power pilferage as it was badly affecting the financial health of the board and continuous electricity supply to the genuine consumers. Despite political compulsions of providing free supply to the agriculture sector, the board was trying to decrease the financial losses, he added.


Maharaja’s descendants feel ignored
Jangveer Singh

Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 8
Even as the Punjab Government has decided to celebrate the bicentenary of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in April by holding an international seminar in New Delhi and a public function at his place of birth at Badrukha in Sangrur district, the descendants of the Maharaja have alleged that they have not been involved in the celebrations and charged the government with not making sincere attempts to bring back the relics associated with the former Maharaja which are presently in the UK.

Celebration of the bicentenary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, which follows the grand celebrations observed by the government to mark the tercentenary of the birth of the Khalsa, is expected to acquire political overtones as Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has sought to project his administration as one modelled on the late Maharaja’s regime. The celebrations are also important politically keeping in view the likelihood of a mid-term poll in the state.

Two descendants of Maharaja Ranjit Singh — Lt Col Kunwar Karan Vir Singh (retd) and Kunwar Meetpal Singh — while talking to TNS claimed that the government had not even bothered to inform them about the holding of the celebrations to mark the coronation of the great king even though they had been issued identity cards recognising them as descendants of the Maharaja.

They said even Punjabi University, which was holding an international seminar in Delhi to mark the occasion had not bothered to invite them for the function. Similarly they had not been informed about the public meeting which is planned to be held at Badrukha, the ancestral village of the in-laws of the late Maharaja in Sangrur district, in the second week of April. The cousins say they do not want any dole from the government but do feel they should be given due recognition in the bicentenary celebrations, specially since the people of Punjab felt that the lineage of the late Maharaja did not exist any longer.

Lt Col K K V Singh said he would like to take part in the seminar held by Punjabi University. He said he would like to speak on how the family receded into the background after young Dalip Singh was taken away to England. He said he would also like to talk about the history of the family after the fall of the empire.

He said the Punjab Government was not doing anything to bring the Kohinoor diamond back to India. He said the government should take concrete steps in this regard by taking up the matter with the Union Government which was its coalition partner. He said the government had only made empty promises on the issue till now.


Expulsion on ‘flimsy’ grounds
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, March 8
Mr Gurdas Girdhar, former president, District Congress Committee, Muktsar, yesterday condemned the expulsion of senior party leader Tara Singh Sandhu from the party on “flimsy” grounds.

Talking to TNS, he alleged the expulsion of Mr Sandhu reflected frustration” on the part of the party leadership after the defeat of its candidate in the recently held Majitha Assembly byelection.

He pointed out that Mr Sandhu, who was member of the National Council of the CPI and also headed its youth wing, was brought into party fold by AICC President Sonia Gandhi to strengthen its base in Punjab. He had put in much effort to widen the party base in the state.


RPI to hold rallies
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 8
The Republic Party of India (RPI) has decided to hold district-level rallies in protest against the alleged failure of the SAD-BJP government in the state. The first rally will be held here on April 14. This was stated by Mr Sukhdev Singh Pandhi, state president of the RPI, here today.

He criticised the Punjab Government for allegedly failing to protect the interests of the Dalits. He also charged the Union Government with not taking adequate steps for the welfare of the weaker sections. He alleged that during the past 50 years, the Dalits had been neglected in all spheres.

Mr Pandhi also condemned the Central Government’s proposals for making changes in the Constitution. He deplored the Union Finance Minister for presenting a pro-rich Budget in the Lok Sabha.


Obliging officer PRTC way
Our Correspondent

Budhlada, March 8
The Pepsu Roadways Transport Corporation (PRTC) authorities are proposing to shift its depot and local bus stand to benefit the relatives of a senior officer of the corporation. At present the depot and bus stand are located on 8 acres belonging to Punjab Waqf Board (PWB) since 1974.

The land was taken on lease by the PRTC from the PWB for 25 years at the rate of Rs 433.33 per month. As per the lease agreement the rent amount was to be increased by 5 per cent every year. The said lease period ended on September 30, 1999. In this regard Mr A. A. Khan, Chief Executive Officer of the PWB, Ambala, wrote a letter on December 20, last year to the General Manager, PRTC, Budhlada, asking him to enter into a new agreement as per the Punjab Waqf Board Act, 1995, and demanded payment of rent at the rate of Rs 3 per square yard, which works out to be Rs 87,120 per month.

The PRTC authorities have not taken any action on the said letter even after three months. It is pertinent to mention here that the PRTC is already deriving income of Rs 1.12 lakh per month on account of various sources. In the said letter the PWB had agreed to enter into a new agreement, which would not be more than three years. The gram panchayat, Budhlada, had reportedly offered to provide land to the PRTC free of cost.

