Wednesday, April 17, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Expect harsh steps in power sector: CM
Our Correspondent

Anandpur Sahib, April 16
The state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today asked the people of the state to expect certain harsh measures in the power sector in the next three months. “Due to the financial legacy inherited from the previous government, we will have to take certain harsh measures to save the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) from going bankrupt”, he said while responding to the queries of newsmen regarding the withdrawal of free power in the state.

He, however, said while taking such measures the government would keep in mind the interests of the small farmers of the state. About 52 per cent farmers of the state had land less than 2.5 acres and 84 per cent less than 7 acres. The government had the responsibility to protect the interests these farmers who were the backbone of the state’s economy, he said.

When persisted further with the question of withdrawal of free power the Chief Minister said any decision to revive the financial health of the PSEB would be taken after consultations with the experts and he could not say anything about it at present.

He also blamed the previous government for making the state a signatory to the power reforms. Now that the government had signed the power reform agreement, it had to proceed with that.

When asked about the decision of the Personnel Department to withdraw its employees from the BBMB, the Chief Minister said he was not aware of the matter. When told that the employees were being withdrawn on the pretext that they draw higher salaries in the BBMB, the Chief Minister said the state in fact should be happy that its employees were drawing higher salary.

About the allegations levelled against him by the Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, the Chief Minister said law would take its course in the case.


PSEB approaches panel for agri power tariff
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has finally approached the State Electricity Regulatory Commission for an ad hoc revision in the power tariff for all categories of consumers, including agricultural and the Scheduled Castes, to enable it tide over the financial crisis. Earlier, it had made several representations to the government in this connection but to no avail.

If the commission accepts the proposal to hike the existing tariff, the PSEB will have an additional cash flow of Rs 875 crore to partially offset the present cash deficit, cover the backlog and debt servicing.

As per the proposals, the PSEB wants an increase in the tariff from 25 per cent to 47 per cent for different categories of consumers. For agricultural consumers, a rate of Rs 2 per unit (Rs 240 per BHP) has been proposed to the commission considering that there is no promised subsidy from the government to the board.

The proposed tariff for industrial supply envisages the same rate for medium and large-supply consumers for loads above 20 KW. In other words, an increase in medium tariff by 47 per cent as compared to 37 per cent proposed for large consumers.

The proposal on the revised tariff opposes the continuation of the ''free'' supply of 50 units per month to Scheduled Caste consumers with a load up to 1,000 watts. This supply could, however, continue provided the state promised a cash subsidy of Rs 100 crore per annum to the board.

Highly placed sources in the government told TNS today that with the proposed increase in tariff, the total expected revenue for the full year (2002-03) would be Rs 7,442 crore. This would still leave a gap of Rs 415.78 crore, which would be covered by estimated miscellaneous revenue receipts of Rs 420 crore for 2002-03.

The overall expenditure of the board for 2002-03 is Rs 7,858 crore and the expected revenue, as per the existing tariff, about Rs 5,239 crore, leaving a deficit of Rs 2,619 crore. Therefore, to meet the financial crisis the withdrawal of ''free'' supply is imperative or alternatively, a provision in the Budget of cash compensation of Rs 1,270 crore per year for power to the agricultural sector plus Rs 120 crore for "free" supply to Scheduled Castes families.

Today, the PSEB has lost its credibility in the market. Further, market borrowings are impossible. Default in the payment of bills is affecting supplies. Taking into account internal deficiencies, the expected revenue generation is Rs 200 crore to Rs 250 crore. This is included in the expected revenue of Rs 5,329 crore.

The commission has been informed of the PSEB's financial situation, high court cases challenging the supply of ''free'' power to agricultural and Scheduled Castes consumers and also its directions to generate a minimum surplus of 3 per cent to meet the provisions of the Electricity Act.

The following picture would emerge if the commission were to accept the proposed tariff revision:

The board is caught in the cobweb of freebies, court cases, internal "short-circuits", external wirepulling by the National Thermal Power Corporation and the Ministry of Power, all threatening to cause a major ''blackout'', which can have a cascading effect on the state's economy.

