P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Thousands converge on Damdama Sahib for Baisakhi
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 13
Thousands of devotees paid obeisance at Takht Sri Damdama Sahib here a day before Baisakhi today. Speaking to The Tribune, the Takht Manager, Mr Bharpur Singh, told that about 18 stalls of ‘langar’, besides ‘chhabeels’ of drinking water had been put up at the takht. He said thousands of devotees were pouring in from different parts of the country every day.

He said as many as 40,000 devotees were staying in the township and arrangements for their stay had been made at Khalsa Nivas, local schools and colleges. He said 150 SGPC employees had been pressed into service under the supervision of Sukhdev Singh and Kulwinder Singh to look after the arrangements.

He said the SGPC was not allowing the sale of cheap literature at any of the stalls during the Baisakhi fair. Giving details he said ,“Amrit Sanchar” was underway near Darshani Dhyodi and would continue throughout the night. He said as many as 25,000 devotees were expected to take part in the fair.

The takht manager also said as per the orders of the SGPC chief, the family members of the SGPC members as well as staff would also arrive for “Amrit Sanchar”. He said devotees from Malwa had been urged to reach Damdama Sahib for the programme.

Religious programmes have been going on at the Deewan Hall since yesterday. Gurmat College had also staged plays to generate awareness about social evils like drug addiction and female foeticide, he added.

Mr Bharpur Singh said ‘kavishris’, ‘raagis’, and ‘dhadis’, would also take part in religious programmes. Talking about tomorrow’s main programme, he said the bhog of Akhand Path at Likhansar Sahib would be followed by kirtan. Later, Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh would display the weapons of Guru Gobind Singh.

Meanwhile, all political parties are gearing up for their respective conferences tomorrow. While the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) leaders would be present in full strength, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is also expected to attend the Congress rally. On the other hand, five parties – SAD (Ravi Inder), SAD (Longowal), CPI, CPM, and Lok Bhalai Party, would hold a joint conference. 

SGPC ignoring Damdama Sahib, says Nandgarh
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, April 13
Jathedar of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib Balwant Singh Nandgarh today said tha the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) was ignoring the Takht. He stated this while talking to The Tribune here today.

Jathedar Nandgarh said SGPC president, Jagir Kaur, had created a chaos among Sikh devotees by appealing to them to reach Takht Sri Anandpur Sahib for “amrit sanchar”, besides asking the SGPC members to bring along people for the same there. He said he had received calls from many SGPC members in this connection. He said Takht Sri Damdama Sahib had its own importance during the Baisakhi celebrations and devotees from all parts of country converge here to pay their obeisance. He said the SGPC chief’s appeal would affect the number of devotees arriving at the Takht for Baisakhi.

He said the 300th anniversary of “Sampooranta Divas” would be celebrated at the Takht next year and Baisakhi was the perfect occasion to make this announcement.

Meanwhile, attempts to contact SGPC chief, Jagir Kaur, proved futile.


‘Turban day’ marks Baisakhi
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 13
On a call by Akal Purkh Ki Fauj, “World Turban Day” was celebrated by Fauj volunteers to mark the Baisakhi festival here today. The programme was started with shabad kirtan at Gurdwara Sahib. Children and students of Miri Piri recited shabad kirtan. After ardas before Guru Granth Sahib they took the oath to give full respect to the Sikh turban and read the citation of turban pride.

On this occasion, Mr Jaswinder Singh, coordinator APKF, gave a call to the Sikhs world-over to tie saffron turban on Baisakhi to demonstrate their identity.

The coordinator said that Baisakhi was being celebrated all over the world by APKF units situated in the USA, Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, Hongkong, African countries as “World Turban Day”.


Enthusiasm marks Baisakhi
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, April 13
A large number of devotees today took a holy dip in the holy sarovar at Durgiana Temple here to mark the Baisakhi festival. The silver vessel containing water of holy Brahm Sarovar of Katasraj, Chakwal district of Pakistan, Durgiana Temple and Ganga was displayed on the occasion. Newly born children who celebrated their first Baisakhi were given drops of the holy water with rose petals.

The Shree Durgiana Temple Management Committee distributed calendars of Vikrami Samvat, 2062.

Hoshiarpur: Baisakhi was celebrated with great enthusiasm here on Tuesday. Thousands of devotees went to Dera Baba Charan Shah Bahadurpur, where traditional Baisakhi fair is held, to pay their obeisance. Langars were organised in bazars and temples to mark the celebration. Though there was no gazetted holiday of Baisakhi today, but the presence in government offices was very thin.

The annual sat sangh sammelan of Manav Dharam was also held at Manavta Mandir here where a big congregation was held. Thousands of devotees from all over the country participated in this congregation.


Students celebrate Baisakhi
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 13
Baisakhi was celebrated with great enthusiasm by the staff and students of APJ Public School, Mundi Kharar, here today.

A cultural programme was organised by the institution in which a large number of students took part. They presented poems and songs in connection with Baisakhi.

Mr Jasvir Chander, Principal, told students about the significance of the festival.


24 Baisakhi revellers hurt
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 13
Twenty four Baisakhi revellers headed to Dera Baba Kahna in Dhesian village were injured when the DCM Toyota (numbered PCJ 4555) overturned on the GT road near the Phagwara-Hoshiarpur crossing today.

Most of the 40 pilgrims belonged to Shookar Chak Fatehgarh village in Amritsar district.

They were going to pay obeisance at the dera. The driver lost control and the vehicle wobbled near the crossing and hit an electricity pole and overturned.

Inspector Nirmal Singh, SHO City Police Station, said the driver was arrested.


Devotees miss holy dip as sewage flows into Bein
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Bhulath (Kapurthala), April 13
It was a day of disappointment for the residents of Bhulath as many of them, who had come to attend the two-day Baisakhi mela here could not take a dip in the holy Bein due to the discharge of sullage into its waters.

