Sunday, March 10, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Refinery file missing: Singla
Sees Parkash Singh Badal’s hand in it
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 9
In a startling disclosure which could have far-reaching political ramifications, Mr Surinder Singla, MLA and Chairman, High-Powered Finance Commission, today alleged that an official file pertaining to the Punjab Refinery Project was missing from the state records and it was being suspected that it had been taken away by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Mr Singla added that though efforts were being made to trace the file, he would demand penal action against the person who had taken the file.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Singla alleged that vested interests forced Mr Badal not to implement the refinery project during his tenure. He alleged that Mr Badal was shifting the blame on the Congress by claiming that the refinery could not be set up due to the Congress’ laxity.

Mr Singla, who distributed copies of two letters as proof of the Congress’ claim that it brought the project when the Congress was in power in Punjab and at the Centre, alleged that Mr Badal should tell people why Amraco, a Saudi Arabia-based company, which was willing to be a partner to set up the refinery project in a joint venture, withdrew its offer later and the reasons for the subsequent delay in the implementation of the project.

Mr Singla, who was given a warm welcome and brought into the city in a big procession on his first visit here after becoming MLA, claimed that the Punjab Government was committed to revive the economy of the state and would make all efforts to implement the refinery project. He added that shortly the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, would take up the matter with the Centre.

To a question, Mr Singla said though the state was in a financial crisis, yet there was no need of imposing a financial emergency. He added that the government was well equipped to tide over the economic crisis.

Mr Singla said he would declare his assets to the Chief Minister and the people of Bathinda who had supported him. He said he would make Bathinda a model city.


Bhattal blames media for rift with CM
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
Reviving economy and putting the State back on the road to development are the immediate tasks before the Punjab Government for which the entire Congress Legislature Party in general and the Council of Ministers in particular are behind Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, says Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Rural Development and Agriculture Minister, Punjab.

“Punjab is on brink of bankruptcy. The fiscal crisis facing the State is the worst ever. Our immediate concern is to pull the State out of this economic crisis and provide neat, clean and transparent governance to the people,” says Mrs Bhattal appealing to the media “not to play up non-existent differences within the party”.

In an informal chat with The Tribune, Mrs Bhattal said that she always honoured each and every directive of the party high command. “But some times, the media in its enthusiasm, either misquotes me or quotes me out of context,” she said maintaining that all she had been saying was that she was “ready to do anything which was in the interest of the party and the State”.

“I appeal to the media to cooperate and avoid creating misunderstandings or a wrong impression in the minds of the people. We can make Punjab number one state only if we work free from such distractions.

“We all have accepted Capt Amarinder Singh as the leader of our Legislature Party. There is cordiality and proper understanding and we all have been working as a well-knit and cohesive team.

“It was in deference to the wishes of the party high command that I accepted to be on the Council of Ministers. I have always worked as a loyal and disciplined soldier of the party and not bothered about offices,” she said .

Certain vested interests, she said, probably wanted to drive a wedge in the party. “We shall thwart all such attempts as the Congress is a disciplined party,” she said maintaining that the immediate thrust was to work extra hard and live up to high expectations of people of Punjab.

“The people are looking to the Congress government with lots of hopes. Besides the shattered economy ,basic services, including healthcare, education and others are in shambles. Tackling the insurmountable problem of corruption is a gigantic task. We have to focus on these people-oriented issues rather than get into petty squabbles and politicking,” she said.

“I want to make it clear that I have no ambition for any post or position. I, as a disciplined soldier of the Congress, will follow religiously whatever party high commands wants me to do,” she said maintaining that endeavour of every Congress man in Punjab was to strengthen the party further.


S. Africa’s envoy meets Punjab CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
A high-powered South African delegation, comprising High Commissioner, Mrs M.E. Nkoana Mashabane, accompanied by a team from Limpopo province, including Mrs Rosina Semeny, the Minister for Sports Arts and Culture, Mr I.P.E Ndhambi, and the Director of Sports Arts, Culture Mr J.J.Hamman — called on Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh, here today.

Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, and Mr Ashwani Sekhri, both members of the Punjab Council of Ministers, besides the Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S.Ratra, Principal Secretary to the CM, Mr S.K. Sinha, Financial Commissioner (Development ), Mr P.K. Verma and Secretary Cultural Affairs and Tourism, Mrs Geetika Kalha, were also present.

Issues of mutual interest, including cooperation in the fields of agriculture, agro-processing and food preservation were discussed. The High Commissioner conveyed South Africa’s readiness to share technology in these fields. The possibility of technical cooperation in the fields of power, distribution, transmission and metering, in which South Africa is a world leader were also discussed. Ms Rosina Semeny raised the possibility of sports and cultural exchanges between Punjab and Limpopo province. The Chief Minister agreed particularly to the development of football in Punjab and cricket in South Africa.

The Chief Minister accepted an invitation to visit South Africa at the earliest and he also extended an invitation for the Premier of Limpopo province, Mr Ngoako Ramathlodi, to visit Punjab later this year. He also expressed keen interest in the wildlife of South Africa.

The High Commissioner conveyed keen interest in a broad-based cooperation between Punjab and South Africa, and the inspirational role India played in ending apartheid in South Africa. The High Commissioner and her delegation earlier called on the Governor of Punjab, Lt-Gen (Retd) JFR Jacob, at Raj Bhavan.


Technocrat to head PSEB: Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 9
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today made it clear that a technocrat would head the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), besides announcing that it would be given full autonomy.

Addressing newspersons here, the Chief Minister said a reputed engineer with the required qualifications would be made Chairman of the PSEB. “This is no time to play around with the board”, he said when asked whether the government would appoint a politician to the top post.

He said according to information given to him, the board was in a precarious position and that a crisis was in the offing if nothing was done about it. He said he had been briefed that the board was suffering an annual loss of Rs 1,300 crore, besides having borrowed from financial institutions to the tune of Rs 5,000 crore. He said though the board had been able to function as there was a moratorium on the borrowings, the first yearly instalment of Rs 1,200 crore was due for deposit in April this year. He said the instalment on the borrowings next year was likely to be Rs 1,700 crore.

The Chief Minister said besides internal reforms would also have to be taken up in the PSEB as the line losses itself constituted for 27 per cent of the power produced by the state. He said the Akalis had also erred by not going in for more thermal power stations and taking on the task of building the Thein dam at an astronomical cost where power was being produced at the rate of Rs 7 per unit. He said power could be produced from thermal stations at the rate of Rs 2 per unit.

The Chief Minister said the economy of the state was also in a shambles and it would take some time to set it right. He said the gap between revenue and expenditure was Rs 3,500 crore.

He, however, said there was no need for a financial emergency and the government would conduct a major cost-cutting exercise to bring the economy back on the rails.


CM for reviving economy
Tribune News Service

Mansa, March 9
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has said all promises made by the Congress in its manifesto will be fulfilled at the earliest and necessary steps are being taken to eradicate corruption at all levels and revive the economy of the state.

The Chief Minister was addressing a press conference at Makhewala village, about 25 km from here, after paying tributes to Mr Kirpal Singh Makha, former minister and senior Congress leader, at a largely attended bhog ceremony yesterday.

He said he was going to Delhi to persuade the Defence Minister to release sufficient funds to compensate farmers for losses to their crops in the border areas due to the deployment of the Army and to compensate victims of landmine blasts. He had requested the Central Government to enhance the minimum support price of wheat from Rs 610 to Rs 760 per quintal as the production cost has risen to Rs 720, he added.


65-cr salary paid to ‘surplus’ dam staff
Tribune News Service

Ranjit Sagar Dam, (Gurdaspur), March 9
It may sound strange but this is true that a sum of Rs 65 crore has been paid to more than 5,000 employees who were rendered ‘surplus’ after the completion of the Ranjit Sagar Dam, since March last year. The dam was dedicated to the nation on March 4 last year by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Before dedicating the Ranjit Sagar Dam to the nation, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the then Chief Minister, had assured that Rs 1,400 crore Shahpur Kandi project would be completed and all ‘surplus employees’ would be adjusted there. Mr R.C. Jain, Chief Engineer, admitted that the total salary bill of 11,000 employees of the dam was more than Rs 130 crore per annum. He said about 5,000 employees were rendered surplus and were getting regular salaries.

