Friday, August 10, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Fulfil 4 promises, BJP tells SAD
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
Exuding confidence, the Punjab unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hopes to fulfil four of its major pre-poll promises, including the abolition of octroi, well in time for the coming assembly elections in the state.

Sources reveal that the BJP leadership has been impressing upon its senior alliance partner, the Shiromani Akali Dal, that any further delay in conceding these demands will affect the prospects of the alliance in urban areas in the elections.

The BJP leadership appears to have extracted an assurance from the state government that octroi will be abolished. Delay, if any, was because of the finalisation of an alternative source of revenue to compensate the civic bodies in the state.

The state government has been in a dilemma over an alternative source of revenue to make up for the losses on account of the abolition of octroi.

BJP leaders, including Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, Mr Balramji Das Tandon, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal and Mr Avinash Jaiswal, have been holding meetings with the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, regularly to get at least four of the pre-poll promises conceded by the government.

The BJP has been demanding the abolition of octroi, withdrawal of the hike in the power tariff for the domestic sector as well as the small-scale industrial sector, pension and gratuity for government-aided private college lecturers and free power supply to the Scheduled Castes (Dalits).

The government, the BJP sources maintain, has been studying certain options to compensate the civic bodies. These are the levying of an entry fee on the pattern of some states, including Himachal Pradesh and the levying of additional excise duty on liquor or a surcharge on petroleum products to generate Rs 400 crore annually so that the working of the civic bodies is not paralysed.

The state unit is making no compromises to get the four demands conceded. Sources reveal that pressure is also being mounted on the Punjab Chief Minister from the central leadership of the party.

Meanwhile, the Punjab unit of the BJP has decided to step up its electioneering by organising major rallies in its strongholds, including Ferozepore, Jalandhar and Pathankot.

A former Delhi Chief Minister, Mr Sahib Singh Verma; the all-India general secretary, Mr Sangpriya Gautam; and the vice-president of the Kisan Morcha, Mr Harjit Singh Grewal are among the leaders who will address the August 12 party rally to be held at Ferozepore.

These leaders will be joined, among others, by Mr Rinwa, Mr Avinash Jaiswal, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon and Mr Madan Mohan Mittal. On August 15, the unit proposes to organise a major rally in Jalandhar followed by the third one at Pathankot on August 26 where cine star Vinod Khanna, MP from Gurdaspur, will be among the speakers.


Sangat darshan only darshan!
Varinder Singh and J.S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, August 9
Despite the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s announcement during a sangat darshan on May 6, a tubewell would be installed to augment water supply in Madhuban Colony and its adjoining localities, the local municipal corporation has not taken any step in this regard.

The residents of Madhuban Colony, New Raj Nagar, Kabir Vihar and adjoining localities had complained to Mr Badal that there was an acute shortage of drinking water in these localities.

Subsequently, Mr Badal announced a grant of Rs 10 lakh for the installation of a tubewell in Madhuban Colony and the cheque was handed over to the civic body officials.

Mr Badal had instructed the Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation, Dr Roshan Sunkaria, to complete the work within three months. Mr Badal had directed that a detailed information board should be put up on the project site so that residents could know about the project details.

On the completion of the deadline set by Mr Badal, a round to these localities by this correspondent revealed that the civic officials had not started the work on the proposed tubewell.

Not only the residents, the City Mayor, Mr Suresh Sehgal, criticised the commissioner for ignoring the orders of the Chief Minister. “Dr Sunkaria is instrumental in bringing bad name to the SAD-BJP Government by pursuing anti-people policies. I will raise the matter with Mr Badal and the Local Bodies Minister, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, and will seek his transfer to a non-public dealing post to save the ruling alliance from further embarrassment,” Mr Sehgal said.

Mr Badal had recently ordered all deputy commissioners to ensure that all the development projects announced during the sangat darshan programme should be completed within three months and the progress report submitted to the special cell set up at the Chief Minister’s office.

While the Commissioner, Dr Roshan Sunkaria, was not available for comments, Mr A.K. Parbhakar, SE, shifted to buck to the district administration and the Punjab Medical Education Minister, Mr Manoranjan Kalia.

“Infact, we have recently received an amount of Rs 10 lakh for the installation of a tubewell at Madhuban Colony from the district administration since Mr Kalia has taken time to amend the list of projects announced by the Chief Minister. The work on the tubewell project will start within 15 days,” Mr Parbhakar said.

The ADC (Development), Mr Desh Deepak, refuted the allegations that the administration had not released the payment to the civic body in time. “We have released the payment immediately after receiving the project estimate from the corporation. Moreover, I have convened a special meeting to review the progress on the development projects announced by the Chief Minister next week,” he said.

Meanwhile, an impression is gaining ground that the Chief Minister remains inaccessible to the common man even during sangat darshans.

In recent such programmes Mr Badal preferred to distribute cheques or grants to village panchayats and other social organisations and groups than to listen to the complaints of individuals. For common people, it is a daunting task to meet the Chief Minister.

Dayal Singh of Kohar Kalan, was declared elected panch, but has not been allowed to take oath. Despite his best efforts, he was unable to meet Mr Badal in this connection during his sangat darshan at Nakodar on August 5. He was allegedly not allowed to meet the Chief Minister by the policemen on duty. “I was virtually dragged out of the function venue,” he complained. He wondered as to what was the need of organising such functions, if the Chief Minister could not meet common people. “He should invite only those who are to get cheques,” he said.

Similar treatment was meted out to volunteers of Dharat Suhavi, an environment organisation engaged in the cleaning of Bein river. Its secretary Balbir Singh Boparai, said he had duly approached the Nakodar SDM before hand with a request that the volunteers be allowed to meet the Chief Minister. SDM advised us to meet Gurmeet Singh Daduwal, an Akali leader. We wanted to discuss an issue involving people of 20 to 25 villages,” said Mr Boparai.

Mr NP Singh, the state vice-president of the Bahujan Samaj Party, said sangat darshan should be held in the court of people instead of marriage palaces. People should be treated fairly and without any bias on the basis of party affiliations, he added.


Govt in fix over truck overloading issue
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
The Punjab Transport Department is “fighting” on two fronts. First, it has been pressing the state Finance Department to slash its target of tax collection from Rs 380 crore to Rs 338 crore. However, the Finance Department has turned down its plea, saying that it would not reduce the target in any case.

The reason behind asking for a cut in the target is the recent tax benefit of Rs 42 crore extended to bus operators by the Punjab Government by reducing the special road tax. The benefit has been given to private bus operators as well as the government-owned Punjab Roadways and the PRTC. The Transport Department, which last year collected Rs 337 crore, has argued that it will not be in a position to meet its target of Rs 380 crore because of the tax benefit given to the bus operators.

