Tuesday, June 3, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


No irregularities in PAU appointments: Pandey
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 2
The state Vigilance Bureau has found no proof to substantiate the charges of irregularities in appointments levelled against authorities of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) by 10 MLAs during the SAD-BJP regime in the state.

Disclosing this to reporters here today after attending a function in Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital, Mr A.P. Pandey, ADGP (Vigilance), said the Vigilance Bureau had conducted a thorough probe into the allegations but have absolved the PAU officials of all charges.

The VB was, however, examining in detail the allegations regarding a seed scam worth lakhs of rupees that was allegedly perpetrated by some PAU employees. Mr Pandey said he had received a detailed report regarding the scam prepared by Mr Kanwarjit Singh Sandhu, SSP (Vigilance). He said the VB would not spare anyone found guilty in the scam.

Mr Pandey also disclosed that the VB had recommended action against seven employees of the local District Transport Office in the subletting scandal. He said no action was recommended against any senior officer and only clerks were found guilty in the probe. The Department of Transport has been told to take appropriate action against the accused.

The clerks had allegedly employed people to their official work and share the collections that accrued from public transactions like registration of vehicles, issuing driving licences etc. The work of government employees was virtually reduced to just signing up the documents.

The Vigilance Department had also collected details about the price tag with occupying a seat in the office. Employees allegedly got the prized seat after getting some 'setting' with the high ups at a premium. The VB sources said they had collected enough documentary evidence and mobile phone sets and calls to substantiate their claims.

Mr Pandey also disclosed that no complaint has so far been received against any Congress leader in the state.

He said one of the biggest catch by the VB was the Chief Electrical Inspector of the PSEB arrested in Patiala. He said the VB had so far found proof that he amassed property worth Rs 4 crore in few years only. He said his monthly collection was about Rs 10 lakh.

Regarding the VCD exposure case, featuring two alleged satta operators, Mr Pandey clarified that the VB had nothing to do with the case. He said the VB was not conducting any inquiry into the matter.

Coming on the issue of the absenteeism in the government hospitals and allied institutions, Mr Pandey said the VB had trapped several employees and the drive would continue.

In a response to a question, Mr Pandey said the VB was facing some problems of co-ordination with other departments but the differences have been ironed out. He said some departments had not taken action against some employees on the recommendations of the VB. 



Kids organise “chhabeel”

Ludhiana, June 2
Little kids of Kiddies Paradise distributed sweetened water to people here today. The school had organised a “chhabeel” in front of the school building in Kochar Market. The occasion was the Martyrdom Day of Guru Arjan Dev. The kids were donning colourful caps. OC



Medical education no longer affordable
Naveen S.Garewal & K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, June 2
Medical education is no longer cheap. For many, who have been aspiring to become doctors, there is bad news. Some medical colleges in the state have hiked the fee to a level that will force many bright students from middle class families to abandon their pursuit towards a career in medicine.

The colleges arguably have done this by citing a recent Supreme Court judgement that allows medical institutions to formulate their own set of rules for admissions, besides allowing them to determine their own fee structure.

One of the oldest medical colleges in Punjab, the Dayanand Medical College here has taken the lead in announcing a raise in tuition fee for admission to the MBBS course from the current academic session. There are other colleges that have followed suit. Colleges such as the Christian Medical College, here have, for the time being, decided to stick to the fee structure prevalent last year, but have been contemplating a fee hike from next year. The management of the Guru Ramdas Institute of Medical Sciences, Amritsar, too has decided to go ahead with a slight increase in the tuition fee.

With the announcements of a fee hike for medical education, days before the pre-medical entrance test (PMET), scheduled for later this month, the colleges have, not only dampened the spirits of aspiring students, but also caused a lot a anguish to parents of middle-class families who have nurtured a dream of putting their children through medical education from their life savings. Though, the institutions have taken recourse in the Supreme Court ruling that allows them greater freedom in running the institutions, but in practical terms the fee hike will shift the balance away from the meritorious students towards those who can afford to pay an unfriendly sum of fee.

Those seeking admission to the Dayanand Medical College this year will have to cough up a tuition fee fixed at Rs 4 lakh per year per student. This is in sharp contrast to the Rs 70,000 that the Christian Medical College will charge. Guru Ramdas Institute of Medical Sciences will charge Rs 1.26,500 annually. For non-resident Indians (NRIs), both Dayanand Medical College and Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Science have fixed the fee at $ 75,000 (US) for the entire course of four and a half years duration. Christian Medical College does not admit NRI students.

