P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


4 children killed as earth caves in
Illegal miners thrive on Chaki river bed
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, May 29
Illegal mining on the Chaki river bed has led to death of four children of a migrant labourer.

The four children of the migrant labourer, Bhagwan Dass, were playing on the river bed last evening when loose earth fell over them killing Savita (13), Hargobind (11), Rupa (4) and Pushagya (1) on the spot. Their bodies were cremated here today.

The SDM, Nurpur, has announced an ex gratia of Rs 5,000 for the parents of the deceased children. However, no case has been registered against illegal miners.

The area where the incident took place has been ravaged because of the illegal mining. Owners of stone crushers in Himachal Pradesh mine the area illegally with JCB machines. Rampant mining has reduced the river bank touching the Air Force station to 10 feet.

The Air Force authorities have written repeatedly to the civil authorities to stop the illegal mining in the area. However, no action has been taken.

The illegal mining was also continuing along the national highway despite the District Magistrate ban under Section 144 of the CrPC. The worst-affected area was along the Pathankot-Mukerian road where the national highway has been threatened due to the illegal mining. Mining was being carried out just about five meters from the national highway.

The District Magistrate-cum-Deputy-Commissioner observes the ritual of passing the ban orders under Section 144 of the CrPC to discourage the illegal mining on the national highway and important Army and civil installations every three months. However, hardly any action has been taken against the culprits.

Owing to the illegal mining the ground level in the area has gone down by 20 or 30 feet. The PWD authorities, speaking on the condition of anonymity, alleged that the illegal mining along the national highways has led to large-scale soil erosion threatening roads and railway tracks.

Sources in the design wing of the Drainage Department said the bed level of the Chaki river, which was the lifeline of the area, has gone down by about 30 feet. It had affected its water-retaining capacity.

The public health authorities have expressed concern about the drop in the water level of various water-supply schemes in rural areas. They have written to the authorities concerned that a number of water supply schemes in the Dhar area are on the verge of closure due to illegal mining. In Pathankot city also the water level has gone down by 30 or 40 feet in the areas alongside the river.

In response to the complaint of the Public Health Department in this connection the Department of Industries have written to the authorities concerned that the matter needs to be referred to the Agriculture Department for a research.


Punjab offers building for AIIMS at Jalandhar
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 29
Punjab has become the first state in the country to offer a building spread over a vast area to set up an All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Jalandhar.

Sources said the Chief Minister had taken up the issue with the Union Government that wanted to open six new AIIMS across the country in its bid to double the number of existing seats in medical courses so that OBC students could be accommodated.

Source said the building of the Beant Singh Institute of Medical Sciences was available at Jalandhar for opening AIIMS. As the building was ready and had the required infrastructure, the institute could start functioning from here from the next academic year itself.

“Earlier, a similar offer was made to the Union Health Ministry, but there was no response. We have made this offer again today,” said a senior official of the state government.

He said the state government was prepared to extend all help to the Union Health Ministry to make the institution functional from the next academic session.

The Union Government has prepared a plan to raise the number of seats to 2,400 in its medical institutions across the country. It has earmarked Rs 3,000 crore for this purpose.

Under the plan, there is a proposal to set up six AIIMS on the pattern of the one in Delhi. The state government wanted to grasp this opportunity with both hands because there was no medical institute of national eminence in the state. The Union Health Ministry also plans to start the MBBS course at the PGI here.

In fact, Punjab was also prepared to set up an Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), sources said. Infrastructure was already available to run such institutions in the state, they added.

There are good number of buildings that were lying unutilised at important places to run such institutions, sources said.

In fact, Punjab is without any institute of academic excellence. Neither it has any excellent school of management, nor any top-rated engineering, law, or medical institution.

“For us, it is a golden opportunity to make the Union Government open at least one AIIMS, an IIT and an IIM in the state to set new academic standards,” sources said.

“As now the Union Government is keen to spend Rs 8,000 crore to increase seats for the OBC students in its various professional institutions, the Punjab Government is ready to provide infrastructure to open such institutions,” said the official.

In the absence of institutions of academic excellence in the state, students from Punjab had to go to institutions situated in other states. “With the setting up of high quality institutions, the already existing institutions will also improve their standard,” the official added.


State to end contract labour system
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Khanna, May 29
Punjab will soon abolish the contract labour system in various godowns, food storage centres and other depots of Punjab State Warehousing Corporation, Punjab State Food and Civil Supplies Department, Markfed, Punjab Agro and PUNSUP, etc. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has announced the setting up of a committee headed by the Labour Minister, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh. It will give its report by July 1.

The Chief Minister was addressing a labour rally organised by the All-India Food and Allied Workers Union here today. He asked Chaudhary Jagjit to start working on the issue and submit a report with recommendations of the committee by July 1 so that the contract system was abolished.

The system has already been abolished in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

Later, talking to reporters, the Chief Minister said besides the workers’ welfare, the government was concerned about the debts of farmers. “Rural indebtedness is a serious issue and we have chalked out a proposal”, he said, adding that the nationalised banks are also to be involved in this effort as most of the money has been loaned by these banks only.

Replying to a question on the rising prices of essential commodities, the Chief Minister said he had sought special quota of pulses and sugar from the Centre for the below poverty line segment on the pattern of wheat and rice.