The board Chairman, Mr Sudhir Mittal, is learnt to have informed the Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, of the court cases. All that the PSEB wants to know from the government is whether it will compensate the board for ''free'' power to agricultural and Scheduled Castes consumers.

The National Thermal Power Corporation Chairman and Managing Director, Mr C.P. Jain, has asked the board to pay Rs 285.62 crore ''immediately'' for the pending bills. As per the new directions of the Ministry of Power, there will be no supply of power to defaulter boards. That can lead to a major power crisis in the state. The board has much to worry about. The previous government did not compensate it for the freebies it was forced to give. It has to implement the MoU it signed with the Centre.


Govt to seek funds for heritage complex
Our Correspondent

Anandpur Sahib, April 16
Impressed with the concept of the Khalsa Heritage Complex being built here, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said he would spare no effort to get the project completed. Without mincing words while praising the complex, he said it was only after seeing it that he had come to know about its greatness.

On the question of arranging finances for the completion of the complex, the Chief Minister mentioned the poor financial condition of the state. Due to the financial legacy of the previous government, the expenditures of the state were being met on a day-to-day basis and the government could not spare money for the complex, as of now.

The state government would approach the Centre and donors all over the world to raise funds for the project, he said. The Union Minister concerned would be requested to come to Anandpur Sahib and visit the site of the complex. Since the complex represented all Punjabis, the Centre would be urged to provide funds for the completion of the project.

An appeal would also be issued to the Punjabis settled all over the world to donate generously for the project, he said.

The Chief Minister was on a visit to Anandpur Sahib to inspect the various development projects taken up here after the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of the Khalsa. After paying obeisance at Takht Shri Kesgarh Sahib, he visited various development projects. He was accompanied by the Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, the Minister of State for Tourism, Mr Ashwani Sekri, the Minister of State for Health and Grievances, Mr Ramesh Dutt, the Jathedar of Takht Shri Kesgarh Sahib, Prof Manjit Singh, the Chief Executive Officer of the Anandpur Sahib Foundation, Ms Vini Mahajan, the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, and the architect for the project, Mr Moshe Safdie.

Addressing a press conference at the Kisan Haveli later, the Chief Minister announced a grant of Rs 1.17 crore for the completion of the incomplete girls polytechnic building and Rs 48 lakh for the ITI.

He said the government would try that the some portions of the building were completed and classes started.

The Chief Minister also announced the setting up of an institute of medicinal herbs near Anandpur Sahib. The area around Anandpur Sahib had been identified as a medicinal plant rich area. About 200 medicinal plants had been identified. The institute was being proposed on 150 acres.

Capt Amarinder Singh issued an appeal of the people of Punjab to contribute to the completion of the Khalsa Heritage Complex through kar seva. The authorities also organised a rabab recital by Jaswant Jolly and his team. The architects from the National Institute of Design showed the exhibit models to be kept in the complex.


10 SMOs found absent from duty
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 16
The absence of as many as 10 Senior Medical Officers (SMOs) and 60 per cent of the para-medical and other staff, detected during surprise checking by the Vigilance Bureau today, revealed how government hospitals were working sans doctors. It showed how government doctors were cornering hefty sum by drawing their salaries from the government for “serving” in hospitals and by doing their private practice as well.

It was perhaps for the first time in Punjab that the Vigilance Bureau had checked the presence of medical staff posted in government hospitals, particularly, the primary health centres situated in remote areas of a district.

Surprise raids of primary health centres at Nakodar, Shahkot, Shankar, Jandiala, Samurai, Bundala, Rurka Kalan, Bilga, Noormahl and Goraya, by a battery of as many as 10 vigilance teams, formed by Mr Ishwar Chander, Chief of Jalandhar’s Vigilance Bureau, detected that no SMO was present at these centres. The raids coincided with the duty time, which started from 8 am to 1 pm. Interestingly, while there was no doctor and most of other staff remained missing during this period, people, mostly women, children and ruralities were queuing up before the primary health in the hope that they would be ‘blessed’ with the ‘darshans’ of doctor ‘sahibs’. But hope believed them as they were confronted by vigilance bureau officials instead of doctors.

