Friday, December 27, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Govt bans payment to 1.08 lakh bogus pensioners
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 26
The state government has unearthed a fake old age pension scam, wherein, about 1.08 lakh ineligible pensioners, who were enrolled in violation of the prescribed norms, caused a loss of Rs 52 crore to the state exchequer in the past two years.

The government has put a ban on the release of pension to these bogus pensioners to save about Rs 26.14 crore annually. However, the government is yet to decide whether to register criminal cases against the latter for providing false information and for illegally withdrawing public money.

Addressing a press conference here today, the state Welfare Minister Choudhary Santokh Singh revealed that the department had found that 1.26 lakh ineligible pensioners were enrolled in violation of the norms from April 2000 onwards. The Congress government in the state had ordered an inquiry three months back following complaints of large-scale irregularities in the old age pension scheme.

While notices were issued to all 5.22 lakh pensioners, who had been enrolled from April 2000 onwards, to join the screening operation, 18,000 pensioners failed to turn up before the screening committees concerned throughout the state.

Interestingly, Sangrur, the hometown of former Punjab Welfare Minister Mr Gobind Singh Kanjla, topped the list of bogus pensioners as out of 66,514 pensioners enrolled during the past two years, 29,006 were found to be ineligible.

The report further revealed the enrolment of 18109 bogus pensioners of the total 64,427 in Gurdaspur. Similarly, 10,311 pensioners in Amritsar, 5,672 in Bathinda, 4,142 in Faridkot, 953 in Fatehgarh Sahib, 2,698 in Ferozepur, 6,900 in Hoshiarpur, 7,989 in Jalandhar, 1,280 in Kapurthala, 3,904 in Ludhiana, 5,044 in Mansa, 3,440 in Moga, 3,033 in Mukatsar, 1,593 in Nawanshahr, 3,569 in Patiala and 1,225 in Ropar were found to be bogus.

Hinting at strict departmental action against the guilty officials, who were involved in the large-scale irregularities, the minister said they were preparing a comprehensive draft in this regard, which would be tabled before the state Cabinet for approval. “We are not going to spare the erring officials, who failed to perform their official duties, thus, resulting in major loss to the state exchequer. In fact, the government will now save a sum of approx Rs 26.14 crore per year by imposing a ban on the release of old age pension,” he added.

When asked about the registration of criminal cases against these bogus pensioners, the minister said that the state Cabinet would be the deciding authority.


Pherurai’s son-in-law reports for duty
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 26
Mr Arvinderpaul Singh Sandhu, a PCS officer, who surrendered in the court of Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate (First Class), Kharar in Ropar district in connection with the fake arms’ licence scam on December 12 submitted his joining report to the district administration. The administration has sought permission from the senior authorities in this regard.

Mr Sandhu, a son-in-law of jailed former Ferozepore SSP Gurcharan Singh Pherurai, who arrived at the district administrative complex today had been absenting himself from duty since September 13, 2002. The application for leave submitted by him was sent to the Chief Secretary by the then Deputy Commissioner, Mr Alok Shekhar.

Confirmed sources reveal that Mr Sandhu is likely to be suspended within a or two by the state government as he remained in police custody for two days. Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate (First Class), Kharar, had issued proclamation against Mr Sandhu for December 18 on an application moved by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau. Mr Sandhu had absconded after the case was registered against him by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau on October 17.

It may be recalled that the case pertained to the scam involving the issuance of alleged fake arms licences to hundreds of undeserving persons many of whom were suspected to be criminals in Amritsar district. While Jagir Singh, another PCS, has already been arrested, a retired PCS officer LD Hans is still evading arrest.


State loan was waived: Kanwaljit
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 26
Capt Kanwaljit Singh, a former Finance Minister and senior SAD leader, has joined the issue with Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, regarding the waiver of loan of the state worth Rs 8,500 crore. As both the former minister as well the present one, Mr Lal Singh, were here to attend their respective parties’ political conferences, both talked to The Tribune and contradicted each other’s claim and counterclaim.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said Capt Amarinder Singh had created confusion by issuing a statement regarding the waiver of the state loan amounting to Rs 8,500 crore. He said due to the best efforts of the SAD government the then Prime Minister, I.K. Gujral, had waived the loan of the state. He said in official files of the state Finance Department, there was a confirmatory letter from the Union Finance Ministry in which it was clearly mentioned that the Centre Government had decided to waive the loan.

