Monday, December 23, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



UNESCO ‘to take care’ of Pak gurdwaras
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 22
The United Nations Educational Social and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), has said it would make arrangements for the proper maintenance of Sikh gurdwaras in Pakistan and initiate steps so that the cultural identity of the Sikhs was not “deliberately and systematically suppressed by our neighbour in the course of time.” This was revealed by Dr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman, National Commission for Minorities during an informal chat with The Tribune here today. He was in the city on a personal visit.

He said the commission had taken a serious note of the “systematic” attempts by successive Pakistani governments over the past 55 years to suppress the Punjabi culture and language. “I had written a letter to UNESCO saying that there were at least 150 gurdwaras in Pakistan, including the one at the birth place of the first Sikh Guru- Guru Nanak Dev. I had also mentioned that not only the condition of the gurdwaras there was deplorable, but even the Punjabi language too was being suppressed.

“Its script has been changed from Gurmukhi to Persian and now nobody is allowed to deliver a speech in Punjabi in the Pakistan Parliament. It is so even when Punjabi is the predominant language spoken by the masses in that country. All radio and TV programmes are broadcast in Urdu which has always been the language of the elite and not the common man. All this is a part of a well-chalked-out strategy to undermine the language and ethos”, he pointed out.

Mr Tarlochan Singh further said the commission had also taken up the issue of the reconstruction of gurdwaras in Afghanistan where Sikh shrines had been damaged during the Taliban regime and the subsequent US attacks. The Indian Government was also in touch with the UN on this issue. The delay in the matter, he said, could be ascribed to the problem of security in Afghanistan.

Talking about the role of UNESCO in preserving cultural identities the Vice-Chairman of the commission lauded the efforts of the organisation in the case of the approximately one lakh Parsis in India. He said the commission in the near future would make efforts to bring both the communities together to maintain harmony, and good will.

“The feeling of isolation should be rooted out, he said, and adding that only the religious leaders of the two communities would be invited to these meetings which would be kept free from politicians.

He said the commission had called a national-level meeting of the top rung leaders of the Hindu and Muslim communities two months ago. The agenda of the meeting was to iron out the differences, between the two major communities of the country. The participants included stalwart of both communities. The attitude of all these leaders, he said, was very positive but, painfully enough, there were some organisations with vested interests including some political parties, who opposed the move.

Another meeting would be convened in the near future and the commission would not rest till the feeling of fear and animosity was stamped out and the communities live in peace as they have been in the past, he stressed.

Secure release of Sikhs from Pak’
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 22
While India made hectic diplomatic parleys with Indonesia to secure the release of Mr Arun Jain, the CEO of Chennai-based Polaris Software, from his week-long incarceration in Jakarta due to a business dispute, the Government of India had conveniently ignored the issue of poor and Dalit Sikh youths languishing in jails of Pakistan and Sri Lanka where they had landed more than a year ago due to lack of proper documents after they were duped by unscrupulous travel agents.

The President of the Akali Dal (Amritsar) and MP, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann said this today in a statement. He wrote a letter to Mr Yashwant Sinha, Union Minister for External Affairs, seeking his intervention for securing the release of these Sikhs of marginal farmer families. He had supplied a list 17 such youths of Punjab and Haryana who were in the jails of Kot Lakhpat and Quetta in the Baluchistan Province of Pakistan. He regretted that five letters written by him to Mr Sinha and his predecessor on the issue had yielded nothing.

Mr Mann, a member of the Consultative Committee, Ministry of External Affairs, had also raised the issue in one of the meetings of the committee.


European Commission intervention sought
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 22
On the eve of completion of six years of the tragedy, the Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission has sought intervention of the European Commission for taking action against international mafia indulging in human trafficking and illegal migration and appealed for the extradition of those responsible for the tragedy that had occurred in the Malta-Cicily channel on 25th December, 1996, in which about 300 youths from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were drowned.

The intervention had been sought in a representation sent to Mr Romano Prodi, Chairman, European Commission, by Mr Balwant Singh Khera, Chairman of the Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission, an NGO.

