P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Scam of fake pollution certificates unearthed
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 29
A scam relating to issuance of “fake pollution control certificates” in the city has been unearthed even as a Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr Varinder Aggarwal, has written to the district police for taking immediate action against owners of two automobile shops in two different cases for allegedly issuing fake certificates.

An imposter, who tried to cheat the court, has also been arrested by the Civil Lines Police on the complaint of magistrate.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Kirandip Singh Bhullar, has asked the District Transport Officer, Mr Bhupinder Singh, to conduct a thorough checking of the pollution control check centres on a war footing and submit a report within a week.

The high-level team comprising of the DTO, the ADTO and official of the Pollution Control Board has already recommended cancellation of the licence of Novelty Pollution Check Centre.

An imposter, Surinder Kumar, who appeared in the court of Mr Aggarwal posing as Jagjit Singh, was arrested by the Civil Lines Police on his (Mr Aggarwal’s) complaint. This has exposed once again the ongoing practice of stock witness in different courts. The magistrate wrote to the police for arresting Surinder Kumar who tried to cheat the court.

The Magistrate got suspicious when Surinder Kumar, posing himself as Jagjit Singh, produced the pollution clearance certificate issued by the Doaba Automobiles Pollution Check Centre showing the date when his (Jagjit Singh’s) authorickshaw was in the custody of the police after being challaned for violating Pollution Control Act. While the police impounded the auto-rickshaw of Jagjit Singh on July 23, the imposter (Surinder Kumar) produced the certificate, mentioning the date as July 25. 


Explosives found in scrap to be defused
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, July 29
The Army authorities have agreed to defuse the explosives lying on the premises of the container freight station of the Punjab Warehousing Corporation at Focal Point, Dhandari.

More than 10,000 explosives, including live bombs, were recovered from the iron scrap, which had been imported by industrialists of Ludhiana, Mandi Gobindgarh and other places.

The explosives are lying in four containers and are in the custody of the Customs Department of the Central Government.

The explosives were segregated by the Punjab Armed Police (PAP) bomb disposal squad after 10 persons were killed in Gaziabad in Uttar Pradesh when some bombs exploded in the scrap. Following the death of these persons, the Union Government ordered the inspection of all ports, which were receiving imported scrap for use in steel furnace plants. There was nationwide protest against the import of scrap from West Asian and African countries.

A number of deaths were reported at Ludhiana and Mandi Gobindgarh steal plants and explosives were segregated in October last year by the PAP bomb disposal squad.

The district administration had been talking to the Army authorities for the disposal of the explosives, which posed a serious threat to the life and property in the town. A number of meetings were held with the Army authorities by the district administration and later with the PAP authorities too.

Lately the state Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill took up the matter with the Army authorities and the matter was sorted out.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, told The Tribune today that the disposal of explosives would start after the rains in the Sutlej.

The Army authorities had already selected about half a dozen sites for the disposal of the explosives.


Delay in notification on panel report irks parents
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 29
Failure of the Punjab Government to notify the recommendations of the Majithia Committee on fee for various medical, dental, nursing, homoeopathic and ayurvedic colleges in the state has piqued both students and their parents.

Though the committee in its report submitted on July 8 wanted the new fee structure to be notified immediately so that parents got an idea of the fee to be paid by them for their wards, no notification has been issued so far.

While regular counselling on the basis of the Pre-Medical Entrance Test (PMET) has been stayed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, some private medical and dental colleges have already set in motion the admission process, holding counselling for the students seeking enrolment against minority or management quota seats.

The SGPC-run medical institutes, for example, have already started making admissions against the minority quota. Those cleared for admissions have been asked to deposit the fee as prescribed in the college calendar within 48 hours of their selection. All private colleges have given their existing fee structure in their admission brochures. The Majithia Committee, however, slashed the annual fee drastically for almost all branches of medical education in private institutions.

Each student seeking admission to the MBBS (first year) course in a SGPC-run college is being asked to pay Rs 3.4 lakh per annum against the Majithia Committee recommendation of Rs 1 lakh per annum.

“Unless we pay within 48 hours of the selection of our ward, we may lose the seat,” rues a parent holding that the file had been pending in the Chief Minister’s Secretariat since July 16.

The aggrieved parents held that they were delighted when the Chief Minister himself announced that the recommendations of the Majithia Committee would be implemented immediately. “But now we learn that the file has been kept pending in the Chief Minister’s Secretariat by some middle-rung officials under pressure from the managements of private medical colleges,” allege parents.

They maintain that it is “nearly impossible to get refunds from private medical institutions. Once we deposit the fee at the existing rates, we know our money will remain blocked. The managements will promise to adjust the balance against next year’s fee, thus defeating the purpose of the rationalisation of the fee and other charges.”

“We know where the file is but no one is prepared to listen to us,” alleges one parent, holding that certain persons running more than one private medical institution in the state are” determined to get the notification delayed till the end of the PMET counselling.”

Any further delay in the notification, they hold, would defeat the purpose of the recommendations.


Senior citizens to get permits to buy opium provided they are addicts
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 29
Senior citizens, aged above 65, will be issued permits to buy opium and poppy husk from authorised sale outlets, if they had really become addicts. The state government, in consultation with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, recently took a decision to this effect.

Mr Rajinder Singh, Inspector-General of Police (Zonal), stated this at Seeto Gunno village 21 km from here, on the Dabwali road on Monday. Seeto Gunno was once known as a strong belt of opium consumers but smack smugglers had also been roaming in the area for the past few years to corrupt youth.

