Monday, March 25, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Should big farmers get free power?
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
Should the facility of free power to big farmers be withdrawn? A debate has started in the Punjab State Electricity Board and the Punjab Government on this issue.

The financial position of the PSEB is extremely precarious. It can collapse any moment. The cash deficit for the current year, including pending bills for the purchase of coal, rail freight, power purchase, is around Rs 750 crore. In fact, it has been going up for the past few years.

The Union Government has already warned the defaulting states ( Punjab is one of them) to clear the dues of the Central organisations supplying coal and power to the states. Mr Suresh Prabhu, Union Minister for Power, has instructed the National Thermal Power Corporation not to supply power to the such states.

He has introduced the “cash and carry” formula for the states. It means they pay cash and carry power to the state concerned. The Coal Ministry has also started following this formula. During the peak season, that is June to September, Punjab has to buy power worth several crores from the Central Government. In the light of the new instructions issued by the Union Government, it will not be easy for Punjab to get power from the Central power organisations without paying money in advance.

Informed sources say that there are about 8.40 lakh tubewells drawing free power from the PSEB in Punjab. When this benefit was extended to the farmers, the number of tubewells then was about 7.30 lakh.

There are only 3.50 lakh tubewells which belong to small farmers ( owning land less than seven acres). Others are of medium and big farmers. A top level official of the PSEB talking to The Tribune said that these tubewells could be easily graded in “A”, “B” and “C” categories.

There should be free power to small farmers falling in the “C” category. From the medium rung farmers falling in “B” category owning land up to 20 acre or so, certain amount should be charged as power bills. Farmers owning big farms and orchards and engaged in other sort of commercial farming should be included in the “A” category and be asked to pay full power charges. There should be no provision of free power for them. -

A question in this connection was asked to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, by The Tribune. His reply was: “It is not a bad idea to charge bills from those who can afford to pay but the entire issue has to be examined properly”.

There are certain Congress Ministers who are of the opinion that there should be no provision of free power at least to big farmers. The Punjab Government is one of the states which has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Union Government to carry out power reforms. It would have to go for major reforms, if it wanted to avail funds in bulk to run the board.

There is a condition in the MoU to ensure minimum rate of return of 3 per cent over the capital investment made in the PSEB. And this will not be possible without charging power bills from big and medium level farmers and taking other steps like rationalising tariff.


Tax devolution formula ‘faulty’
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
Mr Harjit Inder Singh Grewal, a senior IAS officer, said today that the devolution of the share from central taxes to states was faulty and required to be corrected. He said the formula laid down for devolution was against progressive states like Punjab. In fact, the criteria fixed for devolution was such that “it punishes efficient states while rewarding the inefficient ones”.

Sharing his views with mediapersons here, Mr Grewal, on whom the University of Birmingham has conferred the degree of Master of Business Administration for doing his project work on “Devolution of Central taxes to states with specific reference to Punjab” said that financial resources to the states flowed through the recommendations of the Finance Commission and the Planning Commission of India in addition to the Centrally sponsored schemes.

The criteria adopted by the 11th Finance Commission on the share of the States from the Central pool of taxes included population, area, index of infrastructure, tax-gathering efforts, fiscal discipline and the per capita income. He said by adopting such criteria, the 11th commission awarded a lesser percentage of share to high-income states as compared to the 10th commission.

The percentage share of Punjab was reduced to 1.147 from 1.461 by the 11th Finance Commission. Consequently, Punjab would lose an estimated Rs 1,500 crore during the period April, 2000, to March 31, 2005.

Likewise, the Planning Commission allocated assistance to the states on the basis of two parameters — population and per capita income. Both determined the allocation of 85 per cent of the total fiscal transfers from the Centre to the states under the Gadgil-Mukerjee formula. Punjab was adversely affected under this dispensation because of its small population and a higher per capita income. States with a low growth of population were penalised because of such a formula.

Mr Grewal said states like Punjab were caught in a debt trap because of the “policy” of the Central Government. Backward states, which had been placed in the special category, got plan assistance as 10 per cent loan and 90 per cent grant in contrast to states like Punjab which received 70 per cent loan and 30 per cent grant. Such states had to pay back the loan. Over the years these had developed debt servicing problems.

In his dissertation, Mr Grewal reached the conclusion that states like Punjab, with a low rate of growth of population and higher per capita income, were the main sufferers because of the wrong policy adopted by the Union Government on the devolution of taxes from the Central pool and plan assistance.

Besides recommending other corrective measures, he laid emphasis on setting up a national pay revision commission. A uniform system should be adopted for the revision of wages of the employees of the states and the Union Government. A rational differential could be maintained in pay scales by clubbing the states in groups on the basis of the per capita income.

Dr C. Rangarajan, Governor, Andhra Pradesh awarded the MBA degree to Mr Grewal at a function held at the Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi. The function was presided over by former Union Minister S.B. Chavan.


PAU plan to bring down deficit
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh March 24
Punjab Agricultural University, which has been facing rough weather for the past couple of years because of its growing budget deficit, is all set to get back on the rails by the year 2005.

The top brass of the university has drawn up a comprehensive plan of action to bring down the deficit. By downsizing the staff, doing away with the sick units, merging different departments in the university and units at the substations and mobilising its own resources, the authorities hope to break even within the next three years.

The budget deficit for this financial year was Rs 23.26 crore. The budget estimates for 2002- 2003 project the deficit at Rs 18. 92 crore, provided the state government sanctions the grant asked by the university authorities ( Rs 116. 63 crore).

The university is facing a severe financial crunch. With almost 93 per cent of its annual budget going towards salaries, the authorities are finding it increasingly difficult to fund research projects.

Says the Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh: “ In order to ensure a steady pace of research, we are focussing on planning, reviewing and reprioritising the research projects. To stop repetitive research, we are also reviewing experiments in each department and initiating the process of exchange of inter -department and inter- disciplinary information.”

The new plan of action will be tabled during a meeting of the Board of Management of the University to be held here on March 25 . The meeting has been called to discuss the budget for 2002- 2003.

