Thursday, July 17, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Making personal issue Panthic, Badal style
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
Is the Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, justified in projecting a personal crisis as a "Sikh" crisis?

One can understand the political compulsions of the leaders, who speak out in support of the Badals or against the Capt. Amarinder Singh Government. One cannot understand the compulsions of the media which has whipped up the government’s anti-corruption campaign as futile and presented it as a political witchhunt against the Badals? Even a seasoned journalist had toed this line in an article in an English daily, making Badal look like a sacrificial goat at the altar of politics of Amarinder Singh’s "personal vendetta’’.

Mr Badal is trying to make corruption cases against his family as a "Sikh" or Panth issue, something he did not do when his own former ministers were under the vigilance scanner. A beleaguered Badal had almost succeeded in giving a ‘’communal’’ dimension to the issue through an advertisement campaign. He also twisted his personal crisis by involving Ms Sonia Gandhi, making it once again "Congress vs Sikhs’’.

Now for the first time, several Sikh organisations have joined hands to question Mr Badal as to why he was twisting a personal crisis making the vulnerable Sikhs believe as if it was an "attack’’ on the Sikhs and the Panth. It is unfortunate to read Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar say that the Congress was trying to brand all Sikhs "corrupt’’ having first branded them as "terrorists and separatists’’. Why was he silent when former Akali ministers were booked on corruption charges or when Sikh Congressmen were indicted by the Lokpal on corruption charges?

No senior Akali leader, has so far, openly defended the Badals or endorsed his line that the Sikhs or the Panth is in “danger’’. Even Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra was cautious in his comments last week in Patiala. “Allegations are raised when there is something wrong with a person. Badal Sahib did not take any action against the Congress ministers indicted by the Lok Pal during his government. Had he done that things would have been different today’’. Tohra did not speak against the anti-corruption campaign but he criticised the methodology.

The Movement Against State Repression and Human Rights activist, Justice A.S. Bains, asked, “How the Panth is in danger, if someone is digging into corruption during Badal’s time? Badal himself is anti-Panthic’’. He pointed out the correctness of the corruption charges would be proved or rejected by the courts. But morally and ethically Mr Badal should not have dragged in the Sikhs or the Panth into his personal crisis and exploit the Sikh sentiments. Similar were the views of the World Sikh Council Chairman, Kulbir Singh Kaura. The Khalsa Panchayat convener, Mr Rajinder Singh, said it was amusing to see Badal raise a hue and cry and complain now. Why was he silent when his own former ministers were in jail? Dr Kharak Singh, a Sikh scholar, felt that it was blatantly wrong on the part of any leader to project a personal crisis as a "Sikh or Panthic’’ crisis. None of the existing bodies, may it be the Akali Dal or the SGPC, is concerned about the Panthic’ affairs. Even the "reformist’’ orgnisations like the Khalsa Panchayat etc were creating more problems and not following a responsible approach.

Khalistan protagonist, Jagjit Singh Chohan has threatened to expose the Badals while Mr Gurtej Singh, a Professor of Sikhism, has decried Mr Badal for exploiting innocent Sikhs in the name of the Panth by trying to palm off personal crisis as Sikh or Panthic issues.


Who will head SGPC?
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 16
Even as Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, Shiromani Akali Dal, has categorically stated that Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra will replace Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar tomorrow, the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, reads that only an executive member could be appointed to the coveted post in the emergency meeting. There is no provision in the Act to appoint a member of the General House as an office-bearer straightway.

Clause 65 of the Act about the filling of the vacancies of office-bearers clearly mentions that the vacancy of an office-bearer could be filled from the executive members only. However, if Mr Tohra has to replace Mr Badungar in the emergency meeting which could be convened with a prior notice of 24 hours of 72 hours only, one of the executive members will have to resign to pave the way for Mr Tohra.

In case Mr Tohra wishes to get his confidant appointed as the next chief till the calling of the general house meeting (it could be convened with a notice of 21 days) Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, Mr Partap Singh, Advocate and Mr Gurbax Singh Purain could succeed Mr Badungar till the regular appointment of Mr Tohra.


Rethink move on Sehajdharis, says Sikh Sangat
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, July 16
The Rashtriya Sikh Sangat has expressed its deep concern over the decision of the NDA government to debar the Sehajdharis from exercising their right to vote during the general elections to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

Regretting the decision, Mr Sewa Singh Chawla, state unit president of the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat today said this would drive a large number of Sehajdharis to adopt other paths who strictly believe in Sikh maryada and the Guru Granth Sahib.

Mr Chawla said this step would encourage anti-national forces engaged in disturbing the peace in the country, particularly in Punjab which had got respite from militancy after a long period. He said since 1925 more than 30 per cent of Sehajdharis were having the right to vote and depriving them from this opportunity at this stage may also affect bonhomie between Hindus and Sikhs.

He said all 10 Sikh gurus always preached for strengthening the nation free from caste and creed barriers.

The 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh created Khalsa by bringing five members from different castes, Mr Chawla said. He appealed to the Union Government to reconsider its decision in the interest of the country. He appealed to senior Sikh leaders and representatives of the SGPC to rethink in this regard to strengthen the ties of secularism in the state.


Sehajdharis decry move on voting rights
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
The Sehajdhari Sikh Federation has condemned the move of the Union Home Ministry, debarring “Sehajdharis” from exercising their right to vote during the general election of the SGPC.