Though hundreds of followers of Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal, popularly known as ‘Bein wale Baba,’ had been instrumental in removing weeds and clearing other matter that had been choking waters of the sacred Bein, water from an overflowing sewage pit, dug up just 25 yards away from the bathing ghat, slowly moved towards the rivulet via a narrow channel.

In fact, the pit had been dug by followers of Baba Seechewal nearly eight months back. Members of nagar panchayat of Bhulath sub-division had promised the devotees that proper sewerage system would be developed in the township with in six months and they just required a dug up area where they could discharge the sullage matter till that time.

However in six months the pit was full and started overflowing, thus again polluting the holy waters. But no effort has been made by the nagar panchayat to set up a sewage system or a water treatment plant in Bhulath so far.

Before the pit was dug up, the sewage drains had a direct outlet the Bein. While the pit was dug up the nagar panchyat had also put up a suction pump near the pit so that the sewage water could be pumped out and used for irrigating the fields. But farmers had refused to use the untreated water to irrigate their crops.

Baisakhi melas have been an annual feature on the banks of rivulet at Bhulath, Subhanpur, Kanjli, Sultanpur Lodhi, Mana Talwandi and Gallowal in Dasuya. It was in this bein that Guru Nanak Dev ji, the first guru of Sikhs, used to take bath during his 13- year stay in Sultanpur Lodhi where he is also believed to have attained enlightment. But for years Baisakhi melas could not be held at any of the banks of the rivulet.

It has been just a year or two that the Baba, alongwith his followers, has been cleaning the rivulet using hi-tech imported machines. The residents said due to the discharge of sullage water, the Baba and his followers had to take up the operation repeatedly as weeds grew repidly in the organic waste.

Baba Seechewal was in Bhulath today along with hundreds of followers to clean the banks and the water in the area for the two-day festival. Tents had been erected, mattresses had been laid and Baba’s followers recited gurbani. A few of them dared to take a dip in the Bein.

Talking to The Tribune, Baba lamented that the nagar panchayat, residents and the government had not provided any help for saving the environment. “What good can they do if they cannot provide clean and pollution free environment for the the good health of the masses?” he asked.

Mr Ved Prakash, head of the nagar panchayat, blamed the lack of funds for failure to provide proper sewerage in the town. He said he had sent a proposal of Rs 7. 62 crore to the government and was waiting for its sanction.


Widespread theft of coal in transit for thermal plant
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 13
Officials of Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant have been facing an unusual problem to tackle. There has been continuous theft of coal on the way from coal fields to the thermal plant brought by goods trains. Besides, a few bodies have also been found in the wagons carrying coal.

The theft of coal from goods trains is attributed to lack of security. The PSEB and the Railways did not consider it viable to provide security personnel on the train for safety. As a result, the theft of coal continued and a number of bodies from coal fields in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal were found in the coal wagons.

Thermal plant sources revealed that hundreds of tonnes of coal was being stolen on the way from coal fields to the thermal plant every year. The theft is common at the stations where the good trains stopped. Coal mafia is suspected to be behind the large-scale thefts.

As per records of the PSEB available with The Tribune, from January, 2003, to January, 2004, the thermal plant purchased total 4551977 metric tonnes coal for power generation and suffered 1.70 per cent coal transit losses. From January, 2004, onwards till January, 2005, the thermal plant used 5143240 metric tonnes of coal for power generation and suffered 1.62 per cent coal transit loses.

Sources in the thermal plant informed that the coal mafia was virtually controlling the coal, deals at coal fields in various states. A number of persons are being killed during ‘war’ among various groups of coal mafia to prove their rights over the coal fields. Thereafter, the dead bodies have been dumped in the trains carrying coal to the thermal plant. The coal mafia charged protection money from coal dealers, the sources informed.

The problem began when the dead bodies reached the thermal plant. The thermal plant authorities keep on informing the police officers of the concerned states from where the coal had been brought but no one is ready to take claim of the bodies, the sources informed.

Last month a body that was brought by the goods train from the coal field remained lying for about a week in the coal unit of the thermal plant. When neither the railway force nor the police of the concerned state came for investigations, thermal plant officials wrote to the SSP, Ropar, the body was then taken for postmortem.

The senior officials of the thermal plant on condition of the anonymity told The Tribune that with a view to control transit losses of coal, the PSEB has appointed agents for the purchase of the coal in the coal fields. It was not possible for the PSEB to depute their own officials at coal fields.

He said that the agents were appointed on commission basis. The PSEB usually deposited an advance amount with the agent for the purchase.


Engineers: unbundling not statutory requirement
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
The PSEB Engineers Association has contradicted the state government’s claim that the unbundling of the PSEB is a statutory requirement under the Electricity Act, 2003.

Intensifying its campaign against the state government’s move to unbundle the board, the association has sent a 12-page document to all MLAs, MPs, etc, stating that “ the Act is enabling legislation which allows the state government to retain generation and distribution under one integrated company”. The only binding of a statutory nature is that the state transmission utilities are debarred from trading (power).

The restructured model of the PSEB finalised by the government is no different from a similar model in seven other states which failed disastrously leading to repeated tariff shocks to consumers and increasing power shortages. “ Unfortunately, this has not deterred the Punjab Government from adopting a similar model”, adds the association.

“When Punjab has the highest per capita electricity consumption, relatively lower level of T and D losses and the lowest tariff rates in the country without imposing a cash burden on the state exchequer, where is the need to destroy such an organisation under the garb of the Electricity Act?” asks the association. The Act, it says, does not make compulsory the kind of drastic restructuring the Punjab Government is contemplating.

The association has made it clear that it is a supporter of genuine power sector reforms and welcomes fair competition with the private sector on a level playing field, but is opposed to imposed reforms aping the World Bank model that has proved a disaster in various states. Already, unbundling has proved a flop in Delhi, Orissa and other states.

