Saturday, April 27, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



IT Dept moves special court
Seeks cash, documents of Ravi Sidhu
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
The Investigation wing of the Income Tax Department today moved a formal application in a Ropar-based special court seeking all cash and documents of financial transactions recovered from arrested Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) Chairman Ravi Sidhu, his mother and friends.

This moves comes after the department found in its records that huge sums of cash was unaccounted wealth and not even a small portion of this was reflected in Sidhu’s or his mother income tax returns.

Recoveries of huge amounts of cash and properties totalling Rs 25 crore have been made from Ravi Sidhu and his family including his mother, brother and sister-in-law, by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau in the past one month.

In case of Sidhu’s brother and his wife the taxmen cannot proceed as they are Non Resident Indians (NRI’s) and are not assessed in India. Interestingly, in the case when huge sums of money were recovered from the Himachal Pradesh house of former Union Telecommunication Minister Sukh Ram, the Income Tax Department had taken away the money. The money from his Delhi house was taken away by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which had cracked the case.

Well placed sources in the Income Tax Department informed that the application submitted in court says since criminal proceedings will take a very long time thus the cash and all documents should be handed over to the department. The same is required for accounting for tax purposes. Since assessments have to be made in a time-bound manner the money and record of transactions was required. The Income Tax Department after giving due opportunity of reply to the Sidhu family can deduct upto 40 per cent of the money and upto 300 per cent fines. The money if deducted from the huge cache of cash will be deposited in the Treasury. Even his properties can be attached for purposes of recovery.

The taxmen have also sought that the Vigilance teams show them all papers of financial transactions including those relating to residential as well as commercial property. Director, Investigation, Income Tax, Mr C.K. Vohra, confirmed that the Income Tax Department had moved court to seek all cash and documents. This has been done as in case the Vigilance team does not return any document which is not of consequence to their own case.

Sources said the department was closing in on not only Ravi Sidhu but also on the origin of huge amounts of cash and others assets which have been recovered by the Punjab Vigilance Department. Establishing the origin will help in reaching people who may have paid up huge amounts in the region of Rs 35 lakh to Rs 40 lakh to secure a job.

Even those who sold the properties to Sidhu will be the target as their income from sale of property should have reflected in that years income tax returns.

Taxmen had gone by the simple logic that cash lying in bank lockers is usually unaccountable.


PPSC members for transparency
Write to PM for national-level guidelines
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
Three members of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) — Ms Harjit Kaur Randhawa, Mr R.C. Gupta and Mr Amarjit Singh Chawla — have sought the intervention of the Prime Minister for laying down clear-cut guidelines at the national level to be followed by all public service commissions and other recruitment agencies to ensure total transparency in the system.

Perturbed over the developments since March 25 when the chairman of the PPSC landed in the vigilance net, they felt that now when a review of the Constitution was under consideration, it was high time that the working of the public service commissions was standardised and guidelines issued at the national level to ensure fair play and transparency in the working of these premier agencies of the country for the recruitment of gazetted officers.

They also felt that the public at large had been gradually losing faith in the working of these commissions as serious allegations of favouritism, for various considerations, were being levelled from time to time against members and chairmen of such commissions.

In fact, one of the members, Mr Gupta, had written a couple of weeks before the March 25 case under the Prevention of Corruption Act against the PPSC chairman to the Chairman of the Constitution Review Committee suggesting guidelines to be framed for the working of the public service commissions, especially in the matter of conduct of examinations and interviews.

Mr Gupta is reported to have said in his letter that public distrust in the public service commissions had arisen due to mismanagement which had resulted from the absence of clear-cut guidelines on their working.

All commissions had made their own rules for their internal working but many a time the chairmen and members of these commissions conducted themselves in a manner indicated that they were “immune to law and cannot be touched” making in the process the quality of selections a casualty.

Mr Gupta also suggested that the retirement age of the chairman or members of a public service commission should be raised from 62 to 65 as the retirement age of government employees had been raised to 60. To enable the members to resist pressure from state governments, their pay and pension structure should be decided by the Central Government for uniform introduction throughout the country.

The three PPSC members quoted this communication of Mr Gupta in their letter to the Prime Minister to corroborate their view that in the absence of any clear-cut guidelines on recruitment or selections, the chairman, in league with some members, could hijack the working of the entire commission in such a way that selections could be manipulated as per their interests or whims. “This is exactly what has happened in the PPSC,” they said.

“The chairmen many a time wore a cloak of secrecy and created an atmosphere which did not have transparency at all. “In Punjab, this practice degenerated to such an extent that the general public has lost complete faith in the working of the commission,” they said suggesting that all arbitrariness in the selection or recruitment process must be reduced to a minimum to check corruption and restore public faith in the institution of public service commission.


Court remand for Pammi

Ropar, April 26
Panjab University Senator Paramjit Singh Gill, alias Pammi, arrested in the cash-for-job racket involving arrested PPSC Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, was today remanded into judicial custody by a court at Kharar in this district.

He was produced in the court of Judicial Magistrate (First Class) Roshan Lal Chohan at Kharar, who remanded him into judicial custody till May 4.

The Vigilance Bureau is on the look out for four more persons — Randhir Singh Dhira, Prem Sagar, a petrol station owner at Moga, Shamshir Singh of Panchkula in Haryana and G.S. Manchanda, an alleged hawala operator. PTI


Hearing on bail plea of Jagman on May 6
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 26
The hearing on the bail applications of Ms Surinder Kaur, a resident of Sector 33 of Chandigarh, and Jagman Singh, the main accomplices of the PPSC Chairman, Mr Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, were put off till May 6 today.

The hearing that was to come up in the court of the Sessions Judge (Ropar) was postponed due to the lawyer’s strike.


