Monday, May 26, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Options for alliance open: Ambika Soni

Jalandhar, May 25
Senior Congress leader Ambika Soni today indicated that options for alliance with regional parties were still open for the coming assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi.

Talking to reporters here, the Congress General Secretary said an appropriate decision in this regard would be taken by the party high command after seeking feedback from the state leadership and the Chief Ministers of these states.

Expressing satisfaction over the functioning of the Congress governments in these states, she said tremendous development works had been carried out by these governments that were doing well despite difficult situations.

She said the party would go to the polls in these elections with development as the main plank and would retain the power.

On a question on the party’s policy of one man one post, Ms Soni said the party continued to stick to the policy.

She fully endorsed the ‘’healing touch policy’’ of the Mufti Mohammad Syed-led coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir.

Ms Soni said the Jammu and Kashmir Government was reviewing the cases of those prisoners who had been misunderstood as terrorists and were detained unnecessarily.

She said those who were being released by the Mufti Government were the youths who were willing to be in the national mainstream. UNI


Sajjan Jakhar, Kewal Dhillon appointed to PPCC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
The much-awaited appointments of District Congress Committee chiefs in Punjab were announced today.

A spokesman of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee said the Congress High Command had also approved the appointment of Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar, a former minister; and Mr Kewal Dhillon, an industrialist, as Vice-Presidents of the PPCC. Mr Darshan Singh Brar, who had contested the last assembly elections as a rebel, has been appointed as a general secretary of the PPCC.

The following are the new district presidents: Amritsar (Urban) — Mr Yoginder Pal Dhingra; Rural — Mr Inderjit Singh Basarke; Bathinda — Dr Bhagat Singh; Faridkot — Mr Surinder Iqbal Singh; Fatehgarh Sahib — Vaid Hari Krishen; Ferozepore — Mr Anoop Singh; Gurdaspur — Mr Gurbachan Singh Babehali; Hoshiarpur — Dr Kuldeep Singh Nanda; Jalandhar (Urban) — Mr Tajinder Singh Bittu; Rural — Mr Rajinder Singh Johal; Kapurthala — Mr Navtej Singh Cheema; Ludhiana (Urban) — Mr Jagmohan Sharma; Rural — Mr Harmohinder Singh; Mansa — Mr Kewal Singh; Moga — Mr Tara Singh Sandhu; Muktsar — Mr Mahesh Inder Singh; Nawanshahr — Rana Kuldeep Singh; Patiala (Urban) — Mr Ved Parkash Gupta; Rural — Mr Hardyal Singh Kamboj; Ropar — Mr Amarjit Singh Saini; and Sangrur — Mr Subash Grover.


Digvijay: shifting of Pandits a historical mistake
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 25
Terming the shifting of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley to the Jammu region about a decade ago as a major historical mistake, Mr Digvijay Singh, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, today asserted that the rulers of the day should not have entered into any sort of compromise with the terrorists, who should be given a exemplary punishment for their anti-civilisation acts.

The Chief Minister said the ugly head of terrorism had surfaced in those states in the past, where rulers tried to handle this sensitive issue in a very soft manner. “In fact, there is need to check the terror with full might and efforts on the part of some ruling parties to maintain a soft stance towards it had always proved to be counter-productive,” he said, adding that Punjab was an example for the rest of the country, where decade-long terrorism was wiped out after it was handled in a stern manner.

Appreciating the people of Punjab for maintaining peace and communal harmony during the days of terrorism, Mr Digvijay Singh admitted that the decision to shift Kashmiri Pandits from the valley to the Jammu region, virtually under the shadow of terror, was a major historical mistake. “You see, the only aim of the terrorists is to force the governments to surrender to their commands. Besides, terrorist movements usually start with some other ideals but later end with anti-social activities like extortion, killings and rapes, which is highly condemnable,” he said, adding that those responsible for killing of thousands of innocent people should not be spared at any cost. Mr Digvijay Singh was speaking at Shaheed Parivar Fund function organised by the Hind Samachar group of newspapers here today.

He also announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh towards the Shaheed Parivar Fund.

Former Army Chief General V.P. Malik, in his address, said it was unfortunate that most of the terrorists, involved in heinous crime, were being released on bail for which there was need to incorporate stringent measures in existing laws. The general secretary of the AICC, Ms Ambika Soni, said the BJP government had failed to strongly deal with terrorism. Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, MP, Punjab Congress chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal also spoke.


Varsities mint money from entrance tests

Bathinda, May 25
Entrance tests for various courses seem to have been reduced to a money-minting machine by universities in the state, and rough calculations put that universities in Punjab “earn” about Rs 20 crore per annum merely from the sale of prospectuses and fee charged for these tests.

According to information collected by The Tribune, the “vicious circle” of entrance tests starts after Class X as a large number of students appear for the joint entrance test (JET) for admission to various polytechnic courses in the state. This year the cost of the JET prospectus was Rs 750, which also included the cost of the entrance test. The test will be held on June 7 and more than 20,000 students are expected to compete in the same. Thus the money raked in by the authorities from JET would be nearly Rs 1.5 crore.