The authorities have decided not to fill posts of both teaching and non- teaching staff that fall vacant after the retirement of the employees. Sources say the sanctioned strength of both the teaching and non- teaching staff is 6,121 as against the approved strength of 4,776 . Thus, 21.3 per cent of the staff has been declared surplus. The authorities have worked out that the surplus staff problem would be tackled by the year 2005, resulting in a saving of Rs 14. 5 crore annually .

Also, some units like the printing press and the workshop have been declared sick and closed down. It is estimated that Rs 43 lakh will be saved with this move.

Over the past year, certain departments have been merged —Fisheries with Zoology, Physics, with Mathematics and Statistics and Agrometeorology with Agronomy.

Earlier, the Department of Biotechnology had been merged with the Department of Genetics. also, the university substations at Gurdaspur, Ballowal Saunkri, Bathinda, Faridkot and Ropar have been rechristened zonal research stations by merging various units like Krishi Vigyan Kendras and regional research stations.

Funds will also be generated by increasing the yield of non-experimental areas and various seed farms at the zonal research stations, the Laddowal Seed Farm and the Nabha Old Jail land allocated to the university.

Sources say that scientists will also be asked to begin experiments only after receiving money from the funding agency. Many a time in the past, after the research projects were terminated by the funding agency, the staff recruited for these had be come a burden on the university.

Other than the state government, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, APEDA, the National Horticultural Development Board, the Food and Agricultural Organisation and the UNDP give funds to the university for various research projects.


Vedanti calls for Panthic unity
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 24
Issuing an appeal for Panthic unity, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Sri Akal Takht Sahib, supreme temporal-cum-spiritual Sikh seat, today maintained that the panacea for all ills afflicting the Sikh quam at present lay in its “ekta” (unity).

He was talking to newsmen at Guru Nanak Mission Netarheen Birdh Ashram, Sapror village, near here, after addressing the annual congregation in the ashram run by five blind NRIs led by Avtar Singh Mann of the UK.

Continuing, Jathedar Vedanti asserted that selfishness and ego should be shed for the sake of the welfare of the Sikh community. “Ikath” (unity) was guarantee of the well-being of all, right from a “parivar” (family) to a “quam”, claimed Vedanti.

When his attention was drawn to the blare of loudspeakers in gurdwaras, the Akal Takht Head Priest pleaded that loudspeakers should be used within the precincts of religious places. “I had written to gurdwara managements and Sikh bodies that both kirtan and paath of the Gurbani should be heard by those going inside gurdwaras”. He pleaded for lok-chetna (public awareness) and mass movement against menace of drugs. “We will launch a religious movement for making society ‘nasha-muqt’ (free from intoxicants) by addressing congregations of villages”, he disclosed.

Drugs harmed health, wealth and honour, he quipped. He admitted that drug mafia enjoyed political shelter. Prohibition would not serve any purpose in the absence of public awareness as people would start drinking “desi-daru” (home made liquor) he said in reply to a question.

He agreed that disabled and ailing persons should be allowed to sit on seats in the vicinity of a shrine in such a way that respect of the holy Granth Sahib was kept intact. “We have now allowed wheel-chairs to be plied up to the Darshani Deodi in the Golden Temple”, disclosed the Jathedar.

Earlier, addressing the congregation, Jathedar Vedanti cautioned people against growing cultural pollution in and out of homes due to materialism and television. “Gursikhi-oriented environment alone can lead to lasting bliss and peace”, added Vedanti. He presented siropas to the organisers of the ashram, including blind NRIs Avtar Singh Mann, Sital Singh Sitara, Gian Singh Surjit and local office-bearers Jaswinder Singh Anokhawal, Paramjit Singh Mann and Mohinder Singh Mehismpur. He also presented 15 tri-cycles to the handicapped.


VC announces Syndicate meeting
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 24
An upbeat Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia today appeared to be taking charge of Punjabi University again announcing that a meeting of the Syndicate would be held on March 29 even as the Joint Action Committee (JAC), which is spearheading the agitation against him, failed to make any protest for the second day consecutive day after he returned to the University following his bail in two criminal cases.

The Vice-Chancellor held a number of meetings during the day which saw top university functionaries coming to his residence. Earlier in the day, he had presented himself at the office of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Anil Kaushik for questioning in the two case registered against him regarding moral turpitude and attempt to murder.

Talking to TNS on the phone, Dr Ahluwalia said he was fully satisfied by the manner in which he was questioned by the IGP adding that the proceedings were conducted with dignity. “I told him all the facts as I have nothing to hide”, he said.

Dr Ahluwalia also announced that he would be going to his office tomorrow. Earlier he was hedging from going to his office in the face of threats by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) which had threatened to lock up the office. The JAC also softened its stand as far as locking up the office was concerned.

Talking to TNS, the JAC convener, Dr U.C. Singh, said the JAC would, however, prevent Dr Ahluwalia from attending the office on Tuesday. He said this was so because tomorrow was a holiday for teachers. He said no protest had taken place for the last two days and would not take place tomorrow also due to this reason. He, however, said the JAC would hold a dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner on March 27 under its agitation plan demanding the immediate ouster of Dr Ahluwalia.

Meanwhile, the Vice-Chancellor disclosed that the Syndicate meeting would be held on March 29 and that it would focus on the budget of the varsity. He said he expected all items to be cleared but if there was any problem in clearing all items due to the budget exercise, another meeting of the Syndicate would be held in the first week of April.

Dr Ahluwalia when asked about certain items on the Syndicate agenda regarding the “rowdy” behaviour of certain members of the JAC during a general body meeting of the Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA), said no such item would be taken up. “I just want to ignore them and do not want to give them any importance by taking any action against them”, he said adding that “they have already been exposed.

The Forum for Educational Action and Reform, meanwhile, said the stay on the arrest of Dr Ahluwalia had proved to be a blessing in disguise for investigating agencies as he had come out of his hide-out and made himself available to the police. The forum President, Dr Amarjit Singh Dhillon, said the forum felt that the law should be allowed to take its own course.


Corruption in UK police: official
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 24
Admitting corruption in the British police force, especially in the Department of narcotics, Mr Michael Hedges, Chief Constable (equivalent to the Director-General of Police) of the South Yorkshire police, said corruption in positions of power was apparent. However, the percentage and frequency of crimes of corruption was very small in the British police force. The lower ranks were not effected by the culture of corrupt practices, he said. However, most detentions were made on a very high-level where enormous sums of money changed hands, he said.

