P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Principals told to register medical colleges as societies
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 17
As the state government has decided to give financial and administrative autonomy to government-run medical, ayurvedic and dental colleges by bringing them under registered ‘Medical Societies’, the Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association (PSMDTA), here today decided to oppose the move. The PSMDTA decided to boycott such societies.

Under the medical societies, doctors and staff working in such institutes would be given option to continue as government employee or they would be free to opt deputation with the proposed societies. The employees would be given the benefit of ‘permanent postings’ (non-transferable) in their parent institutes.

Dr B.S. Dhillon, general secretary, PSMDTA, alleged that the move was an attempt by the government to run away from its responsibility and grabbing the land of the medical institutes and this was a step towards the privatization of tertiary care in the state.

According to sources, the high-level meeting of the Medical Department directed the principals to register the Medical Societies in a week.

Under the medical societies, a governing body would be formed to run affairs of the institutes. The Chairman of the proposed society would be minister-in-charge of medical education and Research, while Chief Secretary, the Secretary of the department concerned, the Finance Secretary, the Secretary Planning, Vice-Chancellor, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Director, PGI Chandigarh, two eminent alumni of the college, Director Research and Medical Education, Mayor/President of Municipal Committee of the city, the Deputy Commissioner, one elected representative of the students, nominee of the UGC would be members while Director-Principal of the College would be the member Secretary.

In case the state government is satisfied that the society or college is not working properly hence ,in public interest, the state government shall have the power to take over the administration and assets of the societies. Dr Dhillon said the association felt that autonomy of medical institutions was the need of the hour and the academic, administrative and financial powers should be decentralised to the Director Principal of the institution concerned. However, the committee, as suggested by the government, appeared to be more centralised as its members were the same who were at the helm and responsible for the deteriorating of medical and dental colleges in the state.


Officials in dilemma over probe against minister
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur March 17
The inquiry ordered by the state department of panchayats against the Union Minister of State for Industries, Mr Ashwani Kumar, has put officials in the district in a quandary.

Interestingly, the inquiry has been ordered against the newly inducted Congress minister by the state government that is being run by the same party.

Due to it the officials are finding it hard to cope with the matter. The Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, Mr Vivek Pratap Singh, said he was aware of the developments in the case. The case has been referred directly by the Deputy Director of Village Development and Panchayats Department to District Development and Panchayats Officer, Gurdaspur. Only the DDPO might be aware of the developments in the case, he said.

Other officials, while speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the inquiry was a result of political rivalry in the ruling party. Many of MPs and Rajya Sabha members of the state who wanted to gain a berth in the Union Ministry are peeved at Mr Ashwani Kumar’s induction into the Cabinet. They have started a sustained campaign against him that might have the tacit support of the state government functionaries.

Without political diktat no official could have dared to start an inquiry that may embarrass the ruling party, they said.

As per the documents available with The Tribune the inquiry against the Union Minister was ordered by a Deputy Director of Village Development and Panchayats Department on March 2. It had been ordered on the complaint of Prakash Chand, Lambardar, and Chanan Masseih, both residents of Ram Nagar village near Gurdaspur. Mr Ashwani Kumar has a house in Ram Nagar village.

The complainant had alleged that the 1.2 kanal plot on which the house of the minister had been constructed actually belonged to the panchayat of Ram Nagar. The minister was thus an illegal occupant of the land. The complainant has also alleged that another 23 kanals of common land of the village had also gone into the illegal possession of Mr Ashwani Kumar due to the apathy of the district officials.

Acting promptly on the complaint, the Deputy Director ordered the DDPO Gurdaspur, to submit a report in the matter within 15 days. He has also ordered the DDPO to fix responsibility on officials who had been protecting the panchayat land. On orders from the Deputy Director the DDPO, Gurdaspur, ordered the concerned BDO to inquire into the case on March 9. The final report in the matter is to be submitted by March 25.

Interestingly, the house of Mr Ashwani Kumar had been built by his father, Prabhod Chander, in 1964. A senior official in the district administration alleged that the matter has cropped up now after about 42 years just because of political rivalry.