Information revealed that Punjab Technical University (PTU), Jalandhar, tops the list of the costly universities of the region, and rough estimates reveal that the university has earned nearly Rs 3 crore from the sale of forms of common engineering entrance test (CET 2003), which was held this Friday. The cost of the CET form was Rs 550 and the students of general category were asked to pay Rs 900 as the fee for sitting in the CET. Thus the cost of appearing in the CET was Rs 1450, and this is the money paid to the PTU only and excluded all other expenses borne by the candidates.

The sources said that about 25,000 students had taken the CET and thus the money collected by the PTU was nearly Rs 3 crore. They said that the SC/ST candidates were asked to pay half the fee paid by the general category candidates.

The PTU also charges the maximum fee for the MBA and MCA entrance exams, which are Rs 550 for the prospectus and Rs 950 as the fee of the entrance exam. By putting the number of students who had opted for these entrance tests at 15,000, the collections of the PTU would be nearly Rs 2 crore, as the SC/ST candidates are given some concession in the fee for the entrance exam.

Punjabi University, Patiala, the sources said, has kept a uniform rate for a majority of the entrance exams and no entrance is being conducted for some masters courses in the arts stream. The cost of the prospectus for MBA, MCA, M.Sc., LLB, LLM etc was priced at Rs 400, while the fee for the entrance test has been put at Rs 600 for each of these courses. In a majority of cases, the aspirants have to appear in all possible entrance exams and they end up paying Rs 5,000 for about five entrance tests of same nature (MBA, MCA, M.Sc. etc) of various universities.

If the number of students who would be competing for various courses of Punjabi University were put at 15,000 (for all these courses), the university would be collecting about Rs 8 crore. The sources said that during the past two years, the university had conducted the B.Ed. entrance test and had minted money as maximum numbers of students compete for the same.

Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, was expected to net nearly Rs 3 crore from the sale of the prospectus and fee for LLB, LLM, M.Sc., MBA, MCA etc. The sources said that maximum earnings from a single course for the GND varsity were expected from the B.Ed. as the cost of the prospectus has been put at Rs 400 (Rs 450 in black market) and the fee for the entrance test has been kept at Rs 500 (Rs 250 for SC/STs). The sources said that nearly 50,000 students were expected to compete in the B.Ed. test and thus the university would rake in nearly Rs 4.5 crore.

Christian Medical College (CMC), Ludhiana, has reportedly kept the cost of its prospectus at Rs 400 for the MBBS, BDS and B.Sc. nursing (separate for each course) and the fee for the entrance exams as also put at Rs 1,000 for each of these courses.

The Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, which conducts the Punjab Pre-Medical Test (PMT), too, mints money from the test. This year the cost of the prospectus has been fixed as Rs 500, while the cost of taking the entrance test would be given in the prospectus, which would be on sale in the coming days. The students said that going by the trend, the fee for the entrance exam would not be less than Rs 1,000 and about 20,000 students would sit for the same. This puts the collection of the university of Rs 2 crore.

According to information universities of Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh generally charge fewer fees compared to universities of Punjab. The sources said that the cost of form for the Haryana B.Ed. was Rs 600, which included the fee of the entrance exam. The sources revealed that the average cost of taking an entrance test is about Rs 2,000, including the cost of prospectus, fee, documents and the cost of travelling if the test was to be held out of ones home district.

A cross-section of parents, students and book-sellers contacted by The Tribune said that the cost of taking the entrance tests has been increasing steeply over the past few years. They said that Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, and Panjab University, Chandigarh, were no exception to the trend and they, too, charged exorbitant fee for various entrance exams falling under their purview.

Interestingly, the book-sellers claimed that the universities should sell their prospectuses through them. They claimed that by charging the same margin as charged by the banks for selling various prospectuses they offered additional facilities also. They said that while the banks sold these forms til 2 p.m. and did not sell the same on holiday and neither bothered to brief the students about the eligibility or other such information, they had been providing these services. They lauded the role of Punjabi University in this respect.


Rural schools’ results not bad: teachers
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, May 25
The Government School Teachers Union today claimed that the results of Class VIII of government schools in the rural areas were better than those of government schools in cities and was on a par with private ones.

The association said it was not true that the government schools in the rural areas showed poor results. The association further said the result of class VIII declared by the Punjab School Education Board some days ago showed that the number of government schools in rural areas having 100 per cent results was in proportion to those of private schools.

Mr Sudarshan Jagga, district unit president of the union in a press note issued here today said the association had compiled data from the gazette of the board and observed that only nine out of 37 (24.3 per cent) recognised private schools had 100 per cent result, while the 17 out of 69 (24.6) government schools had all students successful in class VIII. The situation in government schools in the urban areas in the district was poor. Out of 73 government schools in cities, only 10 (13 per cent) had 100 per cent result.

