Thursday, February 6, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab for Rs 790 wheat price
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
Punjab has demanded Rs 790 per quintal as wheat price for rabi-2003. It has strongly opposed the retention of the ‘’same, old’’ price, Rs 620 per quintal, as proposed by the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices.

The Financial Commissioner, Development, Mr P.K. Verma, told TNS today that Punjab had calculated the cost of cultivation on scientific basis, as per the guidelines issued by the Commission. There is , thus, full justification in what the state had demanded.

Punjab has also disputed the Commission’s prices for gram and rapeseed. While the Commission has recommended Rs 1,220 per quintal for gram, Punjab has sought Rs 1,785 per quintal. Similarly, against Rs 1,320 per quintal for rape seed, Punjab has recommended Rs 1,890 per quintal.

Mr Verma said there may not be ‘’significant reduction’’ in the wheat production this year. Any fall, however, would be due to diversification of around 50,000 hectares from wheat to other crops. The wheat production last year was 154 lakh tonnes.

Meanwhile, Punjab is busy preparing a memorandum for the Union Minister of Food and Civil Supplies, Mr Sharad Yadav, who will visit Chandigarh on February 7. His Punjab counterpart, Mr Lal Singh, is hosting a dinner for him, where pending issues will be taken up.

The Principal Secretary, Food, Mr B.R. Bajaj, told TNS that the Centre owed to Punjab Rs 3,315.64 crore, plus Rs 400 crore interest, as reimbursement on account of claims of the state and its agencies regarding procurement of wheat and paddy. Besides, another major problem is slow movement of food grains. At present Punjab has four-year-old wheat stock of 150 lakh tonnes, causing as much a financial drain by way of payment of interest etc. as a major storage hurdle for new grain storage. The Centre owes Rs 1,560.58 crore by way of reimbursement of only interest on stocks held by the state and its procurement agencies.

Mr Bajaj said another issue that Punjab would focus on was ‘’establishment costs’’ on procurement of food grains. The Centre does not pay this on ‘’actuals’’. Unilaterally and arbitrarily, the Centre fixed some percentage in 1978-79 and is denying Punjab a reimbursement of Rs 386.45 crore.

Yet another important issue will be early announcement of MSP—minimum support price for rabi crops, primarily wheat.

The Punjab Agricultural University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh, told TNS that the wheat prospects, so far, were good. But due to draught during kharif-2002, the all-India production fell by 20 million tonnes. Likewise, due to dry winter and after-effects of kharif draught, it is estimated that the overall India-wide rabi production is likely to fall by at least 10 million tonnes.

Punjab had faced lot of problems in kharif-2002 when the Centre decided that MSP would be plus 4 per cent and that all state taxes and levies beyond that would be contained within the MSP. Punjab had vehemently protested and argued that such levies/taxes, amounting to Rs 1,000 crore, per annum, were used to develop and maintain market infrastructure in rural areas. The Punjab Mandi Board has spent Rs 15,000 crore on this infrastructure and any deviation would be detrimental to state’s development.

Therefore, Mr Lal Singh will also impress upon Mr Yadav that any move to dismantle MSP should be carefully examined and interests of agriculturally progressive states like Punjab fully protected.

A proposal on Crop Adjustment Programme is pending with the Centre. Punjab is keen it be taken up as a ‘’pilot project’’ in Punjab by providing Rs 1,280 crore per annum for implementing diversification proposal. If implemented, this programme will result in the Centre itself saving Rs 3,800 crore every year.


Top cattle breed eludes Punjab
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 5
The much-awaited distribution of imported bovine semen from New Zealand may improve the livestock breed in the state, but it is definitely not top quality semen from the most prized bulls of New Zealand.

The bulls do not figure in the list of top 20 bulls of that country. The names of these bulls can be obtained from the “New Zealand and HSS Project” of the New Zealand Holstein Friesian Association.

The Punjab State Veterinary Officers Association has represented to the Chief Minister that the Department of Animal Husbandry has imported low-graded semen leaving the semen of top bulls. It has claimed that the imported semen is not of better quality than the present semen being supplied by the department.

The association President, Dr Rajinder Singh, said the department’s own top bulls could sire calves which could give an average milk yield of 10,000 litres per annum. He said the department had now imported semen of bulls which could sire calves giving a similar yield even though the department could have gone in for semen of prized bulls to get an average yield of 13,000 litres.

The association has also claimed that the Animal Husbandry Director, Dr G.S. Chahal, while placing import orders for the semen, took “special pains” to get certain conditions relaxed. The association has alleged that this was done to accommodate a particular firm. Besides, the association has claimed that the department had betrayed the trust of farmers by supplying infected semen to them. Dr Rajinder Singh said the College of Veterinary Sciences in Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) had submitted a report in this regard to the department in October and the department took three months to identify the infected bulls. He also claimed that no steps had been taken to get the rest of the bulls in Patiala and other farms of the department tested for the IBR virus.

Meanwhile, department Director G.S. Chahal said the total economics had to be taken into consideration while importing semen from abroad. He said the value of the animal abroad also included its slaughter value which was not the case in India where importance was placed only on milk production. He said the recent dispatch of semen imported from New Zealand was done following the formation of a special committee. He said the committee included representatives from the Central Government, PAU and the state government. An import order had been advertised and global tenders invited, he added.

Speaking on the issue of relaxation of certain norms, he said the import protocol was followed. He had, however, written on the issue of certain tests following a request by the company selling the semen to the department. This had been to modify some testing methods according to latest techniques and could not be construed as giving any favour to the company, he said.


Tehsildar suspended
Ravi Bhushan Puri

Pathankot, February 5
Taking action on the recommendations made by Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, the Punjab Government has placed under suspension the Tehsildar, Pathankot, Subash Padam, for allegedly committing irregularities.

