Tuesday, May 8, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Unity issue dominates Cong meeting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 7
Realising that a disunited Congress will not be able to end SAD-BJP rule in the state, the party’s top leaders have started closing ranks in the state. This was evident at today’s meeting of office-bearers of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), its former heads, MLAs, MPs and other senior leaders.

Though the meeting was convened to discuss the launching of the second phase of the agitation to seek the removal of the BJP-led government at the Centre in the wake of the Tehelka revelations, the unity issue dominated the proceedings. All leaders, including Mr Santokh Singh Randhawa, a former chief of the PPCC, called for unity among the top leaders. Giving a word of advice to Capt Amarinder Singh, he told him to become a “fakir“ from a “raja”, if he wanted to win the Assembly elections.

Addressing the meeting, Capt Amarinder Singh claimed that there was complete unity among the party leaders. Only a section of the print media was writing about division in the ranks of the party, he added. Mr Parkash Singh Badal was the brain behind the publishing of stories of disunity among the Congress leaders as these suited him politically. Cautioning the Congress activists, he said they should not believe such reports. Except for a few MLAs and a former Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, all other senior leaders were present at the meeting. Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, who has been projected as a candidate for the presidentship of the PPCC by certain Congress leaders, was also present. He called for giving due importance to issues pertaining to poor sections of society. Mrs Santosh Chowdhary, who had serious differences with Capt Amarinder Singh, was also present on the dais in the meeting hall as well at the press conference.

Explaining the absence of Mrs Bhattal from the meeting, Capt Amarinder Singh said her father-in-law was in a serious condition at the PGI. He said he had talked to Mrs Bhattal on the phone this morning and she had expressed her inability to attend the meeting.

However, it appeared that certain MLAs and Mrs Bhattal deliberately stayed away from the meeting. They have not compromised with Capt Amarinder Singh. Only after the determination of the unity formula, Mrs Bhattal and others may start attending party meetings. For them, the issue of change in the leadership of the PPCC is yet wide open, it is learnt.

The claim of complete unity among the Congress ranks made by Capt Amarinder Singh notwithstanding, a lot of distance needs to be covered by him as well as by those making efforts for rapprochement among the top leaders.

Partly disagreeing with Capt Amarinder Singh’s claim of unity, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar said the process of unity had begun and all top leaders, including Mrs Bhattal, had been contacted by Mr R.L. Bhatia, a senior MP of the party from Amritsar, for sinking differences in the larger interest of the party.

Mr Brar, who has remained a principal opponent of Capt Amarinder Singh in the recent past, said that “our goal is to demolish Mr Badal and this cannot be achieved without unity in the party”. He said he had laid down no condition for unity.

Asked whether the issue of the leadership of the PPCC had been finally settled, Mr Brar said it was up to the party high command to decide the matter. “I am not in a position to comment on it”. Admitting differences on certain issues with Capt Amarinder Singh, he said he never broke party discipline and always supported the state leadership whenever asked to do so.

Among those present on the dais were Mr Santokh Singh Randhawa, Mr Mohinder Singh Gill, Mr Hans Raj Sharma, Mrs Santosh Chowdhary, Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar. Mr Birdevinder Singh, a senior leader of the party, conducted the proceedings.

Earlier, the observers of the party high command, Mr S.L. Valmiki and Capt Ajay Singh Yadav, addressed the meeting. They said that because of the countrywide agitation started by the Congress in wake of the Tehelka revelations, the party had made considerable political gains at the national level. They said the party would give an impressive performance in the elections to the state Assemblies to be held in certain states this week.


Congress against general amnesty
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 7
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee is against the grant of general amnesty to terrorists and other anti-national elements.

The president of the PPCC, Capt Amarinder Singh, said that several Congress leaders laid down their lives to bring about peace in the state. The Congress would never compromise with terrorists. He said it was the then Congress Chief Minister, Mr Beant Singh, who led the campaign against terrorism in the state.

Akali leaders like Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Parkash Singh Badal did not utter a single word against terrorists then. In fact, they treated them like heroes and attended their bhog ceremonies.

Talking about the Zaffarwal issue, Capt Amarinder Singh said he should face the law of the land. He should not be treated like a hero, he said.


Probe indicts Punjabi University VC
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 7
Mr Mohan Lal, Minister for Higher Education, while talking to newspersons at Pathankot said today that the enquiry report submitted by the Secretary for Higher Education against Mr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala, has indicted him on many counts. The report is being processed by the department and will be shortly forwarded to the Chief Minister for action.

