Sunday, April 8, 2001,
Chandigarh, India
P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Villagers join issue against N-plant establishment
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Nial (Patran), April 7
Displaced once during Partition, the past has caught up with villagers on this tract of land in the Malwa region of the state which was once barren and unirrigated but has now become fertile and densely populated. Many of them may have to leave again as there is a proposal to set up a nuclear plant in the region.

Only this time the villagers are in no hurry to go anywhere else. They will rather dig in their heels and fight any move to evacuate them from their land again. Villagers of 25 panchayats in the area, including those where the nuclear plant is to be set up, have formed a Sangharsh Committee which met here yesterday to chalk out a struggle programme to ensure the nuclear plant is not set up in the area.

Sampooran Singh of Tamboowala, part of whose village’s land is likely to be acquired for the project, summed up the feeling of various sarpanches and panches gathered at the local dharamshala here last evening. ‘’We have made this land fertile with our blood and there is no way we will leave it’’. Sampuran Singh, who is more than 75 years old and his fondly called ‘Comrade’ by others, even proposed his name for any sacrifice needed to avert establishment of the project in the area.

Villagers, while speaking on the occasion, said the nuclear plant had been planned to be set up here in the early eighties, adding a lot of things had changed since then. Now the ground realities had changed drastically. ‘’Earlier the land was not fertile but now it gives us 100 per cent returns’’ , said Sadhu Singh of Drauli village which has been selected for installation of the plant. Sadhu Singh said he did not want to give up his land as he could not do any other ‘’dhanda’’. “Moreover it will be impossible to wrench myself away from here,” he added.

While Sadhu Singh and others of Drauli do not want to give up their land for the nuclear project, people of other villages surrounding Drauli are afraid of the ill effects which may occur post installation of the plant. Balwinder Singh, who was part of a team of villagers which had gone to Narora to see the nuclear plant installed there at the initiative of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), said they had come to know that laboratories had been set up in all villages near the plant. Balwinder said villagers living near the nuclear plant had to get their crops, vegetables and milk from their milch animals tested for radiation before it could be consumed.

Balwinder said when a few members of the team decided to part company with the officials accompanying them and made independent inquiries from villagers living near the Narora Plant, they were advised not to let such a facility be installed near their villages. He said another intriguing factor was that while villagers at Narora were expected to live near the plant, the plant management had built its own residential housing complex 10 kilometres from the site.

Speaking on the occasion, Parwanu Bijli Plant Sangharash Committee convener Suba Singh said other dangers following installation of the plant included radio active effect on humans, specially pregnant women. He said the Sangharsh Committee, which had taken the help of Patiala Lok Sabha member Preneet Kaur following the apathy being shown by the Akali - BJP government to the issue, would launch a struggle soon on the pattern of that done by those people of the proposed city of Anandgarh besides approaching the courts.

Mrs Preneet Kaur, who attended yesterday’s meeting, along with Raja Malwinder Singh, said she would take up the issue with the Central Government, while advocating setting up of small hydel projects.

Meanwhile, a tour of the area revealed that a fear psychosis has gripped the people. “The situation has become such that people aritiyas were not ready to give loans to us fearing that we may soon migrate to other places, said Gurtej Singh of Tamboowala.

Others complain that they are having problems fixing marriages of their children due to similar reasons. ‘’ If the government does not act resolutely and stop the project, the entire fabric of our society will be torn apart,’’ Gurtej added.


Gujjars in border belt alarm forces
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Batala, April 7
The presence of a number of Gujjars in the border belt, especially Gurdaspur district, has been causing worry to the security forces.

Most Gujjars shift from the trouble-torn Jammu and Kashmir to Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts every winter in search of pastures. At the onset of summer, they return to their ‘behaks’ (small houses) in Jammu and Kashmir.

During a tour of the border belt, this correspondent saw a number of Gujjars along with their womenfolk rearing cattle. Maulvis were seen imparting religious teachings to young pupils at various places.

Sources in the police said the presence of Gujjars in great numbers was a headache for the security forces who could not carry out large-scale searches as this could result in communal tension.

Sources claimed the presence of hardcore Kashmiri militants among the Gujjars in the border belt could not be ruled out. However, Kashmiri militants avoid committing crime in Punjab as they consider the land a “safe hideout”.

Apart from this, Afghan mercenaries who are active in Jammu and Kashmir can motivate the Gujjars, who are from the lower strata, to join them. They can be lured by the ISI-sponsored terrorists.

During a visit to Masania village near Hargobindpur, Maulvi Ghulam Mohammad was imparting religious instruction to small children in a dargah. Interestingly, after partition, the ‘seva’ of the dargah was given to a Christian family. Villagers of Masania said the maulvi and his wife were never seen in the area earlier.

However, they had no objection to their running a ‘religious school’ inside the ‘dargah’. But some residents apprehended that the presence of the Gujjars who did not have ration cards or voter identity cards may encourage Pakistan based militants to carve out hideouts in the area. They mentioned the recent arrest of ISI-trained militants in Batala to substantiate their argument. The maulvi, talking to TNS, said he was teaching more than 40 children belonging to the Gujjars. He taught them Arabic, Urdu and Persian. The children recited Quran everyday. He said he had named the school ‘Gujjar Islamia Primary School’. A member of the village panchayat, Giani Iqbal Singh, said the Gujjars were never seen in the area earlier.

Mr M.M. Cheema, a trade union leader of the Indian Congress Committee, who belongs to Srihargobindpur, said the security forces must screen the nomads who came to the border districts of Punjab every year. “A close vigil must be kept on the activities of these temporary migrants from Jammu and Kashmir”, he opined. Mr Cheema expressed surprise that the intelligence agencies had yet to wake up from slumber as the activities of unknown persons, especially in the ‘hostile terrain’ along the Beas, could pose a great security challenge.