The Tribune had highlighted the irregularities.

According to information, in a multi-crore church sale scam, the Deputy Commissioner had recommended action against Subash Padam.

Before Partition, a number of churches were managed by the Ecclesiastical Department of the provincial government.

The Ecclesiastical Department was closed down and the government handed over all churches along with the land and cemeteries to the church authorities on April 1, 1948.

In 1884, a church was constructed at Madhopur. The total land of the church was more than 90 kanals.

According to sources, some influential persons of the area, in connivance with revenue officials, allegedly hatched a conspiracy to grab the land belonging to the church, a part of which was being used as a graveyard.

They prepared a fake resolution and a power of attorney in July-August last. On the basis of fake documents, they executed a sale deed of 72 kanals on December 5 last year for Rs 29.25 lakh. However, the market value of the church land was reportedly in crores.

The matter was reported to the police and a case under sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC was registered.

One person was arrested by the police.

Last year, Padam had allegedly issued a bogus marriage certificate, which is being investigated by the police.

A team of Vigilance sleuths also raided his office in July last and seized Rs 2,857 as excess cash and an inquiry was ordered.

The government has also issued a charge sheet to the suspended Tehsildar. 


Dr Mahajan sent to PGI
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 5
Dr O.P. Mahajan, a suspended Principal of Government Medical College and former chairman of the authorisation committee, who was arrested by the special investigation team (SIT) in connection with the multi-crore kidney scam has been sent to the PGI under custody of guards today. A doctor of the Medical Department has also been sent along with Dr Mahajan.

The medical board has also asked the Central Jail authorities to send Dr Parveen Kumar Sareen, the prime accused to the PGI for conducting certain medical tests. Earlier, Dr Sareen who remained under treatment at Guru Nanak Dev Hospital since January 25 was sent back to the Central Jail.

Dr H.S. Gill, Medical Superintendent, said Dr Mahajan was referred to the PGI for an MRI study of his leg problem and angiographies of the retina for the eye problems and the coronary angiographies. There was also a need of the MRI color doppler study of his leg and back-ache problems, he said. Answering a question, Dr Gill said though diabetics of Dr Sareen was under control yet daily monitoring of his blood sugar was essential.

Meanwhile, the SIT has reportedly conducted some raids to nab the absconding doctors and other aides of Dr Sareen. As of now four doctors, a computer operator, a lawyer and manager of the Kakkar Hospital are still at large. The SIT had also rounded up a senior advocate who was later released after preliminary investigations.


PCMSA contradicts Dang’s statement
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 5
Dr Hardeep Singh, president, and Dr Ajay Bagga, press secretary, of the Punjab Civil Medical Services Association (PCMSA) contradicted the statement of CPI leader Comrade Satya Pal Dang, which appeared in a section of the press today regarding arguments of the association in the kidney scam.

In a press note issued here today, Dr Hardeep Singh and Dr Ajay Bagga stated that Comrade Satya Pal Dang had misinterpreted the statement of the PCMSA regarding amendments in the Punjab Human Organ Transplantation Act (HOTA), 1994. The association had never made such a demand and that Comrade Dang had tried to tarnish the image of members for reasons best known to him. They said the association had on January 28 urged that a high-level committee be constituted under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary for preparing fresh guidelines concerning organ transplantation and to hold wider consultation with the representatives of the organisations concerned before submitting its final draft. They argued that a need for holding consultation was felt as a particular section of the society desired that organs be allowed to be donated voluntarily in lieu of due compensation. However, these were not the views of the PCMSA.

While clarifying the stand of the PCMSA, Dr Hardeep and Dr Bagga said the interest of the economically weaker section of the society were dear to the association particularly when a number of patients of renal failure were running from pillar to post in search of organs. The association was demanding amendments to the HOTA, 1994, so that organs be allowed to be taken from the bodies of the brain dead human beings for transplantation.


Probe kidney scam, Joshi episode: CPI
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 5
The Punjab unit of the CPI today demanded a judicial inquiry by sitting Judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court into kidney scam and the Punjab bureaucrat Mukul Joshi episode.

Talking to mediapersons here, Dr Joginder Dayal, state secretary of the CPI, said inquiry into the Mukul Joshi episode by a senior IAS officer was just an “eyewash” because the Punjab Chief Minister wanted to save Mr Mukul Joshi in view of the ensuing Rs 1,500-crore annual auction of liquor to be held in March this year. He alleged that Mr Joshi was close to the liquor lobby.

He said many influential persons were involved in the multi-crore kidney scam who could not be exposed by the police. He said efforts were being made to hush up the scam as the same had been done during the SAD-BJP regime.

He sought to register a case against Mr K. Sudarshan, RSS chief, for his recent statement that the Sikhs are Hindus.


Son’ whose kidney was removed
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 5
He was treated like a son by an affluent 65-year-old farmer, but only till the removal of his kidney for transplant on him.

This is the story of 20-year-old Lekh Raj, a local rickshawpuller, who was allegedly thrown out of his house, by the farmer, belonging to Zhamta village of Ludhiana district, after the latter got the former’s kidney removed. Lekh raj, even had to make a number of rounds of the farmer’s house for getting the full promised price of his kidney Rs 45,000.

As pain still haunts him six years after the operation, he has no option but to get relief with the help of drugs. “After a day’s hard work, I feel pain at the place from where it was removed and then I have to get a cigarette or other cheaper substitutes like poppy husk”, said Lekh Raj, alias Lekhu, putting up in a small dilapidated house in the Kishanpura locality along with his parents, a sister and a brother. “I had to sell my kidney as my younger brother needed an emergency operation for the rectification of a hole in his heart. But my efforts and the operation of my brother at the PGI could not even save him”, said Lekhu.