The enquiry was ordered by Mr Mohan Lal because Punjabi University’s Teachers Association had complained against various irregularities commited by the Vice-Chancellor, including appointments in the university, and a controversy were raised involving the Vice-Chancellor and the minister regarding the enquiry against the former.

The Minister for Higher Education said pension and gratuity to the employees of 153 government-aided colleges would be released soon. As many as 122 of the 153 college managements have contributions towards the corpus fund being raised by the government through contributed by the teachers of aided colleges through their provident fund.

The managements of 33 colleges, which had not come forward for contribution to the fund, had been instructed to do so within a fortnight, otherwise the government would hold back their grants, he said.

Mr Mohan Lal said the ITI building at Nainekot have been taken over by the Ministry of Higher Education and the Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University has been directed him to start a regional centre of the university on the premises. The professional courses, which had not been started by the university at the regional centre of the university at Gurdaspur would be started at the regional centre of the university at Nainekot, which would be opened shortly.

Mr Mohan Lal said the state government had decided not to start new arts colleges in the state. The government had also decided not to give recognition to the colleges started in the private sector.

When the minister was asked if the government was considering to regularise adhoc lecturers, he said the government colleges had 600 ad hoc lecturers in government colleges and it was economically unviable to regularise all of them. The adhoc employees, which earlier used to work for eight months, would continue to get their salaries round the year.

Regarding the menace of tuition Mr Mohan Lal said that the Punjab Government was keen on ending the menace.


AIDS data belies government claim
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, May 7
According to the recently released figures by the Punjab Health Department there are no AIDS patients and just five HIV positive cases in Ropar district. It has been claimed that the district has the distinction of being AIDS free. However, the data collected by this correspondent from various doctors, private and government hospitals presents a different picture of the AIDS or HIV positive cases in the district.

Dr Parmar, who runs his private hospital in Ropar told this correspondent that he had referred five HIV positive cases for confirmation to the PGI. Dr Parmar, who has the TRI-DOT equipment for detecting the HIV positive cases in his hospital, said atleast one of the five patients referred to the PGI reported back to him that he had been confirmed as an AIDS patient.

Sources at the local Civil Hospital said they had found two reactive blood samples which were supposed to be HIV positive. The two patients were requested to go to the PGI for confirmatory tests but none reported back at teh hospital.

The primary medical officer of the BBMB Canal Hospital at Nangal, when contacted said six indoor patients had been tested HIV positive by the hospital authorities till date.

Dr Vijay Kumar Jaswal, who runs his private hospital at Nangal ridicules the data of the Health authorities regarding Ropar district saying he had referred atleast 20 cases who had tested positive on the TRI-DOT method, to the PGI for confirmatory tests.

Dr Jaswal, who was more forthcoming on the issue said in the last month only two children had tested HIV positive from a local area. In one of the cases the parents knew that they were HIV positive but they went ahead and had a child who turned out to be positive.

Dr Sharma, who runs his clinical laboratory at Nangal said every month one or two patients tested positive.

The variance in the data collected by the Health authorities and that provided by the above said sources can be attributed to the fact that due to the stigma attached with the disease, most of the patients who test HIV positive in the local health institutions hardly go for confirmatory tests.

A senior doctor heading blood bank at a leading hospital of the state speaking on the condition of anonymity said they held blood donation camps in various parts of the state. In the process many of the donors were found to be HIV positive. However, the data regarding them was struck off by the state authorities on the plea that it would result in overlapping and the hospitals of the district concerned should only supply the date regarding the AIDS patients in their area.

Doctors here feel that data regarding the AIDS patients should not only be collected from the government institutions but also from the private hospitals or clinics.


Police averts clash between SAD groups
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 7
The differences between Punjab Jail Minister Ajit Singh Kohar and Welfare Minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur came to the fore today, when Mr Kohar accused the latter of being hand in glove with the Congress to sully the image of the Shiromani Akali Dal by promoting factionalism in the party.

Earlier the president of the district unit of the SAD (Rural), Mr Kohar convened a meeting of circle jathedars and workers at the local Model Town Gurdwara to review arrangements for the SAD rally to be addressed by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on May 19.