A few months ago, Shiv Sena leaders of Dhariwal, who were allegedly behind the ‘demolition’ of a small mosque in the border town, had demanded a thorough screening of ‘unknown maulvis’ who had allegedly stepped up their activities in the region.


Regional centre needs immediate care
Can play vital role in girl education
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, April 7
The Panjab University Regional Centre here is in its infancy and needs to be protected from deformities that are creeping in its functioning. The centre has failed in providing the intended facilities to students and upgrading its infrastructure.

Classes are held in an old school building, which was given to the university in July, 1998. The government and the university are holding parleys on at least two alternative sites for the new complex, but a final decision is awaited.

One of the intended sites is spread over 15 acres in the Government College here. The other is at a nearby rural area in Gondiana. This land actually belongs to Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana. Sources said a sum of Rs 2 crore was being demanded for transfer of the university land.

A senior teacher at the centre said the university had sent a formal communication to the Centre, asking for “marking of the land, load bearing capacity and a map. This is a positive signal showing university interest in Government College land.”

Mr K. J. S. Cheema, Deputy Commissioner, said the administration had discussed both options with the university. However, a formal request was awaited. The land in the college here was a better site. “It is easily accessible and has the potential for development,” he opined.

Mr Cheema said he had recommended the said piece of land for the centre. The Administration was as keen on speedy development of the area as the university, the DC said.

Prof K. N. Pathak, Vice-Chancellor, during his recent visit to the centre showed interest in upgradation of the facilities there. He said the university was keen to act fast. Only paper formality needed to be cleared.

The centre is important because of its location in South Punjab. Education, particularly of girls, needs to be encouraged in this area with government support. The centre offers postgraduate degrees in Punjabi, English, Political Science and Economics, besides PGDCA. A course in MCA commences from the coming session. The existing Law department had got a good response from an inspection team, honorary Director H.R. Gandhar said.

It is generally felt that short-time professional diplomas as well as degrees in computers and translation will lend the centre an added value. Courses would be run at the centre for aspirants of state and central civil services. Twelve colleges in adjoining areas offer B.Com, but none a masters degree. An M.Phil in Punjabi is seen as an area-specific demand.

The centre has very good library facilities. There is, however, no regular librarian. The centre lacks heavily in ministerial staff. Even the typist is on a temporary appointment.

Teachers have their own problems. They were not provided with the provident fund facility till about six months back. Now the university does not contribute its share to the amount. “The university is shifting the onus of finances on the state government, which is not showing much interest into the matter, a senior teacher said. Teachers are not getting medical facilities.

The centre has not had an Assistant Registrar, who is the seniormost administrative official, since over a year. Students have to travel over 200 km to Chandigarh to attend to problems regarding roll numbers and results or any other procedural work.

At the time of opening of the centre, it was envisaged that a computer would connect the data at the two venues and the students be saved from any inconvenience. There is, of course, no such facility at the centre.

The centre has a vast potential in catering to the educational needs of the region comprising Ferozepore, Faridkot, Mansa, Bathinda and Gidderbaha and must be paid due attention.


Ultra-modern cardiac centre for Ludhiana
K. S. Chawla

Those living in Punjab will no longer have to go to Delhi for treatment of heart diseases, as this industrial hub of Punjab now has a state-of-the-art hospital-Hero — DMC Heart Institute.

The institute became operational from April 4 for out-patients while indoor services would be available from April 9.

The Hero-DMC Heart Institute, borne out of a dream to provide the highest standards of heart-care to the people of Punjab and neighbouring states, cost Rs 40 crore. This has come up on the campus of the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, but is separated from it with a separate entry from the Tagore Nagar side.

The Hero group of industries, manufacturers of Hero bicycles and Hero-Honda motor cycles, contributed Rs 4.25 crore for setting it up. Mr Brijmohan Lal Munjal, chairman of the Hero group, heads the governing body, while Mr Prem Nath Gupta is secretary of the governing body. They gave shape to this institute.

Spread over an area of about one lakh sq feet, the 150-bedded institute offers state-of-the-art facilities ranging from basic preventive cardiology to non-invasive cardiology and advanced interventional and surgical procedures. This institute offers a single-centre concept where a cardiac patient can seek a complete range of investigation and therapeutic facilities, claims Mr Gupta, now a director of the Institute.

The centrally air-conditioned unit has an emergency department well equipped with sophisticated equipment and a mobile cardiac care ambulance. It also has sophisticated machines such as defibrillator, portable ventilator and pulse oxymeter.

The institute has five operation theatres managed by a team of cardiac surgeons who perform all types of surgery for as coronary artery bypass, valve replacement and congenital diseases.

According to Mr Gupta, this is the largest healthcare institute for coronary diseases in this part of the country. Mr Gupta says that the digital catheter lab is the latest from Siemens and the team of cardiologists would perform procedures like coronary angiography, permanent pacemaker implantation, percutaneous transluminal coronary angiography, stent implantation and ballon dilatation for valve diseases.

The institute has team of five cardiologists working under Dr Gurpreet Singh Wander, Chief Cardiologist, while five cardiac surgeons are headed by Dr Vijay Mohan Kohli. There are as many as 75 nurses on the rolls.

The institute provides diet from the hospital to the patients, besides clothing and medicines from the hospital. No attendant would be allowed as is the practice in the Western countries. The treatment will be on the basis package: coronary angiography charges Rs 9000, Rs 10,000 and Rs 13,000, angioplasty Rs 65,000, Rs 75,000 and Rs 85,000 plus the cost of stent and bypass surgery Rs 1.20 lakh, Rs 1.35 lakh and Rs 1.50 lakh.

The management has decided that all doctors working at the institute would not be allowed private practice and would be available at the unit, he says. Consultants will be on call for 24 hours in the hospital.