The president of the federation, Dr Paramjeet Singh Ranu, in a statement issued today claimed that “Sehajdharis” were an integral part of the Sikh religion and every Amritdhari Sikh before adopting baptism was a “sehajdhari.”

CPWD to take over Galiara Yojana work
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, July 16
In a significant decision, the work of the remaining two phases of the Galiara Yojana (corridor action plan for the beautification of the surroundings of the Golden Temple), pending for the past seven years, would be undertaken by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD). Earlier, the works of beautification and civic amenities were under the supervision of the district administration, with the local municipal corporation as its implementing authority.

However, even as the Central Government recently agreed to provide Rs 55 crore for the yojna, the completion of phase IV and V entails uprooting of shopkeepers outside the main temple entry point, who have been running their businesses for more than a century.

The recent decision to release funds has once again brought into focus the plight of hundreds of small shopkeepers whose properties would be acquired, Mr Nand Kumar, president of the Chowk Ghantaghar Market Association, told TNS.

In 1971, the shops were demolished by the Improvement Trust to widen Chowk Ghantaghar, their uprooting once again would ruin them as their business depends on pilgrims and tourists at the Golden Temple, they pleaded.

The association president said the matter of vacating the shops was earlier taken up in 1988 and 1995, but was dropped after the ‘genuine’ problems of shopkeepers were highlighted. Mr Shiv Kumar, another shopkeeper, said meetings with high-ups like Dr Kewal Krishan, former Finance and Local Bodies Minister, and Mr N.K. Arora, Principal Secretary in 1996 unanimously resolved that this issue be dropped forever. However, fear looms large on these shopkeepers, who resent the move to be resettled once again.

Meanwhile the sanctioned amount of Rs 55 crore would be utilised to complete the remaining works in Phase IV and V. While Rs 15.42 crore would be spent on parking, including underground, Rs 90 lakh would be spent on underground “jorha ghar” (shoe room) and Rs 9.58 crore on landscaping, including sanitary, lighting works and construction of roads.


Kanjili wetland wears deserted look
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Kanjili (Kapurthala) July 16
Kanjili wetland wears a deserted look these days because of the government’s failure to restore its lost glory.

The wetland was a popular tourist spot till the onset of militancy. But now the lake has a thick growth of weeds, its water level is very low and there is a stink emanating from the slush in certain areas of the lake bed. These conditions are driving away visitors and tourists.

A round of the Kanjili lake revealed that it was full of hyacinth which had made boating almost impossible. All eight boats were lying unutilised in a corner. In the name of tourist influx, there were only a few couples from nearby rural areas or a couple of young boys who had come for fishing. The banks of the lake were littered with plastic bags and pouches, while the once beautiful small park on the left side of the lake was full of wild grass. Interestingly, though “kar seva” was initiated by certain politicians about five months back when about 100 tractors were pressed into service to clear the right bank of the lake of wild growth, but its effect was not visible anywhere. “ They had just done it to attain cheap popularity. Had it been a serious effort things would have been different,” remarked Rakesh, a visitor and a resident of Kapurthala. A chat with some visitors revealed that Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal, a Sikh saint, and a large number of people of the area, were actively involved in clearing a major part of the Kali Bein rivulet, which is the source of water supply to the lake, of hyacinth and other weeds. They also maintained that migratory birds had also stopped coming in winters for want of fresh water in the lake.

Rajesh, an employee of the canteen contractor, said in the pre-terrorism days the average number of visitors to the lake was 125. But now the number has trickled down to just 20 every day. “Since there is no water, people think the place is closed,” he said.

When contacted, Mr Rakesh Kumar Verma, Deputy Commissioner, Kapurthala, said water was being released into the Kali Bein from Mukerian headworks and it was likely to take 10 to 15 days to reach the lake.


Move to shift Baba Farid varsity
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
There is a move to shift Baba Farid University of Health and Medical Sciences from Faridkot to Jalandhar. The university was set up at Faridkot by the SAD-BJP government about four years ago.

The university is functioning in a three-room building taken on rent from the Punjab tourism department. In fact, the Tourism Department has already served a notice on the university authorities to vacate the building. “We are looking for another building to shift our offices”, said a senior official of the university.

Though about 157 acre of land has been acquired for establishing the university campus at Faridkot no work has been started owing to paucity of funds. Sources said about Rs 3 crore had been kept aside for the current financial year in the state budget which was too meagre for the purpose.

There are only two medical men — Vice-Chancellor, J.S. Gujral and Registrar A.S. Sekhon — in the university, besides 60 other employees.

Sources said the Government was thinking to shift the University to the Institute of Medical Sciences and Research at Jalandhar, the campus of which was near completion. A 500-bed hospital was attached to it.

There would be 100 MBBS seats in the institute where admission was expected to start from the next academic session (2004). The institute for which a sum of Rs 156 crore had been provided by the Central Government was spread over 25 acres.

Chaudhary Santokh Singh, Minister for Medical Education and Research, said the Baba Farid university was facing several problems. One of the suggestions was to shift it to Jalandhar where all infrastructure was available. Most of the medical teachers avoid posting at Faridkot, he reasoned.

Though there is move to shift the university from Faridkot, the state government will have to face political resistance to implement such a decision. Former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had taken a personal initiative for setting up the university there. He was expected to make it a big political issue.

Meanwhile, the government has decided to spend Rs 50 crore on infrastructure in three Government Medical Colleges and Rs 25 crore on dental colleges. A sum of Rs 15 crore had already been released. Almost all cases of promotion of teachers in medical colleges had been cleared. Permission had been sought from government to fill vacant posts of medical teacher in medical colleges on an adhoc basis.