The trouble started when Welfare Minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur reached the venue of the meeting along with his supporters, who, according to Mr Kohar, exchanged hot words with him for not inviting them to the meeting. “Mr Phillaur along with the Congress activists acted in a pre-planned move to sabotage the meeting. They raised slogans and indulged in hooliganism in the gurdwara premises, which is deplorable,” Mr Kohar alleged.

The district police swung into action to avert a clash between the two groups and cordoned the gurdwara building.

“The Welfare Minister is hand in glove with the Congress to bring bad repute to the party and I will approach the Punjab Chief Minister to take strict disciplinary action against him. He is solely responsible for promoting factionalism and maligning the image of the party,” Mr Kohar alleged.

Mr Sarwan Singh Phillaur along with his supporters left the meeting venue and hold a parallel meeting at the local Circuit House.

“Mr Kohar, after becoming the district president of the SAD (Rural), has been ignoring most Akali workers and circle jathedars on one pretext or the other. I had already complained to Mr Badal regarding the indifferent attitude of Mr Kohar towards Akali workers. Several dedicated party workers from all over the district are being intentionally ignored, which cannot be tolerated,” Mr Phillaur said. 


Reproducing murals on canvas
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 7
Pained at the apathy of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) in preserving invaluable murals at Baba Atal, Phulan Rani (78) has taken up the challenge to reproduce these on canvas.

Though the SGPC is yet to wake up to the neglect of the ‘treasure trove’, yet the artist goes to the first floor of the 40-metre-high octagonal tower and re-paints the murals and frescoes with dedication, which are in state of decay. Many devotees, gather around Phulan Rani when she brings out 200-year-old paintings from wall on the canvas.

Though the apathy of all concerned had attracted worldwide criticism, yet the SGPC failed to preserve the ‘treasure trove’ in a befitting manner.

W. H. Mcleod, a renowed historian, in his book, ‘Popular Sikh Art’, published by Oxford University Press, New York, a decade ago had highlighted the indifferent attitude of all concerned for having failed to preserve the rich heritage, the Book reads, “the murals in the Baba Atal Rai are a rare treasure, the finest example of popular Sikh art to survive from the late nineteenth century. Unfortunately, they no longer survive in the original form. In 1971-72 the entire area was repainted in bright colours, transforming the original into something deemed preferable by the dominant modern taste. The tragedy involved in this so-called restoration is further aggravated by the fact that the murals were seldom photographed in colour.”

The paintings on walls depict the ‘janamsaakhis’ of Guru Nanak Dev. Various murals depict Guru Nanak Dev with his disciples. Other murals show the Sikh history, Sikh martyrs in different ways. The interior walls of the first floor are adorned with invaluable frescoes. Unfortunately many of them have been obliterated beyond recognition and at present only 42 of these survive (they too are partially damaged).

Unfortunately, the murals which adorned the ground floor of the nine-storey building have been covered with bathroom tiles which led to protests from art lovers like Dr Santokh Singh Sheharyar and Dr Brij Bedi. In the wake of strong protests, the SGPC stopped the kar seva of the ground floor. This resulted in saving a number of murals.

Despite her old age, Phulan Rani, like a crusader took up the cudgels for the protection of the murals. She has brought waterproof papers specially for this purpose from Pune. She said she got the inspiration from Dr Sheharyar to preserve our rich heritage for which even the foreign historians had expressed concern. She said the paintings with special colours on waterproof papers could be preserved for a long period. Talking to this correspondent, Phulan Rani expressed concern over the destruction of murals, basically due to the apathy of the SGPC. Though, the SGPC had announced to make ‘sincere efforts’ to preserve the paintings yet no concrete step was taken. She recalled that there were attractive murals on the front gate of the Baba Atal, which were not visible these days.

It is strange that most of the residents of the city are not aware of this rich heritage.


Royal family may contact UK Embassy
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, May 7
Trying not to betray much enthusiasm about the discovery of the recent treasure of the erstwhile Maharaja of Kapurthala Jagatjit Singh from the Mediterranean Sea by a husband-wife salvage team, the royal family of Kapurthala is contemplating contacting the British Embassy to have more information about the treasure.

The $ 4 million treasure meant for Maharaja Jagatjit Singh’s 300-strong harem was being transported through the Royal Mail Steamer-Britannia which sank in the Mediterranean in 1916 and was found by the deep sea team of Alac and Moya Crawford recently. But what has created a piquant situation is the million dollar question as to who will get the royal property — the Kapurthala royal family, the Indian Government or some British insurance company, particularly in case the maharaja had got his treasure insured.

