Thursday, September 6, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Who was behind SAD split?
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 5
The decision by SAD to forge Panthic Unity after a gap of two years and eight months, obviously keeping in mind the forthcoming assembly elections, it is the voter’s right to know that who was responsible for the split in the party. Was it Mr Badal, Mr Tohra or somebody else?

The “game” started with the thought-provoking statement of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, the then SGPC chief, given to a news agency on December 10, 1998, in which he (Mr Tohra) had suggested that Mr Badal must appoint an acting president of SAD for the smooth functioning of the government and the party and also because the grievances of the common Akali worker were not being redressed properly. This statement had created ripples as it was given at a crucial time i.e. after the defeat of the Akali candidate in the Adampur byelection and about four months before the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of the Khalsa Panth.

Though Mr Tohra had tried his level best to clarify his position that he did not mean that Mr Badal should quit as President of SAD yet there was nobody to listen. When certain Akali leaders started seeking immediate expulsion of Mr Tohra from the party, then five of his close confidants submitted their resignations from the Cabinet on December 14 with a view to expressing their solidarity with Mr Tohra.

Mr Badal spoke individually to all five ministers, who resigned from the Cabinet rank and requested them to withdraw their resignations, but in vain. Though these resignations were submitted to Mr Badal rather than the Governor at 11 p.m., yet these were accepted the next day leaving no chance for rapprochement. A few days later a meeting of the disciplinary action committee of SAD held on December 17 decided to serve show-cause notice on Mr Tohra for violating party discipline by going to the Press instead of discussing the same on the party platform. The notice was served on December 19, which was received by Mr Tohra on December 22. Mr Tohra sent a seven-page explanation to the chairman of the disciplinary committee on December 31. However, the envelope, which contained the reply of Mr Tohra, was not opened with obvious reasons. At that time the rank and file of the ruling party had suggested to Mr Badal that it was the most opportune time to “get rid of Mr Tohra”. Mr Talwandi had stated that the reply of Mr Tohra would be opened after the tercentenary celebrations of the Khalsa Panth.

Interestingly, the reply of Mr Tohra and the directive of Akal Takht, directing the warring Akalis to maintain truce by April 15, 1999 (till the celebrations of the tercentenary of Khalsa Panth) were issued on December 31. The directive issued by Bhai Ranjit Singh was ignored by SAD. Instead, Bhai Ranjit Singh was unceremoniously removed as Jathedar, Akal Takht, in February, 1999. It was for the first time that the Jathedar of Akal Takht was placed under suspension and his explanation was sought by the SGPC.

A meeting of Akali legislatures, members of Parliament and working committee members was convened by SAD at Anandpur Sahib on January 7. Instead of making any efforts to celebrate the much-hyped tercentenary of the birth of Khalsa Panth, the ruling party decided to disband the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission. The decision to disband the commission was taken so that Mr Tohra or his loyalists could not move the judicial commission. The chairman and members of the commission, who were loyal to Mr Tohra, were replaced in one go.

Though Mr Tohra had submitted his resignation as the SGPC chief on March 16, the same was not accepted. Instead the general house passed a resolution to remove Mr Tohra as the SGPC chief at its general house meeting. Later, he was expelled for six years from SAD on May 15.

Later, 10 MLAs who were close confidants of Mr Tohra were served show-cause notice in June, 1999. Though they submitted their replies yet four of them, including Mr Maheshinder Singh Grewal, Mr Inderjit Singh Zira, Mr Harmail Singh Tohra and Bibi Daljit Kaur, were expelled from the party. The six others were not touched as the ruling party wanted to divide the legislatures belonging to the Tohra faction. In March, 2000, proceedings for the disqualification of the MLAs belonging to Mr Tohra were initiated, which was still pending with the Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha. Moreover, the bureaucrats, who were confidants of Mr Tohra, were transferred from their plum posts.

However, the statement of Mr Badal that his party has not expelled any Akali leader and hence those who have deserted the party can join the rank and file without any condition, has surprised everybody. Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Akali MLA, and who is close to Mr Tohra said it was the ruling party which was responsible for the expulsion of the senior Akali leaders.