The PRTC in order to benefit its senior officer proposes to shift the depot and bus stand on the Bachhoana road, about 3 km from here, where the relatives of a senior officer of the PRTC is believed to own 45 acres. There is a proposal to get 5-6 acres free of cost, so that the value of the remaining land adjacent to the proposed site goes up. Local residents are opposing the shifting of the bus stand, which is far from the town.


Villagers await census officials
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, March 8
The census of the district has been officially finalised. But according to reports available here, today residents of Nawan Pind Hundal, 5 km from here are still waiting for officials of the Census Department to visit their village.

Mrs Jasbir Kaur and Mr Ajit Singh, Sarpanch and Nambardar, respectively, of the village, while talking to this correspondent yesterday, had their reservations regarding completion of the Census process in the district keeping in view the attitude of officials concerned regarding holding of Census in Nawan Pind Hundal.

Mr Ajit Singh said he had visited the Census office here three to four times and requested the officials concernes to visit their village but in vain.

Interestingly the village was also ignored for Census in 1991 also. Then the village was part of Tibber panchayat. 


JD(U) to hold rally today
Our Correspondent

Anandpur Sahib (Ropar), March 8
The Public Relations Minister, Mr Natha Singh Dalam, today inaugurated an exhibition, during the Hola Mohalla celebrations here. The exhibition displays the progress made by the state, through achievements of various governments. The main attraction at the exhibition was the screening of film ‘Khalsa’ made by Mangal Singh Dhillon during the tercentenary celebrations. The film would be screened daily at the exhibition during the Hola Mohalla celebrations.

Besides this there were about 50 stalls of various departments ranging from that of the public relations to small savings department in the exhibition. The minister after inaugurating the exhibition also paid obeisance at Takht Kesgarh Sahib.

Meanwhile, lakhs of pilgrims thronged Anandpur Sahib today. The devotees took holy dip in the sarovar. The langers organised by groups from the rural areas were attracting the visitors using loudspeakers. The display of arms of Guru Gobind Singh at Takht Kesgarh Sahib also attracted huge crowds.

Two more political parties have announced the organisation of their political rallies here tomorrow. These include the Janata Dal (United) and Kisan Sabha of the CPM. The JD(U) would hold its rally on the Anandpur Sahib-Kiratpur Sahib Road which would be attended by Mr Sharad Yadav and Mr Inder Kumar Gujral. The rally of the Kisan Sabha would be held in the Ghatti Sahib area.

It is for the first time that eight political conferences are being held at Anandpur Sahib on the occasion of the Hola Mohalla. Earlier, only three parties, including the Akali Dals and the Congress, used to organise their rallies on the occasion. Sources said that all parties were holding the rallies during these Hola Mohalla celebrations in view of the Assembly elections in the near future.


MC premises raided
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 8
The Vigilance Bureau yesterday raided the premises of the Municipal Corporation here and seized the official record pertaining to the “fogging machine expenditure” for the past 10 years.

The bureau, had received a complaint alleging that civic officials, under the anti-malaria drive, had committed a fraud of Rs 20 lakh by preparing fake bills for spraying malathene in July last year. It was further alleged that 2500 litres of malathene had been used in the fogging operation and around one lakh litres of diesel was shown consumed in three days by the jeep meant for the purpose.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr K. Shiva Prashad, after getting preliminary inquiry report into the matter from the Vigilance Bureau, has appointed the Executive Magistrate, Capt Munish Kumar, to head the special vigilance raiding team comprising one DSP and six other officials.


Four killed in car-truck collision
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, March 8
Four persons were killed and one seriously injured when a car carrying them collided with a private truck near Shanti Tara College, Ahmedgarh, about 15 km from here, today.

The seriously injured person was referred to Patiala, the police said.

The ill-fated car was on its way from Malerkotla to Ludhiana.

When the car reached near the college, a truck coming from Ludhiana dashed against the car, killing four persons on the spot.

The deceased have been identified as Kulwinder Singh, Mukhtiyar Singh, Tara Singh and Gurdyal Singh.

The driver of the truck managed to escape leaving the vehicle behind .

A case under Section 304A of the IPC has been registered.



All paddy procured won’t be milled
K S Chawla

Despite best efforts by rice millers, the entire stock of paddy procured by official agencies and the millers will not be milled this season in Punjab. Milling operations are under way at the moment as the temperature has started rising.

As many as 1.12 crore tonnes of paddy were procured in Punjab during 2000-2001 by official agencies and private traders. The ideal timing for paddy milling is between November and February which can be extended up to April. After April, with the rise in temperature, the percentage of broken rice goes up.

Enquiries show that between 35 to 40 lakh tonnes of paddy have been milled so far and more than 60 per cent of the stocks remain to be milled. Expert and officials of the state government feel that it would not be possible to mill the entire paddy stock by September when the new paddy crop starts arriving. The procurement of 1.12 crore tonnes of paddy this season has been an all-time high in the state so far. The emerging situation is causing concern to the procuring agencies and rice millers.