Mr Hedges was heading a delegation of 50 British police officers from 16 police forces in the UK that were on a whirlwind tour of Punjab here today.

Mr Ivan Rydqvist, an investigating officer in the CID, in charge of domestic and racial crimes, talking to the correspondent said the Indian police was doing a commendable job under the given circumstances. He said the comparison between the British and Indian police was onerous as the infrastructure, resources, back up, and communication network available with them was far superior than here in Indian. Hence in the kind of background and state of affairs the police worked here was worth appreciating, especially in tackling terrorism in the state.

Mr Ivan, who was born in India to British parents, said the only way to cut corruption and improve policing lies in greater welfare benefits to the force which included better salaries and other benefit. Secondly, harsh deterrents to public insult, abuse or interruption when in duty could serve to bring in the value and respect that the police deserved.

Queried over the phenomena of human suicide squads, he said Britain had till now remained untouched by this relatively new form of terrorism. He further elaborated that intelligence network in the UK was very strong hence many of the crimes are pre-empted on secret report. The very same intelligence network was used to gather intelligence information on Ireland which was hot spot of anti-peace activities.

However, Mr Nobby Jutli, another police officer in the delegation, found the Indian police “militaristic”. Their ranks and the carrying of weapons indicated more of militaristic attitude compared to the British police where very few high ranking officers are given guns or pistols, that to at vulnerable points like defense installations, airports etc.


Rare thrush species seen at Harike
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
Red-throated thrush and song thrush, both rare species of migratory birds, were sighted at the Harike wetlands in mid-February by a team of the Delhi Bird Club. Members of the team comprised Mr Nikhil Devasar, Ms Alpana Khare, Mr Bikram Grewal, Mr K.B. Singh, Ms Sunita Chaudhry and Mr Bill Harvey from the UK. Dr Satnam Singh Ladhar, Principal Scientific Officer (Environment), Punjab Council for Science and Technology, was part of the team assigned to study avian migration.

Talking to The Tribune, Dr Ladhar said a red-throated thrush, a rare species, was sighted along the gurdwara track and a song thrush, another rare vagrant, was sighted near the canal. Rufous-vented prinia was first heard calling on two different locations and was later seen towards the canal, deep inside reed beds. Moustached and paddyfield warblers and grubby-looking Sindh sparrows were also sighted.

The other highlights in their list were: Common shelduck; yellow-eyed pigeon; grey plover; northern lapwing; Armenian and Heuglin’s gulls; Indian skimmers; merlin; besra; shaheen and peregrine falcons; great crested grebes; black bittern; and dark-throated thrush.

Dr Ladhar said this time 23 new species were spotted. Earlier, the council had listed 368 species. He attributes the increase in bird concentration to the catchment area, which supports an extremely varied and rich bird life. Of course, the new management inputs like regulation of the optimum water level and controlled exploitation of fish in the lake, have attracted a sizeable number of birds even from places as far as Central Asia, Russia, Poland and China.

The wetlands, one of the three Ramsar sites in Punjab, are spread over 41 sq km. These comprise a shallow reservoir created by a barrage on the confluence of the Sutlej and the Beas, near Harike Pattan, on the outskirts of Ferozepore, built in 1952. The depth of the reservoir varies from 0.3 m to 1.8 m and its maximum recorded depth is 4.5 m.

The reservoir was created to strike a balance between land, water, flora, fauna and air.

The wetlands support a diverse variety of floral and faunal species of immense value to the region. Some animals like the smooth Indian otter, jungle cat, jackal, Indian wild boar and common mongoose have been reportedly sighted here. The wetlands support over 20,000 ducks at the height of the migratory season. The wigeon, common teal, pintail, shoveler and brahmini ducks are commonly seen during winter. The lake is particularly famous for diving ducks such as crested and common pochard and tufted ducks, which appear in a large number. The scaup duck, falcated teal and white-headed stifftailed duck are species rarely seen elsewhere. The greyleg goose, barheaded goose and common crane are also regular visitors. Resident species appearing in good numbers include the greater cormorant, several species of heron and egret, spoonbill, cotton teal, spotbill duck, purple moorhen and pheasant-tailed jacana.

The International Council for Bird Preservation has identified six ecological regions in the world for preservation of bird diversity. One of the regions is Asia. In India only two sub-regions have been identified which include the Indus Valley and Western Ghats. Harike zone is significant as it forms part of the Indus Valley region, according to Mr N.S. Tiwana, Executive Director of the council.


Employees to support SAD in Malout bypoll
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 24
A joint meeting of the state standing committee of the Punjab State Services Federation, PSEB Employees Federation and the Punjab Kirti Dal has appealed to all government employees, semi government employees, workers and labourers to support the candidate of the SAD in the Malout Assembly byelection.

Committee secretary-general Harpal Singh said the meeting was held under the chairmanship of former MP Charanjit Singh Walia and the appeal was issued in view of the fact that the SAD-led government had accepted all major demands of the employees of the state.

It was also decided that a demand charter comprising all main demands of employees like promotional scale after four, nine and 14 years of service, 15 per cent house rent allowance for Patiala employees, dearness allowance instalment from January 1 on the Central pattern and wheat loan facility would be submitted to the State government for acceptance before May this year following which the next course of action would be decided.


Badal campaigns in Malout villages
Our Correspondent

Malout, March 24
A former chief minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, toured different villages of Malout campaigning for Mrs Mukhtiar Kaur, the SAD-BJP alliance candidate for the constituency.

Mr Badal while touring Rakhri, Dane Wala, Kumhara, Sekhu, Jandwala, Kingra and Mallhwala villages said that the Congress was blowing corruption issue out of proportion.

He claimed that his government was one of the most honest governments Punjab ever had. Lashing out at the CPI he alleged that everywhere Communist Party government created mismanagement.

Mr Badal said that his government raised loans for the development of the state and claimed that the economy of the state was in good health. Terming the Malout Assembly election crucial for people of the region he said that after winning this Assembly seat also the SAD-BJP combine would play an active role in state politics.

Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Mr Om Parkash Sharma, Mr Guran Singh Tungwali and Mr Hardev Singh Bahoyatri, all senior leaders of SAD, also campaigned for their party candidate along with Mr Badal.


