P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



40 lakh jobless youths major concern: CM
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 15
Calling upon the youth to involve themselves in socially relevant issues for building a stronger India, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today committed to alleviate poverty and unemployment. “The two would be major planks of our Government during next two years of development-oriented programmes in the state”, he added.

Inaugurating three-day “Prerna” delegate session of North Zone Rajiv Gandhi Youth Leadership Training Camp organised by the Indian Youth Congress here, he cited reports, that almost 8 per cent of state’s population, nearly 40 lakh youths were unemployed — a major concern that requires immediate attention.

“It was not feasible to absorb all in government jobs considering meagre resources of the state” the CM admitted. “But self-employment avenues could to be tapped and public-private participation encouraged to generate employment opportunities”, he added.

The Chief Minister said that the high-powered Committee on Mega Projects recently approved 37 Mega Projects involving investment of Rs 10,000 crore having direct/indirect potential of 50 lakh jobs . Big industrial houses like Quark, Dell, Info-sys, TCS and Trident have inspired other industrial houses to make the state an industrial destination.

“Another large project of light armoured vehicles having investment of Rs 700 crore by ‘Leyland’, creating employment opportunities for 10,000 was also in pipeline.

The Chief Minister said unemployment was multi-faceted problem and cause of drug addiction — threat to health and prosperity of youth — and a multi-pronged strategy was required to be devised involving Health institutions, the police, civil administration and NGOs.

Expressing concern over plight of small and marginal farmers he said it needed special attention. He described former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi as great visionary and architect of modern India.

Mr Ashok Tanwar, President, Indian Youth Congress, said that theme of Prerna was derived from path shown by Mr Rajiv Gandhi of dharma, satya, justice, vigyan, tyaga, shanti and samriddhi — the seven pillars of Indian Youth Congress.

The CM also called upon to strengthen forces of secularism, national integration and communal harmony when political parties were playing communal card.

Mr Randip Singh Surjewala, a former IYC President, said that the Youth Congress was the platform from where tomorrow’s leaders emerge. Presidents of six-State Units of North Zone, comprising Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Rajasthan and Delhi attended the camp.

Prof Darbari Lal, Deputy Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Sunil Dutti, Mayor, Mr Raminder Awla President, Punjab Youth Congress, Congress MLAs and party leaders were also among those present.


High Court panel satisfied with BBMB’s silt disposal 
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Nangal, May 15
The crisis over the closure of the Beas-Sutlej link project of 990 MW at Dehar in Himachal Pardesh is over as a committee constituted by the Himachal Pradesh High Court has expressed satisfaction about the measures being taken by the BBMB regarding the safe disposal of silt.

This was revealed to The Tribune by the Chairman of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), Mr Rakesh Nath, at a function organised by the BBMB.

The committee was formed to prepare a report on the BBMB’s role in alleged violation of the Forest Conservation Act by dumping silt into Suketi seasonal river.

"Besides it, the committee comprising of members of the Central Pollution Control Board has recommended a time span of 3 to 5 years for the BBMB to prove that the measures taken by it would not lead to the storage of silt in Suketi Khad in a report submitted in a court on May 10," he added.

Giving details about the committee’s observation, Mr Rakesh Nath, said the BBMB had been given interim relief for the functioning of Beas-Sutlej project. The BBMB had been dumping silt in the Suketi only during the monsoon.

"During the rainy day, the silt dumped in the seasonal river would automatically get washed away with the flow of water in Suketi. But last year, as there was less rainfall in the region, the flow of water was not enough to carry away the silt. Therefore, the silt remained in Suketi khad," he further informed.

The BBMB had already taken measure for the protection of the environment. It had planted 37 thousand trees in the affected area. It had also decided to plant over 1 lakh trees very soon.

He said the BBMB had recently been awarded an ISO certificate for maintaining the standards and safety norms in the power generation. Besides it, the BBMB had also been approved for another ISO certificate.

Mr Nath said the BBMB would require one more ISO certificate to meet the international standards of power generation.

He stressed the BBMB would improve its functioning without causing harm to the environment and expected to get the third ISO certificate soon.

“Even during the crisis, we have adopted a strategy to overcome it with the joint effort of all wings of the BBMB,” Mr Nath disclosed.

"For the first time in the history of the BBMB, we had shut down all the turbines during the night in the month of January with a view to get maximum generation during day time and we were successful in that process,” he said. 


Sale of quail meat, poaching on
Wildlife officials don’t care two hoots
Varinder Singh

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 15
It may come as a rude shock to wildlife lovers. Not only Japanese quails are being poached and their meat sold illegally in northern part of the country on a large scale, but the meat of wild partridge is also allegedly being passed of as the meat of Japanese quail at a large number of eateries and meat shops.