Government middle schools in rural areas, which had 100 per cent result, included those at villages of Rig, Akalgarh, Baragujar, Chak Ganda Singhwala, Dodanwali, Gurusar, Jodhan, Jagat Singwala, Jandoke, Karampatti, Lambi Dhab, Middu Khera, Motlewala, Tarmala, and Urang.

The other government middle schools in villages having more than 90 per cent of students successful are Gandor (94.5), Kattianwalai (94.5), Maur (94.5), Kotlidewan (94), Jandwala Charatsingh (93) Haraj (92), Bhagwanpura (91), Mehna (91), Badhai (90) and Sangrana (90).

Mr Jagga said 4,821 students from different private schools had appeared in the examination and 3,525 were successful with a pass percentage of these schools being 73.11, while the pass percentage of the board was 77.08 per cent.


400 medical teachers to be on contract
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 25
The Punjab government has decided to fill 400 posts of teacher in various medical colleges on contract basis and to set up a high powered task force to examine functioning of private medical colleges.

Punjab Medical Education and Research Minister Chaudhary Santokh Singh revealed that it was decided, to appoint teachers in various medical colleges of the state on contract for which a draft was being prepared by experts and bureaucrats to be put up before the cabinet for approval. “In fact, the matter was discussed with Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, who has agreed to the proposal to fill posts on contract. The modalities are being worked out and selection will be made transparently to appoint deserving candidates on merit,” he said, adding that the selection procedure would start after taking nod of the state Cabinet in this regard.

When asked whether recruitment would be done by the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), the minister revealed that there were possibilities to take out these vacant posts from the purview of the PPSC. “The department may constitute a selection committee for the purpose,” he said, adding that final decision, of course, rested with the cabinet.

He added that the government had decided to set-up a high powered task force to examine functioning of private medical colleges, particularly, complaints with regard to failure on part of these private medical colleges to comply with guidelines issued by the Medical Council of India from time to time.

The task force will submit its report to the ministry and necessary steps would be taken to ensure smooth and transparent functioning of such institutions. “We will not allow such institutions to run like commercial shops,” he asserted.

Regarding the PMT examination to be conducted by Baba Farid University for Health Sciences, Mr Santokh Singh said that he had inspected all arrangements in this regard recently and authorities were instructed to ensure transparency in the process.

“We have also earmarked Rs 50 crore for the purchase of ultra modern medical equipments for the colleges and life saving drugs. Besides, the user charges collected from patients will be spent on the modernisation of these institutions,” he said.


Dasmesh Academy sacks 20 employees
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, May 25
The management of the Anandpur Sahib-based Sri Dasmesh Academy has retrenched 20 class IV employees. The sources said that the decision to retrench the employees, who had been working in the academy for the past 10 or 15 years had been taken due to the financial crisis faced by the institution.

The Sri Dasmesh Academy was established in 1978 at Anandpur Sahib on 500 acres under the aegis of the Punjab Government and members of the Punjab Defence and Security Relief Fund Committee. The academy was to prepare students for defence services.

Despite all this strength of the students in the academy has been declining over a period of time. Presently the academy has just 112 residential students against the capacity of 500. The total strength of the students has also fallen to just 301 against staff strength of 150 serving the academy. Mr Nocolas Gomes, vice-principal of the academy, admitted that the strength of the students had fallen. He declined to comment on the reasons for the decline in number of students. The academy management was, however, planning to improve the intake in academy by introducing new facilities as horseriding and swimming. Besides this students after class VIII would have the option of either going for the ICSE or the CBSE board, he said.

The ousted employees, however, alleged that the management for no fault of theirs was victimising them. The educational standard in the academy has been falling due to mismanagement. The class IV employees have just been entrusted with the job of maintaining sanitation and hostel’s messes in the academy. However, the management retrenched them without giving them any retrenchment benefit. They have been given just three months’ notice before retrenchment.

The retrenchment has not created precarious situation for the class IV employees and jeopardised the studies of their children. By virtue of being employees of the academy their children were getting education here at highly subsidised fee. However, with jobs gone they would also have to withdraw their children from the academy, as none of them would be able to afford the fee of Rs 70,000 per year charged by the institution for other students.

Meanwhile, the retrenched employees also alleged that the academy management recently ousted 100 residential students for indiscipline. These students had been studying in the academy for the past five or ten years. If the students turned indisciplined in the academy it was due to the institution. However, the students were removed despite repeated requests of their parents, they alleged. The image of the academy should also took beating when last year during the stint of the previous director of the academy, Mr Pardeep Mal, one student died while on a hunting trip.

The sources also expressed the view that the government should intervene preserve the academy that has best of the infrastructure and the potential to become a leading institution in the state.


No steps by govt to control floods
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
The monsoon is just a few weeks away. It will touch this part of the country by June 29, according to official sources. However, in Punjab no preventive measures have been taken yet in the flood-prone areas.