CM to campaign
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 24
A senior Congress leader and MP, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar said today that the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, would campaign for the Congress-CPI alliance candidate in Malout constituency from March 26 to March 31.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Brar claimed that the ruling alliance would win the Malout Assembly election and a campaign for the same would be launched by the Chief Minister himself from March 26.


Preparations on for MC poll
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, March 24
Political parties have started gearing up for the election to four municipal corporations in the state.

The Local Self-Department of the Punjab Government yesterday issued a notification for organising elections of four municipal corporations namely Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Patiala. The state election commission has been asked to start the election process for the same.

A senior functionary of the local self-department told this reporter today that under Article 243(U) of the 74th Constitution (Amendment), it was mandatory on the part of the government to organise the elections of the local bodies before the expiry of the tenure of the same. There could not be a delay of one day even, he said while replying to the charge by the Opposition that the Congress Government was hurrying about the elections to wrest the control of the municipal corporations.

The Opposition had sought the delimitation of municipal wards. He said that it was not mandatory to have delimitation of the wards.

The Ludhiana Municipal Corporation is the biggest corporation of the four and has 70 wards.

The tenure of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation would expire in June while that of Amritsar and Jalandhar in May.

In reply to a question regarding the abolition of octroi, the spokesman refused to make any comment.

However, he said that the principal secretary finance had assured through an affidavit in the high court that the state government would continue to pay a monthly installment of Rs 40 crore each to the municipal bodies in lieu of the loss caused by the abolition of octroi.

He disclosed that the Finance Department had released the grants for the months of December , January and February.


Amarinder defamed legal profession’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal has accused the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, of having added “another grave dimension” to the alleged offence of defaming the Badals in his reply to a complaint filed against him.

This allegation has been levelled by Mr Sukhbir Singh in his reply to the application filed by Capt Amarinder Singh before the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Chandigarh, seeking the quashing of a criminal complaint filed by Mr Sukhbir Singh, under Sections 499 and 500 of the IPC, read with Section 199 of the CrPC.

In his application, Capt Amarinder Singh had alleged that it was the “public perception” that Mr Parkash Singh had reciprocated the good gesture of the Haryana Government of allotting land to a company owned by the Badals by compromising on the legitimate share of Punjab river waters by giving “appropriate signals to the counsels”, who represented Punjab in the Apex Court. Another allegation was about the conduct of Haryana and HSIDC lawyers in the SLP in the case concerning the allotment of plot to M/s Orbit Resorts, a company owned by the Badals.

Mr Sukhbir Singh has stated in his reply that by such statements Capt. Amarinder Singh has in one stroke “defamed the legal profession as a whole, a profession which can take pride in its role in upholding the cause of truth and justice”.

Mr Sukhbir Singh has alleged that “through this application the applicant had added another grave dimension to his offence by falsely stating that it is “public perception” that Parkash Singh Badal has indeed reciprocated this good gesture of Haryana Government by compromising on the legitimate shares of Punjab in the river waters by giving appropriate signals to the counsels, who represented Punjab state in the case pending before the Apex Court. According to Mr Badal, there can be no such “public perception” because it is well known that the SYL Canal case was argued on behalf of the state of Punjab by noted senior Supreme Court lawyer, Dr Satish Dhawan, who was assisted by a battery of lawyers, including, Mohinderjit Singh Sethi, senior advocate, Mr R.S. Suri, and others. The arguments continued for a number of days. Thereafter, on the directions of the Supreme Court, detailed written submissions and arguments were submitted, which form a part of the record of the case in the Supreme Court. Though the accused is well aware of this, yet, he has chosen to make these reckless and baseless insinuations on the counsel, which is wholly contemptuous and degrading to the legal profession.

“Similarly, baseless allegations have been made by the accused regarding the conduct of Haryana Government and HSIDC lawyers in the Supreme Court in the SLP in the case concerning the allotment of plot to M/S Orbit Resorts. In that case, Haryana and HSIDC were represented in the SLP by two senior reputed lawyers, Gopal Subramanium and Additional Solicitor General Kirit Rawal. It is clear, therefore, that the accused has cast aspersions on the conduct of senior members of the Bar in the country in both cases, which is a serious matter and calls for immediate attention of this court,” has stated.

He has further said “It was wrongly stated in his application that neither mode of allotment nor the merits of the cancellation of allotment were subjected to judicial scrutiny in the High Court or the Supreme Court. In fact, in the High Court all aspects of the allotment were argued and dealt with and parties were represented by eminent counsels on both sides. While, the noted constitutional lawyer, Kapil Sibal, appeared for M/S Orbit Resorts, the HSIDC was represented by senior advocate, D.D. Thakur.”


SAD (A) to follow Bhindranwale’s creed
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 24
The SAD (Amritsar) is committed to the ideology of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, said Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, SAD (A).

He was addressing a function organised by the party to commemorate the birth anniversary of Bhindranwale, here today.

He said he had opposed right wing ultranationalist forces like the VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena. He said the Badal government in connivance with Centre had tried its best to erase the memories of Sant Bhindranwale. He said hundreds of Sikhs are in jails without trial. He said none of the Sikh organisations had cared to celebrate his birthday.

The Damdami Taksal had never given any help to his party nor even cared to express sympathy with the Bhindranwale’s family. He announced to stage a black flag march in the native village of Air Marshal Sekhon, who was forced to resign. He also announced to observe June 6 when the saint was killed.

Mr Ranjit Singh Rana, the owner of Tutti Brother’s Radio Station in California, also attended the function. Mr Ishar Singh, the younger son of Bhindranwale, Mr Charn Singh Loharan, Prof Gurmohan Singh Toni, among others, addressed the gathering.

The district police and the administration had made elaborate security arrangements.


Mann asks Badal not to back POTO
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 24
Akali Dal (A) President and Lok Sabha member Simranjit Singh Mann has asked Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD President, as well as like-minded parties not to vote for POTO in the joint session of Parliament on March 26.

He said on Friday defeat of POTO in the Rajya Sabha was a victory for democratic forces and a blow to the NDA, particularly the SAD which had issued a whip to its MPs to vote for POTO.