He said after that the state had not paid the annual instalment amounting to about Rs 230 crore. He said even before the 11th Finance Commission, the case regarding the waiver of the loan had been presented and the decision had been taken in accordance with the decision of the Centre Government.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said the controversy had been created just to hide the government’s failures on all fronts. He alleged that there was mismanagement of the fiscal situation in the state despite the imposition of heavy taxes amounting to Rs 3,000 crore, affecting the agriculture sector, traders and the public in general.

He urged the Chief Minister to provide better governance rather than creating controversies.

Reacting to the court decision of acquitting Sajjan Kumar, a Congress leader, and others allegedly involved in the 1984 riots, he said the day would go down as a black day in the history of the judicial system. He said the prosecution had failed to submit sufficient evidence despite the fact that evidence against these culprits had been provided by the Tara Kunde Committee and the Ranganath Commission. He alleged that the Congress had succeeded in influencing the prosecution in order to save their leader.

On the other hand, Mr Lal Singh, Finance Minister, talking to The Tribune, said the statement issued by the Chief Minister regarding the waiver of the loan was based on facts and the loan had not been waived. He said Akalis had been misleading the people of the state on the issue. He claimed that due to better governance, the fiscal position of the state had improved and the government had earned Rs 700 crore more than in the previous year.

He said DA amounting to Rs 104 crore had been given to employees and the next year would be celebrated as Development Year. He said pensions had been released.


Police restrained from raiding tourist complexes
Lalit Mohan

Ropar December 26
The DGP, Punjab, has directed all SSPs in the state against conducting raids on the premises of the Punjab Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) complexes. In the orders communicated to all SSPs, it has been stated that the police should not conduct raids on the PTDC complexes without the prior permission of the Secretary, Tourism or Managing Director, PTDC.

Sources said the said directive had been issued by the DGP on receiving a communication in this regard from the Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra.

Mr Ratra had earlier written to the Principal Secretary, Home, Mr S.K. Sinha that the Punjab police was conducting raids on the PTDC complexes in the state affecting their business. The police had raided Amritsar International Hotel, Amritsar, Sukhchain Tourist Complex, Jalandhar and Chandani Tourist Complex, Nidampur, to check immoral trafficking.

The raids had created a fear psychosis in the minds of employees and managers of the complexes and they had started refusing rooms on rent fearing police harassment.

The raids had not only tarnished the image of the PTDC but also resulted in huge financial loss to the corporation. The corporation suffered a loss of Rs 44.76 lakh in three months after the raids were conducted, the Chief Secretary’s letter said.

Employees of the PTDC have welcomed the directive of the DGP restricting police raids on their complexes. The state president of the employees union of the PTDC, Mr Surjit Singh Saini, told this correspondent that the police in other states did not interfere in the working of tourist complexes owned by the government.

However, the Punjab police by raiding the PTDC complexes and detaining the employees had demoralised workers of these corporation. They had started desisting from renting out rooms of the PTDC complexes to people fearing police harassment, which, in turn was affecting business.


Fog engulfs region, 1 dies of cold
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 26
The cold wave today claimed one life while heavy fog engulfed the region disrupting normal life and the flow of traffic.

Sources said the deceased, whose name could not be known immediately, was reportedly a rickshaw-puller and was admitted to the Civil Hospital by volunteers of an NGO. They said no relative of the deceased could be contacted. The police got the post-mortem of the deceased done and the volunteers of Sahara Jan Seva cremated the body.

Meanwhile, the fog reduced visibility compelling drivers to keep the headlights of their vehicles on. A few minor incidents of vehicles hitting stray animals and wrongly parked vehicles were also reported. The destitute, often seen staying put at railway platforms, have been making rounds of the NGOs asking for woolens and sheds to spend nights.

The region registers higher temperatures during the day but the night temperatures see a drastic fall resulting in wide variations in day and night temperatures. The educational institutions of the district have been closed for winter by the authorities concerned.

The transport authorities have been educating people about safe driving wearing clothes that reflect light and proper use of headlights and dippers. Some time ago a special drive to install light reflecting devices was also started by the district authorities to check the increasing road accidents.


Haldea panel for restructuring PSEB
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 26
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) seems to be on the way to privatisation, with the Haldea Committee, formed by the state government to suggest reforms in the power sector, today expressing dissatisfaction with the present reforms being undertaken by the board and saying that it will recommend unbundling of the PSEB if necessary to the government.