Moreover, the PRTC has turned a big defaulter. Over Rs 100 crore was due as tax against the PRTC. But it is clearing dues in lakhs of rupees only. The PRTC is supposed to deposit about Rs 33 crore per annum at the existing rates of various road taxes to the department but it pays only Rs 3 crore or a little more to the department, according to informed sources.

Interestingly, private bus operators are not happy over the tax benefit given to them. They want a further cut in the special road tax. Earlier, the government had reduced it to Rs 2.90 per km per bus from Rs 3.48 per km. Bus operators say that it should be brought down to Rs 2 per km, per day. However, the authorities concerned in the Transport Department have rejected their plea. The authorities had also opposed the earlier cut but they had to concede the demand as the political executive wanted to “appease” the transport lobby.

Informed sources in the department said that with the earlier tax benefit given to the bus operators, the minimum benefit to them per bus would be Rs 70,000 per annum.

The second front pertains to truckers, who are insisting that they should be allowed to overload their vehicles. A truck with six tyres has an approved capacity of up to 10 tonnes. On July 20, the state government issued a notification allowing “overloading” by levying Rs 150 per tonne as overload charges on trucks registered in Punjab and Rs 300 per tonne on those registered elsewhere. However, this notification was withdrawn on August 2 as the truckers told the government that they were not happy with it. “We want more and what you have given us is very little”, they told the government.

Truckers in Punjab favoured the Haryana pattern in the case of overloading. The Haryana Government has fixed quarterly charges of Rs 1,500 per vehicle to allow overloading. It is said to be a verbal order. No notification has been issued in this connection. Haryana officials have told Punjab officials that they have been charging Rs 1,500 per quarter on the basis of the verbal order of the authorities concerned. For outsiders, the Haryana Government has fixed Rs 150 per tonne as overload charges.

In fact, the overloading of trucks cannot be allowed legally by the state governments. The Motor Vehicle Act is a Central Act and the state governments have no powers to ignore its provisions. However, several states have allowed the overloading of trucks by violating the Act.

In fact, the Union Government has warned the state governments concerned against the blatant violation of the Act, especially pertaining to overloading. Section 194 of the Act clearly says that any vehicle found overloaded should be fined Rs 2,000 in addition to Rs 1,000 for every tonne of load beyond the approved capacity. Truckers should be made to off-load the excess material on the spot. Otherwise, the inspecting authority should get the same off-loaded and the money should be charged from the trucker.


Roundabouts or bottlenecks?
Pushpesh Kumar

Bathinda, August 9
There was a time when the roundabouts were considered good to maintain a smooth flow of traffic and enhanced the beauty of the city but with the passage of time and increase in the number of vehicles on the roads of the city they have become just the opposite.

Most of the roundabouts of the city are either maintained by private parties, who have taken these on a lease or are not maintained at all. Thick growth of weeds and grass can be seen at all roundabouts which are reported to be under the “care” of the municipal authorities.

As the Punjab police authorities are reportedly facing a manpower shortage in the traffic police, controlling the flow of traffic in the city is a herculean task. At most of the roundabouts the people manage to save themselves from accidents with their own efforts. The traffic is controlled at only one point in the city — the main bus stand — where the traffic lights have been installed At all other roads it is the sweet will of the public whether to follow the traffic rules or not.

The situation becomes worse at the roundabouts as to save time people often jump these roundabouts. The roundabouts pose danger as due to increasing volume of traffic the roads have become congested and could not be widened and additionally the roundabouts have “encroached” on the roads.

The roundabouts at the bus stand was demolished a few years ago and traffic lights were installed which gave a sign of relief to the residents but these lights are also non-functional at times. The traffic lights at the bus stand have not yielded the desired results as no similar traffic control points have been installed by the authorities any where in the city.

The municipal authorities remodeled the Mall Road and reduced the width of the road divider, thereby smoothing the flow of traffic. But on the contrary the road dividers on the Bathinda-Goniana road are about four feet wide and the road is covered by about six-inch thick layer of sand on both sides, leading to suspended particles in air and accidents due to two-wheeler skidding.

There are about 13 different roundabouts in the city of which about five are reported to be on lease to different parties of the city. A cross-section of residents while talking to The Tribune said the roundabouts should be done away with to smoothen the flow of traffic.

Mr Darshan Singh Jeeda, president of the state unit of the Samajwadi Janata Party, said the roundabouts were more of a traffic hazard than a facility and they should be removed at the earliest. He said more number of traffic personnel should be deployed and traffic lights installed in place of roundabouts. The authorities should keep in mind the increasing flow of traffic to frame the policies, he added.

Not only the public but even senior officials agree that the roundabouts should be done away with.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, president of the municipal council, said traffic had become smooth after the installation of the traffic lights at the bus stand.

But sometimes the traffic lights leads to trouble as the traffic moves at great speed when the lights turns green, he said. In this situation the roundabouts help as the people are forced to slow down, he said.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said traffic personnel had been deployed in adequate numbers at various points in the city. He agreed the roundabouts had become traffic bottlenecks. A proposal to remove two roundabouts, the one at the Mall Road and the other at the Bathinda-Goniana road junction had been sent to the higher authorities, he said.

Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner, said not all the roundabouts were bottlenecks and if the traffic could be controlled in a better way by removing these roundabouts something would be done in this regard.


Court stays arrest of Chohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 9
A local court today stayed the arrest of Khalistani ideologue Jagjit Singh Chohan till August 18.

Additional Sessions Judge B.S. Mangat today while hearing the anticipatory bail application filed by Dr Chohan stayed his arrest on a complaint filed by local advocate and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee Legal Cell member Jagmohan Singh Saini.

Mr Saini had in his complaint filled under Sections 503, 504, 506, 124 (a), 153 (a) read with sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act of the IPC. He had alleged that Dr Chohan during a Press conference organised after his return to India at Chandigarh had raised the demand for Khalistan. Mr Saini said besides this Dr chohan had also telephoned him in the month of July and confirmed the same. The complainant had alleged that Dr Chohan had also told him that he had come to India specifically for the purpose of realising his demand. The complainant had also claimed that he had approached the court when the Kotwali police to whom he had reported the matter did not register any case against Dr Chohan.


Part-time lecturers’ plea declined
Legal Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 9
Disposing of a bunch of more than 40 writ petitions filed by over 400 petitioners, in a decision with far-reaching consequences, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising Mr Justice Amarbir Singh Gill and Mr Justice Swatantar Kumar today declined the prayer of part-time lecturers working in govt colleges in Punjab for regularisation of jobs, minimum pay scales and continuance in service till appointment of regular incumbents. The court further allowed the state government to fill these posts on an ad hoc basis through the Selection Committee constituted in accordance with the state policy of July 23, 2001.