Scare in Akali circles
Ministers may seek anticipatory bail
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
The Congress tirade against corruption has created ripples in political and bureaucratic circles in Punjab. There is a general feeling of scare in Akali circles. A former Minister, Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, has filed an anticipatory bail application in the High Court.

His action follows the arrest of Amritsar Central Cooperative Bank’s Managing Director, Mr Surinderpal Singh Chhina.

Mr Brahmpura’s petition seeks the grant of bail or else 15 days notice in case a First Information Report is registered against him. The petition will come up for hearing tomorrow.

Sources in the Akali Dal, talking in whispers, say several more Ministers may seek anticipatory bail for there is growing concern and fear over the way the Congress has launched “Operation Clean-Up”, beginning with the Punjab Public Service Commission Chairman, Mr Ravi Sidhu. The Akali MLAs talk of the government’s revengeful attitude towards the party leaders.

While the Vigilance Bureau has been asked to probe yet another recruitment scandal, this time in the Punjab School Education Board, after the Punjab Public Service Commission scam, the Chief Minister’s Office is yet to clear the file entrusting the Bureau to conduct an enquiry into the allocation of paddy by the Punjab Warehousing Corporation to a defaulting rice mill at Khamanno. In fact, as many as 10 Akali MLAs have finalised a petition challenging the constitution of a Commission of Enquiry against the previous government’s entire five-year period. These MLAs say the government has the right to constitute a Commission. But what has irked them is the manner in which it has been done. This showed the biased attitude of the government. It did not write to the Chief Justice of the High Court for sparing a sitting Judge or ask the Chief Justice to appoint one.

If there is a scare in the Akali circles, the Congress Ministers and MLAs are feeling equally, if not more, uncomfortable. Their main sore point is the manner in which mass-scale postings, re-postings, transfers and re-transfers of civil servants are being daily effected. Rarely is a request from the Ministers or MLAs acceded to in this process. If it is, the powers that be ensure the person is posted away from the choice of place and post.

Several Ministers confided in TNS that the day was not far away when “political tide will turn”. As part of the strategy, these uncomfortable Congressmen will “turn the heat” first on the caucus around the Captain. Some Ministers also feel let down because changes at the top in their departments or corporations under them have been effected without even consulting them. Not even out of courtesy.

Nevertheless, since it is “our” government, as most of them put it, they would prefer to wait for some time before acting. Meanwhile, informally, broad hints are being conveyed to Captain as to what is brewing where and why.

There is a feeling of satisfaction amongst the Ministers and MLAs that while the stock of the Congress and that of Captain Amarinder Singh has gone up, immensely, following his onslaught on corruption, sustaining such an operation on a wider canvas for long will be difficult. It is, therefore, imperative that the government also undertake some development-oriented projects and announce initiatives to show that besides improving housekeeping, it is equally serious in “reconstructing” the state’s infrastructure and economy. “There is a lot to do, if there is much to undo. Mere constitution of committees and commissions or appointment of advisers will not help the government build bridges with the people from whom the party is getting alienated”, remarked a senior Minister.

Another disturbing factor making Ministers feel uncomfortable is the placement of some politicians and bureaucrats in key slots that reflects the government in poor light.


SAD may challenge probe panel in HC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
Former Chief Minister and President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today hinted at his party challenging the appointment of the one-man inquiry commission in the Punjab and Haryana High Court here. Mr Badal also demanded a special girdawari in respect of crops damaged by the recent spell of inclement weather.

Talking to newsmen here, Mr Badal said that the Dal would still welcome the appointment of a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to head such a commission. “We are ready to fully cooperate with a commission headed by a sitting judge,” Mr Badal said.

“Throughout his election campaign, Capt Amarinder Singh had been maintaining that the Lok Pal appointed by the SAD-BJP government was not acceptable to the Congress as he was a political appointee. If the Lok Pal appointed by the previous government with the consent of the Chief Justice was a political appointee, then what is this one-man judicial commission? The chairman of the commission is a relative of the Advocate-General, a political appointee, and also a Congressman,” said Mr Badal.

“Why is the Punjab Chief Minister afraid of appointing a sitting judge of the high court to head this commission? He is perhaps aware that a sitting judge may not approve the terms of reference of the commission fixed arbitrarily by the government. The terms of reference are being framed in a partisan manner and with political vendetta in mind,” he said.

Mr Badal said that legal experts of the Dal were looking into various provisions of the Commissions of Enquiry Act and “if necessary, we will challenge the one-man commission in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.”

Mr Badal reiterated his allegation that the Congress was anti-people, anti-worker and anti-farmer. The Congress government had done virtually nothing for the people of Punjab in the first two months of its governance.

“The Punjab Chief Minister has not visited any village in two months,” he alleged claiming that wheat procurement was going on at a tardy pace.

Ridiculing the claims of the government of downsizing government machinery, Mr Badal said that the Congress government had “double standards”.

“While on the one hand, it has been shouting about the poor fiscal position, on the other hand it has recruited an unprecedented large number of law officers in the AG’s office. Besides, the Chief Minister himself has an army of political appointees, including OSDs. Is he setting an example for others,” Mr Badal said.

While talking about PPSC chairman Ravi Sidhu, Mr Badal said that he was not only an appointee of the then Congress government but also a product of “Congress culture”.


SGPC poll: lowering of voting age sought
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 26
The Chief Commissioner for Gurdwara Elections Justice J.S. Sekhon has written to the Central Government for lowering the voting age for the SGPC elections from 21 to 18 years as was for the Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha elections.

Justice Sekhon, former member of the Punjab Human Rights Commission, took over as the Chief Commissioner for Gurdwara Elections in place of Justice Harband Singh. The general house of the SGPC at its annual meeting in 2000 had sought the lowering of the voting age and debarring sehajdharis.

