P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SAD (Longowal) to launch Mukti Andolan
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 9
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal) would launch ‘Mukti Andolan’ to free the religious institutions, like the SGPC, from ‘non-Panthic forces’ from Muktsar on January 13.

The party president, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, stated this while interacting with mediapersons here today.

He said the launch of the agitation would coincide with the martyrdom anniversary of 40 ‘muktas’. He said ‘non-Panthics’ who didn’t follow the tenets of Sikhism, had captured top posts in religious institutions of Sikhs and his party would do everything to throw them out of power.

He said under the ‘Mukti Andolan’, his party would sensitise masses of Punjab as to how SAD was controlling the SGPC and how nepotism was being promoted in Sikh politics.

He said preventing’commercialisation’ of politics was the need of the hour. He said earlier politics used to be a way to serve the people, but now it had been turned into a tool to enhance self-interests. He said his party would work towards ensuring the rightful place to principled politics in present-day society. He said the party would alert people against those exploiting power.

“A social facet of the ‘Mukti Andolan’ would be to create awareness about social evils like dowry, female foeticide, drugs, besides ostentatious marriages that not only dig deeper into one’s pockets, but also spoils mindset of society,” he added.

Attacking the SGPC for its working style, he alleged it was now handing over its property to some of its ‘favourite’ people. He alleged some schools and colleges of the SGPC were under the control of ‘illiterate’ persons. He said a Sikh education council should be set up to control these educational institutions and services of retired vice-chancellors and judges should be utilised in running these. He said that the religious institutions should work in an impartial manner and these should not turn into a mere ‘source of income for a political outfit’.

He said if the present scenario regarding the way in which religious institutions were being controlled didn’t change, his party would take a legal recourse. He said they would also approach the Gurdwara Judicial Commission in this connection.

He said the SGPC had turned various anniversaries functions held in the last year into mere ‘tamashas’. He alleged that the SGPC spent lakhs on erecting ‘pandals’ at Fatehgarh Sahib during the 300th martyrdom anniversary of Sahibzadas and it was used by a political outfit to sing its own praise. No religious talk was delivered from that platform, he added. He said it was the first time that the SGPC did not have its separate stage for religious programmes. He said the SGPC had become an ‘outfit of the SAD’. He condemned the SGPC’s role in division of Damdami Taksal. Lashing out at the SAD president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, for appointing Jagir Kaur as the SGPC chief, he said society would not tolerate a tainted person heading a religious institution.

He said Mr Badal should have waited for the verdict in the case of Jagir Kaur’s daughter. He alleged Mr Badal had given a jolt to the prestige of the SGPC by appointing her as its president.

Mr Chandumajra flayed the Central Government’s decision of tax waiver to Punjab’s neighbouring states saying it came as a big blow to the state already reeling under financial crisis.


GVK evinces interest in Goindwal project
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 9
Power generation company GVK of Andhra Pradesh has again evinced interest in setting up a 500 mega watt thermal power station at Goindwal Sahib, years after it dropped the proposal for which clearance had already been taken from the state government.

The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), which is facing a shortfall in hydel generation, has lapped up GVK’s offer which the board says can be initiated immediately because requisite permission has been taken by the company.

Sources disclosed that the company had approached PSEB Chairman Y.S. Ratra with the offer who had recommended the case to the state government. The board is also simultaneously taking other steps to step up generation. Mr Ratra while speaking on the issue, says as many as seven to eight years have been lost with no steps being taken to increase power generation.

It is with this in mind that the board is floating global tenders for generation of 2000 mw of power through private parties. Mr Ratra said sanction had also been taken for establishing the Rs 168 mw hydel project at Shahpur Kandi and talks were going on with the Gas Authority of India for installing of a 1000 mw gas-based power plant at Doraha. Work on the 500 mw Lehra Mohabbat stage two project has also been started by BHEL.

Though these projects could give some relief to the board in the days to come, it has no option at present but to go in for costly purchase of power due to increase in demand. The board has tied up power purchases for the first three months of the year but the state is likely to see continuance of power cuts. Against a demand of 800 mw everyday, the board can come up with only 725 mw.

PSEB authorities are unable to bridge this gap due to scarcity of power. With the rains failing in South India, even this region does not have the same level of surplus power. Against 850 mw available in this region everyday till December last year, this year tenders were floated for only 250 mw due to the failure of the rains. This means power cuts in Punjab are likely to remain for one to two hours in important cities, three hours in towns and five to six hours in rural areas.

The board is losing as much as Rs 110 crore due to the power cuts and is paying through its nose for the present power purchase as well as that made during the paddy season six months back. While it spent Rs 1600 crore on power purchases in the last financial year, this figure is likely to go up to Rs 2400 crore in the current financial year.


Goindwal industrialists serve notice on Centre
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 9
The Goindwal Industrial development Association has served a legal notice on the central government, the state government and others, seeking a compensation of Rs 500 crore for their alleged failure to develop infrastructure and to set up the promised public sector units for the development of India’s first nucleus industrial complex at Goindwal during the past over 20 years.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, the president of the association, Mr Gurinderpal Singh, alleged that the authorities concerned had failed to develop this nucleus industrial complex even in more than 20 years, thus resulting in the closure of over 100 industrial units.

“BHEL had only set up a valve manufacturing unit at a cost of Rs 3 crore and 10 ancillary units are functioning, whereas the other industrial units had closed down due to the indifference of the authorities,” he said.

Elaborating further, he said: “The HMT had agreed to set up a watch case manufacturing unit with a fixed capital cost of Rs 95 lakh, the PSIDC had promised to establish a textile manufacturing unit at a cost of Rs 60 crore while Spinfed had planned to set up a spinning mill. Similarly, Punjab Agro was to set up a newspaper manufacturing unit with a capital outlay of Rs 750 crore. The government had assured us to link Beas with Goindwal Sahib with a railway line but nothing has happened even as industrialists suffered huge losses on this account.”

The association has served a notice on the Central as well as state governments and others to seek a compensation of Rs 500 crore. “If the respondents fail to ensure the disbursement of compensation within 60 days, the association will file a case in the Punjab and Haryana High court,” he added.


Nine officers transferred
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 9
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s office is apparently being given a new look. At least three Punjab Civil Services (PCS) officers have been shifted in and out of the Chief Minister’s office. In all, Punjab Government’s Department of Personnel has ordered the transfer of nine officers.

An order issued by Punjab Chief Secretary Jai Singh Gill states that Deputy Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Jagmohan Singh Dhillon has been shifted. He has been posted as Additional Secretary of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs. His place is taken by Mr Upjit Singh Brar earlier posted as Fatehgarh Sahib as Sub Divisional Magistrate.

Deputy Secretary (Finance) K.K. Goyal has, meanwhile, been posted as Officer on Special Duty to the Chief Minister in place of Mr Prithi Chand. He has been posted as Controller of Printing and Stationery.