The petitioners had approached the court for issuance of directions to the state to consider them on a par with regular lecturers and grant them the same benefits in terms of scale of pay regularisation and other allied benefits. The petitioners relied on the principle of equal pay for equal work on the assertion that they were putting in as much work as regular lecturers.

It was also the case of the petitioners that they had been continuing year after year as part-time lecturers and, therefore, their services must be regularised.

Mr Gurminder Singh, Deputy Advocate-General, Punjab, appearing on behalf of the State of Punjab, urged that the appointments of part-time lecturers were purely on a contractual basis and the rights of petitioners were governed by the terms and conditions of the contract. Once the term stipulated in their appointment letter came to an end, they could not claim any right to continue on the post.

He argued that the government had the right to appoint part-time lecturers on contractual basis as a stop-gap measure keeping in view the exigency of the situation and the academic interest of students. The petitioners who were not qualified as per statutory rules could not claim job regularisation or minimum pay scales to which regular lecturers were entitled.

The petitions were disposed of with directions that the government would fill up these posts on an ad hoc basis within 30 days of the pronouncement of the judgement. These appointments would be made through the Selection Committee which would be headed by the DPI (Colleges) or a person of the same rank.

Regular selections to over 500 posts of lecturers would be made by the commission expeditiously at the most within a year.


Medical College in perilous state
Jangveer Singh

The Medical College and Government Rajindra Hospital once used to occupy the pride of place not only in the state but also in the country. Today these are only a shadow of their past glory and an example of what an indifferent government can do to mighty institutions.

Today Government Rajindra Hospital is without basic facilities which are available in most private medical institutions. Its dialysis machine is not working, the radiotherapy department is virtually at a stand-still, even x-ray films are in short supply. Patients have to bring even ordinary items such as cotton, needles and soap. Essential drugs are in perpetual short supply.

If new facilities are not coming to the hospital, the existing infrastructure is not being maintained properly. The hospital has an annual budget of only Rs 60,000 for maintenance of machinery. The result is that important machines such as x-ray, respirators, cardiac monitors and operation theatre equipment remain out of order for long periods.

An attempt was made set things right in the medical colleges and hospitals in Punjab but the experiment has not taken off. The government introduced hospital charges in 1999 with the understanding that the money so generated would be used for the improvement and upkeep of the hospitals. However, this never happened in practice. Money that went to the coffers of the governments, was not made available to the hospitals in the first year. Next year, the government released money at the end of the financial year which made it very difficult for it to be utilised. The Patiala Medical College earned about Rs 3 crore as special fee from Non-Resident Indian students but it has not been able to utilise this amount.

At present, the college and the hospital have been without a whitewash for years. The plaster is falling off, sewer pipes are leaking and the infrastructure is deteriorating.

The alumini of the college have formed an organisation to work for the improvement the institution, in cooperation with those settled abroad. But the government has remained lukewarm to the overtures of this association.


Students of the newly-opened management institutes in Patiala are in a tizzy. They are confused over their status. The All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and Punjabi University are involved in a slanging match on this issue. While the AICTE claims that admissions to certain colleges which have not been approved by it, are illegal, the university has asked the colleges to continue the admission process. A controversy is raging over a local college which has been given affiliation by the Punjab Technical University (PTU) although it is already affiliated with Punjabi University. Things got further complicated when PTU admitted students to this college at its central counselling session, even when the college had admitted students after counselling by Punjabi University. The tangle remains unresolved.


Tree plantation drives are in full swing in Patiala. A number of social organisations have come forward to plant saplings in various public places in the city. These organisations are Helping Hands, Bharat Vikas Parishad, Gayatri Pariwar, Kaintal Junior School, Pheelkhana School and some other voluntary organisations.

Most of the voluntary organisations are putting up tree guards sponsored by certain commercial houses, to ensure that the saplings are protected from stray cattle. Patiala, which is already called a green city because of the presence of Baradari Gardens in the middle of the city, seems set to have more greenery in the near future.


Punish Cong, SAD tells Punjabis
Sushil Goyal and Vinod Seth

Dhadhogal (Dhuri), August 9
Top leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), including Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab Chief Minister, today gave a call to the Punjabis to punish the Congress by defeating it in the ensuing Assembly election in the state, for all those “misleads” which it had committed in the past to “ruin” Punjab and the Punjabis, especially the Sikhs.

This call was given by SAD at a conference here this afternoon which was organised to observe the 64th martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Dhadhogal who laid down his life as a top star of the Praja Mandal movement while fighting the tyranny of the rulers of those times.

The conference was presided over the Mr Badal and attended among others by Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, Mr Gobind Singh Longowal, Mr Ranjit Singh Balian, all Punjab ministers, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, MP, Mr Baldev Singh Mann, administrative member of the PSEB, and Mr Parminder Singh Dhindsa, MLA from Sunam.

The conference, which was organised to pay tributes to the martyr, virtually turned into a political conference.


Contractors cry foul
Allege bungling in awarding tenders
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 9
As many as three contractors have alleged the Canal Department authorities have committed large-scale bungling in the invitation of tenders and subsequent allotment of work to be executed at C.C. Tibri in connection with the remodelling of Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC) for increasing its capacity.

The three contractors, namely, Mr Mekhan Lal, Mr Vijay Kumar and M/S Garga Associates, in a legal notice served to various Irrigation Department officials, including the Principal Secretary and the minister have urged them to cancel the tenders and hold an inquiry into the matter.

In the legal notice, these contractors alleged that first they were not given tender forms by the Irrigation Department officials on August 6 when the same were to be opened. They further alleged that after that contracts were awarded by preparing false documents secretly.

They pointed out that tender notice had been published in the daily, ‘Chardi Kalan’, on August 2. Tenders were invited up to August 6. Thus, only four days were given whereas, according to instructions of the Punjab Government, three weeks’ times was required to be given.

They added that tender notice was not published in the leading newspapers. The tender notice was not sent to other divisions and sub divisions of the department. The tender notice was also not displayed on the notice board of the department.

They alleged that work worth crores of rupees was awarded without considering their offer made in connection with execution of the same. The contract had been awarded on the basis of rate system.

All this had been done in haste in order to commit fraud upon public funds. Several works were not existing and amount for those works would be misappropriated.

They said they had brought the matter to the notice of the Chief Engineer, UBDC, Amritsar, and The Principal Secretary, Power and Irrigation, Punjab.

Mr Gurmel Singh, Executive Engineer, Canal Lining Division, at his Chandigarh-based residence while denying all allegations claimed tenders had been invited and subsequently work allotted was done in a proper manner and by following the latest guidelines and instructions given by the state government.

He added that these contractors did not deposit at call which they were bound to deposit as earnest money to participate in the tendering process. He added that moreover some of the works were only allotted to those contractors who were capable of executing the same.