With the unbundling of the PSEB, the association says there will be 44 directors of six companies and most of them will be bureaucrats whereas the existing board has only seven members. The distribution of power, which is now looked after by one member of the PSEB, will be done by three companies having 24 directors. Eight non-official directors will be appointed in different companies.

The association says that a profitable segment of business will be taken away from the public sector and handed over to the private sector, thus privatising the profits.

The association says that after the unbundling of the Andhra Pradesh board, the power subsidy amount has gone up from Rs 850.4 crore to Rs 1,982 crore and the losses have increased from Rs 88.52 crore to Rs 1,194.04 crore. Transmission losses have come down from 33.1 per cent to 29.39 per cent but the average tariff has gone up from 156 paise per unit to 222 paise per unit.

It says that in Haryana, following unbundling of the state board, power subsidy amount has gone up from Rs 1,063 crore to Rs 1,244 crore and from a profit of Rs 6.69 crore, the board’s collective loss is now Rs 1,537.37 crore. Line losses have gone up from 32.8 per cent to 38.21 per cent and the average tariff rate has increased from 155.3 paise to 225.37 paise.


Anomalies detected in use of
Sarv Sikhya Abhiyan funds

Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, April 13
The audit report of the funds spent on the Sarv Sikhya Abhiyan in the district is generating heat. Sources here said that the audit report prepared by a team headed by the Deputy Controller (Finance), Gurdaspur, has detected serious anomalies in the funds spent under the Sarv Sikhya Abhiyan.

According to the report, the district received about Rs 18 crore under the campaign from 2002 to 2004. However, due to the laxity of the implementing authorities, about Rs 2.6 crore was not spent within the scheduled time.

The most serious allegation levelled in the audit report is that purchases worth Rs 24,72,930 were made without calling for any quotation. According to the provisions provided under the scheme, calling of quotations was mandatory for any purchase of more than Rs 500. The sources said that most of these purchases were of material to be used at a centre to be run under the campaign.

The elementary schools that were issued funds under the Sarv Sikhya Abhiyan have also been indicted in the report. Eightyfour schools have been indicted for failing to produce the records of Rs 38,70,800 provided to them under the scheme. It has also been stated that 190 schools in the district have not yet submitted the stock registers of the material purchased under the scheme. Besides, 26 schools have not even presented the cash books and 352 schools have not submitted any record.

The toilets in the schools, brought under the scheme, have been constructed without following any specifications. As per the provision under the scheme, photographs before and after the construction of toilets were to be submitted to the authorities. However, no such photographs were taken or the estimates for construction passed by the competent authorities.

Besides, the district elementary education authorities have been accused of failing to keep the interest generated by keeping the campaign funds in savings accounts, in the receipt head of the government. The other allegations of misuse of funds include use of a private taxi despite the availability of a government vehicle and misappropriations due to faulty accounting.

The ruckus over the irregularities in spending the Sarv Sikhya Abhiyan funds in the district has been going on for long. The Government Teachers Union has been alleging large-scale anomalies in the spending of the funds. Besides, the MLAs have also taken up the issue in the planning board meeting.

Though the Deputy Commissioner was chairman of the district-level committee of the Sarv Sikhya Abhiyan, he was never consulted while spending the funds. The former Deputy Commissioner, Mr Harjeet Singh, therefore ordered an audit of the amount spent under the scheme.

The present Deputy Commissioner, Mr Vivek Pratap Singh, said that he would go into the audit report and order suitable action against the officials responsible for the alleged misappropriation of funds under the scheme.

Besides the Deputy Commissioner, the 89-page audit report has also been sent to the Additional Secretary (Finance).


Fast shelling of paddy saves government crores
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
Learning from the mistake of holding onto stocks of rice and wheat, the grain procuring agencies in Punjab this year have speeded up the shelling of paddy. As a result, they set a pace which resultantly saved crores of rupees by way of bank interest and also on cost of storing the rice.

At the end of March this year, 96.4 per cent of all paddy in the state had been shelled which is a far cry from five years ago when Punjab was shelling no more than 75 per cent of its paddy stocks. Less shelling meant stocks kept pilling up and resulted in wastage besides financial loss as godowns, providing security for grain and storage add up to overheads.

Also bank interest which at present is 9 per cent keeps accumulating. Rice in Punjab is procured by money forwarded by the Government of India through a consortium of banks at 9 per cent annual interest. It also pays incidental expenses like storage, security and godown costs till March 31 each year. After March 31 it becomes the rice and its storage becomes a liability of the state. This means if the state had shelled only 75 per cent of paddy it would have been burdened with a responsibility running into a few hundred crores of rupees.

The grain procuring agencies -- Markfed, Pungrain, Punsup, the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation and the Punjab Agro Industries Corporation - has collectively shelled and delivered 57.48 lakh metric tonnes of rice. Private shelling units also carry out the shelling on behalf of the state. The total procurement had been 59.66 lakh metric tonnes by these agencies. The delivery is crucial as the Central Government releases the payment on getting delivery.

The momentum of shelling paddy faster has been building up in the past three years and was peaking now, said an official. Leading the pack of agencies in the state is Markfed with 99 per cent of shelling of its share of 14.62 lakh metric tonnes followed by Pungrain at 98 per cent shelling (share 13.82 lakh metric tonnes) and Punsup at 95.4 per cent shelling of paddy (share 16.18 lakh metric tonnes).

The Managing Director of Markfed, Mr S.S. Channy, says teams of Markfed kept a vigilance and regular monitoring was ensured to avoid any delay or harassment to farmers as well as any loss to the paddy stocks.

Meanwhile, sources in the agro sector said changes had been made in allocating paddy to shelling units in the state. Earlier, they continued to undertake their business year after year of defaults. The modus operandi was to change the name and style of the rice mills. Under a new policy the land and machinery or premises were declared defaulters and unscrupulous elements were not allowed to operate this year.