Sources in the Punjab Government claim that the transfer and postings are routine. But add that the process of restructuring and reorganising the office has been on for quite some time.

They assert that initially Mr S.K. Sinha was removed from the post of Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister in December 2003 but continues as Home Secretary. The orders were issued when trouble within the Congress was brewing.

Soon after, Mr Suresh Kumar was handed over the additional charge of Principal Secretary. Subsequently, he was regularised.

Efforts continue on part of Mr Sinha’s supporters to catapult him back in the Principal Secretary’s post, but the same have so far not borne any fruits.

The order, meanwhile, says that IAS Officer Harjit Singh has been posted as Special Secretary (Freedom Fighters) against a vacant post. Mr Harjit Singh has been replaced by IAS officer D.S. Grewal, who has been posted as Secretary (Revenue).

Another IAS officer V.K. Sharma has been transferred as Special Secretary (Co-operation) against a vacant post. PCS Officer Dr Arvinder Singh has been posted as Additional Secretary Local Government, while Dr M.G. Acharya has been posted as Additional Secretary (Power).


Hurdles in Virk’s appointment as DGP
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, January 9
It will not be an easy task to don the mantle of Director-General of Punjab Police for Mr S.S. Virk as there are many hurdles in his way.

The first and foremost is the chargesheet received from the Home Ministry for not reverting to his state cadre despite repeated reminders. He has to reply to the same and get clearance from the Home Ministry for his elevation as Director-General of Punjab Police. Unless his chargesheet is cleared, he cannot be promoted according to the rules of the central government.

Besides, there are numerous other difficulties which he has to overcome.

According to central government rules, there is only one cadre post of Director-General of Police in every state and the state government can create ex-cadre one post. Punjab at present has four DGP-rank officers namely Mr A.A. Sidiqqui, Mr R.K. Gupta, Mr S.K. Verma and Mr P. Lal. Mr Sidiqqui is posted against the state cadre post of DGP and Mr Gupta is posted as DGP (Home Guards). They both will retire on January 31. Mr S.K. Verma is the senior most IPS officer of the state who belongs to the 1967 batch and Mr P. Lal is of the 1969 batch.

Once the central government rejects the plea of the state government to extend the deputation of Mr Virk, the state government will have to put one of the two seniormost officers as DGP against the cadre post. If Mr Virk is promoted as DGP, at least half a dozen IPS officers will have to be promoted as DGP. There is already a precedence in this regard. In 1983, Mr P.S. Bhinder came to Punjab on deputation and worked as IGP. At that time there was no post of Director General of Punjab Police. Two IPS officers of Punjab namely Mr Krishna Kumar and Mr B.R. Kapoor were declared un-fit for promotion as IG. But the state government had to promote them as IGs reversing the earlier decision. This was done because they belonged to the same batch to which Mr Bhinder belonged.

Mr Virk who belongs to the 1970 batch of the IPS had to face opposition when he was promoted Additional DG as Mr K.K. Attri who belongs to the 1971 batch moved an application against the promotion of Mr Virk and sought his promotion as well. The state government had to promote Mr Attri too.

Similarly there are five senior IPS officers who are of the rank of ADGP, namely Mr S.C. Jain, Mr Lalit Bhatia, Mr D.R. Bhatti, Mr G.S. Aujla and Mr MPS Aulakh who are from the 1970 batch. If Mr Virk is promoted as DGP, the state government will have to promote these five officers too to the rank of DGP.

Further, there is a ruling of the Supreme Court that while promoting a police officer to the rank of DGP or the state police chief senior officers of four batches can be considered. So in the case of Mr Virk, the state government will have to consider the claims of four batches of 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1973. There are two officers — Mr N.P.S. Aulakh of 1972 batch and Mr Rajdeep Singh Gill of 1973 batch who are already in the rank of ADGP.

Besides Mr Virk, the front-runners for the post of DGP are Mr S.K. Verma, Mr Lalit Bhatia and Mr G.S. Aujla.


Vigilance probe into laboratory technicians’ appointment
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 9
The Vigilance Bureau (VB) of Amritsar has initiated an enquiry into the appointment of Lab technicians in the TB Hospital on the basis of fake certificates. The vigilance initiated the enquiry after a complaint filed by the All-India Youth Association.

The VB in its letter written to Dr H.S. Gill, Civil Surgeon, sought the record of appointments made of Dr Mittarpal Devgan during his stint as District T B Officer (DTBO) besides personal details of appointed persons including father’s name, residential address and present posting. It also sought the copies of advertisement, educational and technical education required, documents and appointment letters of persons.

In the complaint to the Vigilance Bureau, the association alleged that Dr Mittarpal Devgan, District T B Officer (DTBO) recruited six incompetent persons against the post of laboratory technician even when he was not authorised to do so. Those who were appointed include Mr Narinder Singh, Ms Monika, Mr Suraj Parkash, Mr Navdeep Singh, Mr Satnam Kumar and Mr Rajinder Kumar. While the posts were to be given only to persons who possessed the diploma or degree certificates of the institutes recognised by the state government, these persons did not possess the diploma or degree certificates of institutes under the state government.

The official of the investigating agency asked the Civil Surgeon to give the personal details of Dr Devgan, including his residential address besides mentioning appropriate authority responsible for his appointment. It also demanded from Civil Surgeon the xerox copy of orders of his appointment in TB Hospital.

The Vigilance Officer asked the Civil Surgeon to file his reply within four days.

Dr H.S. Gill, Civil Surgeon, while admitting that the department got the letter on Friday he said he would file the reply within the stipulated period.

Earlier an inquiry into the case was conducted by Mr Gian Singh Bal, Deputy Director Local Bodies, who had submitted his report to Deputy Commissioner and Chairman of the district TB Control Society. The Deputy Commissioner had ordered an enquiry.

However, Dr Devgan had refuted the allegations and had claimed that the candidates were selected by the committee and he had only issued the letters in the capacity of secretary of district T B Control Society.


Probe begins into medicine scam
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 9
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has initiated a probe into allegations of bunglings in the purchase of medicines during the tenure of Dr Kiranjit Kumar, a former Civil Surgeon of Jalandhar.

The inquiry, initiated by the Vigilance Bureau, follows a complaint in which allegations have been made that certain medicines were purchased by the Health Department, Jalandhar, at rates higher than the ones prevailing in the market. The purchase of medicines, sources said, were made from two pharmaceutical companies, allegedly owned by one person. Certain medicines, though purchased on paper, did not exist in the stocks.

The Vigilance Bureau, according to the sources, has summoned records pertaining to the purchase of medicines made during the tenure of Dr Kiranjit Kumar.

Mr Tulsi Ram, SSP, Vigilance Bureau, Jalandhar, confirmed that the probe was under way.