According to Dr Wander, the prevalence of heart diseases in the North has risen three-fold with 9 to 10 per cent of the population aged above 40 suffering from heart diseases. Against this, the incidence of heart diseases is coming down in the West.

In rural areas incidence of heart ailments is 4 to 5 per cent. Women have heart problems 10 years later compared to men. Manual labour has 2 per cent of heart diseases.

Dr Wander emphasises that to check the rise in heart diseases, the fat content in diet must be checked and regular exercises taken for 40 minutes a day. He says that incidence of heart diseases in the West has started coming down as there is more awareness among the people about diet and fitness. This awareness is now coming in India too but this country is still far behind.

Knowledge about blood pressure is also very important and smoking should be curbed. He stresses that avoidance of obesity is also very important. Pear-shaped or central obesity is very dangerous and causes heart diseases.

Dr Wander revealed that the Indians, who went to Africa in 1940s and 50s and migrated from there to the UK and the USA, were found to have a higher incidence of heart attacks as compared to the native population. This was because the genes were different.

The incidence of diabetes is also higher by two times among Indians as compared to the English and Americans. In India, he says, the prevalence rate is 13 to 15 per cent, the highest in the world.


Driver, 32 buffaloes killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Lalru, April 7
One person and 32 buffaloes were killed and one person was injured in a head-on collision between two trucks on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway near here today.

An overloaded truck carrying 32 buffaloes reportedly collided head on with another truck coming from the opposite direction, which was carrying cement bags, at about 5.30 this morning. Majority of the buffaloes died due to suffocation.

Niab Singh, the driver of the truck carrying cement bags, died on the spot. He was a resident of Aganpur village. The body was handed over to his family. The legs of Mr Navshad, driver of the truck (HP-31-3498) carrying the animals, were fractured. He was rushed to Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh. Niab Singh’s younger brother Harnek Singh, who was sitting on the left side on the front seat of the truck, was thrown out of the window.

Police sources disclosed that the truck was carrying 37 animals to Ambala for slaughter. The vehicles were overspeeding. According to eyewitnesses, the animal were jam-packed in the truck and the police personnel, staff of the Civil Veterinary Hospital and other residents had a tough time in extricating the carcasses.

A team of veterinary doctors rushed to the spot and injected life-saving drugs to the seriously injured buffaloes. They confirmed that four of the seriously injured died late in the evening while two were still fighting for life. Three calves sustained minor injuries.

Following the accident, traffic on the highway was disrupted for more than two hours. It was restored at about 8 a.m. after the carcasses were removed from the road.

After conducting the postmortem, doctors said majority of the animals died due to serious spine injuries and had been poorly fed. After impounding the vehicles, the Lalru police registered a case under Sections 304-A, 427 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code.


Congress rally against NDA Govt
Our Correspondent

Dhuri, April 7
More than 200 Congress activists, including women, led by Mr Ramesh Singla, General Secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, held a rally and burnt an effigy of Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee at the Old Grain Market here today in protest against the alleged involvement of members of the NDA government in shady defence deals.

Earlier the Congress activists took out a protest march through the main bazaar of the city raising slogans against the Vajpayee and Badal governments.

Prominent among those who addressed the rally were Mr Ramesh Singla, Mr Gurcharan Singh Dirba, President of District Congress Committee, Sangrur, Ms Roop Kaur Bagrian, a former Chairperson, Zila Parisad, Sangrur, Mr Hans Raj Gupta, a former Chairman, Punjab Pradesh Congress Seva Dal, and Mr Gurbax Singh Guddu, Municipal Councillor, Dhuri.

All leaders demanded the resignation of Vajpayee government in view of expose in order to insure a free and fair investigation into the episode.

The speakers criticised the Badal government for its failure to fulfil the promises made to the public during elections.

The speakers appealed to the Congressmen to participate in the district level rally to be held at Sangrur on April 9.


Cong workers hold protest rally
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 7
Hundreds of Congress workers on Friday organised a protest rally at block headquarters Naushehra Pannuan demanding stepping down of the NDA government at the Centre in view of Tehelka expose. Effigies of Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and Mr Bangaroo Laxman were burnt.

The rally was organised under the presidentship of Mr Nirvair Singh, block president, and was addressed by Master Jagir Singh, former minister, among others.

The protestors demanded registration of criminal cases against persons who allegedly accepted amounts. The flow of traffic remained disrupted for about an hour as the workers marched.


People’s Front to stage rallies
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 7
The People’s Front at its meeting has decided to stage rallies in the district against those involved in episode. This was stated by Mr Jagdish Singh, spokesman of the front, in a press note here on Wednesday. He said a demonstration would be organised at Tanda Urmur on April 21. Public meetings would also organised at Mukerian, Garhdiwala, Sham Chaurasi, Mahilpur, Dasuya and Garhshanker towns to compel Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee to give his resignation.

The meeting also demanded resignation from Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Minister for Local Bodies, Punjab.


Do dampers minimise quake damage?
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, April 7
Close on the heels of the visit of the former President of the USA, Mr Bill Clinton, to the quake-hit areas of Gujarat, questions continue to be raised whether the damage to man and material could have been minimised.

Well, Dr Avtar Paul structural engineer who pioneered the development of “friction dampers” breakthrough in earthquake-resistant design buildings replies in the affirmative, Dr Paul has revolutionised the conventional construction building technique and raised the level of building code design philosophy from avoidance of collapse to “avoidance of damage”. The principle’s main endeavour is to cushion the effect caused by quakes. This invention by Dr Paul is finding increasing application worldwide.

Dr Paul has applied this principle to a Boeing commercial airplane factory near Seattle — the world’s largest building, Moscone Convention Centre in San Francisco besides Montreal Casino. This correspondent had an interaction with him through e-mail from Montreal.