When the attention of Justice Sekhon was drawn to the sehajdhari issue, he said yesterday that the matter was pending with the Union Home Ministry. Moreover, his predecessor had also written to the Home Ministry in this regard, suggesting that the sehajdharis be nominated instead of giving them the right to vote. The state government under the Congress regime said the status quo should be maintained and the sehajdharis should not be debarred.

Inquiries reveal that the ministry had made a reference to the SAD-BJP government on the issue. But the government kept sitting on the file and the Congress government at its Cabinet meeting rejected the demand of the SGPC and asked the Centre to maintain a status quo.

Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, President, SGPC, said the SGPC stood by its resolution of 2000 had urged the government to lower the voting age and also debar the sehajdharis from casting their votes.

Mr Badungar maintained that the state government had nothing to do with the resolution and it was between the SGPC and the ministry which was supposed to accept the recommendation of the SGPC general house.

Meanwhile, work in connection with the registration of voters for the SGPC is on as the date for the same has been extended up to May 27. According to Justice Sekhon as many as 55 lakh voters (amritdharis and sehajdharis) have been registered untill April 15 in Punjab.


Anti-corruption drive to cover civic officials
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 26
The current anti-corruption drive of the newly elected Congress government would now include local government officials, Minister for Local Government, Labour and Employment, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, gave an indication to this effect, while talking to mediapersons at Anandpur Sahib today.

The previous government had ignored cases of corruption in certain civic bodies, which had severely affected their financial health.

Asked about the alleged cases of corruption in Ropar and Nangal Municipal Councils of the district, he said the cases had been brought to his notice and action would be taken against those involved.

Setting to rest apprehensions that the government may go in for mid-term election to various municipal councils in the state, the minister said these would be held on schedule.

Any decision regarding the re-imposition of octroi in the state would only be taken after a court decision on the matter. During that period the government would adhere to the decision of the previous government to compensate the councils for the loss they incurred due to abolition of octroi. Despite the tight financial position the government had released the first instalment of Rs 37 crore to the councils, he said.

Asked if the government would impose any alternative tax to make for the loss of octroi, he said any decision regarding the matter would be taken after the court decision. The development of the urban areas was a priority for the Congress government.

Chaudhary Jagjit Singh along with the State Minister for Health and Grievances, Mr Ramesh Dutt, was at Anandpur Sahib today to inaugurate the new building of the council. The said building has been built at a cost of Rs 15 lakh.

Earlier, the minister paid obeisance at Takht Shri Kesgarh Sahib. He also addressed a public function at the Shri Guru Har Krishan Public School, which was also attended by the Jathedar of Takht Shri Kesgarh Sahib, Prof Manjit Singh, and the Head Granthi of the Takht, Giani Tarlochan Singh.


NCM asks Centre to approach Greece
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 26
Acting on a story published in The Tribune from the city about the death of at least 35-55 Punjabi youths in a boat mishap near Greece, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has urged the Ministry of External Affairs to approach the Government of Greece for seeking a thorough probe into the matter.

About 35-55 youths, most of them belonging to Doaba region of Punjab, were feared to have perished on April 16 as their boat had capsized while it was nearing the seashore of Greece.

Referring to The Tribune story dated April 26, the Vice-Chairman of the Commission, Mr Tirlochan Singh, has shot off a letter to the Foreign Secretary, Ms Chokila Iyer, in which he has expressed concern over the reported death of a number of Punjabis and Sikhs. Urging her to write to the Indian Embassy in Greece, Mr Tirlochan Singh said the Government of India should take up the case with the Government of Greece for seeking a probe into the matter and the role of unscrupulous travel agents in alluring the misguided youths.


VC not likely from Pbi varsity
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 26
The Punjab government is veering down to the view of not appointing any teacher from Punjabi University as Vice-Chancellor after the ouster of Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia from the post.

According to sources, the government does not want to appoint an academician from the university in view of the intense division among the teachers of the university. The government is also not in any rush to divest Acting Vice-Chancellor N.S. Rattan of his additional charge.

The 17 academicians who have submitted their credentials for the post to the Chief Minister are mostly either serving or retired teachers from the Punjabi University.

This latest move has boosted the chances of candidates from either the Guru Nanak Dev University or Panjab University.

The sources said there was a feeling that the new Vice-Chancellor should know something about the working of the university and be conversant with the Punjabi language and culture so that he could set things right. The institution’s reputation has reached a low ebb following the case of molestation against former VC Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia.

Sources said the intense rivalry between two groups of teachers has seen one group always crying foul and of being victimised, invariably leading agitations against the incumbent VC. This trend had heightened during the tenure of Dr Joginder Singh Puar who had been appointed VC by the then Chief Minister Beant Singh.


Cheema remanded in police custody
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 26
Former student leader Bhupinder Singh Cheema, who is co-accused along with ousted Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, in a case involving murderous attack on a university teacher on March 5 last, was today remanded to police custody by a local court.

A police party from the Sadar police produced Cheema in the court of Sanjiv Berri who remanded him to police custody till April 28. He was arrested yesterday. The police claimed that it was necessary to question Cheema to know about the conspiracy behind the attack on university Reader H.S. Bhatti.


Warrants against Giani Kewal Singh ‘misplaced’
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, April 26
Giani Kewal Singh, former Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib and a confidant of a former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has been evading arrest, despite the fact that his plea for anticipatory bail was rejected by a Bench of the Supreme Court on April 15 and non-bailable warrants issued against him by the trial court.