Capt Amarinder Singh was quite unambiguous on the issue of reservation saying his government would abide by whatever decision the Congress takes on the issue. “We cannot act under isolation”, he pointed out, while adding that the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had already taken the lead in resolving the issue and the state would abide by whatever decisions are taken at the Centre.

On the octroi issue, the Chief Minister said the government was not averse to imposing some additional taxes as an alternative source of revenue. He said, the issue was being sorted out and a final decision would be taken after due deliberations to ensure that the local bodies do not suffer for want of funds after the octroi is abolished.

The power cuts would start in the state from June 10 as the major supply of power was to be diverted to the agriculture sector for paddy crop. Both industrial and domestic sectors would be subjected to load shedding.

He said the demand for power had increased by about 30 per cent while there was no increase in generation. However, he added, the state was purchasing power from outside sources and there should not be any major problem except for the routine cuts.

Pradesh Congress Committee president Shamsher Singh Dullo and Minister for Local Bodies Labour, Employment and Parliamentary Affairs Chaudhary Jagjit Singh also spoke.


Farmers stage massive dharna
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 29
Hundreds of farmers, under the umbrella of Punjab Kisan Sabha of Budhlada area of Mansa district, staged a massive dharna in front of the office of the Superintending Engineer (SE), Circle Lehal Mandal, here today.

The farmers were protesting against the low quality supply of water in canals which not only caused huge damage to crops but was also playing havoc with the health of the people.

The Punjab Kisan Sabha Secretary and former MLA, Mr Hardev Arshi, while addressing the gathering, said that due to the alleged negligence of the officials of the Irrigation Department, farmers of the area were left with no alternative but to use underground water which was not only unfit for human consumption but was also responsible for the increasing incidence of cancer among the residents of the area.

Mr Arshi alleged that the government should be releasing the sanctioned flow of 1650 cuesecs of water in the Ghagar branch canal; but, in fact, only 1250 cuesecs of water was being released.

He claimed that in the Budhlada branch canal only 15 per cent of the sanctioned flow of water was being released which was harming the farming community 
in the area.

Mr Arshi said that the Irrigation Department officials were doing it on the plea that the banks of both the Ghagar branch canal and the Budhlada canal were too weak to take the sanctioned flow of water which, according to the officials, was the reason why less quantity of water was being discharged into the canals.

Contesting the `weak bank ' version of the Irrigation Department, Mr Arshi demanded that the department should make arrangements to strengthen the banks. The Irrigation Department officials were negligent and they should be taken to task.


CM makes suo motu statement on Reliance
Tribune News Service

Khanna (Ludhiana), May 29
For a change, and apparently quite contrary to his expectations, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was not asked any question about the Reliance deal by any of about 50 reporters present at a press conference held after addressing a labour rally here today. However, the Chief Minister sought to make a voluntary statement asking the reporters as to why they had forgotten Reliance. He took most of the time of the press conference explaining his government’s position on the issue.

He asserted that the land to Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) would be given in the most transparent manner and everything would be made public. He pointed out Reliance was making similar investments in Haryana and nobody had politicised the issue there. He said the Reliance investment would change the face of rural Punjab as it intended to cover 18 districts throughout the state.

The Chief Minister tried to give graphic details about the Reliance project. He said the RIL would be setting up 302 hubs across the state which would be sort of small and big townships with all the facilities and basic amenities available everywhere. He disclosed that there would be 52 hubs and 250 sub-hubs.

Elaborating further, he said each hub would have seven dimensions, including agriculture, dairy, health system, veterinary facilities, education and entertainment.

Initially, the Chief Minister disclosed, the RIL would be investing Rs 3,500 crore which was bound to multiply. He clarified that the Mandi Board land given to the RIL was for agriculture-related use only.


Man killed for clearing drain
Our Correspondent

Shamsher Singh
Shamsher Singh

Kharar, May 29
A middle-aged person was killed at Radiala village, near here, today, following a dispute over drainage of rain water.

Shamsher Singh was allegedly attacked with knives by two sons of former’s cousin when he was getting a drain cleared of silt. He died on the spot while his son, Satwinder Singh, and elder brother, Fateh Jang Singh, were injured.

Both the injured were taken to the local Civil Hospital, from where Fateh Jang Singh was referred to PGI, Chandigarh.

It was learnt that when it rained early in the morning, water entered the house of the deceased, as the drain in the area was choked. In order to get the rain water drained out, Shamsher Singh was getting the silt removed from the drain. This activity, however, annoyed a cousin of the deceased, Balwinder Singh, who lived next door. His two sons, then, allegedly attacked Shamsher Singh.

The wife of the deceased reportedly told newspersons that she had brought the problem of rain water entering her house to the notice of the wife of Balwinder Singh, who had given her approval for getting the drain cleared.

Raj Bachan Singh Sandhu, DSP, said Balwinder Singh was a cousin of Shamsher Singh and lived next to his house. When the part of the drain that fell outside the house of Balwinder Singh was being cleaned, his two sons, Surjit Singh and Dilbar Singh, objected to the work that was going on and allegedly attacked Shamsher Singh.

The police had registered a case under Sections 302, 34, 307 and 323 of the IPC against Balwinder Singh and his two sons. Teams had been sent to various places to nab the suspects.