According to information, no state-level meeting has been held yet in this connection. Normally, well before the start of the monsoon season, a high-level meeting that is attended by all Deputy Commissioners, senior officials of the Drainage Department and others concerned is held every year at the state headquarter under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister or the Chief Secretary. Such a meeting was fixed on May 19, but was postponed indefinitely.

In fact, no proper preventive steps had been taken in the past three years against floods. Informed sources said the government had not released a single penny to take the preventive measures. “It was too late to start anti-flood works at this stage”, said a senior official. To complete the official procedures such as calling and finalising the tenders, a two-month period was required, he said. And by that time the monsoon would have reached in this region.

The most dangerous is Ghaggar river that causes great loss every year in Patiala, Sangrur, and Mansa districts besides a part of the Haryana belt near the Jakhal-Ratia area. The Congress Government had assured to tame it this year. However, nothing had been done till date. The Punjab Government had prepared a project report of Rs 150 crore to tame the Ghaggar and to execute other works related to it. However, the standing committee that examined the project, only approved works worth Rs 50 crore. The Central Water Commission also did not agree with the project report, it is learnt.

There were about 116 bandhs to be strengthened on the Ghaggar. Besides, there were 12 other drains in the Patiala area which are to be desilted. There were other works such as stone pitching, in- lets to be made on the drains etc. But all these works have remained confined to official files .

The Drainage Department had demanded Rs 83 crore from the state government to take up various anti-flood measures. For Amritsar district, Rs 24.66 crore was demanded but no money has been released. Likewise for Ferozepore district, Rs 19.18 crore was sought by the department but nothing has been paid by the government. Similar is the situation for other districts.

Meanwhile, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, general secretary of the Sarab Hind Shiromani Akali Dal ( SHSAD), said today that he had met the Union Government officials concerned recently with regard to the Ghaggar river project. They had assured to extend all help for taking flood preventive measures in Punjab and also to get the project regarding the Ghaggar cleared from the authorities concerned. He said the State Government should again take up the Ghaggar project with the Union Government.

Mr Chandumajra said the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, Ms Parneet Kaur, a Member of the Lok Sabha, Mr Lal Singh, Finance Minister, and Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Rural Development Minister, could take positive steps now to control the Ghaggar.


5 SGPC seats sought for Himachal Sikhs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
Members of the Himachal Pradesh Shiromani Akali Dal unanimously endorsed the Nanakshahi Calendar and sought five seats for HP Sikhs in the SGPC at a meeting of the general house held at the Nada Sahib gurdwara, near here, today.

Appreciating the calendar, Mr Kartar Singh Takkar, a member of the parbandhak committee of the Paonta Sahib gurdwara, said it provided a separate identity to Sikhs and should be implemented in the right earnest. The All- India Sikh Gurdwara Act should also be passed to facilitate the constitution of state-wise committees. A resolution was also passed to set up the Himachal Sikh mission.

They also demanded that a “dharam parchar” centre should be run by the SGPC at Gurdwara Paonta Sahib in cooperation with the gurdwara management committee. Some grant has also been sought from the government for the construction of gurdwaras in Himachal villages.

Jathedar Harbhajan Singh was once again elected president of the Himachal SAD.

Some major achievements of the party include the introduction of Punjabi an elective subject in Classes IX and X in HP’s government schools, getting Guru Gobind Singh’s birth anniversary declared as a gazetted holiday and baptising 600 residents of Sirmaur district on the 300th foundation day of Khalsa on April 13, 1999.


SGPC to observe ‘Ghallughara Divas’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 25
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) President, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, today said that the Shiromani Committee would observe the “Ghallughara Divas” to commemorate the attack on the Golden Temple in 1984 on June 6.

He said the SGPC had also instituted an inquiry into the episode involving the burning of “birs” of the Guru Granth Sahib at Mehmadpur village near Rajpura a few days ago. He said an inquiry had been instituted into the case as there was an apprehension among people that it was not an ordinary act of sacrilege, and that it had been done in a planned manner to foment trouble in the area.

Mr Badungar said the SGPC had also received reports from villagers that some followers of Piara Singh Baniarawala could have been responsible for the act. He said the fact that the perpetrators of the act were still to be caught had forced the SGPC to order its own inquiry. The SGPC chief earlier attended a bhog held at the Dukhniwaran gurdwara here to pray of the peace for those who had been killed in the rail tragedy at Ludhiana this month. He said the Shiromani Committee would give Rs 21,000 each to the next of kin of those who had died in the tragedy, besides paying Rs 11,000 to the seriously injured and Rs 5,000 to others.


Bhinder blames BJP govt for unemployment
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, May 25
Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder yesterday blamed wrong policies of the BJP-led government at the Centre for growing unemployment and corruption and said that its agenda posed a serious challenge to the composite culture and unity of the country.

The former Union Minister and senior Congress leader, while addressing a rally at Parmanand, said, the Congress wanted to wipe out feeling of insecurity and was making all-out efforts to develop every village.

Mr H.S. Hanspal, president of the PPCC, said, that under the guidance of Mrs Sonia Gandhi, AICC president, the PPCC had planned to organise rallies in 209 blocks of Punjab.