The close confidants of Mr Tohra, who pleaded anonymity, said as to why the meeting of the political affairs committee was not convened before taking any action against him (Mr Tohra) like the one held in Chandigarh on September 2 in which its members expressed desire to forge Panthic unity before the assembly elections. They said that the ruling party felt the need of panthic unity after the impressive gatherings of the newly formed Panthic Morcha at political conferences.

On the other hand, it would be practically difficult for Mr Tohra to respond to the unity call of the ruling party at his own level. He was already discredited for deserting SAD (Amritsar), which was formed at the behest of Prof Manjit Singh, the then acting Jathedar, Akal Takht. Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, convener of the Panthic Morcha, would have to be taken into confidence before any unity move. Baba Bedi had categorically stated that Panthic unity could not be forged unless Mr Badal appeared himself before Akal Takht for allegedly violating the hukamnama.


G.S. Tohra’s reply
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 5
The excerpts of the seven-page reply of Mr Gurcharn Singh Tohra addressed to Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, chairman disciplinary action committee, which was earlier unavailable to the Press have been given below. The contents reveal that Mr Tohra desperately tried to clarify his position for the sake of Akali unity, but in vain.

“I am pained to read the contents of the explanation call sought by the party high command. The charge sheet against me was prepared on the basis of a news item which was distorted by the Press. Though I had clarified my position the next day even then serious charges were levelled against me.”

“I never sought the resignation of Mr Badal as President, SAD, rather I had suggested that an acting president of the party should be appointed as Mr Badal himself has said that he was overburdened. There has been a precedent of appointing an acting president in SAD and the SGPC.”

“I had never equated the BJP with the Congress, which was responsible for the infamous Bluestar. He, however, said when he met Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, with regard to the long pending demands of Punjab and Punjabis he (Mr Vajpayee) had said, “ I will look into the matter”.


Morcha lists dos and don’ts for Badal
Tribune News Service

Sunam, September 5
Unity with Mr Parkash Singh Badal is not possible till he presents himself at Akal Takht to beg pardon for having violated traditions of the Takht. He should accept Bhai Ranjit Singh as the Jathedar of Akal Takht and no more make claim for the posts of president of SAD and the Chief Minister. These conditions were enumerated by a Panthic Morcha leader and the secretary SHSAD, Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, here on Tuesday.

Prof Chandumajra said the Panthic Morcha welcomed the endorsement by PAC of SAD of the unconditional unity offer extended by Mr Badal to various Akali groups.

Prof Chandumajra said Mr Badal should also tell the Sikhs who was responsible for disunity in the Akali Dal, why he ousted Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra and other leaders from SAD.

Prof Chandumajra said they had formed the Panthic Morcha to prevent the Congress from capturing power in the ensuing Assembly elections in the state. He further said the morcha would take up issues like river water dispute, transfer of Chandigarh and Punjabi speaking areas in Punjab, unemployment and farmers’ loans.

Prof Chandumajra said the morcha was going to launch a campaign from September 10 by organising dharnas in front of the offices of the Deputy Commissioners throughout the state. He said on September 30 a state-level rally would be organised at Ludhiana.

Amritsar: Bhai Manjit Singh, senior vice-president, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal and patron of the All-India Sikh Students Federation (Gill), has said Panthic unity as desired by the ruling Akali Dal could be forged if Mr Badal would part with the presidentship of SAD.

In a press statement, issued here on Tuesday, Bhai Manjit Singh said that the unity move could be initiated if Mr Badal would give in writing that he was ready to appear before Akal Takht for having allegedly violated their directive issued by Bhai Ranjit Singh to maintain truce till the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of Khalsa Panth.


Giani Kewal’s plea to Advani on undertrials
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 5
Takht Damdama Sahib Jathedar Giani Kewal Singh has demanded that Union Home Minister L.K. Advani should take back his statement regarding facilitating police officers booked for human rights violation during militancy in Punjab and appealed him for the release of Sikh militants facing trials.

In a letter to Mr Advani, Giani Kewal Singh lamented that the Union Home Minister’s statement had hurt the sentiments of the Sikhs and reopened the wounds of the community which had already suffered a major setback during the Congress regime which witnessed Operation Bluestar and anti-Sikh riots in 1984 and bloodshed in Punjab for over a decade. “You (Mr Advani) have to not only take back your statement to maintain the dignity of the Sikhs but also unconditionally release all Sikh undertrial, who had been behind the bars from the militancy period, to win the heart of the Sikhs,” he wrote..