Mr Khera today told newspersons here that the representation informed the EC Chairman that the mafia of human traffickers was present in 14 countries. Turab Ahmad Sheikh, a Pakistani national married to a Maltese woman was allegedly the chief conspirator and was running a restaurant in Malta. The case for his extradition to Italy was going on in a court of Malta. Similarly, cases were going on in the Courts of Greece against 11 human traffickers. Many co-conspirators belonged to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Initially the Italian Government had denied that the tragedy occurred in its waters. But the mission and some NGOs had doggedly pursued the case. The issue was also raised in the Italian Parliament by Madame Tana Di Juleta, a Senator, who also launched a signature campaign against it. This had led to booking of 13 mafia members.

Mr Khera regretted in his representation to Romano Prodi that the absence of any international agency to tackle the menace had led to its flourishing. The International Criminal Court of Justice based in the Hague did not take any note of the tragedy nor did any government approach it, he rued. The poorly-resourced mission had been pursuing the case and had visited the countries concerned for providing justice to the aggrieved families.


Making mockery of higher education
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
When university and college teachers themselves describe present-day higher education as a “commodity or commerce’’ and not as ‘’investment for future’’ something has surely gone wrong somewhere.

A little probing by TNS has revealed that besides other factors responsible for lowering the standard of higher education were the introduction of ‘’self-financing’’ courses, teachers on contract, realisation of ‘’actual cost’’ of imparting education, mushroom growth of vocational courses and gradual reduction of grant-in-aid/low budgetary provision for education etc.

Now the UGC is quietly implementing the Ambani-Birla report on privatisation of education by suggesting t the universities/colleges to recover the ‘’actual cost of education’’ from students. In fact, due to several inhibiting factors, including the cost of education, there is a perceptible drop in the enrolment of students in the country from 7.9 per cent in 1989-90 to 4.3 in 1999-2000.

A cross-section of the university/college teachers in the region commenting on the state of higher education said as per the report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India, across India 50 per cent universities/colleges were not recognised by the UGC only 6,998 of the 12,067 colleges were recognised. Sources in the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union disclosed that a nexus of politicians-bureaucrats-businessmen ran most of the ‘’self-styled’’ educational institutions. Their axis is solely responsible for the mockery and mess in higher education. In fact, only the privileged and the elite have access to higher education while meritorious, poor students are deprived of the opportunity.

The teachers confessed that no one had ever assessed the performance of vocational courses, initiated by the UGC in 1994-95 on the recommendation of the core committee on vocationalisation at the first degree level. As many as 38 courses were identified with the UGC paying between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 15 lakh per course. This was for five years. Thereafter, each sate was to take over and provide the requisite funds, besides setting up government-institute-industry linkages for placement in the job market.

Most of such vocational courses were in places that are an apology for a college, operating as these do from ‘’dhabas and khokhas’’ sans teaching-learning infrastructure, academic standard and trained teachers. Though hefty fees/ funds were collected but students seldom got jobs. Many vocational courses were quietly folded up, as these had lost their relevance/value as much because of no financial support from the state governments as waning interest of teachers students.

The budget allocation for eduction is peanuts. If New Delhi spends just 3.4 per cent of the GDP on education, Punjab spends 2.2 per cent. Punjab is at No. 22 in all-India rating in the education. Contrast its concern for education as compared to other expenditure: 172 non-government aided colleges get Rs 64.4 crore, 50 government colleges get Rs 70 crore. Punjab spends Rs 800 crore on VIP security and Rs 900 crore on the police.

One would like to remind the Union Human Resource Development Minister, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, of his promised hike in the education budget to at least 6 per cent of the GDP as he announced at the UNESCO Conference on Higher Education in Paris in 1998.

The teachers opposed private tuitions and entrance tests terming both as commercial activities. Instead of entrance tests, classroom teaching must be strengthened and the quality of education improved. Otherwise, universities will remain in the race to mint money.

According to Syndic Charanjit Chawla, Panjab University has taken some bold steps to give a semblance of ‘’respectability’’ due to higher education. To deal with the menace of private tuitions, the University Calendar has been suitably amended and affiliated colleges are now required to give an affidavit that no teacher would take tuitions. Duties for the conduct of theory and practical exams and evaluation have been made compulsory for all teaching staff.