Addressing a press conference at the board headquarters here after a meeting with the board management, committee chairman Gajendra Haldea said though unbundling of the PSEB was not the motive behind the formation of the committee, yet it could be a medium for bringing in reforms in the private sector. The chairman, who said the committee would submit its report to the government after holding talks with various consumer sections as well as employee organisations of the board, also hinted at a cut in the strength of employees, saying that some amount of reorganisation was needed in the existing structure of the board due to its large size, with more than 90,000 employees working in it.

Mr Haldea said any area in which there was no competition lagged behind. He said the committee would suggest a reform package, keeping in view aspects such as how private and government investment in the sector could increase, how transmission and distribution losses could be reduced and how reliable and affordable power could be made available to the people.

He admitted during the press conference that the unbundling experiment had not been successful in Orissa. He said these and other factors would be taken into consideration while formulating the recommendations. Other members of the committee, including Ms Vini Mahajan, Managing Director, PIDB, were also present, besides board Chairman Sudhir Mittal and members of the PSEB.

Reacting to the visit of the committee to the board headquarters, the PSEB Engineers Association said when the committee had itself admitted that the Orissa experiment had failed, it should not recommend risky and irreversible experiments. It said the need was to avoid the high risk privatisation path and adopt a cautious approach. The association also demanded that the government bring out a white paper on the issue which should be publicly debated and that the view of all the shareholders of the board should also be taken before taking a decision.

The Council of Junior Engineers, while echoing similar views, said past experiments had revealed that restructuring invariably led to an increase in the power rates and that the objectives raised by the committee could be achieved in the present set-up also. The Bijli Mulazim Front, in a press note, announced that it would observe a protest week from January 6 at all subdivisions in the state against the proposed restructuring of the board by the committee.


PSEB workshop
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 26
The PSEB organised an interactive session on ‘Devising effective preventive maintainance system’ at ITI here today.

Besides PSEB officers of the Patiala operating circle, junior engineers, linemen and assistant linemen from the 35 sub-divisions participated. Mr N.K. Dharmani, Chief Engineer (Operations), South, and Mr J.S. Sekhon, SE (Operation Circle), Patiala, addressed the gathering.

The session was part of the series of programmes initiated by the board in all operation circles.


Voters’ lists concocted
Our Correspondent

Kharar, December 25
A member of the Kharar Municipal Council and legal adviser of the Ropar district unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Preet Kanwal Singh, has alleged that the new voter lists have been concocted.

In a press note, he alleged that the delimitation of wards had also been done keeping in mind the interests of “one section.”

Giving examples he said in ward no. 8, though the population of the ward reported to the delimitation committee was 2637, of later. The number had been increased to 3059. This implied that there was none less than 18 years of age.

In the case of ward no. 3, the population, according to government records, was 2694, but there were only 963 voters.


Hunting in Harike with impunity
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 26
Hunting by a group of influential persons, led by an OSD to a former Chief Minister of Punjab has created panic in the Harike bird sanctuary area.

Though the area has been declared prohibited by the government, yet no action has been taken against the “guilty” employees of the sanctuary were reportedly approached by aides of the former Chief Minister, requesting them not to take action.

Sources told this correspondent here today that a group of more than six persons, led by the OSD to the former Chief Minister and armed with weapons and a dog squad, entered the bird sanctuary and hunted for hours together. The group reportedly killed a pig, which they took with them.

The sources said the offence was cognizable under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and the amended Act, 1991.

An official at the sanctuary confirmed the incident on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, six residents of Kirtowal village — Hardev Singh, Kashmir Singh, Santokh Singh, Shinda, Baldev Singh and Jagir Singh have been arrested under the Wildlife Protection Act for disturbing the peaceful atmosphere of the bird sanctuary.

Sources said the accused had been produced before the court of the Subdivisional Judicial Magistrate, Patti, who had sent them to judicial custody till January 4.


Irregularities in relief disbursement
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, December 26
Irregularities in the disbursement of compensation to the tune of about Rs 10 lakh for houses damaged due to heavy rain and floods in the Fazilka area in 1997 have been detected. The Revenue Department has recommended that eight veterinary surgeons and two agriculture development officers allegedly responsible for the irregularities be chargesheeted.

According to an audit report, 700 persons in 27 villages of the Fazilka area were distributed compensation of about Rs 10 lakh wrongfully by these officers in 1997. The then Badal government had directed that owners of all completely damaged pucca houses were to be paid compensation of Rs 10,000, those of semi-pucca Rs 7,000 kutcha Rs 6,000 semi-kutcha Rs 3,000, hut Rs 2,000 and partially built hut Rs 1,000 each.

