P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Council of Ministers to clear Tarn Taran as dist today
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The Punjab Council of Ministers, which will meet here tomorrow, will give formal approval to the proposal of creating Tarn Taran as a new district. Sources said that the proposal was ready and would be placed before the council.

The sources said that Tarn Taran would come into existence as a new district on June 16, the day the shaheedi divas of Guru Arjan Dev would be observed across the country.The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who had been taking personal interest in creating the new district, was expected to inaugurate it on that day. Tarn Taran, Patti and Khadoor Sahib subdivisions will be part of the district. It will be spread over 493 villages. Tarn Taran is now a part of Amritsar district. A package for the development of the new district will also be announced, it is learnt.

The council will also give approval to the setting up of a multi-member Vigilance Commission to oversee the functioning of the Vigilance Bureau in the state.The sources said that it would be a four-member commission.

The issue of the recruitment of veterinary officers and other employees in the Animal Husbandry Department will also be discussed at the meeting. Last time, a decision on the recruitment issue was deferred because of differences over the mode of recruitment and the nature of employment among certain senior Ministers. Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Animal Husbandry Minister,had taken the stand at the last meeting that recruitment should be made on a regular basis as used to be done earlier. However, one of the Ministers insisted that the Health Department pattern,where recruitment is made on a contract basis through a service provider, should be adopted. Nearly 1,600 employees are to be recruited in the Animal Husbandry Department.

Besides, the issue of setting up the regional centres of Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University will also be discussed, it is learnt. The sources said that there would also be a discussion on the Reliance project.The Chief Minister would explain the project in detail to the Ministers.The issue of giving 170 acres at Goindwal Sahib to RIL was also expected to figure at the meeting.

Senior executives of Reliance Industries Limited have been meeting top bureaucrats to inform them of the details of the project, which has been in the eye of a storm for the past three weeks because of opposition to the project by certain senior Congress leaders besides other political parties.

There are several other issues, including the exclusion of minority community institutions from the Punjab Private Health Science Educational Institutions (Regulation of Admission, Fixation of Fee and Making of Reservation) Act, 2006, will also come up at the meeting.

Meanwhile, a meeting of a subcommittee on the issue of abolishing octroi could not be held today.


Unruly scenes at Cong rally
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 30
The Congress rally for Dalits today witnessed unruly scenes as on the one hand the party leaders struggled to make it to the dais and on the other protesting computer teachers found their way into Chhabra Palace, the rally venue.

As soon as the PPCC president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, got up to address the gathering, a large number of computer teachers started raising slogans which led to utter chaos at the rally. A lady Congress worker reportedly slapped one of the girls staging protest, while some other agitators were also manhandled.

Surprisingly, neither the police nor its intelligence wing got a wind of the teachers’ plan to enter the rally venue. The police only swung into action when the teachers raised uproar at the rally. Rupinder Kaur, a computer teacher, confirmed that she was slapped by a lady Congress worker.

The teachers alleged that they had come to the rally to hand over a charter of demands to Mr Dullo seeking their regular appointment, but the Congress leaders didn’t allow them to go ahead. Later, the Kotwali police rounded up these teachers.

Meanwhile, the ruling party’s leaders were seen competing with each other to make it to the dais. Two leaders even had heated exchange of words on the issue, but the matter was soon sorted out with the intervention of other party leaders.

Addressing the rally, Mr Dullo appealed to Dalits not to trust those misleading them. He said the Congress had always sided with poor and it would continue to support them in future.


45,000 trees axed in Punjab in six months
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
More than 45,000 trees, spread over 250 hectares of protected forest areas of Punjab, have been axed in the past six months, as the state government and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) go about with their proposed widening of four highways in the state.

And this is not all. With the government to soon take up road widening projects on another nine state highways and the Jalandhar-Pathankot National Highway, the number of trees in the protected forest area (along these highways) to face the axe is estimated to be over 1.50 lakh.