The university has decided to give ‘’legitimacy” to the September and December examinations by making these essential for students to appear and clear as a pre-requisite qualifying condition for the final exams. Even marks obtained in the two tests would be counted. Similarly, the university has made 75 per cent attendance in classes compulsory for students. The attendance, henceforth, will be mentioned on the degrees. Even the examination and evaluation systems have been revamped to start the new academic session by the third week of July and not August.


Vacancies of teachers to be filled soon
Our Correspondent

Ropar, December 22
The Punjab Government will soon fill 15,000 vacancies of teachers in schools across the state by forming district-level committees. The new policy and guidelines for filling the said posts would be implemented shortly. The Principal Secretary Education Punjab, Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, stated this while talking to newspersons at Shivalik Public School Ropar, yesterday evening.

He along with the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, was here to preside over the annual function of the school, being run by the district administration.

Responding to queries, Mr Bhatnagar, said Rs 123 crore would be spent under the ‘Sarva Sikhiya Abhiyan’ in the state, of which Rs 69 crore would be spent in the first phase of the programme, to be completed till January 2003. In the second phase, another Rs 48 crore would be spent.

While expressing satisfaction on the progress of the abhiyan in the other districts of the state, Mr Bhatnagar, however, said work in Ropar was progressing unsatisfactorily.

He further said the mid-day meal scheme had increased attendance in school. 


UT, Amritsar, Patiala varsities get 5-star status
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
Panjab University, Chandigarh, along with Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar and Punjabi University, Patiala, are among the handful of universities which have been accredited as five-star institutions of higher learning by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).

According to the latest report released by the NAAC, Dev Samaj College of Education, Chandigarh, is the only other educational institution in the Union Territory of Chandigarh to be accredited as a four-star college as on November 12, 2002. In Punjab, the honour has gone only to DAV College, Jalandhar, which has been accredited as a four-star college.

The accreditation status is valid for five years. The NAAC is at present processing about 1,200 letters for assessment and accreditation from all over the country. The UGC has made it mandatory for all universities to get accredited before December, 2002, and colleges before December, 2003.

The National Assessment and Accreditation Council is an autonomous organisation, established by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in 1994.The prime agenda of the NAAC is to assess and accredit institutions of higher learning with an objective of helping them work continuously to improve the quality of education. The NAAC is a member of the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE) comprising over 120 different national agencies engaged in the assessment and accreditation and academic audit.

In Haryana, none of the universities have qualified for the honour of being labelled as a five-star seat of higher learning. However, Guru Jambheshwar University, Hisar, has been accredited as an “A” class educational institution under a new grading system while Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra, has been given a four-star rating. Besides, Chhotu Ram Arya College, Sonepat, has been classified as a “C” class college. Fateh Chand College for Women, Hisar and Hindu Kanya Mahavidyalaya, Jind, have been accredited as “B” class institutions.

None of the educational institutions of Himachal Pradesh figure in the report. In the neighbouring J and K, the University of Jammu has been accredited as a four-star institution. The University of Kashmir, Hazratbal, Srinagar, has been accredited as a “A” class university.

Criteria for assessment include curricular aspects, research, consultancy and extension, student support and progressions, healthy practices, teaching-learning and evaluation, infrastructure and learning resources and organisation and management.

The process of assessment and accreditation includes preparation of the self-study report by the institution/department based on the parameters defined by the NAAC. Validation of self-study report by a team of peers through onsite visit; presentation of detailed quality report to the institutions and the final decision on assessment and accreditation by the Executive Committee of NAAC.

The process of accreditation helps the institution to know its strengths, weaknesses and opportunities through an informed review. It also helps to identify international areas of planning and resource allocations. It enhances collegiality on the campus, besides giving the institution a new sense of direction and identity.


Mahila Congress to hold ‘jagriti’ meetings
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 22
To educate the masses about the adverse impacts of social evils like dowry and incidents of rape, the All-India Mahila Congress has decided to hold ‘jagriti’ conventions at all district headquarters in Punjab next year.

