Thursday, April 25, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Ahluwalia broke rules: Principal
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 24
Migration of students admitted to professional courses affiliated to Punjabi University has once again come into focus after the ouster of Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia with D A V College, Bathinda, claiming that the university authorities had broken their own rules by allowing migration of its students to a local Information Technology Institute without obtaining the consent of Principals of both institutions.

The Principal of DAV College in a communication to the new Vice-Chancellor, Mr N.S. Rattan, has claimed that the university has taken an unilateral decision vide its letter dated April 16 allowing the migration of 14 students of the college to the PCIT, Patiala, even though the university calendar clearly stated that no student who had joined one college could be admitted to another college during the same course unless the Principals of the colleges concerned agreed to the same and the sanction of the university was obtained on the application form submitted by the student.

The issue of migration of students from DAV College, Bathinda, to the local institute had caused a controversy in the last days of Dr Ahluwalia’s tenure in the university because the university had changed rules to affect the migrations. The authorities cleverly retained the original statutes making it mandatory for the Principals of both institutions to agree to the migration. But made a further ruling that there would be no bar on the migration of students in the second year of their course. As students of DAV College, who had “migrated” to the local institute during the first year of their course as a “special case”, there was no rule now preventing them from staying put in the local institute.

The sources said the varsity authorities under the chairmanship of Dr Ahluwalia had taken this decision against the recommendations of Pro Vice-Chancellor, Dr R.N. Pal, in the case. They said Dr Pal had earlier raised objections that the varsity rules made during the tenure of Dr Ahluwalia itself stipulated that anyone willing to migrate from one institution to another for a professional course would have to pay a fee of Rs 1 lakh. Dr Pal had boycotted the meeting in which new rules were formulated to facilitate the migrations.

The communication from the college said if the mass migration was allowed by the university no institution would be able to survive. It said with this decision the college would suffer a loss of about 31 lakh with the loss of one unit of students and extra expenditure it would have to make on its laboratory establishment as well as teaching and non-teaching staff appointed for the post.

The letter said it had been resolved earlier that those who wanted to go in for migration were students of DAV College and that these students should be given permission to appear in the first semester examination as a special case in Patiala. It said the students were made to give an undertaking that their admission might not be cancelled and that they be allowed to take the examination at Patiala as a special case.

However, the DAV authorities said even after the first semester examination the students did not turn up to attend their classes for the second semester in spite of repeated letters and telegrams. It said on April 15, the university under the Chairmanship of its Vice-Chancellor took a unilateral decision allowing their migration violating all norms. It said since the students had not attended even a single class in the college from the start of the second semester , they were not eligible to sit for the second semester examination under any circumstances as they did not fulfil the eligibility conditions.

DAV College has also requested the university authorities not to allow migration in professional courses like MBA and MCA after the Centralised Admission Committee admitted students to various institutions.


PPSC to revoke Sidhu’s amendments
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 24
Members of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) who saw their powers being subverted by Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu are planning to set the clock back by revoking the amendments curtailing their powers.

Announcing this, PPSC Member Amarjit Singh Chawla said the commission would formalise a transparent system of functioning under which it would be impossible to misuse the examination procedure.

He said Mr Sidhu had appropriated all powers of the commission to himself by playing havoc with all rules and procedures. While rules stated that the Chairman would have to call a meeting of the commission within three days upon such a request by a Member, Mr Sidhu had changed the rule by making it compulsory for three Members to make such a request and the time period was increased to seven days.

Another amendments done in the rules during Mr Sidhu’s reign at the helm of affairs included appropriating all secret work to himself even though rules stated that each question to be asked in an examination must be discussed and decided upon unanimously or by majority vote. He said besides this the Chairman had also got rules amended following which all results were presented to him before release instead of the entire commission.

Welcoming the government decision to set aside more than 600 posts which had not been notified, he said the commission was also working on similar lines and would make recommendations to the government after its April 29 meeting.

He said the manner in which the commission was run by Mr Sidhu could be gauged from the fact that he did not hold a single full meeting of the commission despite the Members having made numerous requisitions to him. He alleged that former Secretary Pritpal Singh had been in cohorts with the Chairman.

The Fact Finding Committee, including himself and Maj-Gen G.S. Riar (retd) which had been appointed by the commission to inquire how the Chairman had manipulated the commission, would present its report on April 29.


Chosen PCS officers barred from joining
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
Taking up a petition seeking directions to the state of Punjab and other respondents to quash the selection of PCS (Judicial), a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ordered that the selected candidates shall not be permitted to join, if they have not done so already, till further orders.

In a ruling, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice Jasbir Singh, also issued notice of motion to the Punjab Public Service Commission and other respondents to show cause why the petition should not be admitted. The case will now come up for hearing on November 20.

In her petition, Ms Sonia Kinra had also sought directions to the respondents to declare the detailed marks of the candidates qualifying the tests held in August last year, besides directions to the PPSC to produce the complete record. She had added that chairman and a member did not constitute the commission for the purpose of holding interviews.

The petitioner had submitted that advertisement for filling 21 posts of PCS (Judicial) officers was issued in July 2001. The examinations were held in August and the result declared in October 2001.

Two months’ time in Kaunke case given

A Division Bench of the High Court today granted two months’ time to the state of Punjab for probing the alleged disappearance of Akal Takht Jathedar Gurdev Singh Kaunke by an “independent senior officer”. The case will now come up forhearing on July 30.