The local police today moved a report in the court of Judicial Magistrate in which it claimed that the bag containing the non-bailable warrants against Giani Kewal Singh and his kin, Joginder Kaur, accused in dowry-death case, were misplaced yesterday. Interestingly, the Judicial Magistrate had fixed April 26 to execute the non-bailable warrants against Giani Kewal Singh and Joginder Kaur. Baljinder Singh, the other accused, had already surrendered.

Giani Kewal Singh, his son Baljinder Singh and Joginder Kaur were booked in a dowry-death case on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in connection with the death of Sharnjit Kaur, wife of Baljinder Singh, under mysterious circumstances.

Mr Amarjit Singh, brother of the deceased, alleged that the police authorities were not arresting Giani Kewal Singh and Joginder Kaur deliberately as Giani Kewal Singh still wielded a considerable influence in the corridors of power.

He added that he would approach the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Amarinder Singh, in this connection and would also lodge a complaint with the district police chief, Mr Ishwar Singh.

Meanwhile, the Judicial Magistrate in his order passed today said while the non-bailable warrants issued against Giani Kewal Singh and Joginder Kaur were not received back, a copy of report No 21 dated April 25, 2002 had been produced in the court vide which the bag containing the non-bailable warrants for the arrest of Giani Kewal Singh and Joginder Kaur had been misplaced.

Thus in view of this report fresh non-bailable warrants for the arrest of Giani Kewal Singh and Joginder Kaur be issued for May 18, and Baljinder Singh be also produced on May 7, he said.


Crime data on computer
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 26
The Punjab police will go in for computerisation of crime-related data in a big way in its endeavour to nab habitual offenders and hardened criminals.

The police will also identify criminal suspects and maintain a strict vigilance over them.

These suspects may include criminal and nomadic tribes, like Pardhis and Bawarias, who have been responsible for a number of incidents of violent urban crime in and around major towns of the state in the recent past.

Another significant decision taken by the police is to monitor criminal elements from among migrant labourers and workers.

To carry out a major drive against crime prevention and detection, men and officers drawn from security duty would be used by respective district police forces.

After the new government took over, the personal security cover given to a large number of individuals was withdrawn. In a number of other cases, the existing arrangements were reviewed and security cover has been slashed to make a large number of policemen available to district police forces for active policing.

Besides men, a large number of vehicles given or used for security duty, too, have been withdrawn and made available to the units to which they actually belonged.

Major administrative and functional problems facing the police, including limited financial resources, lack of adequate number of vehicles and unreliable communication channels, were also discussed at the meeting held here today.

The Director-General of Police, Mr M.S. Bhullar, presided over the meeting which was attended, among others, by district police chiefs, range DIGs, IGs and other senior functionaries from the state headquarters.

The participants exchanged views and notes on various administrative problems, including financial contingencies and liabilities, large-scale condemnation of vehicles, non-availability of money for fuel and other lubricants and non-availability of money for payment of telephone bills.

It was pointed out that at many places, including police stations, telephones were lying disconnected for non-payment of dues.

At most places, police vehicles are lying condemned and cannot be used even for normal policing work.

Most of the police stations can only receive incoming calls as the facility for making calls stands withdrawn for non-payment of dues.

The police departments also owe huge sums of money to various petrol filling stations in the state and even to some oil companies.

The DGP called upon field officers to make effective use of available resources to organise best possible policing in the state.

He assured them that problems related to funds, vehicles and communications would be take up with the state government.


Residents block traffic over power cuts, water shortage
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 26
Unannounced power cuts and water shortage are putting residents of the town to great difficulty. Punjab State Electricity Board authorities and Local Municipal Council are indifferent to their problem allege residents.

For the past two months Tuesday is treated “maintenance or repair day” without prior announcement. This has been going on, said Mr Surjit Rana an advocate of the Dhaki Chowk area.

Survey of areas shows that power supply become erratic after February this year.

Mr Rajinder Tarnach, a nambardhar of the area said PSEB did not attend to complaints at night.

Residents of the Mission Road, Civil Court complex, Modern Town also face problem of erratic power.

PSEB authorities claimed that consumers were being supplied power regularly for more than 22 hours in Pathankot town.

Water supply position also is not satisfactory in the Dhaki road, Lamini, Wadhera Street, due to power cuts.

Local Municipal authorities said that subsoil water level had dropped due to scanty rain and it might cause drinking water shortage in summer.

Residents of the Dhaki road area on Wednesday blocked traffic, in protest against irregular supply of water to their colonies.

The Pathankot - Jammu, national highway remained blocked for more than two hours by protesters.

Traffic was allowed and pickets lifted when Mr Satish Mahajan, President Local Municipal Council, Mr R.K. Sharma, Local DSP and Mr Jagir Singh Thind, Executive Officer, MC, reached the spot and assured the protesters that their demands would be considered immediately.


Govt urged not to hold panchayat poll
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 26
Members of the Punjab Panchayat Union today asked the Punjab Government not to hold elections to the village panchayats before the expiry of their five-year term, i.e. August 31, 2003.

Addressing a meeting of sarpanches and panches held at the Panchayat Bhavan here today leaders of the union exhorted the state government not to dissolve the panchayats to fulfil the political motive of a party. They also condemned the decision of the Congress government to hold the panchayat elections before the expiry of the tenure of the panchayats.

The meeting also demanded that there should be one voter list for Assembly, municipal council and panchayat elections. It also asked the government to send its employees at the villages to prepare the lists.

The meeting also decided that a deputation of the Punjab Panchayat Union, would meet the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to apprise him of the problems being faced by them.

The meeting was addressed among others by Mr Gurcharan Singh Ranghrial, president of the Mansa District Panchayat Union, Mr Ashok Kumar Ubhawal, president of the Sangrur block of the union, Mr Malkiat Singh Batariana, president of the Bhawanigarh block of the union, Mr Gurtej Singh, Sarpanch of Karrial village, Mr Raghbir Singh Bhola, Sarpanch of Sangtiwala village, Mr Gurjant Singh, Sarpanch of Joga village in Mansa district and Mr Shamsher Singh, Sarpanch of Tunga village in Sangrur.