SMOs and doctors, who were found to be absent at these PHCs and dispensaries included Dr Balbir Singh, SMO, Civil Hospital, Nakodar, Dr Ashok Kumar Bhagwat, MO, Civil Hospital Nakodar, Dr Ashok Kumar, SMO, Civil Hospital, Shahkot, Dr Kamaljit Singh and Dr Avinash Malhotra, Medical Officers PHC, Jandiala, Dr Balbir Chand, SMO, Jandiala, Dr D.P. Singh, MO, Samurai, Dr Naresh Kumar of the PHC, Bundala, Dr Rajesh Chander, MO, Bilga, and Dr Shiv Dayal Malhi, In charge, PHC, Goraya. All of them were either found absent or late. Most of other staff (about 60 per cent) at these hospitals were also found absent, said Mr Ishwar Chander.


Punjab in dilemma over market committees
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
The Punjab Government is in a dilemma over the issue of dissolution of nominated market committees in the state.

There are 144 market committees. The previous SAD-BJP government had nominated their governing bodies, including chairpersons and other members.

The Congress government is under a lot of pressure from its MLAs and others concerned to dissolve these committees immediately. The issue was also discussed at the last meeting of the Council of Ministers. The government wanted to appoint administrators by dissolving these committees.

However, there is no provision in the law to dissolve all committees in one go. As per the law, the incompetence of the committee concerned will have to be proved before ordering the dissolution. First a show-cause notice will have to be served on committee concerned by listing charges against it and then the proper procedure will have to be followed to complete the other formalities required in this connection. Sources said the dissolution of the committees by a single order was easy to prove as mala fide in court.

The government is facing cases in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on the issue of the dissolution of improvement trusts and certain panchayats.

A senior officer of the Punjab Government said that “as there is no provision in the law to dissolve all committees by a single order, the government may resort to other ways to do the needful in this connection”. He said there could be an ordinance to make the required provision for removing such committees.

A number of Congress MLAs and other party leaders have complained that the governing bodies of the committees nominated by the previous government are carrying out the recruitment of employees at the lower level and taking other important decisions.

There is an impression that “Akali rule is continuing at the grassroots level”, said a senior Congress leader talking about the domination of SAD-BJP representatives in such committees. “We want to dispel such an impression at the earliest and that is why we are pressing the state government to do something in this connection”, he added.


Chain fast by Congressmen
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 16
Hundreds of Congress workers led by the district president, Dr Bhagat Singh Dhaliwal, today observed a chain fast and held a rally in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here, against the communal riots in Gujarat and to press the Central Government to remove the Chief Minister, Mr Narinder Modi, immediately.

The Congressmen while addressing the rally alleged that the BJP-led NDA government had been discriminating against the minorities. Dr Dhaliwal said the statement of the Prime Minister Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, that “minorities and Muslims did not know how to live in India” was condemnable.

He added that thrashing of journalists and other Congressmen at Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat was also condemnable.


Four Congress panels to select candidates
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
The president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Capt Amarinder Singh, has set up four committees of party leaders to select candidates for the municipal corporation elections in the state.

Mr R.L. Bhatia, a former Union Minister, will head the committee in Amritsar and Mr Balbir Singh, MP, in Jalandhar. Mr Gurcharan Singh Galib will head the committee in Ludhiana and Mrs Preneet Kaur in Patiala, according to a party press note.


SHO told to pay compensation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
Taking up a petition filed by a Ferozepur district resident alleging thrashing by policemen, Mr Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Station House Officer of the Makhu police station to pay an interim compensation of Rs 10,000 to the petitioner from his own pocket.

Delivering the verdict on a petition filed against the state of Punjab and other respondents by Chhindo of Nizamudinwala, Mr Justice Goel added that the payment for inflicting injuries would be made through a bank draft within three months of receiving the order’s copy.

In her petition Chhindo had earlier alleged that the SHO along with an Assistant Sub-Inspector and their gunmen had initially abused her.

After she objected to it the officials thrashed her by catching her by her hair.

Her counsel had added that the petitioner had gone to the police station after her house was demolished and goods taken away despite court orders. He further said that the other party was being supported by an Akali leader.