Concerned over the loss of its forest cover because of these development activities, the Forest Department, Punjab, now proposes to seek permission from the Compensatory Afforestation Management Plan Agency (CAMPA), set up on the directions of the Supreme Court, for buying additional land for afforestation.

Official sources told TNS that after having received permission from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, 20,000 trees were axed for the four laning of Ambala–Chandigarh National Highway, 10,000 trees for the Amritsar -Jalandhar National Highway (between Beas and Verka chowk), 15,000 trees on the Balachaur- Dasuya state highway and 50 trees on the Patiala-Samana-Pattran state highway.

It may be noted that though the land along all roads in the state belong to the Public Works Department, the Punjab Government had notified the plantations along these roads (as well as along canals and railway lines) as protected forest in 1958. Of the 3.08,460.54 hectares of forest area in Punjab (this is 6.12 % of the total area of the state),17,894.28 hectares is on the road strips (5.8 per cent of the total forest area). As the road widening projects are undertaken, this forest cover is likely to vanish.

Senior officials in Forest Department told TNS that after the Forest Conservation Act was implemented in 1980, it laid down that no forest land could be used for non-forest purposes without the prior approval of the Government of India. “Later, on October 30, 2002, the Supreme Court laid down that every agency using forest land for non-forest activities should deposit a net present value between Rs 5.80 lakh to Rs 9.20 lakh per hectare, in addition to the cost of compensatory plantation.

Since, there is no government land available in Punjab for this compensatory plantations, the state government has been paying the highest net present value of Rs 9.20 lakh per hectare to CAMPA.

“But since a large number of protected forest area on the road strips is likely to be cut down for widening of these roads, we will now ask the state government to seek permission from CAMPA for use of net present value fund to purchase land from private owners, and use it for plantation,” said a senior official of the Forest Department.


Income should be criterion for reservation, says Dullo
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 30
Even as stalemate over Union HRD Minister Arjun Singh’s proposal of 27 per cent reservation for OBCs continues, PPCC president Shamsher Singh Dullo today said economically weaker sections of society should be given priority in reservation. He stated this at a press conference before a party rally for SCs and Dalits here.

On the recent spat between senior party leader Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar and a section of Cabinet ministers on Reliance issue, the PPCC chief said the high command was dealing with it and he had also issued a circular to these leaders asking them to share their views with him and avoid going to the Press.

To a query on factionalism in the party, he warned that he would not allow any leg-pulling and there was no place in the party for the leaders indulging in such activities. Ruling out any alliance, Mr Dullo made it clear that the party would go it alone in the Assembly elections, as it was strong enough to score victory in the elections.

Regarding any promise of Assembly poll ticket to MLAs, who had switched their loyalties to the Congress, he said no such commitment had been made and they would be adjusted in the party as per their stature. He said development would be the main poll issue of the ruling party in the Assembly elections.

He claimed that the Opposition had no issue against the state government. The PPCC chief also hinted at changes in his team prior to the Assembly elections.

Mr Dullo expressed unawareness about the state government imposing a ban on the screening of The Da Vinci Code. He merely said: “I don’t watch movies.” On the Chief Minister’s “Panthic agenda”, he said being a Sikh the CM was participating in various religious functions and he had every right to do so.

Praising the state government for observing centenaries of historical events like martyrdom of 40 ‘muktas’, he said even those who exploited religion for politics never did it.

On the Reliance issue, he clarified that neither a MoU was signed nor any free land given to the industrial house as of now.

He said the party would ensure that the interests of Punjab’s people were protected and amenities extended to them were properly outlined in the project. Regarding farmers’ suicides, he said proper verification of the reason behind the farmers’ suicides should be done. He said it should also be found whether they took loan for any non-productive use or to boost agricultural produce. He said, farmers committing suicide for “genuine reasons” should be extended aid.


Medicos burn books
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 30
Doctors and the medical students burnt their medical books here this evening to protest against the reservation policy of the government.