He pointed out that earlier also Mr Vijay Kumar, one of the complainant contractors, had filed a suit against the department and the court verdict had gone in favour of the department. He added he was ready to face any sort of litigation now.

He added the, capacity of the UBDC was to increase from 5000 cusecs to 9000 cusecs. That is why it was being remodelled. This was a highly technical job and the same was to be done in the stipulated period. The department had to keep all these things in mind while assigning the execution of the job to any contractor.


DCs appointed ‘flouting’ rules 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
Close on the heels of the move of the Punjab State IAS Officers Association opposing the extension of deputation period of certain IAS officers in the state, Mr Hardyal Singh Bedi, who served as Principal, Khalsa College, Mahalpur, for 24 years, said today that all norms and rules had been thrown to the winds by the state government while appointing deputy commissioners.

Mr Bedi, who is a father-in-law of Mr V.K. Janjua, a 1989 batch IAS officer of Punjab cadre, said earlier deputy commissioners used to be posted according to seniority and merit but the SAD-BJP government had cared little for such a criteria.

He said the deputy commissioners in the state had been appointed arbitarily with total disregard to seniority and merit, obviously for some other considerations. As many as 15 deputy commissioners of the total 17 appointed in the state were junior to his son-in-law and it was injustice to him. Even those officers have been appointed as deputy commissioners who never had been to the Union Public Service Commission as they were nominated to IAS.

Urging the Punjab Chief Minister to do justice with his son-in-law, he said he would knock the door of judiciary and other fora if justice was not given to him, Mr Bedi said. As the state government was not a private company, it should adhere to certain rules and regulations. There was no place for arbitray decision in the government, he asserted.

In a three-page representation addressed to Mr Badal, Mr Bedi has stated that all your (Mr Badal) promises to give justice to all had proved hollow promises. He said earlier officers on deputation from other states had never been appointed as deputy commissioners in Punjab. But the Badal government appointed two outsiders as Deputy Commissioner’s in the state. “If you feel that officers of the Punjab cadre are not capable, you send them to other states,” he argued.

He further said his son-in-law has outstanding academic record. He got 12th position in the IAS examination in 1989.


IT experts, bureaucrats’ interface today
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, August 9
In tune with the changing times, the Punjab IAS Officers Association is organising a seminar on ‘’Governance in the 21st century — challenges before civil servants’’ here tomorrow.

The thrust is on the application of e-governance. How to proceed to make it applicable in the existing administrative system. How can there be appropriate use of the IT (information technology) aimed at transparency, efficiency, accountability, objectivity, affordability, friendliness, convenience and accessibility from the perspective of a common citizen, businessman or even the government itself.

The ‘’overview’’ paper on e-governance by the Secretary, Information System and Administrative Reforms, Mr N.S. Kalsi, has raises a score of basic, fundamental questions and issues seeking answers from the participants.

Even before one talks of the pros and cons of e-governance, some basic questions need to be answered: Is infrastructure available? Is e-governance to be within the government or will it have public interface? 


Girl remains untraced
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, August 9
The issue of the missing local girl who has remained untraced for the past 24 days has generated resentment and created an atmosphere of apprehension among the residents of the town. Sangeeta (name changed), 18-year-old daughter of a local government employee, left her house on July 16 at about 2.45 pm, but never returned.

The aggrieved father of the girl, who has been running from pillar to post to know the whereabouts of the girl, says his daughter as per her routine left for attending sewing classes. When she did not return till evening, they searched for her at places of her friends and acquaintances. Unable to locate her anywhere, a complaint about the missing girl was lodged in the Ropar city police station.

However, the police has not been able to trace the girl for the past 24 days. The father of the girl said as per the information provided to him by locals his daughter was having relations with two local youth, Atul Kakkar and Lalit Sharma, alias Babu. The latter took the missing girl to some undisclosed destination on July 6 and 9.

Atul Sharma, one of the suspects, told the father of the missing girl that on the day the girl went missing she was scheduled to meet Babu at the local Water Lilly Restaurant. Babu picked up the girl from there and left her at the Lakkar Sahib Gurdwara. She was later shifted to the local Bangla basti by the accused where she allegedly stayed for two days. However, nobody is reported to have seen the girl after that.

The sources said initially the local police was banking on the suicide theory. They were apprehending that the girl committed suicide after an altercation with her parents. However, after the above said information came to the fore the initial theory seems very unlikely.

The parents are suspecting a deep-rooted conspiracy behind the disappearance of the missing girl. Some influential people of the town were trying to scuttle the inquiry into the case, they alleged.

The reliable sources said a high-level inquiry into the case might unearth a racket, in which local girls were being forced into flesh trade by certain unscrupulous elements.

Meanwhile, the SSP, Ropar, when asked to comment about the case said the police was leaving no stone unturned to solve the case. He also denied any kind of political or other pressure in the case.


Mysterious disease grips ITBP men
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 9
A mysterious disease, with symptoms similar to dengue fever, has gripped the residential colonies of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) headquarters at Sarai Khas, near here, during the past week.

Though senior ITBP officials, including the DIG and the medical officer, were not “available” even on the telephone and were seemingly tight-lipped about the disease, sources said abaout 15 jawans had been shifted from the ITBP hospital in the ITBP complex to the PGI, Chandigarh, since last week. Of those who were admitted to the PGI, about six were later discharged.

Even as junior officials at the ITBP complex maintained that it was not dengue but malaria which had afflicted the jawans, the gravity of the situation could be gauged from the fact that the local ITBP authorities had withdrawn its contingent from the Independence day parade.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr K. Shiva Prasad, confirmed that the ITBP authorities had urged the district administration to exempt their jawans from participation in the scheduled parade on account of spreading of a disease in the complex.

The sources said the disease, which was described as malaria by some and dengue by others, had spread in most of the residential colonies in the complex. “I don’t know much about it except that some recruits are down with something like malaria,” said an ITBP official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Repeated efforts by this correspondent to contact senior officials proved futile. A telephone operator at the ITBP said the high-ups were not available and suggested that the medical officer, Dr Jaswinder Singh, should be contacted.

Dr Jaswinder Singh too was not available on the telephone. However, an official who picked up the phone at the ITBP hospital confirmed that some recruits and sepoys were down with a disease and shifted to the PGI.


Irrigation Dept JEs hold rally
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, August 9
As many as 200 junior engineers of the irrigation Department held a rally on the premises of the Canal Office here today to protest against the alleged government apathy towards them. Mr Gurcharan Singh Saini, president, Diploma Holders Association, said their promotion structure was governed by rules framed before the Independence which did not entitle the diploma holders to promotion.

Addressing the rally, Mr Saini said Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, had promised in 1999 to amend their service rules within three months. Instead, the government promoted some junior engineers on the basis of their outstanding reports which were not genuine, he alleged.