What is encouraging poaching and subsequent open sale of meat of Japanese quail is lack of general awareness among authorities about status of the bird, which, in fact, is a protected bird species under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Lack of awareness is also being widely exploited by certain vested interests who were trading in the Japanese Quail meat openly after securing no objection certificates (NOCs) from the Punjab Wildlife Authorities, which, incidentally, is illegal and a violation of the Wildlife Prevention Act 1972 (amended in 2003).

Investigations have revealed that poachers, who are active in hunting of wild partridges in and around Bathinda, Abohar and in neighbouring Rajasthan, are also circumventing law and are avoiding any action by the wildlife authorities with the help of NOCs.

"They avoid detection and subsequent action by passing meat of black and brown partridge as the meat of Japanese quail, for which they usually have a ready explanation that the Japanese quail is allowed to be killed if one is equipped with the NOCs," said Dr Sandip Jain, a Ludhiana-based wildlife lover.

Official sources point out that not only the poaching and killing is prohibited, but, since Japanese quail is a bird protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, its captive breeding and sale without a licence granted under Section 48 of the Act is also illegal.

But, ironically, the bird is being widely subjected to captive breeding not only by private poultry farms but also by some universities and government-run poultry organisations in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

What is more stunning is that the meat of Japanese quail (and sometimes meat of partridges under garb of Japanese quail) is easily available in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and eateries and meat shops are selling it without having proper licences from the Chief Wildlife Warden, Punjab.

What makes the scene more interesting was that despite open trading of Japanese quail in Punjab, not a single case has been detected in the state so far.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests, it is learnt, has been receiving a number of representations from several organisations and from the Ministry of Agriculture for exempting quail-farming from the purview of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, but such requests have repeatedly been turned down on the ground that Japanese Quail (Coturnix Coturnix Japanica) is found in the wild in the North-East.

But the Ministry of Environment and Forests, in consultation with the Department of Animal Husbandry, has decided to delegate the power of issuing licences for Japanese Quail hatcheries to officers not below the rank of Assistant Livestock Officers and officers of state animal husbandry departments not below the rank of veterinary assistant surgeons.


Sikh scholars want heritage site status for Harmandar Sahib
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
Two Sikh scholars — Dr Kharak Singh and Mr Gurdev Singh — who are associated with the Institute of Sikh Studies, have said that there will be benefits in seeking world heritage site status for Harmandar Sahib from UNESCO.

In a signed statement sent to The Tribune, the scholars stated that though the executive committee of the SGPC had already taken a decision to withdraw the dossier that was submitted to UNESCO to seek heritage site status, it should be reviewed at the level of Panth that included various Sikh organisations besides the SGPC. “The decision regarding the dossier cannot be left to the SGPC alone. It should be discussed and decided at the level of Panth”, said the scholars.

In the past three decades, Sikhs had faced important issues. However, no proper attention was given to those issues at the Panthic level. Owing to this there had been an increase in the problems of Sikhs. In fact, the two scholars said that the proposed international Sikh confederation should be set up soon to deliberate on the issues which had importance for the entire Panth.

They said the Panth should decide whether the decision to withdraw the dossier was right. There would be no harm if Harmandar Sahib was enlisted as a world heritage site. In fact, if Harmandar Sahib had been recognised as such a site before 1984, the government would not have dared to order “Operation Bluestar” there, they said.

If the non-Sikh population of the world wanted to give heritage site status to Harmandar Sahib and was ready to declare it as heritage of the entire world, the Sikhs should take pride in it, they added. There was nothing objectionable in it and the Sikhs would lose nothing. The apprehension that UNESCO’s control would be established once Harmandar Sahib was declared a heritage site was wrong. There were several religious places of various communities on the heritage list of UNESCO, they added. The control would remain with the SGPC.

The two scholars said that they were of the opinion that the necessary corrections should be made in the dossier. “ The decision to withdraw the dossier by rejecting it in toto cannot be justified”, they added. “ It appears that the dossier has been rejected in haste without discussing the issue fully. It would have been better if the entire Panth had been taken into confidence”, they said. “ A conclave of various Panthic organisations should have been convened to take the appropriate decision”. Such a conclave could be held even now.


Boparai to get another term
Ravi Dhaliwal

Kallar Bhaini (Patiala), May 15
The Punjab Government has decided to extend the term of the Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Dr S.S. Boparai, by another three years.

The file pertaining to the extension of Dr Boparai’s term has been sent to the Governor for approval and a formal notification is expected to be made soon. Dr Boparai’s first three-year term will end on August 28.

This was stated by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, while addressing an impromptu press conference after attending the fourth death anniversary of Bhagwan Swarup Goel, father of former Punsup Chairman Brij Lal Goel at Kallar Bhaini village, 10 km from here.

