P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SGPC has no right to take care of gurdwaras: CM
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mehraj (Bathinda), December 5
The boycott of Palki procession to Nankana Sahib by the SAD and the SGPC was the boycott of Guru Granth Sahib and such people didn’t have any right to take care of gurdwaras, said Chief Minister Amarinder Singh while addressing a foundation-laying ceremony of a farmers’ training centre at his ancestral village today.

“Nobody can question our right to celebrate days of religious significance. The SGPC, instead of keeping away from Palki procession, should have appealed to the Sikhs to participate in large numbers,” he added.

However, the function was marred by manhandling of some mediapersons by the police, following which the entire Press walked out of the function. The mediapersons sought immediate action against the erring cops and withdrew their boycott only after one of them was suspended and action was recommended against another cop. A probe was also ordered against the Rampura Phul DSP, Mr Ashutosh, in this connection.

Unfolding his development agenda for the state, Capt Amarinder Singh said special economic zones would be set up in Bathinda (sports), Patiala (biotechnology), Ropar (IT), Ludhiana (hosiery) and Amritsar. He said he would announce drinking water projects for 122 towns of the state during his forthcoming rally at Lambi on December 11. He said the government was keen on facilitating computer education to government school students and 1,370 schools had already been covered under the scheme.

Blowing his government’s trumpet, the Chief Minister said had they not terminated the water-sharing agreement, 9 lakh hectares of land in southern Punjab would have gone dry and people would have been forced to consume salty ground water. He claimed that the farmers didn’t face any problem in the procurement of their agricultural produce during the Congress regime.

The Chief Minister said the state was grappling with a shortfall of 2,300 MW of power, of which they had bought 2,000 MW and the rest was being arranged. He rued that the SAD regime had ignored Dhanaula and Mehraj, while it carried out development works in Longowal. He assured quick release of grants for his ancestral village.

Lambasting SAD supremo Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir, the CM alleged that the father-son duo was irrationally giving statements against him. He accused them of stashing money in foreign banks.

Addressing a press conference later, Capt Amarinder Singh said the high court had cleared constitution of four fast-track courts, out of which funds for two had already been deposited. He said they had sought onetime assistance for mid-day meal scheme from the Centre. When asked as to how the government would instal computers at schools with dilapidated buildings and without power, he said everything would be ensured before launching computer education in the school.

Earlier, he laid the foundation stone of a farmers’ training centre to be raised by Punjab National Bank and a sewerage treatment plant, besides inaugurating a primary health centre. The Chief Minister also unveiled his plan to celebrate the 700th anniversary of arrival of his forefathers from Jaisalmer to Mehraj. The Managing Director of PNB, Mr S.C. Gupta, Punjab Zone, GM, Mr I.D. Singh, General Manager, Mr V.P. Chaudhary, Markfed MD, Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, MLAs Mr Jeet Mahinder Singh Sidhu and Mr Gurjant Singh Kuttiwal, were also present on the occasion.


Calcutta, Sarna meet behind closed doors
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 5
Even as Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, an SGPC member, and Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, president, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, (DSGMC) held a closed door meeting here today, the former claimed that it (meeting) had nothing to do with politics.

Mr Calcutta told mediapersons that Mr Parkash Singh Badal was still his leader and he had no intention to resign from SAD. He said he was the main architect of Tohra- Badal rapprochement and hence he could not take any step which would harm the hard-earned unity.

Interestingly, Mr Calcutta who reached the house of Mr A.S. Madan, son-in-law of Mr Sarna, at a time when the DSGMC chief was holding a press conference, he (Mr Calcutta) preferred to sit in the adjoining room instead. Later, Mr Calcutta said he had been raising voice on certain Panthic issues which were more dear to him than any political post. When asked about his meeting with the DSGMC chief, he said he had family relations with Mr Sarna for more than four decades.

Mr Calcutta had also criticised the appointment of Mr Avtar Singh and had described him a novice and political, “Lilliput”.