The IG said the permit system would be in accordance with the new policy framed by the government after a series of consultative meetings to check the narcotics menace more effectively. As Seeto Gunno was located near the Rajasthan border and linked to the neighbouring state with roads passing through narrow lanes of villages, he said he preferred to launch the anti-drug addiction campaign from this village.

Addressing a gathering of villagers and policemen, Mr Rajinder Singh said drugs had made Punjabi youth medically and physically unfit. This was why 10,000 posts were yet to be filled in the Army from the Punjab zone. The government had succeeded in weeding out militancy with people’s cooperation; the drug menace could also be overcome in a similar way, he hoped.

Students of the Theatre Department of Punjabi University Patiala would be requested to make drug de-addiction campaign interesting by conducting stage performances during an awareness drive.

Mr Rajinder Singh said he had held telephonic discussions with his counterparts at Hisar in Haryana and Jaipur in Rajasthan for evolving a combined strategy to check smuggling of narcotics from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan through Abohar and Dabwali routes. They would be meeting soon to curb activities of smugglers and their carriers.

After high-level discussions, all station house officers of the police stations had been directed to avoid haste in registering dowry cases and not to nominate minors in such cases. It will be the prerogative of the Senior Superintendent of Police in the district to decide whether all or some of the persons named in the FIR were to be taken into custody. No case will be cancelled unless and until permission is granted by a senior police officer not below the rank of IG.

Mr Rajinder Singh took note of the complaint that chemist shops had been, by and large, selling restricted medicines without prescription from a qualified doctor. He asked the chemists to ensure that such illegal practices were discontinued.

Mr Iqbal Singh Sahota, DIG Ferozepore asked the Health Department to take stern action against quacks who had not only brought a bad name to the medical profession but were also reportedly responsible for making youths addict. Those who were concerned about safeguarding wild life sanctuary should be equally concerned about the youths to make future of the country bright, he added. SSP Sudhanshu Srivastva and Dr. Shravan Juneja SMO Civil Hospital Seeto Gunno also addressed the seminar.


Punjab ropes in Sikh religious leaders to spread AIDS awareness
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 29
Unable to take AIDS awareness campaigns to the interiors of Punjab, the state government has decided to seek the support of religious organisations in spreading details about the virus and its fatal consequences.

After much persuasion, Jathedar, Akal Takht Sahib, Mr Joginder Singh Vedanti, has committed full support of religious bodies in spreading awareness about AIDS in Punjab. Until now, religious leaders had been refraining from making any comments on issues related to sex and AIDS.

But now there seems to be an awakening. At a high level meeting of the state government’s Health Department officials and Sikh religious leaders held recently in Amritsar, it was decided that joint camps should be held to provide a solid platform for discussion about AIDS and causes of its spread. In fact, the proposal came from Mr Vedanti, who said religious leaders should also participate in such campaigns. The urgency of involving religious leaders in AIDS awareness campaigns can be gauged by the fact that there is a record of only 327 AIDS cases in the state. Sources in Punjab State AIDS Control Society, however, believe that full blown AIDS cases in Punjab must at least be 70 times more than what is currently recorded.

Also, the Society since its inception in the early 90s, has recorded only 92 AIDS deaths in the state whereas the actual extent is much more.

“We have set up Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centres all across the 17 districts of Punjab, but people are not coming forward for testing what to talk of seeking treatment. We were left with no option but to knock at the doors of religious leaders whose word matters a lot in rural Punjab,” said a health official.

Presiding over the meeting in this regard, Mr Vedanti admitted that the life of people in Punjab revolved around gurdwaras. Mr Kulbir Singh, Project Director, State AIDS Control Society also said that religious appeals could be issued to influence men and women to take tests for determination of their health status.

With the formal acceptance to the proposal having been given, the workers at the State AIDS Control Society are preparing a strategy to target rural population and get it to talk about AIDS. For a start, a massive campaign featuring camps will be launched shortly.


VCTCs hold hope for suspect HIV positive cases
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 29
There was a time when HIV positive suspect people had to think twice before approaching a private hospital for getting themselves tested primarily due to social stigma attached to the disease, but the Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centres (VCTCs) opened in various civil hospitals of the state seem to have changed the scenario.

The state government has started the VCTCs for facilitating counselling and testing of suspect HIV positive persons for Rs 10 only. The VCTC at Bathinda’s Civil Hospital started in September 2003 and in the remaining three and a half months of the year it received 158 cases of which eight were reactive.

While in 2004 out of a total of 217 cases six were reactive, the figure went up to 14 reactive cases out of 121 this year till now. A reactive case is the one when a person tests HIV positive in the screening test.

VCTC in charge Dr Khem Raj Bansal, said that they first hold pre-test counselling in which they seek details of a person’s background so to find out whether he/she belongs to a high-risk group or low-risk group. If a person belonging to high-risk group like truck drivers and sex workers initially tests negative he/she is called two-three times over a period of three months for retest. The reason being if a person has got infected with HIV 15 days prior to the test it would take about three months for the virus to show up in the test. If tested negative people from high-risk group are advised to have safe sex in future, besides taking other necessary precautions.