London-based eminent lawyer Bhaskar Ghorpade has already observed,” If no claim comes from India, either the finders will keep it or the crown can take it,” while adding, “The obvious claim to the property will be that of the maharaja’s successors.”

Though Brig Sukhjit Singh, the successor of Maharaja Jagatjit Singh, was not available, inquiries with the Kapurthala royal family revealed the family was not aware about the exact status of the treasure or whether it had an insurance cover or not.

The sources close to the royal family, which is contemplating digging out its records pertaining to the insurance cover of the treasure, were not ready to believe that a visionary person like Maharaja Jagatjit Singh would send his fabulous treasure without getting it duly insured, particularly during the war days of 1916.

“It is unimaginable. Moreover, as far as I know the present maharaja (successor of Maharaja Jagatjit Singh) has never said that he will have nothing to do with the treasure. Why should we say anything to that effect?”, questioned one of the sources close to the royal family.

Actually, I know as much about the treasure as you know. However, we are going to find documents in our records and at the same time we are contemplating establishing contact with the British Embassy since we think that we should not take up the case directly with any individual, even if it comes to any insurance company. It is for the maharaja’s successor to take the final decision,” he said expressing his reservations about being quoted.


Drought forces Rajasthan to seek Punjab’s help
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 7
Drought-like conditions prevailing in Rajasthan have forced the state government to seek help from Punjab to get fodder for the cattle.

Out of 32 districts of Rajasthan 31 have been affected by drought. The severity of the drought can be gauged from the fact that more than three crore residents and an equal number of cattle have been affected. A large number of people have disowned their cattle just because they can’t see them dying.

Sources said the administrations of various districts from Rajasthan had approached the Punjab government to seek help. Barmar district administration approached the Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda for help.

The district administration has banned the burning of wheat husk and asked the farmers to store it as it might be required in the drought-hit states.

Mr Jaspal Singh, Deputy Commissioner, when contacted said the officials from Barmer had sought his help in getting fodder. “We have assured them that fodder will be given to them fee of cost and even loading will be done free. But they have been asked to arrange for transportation. The possibility of rail transport is being considered and the first consignment of fodder and wheat husk will be despatched in next few days”, he confirmed.


Mir Nasir Ahmed’s tomb found
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

The Kapurthala district administration has stumbled upon the beautiful tomb of Mir Nasir Ahmed, a descendant of the legendary musician Mian Tansen who was imprisoned by the British along with the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, after the 1857 mutiny.

Mir Ahmed inherited the musical tradition of the famed Senia-Beenkar gharana through his grandfather, Himmat Khan. Historical records indicate that Mir Ahmed was at the court of Bahadur Shah Zafar when he and his senior courtiers were being identified by British officials for being sent to prison or into exile after the 1857 mutiny. The British mistook him to be a nobleman from the way he was wearing a ‘‘dastaar’’.

However, he was saved at the last moment by the timely intervention of Kanwar Bikrama Singh, an ancestor of the Kapurthala royal family who had good relations with the British. He gave a personal guarantee for Mir Ahmed and told the British that he was not a nobleman but a musician. Later, Kanwar Bikrama Singh brought him to Kapurthala, where he was said to have stayed for the rest of his life.

Although historical records mention that Mir Ahmed’s tomb was in Kapurthala, it had not been located so far for lack of efforts on the part of successive governments.

Mr V.K. Singh, Deputy Commissioner, the man behind the identification of the tomb, said he got a clue during one of his meetings with the former Maharaja of Kapurthala, Brig Sukhjit Singh. ‘‘Thereafter, we started making efforts and recently stumbled upon this Mughal-style building with small brickwork. Till now people had thought that this building, in the heart of the city, was an abandoned mosque’’, he said.

The structure is in bad shape.

Mr V.K. Singh said he had contacted the Central Waqf Council and the Punjab Waqf Board. These bodies had agreed to ensure proper conservation of the building. ‘‘In fact, Sahibzada Akhlaq Ahmed Khan, CEO of the Punjab Waqf Board, has already inspected the structure and has assured full help to us,’’ he added.


PHRC steps in where state fails
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 7
The state of Punjab and the Police Department, having allegedly failed to protect a witness of tree-smuggling in Ropar, Mr Mohinder Singh, the Punjab Human Rights Commission has stepped in for his protection.