PSGPC agrees not to convene Sarbat Khalsa
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 5
The exclusive locality of Indian Sikhs at Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak Dev, may be reality even as Chaudhary Parvez Elahi, Chief Minister West Punjab, agreed in principle to help the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) to fulfil its dreams.

This was stated by Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, DSGMC, President, after his return from Pakistan here today.

In yet another significant development, the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) has agreed not to call Sarbat Khalsa in Pakistan on the issue of the installation of the Palki. Mr Sarna said the PSGPC, including its president Mastan Singh, had admitted that the Akal Takht Jathedar had the sole right to convene Sarbat Khalsa. He said the PSGPC had already announced that the maryada prescribed by the SGPC and Akal Takht would be implemented in toto in all Sikh shrines of Pakistan. The PSGPC had no differences over the issue of maryada.

Mr Sarna said it was certain foreign Sikhs who tried to misguide the PSGPC at the behest of certain forces on the issue of Sarbat Khalsa.

Meanwhile, Mr Sarna said the SAD (New Delhi) had constituted a five-member fact-finding committee, led by Dr Harjinder Singh Dilgir, a Sikh intellectual, to identity the heritage buildings which were destroyed by the SGPC in the past. On the basis of the Dilgir report, a white paper would be published to indict the Shiromani Committee. He said the DSGMC was for preserving the Sikh heritage and hence it made efforts to preserve the old structure of Gurdwara Janam Asthan Guru Ram Dass, Chunna Mandi, Lahore.

The DSGMC chief said Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD President, should go to Nankana Sahib along with his family and tender an unconditional apology for opposing the Palki procession from New Delhi to Nankana Sahib. He also flayed Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht, for describing the procession as a political stunt.


CS to hold talks in Delhi on power project
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
A high-level team of Punjab officials led by the Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill, will hold a meeting with the Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary, Mr T.K.A. Nair, on December 8 in New Delhi.

On top of the agenda of the Punjab officers is a power project for the state. The Punjab Government has been urging the Centre to set up a super thermal plant in the central sector in the state. Even the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, had promised to sanction one such thermal plant for the state. However, there has been no progress on this front. The Punjab Government is keen that the National Thermal Power Corporation should set up a power plant to bridge the widening gap between the power demand and supply in the state.

Mr Gill, who will be accompanied by Mr Suresh Kumar, Principal Secretary, to Punjab Chief Minister, and Mr S.C. Aggarwal, Principal Secretary, will impress upon the Union Government that because of the agriculture sector, the demand for power in the state had gone up manifold and the state faces a serious power crisis during the peak summer days.

The Union Government had approved as many as 71 power projects in the central sector for various states. However, not a single project has been approved for Punjab. In fact, since Independence, the Union Power Ministry has not approved any central power project for the state.

Another issue which is hanging fire is the setting up of the National Biotech Institute at Dera Bassi. Mr Nair would be asked to urge the authorities concerned to release funds for the institute.

The Punjab Government is also eager to set up an international airport near Ludhiana. Earlier, Laddowal was approved for setting up the airport. However, the Defence Ministry has not cleared this proposal. Sources said that now the Punjab Government and the Union Government had almost agreed to expand the Halwara Airbase to convert it into the international airport.

Halwara is also near Ludhiana, known as the industrial capital of the State. Punjab is facing problems in the absence of an international airport.

Other issues which will come up for discussion include the setting up of the proposed Defence University at Patiala and a Nanotechnology Institute at Dera Bassi.


Amritsar to have special trade visa counter
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 5
In a bid to bolster the bilateral trade between India and Pakistan, a special business visa counter would be opened soon here to facilitate the easy movement of entrepreneurs across the border.

Mr Rajkumar Verka, Parliamentary Secretary, Education, said the Punjab Government had taken the initiative to give impetus to the present trade. The government proposed to send a business delegation by special coaches on December 11 and 13 to Lahore to further strengthen the trade ties between the two Punjabs. He said these coaches would be in addition to the planned dry run for devotees travelling between Amritsar and Nankana Sahib.

He made these announcements while addressing a joint delegation of businessmen and members of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce. He said the Pakistan had already granted permission to 745 items to be imported from India and 130 more items were likely to be added to the list, which would expand the base for more trade.