On the other hand, if a person tests reactive initially it would take a fortnight to confirm whether he is HIV positive or not. However, there is also a confirmatory test costing Rs 500-600 for those who can afford it. Dr Bansal said some patients were shattered to know that they were HIV positive thinking it to be the end of their lives, which is not the case. He said if an HIV positive person took precaution he could live for 10-15 years. Once tested positive the post-test counselling begins, which is primarily aimed at helping the victim recover from shock and prepare him mentally to lead the rest of his/her life normally. There is also a provision of referring an HIV positive case to a psychiatrist if he/she suffers from depression.

Regarding the background of the cases they receive at the VCTC, Dr Bansal said it was a mix of urban and rural people usually belonging to high-risk groups. He said the VCTC had proved to be of great help especially to poor section of society, as they could afford neither test at private hospitals nor think of counselling.

Meanwhile, the sources said the VCTC at Bathinda on an average received 20 suspect HIV positive persons a month, but it was yet to have male and female counsellors. With both posts lying vacant, the in charge of VCTC himself holds counselling. However, Dr Bansal denied making any comment on the matter. Civil Surgeon, Dr H.S. Dhillon, admitted that Dr Bansal and a woman doing laboratory technician were counselling work, as both posts were awaiting filling.


Action against those recycling used syringes sought
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 29
While appreciating the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amrinder Singh, for asking Mr Romesh Chander Dogra, Health Minister, to come out with a detailed proposal on the use of the recycling of disposable medical articles such as syringes, vials etc, the Punjab Civil Medical Services (PCMS) Association has demanded that cases be registered in fast track courts against those who are supplying disposable recycled syringes etc in bulk to the manufacturers and also against those manufacturers who are then recycling it.

In a joint press statement issued here yesterday, Dr Hardeep Singh and Dr Ajay Bagga, president and press secretary of the state unit of the PCMS Association, respectively, said sterile disposable surgical gloves supplied in hospitals also appeared to be not of standard quality as the pair of gloves taken from the same sealed pouch were neither of same colour nor appeared to be of the same texture.

Not only this, the size mentioned on the pouch and on the pair of gloves inside was not identical. All this makes quality of items susceptible and if gloves of poor quality are used then it can cause serious infection to the patients. They urged the Health Minister to consider this aspect also while preparing the final report. They also demanded action against such suppliers.

Dr Hardeep and Dr Ayay Bagga further stated that rag pickers were handling disposable plastic syringes, needles etc to earn their livelihood without understanding that they could get dreaded diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis-B etc. They urged social activists to educate the rag pickers not to handle them.


Anti-factionalism panel faces factionalism!
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 29
A piquant situation arose here when the BSP panel constituted to overcome factionalism in the party had to face factionalism!

It was learnt today from eyewitness accounts that three members of the panel — Bhagwan Singh Hoshiarpur, Pawan Tinu and Hargopal Singh Balachaur — had to hear loud voices of dissent, differences and even slogans against Punjab BSP president Avtar Singh Karimpuri during a meeting of party activists of nine Assembly segments of the Phillaur reserved Parliamentary constituency held here last evening. The dissidents did not allow Bhagwan Singh Hoshiarpur to speak. The moment he rose to address the meeting, he was intercepted and stopped to speak.

The irate anti-Karimpuri group did plainspeaking with the other two members of the panel — Pawan Tinu and Hargopal Singh Balachaur. They were told in no uncertain terms that they should be wary of blindly supporting Karimpuri who had already ousted 55 activists of the party.

They accused Karimpuri of inflicting a blow to the BSP by ousting loyal party leaders and activists just for settling his personal scores.


Residential use in focal points allowed
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 29
The Punjab Government has allowed residential use of industrial plots in Mohali and Batala focal points on the pattern being followed in other focal points in the state, including Ludhiana, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar and Bathinda.

The Department of Industries and Commerce has written to the Punjab Small Industries and Exports Corporation (PSIEC) that 50 per cent of the area of the industrial plots situated in Focal Points at Phase VIII B Mohali and Batala can be used for residential purposes.


Technical employees union members stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 29
Members of Technical and Mechanical Employees Union staged a dharna and shouted slogans as talks with Executive Engineer failed at a meeting held here today. Union had been agitating for a long period but relations with senior officials became tense as Mr Suba Ram, vice-president of state unit, was recently transferred from here to Amritsar.

The union termed it a bid to sabotage the agitation but officials denied it. The union later held meetings at Abohar and Balluana and condemned the Executive Engineer for his alleged adamant and undemocratic attitude towards “genuine” demands of the field employees.

The union said the Executive Engineer and SDE had misused political influence to get their senior leader transferred to remote border area of Amritsar. Such transfer was unprecedented. They resolved to stage a dharna and a demonstration at the divisional office here on August 8. Mobilisation for overwhelming participation of the employees in the proposed rally would begin from tomorrow, union spokesman said.

Those who addressed the meetings at Balluana and Abohar included Mr Piara Singh Mangat and Mr Banwari Lal Chopra.


Pensioners hail Cabinet decision
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 29
Mr B.R. Kaushal, chairman, Punjab State Pensioners Confederation, and member, Punjab State Advisory Board, in a statement released to the press today, hailed the decision taken by the Punjab Cabinet in which approval has been given to rationalise the pension/family pension of employees who retired before January 1, 1996 with those who retired after January 1, 1996.

According to this decision, the Pre-January 1996 pensioners have been brought on a par with post -January pensioners by revising their pension up to 50 per cent of the last post held by them at the time of retirement and that of family pensioners equal to 30 per cent effective from January 1,1996.