The Chief Minister, who arrived at the venue in a helicopter from the Rajasansi airport in Amritsar after inaugurating the New Delhi-Toronto flight, also said that the unbundling of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) had been put on hold for at least a year. He added that although his government was committed to unbundle the board, at the same time he had written to the Central Government seeking permission to defer the implementation of the Electricity Act 2003, under which unbundling of the board is mandatory, for one year.

Speaking on the film “Jo Bole So Nihal”, Capt Amarinder Singh said that the controversy surrounding the film was uncalled for since both the SGPC and Akal Takht had cleared the movie. He added that there was no reason for the Sikh youth to agitate against the film’s screening in various parts of the state.

Replying to a query pertaining to the suicide of former Deputy Speaker Bir Devinder Singh’s gunman, the Chief Minister said that there was no need for either a CBI or a judicial inquiry as the Punjab police was competent enough to handle the incident.

Meanwhile, politicians refrained from turning the sombre bhog ceremony into a political rally. However, this did not deter some individuals, including Mr Brij Lal Goel, from aimlessly showering praise on the Chief Minister who was sitting among the audience.


Appoint academician as VC, demands forum
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 15
The Forum for Educational Action and Reform (FEAR) at a meeting held here today criticised Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s decision to give a fresh three-year term to the Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.S. Boparai.

In a press note, Mr Amarjit Singh Dhillon, president of the forum, said the Chief Minister should have adhered to the statement of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that “universities should be headed only by academicians ”, following which the Haryana Chief Minister removed bureaucrats heading universities in Haryana.

Mr Dhillon urged the Chief Minister to reconsider his decision and appoint an academician as the Vice-Chancellor. He added that a bureaucrat Vice-Chancellor was a misfit both by temperament and training to be the academic head of an institution.

Dr Dhillon added that the Chief Minister had retracted from his earlier statement, made during the last Assembly elections in Punjab, that only an academician would be appointed as the Vice-Chancellor. He said if Dr Boparai continued the basic character of the university would fade away and urged the Chief Minister to do a rethink on his decision.


Varsity don invited to convention
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 15
The Head of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Punjabi University, Patiala, Dr H.P.S. Walia, has been invited to a national convention.

The convention is on the “Impact of Developments in Communication Technology on Education and Social Message Communication” being held in New Delhi on May 17 and 18 by the Consortium for Educational Communication.


Woman commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Rajpura, May 15
Harassed by her husband and in-laws for not bringing adequate dowry, Rajbir Kaur, a resident of Mirch Mandi at Rajpura, allegedly committed suicide this afternoon.

Aged about 21, daughter of Karnail Singh, a resident of Madhwal village, Rajbir Kaur committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance.

In a complaint to the police, Mr Karnail Singh, father of the deceased, alleged that Rajbir’s husband Baljinder Singh, his father Dhan Raj and mother Jarnail Kaur had been harassing his daughter to bring more dowry soon after her marriage in April 2004.

Mr Karnail Singh also alleged that Rajbir’s in-laws had left her at her maternal house three months ago. She was later sent to her in-laws house after the intervention of the village panchayat.

According to the police, some close relative of Mr Karnail Singh informed him about his daughter’s death this morning. He, along with his brother Mr Laxman Singh, reached the house of Baljinder Singh and found his daughter dead.

The police has registered a case under Section of 304-B of the IPC against Baljinder Singh, Dhan Raj and Jarnail Kaur but no arrests have been made in this regard as yet.

The body was handed over to the family after the post-mortem examinations at the Civil Hospital, Rajpura, this evening.


Politics over development
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, May 15
The politics over development projects in the district continues unabated. A new dimension to it was added today by Rajya Sabha member from the district Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder.

Responding to a query from newsmen at Pathankot today regarding making the local airport project functional, she said, “It was the project of Mr Vinod Khanna. The onus of completing the project lies with him and I do not want to interfere in it”. When asked if she has taken up the issue of making the Pathankot airport functional with the Union Civil Aviation Ministry, she said she had not taken up the issue with anybody.

“Mr Vinod Khanna has been claiming big things about the airport. Now he should also get it functional,” she said.

The Airport Authority of India has completed the construction work of the airport. However, it has not been made functional, as the Union Civil Aviation Ministry has not yet given the flight schedules from the airport.

The work of airport was started during the stint of the NDA government.

Farmers and industrialists of the area are, however, demanding that the airport should be made functional at the earliest. They maintain that the commercial flights from the Pathankot airport would help improve the economy of the area.

The farmers can diversify to horticulture and floriculture if they can make their produce reach other parts of the country through commercial airways from the Pathankot airport.

“The farmers of the state have suffered losses due to decreased yield because of unprecedented rains in winter this year. I will request the Prime Minister to ensure some compensation to the farmers of areas where the yield has reduced due to unfriendly weather,” she said. 


SAD unit forms parallel committee
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 15
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) suffered a jolt when former president of its local urban unit Pradeep Singh Walia formed a local parallel committee yesterday.