Pollution destroys fish varieties
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 24
In an alarming trend various species of fish in the Ropar wetland, which has recently been declared to be of international importance by the Bureau of Conventions on Wetlands, are reportedly getting extinct. The matter was highlighted by Mr Dogra, Director, Fish Farm, Ropar, at a meeting convened by the Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, to discuss the current status of the wetland.

Mr Dogra said there used to be 35 varieties of fish in Ropar wetland. However, due to pollution caused by the industries situated on the banks of the Sutlej and the constant siltation the number of fish varieties in the wetland had reduced to just 17.

Even of the varieties left many were nearing extinction. The Mahaseer, which used to weigh up to about 40 kg in the wetland, was now seen to weigh just 1 kg. Many other varieties as Katla and Singhara were also nearing extinction, the Director said.

He further said due to constant flow of the fly ash from the Ropar Thermal Plant dykes into the Sutlej had destroyed the flora in many parts of the wetland. This had further led to the destruction of the fish species and the reduction of the population of the migratory birds visiting the wetland.

At the meeting the Executive Engineer, Irrigation Department, said a project plan of Rs 5 lakh had been sent for clearance to the Department of Science and Technology, Punjab. If the amount was received, it would be used for desiltation in the wetland area, he added.

The Deputy Commissioner along with the ADC (Development), Mr Kanwal Sher Singh Dhanju, and the SDM, Mr Daljit Singh, also conducted a survey of the wetland area. She visited various spots on the banks of the Sutlej in wetland area, where the pollution was allegedly destroying flora and fauna of the wetland.

The officials concerned also showed the Deputy Commissioner, various deltas that had been formed in the wetland area due to the deposition of fly ash. They said the fly ash from the thermal plant got mixed with mud on the floor of the wetland and curtailed the growth of the plantation. She also visited the area where the dykes of the thermal plant were situated.

Later while talking to this correspondent, Ms Jain said she would take up the matter of pollution in the wetland, with the Chairman of the Punjab Pollution Control Board. Now as the wetland had attained an international status, funds were likely to come from the Central Government for its preservation. She also directed the officials concerned to keep a strict vigil on the institutions causing pollution in the wetland.


1.4 cr Indians suffer from TB: NGO
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, March 24
There is need to set up a national mission to eradicate diseases like TB and AIDS.

According to Dr Dinesh Kumar, convener of the Health and Development Initiative of India, an NGO run by doctors, India’s request for funds to control TB had been turned down by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the grounds that India did not have adequate arrangements to control the disease.

Making an elaborate representation on World TB Day, Dr Dinesh Kumar said the country was facing a massive epidemic and the health scenario was grim. He added an estimated 1.4 crore persons in India were suffering from TB, which was one-third of its patients worldwide. Annually 20 lakh more Indians were afflicted with this disease, out of which five lakh perished every year, causing an economic loss of more than Rs 150 billion.

Talking about the causes of its widespread prevalence, he attributed it to alarming increase in the number of HIV patients in the country. He said TB was the leading killer of HIV positive persons at more than 60 per cent, quoting from statistics available with the government.

The WHO had recommended DOTS (directly observed treatment, short course), under which trained health workers went in for early eradication. The Indian Government had launched a revised national TB control programme to implement DOTS, which had been financed by the World Bank. Although DOTS had reached out to 4.2 crore persons in 183 districts and by 2004 it would reach to eight crore persons, more efforts were needed, he added.

The NGO reported that the emerging resistance to routinely used anti-TB drugs was causing alarm to doctors. The reports suggested the resistance was due a large number of dropout patients and poorly managed DOTS programme.


5 lakh die of TB every year: IMA
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 24
Making an appeal to the medical fraternity and to the government to wage a war against tuberculosis on the occasion of World Tuberculosis Day today, the senior vice-president of the Punjab unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Dr Surinder Singla, said approximately five lakh persons die of tuberculosis every year in India while more than 15 lakh tuberculosis patients go to government hospitals and private clinics every year in the country.

Dr Singla, who is a chest and tuberculosis specialist, said that the Government of India and patients spent about Rs 1300 crore annually on the treatment of tuberculosis.

Dr Singla also stated that in case tuberculosis was not controlled immediately then the country might face a major challenge on social and economic fronts as 70 per cent of such cases reported were in the most productive age group of 15 to 55 years.

Dr Singla on behalf of the Punjab IMA appealed to the doctors to ensure that their tuberculosis patients got the “right drugs in right doses” and for complete duration of treatment.


Case against Keetu motivated: Dhindsa
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 24
Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Secretary-General of the Akali Dal (Badal) and Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister, while talking to this reporter yesterday on phone from Mumbai condemned the registration of a case against Malkiat Singh Keetu, the local party MLA at Bhadaur police station on March 21.

Mr Dhindsa said the registration of the case against Mr Keetu was politically motivated. Terming it as a very bad act on the part of the Punjab Government Mr Dhindsa said the administration should have refrained from this wrong act.

Mr Dhindsa warned that if things were not set right in this regard shortly then his party would resort to path of peaceful protest in form of dharnas and demonstrations.

Meanwhile, Mr Parminder Singh Dhindsa, party MLA from Sunam and Mr Malkiat Singh Keetu, MLA from Barnala, while addressing a press conference at the residence of Mr Keetu here yesterday stated that the registration of the case was politically motivated.

They said if this false case was not withdrawn immediately then the party would resort to path of struggle. Mr Parminder Singh Dhindsa alleged that the registration of a case against Mr Keetu was a part of a big “political conspiracy”.

Mr Parminder Dhindsa said after the April 4 Malout Assembly poll the SAD priority would shift to Barnala to undo the wrong done to Mr Keetu.

Mr Parminder said SAD would request the Punjab Assembly Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, to take action against the “erring” police officials.

Mr Keetu told newsmen that if any truck operator of Bhadaur claimed that he (Mr Keetu) owed them any amount they could call him to truck operators’ union premises any time and if proved he would pay the amount along with interest.

Mr Keetu said in protest against the registration of the false case against him he returned his gunmen to the government yesterday.

Meanwhile, according to sources, Mr Chiranji Lal a clerk of truck union, Bhadaur against whom a case had been registered along with Mr Keetu had been apprehended.