Bhakra served its purpose, says BBMB
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 29
Reacting to the news-item “ Bhakra Project has failed to deliver: study” published in The Tribune dated July 18” the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) has said “It was not an objective study of the Bhakra dam project. It was an attempt by a team of activists to propagate public opinion against large dams.”

The BBMB said: “After having gone through the study carried out by Mr Shripad Dharmadhkari and others, it was found that the study did not feature anything on flood control utility of the dam, the power generation and drinking water supply.”

For example, the recent floods in Himachal Pradesh in June and July 2005 caused extensive damage to public property in the state.

Ultimately, the floods were fully absorbed in the Bhakra reservoir without any effect downstream.

This saved precious water for irrigation and drinking water requirements of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan for the next summer.

But for the Bhakra Dam, the flood would have caused devastation to standing crops and property in Punjab, said the statement.

The main objectives of the Bhakra-Nangal project were irrigation for enhancing food production and hydro-power development. Other incidental benefits were flood control, prevention of famines, industrial development and drinking water.

The project has fulfilled its objectives in a sustained manner and has brought prosperity to the region.

The report blames the dam for a number of issues like agrarian economics of states, agriculture practices and other problems like water logging and salinisation which are not attributable to the dam.

The report also does not take into account the positive impacts of Bhakra on Rajasthan for supplying water to the desert area covering more than 9 lakh acres of area.


BSNL consumers a harassed lot
Tribune News Service

Sultanpur Lodhi, July 29
BSNL consumers are a harassed lot in this subdivision as almost in every village and locality unattended complaints have been piling up for months.

More than 8,000 telephones connections in 190 villages in the subdivision and the town of Sultanpur Lodhi are connected with eight telephone exchanges situated in different villages. Most of the villagers are suffering due to failure of the authorities to get their complaints attended.

In Maripur village connected with Dadwindi telephone exchange five telephones are lying out of order for the past one month. “My telephone is out of order for the past one month and nobody from the Telecom Department has bothered to attend my complaint even after sending repeated reminders to the authorities,” rued Mr Bhajan Singh, a resident of Fauji Colony, 5 km away from the town.

Mr Ranjit Singh of Sherpur Sadda village said: “Eight complaints of our village are lying unattended for a week, and now we are considering to ask the BSNL authorities to disconnect our connections.”

The situation in Sultanpur Lodhi is not different.

I’m feeling helpless as no one has come to attend to my complaint even after a fortnight,” said Baba Pritpal Singh of Mohalla Mauri.

Meanwhile, the BSNL authorities at Sultanpur Lodhi, admitting delay in attending to the complaints of consumers in the area, cited the shortage of staff as the main reason behind the problem.


Senior citizen’s struggle for retirement benefits
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 29
Hazura Singh (63) has been running from pillar to post to get his post-retirement benefits even after four years of retirement. He had retired as the Section Officer Audit of the Examiner Local Fund Accounts, Punjab, on November 30, 2000. He had approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court and also the Supreme Court to get relief.

He has now sent a complaint letter to the Chief Minister for holding inquiry into his case by any independent agency and also sent a legal notice to the Principal Secretary, Special Secretary-cum Director Treasury and Accounts and Examiner Local Fund Account, Punjab for the implementation of the order passed in his favour by the court.

Hazura Singh said that the High Court in its order said that he was entitled to a payscale for the post on which he was working. A direction was issued to the fix the pay in the scale of Section Officer with effect from March 21, 1984, the date on which he was promoted to the post of Senior Auditor (now designated as Section Officer).

Besides it, the court had also directed to grant him all consequential benefits including his claim to be considered for promotion to the post for Resident Audit Officer, if he fulfilled the qualifications and other conditions for promotion to the said post, he added.

The Local Fund Accounts Department had approached the Supreme Court and High Court against the order passed in his favour. But both the High Court and also the Supreme Court had dismissed the Special Leave Petition filed by the department, he added.

He further said thereafter on December 19, 2002, the Examiner Local Funds Account had partially implemented the decision by allowing him the scale of Section Officer with effect from March 26, 1984, granting proficiency set-up after 8 years of regular service on March 26, 1992, and benefits under the ACP scheme after 16 years of Regular Service on March 26, 2000, along with all retrial benefits. But he was not promoted as the Assistant Director with effect from February 21, 2003, he added.

Thereafter he had filed contempt petition against the department. The Local Fund Account Department had filed a reply in the court against him that promotion was denied to Hazura Singh because portion of service rendered by him was ad hoc. Therefore ad hoc service rendered by Hazura Singh could not be counted for the seniority purpose as a consequence of promotion. Thereafter the High Court had said in the order that the petition did not survive for further adjudication. However if the petitioner felt aggrieved by the order passed on June 18, 2003, he might challenge the same at an appropriate forum.

“After the court order I have sent various representation to the department concerned and also met the officer for the rest of benefits that I have deserved. But the department had refused to give me anything in writing and told me to again approach the court to get the rest of benefits”, he added.

He had alleged in his legal notice and also complaint sent to Chief Minister that the question of the ad hoc could not arise as it had been earlier settled by the court. Wrong facts about him were represented by the state. Since he cleared the SAS examination required for the promotion, he added.