Kariha stakes claim to SAD ticket again
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 29
Mr Jatinder Singh Kariha, a former Shiromani Akali Dal MLA from Nawanshahr constituency, has again staked a claim for the party ticket for the next elections to the Punjab Assembly.

Mr Kariha, who was not given the ticket by the party in the 2002 elections, had not contested the elections, while the official SAD nominee had finished a poor fourth.

Interacting with mediapersons here, Mr Kariha, while maintaining that he had left the final decision on the party leadership and the electorate, did not rule out the possibility of his being made the party nominee for the next elections.

He said an inquiry had been ordered by the Nawanshahr Deputy Commissioner on an application filed by him seeking probe into the missing Rs 51 lakh that had been collected by the public and handed over to the then Nawanshahr MLA, Mr Dilbag Singh, in the presence of the then Chief Minister, Mr H.S. Brar, on November 7, 1995.


Volte-face by Gaurav’s family on Sheetal Vij
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 29
In a volte-face the mother and grandfather of Gaurav Kapoor (21), Ms Navita Kapoor and Mr Sudesh Pal, respectively, sent a signed press note to newspaper offices, stating that she was made to say things before the media by some vested interests.

She said she and her father Sudesh Pal were made to make allegations against Sheetal Vij on the promise of getting Gaurav released from jail. Her son, who had begun his career as a part-time journalist and was now working with Divya Times, in his “excitement of seeing Baba Ramdev from close quarters had made the mistake of going to Hamirpur”, she further said. It was his mistake but he was innocent and should not be punished.

Interestingly, they were not forthcoming with regard to the press statement despite repeated attempts to meet them.

Meanwhile, the police here has said the accused has no criminal record. Sheetal Vij, organiser of the yoga camp, too said the family in an earlier press note had made no such allegations against him, but were made to change their stance by his rival newspapers.

Earlier, the family of Gaurav Kapoor had turned their guns against Baba Ramdev and Sheetal Vij. It said Gaurav was innocent and the whole episode had been manipulated by Sheetal to back the threat perception to the baba’s life from multinational companies.

Gaurav’s mother had said her son was working with Sheetal and had accompanied the son of the latter, Abhishek Vij, on the chopper. She said her boy was innocent and had been falsely implicated in the conspiracy by the followers of the Baba to get Z-security for him, a demand earlier rubbished by the government agencies.

She said Gaurav was working for Divya Times publication owned by Sheetal. She said Abhishek Vij had specially asked for a seat for Gaurav on the chopper when asked how many seats did he needed on it. Gaurav had interviewed Baba Ramdev for Divya Times and we have the records with us, she added.

Sheetal denied all allegations and termed it as a conspiracy of some rival newspaper. He said he did not even know Gaurav and had never met him. He said the newspaper had not given any identity card of the newspaper to Gaurav officially and he was not a permanent employee of the paper. He had only covered two to four religious programmes for the paper, he added.

Meanwhile, the police here has sent the SHO concerned to verify the name and address of the Shiv Nagar residence of the accused.


Irrigation JEs wait for promotions
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 29
As many as 200 posts of sub-divisional engineers are vacant in the Irrigation Department, the Punjab Govenment has not considered to promote a single junior engineer .

The Diploma Engineers Association says that the IAS and other senior officers of various departments get themselves promoted even before the due date. Even when there aren’t vacant posts, ex-cadre posts are created to make promotions possible. However, there are several hundred junior engineers who have retired without a single promotion during their tenure .

Mr Balwinder Singh, general secretary of the Association and Mr Rajinder Pal, its propaganda secretary, told The Tribune that new rules for the promotion of junior engineers in the Irrigation Department were notified in June 2004 by amending the 1941 rules. And 25 per cent quota was fixed for diploma holder junior engineers for promotion as sub divisional engineers.

However, since the notifying of the new rules, no diploma holder junior engineer has been promoted. The Association leaders said that at least three meetings of the department promotion committee (DPC) which were fixed to be held on July 12 and July 20 last year and then on April 10 this year had been postponed without any reason. However, on July 12, last year as many as 35 junior engineers, who were eligible for promotion, had retired after putting in a service of 33 to 35 years and without getting a single promotion, said Mr Balwinder Singh. “It was a great injustice being done to diploma holder junior engineers”, he added. The Association had also blamed Chief Engineers of the Irrigation Department for not getting diploma junior engineers promoted.

The Association said that another meeting of the DPC is scheduled to be held on May 30. It appeared that meeting would also be postponed as earlier ones. The Association has urged the Principal Secretary of the Irrigation Department to revert those degree holder junior engineers who were promoted in excess of their 13 per cent quota. The Association said that there were about 70 such degree holder junior engineers who had been promoted in excess than their fixed quota.

The Association has also opposed the stopping of the assured career progression scheme. Under the scheme promotion increment was given to junior engineers on completion of 8, 16 24 and 32 years of service. However, now no such increment was given to junior engineers on completion of 24 and 32 years of service. “The department redesignates us as assistant engineers on completion of 16 years of service without giving us any financial benefit. What is use of redesignating us as assistant engineers if no financial benefit is to be given”, asked Mr Balwinder Singh.