Sources said Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had asked the Health Department authorities that why no order had been issued with regard to the promotion of eight Senior Medical Officers whose names were approved by the departmental promotion committee. Secondly, why no notification had been issued yet declaring Senior Medical Officers as Class-I officers. And why a Senior Medical Officer — chargesheeted in a number of cases — had been appointed as a Civil Surgeon in a district.


CRPF men with CM to be withdrawn

Chandigarh, July 16
Declining the repeated requests of the Punjab Government, the CRPF Director-General has set a deadline of July 18 for the withdrawal of the 119 CRPF battalion, presently attached to the security cover of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

A fresh and revised order in this regard was issued yesterday for shifting the battalion to Sarhan in Himachal Pradesh, while the Punjab Police has been asked to make alternative arrangements for this gap in the Chief Minister’s security.

According to the orders, issued by the CRPF Director-General Mr S.C. Chaube, the 119 battalion was being withdrawn “unilaterally’’, Punjab police officials concerned in the Chief Minister’s Office confirmed adding that they had been asked to make alternative arrangements on their own by using the only other CRPF battalion which was pre-occupied with security cover to other VVIPS and sensitive places.

In its fresh request to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) last week, the Punjab Government had asked for the continuation of the 119 battalion, adding that it would not be possible to make alternative arrangements from the second CRPF battalion, presently occupied for the security cover of VVIPs of the state.

The 124 battalion, the only other CRPF force in Punjab, is providing security cover to the VVIPs including a former Punjab police chief, Mr K.P.S. Gill, the All Indian anti-Terrorist Front chief, Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, the Akali veteran, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, the Hind Samachar Group of Newspapers in Jalandhar, dera of the Radha Soami cult at the Beas near Jalandhar, and to a few other serving and retired IAS and IPS officials who were on the hit list of the militants.

The senior state police officials in the Intelligence wing here maintained that it would be difficult to manage with only one battalion of the CRPF, “when we are receiving reports that at least five Punjab militant organisations are trying to revive their movement with the help of the ISI”.

The state police has, however, chalked out a proposed plan to withdraw some CRPF cops of the 124 battalion from some VVIPs for their deployment with the Chief Minister, a senior police official said on condition of anonymity.

“The cops outside the Punjab police, preferably from the Central security wings like the CRPF, are a must for the Chief Minister’s security,’’ he added. — UNI


Peeved CPI not to attend oath ceremony
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 16
Top leadership of the state unit of the Communist Party of India (CPI) has decided not to attend tomorrow’s function being organised by the state Congress Government for the mass swearing-in of sarpanches and panchayat members of six districts of Ferozepore and Faridkot divisions at stadium in NFL plant colony here.

The CPI leadership has decided not to attend tomorrow’s function to lodge their protest against the alleged discrimination by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in various matters. Apart from it, the CPI leadership has also been feeling humiliated as the name of its lone MP from Bathinda, Mr Bhan Singh Bhora, is missing from the invitation cards distributed in Bathinda and Mansa districts by the respective administrations.

“When the newly elected sarpanches and panchayat members belong to different parties then why are they being sworn-in by a Congress Chief Minister? they asked. Is it a move to congressise democratically elected bodies?”, asked Mr Hardev Arshi, former MLA and senior leader of the CPI.

Mr Bhora, while talking to TNS said he would not attend tomorrow’s function. He said when the Congress and the CPI were having an electoral alliance in Punjab, then his name was not mentioned in the invitation card despite the fact that he was MP from Bathinda which included Mansa district also.

Mr Arshi alleged that authorities concerned should have mentioned the names of all MLAs of the area to which the sarpanches and panchayat members belonged, on the invitation cards, irrespective of the fact whether they belonged to the Congress, SAD or were independent candidates. By mentioning the names of only Congress MLAs on the invitation cards, Capt Amarinder Singh had proved that he too believed in discrimination like his predecessor, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Mr Arshi pointed out that during the budget session of the Vidhan Sabha in 2001, all Congress and CPI MLAs had raised hue and cry against the discrimination being done to them by the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. The MLAs were even suspended from the Vidhan Sabha for this. He said if tomorrow’s function was purely non-political then why the photo of AICC chief Sonia Gandhi had been published in the advertisements inserted in the dailies?

A section of Congress workers has also been feeling humiliated over the format of invitation cards.

In the invitation cards distributed in Bathinda district, the name of Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman, High Powered Committee on Fiscal Reforms, Punjab, who enjoyed Cabinet rank, has been mentioned below the name of state minister, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa.

In tomorrow’s function, as many as 22,000 sarpanches and panchayat members of Bathinda, Mansa, Muktsar, Moga, Faridkot and Ferozepore districts would take oath. The authorities concerned have made elaborate arrangements for the participants and lakhs of rupees are being spent on the same from government coffers. The city is also being decorated for tomorrow’s function.


Kashyap rules out BSP-SAD pact
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 16
Mr Narender Kashyap, in charge of BSP’s affairs in Punjab, today declared that the BSP would not align with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in the forthcoming elections.

Clarifying on Ms Mayawati’s support to former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in the on-going Vigilance action against him in yesterday’s rally in Chandigarh, Mr Kashyap said Ms Mayawati was proving that not only were the Dalits being targeted by Amarinder government, but the political parties were also at the receiving end.

He said the BSP had taken a note of the alleged social boycott of Dalits in some of the villages in the state and very soon a strategy would be chalked out to raise their problems effectively.