Compensation was not to be paid for structures built on government land and cattle sheds.

However, the officers allegedly disbursed compensation, flouting norms.

The discrepancies were detected during audit by the Accountant-General, Punjab, for 1997-98 and 1998-99 conducted in 2000. The AG pointed out a discrepancy of Rs 23,65,000. However, on reconciliation a discrepancy of Rs 13,92,000 was rectified while a sum of Rs 9,73,000 was confirmed as irregularity.

The issue remained undecided for about two years as it was pending before the Comptroller and Auditor-General and the Public Accounts Committee of the Punjab Assembly. Now it has been settled and during the past four days, the Revenue Department has issued recovery notices to about 700 beneficiaries of compensation by constituting four teams of circle revenue officers.

The officers who have been recommended to be chargesheeted are Dr Mahesh, Dr M.P. Sachdeva, Dr Anil Pathak, Dr S.S. Gill, Dr Rajesh Kumar, Dr Kuldeep Rai, Dr B.L. Bajaj, Dr Karan Kumar (all veterinary officers) and Sunder Lal and B.Lal, both agriculture development officers.


Bail denied in forgery case

Moga, December 26
In a case of alleged violations of RBI guidelines and commission of forgery, the regular bail application of Ramandeep Singh of Naunidhi Finance Company was rejected whereas three pre-arrest bail applications of Gurmeet Singh, Manpreet Singh and Rajvinder Singh of National Finance Company were dismissed by a local court here.

The court of Additional Sessions Judge J.S. Chawla held yesterday that as the allegations against the accused were of a serious nature, it was not proper to release them on bail.

The Vigilance Bureau had registered a case against these two finance companies on the charge of violation of RBI guidelines and also having deposited huge sums of money of some people to the extent of Rs 20 crore by one finance company and about Rs 5 crore by the other company.

It was also alleged in the FIR by the Vigilance that one of the finance companies was also found guilty of committing forgery with the bank by forging the fixed deposit receipts of Rs 1,000 each to the tune of Rs 1.75 lakh and by the other one to the tune of Rs 80,000, which were then presented to the Technical Council of India for the registeration of two educational societies established by the owners of these finance companies. PTI


White paper on Sikhs to be prepared
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
The World Sikh Foundation has set up a three-member committee comprising Dr Darshan Singh, Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan and Mr Guratanpal Singh to prepare a white paper on the plight of minorities in India with special reference to Sikhs in view of the rise of the Hindutva in the country.

Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, President of the foundation, said today that there could be disastrous consequences of the Hindutva for the country. Recent acquittal of Mr Sajjan Kumar and his accomplices was a pointer to the miserable conditions of the Sikhs.

He said that SAD in its divisive and factional politics had completely turned its back on the fundamental aims and objectives with which it was founded. Irrespective of any faction, all had lost the vision and had rather indulged in corruption, fratricide and self liquidation. Their approach and sincerity to Sikh issues had been disappointing. Mr Mann said the committee would submit its report by Baisakhi. He said the representation of the Sikhs in government services had been on the decline.


Separate dept for ayurvedic systems
Our Correspondent

Ropar, December 26
The Punjab Government is planning to create an independent department for ayurvedic and homoeopathic systems. At present the said systems are functioning under the Health Department. However, the government is now contemplating to give independent status to these systems under the proposed name of the Indian Systems of Medicine. The State Minister for Health, Mr Ramesh Dutt, gave this information while talking to a select group of newsmen at Nurpurbedi yesterday.

The minister said the ayurvedic and homoeopathic systems of medicines had been neglected in Punjab for long. Such is the condition of budget allocation to ayurvedic dispensaries that while the doctor posted there was paid an annual salary of about 1.5 lakh per annum, the budget for medicines was just Rs 600.

Due to the neglect of the said systems in Punjab, the state has also not been able to receive the liberal grants being offered by the Union Government for their development. Due to the failure of the Health Department to fulfil the conditions, Punjab has not been able to withdraw Rs 1 crore being offered by the Union Health Ministry for the development of the ayurvedic system of medicine in the state.

So, now the Punjab Government has decided to give independent status to the ayurvedic and homoeopathic systems of medicines as has already been done in Himachal, Rajasthan and Haryana. The decision regarding this will be finalised within one week, the minister said.

The minister further said land near Zirakpur had already been earmarked by the government for the development of a medicinal plants research institute that would be set up with the help from the Union Ministry. He also criticised the Punjab Health Systems Corporation for not spending any amount on the development of the ayurvedic and homoeopathic systems of medicine. The corporation had spent the entire World Bank grant available with it for the development of hospitals offering allopathic systems of medicine. The corporation was likely to be wound up by March 2004 when the World Bank aid for it lapsed.