“We are looking into allegations made against the health authorities,” said Mr Tulsi Ram.

Meanwhile, it is learnt the audit wing of the Health Department has pointed out a number of irregularities, including misuse of an Ambassador car and a Sumo during the tenure of the former Civil Surgeon. The sources said some fake entries were detected in the log books of vehicles. “The Ambassador car was misused by the son of a political leader. The audit wing has sought the recovery of Rs 1.5 lakh from the officials concerned,” an official said.


Pak newsmen impressed with media’s style of coverage
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 9
Journalists from Pakistan, who were here for four days, are impressed by the make-up and the coverage of various issues by the Indian media. They have liked the new format of display introduced by most of the newspapers, especially English dailies.

In Pakistan most of the newspapers still follow the traditional style of crowding the front and back pages with maximum number of stories. The same was true in case of the Indian media a few years ago when most of the Indian papers used to put maximum number of stories on front pages, especially vernacular dailies.

Pakistan media, especially English dailies, focus on national and international issues, says Mr Pervaiz Bashir, Editor, reporting for Jang, leading newspaper of Pakistan. Mr Bashir says that any development in the Muslim world is given top priority. Besides, America’s any policy statement and other comment regarding Pakistan, India, China and other neighbouring countries is given prominence in newspapers there.

Mr Bashir says for the past few months, Iraq has emerged as big news for Pakistan papers. Earlier, developments in Afghanistan were getting more prominence. Ghulam Haider, a staff correspondent of The News, says that America has become a big player in this region for the past few years and because of this reason everything coming from American establishment makes big news in Pakistan papers.

Mr Haider’s colleague, Mr Sajjad Shafiq Butt, says that most of the newspapers have started elaborate coverage of events which affect public life one way or other. There are dedicated reporters for various social sectors such as health, education, communication, transport, women and of course for commerce and business. “ Steadily, the Pakistan media is also following the pattern that has lately emerged in other developing and developed countries”, he adds.

Mr Awais Saleem, another journalist from Pakistan, says that the development of journalism has started catching the attention of most of the newspapers in his country. The issues relating to health, education, transportation, communications, sanitation, women and children etc have started finding adequate space in the newspages there. In fact, Jang has set up a development cell for the organised coverage of various development issues which some people like to call “civic journalism”.

In fact the Mass Communications Department of Punjab University, Lahore, has started teaching development journalism as one of the main streams of media. In an attempt to produce professionally skilled journalists, the course has been introduced to fulfill the development reporting needs. There is demand for professionally trained journalists in Pakistan to cover development issues to bring a positive change in society.

Even environment, gender issues, life skills and other such issues are being introduced in school course books. Already, English has been made part of the syllabus of all government schools in West Punjab at the primary school level. Post graduate teachers have been recruited to teach english from the fist standard in government schools in the West Punjab.Concept of free education has been introduced for all students up to the matriculation level. Incentives are given to girls in 15 selected rural districts.


Declare Gurpurb holiday in Pak, says Tarlochan
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 9
The Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities and member of the Rajya Sabha, Mr Tarlochan Singh, wants the Union Government to take up with the Pakistan Government various issues pertaining to the preservation of rich Sikh heritage there.

In a letter addressed to the Minister for External Affairs, Mr K. Natwar Singh, he has suggested that the Pakistan Government should be persuaded to declare Guru Nanak Dev’s birth anniversary as a national holiday in Pakistan because the founder of Sikhism was born in Nankana Sahib.

In the absence of any common place for the local population to know about Sikhism and its historic shrines in Pakistan, he has suggested that the Government of India should plan with its counterpart for setting up a Sikh museum in Lahore. Though there is a small gallery in the old fort of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, there are not many artifacts and other items which can narrate the Sikh history.

Lahore’s Punjab University, the oldest university of the subcontinent, should be approached for setting up a Guru Nanak chair to facilitate research on the first Sikh Guru and Sikhism.

Stressing the need for adequate accommodation for visiting Sikh pilgrims, Mr Tarlochan Singh has suggested that a new serai building should be built near Gurdwara Dera Sahib in Lahore. Thousands of Sikhs visit Pakistan on a number of occasions and they remain huddled in limited accommodation available in the historic shrines.

Instead of a serai the Government of West Punjab can build a tourist hotel which during Sikh festivals should be earmarked for the pilgrims only. He said that though Sikhs from all over the globe were building their own serai adjoining Gurdwara Janam Asthan in Nankana Sahib, similar facility was required in Lahore which serves as a base for the visiting Sikh sangat.

He said that the decision of the Punjab (West) Government to build a motorway linking Lahore with Nankana Sahib was welcome. The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, during his coming visit to Pakistan next month may lay the foundation stone of this new motorway which Mr Pervaiz Elahi has promised to complete within a year.


PPCC chief flays Tarlochan’s remarks
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 9
The Chairman of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr M.S. Cheema, has condemned the statement of the Chairman, National Commission for Minorities, Mr Tarlochan Singh, alleging that the Amarinder Singh government was trying to communalise education in Punjab.

Terming the remark as baseless, Mr Cheema, in a statement issued here today, wanted to know as to when the Vice-President of India, who is also Chancellor of Panjab University, was informed that the list of the syndicate members had been received late.

Calling for a probe into the matter, he demanded to know when was the state government informed of the developments.

Stating that Panjab University came under the jurisdiction of the Central Government, stipulating that the Vice-President be its Chancellor, he demanded that the Punjab Governor, who is also the Administrator of Chandigarh, be appointed as the university’s Chancellor so that the dignity of the Vice-President’s office was maintained.


Govt yet to honour promise with this NRI
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 9
Even as Capt Amarinder Singh, pleaded before non-resident Indians (NRIs) to invest in Punjab during the Parvasi Divas celebrations, that concluded in Mumbai today, Mr Nathu Ram Puri, a successful NRI from Punjab and chairman of the multi-crore Puri Foundation, UK, in Mullanpur today had a different story to tell.

Here to see the establishment of a community centre and club for local residents, the first of its kind in Mullanpur on an acre of land, he said due to the government’s lack of interest in welfare activities, a majority of his ventures in Punjab had failed to take off.

Two years ago, the Punjab Chief Minister had asked him to fund a vocational training centre on 30 acres in the village, “but despite endless meetings with officials, we are still waiting for the land,” pointed out Mr Puri.

Frustrated, Mr Puri has now invested Rs 100 crore in biotechnology research centre in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

“The attitude in Gujarat was starkly different than what I experienced here. The Chief Minister there stood by his word and all modalities were taken care of within days.”

Mr Arvind Puri, chairman of the Youth Welfare, Sports and Health Club, Mullanpur, said: “It is a comic situation — we are running around wanting to do something that the Chief Minister wanted us to do.”

With the training centre project in a limbo, Mr Puri has no grand plans for Punjab now.