The doctors organised a rally starting from the OPD of Guru Nanak Dev Hospital to Novelty Chowk raising slogans against Mr Arjun Singh, Human Resource Development Minister, and the Central Government. They later burnt their books at Crystal Chowk. The doctors also observed fast today.

Mr Gagandeep Sharma, president, Medical College Students Union, said they would also decide the future course of action after the rally and would also plan for a national strike tomorrow.


College society to back medicos
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 30
Vehemently denouncing the policy of reservation, the Khalsa College Society at a meeting held here yesterday resolved to support the stand of doctors protesting against the reservation quota to other Backward classes.

Mr Rajinder Mohan Chhina, honorary secretary said the reservation criteria was tantamount to depriving the meritorious and outstanding students who by sheer dint of hard work cleared the entrance tests. The reservation policy would deprive them of admissions. He opined that the government could help the OBCs financially by providing them free books.


Cops bring Gaurav home, lay hands on IB stamp
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 30
A police team from Hamirpur, led by DSP Mahinder Singh, brought Gaurav Kapoor to the city to conduct further searches in the case.

Gaurav was taken to his Shiv Nagar home by the team, where as per his mother Navita Kapoor, he was not allowed to talk to his family members. The police team seized a stamp of the Intelligence Bureau and a few blank cheques from his house.

The police team went to Sheetal Vij to verify about the identity card of Divya Times newspaper.

Meanwhile, the mother and grandfather of Gaurav Kapoor, who had yesterday made allegations against Swami Ramdev and his follower, the organiser of the “yog shivir” in Jalandhar, Sheetal Vij, for falsely implicating Gaurav to get Z plus security for Baba Ramdev but had changed her stance saying that she had made the allegations under media pressure, once again made an unclear statement that she was not under the pressure of any mediaperson or anyone else to make such statements.

About her allegations made yesterday, she said she was mentally upset and might have made the statement under mental disorientation.

Talking to The Tribune today, she said she and her family had no idea about the sequence of events and it was only after reading a newspaper report that they came to know about the arrest of her son. A visibly tense Navita Kapoor said though she found Gaurav’s face to be swollen, he seemed otherwise alright when the police brought him home to conduct searches.

Meanwhile, the Hamirpur police played hide and seek with the media as it took him around the city. DSP Mahinder Singh said the main aim of the Hamirpur police was to verify whether the statement made by Gaurav was true or not.

He confirmed that a stamp of the Intelligence Bureau had been found from his home along with some blank cheques signed by him. The police also went to the house of one of the friends of Gaurav today. The police asked Navita details about Gaurav like his education, profession and occupation.


M.S. Gill: take up work on Morinda-Ludhiana rail link
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
With no indication of work on the second phase of the Chandigarh-Ludhiana rail link — the Morinda-Ludhiana section — starting in the near future, Punjab Rajya Sabha member Manohar Singh Gill has sought the immediate intervention of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to set the ball rolling.

“I met the Prime Minister a few days ago to urge him to get various ongoing and languishing projects in Punjab taken up expeditiously,” says Dr Gill, revealing that he discussed the expansion of Amritsar international airport and the commissioning of the Goindwal Sahib-Tarn Taran rail link besides other development projects with Dr Manmohan Singh.

While work on the Chandigarh-Morinda rail section was completed more than a year ago, little has been done to complete the second and bigger part of the project.

“It is only after the Morinda-Ludhiana rail link is completed that Punjab’s agro-economy will start looking up. Once linked to the rest of Punjab, it will open new areas for the export of foodgrains and agro products to other parts of the country through the rail network,” says Dr Gill. “I emphasised all these points during my discussion with the Prime Minister as the communication network has to respond to the growing demand of both agriculture and industry of the state.”