Dr Paul hails from Bohn village, Hoshiarpur. This theory was put to test in the recent earthquake on March 1 when a 6.8 magnitude quake struck the Boeing manufacturing plant in Seattle for more than 30 seconds. No one was hurt and the building was barely affected, Dr Paul said with pride. The quake, which was also felt in Vancouver, Victoria and southern British Colombia, caused an estimated $ 2 billion damages and left 320 persons injured.

Dr Paul who sponsors scholarships in earthquake engineering at Concordia University, University of British Colombia and University of California, Berkeley, said the earthquake in Gujarat was about 10 times stronger because it was closer to the earth’s surface — 17 km below ground as opposed to more than 50 km below ground in Seattle.

Dr Paul who was a senior executive engineer at the Engineer-in-Chief’s headquarters with the Government of India for 13 years was inspired by the principle of friction brakes, “if cars, trains and planes have friction absorbing brakes that enable them to stop without causing damage, why can’t buildings have brakes?”

Well the moot question remains what application does the “dampers” patented by Dr Paul in 1984 have for India. Dr Paul says the damper technology can be used in steel or concrete framed construction. However, it cannot be used in Kachha construction. “It incurs no additional cost of construction”, he says. Since the damper absorbs most of the seismic energy, you do not need big columns, beams and foundations. The cost of dampers is more than offset by the savings in quake prone zones. The technology can be adopted in new, as well as in the old buildings. The technology will make them four times more resistant than conventional buildings and requires no maintenance or energy source. To date nearly 60 major building projects in the world are using “Paul dampers”, he adds.

He, however, laments that the bureaucracy in India will not let the advantages of this technology reach India, as this would involve technology transfer. “Whereas this is not impossible if we think of the funding which could be made available from World Bank on Gujarat reconstruction, the political will is missing, Dr Avtar Paul adds. 


Historic garden gets new look
Anita Tayal

Patiala, April 7
Patiala’s historic Baradari Garden, which had recently been spruced up, will now also boast of a modern fountain, constructed at a cost of Rs 8 lakh. The garden has been given a facelift — new flower beds have been laid, tracks have been built for walkers, lights have been installed and a music system relays soft and devotional music in the morning.

According to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, the fountain has been established to create a recreational spot in the garden. He hopes that it will become a major attraction during the summer months. The fountain has been built around a pedestal on which once stood a statue of Queen Victoria. A tank with multi-coloured lights now surrounds the pedestal.

Amarjit Singh, a nature lover who frequents the garden regularly, said there had been a tremendous improvement over the past two years. He said introduction of lights and music was attracting more visitors. The carpeting of new tracks has enabled the walkers to enjoy their morning walk. The visitors feel that the entry of vehicles into the garden should be banned, particularly in the morning hours.

The history of the Baradari Garden is not well recorded but old-timers say that it was built by Maharaja Rajinder Singh, who was an avid lover of nature.


Docs drawing NPA do private practice
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 7
A majority of doctors posted at government hospitals in the district are reportedly indulging in private practice right under the nose of the authorities concerned. The illegal practice is going on despite the fact that all doctors are being paid the non-practising allowance (NPA) regularly.

Patients have complained that they are not attending to in the hospitals properly and forced to visit the houses or clinics of doctors to get treatment against payment of fees.

Many doctors posted at rural dispensaries reportedly do not perform their duties and visit the hospitals only once in a month, to draw salary and mark their presence in the attendance register.

Inquiries made by this correspondent have revealed that the medical officer posted at the dispensary in Jaurkian village of the district reportedly absents himself from duty regularly and comes only once a month to collect his salary and updates hospital records. A dental surgeon posted at a local hospital allegedly encourages patients to visit his house for getting treatment.

Mr Shiv Charan Dass Suchan, senior CPI leader and former municipal councillor, has urged the government that if it cannot stop the doctors from doing private practice, it should immediately stop the payment of NPA.

Dr S.S. Sharma, who has recently joined as Civil Surgeon, Mansa, said he had inspected the dispensaries in the interiors of the district and had found that a majority of doctors were absent. He said he had let them off after giving a warning and ordered them to maintain daily reports about the work being done by them.


Villagers hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Chhat Bir (Patiala), April 7
A number of Bahujan Samaj Party activists, who were on their way from Anandgarh Sahib to Damdama Sahib, joined a dharna staged by the residents of Chhat village along the Zoo Road against the removal of dung heaps by the panchayat. The panchayat had removed these heaps on February 18.

Sources said panchayat authorities had cleared the site adjacent to the village cremation ground where some of the villagers used to dump the dung for the past over 40 years.

The panchayat had removed the heaps with the help of police after taking permission from the local administration. Majority of the agitators had agreed for the clearance of the site at that time.

The issue took this turn when some politicians interfered and termed the operation as highhandedness by Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance and Planing Minister of Punjab.

The agitators raised anti-government slogans and criticised the Punjab Chief Minister for his policies towards the scheduled castes and the minority community.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Man Singh Mankhera, In charge of Ropar unit of BSP, alleged that the government was victimising the down-trodden and people of the minority community.

Sources said the villagers had reportedly encroached upon over two and a half acres of joint village land.

Those who spoke included Ms Surinder Kaur, Punjab president of BSP, Mr Gurbachan Singh, Patiala in charge of BSP and Mr Bakhshi Ram Kurli, president of BSP Banur unit.

To avoid untoward incident, the authorities had made elaborated arrangements. Over 75 police personnel and one water cannon were kept ready.


Need for youth to check MNCs’ march
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 7
On the second day of all-India conference of the All-India Federation of Democratic Youth (AIFDY) here today, delegates of the conference held discussions on the draft programme and constitution of the AIFDY.

Mr Kiranjit Singh Sekhon, convener of the coordination committee of the AIFDY, presented a report at the conference on international and national situation and role of the youth in progressive movements in India.