In comparison, medical education at the three Punjab Government-run medical colleges at Amritsar, Patiala and Faridkot, costs a pittance. These colleges charge a mere Rs 13,000 per year from each student. In these colleges, education is highly subsidised by the state government but they, too have been trying hard to raise the fee to Rs 90,000 per year, to meet the basic cost. But resistance from the students has forced the government to abandon the proposal.

The wide difference in the cost of medical education within the state has caused a lot of resentment among aspiring doctors and their parents, forcing the state government to form a committee that will determine an appropriate sum. Though, no decision has yet been taken in this regard, but managements of privately-run medical colleges have resented the move of the state government saying that the recommendations of the committee may be against the spirit of the Supreme Court ruling pronounced by a 11-Judge Bench of the apex court headed by none other than the former Chief Justice B.N. Kirpal.

In the verdict dated October 31, 2002, on a writ petition filed by TMA PAI Foundation against the state of Karnataka, the 11-Judge Bench allowed private unaided medical colleges to formulate their own fee structure, subject to condition that the fee thus charged should not be profit making. The court observed, “The rational fee structure shall be adopted by the management which would not be entitled to charge a capitation fee.” This was a majority judgement given by six-Judges. This judgement superseded all earlier judgements. This included the earlier Supreme Court ruling in the case titled Unnikrishnan versus the state of Andhra Pradesh in which the court ruling had directed the abolishing of all quota of seats and had fixed 50 per cent seats as paid seats and the remaining 50 per cent seats in all institutions as free seats.

The Supreme Court, while accepting the plea in the TMA PAI Foundation versus state of Karnataka, has observed that the college have the right to admit students of their choice subject to objective and rational procedure of selection. Charging of capitation fees and profiteering by the institutions is forbidden, however, there can be reasonable revenue surplus, which may be generated by educational institutions for the purpose of development of education and expansion of institution. But at the same time the court has ruled that the objective should not be profit making.

While there is resentment among the students and their parents on the prohibitive hike in the tuition fee by the management of the Dayanand Medical College, the management justifies the same. Mr Amrit Nagpal, secretary of the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital Managing Society, maintains that the state government has been subsidising the actual cost of education in the Government Medical Colleges, whereas no such assistance is available to private medical colleges. He says that in 1996-97, Ferguson and Company was asked conduct a survey in various medical colleges about the actual cost of medical education. The finding was that the cost varied between Rs 2.5-2.75 lakh in 1996. This cost has increased and is currently around Rs 3.24 lakh. To make his point, he adds, “Medical colleges have to buy new equipments and the infrastructure development cost increases at the rate of about 15 per cent annually”.

The committee formed by the Punjab Government is yet to meet, but is expected that it will try to strike a balance and keep the fee as close to last year fee structure of Rs 1.10 lakhs for general category students seeking admission to DMC and Rs 13,000 per student for the Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes students. The DMC management has permission to admit 70 students in the MBBS course, out of these 20 seats are reserved, two for physically handicapped and the remaining for the Scheduled Caste, Schedules Tribe and Backward Classes’ students based on merit. The DMC management say that it will have to subsidise Rs 3.08 lakh for each of these seats for which the government has fixed a fee of Rs 13,000 annually.

“We are not charging any capitation fee nor is any payment being accepted under the table. We are issuing receipts for all payments and complete transparency is being maintained,” says Dr S.C Ahuja, Principal of the college. DMC will admit 32 students under the general category as per merit and three seats have been reserved for the bonafide faculty members of the DMC. The tuition fee for all 35 seats will be Rs 4 lakh per year per student. For 15 seats under the NRI seats, the entrance test and interview will be conducted by the DMC based on the common syllabus of the foreign universities after getting the eligibility certificates from the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences and existing pattern. Each seat will cost $ 75,000 (US) for the entire course.

Admission to DMC will be made on the basis of merit list prepared by the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences that will prepare a merit list based on the PMET. The merit will be common for admission to the three Government Medical Colleges in the state and the two private colleges. The Punjab Government has also not yet allowed the DMC management to have 15 NRI seats and is insisting on retaining the number at 10.

Christian Medical College, on the other hand, admits 50 students to the MBBS course - 25 seats are earmarked for Punjab residents and the remaining 25 seats are allotted on an all India basis. The Punjab seats are further categorised as follows: Institution staff children - three, sponsored for mission hospitals - 10, college sponsored - two, Scheduled Caste/Tribe - two, Backward Class - one and general - seven. Under the non-Punjab residents’ category - 21 seats are for sponsored for mission hospitals. The CMC conducts its own entrance test and admission.