Dr Gill maintains that only Rs 80 crore has been sanctioned for improving the infrastructure at Amritsar airport. With just one arrival hall completed, Amritsar airport needs rapid and massive expansion to meet the growing demands of the aviation industry. Dr Gill urged the Prime Minister to sanction a one-time grant of Rs 500 crore for the expansion of Amritsar airport.

“I have requested the Prime Minister that if he is going to Tarn Taran or Amritsar on June 14 in connection with the 400th anniversary of the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, he must lay the foundation stone of the second phase of the upgradation and expansion of Amritsar airport besides getting the Goindwal Sahib-Tarn Taran rail link commissioned.


Probe sought into Badals’ visit to US
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Taking exception to what they describe a sudden disappearance of SAD president Parkash Singh Badal, his wife Surinder Kaur and their son Sukhbir Badal, Punjab ministers today demanded that an investigation into the visit of the Badals to the US should be entrusted to the CBI.

The ministers, including Local Bodies Minister, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, the Irrigation and Power Minister, Mr Lal Singh, the PWD (B and R) Minister, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, the Excise and Taxation Minister, Mr Sardul Singh, alleged that Mr Badal had gone to the US to hide his ill-gotten wealth and property amassed through corrupt means during his regime in the state.

The visit had raised doubts among the public because a case of corruption was already pending against the family in the court.

“The Badals’ visit, at a time when his family friend Om Parkash Chautala was already in the US, has further thickened the controversy”, the ministers said.

They said Mr Badal could not mislead the innocent people of Punjab anymore citing medical reasons behind the visit. It was merely a “lame excuse”.


Akalis counter Cong remarks on Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The Shiromani Akali Dal has condemned the statement of Congress ministers issued today regarding the US visit of SAD president Parkash Singh Badal. Five senior Akali leaders, Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhundar, Mr Maheshinder Singh Grewal and Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, said the statement was totally false, misleading, politically motivated and below moral values.

“The whole nation knows that Mr Badal has gone abroad only for 10 days for the treatment of an eye ailment and before leaving he had informed all concerned”, They added.

Ridiculing the other allegations of accumulation of properties abroad by Mr Badal, the SAD leaders said the Congress government had sent senior police officers a number of times to the foreign countries to locate the so-called foreign properties of Mr Badal. But, in four years they have not been able to point out even one such asset. 


Cong workers boycott camp
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Ropar, May 30
Punjab Education Minister Harnam Das Johar today faced embarrassment at the Lok Suvidha Camp, organised at Senior Secondary School in Nurpurbedi town of the district, when Congress workers boycotted the camp for not inviting two local Congress MLA’s Mr K.P.S. Rana and Dr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, here.

Mr Johar, who is also the chairman of the District Planning and Grievance Committee, came here to hear the grievances of 108 villages of Nurpurbedi town and solve problems of villagers on the spot.

Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, MLA from Nurpurbedi, submitted a complaint against Mr Johar to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and also to the president of the Punjab Pardesh Congess Committee, Shamsher Singh Dullo, in this regard later in the evening.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Sharma said I have taken up the matter with the Chief Minister and also with the president of the PPCC and expressed my grievances. I have demanded that Mr Johar should be removed from the chairmanship of the District Grievance Committee and the District Planning Board. I, being the local MLA, not been invited in the camp to hear the grievance of the locals. This was not in the interest of the party and it has also decreased the morale of party workers, he added.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Industry and Commerce, Mr K.P.S. Rana, and MLA Nangal, also said that he did not get the invitation and would also take up the matter with the Chief Minister.

Earlier, there was tension at the camp when supporters of Mr Rana and Mr Sharma raised slogans for not inviting their leaders.

The Panchayat Samiti Chairman of Nurpurbedi, Mr Manhor Lal, said it was unjustice to local MLAs that they were not invited to such public functions.


Spurious fertilisers: SAD for Central probe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The SAD has urged the Union Government to order a high-level independent inquiry into the sale of spurious fertilisers in Gurdaspur and other districts of Punjab.

Secretary-general of the party Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa today wrote a letter to the Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, demanding that the inquiry should be launched at the earliest.