PMET: 14 answers wrong, claim petitioners
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 29
The petitioners, who have challenged the result of the second examination for PMET-2005 conducted by Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, have claimed that the answers of 14 of the 21 controversial questions that were part of the examination have been found to be wrong or ambiguous by a high-powered committee of experts constituted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).

In two fresh applications moved in the High Court, the petitioners have stated that since each correct answer carried four marks, 14 incorrect answer keys meant that the petitioners lost at least 65 marks. They also stated that there was a difference of only four marks between candidates who got 262 and 303 ranks. If just one question or four marks can lead to such a huge difference in rank, what would be the scenario it 14 incorrect answers are deemed to be correct, they have stated. They have prayed that their application be taken on record.

Counsel for the petitioners claimed that from the report of the CBSE, it was apparent that wide variations in the result would take place even if the existing answers were checked by applying the correct key code.

The petitioners have also prayed that Guru Nanak Dev University be directed to provide complete question papers and answer keys so as to allow the candidates to check other questions and answers also.

The report of the experts was produced in the High Court yesterday.

The applications are likely to be taken up for hearing on August 2, the next date of hearing of the petitions.


high court
Lok Pal within 2 months, Punjab tells HC
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 29
The Punjab Advocate-General, Mr R.S. Cheema, today informed the Punjab and Haryana High Court that the Punjab Government had started the process of the appointment of a new Lok Pal in the state.

The last Lok Pal, Justice D.V. Sehgal (retd), died in office over two years ago and since then the Capt Amarinder Singh Government has not filled the post. Only a retired Judge of a High Court can be appointed Lok Pal. During the hearing today of a writ filed by Mr Sunil Kumar of Faridkot, seeking directions to the government to either appoint a Lok Pal, who would dispose of all pending cases, or hand over the cases to some other agency for disposal, the Bench was informed that the process would be completed in two months.

A complaint filed by the petitioner alleging irregularities in the selection of teachers by the Punjab Government is still pending in the office of Lok Pal. Before he died, Justice Sehgal had summoned the entire record pertaining to the selections. Mr Cheema informed the Bench of Chief Justice D.K. Jain and Mr Justice Hemant Gupta that he had a meeting with the Chief Minister in this regard and the entire process would be completed within two months. He also admitted that there had been a delay on the part of the government in filling the post.

The case will now come up on October 5.

Proposal to ban tobacco products

The High Court was on Friday informed that the Punjab Government had recommended to the Union Government to ban the manufacture and sale of tobacco products, including Gutkha, in Punjab.

During the resumed hearing of the PIL filed by the Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle, counsel for the Haryana Government also informed the Bench headed by Chief Justice D.K. Jain that some samples of Gutkha sent for clinical examination were found to contain magnesium content, which was harmful for health.

The petitioner had sought directions to respondents to take immediate steps to ban the manufacture, distribution and sale of Gutkha and other chewable tobacco products. It had also sought the removal of all tobacco selling vends and shops near schools and religious places.

In support of the claim, the petitioner had also got a study conducted and the report of the survey had been appended to the petition. The survey said that young schoolchildren had complete access to tobacco products and the addiction had assumed alarming proportions in the states.It had also sought directions to make it mandatory for manufacturers and sellers of such products to paste pictures of patients who developed cancer due to the consumption of tobacco products.

Today, after hearing counsel, the Bench disposed of the petition with an observation that it hoped and had trust in the Union Government that it would act on the recommendation of the state governments in this regard. It may be recalled that on the last hearing, the Bench had asked the governments of Haryana and Punjab as also the Chandigarh Administration if they were ready to recommend to the Central Government to ban manufacture and sale of tobacco products in their areas.


PIL to make blood banks comply with rules
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 29
The PIL filed by the Punjab Thalassaemics Welfare Society came up for hearing in the Punjab and Haryana High Court before the Bench headed by Chief Justice D.K. Jain today.

In the petition filed through its president, Mr Kewal Malhotra, the society sought directions to the respondents to ensure that all blood banks situated in Punjab comply with all conditions and follow guidelines laid down in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

The petition also sought directions to the respondents to ensure that only authorised blood banks were allowed to hold blood donation camps and that blood collected in such camps was not allowed to go waste or was transferred or given to anybody without proper tests.

It also prayed for the award of compensation to the thalassaemic children of the petitioner-society who contracted Hepatitis-C due to blood received by them at various places without proper tests/precautions.

The society also sought that a coordinator be appointed to check the wastage of blood. It also sought directions to the respondents to ensure that blood collection centres that did not have proper facilities to break various components of blood were not allowed to keep unlimited stock of blood.

The petition also sought cancellation of licences of those blood banks that did not conform to standards and also direction to the Punjab Government to make adequate arrangements for regular transfusion of blood to the thalassaema patients as per their requirement.

After hearing counsel for the petitioner, the Bench issued notice of motion for October 26.


Hawara’s aides sent to judicial custody

Moga, July 29
A local court today remanded two reported accomplices of Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) chief Jagtar Singh Hawara in judicial custody till August 12.

The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Arun Vir Vashist also directed the police to sent both the accused to Burail Jail in Chandigarh from where the Punjab police had brought them on production warrants on July 25.

Samir, alias Tonny, and Joga Singh suspected to be “suicide killers” were produced in the court this evening after completion of their four-day police remand.

The defence counsel contended that the police had misguided the court to get the police remand to recover pistols from Ganganagar in Rajasthan but failed to do so.

Both the accused were taken to Savadi, the native village of Samir, alias Tonny, and one of the accomplices of Tonny was tortured, the defence counsel contended.