The president of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce, Mr Shafqat Ali, said they had signed an MoU with Guru Nanak Dev University to study in depth the problems faced by the bilateral trade between the two nations. He said a seminar would be organised in Lahore on January 16 as part of this process.


Croatia woos Punjab businessmen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
The Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia, Mr Dino Debeljuh, wooed entrepreneurs from Punjab, asking them to invest in Croatia, which is the “gateway to Europe.”

Mr Debeljuh said that now was the right time to invest in Croatia because the country was not a part of the European Union as yet. “Croatia will become a part of EU by 2009. Till the time it is not a part of EU, the land prices are less, as are other infrastructural costs. Thus, Croatia is now the investor’s gateway to Europe,” he said.

The Ambassador, while talking to media persons, before interacting with the businessmen from Punjab and Chandigarh, said the Croatian Government was looking forward for investment in hospitality industry, mainly for construction of five-star hotels.

“Tourism is the main business in Croatia. As many as eight million tourists visited the country last year. Since we do not have star hotels, we are looking forward for investments. Since Punjabis know their business acumen, I have come here to request businessmen to invest in Croatia,” he said.

He said they were also looking forward to investment in the field of pharmaceutical research, Information Technology and education. “We have already tied up with JP University, Noida, for setting up institutes of learning. The trade between the two countries is to the tune of 40 - 50 million dollars. We are also planning to set up a Pharmacy Research Institute in Goa,” he added.

Mr Debeljuh said that Croatia could also be the entry point for investors to Europe, because the country has the largest coastline in Europe and the largest sea port on the Adriatic Sea- Rijeka. “Before the disintegration of Yugoslavia two decades ago, there was a direct ship route between Mumbai and Rijeka. We propose to reopen the trade route now, as we begin trade in tractors and pharmaceutical from India. The government is keen on giving incentives to investors. Tax-free zones are being created along the sea ports, as are inland zones being created. The only thing the government insists upon is that ecological balance should not be spoilt,” he said.

The Indo-Croatian Business Initiative, which interacted with the Ambassador, presented a proposal for investing Euro 10 million. The Ambassador, who was accompanied by the First Secretary, Mr Boris Suran, also released an e- book on Croatia.


Badal, SAD leaders missing at Chahal’s dinner party
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 5
The wedding of Mr Bikramjit Inder Singh Chahal, son of media adviser to Chief Minister Bharat Inder Singh Chahal in Ludhiana and the subsequent dinner hosted by Mr Chahal on the campus of National Institute of Sports (NIS) here last night seems to have initiated new political alignments in the state when the Assembly elections are only a year away.

Though Congress leaders, including Capt Amarinder Singh, and leaders of various Akali factions, including Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, Mr Sucha Singh Chottepur and representatives of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) attended the dinner, the absence of SAD leaders led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal has made it clear that in the coming elections it will Mr Badal versus all others.

Mr Amrik Singh Aaliwal, former President of Youth Akali Dal (SAD), who is related to the bride of Mr Bikramjit Inder Chahal, was also present at the function.

Information gathered by this correspondent revealed that a section of Congress leaders and representatives of various other political outfits held informal meetings and discussed the next Assembly elections. A section of leaders of various Akali factions were accompanied by their advisers also.

Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, to whom Mr Chahal addressed as sister and with whom he was having sharp differences about a year ago, came with an army of MLAs to the dinner reception. Mr Bir Devinder Singh, who exposed corruption being done by government functionaries and Punjab ministers and earned the wrath of the Chief Minister in this connection, was also present.

Not only this, a section of those who had demanded the removal of Mr Chahal from his post stayed put for hours together.

A large number of civil and police officials of higher ranks were also present.


Natwar issue to shadow Punjab politics: Badal
Tribune News Service

Badiala (Bathinda), December 5
The oil-for-food scam will caste shadow on Punjab’s politics too, says SAD president Mr Parkash Singh Badal. He was addressing a rally to mark the 33rd death anniversary of Sant Baba Fateh Singh.