In his petition taken up by the Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Ms Justice Bakhshish Kaur, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann MP had sought directions to the state of Punjab and other respondents to make public the report of inquiry conducted by Punjab’s Additional Director General of Police regarding the alleged murder of Jathedar Gurdev Singh Kaunke.

The petitioner had further stated that the Jathedar was shown to have escaped from police custody on January 3, 1993, and since then his whereabouts were not known. In all probability, he had been killed, the petitioner had claimed. His counsel had contended that the ADGP, in press statements after submitting the report to the then Chief Minister, had stated that he was being pressurised to give findings against the authorities.

Give publicity to polythene bag ban

Directing the states of Punjab and Haryana, besides the Union Territory of Chandigarh, to rigorously enforce the ban on recycled polythene bags, a Division Bench of the High Court today asked them to give wide publicity to the notifications prohibiting the manufacture and supply of such bags.

Delivering the verdict, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Ms Bakhshish Kaur, directed that the governments of the two states, besides the UT administration, may advertise information about the ban on a continuous basis on Doordarshan and in newspapers, besides cinema halls.

The Judges also asked the authorities to submit a status report after carrying out a detailed survey for finding out if recycled polythene bags of less than 20 microns were still being manufactured and supplied to wholesale and retail vendors. The status report is to be submitted within 10 weeks. The case will now come up for hearing on July 24.

Notice on doctors’ screening test

A Division Bench of the High Court, headed by Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar, on Wednesday issued notice of motion to the Union of India for May 15 on a petition filed by 43 doctors having degrees from “recognised institutes in the erstwhile USSR”. In their petition, the doctors had sought directions for quashing a regulation regarding the holding of a screening test which they were required to take before getting permanent registration.

Terming the action as illegal, Dr Sanjeev Mittal and others, in their petition filed against the Union of India and the Medical Council of India, had added that they had completed seven years course and one year internship from recognised institutes.

Their counsel had further added that the courses continued to be recognised even after the break up of USSR.

Rotation of wards in civic body poll

Legal Correspondent adds:
The Punjab Government has decided to hold elections to the Municipal Corporations of Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar, after reserving wards for woman afresh, by fresh rotation. This was stated by the Assistant Advocate-General before a Division Bench of the High Court while hearing a writ petition filed by Mr Satish Kumar Khurana and three other residents of Ludhiana, challenging the validity of the government’s decision of April 3 refusing to rotate the wards for the elections.

Mr Justice J. L. Gupta and Mr Justice N K Sud constituted the Bench.

The petitioners had contended that as per Article 243 (T) of the Constitution and Section 6 of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, the state government was bound to rotate the wards, reserved for women, before every election. They alleged that the decision against rotating the wards was taken on mala-fide considerations by Mr Jagjit Singh, Local Self-Government Minister. They alleged that the state government was bound to follow the legal provisions and any election in violation of it would be illegal.

In its reply the state government had submitted that because the date of the 2001 census was not available, therefore it was not possible for it to rotate the wards.


Solutions to Punjab problems elusive
P P S Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
The two-day discussions on the White Paper on the state’s finances concluded today offering no concrete solutions to the vexed Punjab fiscal and economic problems. The deliberations lacked focus and no new ideas came up.

Experts, economists, academicians and retired bureaucrats, who had assembled at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, succeeded in constructing only a broad framework. Most of them regurgitated the known old facts. They, however, hoped that the final policy resolutions, culled from the lengthy discussions, would at least serve as a ‘’wake up’’ call, if not ‘’shake up’’ the political executive and bureaucracy into action.

The common refrain was that the situation was serious and solutions should be worked out in all seriousness. The economic development roadmap should be drawn by balancing agriculture, industry and service sectors. There was need for tax rationalization by making taxation broad-based and effecting tax recovery through tight enforcement. Punjab economy should not be viewed from the narrow angle of being purely ‘’agriculture-driven’’ but as part of the total economic framework.

While future agriculture should be developed on modern lines, making it sustainable and viable, ‘’knowledge-driven’’ industrialization should be taken up in a big way. Stress should also be on primary rural health, rural education, infrastructure and human resource development.

The moderator for the two-day discussions, Dr S.S. Johl, who is Vice-Chairman of the State Planning Board, said since research and development were essential to accelerate economic growth rate, he had suggested to the government to levy 1 per cent ‘’R and D tax’’.

The participants were Dr B. B. Bhatacharaya, Dr G. S. Kalkat, Dr S. K. Goyal, Dr Sucha Singh Gill, Dr R. S. Ghuman, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Board, Mr R.R. Bhardwaj, Mr Chander Mohan and Mr J.P. Gupta.

The day, however, was carried by the former Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who made an apolitical presentation giving a spirited assessment of the ‘’overview’’ of the financial and economic situation. In a dispassionate manner he described the White Paper as a ‘’fact sheet’’ and called upon the participants to put their heads together and tell the government ‘’What next’’? Punjab cannot be discussed in isolation from the rest of the states.

His suggestion for evolving a Common Minimum Programme for the economic development of the state and welfare of the people by transgressing political barriers, was at first greeted with disbelief and then an applause.

‘’I suggest that Capt Amarinder Singh should involve colleagues, irrespective of their political affiliations and parties, for a roundtable discussion on the vital issue of applying correctives to the fiscal and economic distortions and frame a Common Minimum Programme to be religiously followed by whichever political party assumed power. We will support such a move in the larger interest of the state’’.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh was forthright in his comments and earned appreciation of all. A similar ‘’political networking’’ was rejected by Capt. Amarinder Singh on Tuesday, when the former Chief Secretary, Mr P. H. Vaishanav, broached the issue.