The complainant, a resident of Ropar, belonging to the Harijan caste, was threatened by the mafia who attempted to kill him and threatened to implicate him in the cases.

Allowing the complaint moved by Mr Mohinder Singh, the Punjab Human Rights Commission today issued a notice to the State of Punjab through its Home Secretary for July 19 for reply.

However, earlier the complainant had sent a letter to the SSP Ropar, the Chief Minister of Punjab and the Deputy Commissioner, fearing his implication in false cases and threat to his life from persons involved in the smuggling of Khair trees. But the complainant failed to get any justice. After this he filed a complainant with the PHRC

The complaint states that Mr Mohinder Singh was a poor daily wage labourer, cultivating the land of other in Paharpur village, district Ropar, where a majority of the villagers are Gujjars.

There is more than 4 km of forest land in Paharpur village and thousands of Khair trees have been grown there. Since the forest land is declared a prohibited area, he alleged that smugglers of the area had been illegally cutting and selling Khair trees from forest land. The police had earlier booked many persons for illegal trade of Khair trees in the village on March 22 on the information supplied by the complainant.

It was stated that the two forest guards, Malkit Singh and Balbir Singh, posted at duty in Paharpur area, are also involved in the illegal sale of Khair trees in connivance with the local police.

On February 6, guards Malkit Singh and Balbir Singh thrashed the complainant and threatened him that he will be falsely implicated in the cases of illegal cutting of the trees if he failed to keep his mouth shut. They also demanded a sum of Rs 11, 000 for letting him off.

The complainant alleged that as he came to know about the number of persons involved in the illegal trade. That is why he was being harassed and targeted by number of persons, including the local police.

In service of mankind
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 7
The Goodwill Society, a local social organisation, has been serving society since 1980 by holding blood donation, vaccination and medical check-up camps. It is also running a charitable hospital and a school in Paras Ram Nagar of the city.

The society was established with only 10 members but the effort proved successful in the long run. In 1983 the society started a small dispensary in the house of Mr Ajmer Singh Mann, a resident of the city.

Although the step was welcomed by all, but the chief guest on the occasion, Mr Jai Singh Gill, the then Deputy Commissioner, suggested to the members of the society to construct their own building.

Mr Gill gave land in Paras Ram Nagar for the purpose and a small dispensary was built there with monetary help from the people. The dispensary has now developed into a maternity and a nursing home and caters to the needs of the residents of the Paras Ram Nagar.

The society holds blood donation camps from time to time. The president of the society, Mr Vijay Bareja, has donated blood 53 times setting an example for others. He said the society had volunteers who were always ready to donate blood in case of any emergency.

The society is playing a good role in the field of education. It runs a high school in the city for poor children.

It recently organised a heart check-up camp in the city. As many as 435 heart patients were examined at the camp. The camp was the first of its kind in the city. Various tests on patients were done free of cost.

People have been generously donating money to the society. Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura, MP, has given Rs 1.5 lakh to the society and has assured to donate an ambulance so that it could work more efficiently for the welfare of the people.

With the donations given by the people, the society has constructed six rooms this year in the school run by it. The addition of these rooms will cater to the needs of the students who come in large numbers to get admission in the school because of good facilities.

Recently the society organised a blood donation camp in which 192 persons donated blood. It has also organised three polio vaccination camps and one eye check-up camp in the city.



Doing his bit for native village
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib
Dr Daljeet Singh Rana, a UK-based Indian from Sanghol village in the district, has adopted the village for all-round development. He also intends to set up an ideal educational institute for children of the area.

Dr Rana,who plans to make Sanghol a model village, said he wanted to set an example so that other NRIs, too, would spend a part of their resources for the welfare of the needy in their native places.

He called upon residents of the rural areas to stop quarrelling over trifles and instead engage wholeheartedly in constructive work. He said the guiding force behind his project was Mr Arun Bhatnagar, Secretary, Rural Development, Government of India. He had also met Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, who encouraged him in his efforts and assured all help in his venture.

The Chief Minister offered government grants for the development work to be undertaken by him in the village. He had set up Mrs Jawala Devi Memorial Trust to take up the projects initially by donating $1 million. Mr Bhatnagar said his department had sanctioned special self-employment generating projects for the state.