Mr Badal said the name of the Congress in Volcker report would also have repercussion on the state’s political scene. He said the Congress had removed Mr Natwar Singh from its working committee, “which clearly indicated that the party had termed him guilty”. He said the Congress had already expressed doubt about him by stripping him off the External Affairs portfolio. He sought his removal from the post of Union Minister without a portfolio in the wake of the latest revelations on the scam. He said the formation of the Pathak Commission to probe into the Volcker report was an attempt to cover up the whole issue. He demanded that an FIR be lodged against Mr Natwar Singh and a CBI probe be ordered into the scam.

Speaking on his poll strategy, Mr Badal said the party would continue its tie-up with the BJP and it would welcome in its fold any party that was ready to fight against the Congress. On non-participation in “Palki” procession, he said it was a religious matter and the SGPC takes decision in this regard.

He denied comment on the boycott call of Spokesman newspaper.


Quacks use animal drug on humans!
Prem Kumar Sharma

Barnala, December 5
Insatiable lust for wealth prodded a family of quacks of Chhanna Gulab Singh village to play havoc with human lives in Punjab and defy the law of the land with impunity for years together.

A very shocking incident of this quack family, treating paralytic patients with an analgesic injection — Esgipyrin N 5ml — meant for animal use only, has come into light.

Incidentally, the family has been quite popular in the state for treating patients suffering from paralysis for the past many years.

Ironically, the success story of this family, hailing from a village situated on the border of the Barnala and Bathinda police districts, impressed villagers so much that they too started treating paralysis in the same fashion to mint money.

It has been learnt that kidneys of many patients, who sought treatment from these quacks, got adversely affected and many such victims were undergoing treatment in various hospitals.

Sources disclosed that some deaths too had taken place following the treatment. The family had been offering this treatment for the past decade or so.

The Bathinda police, a couple of days back, succeeded in apprehending two accused— Jasvir Singh, a hakim, and Sewak Singh, a compounder — with a pre-filled injection at Ghanda Banna village (adjacent to Chhanna GulabSingh village) in Bathinda district.

The accused, at the time of their arrest, were busy administering the injection to a patient suffering from paralysis. The injection was seized from the accused and they were booked by the police.

Talking to The Tribune over phone today, Mr Dinesh Gupta, Drug Inspector, Sangrur and Bathinda districts, disclosed that two samples of this injection (pre-filled syringes) had been sent to the Government Analyst, Punjab and Chandigarh, for tests.

Mr Gupta further said if chemical report on the basis of tests was found to be positive, Sections 18C and 27 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, and the Drugs and Magic Remedies Objectionable Advertisement Act would be applicable to the acccused. Mr G.Nageshwara Rao, SSP, Barnala police district, while talking to The Tribune today disclosed that it was Barnala police which had first detected this malpractice.

The Barnala police, at Bhadaur police station, had registered a case against nine persons, vide FIR No.87 dated: 6.9.2005, under Sections323,324,326,452,148 and 149 of the IPC following a complaint by Mr Gurdeep Singh of Kaur Singh Wala village. MrRao further revealed that infact it was a matter of conflict and dispute between the family of quacks and villagers.

The quack family members had beaten some villagemen as they too had started sharing their income by adopting the same practice of treating paralytic patients with the injection meant for animal use.

The SSP, Barnala, made it clear that the police, deeming it a case of malpractice, did not go into the depth of its adverse medical repercussions. The police, after the arrest of about seven persons in the dispute case, had banned this malpractice in Barnala region.

But the family evolved alternative method of calling such patients to villages like Ghanda Banna and places adjacent to Chhanna Gulab Singh village changing their modus operandi following the ban.

But the Bathinda police proved to be alert enough in trapping the accused.

Sources further revealed that the quack family charged exorbitant rates to the tune of about Rs 500 even though the injection costed just Rs seven in the market.