Talking to newspersons, Mr Ranghrial, said in case the government dissolved the panchayats and announced elections before the expiry of their tenure the union would approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court.


Hospital spruced up for WB team
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 26
The local 100-bedded Civil Hospital which was frequented by stray animals has been witnessing a huge sanitation exercise and getting a whitewash thanks to a World Bank team which is likely to visit the hospital on April 29 to inspect various projects sponsored by it.

Skilled and unskilled workers have been pressed into service by the hospital authorities to spruce up the wards, the emergency wing and other parts of the complex. The surroundings of the hospital are also being given a facelift. All illegal “outlets” made by residents of adjacent localities in the hospital have been plugged with the help of the police and civic authorities.

Water supply to each ward has been restored and taps repaired. The furniture too is being repaired. A new attendance board of medical and paramedical staff and a medicine availability board have been put up near the entrance of the OPD.

The medical, paramedical and other staff members have been asked by the hospital authorities to be present on April 29 and April 30 when the World Bank team will conduct an inspection.

Information gathered by The Tribune reveals that such a sanitation drive had never been conducted before. The complex was given a facelift only when former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral visited here to inquire about the condition of those who were injured in the Lehra Khana train blast.

The hospital authorities installed three computers about two days ago. These had been lying unused for the past three months.

The World Bank gave the computers to the Punjab Health System Corporation (PHSC) and these had to be connected to computers installed at the head office in Chandigarh.

Dr Gurjant Singh Sekhon, Deputy Medical Commissioner, said Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, had inspected the hospital today, adding that all machines and equipment given by the World Bank under its programme to boost secondary heath services, were functional.

He said Dr Preeti Quarashi, Indian representative with the World Bank, would hold an inspection April 30. She would be accompanied by Ms Kusumjit Sidhu, Managing Director, PHSC, and Director, Health Services, Punjab.

A senior doctor remarked that preparations were being made like a marriage and efforts were being made to impress the World Bank team.


Stress laid on fighting tuberculosis
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 26
A district-level workshop on “Revised National TB Control Programme” on the directions of the state TB Control Society was held at Bachat Bhavan here today. The workshop was presided over by Mr Vikas Paratap, Deputy Commissioner-cum-Chairman of the Society.

Addressing the workshop he said under the programme sputum slides would be prepared by para-medical staff and all positive cases would be treated free of cost.

He said the TB centre would provide the facility of free test of sputum and medicines for six months. Once a patient was registered, his details of progress would be recorded in a file, while in cases of default, senior supervisor and doctors would trace the patients and administer the dose.

He added that laboratories had been renovated for the purpose and called upon the social organisations, NGOs and political leaders to come forward to help the administration in controlling the disease.

In his address, Dr O.P. Chabra, Civil Surgeon, stressed the need for wider publicity so that the people could be made aware. Dr T.L. Mattoo, District TB Officer, also addressed the workshop.


Chickenpox cases in Boha area
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 26
Chickenpox has once again resurfaced in Boha area of the district. Sometime back the area was infested diseases like chickenpox and plague. Many people of the area have been approaching the sadhus to get amulets for curing the disease.

Besides chickenpox, diarrhoea has also broken out in the area. Many people of the area, including Boha, Gamiwala, Uddat Saidewala, Sherkhanwala, Sandli, Faridke, Alampur Mandran, Maghania, Reond Kalan, Aundian Wali and Jhalbuti villages are suffering from diarrhoea.

Dr P.D. Sharma, Civil Surgeon, Mansa, said no vaccine was available for the treatment of chickenpox.

Rajinder Singh, a resident of Hakamwala village, who was suffering from diarrhoea said there was no supply of water from canal-based water works of his village due to which the residents are suffering from diarrhoea.

He drank subsoil water which was not fit for consumption. Most of patients are being treated by quacks practicing in the villages. They said if they go to government hospital, the doctors were seldom available.


On cloud nine after hip surgery
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 26
Ms Jaswinder Kaur, 50, a resident of a nearby Kotli Khurd village, was on cloud nine today when she was able to walk on her own after fully recovering from a total hip replacement (THR) surgery, conducted for the first time in the district, at a hospital of a city-based orthopaedic surgeon.

Ms Jaswinder Kaur, who underwent the surgery on December 24, 2001 said she was able to walk with crutches seven days after her operation, she walked with a little support after about 30 days and now was able to walk without any kind of support. Giving details of the disease she said for the past six years she was unable to walk, stand or attend to her daily routined properly and was rendered bed-ridden about six months ago.

Her husband, Mr Gurcharan Singh, said they had tried almost every treatment available to them or their associates referred that to them. He added that even expensive treatment from Patiala and other towns of the states proved to be futile to cure the disease or alleviate the pain of his wife.

Dr Rajesh Badyal, while talking to mediapersons at the hospital said Ms Jaswinder Kaur was suffering from arthritis of the hip joint and a section of her pelvic and femur bones were replaced, as she was unable to walk.

Giving details of the operation, Dr Badyal said the joints replaced were now being made in India and worked as good as the imported ones. A good quality could last life for about 20 years and the surgery was not recommended for younger persons. He added that the cost of operation, including post-operative medicines have was cheaper than many big cities.

Dr Badyal warned against the use of fluorinated toothpastes as the underground drinking water of the region already contained many times the permissible limits of the fluoride ions. He said high contents of fluoride in drinking water were amongst the main reasons for the incidents of fluoursis in the region.