“If you will not be faithful to the Sikhs then the community will lose hope even from this non-Congress government,” he further wrote. Criticising Mr Advani’s statement of facilitating the cops facing the rights violation cases, he said if government servants of such misconduct deserved sympathy from the Centre, then why should the undertrials not deserve the same.

“If the Muslim sentiments were taken care of by releasing Kashmir militants following a hijack last year then same sentiments should also be there for the Sikhs,” he said.


Officials’ threat to boycott procurement
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 5
Even as the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has been pressing the Central Government to enhance minimum support price (MSP) of paddy and facilitate its procurement officials of the five state agencies have started pressing the state government to accept their demands or else they would be forced to boycott the procurement of paddy.

The Punjab State Foodgrain Agencies Field Employees Coordination Committee, an association of the employees union of five state procurement agencies, has decided to hold a rally in Jalandhar on September 10 to decide whether they should carry out procurement of paddy or not.

Representatives of the Punjab State Foodgrain Agencies Field Employees Coordination Committee which included Mr Hardev Singh Rosha, Mr Jagdev Singh, Mr Ashwani Kumar and Mr Krishan Sangruri, today held a meeting with the Secretary, Food, Punjab, Mr P. Ram and conveyed to him their demands.

Mr Ashwani Kumar, spokesman, Coordination Committee, while talking to TNS, said their main demands include to do away the system of joint custody of paddy with rice mill owners, laying down the storage and transit norms and withdrawal of cases registered against employees of Markfed, Punsup, Punjab State Ware Housing Corporation, the Punjab Agro and Food and Supply Department.

He said at a meeting today in which managing directors of various agencies also participated, they had been assured that employees would not be victimised in connection with the procurement of paddy and norms would be laid down for the storage and transportation by December 31. They had also been assured that cases against employees of five state agencies would be screened and withdrawn accordingly, no departmental and police action would be taken against employees associated with the procurement of paddy directly.

Information's gathered by TNS revealed that field staff of all five state procurement agencies were feeling that they would be under pressure to compromise the quality of paddy this season as the Assembly elections were round the corner. Later they would have to face the music during its milling.

According to sources, some employees of five state agencies, who were certain that they would be deployed for procurement of paddy in the coming season, had been planning to take long leave from their department.

The officials pointed out that there was an urgent need to break the nexus of unscrupulous rice mill owners and top bureaucrats to ensure the procurement of paddy according to the specifications which were yet to be laid down.


Army: ban import of unexploded shells
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
The Army today urged the civil authorities to ban the import of unexploded shells by scrap dealers to ensure the safety of public life and property.

In a press release issued here, the Army denied that it had at any time refused to dispose of old bombs found lying at Fatehpur, near Sirhind.

It said that the police authorities had been repeatedly advised on the procedure for seeking Army assistance to the civil authorities. They were required to approach the Ministry of Defence for getting Army assistance. On the receipt of clearance from the ministry, Army headquarters would issue orders to Western Command HQ and the necessary assistance would be provided.

The press release noted that, according to media reports, steel and scrap dealers had been importing unexploded shells as scrap from abroad. These were in turn either smelted, sold or abandoned indiscriminately. The Army had on two occasions in the recent past destroyed a huge quantity of such shells at Dhandari Kalan, Sirhind and Doraha. 


Explanation sought from Red Cross
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 5
The District Red Cross Society that why it had been running a drug store on the premises of the local civil hospital without licence for the past more than one-and-a-half years.

Official sources said the state Drug Controller in a letter sent to District Red Cross authorities had asked that on what basis it had been running a drug store in the premises of the local civil hospital without the licence and without having taken the shop from the authorities concerned on lease.

Mr Ajmer Singh Mann, secretary, district Red Cross Society, when contacted, while confirming the fact that explanation had been sought by the State Drug Controller, pointed out that state Health authorities had permitted the society to run the same.

He alleged that some vested interests were trying to force the Red Cross Society to close its shop though it had been serving the poor section by selling them medicine at very cheap rates.

Sources said the society had moved an application to state Drug Control authorities for the renewal of licence to run the drug store in the local civil hospital about two years ago.