He urged all NRIs to follow the example of Dr Rana. Mr J.S. Kesar, Financial Commissioner, Rural Development, Punjab, said that at the meeting with the Chief Minister, Dr Rana gave a detailed account of his projects. He said Mr Badal had given instructions to set up a special cell and appoint an officer in Delhi to liaise between the Government of India and NRIs. He said all Punjabi NRIs who took up such development work would be honoured.

Mr Vikas Partap. Deputy Commissioner, said the district administration had given 10 acres of panchayat land to the trust on which, initially, Dr Rana would build a technical institute with modern facilities. Later, it would be developed into a multi-disciplinary institution. Work on providing civic amenities would be initiated by the trust with the help of the government.


Revised rail agreement
Our Correspondent

Attari (Amritsar) May 7
Under the new rail agreement, the Indian rake consisting of 15 bogies pulled by a Pakistani engine left the station at 2.40 p.m. for Lahore. It will return tomorrow after a night break at Lahore.

As per the bilateral agreement, Pakistan and the Indian Railways provide rakes for carrying passengers and goods for six months each, respectively. Under the new arrangement and for the comfort of passengers, the Indian rake carried the passengers to Pakistan today and, on its return journey tomorrow, it will bring passengers to India.

According to Indian Rail officials, new arrangements have been finalised to spare hardship in clearing the people going to Pakistan and those coming from Pakistan.

The meeting fixed for tomorrow between Indian and Pakistani Rail officials has been postponed and a new date for the meeting will be decided later. The meeting is intended to sort out issues for the smooth running of the Samjhauta Express. Last year the only train service between India and Pakistan came under a cloud in view of the large-scale smuggling of fake currency, arms and other contrabands. 


Ayurvedic doctors ‘paid less’
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 7
Ayurvedic doctors are being given a “stepmotherly” treatment by the Punjab Government. Though the Central and other state governments have given the ayurvedic doctors the same pay scales as allopathic doctors, in Punjab, they are paid lesser.

In Punjab, an ayurvedic doctor is given the starting pay-scale of Rs 7220 to Rs 13500 as compared to the Rs 8000 to Rs 13500 of the allopaths. The allopathic doctors are also given the non practising allowance (NPA), which is 25 per cent of their basic pay, whereas the ayurvedic doctors, most of whom are posted in the rural areas, are denied this allowance.

Mrs Suman Sharma, patron of the Punjab Ayurvedic Medical Services Association, claimed this while talking to this correspondent last evening at Ban Majra village near Ropar. She was there to attend the free ayurvedic medical chack-up camp organised by Sant Ajit Singh.

Mrs Sharma informed that there are 560 ayurvedic dispensaries and six ayurvedic swasth kendras in the state. However, most of them are ill-equipped. The Punjab Government has sanctioned a budget of just Rs 800 per annum for medicines in each ayurvedic dispensary. So, most of the patients cannot be given medicines free of cost. The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, had declared that 50 per cent of total budget on health should be allocated to the alternative medical sciences, particularly the ayurved. She further lamented that the district-level ayurvedic medical officers have neither any vehicle nor telephone. Thus, the administrative control over the field officers is neglected.


Tota Singh’s suggestion to PSEB
Our Correspondent

Moga, May 7
The Punjab Education Minister, Mr Tota Singh, today asked the Punjab State Electricity Board to make immediate arrangement for providing wooden support to wires and tightening the span. A large number of farmers in Punjab had suffered losses of their harvested crop due to sparking from loose wires.

Mr Tota Singh, who was addressing a press conference here, said he had already directed the secretary and other high-ups of the board check sparking.

Earlier, farmers of various villages today blamed the board for the losses suffered by them. They have demanded full compensation for the losses suffered. Mr Tota Singh said in Nihalsinghwala subdivision in Moga there were 23 incidents of fire from sparking and 13 in Baghapurana subdivision in Moga during the past fortnight.


Muslims decide against rally
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 7
At an emergency meeting of the National Muslim Welfare Movement, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh, it was felt that the proposed rally on May 8 was not in the interest of the Muslim community.

It was unanimously decided that a meeting be held with the Chief Executive Officer, Punjab Wakf Board, regarding the “genuine” demands of the community. 


Medical check-up camp by Shiv Sena
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 7
The local unit of the Hindu Shiv Sena held a free medical check-up camp yesterday at Nai Basti locality here.