Besides huge stocks of paddy and rice are pilling up because of low demand for rice and slow movement of foodgrains to other states. The Railways are reportedly moving four to five lakh tonnes of rice from Punjab every month. But this is not a continuous process and its movement has to be maintained to create space for further storage.

The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister raised the demand for creating a zonal system and suggested that Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu should form one zone to which Andhra rice should be supplied. He still insists on the zonal system which would be dangerous for Punjab.

The Union Minister, while presenting the Budget, stated that the states would be given a bigger role in the procurement of foodgrains which indicated that the Centre had conceded the demand of states like Bihar and Orissa. All these steps would create problems for Punjab in marketing foodgrains.

Under the new situation, Punjab will be left with the demand for supplying rice to the north-eastern states.

As 70 lakh tonnes of rice will be produced from the procured stocks of paddy, it would be a gigantic task to store it. Punjab is already faced with the problem of storing milled rice. The railways move about 10 lakh to 12 lakh tonnes of wheat and rice from Punjab every month. Out of which four lakh tonnes is stated to be rice. Punjab has at present more than one crore tonnes of rice and wheat in its stores.

As regards, the Rs. 350-crore package for paddy growers, sources reveal that an indirect benefit of Rs. 250 crore has been given to the farmers and millers as they got the minimum support price (MSP) for damaged paddy. The Centre on the plea of the Punjab Chief Minister, agreed to buy damaged paddy stocks at the MSP but there was no compromise with quality. The government agreed to relax the damage discolour limit from 3 per cent to 8 per cent but did not agree to relax the damaged rice limit from 2 per cent. Under the existing specifications, the centre accepts 67 kgs of rice, out of 100 kg of paddy and under the relaxed specifications, this came to 64 kg.

There are a few rice millers who have installed Sortex processing machines which separate damage grain from the quality ones. About two dozen big rice millers have these machines and they drew the maximum benefit of the relaxations in the damage-discolour paddy.

Experts estimate that despite efforts, about 25 lakh tonnes of paddy will remain unmilled out of a procurement of 1.12 crore tonnes because of inadequate milling capacity.

Punjab has about 2000 rice mills which can mill 80 lakh to 85 lakh tonne of paddy every year. Milling industry is a labour-intensive industry and employs thousands of workers. Since the paddy production has touched alltime record, the milling has become a round-the-year industry instead of being a seasonal industry.

In view of the low milling capacity and rise in production of paddy in other states, the Punjab Agricultural University Vice-Chancellor, Dr. GS Kalkat, has been pressing the Punjab farmers to reduce area under paddy and divert to other crops.

The Punjabi farmer has to think of other crops to maintain his standard of living in the wake of WTO coming into force soon. 


Rights bodies threaten to launch stir
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 8
Various human rights organisations of the state have threatened to launch a statewide campaign if the Punjab police continues to book their activists in “fabricated cases” at the behest of ministers and police officials who have been responsible for the disappearance of youths in the past.

The human rights organisations have also threatened to approach Amnesty International, Asia Watch and other national and international human rights bodies against the filing of “false” cases against Mr Narain Singh, chief, Akal Federation, at the behest of Mr Nirmaljit Singh Kahlon, Minister, Rural Development and Panchayats.

Justice Ajit Singh Bains (retd), Chairman, Punjab Human Rights Organisation, Mr Inderjit Singh Jaijee, Chairman, Movement Against State Repression (MASR), Mr Gurtej Singh, Professor of Sikhism, Ms Parmjit Kaur Khalra, widow of Jaswant Singh Khalra, Mr Amrik Singh Muktsar, Bibi Baljit Kaur and Mr Ram Narayan Kumar, convener, Committee for Coordination on Disappearances in Punjab, while addressing a joint conference here yesterday alleged that human rights activists were being threatened and intimidated so that they could not highlight the cases of human rights violations, especially by the police.

Mr Gurtej Singh, a former IAS officer, announced that the human rights organisations would raise district-level memorials to record the names of those who had disappeared in the past. The memorials would also record the names of those erring police officials responsible for the disappearances.

Mrs Khalra alleged that she and her family were being intimidated by the police. She said false cases were registered against the eyewitnesses in the sensational Khalra murder case. She also alleged that her telephone was being tapped. The process of intimidation started near the hearing of the Khalra case, she added.

Mr Ram Narayan Kumar said he was not going to tolerate the registration of false cases against the activists of human rights any more. He said his committee might ask for CRPF security for Narain Singh who was facing threat to his life.


Badal for women’s quota
Sushil Goyal and Vinod Seth

Sherpur (Dhuri), March 8
Addressing a huge gathering especially of women at a state-level function, organised in connection with Women’s Day here today, the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, urged the Union Government to enact a law soon for reserving 30 per cent seats for women in Parliament and state Assemblies.