The former president of the district (urban) unit was replaced by Mr Bawa Singh Arhtiya a month ago on the orders of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of the SAD.

The sidelining of Mr Walia had caused much heart-burning among the supporters of the late Gurcharan Singh Tohra as he (Mr Walia) had abandoned the SAD to join the erstwhile Sarbhind Shiromnai Akali Dal.

A meeting of local Akali leaders, including circles, wards’ presidents and senior office-bearers, was held at the SAD (urban) office today. The members unanimously elected Mr Walia as their leader and empowered him to appoint further members to run the district committee. The members and Mr Walia reposed faith in the leadership of Mr Parkash Singh Badal and claimed their committee as the ‘real’ committee of the SAD at the district level.

Mr Walia, while talking to this correspondent, alleged that Mr Arhtiya was not a real Akali and had never been in the SAD despite being 60-year-old. He claimed that he would have heartily accepted the new appointment if the person had been a senior Akali.

He said immediately after the appointment of Mr Arhtiya they had called a meeting on April 19 and had conveyed their resentment through a letter signed by 102 members to Mr Badal.


Brar for Dalit as new PPCC chief
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 15
Senior Congress leader Mr Jagmeet Brar yesterday alleged that PPCC chief H.S. Hanspal had struck off the names of about 50 delegates to save his chair. He claimed that he had got proof of it and informed the high command about the matter.

Interacting with mediapersons, Mr Brar said he had appealed to the high command and senior party leaders to handover the party’s reins in the state to a Dalit leader so as to give a tough fight to the Akali Dal in the next Assembly elections.

He said he would now wage “second war” for a Dalit leader, adding that he had handed over a list of 10 Dalit leaders for the PPCC chief’s post to the high command.

Mr Shamsher Dullo, Mr Mahinder Singh Kaypee, and Mr Sardool Singh were some of the prominent names in the list.

He said the new chief would be announced before May 23.

He said a list of 209 party delegates was lying with the high command and it was yet to be scrutinised, but the PPCC chief had already announced the list.

He alleged that it was done to prevent a Dalit from becoming the president.


NRI searching for missing father
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 15
Mr Ravinderpal Singh, non-resident Indian (NRI), has been running from pillar to post to search for his father, who has gone missing since May 3 after he left his home, located in the city, for collecting money from borrowers residing in a nearby village Dhakounda.

Mr Ravinderpal Singh, who is a resident of the USA, in an application moved to SSP A.S. Rai, said as per his information, his father Jaswant Singh Butter, commission agent, had not gone missing but murdered.

He added that when his father left for Dhakounda village, he (father) told his wife and an employee of the shop that he was going to collect money from his borrowers.

He added that some borrowers might had called his father on the pretext of giving him money and then murdered him. He said the scooter of his father was found near the Bhakra canal and this had been done by the borrowers to misled the police.

Mr Bhupinder Singh, DSP (R), when contacted, said the matter was being investigated. The police had not recovered the body or any other evidence so far and hence no case had been registered but a daily diary report (DDR) written.

He said the police had also questioned those in this case against whom the accusing finger had been raised by the kin of Mr Butter. 


Badungar wants film banned
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 15
Demanding ban on Hindi film “Jo Bole So Nihal”, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, former SGPC president and member of the Political Affairs Committee of the SAD today blamed intelligence agencies for their failure to give a prior intimation to government about the flare up that the screening of the film would cause and to advise it about the required remedial steps in the form of not screening the film at all.

Talking to newsmen here before addressing a congregation at nearby village Narur, he also attributed the present situation to the Congress-led Central government’s continued apathy to Sikh sentiments and issues.

“Jo Bole So Nihal” was a universally accepted religious war slogan of the Sikhs and it had been blasphemed by the film by using it for the purpose of a commercial title, remarked Prof Badungar.

The film also had several objectionable scenes that hurt the religious sentiments of the Sikhs, he said. He cited the scene of a “paath” in which the person reciting hymns from holy Guru Granth Sahib was not “sabat surat” (baptised) Sikh as was mandatory as per Sikh maryada.

The film should be banned before the situation went out of control, Prof Badungar said. Its ongoing screening in cinemas should be stopped forthwith, he demanded.

He termed as unfortunate the delay in starting bus service between Amritsar and Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak Dev. The decision to launch this new Indo-Pak bus had been postponed for six months, causing disappointment among Sikhs and those Punjabis who had been separated by Partition, he rued.

Prof Badungar flayed the Central government for not properly taking up with French and Danish governments the issue of ban on turban in France and punishing a student in Denmark for carrying sword, both religious symbols of Sikhs.

Prof Badungar later addressed a congregation at Narur village in celebration of the tercentenary martyrdom of 40 “muktas” (liberated ones).