The court asked all the officials to go outside the room and then listened to Tonny and others in camera.

The court allowed parents of the accused to meet them for 20 minutes. — PTI


Murder case against in-laws
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 29
A case has been registered at Peelibanga near Hanumangarh neighboring this sub division against in-laws of a Bathinda resident following his death under mysterious circumstances.

According to information received by local relations, Mukesh Soni, son of Mohan Lal Soni resident of Bathinda, had married Poonam daughter of Om Parkash Soni Peelibanga in 2002. Poonam last year got her husband and other in-laws booked alleging harassment due to insufficient dowry.

As Mukesh visited Peelibanga on Wednesday to face trial in a court, he was reportedly taken to in-laws house for sorting out the dispute by negotiations. After a few hours he was seen going to market but on return he started shivering with fever.

Janak Raj and Deepak Kumar said they took him to a hospital where he breathed his last within few minutes.

Mukesh’s mother Mrs Sumitra Devi Soni lodged a complaint with the Peelibanga police alleging that her son had been poisoned to death by the in-laws.

A case against the in-laws has been registered.


Farmers organise protest rally
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, July 29
Five organisations of farmers orgainsed a protest-rally in the Shalimar Bagh here today. Before holding the March they presented a memorandum of demands to the Deputy Commissioner.

The Punjab Kisan Sabha, the Jamhuri Kisan Sabha, the Kisan Union Ekta, the Khet Mazdur Sabha and the JPSMO demanded the rollback in the increase of petroleum products.

They condemned the state government for ignoring the interests of farmers and khet mazdoors.

In memorandum they demanded 200 units of electricity should be provided free of cost to all farm labourers and the price of paddy, wheat and sugarcane should be fixed Rs 750, Rs 850 and Rs 135 per quintal respectively


Encroachments in several areas removed
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, July 29
After removing encroachments from the Ambedkar Chowk, Chandigarh Chowk, Chandigarh Road and Rahon Road, Deputy Commissioner, Mr Krishan Kumar removed unauthorised kiosks typists, stamp-paper vendors, photostat shops etc. in the district administrative complex here. He has directed PWD officials to widen and strengthen roads in the district administrative complex. He also ordered removal of unauthorised kiosks in the complex. The DC called the Typists Association and asked it to shift kiosks to alternative places in the complex.

When, it failed to do so he asked Assistant Commissioner (general), Mr Parminder Singh Sandhu, Tehsildar, Balwinder Singh and Naib Tehsildar, Charanjit Singh to remove kiosks. Most of the kiosk owners shifted their kiosks, a few kiosk owners demanded more time for shifting and they also reportedly had an altercation with officials on duty in at the midnight Mr Lalit Mohan Pathak, president, Municipal Council and Mr Kulbir Singh, SDM intervened to defuse the situation.

People lauded the removal of encroachments, people demand execution of ‘operation clean’ in main bazars and plan for removing concrete encroachments on government land in the town.


Decision on water board put on hold
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 29
The Municipal Council has deferred the implementation of July 7 resolution by which it was to take back the charge of collection of water and sewerage bills from the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board (PWSSB) with effect from August 1, sources said today.

Though no formal information regarding change in policy had so far been sent to the PWSSB office here, sources said that the council authorities decided to wait at least for one month more.

Mr S.R. Bajaj, Sub Divisional Engineer, PWSSB, had warned in a letter delivered to the Executive Officer of the council in the second week of this month that the resolution passed by the council would be treated as a violation of the agreement signed by the president, the vice-president and the EO of the council on non judicial papers in July 1999.

The engineering and sanitation departments of the council had surrendered after failure in clearing rain and sewage water that flooded the sub divisional complex, including courtrooms, in July 1999. The council had held emergency meeting and resolved to hand over the charge of maintenance of water works and sewerage disposal system to the council with immediate effect.

According to the agreement, the board was delegated all powers for the collection of water and sewerage charges from the customers, recovery of arrears, disconnecting connections of defaulters and granting new connections. The council had agreed to pay 10 per cent over and above the actual expenses incurred on maintenance works to the Board. Recovery and maintenance was a package deal. The board had taken 13 employees of the council on deputation for revenue section and paid their salary regularly.

Mr Bajaj had told the Executive Officer of the council that the board would be constrained to hand over the maintenance of water supply and the disposal of sewage also to the council from August 1. Sources said that the PWSSB had intimated the Directorate of Local Bodies Punjab, Chandigarh, as well as the Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, about the controversial resolution and its repercussions.


VAT Help Counter to be set up
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 29
In its bid to solve VAT- related problems of traders and industrialists, the Excise and Taxation Department has decided to set up a VAT Help Counter in the local BMC chowk Sales Tax office.

The decision was taken by Ms Neelam Chaudhary, Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner, during meeting with members of the VAT Advisory Committee, formed by the state government, here today.

Mr Sanjay Sehgal, a member of the VAT Advisory Committee, said the decision to set up VAT Help Counter has been taken by Ms Chaudhary after pleas by some members that traders and industrialists were facing some problems regarding VAT system.


IT return counters open

Amritsar, July 29
The income tax return receipt counters will remain open on July 30 and 31 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Commissioner of Income Tax (I) informed this in a press release here today. July 31 is the last date for filing income tax returns. — OC


One held in murder case
Our Correspondent

Barnala, July 29
Shehna police in Barnala police district arrested Mr Charanjit Singh, a resident of Shehna village, about 15 km from here, an alleged accused responsible for the murder of Mr Hernak Singh. Two other alleged accused Mr Major Singh and Mrs Lakhwinder Kaur, the wife of Charanjit Singh, are still at large.