Bahuguna attends pingalwara function
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 24
Mr Sunder Lal Bahuguna, founder of Chipko Movement, said today that a 100-member “Servants of Pingalwara Society” would be formed in memory of Bhagat Puran Singh, founder of Pingalwara, in Amritsar.

He was addressing a gathering organised in connection with the second anniversary of setting up of the local branch of Pingalwara situated on the Sangrur-Dhuri road here. Mr Bahuguna said the members of the proposed society would be enrolled for life and work as “sevaks” with devotion, dedication and determination to carry forward the ideology and works of Bhagat Puran Singh. The society would be formed before the birth centenary of the founder of Pingalwara in 2004.

He appealed to the gathering to work for the creation of a donors’ society. Parents should inspire their children to put some money daily in the “golak” of Pingalwara, he added.

Mr Bahuguna termed his visit to the Pingalwara as a pilgrimage, adding that it was a temple of the mankind where all were treated without discrimination.

Dr Inderjit Kaur, President of the All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society (regd), Amritsar, appealed to the public to cooperate with the Pingalwara authorities. She urged the gathering not to give even a single grain to those who visited villages in the name of Pingalwara as no employee of the society was allowed to do so.

Earlier, bhog of Akhand Path of Sri Guru Granth Sahib was held. Gurbani Kirtan was performed by “ragis”. A community kitchen was also organised on the occasion.


Colonisers’ in fix over DM’s orders
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 24
After passing of the orders of the District Magistrate (DM), Gurdaspur, prohibiting construction and setting on fire the remnants of crops within a radius of 1,000 metres from ammunition dumps, residents of the town, particularly those who are residing near ammunition dumps, colonisers are spending sleepless nights.

Orders to this effect were passed on March 7 by the DM. The DM intimated the Senior Superintendents of Police (SSPs), Subdivisional Magistrates (SDMs) and tehsildars of the district to take immediate steps for implementation of the orders. The orders were passed and will remain in force for two months from the date of orders.

According to a rough estimate, about 25 per cent of the local population resides within a radius of 1,000 metres of the ammunition dumps. Three marriage palaces have been constructed in the area and more than five schools are running near the ammunition dumps here.

Mr Hardeep Singh, Sarpanch of Lamini village said the village which adjoins the two ammunition sub-depots, Mamoon, came into existence much earlier than these depots, where a fire incident took place on April 23 last year. Ammunition worth crores of rupees was destroyed in the fire.

Colonisers and investors in property are also facing a financial crunch due to the DM’s orders as there is no customer for the properties within a radius of 1,000 metres, of the ammunition dumps.

According to legal experts, in case the authorities wanted to stop construction within a radius of 1,000 metres of the ammunition dumps, they should acquire the properties at a fair market price and award compensation to the affected persons.


Forum asks LIC to pay compensation
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 24
The District Consumer Forum, Ropar, has directed Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) to pay compensation to a complainant for deficiency in service.

Ms Krishna Devi of Nangal Township, in her complaint, alleged that her husband had got himself insured with LIC through five policies worth Rs 1.90 lakh. He had been regularly paying installments before he died on January 10, 1999.

After the death of her husband she had approached the LIC authorities for payment of the insured amount. However, her claim had been rejected on the basis of unfounded assertions, she alleged. She demanded Rs 50,000 as compensation, besides the payment of her claim.

The LIC authorities, in their reply, maintained that the insured person had been on medical leave for 136 days. He had concealed his ailment from the insurance firm while filling in the insurance forms, they contended.

They further alleged that since the insured had given wrong facts and had withheld information from the company, the company had repudiated his claim.


Sikh pilgrims’ list sent to Centre
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 24
The SGPC has sent a list of 2,000 Sikh pilgrims to the Union and state governments for making arrangements for their visit to Sikh gurdwaras in Pakistan during the forthcoming Baisakhi festival.

The secretary of the SGPC, Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, told this correspondent here yesterday that since the snapping of rail and road links with Pakistan, the Central Government was making special arrangements for the visit.

He said although officials in the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi had said visas would be provided to the pilgrims, their transportation problems needed to be sorted out in view of the discontinuation of Samjhauta Express.


Noble way to observe Martyrdom Day
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 24
Mr Surinder Singla, MLA, while addressing a gathering at a blood donation camp organised by the local United Welfare Society today in connection with the martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh said the units of blood collected during such camps would help save many lives. As many as 75 units of blood were collected by the Blood Bank Grid, Ludhiana. Mr Singla said it was a noble way of observing the martyrdom day. He said he was pleased by the enthusiasm shown by the youths during such camps. During the camp a physically-challenged person, and eight women also donated blood. Out of the 75 donors, 19 donated blood for the first time. One of the donors donated blood for the 45th time.

Mr Ashok Saraf, social worker, said volunteers of the society had helped many patients from far-off places like Delhi and Rajasthan by donating blood. He said the society was also motivating people to pledge to donate their eyes after death. Mr Vijay Bhatt, founder president of the society said the cooperation of residents was necessary for holding such camps. During the camp those who pledged to donate their eyes after death were honoured.

Among those present on the occasion were Mrs Raj Gupta, chairperson, District AIDS Control Organisation, Dr Jagjit Singh Deputy Medical Commissioner, Muktsar, Mr Ajmer Singh Mann, secretary, District Red Cross Society, Mr Jagroop Singh Gill, former president of the municipal council.


Correction of voter lists for ZP to start today
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 24
The correction of voter lists for gram panchayats, panchayat samitis and zila parishads will start on March 25.

Mr D.P.S. Kharbanda, ADC (D)-cum-District Election Officer, said in a press note issued here on Friday that January 1 had been fixed as the date on the basis of which the voter lists would be corrected.

He said every person who had attained the age of 18 years on January 1 could get registered as a voter. He said the first publication of the corrected lists would be done on March 25 and objections, if any, would be accepted till April 5.

Mr Kharbanda further said claims and objections regarding the inclusion or deletion of names from the voter lists would be dealt with by the election registration officers upto April 12. On April 19 the final list would be published.

He said the claims and objections regarding the voter lists could be registered with Sub-Divisional Magistrates-cum-election registration officers concerned or any official assigned by them for respective areas of Bathinda, Talwandi Sabo and Rampura Phul.