Junior engineers of the PSEB, Public Health, PWD ( B and R), Mandi Board and zila parishad also joined in. They threatened to intensify the stir if their demands were not met. Later they submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner.


Surgeon’s error costs her dear
Our Correspondent

Nabha, August 9
Mr Gulzar Singh of Shahpur village, near here, in a complaint to higher health officials, has sought action against Dr Sham Singh, a surgeon at Civil Hospital, Nabha, for performing a wrong operation on his wife at a private nursing home.

Mr Gulzar Singh disclosed that his wife Chhoti had severe pain in abdomen on July 6, 2001. He took her to Dr Sham Singh at Nabha Civil Hospital the next day. Examining her, the surgeon advised an operation for appendicitis. All reports relating to the operation were prepared the same day and blood was arranged from Rajindra Hospital, Patiala on a slip issued from Civil Hospital, Nabha, by paying Rs 340 on July 8.

The operation was performed at Paul Nursing Home, a private hospital, and not at Nabha Civil Hospital. Mr Gulzar Singh alleged that Dr Sham Singh performed three operations one after the other and removed the fallopian tube, leaving his wife sterile . He took Rs 5000 from him and was demanding Rs 3,000 more. He added that the gynaecologist treating his wife these days told him that the operation had rendered her wife permanently sterile.

Dr Sham Singh, when contacted, said Gulzar Singh was trying to blackmail him as he (Gulzar) had compelled him to operate on his wife at a “good” hospital as he had “no faith” in the Civil Hospital. The SMO, Mr I.D. Goyal, when contacted by the telephone, said he was unaware of any such complaint.


Keeping strawcraft alive
Gayatri Rai

With changing times many handicrafts are disappearing gradually. These were earlier commonly seen but are now found mostly at exhibitions. Although people appreciate handicrafts, very few are interested in making these at home.

A handicraft which people have almost forgotten is the use of wheat straws for making beautiful decoration pieces like baskets, flower-pots, pitchers and mats.

It needs a little time and an artistic bent of mind to make such things. Long wheat straws are first put in water to make these soft and then given different colours. Measurements are taken of the item which is to be prepared.

Bibi Sham Kaur, who is 90, has kept this handicraft alive at her home in Salabatpura village. She told this correspondent that for two decades after Independence this work was popular among women, although embroidery and weaving also found favour with them. Decoration pieces made of wheat straws were in great demand and there was a competition among women to make unique and beautiful items.

She said although these items were cheap and easily available, most people preferred to make these on their own. It was a matter of pride for a girl to include these items in her dowry. It used to be proof of her being an expert in housework.

During the wheat harvest season women used to go to the fields and collect long wheat straws for making such things. She lamented that nowadays wheat was often harvested mechanically.

People now took little interest in handicrafts and preferred to buy everything from the market. The trend of having nuclear families instead of joint families was also responsible for the disappearance of many old traditions and handicrafts, she added. Bibi Sham Kaur, who is training girls in her family and village in embroidery and the making of traditional “bahghs”, phulkari, durries, khes and items from wheat straws, said there was need to revive old handicrafts. Embroidery done by machines could not compete with the fine work done by hand, she said.


Administration to locate Jugnu’s parents
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 9
Jugnu, an eight-year-old boy who has been living among the mentally challenged at an ashram, near here, for more than one year after being found by the local police, will have another chance to live a normal life with the district administration deciding to place an advertisement in a national television channel to locate his parents.

The eight-year-old boy had been living along with mentally challenged men and women at the All-India Pingla Ashram at Sanaur after he went missing in Delhi.

Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir said the District Red Cross would place an advertisement in the electronic media in an effort to find the parents of the boy. Besides, efforts would be made to ensure that the boy is properly rehabilitated, adding the sos village could also be approached for this purpose.

Meanwhile, a team constituted by the Deputy Commissioner, including the SDM, Civil Surgeon, Principal, Medical College; and the Executive Magistrate, visited the ashram to conduct on-the-spot inspection of the conditions there. Mr Bir said it had also been decided to appeal to voluntary organisations to ensure that doctors could be deputed to visit the ashram on a regular basis, efforts would be made to improve the living conditions in the ashram, adding that it would be ensured that no cruelty is meted out to any of the inmates. The Red Cross would also bear the expenditure of those inmates who needed medical attention.

Mr Bir said the process would be initiated to transfer the land to the ashram. Moreover, special funds might be provided to develop appropriate infrastructure at the ashram.


Dharna by workers of GIC, LIC subsidiaries
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 9
Employees of the subsidaries of the General Insurance Corporation and of the Life Insurance Corporation staged a dharna in front of the office of the Oriental Insurance Company at Sherawala gate here today.

Mr Vinod Dhundia, vice-president of the Northern Zone of General Insurance Employees Association (GIEA), while addressing the employees, advised them to remain united. He added, “Yashwant Sinha, Finance Minister, is bent upon ruining the public sector and insurance companies.” He advised the employees to intensify the struggle against the introduction of bill in Parliament for delinking the four general insurance companies from the General Insurance Corporation of India.

Mr Narinder Walia, divisional secretary of the North Zone Employees Association, Chandigarh, told the employees that the Government of India was not funding the LIC and GIC, but these companies were funding the government with billions. 


DM orders inquiry into ‘hospital negligence’
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 9
Mr G.S. Grewal, District Magistrate, Ropar, has ordered a magesterial inquiry into two cases of Civil Hospital, Kharar, about which news had appeared in some newspapers recently.

The cases related to an allegation by Ms Jaswinder Kaur that a second copper-T was inserted without removing the first one, and the second case pertains to the death of a new-born female child who had died in June this year when an injection which was allegedly meant for the mother of the child was negligently administered to the baby when she was admitted to the hospital.

Earlier, Dr S.S. Dhanoa, SMO, Civil Hospital, Kharar, had also ordered an inquiry into both these cases.

According to official sources, the District Magistrate has appointed Mr Jai Pal Singh, SDM, SAS Nagar, as the inquiry officer and has asked him to submit his findings within seven days.


Residents chafe at lack of sanitation
Jaswinder Paul Singh

Bathinda, August 9
The stray animals here have a nice time enjoying meals on the heaps of garbage littered on the sides of the roads, depicting the condition of sanitation and the inefficiency of the civic authorities.

The employees entrusted with keeping the city clean seem to have forgotten their task. The authorities concerned do not bother at all about the problems of garbage which gets collected at various points in the city. Some residents said there was total lack of responsibility on the part of the authorities concerned with regard to sanitation.

The situation is almost the same in all areas of the city whether it is the main roads or the bylanes. One cannot see even a single area which can be called clean. Although for different localities the authorities give different excuses for lack of sanitation.

The old city area is not clean because the streets in that area are so narrow that the vehicles assigned for collecting the garbage cannot enter there is the quick reply of the authorities.