Toll tax an open loot: Ramoowalia
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 9
A whopping Rs 496 crore collected annually as toll fee from vehicle owners for using a 276 km stretch of National Highway 1 has prompted former Union Minister and Lok Bhalai Party President Balwant Singh Ramoowalia not only to ascertain utilisation of this money but also rationalisation of the fee.

Mr Ramoowalia, who was recently nominated member of the National Commission for Minorities Educational Institutions, feels that not even one per cent of this money is utilised for upkeep and maintenance of the highway.

“The money is being swindled,” alleges Mr Ramoowalia, questioning the wisdom of levying such a heavy toll without providing anything in return to vehicle owners.

“National Highway No 1 is as good or as bad as any other road. Why such a heavy toll fee ? Instead of helping improve road conditions, the money is only going into the pockets of a few who have been successful in pocketing the contract for unspecified periods,” said Mr Ramoowalia, suggesting that at each of the three toll tax barriers — Karnal, Shambhu and Doraha — boards should regularly display not only the total collection till date, but also how the money has been utilised.

Talking to The Tribune here, Mr Ramoowalia said levying of this toll tax approved by the previous NDA government at the centre was nothing but “open loot” as a car owner driving from Karnal to Ludhiana ended up paying Rs 125 while a truck or bus paid Rs 440. “It is indirectly taxing a large army of self-employed youth who are plying tourists cars, coaches, buses or trucks.

“I want the present UPA government at the Centre to review the toll fee system and rationalise it. Toll fee for a car should not exceed Rs 20 for the entire stretch and Rs 50 for a bus or truck. Further, a portion of the money so collected should be utilised for upkeep and maintenance of toll roads.

“Toll fee charged on National Highway No 1 is, perhaps, the highest anywhere in the world. On an average 46,000 vehicles touch these three toll barriers everyday. And with an average estimate of Rs 250 vehicle for a return journey, the total amount comes to Rs 496.60 crore.

For rationalisation of toll tax, he suggests setting up of a sub-committee which should include representatives of tourists cars, maxi cabs, canters, trucks and buses and an eminent persons to watch the interest of the common man.


Probe indicts councillor, son for assaulting SHO
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 9
The 12-page inquiry report, conducted by Mr P.K. Rai, SP(City) has indicted the councillor of ruling party, Mr Surinder Chaudhary, his son and 22 others for assaulting the then SHO Islamabad, Mr Piara Lal, for tearing his uniform and attempting to snatch weapon from the police party on November 20 last year.

However, Mr Chaudhry dubbed the inquiry as ‘biased’. He said he had already met the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, about the impending inquiry. He claimed that the Chief Minister had personally talked to the then district police chief, Mr Kultar Singh, for delivering justice in this regard. Mr Chaudhry alleged that the inquiry was influenced by a senior police officer of the district who happen to be younger brother of Congress MLA.

The inquiry report, addressed to the SSP recommended the re-arresting of the alleged culprits. The report claimed that the FIR registered at Islamabad police station against Mr Chaudhry and others was based on facts and immediate action should be taken against the alleged culprits.

The report, however, admitted that the SHO had opened fire in the air but it was in self-defence. It further reads that the SHO and other members of the police party were pulled inside the shop by son and his supporters and beaten up. The incident was confirmed by the DSP, Mr Ashish Kapoor, and other policemen who were requisitioned after assault on the SHO.

Earlier, Mr Surinder Choudhry, councillor and his son Pawan Kumar, alias Pamma, were arrested from their shop situated at the Putlighar-Islamabad road on November 20. The police party was allegedly attacked when they were removing encroachment by the shopkeepers.

Before submitting the inquiry report, Mr Rai recorded the statements of 34 persons including the SHO, DSP, Mr Ashish Kapoor, police officials and others while as many as 23 persons, including Mr Chaudhry, his son and other shopkeepers in their respective statements claimed that it was the police party which had beaten up the shopkeepers.


Residents, cops clash over level crossing
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 9
A minor clash took place between residents of trans-railway colonies and the police when the former, under the banner of the Khooni Phatak Sangharsh Committee, tried to open a passage at a closed railway crossing in the Paras Ram Nagar area of the city and the latter tried to stop them.

Before the situation could take an ugly turn, Mr S. K. Singla, SDM, reached the spot and pacified the agitators. He called a meeting of the agitators and the railway authorities to sort out the matter.

The residents, who had gathered at the main chowk of Paras Ram Nagar, first staged a dharna and then moved towards the level crossing to open a passage. They were stopped by Punjab Police and General Railway Police personnel from doing so. Some residents, however, managed to open a part of the passage at the closed railway level crossing.

The residents raised slogans against the railway authorities and staged a dharna against the latter's failure to provide a passage at the railway crossing. The residents have been demanding that a passage be opened at the railway crossing as they have to travel a long distance to reach their places. after the overbridge was constructed at the level crossing.

The residents claimed that the flyover was constructed on the Khooni Phatak level crossing after many years of struggle but it had proved useless for them, as it was not constructed in a proper manner. The flyover was connected with the road leading to the Bathinda canal rather than Amrik Singh Road, which, if done, would have shortened the distance from them.

The residents claimed that it had become difficult for children and women to use the flyover as it had no provisions for streetlights.

Mr Vijay Sharma, president of the committee, said the earlier provision of using the level crossing was far better than using this flyover, but the railway authorities had closed the it for vehicular traffic after the flyover was opened for public. Repeated requests to the railway authorities for providing a passage for two-wheelers and rickshaw-pullers had proved futile and they had to resort to dharna.

The police said no case had been registered in this connection.


Revenue officers’ stir hits people
Amarjit Thind and Mahesh Sharma

Ludhiana/Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 9
Hundreds of people in five districts will find it tough to get their property sale deeds registered following a decision of the Punjab Revenue Officers Union to abstain from attesting the deeds and observe a pen-down strike till the cases against their colleagues are not withdrawn.

Revenue officers belonging to Patiala division have been on a pen-down strike since January 7 in protest against the registration of a case against Tehsildar Sucha Singh posted at Mohali. The union maintains that Mr Sucha Singh had been falsely implicated as he had signed a registered deed on the basis of the power of attorney duly attested by the authorities.

The affected districts are Sangrur, Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ropar and Patiala where all types of registration work has come to a standstill. While the strike is not only causing a loss to the exchequer, hundreds of people visiting the tehsil offices have to return home empty handed.

Mr Gurmeet Singh Nadala, general secretary of the union, said the union was of the opinion that they were being targeted unfairly. “We discussed the issue at a meeting at Jalandhar yesterday and have decided that we will not do any attestation work till the cases against all our colleagues are withdrawn,” he added.

He said a delegation would meet the Financial Commissioner (Revenue) on January 11 and give him a notice announcing their decision to cease registration of property deeds from February 1. A pen-down strike will be observed on January 12 and 13, he added.