Sahayata kendra or ‘vasooli kendra’?
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, March 24
The first aid checkpost set up near Khatkar Kalan village by the district police about a year ago with a view to providing timely medical care to the victims of road accidents has virtually become source of trouble for the people as the constables posted there are allegedly harassing passersby.

Mr Vijay Sampla, state president of the BJP SC cell, has alleged that he was forcibly challaned by the constables posted there when he was on his way to Chandigarh from Jalandhar. Dr Shiv Kumar Tejpal, general secretary of the district unit of the BJP, and Dr Ashwani Dhir, senior BJP leader, have met the SSP, Dr Naresh Kumar, in this regard. Residents of the village have complained that the “police sahayata kendra” has virtually been turned into “police vasooli kendra”. They alleged that the constables deployed there erect a police naka during the night to harass people.

They have demanded that the checkpost be shifted from the village.


Army holds medical camp in Ajnala
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 24
At least 3500 villagers flocked to the border village of Dajowal in Ajnala tehsil to seek medical help at a medical camp jointly organised by the Army and the administration here today.

Inaugurating the camp, Brigadier R.S. Sanghera said the Dera Baba brigade would extend assistance to border areas youth for their recruitment in the Army.

Mr S.S. Puri, Deputy Commissioner, said the district administration had urged the government for an urgent grant of Rs 33 crore to compensate farmers whose land had been rendered non-productive following army occupation for defence purposes.

Gynaecologists, pediatricians, dentist, and ophthalmologist gave residents of 20 border villages free medical treatment and medicines.

Villagers were also educated about horticulture and food processing, bank loans, insurance, fisheries, animal husbandry and vocational training like socks weaving.

The camp also organised a workshop on unconventional energy sources such as solar energy and bio-gas.


Non-payment irks workers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 24
Resentment prevails among workers of some municipal councils as they have not received salaries for February so far.

The workers, at a meeting of the Punjab Municipal Workers Union held here yesterday, said they were finding it difficult because of non-payment of salaries.

Mr Swaran Singh Malsia, state general secretary of the union, said no arrangement had been made to adjust the employees after abolition of octroi and many were without work. He urged the government to issue funds for giving salaries to the municipal council workers.

He threatened that they would start an agitation if the situation did not improve.


Punjab to pay compensation to widow

Moga, March 24
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Punjab Government to pay Rs 1 lakh as compensation to the widow of a person who was allegedly killed in a fake encounter by the police in April 1993.

Acting on a writ petition, Mr Justice Adarsh Kumar Goyal on Friday directed the crime branch of the Punjab police to conduct a thorough probe into the allegations that the victim, Nachhattar Singh, was picked up from his house and killed in a fake encounter near Takhanvadh on April 29, 1993. The report was also lodged with the Mehna police on May 2, 1993. UNI


Army recruitment rally from April 3
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 24
A recruitment rally for soldiers (general duty) for Sikhs, Sikh (Mazhabi and Ramdasia), Hindu Dogra, AIAC and soldier (technical) of Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts will be organised at Dera Baba Nanak from April 3 to 9.

The candidates should have passed matric examination with a minimum of 45 per cent marks and should be between 16 and 21 years of age on July 31, 2002, for soldier (general duty). For soldier (technical), the candidates should be between16 and 23 years. The candidates should be of minimum 170cm in height which will be 164 cm for the ‘kandi ‘ area candidates.


Punjab plan to help Dalits
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 24
The Punjab Government has prepared a special “component plan” for the welfare of the poor, Dalits and others.

This was stated by the Punjab Social Welfare Minister, Mr Santokh Singh, while talking to mediapersons here yesterday. He said meetings with senior officials of all departments would soon be held to implement the plan. He claimed that the Congress government would fulfil its promises.


Procurement modalities over
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 24
Arrangements have been made for the purchase of wheat in all 255 grain markets and purchase centres in the district for the ensuing procurement season.

Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, said here last evening that the rate contracts of labour and transportation for the purchased wheat had also been finalised for all grain markets. He said sufficient number of places for the storage of wheat had also been arranged by each procurement agency near the purchase centres.

The Deputy Commissioner also claimed that sufficient number of gunny bags had been arranged by all agencies while the market committee had been directed to ensure proper cleanliness, drinking water, lights and shelters etc at each mandi. He also directed the District Mandi Officer to ensure that employees of the committees on duty at the purchase centres must be in uniform.

AMRITSAR: All arrangements for wheat procurement in the district have been completed. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.S. Puri, said over 140 new mandis had been opened for procurement to provide easy access to the farmers of the area. Addressing a meeting of senior officers connected with the procurement process, Mr Puri said last year government agencies had bought more than 11.83 lakh tonnes of wheat and during the current session the procurement was likely to be more than 12.5 lakh tonnes.

He instructed the officers to start purchasing from April 1 as per the government directions.

MOGA: Procurement of wheat in the district is likely to begin from April 1, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr G. Romesh Kumar, said here yesterday. While speaking to mediapersons here he said the administrative machinery entrusted with the procurement of wheat had been directed to make procurement immediately after wheat arrivals in the market.


Self-employment scheme soon
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 24
The Punjab Government, in its bid to explore the employment potential in the fields of dairy products, fisheries and animal husbandry, has decided to launch training-cum-self employment schemes for unemployed youth of the state.

Addressing a press conference here today, the Punjab Minister for Dairy Development, Fisheries and Animal Husbandry, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang said it had been decided to set up special training centres in different parts of the state to train unemployed youth about marketing potential in the fields of dairy products, fishery and animal husbandry.

“After organising free training camps, cases of selected candidates will be forwarded to the banks for sanctioning of loans. It will be the duty of officials of the department concerned to follow and support the loan cases of deserving candidates with the bank authorities so that the youth should not face any harassment due to lack of any technical or financial knowledge,” The minister added.

The minister said the government had proposed to start women empowerment programme to generate employment for women. Besides they would set up a veterinary university, sheep and goat breeding farm, carcass utilisation centre at different stations in the state, Mr Kang said adding that the state government would spend about Rs 30 crore on these facilities.