Based on news reports published in a section of the Press, Mr Dhindsa has written in the letter that a number of units manufacturing fertilisers in other states are supplying stocks of spurious fertilisers to some dealers in Punjab. A racket, involving sale of spurious organic manure, has been unearthed in Gurdaspur district recently. 


Capt harming farmers’ interests, says Mann
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 30
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), has asked the state government not to acquire land of farmers forcibly for big industrial houses in the state.

He said his party would not allow the “loot” of the farmers in the form of forcible acquisition of land for big industrial houses, including Reliance Industries and the Trident Group of Industries.

Talking to this correspondent, Mr Mann alleged that Reliance Industries had obliged Ms Sonia Gandhi, Congress president, by providing an aircraft for her visits to foreign countries, and in lieu of that the Amarinder government was now providing 20 acres to Reliance Industries at Mohali at throwaway prices.


Martyr’s widow threatens to return award
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Moga, May 30
The widow of a Kargil martyr and a Kirti Chakra awardee (posthumous) today threatened to return her husband’s gallantry award if no action was taken against the acting principal of Government Senior Secondary School, Baghelewala, where she was working as a ‘sewadar’ since 2001.

Interacting with mediapersons, Manjit Kaur told that her husband Jora Singh laid down his life for his motherland during Kargil war, following which she was given a job in the government school of her village. The school was also named after her husband.

She alleged that the acting principal of the school, Mr Ravinder Shukla, was harassing her by making “objectionable remarks”. She alleged that five months back he also made some caste-based remarks against her. She alleged that she had suffered immense mental torture by working under him.

She said that the then Deputy Commissioner, Mr Mandeep Singh, had recommended the transfer of the acting principal, but nothing materialized. She alleged that despite action being ordered against him many times he had retained his posting due to his relationship with a Punjab minister. She said the Deputy Commissioner, Mr V.K. Meena, had also written to the Secretary, Education, for his transfer, besides asking the SSP to probe and take action in the matter.

Fed up, she has decided to return Kirti Chakra, awarded to her husband posthumously, to the Union Government if no action was taken against the acting principal till June 9.

“The Kirti Chakra doesn’t hold any meaning if the government can’t bring justice to me,” she said.

When contacted, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr V.K. Meena, admitted that he had already recommended the acting principal’s transfer to the Education Secretary, besides asking the SSP to take necessary action in the matter.

On the other hand, Mr Shukla vehemently denied her allegations and instead said the then Deputy Commissioner had warned her to perform her duty as per rules and regulations. He alleged that she had lodged a complaint against him on January 6 in which she had not mentioned anything about caste-based remark, but “when nothing came out of probe against him, she suddenly raised this point”.

He alleged that Manjit Kaur was not performing her job well and was reporting late on work. She got irritated once when he asked to improve her work during exams.


Villagers gherao police station
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, May 30
Residents of Bath and Bagrian villages led by CPM activists protesting against police atrocities and the prevailing corruption in the Police Department, gheraoed the local Sadar police station here yesterday.

Mr Jaspal Singh, Mr Pargat Singh, Dr Satnam Singh Dao and other CPM leaders while addressing the residents condemned officials of the police station for their alleged corrupt acts.

Residents of Bath and Bagrian who were victims of the corrupt policies of the police station were presented before the gathering.

Mr Jatinder Singh Mand, DSP, assured the residents that he would look into the matter.


Protest against lack of stamps
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 30
Activists of All India Students Federation, who are agitating against a private institute for ‘overcharging fee’, yesterday protested against the “non-availability of stamp papers for people from rural areas” at the local post office.

The federation activists got irked when they were reportedly denied stamp papers at the post office after they revealed that they belonged to rural area.

“We want to air our grievances before the Chief Minister and we need stamp papers for preparing affidavits, but the post office authorities say that stamp papers available with them are only for city people,” they said.