The people are a harassed lot and have had to postpone their transactions and dealings for an uncertain period as they apprehended that the agitation might spread to other parts of the state.

A quick tour by The Tribune revealed that officers posted at various revenue offices observed a pen-down strike. Though there were reports that business was transacted at two offices falling in Patiala, the union leaders claimed that all members of the union had struck work for two days and had reiterated their solidarity on this issue.

The sufferers include businessmen and commoners who had to return disappointed as the transactions regarding the sale and purchase of property could not be executed during the past few days. While some persons will have to wait for the weekly turn at their sub-registrar offices, there are others who will have to pay more after their deeds during these days. This would invite unnecessary litigation for no fault of the people, sources revealed.

Notary public offices attracted more deponents as most of the businessmen preferred to get their affidavits attested by them instead of waiting for the strike to be called off.

The parents whose wards are studying in Class V were seen doing the rounds with unattested date of birth affidavits as these have to be submitted with the examination forms.

A large number of people have decided to postpone their dealings for a long period as they apprehend the strike might prolong if the matter is taken up at the state level.

Claiming the strike to be absolute, Mr A.S. Tiwana, president of the Punjab Revenue Officers Union, accused the police authorities of acting under pressure. Referring to the information received from Mr Darshan Singh, president of the Patiala unit of the union, he claimed that the strike had been forced on the union as the police had registered a case against the officer without following proper procedure.

Mr Tiwana said the government had ignored the genuine demands of the union to review the situation and hold an inquiry before registering the case. The ball would be in the court of the government after they met the Financial Commissioner on January 11, he added.


Muslims have no place to bury dead in Patiala
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 9
Burying the dead is an ordeal for Muslims in Patiala. They have little time for mourning when a relative passes away. This is because they have to quickly decide on where the body is to be buried as there is no space for the same in the city.

Most have to make arrangements to take the body to Malerkotla, a Muslim dominated town around 70 km from here. Others have the harrowing task of trying to find space in the only operational grave yard adjoining the Bank Colony. Such people often dig up old bodies while trying to find a resting point for their loved ones.

There is absolutely no space at the grave yard adjoining Bank Colony in the city. The graveyard, which was once spread over a vast tract of land, now only has around two kanals of land for burying the dead. A Baba Farid Islamia School, a Masjid, a ‘mazaar’ and a few houses in the area controlled by the Wakf Board have all contributed to constrict the original graveyard.

Muslims of the city have been demanding allocation of a graveyard to them since years without any result. What to talk of a new site, they are unable to get control of an old graveyard site which is being used to dump garbage by the Municipal Corporation. Mr Zamir Ahmed of the Muslim National Movement has even moved a lower court in Patiala to ensure control of this site in Arai Majra village near Sanauri Adda. The Municipal Corporation and the Director, Local Bodies besides others have been made a party in the case. Mr Ahmed claims that the corporation is in illegal control of the site.

Wakf Board member Nashir Naqvi himself admits that Muslims of the city need a graveyard of their own but the Wakf Board is unable to provide the same. He says since a case in on to get possession of the dump site near Sanauri Adda, it is anyone’s guess as to when the site will come in the possession of the board. Mr Naqvi while urging for a quick solution to the crisis, says he himself suffered due to non availability of burial space. “My mother-in-law who was visiting us in May last year passed away here. As no suitable place could be found for her burial I had to take her body back to Amroha in Uttar Pradesh for burial in the summer heat”.

Mr Naqvi and even Mr Zamir Ahmed say innumerable requests have been made to the local administration and the state government over the last few years without any effect. Mr Ahmed says the Muslim National Movement was able to get this request recommended by senior Congress leader Mohsina Kidwai also recently but the government did not move to solve the problem. He said the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and Patiala MP Preneet Kaur have also been approached in this regard.

“We have received assurances from everybody with all political parties claiming the demand is genuine and deserves to be accepted”, says Mr Ahmed. However, he says all politicians have only given lip sympathy to the demand till now and Muslims continue to struggle to bury their dead with dignity in the city.


Phoolka seeks early decision on one-rank one-pension issue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 9
While the one-rank and one-pension issue continues to hang fire, Col Partap Inder Singh Phoolka(retd), who has been crusading for getting this demand conceded, says that the Union Government should make the announcement in this connection before Army Day on January 15.

Col Phoolka, who had to quit the BJP when the party’s national leadership refused to take a clear stand on this issue and did not make proper mention of this demand in its election manifesto during the last Lok Sabha elections, said that he would stand by the political party which would take a clear stand on this issue.

He said while the one-rank and one-pension provision had been implemented in case of officers, jawans continue to be discriminated in this connection. He said for the entitlement of full pension, one jawan or officer had to serve the armed forces for 33 years. However, the average service of jawans in Indian armed forces is only 17 years and 5 years in the service are added as grace period to fix the pension. At retirement they get only pension in the range of Rs 1275. For their entitlement of full pension of Rs 1975, they are required to put in at least 28 years of service.

Col Phoolka said that they did not even get full gratuity. He said the Congress government should do justice with the jawans.


Pensioners’ medical bills not cleared for a year
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 9
A number of pensioners of the Education Department in this district have been facing financial crisis for the past more than a year as their medical reimbursement bills have not been cleared by the authorities concerned here so far due to the non-receipt of budget from the state government for the purpose.

Talking to The Tribune here on Friday, Mr Vinay Kumar, patron of the Government Pensioners Welfare Association, Sangrur, claimed that medical reimbursement bills to the tune of more than Rs 10 lakh of the pensioners of the Education Department of this district were pending for over a year. He said the pensioners were being driven from pillar to post to get their bills cleared to repay the loans taken by them for their treatment.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Husan Lal, had reportedly written a letter to the Punjab Finance Minister on September 16,2004, seeking a grant of Rs 10 lakh for the clearance of the bills of the pensioners of the Education Department but to no avail.

Later, a deputation of the pensioners met the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, on November 11. Despite an assurance from the minister, no grant has been sent to the office of the District Education Officer, Secondary, Sangrur, to clear the bills.

Mr Vinay Kumar also stated that in the case of Shimla Devi who had died about eight months ago, her family members were still waiting for the reimbursement of her medical bills to the tune of Rs 42,000. He said in one to two cases, the pensioners had spent lakhs of rupees from their own pocket on treatment and were awaiting the bills to be cleared.

Sources in the Education Department said the office of the DEO(Secondary), had sent bills worth Rs 22 lakh to the office of the DPI (Schools). It had received sanctions for clearing bills of about Rs 15 lakh but no payment has been made even to those pensioners since the funds had not been received.

Mr Vinay Kumar warned the state government to avoid unnecessary litigation by clearing the payments of the pending medical bills of the pensioners otherwise they would be compelled to approach the courts.