He said that the Department had ordered recovery from the junior engineers who were given increment under the scheme. He said that the recovery should be stopped.


Jakhar sanctions funds for civic amenities
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 29
Many workers of the SAD-BJP alliance yesterday joined the Congress when Mr Sunil Jakhar, Parliamentary Secretary, Irrigation and Horticulture, visited some villages and urban wards of his constituency to monitor the development projects.

Earlier the BJP had managed defections under its “Gaon Chalo Abhiyan”.

A large number of persons, including former members of panchayats, shifted loyalties as Mr Jakhar visited Khuyiansarwar village to lay the foundation stone of the block resource center under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan. He inaugurated the drainage project and cluster resource center in the government school there.

He hoped that the Nabard would very shortly release Rs 31.50 crore grant for strengthening the sub-canals in the region besides construction of the pending irrigation project to ensure 25 per cent additional water at the tail ends. He sanctioned funds for new water pipeline, streets and drains, construction of Baba Bhumman Shah Dharamshala, public toilets for Dalit families, shed for passengers near the railway station and repair of watercourses.

Speaking at a meeting in the economically backward locality in the Nai Abadi here Mr Jakhar warned the branch managers of the local banks against harassing the old persons on pension accounts and asked them to expedite their pension transactions. He said that the state government would initiate action if the behaviour of some bank officials did not change.


300 saw mills served closure notices
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, May 29
The Department of Forests has finally woken up to menace of illegal saw mills functioning in the district. After the Supreme Court announced one-month imprisonment to the Maharashtra Forest Minister for violating its order, the Punjab Forest Department has now issued closure notices to over 300 illegal saw mills functioning in the district.

Interestingly, none of the saw mills functioning in the district had got licence from the Department of Forests despite the fact that the Supreme Court had banned their functioning within 10 km of the reserved forest area in an order passed in 2002.

Many of the saw mill owners when contacted said that nobody ever told them that licence any was needed for running a saw mill. Neither any department official had issued any notice to us in that regard.

Many of these saw mills are owned by forest contractors. These are used to cut into pieces the logs illegally felled in the forest so that these could not be identified. Officials of the Department of Forests had hardly ever checked these saw mills or registered any case against these for violating the law in the past three years.

Recently, the police confiscated a large quantity of khair wood from a saw mill running illegally in Shahpur Kandi. In Hoshiarpur also, the police seized some illegally felled trees. However, the seized wood was released after forest officials certified it be as legal.

Illegal charcoal manufacturing units are also mushrooming near the reserve forest areas. A large quantity of wood is converted into charcoal in these units every day.

The smoke emanating from these charcoal units cloud the Gurdaspur-Pathankot road. It was a violation of the air pollution norms set by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB).

Such units are mushrooming in the distrust as the product is supplied to the Army and private traders in Jammu and Kashmir.

Though the felling of fruit trees is banned, logs mango trees can be seen lying near the charcoal making units. As per a latest forest survey report, the forest cover in Punjab has reduced drastically due to reckless felling of trees. Punjab, which ranked 11th in terms of forest cover in 2001, was now ranked 35th in country.

The forest cover in Punjab is the lowest in country, even behind desert state Rajasthan. In Punjab, forest in around 80,000 hectare disappeared during 2001 to 2003.


More water in Bhakra ensures cool summer for northern states
Tribune News Service

Nangal, May 29
In the next two months of summer, the North India will not face the shortage of water supply from the Bhakra Dam. Because from the beginning of the filing period of the Bhakra Dam reservoir from May 15, the water level of Bhakra Dam was today reached 48 feet more than last year’s level. The high-level of water in Bhakra Dam will also help to generate more power and the consumer states to get more power than last year.

The water level of Bhakra Dam was 1584 feet yesterday while last year the level was 1536 feet on same day.

Officials of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) said that so for the consumer states, including Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi are getting water supply as per their demand. In June and July when the water consumption would increase much more, then the demand of water supply to these states will be met due to high-level of water in Bhakra Dam.

As the monsoon is expected normal and water flow from the melting of the glacier is much more than last year so on the end of the filling period the water level of the Bhakra Dam will also touch 1680 feet, the optimum level to store water.

A good sign at present is that the inflow of the water due to the melting of the glacier is 48,000 thousand cusec while last year the inflow of the water on the same day was 10 thousand cusec. While the water level is high the discharge of the water to the consumer states is also ho high. The outflow was 29 thousand cusec this yeaar while last year the outflow was 16 thousand cusec.

The water in the Bhakra Dam reservoir is stored during the filling period from May 15 to September 15. In May and June, the inflow of the water in the Bhakra Dam is mostly due to melting of the glacier besides the rainfall while in July and September the inflow of the water in dam is mainly due to rainfall in its catchments area and lesser due to melting of the glacier, the officials added.

When contacted the Chairman of the BBMB, Mr Rakesh Nath, said, “We have been supplying water to the consumer states as per their demand and power supply more than last year. The water supply to these states will remain as per their demand as water level of Bhakra Dam is much higher than last year”.

The Chief Engineer (Generation) BBMB, Nangal, Mr H.S Nag, said that power generation was much more than last year. As the inflow water was high they would have more water to generate power.