Dr Mohan Verghese, Principal, Christian Medical College justifies the management’s stand in not raising the tuition fee saying, “Since the graduates who pass out from the CMC are trained to serve in the rural areas. Since the income levels of the rural people are low, we are reluctant to raise the tuition fee”. However, he has indicated that to cope with rising expenses, the management can take a decision to raise the fee next year.

Dr Verghese says they are planning to start several new courses, particularly the paramedical courses and physiotherapy. They also plan to start super speciality course like MCH in neurosurgery and postdoctoral course in the plastic surgery. Dr Verghese says that they are not getting any aid from the government or from any other source. The CMC authorities have received more than 35,00 application for admission to the MBBS course.

Dr T.M. Jaison, Acting Director of the Christian Medical College and Hospital, asserts that they are trying to increase the number of seats and also plan to start M.Sc. (Nursing) and courses like the lab technology. The combined budget of the CMC and Hospital is Rs 50 crore for 2003-2004. Dr Verghese points out that they are charging only Rs 30,000 as tuition per student per year for the postgraduate courses whereas they pay more than Rs 2 lakh in three years in the shape of stipends.

Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences, Amritsar, run by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandak Committee (SGPC) has been granted minority status. The college admits 50 students in the MBBS course. According to Dr Ujjagar Singh Dhaliwal, Principal of the institute, out of 50 students, the college will admit 25 Sikh students, while the remaining can be from other communities. The 25 Sikh students will be admitted on basis of an entrance test conducted by the college, while the remaining students will be admitted on the basis of merit in the PMET conducted by the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences. The college, too, has taken advantage of the Supreme Court ruling and raised the annual tuition fee this year to Rs 1.50 lakh.

Founder Vice-Chancellor of the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences and member of the Medical Council of India, Dr L.S Chawla says, no one should expect cheap medical education in the country any more. An all-India average suggests an expense of about Rs 40,000 per month for medical students. This figure has been derived keeping in mind the 21, 000 students that are admitted to the 205 medical colleges of the country each year. Of these 13,000 students seek admission to the government-run medical colleges.

The country, he says, already has 69 privately run medical colleges. The government has taken a decision at the national-level not to encourage starting of government-run medical institutions and at the same time to promote privately run medical institutions.



‘Stop commercialisation of medical education’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 2
The medical community, aspiring doctors and the parents have demanded immediate withdrawal of hike in the fee on medical education by some of the private institutions. They have appealed to the Central government to immediately intervene in this matter to stop the commercialisation of medical education for the benefit of meritorious students.

A seminar on “Medical Education- changing pattern in admission and fees structure” was organised by the Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) and the All-India Students Federation (AISF) at V.P. House, New Delhi, yesterday to condemn the decision of various private medical colleges to increase their tuition fee exorbitantly.

Dr L.S. Chawla, president IDPD who is at present member, executive committee of the Medical Council of India and a former Vice-Chancellor of Baba Farid Medical University, Punjab, while giving the details of the seminar said that there were 205 medical colleges of modern medicines in India, imparting MBBS, MD/MS, DM/M.Ch. degrees. There were 69 private colleges and the rest were run by the government. A constitutional bench of Supreme Court of India delivered a judgment on October 31, 2002, in T.M. Pai and other petitioners vs state of Karnatka. The judgement had given powers to private colleges to have their admission and fix fee, which should look after their expenses plus some percentage for development. The admission should be, of course, on merit basis.

This fee should not be the capitation fee and or for profiteering. This judgement changed the decision in Unni Krishnan vs state of Andhra Pradesh, which had said that 50 per cent seats in the medical colleges were free seats. Thereafter, the private medical colleges kept 50 per cent as unpaid seats (fee charges as per the government colleges) and the other as paid seats. The fee in such cases of paid seats was around Rs 1 lakh per year.

Now after the October 2002 judgement there was lot of confusion in private medical colleges. The Central Health Ministry in its letter issued on May 14, 2003, had given guidelines for admission pattern, reservation and charging of fees. They had entrusted the state government and universities to make standing committees for structure and admission criteria. This year many colleges had already published their prospectus indicating admission pattern and fees.