Addressing a press conference at Congress Bhavan here today, the general secretary of the All-India Mahila Congress, Ms Alka Lamba, said that ‘jagriti’ conventions were aimed at inclucating a fighting spirit among women to put an end to the increasing trend of dowry deaths and incidents of rape. “We will be holding a state-level ‘jagriti’ rally in the state in February wherein the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, and the general secretary and in charge of the Punjab Congress Affairs, Ms Mohsina Kidwai, will participate,” she added.

Ms Lamba, accompanied by the president of district unit of the Punjab Congress, Mr Tajinder Singh Bittu, said to bridge the gap between the people and the state government, the Punjab Pradesh Mahila Congress would take up the problems of the people with the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. 


Vedanti honours kin of slain ultras
Tribune News Service

Ghariala (Amritsar), December 22
The Jathedar Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, while honoring five family members of slain Sikh militants, said today that it was the moral duty of the Sikh Panth to look after them.

Addressing a convention in memory of the martyrdom day of the elder sons of Guru Gobind Singh, organised by the Dal Khalsa, here today, Jathedar Vedanti said it (the Dal Khalsa) had taken a step in the right direction by honouring the family members of those who “sacrificed” their lives for the sake of faith.

Those honoured were Mr Rasal Singh, brother of the slain Sukhdev Singh Babbar, former self-styled chief of the Babbar Khalsa International, Mr Santa Singh and Mr Pargat Singh, relatives of the slain Gurnam Singh Ghariala of the KCF, and two widows of militants.

Mr Vedanti served a seven-day ultimatum on the management of the Sher Shah mosque to remove Guru Granth Sahib from there as it was against the Sikh maryada. He said if the management of the mosque failed to act, Akal Takht would resort to “direct action”.

Mr Vedanti announced that Akal Takht would bear the expenses of educating the children of the slain militants if they wanted to study.


Gujral: my govt waived anti-terrorism loan
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, December 22
Mr Inder Kumar Gujral, former Prime Minister of India, has clarified that he had already waived the anti-terrorism loan of Punjab amounting to Rs 8,600 crore during his tenure as the Prime Minister in 1997. Addressing a function at the local Shalamar Garden today organised by the local municipal council in his honour, Mr Gujral said the waiving of loan of Punjab was taken up by the Central Government when he was the Prime Minister and later Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, who became Prime Minister, promised to implement all decisions taken by his government.

He stressed that there was a need to create an atmosphere of consensus in Punjab as Punjab was lagging behind in the field of technology. He urged all members of Parliament from Punjab to take up the state issues jointly with the Centre to put Punjab back on the track of development. Mr Gujral was not happy with the policy of the present Punjab Government of arresting former Punjab ministers and putting them behind bars. He said the Akali Dal, whenever it would come to power in the state, would also repeat the same policy and added that it was not healthy politics.

Mr Gujral who was accompanied by his son, Mr Naresh Gujral, announced that he would not contest any election in future. Rana Gurjit Singh, local Congress MLA, described Mr Gujral as an elder statesman who always stood by secularism.


Names of voters missing from lists
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, December 22
The deletion of a large number of names from the voter lists, particularly in ward number 8 of the local nagar council, has caused resentment among those keen to contest the municipal poll to be held on January 23.

According to reports, nearly 1,000 names of 150 families are missing from the lists. These persons belong to the Jain street, Old Grain Market, Uchhi Gali, Hukki Wala Chowk and the Mistrian Wali street.

Interestingly, nearly 100 names are included in the voter lists of both ward No 8 and ward No 9. Another discrepancy is that the house numbers have not been mentioned against the names of voters in the list of ward No 8.

One of the aspirants, Mrs Juhi Chawla, has appealed the District Returning Officer to remove the irregularities from the lists.

She has also written to the state Election Commission and Secretary, Local Bodies, in this connection. Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner -cum-District Returning Officer, said necessary action would be taken against those who have committed the irregularities.


Colour, music at Xmas celebrations
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 22
Hundreds of devotees from all parts of the city and adjoining areas participated in a Christmas procession here today.