Mr Rumal Chand, MLA, Narot Mehra, constituency presented a purse of Rs 51,000 to Mr H.S. Hanspal.

The others who addressed the rally included Mrs Satinder Kaur Gujral, vice-president of the PPCC, Mr Gurbachan Singh Babehali, chairman, Milkfed and president DCC, Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa MLA.

The Congress rally at Parmanand boosted morale of Congress-supported sarpanches and panches of the area.

The PPCC president heard the grievances of the people and promise to redress these.


LBP leaders join SAD(B)
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
Certain leaders, who claimed that they were associated with the Lok Bhalai Party (LBP) headed by Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, today joined the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal).

Among the leaders LBP leaders who have joined the SAD, are Mr Ravinder Singh Gill, president of the Moga (rural) district unit; Mr Balwinder Singh Pawar, Mr Amarjit Singh Bira, Mr Tarsem Singh Dhanna, Mr Jagroop Singh and Mr Gurcharan Singh.

A brief function was held at the residence here of SAD general secretary Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who assured the newcomers that they would be accommodated properly.


Chaudhary is Cong observer for Rajasthan

Jalandhar, May 25
To gear up the party for the next Assembly polls in four states later this year, the Congress high command has nominated Ms Santosh Chaudhary as one of the party observers for Rajasthan.

Ms Chaudhary, the Lok Sabha member from the Phillaur (SC), has been conveyed of the new responsibility by Congress general secretary Oscar Fernandes. UNI


3 cops sentenced to 3 years' jail
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 25
Mr G.S. Dhiman, Additional Sessions Judge, Fast-Track Court, here, yesterday awarded three years' imprisonment each and fine of Rs 2000 each to Harbhajan Singh, former SHO of General Railway Police (GRP), Sangrur, and Jaswant Singh and Kirpal Singh, former Head Constables of the GRP, Sangrur, for injuring to Gamdoor Singh, of Bhai Ke Pishore village near Sunam and keeping him in wrongful confinement in November 1995. Gamdoor Singh died on December 7, 1995 at the PGI, Chandigarh.

The Railway Police had brought Gamdoor Singh to the GRP post Sangrur and allegedly kept him in illegal custody till November 23 in for investigations in a murder case. During confinement, Gamdoor Singh was tortured.

However, on the night of November 23, 1995, the Police let off Gamdoor Singh. His relatives took him to the PGI, Chandigarh where he was admitted on November 24. On December 7, he died there.

After his death, relatives of Gamdoor Singh got a case registered against the policemen. Harbhajan Singh was already in jail for the past seven years.


Akali unity: Mann to meet Vedanti today
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 25
In a significant development, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), members of the party working committee and other office-bearers of this faction will meet Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, on May 26 for forging a “complete” Panthic unity instead of limiting the rapprochement to the two Akali stalwarts — Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

This was disclosed by Bhai Ram Singh, secretary-general, SAD (Amritsar), while talking to this correspondent on Friday.

Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala, Akali Dal (Democratic), and Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode, president, SAD (Panthic), have already urged Jathedar Vedanti to rope in all factions of the Akali Dal in the unity move.


Akali unity move hailed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
The AISSF reviewed Panthic problems at a meeting here today. Supporting the move to forge unity between Mr Parkash Singh Badal (SAD) and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra (SHSAD), the Sikh Front International stated that all other smaller factions should also follow suit. Mr Gurkipal Singh Bathinda was unanimously chosen president of the Front at the meeting.


Better infrastructure needed
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, May 25
Ferozepore, despite being a divisional, range headquarter and a district headquarter lacks a lot of infrastructural facilities which have not only prevented its progress and growth, but have contributed to poor economic condition. In the absence of any administrative complex, various government offices are situated at distant places from each other, due to which people who come from far off villages face a lot of inconvenience. Some offices like the RTA, the DPRO, the Food and Supplies, the DTO, the Home Guards and the Employment Exchange are functioning in rented accommodations, which are also in dilapidated condition now. The District Consumer and Redressal Court is functioning from the premises of a badminton hall.

Apart from this, there is no government college in Ferozepore due to which the students for graduate and postgraduate courses have to take admissions elsewhere. Although, there are few private colleges, but keeping in view the number of students seeking admissions in these college, there is dire necessity for a government college, especially for postgraduate and vocational courses.

Despite producing hockey players of international repute like Gaganjit, Ajit Singh and Harmeek Singh there is no separate hockey stadium. There is one stadium, which is being used for all games. Besides, it plays host to all the official functions.

There is only one rest house which too belongs to the PWD. The Canal Rest House is far off from the main town. The work on the construction of a circuit house, the foundation stone of which was laid way back in April, 1995, has stopped for lack of funds.

In the absence of any judicial complex, the town has no proper arrangement for advocates and judges. The Sessions Court is situated on the Mall Road whereas other courts are functioning in the district courts complex at the Jhoke Road.