Mr Harinder Singh Randhawa, general secretary, Thein Dam Workers Union (CITU), has threatened to launch fast unto death from March 20 if the management of the Ranjit Sagar Dam and the state government failed to accept their genuine demands by then. He said more than 1,000 employees had already sat on chain fast which entered 82nd day today.

He said though the state government had accepted all genuine demands of the employees in principle but they could not be implemented for the reasons best known to all concerned.

The management had given jobs to only150 persons on compassionate grounds while kith and kin of equal number of those who lost their bread-earners while constructing the dam were still going from pillar to post, to get jobs, he said. Many employees who became handicapped during the construction of the dam could not be duly compensated so far, he said.

The Chief Engineer, however, said the grant of Rs 19 crore sanctioned by the Central Government for the construction of the Shahpur Kandi project would not be lapsed as it would be utilised properly in due course of time. He said the Central Government had already sanctioned the Shahpur Kandi project and the work on it would be started shortly.

Mr Randhawa said the machinery worth crores of rupees was rendered idle which could be used if the Shahpur Kandi project was started. He said the state government could not harness the entire benefits of the Ranjit Sagar Dam unless the Shahpur Kandi project was completed. With the result the Ranjit Sagar Dam had been generating much less power than its capacity. He said the water of the Ravi which had been going to Pakistan since Partition could be stopped from reaching Pakistan permanently after the completion of the Shahpur Kandi project.


Female foeticide ‘expensive’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 9
On the International Women’s Day the focus was on the evil of female foeticide with prominent women disclosing that ban on sex determination tests and subsequent termination of pregnancies had only made these services more expensive instead of acting as a deterrent.

Women also felt that it was the highly educated among them who were increasingly going in for medical termination of pregnancies and also felt that these could be averted if the pregnant mother was assured support from her husband and in-laws.

Kala Kriti president Parminderpal Kaur, who is also a Deputy Director in the Punjab State Electricity Board and who organised a function to mark the Women’s Day in which writer Dalip Kaur Tiwana was honoured, said a survey conducted by her organisation in league with noted playwright Kirpal Kazak and others had revealed that scan centres and clinics continued to do sex determination tests and abortions, albeit at a higher price. Mr Kazak said now the rate for conducting abortions had increased from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500.

Noted doctor Adarsh Chopra said problems arose in present day society because both spouses were working. She said it was up to the husbands and mothers and mothers in-law of pregnant women who wanted to go in for an abortion to convince them not to do so. Dr Tiwana said unless women understood their own value, they would not expect others to respect and understand their feelings. Dr Tiwana offered her own solution to prevent female foeticide by saying that a trust could be formed for every girl child in which the government could deposit Rs 5,000. She said when a woman reached the age of 20 the money could be used to start some venture by her or its interest could be used by her for her own maintenance, adding this would make the ordinary woman more independent.

Meanwhile, the Women’s Day was celebrated by the Working Women Coordination, Punjab under the presidentship of Harsharanjit Kaur besides the Basant Ritu Youth Club, Tripuri under the presidentship of Mr R.K. Sharma. Women, however, gave mixed responses to their feelings on the day with Punjab Nurses Association president Jeewanpreet Kaur saying the cause of women should form part of the life of each individual and celebration of a particular day was meaningless.


Exclusion irks Amritsar Congressmen
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 9
Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, is reportedly under pressure to give representation to Amritsar where the party won three of the four seats during the recently held Assembly election. A large number of Congress workers and leaders have already lodged their protest with Ms Sonia Gandhi, President of the Congress, for not inducting any MLA from the city this time.