Revoke SDO’s transfer, say staff

Ropar, December 5
Employees of the thermal plant here, associated with the PSEB (AITUC) and the RTP employee federation today staged a protest against the transfer of the SDO, Ropar, Mr Radhey Sham, to Nawanshahr. The employees also organised a gate rally to demand the cancellation of the transfer,

Meanwhile on the call of the national coordination committee of the electricity board, the employees have decided to go on strike on December 8 against the unbundling of the PSEB. — TNS


Items for disabled go waste as officials sleep
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 5
Items worth several lakh, purchased under the Union Government’s Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan scheme, are lying undistributed at the local Government Secondary School.

These were to be distributed among the physically challenged students under the scheme.

The material comprises 31 tricycles, 29 wheelchairs, 20 crutches and 15 hearing aids.

The items were sent to the school in June this year to be distributed among the physically challenged students of the area. However, the school premises are being used as a store for keeping these items.

The tricycles are lying in an open area of the school. The scorching heat, the rains and vagaries of weather has damaged these cycles.

The wheelchairs are stored in a classroom of the school and as a result the students of the class are forced to sit in the open.

The Principal of the school has given a number of reminders to the authorities concerned in this regard for the last six months. One letter has been written to the Director-General, Education, Punjab Government, but no action has been taken.

Mr Piara Singh, Principal, confirmed that reminders and letters had been sent to the department concerned but no response had been received.

When contacted, the officials at District Education Office (elementary), on the condition of anonymity, said the higher authorities had been apprised of the material. However, they were waiting for a response.


Punjab no more disturbed area, says M.S. Gill
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 5
The former Chief Election Commissioner and member Rajya Sabha, Dr M.S. Gill, today expressed concern over the continuation of distrusted area Act in Punjab which was enacted during the militancy.

Talking to The Tribune today on telephone, Dr Gill said the disturbed area tag had cast its shadow on the four-day Indo-Pak trade exhibition held in the holy city last week.

Dr Gill pointed out that after great deal of persuasion and lobbying by the hosts, PHDDCCI, very few visas were issued to Pakistani entrepreneurs with a special permission for visiting Punjab.

Dr Gill in a letter to the Prime Minister strongly advocated the scrapping of this Act, which was hurting the interest of Punjab, socially and economically.

He pointed out that the SAFTA agreement coming into force in 2006, that would lead to tariff-free trade, would be irrelevant for the state.

Commenting on the present scenario he said insignificant investments by both Centre and state government had stifled the growth potential of the city.

Meanwhile, Member of Parliament Navjot Sidhu has sought permission from Speaker, Lok Sabha, for call attention motion on the issue of scrapping of the Act during this week.

Mr Sidhu said he would raise this issue and ask the government to give an explanation about the continuation of the Act, when the atmosphere in the state was peaceful.


Leading brands non-essential, says medicos society Glucon-D, Digene among them
Ravinder Sud

Hoshiarpur, December 5
The National Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, in its report to the government, has labelled 10 of the 25 top-selling brands of medicines in India as either irrational or non essential or hazardous. This was stated in a press statement by Dr Dharambir Kapur, President, All India Medicos Society, here today.

The brands are Becosules, Corex, LIV-52, Dexorange, Digene, Combiflam, Polybion, Glucon-D, Evion and Revital.

The commission has recommended that all such brands and their equivalents should be removed since their consumption results in an unnecessary burden on poor patients.

He further said the data collected by the National Sample Survey (NSS) revealed that “over 5 per cent of the total average household expenditure in the country goes into health spending.”

Out of this, 75 per cent is spent on medicines. Expenditure on drugs is higher in rural areas (83 per cent) and in less-developed states like Orissa (90.56 per cent).

Thus, the share of drugs in the complete treatment is extremely high and needs to be reduced.

The commission was shocked at a huge difference between the prices paid by public hospitals and individual patients for the same medicine.

Individual patients pay 100 to 5600 per cent more. Even in the case of drugs used in the treatment of cancer, the price difference was 275 to 1166 percent. These figures give an idea of the “exorbitant trade margins and sky-high profits in the drug industry,” the commission concludes.

“Worldwide drug prices are subject to controls,” says the report. Such controls include: ceiling on profits, fixed margins to distributors and retailers, cap on promotional expenses and lower taxes on medicines.