Disclosing this here yesterday Mr G. Nageshwara Rao, SSP, Barnala police district informed that on the complaint of Mr Malkiat Singh, a resident of Alamwal, Shehna Police had registered a case against three persons-Charanjit Singh, Major Singh and Lakhwinder Kaur of Shehna under sections 302-34 of the IPC at Shehna Police Station on July 27.

He further revealed following registration of the case, Mr Sarabjit Singh SHO, Police Station Shehna started investigations and arrested Charanjit Singh.

SSP Barnala made it clear that the bone of contention in this murder case was dispute over land. He said that Charanjit in league with his father and his wife killed Harnek Singh with a sharp-edged tool (Kahl) which had been recovered.


Postal saving subscribers swindled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 29
Hundreds of persons subscribing to various saving schemes of the Postal Department in Jagraon, Ludhiana, were shellshocked on finding that their hard earned money has suddenly been siphoned off by a postal assistant. Officials at the headquarters of the Punjab Postal Circle here have initiated a probe into the scam following the lodging of an FIR on Tuesday last.

The misappropriation has been detected after a postal assistant withdrew over Rs 19 lakh from the accounts of over 150 subscribers. The suspect, Ms Jyoti Bala, a postal assistant posted in the Jagraon Post Office, took four months to swindle the money from the accounts of unsuspecting subscribers.

Mr K.L. Khanna, Postmaster-General, Punjab, told The Tribune that a FIR had been registered with the Jagraon police.


Woman held for smuggling smack
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 29
The local police here has nabbed a woman who allegedly used to bring smack from Amritsar and supply it to students and rich addicts of the Model Town locality in packets, priced at Rs 300 and Rs 700.

Balraj Kaur Pinki and her husband Manjit Singh, are residents of the Latifqpura locality, where they had allegedly concealed 100 gm of narcotics in their bedroom. While Pinki has been arrested, Manjit Singh escaped during the search operation conducted by the CIA Staff Inspector, Vibhor Kumar.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said Pinki, who, had been booked under the NDPS Act, had confessed that she and her husband had been into the smack trade for a long time and had made considerable property out of it.

According to Mr Ishwar Singh, in another incident, 5 gm of smack was seized from Bodh Raj, a resident of Dhina village, near here, while 210 kg of poppy husk had been seized from a Tata 407 truck which was intercepted near the Sutlej bridge on Thursday. 


Man held for killing wife

Gurdaspur, July 29
The Sujanpur police has arrested Gurdial Singh, an electrician, for strangulating his wife, Sunita Devi, to death. Sources said the body of the deceased was recovered from her residence at Mirzapur village last evening.

The matter was reported to the police by neighbours and the body was shifted to the Pathankot Civil Hospital.

The SSP Gurdaspur, Mr Pramod Bhan, said the initial investigation had revealed that the husband of the deceased had illicit relation with his sister-in-law. Yesterday, when Gurdial Singh returned home in an inebriated state Sunita quarrelled with him. Infuriated Gurdial Singh then strangulated Sunita to death and fled. A case has been registered. — TNS


NCC to lay stress on adventure activities
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 29
The National Cadet Corps (NCC) has decided to lay more stress on adventure activities during its course of training newly enrolled cadets.

Gp Cdr D.S. Goraya, Jalandhar NCC Group, said this during an ongoing 12-day Thal Sainik Camp being organised for 40 screened girl cadets on the campus of Punjab Armed Police (PAP) here today. He said after initial training, the cadets were being taken for various adventure activities including parasailing, hiking on bicycles, trekking and mountaineering. He said three trekking camps had already been held at Kufri in the recent past.

The NCC Group Commander said that as per the directions of the corps, more girls were now being enrolled as cadets. “We have been directed to raise the strength of the girls to at least 33 per cent in all battalions in another two years. We have already inducted 20 per cent girls in different battalions that were only comprised of boys earlier.”

He further added, “Even the response from the girls willing to be inducted by the corps is immense. For this camp, we had 250 girls from schools and colleges of Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala but we had to form a small group of 40 girls with 10 cadets from school comprising junior wing and 30 from colleges under a senior wing”.

During the camp, the girls acquired trained in shooting, advance shooting, point-to-point march using maps and compass, communication, health and hygiene. After taking training, the girls will be participating an inter-group contest of Punjab Directorate to be held in Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh, from August 1 to 12 where they would vie with cadets from all over Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh. The selected few would then participate in the All-India Thal Sainik Camp to be held in New Delhi from September 23 onwards.

Talking about various scholarship schemes being offered to the NCC cadets, the Group Commander said besides getting incentives from the government, several private groups have come up to encourage the cadets.

Giving details, he said, “Sahara Group has already been giving scholarships to the cadets to the tune of thousands of rupees for pursuing higher studies. A cadet getting distinction in Class X gets Rs 6,000 per year till he passes out Plus Class XII. A first-year graduation cadet getting meritorious position gets Rs 15,000 per year till he completes his bachelor” degree. A passout graduate cadet gets Rs 40,000 a year till he completes his master’s degree. Even Reliance group has recently joined in and has started offering scholarship schemes to cadets on similar lines”.