Bill passed to control medical education fee, admissions
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
The Punjab Assembly today approved legislation to empower the government to regularise and control the fee structure in private colleges offering medical education in the state.

The legislation also provides for reservation for students belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in private colleges. And for the first time, reservation has also been introduced for the" advancement of socially and educationally backward classes of citizens".

The government will notify the quantum of the "reservation" quota out of the "open-merit" category and also the management quota seats. However, this new form of reservation will not be applicable to minority institutions in the state.

The legislation called the Punjab Private Health Sciences Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admission, Fixation of Fee and Making of Reservation) Bill, 2006, will be applicable from the academic year 2006-07.

The Bill says the fee structure will be determined on the following factors: the location of the institute, its curriculum, infrastructure and equipment, the cost of land, building and expenditure on faculty, administration and maintenance. On top of all this the government will also allow reasonable profit to the institution. Before fixing the fee the government will invite the opinions of the respective managements and also students who are studying there or who intend to take admission to these institutions.

The government will notify the fee. Any college found overcharging will be liable to pay a fine that may extended up to 15 times the excess fee. Also, the Bill lays down that any violation by a institution can invite withdrawal of affiliation or recognition. It also empowers the government to intervene in case some student has been wrongly denied or given admission. The appellate authority will be an officer who will be at least of the rank of Joint Secretary to the government.

The Bill also tackles the often contentious issue of NRI seats and has an upper limit for management quota seats. The Bill empowers the government to specify who is a non-resident Indian and does away with "NRI-sponsored seats". Unaided private institutions may reserve management quota seats " up to 50 per cent of the total intake". The NRI seats cannot exceed 15 per cent of the management quota. First preference will be given to NRIs of Punjab origin. Admission will be on the basis of the qualifying examination and the centralised receipt of applications.

For unaided minority institutions the management quota will be " not more than 50 per cent of the total intake of students". In the case of aided minority institutions the quota will be 33 per cent. Also, the Bill says the admission to management quota seats will be made on the basis of inter se merit determined by the Common Entrance Test. All applications will be routed through a centralised system of counselling.


Bill cleared to increase term of Lok Pal
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
On the last day of its Budget session today, the Punjab Assembly quickly disposed of legislative business. It passed over a dozen Bills, mostly to amend the parent Acts. This included an amendment to the Punjab Lok Pal Act which was opposed by Opposition MLAs such as Mr Manpreet Singh Badal.

Akali and BJP MLAs protested against the giving of the drafts of most of the Bills to them today. They said that they did not get time to read most of the Bills. However, the Speaker and the Leader of the House, Capt Amarinder Singh, assured them that this would not happen again. The MLAs would be given the drafts of Bills well in advance in future.

The other Bills passed by the House included the Punjab Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2006, the Punjab Self-Supporting Cooperative Societies Bill, 2006, the Motor Vehicles (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2006, the East Punjab War Awards (Amendment) Bill, 2006, and the Salaries and Allowances of Deputy Ministers, Punjab, (Amendment) Bill, 2006. There were certain Bills which were passed without any discussion.

The East Punjab Holdings (Consolidated and Prevention of Fragmentation) Amendment Bill, 2006, was handed over to the Select Committee of the House on a demand made in this connection by the SAD MLA, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder. As compared to yesterday, the atmosphere in the House was more relaxed today. There were no heated exchanges between the Treasury and Opposition benches. Capt Amarinder Singh accepted certain suggestions made by Opposition MLAs regarding amendments to Bills.

The House also passed the Bill to extend the term of office of the Lok Pal from four to six years. The Lok Pal will draw salary and allowances equal those given to the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. This will result in an additional financial burden of Rs 2 lakh on the state exchequer. Mr D.S. Dhaliwal will be the new Lok Pal of Punjab. The process to appoint him was completed recently. It appears that the Punjab Government had not issued a notification regarding his appointment because it wanted to amend the Act to increase the term of office.