SHO ordered to pay Rs 1 lakh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
In just over 10 years after an engineering student disappeared after being kidnapped from his house, Mr Justice K.C. Gupta of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the Station House Officer (SHO), responsible for the offence, to pay Rs 1 lakh as compensation to the victim’s mother.

Giving orders on a petition filed by victim Gurdeep Singh’s mother Manjit Kaur, Mr Justice Gupta ruled: “According to a letter from an Under Secretary on behalf of the Home Affairs and Justice Department to Additional Director General of Police (Crime), an inquiry was conducted by Kharar’s Sub-Divisional Officer. He stated in his report that on March 6, 1993, SHO Avtar Singh, along with a police party, kidnapped Gurdeep Singh from his house and his whereabouts were not known”.

Mr Justice Gupta further ruled: “The then Punjab Chief Minister had ordered that a case should be registered against the accused and the police officials responsible for Gurdeep Singh’s kidnapping.”

The Judge concluded: “The SDM’s report clearly indicts the police officials for kidnapping of Gurdeep Singh. The report was approved by the Ropar Deputy Commissioner. Since, Gurdeep Singh has not been traced out so far, the only inference is that he has been done away with or killed in an encounter. In such circumstances, SHO Avtar Singh is directed to pay Rs 1 lakh as compensation within three months.”


Narottam gets bail in ISI-link case
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, July 16
The Additional District and Sessions Judge, Faridkot, Mr Fateh Deep Singh, today granted bail in an ISI-links case to Narottam Singh Dhillon, a close relative of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, a former Chief Minister. He is under judicial custody at Central Jail at Patiala in another case.

The defence counsels alleged that the police had failed to prove any charge of illegal activity against Dhillon and even the Vigilance Bureau had not recovered any incriminating document or material from him.

The Lambi police had last month charged Dhillon with indulging in anti-national activities in connivance with the ISI.

Rapist gets 10 years in jail

Ferozepore, July 16
Amarjit Singh of Pandori Khatarian village was today sentenced to 10-years in jail and a fine of Rs 5,000 was imposed on him by fast-track court judge B.S. Sandhu on the charge of having raped a two-year-old village girl in her home on December 6, 2000.

The accused was caught in the act by the family of the victim and handed over to the Zeera police, which had registered a case of rape and criminal trespass against him. — UNI


Police may appear as witness during trials
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
Police officials, partly or completely involved in the investigation of certain criminal cases, will be asked to appear before the courts as witness during trials — if the recommendations of the recently appointed Law Commission are accepted by the state of Punjab.

The recommendations by the Commission headed by Justice A.S. Garg are significant as a substantial number of cases, even the ones involving heinous crimes, are “failing” due to non-appearance of the police officials before the courts of competent jurisdiction.

According to sources in the police department, so many accused booked under the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, were getting away scot free as the gazetted police officers, present at the time of search and recovery, were not appearing before the courts. The sources added that the amendment would go a long way in assisting the courts in dispensing justice.

The Commission, has also suggested penal action by the department concerned if the official witnesses fails to appear before the courts to depose.

Confirming the information, Commission Chairman Justice Garg said the amendment would come into force only after consulting the department concerned, besides the state Chief Minister.

The Commission, it may be recalled, was appointed by the Punjab Government for carrying out necessary amendments in the existing rules and the regulations. The Commission, Justice Garg revealed, would also suggest amendments in the Court Fees Act, the Stamp Act, the Police Rules, besides the Police Act, along with other legislations.

It may be recalled that the Punjab and Haryana High Court has already taken a serious view of the prosecuting agencies’ failure to secure the presence of official witnesses in criminal cases.

Taking up a petition filed by an Amritsar resident, Mr Justice Amar Dutt had directed Punjab and Haryana’s Directors-General of Police, besides Inspector-General of Chandigarh Police, to issue instructions for improving the functioning of the criminal courts as far as the summoning of witnesses was concerned.

Issuing the directions, Mr Justice Dutt had directed the authorities that instructions should also be issued by heads of the police force requesting all officials, served for appearance, to be present in the court on the date fixed, lest disciplinary proceedings were initiated against them.

The Judge had added that the service of summons, or securing the presence of senior officers, should be effected through immediate controlling officer. He would ensure that the officer reached the court on time.


Punjab-Railways pact on fruit tree plantation soon
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 16
The issue pertaining to the plantation of trees along the railway track, which has been hanging fire for the past many years is likely to be settled shortly as efforts have been started to work out an agreement with the Railways by the Punjab Government.

The Punjab Government has completed all formalities in this regard and has taken up the matter with the Railways to get permission to carry out plantation along the railway track falling in the state territory after reaching an agreement. Under the agreement, fruit trees would be planted alongside the railway track and the Railways would be allowed to retain the money generated from these fruit trees.

Mr P. Ram, Secretary, Department of Forests, Punjab, while talking to TNS today said the matter had been discussed with the quarters concerned and an agreement with the Railways would be inked soon as all hurdles had been removed. He added that the opinion of Legal Remembrance was being taken on it.

He pointed out that in order to increase forest cover in the state, Forest Development Agencies (FDAs) would be set up at city and village level. These FDAs would be funded directly. The FDAs would be tasked to plant revenue-generating fruit trees so that fruits could be produced in large quantity. He added that all religious, social and educational institutions would be asked to set up their own nurseries to promote plantation of fruit trees.