One important aspect of today’s discussion was the battering of the Punjab bureaucracy by the participants who spoke about the loss-making public sector undertakings. Bureaucrats, who headed various boards and corporations, should be personally held responsible, made accountable for the losses and money recovered from them.

There were repeated calls for developing a ‘’vision’’ and for re-orienting the entire economic planning by changing the mind-set of the policy-makers as well as the people. With changing living styles, patterns of consumerism and aspirations of the younger generation, a turnabout in thinking was equally imperative. The policies must be framed to restructure economy and putting it on a new edifice, chiseled by a changing world order and competitive marketing trends that called for improvement in technology and quality.

Involvement of panchayati raj institutions, decentralization of governance by devolution of ‘’functional’’ powers was one issue that most of the participants spoke on. There was quite a debate on the issue of ‘’political culture’’ referred to by Mr Bhardwaj suggesting that policies must be oriented to synchronize with the ruling party’s ideology.

Interestingly, most of the participants talked of failures and identified faultlines in fiscal management that resulted in slowdown of economy rather than suggesting solutions. The bottomline: Punjab must inculcate a sense of commitment in the unresponsive bureaucracy and a strong will in the dithering political executive.

The CRRID Director, Mr Rashpal Malhotra, thanked the participants and hoped the government would respond positively to the recommendations.


SGPC ‘responsible’ for upkeep of Pak shrines
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 24
The Jathedar of the Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, in a categorical assertion said there was no question of giving recognition to the Pakistan Gurdwara Management Committee looking after the upkeep of the holy Sikh shrines in Pakistan. Answering questions posed by a group of newsmen at his headquarter, Jathedar Vedanti pointed out that the maintenance and its proper running was the responsibility of the SGPC under the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, whereby all historic Sikh gurdwaras were to be managed by this supreme body of the Sikhs.

He said whatever care the Pakistan-based management committee had done was their duty, as after the Partition, several crores worth of assets belonging to the Sikhs were left behind besides the regular offerings made by the devotees during their visit to the gurdwaras.

He added that the SGPC must try to take control of the gurdwaras in Pakistan so that proper maintenance and renovation could be undertaken according to the Sikh traditions.

Earlier, the five head priests at a meeting held today took strong notice of the unfortunate comments made against the Sikh Gurus in Tarn Taran recently by Shankaranand of the Ashutosh Divya Jyoti Jagran Society. The five Jathedars issued an written appeal to the entire Sikh sangat not to be misled by these remarks and remain vigilant against such persons who were trying to distort the message of the gurus. They urged the Sikhs not to give any support to such persons and appealed to the present Punjab Government to curb the activities of these organisations which were out to destroy the peaceful environment of the state.

The five head priests had earlier summoned caretakers of Kunjpeer at Thhathe village near Sarhali to apologise for keeping the Guru Granth Sahib at that place during the Baisakhi festival held nearby the cemetery. The in charge of Kunjpeer’s dera Baba Devinder Singh, Avtar Singh Granthi and Jagir Singh Kavishar presented themselves at the Akal Takht and gave an undertaking not to bring the Holy Book at the site. However, Baba Devinder Singh while talking to newsmen said in 1998, the then Jathedar of the Akal Takht Bhai Ranjit Singh had instituted a five-member committee and directed them to demolish the dera at Kunjpeer. But, the committee had failed to act till date. He also alleged that a close relative of Jathedar Vedanti, Jagbir Singh, a member of the committee did not allow the implementation of the instructions issued by Bhai Ranjit Singh. He also alleged that Jagbir Singh, in the presence of the five high priests had threatened them of serious consequences. The Jathedar of the Akal Takht, however, denied that any such incident had taken place during their meeting where the caretakers had apologised.

Commenting on the various melas being organised at the samadhi of Rode Shah at Majitha, where parshad of liquor is served at the annual function, Jathedar Vedanti said that he would summon caretakers and would urge them not to bring holy Granth Sahib at the site in the future.


36-cr relief for border farmers
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, April 24
Dr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa, Parliamentary Secretary, Punjab, while talking to mediapersons here today said the Punjab Government had received the first instalment of Rs 36 crore from the Centre as compensation to the farmers of three border districts of the state in whose fields mines had been laid. He said Rs 18 crore had been received for Ferozepore district out of which Rs 8.65 crore would be distributed in 47 border villages of the subdivision. Each farmer would be paid Rs 5,000 per acre as the first instalment of compensation. The final assessment of loss and compensation would be determined later according to the guidelines of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence headed by Mr Madan Lal Khurana.

The Parliamentary Secretary further revealed that sarpanches of Bakainwala, Roopnagar, Mamukhera, Nihal Khera, Kabulshah Khuban and Ghallu villages of the subdivision had been suspended by the Director, Panchayats, Punjab, on the charges of misappropriation of funds and other irregularities. Ramesh Kumar, a member of Barekan village panchayat had also been suspended after he was booked under a case of theft of cement and bricks of the panchayat.

Dr Rinwa said the government had taken an initiative to set right the corrupt system, and officers, having a clean image were being appointed on key posts. He said to ensure the presence of officers and employees in government offices and urban and rural areas, the government had directed the state Vigilance Department to check their presence on duty.

Dr Rinwa said the government contemplated drastic measures to revive the shattered economy of the state by raising revenue recovery and checking pilferage of taxes. Austerity means had also been initiated by the Amarinder Singh Cabinet by reducing the security of ministers, MLAs and officers.