Narrating his tale of woe, Lekhu said as the operation of his brother put his entire family in a quagmire of debt followed by rounds of money-lenders, he left his home in Bihar, came to Amritsar and started pulling a rickshaw around Amritsar’s Company Bagh area where he met Vijay, a tea stall owner, who further introduced him to Raju. Raju allegedly promised him a handsome amount in case he “donated” his kidney to his “brother”. Subsequently, the deal was struck at Rs 45,000. Later, he was taken to Jhamta village in Ludhiana district and was kept at a farmer’s house for three months during which he was treated just like a son by the farmer and during which he was made to undergo various medical check-ups and tests.

He said he was tutored to claim that he was one of farmer’s brothers who had left his house long ago and had returned recently and was also made to sign some papers in the presence of village elders. “I was also tutored to say that I was ready to donate my kidney to save my brother’s life and that I should repeat the same before the authorisation committee,” said Lekhu adding that his kidney was finally removed at a renowned hospital in Ludhiana.

“As this was done, I was shunted out of the house and while I was leaving Raju gave me just Rs 10,000. For the rest of the amount I had to make several rounds of farmer’s house who threatened me with dire consequences,” said Lekhu. He rued that after the operation, his stitches got infection and he had to get himself treated at his own expenses for a number of days. He said though his condition was deteriorating nobody at the farmer’s house was even ready to attend to his telephone call. He said since he was illiterate, he did not come to know about any doctor’s arrest for their alleged role in the sale of human organs.


Students beaten up with bats?
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Balachaur (Nawanshahr), February 5
While the exact reasons behind the sudden disappearance of 43 students of the Pojewal-based Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya are yet to surface, they are believed to have taken the “harsh” step of leaving the school due to alleged severe thrashing by the school staff, particularly the Principal, who was placed under suspension after the incident.

The children, studying in classes X and XII had left the school on the night of January 25. While 29 class X students were found by the police from a nearby farmhouse, 14 class XII students were found in Hoshiarpur on January 29. The students had alleged that they were maltreated and beaten up by the school staff, which, however, was categorically denied by the then Principal, Davinder Singh.

Meanwhile, the Nawanshahr Deputy Commissioner today entrusted an inquiry into the incident to Mr S.M. Sharma, the local SDM.

Though the administration, the police and the Vidyalaya authorities are tightlipped about what led the students to resort to such a step, police sources maintained that after they were found at the Hoshiarpur bus stand on January 29, the students, who were on the verge of starvation, as they had exhausted their pocket money, had told the police that they were beaten up with cricket bats by the staff. “They maintained that they were made to wake up early and attend classes from 6 a.m. onwards though the morning assembly was conducted at 8.35 a.m.

Some of them had alleged that they were not given proper food and were not allowed to play,” said a police official on condition of anonymity.

Ms Neera Voruvuru, SSP, Nawanshahr, and Mr S.M. Sharma, also admitted that the students had cited thrashing as one of the reasons which led them to flee the school.

“We are looking into the matter and also other angles like indiscipline on the part of students also,” said Ms Voruvuru, while Mr Sharma said he would try to submit a detailed inquiry report to the Deputy Commissioner as early as possible.

Meanwhile, a section of the students has demanded the revocation of the suspension of Davinder Singh, it is learnt.


Pak out to disturb Punjab peace: BSF
Our Correspondent

Along The Zero Line (Ferozepore), February 5
Pakistani security agencies are desperately trying to vitiate peace in Punjab.

According to Mr I.M. Mall, DIG, BSF, Pakistani agencies were frantically trying to push arms and ammunition from across the border into the Indian side. BSF officials revealed that taking a serious view of recent intrusion bids, attempt to construct tunnels and recovery of APM and anti-tank mines near the border, the BSF has sent several protest notes to the Pakistani security agencies, but all in vain.

Mr Mall said BSF officials had conveyed their displeasure over the recent happenings to their Pakistani counterparts and a call to convene a flag meeting had been made, but Pakistani agencies were constantly indulging in such activities.

Although, the BSF had thwarted all nefarious designs of the ISI and killed more than 100 Pakistani intruders inside the Indian territory in the past few months, the ISI was trying to step up subversive activities. BSF troops recently recovered Pakistani anti-tank and anti-personnel mines near Chujhe Noor Mohammed in Khemkaran sub-sector in the zero line area of the border. A jawan lost his right foot in a mine blast. During the period of December 15, 2002, to January 31, 2003, the BSF had recovered 2 ATM and 17 APM mines bearing marks of Pakistan Ordnance Factory.


Degree courses in polytechnics planned
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 5
Making a departure from the present set-up of technical education in the state, the Department of Technical Education has initiated steps to run Bachelor’s degree engineering courses in its five polytechnic colleges in Punjab, keeping the sanctity of the polytechnic colleges intact to generate additional seats for deserving poor candidates under the free seat category.

Official sources said a meeting of the principals of all government polytechnic colleges was held in Chandigarh under the chairmanship of the Director, Technical Education, Punjab, Dr Roshan Sunkaria, on January 22 to discuss the proposal and all of them endorsed it.

The department is examining the financial viability of the proposal and if all goes well, the degree engineering courses in the polytechnic colleges would start from the coming academic session.

In this manner, the state government will be able to generate an additional 3,000 seats in different trades of degree courses. Besides, it will be able to provide higher technical education to deserving poor students, who cannot afford to study in private engineering colleges due to exorbitant fee. At present, there are about 7,000 seats in all state-run engineering colleges in Punjab.

The sources said in the initial phase, seven polytechnic colleges had been identified to introduce the degree courses, of which five would be selected. The seven polytechnics are Government Polytechnic College, Lehra Gaga, in Sangrur district, Government Polytechnic College, Khuni Majra, Ropar district, women polytechnic colleges in Ludhiana, Amritsar, Ropar and Patiala, and Government Polytechnic College, Bhikhiwind, Amritsar district.