Mr Badal said reservation for women in the elected bodies was a policy of the SAD. Under this policy, the SAD had got 30 women elected as members in the SGPC.

Praising the women, he said only those countries had achieved development in all fields in which men and women worked together to strengthen the economy.

The Chief Minister also stressed upon the need to impart religious education to children. He called upon the women to play a vital role in imparting religious education to their wards.

He said the state government had constituted a Punjab Urban Development Board for the development of cities and towns. An amount of Rs 50 crore had been earmarked for the board so far. Another Rs 100 crore would be provided through the Budget for 2001-2002.

Mr Badal said the state government would provide Rs 20 lakh to each district for women’s education.

He also announced Rs 1 crore for the development of Sherpur Assembly constituency and Rs 2 crore for roads of this constituency.

Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, MLA from Sherpur and Minister for Social Security, Women and Child Development, Punjab, appealed to the Chief Minister to take up the case of anganwari workers with the Central Government for the regularisation of their services. He also demanded a women vocational centre for the Sherpur area.

Women spoke on women’s role in society, her strength, against foeticide and for 33 per cent seats for women in Parliament.

Among others who addressed the gathering included Bibi Surinder Kaur Johl, Ms Mohinder Kaur Josh, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare; Punjab, Ms Satwant Kaur Sandhu, a Punjab Cabinet Minister; Ms Satwinder Kaur Dhaliwal, a former MP from Ropar; Bibi Harjinder Kaur, a former Deputy Mayor of the Chandigarh; Ms Surinder Kaur Grewal, Chairperson, Women’s Commission, Punjab; Ms Gurdial Kaur, Chairperson, Punjab Social Security Board; Mr Baldev Singh Mann of the PSEB; Mr R.L. Kalsia, Director, Social Security Department, Punjab; and Mr Rajinder Singh Kanjhla, an Akali leader.

Earlier, Mr Badal lit a jyoti in front of the photos of Mata Gujri and sons of Guru Gobind Singh and Guru Nanak Dev.


CM orders speedy wheat procurement
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
The Punjab Government has issued instructions for foolproof arrangements for smooth and speedy procurement of wheat making it clear to the district and other authorities that no laxity or any unethical practice at any level would be tolerated.

Presiding over a meeting of heads of procurement agencies and deputy commissioners of the state here this evening, the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said the wanted meticulous planning and efforts on war-footing for procurement, storage, arrangement of gunny bags and transportation of wheat to various destinations.

He stressed the need for effective coordination between different agencies in the grain markets, the district authorities and the procurement agencies.

Mr Badal also directed the Chairman of the state electricity board to provide central power connections in all grain markets for executing day night cleaning and lifting of the produce and wanted the work to be completed within two weeks.

The Chief Minister also rang up the Managing Director of the FCI, Mr Jai Singh Gill, to gear up the machinery of the agency and issue necessary directions to the Regional Office to ensure the speedy procurement of the 33 per cent quota allotted to the agency and make full arrangements for storage.

The Chief Minister was informed that 120 lakh metric tonnes of wheat was expected to be procured by the different agencies and the traders out of the total expected produce of 142 lakh metric tonnes.

At least 1600 grain markets and purchase centres are being opened in the state and the work of allotment of mandis would be completed by March 15. The Warehousing Corporation has created a godown capacity of 19 lakh metric tonnes and further 11 lakh metric tonnes would be created by end of June this year. Mr Badal made it clear that old marketing system would continue. He has called another meeting of the procurement agencies and the deputy commissioners here on March 15.


Medical camps to be held in remote villages
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, March 8
An “out reach villages medical camps” project has been launched by the Punjab Health System Corporation (PHSC) in Faridkot, Ferozepore, Bathinda, Mansa and Moga districts under a World Bank scheme.

Sources said under this pilot project, the health authorities would organise six camps in a month in backward villages of each district. The project would go on for three months and 18 camps would be held in each district.

The sources said at each camp, medicines worth Rs 6,000 would be given to patients free of cost.

Dr Gurjant Singh Sekhon, Deputy Medical Commissioner, PHSC, said if the project was successful here, it would be launched in the entire state.

Each camp would be manned by a surgical specialist, a medical specialist, a gynaecologist, an eye specialist and a general physician. Apart from them, a staff nurse, a pharmacist, a lab technician and two class IV employees would also be there.

Those found suffering from various surgical problems and eye ailments would be identified in the camps. They would be operated at the sub-divisional level and at civil hospitals.

One such camp was organised at Badal village and 847 persons were examined.


Garbage litters market
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 8
The Mahaveer Gole Market Association (Owners) has alleged the local municipal committee authorities are responsible for the present miserable condition of the Gole Diggi Market which has become the dirtiest market of the city due to the garbage being thrown by shopkeepers and other residents.