He further said for the first time the canals in the subdivision were being cleaned to ensure the availability of irrigation water on tails. He claimed that round-the-clock power supply was being provided to border villages despite heavy financial constraints. Dr Rinwa said the government had given stringent instructions to check canal water theft and all canal outlets were being checked.

Dr Rinwa further said the Punjab Government was making an orderly procurement of wheat. He disclosed that the government would formulate a new drug policy in the state to plug loopholes to ensure medicines to poor patients in government hospitals, health centres and dispensaries.


Fire destroys crop in 50 acres
Bipin Bhardwaj

Sirhind, April 24
Standing wheat crop worth lakhs was destroyed in a major fire that broke out in fields spread over 50 acres at Khanpur Sodhian, Harbanshpura and Majri villages, about 2 km from here, yesterday.

The fire also engulfed a tractor that was being used by a farmer to dig trenches to prevent the fire from spreading to adjacent fields. It even damaged plantations of kikar and eucalyptus.

Eyewitnesses said the fire was noticed at about 1.30 pm in a field at Harbanshpura village. Subsequently, fire brigades at Mandi Gobindgarh, Rajpura and Patiala were informed. By the time fire engines reached the spot, thousands of farmers of nearby areas had already started extinguishing the flames.

Victims whose crop has been severely affected include Mr Charan Singh, Mr Nirmal Singh, Mr Mohinder Singh, Mr Iqbal Singh, Mr Satpal Singh, Mr Gurdeep Singh and Mr Amrik Singh.

Five fire engines — two from Mandi Gobindgarh and three from Rajpura — reached the spot and took over four hours to overcome the flames. Firemen had a tough time in controlling the flames as they had to travel 6-km distance to Mandi Gobindgarh for refilling the engines.

Mr Charan Singh, Sarpanch of Khanpur Sodhian village, whose standing wheat crop over 35 acres was reduced to ashes, said five tractors were pressed into service to dig trenches to prevent the flames from spreading.

The wind played havoc, trapping some villagers and tractors. Four of them managed to escape along with their tractors but Mr Gurmail Singh, a labourer, had to leave the tractor to save himself. He sustained burn injuries on his limbs.

The smoke put scores of travellers to inconvenience.

There were over 30 tubewells but due to power failure, none of them could be used, said Mr Gurdeep Singh, who lost wheat spread over six acres.

The SDM, Fatehgarh Sahib, had reached the spot to assess the loss. The cause of the fire could not be ascertained. The police has registered a case.


Vigilance Bureau for action against 230 absentees
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has recommended administrative action against 230 employees including doctors, pharmacists and teachers, who have been found absent from duty at their place of posting when the checking was made by special vigilance teams. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had directed the Vigilance Bureau to check absenteeism in the countryside following reports that schools and dispensaries in the rural areas remain closed for weeks together in the absence of employees concerned.

Mr A.P. Pandey, Inspector-General of Police, said today that he had submitted a report to the government authorities concerned and has suggested severe administrative action against the employees. He said 20 doctors, 33 pharmacists, 125 teachers, 44 class IV and a number of other employees were found absent during the checking. Such employees can be transferred to far away places from their present place of posting. 


Girl, paramour get death for killing grandmother
Our Correspondent

Samana, April 24
The Additional Sessions Judge of the Fast Track Court, Mr K.R. Mahajan, awarded death sentence to the accused-Harjinder Kaur Rano and her lover, Gurjant Singh, under Sections 302/201/34 of the IPC. The other accused, Labh Singh, former Sarpanch, was however, awarded life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5,000 has been imposed on him. All accused belong to Gajewas village of Samana subdivision.

In 1997 the accused Harjinder Kaur Rano was acquitted by the juvenile court of Patiala in the case of murder of her father, mother and brother. She started meeting the other two accused. When the grandmother of Rano objected to this, Rano, alongwith Gurjant Singh and Labh Singh, murdered her by strangulating her. Later, they threw body into a sewerage tank. The police dug out the remains of the body after three months.

Harpreet Kaur, sister of Rano, deposed before the court that she was witness to the murder of her grandmother. Another case was pending against her in the court of Sangrur.

About 10 witnesses were examined by the prosecution. As the prosecution succeeded in proving the case the Additional Sessions Judge of Patiala, Mr K.B. Mahajan, convicted the accused.


Rising cancer cases alarm villagers
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Jajjal (Talwandi Sabo), April 24
With the health authorities remaining indifferent, cancer, though not contagious, seems to be spreading its tentacles in this village. As the disease claimed two lives on Monday, it has left the residents frightened.

Mr Nazar Singh, former Sarpanch, told TNS that in the past two months, cancer had claimed five lives in this village. While Chotta Singh and Bhola Singh died on Monday, Gurdeep Singh, Manjeet Kaur and Mander Singh had fallen prey to the dreaded disease earlier. He said that in the past eight to 10 years, cancer had claimed about 70 lives in this village.

After undergoing the trauma of about 30 deaths due to cancer in the past three years coupled with the apathetic attitude of authorities concerned, a major section of residents, most of whom have been living for decades in extremely unhygienic conditions with a shattered economy, have decided to take life as it comes. Most of the patients cannot afford treatment from private hospitals located in Punjab. They prefer to go to Cancer Hospital, Bikaner in Rajasthan.