And the area where the vehicles can move easily are not clean because heavy traffic makes it difficult for the sweepers to work properly. The sweepers collect the garbage in small heaps on the sides of the roads and it is not picked up for disposal. The garbage heaps again get scattered in the roads.

The authorities had given the sanitation of the city to private contractors some times back. But the experiment failed as the residents did not see any difference after the private contractors took up the task of sanitation. The authorities did not pay heed to requests of the residents who had pleaded from time to time to them for making arrangements for sanitation. In the past few days they have started showing some efficiency and are now trying to cover up their inaction of the past many years.

The efficiency of the authorities seems to be the consequence of the visit of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, for the first ever sangat darshan programme in the city on August 12. But the residents are not expecting much from the visit as they knew that this new found efficiency will not last long. Once the Chief Minister leaves the city the old situation will prevail.

The vacant plots in many parks serve the purpose of garbage dumps. The hospital waste is thrown in the open in these plots without any check.

The parks in various localities are also used for throwing garbage. These parks were carved out with the view to serve the people of the locality to spend their leisure time but their condition is such that people would not like to stand near them.

Mr Shiv Kumar Mittal, Executive Officer (EO) of the municipal council, when contacted said huge dustbins had been put at more than 30 points in different localities in the city. He said the authorities had urged the residents many times to put household garbage in these bins, but he said they did not listen to their pleas.

Mr Mittal said without the coordination of the residents it was not possible for the authorities to keep the city clean. He said the sanitation problem was more prevalent in the rainy season as due to the rain the garbage that remained scattered on the sides of the roads got stuck in the open drains, choking most of them. He said that residents used polythene carrybags which choked the drains.


MC organises vanamahotsava
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, August 9
The Market Committee, and the Forest Department organised a Vanamahotsava function here yesterday, Mr Mal Singh Ghuman, Chairman, Punjab Mandi Board and Mr Surjeet Kumar Jyani, Forest Minister, Punjab, planted saplings.

Mr Ghuman informed that multinational companies and private concerns were pressurising the state government to allow them to purchase wheat directly from farmers. The Mandi Board Chairman said that he was personally against this system as the board would lose bulk of its income, farmers may not get reasonable price of their produce and trade of the commission agents would be ruined.

He said Nabard had provided a loan of Rs 30,000 crore for the construction of link roads in the state. Under a scheme to keep the grain markets green. 50,000 saplings had been planted and 20,000 more would be planted soon.

In reply to a question Mr Ghuman said farmers who possess I form but had not been paid bonus for paddy shall be paid soon. When his attention was drawn to the evasion of market fees he admitted that the board had detected racket of about Rs 6 crore of evasion of market fees and fine of Rs 40 lakhs had been collected.

Mr Ghuman distributed cheques worth Rs 25 lakh to farmers who had been handicapped while working in fields. He said Rs 12 crore had been distributed among farmers and labourers who had become handicapped while working on agricultural equipment. Another Rs 2 crore shall be distributed soon, he added.


Cong not to roll back on free power
to tubewells: Bhinder
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, August 9
Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, Senior Congress leader and in charge of the manifesto committee, PPCC. has ruled out waiving of facilities like free power to tubewells and concessions enjoyed by the Scheduled Castes.

To divert public attention from non-performance of the SAD-BJP government would not damage the Congress, but will expose the SAD-BJP alliance only, Mrs Bhinder said here yesterday.


Journalist bereaved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
Neer Balli, daughter of Mr Baljit Balli, Principal Correspondent of Ajit, died in the small hours today. She was cremated this evening. Her cremation was attended by a large number of people.

Wreaths were laid on behalf of the Punjab Chief Minister, Information and Public Relations Minister Natha Singh Dalam and Secretary, Public Relations, Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, Education Minister Mohan Lal and Higher Education Minister Tota Singh.


Sanskrit scholar passes away

Moga, August 9
Pandit Sant Shastri, a renowned Sanskrit scholar, died here yesterday. He was 85.

Pandit Sant Ram, who got his Shastri degree from Lahore in 1939 had authored about a dozen books in Sanskrit for Hindi.

He was awarded the President’s Award in 1990 for his poems in Sanskrit based on the Vedas. UNI


BKU demands Rs 758 MSP for paddy
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 9
The Punjab unit of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) yesterday demanded that the Union Government should announce the minimum support price (MSP) for paddy as Rs 758 per quintal for A-grade variety and Rs 689 per quintal for common variety.

Addressing a joint press conference here yesterday, Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal and Mr Manjit Singh Kadian, president and secretary-general respectively of the Punjab unit of the BKU, said the government had procured A-grade variety and common variety of the paddy at Rs 540 per quintal and Rs 510 per quintal, respectively, the previous year. They said they had demanded Rs 758 and Rs 689 per quintal as per the price index base of the year 1966-67.

The union leaders also demanded MSP for sugarcane as Rs 143 per quintal, Rs 3250 per quintal for cotton and Rs 2640 per quintal for pulses and oil seeds.

Mr Lakhowal added the BKU would observe an “ardas divas” on August 19 at Sri Akal Takht at Amritsar, and offer prayers to the Guru for strength and welfare of all.

He said Giani Bhagwan Singh, Head Granthi of Sri Akal Takht would perform the “ardas” at the Takht in which 10000 farmers would participate from all parts of the state.

Mr Lakhowal, appealing to farmers to reach Sri Akal Takht by the evening of August 18, said after the “ardas”, the BKU would announce further course of action by holding a press conference there.

Mr Lakhowal also said the BKU would support that party in the ensuing Assembly elections in Punjab, which would assure it that all loans of the farmers would be waived after the formation of government by that party. He said before the announcement of Assembly elections, the BKU would not reveal its cards regarding its support to any political party.

Mr Lakhowal and Mr Kadian, who were here to participate in the executive committee meeting of the district unit of the BKU, said this meeting had been convened to discuss the union’s three-point agenda. They said the union’s agenda included writing-off of loans amounting to Rs 10,000 crore due from the Punjab farmers and availability of loans to the farmers at four per cent rate of interest, inclusion of “Jats” in the OBC list in Punjab, exposure of corruption by the persons in power in the state in the past four and a half years during the SAD-BJP rule.

Meanwhile, the meeting discussed the agenda at length and assured the top leaders that the farmers were ready to take part in every programme drawn up by BKU leadership. Among others, who attended the meeting, were Mr Bhupinder Singh Mahesari, press secretary of the BKU Punjab unit, Mr Kapoor Singh Chhahar, vice-president of the Punjab unit of the BKU, Mr Jaswant Singh Kattu and Mr Pavittar Singh Mangewal, presidents of district units of Sangrur and Patiala respectively, and Mr Gurdev Singh Amargarh, district press secretary of the BKU.