The letter of Central Health Ministry says that their guidelines will be applicable for this year i.e. 2003-2004. About 20,000 students are admitted every year in these 205 colleges. About 7000 seats in private colleges will become very costly. In most of the private colleges the yearly fee will be between Rs 2 lakh to 4 lakh i.e about Rs 30,000.00 to Rs 40,000.00 per month, which will be beyond the reach of even upper middle class.

Prof Yash Pal, former Chairman of University Grants Commission (UGC) and a renowned scientist, expressed concern at the ongoing changes in the education. He said it was unfortunate that the government had withdrawn itself from the sector of education and health. These sectors, which were once considered to be the service sectors, had been turned into business propositions. There was a need for complete structural changes in the approach towards these sectors, he said

Dr Arun Mitra, general secretary, IDPD, said that in our country where 12.5 per cent of the deaths occurred due to preventable communicable diseases, the health care delivery system had to be service oriented with support from the state. But how can one expect such service approach from a doctor who has invested around Rs 50 lakh in getting his postgraduate degree. This will seriously effect the health-care delivery system which will be treated as business, stressed Dr Mitra.

Ms Amarjeet Kaur, vice-president, National Federation of India Women, said that this would seriously affect the medical education among girls. In a society with a high-gender bias against females, most of the parents would not send their daughters for medical education with such high fees. This would also effect the community health care of woman and children, particularly from lower income strata.

Mr Vijender Kesri, general secretary, AISF, said that the poor students already drop out very early, but now with this fee structure even those few who could mange to score in merit, would be deprived of medical education. 



Industry in dire straits
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 2
A tough tax regime coupled with problems like a high electricity tariff, increase in the prices of raw material and also falling demand and fierce competition seem to have placed the industry in a precarious situation.

For the past few years, there has not been any significant indicator that could provide a sigh of relief to industry. Added to it are the policies of the government which have remained inconsistent and never industry friendly.

During the past one year, electricity tariffs in the state have increased by 16 per cent. The prices of steel, the basic raw material for most of the industry, have also increased by about 60 per cent in the country, although these have fallen in the international market.

Mr P.D. Sharma, president of the Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, disclosed that before the setting up of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC), the tariff was increased once in two years, while after the constitution of the commission the tariff was being increased twice in a single year. And that too retrospectively.

Mr Sharma expressed surprise as how the PSEB could hike the tariff with retrospective effect despite a stay order from the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Moreover, he revealed that the Supreme Court had made it clear that no tariff could be charged with retrospective effect.

The 2 per cent local area development tax was also said to be too much for industry. Although the industrial raw material would get the sales tax credit, but only a limited number of items would get this credit. Mr Sharma observed that 2 per cent was too much and at best it should be 1 per cent only.

Latest in the series is 10 per cent TCS (tax collection at source) on the purchase of scrap. Any buyer of the scrap will have to pay 10 per cent of the billing amount at the source. This is likely to effect the entire industry since scrap was produced and used by almost each industry, big or small.

Even the banks have also tightened their noose on the industrial units. Mr Sharma said a number of industrial units were getting sick and it could be seen from the bank records. 



Residents fume over tin recycling unit
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 2
A tin recycling factory in the local Hira Nagar, a residential area, on the Kakowal road has made the life of residents hell by creating noise and air pollution. The constant hammering sound and smell emanated by the unit is taking its toll on the health of the residents, who have reported various diseases.

The unit belongs to migrants, who recycle old tins used for storing vegetable ghee and oil by hammering and cleaning these with the help of strong chemicals. This leads to emission of poisonous gases and creates ear-piercing noise.

The owners heat the chemicals using a furnace. Due to the constant hammering and burning of fuel in the furnace, the residents of these colonies say they are virtually living in hell. They say their children are not able to study due to the sound as it affects concentration.

The residents allege that their problems have been accentuated by the fact that the district administration and the pollution control board have, after taking some initial action, turned a deaf ear to their grievances. Consequently, the residents allege that the factory owners have started threatening complainants of dire consequences.

Reliable sources in the office of the pollution control board said that some officials of the board had sent notices to this unit some time ago, but to no avail. The factory continues to work openly, causing problems for the residents.

The residents said they were sick of the noise and the poisonous gases. Mr Ajit Singh, a resident of the area, who lives opposite the unit, said his wife had a heart attack a month ago and could not relax due to the constant noise. He said he had once again written to the new Deputy Commissioner, enclosing the medical reports of his wife, but to no avail.