As per the proposal, the polytechnic colleges, where the degree courses will be started in the initial phase, will be made autonomous so that they can generate funds to become self-reliant. A government body under the chairmanship of the state Technical Education Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, will be set up to monitor their functioning. A one-time investment will be made to create the required infrastructure in these colleges.

Once the colleges become autonomous these can recruit staff, upgrade laboratories and create other facilities. The norms for the administration of these colleges will be laid in such a way so that the sanctity of the polytechnic colleges remains intact.

Initially, degree courses in four to six trades will be started as per the norms laid down by the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE). Degree courses in more trades will be started in a phased manner.

Dr Sunkaria said the proposal was at an initial stage.


Felling order ‘legal’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
Mr Lachhman Singh, well-known forest contractor and former MP, today defended an order issued by the Punjab government permitting him to undertake fresh felling of trees in Mirzapur forest.

In a statement issued here, he said the order under which he had been granted an extension in the period for undertaking felling of trees in the forest was “legal, valid and according to the rules”.

Mr Lachhman Singh said that the case with regard to the felling of trees by him in the Mirzapur forest had gone to the High Court twice, and on both occasions, it had been decided in his favour. In any case, he had purchased the forest spread over an area of about 3,200 acres from 25, 435 shareholders in 1986. He had already paid them Rs 4 crore by way of compensation. Another sum of Rs 1 crore was being paid to them. He urged the Punjab Government to send a team of officers to determine the exact position in the forest so that it could take appropriate action against those trying to “mislead” it.


UK visa centres become functional

Jalandhar, February 5
The British High Commission yesterday formally launched the UK Visa Application Centres at Chandigarh and here.

The service being provided by the Visa Facility Services for the UK High Commission would be of convenience to the public of the area seeking a visa for the UK. The facility would also to some extent check the role of touts, middlemen and dubious travel agents who cheat innocent villages on the pertext of getting them a visa to the UK.

The Project Officer, Visa Facility Services, Mr Suprito Roy, said that the decision to open the visa facility here and Chandigarh was to help the people of the region to forward their visa applications to the UK High Commission in New Delhi. He said the ultimate authority for granting the visa would the High Commission but the visa centre here and Chandigarh would provide proper guidance and would supply the forms. 

He said the forms had been supplied by the UK High Commission to the visa centres, which the applicants would have to fill up and attach the relevant documents which would reach New Delhi in 24 hours. However, the decision to grant an interview for the visa would rest with the High Commission, he added. UNI


AITUC blames BJP for fiscal crisis
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 5
Mr Gurdass Dass Gupta, general secretary, All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) accused the BJP-led NDA government of “selling off India’s economic sovereignty to Western nations”. He said the Vajpayee-Advani caucus was responsible for the economic crises being faced by India today. He was here today to address and mobilise members of trade unions for a massive protest march on February 26 outside Parliament in Delhi against the economic policies of government.

A former member of Rajya Sabha, Mr Gupta charged the government of using “hire-and-fire” policy and said more than one crore workers become jobless. More than six lakh industrial units big and medium, had been closed. While, out of 120 textile mills under the National Textile Corporation, 80 had been closed.

Commenting on statements of the RSS chief, Mr K.S. Sudarshan, he said while the BJP was creating a chasm between the rich and poor and dividing them on economic lines, its ancillary units like the RSS were dividing the country on religious lines.

Expressing regret, the AITUC chief said the Congress government in Punjab too was following in the footsteps of BJP’s economic policies. The Congress move in Punjab to privatise transport and electricity and closure of 29 state government public sector units couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time when the state was going through worst economic crises.

Terming the BJP as the most hostile party towards workers and peasants he said World Trade Organisation (WTO) did not dictate economic policy of a country and many countries were opposing the WTO policies than to surrender to its partisan dictates. The BJP government was just using bogey of the WTO and other international trade agreements like GATT, to frame certain policies in favour of big industrial houses at the cost of small-scale industry.


Allegations against CM ‘vague’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
Continuing with the arguments on the issue of maintainability of a petition challenging the elections of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh from the Patiala assembly constituency, his counsel today claimed that the allegations regarding the CM spending more than the prescribed limit were vague.

Arguing before the Court, his counsel contended that the petitioner had not given the details of the expenditure incurred during the election campaign. He added that the petitioner had not specified the amount spent for various purposes, along with the relevant time. The case will now come up for further hearing on March 5.

It may be recalled that Harkirat Singh — a voter from Patiala — had earlier alleged that the Chief Minister had used a helicopter during his election campaign, but the expenses incurred in the process had not been specified. Alleging the use of chopper by the now CM for visiting his constituency and for dropping hand bills, the petitioner had added that an expenditure of approximately Rs 3,70,000 was incurred in the process.

He had added that the CM had used the services of government officer Bharat Inder Singh Chahal and the documentary evidence, appended along with the petition, proved his role beyond any shadow of doubt. He had further alleged that his role during the elections included extending hospitality to electronic and print media after contacting the journalist. The petitioner had added that Mr Chahal was, subsequently, awarded by the respondent for the services he rendered.


Arguments in the Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment scam case continued on Wednesday with counsel appearing on behalf of Punjab state contending that even though there may not be direct evidence against all the candidates, they could not be “cleared” in view of Rs 22-crore recovery from then Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu and his family.

Arguing before a three-Judge Bench, counsel contended that the money had been taken from the candidates. He added that looking at the salary of Mr Sidhu, the recovery of such huge amount, around the time the selections were taking place, could not be justified.

He submitted that the action in the matter was not initiated on the basis of statements alone. The same had been corroborated by the recovery and the marks allotted. The case will come up for further arguments on Thursday.