This is for the first time that no minister was taken from Amritsar. Since 1952, Mr Gyan Chand Kharbanda, Pt Faqir Chand Sharma, Mr Satya Pal Dang, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon and Dr Baldev Parkash Chawla, who were elected from Amritsar, from time to time, had enjoyed ministerial berths in the state. Mr Brij Bhushan Mehra, who was a senior leader of the Congress from Amritsar, was elevated to the post of Speaker in the Punjab Assembly.


Mann cautions CM on SYL
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 9
Commenting upon the Supreme Court’s ruling to strike down the review petition filed by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to challenge the decision of the apex court to open up the SYL canal to let Punjab’s river waters flow into Haryana, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and Member of Parliament, today said his party would not allow this decision to be implemented.

If the government implemented the Supreme Court’s decision, it would have to face agitation in the state, warned Mr Mann.

Mr Mann also assured the cooperation of MPs from the state to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. 


Cong MLAs to declare assets

Jalandhar, March 9
The Punjab State Minister for Social Security and Welfare of SC and BCs, Choudhary Santokh Singh, yesterday said the ministers, as well as the elected representatives of the Congress in the state, would soon submit details of their assets to the high command.

Choudhary Santokh told mediapersons here that as promised in the party’s manifesto all MLAs would submit the required details of their properties. As a first step towards clean governance.

“All promises made in our manifesto will be fulfilled. Eradication of corruption and giving transparent administration will be the main objectives of the government,” he added.

He said the government was committed towards uplift of the downtrodden in society and to achieve this goal a reservation policy, as per rules, would be soon implemented. PTI


Ferozepore to be model dist
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, March 9
One of the most backward areas of Punjab, Ferozepore district sharing more than 200 km of border with Pakistan, will soon become a model district in the country.

With more emphasis on computerisation of work in all government departments, the district administration is all set to become more accountable to people in solving their day-to-day problems.

Talking to the TNS here recently, Mr S.R. Ladhar, Deputy Commissioner, said a committee of experts had been constituted to draw up a strategy to modernise the system of working.

The first meeting of the committee will be held next week to draft a plan of developing softwares, to impart computer education among the government employees, to set up a fully computerised centre to look into public grievances at all subdivisions and set up computer education centres for the economically weaker sections of society at nominal charges.

He said video conferencing facility had already been started to develop fast and reliable exchange of information between officials posted at the state headquarter in Chandigarh and in the district. The manual record of land-holdings had also been computerised. The registration work of land-holdings at the tehsil and sub-tehsil levels of the district was being done with special software developed for the purpose.

It had also been proposed to set-up five computer centres in the district in collaboration with a private professional firm to impart computer education among the economically weaker sections of the society. A nominal fee of Rs 700 had been proposed for a diploma course. However, Mr Ladhar clarified that is case a candidate is unable to pay the fee he or she can seek the help of the district administration. His or her fee would be reimbursed from the Red-Cross Society funds. One such computer education centre had already been started in Ferozepore city.

Answering a question, he said computer education would be made mandatory for government employees in due course of time. To attract the employees in seeking computer education few incentives had also been proposed.

A computer questionnaire had been prepared to award certificates to these government employee passing the test they would be awarded a certificate and get a cash prize of Rs 2000 plus an increment in service. He admitted that so far the response from government employees had not been good.


Bank told to pay compensation

Ropar, March 9
The District Consumer Forum has directed the Punjab and Sind Bank to pay compensation to a complainant for honouring his cheque despite him not having the requisite deposit in his account.

The complainant, Mr Davinder Pal Singh Cheema, alleged that he had issued a cheque of Rs 1,900 which was dishonoured despite the fact that he had a balance of Rs 2,185 in his account.

When he approached the bank authorities, he was told that a cheque of Rs 17,000, issued earlier by him, had been negligently honoured despite his outstanding balance being just Rs 2,185. He was told that an overdraft of Rs 15,000 was raised in his account and the interest on the amount debited to his balance.