The devotees, clad in beautiful dresses, assembled at the local St Joseph’s Convent School grounds. Bishop Dr Simphorian, in his Christmas message, said that there was need to adopt and practice the preachings of Jesus Christ to further strengthen the brotherhood and faith among different sections of society.

The devotees also sang carols and offered Christmas prayers. It was followed by langar on the school grounds. Later, the procession started from the school complex and moved through BMC Chowk, Bhagat Singh Chowk, Adda Hoshiarpur, Patel Chowk and Jyoti Chowk before concluding at the Nehru Gardens.

Father Michael Ani, co-ordinator of the procession, said there was an overwhelming response from people from all walks of life, who put up welcome gates and arranged langar at different places. A number of beautiful “jhankis” depicting the life and preachings of Jesus Christ were the main attraction of the procession.


Bank speeds up renovation work
DC, architects express resentment
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 21
The State Bank of Patiala, which is presently giving a facelift to its century-old headquarters, housed in a vintage building on the Mall Road, by fixing tiles on its facade, today accelerated the ongoing work, setting up lights to ensure that workers could work till late night.

The Tribune had reported yesterday how the bank was pasting tiles on its facade and replacing wooden windows with aluminum fittings. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, when contacted on the issue, had said that he would ask the bank’s management to desist from changing the look of the vintage building.

The bank, instead of heeding any such advice, today increased the workforce for carrying out the renovation. Workmen could be seen fixing tiles even at 8 p.m. today, even though such work does not continue till such late time.. This effectively means that the bank may well complete most of the work by Monday, before any attempt is made by the DC to get the work stopped.

The DC said today that he had written a letter to the bank’s officiating Managing Director, Mr B.M. Jain, in this regard yesterday. He said he had highlighted the concern of several residents of Patiala on the manner in which the renovation work was being conducted. He said he had asked the bank authorities not to alter the architecture in any manner, besides informing the Director, Cultural Affairs, in this regard. Mr Tejveer Singh expressed surprise that the bank management had increased the pace of work, adding that he would immediately take up the issue with the top management of the bank.

Meanwhile, many prominent citizens of Patiala have expressed resentment over the manner in which the bank is carrying out the renovation work on the building, which is considered a landmark in the city. Veteran Rotarian Mandeep Singh said there was no logic in using modern material for the vintage building. He stressed that the way in which the construction work was being carried out on the building would do more harm than good. He said the construction work, besides ruining the vintage character of the building would also look very unaesthetic.

Several architects also said that the manner in which the bank was undertaking the renovation work defied all standard practices of renovating a vintage building. They said the modern aluminum and other materials being used would fail to blend with the vintage aesthetic outlook and character of the building. 


Amardeep mela begins
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, December 22
Amardeep Singh Shergill Memorial College, Mukandpur about 20 km, from here, started the four-day “Amardeep mela” to mark its ninth raising day as well the 29th birth anniversary of Amardeep Singh. Shergill, in whose memory the college has been set up with the “akhand path” and inauguration of athletics meet the college campus on Saturday. Mr Baldev Singh Aujla, vice-president of the Overseas Committee of the college, inaugurated the athletics meet and Mr Gurcharan Singh Shergill, founder chairman of the college, presided over.

Giving this information in a press release, Dr Surjit Singh Bhatti, principal, said the annual prize distribution function would be held on Monday and Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh would be the chief guest.


Amarinder visits Tohra in hospital
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 22
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has visited senior Akali leader Gurcharan Singh Tohra at a Delhi hospital where former SGPC chief underwent a bypass surgery.

The Chief Minister enquired about the health of Mr Tohra who on Monday was admitted to the Batra Hospital.

Former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had also visited Mr Tohra.


PM’s birthday to be observed as ‘Vijay Divas’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
A meeting of the Punjab BJP office-bearers, former and present MPs, MLAs and district/mandal presidents held here today decided to observe the Prime Minister’s birthday on December 25 as ‘’Vijay Divas’’ to celebrate the party’s win in Gujarat and Rajasthan. The meeting was chaired by the state unit President, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa.

The meeting discussed the organisational matters, including the enrolment drive and the ‘’gaon chalo’’ programme outcome.