The commission has suggested that all drugs in India should be under price control. The control should not be limited to “essential drugs” as the industry could then simply switch its production to the uncontrolled category.

The trade margins are among the highest in the pharmaceutical industry in India ranging from 30 to 1000 per cent. It recommends that trade margins should be fixed at reasonable levels, say from 30 per cent to a maximum of 45 per cent for the distribution and retail chain.

The Indian pharmaceutical market is flooded with irrational drugs, including Fixed-Dose Combination (FDCs). Expensive nutritional supplements, tonics, vitamins, calcium, haemoglobin and iron preparations form a notable share of the total sales of medicines.

Multinational drug companies have a “dominant” presence in the sale of “unessential and irrational” medicines. These formulations need to be banned.

The government has been requested to form a committee of experts to review irrational medicines and wipe them out.

Many countries such as France, Britain and Spain have placed restrictions on promotional expenses ranging between 9 and 14 per cent of the total sales.

In India, companies spend huge sums of money on promotion and even more significantly on illegal, unethical inducements to prescribing authority. These practices need to be curbed.

The report also recommends that there should be no Value-Added Tax (VAT) on un- branded medicines sold under generic names.

Dr Dharambir Kapur has welcomed the commission’s recommendations and has demanded that the govt should act upon the advise strictly to control the prices of drugs as suggested.


Nihang bodies deny helping Monica Bedi
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, December 5
The Akali Tarna Dal and various Nihang bodies of the state have denied any kind of assistance to Monica Bedi, alleged second wife of underworld don Abu Salem, who had been involved in anti-national activities and is presently in the police custody.

The dal and Nihang bodies have also criticised a news item published in a section of press in which it had been reported that the Nihangs would provide best possible assistance (financial and legal) to Ms Bedi who belongs to Chabbewal village about 12 km from here.

While addressing a press conference, Nihang Baba Nagar Singh, acting jathedar of Akali Tarna Dal, made it clear that Nihang bodies would never come to the rescue of any person who had been charged with anti-national activities.

He also added that the dal and other Nihang bodies were religious and dedicated to Akal Takht and took up issues relating to the religion only.

“Since Monica’s case is not a religious one, so the question does not arise even to discuss it,” claimed Baba Nagar Singh. He also warned the persons associated with the Nihang bodies against issuing statements to the press.


Charges dropped against Sikh student in USA
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 5
Mr Sukhpreet Singh, a student of Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan (USA), managed to get a reprieve for wearing kirpan in the university campus.

Sukhpreet was arrested on August 24 this year after the police officers asked him to either remove his kirpan or face arrest. He tried to explain to the officers that the kirpan was a mandatory article of Sikh faith and he could not remove it. But Detroit police arrested him and pressed charges for violating the Knife Ordinance Code. Later, he was released on bond, without his kirpan.

The United Sikhs, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan, and Attorney Mike Gibbs successfully persuaded Detroit prosecutor to drop charges against Sukhpreet Singh.

Mr Harpreet Singh, Legal Director of United Sikhs, in an e-mail to ‘The Tribune’ from Detroit revealed that the city of Detroit has acted in a reasonable manner by dropping the case realising that Sikh Americans should not be denied their constitutional right to freely practice their religion. He added that they would continue to work in stages with the Wayne State University, the Wayne County and the State of Michigan to establish the practice for dealing with Sikhs wearing a kirpan.


Bhattal honours Punjabi writers
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 5
The Punjab Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Higher Education and Languages, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, today acknowledged that a lot of efforts were yet to be made for the upliftment of the Punjabi language in the state as the State Languages Department had only met with partial success in this regard.

Ms Bhattal made these remarks after inaugurating the "Punjabi Saptah-2005" at the department here today.