Although, a couple of years ago, a drive was initiated to give a facelift to the town by the then Deputy Commissioner, Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, and the proposals were sent to the state government to improve the infrastructure but after his transfer things got stalled again.

The Municipal Committee also lacks resources and infrastructure to provide basic amenities. The roads are in bad shape dotted with potholes and sewerage condition is pathetic. Even a slight drizzle floods the city particularly the low-lying areas.

Residents feel it is the high time that the government wakes up and does something in this regard.


Matka-making no longer profitable
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 25
As the profession is no more profitable, the present generation of the families of Artisans making ‘matkas’ is turning to other jobs.

In an age of refrigerators and water coolers the demand for ‘matkas’ is declining every year. Earlier, the ‘matka’ business earned the artisans a lot with which their families could make both ends meet for months together.

However, since there is not much money in the business, neither the younger ones nor their elders are interested in the profession any longer.

A matka-maker who sells earthern pitchers near the local Government Rajindra College said it was a family tradition and he had been selling the matkas for the past more than 30 years. He said during these years he had seen many changes in the profession.

He said although the material needed for making the matkas had become costly yet prices of the matkas had not increased proportionately. He said as he could not turn to any other business he was compelled to continue.

Another matka-maker on the Barnala Road said he purchased ‘matkas’ from Haryana and Rajasthan. He said getting matkas’ from other states was cheaper as they were prepared in bulk there. He added that in those states, the matkas were sold in great numbers and profession was still profitable there.

Besides these places, the ‘matkas’ are also sold at the Goniana road, Harpal Nagar, the Amrik Singh road etc. There are more than 200 families of matka-makers in the city, but all of them are not in the business these days.

Those who failed to find any profession have started making flower vases and “tandoors” etc.

One of the matka-makers said that a few years ago they used to sell between 200 to 250 matkas everyday, but now 20 to 30 pieces were sold daily.

Another artisan confessed when they themselves did not use ‘matkas’ at their homes, how could they expect others to buy matkas. He said people had far long switched over to refrigerators and water coolers etc.

He also said that the cost of making or bringing matkas from other states was compensated to some extent during the harvesting season, because at the time matkas came handy for the farmers working in the fields.


Mine explodes in field, boy killed
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 25
Sonu, a shepherd, was killed when a landmine exploded in a field at border village at Bareka on last evening. The Army had recently restored the possession of the fields to the owners after completing the de-mining process, villagers said.

According to residents of the village, Sonu (12) and Sheru (7) had taken cattle to the fields in the afternoon. The area had reportedly been declared safe and given back to the farmers. As the boys were passing through a field a landmine exploded killing Sonu on the spot. Sheru was injured seriously.

A tractor-trailer driver on hearing the explosion came to the rescue of the boys and he found the badly charred body of Sonu lying at a distance. Sheru was admitted to Civil Hospital here. His condition was stated to be critical.

Sonu had lost his father and was the eldest among three minor members of the poor family.


5 hurt in  separate  incidents
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 25
Four persons were injured while a woman received severe burn injuries in three separate incidents today. Police sources said two persons were injured when their scooter hit a car near Punjabi University on the Patiala-Rajpura road. The injured — Jatinder (24) and Ram Kishen (45) — were admitted to the Government Rajindra Hospital here.

In second incident, two youths were injured in a ground near Mirch Mandi when some persons attacked them while they were playing cricket. In yet another incident, Binder Kaur was admitted to the Government Rajindra Hospital with burn injuries, which she allegedly suffered while working in the kitchen.


Dharna by pharmacists
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, May 25
On a call of the Punjab State Pharmacists' Association, 300 office-bearers of the district and block units of the association staged a dharna before office of Director, Health Services, Punjab at Chandigarh on Thursday.

After return from the dharna Shashi Kant (Fazilka), president of Ferozepore district unit and Ravinder Luthra, vice-president, of the association, said that after the first phase of the agitation the 35-member state executive committee of the association had decided that 1000 pharmacists working in five districts of Ludhiana, Nawanshahr, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur and Jalandhar would hold a march on June 22 in Banga, native town of Dr D.P.S. Sandhu, Director, Health Services, Punjab. The pharmacist leaders revealed that the previous Badal regime had decided to change the designation of pharmacists to Pharmacy Officer but it went back on it. Similarly the Congress Government had also assured to implement this decision. However the government on April 25 rejected the proposal which has caused resentment among 3000 pharmacists working in the Health Department of the state.


Kisan conference on May 27
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 25
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) would organise Kisan Conference at Taran Tarn on May 27 to protest against the alleged ‘anti-farmer’ policies of the government.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Shingara Singh Mann, district general secretary of the BKU, said plan would be drawn up for getting demands like the waiving of loans of farmers, restoring free power and water to farm sector accepted.

He alleged that some traders had been selling fake seed and adulterated pesticides to the farmers. He alleged that the traders were ‘cheating’ farmers in connivance with some officials of the Agricultural Department. He alleged that the police had not arrested the traders caught selling fake seed from the district. He said that the sale of fake seeds in the said case was brought to the notice of authorities by the BKU.