Various speakers, who took part in the discussions in the morning session of the conference today, expressed their views over the draft programme and the constitution of the AIFDY. Almost all speakers stressed upon the need to give a new direction to the youth movement in the country to check the dangers of multi-national companies (MNCs) and evil effects of the WTO over the Indian economy, especially on the farming sector.

A former youth leader, Mr Kuldip Singh, hoisted the flag of the AIFDY amid the raising of slogans last evening while delegates placed the flowers on the martyrs memorial.


Diagnostic lab for animals to be set up
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 7
A regional diagnostic laboratory, which will provide diagnostic facilities to the livestock of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi, will be set up at Jalandhar at a cost of Rs 19 crore.

This was stated by Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, Minister for Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Dairy Development, while presiding over the inaugural function of the Civil Veterinary dispensary at Mansoolpur village in Mukerian subdivision last evening.

Keeping in view the threat from foot and mouth disease (FMD) to the livestock of Punjab, the Department of Animal Husbandry has arranged FMD vaccine worth Rs 1 crore and an additional amount of Rs 1 crore has been sanctioned to purchase required vaccine in advance, Dr Rattan Singh, said.

Mr Arunesh Shaker, MLA, highlighted the development works in the state and announced that the construction work on Rs 24.6-crore project to construct a bridge over the Beas river at Naushera Pattan would start next month.

Dr Harinderjit Singh Sandha, Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry, and Mr Hardev Singh Kothe Jattan, Chairman, Milk Plant, Hoshiarpur, also spoke.


IMA to organise seminars on mental health
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 7
The Punjab unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has exhorted the medical fraternity to devote this year to mentally ill persons. It has also appealed to the Punjab Government to consider mental health services an integral part of the health care system.

The association has also asked the government to create a post of psychiatrist at subdivision level so that persons suffering from mental illnesses could get proper treatment.

Dr Surinder Singla, secretary of the Press and Public Relations of the association, said here on Friday the IMA would organise seminar for doctors during this year to update their knowledge on mental health. First seminar of this kind would be organised on May 5 here under the presidentship of Dr O.P.S. Kande, president of the association.


Fodder scam: panel for official’s removal
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 7
While welcoming the Animal Husbandry Minister’s order to probe the alleged fodder scam, the Punjab Animal Husbandry Services Association a representative body of feed and fodder development staff in the department, observed that a fair and free probe could not be conducted unless the accused, a high official, was removed from office.

They demanded that either the official be sent on leave, otherwise records could be tampered with.

The association alleged that it had come to their notice that the official concerned was pressurising the lower level officials to make payment of the remaining unsold seed with an aim to ‘whitewash’ the inquiry.


25 operations performed at eye camp
Our Correspondent

Lalru, April 7
As many as 25 persons were operated upon at the 6th annual 4-day free eye operation camp organised by the Baba Prithvi Singh Azad Memorial Civil Hospital here today.

According to Dr Daler Singh Multani, SMO, 350 outdoor patients were examined and 90 of them were given spectacles and 25 were operated upon at the camp.

He said certificates of merit were also given to different youth clubs for spreading health awareness messages in rural parts of the subdivision.

On the concluding day today an Akhand Path was organised and langar was also served among the sangat.

Dr Multani said a free ambulance service will also be introduced soon as donors from the area had donated the required money for it. 


Mann assails ban on militant groups
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 7
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, Akali Dal (Amritsar), on Friday assailed the British Government for banning the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) and the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) without issuing them any show-cause notice.

Mr Mann said here: “England is the mother of the law and we in India also follow Anglo-Saxon laws. According to this law, nobody will be termed guilty unless law declares him a convict. No show-cause notice was served on these organisations and the ban imposed on them is illegal”.


Halt of key trains sought at Phagwara
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 7
The Railway Travellers Welfare Association, Phagwara, today sent a representation to the Union Railway Minister demanding that certain important trains should halt at the local railway station.

Mr Prabhu Sharan, a spokesman for the association, demanded that the Shatabdi Express, the Sachkhand Express, the Malwa Express, the Amar Express, the Lohit Express and the Akal Takht Superfast Express should halt here for the convenience of the people of the area.


3-day mourning in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 7
As a mark of respect to Mr Devi Lal, a former Deputy Prime Minister, who died in New Delhi yesterday, the Punjab Government has declared three days of state mourning. The national flag in the districts will be flown at half mast during the period of mourning. An official spokesman said there would be no state entertainment during the period of mourning.

All government offices, including those of boards, corporations and educational institutions in the state, remained closed for the remaining part of the day under the Negotiable Instruments Act.


Muktsar fetches highest revenue from auction
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, April 7
Muktsar district has fetched the maximum revenue from the auction of liquor vends in Faridkot and Ferozepore Divisions.

Officials sources said last year the revenue earned by the state excise authorities from the auction in this district was Rs 27.44 crore. This had gone up to Rs 29.01 crore, showing an increase of Rs 1.57 crore. The percentage of increase was 5.72.

In Bathinda district, the percentage of increase was 1.24, in Mansa 4.09, Ferozepore 4.75 and Faridkot 1.65. Moga this time witnessed a fall in the revenue by 0.81 per cent, according to Capt D.K. Singla, Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner.

He pointed out that average increase in Faridkot Division in the revenue as compared to last year was 2.93 per cent while in Ferozepore Division it was 2 per cent. The average increase in both divisions was 2.5 per cent.


Crime on rise in Punjab
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 7
Even as the ruling politicians have been making claims that peace prevails in the state, the crime is on rise. In the past few years, the situation has become so that after every 45 minutes, a major crime takes place, while after every 14.30 minutes a minor girl crime happens in Punjab.