The SAD MLA, Mr Badal, said that there was no need to extend the term. He said Parliament had fixed the term of the Lok Pal as three years. He said that as the present government would complete its term in a year from now, it had extended the term of the Lok Pal to cover the term of the next government. He said that by extending the term of the Lok Pal to six years, the ruling Congress was, in a way, accepting its defeat in the next elections. However, all his objections were rejected.

By passing the Punjab Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2006, relief has been given to small-scale restaurants and bakeries. Besides, confusion in certain clauses of the parent Act has also been removed. The taxable quantum for the registration of bakers under VAT has been increased from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 lakh. The taxable quantum for the registration of hotels and restaurants has been increased to Rs 5 lakh from Rs 1 lakh. For input tax credit, the period to file the statement has been increased from 30 to 45 days. Certain other amendments regarding tax input credit have also been made.

By making amendments to the Punjab Entertainment Tax (Cinematograph Shows) Act, 1954, entertainment tax on cinemas has been reduced. An option has been given to pay in lumpsum or to pay tax on actual basis.

The lumpsum tax rates on cinemas have also been reduced.

By passing the Punjab State Legislature Members (Pension and Medical Facilities Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2006,the family pension of former MLAs, who died before April 23, 2003, has been increased to Rs 2,500 per month. The additional burden on the state exchequer will be Rs 30 lakh per annum.

To save Chief Parliamentary Secretaries and Parliament Secretaries from adverse legal action, the Assembly passed the Salaries and Allowances of Deputy Ministers, Punjab (Amendment) Bill, 2006. Earlier, the CPSs and PSs were entitled to the same salary, allowances and amenities and privileges which were admissible to Deputy Ministers. The government felt it was necessary to frame specific rules for CPSs and PSs. Actually, the government wanted that they should not be considered as Ministers.

The House also passed the Motor Vehicles (Punjab Amendment) Bill, allowing the state transport undertakings to hire private buses for plying these on stage carriage permits issued by the government authorities concerned.

The House also passed the East Punjab War Awards (Amendment) Bill, 2006, to enhance the rate of war jagirs from Rs 1,200 to Rs 5,000 per annum.

The Punjab Self-Supporting Cooperative Societies Bill was passed freeing self-supporting and sustaining societies from bureaucratic control.

The Punjab Agriculture Produce Markets (Amendment) Bill, 2006, increases the number of nominated members in market committees constituted by the state government.


Pak plans to ‘set up’ Guru Nanak Dev varsity
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
Pakistan will be providing better facilities at Nankana Sahib. There is a plan to set up a Guru Nanak Dev university, informed Mr Mian Imran Masood, Education Minister of Pakistan’s Punjab province while talking to mediapersons here today.

Mr Masood, who is on a personal visit to India, was here to watch the proceedings of the Punjab Assembly this afternoon. On Nankana Sahib, he said three and four star hotels were being planned to provide good overnight facilities in the area. More than 7,000 pilgrims were coming from India each year. Also the road between Lahore and the holy shrine was being four-laned. Nankana Sahib had been upgraded from a tehsil to a district, he said while adding that a Guru Nanak Dev university would be set up. A Guru Nanak Dev College exists but a university in the name of the first Guru of the Sikhs was being considered.

Revealing the steps taken by his country, Mr Masood said it had been made mandatory that people, who contest elections to the Provincial Assemblies, the National Assembly and the Senate, had to be at least a graduate.

Speaking on the reform in the education system in West Punjab, Mr Masood said, a stipend of Rs 200 had been started for all girl children attending school. “This is aimed at lifting the literacy level and more than 17 lakh students have been added due to this scheme. The project has been appreciated by the World bank that has sanctioned a soft loan of 300 million dollars payable over three years.”

“There are 1.07 crore school students in Pakistani Punjab. The government was providing free education and also free text books,” he added. “The medium of instruction is Urdu, however, it has now been mandatory to teach English from Class I onwards.”