The angry activists then took up the matter with the Deputy Commissioner who has asked the District Revenue Officer to look into their complaint.

On the other hand, the post office authorities said they were receiving stamp papers from the treasury office and the papers were marked “for city” and “for rural areas”. They said they had not received stamp papers for people from rural areas for the last about couple of months.


Residents block traffic over water
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, May 30
The residents of Bungal-Badhani village today once again blocked traffic on the Pathankot-Dalhousie road for around six hours in protest against inadequate supply of water in the area.

The residents began a dharna on the road around 10 am and raised slogans against the government. Despite efforts of the district administration to pacify the villagers, the dharna was continuing till the filing of this report.

The villagers had also blocked traffic on the said road on April 27. They had also staged a dharna in front of the office of the SDM.

Today, the protesters kept on sitting on the road despite extreme heat. They also complained of long power cuts. They had been facing unscheduled power cuts ranging up to 13 hours, they alleged.

With the summer setting in, the residents of Dhar subdivision, which comprises mostly hilly areas, are likely to face acute water shortage. Under the existing water supply schemes, there are provisions to supply two to three hour drinking water supply to the Dhar area. Baulis, the natural sources of water in the hilly areas, have already dried up. So the people have to depend on the government water supply.

Deep tubewells have been dug by the Department of Public Health in the bed of the Chaki river from where the water in pumped to the hills. However, the discharge from most of the wells has gone down as the water table in the region is falling rapidly due indiscriminate illegal mining.

The department has written to the government that drinking water schemes implemented in the area by spending crores are likely to be rendered useless in case the illegal mining by stone crusher owners was not checked.

Unscheduled power cuts are another major problem. Sources in the department said it would take at least two hour pumping to create pressure sufficient enough to supply water to remote areas on the hills. If there is a power cut in between, the entire exercise has to be repeated.


Junior engineers to launch stir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Upset over the postponement of the meeting of the departmental promotion committee (DPC) today, the Diploma Engineers Association has decided to launch an agitation against the Irrigation Department.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Balwinder Singh, general secretary of the association, said the meeting of the committee was to be held today to take up the cases of promotion of junior engineers. However, it was cancelled at the last moment.

He said a deputation of the association met the Principal Secretary, Irrigation Department, to protest against the postponement of the meeting. “We requested the Principal Secretary to fix the next date for the meeting, which appears to have been postponed for an indefinite period”, said Mr Balwinder Singh.

As the Department authorities were treating junior engineers shabbily, there was no alternative but to start an agitation. On June 15, junior engineers would stage a dharna in front of the office of the Chief Engineer (Canals) here.

Mr Rajinder Pal, propaganda secretary of the association, said 200 posts of sub-divisional engineers were lying vacant. Of which, 25 per cent was to be filled by promoting junior engineers. The rules to fill such posts by promoting junior engineers were notified in June, 2004. However, no promotion of junior engineers had been ordered since then.

Mr Pal said four meetings of the committee had been postponed since July last year. There was a lot of frustration among junior engineers because several of their colleagues had attained superannuation without getting single promotion in a service period varying between 32 and 35 years, he said.

Meanwhile, the AMIE Degree Holder Engineers Association has strongly reacted to the statement given by the Diploma Engineers Association with regard to the promotions of AMIE degree holders.

Mr Surinder Singh Kaler, spokesman for the AMIE Degree Holder Engineers Association, said of the 200 vacant posts of sub-divisional engineers (SDEs), 150 vacancies existed before the amendment of rules in June, 2004. Before the amendment of rules in 2004, only AMIE degree holder junior engineers were eligible for promotion as SDE.

He said the AMIE degree holders were promoted against their 45 per cent promotion quota before the change made in the rules. The question of reverting the AMIE degree holders, who had been promoted SDES, did not arise because they had been promoted against their specified quota.

The demand of the Diploma Engineers Association for the reversion of AMIE degree holders from the posts of SDEs was illogical and without any basis.