Mr Ajit Singh added that there were many other such people who were suffering from various diseases and were not able to rest in their houses due to the noise. Similar was the complaint of Mr Satnam Singh, whose seven-year-old-daughter contracted eye allergy due to the fumes. “She is always complaining of irritation in her eyes. We have taken her to many doctors, who say that she can feel better if the unit is closed or we move out of the area,” he said, showing reports of her daughter. 



Panchayat poll: LBP to contest 8,000 seats
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 2
The Lok Bhalai Party (LBP) will contest 8, 000 seats of sarpanches and panches all over the state during the panchayat poll to provide a third front based on ideology, said party chief and MP Balwant Singh Ramoowalia. He was in the city to preside over a workers conclave yesterday.

The party would fight the polls on ‘vikas and insaf’ issues — development of villages and justice for the ignorant masses. No party had touched these issues in the past since the stress was to create groups in each village and target those villages which retuned the Opposition-backed candidates to power. The outcome was that while the villages of the ruling regime cornered all grants, the others were ignored for five years, he pointed out.

He said his party was not pursuing any big political agenda but was concentrating on the various socio- economic issues. No political party was redressing such issues but were misleading the people by making false promises. Which party was today concerned about the rising unemployment, rising expenses of education, drug abuse or the general lack of direction among the youth, he questioned.

Mr Ramoowalia said more than 10, 000 girls had been saved from the clutches of greedy in-laws and fraudulent NRI grooms in the past five years. The craze to send their daughters abroad also saw many families giving sums ranging from Rs 5-14 lakh in dowry.

“We have taken up hundreds of cases where the dowry amount was returned. Unfortunately, the law is diced against the brides since the property of the fraudulent grooms could not be attached in India and they could also not be brought to justice since such crimes do not come under the ambit of the extradition treaties,” he pointed out.

“The Lok Bhalai will not only be committed to take up the cause of the farmers but will also strive to provide a better deal for the Punjabi youth stranded abroad besides ensuring that girls who marry abroad are not harassed on any account,” he added.

He expressed his deep gratitude to the people of Punjab for their support to the programme and policies of the party and appreciated their brave efforts in fighting the menace of corruption.

Mr Ramoowalia said all the self-employed people, businessmen, traders, kisans, labourers, government, and non-government employees, students etc are feeling distressed and frustrated for which the party feels that the prevalent corruption, political bankruptcy and other malpractices are responsible. The people do not know whom to trust after being at the receiving end of misgovernance for the past 50 years,” he said amid slogans from the audience.

“The party also feels that the established political parties on the strength of money and muscle power are also misusing religion to target people and deprive the Punjabis of a better and clean society,” he added.

Mr Ramoowalia called upon the people to ponder on the reasons as to why the criminalisation of politics had increased over the past 15 years increased and why the constitutional, political and people’s power had been so weakened that it was commonplace to mock at them. Nowadays it was just empty sloganeering to befool the people who did not know what to do and whom to turn to, he pointed out.

The Lok Bhalai Party, therefore, urged upon the people to identify such shady politicians who had brought miseries to them and appealed to them to shun and discard them.

He demanded setting up of fast-track special courts for dispensing speedy justice to those young married Punjabi girls who fell prey to fraudulent NRI grooms, and to those Punjabi youths who were defrauded by shady travel agents. The party further demanded a legal provision by which the victimised married girls be given the right to possession immovable and moveable properties of the in-laws for her future sustenance and that special cells in the police be set up to register FIRs against the parents and other family members of the fraudulent grooms.

Mr Ramoowalia also expressed concern at the rapid fall in ground water table and urged the government to come out with a White Paper detailing reasons thereof and the remedial steps to retrieve the situation as well as the measures to remove unemployment. The party also demanded to know the underlying reasons for the flight of capital from Punjab and shifting of industries to other states.

The party chief assured those gathered here of his continued struggle for the welfare of kisans, Dalits, Backward Classes, NRIs, RMPs, ex-servicemen, traders, shopkeepers, truck, taxi and other forms of vehicles, students, youth, unemployed and those connected with self-generating employment.

The Lok Bhalai Party also opposed the entry of such corrupt, criminal and anti-social elements into politics who, for the sake of grabbing political power made blatant use of drugs and other malpractices. The party condemned the overall growth of lawlessness and its abetment and urged upon the government servants to curb this evil trend. “We appeal to the intellectuals and the administrative machinery to remain vigilant and protect the government officials from the abuse of politicians,” he added.