‘Form global panel for Pak gurdwaras’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 26
Even as the SGPC has expressed aversion to the formation of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (PSGPC) and criticised Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), for recognising PSGPC, the International Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society has urged Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to form an international Sikh committee to look after the gurdwaras there.

Highlighting the deteriorating condition of Pakistan gurdwaras in the letter faxed to Pakistan President from here, copies of which were circulated to the media, it was pointed that 170 gurdwaras existed in Pakistan, of which 56 had been demolished and another 100 had been encroached upon by locals and were being used as residences while only 15 were in a fairly good condition.

Keeping the above stated figures in mind the society has appealed to the President to constitute an international committee comprising members from the PSGPC, SGPC, Pakistan Kaaf Board and other Sikh organisations to survey the gurdwara and other historical Sikh monuments for their proper management, renovation, and removing from encroachments.


Pak urged to renovate gurdwaras
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, April 26
The International Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society has urged the Pakistan Government to form an international committee for the renovation and management of 170 gurdwaras in Pakistan.

In a letter to General Pervez Musharraf, Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president of the society, said out of the 170 gurdwaras situated there, 55 had been demolished, 100 had been encroached upon by locals and 15 were in good condition.

Talking to TNS here today, he said the sentiments of the Sikhs were attached to them. He wrote: “Keeping in view the sentiments of the minority community and the teaching of the holy Quran-e-Sharif you are requested to constitute a committee of representatives from Pakistan Wakf Board, Pakistan Gurdwara Committee, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and other Sikh organisations to initiate a survey of gurdwaras and monuments of historical importance and then go ahead with the renovation.”


Bridge on Lohand Khud approved
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 26
A bridge on Lohand Khud near Kiratpur Sahib which will open link between Punjab and Himachal Pradesh (HP), roads connecting Siswan (Kharar) and Baddi (HP) and Mianpur Purkhali - Bardar road to HP border will be constructed under the Economic Importance Scheme of the Union Ministry of Road and Surface Transport.

The decision to construct these roads and bridge was taken at a meeting of ministers of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh (HP), officials of Punjab and HP Public Health Work Departments, officials of the Union Ministry of Road and Surface Transport and others in the Punjab Raj Bhavan here recently.

It may be noted that thousands of people of Ropar district go to Baddi everyday to earn their livelihood and for this they have to travel long distances. These connecting roads and bridge will cut on the travelling cost besides saving time of people living along Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh borders in Ropar, Solan and Panchkula districts.

Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Punjab Public Works Minister, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Punjab Minister of Animal Husbandry, Mr Hari Narian Singh, HP State Minister of Urban Development, Mr K.P. Rana, MLA from Nangal, Mr A.K. Dubey, Principal Secretary, Public Works Punjab, Mr Subhash Negi, Secretary Public Works HP, Chief Engineers of Punjab, HP and Haryana and officials of the Forest and Irrigation Department, Punjab, attended the meeting.

It was decided that the respective state governments would submit their proposals to the Government of India for the portion falling in their states. The estimated cost of the project in Punjab area was around Rs 15 crore. In the meeting it was also decided to upgrade road from Khanpur Khuhi to Bhangal in Nangal under the scheme. The Public Works Minister directed the officials concerned to complete the formalities and submit the proposal to the Government of India within one week. This was stated in a press note issued by the Chief Engineer (North), Punjab PWD (B and R Branch), Patiala, here today.


Notice issued to PSEB Chairman
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 26
Mrs Preeti Sahni, Additional Civil Judge, Senior Division, Kharar, has issued a notice to the Chairman, Punjab State Electricity Board, and the SDO, Bhagomajra, for June 12 in a PIL by Mr Baljinder Singh of nearby Dharak Kalan village.

The plaintiff has asked for permanent injunction, restraining the defendents from releasing power supply round the clock to any village or city and for a mandatory injunction directing the defendents to release 24-hour power to the plaintiffs village, Dharak Kalan.

He has pleaded that the entire village community on July 1, 1997, deposited Rs 10,000 under the 24-hour electricity supply scheme.

The scheme was to be implemented on a “first come, first serve” basis, but the defendents had released 24-hour supply to certain villages who had applied after the plaintiff.


Indian envoy returns home

Wagah, April 26
Walking with the help of a stick, expelled Indian diplomat Anil Kumar Khanna breathed a sigh of relief as he along with his family members crossed over into India through this road checkpost here this afternoon.

Besides Mr Khanna, others who accompanied him were his wife Deepa, 10-year-old daughter Neha, six-year-old son Brijesh and mother Manju. All were overjoyed to be back in their motherland.

Mr Khanna, who was with the Indian High Commission at Islamabad, was abducted allegedly by Pakistani intelligence agents over a week ago. Released after spending eight hours in illegal detention, Mr Khanna was declared persona non-grata and was asked to leave Pakistan in a week.

On his arrival here, Mr Khanna refused to talk to the media, but his wife Deepa minced no words when she said that no member of the Indian High Commission in Pakistan was safe. “I fear that what happened to my husband could happen to any Indian in Islamabad”, she said. UNI


Punjab releases 37.5 cr for civic bodies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
The Punjab Government today released Rs 37.50 crore for municipal committees, municipal corporations and nagar panchayats in the state as compensation for the loss of revenue due to the abolition of octroi. The amount will be used to pay salaries and to meet other expenditure. The average liabilities of salaries of these bodies is about Rs 26 crore besides electricity bills worth Rs 8 crore and other unavoidable expenditure worth Rs 4 crore.


Punjab staff seek promotional scales
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
The Punjab State Karamchari Dal held a meeting here today under the chairmanship of its president, Mr Hari Singh Tohra. It urged the state government to fulfil the long-pending demands of the government employees.