“ I have decided to cover about 70 per cent area of Punjab with forest. The existing forest cover is only in six per cent area of the state. People will be motivated to meet the target”, he pointed out.

Apart from it, the district and block-level coordination committees would be set up to cover the vacant patches with plants. All Municipal Corporations and A-class Municipal Councils in the state had been asked to contribute 50 per cent of the expenses to be incurred on the plantation in their respective areas. The institutions and voluntary organisations would be given saplings at subsidised rates under the forestry aid scheme.

He claimed that under the afforestation project aided by Japanese Government, about 58,000 hectares of area had been covered in first phase while in the second phase 20,000 hectares had been covered so far. He said as per the survey conducted by TATA Energy Research Institute (TERI), the survival rate of plants planted under the Japanese project was around 85 to 90 percent.

“We have asked the Japanese government to conduct any type of checking as every thing is transparent. The aid worth Rs 450 crore given by the Japanese government has been used in the prescribed manner”, he said and added that according to some complaints it had been alleged that a part of this aid had been misutilised or had been bungled by a section of officials of the department. Now the village-level committee would be set up to employ labourers for planting trees under this project to check malpractices, he said.


Order on pharmacists stayed under pressure?
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 16
The staying of an order, issued by the Director, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, on June 10 with regard to the enforcement of the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act has put a question mark over the credibility of the office of the Director, as pharmacists feel that the order had been stayed by the Director under political pressure.

As per the letter, issued on June 10 to the civil surgeons and the State Drugs Controller by the Director, the civil surgeons had been asked to ensure that all chemists and druggists outlets had qualified pharmacists and they should wear a white apron with his or her name displayed on it.

The Director in the letter had also asked the civil surgeons to give one week’s time to all chemists and druggists to comply with the instructions and submit a physical verification certificate within a fortnight in this regard.

Interestingly, while the Director had asked the civil surgeons to submit their report within 15 days about the compliance of instructions the Director stayed his own order in this regard after 23 days.

Mr Dhiraj Pishoria, a leader of the local Democratic Pharmacist Front, talking to TNS here yesterday said the staying of the order had put a question mark over the “anti-corruption” drive of the state government.

Mr Pishoria said the Director had issued the June 10 order after receiving complaints from different parts of the state that unqualified pharmacists were running chemist shops.

He has also asked the Punjab Chief Minister to order an inquiry into the matter to bring out the truth.


Sangrur police launches de-addiction plan
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
“De-addict yourself before you rid society of this serious social menace” is the motto on which the Sangrur Police has modelled its programme to fight alcoholism and drug addiction. It launched its first de-addiction programme today with 20 personnel addicted to alcohol. The programme, the first of its kind in this part of the country, was inaugurated by Mr I.P.S. Sahota, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Patiala Range. The initiative taken by Sangrur police chief A.S. Rai was appreciated and Mr Sahota announced that this programme would be introduced in other police districts of the range.

For Mr A.S. Rai, the programme is three-pronged as it will not only de-addict policemen but also optimise cops’ potential, besides improving their behaviour with public. Initially, 20 pre-identified chronic cases are being referred to the de-addiction centre. “There are some cases of addiction to poppy husk or opium. We will take up these cases later on,” says Mr A.S. Rai.

Alcoholism affects operational efficiency, besides being a major prompter in police misbehaviour with public. It has been seen that most of those who defaulted in their professional duty were alcoholic, and needed help to get out of this debilitating disease, says Dr R.K. Bansal, Senior Medical Officer (SMO), Police Lines, Sangrur.

Says Mr Rai ,”What prompted us to undertake this project was the realisation that some of our employees had been either absenting themselves from duty or there were repeated complaints of public misbehaviour against them. A closer scrutiny and personal interviews with these employees revealed that they had become alcoholic.

Dr Bansal has drawn up a full plan to make this programme a success. Keeping in quarantine of identified alcoholics in the Police Lines hospital for a period of 10 days is the first step. During this period, they will be administered drugs for neutralising toxins, which excessive consumption of alcohol has deposited in their bodies. They will be provided with the services of a professional psychiatrist. Their family members, religious instructors will be at hand to help them to cope up with the trauma of withdrawal symptoms. Their diet schedule has been drawn up in consultation with a dietician.


Damage to newly built road upsets minister
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 16
Taking a serious view of the total damage to the approach roads laid just one month ago connecting newly built Sirsa river bridge, the Minister of PWD (B&R), Punjab, has directed the Secretary, PWD (B&R), to fix responsibility on the officer in charge of inspecting the road work.

Motivated by the news reports regarding the poor standard of the road, the minister inspected the damaged road yesterday.

The road had been constructed at a cost of about Rs 3 crore by a Chandigarh-based company — Ms United Contractors. However, allegedly due to the poor compaction of the soil put to raise the level of road, it could not sustain even the pre-monsoon showers.

In a press note issued here today the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, said the minister had directed the executing agency to get the damaged road repaired at its own cost. The executing agency has also been directed to complete the work of relaying the road within three months. A notice in this regard has already been issued to the above said company.

The minister was also made aware of the problem regarding the construction of the approaches to the bridge on the Siswan river on the Ropar-Chamkaur Sahib road.


Laparoscopic surgery in Civil Hospital
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 16
Mr Yogesh Chander Markan, Civil Surgeon, while addressing a press conference here this yesterday said laparoscopic surgery for almost all types of operation had been introduced recently in the civil hospital which was second such hospital in Punjab after Ludhiana.