According to the information supplied to leader of CPI in Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Hardev Arshi, by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, a major crime was taking place after every 57 minutes in 1997 and minor crime was taking place after every 20 minutes when the SAD-BJP alliance came to power in the state in 1997. In the past four years, the reported crime in the state had witnessed unprecedented jump as in 1997 total number of reported crime cases was 35,517 which went up to 48,240 in 2000.

The figures showed that in 23 police districts and General Railway Police, the Khanna and Gurdaspur districts had witnessed a decline in the rate of major crimes while Tarn Taran Nawanshahr, Khanna and Ferozepore police districts had witnessed decline in the rate of minor crimes.

According to sources, in the past four years various VIPs, including the ruling MLAs, jathedars and senior government functionaries had committed crime and in most cases, FIRs against them had been registered only on the directions of Punjab and Haryana High Court. Sources said the police authorities had been failing to keep a strict check on the rising crime since a major section of Punjab Police personnel had been deployed on the security duties on the VVIPs and VIPs. Moreover, the Punjab Police had also been facing acute shortage of road-worthy vehicles.

Mr Arshi pointed out that in most of the cases where the victim belonged to poor section of society, the crime committed against him or her was rarely reported to the police. He added that for making the Punjab Police professional and an efficient force to check the rise in the crime, no political interference should be allowed in their working and they should be asked to follow rule of law.

Sources said in Patiala district, which was considered as one of the most literate districts of Punjab, 1,621 major crimes took place in 2000. The number of major crimes in 1997 in that district was only 611. In Fatehgarh Sahib district where only 69 major crimes took place in 1997, year 2000 witnessed 239 major crimes.

Police sources said in the past two or three years, the state had also started witnessing the trend of “contract killing” involving the members of various mafia dons of Mumbai and Punjab Police personnel. 


Woman dies of burn injuries, in-laws booked
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 7
Mrs Neenu, wife of Deepak Kumar, a resident of Kotkapura, died at the local Government Guru Gobind Singh Medical Hospital on Thursday evening due to serious burn injuries. The police has registered a case under Section 302 against her husband, father-in-law Duli Chand and mother-in-law Chando Devi.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Prem Kumar, brother of the deceased, said his family got a message from Kotkapura that her sister was in serious condition. He rushed to her in-laws house where he found that her sister had got serious burn injuries.

He immediately took her to a private nursing home and later to the local hospital on March 17 where the victim breathed her last. Mr Harbhajan Singh, SP(D) Faridkot, said the police was taking steps to nab the suspects who had absconded. He said the police was checking the dying statement made by the deceased.


Travel agent booked
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 7
The Tanda police has registered a case under Section 420, IPC, against a ‘travel agent’ from Delhi. Shiv Singh and Sadhu Singh, both residents of Rana Gram, Dilraj Singh of Zahura and Baldev Singh of Khurdan had stated in their complaint that Om Parkash Bhalla, a ‘travel agent’ of Delhi, had told them that he sent persons to the USA and Canada. They were told that the Prime Minister was scheduled to visit the USA. Many ministers would accompany him and the agent would manage to send up to 50 persons with them to the USA.

They alleged that the said travel agent took lakhs of rupees from them and did not send them abroad.

On the complaint of Surain Singh, a resident of Sangatpur in Batala, the police has registered a case under Sections 304-B and 341, IPC, against Sukhdev Singh, his brother Ram Tirath, sister Ravi Kant, sister-in-law Binder Kaur and his mother for allegedly poisoning his daughter to death.

Jaswant Kaur was married to Sukhdev Singh six years ago. Her husband lived abroad but was present in his village when she died. Jaswant Kaur could not conceive due to which her-in-laws would often torture her.


Held for singer’s rape
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 7
The Jagraon police has arrested Mukesh for allegedly raping a popular Punjabi singer who is said to have been a friend of his. In her FIR, the singer said she had been living with him for the past two years, and they had been planning to marry.

The singer said Mukesh later refused to marry her and asked her to leave him and on March 27 beat her severely along with some other persons which led to her abortion. She claimed that she was treated in a local nursing home.

On March 7 Mukesh took her to his house in Sidhwan Bet and raped her. He also threatened her to keep quiet and stay away from him. The police has registered a case under Section 366, 376 and 34 of the IPC. A number of other persons who beat her have also been arrested. 


Punjabi varsity convocation held
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 7
The Union Human Resource Development Minister, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi today said stress would be laid on studying WTO rules and patents so that the country could compete with developed nations in the new economic era.

Talking to mediapersons, after the 28th convocation of Punjabi University here, Mr Joshi said Chairs had been established in universities at Pune and Allahabad to study the entire process of procuring and defending patents.

Speaking about the agricultural scenario in Punjab, he said ways and means would have to be found out to ensure goods from the states met international norms. He said agricultural experts would have to play an important role in development of such technology.

Delivering the convocational address and addressing the new graduates at the Convocation, Dr Joshi said, “Whether we want it or not, we are a part of the global set-up now and we have to act in the context of other nations and countries in the world. In business, trade, science, technology, international relations and other matters, we have to recognise the importance of others and we have to enter into treaties to project our interests and our view points”.

Dr Joshi urged the students to take pride in the rich Indian traditions and set a good example for other nations to follow”. Instead of aping the west, we should establish original models” he said. Dr Joshi emphasised that it was the responsibility of the younger generation to make the country a healthy, prosperous, strong and dynamic nation.

In today’s convocation, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, Dr Jasbir Singh Mann from USA and Mr Barjinder Singh, Chief Editor of Daily Ajit, were conferred upon degrees of D.Sc and D. Litt (Honoris Causa) for their contribution to different fields of life. Similarly, Sant Mann Singh of Pehowa and Dr Gurmail Singh Sidhu from USA were awarded the newly instituted Maharaja Ranjit Singh Coronation Bicentenary Awards.