It has sought promotional scales for Class III and Class IV employees after four, nine and 14 years of service and also bonus for them on the pattern of the employees of the Union Government.

The dal has urged the government to follow its policy in letter and spirit while ordering the transfers of government employees.


Man, son jump into dam, die

Hoshiarpur, April 26
A father and son allegedly committed suicide by jumping into the Maingarowal dam over a ‘choe’ near Hariana township of the district yesterday.

A police report here today said that their bodies were fished out by the Hariana police. The victims were identified as Pritam Singh and his 10-year-old son Sehejpreet Singh, residents of Bhagpur village under the Sadar police station.

The police said Pritam Singh along with his son drove on a scooter to the dam and jumped into it. The reason for this extreme was not known. UNI


Give relief to border farmers: Mann
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 26
The President of the SAD (Amritsar), Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, has urged the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Ajit Singh, to provide relief to the border farmers of Punjab. Mr Mann in a letter to the minister gave a graphic account of the miseries suffered by them in wake of the occupation of their land by the Army. Their fields have been mined causing the tremendous loss to the wheat crops, he added.

Mr Mann has deputed the general secretary of the party, Bhai Ram Singh, to personally visit the worst affected villages of Chakk, Raniana and Allah Baksh where ripe crops were gutted due to mine explosions and the farmers have been forced to leave the villages.

The SAD Chief has urged the minister to immediately sanction Rs 13,000 per acre for standing wheat crop and Rs 16,000 for sugarcane fields which were being occupied by the Army. He also urged the Central Government to appoint a high powered committee from the Ministry of Defence, Home, Agriculture along with the representatives of the Punjab Government to survey the entire border areas under the occupation of the Army.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.S. Puri, disbursed Rs 5.36 lakh among 43 farmers yesterday whose fields were under the control of the Army.


Relief for farmers announced
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
The Punjab Government today announced that it would pay Rs 11,000 per acre to farmers whose crops had been burnt in fire incidents in the border belt and other areas.

The Agriculture Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, talking to mediapersons, said the government had told the officials concerned to submit reports regarding such cases.

She said the government also had sympathy with the farmers whose crops were damaged because of inclement weather in the past few days.

“The government will try to assess the damage and give compensation wherever necessary”, she added.


400 border farmers given cheques
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 26
At least 400 farmers whose lands were used by the Army for laying land mines in the border areas of Kalanaur and Dorangla, were given compensation cheques at a function organised by the civil administration and the Army.

Data collection of the affected land has been ordered so that the hardships faced by the farmers would be redressed.

Mr Channan Singh Dorangla, a resident of the area, said that land holdings of the farmers were smaller. Most of their lands was being used by the Army, as a result of which they could not get any produce from their lands.

It was in the fitness of things that the farmers should be given immediate compensation to save them from starvation.

Baba Harinder Singh Bedi of Kalanaur said the morale of the farmers along the border was high. He appreciated the distribution of sports material among the youth of the border areas.


Livestock board to import 65 bulls
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 26
The Punjab Livestock Development Board will import 65 bulls of the Holsting Frieson breed from Australia in the near future, whose progeny are likely to produce double the quantity of milk.

This was announced today by the Minister for Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, while inspecting the Cattle Breeding Farm here. Mr Kang said the farm would produce more bulls with a target of 12 lakh-semen doses having been fixed for this year.

He said 10 bulls from imported embryos were produced by the farm. He said besides Holsting Frieson, Jersy and corss-bred cows were also being maintained at the farm. He said 71 bulls of different breeds were kept at the farm.

The minister also visited the Veterinary Polytechnic where latest know how was imparted to veterinary doctors and pharmacists. He said 200 trained pharmacists had been adjusted in the department during the past two years.

Later, Mr Kang visited the new fish market which has been constructed at a cost of Rs 45 lakh to provide marketing facilities to fishery farmers. He directed the Director, Animal Husbandry, Dr G.S. Chahal, to provide better semen storage facilities so that the institute could become one of the best in the country.


Fee for spl-category advocates slashed
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Chandigarh, April 26
Facing sharp criticism in legal and political circles over the appointment of more than 90 law officers in the office of the Advocate-General, the Punjab Government has slashed the exorbitant fee fixed by the previous government for special-category advocates who are engaged to plead cases in the Supreme Court.

The government does not have adequate space to accommodate all law officers in the office of the AG. According to an estimate, there will be four law officers per judge to appear in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

A senior Punjab Government officer told TNS that the fee, which was up to Rs 1.50 lakh for special-category advocates, had been brought down to Rs 44,000 per appearance. He said that instructions in this connection had been conveyed to all concerned, including the office of the AG.

He said the government was planning to bring about uniformity in the fee structure for advocates engaged by government undertakings, including corporations and boards. The fee would be fixed in consultation with the office of the AG. The government had got information that certain corporations and boards had been giving an exorbitant fee to a number of “select” advocates who were close to either senior bureaucrats or politicians in the previous government.

Sources said the state government had asked the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation to furnish details of the payments made by it in the past five years to advocates for contesting its cases in various courts. The government had got information through unofficial sources that payment to the tune of Rs 2 crore was made to a particular advocate by the corporation immediately after the Badal government lost the elections.

Sources said that a reply from the PSIDC was awaited in this connection. In fact, the government has directed all corporations and boards to furnish details of the payments made to all legal experts and others concerned to contest cases in the courts.

When contacted in this connection, Mr Harbhagwan Singh, Advocate-General, said he would support the government on determining a genuine fee structure for advocates appearing in court for corporations and boards.


Cyber cafe showing porno movie raided
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 26
Use of internet in various cyber cafes in the city to watch pornographic material by teenagers today came out in the open when a police team today caught young boys and girls watching pornographic material at one such cyber cafe on the Punjabi University campus.