The Lok Bhalai Party also assured affordable and quality education for male and female students. The party also viewed religion as a means of spiritual power and condemned the use of religion for political gains and proposed that a syllabus to that effect be included in the school curriculum for bringing awareness amongst the young generation.



We’ll check graft: Pandey
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 2
“Corruption will not be tolerated on any front and we will ensure that the guilty are punished”, said Mr A.P. Pandey, Additional Director-General of Police-cum-Chief Director, Vigilance Bureau, Punjab, today. He was in the city to inaugurate a fully upgraded trauma intensive care unit at Guru Teg Bahadur Charitable Hospital.

During a brief interaction with mediapersons, Mr Pandey said recently the department had arrested a surgeon from Patiala and property papers worth Rs 4 crore were seized from him. “He used to collect Rs 9 to 10 lakh per month and in the past one and a half years, he had collected more than Rs 2 crore”.

Asked as to what action would be taken against doctors found absent, Mr Pandey said disciplinary action would be taken by the department only.

Appreciating the medical services being provided by the hospital at concessional rates, Mr Pandey stressed the need for providing medical facilities at cheaper rates to the poor, who were unable to pay the huge expenses. He urged the managements of all hospitals to follow in the footsteps of GTB Hospital in serving the poor and needy.

About the latest facilities to be provided through the new unit, Dr Waheguru Pal Singh, Medical Superintendent, said with this latest technology, the facilities in the hospital had been brought on a par with those in other hospitals in the state. He said the hospital was fully computerised and a new chapter had been opened with the addition of the trauma care unit. He said facilities like endoscopy, laparoscopic surgery, physiotherapy and a separate skin unit were also available in the hospital.

Among others present on the occasion were Dr Harkanwal Kaur, Mrs G.K. Walia, Principal, Institute of Nursing Education, Mr Bharatbir Singh Sobti, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mr Kanwaljit Singh Sandhu, SSP, Vigilance, Mr Harish Kumar, SP, City 1, Bakshi Mohinder Singh and Mr Joginder Singh Sethi.



Labourers protest hike in royalty
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 2
Members of the Lal Jhanda Mazdoor Union, working with sand miners, today sat on a dharna to protest against the hike in royalty of sand by the contractors outside the office of the Deputy Commissioner.

The labourers were accompanied by their families. They stated that while the rates of royalty were hiked, the sand had gone costlier and hence there were no takers for it. The labourers were losing their jobs.

The issue has been rocking the city for the past many days. A few days ago truck operators in the mining business had protested against the charging of royalty and when the matter was yet to settle down, the labourers picked up the cudgels against the contractors.

Addressing the participants, Mr Amarnath Koomkalan, president, CITU, said the contractors had hiked the rate of royalty from Rs 140 per truck to Rs 500 per truck. This had led to the hike in prices of sand and hence there were no takers for the same. The labourers were forced to sit at home and their families were fearing starvation.

Quoting the Contract Labour Regulation Abolition Act, 1970, Mr Koomkalan said the attendance register of labourers working in this sector should be maintained. He added that it was surprising that the contractors had to pay one third amount of royalty to the owner of the fields, being used for mining sand, but it were the labourers who were actually paying for the same.



Contractual workers’ sack decried
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, June 2
The Local Bodies Department has come under criticism for terminating services of six sweepers, two octroi clerks and one plumber, who have been working on a contract basis at Nagar Panchayat here for the past eight years.

Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, former Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, expressed concern over the “dictatorial” decision of the state government. Mr Atwal said the government should have extended the tenure of the workers on contract basis if it was not possible to confirm all of them.

Mr Vijay Dhanav, convener of the Bhartiya Valmiki Dharam Samaj, has also condemned the decision of the government. He has urged the government to immediately withdraw its orders. He threatened that the association would launch an agitation if their demands were not met.

The councillors of the Nagar Panchayat, Mr Ujjagar Singh, Mr Sushil Luthra and Mr Ashok Sood, have also taken a serious note of this hasty decision of the government. They have appealed to the government to extend the tenure of the employees.



Patwaris stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 2
Members of Revenue Patwar Union, Ludhiana tehsil, today staged a dharna outside the office of Subdivisional Magistrate in favour of their long pending demands.
In a communique by the District Secretary, Mr Balbir Singh, the demands of patwaris, including the implementation of pay scale of Rs 5480-8925 and travelling allowances, were not met with as yet.

The patwaris raised slogans against the attitude of the authorities and criticised the former Akali government for their anti-patwari policies.


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