In private hospitals, Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 were being charged for laparoscopic operation whereas a patient had to pay only Rs 500 for it in the civil hospital.

To separate blood cells, cryophage, a blood component separator, had been installed for preparing blood slides in dengue fever. This facility was only available in the CMC and the DMC, Ludhiana. These institutions were charging Rs 2000 to Rs 3000 for preparing slides per unit. Whereas Rs 150 per unit was being charged for this facility in the hospital.

The Civil Surgeon said an intensive cardiac care unit had been set up in this hospital.

Arrangements for all types of biochemistry tests in hospital laboratories had also been made. Audiometery and impedance audiometery machines had been installed for ear test.

Replying to a question, he said almost all the life-saving drugs were available in this hospital and there was no shortage of any medicine.


Secretaries involved in felling scam, says inquiry
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 16
Mr P. Ram, Secretary, Department of Forests, Punjab, said today that a number of senior officials, including some secretary-level officers were involved in the multi-crore tree felling scam in Ropar district in which Dr Harbans Lal, the then Forest Minister, was indicted after he conducted an inquiry into it.

Mr P. Ram, while talking to TNS here today, said in his inquiry a number of officials had been indicted. The state government had now handed over the inquiry to the Vigilance Bureau to find out the criminal liabilities of officials involved in the scam.

Dr Harbans Lal was sacked from the Cabinet by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, after he was indicted by Mr P. Ram in his inquiry.

Asked how many officials were involved in the scam and their names, he said he would not like to comment on it.


Punjab launches website
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
Anyone looking for information on industry, trade and commerce, agriculture, finance, education, tourism, besides the historical, geographical and political aspects of Punjab, can log on to the new official website of the Punjab Government

The website was launched here today by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. .

The Chief Minister said the portal featured a comprehensive database of information pertaining to Punjab.

Interestingly, a special section had been dedicated to the government’s ongoing fight against corruption, giving an update on various cases listed so far.

A specially created citizen support cell, shall allow people to communicate their grievances via the portal directly to the authorities and expect prompt replies.


Cops to help dig wells
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, July 16
Under its new concept of community policing for greater interaction between the police and the people, the Faridkot police, in collaboration with panchayats plans to dig wells through kar sewa to collect rainwater for recharging the groundwater level for improving irrigation facilities in the district. Under the new venture, one or two wells with a minimum diameter of 15 ft and a depth of up to 30 metres will be dug.

This system will also prove helpful in improving the drinking water supply after cleaning the collected water. All 180 villages in the district will be brought under the venture during the next six months, said Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, district police chief, while addressing a gathering of villagers after inaugurating a well at Ghudu Wala village, 20 km from here, today.

Praising the villagers for electing their representatives in a peaceful manner in the recent panchayat elections, the SSP said special identity cards will be issued by the police to all sarpanches to meet senior police officials to redress the grievances of residents of their respective areas without any hurdle.


NGOs told to apply for aid

Fatehgarh Sahib July 16
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, has said that the Society For Service To Voluntary Agencies (north) had decided to give grant-in-aid for the year 2003-04 to those NGOs which have been registered under the Societies Registration Act or as public trust and have three years experience in the field of health, social security, women and child development or drug de-addiction.

The Deputy Commissioner said application forms and guidelines in this would be obtained from the office of the society, Room No. 18, Karuna Sadan Building, Sector-11 B, Chandigarh, either personally or by sending a self-addressed and stamped envelope. The completed application should reach this office by July 31. OC


Green cover plan for Ferozepore
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, July 16
The district administration has envisaged a massive proposal to restore the pristine glory of this once prosperous district and provide a green cover to this border region by planting saplings on the government and panchayat land besides along all main and link roads. While stating this during a meeting of the District Development Board, Mr Vikas Pratap, Deputy Commissioner, revealed that all SDM’s of the district had been instructed to plant at least 20,000 saplings each within the next 15 days in their respective jurisdiction.


2 ragis killed in mishap
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 16
Two scooter-borne persons were killed when their vehicle was hit by a truck near Badbar village, 18 km from here, on the Sangrur-Barnala road today.

These men were ragis who were going to Bahadurpur village near Mastuana Sahib to take part in a religious function. Both were named Makhan Singh.


New health policy on anvil: Kamboj
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 16
Col Charandip Singh Kamboj, Chairman, Punjab Health Systems Corporation, has said a new health policy for Punjab was on the anvil. He was talking to mediapersons at his native village, Ranipur Kamboa, today.

“We have taken a revolutionary project of primary and the secondary health services in Punjab with World Bank officials so that both of these become complimentary”, he said. There was a plan to open chemist shops inside hospitals, he added.


No polio case in state, says expert
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 16
The Punjab Directorate Health Service member, Dr J.G. Vohra, today said that the surveillance programme of polio had revealed that no fresh case of polio myllitus had been registered in the state.

He gave this information while delivering a lecture on the surveillance of polio myllitus cases (AFP) organised by the Civil Surgeon, Patiala here today. All senior medical officials of the district, members of Indian Medical Association and doctors from Rajindera Hospital participated in the workshop.

Earlier, a two day workshop on breast-feeding was also organised by the Civil Surgeon in collaboration with an NGO society for services to voluntary agencies. Speaking on the occasion Dr Vaishnav highlighted the importance of breast feeding. Civil Surgeon Inderjit Kaur Walia and Dr Tajinder Singh from CMC, Ludhiana, also spoke.