Counsel for the PCS officers, challenging the action of termination, had earlier submitted that it was not possible for them to defend the case in a proper manner as they had not been shown the record. He had added that there was no material with the state government for passing the termination order. He had asserted that the state should have acted only against the tainted candidates, and not against all.


A petition filed by an advocate seeking the grant of anticipatory bail in less than three weeks after the kidney conspiracy was reportedly unearthed will come up for further hearing on February 6. According to the prosecution, he was the legal advisor of the hospital where transplants were carried out.

Seeking the grant of bail, the petitioner had contended that the police was trying to falsely implicate him. He was not named in the first information report. Moreover, he had no role in the preparation of any document or identifying any person before any Magistrate regarding the sale or purchase of kidney.


Bail denied in custodial death case
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 5
The Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mr J.P. Mehmi, today rejected a bail application of the co-accused, who have been arrested for their involvement in custodial death of Chetan (8).

Dr Sikandar Lal, his son Vikramjit and his son-in-law Sanjiv Kumar were registered as co-accused in a case, wherein, Chetan was mercilessly beaten to death by cops during illegal police custody about 15 days ago.


Pulse polio drive: 535 camps set up
Our correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 5
Elaborate arrangements have been made for the successful completion of the second phase of the pulse polio campaign in the district to be held on February 9.

Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, has directed all departments to co-operate with the Health Department regarding the campaign. Children up to age of five years would be administered polio drops 535 pulse polio camps under 107 supervisory teams. He said a polio case at Mandi Gobindgarh in the district has been confirmed in December last, year. Considering it as a serious matter, the Deputy Commissioner directed the officials concerned to ensure the 100 per cent completion of the second phase of the campaign.

He said children of the passengers, who are travelling in buses on link roads in the rural areas, should also be administered polio drops. Special teams may be constituted for this purpose.

Mr Vikas Partap said special teams had been constituted for the migrant labour, working in brick kilns, other commercial places, farm houses, slum areas and other places. He said non-government organisations would also ensure that all children up to five years may be provided Polio drops.

The Deputy Commissioner said the awareness campaign would be launched on Cable TV and pulse polio slides would be shown in cinema halls. Deputy Commissioner thanked all departments and NGOs for their co-operation during first phase of the campaign.

Mr P.L.Goel Civil Surgeon said all arrangements had been made by the Health Department with the co-operation of district administration, NGOs and Clubs.

The Panchayat Department, the Rotary Club, the Leo Club, the Bharat Vikas Parishad, the Handicapped Association, the Chemist Association, Lions Club, IMA, Nehru Yuva Kendra, Swami Vivekanand Sewa Samiti, New Youth Star Club and many other non government organisations would assist the Health Department in the campaign.


3 schoolchildren die in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, February 5
Four persons, including three schoolchildren and a woman were killed on the spot, and two others sustained injuries in a road mishap at Thammanwel Chowk near Bilga this morning.

According to reports available, schoolchildren were waiting for their school bus, on the roadside, when a speeding car hit them after colliding with a school van coming from the opposite side near the chowk.

Three schoolchildren, including Parminder Singh and his sister Rajbir Kaur, and another student Davinder Kaur died on the spot, while the fourth student Narinderjit Kaur sustained serious injuries.

Another woman, Davinder Kaur of Talwan village, an occupant of the car also died in the accident, while another woman Tari was injured in the accident. Both the injured were admitted to the Civil Hospital. The bodies of the deceased have been sent to the Phillaur hospital for a post-mortem examination. The police has registered a case and impounded the vehicles.


A banker with a difference
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, February 5
If you happen to travel on the Patiala-Bassi Patana bus route chances are that you shall encounter Mr Sat Pal Bansal who will begin to discuss his favourite topic, the need to remove the stigma attached to blood donation. You may be a reluctant listener at first but such is the zeal of this bank employee that you will be forced to think about what he has to say.

For the past decade Mr Bansal has been spreading awareness about voluntary blood donation. He has been working towards the removal of misconceptions and fears associated with blood donation.

Mr Bansal is a Deputy Manager with the Bassi Patana branch of the State Bank of Patiala. While all bankers concentrate on conserving resources, he is all for donating blood. He has donated blood 108 times since 1965. He regularly visits schools, colleges, religious and other institutions to motivate people.

The sole mission of his life is to form an organisation where people can join hands with him in spreading awareness. "I do not hesitate to initiate discussion on the need to establish a steady and formidable supply of safe, healthy blood wherever I can find a group of people", he says Mr Bansal adding that safe blood can only be obtained from family members and relatives of the patient but most of the time blood is purchased from professional donors who are mostly migrant labourers, alcoholics or drug addicts.

According to Mr Bansal, nearly 85 per cent of our blood transfusion need is being fulfilled either by professionals or undesirable elements of our society who are forced to sell blood owing to financial constraints. He says it is ironic that in a society like ours, the very people who discriminate on the basis of caste, creed and religion do not hesitate to accept blood from unidentified sources.

He feels the need of the hour is to promote regular awareness programmes in this regard. Mr Bansal tries to fulfil blood requirement for every SOS call from an organisation. He has classified voluntary “safe” blood donors according to their blood groups in a directory which comes handy in case of an emergency. He has arranged several blood donation camps among his own family members, relatives and friends. " But all this is just a drop in the ocean, I want to do much more. I am searching for like-minded people to join me to help fulfil my mission in life", he says.


Gram sewak suspended
Tribune News Service

Budhlada (Mansa), February 5
Mr Gurjant Singh, gram sewak, Bare village, against whom a criminal case had been registered a few months ago on a charge of fraud and bungling the rented income of shops belonging to Budhlada village panchayat and then tampering with the record, was today placed under suspension by the Director, Rural Development and Panchayat, Punjab, Mr S.R. Ladhar. Official sources said that after placing him under suspension, the field staff of rural development was directed not to post Mr Gurjant Singh in Mansa district.