SAD (Longowal) decries Vedanti’s ‘dual stance’
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 15
In a twist to the “Jo Bole So Nihal”, film controversy, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal) has attacked Akali Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti by alleging that the latter’s “dual stance” towards the film has compounded the issue and delayed decision had sparked protests in the state.

Seeking the resignation of Mr Joginder Singh Vedanti, on moral grounds by the SGPC, the SAD (Longowal) has also smelled foul in the inclusion of Mr Vedanti’s personal assistant and relative Pirthipal Singh in the panel formed by Akal Takht for preview of the film at Mumbai after replacing Pritpal Singh, the president of Dukh Nivaran, Gurdwara at Ludhiana.

Senior Akali leader Jagjit Singh Gaba, who is also organising secretary of the SAD (Longowal) and Mr Jaswinder Singh Variana, vice-president of the state unit of the SAD (Longowal), alleged that first it was communicated that the Akal Takht Jathedar had given a “clean chit” to the film, but, the Jathedar backed out and started saying that no such clearance had been given when a few Sikhs were lathicharged by the police at Jalandhar and elsewhere.

Presenting copies of the decision of a panel constituted by Jathedar Vedanti to preview the film at Mumbai, which, suggested that there was “nothing” objectionable in the film, Mr Gaba and Mr Variana alleged that Mr Pirthipal Singh, PA and a relative of Vedanti, had been included in the panel mysteriously after replacing Pritpal Singh of Ludhiana. They alleged that the panel members recommended in favour of the film and stayed in expensive five star hotel for which no explanation has been given so far. Mr Bahadur Singh, district president of the SAD (Longowal) said several controversial decisions pertaining to the Sikhism and Sikhs have been taken under leadership of Jathedar Vedanti.


HC notice prompts MC into action
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, May 15
The notice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has galvanised the Pathankot Municipal Council into action. Taking suo motu notice of the news published in The Tribune regarding illegal slaughtering, a Bench headed by the Chief Justice of the high court, Mr D.K. Jain, directed the executive officer of the municipal council to file a reply by May 18.

After receiving the notice, the municipal authorities tried to achieve in five days what they could not for the past several years. The ramshackle building of the local slaughterhouse was being given a new look. Large number of labourers have been employed for white-washing and restoring electricity fitting in the building.

The dense vegetation that had almost covered the entire building was removed in two days. The fire brigade has been used to clean blood-stained floors. A fresh bore is being dug for a running water supply for the slaughterhouse. Contractors have been given advance payments for carrying out the work.

A cleanliness drive has also been launched at the meat market where the illegal slaughtering was being carried out.

The council authorities have been requesting residents them to tell anyone approaching for an inquiry that no slaughtering was being carried out in the meat market.

The MLA and Chairman of the PTDC, Mr Ashok Sharma, visited the place to supervise the work.

The council authorities attributed the delay in the development of the slaughterhouse to a ban on expenditure imposed by the Director, Local Bodies. They said the tenders had been floated since long, but due to the ban, they have not been able to carry out the work.


Attaching electric pumps to taps to be banned
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
In an attempt to prevent the outbreak of water-borne diseases in the state, the Punjab Government has decided to adopt several measures, including the imposition of a ban on the practice of attaching electric or “tullu” pumps direct to taps and hand pumps.

The decision is significant as such pumps often suck in mud, and even sewage, resulting in the contamination of potable water. Giving details, sources in the Health Department said that the pumps pulled up water with pressure. In the case of leakage or rusty supply lines, the pumps sucked in unwanted material.

The sources said that the residents desirous of using electric pumps would have to construct small reservoirs near taps for pulling up the water.

They said the decision to impose the ban was taken during a meeting held in Chandigarh on Friday. Besides others, the high-level meeting was attended by Secretary (Health) D.S. Guru and Director (Health) G.L. Goyal.

Giving details of other measures to be adopted by the state government, the sources said that the authorities had decided to paint “not so deep” on handpumps, situated near village ponds, in red colour.

The sources said the colour would signify that the water was unfit for human consumption. It could only be used for washing clothes and other such purposes. They added that contaminated water often gushed out of pumps because these were “shallow” and were situated near ponds used by milch animals.


Workers oppose sale of coop sugar mills
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
The Joint Action Committee of sugar mill workers yesterday said that the Punjab Government wanted to sell 14 cooperative sugar mills worth several hundred crores of rupees at throwaway prices to certain industrialists who were close to the government.

Addressing a press conference, the president of the action committee, Mr Karnail Singh Lakhmipur, said here that with the sale of the mills, 20,000 employees would become jobless. The state government was issuing misleading statements that Rs 2,000 crore was required to run the mills.

The mills had cleared the dues of farmers totalling Rs 106 crore on their own. Only Rs 42 crore was now due to farmers. The mills had earned a profit of Rs 30 crore in 2004-05, he added.