Dr Gurmail Singh Mauji, Senior Medical Officer (SMO), Talwandi Sabo, under whose jurisdiction the village falls, today confirmed the two deaths due to cancer. He pointed there were cancer patients in this village but not a single case was detected during the check-up camp organised here by the health authorities about a year ago.

The authorities have failed to find the reason for the unusual number of deaths due to cancer in Giana village, about 10 km from this village, bordering Haryana in the past many years. In the past 15 years, about 75 deaths due to cancer have taken place at Giana. The plight of the villagers has become so bad that they have stopped disclosing the reason of death to strangers, fearing harm to the matrimonial prospects of their wards.

Mr Nazar Singh pointed out that residents of Jajjal village suspected that cancer had been attacking them as they were forced to drink underground water which is unfit and dangerous for human consumption, as water rarely reached here from the waterworks situated in the neighbouring Malkana village. He added that local dispensary did not function properly and did not have the facility to detect cancer at the early stage.

The villagers pointed out that it was duty of the Punjab Government to provide them with safe water and environmental-friendly surroundings. They added that it was duty of the state government to make arrangements for their treatment free of cost.

Dr Mauji said a survey would be conducted in the village after a week, as now the residents were busy harvesting wheat. He added that cancer did not attack any body due to consumption of underground water.

He said information revealed that most of the patients had been suffering from different kind of cancer. 


No additional duties for TB doctors
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 24
Learning a lesson from the failure of the National Tuberculosis (TB) Control Programme of 1962, the Punjab Government has now decided to launch a revised national TB control programme (RNTCP) at a large scale.

The government has decided that District TB Officers (DTOs) and newly designated Medical Officer-TB Control (MO-TC) will only concentrate on the RNTCP in their respective districts.

In a communique to Civil Surgeons, the government through its Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, has exempted DTOs and the MO-TCs from performing additional duties like medico-legal duties, post-mortem examinations, VIP duties, emergency duties and food sampling duties.

Mr Rajan Kashyap, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, also asked the Civil Surgeons to strictly adhere to the directions.

It is reported that the DTOs and the MO-TCs are being assigned additional duties in Sangrur, Amritsar, Bathinda, Ludhiana, Patiala, Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr districts where the RNTCP was introduced recently.

The government has also decided to restrict frequent transfers of the DTOs and the MO-TCs. This decision was taken following a governing body meeting of the Punjab State TB Control Society.

According to Health Department sources, there will be one DTO and three to five MO-TCs in each district depending on its population. The DTO will undertake 15 tours per month for better implementation of the programme. The MO-TCs will tour their respective areas, known as treatment units (one unit caters to a population of five lakh persons), twice a week. For these tours, the government will not provide any vehicle but will provide Rs 3,500 per month each to them as maintenance allowance of their vehicles and Rs 3.5 per km of the touring distance.

As per the guidelines of the RNTCP laid down by the World Health Organisation, the DTOs have received training from the LRS Institute, New Delhi, while 19 MO-TCs had completed their training from the State TB Demonstration-cum-Training Centre, Patiala, in February. The last batch of 30 MO-TCs will complete its training in Patiala this week.

Sputum examination of patients will be done free of cost at microscopic centres throughout the districts. All anti-TB drugs will be given free of cost.


‘Cancel training scheme for doctors’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
Urging the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to cancel the training programme proposed by the Punjab Health Systems Corporation in the USA for certain junior doctors, a senior leader of the PCMS Association said that the corporation authorities should be asked to spell out the criteria adopted for selecting the candidates.

He said that neither was any committee set up to select the candidates nor was any notice circulated among doctors working in the corporation’s hospitals in the field to seek applications from them for the training.

He alleged that those selected for the programme had been working at the head office of the corporation for a number of years and had not worked in hospitals in the field.

He urged the Health Minister, Mr Ramesh Dogra, to remove resentment among doctors working in the field over the manner in which the selections had been made by immediately taking up the issue with the Chief Minister on his own. The three-month training programme will cost about Rs 35 lakh per doctor to the corporation. The Personnel Department of the government was not intimated about the expenditure on the training, it is learnt.

A similar training programme is available in Jaipur and Hyderabad. Moreover, there are a number of private hospitals in the country being managed on the US pattern.


Construction activity blocks Shahi Samadhan complex
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Capt Amarinder Singh may be the Chief Minister of the state and scion of the Patiala royal house but that hasn’t stopped the Telecommunication Department, which has completely encroached upon the main road leading to the memorial built in memory of Baba Ala, the founder of the Patiala dynasty in the Shahi Samadhan (royal cremation ground) here, from starting more construction activity, including building of a room in the proximity of the historic gate built in front of the memorial

The Telecom Department had till recently dumped its transformers and wire rolls on the road meant to give access to the Shahi Samadhan. It had also closed off the road immediately towards the historic gate as well as along the boundary of the Shahi Samadhan grounds by constructing metal gates on both sides. This had virtually cut off access to the royal cremation grounds with devotees wanting to offer prayers at the memorial of Baba Ala being forced to take a route through the residential quarters of the Mahant, who is in charge of management of the entire property.

Now the department, which had a ramshackle accommodation along the historic gate of the complex, has taken upon itself to build a new room just short of the open space of the complex. Besides this it has started putting up new flooring in front of the rooms occupied by it in the complex and also constructed a concrete floor on the road which has been encroached by it.

The recent move by the Department has surprised many. A visit to the spot and questioning of the staff did not elicit any answers with officials saying the questions should be directed at the contractor who was getting the work done. The contractor himself was not available for comment.