708 cases disposed of at lok adalat
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 25
A special lok adalat, comprising 16 Benches, was held in the new judicial courts complex here yesterday.

As many as 708 cases were disposed of in the lok adalat. These included civil, criminal, MACT and bank pre-litigative cases.

Mr Jagroop Singh, District and Sessions Judge-cum-Chairman, District Legal Services Authority, Sangrur, said till date the authority had held 141 lok adalats in which 14,252 cases had been put up, of which 7,167 had been settled.


Farmers defy ban on digging of wells
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, May 25
Farmers of the Malwa belt are flouting the ban imposed on digging of wells beyond a certain limit resulting in more than 50 deaths. According to the information, due to sinking water table in the region, farmers who are unable to instal submersible pumps are digging wells deeper than the normal level so that they can instal the traditional mono-block and certrifugal pumps for their water requirements.

In the process of digging of these wells, sometimes labourers have to excavate up to 90 to 120 feets deep in the ground and being inadequately equipped, these labourers sometimes lose their lives as huge chucks of mud fall on them while they are working in. Not only this, lots of deaths have been reported due to asphyxiation.

In Hastiwala village nere here, two labourers — Boota Singh and Billu — lost their lives while digging a well. Similarly, in Bashiwala village, two persons — Beant Singh and Sarinder Singh — met the same fate while they were digging a well, In Bhattiwala village Rama and his nephew, Inderjit, died as a huge lump of mud fell on them while they were working.

Apart from this, it is extremely difficult to poll put out the dead bodies of the labourers who die while working at low ground levels.

In some cases, cranes had to be pressed into service to take out the bodies. Till date, more than 50 deaths have been reported due to the digging of wells below the normal level in the ground. The police has registered a number of cases against farmers who engage labourer for digging of wells but the practice has not stopped altogether.

The district authorities have made in mandatory for farmer to obtain permission for the digging of wells from the Public Health Department before starting the work, but the orders are being openly violated.


ASI held for taking bribe
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, May 25
The Vigilance Bureau has booked the Additional SHO of the Daramkot police station for taking a bribe of Rs 1500. According to Ms Anita Punj, SP (Vigilance), a team lead by DSP Narinder Pal Singh, caught Assistant Sub-Inspector Chiragdeen red-handed while he was accepting the bribe from Shavinder Singh, son of Balwant Singh and resident of Daramkot.

Ms Punj said Chiragdeen has registered a case against Shavinder Singh under the Gambling Act and had demanded Rs 10,000 to release him on bail. Shavinder Singh paid Rs 5000 to the ASI for his release but things did not end there as the ASI constantly pressurised him to give Rs 5000 to the SHO, Rs 1500 to him and another 2000 to the other constable on a monthly basis to run his satta business.

Shavinder Singh did not want to continue the satta business as he was fed-up with the demands of the police but the ASI told him to carry on the business and took another Rs 1500 from him. Thereafter, Chiragdeen again called up Shavinder Singh, asking for the monthly amount to be given to the SHO and other constables. Shavinder Singh recorded the entire conversation held over the telephone and approached the Vigilance Bureau for action against the erring police staff.

Acting on the compliant, the Vigilance team trapped Chiragdeen while accepting another Rs 1500 from the complainant. The team also raided the quarters and the bungalow of the ASI in Dashmesh Nagar, Moga, and recovered an amount of Rs 10,000. The gunman of the SHO, Harbinder Singh, who went to Shavinder Singh to collect bribe money, is at large, said Ms Punj.


Pirated cassettes, CDs seized
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 25
The police raided a grocery shop at Maujgarh village on the Abohar-Sri Ganganagar road and seized 450 pirated cassettes and CDs. The shop owner, Mahabir Yogi, was arrested under various sections of the Videography and Cinematography Act. Some of the CDs were having contents of pornography also, sources said. The police had earlier arrested three dealers from the town on specific complaints from recording companies.

There were complaints that pirated cassettes and CDs were screened on the cable network even before the premier of certain high-budget movies. The district authorities had prohibited pasting of obscene posters of the south-based movies but such posters could be seen on the walls of gaushala, temples, educational institutions and girls’ hostel.

Sources said some businessmen had installed equipment to pirate audio and video cassettes in a big way. This had boosted the illegal business almost in every second village of the subdivision.


Two die in car-truck collision
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 25
A young couple in their early twenties travelling in a car were killed in a collision with a truck on the GT Road, near Rayya, 35 km from here today.

According to information received here, Lajpat Bajaj (27) and his wife, Deepika (25), along with his mother, Kunti Devi, and their one-and-half-year-old daughter, Rohini, were coming from Ferozepore on a visit to Dera Radha Soami at Beas. When nearing Rayya, a truck (PB-08-S-9878) coming from the opposite side dashed against the car, killing the couple on the spot, while Kunti Devi and Rohni received serious injuries. Both of them have been admitted to a private hospital at Rayya.

The police has registered a case against the driver.