This was stated in a press note issued here today by Mr Sanjeev Sharma, district president of the party. He said during the camp nearly 350 patients were examined for various ailments and medicines given to the needy persons free of cost.

Mr Sharma further said their party would organise such camps in future as well.

He added that the main motive of the camp, which was held in the locality where most of the residents were poor, was to provide them good health facilities.


Blood donation campaign launched
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 7
“Nukad blood donation campaign” was launched by the United Welfare Society last evening in the city with its first camp being organised in the Dhobiana Basti.

According to a press note issued here today by Mr Vijay Bhatt, president of the society, as many as 19 persons donated blood in the first camp. He said more such camps would be organised in every nook and corner of the city.

Punjabi folk singer Jaspal Jassi performs at the blood donation camp organised by the United Welfare Society of Bathinda. Tribune photo Kulbir Beera


Teenager killed in accident

Jalandhar, May 7
A 16-year-old boy identified as Bikramjit Singh was killed and his relative Mohan Singh injured in a road accident near a CRPF camp near Sai Khash village on the outskirts of the city last night.

The Maruti car in which they were travelling dashed into a tractor-trailer parked on side of the road, the report said. UNI


CM order on wheat
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 7
Showing concern over the glut of procured wheat in mandis, the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today directed the agencies concerned to lift the wheat within a week.

Presiding over a meeting to review the arrangements with regard to the procurement and lifting of wheat, he said 70 per cent of the payment should be made within 24 hours.


Licences of commission agents suspended
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 7
The licences of 13 commission agents have been suspended, while seven other agents have been served with show-cause notices due to irregularities committed by them during the ongoing wheat procurment season.

This was informed by Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, Deputy Commissioner, while addressing a meeting of officers of various agencies engaged in the procurement of wheat at Red Cross Bhavan here today.

He said that the agents had committed irregularities by not covering wheat stocks under tarpaulins, non-use of power cleaners while cleaning wheat and not affixing the names of their shops and premises on the bags.

Mr Bir added that till May 6, a record 8,25,859 metric tonnes of wheat had been procured in the district corresponding to figures of 8,22,000 metric tonnes during the same period last year. He added that Rs 421 crore had been disbursed to the farmers.

Mr Bir said that due to less arrivals of wheat, 94 purchase centres out of a total of 108 had been closed down and that wheat was still arriving in grain markets of Patiala, Nabha, Patran, Rajpura, Dera Bassi, Samana, Banur and Lalru.

Others present at the meeting were the ADC, Mr Gagandeep Singh, the District Food and Supplies Controller, Mr H.S Mokha, and the District Mandi Officer, Mr Bhajan Singh.


Roadways staff to strike work
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 7
The Punjab Government Transport Workers Union affiliated to (AITUC) will stop the plying of Punjab Roadways buses from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on May 23 in protest against the non-implementation of agreement arrived between the leaders of the union and the Chief Minister on August 9, last year.

Mr Balwinder Singh Sandhu, president, of the union said this while addressing a press conference here yesterday. He said instead of increasing and maintaining the existing fleet of 2407 buses, the state government had withdrawn 150 buses. It had resulted in heavy losses to the roadways, he said.

He said the Chief Minister had agreed to replace 1000 buses but no replacements had been made so far. He added that 20 per cent of the driving and 25 per cent of the workshop staff had retired, and new recruitment had been made.


PSEB staff to intensify stir
Our Correspondent

Barnala, May 7
The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), comprising PSEB Employees Federation, Technical Services Union, J.E. Council PSEB, and ministerial Staff Clerical Union, has decided to intensify its stir by staging a protest march here on May 14 and organising rallies at PSEB’s Tapa, Barnala, Bhadaur and Shehna subdivisions on May 7, 8, 10 and 11, respectively.

This decision was taken on May 4 to impress upon the PSEB management to revoke the victimisation of 12 employees of Shehna. Mr Harjinder Singh, J.E., Mr Darshan Singh and Mr Amarjit Singh (Linemen) were placed under suspension whereas nine other employee transferred out of zone on administrative grounds by the management during the inauguration of the 24-hour power supply to Tallewal village by Mr Malkit Singh Keetu, MLA, on April 7.

Disclosing this to The Tribune here, Mr Shinder Dhaula, convener, said apart from staging a protest march here, the JAC would also burn the effigies of Mr Keetu, Mr Baldev Maan, administrative member of the PSEB, and Executive Engineer (suburban).