The state drug control team had also inspected the premises of drug store after the required licence fee was deposited with it.

Few months ago, controversy arose over the running of drug store in the civil hospital here by district red cross when some voluntary organisations and individuals raised the matter that some drug falling in the category of “physician samples not for sale” category were also being sold from the drug store.

In the recent past, a team of doctors and para-medical staff of civil hospital raided the drug store and seized some items on the direction of Deputy Commissioner, Mr R. Menkat Ratnam.

Mr Ratnam had ordered inquiry in connection with the working and alleged bunglings of Red Cross drug store after getting a report from Civil Surgeon.

Mr Mann said that the society had also approached the PWD authorities for working out the lease money for the premises where it had been running its drug store.


Beopar mandal to release nominees’ list for poll
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 5
The Punjab Beopar Mandal will release the list of its 25 candidates here on September 9 to contest the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state. This was stated by Mr Madan Lal Kapoor and Mr Bimal Gupta, President and Patron of the Kapoor Beopar Mandal, respectively here on Tuesday. Mr Jagmohan Lal, President, Beopar Mandal Chandigarh, would also attend it.

A meeting of all Beopar Mandals will also be held to decide the course of action following the failure of the Punjab Government to redress their long-pending grievances. Mr Kapoor and Mr Gupta charged Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal with failing to fulfil his promises of abolition of octroi and curtailment in the powers of the Excise and Taxation Department made during the last Assembly elections. They said the Chief Minister was now thinking to abolish the octroi only to woo the traders in the ensuing Assembly elections. Both made it clear that the business community would not be taken in by such acts of the Chief Minister.


ASI sent to Police Lines
Tribune News Service

Samana (Patiala) September 5
The police has sent an Assistant Sub-Inspector involved in the alleged beating up of brick kiln workers in the township yesterday to the Police Lines.

According to reports the police had severely beaten up several brick kiln workers on Monday. Twenty of them were admitted to the Sub-Divisional Hospital here. The police had claimed that the brick kiln workers had attacked a police team which had questioned their antecedents. A case had been registered against them for attacking the police party.

The workers had claimed that they had arrived from Uttar Pradesh to work at a brick kiln at Gajipura village near here when they were asked to identify themselves by three police personnel. They said even though they told them they had come from Uttar Pradesh they started misbehaving with them and were then beaten up brutally. The injured included both men and women.

Senior Superintendent of Police Paramjit Singh Grewal, when contacted, said according to an internal inquiry there was no truth in reports that the police team which was verifying antecedents of brick-kiln workers was drunk.

Mr Grewal said he had, however, sent the ASI to the Police Lines to ensure a full inquiry could be conducted into the case. He said an inquiry would also be conducted to ascertain people who had attacked the police team. 


Tension in truck union area
Our Correspondent

Sunam, September 5
Tension prevails in the local truck operators union area on the Sunam-Patiala road after the formation of a new truck operators’ union here yesterday.

Policemen were present near both truck unions’ offices to avert any untoward incident.

Mr Baljeet Singh Munshi of the newly formed union said the deduction of Rs 1,500 from the payment of each operator led to the formation of a new union as many members opposed this deduction.

He claimed the support of about 300 truck operators.

On the other hand some members of the old truck union were not recongnising the new union on the pretext that the new union had a small number of operators with it.

However, members of both unions were seen carrying lathis and iron rods. 


PSEB to push for 24-hr power scheme
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 5
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today held a special meeting to give a push to the 24-hour power supply scheme which aims to give uninterrupted power supply to villages on the urban pattern in which a proposal was discussed to extend this facility to around 4,000 more villages in the state during this year.

The 24-hour power supply scheme is being personally monitored by State Power Minister Sikander Singh Malooka. The alleged failure of Mr Gurcharan Singh Sohal, the Chairman of the board, who has proceeded on leave, in implementing the scheme was responsible for his ouster and subsequent handing over the additional charge of the Board Chairman to Power Secretary Sudhir Mittal.

Mr Mittal while presiding over a meeting on the issue here discussed in length with engineers the problems being faced in extending the scheme further and also fixed concrete guidelines under which work on the scheme was to be done. According to sources, the board has planned to extend the scheme to 4,000 more villages in the current year. They said the scheme had already been implemented in around 5,500 villages earlier.