He said the state government was directly responsible for causing a loss to sugar mills. The government was selling molasses to distilleries from sugar mills at Rs 75 per quintal whereas the market price was Rs 700 per quintal. A fraud was being committed on farmers, who were shareholders in cooperative mills, by selling the molasses at such highly subsidised rates to liquor barons who earned a profit of several crores of rupees from the distilleries.

At certain places distilleries which were part of sugar mills had been closed down by the government. “Even after several requests and representations, the government did not give licences to manufacture liquor to the mills, though these mills belonged to farmers who were shareholders”.

He claimed that the working efficiency of the cooperative mills ranged between 81 and 126 per cent and that of private mills between 50 and 90 per cent.

He said the cooperative mills should be allowed to sell molasses in the free market and the money earned from this should be distributed among farmers as dividend.

He said cooperative mills had been forced to take loans at an interest rate of 13 per cent from cooperative banks whereas all commercial banks were advancing money to industry at 8 per cent. The huge difference in the interest rate was proving a “killer” for the mills.

Mr Lakhmipur said the government had kept Rs 75 crore this year in its Budget for sugar mills. He alleged, that not a single penny had been released to mills yet under pressure from industrialists, who wanted to buy the mills.

If the government insisted on closing down cooperative sugar mills, workers would be hold a dharna in front of the office of Sugarfed on May 18 here and also announce further action on that day, he added.


Ayurvedic hospital needs ‘treatment’
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 15
Dilapidated building, improper supply of medicines, and a garbage bin right in front of the entrance, sum up the state of the District Ayurvedic Hospital. The Ayurvedic Department’s office has also been in a state of neglect and its power supply has been snapped due to non-payment of the electricity bills.

When The Tribune visited the hospital located behind Rajindra College last week, its old and rusty coolers were being repaired. One look at the building’s roof gave an impression that it might fall anytime. There were cracks in the roof. Sources said the roof of storerooms was also on the verge of collapse. The scene was almost same in other rooms and the toilet. Staff member said they were always apprehensive while entering a room having damaged roof. The hospital’s window and doors were also in bad shape.

The water pump has been lying defunct for the past one year and its employees bring drinking water from their homes. A garbage bin right in front of the hospital’s entrance attracts stray cattle, posing a threat of accident to patients and their attendants. Sources said the power supply to the hospital was snapped a few years back due to non-payment of electricity bills and it was restored after about 3-4 months.

Sources said the supply of medicines to the hospital was inadequate and the doctors were managing the affair by distributing samples to patients. Proper supply of medicines could increase the flow of patients to the hospital, they added. At present, about 40-50 patients visit the hospital daily and this figure could shoot up if the medicines were supplied regularly.

The District Ayurvedic Office located in the Sucha Singh Street has also plunged into darkness. Employees here are sweating it out literally, as the electricity connection there has been snapped due to non-payment of bills. The situation prevails for around last couple of months. “Thanks to a couple of showers in the past few days that we are able to work in this office without fans,” said a staff member.

As if this wasn’t enough to test their patience, the employees here had not been getting their salaries on a regular basis due to the change of department heads twice in the recent past. Sources said first Mr Mangat Rai Joshi retired from the post of the District Ayurvedic Officer in November last year, and last month his successor Sukhbir Kaur, who was given additional charge, retired. Sources said the staff got the salary of December and January in the month of February, and now they were awaiting the salary of the last month, as no one had the power to sign cheques etc after the retirement of Sukhbir Kaur.

When contacted, the Medical Officer at the hospital, Mr Sukhdarshan Singh Romana, said there was a plan to shift the hospital on the Civil Hospital premises and a place had also been earmarked for it. He said the hospital had already applied for the Central aid and they were awaiting the same. In the absence of the District Ayurvedic Officer, the office staff stated that they had sought shifting of their office to the mini-secretariat and the district administration was looking into the matter.


Panel to meet French minister on turban ban
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 15
An eight-member committee formed to present a memorandum to the French Education Minister over turban ban would leave for Paris on May 21.

The committee comprises of three MPs, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Mr Varinder Singh Bajwa and Ms Paramjit Kaur, three members of the SGPC, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Mr Harjinder Singh Dhami and Mr Dilmegh Singh, besides two legal luminaries of the Supreme Court. All members have been issued visas.

The committee would present the memorandum to the French minister focusing on the clearing misconceptions about turban as a religious symbol as opposed to the popular belief that it was a cultural symbol.

The committee stated they had already made strong representations to French Ambassador in India, President Chirac, besides a worldwide signature campaign against the ban.


All set for Kalam’s visit

Bathinda, May 15
The stage is set for President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam's visit to the city tomorrow. The President would arrive at Bhisiana Air Base at about 10 am from where he would head towards the cantonment area.

The President would present Standard (Nishan) to the 68 Armoured Regiment for its outstanding service both during war and peace. The administration and the police have held a series of meetings with their officials to ensure a smooth visit.