The complainant alleged that he had a fixed deposit of Rs 50,000 in the bank, for which he was to get Rs 69,260 on maturity. The authorities instead of paying him his full amount however, deducted Rs 15,000 the overdraft to his saving account from the fixed deposit.

Alleging that the bank had illegally honoured the cheque for Rs 17,000 issued earlier, he demanded a compensation for the alleged deficiency of service.

The bank authorities, in their reply filed in the court, said that allegations of the complaint were false. They alleged that the complainant had issued a cheque for Rs 17,000 in favour of a computer firm, which on his request, was cleared despite him not having the requisite amount in his account.

He, however, failed to adjust the overdraft following which the bank, exercising its legal rights, deducted the amount from the fixed deposit. They also alleged that the complainant had tried to play mischief and usurp the public fund.

The Consumer Forum, comprising its president, Mr J.P. Gupta, and members Mr S.K. Bhatia and Mr M.K. Chawla, however maintained that honouring an overdraft cheque amounted to deficiency of service.

The forum directed the bank to refund Rs 17,000 deducted from the account of the complainant and also pay a compensation of Rs 5,000. The forum also awarded Rs 1,000 as cost of litigation.


No ambulance at mock safety drill
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 9
A mock safety drill undertaken by the local LPG bottling plant of Bharat Petroleum recently raised questions about the efficiency of health authorities as no ambulance reached the plant although the authorities were informed about the emergency arising there.

The health authorities present at the plant failed to give a satisfactory answer when the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Darshan Singh Grewal, enquired about the non-arrival of the ambulance. The officials of the district administration, Civil Hospital and other departments were invited to the bottling plant to watch the mock drill.

A senior official of the Civil Hospital assured the ADC that he would look into the matter and would find out the reasons for the non-arrival of the ambulance.

The mock safety drill was conducted to observe National Safety Week which aimed at checking the effectiveness of the emergency preparation plan of the plant.

Mr P.K. Ramanathan, Territory Manager, said the drill was carried out to gauge the effectiveness of safety measures.


Sena to fight for labourers’ cause
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 9
The Punjab Dalit Sena in a resolution passed at a meeting held yesterday said it would fight for the cause of labourers of the local unit of the NFL plant.

Mr Kiranjeet Singh Gehri, president of the union, said they would hold dharnas and rallies in support of the labourers who were allegedly not paid their dues by the authorities concerned.

He alleged that the labourers who raised their voice against the injustice were asked to quit the job. He said labourers’ union had given a memorandum to the authorities concerned in this connection but no action was taken against erring officers.

Mr Gehri said the authorities were not giving the information about pay slips or the provident fund of the labourers. He added that they would continue the struggle until the demands of the labourers were not accepted.


Identify erring cops in Gujarat, say Muslims
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 9
The Muslim National Front, Punjab, has expressed concern over the recent killings in Gujarat and other parts of the country.

Addressing a meeting of the front here today, its president, Syed Yaqub Hussain Naqvi, said the Central Government should conduct a high-level inquiry to fix responsibility on civil and police officials of Gujarat, who had failed to protect the lives of hundreds of innocent people during communal riots in Gujarat.

The meeting, in a unanimous resolution, criticised the Haryana Government for its alleged failure to protect the mosque in Kaithal district and demanded that the SSP and the Deputy Commissioner of Kaithal be immediately placed under suspension .


Mann assails govt on jatha issue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief and MP, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, today assailed the Punjab Government for preventing a “jatha of peaceful demonstrators” from proceeding to New Delhi on way to Ayodhya on Monday.

Mr Mann said that a jatha of 300 peaceful demonstrators from Malerkotla was detained at the Shambhu barrier and not allowed to proceed any further. “I could understand such an action had it been ordered by the SAD-BJP government in the state. But such an action by the Congress government, which claimed to be secular, was shocking.

“There are others who are going Ayodhya and holding protests and demonstrations. We only want to hold a peaceful demonstration there. Our party workers would assemble at Rakabganj Gurdwara in New Delhi tomorrow and start for Ayodhya where they would hold peaceful demonstration on Monday,” he said urging the Punjab Government to review its decision and let the jatha move to Ayodhya as scheduled.