Punjab Arts Council may frame cultural policy
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Although born out of the need to lend cultural edge to the state, the Punjab Arts Council has not yet managed to achieve its objective. Over the years, caretakers have cited a host of reasons for the delay in realisation of goals, a recurring complaint being dearth of money to back purposeful projects.

This year might, however, be different in two ways. One, all three akademies of the council have some unutilised funds from the past term - a welcome beginning indeed. Two, the present management is entering office with some constructive agenda in mind, although generous funds still seem a critical requirement if the objective of cultural promotion is to be realised at all.

Financial crisis may ease

Most members of the Punjab Arts Council have high hopes from industrialist Kewal Dhillon who is the new chairman of the council. Brought in following Raj Babbar's withdrawal, Kewal Dhillon might well be in a position to raise funds for activities of the council - a contribution that might also serve to silence the critics of the theory that a body promoting art should, in all purpose, be chaired by an artiste. Vice-chairman of the council, however, is an artiste - Sardar Meher Singh. Presidents of the three akademies are - Shiv Singh for the Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi, Dolly Guleria for the Punjab Sangeet Natak Akademi and Gurdial Singh for the Punjab Sahitya Akademi.

On the eve of installation of the new team, The Tribune spoke to some office-bearers of the council who promise to make a difference this time. To begin with, the council has decided to lay down a cultural policy for the state to follow. A crucial decision indeed, it might steer the Ministry of Culture in the right direction and guide it on important matters like promotion of art, music and literature. Right now, there seems to be little focus on these subjects, leading to less constructive results.

Prof Rajpal Singh, general secretary of the council, says, "This decision is unanimous and we plan to outline a document touching upon all aspects relating to promotion of art, music and literature.

The state has no clear-cut cultural policy and as you know lack of clarity does not help any institution. Moreover, as a council we are not just an entertainment body. We have to contribute to policy making. A cultural policy becomes important in that context."

Even on the subject of funds, members and office-bearers seem to have a unanimous opinion. More often than not, the akademies have been hankering after funds to hold meaningful activities. On an average, each akademi gets about Rs 2 lakh a year - a paltry sum by all standards.

Eminent Punjabi littérateur Prof Gurdial Singh, who has been taken in as President of the Punjab Sahitya Akademi this year, says, "The government must be generous towards the council which was conceived to raise cultural standards of the state of Punjab.

As president of the Sahitya Akademi, I would like to hold a seminar on trends in Punjabi literature and on the need of linking literature with life. But for this I need money so I can invite informed scholars from all over the world. Also we would like to know what is happening in the literary world of those 14 languages that form part of Schedule VIII.

We would like to translate some of the best works in Hindi and English and send our works to them. All this requires funds."

The June 1 installation ceremony of the council might address a part of the fund problem. It is slated to be attended by Minister for Culture, Punjab, Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa.


Chattopadhaya shifted to BSF
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
In a decision of political significance, Mr Sidharth Chattopadhaya, a Punjab cadre IPS officer, has been asked to go on deputation to the BSF. He was part of a special team which went to the USA to probe the alleged illegal assets of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

The team could not produce any solid documentary evidence against the Badal family which could have bolstered the case of corruption lodged against the Akali leader.

The Union Home Ministry has issued orders for his deputation to the BSF, which were received here today. The Punjab Government is expected to issue orders in the next few days. Well-placed sources in the government confirmed the development tonight.

Meanwhile, the government is considering a proposal to promote four Additional Director Generals of the Punjab Police to the rank of DGP. The names of Mr N.S Aulakh, Mr Rajdeep Singh Gill, Mr A.P. Pandey and Mohd Izhar Alam have been forwarded for promotion as DGP.

The need to promote these officers had arisen as a couple of senior officers had retired and some are to retire in the next few months. The impending retirements are of Mr S.C. Jain, DGP (Railways), on May 31 and Mr P. Lal in November, 2006.