Couple allege beating by son

If allegations in a writ petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court are to be believed an Amritsar-based couple is being harassed and beaten by their son and his wife.

Acting on their petition, Mr Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel of the high court has directed the Station House Officer of a police station “to ensure the safety of the petitioners and to take necessary steps for the purpose”.

In their petition Durga Dass and his wife Nirmal had alleged that their son started beating and threatening them soon after his marriage in October, 1999. As a result of the harassment the petitioners disinherited their son and his wife, their counsel added.

He further claimed that “as a last resort, the petitioners were approaching the court with a heavy heart for issuing directions to the state of Punjab and the Station House Officer for taking action against their son in accordance with law”.

Water crisis hits Patiala as MC caught unawares
Jangveer Singh

Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 16
The summer heat may not have reached its peak yet but for the residents of the old city water scarcity has already become the order of the day even as the Municipal Corporation has been caught unguarded, being unable to set the tone of a cool summer.

Residents living in many parts of the old city are facing a severe water shortage since the last nearly one month, and there is no relief in sight. There are some areas like Achar Bazaar and Suigaran da Mohalla where people are practically not getting any water. In other areas, including Mochi mohalla, Bhindianwali Gali, Des Raj mohalla and Triveni chowk also there is a severe shortage of water.

Even though the summer heat is still to start, pressure levels have gone down everywhere in the city. While water pressure has considerably gone down at the ground floor also, those living on the first and second storeys have forgotten the idea of getting fresh water and have to rely on overhead tank supply, including use of Tullu pumps.

The use of Tullu pumps has become a contentious issue in the city. While residents feel the Municipal Corporation has been caught sleeping and has simply not augmented the water supply keeping in view the onset of the summer, the corporation authorities feel indiscriminate use of Tullu pumps is largely responsible for water shortage in parts of the city.

Though corporation Commissioner K.S. Kang was not available for comment, the Corporation authorities disclosed that advertisements had been placed recently on the local television network asking residents not to use Tullu pumps. The authorities disclosed that residents had been warned that raids and seizures would follow in case they continued to use Tullu pumps. The authorities disclosed that there was no shortage of water at the ground floor and that there had been few complaints of water shortage only from areas of Katra Sahib Singh and Bhindianwali gali.

The authorities claimed that the corporation was supplying adequate water to the residents but that the indiscriminate use of Tullu pumps had resulted in less water at the tail ends. They claimed that against 165 liters of water needed per day per person according to established norms, the corporation was supplying around 178 liters per person everyday in the city. The authorities said besides Tullu pumps, use of own pipes by residents was another reason for shortages at some places during the peak summer days.

The authorities also claimed that the water supply had been augmented in the city with five more tubewells being dug up recently at the municipal office, Kesarwala Chowk, Purani Kotwali, Suigaran mohalla and Bishennagar. However, the state of a recently dug up tubewells makes it clear how late the corporation is in tackling the problem. A tubewell has been dug up at the Toba Imdad Ali park since the last few months but has still to become functional. Residents disclosed that the area had been without tubewell water for the last six months and even now the Corporation was not showing any haste in making the tubewell functional.

Besides the old city, other parts of the city, including the outer colonies, have also started facing water shortages. Residents by and large aver that they use Tullu pumps only because the corporation authorities have been unable to give adequate water supply. The fate of the residents can be best summed up by Santosh Kumari of Ram Gali near Arna Barna chowk who says she is readying her buckets to start getting water from the pipes in which joints have been created on the road, which is below the level of her house as the water pressure becomes so low that it does not even reach the taps on the ground floor.


Clinic found violating MTP, PNDT Acts
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, April 16
The manner in which the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act and the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique (PNDT) Act are being followed in this district was reflected in the first raid conducted on a clinic in the city here where the inspection team found that ultra sound tests were being conducted to “examine foetal well being’’ and the operation theatre had equipment and drugs used to conduct abortions.