Hindutva is way of life: Vinod Khanna
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, December 26
Residents had a pleasant surprise when Vinod Khanna, Union Minister of State for Tourism and Cultural Affairs arrived here today by Dhauladhar Express. He was given a warm welcome by partymen at the railway station.

The new train ‘Dhauladhar Express was flagged off yesterday from Delhi by Mr Nitish Kumar, Union Railway Minister.

Mr Khanna said the introduction of the new train would not have been possible without the cooperation of the people of the area.

He inaugurated the newly constructed shunting area at the railway station .

The MP presented an ambulance to the Seva Bharti.

Talking to reporters Mr Khanna said the BJP would contest the coming Assembly elections on the Hindutva plank.

Aggressive campaigning along with the party’s ideology, besides focus on local issues, would by the party’s strategy in the elections, he said.

Making it clear that Hindutva was a way of life, he said the BJP was of the view that any statement which smacked of intolerance was not in consonnance with Hindutva.


Remand of Gurm extended
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 26
The Duty Magistrate today extended the police remand of former Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Technical University (PTU) H.S. Gurm, who had surrendered before the court on Saturday in a multi-crore PTU scam, for two days.

Earlier, Vigilance Bureau sleuths produced Gurm, who was admitted to the local Civil Hospital on Tuesday following complaints of high blood pressure and kidney-related problems, in the court of the duty magistrate.

Though the public prosecutor urged for police custody of the accused for another 10 days, the magistrate extended the police custody only for two days while ordering the VB officials to produce the accused in the court on December 28.

Gurm was booked by the VB about two months back for causing a loss of Rs 11 crore to the university and for appointing 95 ad hoc employees in violation of the prescribed norms during his stint as the Vice-Chancellor.

While former Technical Education Minister J.S. Garcha and Director (Outreach) A.S. Grewal were arrested by the VB in October, another accused Parminder Singh, son of Garcha, was still absconding.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the VB has decided to submit an application in the court for declaring Parminder Singh a proclaimed offender.


Sirhind di Dastan’ gets under way
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 26
A light and sound programme ‘Sirhind di Dastan’ based on the sacrifices made by Baba Zorawar Singh, Baba Fateh Singh and Mata Gujri, was inaugurated by Mr C.S. Srivastva, Commissioner, Patiala division, by lighting a candle, on the eve of annual Shaheedi Jor Mela, at Aam Khas Bagh at Sirhind yesterday.

Paying tributes to the martyrs Mr Srivastva said the history of Fatehgarh Sahib was the story of limitless cruelty of Mughal emperors and tolerance of Sahibzadas and Mata Gujri.

Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, said Fatehgarh Sahib stood for secularism and communal harmony. Baba Mori Ram, who belonged to Mehra (Hindu) community, served milk to the Sahibzadas and Mata Gujri in thanda Burj, due to which he was punished by grinding in oil squeezer with family, Nawab Sher Muhammad Khan of Malerkotla raised voice (haa daa naara) in favor of the Sahibzadas and after they were bricked alive by Nawab Wazid Khan, Diwan Todar Mal, belonging to Jain community, paid golden coins for the cremation of the Sahibzadas.


Anti-pollution masks ‘difficult’ to wear

Phagwara, December 26
Police personnel of the local traffic police are finding it impossible to wear the mandatory “anti-pollution masks” due to excessive sweating.

These masks were provided to the traffic police personnel only three days ago, but all traffic constables on all road crossings performing traffic duties were seen without such masks today.

When asked one of the traffic constables said these masks were so irritating that it was almost impossible to wear these masks for 16 hours, and moreover these anti-pollution masks caused suffocation, which was creating problems galore for the traffic police personnel.


Dial 1081 for grievances: BSNL
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 26
Mr Joginder Mohan, General Manager, Telecom District Bathinda, said here today that customers could now register their grievances by dialing ‘1081’ from their BSNL landline phones.

Mr Mohan said the ‘1081’ service was operational for booking public grievances and the same was computerised and was connected to the computerised grievances cell at Chandigarh, circle office. He added that the customer could know about their pending bill payments by dialing ‘166’ from their phones.