PTU shifts 2 exam branch officials
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 29
Following inquiries into the conduct of its two officers working in the examination branch, Punjab Technical University (PTU) has ordered a major reshuffle to be effected by August 2.

Dr Manohar Singh Saini, Dean (Examinations), who had been facing charges of committing major blunders in the CET result, though inadvertently, has now been posted as Dean (Planning and Development). Allegations had also been levelled against the officer for going out of the way to get his daughter passed in BTech first year examination by giving the entire batch 12 grace marks at the time of re-evaluation. The issue had been highlighted in these columns of The Tribune on June 7.

The PTU has also shifted out its Assistant Registrar of Examination branch, Mr Paramjit Singh, who had himself been enrolled as a second year student of M.Tech at Beant College of Engineering and Technology, Gurdaspur. He has now been posted as Assistant Registrar (Academics). The Tribune had raised this issue too in a news item “At PTU, examiner is examine” on June 1. His previous post is lying vacant as no one has been sent to occupy it.

Dr Saini has been replaced by Dr Siby John, who was earlier working as Dean (Academics). His post has been further taken over by Dr V.K. Arora, who was earlier working as Dean (Planning and Development).

Dr S.K. Salwan, Vice- Chancellor, confirmed the orders passed on his officers. He said that since counselling had been on, the officers had been given some time to hand over charges to the new appointees so that the functioning did not get disturbed.


No hankering after award, says Sanskrit scholar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 29
Reacting to a news item “Sanskrit scholar assails Punjab Government on literary awards” carried in these columns on July 19, the retired Head of Punjabi University’s Maharishi Valmiki Chair, Dr Manjula Sahdev, has clarified that she was presented an award (Sahit Shiromani Awards — 2005) following recognition of her work by the government, and not due to claims made by her.

In a communication to The Tribune, Dr Sahdev said the report in this regard was damaging. Her credibility and long contribution to the Sanskrit language had been negated due to its publication.

Dr Sahdev added that her complete version had not been carried in the news item. In any case, the reason behind taking her version was not elaborated by the newspaper correspondent. In fact, she was never asked “about the credibility or the status of the awards, which was the subject matter of the report,” she said.

Claiming that her work was based on original Sanskrit texts, Dr Sahdev said over 80 “rare and untouched” manuscripts in Sanskrit had been explained and analysed both in that language and Hindi in one of her research works. Moreover, she had popularised Sanskrit literature through her research papers in four languages — English, Punjabi, Hindi and Sanskrit itself.

The former Head said she was never pitted against “erudite scholar” Dr Shashi Dhar Sharma and added that he could take up his objections with the government.

The Tribune Correspondent replies: Dr Sahdev was contacted thrice before the publication of the newsitem. The bio-data, enclosed along with her communication to The Tribune, supplements the fact that she has no published work in Sanskrit. She has seven books in Hindi and Punjabi. Her work is mainly based on translations. The information about two papers in Sanskrit in a conference abroad was provided at a later stage.


SWB to start computer courses
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 29
The Sainik Welfare Board (SWB) will soon launch job-oriented basic computer courses for children and relatives of ex-servicemen in collaboration with Punjab Technical University (PTU) on its premises here.

Talking to this correspondent here today, Lieut-Col S.P. Singh (retd), Deputy Director of the SWB, informed that a team of PTU would visit the SWB office next month, which would finalise the details and inspect the infrastructure available here.

The board had earlier provided various computer courses, which were discontinued due to unavoidable reasons.

The SWB is also contemplating to start coaching courses for the National Defence Academy (NDA) and Indian Military Academy (IMA), Combined Defence Services (CDS) and women commissioned officers entrance examinations. It would enable the kith of ex-servicemen and serving soldiers to compete for official higher ranks.

The board is already running pre-recruitment training course, stenography and short-hand courses, stitching and embroidery courses.


GND varsity campus placements
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 29
On the completion of the first phase of campus placements for 2006 batch at Guru Nanak Dev University, students have started getting more than one job much before their final exams are to be held in June, 2006.

The spokesman of the university said three students — Sumalika Chaudhary B.Tech. (computer science) Jalandhar campus), Jaspinder Grover B.Tech. (computer science) Amritsar campus) and Vivek Garg B.Tech. (electronics) Gurdaspur campus) — have got jobs in L&T Infotech, which conducted joint campus recruitment in the university. Of these three students, Sumalika Chaudhary and Jaspinder Grover have got two jobs in hand before the completion of their studies. Cognizant Technologies earlier selected them but they preferred to join L&T Infotech at a salary package of Rs 2.53 per annum.

In L&T joint campus recruitment at this university, 21 students were also selected from nine PTU colleges — IET, Bhaddal seven, Chitkara Inst. of Engg. and Tech. — four, Beant Singh College of Engg. and Tech., Gurdaspur — two, Giani Zail Singh Engineering College, Bathinda — one, UIET PU, Chandigarh — two, ACET, Amritsar — two, Lala Lajpat Rai Institute Moga — one, GNE College Ludhiana — one and CEC Chandigarh — one.


Workshop on fashion trends
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 29
Ivanna Institute of Fashion Technology conducted a workshop on fashion trends and use of colours to create on fabrics on July 27 and 28.

Students of PTU Learning centre attended the workshop. They were given an opportunity to play with colours and put these into use.

They created innovative designs which were later transferred on garments and fabrics.

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