On the occasion, Punjabi literature prizes for this year and the Dhadi prize (2004) were given. The writers who were awarded prizes comprised Gyani Kesar Singh (Punjabi Sahit Shiromani award), Mr Ram Swarup Ankhi (Shiromani Punjabi Sahitkar award), Dr Pushpal Singh (Shiromani Hindi Sahitkar award), Dr Naresh (Shiromani Urdu Sahitkar award), Dr Manjula Sahdev (Shiromani Sanskrit Sahitkar award), Parminder Jit (Shiromani Punjabi Kavi award), Dr Kulbir Singh Kang (Shiromani Punjabi Lekhak award), Bachint Kaur (Shiromani Punjabi Sahitkar for writers residing out of state), Dr Darshan Singh Asht (Shiromani Punjabi Bal Sahit award), Dalbir Singh (Punjabi Patarkar award), Baba Amrik Singh Randhawa (Shiromani Dhadi award), Bhai Harjinder Singh (Shiromani Ragi award) and Surinder Pal Singh (Shiromani Punjabi TV/ radio/ theatre/drama award).

The chief minister was scheduled to kick off the celebrations but he failed to turn up forcing the harried organisers to ask the deputy to formally inaugurate the function.

Ms Bhattal said the language was fast losing ground and there was an apprehension that globalisation might well devour it if sustained and concerted efforts were not made to save the "ma-boli" of Punjabis. She even went to the extent of saying that there was a need to set up another institution, apart from the department, which would act as a catalyst in the upliftment of the language.


Punjabi film actors felicitated
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, December 5
The cast of the forthcoming Punjabi film, “Rustam-e-Hind,” was felicitated by the Sargam Kala Manch at a cultural programme here last night.

Parminder Doomcherri, K.S. Cheema, Santosh Kataria, B.B. Verma, Gurkirtan, Surinder Sharma, B.N. Sharma and Shaminder Mahal were felicitated by the manch for their contribution to the Punjabi culture.

The film, being produced by Sarbjit Beniwal, is aimed at popularising wrestling in the country. Parminder Doomcherri is playing the lead role in the film.

Meanwhile, eminent Punjabi singers Mohammad Saddique, Sukhjit, ‘Durga Rangila,’ Manjit Pappu, Supinder Kotla, Jaspreet Dhaliwal, Fauji Rajpuri and Labh Janjua regaled the audience till the wee hours of today.


Corpn sought to send youths abroad

Sangrur, December 5
The district unit of the Lok Bhalai Party (LBP) led by Mr Ajay Kumar, district president of the party, today staged a dharna in front of the DC’s office here, urging the state government to take steps to solve unemployment, drug abuse, cheating of youths by travel agents. Mr Ajay Kumar asked the state to set up a “manpower export corporation” with its head office in Chandigarh to send Punjabi youths abroad. — TNS


Four officials suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
It was day of action in Punjab. At least four officials were suspended and one was shifted all due to the personal intervention of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

In the morning the Punjab Government suspended the reader attached with Additional Deputy Commissioner, Muktsar. He was allegedly caught on camera by a television channel while accepting a bribe of Rs 50,000.

The Chief Minister, who had gone to Mehraj, his native village in Bathinda District, also directed officials here to get the ADC shifted. The licence of the stamp vendor, through whom the ADC’s reader was operating, has been cancelled.

Later, the Chief Minister received complaints from people of Mehraj that work to lay the sewerage line and water supply line had developed problems even before the inauguration. The inauguration, scheduled today, was postponed and an enquiry was launched.

The XEN, SDO and JE concerned were suspended following directions from the Chief Minister’s office here this afternoon.

The project had been constructed at a cost of Rs 5.29 crore.


Killing of black bucks: one held
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 5
Billu Singh, wanted in connection with the killing of three black bucks last week in the wildlife sanctuary, has been arrested. A team of the Wildlife Department raided a farmhouse near Himmatpura village yesterday to nab the main accused, Kaka Singh, but the house was deserted. The party later carried out a raid at Chak Radhewala village and arrested Billu Singh under various sections of the wildlife protection Act. He was today remanded in police custody.

Billu Singh reportedly said a 9-member gang led by Kaka Singh had been hunting black bucks for months using guns.

He confessed to being fond of the meat only and feigned ignorance about the sale of other parts of the black bucks in Rajasthan state through Sheesh Pal and Debi who had allegedly been frequenting the farmhouse. Their names too figured in the FIR.