In a statement issued here yesterday, Mr Ved Parkash Garg, president of the Mahaveer Gole Market Association, said it was the indifferent attitude of the municipal committee authorities which had resulted in the bad condition of the market.

He pointed out that the municipal committee had a share of seven shops in the market and the cost of construction of these shops was given by the owners of the shops which was about Rs 3 lakh. He added that so far the authorities had not returned the cost and the owners of the shops were not ready to spend more amount for the maintenance of the market as they already had spent about Rs 7 lakh.

He said although the district administration had assured the owners of the shops that the maintenance expenses spent by the owners would be returned yet nothing had come of it. He added the municipal committee authorities were not ready to spend even a paisa for the maintenance of the market.

He pointed out that the foundation of the building was very strong and there was no fear of the building collapsing . He said the government had issued notices to the shopkeepers to vacate the shops.

He said the owners association had demanded that the authorities should return the payments of the owners of the shops immediately so that the maintenance work of the market can be completed as early as possible. 


Dates become dated in Sultanpur Lodhi
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Sultanpur Lodhi (Kapurthala), March 8
For ages Sultanpur Lodhi, the land where Guru Nanak spent his youth, has been known as an oasis studded with hundreds of clusters of date trees. But sadly enough today it is not so, thanks to the mindless felling of tall and gracious trees by residents during the past two decades.

The magnificent clusters of date tree which adorned the holy city even till the late eighties, it is said, were an outcome of invasion by the Mughals. They had brought the date seeds along with them from Multan, the only place other than Sultanpur Lodhi in undivided Punjab known for its heavy concentration of date trees. And it took the slow growing trees a couple of decades to acquire their natural size and grace and subsequently enhance the beauty of the city on the banks of the Kali Bein river, which was once a major business centre of northern India and where Baba Nanak had spent a considerable time of his life.

Old-timers, who miss the trees which had given a distinct identity to the city for long, recall the good old days before and after Independence when the city-turned-township would boast of hundreds of clusters of trees, which used to be managed by professional gardeners, particularly the ones belonging to the Muslim community.

Rapid growth of population and shrinking land holdings gradually pushed them out of business with the result that nowadays one hardly sees a few clusters or individual trees in and around the city. One of the factors responsible for making the land shorn of trees is that no new plantation was done by indifferent and environmentally unconscious successive governments and residents after Independence. What the wistful residents do not forget to mention to any stranger is the exceptionally good quality of the fruit and how the old among them used to relish molasses and even wine made from it.

“The species here are different from the ones grown in other parts of the country since the fruit has more sugar content and it does not need any treatment for their early ripening and mellowing,” said Mr Jaimal Singh, a president of the local nagar council. He said quality wise fruit of Sultanpur Lodhi trees was not less than the one growing in Rajasthan.

Similarly, an old man at Pir Garib Gazi dargah, who had about 100 trees of his own, recalled that once upon a time he used to fetch Rs 1000 per tree. He said farmers had cut down trees for sowing paddy and wheat, even as dates, though slow growing, could be a substitute for wheat and paddy. “The crop is good since the tree consumes very less space and you can grow other crops beneath it.”


Safai sewaks oppose new system
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 8
A state-level convention of safai sewaks held here today strongly opposed the private contract launched by the Punjab Government for cleansing different areas of nagar councils in the state.

More than 5,000 karamcharis from different parts of the district attended it. A unanimous resolution was passed on the occasion which demanded increase of posts of safai karamcharis according to population of each area in the town, enhancement in rates of dresses, medical leave according to requirement of the employee against the present one-month leave and release of bonus of the karamcharis remained pending for the past four years.

Addressing the convention, Mr Parkash Chand Gaichand, president of the state body, strongly criticised the state government for its non-recruitment policy to fill vacant posts of safai sewaks in the nagar councils for the past 10 to 15 years in the state. He said over 10,000 such posts had been lying vacant in the state.

Moreover, no steps had been taken by the state government so far to regularise nearly 5,000 employees who had been working in towns for ‘the past over 10 years. He said if the state government failed to resolve problems and demands of the karamcharis, they would soon be compelled to launch a statewide stir in support of their demands.

The president of the body also decried that the Punjab Government for changing its trend towards privatisation of safai work in the nagar council areas which would deprive thousands of karamcharis of their services.


FCI, PSWC labourers lock horns
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 8
The labourers union of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) today said the loading and unloading of goods from trucks at godowns, located on the Bathinda-Mansa road, was their right.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Kaka Singh, vice-president of the FCI Workers Pallaydar Union, demanded that the labourers belonging to the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation (PSWC) should not be allowed to enter their domain.

He said although the godown belonged to the PSWC it was taken on rent by the FCI, therefore it was the responsibility of the members of their union to take up the task of handling the goods stored in the godowns.