On madrasas (religious seminaries), he said already the curriculum had been changed to add maths, English and computer education to the existing studies. Children passing out of these madrasas would be able to join the main stream of society, he said. All madrasas had to be registered with the government so that normal degrees were issued to students.

He said opening of the border between India and Pakistan would benefit for both sides. He said Pakistan economy was growing fast.


Fake insurance agents dupe customers
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, March 17
Another case of fake life insurance agents duping customers has come to the fore. Om Prakash Sharma, a resident of Dhaki road in Pathankot, was attracted to a HDFC Bank hoarding hanging outside a shop.

When he visited the office, Pawan Mida, the person running the office, told him about the life insurance schemes being offered by the HDFC Bank. Om Prakash invested Rs 13,699 in the money back insurance scheme of the bank. He was issued two receipts and told that the original policy would reach him through post.

However, few days later Om Prakash was shocked to find the office locked. He approached the HDFC Bank branch in Pathankot. The officials there feigned ignorance about any of their agents working in the said office. They also told him that no insurance policy has been issued in his name. Om Prakash reported the matter to the police but no case has been registered as yet.

This is second case in which fake insurance agents have duped the people of the area. Earlier, some miscreants had opened the SBI life insurance office on Dhangu road at Pathankot. They collected money from the investors and fled closing down the rented office. In that incident a case was registered in the Pathankot division number two police station after the news regarding the duping of customers was reported in these columns.

The franchise holders of SBI life then compensated the customer who lodged the complaint and the case was given a quiet burial.

However, now with another case of fake agents duping customers coming up, the victims are demanding justice. They alleged that the customers repose faith in offices displaying boards and hoarding of nationalised and large private sector banks. To a common person the building bearing the hoarding seem to be genuine offices of the banks and they get trapped.

Bank officials should be made responsible for branches being opened in markets by fake agents. 


Gang of robbers busted, six arrested
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, March 17
The Muktsar police has busted a gang of robbers that was involved in the recent theft of safe containing cash from a Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) office, with the arrest of six of its members.

Police sources said following a tip-off, Sadar SHO Bikramjeet Singh, along with a police party, nabbed the gang members near Fatadwala village. They revealed their identities as Sonu, Harjinder Singh, Pinder Singh and Malkit Singh. The police also recovered Rs 6,000 from their possession.

On being interrogated about the money, they said they along with their two other accomplices, Hardev Singh and Balraj Singh, had perpetrated a robbery at the PSEB office located at Fatadwala village on the night of March 3.

They had decamped with a safe having Rs 36,175. They said they had equally distributed the amount before hiding the safe in a nearby wheat farm.

The police also seized the safe with their help, besides arresting Hardev and Balraj last evening. Both of them were caught when they were boarding a bus from the Fatadwala bus stand. A case has been registered against them under Sections 457 and 380 of the IPC. The accused were today produced in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr Bhajan Ram, who sent them to police remand till March 18.


Mini-secretariat building attached
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 17
In an embarrassment for the state government, the building of the mini-secretariat was today attached on court orders due to nonpayment of the dues of a private construction company which was entrusted the task of digging the SYL canal by the Punjab Government. The accounts of the Punjab Roadways depot here were also sealed on the same ground.

The government through the Executive Engineer, Construction Division, Ghanauli, the Superintendent Engineer of the Construction Circle SYL Canal Project, Sector 7, Chandigarh, was to pay over Rs 21 crore to Harish Chander (India) Private Limited Company, New Delhi.

The court ordered for the attachment of the mini-secretariat building, excluding the court complex and advocates chambers. The court of the Civil Judge (Senior Division), Ropar, Mr A. S. Grewal, had passed the three orders of the warrants of attachment in this regard on March 5.

In the execution order (number 15), Mr Grewal had issued warrants of attachment of the mini-secretariat — all the main offices of the district, including the Deputy Commissioner, the police headquarters and other departments which function from this building— for nonpayment of the amount of Rs 5,79,20,648 with 12 per cent per annum till the realisation of the decree holder at the spot.