District Police Chief Paramraj Singh Umranangal said a police team under Sadar Police Station SHO Jassa Singh caught teenagers watching ‘’blue films’’ as well as pornographic stills during a raid at the World Internet Cafe.

He said Randhir Singh, who was on duty as an operator at the cafe, had been arrested and pornographic photographs as well as advertisements of sex toys had been recovered from him. Besides this photographs of famous stars in various vulgar poses which have been manipulated through camera tricks have also been seized from the shop. He said a case under Sections 294 and 295, IPC had been registered against the owner of the shop, Ajitpal Singh.

Mr Umranangal said all seven computers installed in cabins in the cafe have been seized.


BHMS exam from May 15
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 26
At least 15 per cent seats in Homeopathic Medical Colleges in Punjab have been reserved for candidates from other states to promote this system of medicines. This was stated by Mr Tara Singh Sidhu president of the managing committee of the Homeopathic Medical College during the visit of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr D. K. Tiwari, here today. With affiliation of such colleges in the state with Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, selection of the students was to be done through PMET test. The university would be holding examination for the students of BHMS (Bachelor of Homeopathy Sciences) with effect from May 15.

Mr Tiwari said the district was proud of the local homeopathic medical college which had grown up fast meeting the standards prescribed by the All India Council of Homeopathy. He and the SDM, Mr Sumer Singh Gurjar, were delighted to find that the college building had been extended. Separate hostels for boys and girls, Principal’s residence had been developed. The Deputy Commissioner interacted with staff and students in the newly built common room for an-hour.

Dr Rajinder Girdhar, Principal, said the university had sanctioned 50 direct and 30 graded seats for BHMS course in the college whereas the strength of students had gone up to 275. The college students had secured all four top positions in the last DHMS exam. Mr Ramesh Bishnoi, secretary of the college managing committee, said potable water was available in plenty in the complex which had been turned from a desert to splashing green area. The college proposes to install a mini water treatment plant under the guidance of German experts. Mr. Sahib Singh Bhamba and Mr Shashi Kant Gilhotra told Mr Tiwari that the hospital attached with the college was serving 250 patients daily.


PTU makes global presence felt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
Punjab Technical University, in its efforts to make its presence felt globally, has appointed the GCS Computer Tech Pvt. Ltd., Chandigarh, as their international service provider. PTU has considered GCS, which is an ISO 9001:2000 certified company.

On the occasion of launching the website of the company, Mr. Gurmeet Singh, Managing Director, GCS Computer Tech Pvt Ltd., said: “We are going to introduce Indian pattern of education with global standards and parameters. That’s why we will try to depute Indian faculty in overseas study centers preferably.”

“Our programmes are based on distance education mode. We will set up study centers in various countries of North and South America, including USA for six different categories. These categories are information technology, fashion and beauty, hotel management & tourism, media and arts, business, paramedical and applied technologies.” “PTU will be offering bachelor degrees, master degrees, PG diplomas and diploma programmes in above-mentioned courses. Students can even undertake diploma courses directly after intermediate depending upon their choice and availability of courses”, he added.

While talking on the expansion plans of overseas centres, Shobby Vinayak, Manager, Business development, GCS, said: “In our first round our target countries are USA, Brazil, Peru, Argentina Paraguay, Greenland and Colombia. We have the target of opening more than 50 study centres by the year-end. To achieve this goal, we are establishing our associations and alliances in various countries. A “few of our associations will mature shortly. We are also trying to tie up with various foreign universities for equivalence of all our courses.”

Talking about the response and possibilities of acceptance of PTU’s programmes, Mr. Singh said: “As compared to India, higher and technical education is very expensive in the west. Moreover, most of the universities are not providing part time programmes. PTU will start part time degree courses and the fees structure will also quite economical, so it will be a great opportunity for those students, who were not eligible to undertake or continue their further studies and have been deprived of higher and technical education because of the non- availability of the part time courses and the higher cost of education.”

Indian student will also be granted admission in these courses abroad. Unlike foreign universities, where students have to appear for tests like TOEFL, IELTS, GMAT, GRE, SAT for admissions, PTU is planning to waive off these type of tests as the education is based on Indian pattern where such type of tests are not required for admissions. PTU makes sure that the courses offered by the university will be of international quality and standards. So we are expecting tremendous response from Indian students also.”


Strike by teachers of aided colleges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
Teachers observed a strike in all local aided colleges on a call for a lightning strike by the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union here today.

The call for the strike in colleges affiliated to Panjab University was given to remind the Punjab Government of its promises of releasing grants, arrears and implementing the pension-cum-gratuity scheme after assuming charge.

This was the second strike in a series of three, the first was organised in the 65 colleges affiliated to Guru Nanak Dev University on April 24. The third strike would be held in the 60 colleges affiliated to Punjabi University tomorrow.

They claimed that in the past two months the government had done nothing to address the demands of the teachers. They added that the grant for the last quarter of financial year of 2001-02 of Rs 18 crore was not released by the Treasury Officer despite directions from the Education minister, Mr Khushal Behl.

Later, a delegation of the PCCTU had met the minister alongwith five ministers of the Congress. The Principal Secretary, Higher Education, Mr NS Rattan, had assured the delegation that both bills pending in the government treasury — Rs 18 crore of the fourth quarter salary under 95 per cent grant-in-aid and Rs 21.35 crore of the UGC payscale arrears which the Punjab Government had received from the HRD Ministry last year — would be released.

However, this has not been done despite assurances from various quarters which necessitated the dharna outside the office of the DPI (C), Punjab, by the PCCTU on April 19 and the strike today.

Panjab University has already postponed all examinations scheduled for today.

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