Breach in river poses threat
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 29
Even as the state government has been making tall claims that flood protection measures are being taken in the state, a huge breach on the left bank of the Badi Nadi near Daulatpur village, is yet to come into the notice of the authorities concerned.

Though on account of the floods caused by the Badi Nadi in various parts of this city in 1993, a significant number of human lives were lost and property worth hundreds of crores of rupees was damaged, the authorities concerned have yet to move forward to plug that 50-foot breach. Not only this, the authorities have failed to take any notice in connection with the unauthorised constructions that have come up in the middle of the Badi Nadi, creating hurdles in the flow of water.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that the breach in the river was created by farmer Hardev Singh, a resident of Tafazalpura, after he carried out “illegal” digging of a piece of agriculture land at Daulatpur village.

Though the “illegal” digging continued for many years together, the officials of the mining wing of the Department of Industries did not take any action against Hardev Singh.

Mr Sukhchain Singh, who also owned a piece of land in Daulatpur village and lodged complaints to various authorities, including the Chief Minister, alleged that one official of the mining wing allowed the “illegal” digging in lieu of a “favour”.

Mr Sarbjit Singh, District Manager, Industries, said that a notice for recovery of Rs 80 lakh had been issued to Hardev Singh for his alleged involvement in carrying out mining in his fields. He added that if Hardev Singh failed to pay the amount, the amount would be recovered through the office of the Deputy Commissioner.

Mr Rakesh Kumar Verma, Deputy Commissioner, said so far he had not received any complaint in connection with the “illegal” mining. He added that he would get the spot examined and would take necessary steps to prevent floods.


BJP raises issue of kidnapped girls
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 29
Taking note of certain cases of alleged kidnapping of minor girls in Ludhiana, the Punjab unit of the BJP here today urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the state police chief, Mr S.S.Virk, to trace the girls as soon as possible.

Mr Vijay Sampla, general secretary of the state unit of the BJP, and Mr Vineet Joshi, party’s youth leader, said around 10 girls were missing from Ludhiana. They presented the parents of two girls before mediapersons here.

Mr Vijay Sampla said senior BJP leaders based at Ludhiana had repeatedly brought the matter to the notice of the police authorities there but adequate efforts were not made to recover the girls. Both BJP leaders said the law and order situation was fast deteriorating in the state.

Mr Sampla said a teenage girl, Rita (name changed), was kidnapped in broad daylight in the Vardhman area of Ludhiana on February 3. Her parents had named some persons in the case, but she could not be recovered till date.

The police did not register a case of kidnapping even, he alleged. He said the parents of the girl, who were present in the press conference, had the apprehension that their daughter had been sold to human traffickers.

Mr Sampla said another teenage girl, Pammi (name changed), was kidnapped on March 14. He said those allegedly involved in making the girl disappear were named by the parents of the girl. However, the police did not take proper action in the case which allowed time to the accused to flee, he alleged.

He urged Mr Virk to set up special police teams to get these girls recovered. He said the BJP leaders in Ludhiana were collecting details about other girls kidnapped from Ludhiana. “We would put the facts regarding other girls before the media soon,” he added.


No split in state IMA unit: Gill
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 29
The Punjab unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has condemned the statements issued by two ordinary members for convening a meeting on June 1 to oppose anti-reservation stand taken by it.

Mr G.S. Gill, President of the association said its two members — Dr Balbir Singh Sahota and Dr Bhupinder Singh — were ordinary members and not the central working committee member and Vice President, respectively, as reported in these columns on May 28.

He said the decision to observe strike on May 25 was a decision of the IMA hq and later approved unanimously by IMA (Punjab). He said the strike against reservation of seats in higher education was complete and successful. He said Dr Sahota was not authorised to take decision or issue statements on his own. 


Power theft unearthed at Punsup godown
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 29
Following reports in a section of media, a probe has unearthed a power theft scam worth Rs 1.2 lakh at Punsup godown situated at Rampura Phul, near here. The Deputy Commissioner has asked the Punjab State Electricity Board Chairman and Punsup Director to take necessary action against the officials involved in the scam.

The media reports charged that an electricity metre having a reading of 23,000 units was replaced with a new metre in connivance with some electricity board officials. The DC had asked the Assistant Commissioner (Grievances) to investigate the matter.

In his report, the investigating officer revealed that 23,000 units of power were consumed at the godown, but the metre didn’t exist in the records of the electricity board that led to a scam of Rs 1.2 lakh. 


59 Pak fishermen repatriated
Tribune News Service

Wagah, May 29
India today repatriated 59 Pakistani fishermen from the Wagah joint checkpost here today. Pakistan is likely to reciprocate the gesture by sending as many as 71of the 505 fishermen tomorrow. A team of Jamnagar police escorted the Pakistan fishermen here.

Earlier, the released fishermen were to be sent to Munnabao in Rajasthan for making the trip back home through the recently opened Thar Express that plies between Munnabao in India and Khokrapar in Pakistan. But lack of infrastructure and arrangements to receive the fishermen on the Pakistan side at Khokhrapar in Sindh led to a delay and change of venue.

The Pakistani fishermen were released from a jail in Gujarat’s Jamnagar on May 24 on the orders of a local court there. They included five children. The decision to release them came after the Central and state governments decided to withdraw cases against them. 