Mr Kaka Singh said as all employees handling the work at the godown belonged to the FCI, the labourers should also be of the FCI. He criticised the labourers of the PSWC who did not allow them to work.

He said if they did not get justice, they would start a state-level agitation.


Enthusiastic response to baby show
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 8
The baby show today was a success like the flower competition that took place at the Baradari Gardens here. About 60 babies participated in four different age groups — below one year, between one and two years, between two and three years and between three and four years.

Commenting upon the reaction of the parents of the participating babies. Dr Jasleen, a dental surgeon, and Dr Vandana Pandav a paediatrician, the two judges for the show, said the show had received an enthusiastic response from parents of the city as well as from parts of the district. They said the main criterion of judging had been the upbringing of the children. Other aspects judged including development milestone, overall response to gestures, observation, intelligence towards surroundings, co-operative and social mixing and dress sense in a different environment.

The judges wanted to see whether the kids could maintain eye contact with aliens and their level of confidence while talking to strangers. The judges added that the personality of the child wholly depended on how parents trained them because a good personality needed to be exuberant.

The parents had turned up from various places, including Nabha and Chandigarh, besides local residents. Organisers said that most of the participants were from urban areas but even those from rural areas who were not more than one-fourth, showed immense interest in the show.

After inaugurating the show, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Punjab, Agricultural Minister, said farmers needed to be educated about the latest trends regarding the agricultural sector and must be given the necessary knowledge for the various problems being faced in this field. He said two government flower seed farms were being established at Doraha (Ludhiana) and Baradari Garden (Patiala) to promote the growth of flowers in state.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, Deputy Commissioner, said an open auditorium would be constructed at Baradari Gardens to ensure more much shows and seminars could be held there.


Noise pollution irks villagers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda,March 8
The panchayat members, the Headmasters of Government High School and Government Primary School and the in charge of Civil Hospital for Animals of Dyalpur Mirsa village of the district have urged the district administration to take necessary action against the persons and institutions which were creating noise pollution in the village.

In a letter to Mr Jaspal Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Mr Major Singh, Sarpanch of the village, Mr Gurcharan Singh, Headmaster of Government High School, Mr Tej Ram, Headmaster of Government Primary School, and Mr Jaspal Singh, in charge of civil Hospital for Animals, said certain religious institutions were using loud- speakers which had become a major cause of noise pollution in the village.

They said hawkers were also using loudspeakers to sell theri products.

They pointed out that the students had to suffer a lot due to the noise pollution and the old persons had also to face various problems.


Engineers: revert to pre-1988 structure
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
A joint meeting of the Senior Engineers Forum and the Subdivisional Engineers Association of the Punjab PWD (Building and Roads branch) asked the government to revert to the pre-1988 structure of the department since the modified structure had led to the overlapping of jurisdiction.

In a joint statement issued here today, Mr N.K. Agarwal, president of the forum, and Mr M.S. Nijjer, president of the association, said that since the Minister for Public Works had already expressed support for such a move, the government should immediately order amalgamation of various field divisions on the 1988 pattern as recommended by the Chief Engineer in order to strengthen and streamline the working of the department.

The meeting also criticised the rationale behind the fixing of arbitrary criterial for promotion.


Statue issue: panel’s plea to CM
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 8
The Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar Statue Installation Committee has asked the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to install a statue of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar at the Rose Garden in the city where people can easily pay their regards to the great visionary.

During the meeting, the committee members said while earlier a spot near the bus stand was earmarked for installation of the statue, but with the widening of the road it was no longer conducive to install it there. The members felt the dense traffic in the area also went against installation of the statue at that spot.

The committee said Dalits would not be able to pay homage to Dr Ambedkar if the statue was installed opposite the bus stand as there was no space there to hold prayer meetings to observe his anniversaries. It said, however, a calm and peaceful atmosphere was available in the Rose Garden.

The committee, which included its general secretary Surjan Singh Sakrodi, SC, ST Welfare Association’s senior vice-president Chand Singh Jassi, Bahujan Samaj Morcha convener Paramjit Singh Kainth and Punjab Lok Sewa Dal president Prempal Chauhan, appealed to the Chief Minister on behalf of the Dalit community and religious workers to install the statue at the Rose Garden by March 14. 


Notice to Bibi on plea against bail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar of the High Court today issued notice on a petition filed by the “husband” of Harpreet Kaur, Mr Kamaljit Singh, stating that former chief of the SGPC, Bibi Jagir Kaur, “could not be allowed to enjoy the concession of bail even after the filing of the challan”.

Central Bureau of Investigation counsel R.K. Handa stated that the respondent had not applied for regular bail. After hearing the argument, the Judge issued notice for March 12.