A case under Sections 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC and Section 13 of Prevention of Corruption Act had been registered against Mr Gurjant Singh and other officials for committing a fraud and bungling the rented income of panchayat shops and then tampering with the record pertaining to the same.


Printed word most credible’
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 5
Dismissing speculation about the future of newspapers in the face of rapid change in information technology in the country, Mr Prabash Joshi, veteran journalist and editorial adviser, Jansatta, said that newspapers remained the most credible medium of news and the so-called threat to the printed word by the television and Internet was a mere exaggeration.

Speaking at a one-day national seminar on “Hindi journalism”, new dimensions”, organised at Punjabi University today, Mr Joshi said even in the face of stiff competition, newspapers had managed to retain their credibility due to value-based content, exactness and precision.

Speaking on the occasion, Editor, Dainik Tribune, Mr Vijay Sehgal, called upon the press to work as a watchdog of human rights and give priority to socially relevant information and value-based news rather than indulging in marketing tactics alone.

Honouring Mr Sehgal, the Vice-Chancellor, Mr SS Boparai, said although the number of news channels had rapidly increased over the years, it had little impact on the popularity of newspapers as the printed word had more impact on the psyche of the people.

Mr Aaku Srivastva of Amar Ujala stated that journalists must develop a socially conscious approach towards problems plaguing society.

Earlier, head of the university’s Hindi Department, Dr Chaman Lal, introducing the theme of the seminar, spoke about the role of media in bringing about a positive social change.


Minister congratulates Sunita Rani

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 5
Dr Harbans Lal, state Minister for Forest and Food Supplies, Punjab, has congratulated Sunita Rani who got back her medals yesterday. Dr Lal said Sunita Rani had proved herself to be a brave daughter of Punjab who famed the name of the state at international level. Dr Lal appreciated the role of the committee which recommended restoration of her medals . OC


Canal office worker killed

Amritsar, February 5
Meharban Singh of Katra Sher Singh, was allegedly killed by his two companions late last evening.

According to the information available, Meharban Singh, an employee of canal office, had drunk hard along with Kala, watchman of the office, and his brother Dharmender. An altercation between Meharban Singh and Kala took place in which the latter was killed. OC


IFTU to hold rallies on Feb 26
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, February 5
The state unit of the Indian Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) will organise a rally in Chandigarh on February 26 in protest against the alleged anti-labourer recommendations of the Central Labour Commission (second), amendments in labour laws and the Punjab Government’s proposed move to privatise a number of PSUs, including Sugarfed, Spinfed, PSEB, Punjab Roadways, PRTC etc.

The decision was taken at a meeting of state executive held here today.


Deliberate delay in restarting sugar mill alleged
Tribune News Service

Malout, February 5
Even as the authorities concerned have failed to start work at the local cooperative sugar mill more than three weeks after it was stopped due to a fault in its electric supply system, sugarcane growers of this region alleged that the authorities had been causing inordinate delay in starting the same to reduce its losses. The sugarcane growers pointed out that when the mill was closed for repair on January 15, Mr A.K. Singh, its General Manager, had claimed that it would be started again in 10 days after changing the alternator in the electrical supply system, which got damaged. But now after 21 days, there was no sign that the mill would start functioning soon.

Talking to TNS here today, a cross section of sugarcane growers pointed out that due to the closure of the local mill, they had been forced to take their crop to other mills of the state where they had been facing harassment. They added that in the current season, the local sugar mill was bound to crush 30 lakh quintal sugarcane but so far it had crushed only 6 lakh quintal of sugarcane. They feared that due to 21 days of production loss of the mill, it would not be able to meet its crushing target in the current season as its daily crushing capacity was about 17,000 quintal of sugarcane and the crushing operations would go upto April 2003 capacity.

Mr A.K. Singh said that the mill was not closed deliberately. He added that some parts of the alternator were yet to be tested and if all went well, it would be started tomorrow. He, however, admitted that the cost of production of per quintal sugar was around Rs 1,550 while the same was being sold at a rate of Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,250 per quintal in the market. He added that about one lakh bags of one quintal each of sugar were lying on the mill premises.

The entire operation of the local sugar mill came to a complete halt after the alternator of its power turbine got damaged due to electric short-circuit on January 15 in the morning. A loss of more than Rs 40 lakh was caused to the mill following the damage to the alternator.

About 150 daily wage workers in the mill were removed temporarily to save the mill from suffering heavy losses. The sugarcane, which had reached the mill premises for crushing, was shifted to the cooperative mills located at Faridkot and Fazilka.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that though the authorities concerned had claimed that the alternator of power turbine had got damaged due to short-circuiting, the negligence of the employees of same section could not be ruled out as some parts of the alternator were found scattered in the mill.

A new alternator had been arranged from the Budhlada Cooperative Sugar Mill, which had been closed down, and was fitted in place of the damaged alternator of the local sugar mill.


BKU holds dharna, blocks traffic
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, February 5
More than 1,500 farmers owing allegiance of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) led by its national President and former MP, Mr Bhupinder Singh Mann, today sat on a dharna in front of Sugar Mill, Paniar, and blocked traffic for over an hour. They were protesting against the non-payment of arrears of the sugarcane supplied to sugar mills at Paniar, Batala and Ajnala. Later, the farmers in tractor-tailors took out a procession to Dinanagar and blocked traffic there also.

Prominent kisan leaders who participated in the dharna were Sukhwinder Kahlon, district president, Tarsem Singh Malook Chack, former Chairman, panchayat samiti, Dinanagar, Baljinder Singh Dhakala, director, Sugar Mill Paniar, Tarlok Singh Dugri, former vice-president, Zila Parishad and Amarjit Singh Singhpuria, a progressive farmer.