Mandi to be upgraded
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, May 29
The Chairman of the Punjab Mandi Board, Mr Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, yesterday laid the foundation stone of the facility for improving Deriwal Mandi. He was accompanied by the Minister for PWD Culture and Archives, Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa.

While speaking on the occasion, Mr Sarkaria said Rs 64 lakh would be spent on improving the facilities at the mandi. Besides providing pucca floor, approach roads to the mandi would be laid properly.

The mandi board has decided to lay at least 2 acre pucca floors in all the mandis of the state.


1984 riots: 4,418 new claim cases
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 29
As many as 4,418 fresh cases relating to claims filed by victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots have been received up to May 15. Besides, a duplicate card will be issued in case any of the victims has lost or misplaced his or her red card. The cards were originally issued after the victims settled in Punjab.

Directions have been issued for issuing a duplicate red card to the riot victim after verifying the records, said Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minster. She was presiding over a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Implementation of Rehabilitation Grant to the victims here today.

It was also decided at the meeting that the Cabinet Committee would send its recommendations to the Cabinet for forwarding a detailed case to the Government of India for central relief for victims of terrorist violence as cases of both terrorist violence as well as riot victims were of a similar nature, said a spokesperson of the Punjab Government. 


Woman dies after family planning operation
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 29
During a family planning operation at the local Civil Hospital today, Rajinder Kaur (25), wife of Mr Mohinder Singh of Kammomajra Khurd village, situated on the Sohian road, near here, became serious and died about two hours later.

Mr Mohinder Singh told The Tribune this evening here that they already had two daughters and two sons and his wife had been motivated to get herself operated upon. He said his youngest son was just two years’ old. He also said he was doing labour work when he was informed about the death of his wife at the local Civil Hospital.

As per the information, Rajinder Kaur was operated upon in the Civil Hospital here at about 1.30 p.m. Soon after her condition worsened. At about 2.30 p.m., she was shifted to the emergency ward for treatment.

Dr Rahul, Emergency Medical Officer (EMO), on duty at the hospital, told The Tribune that she was administered three units of blood before death. He said she died at about 3.45 p.m. in the emergency ward as her condition did not improve.

Mr Mukhtiar Singh, Sarpanch of Kammomajra Khurd village, said it seemed that Rajinder Kaur died due to some negligence at the time of the operation.

When contacted, Dr Suresh Goyal, Assistant Civil Surgeon, Sangrur, said he had talked to Dr Rana Harinder, Director, Family Welfare, Punjab, in this regard. He said she had assured of a grant of Rs 1.50 lakh for the family of the deceased. He said the Civil Surgeon would also give a discretionary grant of Rs 50,000 to the family. He disclosed that Dr Rana Harinder had informed him that she would send an officer to Sangrur tomorrow to hold an inquiry into the death case.

When asked about the cause of death, Dr Goyal said the cause of death could be ascertained only after the post-mortem examination of the deceased.


Awareness campaign against quota
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 29
The National Integrated Medical Association todaylaunched its campaign against the reservation in private and other educational institutions, urging people to jump into the same to educate the masses about its ill effects.

Dr Mahesh Sharma, a spokesman for the association, in a press note issued here, said the need of the hour was to create a casteless society after removing the system of reservation, which was being used as a tool by the leaders for their narrow political interests. He added that giving the facility of reservation to one section of society was like killing merit, which had been taking the country backward.

He said instead of giving the facility of reservation, the authorities concerned should give the facility of free education only to the deserving candidates so that they could compete on the basis of merit to achieve their goals.

Dr Manu Sharma, member of the association, said private clinics should also support the medicos of local Rajindra Hospital, who were agitating against the proposed reservation to OBC categories.

Freeze quota, appeals forum

The National Socialistic Forum, a social organisation, has appealed to the Prime Minister to freeze the “quota issue” and appoint a experts committee, comprising retired judges of the Supreme Court, to review the existing reservation policy.

A forum spokesman, Dr D.C. Sharma, in a press note has urged the Prime Minister to sack the HRD Minister for disturbing the social harmony of the country by his quota gimmick. The forum has also appealed to all categories of people to unite on a common platform to check the evil designs of forces that are bent on dividing the country.

Meanwhile, striking medicos started a relay fast at Government Medical College here today.

Ten students, including five girls, today sat on the hunger strike even as the OPD of the both Rajindra Hospital and Dental Hospital remained closed for the 15 successive day.

The All-India Equality Forum and the medicos staged a march from the local railway station to the Mini Secretariat where they handed over a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner.


Memo against killings of J&K Hindus
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 29
BJP activists led by Mr. Dharmpal, district president of the BJP today submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner against the killing of innocent Hindus in J & K and in the memorandum have urged the President of India to ensure the safety of Hindus in J & K.

In a press release the district unit of the BJP has alleged that Pakistan under a planned conspiracy has been initiating terrorist activities in J & K just to create terror among the Hindus, so that they may flee from the state on their own and he may take control of J & K. They said in the recent days terrorist activities had increased manifold and a number of Hindus had been killed. They alleged that UPA Government at the Centre had failed to protect the lives and properties of the Hindus.

They said the government withdrew POTA and top leaders of the ruling government had secret links with the terrorists. They condemned the killing of BJP workers during their rally.