Talking about Markfed Mr Channy adds the rice mills that have less than 2 metric tonnes of capacity and used to share the work of two grain procuring agencies of the state had been stopped. The modus operandi of some rice millers was to enter into business with two or more governmental agencies and give preference to a particular agency at the cost of stocks of other agencies and simultaneously withhold stocks at the close of season as per convenience. These types of disputes were accumulating, resulting into huge losses, Mr Channy added.


FCI to lift 10 lakh metric tonnes of
wheat from centres
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 13
Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Principal Secretary B C Gupta today said the Food Corporation of India (FCI) had agreed to lift 10 lakh metric tonnes of wheat directly from procurement centres in the state instead of lifting the same from various state godowns as was the practice earlier.

Talking to reporters here after inspecting the procurement in the local grain market, Mr Gupta said besides arriving at an understanding with the FCI to lift wheat directly from various centres, the department was also ensuring speedy clearance of wheat from its godowns. “ The situation is such that there is only four lakh metric tonnes of old wheat stock in our godowns while earlier the stock position used to even touch 100 lakh metric tonnes”.

The Principal Secretary also disclosed that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had released Rs 5,940 crore to the state for wheat procurement. He said he had issued orders that payments should be made to farmers within 48 hours.


Film on Sikhs in post-9/11 America
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 13
Balbir Singh Gill, aka Bobby, a Sikh grocery owner in the USA, is kidnapped and tortured by four Americans. He is mistaken as a Muslim. Balbir is the central character in film ‘Sweet Amerika’. Gulshan Grover a leading bad guy in Bolloywood films, has teamed up with Canadian director R. Paul Dhillon to bring to audiences the plight of Sikhs in post 9/11 America.

Through this film audiences will get a peep into the immigrant life in a small ethenic neighbourhood of New York.

Dhillon and Grover recently signed a contract for the film whose production is scheduled to begin within a couple of months.

The film, being produced by MMM Film and Blueberry Street Films, has been written by Dhillon and Jessi Thind, the author of “Lions Of The Sea” a tale of Kamagata Maru passengers.


Rs 1,200 cr to be spent on building roads
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, April 13
The Punjab Government has initiated work on the construction of 870-km-long roads and 22 railway overbridge in the state during the current financial year, which would be completed at an estimated expenditure of Rs 1200 crores.

This was stated by Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, PWD (B&R) Minister while addressing a big public rally at Goluke village near Guruharsahai. Mr Bajwa was addressing the rally after laying the foundation stone for the widening and re-carpeting of the 85-km-long Ferozepore-Fazilka road for which the state government has already released an amount of Rs 25 crores.

Mr Hans Raj Jossan, Minister of State for Forests, Mr Mohinder Rinwa, MLA, Chairman, Public State Tubewell Corporation, Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Kewal Dhillon, Vice-President PPCC, and other senior Congress leaders were present on the occasion.

Mr Bajwa said to bring efficiency in the process of construction and repair of roads, district-level committees headed by the deputy commissioner were being constituted which would monitor the process of the construction and repair of roads. He said that during the next two years, almost all roads in the state would be repaired and re-carpeted.

Mr Bajwa said an amount of Rs 28 crores would be spent on the repair of six state highways during this year which included Ludhiana to Malerkotla, Dhuri to Sangrur, Mullanpur to Raikot and Barnala, Moga to Bagha Purana, Kiratpur Sahib till Himachal Pradesh border and Hoshiarpur to Phagwara highways. Next year with an assistance of Rs 500 crores from NABARD, all major roads and state highways in the state would be repaired. The state Government has written to the Union Government to accord six state highways the status of national highways so that regular grants are made available for the maintenance of these roads.

Mr Bajwa said the payment for the construction or repair work would be released to contractors only after the inspection of the work by the Deputy Commissioner concerned who would issue a NOC after the inspection for the release of the payment.

Issuing a stern warning to erring officials, Mr Bajwa said besides departmental action, criminal cases would be registered against the PWD officials if found guilty of corruption. The 8-km stretch of road from Guruharsahai to Jeeva Rahi would be widened upto 18 feet road shortly.

On the occasion, Mr Jossan while addressing the gathering, said the State Forest Department had constituted an agency which would ensure the plantation of trees along the major roads in 
the state.


Freedom fighters must get their due, says Hooda
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 13
The Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, today called upon the people to give full respect to the freedom fighters and their families and to follow the path shown by them for strengthening the country.

He was speaking as the chief guest on the occasion of a function organised to mark the Jallianwala Bagh Shaheedi Divas. The function had been organized jointly by the All India Freedom Fighters Organisations and All India Freedom Fighters Successors Organisation. He paid tributes to the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh massacre and said the episode had brought a turning point in the country's struggle for freedom. The Chief Minister of Haryana also assured help to the freedom fighters and their successors. He said his government had increased the monthly pension of freedom fighters belonging to Haryana to Rs 3,500 from Rs 1,400 which they had been getting since 1992. He also suggested to the Punjab Government to bring the monthly pension of freedom fighters at par with that of freedom fighters in Haryana.

In his welcome address, 91- year- old veteran freedom fighter and General Secretary of the All-India Freedom Fighters Organisation Dewan Jagdish Chander, informed that as many as 700 surviving freedom fighters and their successors had come from all over the country to pay homage to the martyrs in this function.

He said Ranbir Singh, a veteran freedom fighter and father of Mr. Bhupinder Singh Hooda, was also to attend this function, but he could not attend this function because of ill health.

Earlier, Mr Hooda also inaugurated an exhibition of philately on great Indian leaders, freedom fighters and prominent personalities. Among others present on the occasion were Mr Vinod Sharma, Excise and Taxation Minister, Haryana, Mr Rakesh Pandey, State Minister for Science and Technology, Punjab, Mr Surinder Dawar, Parliamentary Secretary, Housing and Power, Punjab, Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, Mr Narinder Pal Singh, SSP, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor and Mr K. K Bawa, former president, DCC. 