Mr Dhaula and Mr Mela Singh, president of the Employees Federation, PSEB, Barnala division, alleged that Mr Keetu and Mr Maan made PSEB employees scapegoats for settling their political scores. These leaders also blamed the Xen PSEB suburan here and S.D.O., Shehna.


34 arrested for various crimes
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 7
The district police has arrested Kuldeep Singh, resident of Rampura Phul in the district, for allegedly selling medicines which were used by youths as intoxicants, at a price higher than the printed maximum retail price.

Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP, said in a press note issued here today Kuldeep Singh was running a chemist shop under the name of Kaler Medical Store at Rampura. He said although he had a licence for selling medicines but he sold these without prescription.

A case had been registered against him at the Rampura police station under Sections 420 of the IPC and 15 of the Medical Act.

The police had registered 18 cases under the Excise Act and arrested 18 persons in this connection. Two illegal distilleries 320 kg of lahan and 87 litres of illicit liquor were also seized.

Those arrested had been identified as Makhan Singh of Kothaguru, Sukhdev Singh and Bittu Singh of Tungwali, Joginder Singh of Ballianwali, Balwant Singh, Jasveer Singh and Khazan Singh of Bir Talab, Satpal Singh of Kararwala, Jagga Singh of Natheha, Jagsir Singh of Sirawala, Pawan Kumar of Jaga Ram Tirth, Dev Singh of Kanger, Sarban Singh of Kaureana, Makhan Singh of Ramsera, Harnam Singh, Darshan Singh, Kartar Singh and Aiya Ram all from Bathinda.

Meanwhile, 14 persons had been arrested and cases registered for satta and Rs 3,417 seized from them.

Those arrested are Makhan Lal and Bhupinder Singh of Rampura, Sukhminder Singh of Bhagbander, Sukhdev Singh of Ablu, Tarsem Chand of Mehraj Patii Kala, Brij Lal of Talwandi Sabo, Sanjeev Kumar, Lala Ram, Sohan Lal, Sukhdev Singh and Khraiti Ram, all of Raman Mandi, Tek Chand and Kailash Chand of Maur Mandi and Subhash Kumar of Rampur.

The police had also registered two cases under the NDPS Act and seized 32 kg of poppy husk. Cases had been registered in this regard at the Sangat and Raman police stations.


2 held for thefts
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 7
The police has arrested Surjit Singh alias Laddi and Sukhjit Singh, alias Kaka both residents of Anandpur Road near Pathankot, for their involvement in various cases of theft. Mr Sukhdev Singh SSP, said that a stolen Maruti car, a motor cycle, a TV, a VCR, a walkman and gold ear rings were recovered from their possession.


College may not get MCI nod on seats
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, May 7
The matter regarding the increase in the number of seats to 100 from the existing 50 at the local Guru Gobind Singh Medical College (GGSMC), which has been handing fire since 1997, is likely to get delayed further as the college is not equipped with the necessary facilities to get the nod of the Medical Council of India (MCI) for the same.

Official sources said though the local medical college authorities had applied to the MCI for getting sanction for increasing the seats in 1997, the college authorities had failed to get adequate funds to construct new buildings which was mandatory as per the guidelines laid down by the MCI for increasing the seats.

The college authorities was hoping to generate about Rs 3 crore from the non-resident Indian (NRI) students after increasing the seats. However, the non-availability of adequate funds ruined their plans.

The sources added that though the state government had been earmarking crores of rupees every years since 1999, for creating more infrastructure on the college campus to make it fit for getting the MCI sanction to admit 100 students, no money was being released.

The college authorities also did not get the money which had been earmarked for carrying out the repairs of various wings of the hospital associated with the college. Few lakhs were spent on setting up additional laboratories on the college campus.

The sources pointed out that a few years ago, the state government in its efforts to overcome the financial crisis being faced by the medical college, started exploring the possibilities of extending autonomy to its three medical colleges in the state.

The financial position of the medical colleges is so bad that all employees may not get the salaries.

Dr T.L. Parmar, Principal, GGSMC, when contacted, said the building of the OPD complex was yet to be completed. He added that for 100 seats the college needed additional infrastructure.

When asked whether the college was fully equipped to satisfy the team of the MCI, which would visit it shortly for the inspection of facilities, he added that except one or two vacancies, there was sufficient staff and other facilities for 50 students in the college.

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