Cambridge award for surgeon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
The International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, England, conferred the 21st Century Award for Achievement to Dr Harinder Singh Bedi, a Visiting Professor at the Centre for Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery and Robotics at the Ohio State University in the USA. This honour was bestowed on Dr Bedi, a Punjab cardiac surgeon, for his contributions and achievements in the field of cardio vascular surgery.

Dr Bedi is credited with developing innovative techniques in beating heart surgery which have been acknowledged as firsts and are now being used all over the world. Basically with these techniques major heart surgery is now safer, simpler, much cheaper and so more easily available to the common man.


 Sukha case: DSP granted bail

Patiala, March 8
Deputy Superintendent of Police, Jagtar Singh posted at Ropar, was granted bail by the sessions court here today in the case relating to alleged disappearance of Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) activist, Sukhdev Singh Sukha.

Mr Jagtar Singh had moved an application in the court of the sessions judge here yesterday and the court in this connection had issued notice to the CBI for today. Sessions Judge S.N. Aggarwal allowed interim bail to Mr Jagtar Singh till March 13. UNI


CM gives grant for idgah expansion
Tribune News Service

Malerkotla, March 8
Announcing a grant of Rs 15 lakh to purchase five bighas for the expansion of the local idgah, the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, on Tuesday said the state government had taken a decision to release grants from the state exchequer to temples, gurdwaras, churches and mosques for their development.

Greeting the Muslims on the occasion of Id from a tower of the idgah, Mr Badal said earlier there was a ban on the state government with regard to issuance of development grants to religious places, but after the decision of the government there were now no hindrances in the way of the government.


No Holi for Jacob
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
In view of the Gujarat earthquake, the Punjab Governor and UT Administrator, Lt-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), will not play Holi this year.

A spokesman of Punjab Raj Bhavan requested people not to visit Raj Bhavan to play Holi.


Seven promoted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
The Punjab Government has promoted Mr Surinder Singh Batra, Mr Amar Singh Chauhan and Mr Karam Singh Khatrow Special Secretaries to Ministers and Mr Jagdish Chander, Mr Vijay Pal Gupta, Mr Sarvan Kumar and Mr Sarbjeet Singh Secretaries to Ministers.


Millers feel let down by FCI
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 8
The Punjab Rice Millers’ Association has alleged that millers of the state are feeling let down by the Food Corporation of India due to the non-payment of levy rice delivered by them for the past about two months. The president of the association, Mr Tarsem Saini in statement here yesterday, said that the millers felt insecure as the Central Government had failed to take decision regarding the driage allowance to be allowed for the custom milling of paddy crop 2000-2001 till now.

He said the state was also facing a severe shortage of space for storing rice with only 33 per cent milling having been completed so far. He said with the onset of summer season, the percentage of damaged discoloured rice would increase besides affecting the rice yield and the Union Government was not accepting the demand of the millers to enhance the damaged percentage of rice to 3 per cent.

Mr Saini said the godown capacity available with the Food Corporation of India in Punjab stood fully utilised and if the Union Government now started making efforts to create storage space it would take one year to mill the balance paddy stocks. Mr Saini further said since the storage space was available in Haryana the Food Corporation of India should allow the millers of the state to deliver rice in Haryana after bearing transportation charges.

The association also took exception to the discrimination by the Food Corporation of India as they were demanding 67 per cent rice yield for the paddy procured prior to October 14, 2000 whereas the Central Government through a communication dated October 15,2000, had clarified that rice yield of 64 per cent would be accepted out of the paddy procured from the beginning of the season and the public notices were published by the state government in this regard.

The association appealed to the Punjab Chief Minister, and the Food and Supplies Minister to protest against the high handedness of the Central Government as their silence on these vital issues would adversely affect the economy of the state government milling industries, state procuring agencies and the farming community. 


PUDA to sell 58 acres of institute land
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 8
The Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) has decided to sell 58 acres of the 1000-acres earmarked for Punjab Institute of Medical Sciences to people and utilise the estimated earnings of around Rs 60 crore for funding of the institute.

The institute on the Garha road, which is currently undergoing the first phase of construction, was envisaged by the Beant Singh regime. For setting up the institute about 1000 acres belonging to the Sugarcane Research Institute of the Punjab Agriculture University were transferred to the institute. Since the fund-starved state government was facing financial constraints and could not spare money for the development of the institute, it further transferred 58 acres to PUDA for its utilisation and sale under the Optimum Utilisation of Vacant Government Lands (OUVGL) scheme.

The PUDA authorities have already carved about 325 residential plots and some commercial sites of the 58 acres, a favourite place among morning walkers. The residential and commercial sites will be offered to people through a month-long lottery system, likely to take off on March 15. “During this period anybody can come to us and bid for the site he or she is interested in,” said Mr H.S. Nanda, Additional Chief Administrator of PUDA. He said residential sites would be offered to people in four categories of 200, 300, 400 and 500 yards and the reserved price has been fixed at Rs 6000 per sq yard. “By selling the land we are expecting a revenue of around Rs 60 crore from the sale of sites and the money will be handed over to the institute authorities for its development. Since the government wanted early realisation of money, we have decided to opt for lottery system instead of going in for the open auction this time,” Mr Nanda said. 