The speakers said the blockade on the GT road would continue indefinitely till their demands, including payment of sugarcane arrears were met.


Punjab to disburse drought relief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
The Punjab Government will disburse drought relief for paddy purchased during kharif season 2002-03 through arhtias. The total amount to be disbursed is about Rs.154 crore.

Disclosing this here today a spokesman of the Food and Supplies Department, Punjab, said that it had earlier been decided that this amount would be disbursed by a committee headed by SDMs comprising BDPOs, AFSOs representatives of the Mandi Board, representative of farmers and representatives of arthias etc. Due to heavy amount of work involving not much progress could be made. It was felt that the drought relief of Rs 20 per quintal could also be disbursed through arthias as in the case of minimum support price. He further added that the arthias had been directed to make the payment to the farmers and obtain their signatures. 


‘Fake degree’ case against DSP reopened
Tribune News Service

Batala, February 5
The DIG (Border Range), Mr Gurdev Singh Sahota, has reportedly sought a report from the district police chief about the appointment of Mr Parmpal Singh Gandhi, DSP, allegedly on the basis of ‘fake certificates’.

The inquiry file which was earlier closed by the Police Department has been reopened on a complaint of ASI Anil Kumar Bhanot, posted at Tarn Taran. Mr Sahota confirmed that he had sought a report from the SSP in this regard.

In his complaint, Mr Bhanot has alleged that Mr Gandhi got selected as Inspector in 1993 by producing a ‘forged graduation degree’ from Bodh Gaya Magdh University, Bihar. An inquiry conducted by Mr Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, SP (City), Amritsar, had ‘indicted’ Mr Gandhi for possessing a ‘fake degree’ the then DGP had closed the case of Mr Gandhi despite he had been ‘indicted’ by a senior police officer.

However, Mr Parmpal Singh had denied the charges that his appointment was made on the basis of ‘fabricated certificates’.

Mr Bhanot has also alleged that he had approached the SHO, Civil Lines, to get a case registered, but in vain. He had also brought these ‘facts’ to the DIG and the SP (Vigilance).


2 PUDA officers suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) today placed under suspension two senior officers posted at the state headquarters in Chandigarh.

The officers are: Mr S.K. Latawa, Chief Accounts Officer, PUDA and Mr Bhupinder Singh, Senior Law Officer, PUDA. They have been charged with tempering of official record and suspended under punishment and appeal rules. The officers allegedly connived to support a case pertaining to the undue payment of Group Insurance Premium to another senior officer from PUDA’s funds.

Mr Latawa who was on deputation from the Finance Department of Punjab has been repatriated to his parent department. PUDA has also requested the Finance Department to ratify the suspension order of Mr Latawa and to serve charge sheet for the “misconduct”, according to an official announcement here today


One more held in Army job scam
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, February 5
The police today arrested Lehna Singh alias Thekedar of Kotli Sainian involved in extorting money by alluring innocent people to get them recruited in the Army. Three members of the gang identified as Kuldeep Singh Fauji of Chhatwal, Tara Rani of Gurdaspur and her son-in-law Kashmir Chand of Gurdaspur have been already arrested.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, in a press note issued here today said Rs 2.94 lakh had been seized from the accused so far. Chanchal Singh, Inspector, CRPF, (retd who is a conspirator in this racket is still at large.

The SSP said Lehna Singh charged Rs 20,000 each from the seven persons identified as Panna Lal of Manepur, Harjinder Singh and Kamaljit of Tibber, Daljinder Singh of Bhangwan, Naresh Masih of Ghot Poker, Manga Masih of All Baksh and Bhagwan Singh of Khan Malle.

The SSP said the accused had collected money from more than 20 persons ranging from Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000 but failed to get anybody recruited in the CRPF as promised. A case under Sections 420/323/34 of the IPC was registered against the accused at police station Shahpur Kandi in Pathankot sub-division. These order will remain in force till March 29.


5 bags of poppy husk seized , 1 held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 5
Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, in a press note here today said that five bags of poppy husk had been seized from a car and one of the accused was arrested while the other two managed to escape.

Mr Ishwar Singh said the car DL-3-CG-5807 was stopped for a routine check by a police party led by Inspector Barjinder Kumar, SHO, Dialpura at Aklia village, and it was found that five bags of poppy husk, weighing 172.5 kg were being smuggled into the city. He said the driver of the car, Ranjit Singh of Maluka village, was arrested while the other two accused, Kuldip Singh of Bhodipura village and Jagir Singh of Dialpura Bhaika managed to run away. A case under Sections 15,61, 85 of the NDPS Act had been registered. 


Four hurt in different incidents
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 5
Four persons were injured in separate incidents in the city during the past twentyfour hours. Two scooter-borne persons were injured when they were hit by a stray bull. They were badly injured and were rushed to the Civil Hospital by volunteers of a local NGO. Hospital sources said that there had been a steep increase in patients being brought to the hospital who had been injured due to stray animals.

In another incident Harminder Singh, resident of Joga Nand village was injured when he became unconscious while driving his vehicle on the Bathinda-Barnala road and was brought to the Civil Hospital. He was later discharged.

Volunteers of the local NGO, brought another person, who was picked by the NGO’s mobile ambulance late last night, to the Civil Hospital as he was running high fever. He was identified as Munna, 40, a migratory labourer.


Rs 2.58 lakh stolen from tehsil office
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, February 5
A sum of Rs 2,58,278 was stolen from tehsil office in court complex here last night. Some unidentified persons broke open the lock of a iron gate of the record room and then broke the lock of a steel almirah containing cash.