A special team consisting of the Deputy Medical Commissioner, Patiala, Dr V.K. Goel, Assistant Director, Directorate of Health Services, Dr O.P.S. Kandey, President of the state unit of the Indian Medical Association, seized the surgical instruments found in the operation theatre of Amar Clinic near the bus stand and handed them over to the local police. Cases have also been filed against the clinic for the violation of both the MTP and the PNDT Acts.

According to sources, inspection of the clinic was first on the list of the inspection team but that the team could not inspect any other facility in the district following the revelation of gross irregularities in the clinic. According to the team members, the first point which revealed that the clinic was not following the provisions of the PNDT Act was that the registration number of the Ultrasound machine was not displayed in original in the clinic.

A team member and IMA President Dr O.P.S. Kandey, disclosed that further investigations revealed that the referral forms being used by the clinic were not proper and that other forms were also not being filled in properly. He said it was also found that there was no record of receipt of money for the Ultrasound tests conducted in the clinic which raised suspicion among the team members.

Following this it was found that there were a lot of entries in the register proving that a number of Ultrasound tests had been conducted during the nine to 11 weeks of pregnancy in various clients. According to the clinic records the tests had been conducted to gauge the foetal well being. However, when team members questioned the clinic authorities whether the cases had been referred to them, they were told that all the cases were self-examined.

According to the team members when they asked whether any lady doctor had been present during the conduct of the ultrasound tests they were told that there was no lady doctor. However, slips found on the site gave the name of a doctor who was a ‘’stri rog mahar’’ (female diseases expert). All these raised further suspicion among inspection team which then asked the clinic authorities whether they were conducting abortions which the Clinic authorities flatly refused.

However the Civil Surgeon Dr Inderjit Kaur Walia disclosed that when the team inspected the operation theatre of the Clinic, it found surgical instruments and drugs used for abortions over there. These included menstrual regulation syringes and a cervical dilator. Besides this drugs used in the conduct of such operations were also found on the premises. The clinic authorities, however, maintained that the instruments were used in delivery cases but the inspection team discounted this explanation.

The inspection team subsequently called the local police and handed over the surgical instruments to it in a sealed envelope. Some documents have also been seized by the team. Civil Surgeon said the drive against violations of the MTP and PNDT Acts would be intensified and violators would not be spared.


New board for Takht Hazoor Sahib
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 16
The Maharashtra Government has further extended the supersession of Takht Sri Hazoor Sahib Board, Nanded, and formed a 12-member board to look after the affairs of the same. The board includes Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi former presidents of the SGPC, and Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra, Member, Rajya Sabha, from Punjab. The other members of the board are Gadiwale Mohan Singh, Bhujan Singh, Jabinda, Dalbir Singh, Ranjit Singh, Galiwale Indrajit Singh, Ratan Singh, Mr Resham Singh Mumbai, Mr Bhupinder Singh Anand, Delhi, Mr Sartaj Singh, Madhya Pradesh, Mr Kirpal Singh and Mr Rajinder Singh of Hyderabad. The District Collector Nanded, shall preside over the meetings of the board.

The supersession of the board has been extended till the formation of the new board according to a notification issued by the Maharashtra Government and received by Mr Tejwant. A meeting of the board has been convened at Nanded on April 22.

It may be mentioned here that a writ petition has also been filed in Maharashtra High Court against the supersession of the board.


Stop security checks on Sikhs, govt tells S. Arabia
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 16
The Ministry of foreign affairs has taken up with the Saudi Arabia authorities the incidents of Sikh visitors and residents being asked to remove their turbans for security checks by their authorities and has urged them to put an end to this practice.

In a letter to Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman, National Commission for minorities, the Ambassador of India in Riyadh has informed that such incidents are far and few between.

The Ambassador Talmiz Ahmed has stated, “We have taken up the matter with the Saudi authorities concerned through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and have asked them to advise their security personnel not to do so at the time of arrivals at the airports in that country.”

Rallies galore at Jalandhar
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 16
Various political and employees organisations have held dharnas and rallies over various issues in different parts of the city.

Earlier in the morning, hundreds of Congress workers held a dharna outside the office of the Deputy Commissioner demanding the removal of the Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, for his failure to control riots in Gujarat.