In the other two execution orders (16 and 17), the court had issued warrants for the attachment and sealing the accounts of the Punjab Roadways depot, respectively, for nonpayment of dues by the state. Order number 16 states that the state has to pay Rs 8,45,65,780 at interest rate of 12 per cent per annum.


Alternating between hope and despair
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Mullanpur, March 17
Bharpur Singh can't wish away his existence though he prays he could. He suffers from day to day - a strange suffering that causes him no pain but leaves him bleeding.

Incapacitated while on job with the PSEB, he has long alternated between hope and despair. But the board has not spared a thought for him nor has it considered ways to rehabilitate him - something it is bound to do under the law. Its plea is that he is not a regular employee.

While the board keeps on finding ways not to accept Bharpur Singh's requests for a job, his life is slipping out of his hands. Living in Chak Kalan village near Mullanpur in Punjab, he spends his days counting his losses - from his vitality that crashed when he fell from an electricity pole while repairing it in May, 2002, to his 10-year-old daughter whom he had to give away to relatives so that she could be provided for.

In the past four years of suffering, Bharpur Singh has not encountered the word called "compassion". No wonder, he hates to hear what the Disabilities Act of 1995 envisages. It might demand from the state "not to terminate the services of those who contract a disability on job (irrespective of their part-time or regular status) or even discontinue their benefits…to create for them a job they can do…" and so on, but that does not serve any of Bharpur Singh's purposes.

He still remains confined to a bed fitted with wheels so his wife can easily move him around; he still wakes up to the horror of selling housewares to manage two square meals a day. Frustrated over his inability to provide for his wife and son, he still weeps his way to sleep. "But the authorities are unmoved. They say an employee who is not regular is only entitled to a compensation of Rs 3 lakh for a lifetime. But it is impossible to sustain with that amount. All I am asking for is a job or a benefit of pension. I have already given away my daughter in helplessness. I don't want to give away my life," says Bharpur Singh, who had to discontinue essential medical treatment due to dearth of money. Unable to bear his trauma, his wife, Sukhwinder Kaur, has now sought help from human rights activists who plan to take up the matter before the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Veena Sharma, who will shortly petition the high court in this regard, says: "The Disabilities Act does not discriminate between disabled employees on the basis of their position in the organisation. Section 47 stipulates a provision of special status for those like Bharpur Singh who have been incapacitated on job. Denying such persons a job and pension is like condemning them to death."

Whether the PSEB understands this remains to be seen.


Dhanoya sarpanch suspended
Our correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 17
Mr D. K. Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, has issued an order of suspension to Mr Bishan Singh, sarpanch of gram panchayat Dhanoya, following the discussion with five members of the said panchayat, SDM, Mukerian, and representatives of all those organisations who were supporting the agitation being launched by the members of the Snatan Dharam Mandir Committee (SDMC) of the village, here last evening, according to official sources today.

Mr Shivnandan Sharma, President of the SDMC, alongwith Mr Shambu Bharti began indefinite hunger strike before the Mini Secretariate here from March 13, 2006 in protest against the Sarpanch Bishan Singh of Dhanoya villagefor auctioning the temple land measuring 4 kanal 19marlas, including temple on the annual lease of Rs150 against the minimum fixed amount of Rs500.

They were allegedly lifted and were admitted in the Civil Hospital in the evening of March 14 where they were being given medical treatment forcibly. On the interference of leaders of various religious organisations and political parties, they were discharged from the Hospital yesterday.

Meanwhile, Ravinder Jain and Bhupinder Sharma of Dhanoya started indefinite hunger strike in front of mini secretariat following their alleged lifting.

Keeping in view the gravity of the situation, Mr D. K. Tiwari convened a joint meeting with the representatives of all those organisations of the city who were supporting the agitation of the inhabitants of Dhanoya, fivepanches of the villagepanchayat and SDM Mukerian.

After listening to them, Mr Tiwari issued suspension order of the sarpanch. A charge sheet was being issued to the sarpanch in this connection.


Kalam to pay homage to Shaheed Bhagat Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
Thousands of children from across the country will join the President, Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam, in paying homage to Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev on their 75th death anniversary on March 23.