Mahant Jagat Ram, who manages the entire property, is livid at the manner in which the Telecommunication Department has started construction. Talking to TNS, he said it was surprising that the department was starting construction activity in the complex when common sense dictated that it should be ejected from the property so that it could be properly maintained. He claimed that the department had no right to go in for any construction activity, adding it did not give any rent also to maintain the premises.

Sources say the fact that the entire complex, which includes the gate, main memorial constructed in memory of Baba Ala and the various “chhatris” marking the cremation of the Maharajas of the Patiala dynasty, had not been declared a protected monument was behind the reason for the ambiguity in the care of the monument as well as constructions coming up along side it, which would further mar its beauty.

Presently the Mahant is in charge of maintenance of the complex. To ensure he can maintain the complex properly as well as take care of visiting holy men and devotees, the Samadhan has a substantial number of acres of land attached to it in neighbouring villages. However, the Mahant claims that revenue from the land has dwindled immensely as the tenants ploughing it pay a miserly sum. The Mahant has, however, gone in for whitewashing Baba Ala’s memorial recently besides cleaning up the ground along the “chhattris” of the various Maharajas which had seen a spate of shubbery growth before the elections in the State.


PUDA to develop modern colony
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 24
As a mark of respect to the younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh, the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) will develop a modern colony here having all basic facilities as well as educational, recreation and commercial establishments. This was stated by Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, Minister for Urban Development, while addressing a gathering here today.

He said the new PUDA colony would be constructed in a pollution-free environment having 1000 residential plots and parks besides sewerage, water supply, roads and other infrastructure of high standard. He directed the officials of the department to work out the modalities of the project. The project was initially taken up by the previous government but could not be materialised.

He said the Congress government under the leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh was committed towards rooting out corruption from public life. He urged the people to co-operate with the government to curb the menace by coming forward with relevant information. He said the government had constituted a commission for the purpose. He added that the government would review all recruitments made during the tenure of PPSC Chairman Ravi Sidhu and that deserving candidates would be appointed.

Earlier, Mr Subhash Sood, senior Congress leader, in his address highlighted various problems of the town and demanded the formation of urban estate in the district.


War widow seeks justice
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 24
Ms Amarjit Kaur, war widow of Budhlada, is seeking action against Darbara Singh, who on the basis of a fake general power of attorney, allegedly sold 76 kanal of land belonging to her. The land was allotted to her by the state government for the supreme sacrifice of her husband Bangladesh in 1971.

The state government allotted 76 kanal, situated at Nizamdin Wala and Gatti Harike villages in Ferozepore district, to his wife. However, Darbara Singh of Gogoani village, “managed” to obtain a fake power of attorney by producing another woman in her place before the Sub-Registrar, Zira, allegedly in connivance with officials of the Revenue Department. Later, he sold the land.

She said she came to know of the fraud in March.


Consumer workshop on April 27
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 24
The National Forum for Consumer Rights (NFCR) will organise a consumer workshop on April 27 here at B. C. M Arya Model Senior Secondary School, Shastri Nagar. In this workshop topics of discussion include, general, financial and medical consumer awareness, legal concerns and services lapses, food supply and petroleum consumer awareness. Additional Municipal Commissioner, Mr Raminder Singh, would be the chief guest while the Managing Director and Chairman, Hero Cycles, Mr Satya Nand Munjal would preside.


27 more appointed for AG’s office
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
As if 65 were not enough, Punjab’s Department of Home Affairs and Justice ordered the appointment of 27 more law officers in Punjab Advocate-General’s office, besides redesignating five other officers. While two Additional Advocates-General have been appointed, seven Deputy Advocates-General and 18 Assistant Advocates General have been appointed. With their appointment, the total strength has reached 94, the highest so far, reportedly increasing the burden on the already cash-strapped Punjab government.

In a letter addressed to the Punjab’s Advocate-General, it was stated that Mr Sarup Singh had been redesignated as Senior Additional Advocate-General, while Mr Bharat Bir Singh Sobti, Mr Pankaj Bhardwaj and Mr Harbhajan Singh Sra have been redesignated as Additional Advocates-General. Mr Paramjit Singh Thiara has been redesignated as Deputy Advocate-General.

The Additional Advocates-General are: Mr Chander Mohan Munjal and Mr Kuljeet Singh Sidhu. The Deputy Advocates-General are: Mr DPS Kahlon, Mr Ajay Pal Singh Mann, Mr Randhir Singh, Mr Sanjay Majithia, Mr Sukant Gupta, Ms Harvinder Kaur and Ms Rupinder Kaur Wasu.

The Assistant Advocates-General include: Mr Gurbir Singh Brar, Mr Gaurav Singh Hooda, Mr Ashish Sharma, Mr Rajdip Singh Cheema, Ms Nirmaljit Kaur, Mr Harpreet Singh Sandhu, Mr H.P.S. Gill, Ms Neelofer A. Parveen, Ms Swati Gupta, Ms Reena Bains, Mr Brajeshwar Singh Chahal, Ms Gagangeet Kaur, Mr Sandeep Jain, Mr Birkamjit Singh Bath, Mr Deepinder Singh Kamra, Mr Ranjit Singh Bath, Mr Sanjay Malik and Mr Rakesh Verma.


Stir threat by MC employees
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 24
Employees of all state municipal committees (MC) will observe a strike on May 7 if their demands, including monthly payment of a salaries and deposit of provident fund, are not accepted. This was stated by Mr Ramesh Gupta, member of the Joint Action Committee of the employees, here today. He said a meeting would be held on May 9 here to chalk out further course of action.