The skins, recovered by the wildlife staff from the toilets of the farmhouse, were to be thrown in the nearby canal, he added but the plan failed due to the raid by members of the Akhil Bhartiya Jeev Raksha Bishnoi Sabha.


Technology key to sustainable
development, says UGC chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
“Along with technological capabilities and skills, education at all levels and fields should contribute to the promotion of civic behaviour, nation building and social cohesion through the transmission of democratic values and cultural norms,” said Prof V.N. Rajashekharan Pillai, Chairman, University Grants Commission (UGC) addressing students of Punjab Technical University during the fourth convocation held here today

Delivering the convocation address, Prof Pillai said: “The institutions, relationships and norms that emerge from higher education are instrumental in influencing the quality of society’s interactions which underpin economic political and social development. Higher education institutions are the cross roads for social cooperation, which can foster strong networks, stimulate voluntary activity and promote extracurricular learning and innovation.”

More than 120 students from various disciplines of engineering, technology, management and pharmacy from over 40 colleges affiliated to the university were given degrees, medals and merit certificates. Three students were awarded Ph.D degrees.

Prof Pillai also stressed the need for a technological infrastructure to generate and utilise knowledge and innovation. Technology is the key to sustainable development of the country, said Dr Pillai. He said although we were increasingly giving importance to technical education, we must not forget the contributions of social science, language and humanities.

During an informal interaction with Prof Pillai and Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab following the convocation the Punjab Governor and Chancellor of Punjab Technical University, Gen S.F. Rodrigues, (retd), emphasised the need for restructuring and revitalising the education system with the focus on “reaching the unreachable” and helping the masses. He said “we have a vast educational network in the country and the need is to integrate our endeavour for the optimal utilisation of the available infrastructure in our education institutions.”

Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Minister for Technical Education, stressed the need for improving quality in technical education.

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.K. Salwan, presenting the annual report of the university outlined various achievements during the past one year.

He informed that the blueprint for the construction of the university campus on 75 acres was complete and the university was geared up to start construction of the administrative, academics and examination complexes soon.

The Governor also asked the Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Technical University, to convene a meeting in the near future, to discuss and evolve multi-prolonged strategy to make higher education with employment potential.

The convocation was graced by Mr J.S. Gill, Chief Secretary, Punjab, Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, Principal Secretary, Technical Education, Dr R.S. Khandpur, Member BOG, chairmen of affiliated colleges, various officials of other universities and the state government. 


Bhattal says state needs pvt varsity
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 5
In her observation on the participation of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in the “Palki” procession from Delhi to Nankana Sahib, the Punjab Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, said yesterday that to be part of the procession was has “his (Captain’s) individual decision and not that of the Congress party.”

She, however, defended the decision of the Punjab Cabinet to accord permission to the Jalandhar-based Lovely Institute to set-up Lovely University. “We need a private university,” she said.

Critics say that a ‘Halwai’ has been allowed to set up a university. But the owner of Lovely Institutes is not a mere ‘Halwai’, he is a law graduate,” she explained.


Rs 1.2 lakh donated for school building
Tribune News Service

Rajpura,December 5
Mr Jagmal Singh, a native of Machhli Kalan, now settled in New Delhi, today donated Rs 1.2 lakh for the village school building at Machhli Kalan,near here.

Meanwhile, the Vice-Chairman of the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC), Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon, claimed all-round development during the Congress regime in Punjab in general and the Banur Assembly constituency in particular.

Speaking after distributing cheques for various development works in villages of the Banur Assembly constituency at Machhli Kalan village, Mr Dhillon assured that money would not be a constraint for the development of villages.

The villages which were given grants included Machhli Kalan (Rs 2.5 lakh), Mehduda (Rs 2 lakh), Machhli Khurd (Rs 2 lakh), Pawala (Rs 1 lakh) Basian Badwal (Rs 1 lakh), Biro Majri (Rs 1 lakh), Chuhar Majra (Rs 1 lakh) and Patto (Rs 50,000).

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