India Trust to run Dasmesh Academy
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, April 13
The Dasmesh Academy will be run by Delhi-based India Trust on a contract basis. The contract will be given to the trust on April 18 on the condition that the academy’s staff will be retained by it.

A decision in this regard was taken by the Chairperson of the trust running the academy, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, at a meeting with other members of the trust yesterday, sources said.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in a statement in the Punjab Assembly yesterday had said that in order to streamline the functioning of the academy, the government was considering the removal of the trust.

Confirming the decision of the trust, Air Marshal M.M. Singh, retd, told Tribune News Service the details had been worked out and the contract to run the academy would be given to the India Trust on April 18. We has also decided to appoint the Director-Principal within a few days,” he said.

“The contract will be given to the trust which is running various schools and other educational institutions on the conditions that all staff members of the academy would continue to work here,” he added.

Admissions to the academy have already begun from April 1. At present more than 400 students are enrolled with it and 114 employees are working there. The former Director-Principal of the academy, Mr Nicholas Gomes, had quit on February 28. Since then, the Estate Officer, Mr Baldev Singh, has been looking after its administration.


Jallianwala Bagh martyrs remembered
Our Correspondent

Amritsar April 13
To commemorate the Jallianwala Bagh massacre on the Baisakhi day in l9l9, a special memorial service was organised today to pay homage to hundreds of freedom fighters who had laid down their lives.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Ashwani Sekhri, who presided over the function said that the government had decided to name various government schools in the villages of the freedom fighters after them. He said the step had been taken to perpetuate the memory of the freedom fighters.

Mr Sekhri, while talking to reporters after the function, said he would take up the issue of the development of the Jallianwala Bagh, which had been in utter neglect for the past six to seven years lack of planning. He said the light and sound programme, which had been approved earlier, would be implemented soon.

Earlier, Mr Sekhri honoured more than 200 freedom fighters by presenting them gifts and souvenirs. The Governor of Kerala, Mr R.L. Bhatia, along with other leaders laid floral wreaths at the martyrs’ memorial while the police reversed arms and sounded the last post.


Training for armed forces test
Tribune Reporters

Kapurthala, April 13
The selection of candidates for pre-selection training for recruitment to armed forces will be done by the Training and Employment Centre, Guru Nanak Nagar, Theh Kanjla, Kapurthala, on April 15 at 9 am.

The candidates from Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Nawanshahr and Kapurthala district only are eligible for the training.

For the pre-selection training for recruitment to the Army the age of candidate should be between 17 and 20 years and for para military forces 18 to 22 years.

Amritsar: The Sainik Welfare Office will also conduct a 42-day long pre-recruitment training course from April 25. Lt. Col S. P. Singh, Deputy Director, informed that matriculate candidates from the families of ex-servicemen, scheduled castes and economically weaker sections would be imparted training. The candidates coming from far-flung areas would be provided free of cost stay, he added.


Tele-medicine project launched
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 13
The Department of Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, in collaboration with the PGIMER, Chandigarh, today launched a tele-medicine project at Government Mata Kaushalya Hospital here.

Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh inaugurated the system in the presence of Dr Shiv Kumar, Civil Surgeon, and Dr D.S. Gill, Medical Superintendent, besides other staff members of the hospital.

Dr Gill said with this technology, any case that required an expert medical opinion would now be easily connected to a specialist in the PGI for obtaining expert medical opinion, without actually forwarding the patient to the PGI.

Patients from the rural areas could consult experts from the PGI, from respective places.

Doctors at both ends would be able to review and discuss crucial investigation reports like the X-ray, ultrasound or ECG.


Sangharsh panel meets today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
The Punjab Mulajam Sangharsh Committee today said that it would announce its programme tomorrow to counter the state government’s move to hand over the control of certain government schools to private organisations.

Mr Ranbir Singh Dhillon, convener of the committee, said a meeting of the committee members, who represented 40 different employees’ organisations, would be held here to plan a strategy on the issue.


PSEB engineers distribute booklets
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 13
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Engineering Association today made a unique attempt to spread awareness against the move of the state government to dismantle the PSEB into six companies. Members of the association distributed a six-page booklet to all the Cabinet Ministers, MLAs and several other politicians highlighting the shortfalls of the government decision.

“The members of the PSEB Engineering Association distributed the booklets at the residence of the ministers in Chandigarh. It is urgent to spread awareness as restructured model finalised by the Punjab Government is no different from the model of the other states of India which had failed leading to repeated tariff shocks to consumers and increasing power shortage, said the general secretary of the association, Mr H.S Bedi.


Harassment of PVC winner’s widow to be probed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
Taking cognisance of news reports regarding harassment to Param Vir Chakra awardee Subedar Joginder Singh’s widow Gurdial Kaur, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, yesterday pulled up the civil administration of Faridkot district.

Expressing deep concern and anguish over the apathy shown by the district police authorities, the Chief Minister also ordered Faridkot’s Senior Superintendent of Police to probe the matter and submit a detailed report on the incident within two days.

He assured the aggrieved party that justice would be done.


Bindal takes over as PSEB Member (Distribution)
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 13
Mr B.K. Bindal joined as the new Member (Distribution), Punjab State Electricity Board, here today.

Mr Bindal, who joined the board as an apprentice engineer in 1969, has also remained on the posts of Director (Personnel), OSD (Technical) to Chairman and Engineer-in-Chief (Metering).


DC orders probe into relief paid to dead farmers
Tribune News service

Gurdaspur, April 13
The Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, Mr Vivek Pratap Singh, today ordered an inquiry into the compensation awarded to dead farmers in the Bamiyal block of the district. While talking to The Tribune, the deputy commissioner said that after the inquiry suitable action would be taken against the officials found guilty.