As per an FIR lodged with the police, Rs 5,34,571 had been withdrawn from the State Bank of India branch to disburse salaries. Out of this an amount of Rs 2.78 lakh was disbursed among 36 employees whereas the balance was to be disbursed among the remaining 34 employees.

It is suspected that the thieves entered through office of reader of Tehsildar. There is no provision of security guard in the tehsil complex. The theft has caused panic as the tehsil office is just adjoining the sub-jail in court complex and is opposite to police station office, which is at a distance of about 50 m. Moreover, there are security guards posted in sub-jail complex adjoining the tehsil office.


Single exam for admission to all engineering courses
Tribune Reporters

Chandigarh, February 5
Punjab has decided to hold a single common entrance examination (CET) for the purpose of admission to all graduate courses in engineering and technology in the state. This is irrespective of whether the courses are being run in colleges affiliated to Punjab Technical University (PTU) or in the various departments of the other three universities in the state. The decision in this regard was taken in a meeting organised yesterday by the Punjab Technical Education Department, with the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, in the chair, to which all the Vice-Chancellors had been invited.

In a statement issued after the meeting, the Punjab Technical Education Minister, Mr M.S. Kaypee, said that although the PTU had been conducting CET in respect of colleges within its jurisdiction, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, Punjabi University, Patiala, and Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, had been opting to conduct their own separate tests for admission to engineering and technology courses being run on their respective campuses. This led not only to a multiplicity of entrance tests, but was causing physical and financial strain on the students. The CET, tentatively scheduled to be held on June1, 2003, would now be a single entrance window for all these courses.

The Secretary, Technical Education, Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, said that apart from the single CET, even the counselling of the all the four universities shall also be taken up jointly, so that the students can get the best possible options, in accordance with their merit. He, however, clarified that Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Patiala, and National Institute of Technology (formerly Regional Engineering College), Jalandhar, would not be covered by this test, being now deemed universities. For admission to the same, the students shall be required to take the All-India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) being conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).

Mr Sidhu said that for the 85 per cent Punjab quota seats a student who had appeared in the CET would rank higher than a student who had omitted to do so, regardless of the disparity in the marks in Pre-Engineering. Thus no college would be permitted to admit any student who had not taken the CET, if a CET rank-holder was available. Similarly, for the 15 per cent non-Punjab quota, preference and priority treatment shall be given to the students who had taken the Punjab CET, and only thereafter the rank-holders of the AIEEE would be considered.

Mr Y. Rajan, VC, PTU, stated that the result of the examination would be declared with two weeks of the test and the counselling shall be concluded by the first week of July. He asserted that full integrity and transparency shall be ensured not only in the CET process but also in the subsequent counselling. The merit list shall be published on the web.


1000 posts of teacher vacant
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, February 5
More than 1000 vacancies have been lying vacant in government primary schools in the district for the past many years. Even the post of District Education Officer (Primary) has been vacant since the formation of the Congress government in Punjab.

As a result, the standard of education at the elementary stage has deteriorated. Absenteeism which is prevalent in the primary schools is making the matters worse.

Official sources said there were more than 30 schools in the district which had been functioning without proper buildings. More than 12 schools in the Bharyal bulge across the Ravi had no boundary walls.

The sources said the primary schools did not have adequate furniture both for teachers and students. Operation Black Board financed by the Centre was launched a few years ago to provide the infrastructure for primary schools but most of the money had not been utilised.


Border schools in bad shape
Our Correspondent

Taran Taran, February 5
The Lok Sehbhagi Sabhas, the Mehla Shaktikaran and the Naujawan Sabhas, Punjab, working under the Socio-Economic Development Programme (SEDP), an organisation of the Diocese of Amritsar, in a report, has stressed the need for the Punjab Government to provide adequate facilities in government elementary schools in the border belt.

Mr Danial B. Das, secretary of the SEDP, in a press note issued here on Monday said Mr Raj Masih of the Lok Sehbhagi Sabhas, Mr Krishan Kumar of the Naujawan Sabhas and Ms Veenu Sharma of the Mehla Shaktikaran in a survey of schools in the border area had observed that there were certain schools which lacked basic facilities like chalk, mats, chairs and tables.

Mr Das said the committee had sent its report to the government. It had said that there was a shortage of staff in many schools.

The committee said the education committees formed for the development of village schools would bear no fruit as representatives of these committees were those whose children were studying in the public schools and hence they knew nothing about the problems of students of government schools. Moreover, these committees were politically motivated.


All set for Brecht’s play
Sukant Deepak

Patiala, February 5
“It’s not just the production, but ambience of professionalism created around it by the director that has impressed us all,” said a group of students of the Department of Theatre and Television at Punjabi University working with noted director Bhanu Bharti who has been invited by the university to do production work with students.

All set to stage the Punjabi adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s play “The Good Woman of Sezuan”, ‘Nek Aurat’ in a few days, students who are for the first time working under a director of national repute, stressed that their experience of working under Bhanu Bharti had meant not only paying attention to minute details, but also introduction to the latest theatrical trends in Indian theatre.

With just 15 days at their disposal to produce one of the most staged plays in India by the famous German playwright, the students admitted that the breakneck speed at which a play was produced a scratch had introduced them to the real professional world of theatre.

For the first time they had experienced a director-actor relationship, rather than a teacher-student one, the students said. Besides understanding the intricacies of various theatrical elements, including sound patterns and costumes, they had also managed to adapt themselves to the ‘director’s point of view’ in a production.

Harpreet Kaur, who is assisting Bharti and is overall in charge for production, stated that for her the 15 days of rehearsals have been an education in itself. She said although the students had worked in several productions, the kind of discipline and commitment towards theatre as breaded by Bharti had been a novel experience.

“We have participated in several theatre productions, but this experience has been outstanding.”

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