PSEB officers listen to farmers’ grievances
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 16
Farmers of the district today got an opportunity to express their grievances to the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities at a special on-the-spot grievances redressal meeting at Khanauri. They complained about overloaded transformers and demanded the starting of a special scheme for release of tubewell connections, besides highlighting the necessity of 24-hour power supply to farm houses.

Other demands of the farmers included establishment of a grid substation at Mauliwala village and reduction in per BHP fee applicable to farmers under the Voluntary Disclosure Scheme.

Mr S.K. Anand, Board Member, Distribution, listened to the grievances of the village panchayats of Shergarh, Sagra, Arno, Galoli, Bhoolan, Khanauri, Gulad and Tejpur.

The Superintendent Engineer (Operations), the Senior Executive Engineer (Operations) and Sub-Divisional Officers of Patran division were present on the occasion.

Mr Baljinder Singh, sarpanch of Tejpur village, requested for commissioning of the new grid substation at Arno village claiming that the one at Khanauri was overloaded. Mr Dalbir Singh of Bhullan said the 11 kv line should be moved away from the village pond as it could result in electrocution of cattle.

The sarpanch of Galoli village requested the replacement of wooden poles of the 11 kv line to the village.

Puran Singh of Sagra urged that after the commissioning of the new grid station at Arno, the work on the 24-hour supply line to their village should be completed at the earliest.

Mr S.K. Anand said the board had launched a Voluntary Disclosure Scheme for regularisation of unauthorised load. He said a large number of transformers were required as farmers had increased the capacity of their motors.

Mr Anand stated that new transformers would be installed as soon as possible. He also said that the board had to spend Rs 7,000 per BHP for regularisation of load, but only Rs 4,000 per BHP were being charged from the farmers.


SDO, JE suspended on bribe charge
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 16
Mr Raman Bhalla, administrative member of the PSEB, today suspended a Subdivisional Officer, Kashmir Singh, and a Junior Engineer, Bakshish Singh, of Patti subdivision for allegedly taking a bribe to instal an additional transformer in the fields of Kirpal Singh, a farmer, during a meeting for the redressal of public grievances at Patti in Tarn Taran here today.

Kirpal Singh, in an affidavit, had alleged that the two (SDO and JE) had taken a bribe of Rs 20,000 from him to instal the transformer. He said they neither installed the transformer nor returned the money.

Earlier, Mr Bhalla disclosed that the PSEB was contemplating to instal a 2,000 MW thermal plant in Chhattisgarh in a joint venture with Gujarat, Delhi and the National Thermal Power Corporation to increase the efficiency of generating electricity. He said about 500 MW would be distributed to Punjab under this joint venture.

He said the PSEB would also establish hydro powerhouses at Uttaranchal for generating more electricity and talks were in an advanced stage with the Uttaranchal Government in this regard.

He said the PSEB would release about 30,000 more tubewell connections during the current financial year. He also directed the officials concerned to replace eight damaged transformers in Patti within two days.


12 PSEB employees suspended
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, July 16
Mr S.K. Duggal, Superintending Engineer, PSEB, Gurdaspur circle, has placed 12 employees under suspension for various irregularities committed by them during the performance of their duty.

In a press note issued today, he identified the employees placed under suspension as Jeewan Lal and Onkar Nath, both UDCs in Dina Nagar, Shinku Ram and Amarjit Singh, JE-I and JE-II, respectively, in Batala division, Ashok Kumar, UDC, Batala division, Baldev Raj Assistant Lineman and Raghunath Singh, LDC in Srihargobindpur, Prem Singh, Lineman, Gurdaspur division, Joginder Singh, work charge, Pargat Singh, cashier, Puran Chand, SSO, Kalanaur subdivision, Yash Pal lineman, and Varinder Kumar, junior meter reader.

Mr Duggal said the charges against the employees include misappropriation of government funds and revenue stamps, release of connections contrary to rules with malafide intention, consumption of electricity by illegal means and seeking illegal gratification from consumers.

Mr Duggal said six cashiers involved in misappropriation of cash received against payment of bills in Batala subdivision had already been charge-sheeted.


PUDA office restricts public entry
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, July 16
In an apparent move to check corruption rampant in Punjab Urban Development Authority’s (PUDA) Estate Office here, the Estate Officer has banned the entry of public, including property dealers, beyond the first floor of the office.

All facilities for public dealing are on the first floor. The Estate Officer and Assistant Estate Officer dealing with various files will meet the public between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on all working days.

The decision has been taken to check corruption which had been on the rise due to the public’s easy accessibility to the staff belonging to lower cadres.

The orders follow a decision taken during the monthly meeting of PUDA at its headquarters.

Meanwhile, the Property Dealers Association here has threatened to start an agitation against this move, alleging that it would only serve to add to their woes and make progress of files in the Estate Office more difficult.

Last week several powers had been taken away from the Estate Officer and delegated to the three Assistant Estate Officers in the office here.


Tyagi Chief Auditor, Coops
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
Mr Ajay Tyagi has been appointed Chief Auditor, cooperative societies, Punjab.

He was working as Additional Chief Auditor, Government of Punjab, before his selection to the post by the Punjab Public Service Commission.

Mr Tyagi joined as Audit Officer in 1983 and held the posts of Deputy Chief Auditor, Joint Chief Auditor apart from Additional Chief Auditor.


DC raids ward numbers 9,10

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 16
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, made a surprise check of Ward No 9 and 10 of the Municipal Council Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib.