Traffic diversions have already been announced. Roads leading to the function's venue have been spruced up. While road dividers have been given a fresh coat of paint, the roadsides are also cleaned up. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Governor Rodrigues are also expected to accompany the President. — TNS


PSEB employees to observe strike
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 15
On a call given by the national coordination committee of electricity employees, a two-day strike will be observed by PSEB employees on May 31 and June 1 in protest against the proposed implementation of the Electricity Act 2003.

In another development, a meeting was held by various farmers unions, PSEB employees unions and the PSEB Employees Joint Forum in which it was decided to oppose the unbundling of the board. In this context, it has been decided to hold a mass demonstration on May 24 in front of the main gate of the PSEB head office.

Meanwhile, various employees unions leaders, including Mr Amarjit Singh Sodhi, Mr Radhey Shyam, Mr Surinder Singh and Mr K.C. Bhardwaj have demanded review of the board’s decision to privatise the board in the garb of unbundling.

The leaders also pointed out that privatisation experiments had failed in Orissa and Delhi and there was no justification for the Punjab Government to adopt the same path.


IG saves two lives
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 15
Resident, of the villages adjoining Fatehgarh Sahib, particularly residents of Rasidpur village, 10 km from here, were full of praise for IG Patiala Zone, as two out of three residents of their village, who met with accident on Sirhind-Chandigarh road were saved by him. Similarly in another accident on the GT Road, Sirhind, the mobile ambulance of district police saved the lives of three persons two minor girls died on the spot.

Last night at about 12.30 am on Sirhind-Chandigarh road near Kotla Bajwara village an accident between a scooter (No. PB-23A-9159) and a truck (No. PCX-5097) took place. The three persons who were on the scooter were seriously injured. Mr S.M. Sharma, IG Patiala Zone, who was on routine check of special police operational duties of night dominance, happened to pass from there. After seeing the accident, he stopped his car and called the district police officers, police ambulance and highway police patrol parties and all the three injured were taken by him to the Civil hospital in Fatehgarh Sahib, where one of them was declared brought dead. The two others were given first aid and immediately rushed to the PGI, where their condition is stated to be out of danger.

The deceased person has been identified as Major Singh, a resident of Rasidpura.


Road accident toll goes up to 5
Tribune News Service

Ropar, May 15
The death toll in the yesterday’s road accident, rose to five as Sadha Singh, who was injured, died at the PGI today.

Four persons, including three children, Gagandeep Singh (8), Rajvir (3), Simranjit Kaur (11) and 40-year-old Kirpal Singh, had died while nine others were seriously injured when a Sumo in which they were travelling collided head-on with a truck near Bharatgarh, about 15km from, here. They were on their way from Amritsar to Anandpur Sahib when the mishap took place

Three injured persons, Amrik Kaur, Balwant Singh, Rajbir Kaur, have been shifted to the PGI while others are undergoing treatment at the Civil Hospital, Ropar.


13 teams on pulse polio drive
Tribune Reporters

Dera Bassi, May 15
The Punjab Health department administered polio vaccine to 25,266 children in Dera Bassi subdivision, here today.

To cover the entire subdivision, the health department had constituted 13 teams comprising employees of the Health Department, paramedical staff, aanganwari workers and other social organizations. Students from the Amar Nursing School Zirakpur, and the National Dental College, Dera Bassi, also helped the health authorities to achieve the target.

The department had also pressed mobile, transit teams and 30 supervisors to make the drive a success, claimed Dr Ram Kumar, SMO, Dera Bassi.

Ropar: To eradicate polio in the district, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr H.I.S Garewal, along with officials of the Health Department, including the Civil Surgeon, Dr Rana Harinder, today began the polio drops campaign from Chamkaur Sahib, subdivision.

The Health Department has set up 622 booths at various places in the district besides 32 mobile teams to administer polio drops to children. A total of 2,616 employees were involved in the campaign and 131 supervisors were deployed to check the working of various booths, said Dr Rana Harinder.


1.71 lakh given polio drops

Bathinda, May 15
In the second round of pulse polio drive, about 1,71,610 children in the district were given pulse polio drops today.

About 744 booths were set up in the district. The district immunisation officer said special mobile teams were arranged to administer polio drops to children below the age of five in the district. — OC


Akali leader’s grandsons traced

Batala (Punjab), May 15
Two grandsons of senior Akali leader and former chairman of Markfed Jagdish Singh Walia, who went missing today, were traced from Ammu Nangal village, 7 km from here, the police said. Robi (11) and Sobhi (six), sons of Rajinder Pal Singh Walia, who left home to go to the market, were found heading towards Jalandhar on foot. The police recovered them near Ammu village, SSP Jainder Kumar Singh said. — PTI


Prof serves notice on VC
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, May 15
Dr Kanwaljeet Singh, Professor, Department of Physical Education, Guru Nanak Dev University, today served a notice on the Vice-Chancellor for allegedly granting leave to Ms Anita Tamarkar, lecturer in the same department, for presenting research papers in China while there was a legal case pending against her.