Earlier, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Vice Chancellor, Punjabi University, while welcoming the Chancellor, Lt Gen (Retd) J F R Jacob, the Union Minister, syndics, senators and other distinguished guests, gave details of various achievements of University during the recent past and outlined its future plans. Dr Ahluwalia said that the university had demarcated the Information Technology, business management and religious studies as thrust areas and the university was making all efforts to develop Punjabi language and literature at all levels in India and abroad.

In the convocation today, 35 candidates received their Ph D degrees and another 63 topper candidates received their postgraduate and graduate degrees in various subjects and examinations. A total of 78 candidates were given the university medals. Ms Roopjyot Kaur of the Department of Psychology was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal of Excellence for her achievements in various examinations and for setting a new record in MA in psychology.


PTU: inquiry panel finds irregularities
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, April 7
A four-member inquiry committee set up by the Punjab Government to look into the irregularities committed at the Punjab Technical University (PTU) has found many irregularities. All appointments of Class III and IV employees have been made without conducting any written test, interviews and even without inviting any applications. No government rules were followed. All of these employees were given the verbal appointment orders. No testimonials were checked and all employees were given a fixed retainer of Rs 3000/- per month. All government rules were violated and only those employees who were on deputation were appointed following the rules of the government.

The character verification of the employees by the police was also not got done and the labour Act was violated by making such appointments.

A four-member inquiry committee headed by Mr B.S. Kapoor, Additional Director, Technical Education, Punjab and including Mrs Daljit Kaur Deputy Director, Technical Education, Registrar, Punjab Technical University and Mrs Sharanjit Kaur, Placement Officer of the Technical Education Department was set-up to inquiry into the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor, appointment of the registrar by the Vice-Chancellor, resignations by the Adviser to the Vice-Chancellor and others, recruitment of the staff, agreement over the computer education between Punjab Technical University and Aptech, leakage of the question papers and the attitude of the Vice-Chancellor towards the staff.

The inquiry committee observed that the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor was made for one year by the board of governors (BoG) which was according to the Punjab Technical University Act 1996. Mr A.P. Singh was appointed Registrar of the university for a period of one year by the board of governors but since the term of BoG expired in May 2000, the post of Registrar could not be kept vacant for a long time and there was nothing wrong in the appointment of Mr A.P. Singh.

Dr Naresh Gupta, Adviser to the Vice-Chancellor, left the post on his accord and those who were on deputation had joined back their parent department at their own will. Mr Rakesh Suri, Deputy Registrar who belongs to the IRS, also joined his parent department, on his promotion as Additional Commissioner, Income Tax, as there was no post equivalent to the same. There was no truth in the allegations that some of the staff members were forced to quit the university.

After examining the MoU between Punjab Technical University and the Aptech, it was found to be in order and it would prove beneficial for the students and the university.

The inquiry committee took a serious view that even after the advertisement given in the newspapers for filling up of posts, no action was taken. It was not in the interest of the university to give the fate of the university in the hands of those whose own future was not secure. This was a very serious matter, it observed.

The leakage of the question papers and change in the award lists was also a serious matter and the image of the university had suffered. It was a serious matter that no action had been initiated against those who had been found guilty in the leakage of question papers and change in the award lists. This would further create indiscipline and lead to dishonest means in the university.

The inquiry committee also indicted the examination branch of the university as this was not being done under a specific system and according to rules. This needed radical reforms. The report further pointed out that the relations of the employees in the university had formed a syndicate this should be dismantled.

The inquiry committee exonerated the Vice-Chancellor of the charges levelled against the Vice-Chancellor by the women staff and observed that this was done to malign the Vice-Chancellor and blackmail him. Some of the officials of the university might be behind these back of the allegations against the Vice-Chancellor.

The inquiry committee recommended that the university offices should be shifted from the campus of the REC, Jalandhar, forthwith and shift the same to a secured place. This should be done before the CET 2001 counselling. The board of governors should be reconstituted immediately and a permanent chairman of the board should be appointed.

The examinations of the university should be conducted on the pattern of other universities. With a Controller of Examinations as its head with a Deputy Controller and secrecy department. Regular staff should be posted for the conduct of the examinations of the university. The staff appointed verbally should be replaced as the permanent staff would be accountable in case of any irregularities and punishable under the Punjab Government Rules 1970 conduct rules 1966.

The university should have A B and C employees on the pattern of other universities and they should have identical posts and pay scales.

The inquiry committee recommended action against those who have been found guilty in the leakage of question papers and change in the award lists. A detailed inquiry should be held against the engineering college at Fatehgarh Sahib and others through a separate committee as many more revelations would come up in the same.

Disciplinary action should be taken against the women staff members who made a written complaint against the Vice-Chancellor to the Chief Secretary and other senior officers for violating the discipline of the government.

The state government and the university authorities have started a follow up on the report.


PTU to shift out of REC campus
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 7
Shocked at the paper leakage in the Punjab Technical University (PTU), the Punjab Technical Education Department has decided to shift the university out of its makeshift campus in the Regional Engineering College (REC) here.

The leakage was unearthed by The Tribune two weeks ago. It made the Technical Education Minister, Punjab, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, to constitute a high-level four-member committee to probe leakage of papers and alleged involvement of staff in it. The committee had recommended the sacking of four employees which was done by the university authorities on Thursday and it had advised the university authorities to shift out of the REC premises since it felt that connivance between some students and staff of both the institutions had been major reason behind the instances of paper leakage in the past, which had brought a bad name to the university.