During the visit, he expressed satisfaction over the cleanliness of the area. He found some illegal encroachments on the municipal land and directed municipal officials to remove these. He also directed them to ensure that there were no encroachments on the municipal land. — OC


Prisoner escapes
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 16
A prisoner, Hatinder Kumar, resident of Sonepat lodged in Central Jail, escaped from Guru Nanak Dev Hospital yesterday. He was under treatment in the hospital. Four wardens, who were on the duty, had been suspended in this regard. They are Head Warden Jaswant Singh and wardens Pargat Singh, Gurnam Singh and Jagir Singh. 


Pro-VC goes on leave without informing VC
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 16
A confrontation is on the cards between the Vice-Chancellor and the Pro-Vice-Chancellor with the latter continuing to proceed on leave without seeking the permission of the former as desired by him.

Varsity Pro-Vice-Chancellor Dr R.N. Pal recently proceeded on leave to attend a meeting of some literary organisation despite the fact that he had been informed by the university authorities that he must take permission for the same from Vice Chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai.

Varsity Public Relations Director Dr Baldev Singh Sandhu when contacted on the matter, said the Pro-Vice-Chancellor had not taken permission before proceeding on leave. He said the Pro VC was a whole time member of the university and it was mandatory for him to inform the Vice-Chancellor before leaving the station.

The university spokesman said the Pro VC could not leave the station as per his wishes even if it was to attend a meeting of any research organisation or other university. He said even the varsity Chancellor and Punjab Governor Justice O.P. Verma (retd) had been informed regarding the issue. He said the university had taken a stand that nobody could be given blanket permission to leave the station at his choice as requested by Dr R.N. Pal.

Dr Sandhu said earlier the Pro-Vice-Chancellor when asked to take permission before leaving the university, had written a letter to the Chancellor asking that he be allowed blanket permission to proceed on leave to attend meetings of various research organisations and university bodies of which he was a member. He said the Governor had forwarded the letter to the university. He said the university had accordingly sent a reply to the Governor on the issue.

Meanwhile the Pro Vice Chancellor has already chided the Registrar for addressing a letter to him on behalf of the Vice Chancellor asking him to furnish details, if any, of earlier permissions taken by him to attend meetings of the research bodies and institutions of which he was a member. The Pro Vice Chancellor had clearly indicated to the Registrar that he could not write such letters to him and asked him to maintain due decoram in future.

The university has as such made the post of the Pro Vice Chancellor redundant and keeping him on the campus is also not likely to achieve much because all powers have been withdrawn from him. While the Vice Chancellor first stopped deputing any work to Dr R.N. Pal during his absence from the university, a few weeks ago he withdrew all the powers deputed to Dr Pal. These included overseeing research work, administrative powers over junior employees and hostel management besides other tasks. All these powers were withdrawn from him and divided amongst the senior faculty of the university a few weeks back.


Move to privatise ITIs draws good response
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
A proposal by the Punjab Government to hand over to the private sector 12 Industrial Training Institute (ITI) buildings lying abandoned in different parts of the state has drawn a good response.

The buildings are located at Jalalabad, Abohar, Khadoor Sahib, Mukerian, Kahnuwan, Maksoodpur, Partabpura, Burar, Banarasi, Nathana, Shahkot and Anandpur Sahib. Built years ago, they have not been commissioned because the government does not have the wherewithal to either equip them with the necessary machinery or hire qualified staff. Since the buildings were lacking upkeep, it was thought prudent by the Minister for Technical Education, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, to hand them over to private parties willing to run technical training institutes.

The government recently advertised in newspapers inviting bids from interested parties. As many as 27 outfits responded. These “expressions of interest” were evaluated by the government at a meeting of the sectoral sub-committee of the Punjab Infrastructural Development Board held here recently of which only 19 parties were shortlisted.

The bids of four parties were rejected.

A proposal to allow private entrepreneurs to start plus two classes in the ITIs was also rejected. It was pointed out that these classes did not fall within the category of vocational/ industrial training courses and thus these could not be permitted.

The meeting also decided that the private entrepreneurs should be allowed to collect fee from students and deposit them in their bank accounts since the structure of the project envisaged that the private entrepreneurs would pay annual fee to the concessioning authority appointed by the government.


Protest against fee hike
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 16
The district unit of the Punjab Radical Students Union (PRSU) today held a rally at Prem Sabha Senior Secondary School here in protest against the recent hike in college fees.

Students of the school also participated in the rally and said the government should withdraw the hike.

At the rally, Mr Sukhwinder Singh, district secretary of the PRSU, said the hike had blocked the path to higher education for brilliant students from economically weaker sections. He also charged the government with promoting vulgar literature and obscene movies on the cable TV network.

Kuldip Singh, a student leader, said students would stage dharnas on July 24 at the district headquarters in protest against the hike. These dhranas would be organised by the Joint Student Front. The Student leaders also said the agitation would be intensified.


Patiala boy strikes gold at Bio-Olympiad
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 16
Ankur Mahindroo, a student of the local Mohindra College, has done the city proud by winning a gold medal along with three other team members at the Bio-Olympiad organised at Belarus.

Stating this here today, Ankur’s mother Kamlesh Mahindroo, who teachers psychology at the local Government College for Girls, said the family received the news today. She said the four-day event had been organised had come to an end yesterday.

Mrs Mahindroo said her son was part of a four-member team which represented the country at the Olympiad. She said the other three members were from Chennai, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

She said Ankur’s love for basic sciences had helped him in winning the Olympiad. She said Ankur was also a keen sportsman.

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