Dr Kanwaljeet had filed a defamation case against her for levelling false allegations of sexual harassment against him. It is pending in the district court, with the next date of hearing on May 21. The case pertaining to the allegations made by Ms Tamarkar was dismissed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on April 8, after which the defamation case was filed by him (Dr Kawaljit).

According to university rules, an employee of the university could only leave the country if there was no legal case pending against him or her. Prof Kanwaljeet alleged that Ms Tamarkar took the no-objection certificate after furnishing wrong information and false declaration about the pending legal case in the court. He said granting of leave to her was against the university rules.

In the notice, the copy of which is with The Tribune, he alleged that the Vice-Chancellor had deliberately and intentionally overlooked, bypassed the set university rules and regulations. He said an enquiry was also pending involving Ms Tamarkar before the sexual harassment complaint committee of the university. He said the university was obliged to verify the authenticity of the data and paper evaluated, which she was supposed to present in China.

He urged the VC to immediately withdraw the permission or NoC granted to Ms Tamarkar, failing which he threatened to initiate legal proceedings against him or any other authority found responsible for this.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, GNDU, expressed his ignorance about the case and said he was yet to get the file in this regard. 


Treasury Office ‘harassing’ staff of Education Dept
Payment of salaries held up
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 15
Various organisations of government teachers in this area have accused officials at local treasury office, of harassing employees of the Education Department by not releasing their salaries despite clear orders by the authorities.

The treasury office officials, however, maintained that they had not received orders from the Finance Department.

Mr Ram Singh Dehliz, Mr Bhagwan Singh and Mr Nirmal Singh, office-bearers of the SCBC Teachers Union, said the staff of government schools in this block had not received their salaries for two months. The authorities concerned had stopped the payment on the issue of pay fixation of some categories of teachers who were receiving higher qualification scales and the government had passed an ordinance to stop their higher allowances. The government had later retreated and asked the authorities to continue paying the salaries as usual.

A perusal of a letter written by the district education authorities to the respective treasury offices reveals that the under secretary of school education had written to the Advocate-General of Punjab that the government had decided not to take action on the provisions of impugned ordinance.

“No action, under the provision of the Punjab Payscales of Teachers Ordinance, 2004, and the Punjab Payscales of Teachers Act 2004 (Punjab Act Number 1 of 2005) shall be taken till further orders,” said of the circular endorsed to the DPI Elementary and Secondary. In the same letter the Under Secretary had asked the Advocate-General to seek adjournment in the case of a CWP filed by Mr Avtar Singh, a government school teacher. Mr Sikander Singh Jartoli, general secretary of the Government Teachers Union, alleged that the authorities at the treasury offices had been harassing the teachers by not releasing the salaries despite clear orders by the Education Department.

The authorities at the treasury office, however, maintained that they could not release the salaries on the basis of fresh orders until they received directions from the Finance Department.


OLFC School wins declamation contest
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 15
Our Lady of Fatima Convent School won the overall championship in the Dr K.C. Saronwala memorial inter-school declamation contest which was held in the Surya complex here yesterday.

The contest was organised by Rotary Club, Patiala (Mid Town) and was financed by Dr Naveen Saronwala.

In the individual category, Shruti Sachdeva of Our Lady of Fatima Convent School bagged the first prize. Amandeep Thakur of Teja Singh Kandhari School came second while Ravjit Singh also of Teja Singh Kandhari School was placed third.

Consolation prizes were given to Vinamrita Kaur of Budha Dal Public School and Himanshi Dhamiya of Blossom Senior Secondary School.

The prizes were distributed by Dr J.R. Sachdeva while the guest of honour was Samana MLA Mr S.S. Rakhra.


357 students take part in summer camp
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 15
As many as 357 students participated in a summer creativity camp organised by the Sudershan Chakra Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA) which concluded at Army School, Sadhuwali Cantonment, 37 km from here, on Sunday.

Major-Gen A. S. Lamba was the chief guest at the valedictory function. Ms Savinder Lamba, chairperson, AWWA, expressed gratitude for experts who provided training to participants in various activities during the 26-day camp.


  Man wins Rs 25 lakh
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 15
Mr Nahar Singh, a resident of Mandofal village, has won the first prize of Rs 25 lakh of the Punjab state monthly lottery, whose draw was taken out on May14 in Ludhiana.

He is working as a tools man in a factory at Sirhind.

Mr Nahar Singh told Chandigarh Tribune that he purchased the lottery ticket (B 329322) from one Harinder Kumar Ojha, an agent from Morinda. He said it was the agent, who broke the news to him.

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