The meeting passed a resolution to educate people on the major achievements of the NDA government, between December 25 and January 12. The meeting also took cognizance of the media reports about the alleged involvement of some Punjab ministers in objectionable activities during the election campaign in Gujarat.


Polio patients await help
Our Correspondent

Rampura Phul (Bathinda), December 22
While various agencies of the government and a large number of the NGOs have been claiming that polio had been eradicated from the region, over 10 polio-affected patients in one locality of this town have been putting a question mark over the seriousness with which these drives had been undertaken.

The Guru Nanak Pura locality here houses over 10 polio-affected patients of various age groups who are yet to get any help either in cash or kind from government agencies or the NGOs.

Mr Jaikumar, who is handicapped from both legs, is so poor that he had no money even to buy a tri-cycle. His name is registered at the District Employment Exchange but he has failed to find any job, though he has the experience of motor winding and other electrical repairs. He lamented that he had failed to secure a loan to start his own business.

Similarly, Veerpal Kaur, who is also polio struck said she had not been to any school so far and her father is a cycle mechanic. Many other residents of the area including Mr Ramkumar, who has been living with his brother, Mr Balbir Chand, 40, Mrs Jasvir Kaur, 40, whose husband makes a living by pulling a ‘rehri’, Mr Harvinder Singh, 12, who had to quit school after polio rendered him disabled for life, have been looking for help. Most of these patients are so poor that they cannot afford to buy callipers and tricycles of their own.

A senior doctor of Civil Hospital, Bathinda, commenting on the situation said that it appeared to be a mere coincidence many patients rendered disabled were living in one locality and said that there was nothing to panic about the same.

Dr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, when contacted, said no new case of polio had been reported from anywhere in Punjab. He said if some patients were poor and could not afford to buy aids, these would be provided to them through the District Red Cross Society.

Replying to a question, Dr Goyal said, a Senior Medical Officer (SMO) would be asked to visit the area to identify the needy patients who would be given necessary helping aids. He added that the government had devised a plan to immunise all kids below the age of 5 under the intensive pulse polio campaign and more than one lakh kids would be immunised on January 5 and 9. Special teams had been formed to immunise the kids living in far-flung areas, those who would be travelling on the day and kids of migratory labourers.


PPCB teams to check rice mills for pollution
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 22
The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has formed teams to check 433 rice mills and 342 sella rice plants in the state. The teams are to submit their reports to the PPCB by December 31. Mills found to be violating pollution laws will be dealt with sternly.

It is learnt that a team including an environment engineer, Mr Pardeep Gupta, and an Assistant Environment Engineer, Mr Arun Kakkar, of the PPCB will check 101 rice mills and one sella rice plant in the district while Mr Karunesh Garg and Mr Joginder Singh will check 77 rice mills and 32 sella rice plants in Bathinda district, Mr Samarjit Goyal and Mr Parmjit Singh will check 74 rice mills and 37 sella rice plants in Muktsar district, Mr G.S. Majithia and Mr Dev Raj Goyal will check 46 rice mills and 45 sella rice plants in Faridkot district, Mr Didar Singh and Mr Tejwant Singh Gill will check 107 rice mills and 45 sella rice plants in Moga district and Mr Nazar Singh and Mr Gurbakhshish Singh Gill will check 28 rice mills and 182 sella rice plants in Ferozepore district.

The PPCB has tightened its grip over industrial units, furnances and brick-kilns in the state violating pollution laws.

It is learnt that about 3,500 big, medium and small-scale industrial units are running in the state without the consent of the PPCB.

The stipulated date (October 31, 2002) to seek the consent of the PPCB has expired and now these units might have to close down.


Narrow escape for DTO
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 22
Mr Mohan Lal Sharma, District Transport Officer (DTO), had a harrowing time while on duty last night.

A truck of a private transport company of Patiala was signalled to stop by a party headed by the DTO in at about 1 a.m. on the Mansa-Bhikhi road. But the driver of the truck tried to flee away. The DTO followed the truck in his official vehicle. Meanwhile, another truck coming from behind was about to hit the official vehicle of the DTO but the alert driver saved the situation. The truck coming from behind was intercepted and stopped. A compounding fee of Rs 15,000 was charged from the truck as it was found to be overloaded.