They urged the President of India to intervene and to ensure the safety of life and property of Hindus there. They said the BJP was ready to make any sacrifice for the cause of the nation.

Mr Sashi Bhushan Gupta, president Sirhind unit, Mr Kuldeep Madan general secretary, Mr Vinod Sharma, Mr harish Aggarwal district members were also present.


high court
PIL against state govt’s ‘gift’ to 2 firms
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 29
The largesse extended by the Punjab Government to two profit-making companies, one of which is owned by Congress MP from Jalandhar, in the shape of one-time settlement of their dues that they owed to the government-backed corporations has been challenged in the Punjab and Haryana High Court through a public interest litigation (PIL).

The government had waived a major portion of the outstanding debt of these companies owned by Mr Rana Gurjit Singh, MP, and the Oswal group of Ludhiana. The loss that the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC) suffered due to it was over Rs 26.58 crore, the PIL said.

The Tribune had highlighted the government action last year.

While the family of the MP owed Rs 41.25 crore (Rs 11.50 crore on account of equity and Rs 29.75 crore by way of interest), the Oswal group owed Rs 18.80 crore (Rs 6.11 crore on account of equity and Rs 12.69 crore on account of interest).

Even the Auditor-General of Punjab, had, in its report, questioned the government move that resulted in huge loss of taxpayers’ money.

In its petition filed through its principal investigator, Mr Sarabjit Singh, the Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) has sought directions to the government to recover the dues from these firms.

It has also prayed that the two companies be directed to pay back the public money that they owed to the PSIDC, along with penal interest.

Pointing out that both are profit-making companies, the petitioner has stated that the “gift” given to them was against the very philosophy of the one-time settlement scheme. It has further added that such a grant could only have been offered to a sick or loss-making company and not to willful defaulters, who don’t want to repay their debt even though they themselves are making profits in their ventures.

Today, the Division Bench comprising the Acting Chief Justice, Mr Justice H.S. Bedi, and Mr Justice R.S. Randhawa, issued notice of motion for August 14 on the PIL.


Man alleges threat to life from ex-landlord; moves High Court
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 29
Mr Hitesh Sharma, a former tenant of Mr Madan Dev, the advocate who had earlier alleged that the Haryana DGP, Mr Nirmal Singh, had threatened him with dire consequences, has complained to the Punjab and Haryana High Court that his life is being threatened by the advocate.

Mr Hitesh was the tenant of Mr Madan Dev till last month. After he vacated the house, Mr Madan Dev complained to the police that Hitesh had not paid his dues. The in charge of the Sector 7 police post, Panchkula, ASI Kuldip Singh, allegedly rang up certain relatives of Hitesh, asking them to pay the dues of Mr Madan Dev.

Later, when Hitesh’s relatives approached Mr Nirmal Singh asking him why the police was interfering in what was essentially a civic matter, it transpired that Mr Madan Dev had allegedly told the ASI that he was a class fellow of the DGP. Under this impression, Mr Kuldip Singh, as he told his seniors, rang up Hitesh’s relatives.

Mr Madan Dev had alleged that the DGP called him to his office and threatened him with dire consequences.

However, Mr Nirmal Singh had denied having threatened him. The DGP further said that Mr Madan Dev could not have been his class fellow as he was much younger to him and moreover, he (Mr Nirmal Singh) never studied law.

In his complaint, Hitesh alleged that the advocate had been instigating the other tenant to harass him so that his house got vacated. So much so, he alleged, that the other tenant attacked his family in August last.

A case was also registered in that connection. He alleged that the other tenant had been threatening him that he would get him liquidated through a criminal gang of Uttar Pradesh.

Hitesh said he vacated the house on April 24. Before that he informed Mr Madan Dev about the vacation. Hence, he said, it was wrong to say that he left the house without the knowledge of the owner.

He also asserted that he had been paying rent regularly, either through cheques or cash. He said he could not clear the electricity dues because the bill was not available at that time.

He has urged the Chief Justice to give him protection.


Registration of ultrasound scan centre cancelled
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 29
Under its drive to curb rampant female foeticide in the area, the Health Department has cancelled the registration of an ultrasound sound centre in Maur Mandi for violation of the PC & PNDT Act, 1994.

As per a statement released by the SMO, Talwandi Sabo, Dr Sham Lal Thukral, many anomalies and discrepancies were found in the records of the Garg Ultrasound Scan Centre. Many “F” forms were not signed by the doctor concerned and two registers were maintained, of which one was authenticated by the Sub-District Appropriate Authority (SDAA), while the other was without page marking and authentication of the SDAA.

Dr Kiran was summoned to record her statement and her certificate of training in radiology was found suspicious, as in the original one its duration was one year, whereas it was eight months in its photostat copy. On the basis of this certificate, Dr Kiran, wife of Dr Manoj Kumar, had been granted registration for running an ultrasound scan centre at Maur Mandi by the former SDAA, Talwandi Sabo.

But immediately after registration in March, 2006, Dr Kiran employed her aunt who is also Dr Kiran, wife of Dr Pawan Kumar, against whom criminal proceedings are pending in court at Talwandi Sabo, for sex determination and whose ultrasound scan centre was sealed by the authorities along with two other centres in Maur Mandi. Later, Dr Kiran, wife of Dr Pawan of Garg Maternity Home, filed an appeal in the High Court that was dismissed. An SLP in the Supreme Court for opening the seals of her USG scan machine was still pending.