Employees of the municipal committees of Sri Hargobindpur Qadian, Dera Baba Nanak and Dhariwal are already on strike due to the non-payment of salaries for the past more than five months. Mr Gupta said arrears of provident fund of the employees due to municipalities of Pathankot, Batala and Gurdaspur remained to be deposited. Arrears of other municipalities in the district was to the tune of more than Rs 20 lakh per municipality, he said.


City lawyer on rail users’ panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
Mr Mansur Ali, Chandigarh-based advocate has been nominated a member of the Railway Users Consultative Committee, Ferozepore Division.

The committee’s functions relate to the provision of amenities and giving proposals regarding opening new stations. The committee looks into the arrangement for time-tables and helps improve the services and facilities provided by the Railways. Any other subject of general public importance also comes under its purview. The tenure of the committee is two years.

Ferozepore Division is one of the largest divisions of the Northern Railway.


Coop bank MD, wife held on graft charge

Amritsar, April 24
The Managing Director (MD) of a Cooperative Bank here and his wife have been arrested on charges of official possessing assets disproportionate to known sources of income after allegedly taking bribes for fixing jobs and embezzling funds.

Surinder Pal Singh Chhina, MD of Amritsar Central Cooperative Bank, was sent in judicial custody until May 6 while his wife Apjeet Kaur was sent to police remand until April 26 after she was arrested on charges of conspiracy.

This is the second “cash-for-jobs” scam unearthed by the police in the last month in which Rs 1 crore was recovered from his bank locker, besides 2 kg of gold.

Chhina’s arrest came close on the heels of the arrest of the chief of the Punjab Public Service Commission Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu on charges of taking bribes for leaking question papers and fixing government jobs.

SP (Vigilance) T.P. Singh Sandhu said the passports of Chhina and his wife had been impounded. PTI


Impersonator held
Tribune News Service

Moga, April 24
The local police has arrested Naresh Kumar, a resident of Shekha Kalan village, for cheating people by impersonating as an SHO of Bagapurana police station.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, in a press note issued here today said the accused, Naresh Kumar, had on April 10 taken earrings from Rajinder Kaur, a resident of Jeet Singh Wala village, by threatening her that if she did not give him Rs 3,000, she along with her cousin, would be taken to the police station and a case would be registered against them.

She went to the house of Mr Pamma, located in Hargobind Colony, Bagapurana, where her cousin, Jaswinder Singh, was already present. After some time, a man wearing white clothes, who identified himself as Naresh Shekha the SHO of Bagapurana police station, came there. He threatened to take them to the police station. After some time they were taken to a shop of Chunnu photographer.

On reaching the shop, he asked them to give Rs 3,000 otherwise a case would be registered against them. When their repeated request to free them failed, Ms Rajinder Kaur was forced to part with her earrings. After taking the earrings, the accused told them to pay Rs 3,000 at the same shop after a week.

On an inquiry it was found that the accused had been running a photographer shop under the name of Darpan Studio.

The accused was arrested by Mr Sucha Singh, SHO, Samalsar police station. A case has been registered against him under Sections 384, 342, 419 and 420 of the IPC. Further investigations were going on.


Investors duped of Rs 75 lakh
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, April 24
The city police today registered a case under Sections 420, 408 and 120-B of Indian Penal Code against six directors, including the Managing Director, of a private finance company on a charge of duping investors of more than Rs 75 lakh.

In a press note issued today, Mr R.N. Dhoke, Senior Superintendent of Police, identified the accused Vinod Kumar, Parmodh Sharma, Priya Sharma, Parminderjit Kaur, father and daughter of Vinod Sharma. The company is Van Raksha Green Plantation and Resorts Ltd.

Mr Dhoke informed that the company was opened in 1997 and lured the investors by promising to double their money in four years.

When after the maturity period, investors Krishna, Bhagwan Singh, Piara Singh and others went to the company office in the Model Town locality, they found the office locked.

The depositors lodged a complaint with police which registered a case following an inquiry.


Hawala money seized, 2 remanded
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 24
A sum of Rs 7 lakh, used in illegal transactions, was recovered and two persons, including a close relative of a Shiv Sena leader, were notified by the Basti Jodhewal police here today.

The hawala money was recovered late last night when a police team led by the SHO caught two persons on a scooter who were bringing the money to deliver to an industrialist.

The accused have been identified as Parmod Tangri, a relative of Shiv Sena leader Jagdish Tangri, and Sanjeev Sharma. They were remanded in judicial custody by a district court late in the evening. The police is now on the look out for the third accused, identified as Paswan Saroja.

According to highly-placed sources, the recovery was significant as it would reveal the level and channels of hawala transactions.


Thieves keep cops on tenterhooks
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 24
Even as the police authorities have intensified night patrolling to check crime, the spate of thefts in the past few weeks in this city has created a fear psychosis among the residents. An incident of snatching took place just a couple of days ago.

In the past few weeks, thieves have struck at computer centres, Tribune Sub-Office and various residential premises. Last night, the thieves struck at the residence of a timber merchant, the late Jagat Ram, and took away valuables.

Mr Ishwar Singh, district police chief said the thieves who struck last night could have been arrested had the watchman and other persons, who had seen them, made sincere attempts for same.

He added that senior police officials, including SPs and DSPs, were out the whole night, but the thieves eluded them.

He pointed out that he would hold a meeting with private watchmen shortly to intensify the patrolling in the interiors of city. 