Soldier cremated with honours
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, March 9
Lance Naik Gulzar Singh, who was posted in Srinagar sector and was shot dead by militants on March 4, was cremated today at his native village in Sarhali today with state honours.

Sources said Gulzar Singh was on duty at Army School, Srinagar, when the terrorists opened fire on jawans, as a result Gulzar Singh was killed on the spot.


SGPC extends pilgrimage date
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 9
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) today extended the date for applications to visit gurdwaras in Pakistan by four days, till March 14.


Farmers gloomy, despite bumper crop
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, March 9
Despite prospects of a bumper wheat crop in irrigated areas of Punjab so far, farmers are gloomy.

With barely four weeks left for harvesting the government is yet to declare the minimum support price for the wheat to be procured for the Public Distribution System. This has created a sense of unease among the farmers.

The defeat of the Akalis at the hands of the Congress has raised doubts in the minds of the farmers that the present government may not look seriously into the problems of the farmers.

Although the Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh has demanded Rs 760 as minimum support price of the wheat, the demand is not likely to be considered looking at the financial crisis and the distance between the Centre and the state following the formation of the Congress government in Punjab. Mr Badal was considered not only pro-farmer but also enjoyed cordial relations with the Central Government.

The support price is normally declared before the sowing so that farmers can plan out the economics. But this year, the Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices recommended that the support price, which is high abnormally, be held at last year’s level. For once, all Union Ministries concerned agreed. But, the Punjab and Haryana Chief Ministers have been lobbying for an upward revision.

A progressive farmer, Mr Gurdev Singh Sidhu of Kishore Singhwala village in Ferozepore district, who has used the Directorate of Wheat Research’s zero-till drill machine, which sows as it ploughs, and has a robust standing crop, is not concerned that the procurement price is higher than the open market price, which has affected the lifting of stocks in the PDS.

The input costs have become so unviable that he would rather have his son sweep and mop in Canada and earn an assured living than go in for agriculture. He boasts of dish antenna, a tractor, a truck and zero-trill, and his children are studying in good schools, yet he is dissatisfied.

Mr Rajwant Singh and his brothers are aware that they have to produce quality products under the World Trade Organisation regime. When advised to grow diversified crops, one of them said stocks of unsold oilseeds were lying with him since last year, because there was no market. Finding market for farm produce is one of the biggest challenges facing the farm sector.


UGC plans special funds for colleges
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 9
The Vice-Chairman of the University Grant Commission, Dr Arun Nigavekar, today asserted that allocation for higher education was likely to be doubled to Rs 5000 crore in the coming tenth Five-Year-Plan.

Talking to the media after presenting awards to students of BBK DAV College for Women here, he said the UGC planned to identify 100 colleges during this year out of 11,564 colleges in the country to provide them funds ranging from Rs 3 to 5 crore as one.

The Vice-Chairman pointed out since education institutions of higher learning faced global challenge selected institutions would have to be provided with funds for upgradation. This would not only stop Indian students from going abroad for higher studies but would also attract foreign students to India.

Prof Nigavekar felt that a large number of Indian students were going abroad, which was a drain on Indian resources. Citing the example of Australia, he said more than 18000 Indian students were annually going to that country. Australia was earning 2 billion annually by way of selling education to other countries.

The Vice-Chairman said a special coordination cell was being created by the UGC for “packaging and marketing” Indian universities and colleges to attract foreign students.

Dr Nigavekar answering questions said the UGC was preparing a draft proposal for mooting a national education fund for providing soft loans to universities, colleges and students for financing infrastructure and studies. For creating such a fund, the UGC was deliberating on various options to make the fund a success, by either imposing a tax or compulsory contribution from each individual as gurudakshna’.

Chiding state governments for shirking from their responsibility by cutting down grants to universities and colleges, Dr Nigavekar said the UGC had taken up the issue with the governments.