The programme will start at 7 p.m. at Hussainiwala, Ferozepore, where the samadhi of the three freedom fighters is located. Children in Ahmedabad Bangalore, Pune and Kolkata will be administered an oath by the President to follow the ideals of the martyrs. The programme will be conducted through live video-conferencing.

The President will be in Delhi while the children will be in their respective cities. A group of nearly 500 children across the country will be coming to Hussainiwala. These children will also be taking the oath administered by the President, the MLA from Ferozepore, Mr Sukhpal Singh, told The Tribune. An invitation has also been sent to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh. However, his programme is still not confirmed.


Pak releases Army jawan
Tribune News Service

Wagah, March 17
The Pakistani authorities released a jawan of the Indian Army at the Wagah joint checkpost here today who had crossed the border on December 25 last year.

According to information, Mr Shashi Kant Patel, a son of Mr Raghu Nath, resident of Surat, Gujarat, had mistakenly crossed the Line of Control in the Rajouri sector in Jammu and Kashmir on December 25. He was immediately arrested by the Pakistan army. The Ministry of External Affairs took up the matter with its counterpart and succeeded in getting his release.

As soon as he entered the Indian territory at Wagah he was detained by the Indian Army which took him to an unidentified destination. He had also brought back with him his rifle, four magazines and 72 cartridges.


Kairon’s portrait unveiled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 14
Immediately after the conclusion of the session of the Punjab Assembly, the Leader of the House, Capt Amarinder Singh, unveiled the portrait of the late Partap Singh Kairon, who, as Chief Minister, laid the foundation to make Punjab a progressive state in the 50s, in the main lounge of the Assembly complex.

Members of the Kairon family, including his two sons, were present in the lounge. 


Baba’s followers ‘assault’ SGPC men
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 17
A group of followers of Baba Gurpinder Singh Satlani of Gurdwara Gurusar Satlani Sahib allegedly assaulted some SGPC men at a rice sheller located on the Chattiwind-Tarn Taran road here today.

Mr Karambir Singh, SGPC-appointed Manager of Gurdwara Gurusar Satlani, said a large number of persons attacked SGPC employees guarding the sheller located on the land of Gurdwara Satlani.

He claimed that two of their men got injured and were admitted to Guru Ram Das Hospital.

When contacted, Baba Gurpinder Singh Satlani said he was on way to Amritsar from Anandpur Sahib and came to know of the event over phone. He denied that any of his men had attacked SGPC employees but on the contrary blamed the SGPC employees for abusing his men.


Three hurt in mishaps
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 17
Three persons were injured in two different accidents here last night.

According to the police, a cyclist, Lachman Singh, a resident of Gharuan village, got injured when he was hit by a car. He was admitted to the local Civil Hospital from where he was referred to the PGI, Chandigarh.

In another incident, two persons going on a scooter got injured when they were hit by a Maruti car on the National Highway. While the person driving the scooter got minor injuries, the person riding pillion sustained a fracture. They were taken to the Civil Hospital here.


Bankers hold protest
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 17
On the call of the State Sector Bank Employees Association a body consisting of staff of State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Indore, State Bank of Travancore, State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur held a demonstration before the SBOP's head office here today .They were protesting against the indifferent attitude of the State Bank of India's management and demanded immediate bipartite discussions on the charter of demands submitted by the Association.

On March 23, the employees would observe an all India Demands Day .On March 28, all associate banks would observe a full - day strike in case bipartite discussions were not held.


high court
Pollution Board chief summoned
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 17
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the Chairman of the Punjab Pollution Control Board to be present in the court in person along with relevant record pertaining to release of harmful industrial effluent into farm land by two industrial units at Dera Bassi.

During resumed hearing of a suo motu writ, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Mr Justice D.K. Jain and Mr Justice Surya Kant noted that the status report prepared by Mr S.P. Garg, Environmental Engineer, PPCB, makes it clear that untreated trade effluent are still being discharged into the land by the two units.