According to board officials, earlier Mr Mittal addressed the heads of departments of various organisations and stressed the need for reducing commercial losses and cutting down operational costs to the extent possible. The Chairman impressed upon the officers to think in a positive manner about the progress of the board and laid emphasis on the improvement of consumer service by providing them uninterrupted quality power supply.

The meeting was attended by Administrative Member Baldev Singh Mann, Member, (Generation) Suresh Gupta, Member (Transmission) A.K. Kundra, Member (Operations) Kirpal Singh, Member (Finance) Anirudh Tiwari and Board Secretary D.K. Tiwari.


Patiala telecom gets new system
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 5
The Patiala Secondary Switching Area has introduced Dotsoft system in the district telecom office, making it the first telecom district in the state to get the system. Disclosing this here today, the General Manager, Patiala Secondary Switching Area, Mr Bhag Singh, said the system would also be installed in Ludhiana, Chandigarh and Jalandhar.

The system will be set up by ECL, a private company based at Hyderabad. It will also train the local staff to use the system. Mr Bhag Singh said with the new system on-line payment and booking for new connections would become easy.

He said the foundation stone for the Naina Kot exchange had been laid and the Sanaur exchange, which presently had a capacity of 1,000 lines, would be soon upgraded to 2000 lines. He said the Fatehgarh Sahib exchange would also be upgraded.


DTO’s interim bail confirmed
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 5
Interim bail, earlier granted to Mr Deepak Raj Garg, District Transport Officer (DTO), Sangrur, in a corruption case was confirmed by Mr R.P. Nagrath, Special Judge, Sangrur, here today.

The case was registered by the Vigilance Bureau against to DTO on August 22.


Two officials promoted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
The Punjab Government has promoted Mr O.P. Gupta, Secretary to Minister, to the rank of Special Secretary to Minister.

By another order, the government also promoted Mr Surinder Kumar Sachdev, Private Secretary to the Social Security and Welfare Minister, to the rank of Secretary to Minister.


Tubewell corporation reverts 26 engineers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
The Punjab State Tubewell Corporation today reverted two superintending engineers, six executive engineers and 18 subdivisional engineers to their substantive ranks according to official sources. The sources said some of these officers were holding dual charge.


3 arrested for friend’s murder
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 5
The police has arrested three persons in connection with the murder of Rohit Malhotra of Batala whose body was found at Power Colony near Majitha bypass on June 25.

The three suspects are Ashok Kumar of Batala and Kanwardeep Singh and Hira Lal, both of Amritsar. The victim was a friend of the suspects.

According to the police, all four, including the victim, were addicted to smack and used to come at Kanwardeep’s house for taking smack.

However, the murder was made out to be an accident, Mr Parampal Singh Sidhu, SSP alleged in a press note here today. The police believed that Rohit was first given an overdose of drug and later after a sharp blow on his head, was left on a deserted road.

The suspects had taken away a gold chain, a silver bracelet and a mobile phone before leaving the body.


Fake SC certificate racket unearthed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 5
Charge sheets issued to appointees to clerical cadre of the State Bank of India have opened “Pandora’s box” in respect of the certificates submitted to secure jobs reserved for schedule castes and schedule tribes in Punjab.

A large number of appointments to State Bank of India clerical cadre were alleged to have been made on the submission of SC/ST certificates. It was also alleged that no written tests were given for the same. Recruitment rules were also alleged to have been flouted.

Under the rules caste certificates for quota jobs are verified by the police, certified by the administration, mostly SDMs, in this case and by the Bank’s recruitment section before making the appointments.

Charge sheets issued in respect of appointments made in mid seventies have several loopholes, lending credence to the fact that many appointees submitted bogus SC/ST certificates. Appointments were made merely on the submission of the certificates which remained unverified and on financial considerations amounting to lakhs.

It has been alleged that in several cases of appointments many castes or surnames do not tally with 37 notified SC/ST castes under the Constitution (Schedule Castes) order 1950 Part-II – rules and orders under the Constitution Part-XIV – Punjab.