The university has its own huge piece of land on the Kapurthala road where a regular campus would be constructed, but the Technical Education Department and the PTU authorities feel that the process of shifting out of the REC campus should be initiated immediately since no upcoming institution like the PTU could afford to carry a bad name, particularly, if it comes on account of paper leakage.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Garcha said the department and university authorities were busy in a joint exercise to locate a new but temporary campus for the PTU. He said though the officials have seen a number of buildings, but the PTU was trying to get vacant premises of the Advanced Studies Institute on Ladowali road. “Though the building is in bad shape, but we are ready to take over since we won’t hesitate to get it renovated as soon as it is handed over to us,” said Mr Garcha. He said after the inspection of the building, it was found that its renovation could take two to three months. “The university will be shifted out of the REC the moment, we get the new building since we have taken the paper leakage scam very seriously,” said Mr Garcha.

It is interesting, the enquiry committee has also observed that some relatives of employees of the REC were working in the PTU and the needle of suspicion in the leakage points towards them after the investigation. “Actually, violation of rules have taken at every step as far as appointment of employees was concerned. More than one member of a family, had been appointed which led to the formation of a strong syndicate in the university,” said the findings of the committee which submitted its report to the minister on Thursday.


Farmers’ mela disturbs examinees
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 7
A sarpanch mela was organised at Government Rajindra College (GRC) here today, which created a problem for the university students, who were appearing for their final exams. Members of panchayats and other invitees were here to attend the mela, from all over the state in large numbers.

The Modern Kheti Agro Society, Nabha, organised the third Modern Kheti Mahindra Sarpanch Mela, which was cosponsored by Mahindra & Mahindra, Aventis Crop Science, Hindustan Petroleum and the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), at the GRC playground here today and had reportedly paid, Rs 11,000 in the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) Fund, of the college to get the permission from the authorities, to organise the fair.

More than a 1000 students appeared for various examinations in morning and evening sessions, conducted by Punjabi University, Patiala at GRC. Sandeep Gupta, a student of B.Sc. III (NM) who appeared for his final examination of English, lamented that the loudspeakers and generators used by the organisers caused disturbance to the examinees “How one can concentrate on the exam when loud pop music is playing at an arms length.

I wonder who permitted such a fair in the college during final exams, when the sports stadium is free and has got adequate space for such fairs,” he lamented.

Mr Gurpal Singh Bhunder, president, GRC Students Union, demanded, in a written statement, that an inquiry should be held into the episode.

“It is shameful that the authorities compromise the education and future of students for a few rupees,” he lamented. The examiners on duty admitted that the ‘verbal-copying’ increased ‘slightly’ due to ‘noise’ pollution in the college.

The organisers of the fair had sent invitation letters to sarpanches, panches, namberdars, members of the block samiti (both present and former). It was mentioned in the letters that every one would be given a ‘gift’, a lucky coupen, a souvenir and a calendar. It was requested by the organisers that one should bring as many farmer friends to the fair as one could.

The organisers asked the invitees to bring their identity (ID) cards with them so that lucky coupens may be given to them, which would entitle them to participate in the lucky draw, with a first prize of a tractor.

When the invitees reached the organisers to get their lucky coupens, they were made to deposit their identity cards with them. More then 12 invitees, who had deposited their ID cards with the organisers, alleged that their ID cards were misplaced.

Major Singh Hardo Frala village, Jalandhar, alleged that the organisers treated them poorly. “It has become shameful for us to attend the function,” he lamented. Many invitees expressed the same views about the fair.

Although the organisers had made elaborate arrangements for the entertainment of the guests by inviting various artistes, including Bhagwant Mann, but the poor show put by the organisers dampened the spirit of people.

Mr B.S. Bir, chairman of the society, admitted that some mismanagement was there to control the mob. The ID cards have been kept at a secure place and would be mailed to the holders, he maintained. The function had been organised with the permission of the Deputy Commissioner, he claimed.

Mr Jaspal Singh, Deputy Commissioner, who was present at the function throughout the day, did not answered the phone calls despite repeated efforts.


Six students pay for college’s lapse
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 7
Educational career of six students of National College, Bhikhi is in jeopardy due to the failure of college to send their admission fee to the Punjabi University, Patiala. Enquiries reveal that Rajiv Kumar, Jatinder Singh of BA part (I), Rakesh Arora, Jagtar Singh BA (II) and Sukhjit Singh and Jagjit Singh of BA (III) students submitted their admission forms and fees in the college office on December 26, last year. They have not received their roll numbers till.

When they tried to find now why their roll numbers had not been received, they were surprised to learn that the fees paid by them had not been submitted to the university and their admission forms were not sent to the university.

Mr R.S. Tiwana, Principal of the college said that he had recommended action against the concerned clerk to the college management.


Minister lays stone for school
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 7
The government in Punjab has been paying special attention to the primary education in the state.

Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Minister for Science and Technology, Punjab while laying the foundation stone for the Akatar Singh memorial government primary school at Kili Nihal Singhwala village in the district today said the villagers should send their children to school. He also appreciated the efforts of the residents who had decided to built a school in their locality. He issued a grant of Rs 50,000 for the construction of the building of the school.


Power cuts add to unit owners’ woes
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 7
Frequent and prolonged power cuts here have added to the woes of owners of small scale industrial units of plastic, wire, fibre glass, paints distemper, farm machinery, ayurvedic medicines and readymade garments in the local Industrial Focal Point, already sick and almost a ‘non-existent’ due to apathy of the government. The Industrial focal Point, established in 1978 and spread over 55 acres, is yet hum with industrial activity as incentives promised by the government since 1978 are still elusive. Some owners, running industrial units in the focal point here despite odds, are finding on the verge of collapse.

Mr Joginder Pal, general secretary and Mr Subhash Chander Nayyar, treasurer, respectively of the local Industrial Focal Point Association, said here yesterday that the frequent and un-announced long power cuts and power failures etc had hit industrial production. Industrial production due to shortage or power has fallen to 50 per cent and cost of production increased to considerable extent as the owners have to meet labour’s cost and interest on bank loans. 

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