SAD delegation to leave for Chennai today
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 9
A delegation of the SAD (B) led by its President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, will leave for Chennai tomorrow to contribute for the rehabilitation programme launched by Tamil Nadu Government for the tsunami victims.

Talking to TNS here today, Mr Sukhbir Badal, General Secretary, SAD (B), said the SAD (B) would handover about 1500 tonnes of food items to Ms Jayalalithaa, Chief Minister, Tamil Nadu as its contribution for the victims. He said apart from it, the SAD (B) had also been contributing clothes and other items of daily use for the victims.

He said the delegation comprising former Chief Minister, Mr Badal, Bibi Jagir Kaur, President, SGPC, Mr Zora Singh Mann, MP, Ferozepore would also handover a cheque for Rs 20 lakh to Ms Jayalalithaa as contribution from the SGPC side for relief to the victims.

He pointed out that the SGPC had already sent 25 doctors and 100 volunteers for the treatment of the victims.


BJP chief polishes shoes for tsunami victims
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 9
Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, MP and state President, BJP, along with former minister, Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, and other BJP Yuva Morcha workers yesterday polished shoes at various places in the holy city, including the railway station and Putlighar for raising funds for the tsunami victims.

Mr Khanna, while talking to media persons, said the Yuva Morcha of the BJP would hold a rally on February 27 at Ludhiana to throw light on the wrong policies of the state government.


Dosanjh to visit Guru Nanak medical trust
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, January 9
Mr Ujjal Dosanjh, Health Minister, Canada, will visit the Guru Nanak Mission Medical and Educational Trust, Dhahan Kaleran, about 20 km from here, on Monday.

A high-powered team of the Canadian High Commission, comprising Mr Brian Dickson, Deputy High Commissioner, Ms Eileen Stewart, first secretary and Mr Harbans Singh Sobti, Trade Commissioner, visited the educational trust on Thursday to take stock of the arrangements in view of the scheduled visit of Mr Ujjal Dosanjh, Canadian Health Minister.

Dr Budh Singh Dhahan apprised the Canadian High Commission team of the programmes chalked out by the trust in connection with the visit.

He also informed it about the silver jubilee celebrations scheduled to be held on February 5 and 6.


Lohri as tribute to girl child

Chandigarh, January 9
To check gender imbalance and to generate mass awakening about its adverse effects, the Punjab Government has decided to celebrate Lohri of the newly born girl child on January 12 at Fatehgarh Sahib. The celebrations are aimed at enchancing the status of women and highlight the importance of the girl child in society.

Mrs Gurkanwal Kaur, Minister of State for Social Security, would be the chief guest while the function would be presided over by Mr R.L. Kalsia, Secretary, Social Security. — TNS


Tributes paid to martyr
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, January 9
Rich tributes were paid to martyr Amritpal Singh, gunner of 171 Field Regiment, who laid down his life for the cause of the country, at his native village Pandoli Gola yesterday.

Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, Lok Sabha Member, Mr Harmit Singh, MLA, and Mr Baldev Singh, Chairman of the local Block Samiti, were among those who paid tributes to the martyr.

Dr Ajnala announced the erection of a memorial in the memory of the martyr.

Amripal Singh died on December 23 when he was on duty in Machhal sector (Kupwara).

Representatives of the civil administration and the government were conspicuous by their absence.


3 Beopar Mandal office-bearers expelled
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, January 9
The president of the local unit of the Punjab Beopar Mandal, Mr Surinder Mahajan, has expelled three office-bearers of the unit for allegedly joining a group of private contractors, which got the octroi collection work, auctioned by the local civic body, against the interests of traders.

Mr Mahajan said Mr Sham Kumar, Mr Pawan Mahajan and Mr Roop Lal Mahajan, had joined the group to get the octroi collection work against the interests of the trading community and the Beopar Mandal.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Beopar Mandal last evening.


150 women take part in camp
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 9
More than 150 women of the village participated in six-day awareness camp that was organised by the Devta Yadgari Malwa Kalakar Manch at Bhokhra village of this district from January 3.

The camp was organised to make the women of the village aware on various subjects, including illiteracy, unemployment, female foeticide, AIDS etc.

Speaking on the concluding day of the camp, Ms Raj Gupta, principal, Swami Vivekanand Girls College, Bathinda, stressed compulsory education for women. She said illiteracy had been the root cause for most of the social problems.

Mr Paramjit Singh, Sarpanch of the village, said women could play significant role in preserving the social and cultural values of our society.


Dullo condemns atrocities on Dalits
Our Correspondent

Amloh, January 9
Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, former Member, Lok Sabha, has condemned atrocities against Dalits in the state. He was talking to mediaperson today after a function at Salana village.

Mr Dullo urged Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab to appoint a judicial commission to look into the incident at Patriwala village in Ferozepore district and suggested to Congress chief Mr Hanspal to constitute a committee to prepare a detailed report regarding the incidents, where Dalits were not allowed to perform “Anand Karaj” (Marriage) of their daughter near Bathinda in a gurdwara.

The Dalits were not allowed to take langar in the gurdwara, he said.


Iqbal is Press Club president
Tribune News Service

Moga, January 9
Iqbal Singh was unanimously elected the president and Surinder Maan the general secretary of the Moga Press Club at the club’s yearly session held here today. Rakesh Sharma will be the chairman of the club.

Addressing a meeting, the newly elected president said special attention would be paid towards the problems of journalists from rural areas. He said the new executive would be announced at the next meeting of the club. He said from now onwards meetings of the club would be held every month, in which grievances of journalists and social welfare works to be carried out by the club would be discussed.

He urged the club members to adopt a disciplined approach in the organisational work.


Brachy therapy ward inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 9
Bibi Jagir Kaur, president of the SGPC, yesterday inaugurated a brachy therapy unit worth Rs 1.50 crore at Sri Guru Ram Das Rotary Cancer Hospital in Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences and Research at Vallah.

The hospital is being jointly run by the SGPC and Rotary Cancer Foundation.

The ward was named after Bibi Manjit Kaur Chawla, and NRI, who died 15 years age due to breast cancer. Her husband, Mr A.P.S. Chawla, said the machine had been imported from Holland and was very effective in the treatment of breast cancer.

Mr Chawla said five years ago the Chawla family established the Manjit Kaur Chawla (MKC) Trust in England to create awareness about the disease and to help provide its treatment.


Baljeet Bains takes oath as PSERC member
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 9
The Punjab Irrigation and Power Minister, Mr Lal Singh, yesterday administered the oath to Mrs Baljeet Bains as member of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission.

Earlier Mrs Bains, an IRS officer of the 1969 batch, was the Chief Commissioner, Income Tax (North-West Region). She also served as a member of the Haryana Electricity Board for about four years.