Thereafter, the Bench directed the Chairman, PPCB, to be present in court on the next date of hearing. The Bench, however, clarified that in case the necessary action via-a-vis discharge of effluent by the two units is taken before the next hearing, the Chairman would not have to be present in court. Hearing will resume on April 21.


Peeved over the failure of the Union Finance Ministry to depute any senior officer well-versed with the facts concerning the transfer of the only Recovery Officer, Debts Recovery Tribunal, Chandigarh, to attend the hearing of a related matter today, a Division Bench of the High Court on Friday directed the Joint Secretary (Banking Division), Finance Ministry, to be present in court on the next date.

Today, when the hearing resumed, no officer of the ministry was present in the court. Hearing will now resume on March 22.


No seeds at Rakhra mela

Patiala, March 17
Farmers who visited the Rakhra Kisan Mela at Rakhra village, near here today, complained of the non-availability of seeds.

Several farmers questioned the ways Kharif seed distribution adopted by the organiserswas concerned. Many of them alleged that they had to stand in long queues for hours to get the seeds.

They also claimed the seeds were being sold at a premium.

However, Mr Bhagwan Dass, general secretary of the association, denied the allegation. — TNS


Suvidha centre goes hi-tech
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 17
People approaching the Suvidha centre for various official works would now be kept posted about the status of their cases through SMS, telephone, announced Deputy Commissioner Rahul Bhandari while inaugurating a Lok Suvidha Kendra at Talwandi Sabo today.

The DC said, at present the facility would be available at the district headquarters and later it would be extended to subdivisions. He said now all sub-divisions of the district had Lok Suvidha Kendras where people could know about various government works and submit their pleas under one roof.

He said the state government had sanctioned Rs 1.2 crore for providing clean drinking water to the residents of the town and Rs 4 lakh were spent on renovation of Tehsil Complex. 


190 cases of liquor seized

Banur, March 17
The police seized 190 cases of whiskey from a truck here last night.

According to the police, the truck was intercepted on a specific information at a naka manned by a police party. When signalled to stop, the driver of the truck, bearing a Faridabad number, abandoned the truck. — TNS


Students, staff of labour schools hold protest
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 17
The students, teachers and other staff of the schools run by Shanti Sansthan today held a dharna in front of the Hall Gate here for not releasing the grant by the Central Government under the Child Labour Education Plan (CLEP).

Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, state vice-president of the BJP, while talking to mediapersons said Rs 5 per child were being provided as mid-day meal grant by the Central Government under the CLEP but schools had not received any grant for the past eight months. She further said even the teachers were not being paid salaries for the past 10 months due to the non-release of the grant.

Ms Chawla said there were around 40 such schools in the district and these were also facing the same problem and due to this the strength of students had decreased considerably.


Campus dharnas by aided college teachers
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 17
As per the programme chalked out by the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union, teachers from 13 colleges today observed campus dharnas in protest against the indifferent attitude of the government towards their demands.

Their demands include implementation of pension and gratuity scheme, absorption of surplus staff due to shifting of plus two classes from colleges to schools, release of pending grants of B.Ed colleges, etc.


Teachers stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 17
On a call given by the Punjab and Chandigarh Teachers Union, the teachers of local M.M.Modi College held a dharna on the college campus to press for their demands.

Addressing the protesting teachers Dr. Harcharan Singh, Secretary of the Union, said that the Punjab government had stopped the grant for certain teachers posts . The teachers' leader appealed to the government to lift ban on recruitment.

Prof. Balvir Singh, a state executive member of the union, asked the teachers to be prepared for an intensified agitation as the government had stopped 95per cent grants of B. Ed colleges . A pension gratuity scheme,a poll promise of the ruling party ,had also not been fulfilled. The unit president, Prof. Sharwan Kumar said that the teachers in the college throughout Punjab would sit on a dharna on March 24 . On March 27 ,the union executive members would hold a dharna at Matka Chowk, Chandigarh, and if till then there was no response from the government, the union would even be forced to boycott the annual examination.

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