Soldier murdered
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 25
An Army man was brutally murdered outside a tea shop allegedly by four members of his neighbour’s family, including a woman, at Himmat Singh Nagar, Dugri, here today. The police said personal enmity was the reason behind the murder. All attackers have been arrested.

The soldier, Kuldip Singh, had just come on leave after doing duty in the Jammu sector. He had an old enmity with the neighbours.


One killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 25
Vimal Kumar, a leading businessman of the city, died in a road accident here last night.

Police sources said that a speeding jeep near the Bhanamal Trust hit Mr Vimal who was riding a scooter. Vimal, who suffered head injuries, died on the spot. A case in this connection has been registered.


Narcotics seized
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
Narcotics were seized from four shops at Garhshankar (Hoshiarpur) and Mukandpur (Nawanshahr) during raids by a team of the Health and Family Welfare Department today, according to an official spokesman. Five samples of suspected sub-standard drugs were also taken during the raids. Nine shops did not have qualified pharmacists for dispensing medicines.


No mass transfer of teachers: Johar
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 25
Despite effecting mass transfer of college teachers, the Punjab Government has now decided to transfer them on the basis of administrative or disciplinary grounds, Minister for Higher Education in Punjab, Harnam Dass Johar informed mediapersons here today, while visiting the campus of the Government College, Ropar.

He, however, warned the college teachers allegedly indulging in politics or indiscipline by saying they could be shifted. All transfers in the government colleges of the state would be completed by end of the current month, he said.

Responding to a query he said three-member committees of college principals had been constituted to study the problems of the colleges. These committees would also give suggestions to improve the colleges and their report would be implemented by the next session.

The minister, however, ducked queries about the inquiry report of the three-member committee he had constituted about 10 days back to fix responsibility for the poor state of the Ropar Government College. He minister had visited the college on May 13.

The minister also visited the archaeological museum. During his visit he was accompanied by ADC (General) Ropar, Vikas Garg, SP (headquarters) Ropar, Varinderpal Singh and SDM Ropar Daljit Singh.


CBSE asks schools to pay more to teachers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 25
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), it is learnt, has sent letters to some local schools affiliated with it asking them to pay the teachers as per the scales specified by the board.

Sources said that in its letter the CBSE has asked the schools that the teaching and other staff working in schools affiliated with it should be paid as per the scales specified by the CBSE and has threatened action against the schools if the instructions were not complied with.

The sources said that the CBSE has specified that the teachers in the trained graduate teachers (TGT) cadre should be paid the minimum basic salary and dearness allowance (DA), house rent, medical and other allowances as per the prevailing rules and guidelines.

The sources said that as thousands of TGTs (those having B.Ed degree) were waiting for jobs, the schools do not pay respectable salaries. Most of the TGTs in the arts stream were paid Rs 1,500 and after a few years of service the same is increased to Rs 2,500. The sources said that the TGTs in the science stream start at Rs 2,500.

The principal of a leading school affiliated with the CBSE, when contacted, confirmed that a letter in this connection had been received from the CBSE. He said that at present 30 staffers of his school were getting the CBSE scale. He said that if the salaries of all the employees of the school were hiked to the CBSE scale, the salary bill of the school would increase to Rs 6.50 lakh from the present Rs 3.25 lakh.

He said that it was up to the management of the school to decide to increase the salaries of the staff to the CBSE scale or not.


Varsity don accuses VC of insulting him
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 25
The Head of Department of Defence Studies, Punjabi University, Dr K.S. Sidhu, has claimed that varsity Vice Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai has used insulting language against him in official communications and asked the VC to take back his remarks or remove him from headship of the department.

In a communication sent to the Vice Chancellor on Friday, Dr Sidhu, who was earlier unceremoniously removed from the post of Registrar of the University by Mr Boparai, had claimed that he was unable to function as Head of the Defence Studies Department due to the social and mental torture being afflicted on him. He has also told the VC that he would take up the matter at ‘other levels’ if he did not withdraw his remarks.

According to documents with TNS, difference between the VC and Dr Sidhu became acute after the latter’s sudden sacking from the post of Registrar and appointment of a relative as Registrar by the Vice Chancellor. Dr Sidhu had protested against his sudden removal, called his dismissal violative of the university calendar and also represented to the varsity Chancellor and then Punjab Governor Lieut Gen J.F.R. Jacob to reinstate him as Registrar.

According to the documents the recent problem between Dr Sidhu and the VC started before the hosting of a national seminar by the Defence Studies Department in March end. The VC took umbrage to a letter written by Dr Sidhu asking for reservation of the Senate and Syndicate rooms for the seminar. He wrote on the request that the letter was not properly worded and the Dr Sidhu should see what he was signing.

Following this Dr Sidhu replied on the same letter that according to his experience as a teacher he had worded his request properly even though the letter was for the personal assistant of the VC.

The Vice Chancellor replied to the same file by hand on March 21 saying “the entire university knows about the past and present actions of Dr Sidhu”. 

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