Addressing party workers, All-India Congress Committee Secretary, V. Hari Parsad alleged that though the administration had failed to protect people belonging to the minority community during the recent riots in Gujarat, the BJP-led NDA government was hesitating to take action against Mr Modi.

Punjab Youth Congress President Davinder Singh Baboo said the time had come to topple the BJP government.

Among others who spoke were district president of the Punjab Congress Tajinder Singh Bittu and District (Rural) President Manjinder Singh Choudhary.

The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Employees Struggle Committee, observed a complete strike in protest against the moves of the state and Central governments to privatise the Board in a phased manner. Agitating employees alleged that hundreds of posts in the Board had been abolished without consulting the union.


Stir by medical representatives
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 16
Medical representatives of the city today held a rally near the Mehna Chowk. Mr Inderjeet Singh, president of the district unit of the Punjab and Chandigarh Medical Sales Representatives’ Union, told mediapersons here today that their central union and decided to hold a month-long strike throughout the country to pressurise the authorities concerned to accept their demands.


Function held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 16
The Dalit Sena organised a function at Badal villages in Muktsar district yesterday to mark the birth anniversary of Dr B.R. Ambedkar. Mr Jagjit Singh Gill, state vice-president of the party, said efforts should be made to provide equal opportunities to all.


Procurement on holidays too
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
The Punjab Government has directed the procurement agencies to procure wheat even on Sundays and other holidays. The direction has been given because of the heavy arrivals of wheat in various grain markets, according to Mr Lal Singh, Food and Supplies Minister.

Till last evening 12,47,612 tonnes of wheat had arrived in the markets. Traders have procured only 4,553 tonnes.


Thermal plant staff hold rally
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 16
On a call given by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Struggle Committee, member of the Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant Employees Federation held a strike today to press the authorities to accept their demands.

The leaders of the union in a written statement alleged, that the authorities had deployed a huge police force at the main gate of the thermal plant to disrupt the rally. They alleged that the authorities had used pressure tactics to minimise the gathering at the rally.

The employees who had been struggling to get their demands accepted have been holding rallies from time to time to pressurise the authorities. A rally was held near the main gate of the plant yesterday in this connection.

The leaders of the union demanded that the policy of privatising public sector should not be implemented. They demanded that a ban to put on direct recruitment and contract system for posts of thermal plant, the vacant posts should be filled by promoting the employees of thermal besides payment of overtime to maintenance workers.

They also demanded that the decisions of the management taken in meeting with office-bearers of the union should be implemented. They alleged that the PSEB management was not inviting them for holding discussions about their demands.


Salary issue: MC office-bearer quits
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 16
Dr Shiv Kumar Tejpal, senior vice president of the local municipal council, has submitted his resignation to the president, MC. Copies of the resignation were released to press persons here yesterday. Mr Tejpal took the step to protest against the non-payment of salaries to the MC employees as per the assurance given by local, SDM, Mr Pritam Singh, to the striking employees a few days ago. Dr Tejpal, in his letter of resignation, has attributed the financial crisis to the blocking of the state grant to the council.


Proposal for civil aviation authority
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 16
The Punjab Government is considering a proposal to merge all four flying clubs in the state under an umbrella organisation of the Civil Aviation Authority.

Stating this here today, State Civil Aviation Minister Avtar Henry said it would be in the interest of the flying clubs if they were all merged into the Civil Aviation Authority. He said this would reduce the cost of training as well as the maintenance cost of the planes.

The minister said the flying clubs had been relegated to the background during the tenure of the previous government. Youth of the state had been unable to take proper flying training on this account. Once the authority was established, the working of the clubs would be galvanised, he added.


Gang selling women busted
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 16
The police has busted a gang indulging in bringing women from Rajasthan and other states for sale, said Mr Sudhanshu Shekhar Srivastva, SSP, here today.

He said following a raid conducted on the house of Gurjant Singh here, the police arrested Jasbir Singh and his wife Sukhdev Kaur, residents of Sector 12 Hanumangarh, in Rajasthan, Madan Lal of Anoopgarh in Sriganganagar district, Suraj Singh of Bajewala village of Mansa district and Gurjant Singh and registered a case under Section 366 of the IPC in the police station.