Murder case: SSP asked to take action
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 26
Taking up the issue of alleged police inaction in a murder case of a mother and her son, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has directed the SSP to take appropriate action and submit an ‘action taken report’ to the commission within six weeks from the date of receipt of the letter. Narinder Kaur, a resident of medical enclave, here, had in her complaint to the PSHRC stated that even as she had given the names of the suspects who had allegedly killer her mother and younger brother in July 2001 and looted cash and other valuables the police was yet to take any action.


Meeting postponed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
The meeting of the Council of Ministers has been postponed, according to official sources. The meeting was to be held this afternoon. However, Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, left this afternoon for Delhi from Fatehgarh Sahib, where he had gone to address a political conference on the Shaheedi Jor Mela this morning.

There were a number of important items on the agenda of the meeting.


Two IAS officers shifted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
The Punjab Government today transferred two IAS and one PCS officer. Mr Mandeep Singh has been transferred to the Department of Elections as Special Secretary in place of Mr V.K. Janjua, who has been relieved to join duty as Deputy Secretary in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion in the Union Government at Delhi.

Mr S.S. Khara has been posted as Joint Secretary in Personnel Department in addition to Joint Secretary, Secretariat Administration.


Nursing college to be set up soon: NRI
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 26
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, a former Chief Minister and President, SAD, honoured Dr Harbakhash Singh Sandal, NRI and philanthropist, at a function at Guru Teg Bahadur Khalsa College for Women, Dasuya, 40 km from here, last evening. Dr Sandal, who belongs to village Kalowal near Dasuya and works in Canada, got the science and computer blocks constructed at the college by contributing Rs 40 lakh. He is getting an auditorium constructed at a cost of Rs 1 crore at DAV College, Dasuya. He has donated 15 ambulances to hospitals in Bangalore.

Dr Sandal said a nursing college, with affiliation to Alberta University, Canada, would soon be started at Guru Teg Bahadur Khalsa College for Women for poor girls of Dasuya subdivision.


Shunted out of hostels, IT students flay varsity
Sukant Deepak

Patiala, December 26
As many as 80 male students of the controversial Maharaja Ranjit Singh Institute of Management and Technology at Punjabi University , who were asked to vacate their hostel rooms in September in face of the controversy regarding the institute which was opened during the tenure of the former Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, alleged that they were being subjected to a Kafkaesque trial by the university authorities and punished for no fault of theirs.

Finding it tough to find suitable accommodation near the university and resenting the closure of mess facility, the students said they were finding it difficult to concentrate on their studies, as most of their time was spent in travelling to the university and back and finding inexpensive places for meals.

Worried as their semester examinations are scheduled to commence in January, the students lamented that as they were staying in the city, about 8 km from the university, they were unable to use the library facilities during evening hours as it was tough to find transportation after 6 pm. All this, for no apparent fault of theirs. Rejecting the argument put forward by the university that there was not enough space in the hostels to accommodate them, they said there was no problem of hostel rooms till the whole controversy about the institute started. The students said as the case pertaining to the institute was in the court, their facilities should not have been withdrawn until the court gave a final decision regarding the institute.

Although the second year students of B.Tech and MSc (IT) had met the former (officiating) Vice-Chancellor, Dr N.S. Rattan, in this regard and were assured that something would be done regarding the problems faced by them, no step had been taken to solve their grievances despite repeated reminders to the university.

As paying guest culture is yet to catch up in Patiala, the students find it difficult to find a single room accommodation and in most cases have to rent a whole house collectively, thereby shelling out more than Rs 1,000 per person contrary to Rs 200 they paid while living in the hostels.

Although their female counterparts have been allowed to retain their hostel rooms, the second year male students of B.Tech, BSc (IT) and MSc, most of whom are from different regions, including Assam, Bihar and Delhi are finding it tough as most of them do not have any vehicles, they said much of their time was wasted in waiting for local bus service, which is already in a sorry state.

“Why are the students being subjected to such harassment, it is not our fault if there is a confusion regarding the institute,” a second-year student lamented. Accusing the university of being insensitive towards their genuine problems and fearing that they might have to live outside for three more years, most of them blamed the university authorities of taking “anti-student decisions”. Rahul Verma, a second year student of B.Tech lamented that after September, for around two months, he had to commute daily from Yamunanagar, Haryana, to attend the classes.

The Dean (Academic Affairs), Dr U.C. Singh, said the university was doing everything possible to help the IT students . Stressing that they had been asked to vacate their hostel rooms due to shortage of the same, he said it had been clearly mentioned in the institute’s prospectus that provision of hostel facility depended entirely on the availability of the rooms and the university hostels did not have enough rooms to accommodate them.

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