821 acres of jail land for PAU
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 9
The Public Health Minister, Raja Narinder Singh, during a meeting held at open jain, Nabha, here today announced the decision to give 821 acres of agricultural land of the jail to Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, for producing high quality oil and vegetable seeds.

Mr N.K. Arora, Chief Secretary, Punjab, while talking to the newsmen said a change in the overall quality of wheat and paddy was a must to improve the economic condition of the farmers.

He said 270 lakh tonnes of wheat was lying in various godowns in the state. He said it would now be on endeavour of the government to provide training to the farmers so that they could diversify to others crops.

Mr Arora said the Punjab Government in collaboration with an Israeli company along with Markfed would set up a bio-technology plant worth Rs 80 crore.

He said farmers would be made aware of the new technology and the international market trend so that they could effectively compete with their counterparts elsewhere.

He said PAU experts were also training farmers to produce more profitable crops.

The Principal Secretary, Home Affairs, Mr Bikramjit Singh, the Principal Secretary, Science and Technology, Mr Rajan Kashyap, the PAU vice-chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh, the Inspector General, Jails, Mr R.S. Chalia, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, and the District Police Chief, Mr Paramjit Singh Grewal, attended the meeting among others.


Chaudhuri is Amritsar Addl DC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
The Punjab Government ordered the following transfers and postings today:

Mr Raj Kamal Chaudhuri will be the new Additional Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar against a vacant post. Mr Krishan Kumar goes to Roopnagar as Additional Deputy Commissioner in place of Mr Khushi Ram whose services have been placed at the disposal of the Local Government for appointment as Joint Commissioner, Amritsar Municipal Corporation.

Mr Sumer Sing Gurjar will be the new Subdivisional Magistrate, Patti. Mr R.L. Kumar has been appointed Additional Deputy Commissioner, Moga.

The services of Mr Jagir Singh have been placed at the disposal of the Department of Excise and Taxation for appointment of Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner.

Mr Sukhwinder Pal Singh will be the new Subdivisional Magistrate of Hoshiarpur. The new District Transport Officer of Mansa will be Mr Jasbir Singh while Ms Surinder Kaur has been posted Assistant Commissioner, Grievances, Patiala.


Complete works or face action: DC
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 9
All Subdivisional Magistrates and other district officials have been directed to complete development works in the stipulated time period or face action.

This warning was given by Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir while addressing a meeting of the District Development Committee here yesterday, according to an official release.

The Deputy Commissioner also disclosed that Rs 12.67 had been provided for various schemes in the district for infrastructure development. He said Rs 1.80 crore had been spent under the shagun scheme, Rs 49 lakh to provide homes to the homeless under the Indira Vikas Yojna, Rs 2.78 under the untied fund for development for villages and Rs 3.11 crore under the same fund for development of cities.

Mr Bir also presided over a sangat darshan programme at the Red Cross office here. Sarpanches of various villages in Samana subdivision complained that some persons were trying to cover various cemented pipes laid down under the Badshahpur-Patran road. They said their crops would be adversely affected if the pipes were not made operational immediately. The DC asked the Executive Engineer, Drainage, to look into the matter.

Meanwhile, the panchayat members and other residents of Dera Rajputan alleged that the sarpanch had misutilised panchayat grants. Mr Bir asked the District Development and Panchayat Officer to look into the matter. Residents of Bhakar village alleged that the Telecommunications Department had overbilled citizens who had installed telephones under the aged category. The DC asked the General Manger, Telecommunications, to look into the complaint.


PUDA’s Crystal Plaza in Jalandhar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
A modern housing enclave christened “Crystal Plaza” as part of Chhoti Baradari Scheme is being developed at Jalandhar by Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA). The plaza will come up near the existing defence colony.

Mr KBS Sidhu, Chief Administrator of PUDA, said the commercial enclave would come up on 59 acres of land adjoining the Punjab Institute of Medical Services. The authority had already marketed 392 plots of size varying between 200 sq yard and 500 sq yard. Within the enclave a commercial pocket of 3.89 acres would face the vital road linking the main city and the urban estate. To improve the flow of traffic between the two parts of the city, the existing road would be widened.

The planning of the area had been done in such a manner that it would provide business opportunity to small and large commercial establishments. . For better vehicular movements and parking, at least 70 per cent of the area had been earmarked as open spaces, pavement and parking.

The parking space had been divided equally on all sides of the shopping centre. Mr Jit Gupta, Senior Town Planner, said the quality of buildings in terms and aesthetics and environment would be ensured through architectural controls and zoning.


Move to ban smoking in govt offices soon
Our Correspondent

Moga, August 9
The Punjab Government proposes to ban smoking in all government departments shortly. A section of society has been pressurising the state government to ban smoking as it pollutes the office environment.

A spokesman for the government said here recently that if smoking was banned in all government departments in the state, it would not only help smokers save money, but also enable them to devote more time to office work.


Gang of fake gold sellers busted
Our Correspondent

Barnala, August 9
The Barnala police claims to have busted an inter-state gang of sellers of fake gold belonging to Puri district of Orissa by arresting four of its members namely Madan Dass, Ganga Ram Bedi, Jagan Nath and Babu Dass.

Stating this here yesterday, Mr Ajaib Singh Kaleka, SSP said gang had been duping goldsmiths by first offering a sample of real gold and then supplying fake gold, thus making lakhs of rupees.

Mr Kaleka said members of the gang had been active in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The gang members had lured two goldsmiths of Barnala by showing them a sample of real gold and had entered into a deal of supplying 1.5 kg of gold. By supplying 1.5 kg of fake gold to the goldsmiths, they were going to dupe them of Rs 3 lakh when they were apprehended by the police.

The SSP said 1.5 kg of fake gold and a small quantity of real gold was seized from their possession.

A case has been registered at the Barnala police station under Sections 420 and 34 of the IPC against the gang members.


Killed “for stealing Rs 50” from gurdwara
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, August 9
Bhupinder Singh (23) of village Sunrawala under the Sadar police station was beated to death allegedly by five “sevadars” of Tehli Sahib gurdwara near Kalasanghian village on the charge of stealing Rs 50 from the gurdwara on the evening of Wednesday.

The Sadar police registered a case under Sections 304, 148, 149 of the Indian Penal code against five “sevadars” who are absconding.

According to police reports, the deceased used to visit the gurdwara daily to pay obeisance and as usual went to gurdwara on Wednesday in morning but when he did not return to house, his family members visited the gurdwara in the evening and came empty handed. In the evening Harbans Singh, one of the “sevadars” went to the house of Bhupinder Singh and informed about his death.

The police alleged that the sevadars tied the deceased with the tree and thrashed him with lathis resulting in his death.

The deceased, who owned farm in the village married only four months back.