8 held after 20 years
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 8
The Bilga police, led by Phillaur DSP Ashok Baath, has arrested eight proclaimed offenders who had absconded twenty years ago.

The arrested persons have been identified as Kartar Singh of Burj Hasan, Mukhtiar Singh of Buraj Hasan, Jagga Singh of Bhonde, Kashmir Singh of Sanghowal, Jeet Singh of Buraj Hasan, Surjit Singh of Hardo Sangha and Santokh Singh of Buraj Hasan.


Suicide by student; teacher jailed
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 8
Mr B.S. Sidhu, Additional Sessions Judge, has sentenced Ravinderpal Singh, a teacher of Government High School, Raiya, to four years’ rigorous imprisonment and fined Rs 1000 for abetting suicide by a student of the same school on the intervening night of July 28 and July 29, 1998.

In the judgement delivered on March 3, Mr Sidhu held that Ravinder Pal Singh was guilty of offence of abetment in suicide under Section 305 of the IPC. He added that in case of default in the payment of fine Ravinderpal Singh would have to undergo further rigorous imprisonment for one year.

According to facts of the case, Mr Avtar Singh, father of the deceased, Veerpal Kaur, in the FIR lodged with the police alleged that his daughter had committed suicide after the accused caught hold of her arms in one of the classrooms and threatened her with dire consequences in case she told any one about the incident.

He alleged that his daughter, who was 15 and was a student of class IX, narrated the incidents to him and her maternal uncle Rup Singh on July 28. He added that he and Rup Singh decided to take up the matter with the authorities concerned the next day.

However, they found that Veerpal Kaur had committed suicide by taking poison the next day.

The post mortem and chemical examination reports confirmed that Veerpal Kaur had consumed poison.

The incident, which sent shock waves in the region, also brought various unions and social organisations on a single platform for launching an agitation against the Punjab Government.


Playways cashing in on ‘convent’ craze
Pushpesh Kumar and Gayatri Rai

Bathinda, March 8
A major section of playway, preparatory, kids care and day care schools of this region have started cashing in on the race prevailing among the parents to get their wards admitted to convent and English-medium schools.

The ‘convent’ craze among parents from various economic stratas has led to an unprecedented jump in the number of such schools which have come up in the every nook and corner of this city in the past few years.

The people operating these schools have been leaving no stone unturned to attract maximum number of students. They have been employing various means of publicity, including pamphlets, posters, banners, healthy baby competitions and handouts to attract ‘prospective’ customers. Apart from it, these people have also been giving advertisements on the cable T.V.

The parents gripped by this ‘convent obsession’ have been preparing their wards for interviews to be conducted by these schools for admission to L.K.G. and U.K.G. classes.

Even the parents belonging to lower middle class have been cutting down their expenses to pay for the charges of such schools.

According to a random survey conducted by The Tribune team of such schools dotting the area, it was found that various schools were having different pay structures according to their ‘reputation’ in the area. The schools whose maximum number of students were getting further admissions in other reputed convent schools, were in great demand.

Informations revealed that about five years ago, some schools used their personal ‘contacts’ to fetch the students and to make their operations economically viable. But the craze growing among parents for such schools had made these schools dearer to many parents.

Informations further revealed that the number of students had been rising in these schools according to their performance in getting further admissions for their students in other convent schools.

Although such schools claimed that these were only playway schools and not training centres but the syllabi fixed by their principals told a different story. The syllabus for the one-year-session includes learning alphabets and counting, colour distinction, names of vegetables, plants, fruits, week days, months, body parts, picture reading and translation of simple words into English. This is similar to the courses prescribed for the L.K.G., U.K.G. classes of various schools.

Dr Anil Goyal, a psychiatrist, when contacted, said it was wrong to send kids to any kind of coaching or training centre as it had adverse effects on their development and made them less confident. He further added that in such schools kids had to learn three languages, Punjabi, Hindi and English at the same time.

A working woman, while talking to The Tribune said due to nucleus families and working parents, these schools had become a necessity for the education of the wards.

Mrs Anu Goyal, Principal of one such school, when contacted, said that main motive in these schools was that to develop confidence among the kids apart from developing reading habit among the tinytots.

Mrs Anuradha, a psychologist, when contacted, said that family atmosphere was best for the kids to develop their facilities. She added that tinytots should not be burdened with so much ‘knowledge’ which was being imparted to them in such schools as it had negative impact on their natural growth.

Mr Jagmohan Kaushal, an educationist, said the tinytots and kids were being made bookworms. He added that a ban should be imposed on such schools.

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