Ashram damaged in blast
Tribune News Service

Nurpur Bedi (Ropar), January 9
A portion of the ashram of Baba Pyara Singh Bhaniarewale was damaged in a powerful bomb blast that took place in his ashram at Dhimana village, about 25 km from the district, this evening. However, no one injured in the blast.

According to police sources, the bomb was placed in front of the gate of the dharamshala in the ashram. Two of the devotees of Bhaniarewale had noticed mysterious articles lying near the gate and, thereafter, informed Bhaniarewale. Then the devotees informed the Nurpur Bedi police, but before the police reached the ashram the bomb blast took place. About 50 labourers and a large number of the devotees were present in the ashram when the incident took place.

DSP Varinder Singh, accompanied by a team of police personnel, reached the spot. He said the explosive was attached with a 12-volt battery and no one sustained injuries in the accident. He said the material had been sent to the forensic science laboratory for examination. Meanwhile, Baba Bhaniarewale termed it as conspiracy to kill him.


SC remits petition to High Court for a reasoned order
Maneesh Chhibber 
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 9
The Supreme Court of India (SC) has remitted a petition to the Punjab and Haryana High Court for dealing with the contentions and issued raised in it and pass a reasoned order.

In its brief order, the SC Bench of Mr Justice Arijit Pasayat and Mr Justice S.H. Kapadia also noted that on the perusal of the impugned order passed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the matter, it finds that the "same is practically unreasoned".
Taking up a Special Leave Petition filed by Dr Inderjit Singh of Patiala, challenging the judgement of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on a petition moved by him, the SC asked the High Court to take up the matter for early hearing.

Dr Inderjit had challenged the decision of Punjabi University, Patiala, in the matter of selection and appointment of two respondents as Lecturers in the Department of Forensic Science. He had also sought directions to the university to select and appoint him as Lecturer. The main grouse of the petitioner was that despite holding a doctorate in the subject, his claim for appointment was overlooked in favour of candidate who had a masters degree.

However, the High Court Bench, while dismissing the petition, said that a perusal of the writ showed that the record of the petitioner and the selected candidates was the same.

In his SLP, the petitioner stated that even though the SC in a number of judgements has ordered that while dismissing a matter, the court must assign a reason, this was not done in his case. This, he stated, was a must so that while dealing with the appeal, the higher court is aware of the factors that weighed with the High Court while dismissing the petition.

In his appeal, the petitioner had stated that despite the fact that university notification clearly stipulated that while making selections, preference would be given to candidates who had passed National Eligibility Test (NET) and had a Ph.D over those who had a M.Phil or masters degree.

After hearing his counsel, the SC held that it would have been appropriate for the High Court to deal with the contentions and issues raised in the writ and pass a reasoned order. Hence, it remitted the matter back to the High Court for fresh consideration.


RPF Commissioner directed to pay up worker
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 9
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner (RPFC), Employees Provident Fund Organisation, Bathinda, to pay Mr Roop Singh, a resident of Uksil village in Ludhiana district and working in the Food Storage Depot, Food Corporation of India (FCI), Malerkotla, an amount of Rs 1,236 with compensation in the form of interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum from February 1,1997, till payment.

The forum has also directed the RPFC to pay a sum of Rs 800 to the complainant, Mr Roop Singh, as litigation expenses.

Mr Roop Singh was a member of the Employees Family Pension Scheme,1971, while working as a handling labourer in the Food Storage Depot. He had submitted a form in connection with the payment to be made under the scheme in his bank account. A sum of Rs 1236 was payable to him under the scheme.

In its order, the forum has observed that the RPFC wrongly sent the cheaque for Rs 1236 to the State Bank of Patiala (SBP), Sangrur, vide letter dated January 29,1997, for credit to the account of the complainant, but the amount of Rs 1236 seems not paid or credited to the correct account of the complainant in the SBP Malerkotla branch.

The complainant, Mr Roop Singh, has alleged that the RPFC had wrongly sent a cheaque for Rs 1236 to the SBP, Sangrur, owing to which, the amount could not be credited to his correct account number.


Faridkot JEs to hold protest
Tribune News Service

Kotkapura, January 9
The Council of Junior Engineers, Faridkot, has decided to protest against the Senior Engineer, Punjab State Electricity Board, Faridkot, for issuing orders in which he had reportedly held junior engineers responsible for the T&D losses and energy audit. 

Addressing a general house meeting here today, Mr Gurmeet Singh, president of the Faridkot circle of the council, said no junior engineer could keep a watch on the total distribution system of the PSEB round the clock. He said it was not fair to hold junior engineers responsible for total system losses, especially when they were overloaded with work as a number of vacancies were lying vacant.


Arrested ASI escapes, SHO suspended
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, January 9
Mr Bhupinder Singh, SHO of the Sadar police station, Fazilka, has been suspended and shifted to the Police Line, Ferozepore, in connection with the Krishan Kumar murder case of January 6 at Chack Banwala village in which Joginder Singh, an ASI of the Sadar police, Fazilka, was booked as an accused.

Of the two accused booked under Section 302 of the IPC, Kashmir Singh, a resident of Pakka Chisti village, was arrested and produced before the Judicial Magistrate, Fazilka, yesterday evening. Kashmir Singh was remanded in the police custody till January 11.

There is a controversy as regards the arrest of Joginder Singh. As Krishan Kumar had died due to alleged injuries caused by the ASI and Kashmir Singh, it caused resentment among residents of the area who launched a protest against the police and the government.

The kin of Krishan Kumar had reportedly agreed to cremate him only after the police told them that both the accused had been arrested. Mr Natinderpal Singh, DSP, Abohar, who had been assigned the temporary duty as the Fazilka DSP, was on leave. He had said the ASI had been arrested.

However, the case took a new turn when Mr Swaranjit Singh, DSP on his rejoining the duty after leave, said ASI Joginder Singh was absconding and that SHO Bhupinder Singh had been shifted to the Police Lines, Ferozepore.

He said the SHO had been suspended due to his alleged negligence in the arrest and subsequent escape of ASI Joginder Singh. He said the police was making efforts to nab Joginder Singh.


14-yr-old girl ‘kidnapped’
Tribune News Service

Kharar, January 9
A 14-year-old resident of Jandpur village here was allegedly kidnapped by a Ludhiana resident. The police today booked Balbir Singh, alias Billa, a resident of Ladhian Khurd Colony, Ludhiana on charges of kidnapping a minor.

The girl’s father, Mr Karam Singh, had complained to the police that his daughter had been misled and taken away by Balbir Singh and had not returned. He also told the police that Balbir Singh had demanded ransom from him.

Two booked

The local police has booked two persons on charges of defrauding a resident of Makran village. According to the police, Jaswinder Singh and Bawa Singh of Kambali village here had lent money to the complainant Mr Jang Singh two years ago. Mr Jang Singh has now complained to the police that the two had taken blank signed documents from him in return and now they have written on these documents that he had given the two his combine harvestor in return. He told the police that he was to return them their money and not given them his machine. The police has registered a case under Sections 420, 465, 467, 468 471 and 120 B of the IPC.