Raids on ultrasound centres ordered
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 24
While addressing a meeting of the District Advisory Committee of the Health Department regarding the implementation of the provisions of Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994, Dr P.D. Sharma, Civil Surgeon, here yesterday issued directions for the surprise checking of ultrasound centres in the district and take action against the owners of centres found indulging in foeticide.

He said the Health Department had been educating the people regarding the enforcement of the PNDT Act, 1994.

He warned that the persons indulging in the determination of sex of foetus and abetting foeticide were liable to three year’s imprisonment with a fine of Rs 10,000.

In this regard, complaint could be made to the Civil Surgeon or Senior Medical Officers of the district, Mr Sharma said.


PSEB employee suspended
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, March 24
The PSEB local authorities have put under suspension the services of Mr Kesho Ram, ALM, posted at the local city division for affixing fake rubber stamp and putting fake signatures of his XEN to get loan from the local branch of the Central Cooperative Bank. Mr Amrik Singh, Senior Executive Engineer (Operation) of the local city division, PSEB, told newspersons yesterday in a written press statement that Kesho Ram affixed bogus rubber stamp and put fake signatures on the documents to get loan from the bank.


Doctor, wife booked in foeticide case
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 24
The police has booked a doctor running Sukhmani Hospital, Goniana, about 15 km from here, his wife, owner of Chahal Nursing Home, Mansa, and three others after they were allegedly found involved in the termination of pregnancy after carrying out a sex determination test under Section 23 (1) (3) of Pre-Natal Diagnostic (Prevention and Misuse of Regulation) Act 1994 and Sections 315, 312 and 120-B of the IPC at the Nahianawala police station yesterday.

Mr Ishwar Singh, district police chief, said a joint team of the police and medical specialists of the local Civil Hospital raided Sukhmani Hospital and a case of foeticide was detected. The culprits fled the hospital. A separate case would be registered against the owner of Chahal Nursing Home for its involvement in carrying out ultrasound test to determine the sex of the foetus.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, in a press note issued here today said an information in connection with the foeticide was received by the district police chief.

Mr Verma said when the raid was conducted at the hospital, the woman who got her pregnancy terminated, had left the hospital but the raiding team managed to seize all equipment required for carrying out the termination. The woman was examined by a lady doctor at her home and a case of foeticide was established.

Dr V.K. Kaushal, member of raiding team, got a case registered against Dr Beeja Mal, his wife, Dr Suman Lata, patient Amritpal Kaur and her kin Amar Kaur. A separate case against Sukhmani Hospital under the MTP Act was also registered.


One shot dead in Amritsar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 24
Two assailants on a scooter, between the age of 25 and 30 and reportedly armed with pistols, gunned down Ravinder Singh (50), an artificial jewellery worker here on Friday evening. The victim was taken to the civil hospital here, where he was declared dead. The assailants fled from the scene. Following the incident, a large number of people gathered at the hospital.

According to reports, Ravinder was returning to his home when the incident took place. Vijay Kumar, brother of the deceased, suspected that personal enmity or transaction could be the reason of the murder.


Gang of robbers busted, 8 held
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, March 24
The district police claims to have busted a gang of robbers involved in various incidents of looting, dacoity and theft in the district with the arrest of eight of its members.

Mr R.K. Dhoke, SSP, yesterday identified the arrested robbers as Harjit Singh, Bikramjit Singh, Kashmir Singh, Sukha, Baljinder Singh, Satnam Singh and Gian Chand.

The police recovered a stolen car, five computers, two scooters, two pistols and Rs 24,000 cash from their possession. Talking to pressmen here, Mr Dhoke said with the arrest of these robbers, the police had succeeded in solving four cases of looting incidents committed by them at Sultanpur Lodhi and Talwandi Choudharian villages.

Mr Dhoke said the gang had stolen six computers from a senior secondary school at Tibba village, of which five had been recovered.

He said the gang also looted Rs 50,000 from Vinod Kumar of Sultanpur Lodhi at pistol point and also injured Ajay Kumar of Arafwala Mohalla of Kapurthala town.

Mr Dhoke said most of the arrested robbers were students around 20 years of age.


Medical entrance tests dates clash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 24
Hundreds of medical students who are to appear in the entrance test for admission to the postgraduate courses in medicine and surgery in Punjab and Rajasthan have been put in a tight spot as the date of the entrance tests for both these examinations has been fixed at April 21 by the universities concerned.

Sources said the entrance test for admission to MD/MS and various diploma courses in the medical colleges of Rajasthan would be held on April 21. While the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, announced March 7 as the date of the entrance tests, Baba Farid University of Health and Medical Sciences, Faridkot, announced the date of the test as March 22. Now with the clash of the dates of the entrance tests, hundreds of students of both these states would have to skip either of these tests.

Last September, the Supreme Court had ruled that the students selected under the 15 per cent all-India quota to the medical graduation courses in various states (other than their home states) should be allowed to compete for admission to the postgraduate medical courses where they studied irrespective of the rules of residence.

The students, whom TNS talked to, alleged that if the authorities of Baba Farid University did not change the date of the entrance test, it would amount to contempt of court. They pointed out that they had submitted an application requesting the authorities of Baba Farid University to change the date of the entrance test, but the latter gave no assurance.

The students alleged that the style and efficiency of functioning of Baba Farid University could be judged from the fact that classes for the graduate level medical courses were delayed by more than six months.

Dr J.S. Gujral, Vice-Chancellor, Baba Farid University, was not available for comments.

Dr P.S. Sandhu, Registrar of the university, when contacted said he had received the representation of the students seeking a change in the date of PG medical entrance test and the same would be discussed with the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Gujral, after he returned from Chandigarh on Tuesday.

Dr Sandhu said there was no rule or agreement among various states prohibiting holding of PG entrance tests on the same date. He cited various administrative problems and claimed that the change in the date of the test was not an easy task. He claimed that the clash of the date of the entrance test of Punjab and Rajasthan was brought to the notice of the higher authorities.


New ISTE branch opened
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 24
The Indian Society for Technical Education (ISTE) has opened its branch at Shivalik College of Pharmacy. At a function held on the college campus to mark the occasion, Dr M.K. Jha, Professor and Head of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Regional Engineering College, Jalandhar and member of the ISTE, said the college was the first pharmacy college in the region to be registered under the ISTE.

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