The inquiry was ordered after the matter was reported in The Tribune today.

The farmers of the Bamiyal area have demanded that an inquiry should be conducted after comparing the maps prepared by the Army for laying mines and the civil administration for distributing the compensation.


Durgiana panel office-bearers summoned
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 13
The SDM, Mr Gurwaryam Singh, has asked the Durgiana management committee to clarify on the sale of “gaushala” land by it. He has summoned Mr Gopi Chand Bhatia, Mr Surinder Arjun, officiating president, Mr Rajinder Bhalla, a councillor, and Mr S.S. Sharma, the complainant, on April 15 to explain the details of the sale.

However, Mr Arjun denied any knowledge of the notice. He said some vested interests were trying to tarnish the image of the management.

The five-acre “gaushala” land was sold in 2004. The land, located at Bhateywind village, was purchased in 2002 for Rs 42 lakh. It was disposed of at Rs 42.50 lakh two years later.

Mr Arjun alleged that the previous management, under the control of the BJP, had bought the land at a higher price to facilitate an RSS leader. At that time its value was only Rs 26 lakh. He said the land was earlier purchased at Rs 5 lakh and later sold to the Durgiana management for Rs 42 lakh.

However, it was alleged that no advertisement or tender was issued to dispose of the land. Mr Arjun, however, said the management had reached an “understanding” with the buyer, who was also a major donor to the temple. He admitted that advertisement, tender and auction was not considered but an approval from the temple management was taken.


Police ‘shielding’ accused cop
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 13
The Police Department has been allegedly shielding an accused constable whose name figured in the suicide note of Yogesh Sharma. Even the orders from the President’s secretariat, Rashtrapati Bhavan, forwarded to the Chief Secretary, Government of Punjab, for taking appropriate action against the accused have proved futile.

Sharma, an employee of a private hotel in Ranjit Avenue here, committed suicide on June 3, 2004. A case under Section 306, IPC had been registered at the Civil Lines police station here. In his suicide note, Sharma had alleged that he was getting threatening calls from Dimple Kumar, his wife Bharati and a police constable Jarnail Singh, who was posted at the OASI branch, Gurdaspur.

While Dimple Kumar surrendered before the court, Jarnail Singh could not be arrested for reasons best known to the Police Department.

Mr Parveen Kumar, brother of the deceased, alleged that the DIG (Border Range) ordered to arrest the culprit. A police team was sent on March 25 to arrest him. However, it returned without arresting the constable. He alleged that according to their information Jarnail Singh was on duty till afternoon. After the arrival of the police party there, he went on half-day leave.

He alleged the police was not going even to the Punjab and Haryana High Court where Jarnail Singh had applied for anticipatory bail. 


Compulsory registration of hospitals on cards
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
With a view to restructuring the medical education in the country, the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister, Dr Anbumani Ramadoss, said the government was working on changing the curriculum of undergraduate and post graduate medical education so that the current advancements could be included.

Presiding over the annual convocation of the PGI here today the minister said the revised curriculum might be ready in the next two years.

Commenting upon the existing medical fraternity practicing with their old knowledge, Dr Ramadoss said that ``compulsory continuing medicine education’’ programmes would be made compulsory for the doctors so that they are made to learn about the newer advancements and research that has come about in the field.

“We are also planning to make the registration of the hospitals compulsory so that the standards can be set to ensure quality,” ‘’ he added.

Earlier the Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh launched a Telemedicine Project for Punjab connecting Mata Kaushalya Hospital, Patiala, Sub-Divisional Hospital, Dasuya in Hoshiarpur district and Sub-Divisional Hospital, Ajnala, in Amritsar to PGI.

Dr Manmohan Singh said the recent launch of the National Rural Health Mission had also envisaged accessible and affordable health services to the people.


Electronics company told to pay relief
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 13
The District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum has directed Mr Ashok Kumar prop. Vinod Electronics, Narula Market, Sirhind, and MD Videocon International Company to pay Rs 18,000 with interest to Kuldip Chand, a resident of the Officer’s Colony and also imposed a penalty of Rs 5,000 for mental agony and harassment and Rs 2,000 as costs.

Earlier, Kuldeep Chand had filed a complaint with the forum against Ashok Kumar with the allegations that he had purchased a television set from Vinod Eletronics on March 1, 2003. There was a mechanical defect in the television set and inspite of repeated requests and reminders to the dealer as well as the company, the requests were turned down. He said he filed a complaint with the forum and the forum in its decision directed the company to either install new television set or pay the amount along with penalty.


PSHRC asks police to act in cheating case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
The Punjab State Human Right Commission (PSHRC) has come to rescue of Mr Gurmeet Singh, a Patiala resident, who was allegedly duped to the tune of about Rs 20 lakh at the hands an immigration firm.

In an order issued here yesterday, Justice R.L. Anand, a PSHRC member, directed the Patiala SSP to protect the life and liberty of the complainant and his family.

Mr Singh had approached the commission alleging that Satwant Singh Deol and his wife Rupinder Kaur, both residents of Patiala, and Hardeep Kumar Arora, a resident of Akbarpur Afghana in Patiala district, promised to send his son, Harjinder, to Canada.

Mr Singh allegedly made a payment of Rs 19.75 lakh to them between January 2004 to June 2004. When the accused failed to keep their promise, Mr Singh demanded the money back.

The accused instead threatened Mr Singh of dire consequences, following which he lodged a complaint with the SSP, Patiala, on April 5, but nothing had been done.


Forum demands probe into Professor’s death
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 13
The Forum for Educational Action and Reform (FEAR) at its meeting here yesterday demanded a high-level vigilance probe into the circumstances leading to the “unfortunate and untimely” death of well-know teaching community leader — Dr K.C. Singhal, a senior Professor of the Punjab School of Management Studies of Punjabi University.

The forum president, Dr Amarjit Singh Dhillon, claimed that in the light of recent documentary evidence brought to its notice, it felt that the death of Dr Singhal was caused due to “wilful administrative negligence” on the part of the university authorities. Dr Dhillon said the Board of Directorate of the Health Department would have taken up the case of Dr Singhal’s liver transplantation proposed to be done in the USA if the university had forwarded the teachers application requesting the same to the Directorate.

Dr Dhillon said the application was put in a “procedural rigmarole” by the university authorities and that in the meantime Dr Singhal expired. The forum president said it was a wellknown fact that Dr Singhal was opposed to a bureaucrat holding the Vice Chancellor’s chair in a university and that this was why the previous incumbent and bureaucrat Dr J.S. Ahluwalia had entangled him in various cases of alleged financial misconduct. He alleged this was the same reason why present Vice Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai had not taken any decision about the Deanship of the faculty which was due to him on February one after the retirement of Prof U.C. Singh on January 31 despite a written letter by Dr Singhal.

University spokesman Dr Baldev Singh Sandhu when contacted on the issue, said the university administration received Dr Singhal’s application from his wife one day before he died. “You can understand the delay through this fact itself”. He claimed the allegations were being made by negative and distorted minds who could not think positively.

The university spokesman said the institution’s sensitivity to the illness of Dr Singhal could be gauged from the fact that the Vice-Chancellor had deputed him to go to the PGI at Chandigarh to inquire about the health of Dr Singhal and also promise all financial assistance possible to the family. “I met Mrs Singhal at the PGI and conveyed the wishes of the Vice Chancellor to her”, he added. Dr Sandhu said as far as the allegations of FEAR regarding failure to take a decision on grant of Deanship to Dr Singhal when he was admitted to the PGI was concerned, he wanted to clarify that the Deanship was in dispute. Another teacher — Dr M.S. Bedi had claimed that he was senior to Dr Singhal as he had remained Dean of the Faculty earlier due to which the case had been referred for legal opinion.



5 commission agents lose licences
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 13
Taking serious view of the irregularity in purchase of wheat in the various anaj mandis of the district, the Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, today cancelled the licence of five commission agents and also removed one inspector of the purchase agency during her surprise raid.

She was accompanied by the Controller of the Food and Supplies Department, Ms Rajwant Kaur, and officials of various purchase agencies.

During her visit to the five anaj mandis in the Ropar, Bela, Morinda and Chamkaur Sahib, she found that sanitary conditions were poor and the agents had been found purchasing wheat with moisture exceeding the prescribed limit.

She directed the commission agents and the various purchasing agencies to strictly follow the rules regarding the purchase of wheat. 


Forged documents cost them admission
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 13
Punjabi University has detected certain cases of forged documents during admissions to B.A. (Part 1) in affiliated colleges. Giving this information here today, Dr Baldev Singh, Chief Coordinator, (Exams) said that when 10+2 certificates of some students of B.A. (Part 1) were sent to the Punjab School Education Board for verification, five cases of forged documents were detected.

These included Sunil Sethi (S.B.S.Government College, Kotkapura), Muneet Kumar (D.A.V. College, Bathinda), Mahesh Kumar (Mata Gujri College, Fatehgarh Sahib), Genia Khanna (Government Mahindra College, Patiala) and Kirandeep Kaur(G.N.D. Khalsa Girls College, Bathinda).

Taking immediate action, university authorities cancelled their admissions in the respective colleges. The university was considering registering a case with the police in this matter. 


Civil Surgeon’s driver assaults reporter
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 13
Mr Shiv Sharma, a correspondent of ‘Ajit’ was allegedly roughed up and abused by the driver of Jalandhar Civil Surgeon Y.C. Markan in front of the office of the Civil Surgeon here today.

According to Mr Sharma, who has lodged a formal complaint with police division No. 4, he was manhandled and abused by the driver while he was about the enter the office of the Civil Surgeon, where he had gone in connection with a news story. The driver, according to Mr Sharma, also tried to smash his motorcycle, which was damaged partly in the assault.

Mr Sharma alleged that the driver pounced upon him saying he (Shiv Sharma) was filing reports against the Civil Surgeon and that he was upset over his writings. 


BSP: decision on schools anti-people
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
After the SAD and Left parties, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) also today opposed the process of privatisation of education, health services, etc, started by the Punjab Government.

Reacting to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh’s statement regarding the handing over of the control of 2,000 government schools to private parties, the president of the Punjab unit of the BSP, Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri, said it was an anti-people decision and his party would oppose it.

Mr Karimpuri faxed a letter to the Punjab Governor requesting him to intervene immediately to stop the state government from implementing the decision on the schools. In the letter Mr Karimpuri stated that the state government was destroying the public sector. The government was a representative of the people and it should not watch the interests of big private houses. He said a big fraud was being committed on the people of the state by the government.

Mr Karimpuri said his party would launch an agitation against the state government if it continued to hand over public sector organisations to private parties. He said poor sections would be hit hard with the privatisation of education in the state.

Hike in rates of exam-related work
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 13
Guru Nanak Dev University has made 40 to 60 per cent increase in the existing rates of remuneration for paper setters, evaluators and those doing other examination work from this session.

However, other rates relating to examination work will be in force from the April/May examinations, said Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar, here today.

The existing rate of Rs 200 per question paper for paper setting of BA/BA (Hons), BSc, BSc (Hons School), BCom, diplomas, certificate courses and other bachelor-level courses has been increased to Rs 300 per question paper. The rate of Rs 225 per paper for BTech, BArch, LLB and other bachelor-level professional examinations has been raised to Rs 350 per paper. The paper setters of MA, MSc, MCom, MSc (Hons School), LLM, MPhil, MTech and other master-level courses will now get Rs 400 per question paper.

The evaluation rates of theory answer books of all bachelor-level courses had been increased from Rs 6 per answer book to Rs 8 per answer book, subject to minimum of Rs 100. The practical rates have also been increased to Rs 7 per candidate per session (minimum of Rs 100).

The university has also increased the remuneration for evaluation of theory answer books of all postgraduate examinations from Rs 7 per answer book to Rs 10 per answer book (minimum of Rs 100). 


32 students shortlisted for jobs
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 13
Thirtytwo, students of the eighth semester of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering (BBSBE) College, Fatehgarh Sahib have been shortlisted for jobs in Spice Communication, Mohali and the IBM Services, Gurgaon.

The college Principal, Dr D.S. Hira, said the placement cell arranged the campus interviews for jobs in IBM Services and Spice Communication, Mohali, on the college campus.

He said eight students of electronics and communication were shortlisted and they would appear in final HR interview to be held at company office at Mohali placement officer of the college , Prof IPS Gill, said that Harpreet Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Inderpreet Singh, Nitin Vij, Dilpreet Singh, Komalpreet Kaur, Pardeep Kaur, Gurbir Singh were shortlisted by Spice. He said earlier Spice had selected Ranjit Singh and Tejinder Kaur of the Computer Department. Prof Lakhwinder Singh, Head, Department of Electronics said that student did very good job in their industrial training and that helped them in job Interview

Prof Gill said student placed in IBM Service Gurgaon, were Navneet Kaur, Jasleen Kaur, Navneet Kaur, Neha Bhardwaj, Devika Lekhi, Gurpreet, Gupinder Singh, Supreet , Harleen Kaur, Parbleen Kaur, Anmol Sandhu , Barinder Singh, Inderpreet Singh, Abhijeet singh, Harsimanjot Singh, Rohit, Jasdeep Singh Kang, Anurag Sharma,Sukreet Singh , Amandeep Singh, Amanpreet Singh, Gursimran, Govind, Satwinder Pal Singh, Harkamal Singh were shortlisted in the IBM services.


Ludhiana to have vet varsity
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 13
After a decade-long wait, decks have finally been cleared for setting up Punjab's first veterinary university in Ludhiana. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is scheduled to lay the foundation stone of Guru Angad Dev Veterinary University on April 18.

The university for the time being will function from the building that housed the now-defunct veterinary immunology department on the Ludhiana-Ferozepore road. While the date of the inauguration is being kept under wraps, officials of the college are working round the clock to make it a success.

The building, which was in bad shape and covered with wild vegetation, has been spruced up and is being given a new coat of paint. Furniture and other paraphernalia are being purchased and will be in place before the inauguration.

Sources said that the bill for setting up the university is pending with the Assembly and could not be taken up on account of several holidays. It will be taken up in the coming days.

Following the necessary clearances, the new university will also start getting funds from the University Grants Commission, sources added.

One reason for the hurry is said to be the concern of the Chief Minister for the veterinary graduates who are finding it hard to secure jobs once they pass out. The Chief Minister wants that all students, opting for veterinary sciences, should be admitted in the university in this academic session, the sources pointed out.


Keep away from conflicting situations,
VC tells students
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 13
Punjabi University Vice Chancellor, Mr Swarn Singh Boparai, advised students and public at large to keep away from the potentially conflicting situations, avoid physical assault as far as possible and stressed that self defence techniques should be used only when nothing else worked.

Dr Boparai was speaking after inaugurating a one-day workshop on `Rights of Women and Self Defence Techniques’ organised by the Department of Social Work, Punjabi University, in collaboration with the Community Policing Resource Centre of the Patiala police.

Mr A.S. Rai, SSP, Patiala, in his keynote address emphasised the need of empowering women and lamented that the legislations with regard to empowering women were being misused particularly in dowry and sexual harassment cases. He highlighted the need to interlinking the role of academicians and the police so that the problems of the common man could be addressed in a more humane way.

SP (City) K. Sharma, speaking on the rights of women and working of the women cell of the Patiala police said that in today’s world “knowledge is power” and added that education of women was the greatest weapon for instilling self confidence in them.

Earlier welcoming the guests Mrs U.K. Popli, head of the department said the main objective of the workshop was to disseminate information about the functioning of the Community Policing Resource Centre (CPRC) and women cell and to demonstrate self defence techniques. Dr Manjit Singh, Professor in the Department of Social Work proposed the vote of thanks.


B.Ed entrance test coaching
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 13
The IAS and Allied Services Training Centre of Punjabi University will start coaching classes for B.Ed entrance test from April 25 for SC, OBC and minority communities and the general category candidates.

Giving this information, Dr. G.S.Bajwa , director of the centre said interested eligible candidates may apply on a plain paper (proforma type ) along with three latest passport size photographs and attested copies of testimonials in this office by April 16.

Interview will be held on April 18 at 9 am at the IAS Training Centre. SC,OBC and minority communities trainees will be provided free coaching and stipend as per rules.


Skill development programme launched in Ropar
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 13
The three-week skill upgradation programme launched for improving the skill of 28 woman trainees in stitching ladies suits was inaugurated at the GNVBT Polytechnic in Phase II, Industrial Area, here by Mr Dinesh K. Kapila, Assistant General Manager, Nabard, Ropar and Nawanshahr. The programme sanctioned by Nabard would also have a post training follow-up.

Mr Satish Prashar, Lead District Manager, Ropar, assured bank loan assistance for interested trainees.Mr B.S. Saroa, DCO, Punjab and Sind Bank, provided motivational inputs on the occasion while Ms Chandrakanta from the Ropar District Cooperative Bank sensitised the women on gender issues and female entrepreneurship.

The trainees were selected by a committee formed by the Nabard DDM, Lead District Manager ( LDM ) , District Industries Centre (DIC), District Coordinator, Punjab and Sind Bank and Principal of the polytechnic. 

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