Doctor’s wife levels atrocity charges
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Barnala, May 29
A doctor has been accused of inflicting atrocities on his wife following the filing of a complaint with the police against Dr Naresh Kumar Goyal by his wife Sampada on May 17.

In her complaint, Sampada said she got married to Dr Naresh Kumar Goyal on November 14, 1992. After marriage, their relations were cordial for some time, but later they took a turn for the worse. She alleged that her husband, whose first wife had died before their marriage, was an alcoholic and used to beat her often. She tolerated these atrocities because she was a divorcee and had nowhere to go as her parents were dead.

Mr S. K. Asthana, SSP, Barnala police district, said today that necessary legal action had been taken against Naresh under Sections 323 and 506 of the IPC, and the doctor was on bail now.

Dr Naresh Goyal, when contacted in his clinic here today, said he had never beaten his wife. However, he said that on May 16 when he returned to his house he found her abusing his parents and this led to a minor fight between them.

He also said his wife had never respected his parents, as she wanted to live separately. He said it was a family dispute and uncles of his wife had been interfering in their life unnecessarily.


2 more murder case accused identified
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 29
Two more accused, including the kingpin, in the murder of diamond merchant Sunil Bhatia on April 22 have been identified. The police released their photographs here today.

Mr S.S. Srivastava, SSP, said the two accused, Jaspreet Singh Jassa, the main conspirator, and his brother Baljinder Singh, both residents of Officer Colony, Goindwal, on the Tarn Taran bypass, and an unidentified person were involved in the murder. This information was revealed to the police by their accomplice Raju Jatti who was arrested by the police on April 27.

Mr Srivastava said the police was looking for the person who had made threat calls to the Bhatias on their cellphone.


Truck carrying IMFL impounded
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 29
The district police achieved a big success in its campaign against anti-social activities when it impounded a truck smuggling about 500 boxes of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) to Rajasthan from Chandigarh, near Bahadurgarh village of this district, this morning.

This is the second case of smuggling of liquor from Chandigarh to various pockets of Punjab and neighbouring states which has come to surface in the past 10 days. Recently, a jeep with a red light atop and a car were impounded by the local police and a huge quantity of IMFL was recovered.

Four persons, identified as Gurcharan Singh, Sham Singh, Mohommad Majnoon and Kishan Lal, were arrested for their alleged involvement in the smuggling of liquor. The fifth accused, identified as Harwinder Singh, has been absconding.

Mr Jassa Singh, SHO, Sadar police station, said that today at about 11 a.m., a truck carrying 452 cases of IMFL was impounded. These cases were being shifted from one truck to another after the first truck coming from the Chandigarh side turned upside down.


70-yr-old killed

Batala, May 29
An old man died on the Batala-Jalandhar road when he was crossing the road.

Sardool Singh (70), a resident of Jaito Sarja village was killed near Adda Achal Sahib when a truck (PAT-993) hit him. — OC


Pre-medical test on July 2
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 29
The Pre-Medical Entrance Test in Punjab will be held on July 2 and the sale of the prospectus containing the application form starts tomorrow.

The prospectus will be available through branches of the Canara Bank in 15 towns and cities spread across the state and Chandigarh and also at special counters of the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, and Government Medical College, Patiala.

The test will be for the MBBS, BDS, BAMS and BHMS courses conducted by government as well as private colleges in the state.

The cost of the prospectus is Rs 800 while the fee for the test is Rs 1,500. The test fee is Rs 750 for students belonging to the Scheduled Castes.

Meanwhile,the second counselling for the MD/MS/PG diploma and MDS courses has been postponed till June 12. It was scheduled for May 31.


Resentment over poor results
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, May 29
Resentment prevails in the area as well as among students over poor results of the middle standard exam in government schools of the area. The results were declared two days back. The exam was conducted by the Punjab School Education Board.

The performance of the local Sri Guru Arjun Dev Government Girls Secondary School has been very poor as out of total 199 students who appeared in the exam only 46 could pass it and 25 of them have failed in one subject or the other. Similar is the case with the local Government Secondary School for Boys where 126 students appeared in the exam but only 12 could pass it. Eight students out of these 12 have failed in one subject.

Only two students of Government Secondary School, Tur, could pass the exam out of 24 who appeared from the school. One of them has failed in one subject. The results of Government Secondary School, Taragarh, have also been disappointing as 55 students have failed out of 74 who had appeared in the exam. Out of the 19 students who passed the exam 17 have failed in one subject.

A privately managed institute Sri Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa Secondary School, Sarhali, had good results as 244 out of 247 students passed the exam.

Mr Mohinder Singh Prince, president of the local Citizens Council has demanded a high level inquiry into the poor results of government schools of the area.


Cash award for teachers doubled

Chandigarh, May 29
The Punjab Government has doubled the cash award for state awardee teachers of the Education Department.

The teachers would now get Rs 10,000 instead of the earlier award amount of Rs 5,000, Mr Harnam Das Johar, School Education Minister, said today.

The award also includes one-year re-employment for the awardee teachers. — TNS

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