SI booked on graft charge
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 24
The Vigilance Bureau today registered a case against Sub Inspector Gurmel Singh, Additional SHO, Bhadson, for accepting a bribe of Rs 1,000 for taking preventive action against some persons.

According to the SP (vigilance), Mr Paramjit Singh Grewal, a trap was laid for the SI following which a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered against him. The SP said complainant Faqira Singh had given an application to the SHO, Bhadson, for taking preventive action against three persons of Wajeedri village in Nabha tehsil. The complaint was marked to the SI who demanded Rs 1,000 from the complainant.


Youth commits suicide in front of public
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 24
In the presence of hundreds of persons, a 22-year-old youth, Manoj Sharma, alias Shunty, today committed suicide by jumping off a 100-foot high water-works situated near the old grain market here. He was the son of Mr Bhagwan Dass Sharma, Sub-Inspector in the CID, posted at Barnala. Eyewitnesses said he remained atop the waterworks for about half an hour and tried to jump atleast thrice.

3 of family killed
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, April 24
Three occupants of a Fiat-Uno car, including a young man and his mother, were killed in a head-on-collision between their car and a PRTC bus near Naggar village on the Phillaur-Nawanshahr road last evening. They have been identified as Nalesh Chander Rana (29), his mother Santosh Kumari (50) and Aunt (Maasi) Kamlesh Rani of the Gill road, Ludhiana.


Govt schools sans roof, desks, benches
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 24
Students studying in various government schools of the district are denied even the basic facilities. They have to suffer in the cold winter and hot summer as many schools lack even roofed accommodation. The students are made to sit in the open or in the shade of trees, exposed to the vagaries of nature. There is no furniture, including desks and benches, or even mats for their use.

In many schools, there is no arrangements of potable water. The government has failed to provide a congenial atmosphere in the schools required for the students.

It is strange that the schoolteachers, who never lose any opportunity to demand better service conditions, have never made a demand for the improvement of conditions prevailing in the schools.

A random visit to Government Senior Secondary School, Mansa, by this correspondent today revealed that the school which is one of the premier schools of the district lacks many facilities. Students of plus one and plus two classes sit on the floor without mats, desks and benches. Many students were sitting on empty polythene bags brought from home. The ceiling fans provided in the classroom only on the first floor were not working.

The school with a strength of about 1,700, has only one water cooler. The urinals provided in the school were in a deplorable condition and no steps had been taken to ensure cleanliness. The sanitary condition in the school were far from satisfactory.


Notice issued to striking teachers
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 24
Sri Laxmi Narayan Ayurvedic College controversy took a new turn with hot words, allegations and counter allegations being exchanged between students of the college and Mr Santosh Gupta, President, Durgiana Education Foundation Management, here today.

Agitated students, a majority of them girls, alleged that the president had used foul language with them. Mr Gupta refused the allegation and said they had started using rude words even after being assured that an inquiry would be held.

Mr Gupta stated that the inquiry panel would have representatives from the protesting staff and the students on the dharna issue which entered its 12th day today.

Students, however, alleged that the sons of Mr Vibhakar Sharma, Vice-President of the college, along with four unidentified persons had threatened them outside the college campus yesterday. It was alleged that they were carrying firearms.

Rekha, a safai sewika, in a press conference said today that she too was threatened by some persons from her mohalla and warned of dire consequences if she refused to withdraw the sexual harassment case against Mr Vibhakar Sharma.

Meanwhile, a court notice was served on the striking teachers today, debarring them from holding a protest within 200 yards of the college premises. The court of the elaka magistrate had also issued summons to them for appearance on May 10.

The college staff announced a decision to take legal recourse to get their arrears and other demands fulfilled.


Teachers’ transfers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
The Punjab Government has decided to order the transfer of teachers during the summer vacation. Informed official sources said that a decision to this effect had been taken because the government did not want to disturb the studies of students.


Pact on Industrial Growth Centre
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 24
The Punjab State Industrial Export Corporation (PSEIC) and the Municipal Council authorities have reached an agreement under which latter will maintain street lights, provide the water supply and sewer system in the Industrial Growth Centre, located on the Bathinda- Mansa road in lieu of exclusive control over the water supply system of former, worth Rs. 6 crore, installed on the same premises.

Apart from it, the local Municipal Council authorities will also make use of the sewerage system set up at the centre. And the streetlights, water supply and sewerage will be provided to the industries and residential areas at the centre by the Municipal Council authorities from its own resources.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, president Municipal Council, when contacted, said that by this agreement, the Municipal Council had been benefited to the tune of Rs 10 crore.

He added that the council would lay down 1.5-km long pipe worth Rs 90 lakh from the water tank of the Industrial Growth Centre of various localities to supply them with potable water.

The localities, which would get water from this scheme included Harbans Nagar, Bhai Mati Dass Nagar, Guru Nanak Pura, Guru ki Nagri, Bachhitar Nagar and Hazi Rattan.

He added that the municipal council authorities would save 36 acres in the heart of the city by making use of the disposal system at the Industrial Growth Centre.

On that piece of land, a garbage treatment plant would be set up.

He added that the only liability which the Municipal Council authorities, would have to face, was that they would have to pay salaries to 22 employees of the PSIEC.

These employees included those belonging to class four, operators and supervisors.

However, the Municipal Council authorities would earn enough from the fee, which would be deposited by the prospective industrialists for getting their site plans sanctioned.

He added that all formalities to take over the charge of the Industrial Growth Centre had been fulfilled and the council authorities would take control from May 1.

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