The police identified the accused as Harbans Singh, Lehmber Singh, Bhupinder Singh, Satnam Singh and Tarsem Singh all “sevadars”.

The post mortem examination of the body was done in the local civil hospital.

The cause of death has not been ascertained so far.


DAV Cell for competitive exams
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
The DAV colleges of the state under the management of the DAV College Management Committee, New Delhi, have got together and formed the DAV Cell for Competitive Examinations.

This cell has come about as a result of the active interest which these college principals are taking to provide an alternative to private academies in the state.

Spearheaded by DAV College, Sector 10 Chandigarh, the cell aims at providing high quality testing opportunities to 10+2 medical and non-medical students of the state.

The next project which has begun in some of these centres, include special ‘bridge’ classes, twice a week for those who want to do well in 10+2 CBSE and competitive exams.

These centres include DAV Colleges, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Batala, Pathankot, Abohar, Bathinda, Ferozepore, Nakodar, Phagwara, Chandigarh, HMV, Jalandhar, and Dayanand Model School, Jalandhar. 


‘MCA is not under AICTE jurisdiction’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
The chairman and general secretary of the Punjab College of Information Technology (PCIT), Patiala, have stated that the Masters in Computer Applications (MCA) programme being run by the college affiliated to Punjabi University does not come under the jurisdiction of the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE).

In a press conference held in the city, they also stated that the AICTE’s objection to the said course was a result of instigation by vested interests.

Mr A.K. Mittal, general secretary, PCIT, stated that MCA was a non-technical course as per the AICTE Act and as a result the provisions of the AICTE Act, 1987 were not applicable to the MCA programme.

“The PCIT is not offering any course as defined under section 2(g) of the AICTE Act,” he said.

Alleging that the controversy had been fanned by certain big IT education companies which did not want the spread of IT in the state, Mr Mittal said the hue and cry had been raised since these companies were direct sufferers.

Mr Harjinder Singh, chairman of PCIT, said since the inception of the AICTE Act 1987, computer education had not been included in the purview of technical education. The MCA course was being offered since 1985. He informed that the PCIT had set up an international standard infrastructure on the college premises, providing high quality educational atmosphere.

Regretting the dichotomy in the AICTE policy, Mr Harjinder Singh said it was ironical that the AICTE did not have BCA, which was the undergraduate programme in computer applications under its jurisdiction, but claimed that the MCA programme under its jurisdiction.

The college spokesmen also said the college was committed to the welfare of the students and would ensure that none of the students had to suffer due to these developments. They also informed that the college would also be seeking directions from the High Court regarding the matter soon.

Answering questions from newspersons, the chairman informed that the college had applied for AICTE approval for the said course last year, but the AICTE had not bothered to inspect the college.


‘Selection lists can’t be tampered with’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 9
The Punjab Government today said there was no scope of favouring any candidate in the ongoing recruitment of teachers for government primary schools in the state.

A spokesman of the Education Department said the allegations regarding the tampering or doctoring of the selection lists at the Government level were baseless. He said there was a clearly laid down criteria approved by the Punjab and Haryana High Court for the selection of candidates. No member of the selection committee could dare to deviate from that criteria as it had the approval of the Court.

As many as 16 selection committees had been set up districtwise as per the directions of the court.

Asked about the controversy at Jalandhar, the spokesman said Mr Santokh Singh Rannu, chairman of the selection committee for Nawanshahr and Jalandhar had to be replaced as he was taken ill all of a sudden on August 4. Suffering from a serious heart ailment, he was admitted to a hospital in Jalandhar. In his place, Mr Amrit Singh, District Education Officer (Primary Education) had been appointed.

Mr Amrit Singh had been told to follow the interview schedule.

The spokesman said against 7230 vacancies of teachers in primary schools, as many as 50,672 applications had been received. However, on the directions of the court, only 35,000 candidates were called for the interview after preparing a merit list. The court had directed that five candidates be called against one vacancy.


Police for cancellation of FIR
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 9
The case of alleged irregularities in respect of hosting of an alumni meeting in 1999 by Dr K.C. Singhal, Professor and Head of the Department of Management Studies, Punjabi University, has taken a new turn with the police making out a cancellation report in the case.

The university authorities had got a case registered against Dr Singhal at the Urban Estate Police Post to look into alleged irregularities while organising the Alumni Meet- 1999 by the Management Department. It was alleged that there were certain in irregularities in the collection on money and receipts had been given without getting the money. It was also alleged that a few duplicate receipts were procured from certain firms.

According to information available the investigating officer of the Sanjeev Sagar Police Post- submitted the FIR cancellation report to the Sadar Police Station on June 30 last.

The Punjabi University Syndicate had decided on January 25 to lodge an FIR against Dr Singhal to investigate the case and removed him from Headship to help for fair investigation by the police. Dr Singhal had, then, alleged that he had been victimised against by Vice-Chancellor Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia as he had objected to the manner of functioning of the VC and his unavailability to teachers at a Syndicate meeting.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had stayed the order of removal of Dr Singhal from headship of the department till further orders till September 10 next when the writ petition admitted on July 31 will come up for hearing.

Dr Singhal meanwhile claimed that now they he had been given clean chit by the police the notification removing him from headship of the Management Department should be withdrawn. He said it was, however, unfortunate that the University was still contesting the case in the High Court.

The VC when contacted said cancellation of any FIR was a long-drawn-out procedure under which once a report was cancelled at the Police Station level, it went to the District Police Chief. He said following this the district attorney was consulted before the matter went to court. He said the court also gave notice to the complainant on the issue and the University could represent its case. He however, said the varsity had not received any notice from the court.


Traders to surrender ST numbers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 9
In a significant development, the traders of the region have decided to surrender their sales tax numbers and power connections if the alleged anti-trader policies of the state government were not changed.

Mr Ashok Garg, President of the Punjab Pradesh Yuva Beopar Mandal, while talking to this correspondent said here today that the state government was not serious to save the industry.

The rates of power and the slaes tax rates have been raised many times during the tenure of Mr Parkash Singh Badal but no incentives had been provided to traders.

Mr Garg said in certain cases the industrialists and traders were paying power bulls on minimum floor rates which turns out to be more than the electricity consumed by them.

To show protest against the wrong policies of the state government the traders would start surrendering their sales tax numbers and the power connections to the authorities concerned, he said.

Mr A.K. Goyal, general secretary, of the mandal said that the government was filling its coffers from the taxes collected from the traders but had not reduced the sales taxes and octroi.

The neighbouring states, Haryana, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh have abolished octroi and even reduced the rates of the sales taxes also.

Mr Goyal said the sales tax collections of the state have rose from 15 per cent to 39 per cent of total revenues of the state.

Even then the sales tax authorities were harassing the traders and many traders have been raided for alleged evasion of sales tax, he alleged.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |