P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM’s meeting with Sonia fuels speculation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi in Delhi yesterday has fuelled reports regarding the dropping of certain ministers and induction of new faces in the Council of Ministers.

There are reports that most of the ministers and MLAs have been camping in Delhi for the past three days as Capt Amarinder Singh was also there. While a number of MLAs are trying for a berth in the Council of Ministers, there are certain Ministers who are lobbying to save their berths. Sources said a senior minister had been chasing a liquor baron for the past three days to seek his support to stay in the council.

There are report that Capt Amarinder Singh is not happy with the performance of at least three ministers. In the recently concluded Budget session of the State Assembly, the performance of a number of ministers was below average.

They were unable to tackle properly questions asked by the Opposition and Treasury Benches. At certain times, Capt Amarinder Singh had to intervene to give replies.

For inducting new faces in the council, the Chief Minister will have to drop some ministers. As per law, the number of ministers in the State Council of Ministers cannot be more than 18, including the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister. Among those who are in the race, include Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Mr Romesh Dutt Sharma, Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha and Mr Raj Khurana.

There is also talk about replacing the PPCC chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal. The Chief Minister is believed to have discussed this issue also with Mrs Gandhi. The Congress high command, according to sources, wants to bring a fresh young face as president of the PPCC. Mr Manish Tiwari, who is said to be close to Mrs Gandhi, is a strong contender for the post. Other aspirants include, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, Mr Jasbir Singh Sangrur and Chaudhary Gurmail Singh.


Healthcare services in bad shape
45 pc posts of doctor vacant in Sangrur dist
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 26
Despite the tall claims of the Punjab Government with regard to providing better healthcare services on priority to the people of the state, the healthcare services in this district seem to be in bad shape as more than 45 per cent posts of doctor (medical officer) in the district, especially in the rural health centres, have been lying vacant for the past one year. Not only the posts of doctor, many posts of other categories, including staff nurse, nursing sister, multi-purpose health worker (male and female) and lady health visitor, in various health centres have also been lying vacant.

Sources in the Health Department told The Tribune that there were around 260 sanctioned posts of medical officer (MO) in the district, of which 123 posts were still vacant in all 10 health blocks. Interestingly, in the Dhanaula health block only, more than 20 posts of MO were vacant. The Moonak, Kohrian, Longowal, Fatehgarh Panj Griayan and Mehal Kalan health blocks have also been facing a shortage of doctors as in every block more than 10 posts of MO were vacant. Besides, in the Tapa, Amargarh and Sherpur health blocks, more than six posts of MO in each health block were vacant.

The sources said that in all 10 health blocks of the district, about 50 posts of multi-purpose health worker (female), out of a total of more than 250 had been lying vacant. In the Moonak and Amargarh health blocks, more than 15 and 10 posts of multi-purpose health worker (female), respectively were still vacant.

More than 75 posts of staff nurse, out of 180, were vacant. In this vacancy list, the Moonak health block again topped with about 15 vacant posts of staff nurse, followed by the Longowal, Dhanaula, Kohrian and Amargarh health blocks with more than five vacant posts of staff nurse each.

One more interesting figure also attracts the attention of every one, as all 11 posts of Block Extension Educator (BEE) have been lying vacant in the district. Besides this, posts of nursing sister, out of a total of 22, are vacant in the district.

Out of a total of about 50 posts of multi-purpose health supervisor (male), around 20 posts were vacant. More than 75 posts of multi-purpose health worker (male), out of about 250, are vacant.

More than 25 posts of lady health visitor, out of a total of about 60 posts, are vacant.


PAU staff divided over vet varsity
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 26
Even as the newly-created Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University is yet to acquire its physical existence, the decision taken by the state government for setting up this varsity has started creating problems in the smooth functioning of the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU).

A major section of employees (teaching and non-teaching) have started organising meetings regularly to work out the strategies to launch agitation against the setting up of new university. Yet another section of employees, members of Veterinary Faculty Association, College of Veterinary science, Ludhiana, have been holding meetings to generate an opinion among the masses that state government had taken a right decision in connection with the creation of new university.

By holding separate general body meetings, both the unions, the Punjab Agricultural University Employees Union and the Veterinary Faculty Association took different decisions today. While the employees union decided to launch an agitation from May 3 to lodge protest against the manner in which the new university had been created by the Punjab Government, the faculty association urged the people concerned that they should work for the development of the farming community.

The Veterinary Faculty Association claimed that some vested interests had been opposing the setting up of new university at the instance and in connivance with some higher officials, who have been trying to sabotage the project.

The association, which held its meeting under the presidentship of Dr S.K. Jand, also claimed that a controversy regarding the setting up of new university was uncalled for and mudslinging by some vested interests should be stopped.

Dr Jand said that association had also decided to boycott the general body meeting to be held by the Punjab Agricultural University Teachers Association (PAUTA) tomorrow. He added that all members of the association had condemned the PAUTA and other non-teaching employees union for creating unnecessary controversy in connection with the new university.

On the other hand, Mr Amrit Pal, general secretary, Punjab Agricultural University Employees Union, said that at a meeting of the general body presided over by the union president, Mr D.P. Maur, it was decided to stage a dharna on May 3 and to hold a rally on May 10. He added that legal aspects of bifurcation of PAU were also being explored.

He said that union made it clear that it was not against the setting up new university as it was against the bifurcation of PAU.


Tribune Impact
Probe ordered into felling, misuse of forest trees
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 26
The Punjab Forest Minister, Mr Hans Raj Josan, has ordered a high-level probe into the felling of green eucalyptus trees and misuse of forest trees by commercial and educational institutes for putting up huge hoardings and advertisement boards along the Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur GT Road.

Meanwhile, the Forest Department has initiated a full-scale exercise to remove hoardings and board from atop trees and forest land along roads. For this, teams of Forest Department officials have fanned out in Doaba region of Punjab and were seen busy removing hoardings despite resistance by people at some places.

On the other hand, the Punjab Forest Corporation, it in learnt, was to cut 246 trees on the Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur road alone, of which 50-60 “dead or leaning” trees have already been felled.

The Punjab Forest Minister and the Forest Department has swung into action following a news report, “Forest cover under threat,” published from Jalandhar in The Tribune yesterday. It was reported how the green cover and forest wealth along the roads was being misused for commercial purposes by educational and other institutes and how about half a dozen lush green and fully grown trees were being felled by about a dozen labourers.

While talking to The Tribune, Mr Josan said he had ordered a high-level probe into the tree felling and hoarding issue. The probe, according to Mr Josan, has been entrusted to the Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF). “I have given clear instructions that no guilty official or private person be spared at any cost. Those who had put up hoardings would also be dealt with sternly,” said Mr Josan.

A couple of Forest Department officials were seen removing hoardings from trees belonging to the department near Jandu Singha on the Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur GT Road despite minor opposition from people. “We were also able to catch hold of a person, belonging to a Jalandhar-based advertisement agency, busy removing a huge hoarding of a Jalandhar-based private school,” said Mr Rajinder Kumar, Block Forest Officer, Jalandhar.

A similar exercise to clear trees of hoardings and boards was being carried out on the Jalandhar-Phagwara and Hoshiarpur-Chandigarh road. Mr Rajinder Kumar said the Forest Department was also going to get a case registered against the high-end Jalandhar-based private school and the advertisement agency for “misusing” forest wealth for their commercial interests. An application has already been given to the police by the Forest Department.

But, contrary to this, The Tribune team, which visited the spot at Chuharwali village where trees were being felled by labourers on Sunday, found that none of the trees, being cut was “dead or fallen” one. The Tribune is in possession of photographs showing a tall and straight tree, chopped off the mercilessly.

Mr Vipul Kumar, DFO, was not available for comments. Mr A.S. Dogra, Principal Chief Conservator, Punjab, said since he was busy in a meeting, he could discuss the matter on Wednesday.


Delimitation panel to meet on May 9
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
The process of delimitation of the Punjab Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies is expected to be completed by September-end. This was disclosed here today by the State Election Commissioner, Mr C.L. Bains, who is a regular member of the National Delimitation Commission, headed by Justice Kuldeep Singh.

The preliminary draft with regard to the proposed delimitation of the Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies has been circulated among the associate members and others concerned. Discussion on the proposed draft will be held on May 9 in Delhi.

All associate members of the commission have been invited for interaction at the Delhi meeting. On the basis of the views expressed by the associate members, who are either Members of Parliament or Members of the Punjab Assembly, another draft will be prepared by incorporating changes, if required, in the preliminary draft.

Then it will be published in the print media to invite objections from the public. After that the commission members will hold public hearings at various places in the state to hear objections.

After the completion of this process, the final draft will be published and notified. This process will take at least five months more.

Already, the Shiromani Akali Dal headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal has started holding party meetings to frame its views for the May 9 meeting. A similar exercise has been launched by the BJP. Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, who has been made the chairman of the committee set up by the party to discuss the delimitation issue, has started holding meetings with all concerned in the party in this connection.

At present, there are 117 Assembly and 13 Lok Sabha seats. Even after the completion of the delimitation exercise, there will be no increase in the overall number of seats. However, the number of reserved seats for the Assembly will go up to 34 from the existing 29 and of the Lok Sabha constituencies to four from the existing three. The names of certain Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies have also been changed because of the change in their jurisdiction in the proposed preliminary draft.

For instance, in place of Ropar, now Fatehgarh Sahib will be the new Lok Sabha constituency, and in place of Tarn Taran, Khadoor Sahib will be the new Lok Sabha constituency. Anandpur Sahib will be the new Lok Sabha constituency in place of Phillaur.

In the case of assembly constituencies, in the proposed preliminary draft Bhoa, Dinanagar and Ghuman have been listed as reserved constituencies for the Scheduled Castes in Gurdaspur district. Chabba, Jandiala, Majitha and Baba Bakala have been earmarked as reserved constituencies in Amritsar district and Phagwara in Kapurthala district. Kartarpur, Phillaur, Adampur and Nakodar have been proposed as reserved constituencies in Jalandhar district and Attowal and Bullowal in Hoshiarpur district.

Banga in Nawanshahr district and Morinda in Ropar district, the Bassi Pathana constituency in Fatehgarh Sahib district and the Gill, Raikot, Payal and Jagraon constituencies have been earmarked as reserved in Ludhiana district. Nihalsinghwala in Moga district, Ferozepore and Balluana in Ferozepore district and Malout in Muktsar district have also been proposed as reserved Assembly constituencies.

Jaitu in Faridkot, Bhucho Mandi and Bathinda rural in Bathinda district, Budhlada in Mansa district and Bhadaur, Mehal Kalan and Dirba in Sangrur district have been proposed as reserved in Sangrur district.

Shutrana and Nabha have been listed as reserved Assembly constituencies in Patiala district.

Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Fatehgarh Sahib and Faridkot have been proposed as reserved Lok Sabha constituencies. The Scheduled Castes population in the Lok Sabha constituencies proposed as reserved is above 30 per cent. From Faridkot, last time, Mr Sukhbir Badal, son of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was elected to the Lok Sabha. Commission members say that every effort has been made to ensure the compactness of the Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies. The contiguity factor has been given major consideration while finalising the jurisdiction of various constituencies.


NRI dupes sister of lakhs, booked
Tribune News Service

Mansa, April 26
Born and brought up in Malaysia, Ms Jasvir Kaur, hailing from Karadwala village, is paying the price of trusting her own brother. Today she is fighting a lone battle to regain her share in a prime property jointly owned by the brother-sister duo.

Ms Jasvir Kaur had invested her money in a commercial property in Mansa, hoping that it would help them during rainy days, besides keeping her children attached to their roots. But her only brother, whom she had entrusted to receive the share of rent from the tenant, stabbed her in the back by “usurping” the rent of the building for seven years.

In her complaint, Ms Jasvir Kaur stated that her family had bought a building in Mansa in 1981. The building was given on rent to the State Bank of Patiala. Ms Jasvir Kaur, her brother, Jasvinder Singh, her mother and father were the shareholders in the building.

In 1990, her mother died, following which their share was increased to one-third each. Later, Ms Jasvir and her father gave a power of attorney to Jasvinder Singh. In 1998, the bank revised the lease deed with Jaswinder as he had the power of attorney. Ms Jasvir Kaur alleged that her brother misused their power of attorney and entered the names of his wife, Surinder Kaur, and son, Keshwinder Singh, as equal shareholders of the property. Consequently, Ms Jasvir Kaur and her father’s share got reduced to 20 per cent each.

She further alleged that Jasvinder stopped paying her share of rent in 1998. Her father died in 1999, leaving her to fight lone battle for justice.

On the basis of her complaint, a case has been registered against Jasvinder Singh under Sections 409, 420, 465, 467, and 468 of the IPC. Sources said Jasvinder and his wife were in the country a few days back, but when they got air of what was in store for them, they flew back to Malaysia.


Liquor from HP being smuggled into Punjab
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 26
Now liquor from Himachal Pradesh has started flooding Punjab.

Liquor contractors, who have been handling a major part of the trade in Punjab for the past few years, have taken liquor vends of Chandigarh for the current financial year to curb smuggling of liquor from Chandigarh to Punjab. So smugglers now have shifted their operations to Himachal Pradesh and are pushing liquor in large quantity to Punjab.

Official sources said within the past 25 days, the field staff of state Excise and Sales Tax, with the help of the police and private persons employed by the liquor contractors, had managed to seize hundreds of boxes of Indian-made-foreign liquor (IMFL) in most districts of Punjab.

Excise officials pointed out that the main reason for a jump in the smuggling of liquor to Punjab from Himachal Pradesh was disparity in the rates of IMFL in the states. They pointed out that IMFL was much cheaper in Himachal. Due to high prices.

They added that earlier, the smugglers were supplying liquor from Chandigarh to Punjab and minting money due to huge price difference.

To check this menace the Excise and Taxation authorities, Punjab, had established special check-posts in Ropar, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahar, Gurdaspur and other parts of the state, sharing border with Himachal Pradesh, said Mr D.P. Reddy, Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Punjab, adding that an alert had also been sounded to nab those who were actively involved in this illegal business.

Official sources said today about 350 boxes of IMFL were seized at Kallar Khera information collection centre (ICC) bordering Rajasthan in Ferozepore district. These boxes were hidden under the bags of cattle feed in a truck.

Similarly, 100 boxes of IMFL were seized in Nawanshahar district in the past few days. These boxes were being brought from Himachal Pradesh in four cars. Not only this, about 80 boxes of IMFL were seized near Zirakpur.

Mr Manjit Singh, a liquor contractor, pointed out that they had left with no other option that to employ private persons to keep a tab on the movements of smugglers. They had also provided private vehicles to Excise officials to carry out the mobile checking in the border belts.

Mr Reddy pointed out that Excise officials would put their best to curb this menace. He added that the Excise authorities had also been taking help from the district police apart from putting the Excise personnel on job to check the smuggling.


School ‘forces’ students to buy old magazines
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 26
As if their hefty fee structure is not enough to fleece the students, one of the city’s public schools has forced its students to buy old magazines from the school at Rs 5 each.

Sri Guru Harkrishan Public School had put up a book exhibition on its premises recently. Surprisingly, the school displayed magazines as old as 10 years along with the new ones. Sources said the school had told its students to bring Rs 5 each with them. Their apprehensive parents gave in to the school authorities demand and handed them over the money, but back home they were shocked to see old magazines in their wards’ hands.

Darshpreet Kaur, a girl student of Class V, had torn “Sarita” magazine of September, 1998, which the school sold her for Rs 5. She didn’t know anything about the magazine, but school teachers handed her over the same, saying “your parents would read it.”

The girl’s father Mr Amrik Singh, said when he reached the school to enquire about the matter, he saw bundles of such magazines there. He alleged that the students were forced to buy old magazines. Similarly, a couple of other students had bought the same magazine’s issues dating back to 1996 and 1997.

Source said about 10 magazines would make 1 kg of waste paper and going by this the school sold them for Rs 50 per kg, whereas the market rate of waste paper is Rs 4 per kg. The sources said the school authorities’ move had agitated the parents who were furious over dumping waste paper in their homes. The parents were also irked because magazines given to their wards were not at all relevant for them. The sources said some parents were willing to complaint to the CBSE in this regard.

When contacted, the Principal, Mr Jaswinder Singh, admitted that the school had put up a book exhibition. He also admitted that about 150 old magazines were also sold, but denied that students were forced to buy them. He said the students willingly bought old magazines.


PSGPC may not allow kar sewa rights to SGPC
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 26
Even as the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) has reiterated that it has the sole right to carry out ‘kar sewa’ of historical Sikh shrines in Pakistan, the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) or Government of Pakistan is unlikely to oblige.

The SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, said that Shiromani Committee, being an apex statutory body of the Sikhs, had been looking after Gurdwara Panja Sahib, Gurdwara Dera Sahib and Nanakana Sahib with the cooperation of Wakf Board since Partition of the country. She further said that the SGPC had been sending jathas to Pakistan with the permission of both the Governments of India and Pakistan.

Taking exception to the statement of Capt Amarinder Singh that the Pakistan Government should not hand over kar sewa of Gurdwaras in Pakistan to SGPC, Bibi Jagir Kaur termed it as ‘direct interference ‘ in the Sikh affairs.

The ongoing ‘kar sewa’ at Gurdwara Singh Singhnian (Lahore) and Janam Asthan Nankana Sahib and Gurdwara Tambu Sahib (Nankana Sahib) is being done on behalf of UK-based jatha of Avtar Singh Sanghera and Baba Jagtar Singh (Tarn Taran).

The PSGPC, which came into being on April 15, 1999, two days after Baisakhi, had taken over the control of most of the gurdwaras. However, Bibi Jagir Kaur had stopped sending jathas to Pakistan in protest against the formation of PSGPC. Many senior leaders of rival Akali factions, including certain SGPC members, however, had supported the formation of PSGPC. The Shiromani Akali Dal, Delhi, headed by Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna and certain other organisations had started sending jathas to Pakistan that had come as a great embarrassment to the SGPC. Later, the successors of Bibi Jagir Kaur started sending Jathas to Pakistan without reaching any compromise with the Government of Pakistan.

The SGPC had failed to bring other Sikh shrines in India under its control when it had failed to get All India Sikh Gurdwara Act passed. What was worse, the SGPC members from Haryana had demanded formation a separate Gurdwara Committee for their state, which came as a great setback to the Shiromani Committee.

Now, the statement of Chief Minister that Government of Pakistan should not hand over the ‘kar sewa’ to the SGPC had boomeranged into a major controversy. It was a matter of record that during the visit of Mr Pervez Elahi, CM, West Punjab (Pak) to Golden Temple, the SGPC had failed to properly take up the Sikh issues with him. Instead of using soft or diplomatic language, the SGPC had threatened that ‘the Sikh community’ would not tolerate management of Sikh shrines in Pakistan by the ‘non-Sikhs’.

Now, Shiromani Akali Dal President Parkash Singh Badal had lashed out against the Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s utterances on this subject.

Mr Badal also asked the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to come clean on what he thought of this grave Constitutional impropriety by the Punjab Chief Minister in directly addressing a foreign head of the state on a purely internal matter of the country, and that too one involving extreme sensitivities of a patriotic community.


CM takes exception to Badal’s statement
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today took exception to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Parkash Singh Badal’s statement regarding the upkeep and maintenance of Sikh shrines in Pakistan.

The Chief Minister categorically stated that he had never raised the issue of not giving recognition to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) for the management of the Sikh shrines with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.

The Chief Minister, however, said he had made a statement at Gurdwara Sri Nankana Sahib in the presence of Pakistani Punjab Chief Minister Parvaiz Elahi for entrusting the kar seva of the Sikh shrines in Pakistan to Sikh devotees during his recent visit to Pakistan.

Mr Badal was unnecessarily raking up the issue as he had been totally isolated from the Sikh Panth due to narrow and vested interests to promote his own clan. The Chief Minister said Mr Badal could not digest his growing popularity among the Sikh masses and was deliberately indulging in such political gimmicks and exploiting the sentiments of the people in the name of religion.


Survey: heavy vehicles involved in 70 pc mishaps
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
A recent study carried out by the Punjab police confirms that heavy vehicles — accounting for just 7 per cent of the total number of vehicles in the state — are involved in 70 per cent of the road mishaps.

Reacting to the situation, the traffic wing of the Punjab police has launched a project to ensure road safety by training the drivers and helpers of heavy vehicles in collaboration with a non-government organisation (NGO), Saath.

In fact, the authorities have already trained nearly 200 candidates after holding two capsule courses at the Recruit Training Centre at Jahankhelan in Hoshiarpur district. The courses were held in consultation with the Punjab Police Academy at Phillaur.

“The project is not just about training the drivers and helpers of heavy vehicles but saving the precious lives of so many innocent persons” say sources in the Punjab police headquarters.

They add the state has lost more than 11,000 persons to road accidents since 2000. More than 50,000 have been injured in the mishaps since then. In 2003 alone, more than 2,700 deaths were reported in road accidents,

The number of deaths was a little lower in 2004. As many as 2,400 persons were killed in mishaps. In a majority of the cases, truck drivers were involved.

The sources claim that the authorities will continue to hold the courses, of two-day duration, throughout the year.

As of now, they are considering the feasibility of organising the courses at two additional locations, along with Jahankhelan.

Giving details, Inspector-General of Police S.K. Sharma — in charge of the traffic wing — says they are planning to hold the courses at Patiala for the Ludhiana zone and at Ferozepore for the Bathinda zone.

Regarding the necessity of holding such courses, he says most of the drivers manage to get hold of licences from one place or the other.

They know how to drive but are ignorant of the traffic rules. As such, they endanger the lives of others by driving rashly and negligently. 


Renovation of Press Club building
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 26
Beautification of the Punjab Press Club, housed in the famous Clock Tower building of the Jalandhar MC, which was finally handed over to journalists of Jalandhar by the Punjab government after a long struggle, is going on at a full steam. The renovated building is likely to open within a month.

The clock tower building, which, belonged to the Municipal Corporation, Jalandhar, was finally handed over to the Punjab Press Club by the Punjab Local Bodies Department on a 20 year lease last year. The directions to hand over the building to Jalandhar-based journalists were given by the Punjab Chief Captain Amarinder Singh, who had also announced a grant of Rs. 10 lakh for the restoration of the otherwise dilapidated building. The amount, according to the Punjab Press Club chief Mr. R.N. Singh, was still awaited.


FEAR alleges misappropriation of funds
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 26
The Forum for Educational Action and Reform (FEAR), at a meeting here today, demanded a probe by the Local Fund Examiner, Punjab Government, into the financial irregularities committed by the Punjabi University authorities despite objections raised by the university’s local audit branch.

The forum president, Mr Amarjit Singh Dhillon said the Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.S Boparai was “squandering away public money to buy peace on the campus”. Mr Dhillon pointed out that on a close perusal of audit reports, which were in possession of the forum members, it was found out Rs 11.50 lakh had been `inappropriately’ paid to various teachers.

Mr Dhillon maintained that in these reports the audit branch had pointed out serious loopholes in payments made to various employees, including Mr Gurpreet Singh Lehal and Mr S.K Maruthi (both teachers), Mr Kuldeep Singh (type mechanic), Mr Gurpreet Singh (technician), Ms Urvesh Puneet Kaur (technical assistant). These employees, Mr Dhillon pointed out, did not possess requisite qualifications commensurate to their posts.

Mr Dhillon said other payments which were not approved by the Audit were made to those teachers who had been given the additional charge of posts in the lower grades that these employees were substantively holding. These employees were Dr B.S Sandhu, in charge, Public Relations), Dr Darshan Singh, (in charge, Publication Bureau, Mr B.S Mann in charge, NSS, Dr Sunita Dhir, Director Youth Welfare and Dr N.S Attri, Co-ordinator examinations.

Meanwhile, the university spokesman, Dr B.S Sandhu, maintained that “the VC had always uses a lot of discretion while spending money and that no undue payment had ever been made to anybody. Sometimes to avoid procedural delays in matters of importance if some payments had been actually made they were within the purview of the provisions of the university rules. Moreover, keeping in view the autonomous structure of the university, whenever the Syndicate took a decision regarding payments to be made it was always in the interest of the university.

The forum also questioned the sale distribution of perks including mobile phones, among teaching the fraternity although the local audit had not approved the expenditure. The forum also criticised the decision of the university to give additional charge to teachers as this affected studies of the students because instead of regular teachers Research scholars were handling the duties of the teachers.


Man buys plot on the moon
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 26
He has literally bought the moon. Atleast a piece of it. And he claims that the one acre plot of land that he has acquired is located just 200 yards away from where Apollo 17 landed. Getting a plot of land on the moon seems to be the latest fad among people and Praveen Singh, a resident of Patiala, is the latest one to join the bandwagon.

Call him a fan or a fanatic, Mr Praveen had to shell out $ 100 for his latest acquisition. The Lunar Republic Society has even given him the “Registered Claim and Deed for Lunar Property,” which mentions that ‘Praveen Singh is recorded as the true and legal owner of the property located at Lacus Somniorum (Lake of Dreams) 36 degrees North Latitude, 32.2 degrees East Longitude (Tract 15, Parcel 3769) designated as Luna and duly recorded by the International Lunar Lands Registry.”

Mr Praveen Singh, a businessman, has documents to prove that the deed has been officially registered and recorded by the ‘Lunar Registry’ and ‘legally certified on March 26, 2005.’

Among other documents that Mr Praveen has in his document package is a digital photograph of his ‘property’ showing the exact location of the purchased property. It also includes “all the features located in the region of the tract and is helpful in pinpointing your property, whether you are viewing it through a telescope or visiting in person.”

Mr Praveen has in his possession a document called ‘Assignment of Land Claim’ in which it has been written that the Assignee (Praveen Singh) has been given “mineral rights to a plumb depth of 5 km below the average height of the terrain.”

Among the benefits that have been given to the purchaser by the International Moon Society, Mr Praveen Singh has the right to participate in elections to determine the future of luna (moon), is entitled to a two year subscription of “The Lunar Journal”, the official news magazine of the Lunar Republic Society and can have discounts on other property purchases from The Lunar Registry.


Sena writes to UNO on plight of Hindus in Pak
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 26
Highlighting the plight of the Hindu community and their temples located in Pakistan, the All India Hindu Shiv Sena today wrote to the United Nations to take steps to end disparity towards the community by the neighbouring country.

In a communication, Mr Surinder Kumar Billa, sena head, sought the help of the UNO to exert pressure on Pakistan to mitigate the sufferings of Hindus who were in minority in the “theological” state.

Raising the issue of the state of Hindu shrines in Pakistan, the sena stated that structures were in poor condition.


Rs 33 lakh to be spent on link roads
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 26
The district administration today decided to spend Rs 33 lakh for the carpeting and widening of link roads of six villages. It would spend Rs 12.50 crore on 107 link roads in the villages of the district during phase-5 and phase –6 which was due of the year 1996-1998. The decision was taken at a meeting conducted by the Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain with the SDM (Ropar), Mr G.S. Ghuman, the SDM (Kharar), Mr Dharshan Singh Sidhu, the SDM (Mohali), Mr M.L. Sharma, and engineers of the PWD this evening.

Ms Seema Jain said various roads to link the town of the district with Baddi in Himachal Pardesh also be completed as per the Central Government scheme. Besides some of the link roads be built under Prime Minister Gramin Sadak Yojna and also funds sanctioned from NABARD.

She has directed engineers of the PWD for the maintenance and widening of the road from Kiratpur Sahib to gurdwara Patalgarh Sahib and also to complete the Ropar and Morinda bypass and Kurali flyover work on the priority basis.


Rs 1.24 cr for pensioners
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 26
The district administration has received Rs 1.24 crore funds from the Punjab Government to be paid to the pensioners of the district.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, said the amount would be paid to people under the old-age pension scheme, widow pension scheme, and orphans in the district.

The amount would be given to 45, 817 persons under old-age scheme, 7736 pension under the widow pensions scheme and 4592 orphans and 3756 disabled persons, she added.


Status report

Chandigarh, April 26
A Bench of the High Court headed by Mr Justice N.K. Sud on Tuesday asked the Punjab Government to file a status report in the police investigation into alleged vandalisation of the grave of Father Mark Barnes, a Christian priest, who died recently.

The Bench also directed that the FIR, as also the inquiry report, which resulted in the registration of the case, be produced before the court on the next date of hearing on April 29.

Ms Anne Wakeling, sister of the deceased, has moved the HC, seeking handing over of his body for re-interment in an appropriate manner at the place where he was buried earlier according to Christian rites.

Alleging that the body was putrefied, the petitioner has also sought action against those involved in vandalising the grave and illegal act of exhumation of the body. She also prayed for a comprehensive inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the case.

Students’ plea

Students of Bengali Nursing Institute Raikot, Ludhiana, have moved the High Court alleging that the institute is in tatters and therefore, either they should be accommodated in another institute or be compensated 10 times of their fee, which was nearly Rs 35,000.

After counsel for the respondents sought time, the Bench headed by Mr Justice J.S. Khehar fixed May 2 as next date. The petitioners also cited the inspection report of the Punjab Nursing Registration Council which found the college deficient on several counts and recommended that the students should be shifted to another institute.

The college counsel, however, contended that the petitioners were non-serious students who were motivated by their business competitor running a nursing institute in Ludhiana and in the past also this competitor had filed a case against his client.

Counsel further stated that the institute had been functioning for the past five years, but never faced such a problem.

It was added that the government had given the institute time till September, 2006, to move to another campus, but the institute had already shifted.


2 SAD (A) leaders released, two sent back to jail
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 26
Four SAD(A) leaders were presented before Subdivisional Magistrate Pritam Singh here today.

Since Jathedar Rajinder Singh Fauji, Central Working Committee member of the SAD(A), and Mr Resham Singh Pappi, Phagwara circle president of the party, refused to furnish bail bonds and insisted on being discharged, their judicial remand was extended till April 29, it was learnt.

But Mr Gurdial Singh Mananwali, district press secretary of the party, and Mr Gurmit Singh, a senior party leader, furnished the bail bonds. They were released. However, they were also taken to Kapurthala jail along with the other two. They would be formally released after they showed their release documents to the jail authorities. Meanwhile, it was learnt this evening that the bail documents of Mr Fauji and Mr Pappi were also prepared by party leader Sukhwinder Khalsa but by that time the SDM had left for Kapurthala to attend an important meeting.

The four leaders were arrested on April 23 under Sections 107/151, Cr PC, as a preventive measure. They had announced to burn the effigy of SAD President Parkash Singh Badal here yesterday in protest against anti-panthic policies of the SAD.


Mite, inclement weather hit honey production
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 26
Inclement weather and attack by Varroa Mite on the honey bee colonies seem to have played havoc with the fate of bee keepers as it has caused more than 60 per cent loss to the total production of honey in Punjab so far in the current season.

According to information, if the authorities concerned did not take corrective steps then Punjab, which had been enjoying the status of largest honey producing state in the country, would also become the first state in the country for producing no honey in the current year.

“The inclement weather has already taken a heavy toll of bee colonies in the state. Now the Varroa Mite has been making fatal attacks on the same. If the bee keepers failed to get any help from the authorities concerned to save the same, Punjab is going to produce nil honey this season,” pointed out Mr Jasmeet Singh, general secretary, Progressive Bee Keeper’s Association, and added that bee keepers would face their economic worst this season.

Punjab has been producing more than 20,000 tonnes of honey every year and had been exporting a significant part of the same.

In this way, the bee keepers had been earning hundreds of crores of rupees in Indian and foreign currency every year.

For the past few years, the income of the bee keepers had been declining due to continuous fall in the prices of honey at international level and it had come down to Rs 40 per kg this season from Rs 100 per kg, which was prevailing three years ago.

This season, the expected production level of honey has already come down to 8,000 tonnes due to loss of bee colonies because of inclement weather.

According to a report, the attack of Varroa Mite is more prominent in Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts. But it has started making its presence felt in other districts of the state for the past few weeks.

Mr Jasmeet Singh said that a deputation of the Progressive Beekeeper’s Association had approached the Entomology Department of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) to find out the solution.

Mr Singh said that the association had urged the bee keepers of the state to follow the recommendations made by the scientists of the PAU in connection with taking measures for saving the bee colonies.


Training centre for farmers inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 26
The economy of the state depends mainly on the farming sector. If the farmers are prosperous then the economy will be in a healthy condition. It is the need of the hour to strengthen the farming community economically. They could be benefited by encouraging the concept of crop diversification, adopting improved crop technology, water harvesting and operation and maintenance of farm equipment.

This was stated by Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, while addressing a joint press conference with the higher officials of Punjab National Bank after inaugurating the farmers training centre at Samsher Nagar village near Sirhind today. The centre has been set up at 5 acres gifted by the Government.

He said that Agriculture Department would start a major crop diversification project on 19 acres at a cost of Rs 1 crore soon.

Addressing mediapersons, Mr S.S. Arora, Senior Regional Manager, PNB, said that the bank had established the PNB Farmers Welfare Trust to educate the farmers about progressive and scientific farming, switching over to cash crops, undertake employment generation activities and teach them about various technological developments in agriculture and agro processing. He said that the trust had decided to set up 12 farmers training centre in the country and the centre at Sirhind in Fatehgarh Sahib is the third in the country and the first in the state.

Mr Ahluwalia said that the centre had already adopted Badali Ala Singh village under the model village scheme.


Wheat production may fall short, says Henry
Tribune News Service

Moga, April 26
Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Minister Avtar Henry has stated that there is the possibility of wheat production going down in the state this year and in such a scenario the state government would ask the Centre to compensate the farmers’ losses with bonus. The minister said this while interacting with mediapersons here yesterday.

Mr Henry said the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, was to arrive in Chandigarh tomorrow, but his programme had been cancelled. Now, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, would raise the issue in New Delhi.

He said that till now 75 lakh metric tonnes of wheat had been purchased and the procurement season was coming to an end. He said last year 95 lakh metric tonnes of wheat was procured. This year they were expecting a procurement of 82 lakh metric tonnes of wheat, which now seemed unlikely. He said the picture would become clear in next couple of days. He said if the procurement fell short by 10 lakh metric tonnes, the state’s farmers would suffer a loss of Rs 700 crore.

On delay in lifting, of wheat, the minister said there was no such problem now and if at all it existed at some places, orders had been issued to cancel the contracts of contractors.

Answering a query on giving vegetable market on contract. Mr Henry said interests of consumers would be protected at all costs. He said if the officials had done their job properly, the situation of inviting private contracts would not have arise.


Arhtiyas withdraw strike
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 26
Arhtiyas of vegetable markets across Punjab today withdrew their strike after a meeting with Punjab Chief Secretary Jai Singh Gill.

Disclosing this, Kacha Arhtiya Association chief Mahender Kumar said the Chief Secretary had assured their delegation of resolving the issue within a week. He said the association had decided to open all vegetable markets from tomorrow and also not to pay the market fee till further decision in the matter.


Admn gears up to check water-borne diseases
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, April 26
In order to prevent any kind of water-borne diseases from spreading, the district administration has started taking precautionary measures.

Last year more than a dozen persons, including children, had lost their lives due to diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases, which had gripped the district.

Mr Bidhi Chand Thakur, Deputy Commissioner, while presiding over a meeting of senior officials the district administration, municipalities and the Water Supply and Sewerage Board, took stock of the situation regarding availability of clean drinking water and sewerage disposal in various parts of the district. He said that a district vigilance committee had been constituted under the DHO, Dr R.L. Taneja, to carry out special checks regarding supply of clean drinking water in the town and its adjoining areas.

Dr Taneja said that the district health authorities had collected 44 water samples from various places, out of which only 23 had passed. He said that 11 water samples collected from public places in the district had failed and the report had been submitted to the authorities.

Mr Thakur ordered that adequate chlorination of drinking water should be done and the old water supply channels replaced immediately. He ordered the DDPO to remove any garbage heaps lying near the water supply tanks in villages.


Posts of panches to be filled
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 26
The district administration has decided to fill the vacant post of six sarpanches and 52 panches in various subdivisions of the district by conducting elections as per the directions of the Punjab Election Commissions.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, said the interested persons could file nominations on May 5 and all formalities in this regard would be completed before May 18.


Women taking to crime in Hoshiarpur dist
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 26
The desire for easy earning and of luxurious life have lured many women to adopt criminal activities in Hoshiarpur district. They indulge in smuggling liquor and other intoxicants from neighbouring states where these are available at cheaper rates compared to Punjab. Some are involved in crimes like chain snatching.

Mr Lok Nath Angra, Senior Superintendent of Police, Hoshiarpur, told this correspondent here today that though many women in the district were involved in smuggling of country-made liquor, poppy husk, opium and smack, four in Mukerian and three in the Mahilpur police station were history-sheeters.

He said 24 cases under various Sections of the Excise Act and the NDPS Act had been registered against Devo, wife of Desh; 57 against Sita wife of Bishan; 51 against Kamli, wife of Salgi, all residents of Ghasitpur village; and 28 against Soma, wife of Jagdish of Thakurdwara under the Mukerian police station.

Similarly, the Mahilpur police had registered 15 cases under various Sections of the Excise Act and the NDPS Act against Kailasho, wife of Kashmiri Lal of Mahilpur; five cases against Gurmej Kaur, wife of Mohan Lal and four cases against Surjit Kaur, alias Surjito, wife of Surinder Pal of Sarhala Kalan.

The SSP said five cases against Bachnni, wife of Shiv Dayal of Tanda had been registered at the Tanda police station and 27,000 ml illicit liquor had been seized from her. The Tanda police had also registered three cases each against Santosh Kumari, alias Toshi, wife of Surinder Sansi, and Kunti, wife of Sohan Lal Sansi, both residents of Tanda. The police seized 28,680 ml and 46,680 ml illicit liquor from them, respectively.

The SSP said 87 persons had been arrested under the Excise Act, 24 under the NDPS Act and 55 under the Gambling Act during the past two months in the


Unable to repay loan, shopkeeper ends life
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 26
Perturbed over threats by some money lenders, a shopkeeper allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself in his flat in the Makhdoompura locality here this afternoon.

The deceased has been identified as Vinod Kumar, owner of a photo lamination shop in the Saidan Gate area. His wife, Sheetal, was first to notice the tragedy as she saw the body of her husband hanging in a precarious position and she informed other members of the family.

Family sources pointed out that the deceased was disturbed over his inability to repay his loans and threats issued by some money lenders from whom he had taken money for running his shop.

The money lenders, it was learnt, of the Pucca Bagh area allegedly used to harass Vinod Kumar.


Smack seized from undertrial
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 26
The jail authorities today seized smack from Makhan Singh, a resident of Munda village under Goindwal Sahib police station, who was under judicial custody in Amritsar Central Jail in an attempt to murder case.

Capt S.P. Singh, Superintendent of Jail, confirmed the seizure and said that he had informed the district police authorities in this regard.

According to information, the jail authorities had suspicion that he used to bring narcotics to the jail premises. When the jail authorities conducted search, they found about 70 gm of smack from him. The smack was concealed in a box of ghee. 


Two held with fake passports
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 26
The immigration authorities at the Amritsar international airport have nabbed two persons in separate cases for allegedly possessing fake passports.

In the case registered under Section 420, IPC, at Rajasansi, Mr Labh Singh, Immigration Officer, stated that the accused, Amandeep Singh, a resident of 
Chanderban under Jaiton police station, came from Singapore on a fake 

In another case, Randhir Singh, a resident of Narkot, was arrested while he was trying to go to Italy on a fake passport.


Two held with fake currency

Moga, April 26
In yet another case of fake currency in Punjab in less than a week, the police seized fake currency of Rs 13,000 from two persons at a naka at Kotisekhan village in the district.

The suspects were identified as Sukhwant Singh and his brother, Baldev Singh, residents of Chattiwind in Amritsar district, the police said.

They were travellng in a car when the police stopped them for routine search at the naka and seized 26 fake currency notes of the denomination of Rs 500 each.

The duo were arrested under Section 489 of the IPC.

The Punjab police had arrested two persons with fake currency of Rs 41,000 in the walled city of Amritsar during a raid four days ago.

One computer and one print scanner were also seized in the raid. — UNI


Man kills cousins over land dispute
Tribune News Service

Mansa, April 26
A man shot his two cousins dead over a land dispute at Jagatgarh Bandra village, near here, today.

Sources said Kapoor Singh and Bhura Singh had some dispute over two kanals of land and the Sardoolgarh Tehsildar was to visit the site in this connection today. But, Bhura Singh’s son, Jaspal Singh, attacked Kapoor Singh’s sons, Balvinder Singh and Bikar Singh, with his .12 bore rifle, killing them on the spot.

The SSP, Mr Gautam Cheema, rushed to the crime scene and the police took possession of the bodies.

On the basis of Kapoor Singh’s statement, a case of murder has been registered against Bhura Singh, Jaspal Singh, Kewal Singh, Gursewak Singh and Darshan Singh. Gursewak has been arrested, while the remaining accused have absconded.


Schools without affiliation galore
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 26
Even as a number of schools have come up in the district in the past one year, a majority of them have not sought affiliation with the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) or any other board.

Though many schools have different fee structure and they are functioning without the required infrastructure, the authorities concerned have neither taken any action nor conducted any survey of these schools. In absence of strict measures, their number is rising every year.

A number of these schools are functioning from small buildings and rented accommodations and have failed to provide the required infrastructure to students who are being charged hefty fee. These schools have started an advertisement campaign to fetch maximum number of students. They are also luring parents with their schemes to increase their admissions. Some admitting students without charging any admission fee, while others are giving offers like one admission free with two.

A newly opened school having similar name of a famous school has been admitting students without charging any admission fee and has been offering the scheme of half tuition fee in case the siblings seek admission to it. The staff appointed by such schools is being paid less.

Another interesting fact that comes to surface is that the number of students is very less in these schools.

Ms Surinder Kaur Kataria, District Education Officer (Elementary), admitted that a number of schools had come up and they were yet to seek affiliation. She said whenever such a case would be brought to her notice they would definitely take the necessary action.


Medico not allowed to pay fee
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 26
Dr Renu Verma, who was selected in the postgraduation entrance test held at Faridkot, was not allowed to pay fee at the local Government Medical College here today.

She was given a written complaint to the DRME, Baba Farid University, the Principal, Government College and the Secretary, Medical Education, highlighting her plight as today was the last day for depositing fee even as she was ranked 15th in the list.

Dr A.S. Padda, officiating principal of the medical college said the college had sought a clarification in the case from the vice-chancellor, Baba Farid University, Faridkot, regarding admission to the candidate in the BC category.

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