The police recovered a woman of Ellenabad in Haryana. The Gang members were allegedly looking for her buyer. The accused were produced in the court and remanded in custody.


Clearing Punjabi paper must for matric students
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, April 16
Candidates appearing in the matric examination of the Punjab School Education Board will have to clear the Punjabi language paper along with those of other subjects to qualify in the written test.

Though the candidates have to opt for eight subjects — Punjabi, Hindi, English, mathematics, science, social studies, health and physical education and an elective subject — the board authorities have decided that apart from Punjabi, candidates will have no pass in four of the five subjects namely Hindi, English, mathematics, science and social studies to pass the examination.

Sources in the board said in case of regular candidates, the report of the grading of socially useful productive work (SUPW) would have to be sent by the school concerned. For the subject the school authorities would have to do continuous evaluation. The grading in the subject would be classified into seven grades.

Foreign nationals have been given the option of taking one language out of the list of the elective subjects in lieu of Hindi. They would have to take up Punjab history and culture in place of compulsory Punjabi language.

An official of the board said a blind candidate would be given the option of taking music, drawing, painting, cutting in place of subjects like science and mathematics.

The examination fee for the private candidates appearing in all subjects or reappear subjects would be fee Rs 300 and for students of government schools, affiliated schools and Punjab open schools, the fee would be Rs 250. For each additional subject the fee will be Rs 100.


JAC flays Badal’s statement
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 16
The joint action committee (JAC) comprising teachers, students and non-teaching employees of Punjabi University today condemned the recent statement of former Chief Minister of Punjab Parkash Singh Badal, who has alleged that the Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, is being made a victim of political vendetta.

The JAC has been spearheading a campaign against the Vice-Chancellor in the wake of two criminal cases lodged against him. The convenor of JAC, Mr U.C. Singh, today said that the Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) had met Mr Badal several times last year and had apprised him of the unwanted incidents in the university but no action or inquiry was initiated.

Criticising the Chancellor of the university, Lt-Gen J.F.R. Jacob, (retd) for maintaining a “mysterious” silence over the recent happenings in the varsity, the JAC members, while addressing a rally organised at the main gate of the university, demanded that he should makes his position clear in this regard.

A probe into the role played by the Education Secretary, Mr N.S. Rattan, and Political Secretary to the Chief Minister, who had allegedly offered a safe passage to the VC in lieu of his immediate resignation, was also demanded.

Reiterating their demand for an immediate curb on all powers of the Vice-Chancellor, the members of JAC, said that the recent official order of the Vice-Chancellor through which he has “over-centralised” all powers is aimed at victimising the JAC members.

Meanwhile, the forum for Educational Action and Reform (FEAR) said that Mr Badal should not make such “irresponsible” statements, especially in the wake of a rape case being lodged against the Vice-Chancellor.


B.Ed unemployed to hold rally at Patiala
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 16
Mr Baljinder Singh, press secretary, Unemployed Teachers Front (Punjab), in a press note issued here yesterday, said that members of the front would stage a dharna at Patiala on May 7 to press for their demands.

Mr Baljinder Singh said the government was not giving any clear cut instructions on 3,311 posts of JBT teachers advertised by the previous government and they were uncertain about their future. He alleged that while the Education Minister had hinted about the issuing of appointment letters to ETT degree holders, no such statement on guidelines regarding the B.Ed degree holders had been issued.


Grace marks for students sought
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 16
Mr D. R. Singla, Head of the Commerce Department of the local DAV College, has urged the authorities concerned to give grace marks to students of B Com II as part of one of their question papers was out of syllabus.

In a letter to the Controller of Examination, Punjabi University, Patiala, Mr Singla stated that as the question paper of income tax law and practice, conducted on April 15, was not according to the prescribed syllabus, the students could not attempt the entire paper.

He said the numerical questions of about 35 marks were as per the syllabus of B Com II prescribed for 1999-2000 while the students of this academic year had studied the 2000-2001 syllabus as per the instructions of the university.

He said the students had to suffer due to no fault of theirs. He said as the students could not attempt the entire question paper, they would not be able to secure the expected marks.

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