Inquiries with the local branch of the SBI revealed that certain cases were doubtful. However, Mr. R.S. Verma, Assistant General Manager of SBI head office here drew a blank when asked about any recruitments on bogus certificates said the recruitment details were with the Banking Personnel Department only.

Mr. Sudhir Kumar Raina, manager of Banking Services recruitment, when contacted in Chandigarh also expressed ignorance about bogus SC/ST certificates used to secure jobs in the bank.

However, charge sheets issued to appointees years later tell a different story.

Things came to light when an employee of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here joined the bank on a Scheduled Caste certificate.


Kidnapping case against sister filed
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, September 5
In a case of kidnapping lodged by Mr Dev Raj, the police has booked his sister Jeeto under Section 365 of the IPC.

According to police sources, the complainant alleged that his sister of Gandhlan Lahri village was behind the disappearance of his daughter Rani.

According to the sources, Dev Raj said that Rani and Sunita his daughters, left their residence on August 18 to visit their aunt at Gandhlan Lahri. On August 19, Jeeto telephoned him, saying that his younger daughter had died in a bus accident.

But the complainant came to know that Sunita died due to a train accident near Bahadur Lahri village and the GRP, Pathankot, had closed the case after investigation.

When he enquired from his sister about Rani, she was unable to give any satisfactory reply. He alleged that she had played a vital role in the disappearance of Rani.


Dera chief found dead
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 5
The head of a dera, Baba Feru Ram, aged 52, was found murdered at neaby Khajurla village this morning. The police has registered a case under Section 302, IPC.


Teachers’ Day celebrated
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 5
Students of the Regional College of Management and Technology (RCMT) celebrated Teachers’ Day by organising cultural and youth programmes here today.

Prof Karam Singh, an educationist, was the chief guest. Speaking on the occasion, he said the youth should imbibe Indian values and ethics while taking good values of the world culture.

Ms Anuradha, Principal, Mr Amandeep Mann, Director, and Mr Satwinder Dhillon, Chairman of the college also spoke. Simmi and Neeraj were adjudged Ms and Mr RCMT respectively.

A function in this connection was also celebrated at Kendriya Vidyalaya (number 4) where teachers were felicitated.

The principal of the school, Mr T.D. Garg was the chief guest on the occasion. A cultural programme was also presented.


College Principal suspended
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 5
Mr V.K. Mehta, Principal, Arya College, here has been suspended by the college managing committee. Dr K. K. Pasricha, working president of the Arya Vidya Parishad, Punjab, in his order announced today has ordered the suspension of Mr Mehta for disobedience of orders and other complaints against him.

The committee, at its meeting held here today appointed Mr S.S. Verma, Head of the Physics Department, as the officiating Principal of the college.


Chemists seek uniform MRP on drugs
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 5
Mr R.D. Gupta, president, Punjab Chemists Association, said the government should take effective steps so that the maximum retail price (MRP) on drugs was uniform throughout the country.

Mr Gupta said here today that a meeting of association was held at Amritsar yesterday, where Mr Sandeep Nangia, vice-president of the All-India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists, was the chief guest. The meeting resolved that the prices of the drugs should be made uniform throughout the country and the discrepancies due to local taxes and octroi be removed.

Mr Gupta said octroi had been abolished in Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi leading to price difference on various drugs in these states. The implementation of Value Added Tax (VAT) from April, 2002, would make the accounting system of the chemists very cumbersome and there was an urgent need for computerisation of the entire system, he added.

Mr Darshan Singh, general secretary of the PCA, said the government had stopped the renewal of licences of those chemists where a qualified person was not a partner in the business, which was leading to a number of problems. He said in about 80 per cent of the cases the qualified person was an employee at the shop and if the law stating that the qualified person should be a partner at the firm/shop continued to be in force thousands of chemists shops would close down.

Mr Nangia, demanded that the implementation of VAT should be kept out of the medical profession. The VAT system would make accounting for the chemists a difficult task as they would have to update their accounts daily, which would not be possible under the present circumstances.

He added that a drugs advisory forum headed by the Health Minister should be formed and the heads of the associations should be taken as members of the same. The list of the life-saving drugs should also be revised by the government. Many drugs which had not been declared as life saving drugs, including those used for treating tuberculosis and diabetes should be declared as life saving drugs, he demanded.

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