Sources reveal that there was reportedly a queue of trucks with unaccounted goods following the vehicle of the owner of the transport company. All drivers of the trucks were having mobile phones to remain in contact with the owner. When the owner came to know about the presence of the DTO who tried to follow the trucks, the owner, allegedly gave instructions on mobile to damage the vehicle of the DTO. But the driver who tried to do so was intercepted by the police. However, drivers of other trucks managed to escape.

When contacted Mr Sharma, confirmed the incident and said the state government had enhanced the annual target of collection of composition fee from Rs 23 lakh to Rs 33 lakh for five months with effect from November 1 to March 31, 2003, so they had to keep vigil for 24 hours.


Eye camp held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 22
Dr H.S. Hayer, an eye surgeon, examined 217 patients and operated upon 11 of them for cataract at a two-day eye care camp organised by the Divine Eye Research Foundation at Talwandi Sabo.

Mr Rakesh Narula, president of the foundation, in a press release issued here yesterday said that in a large number of cases blindness could be prevented if there was no deficiency of Vitamin A.

Mr Sudarshan Goyal, manager of the State Bank of Patiala, stressed the need for eye donation and lauded the role of NGOs in this regard. 


Raped girl dies after abortion
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 22
The district police today registered a case against Lakhbir Singh of Naushehra Colony for allegedly raping a 15-year-old of the same area.

According to information, the girl had illicit relations with the suspect and became pregnant. 

When her family members came to know about this, they reportedly approached the boy’s family in this regard which did not accept the girl. The girl’s family asked her to have an abortion. After the abortion the condition of the girl deteriorated and she was admitted to a private hospital here, where she died last night. Lakhbir Singh is at large.


Favouritism in promotions alleged
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 22
Mr Harmit Singh, general secretary, PWD Field and Workshop Workers Union, Bathinda unit, in a press note issued here yesterday alleged that an officer of the department had tried to conduct a written test concerning promotions on a holiday to favour some candidates.

Mr Harmit Singh alleged that the officer called his favourites to appear in the written test on a holiday so that they may be promoted flouting all rules of the department and directions of the government. 


Two booked on charge of defrauding man
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, December 22
The police has booked two persons for extorting large sums of money from a person on the promise to send him to Australia and secure a good job for him there. Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP briefing newspersons here today, identified one of the accused as Jasbir Singh, resident of Khan Khanna, in Nawanshahr district.

The SSP said the accused charged Rs 3.25 lakh from Rakesh Kumar, resident of Kot Khan Mohammad village in this district.

SSP said the accused, along with Rakesh Kumar, boarded the plane from Mumbai and reached Egypt on July 31, 2002. On reaching there the accused arranged for Rakesh Kumar to cross over to Israel. The Israel police arrested Rakesh Kumar for unauthorisedly crossing over into the border and was imprisoned for two months.

Rakesh alleged that he was tortured by the Israeli police and kept hungry for three days. Later, after undergoing the sentence and mental as well as physical torture, Rakesh was deported to India.

When he allegedly approached the accused for refund, he was threatened by the accused. A case under Sections 420/34 of the IPC has been registered against the accused on December 16 in Kahnuwan police station. The police is raiding the possible hideouts to arrest the accused and his accomplices.


Charas seized
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, December 22
The Pathankot police has arrested Bhagwan Dass residents of Kothe Pandattan village under Pathankot sub-division and seized 1 kg of charas from his possession, that he had smuggled in from J & K. Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, said today that the police party intercepted the accused at Kathpul near Sujanpur.

During preliminary interrogation, the accused disclosed that he had been working as a labourer at a brick kiln in Khanwal near Srinagar. He used to purchase charas at the rate of Rs 1,200 per kg, from J & K and sell the same from Rs 1,5000 to Rs 20,000 per kg, in the Pathankot area.


Teachers to oppose govt move
Our Correspondent

Ropar, December 22
The Government Teachers Union, Punjab, will oppose the government move to recast education directorate in the state. Mr Sukhdev Singh Khattra, general secretary of the union, stated this in press note issued here today.