The local police has booked two persons on charges of cheating and forgery. According to the police Mr Dharampal Singh, a resident of Mullapur Garibdas village, had complained to the police that Amrik Singh of Sahouli village and Bachan Kaur of Mullapur Garibdas village had cheated him and sold property worth Rs 3.6 lakh to him.

Liquor seized

The police here has recovered 9,000ml of liquor from Beera, a resident of Multanpur village. Beera was allegedly smuggling this liquor out of Chandigarh when he was caught. He had been booked under various Sections of the Excise Act.


Absenteeism plagues schools, health centres
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA: The problem of absenteeism plagues primary schools in Punjab where on an average 36 per cent of primary school teachers are absent from school on any one day. The rate is well above the 25 per cent rate for entire India and the third highest across Indian states, following Bihar and Jharkhand.

A World Bank study on the state points out this problem which, the study states, plagues health facilities as well.

The study says a survey of government primary schools across Indian states shows that absenteeism among primary schools in Punjab is extremely high. Compounding the problem is the finding that even when teachers are present, only half (49.8 per cent) are teaching. This is below the all-India average of 59.5 per cent.

While the percentage of teachers absent per day is 39 in Jharkhand and 38 in Bihar, it is the lowest in Maharashtra at 15.

The same problem plagues health facilities as well where nearly 39 per cent of doctors and 44 per cent of other medical personnel are absent from their place of work, the study points out.

Among doctors, 11 per cent were found to be absent without reason, 12 per cent were on authorised leave whereas the remaining 16 per cent were away on official duty.

The study emphasises on a better understanding of the high rate of absenteeism, stating that incentives for staff need to be changed if service providers were absent for personal reasons. If institutional reasons are the culprit, the state needs to re-evaluate the value of other requirements that keep providers away from their jobs.

The absenteeism problem is also to be partly blamed for under-utilisation of health infrastructure across the state, states the World Bank.

While the state has a large network of community health centres, primary health centres (PHC) and sub-centres, in addition to hospitals, in the public sector, vast majority of services are provided through hospitals alone, whether in-patient or out-patient.

Lower-level public facilities perform a negligible role at the level of in-patient care, perhaps reflecting lack of adequate facilities to take care of patients who are seriously ill, the report says.

On PHCs, it says these account for a large share of out-patient treatments at public facilities, but their share in overall outpatient care is negligible compared to the private sector.


Jobless ETT teachers hold protest

Amritsar, January 9
Unemployed Elementary Teachers Training (ETT) teachers from Amritsar, Kapurthala, Jalandhar and Gurdaspur districts today protested in front of the residence of Deputy Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Darbari Lal here.

They were protesting against the non-recruitment and non-regularisation of ETT teachers even after the promises and announcements made by the state government in October to start the recruitment process of 6,000 teachers.

Police was deployed at various points to control the agitators. It had erected barricades about 50 yards from Mr Darbari Lal’s residence. The teachers held demonstration for about three hours.

Mr Jaswinder Singh Sidhu, state president of the Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union, alleged that non-appointment of regular teachers had hit the education system. He announced that a “poll kholo rally” would be organised at Muktsar on Maghi fair on January 13.

Later, they presented a memorandum to the Deputy Speaker. He assured them that he would take up the matter with the state government. — OC


Kaypee lays stone for dental college
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 9
The Punjab Transport Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, today laid the foundation stone for CT Dental College and Hospital, the first of its kind in the entire Doaba region, at Shahpur village near here.

Hailing the decision of the college authorities to set up dental college and hospital in rural area, Mr Kaypee said the upcoming institution would serve the interests of residents of the Doaba region in general and NRIs in particular as the latter was now regularly frequenting their motherland to get medical procedures conducted for dental related ailments.

Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, the chairman of the college management committee, said latest dental machines and equipments for setting up ultra-modern laboratory were being imported from Germany. He said that it had been decided to introduce diploma courses in dental technician, multi-purpose health worker (MPHW), hospital waste management and sanitary inspector from the coming academic season.


Syal is PPS Principal

Nabha, January 9
Commodore I.L. Syal (retd) has taken over the reins of one of the premier educational institutions of India, the Punjab Public School, Nabha.

Besides being a postgraduate in English and Meteorology/Atmospheric Sciences from Pune, he also has to his credit a postgraduate diploma in Training and Development, post graduate diploma in Personnel Management and Industrial Relations, senior Defence Management courses as well as Computer-Oriented Scientific Techniques in Management.

He has the distinction of being a trained Psychologist for the selection of Defence officers. Commodore Syal has a rich experience of 37 years in the field of education and administration.

He has held the positions of Principal of Aditya Birla Public School, Renukoot, Principal, Naval Academy, INS Chilka, Principal, Sainik School Korukonda (AP) and Principal / Head, Academic Training of premier academic training establishments of the Navy.

He also worked as the advisor Education to Hindalco Industries, Renukot, Jt. Director and Director of Naval Education and Group Commander, NCC, Kumaon Region.

Before joining PPS, he was the Principal of one of the leading Public School of Delhi — Manav Sthali School. — OC


PTA fee refunded
Our Correspondent

Batala, January 9
Great joy prevailed amongst the students of the Baring Union Christian College, Batala, and their parents yesterday due to the refund of Rs 300 charged from each student as Parents Teachers Association (PTA) fund at the time of admission for the Year 2004-2005. According to rules, fees for PTA fund can be charged only once from a student at the time of admission to Class XI. It can’t be charged subsequently from the students when they are promoted to senior classes.

When this correspondent brought this fact to the notice of the Principal of the college a few weeks back, he promised to look into the matter and take remedial steps.

The Principal, Dr Hepesh Shepherd, said that Principals of S.L. Bawa D.A.V. College, R.R. Bawa D.A.V College for Girls and he himself held a meeting and it was decided to refund the amount.


Abohar village school excels in science congress
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 9
The students of the Jhamkudevi Senior Secondary School, located in a remote village of this sub-division, were listed as the 10 best performers in the Ist CBSE International Science Congress held a few days ago at Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh.

The team was given a warm reception on return to the home town today.

Mr V. Kuricose, Principal of the School, said that as many as 400 schools participated in the science congress despite devastation caused due to the tsunami waves.

Famous Telugu film star and former Rajya Sabha member Dr Mohan Babu hosted the science congress. The team of the school led by the science teacher, Mr Navneet Sharma, included Mr Aman Poonia, Mr Parveen Poonia and Mr Pardeep Singh, all students of class X.

Interestingly, the Jhumkadevi Senior Secondary School is located on a link road near the inter-state border where even bus service is not frequent.

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