The Vice-Chairman said he had learnt that Punjab had issued a notification to reduce grants to colleges and universities by10 per cent annually for over a period of five years. He pointed out that UGC would take up the matter with the state government soon for maintaining status quo.

Former Minister for External Affairs R.L. Bhatia also addressed the students. The Principal of the college, Mrs J.Kackria, presented the college annual report.


REC grant issue to be probed
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 9
The Punjab Technical Education Department will hold an inquiry into the circumstances under which the annual grant to the local Regional Engineering College (REC) has been stopped by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).

The MHRD had reported stopped the grant to the REC after the Punjab government failed to relieve the college principal, Dr H.S. Sagar. The principal had been refused a second extension by the ministry, even as he was continuing in his office on the basis of a decision taken by the Board of Governors of the college and its then chairman, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha.

Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Punjab Technical Education Minister, today said his department would initiate an inquiry into the matter.


Schools’ body for copying-free Punjab
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 9
The Punjab Private Schools Organisation will actively cooperate with the government to bring about 100 per cent literacy, upgrade the education status and make Punjab a “copying-free state”.

This was stated by a high-level deputation of the organisation led by patron P.L. Kheti, president Manjit Singh Kauli and general secretary Tej Paul Singh. It met the Education Minister, Mr Khushhaal Behal today.

Mr Kheti told mediapersons here that the deputation urged the minister to take stern steps to check mass copying. It also demanded an approved schools status for all private schools of the state.


Law students awarded degrees
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 9
“Our education system is primarily producing job seekers and pen-pushers and not nation builders and patriots,” said Mr Justice Jawahar Lal Gupta, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court, while delivering the convocation address at the Department of Laws, Guru Nanak Dev University, here today.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of the university presided over the function and awarded degrees to 120 graduate and postgraduate students.

Mr Justice Gupta said character-building was the main objective of education. “With their minds imbued with good values students must work towards rebuilding the nation,” he said.

Dr S.P. Singh honoured Mr Justice Gupta by presenting him a memento, a set of university publications and phulkari, Dr R.S. Bawa Registrar of the university, proposed a vote of thanks.


Probe shifting of exam staff, says union
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 9
The Government School Lecturers’ Union has urged the Education Minister to conduct an inquiry into the shifting of superintendents of 21 centres before the start of matriculation examination. The union has alleged that there were some mala fide intentions behind the move.

At a meeting held here yesterday, leaders of the district unit of the union said it was unjustified that superintendents of so many centres were shifted in one go.

The president of the union, Mr Mahesh Kumar, said this move by the Controller of Examination sent a signal that the authorities had doubt about the sincerity of those shifted.

He said the authorities feared that the superintendents would help students in mass copying, which was baseless. The entire examination staff was not corrupt and if the authorities had doubt about some of them, a proper inquiry should have been held before taking the decision, he said.


Complete strike in colleges
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 9
Various colleges in the city observed a complete strike today to protest against the “indecent” behaviour of the Punjabi University Vice-chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, against a girl student, besides demanding his immediate ouster.

According to sources, students first forced the closure of Government Mohindra College, following which students went in a procession to Multani Mal Modi College and the Government College of Girls. They later also forced the closure of Gurmat College, Khalsa College Bikram College, the Government College of Education and Government Physical College.

A rally was also held at the Mahindra College. Speaking on the occasion, the Punjab Student Union President Raminder Singh Patiala said the action of Dr Ahluwalia had made the campus unsafe for girl students. He said the prestige of the varsity would only be salvaged if Dr Ahluwalia was punished for his misdeeds.

Others who spoke on the occasion were SFI leader Gurtej Teji, ASFI leader Jaspal Singh and SWF leader Karnail Singh. All student leaders criticised the role of the varsity Dean, Student Welfare, Dr B.S. Bhatia, who they said had tried to scuttle the programme of the students by declaring a two-day holiday in all colleges of the city. They demanded immediate ouster of the Vice-Chancellor, failing which, they said, they would intensify their agitation.

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