Mr Khattra alleged that the policy to recast the directorate was full of contradictions, both administratively and academically. The teachers fear that the move, if implemented, will block their promotion channels.

The teachers will hold demonstrations at the district headquarters in January. If the government fails to act, the venue of the rallies will be shifted to Gurdaspur and Patiala.

Flag marches will also be organised to inform parents and the masses about the “ills” of the proposed government policy.


Law College in Faridkot soon
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, December 22
The local Gurdwara Godri Sahib Baba Farid Management Society plans to set up Baba Farid Law College here. The boy has acquired land on the Faridkot-Kotkapura road and the construction on the complex has started.

The entire project which will cost nearly Rs 1 crore will be completed by 2003. Stating this here today, Mr Inderjit Singh Sekhon, president of the society, said Punjabi University, Patiala, had granted the permission to the institution and the classes would start from the next academic session. The admission of the students would strictly be done as per the rules of Punjabi University and the University Grants Commission, New Delhi, he said.

The law college would be developed on the pattern of National Law School of India. University, Bangalore. At present there were three government law colleges in Gurdaspur and Patiala and one in Chandigarh Mr Shekhon said society had been running red Baba Farid Public School here. Nearly 600 students were given education on concessional fees besides providing various other facilities.

Recently one of its students Tejvir Singh, got first position in English by securing 96 per cent marks


School to have martyrs’ memorial
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, December 22
The local Sainik School Old Boys Association today organised a annual meet in sainik school in memory of those defence personnel who laid down their lives for the sake of the country.

Major General Lakhwinder Singh and Mr H.S. Mattewal, former Advocate-General laid the foundation stone for the martyrs’ memorial in memory of defence personnel, the product of local sainik school who laid down their lives for the sake of the country.

The memorial will be built through donation at a cost of Rs 12 lakh. The design has been designed by Mr Shiv Singh, the product of the school.

Addressing the association members Maj Geneal Lakhwinder Singh called upon youth of the state to serve the nation by joining the Army.

Mr H.S. Mattewal, former Advocate-General, Punjab, urged youths particularly from the rural areas to join Sainik school.

Major Yogesh Gupta, a former student of the sainik school, sanctified his life fighting militants in Jammu and Kashmir and killed four militants before laying down his life.

The association gave Rs 25000 to the school band for the purchase of new dresses and band equipment as the school band has been selected for the Republic Day parade at New Delhi.


300 students awarded degrees
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 22
Three hundred degrees were given to graduates and postgraduates at the 27th convocation-cum-annual prize distribution function of the local Kamla Nehru College for Women today. Mr Justice N.K. Sood of the Punjab and Haryana High Court was the chief guest. He unveiled a bust of late B.K. Sardana, one of the founders of the college, and dedicated the college auditorium to the memory of the visionary. Mrs Kusum Verma, college Principal, read out the college report and awarded degrees to students. Mr Justice Sood distributed prizes among meritorious students. Mr I.K. Sardana, college president, read out a vote of thanks.

In his address, Mr Justice Sood exhorted the students to direct their actions for the realisation of their dreams.

There were no short-cuts to success, he said. He urged them to imbibe the spirit of patriotism for the progress of the country, he said.

“If there are irregularities in the defence deal, we don’t think about the danger it could have for our country, but just think about our ends he regretted.”

The disputes over language, caste, religion are trivial maters,” he asserted.

Since degrees made one literate and not educated, the toughest part of life for the graduates was to face challenges, he said. Education was the application of knowledge and the application had to be constructive, he continued.

The worth of a man was known by what he gave to society and the country, he added. He fondly remembered his association with late B.K. Sardana whom he described as a visionary.

Mr Sardana, president, and Mrs Verma, Principal, felicitated Mr Justice Sood with a silver plaque. Prof Manjit Kaur, the seniormost lecturer also presented a bouquet to Mr Justice Sood.

A Class IV college employee, Ms Surinder Kaur, and a clerk, Mrs Veena Gujral, were honoured for completing 25 years of service in the college.

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