Engineers to oppose privatisation
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 30
A meeting of the Federal Council of Northern India Power Engineers Federation (NIPEF) comprising engineers from states of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi and UP was held here today.

Mr Suneel Grover from Himachal Pradesh was elected chairman and Mr H.S. Bedi from Punjab as secretary general of NIPEF. The other office-bearers elected were Mr V.N. Sharma, Mr B.S. Boora, as vice chairman, Mr Rakesh Gupta as secretary publication, Mr J.S. Beniwal as secretary organisation and Mr V.K. Gupta as secretary finance.

Mr Bedi in a press note here said the federal council resolved to oppose the trifurcation and privatisation of the state electricity boards (SEBs) and also to continue its fight for the amendment of various provisions of the Electricity Act 2003.


Pak releases 71 Indian fishermen
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 30
Close on the heels of India releasing 59 Pak fishermen yesterday, Pakistan reciprocated today by repatriating 71 fishermen as a gesture of goodwill.

According to information, the Indian fishermen were caught by the Pakistan coast guard authorities off the coast of Gujarat while allegedly fishing in Pakistani maritime boundary.

Speaking to reporters after crossing over to India from the Wagah joint check post here, the fishermen said they were not treated well and were given poor food during their stay in the Karachi jail.


De-addiction hospital a boon for addicts
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 30
The local Red Cross Drug De-addiction Hospital, situated in the Guru Nanak Sarai Complex here, is a boon for drug addicts. More than 400 drug addicts have been treated till now, out of whom 100 had been admitted to the hospital. After completion of treatment, they were discharged.

Besides the 100 discharged drug addicts, some addicts are still admitted in the hospital for treatment. Among the drug addicts were those who habitually consumed smack, poppy husk, opium, and alcohol. Many of the persons between 15 and 30 years in age while a majority of the persons between 40 and 60 years were addicted to alcohol. About 60 per cent of the drug addicts belonged to the weaker sections.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Mohan Sharma, Project Director of Red Cross Drug De-addiction Hospital, disclosed that an international kabaddi player from a nearby village and a boxer from Barnala area, who were addicted to intoxicants, had also been successfully treated by this hospital. He further said that the hospital also provided medicines to the patients free of cost. At present the hospital had a doctor, three counsellors, a nurse, a ward boy, a sweeper, a chowkidar and an accountant to run it smoothly and for proper care and treatment of patients, he added.

Dr Pardip Kumar, Medical Officer of the hospital, said as part of the treatment, counselling was done to know the history of a patient and prepare him mentally for treatment. After that, the patient is admitted and kept in the hospital from 14 days to 60 days, depending upon the nature of the addiction, he added.

A brainchild of the former Sangrur Deputy Commissioner, Mr Sarvjit Singh, this drug de-addiction hospital is located in a newly built building. There is a library-cum-recreation room for patients. In the wards, speakers have been fitted to enable patients to listen to Gurbani and Bhajans. Each ward has an attached bathroom and a storeroom for patients.


Accountant General holds pension adalat
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 30
Mr Onkar Nath, Accountant-General (A&E), Punjab and Chandigarh, held a pension adalat and an awareness programme for the pensioners and staff of the pension sanctioning authorities of various state government departments at the Ambedkar Bhavan here today.

Around 200 pension sanctioning authorities/drawing and disbursing officers (DDOs) and their representatives attended the adalat.

The Accountant-General distributed pension to 22 persons. He, along with Mr A.S. Khokhar, Deputy Accountant General (Pension), and three senior accounts officers attended the pensioners personally and settled their cases on the spot.

The Accountant-General urged the DDOs and pension sanctioning authorities to send pension cases complete in all respects and in time to his office so that these were settled in time.

Earlier, he said the cases received complete in all respects were disposed off within 10 to 15 days by his office. For the redressal of personal grievances of the pensioners, a cell was working in his office where the pensioners could lodge complaints for their redressal, he added.


278 examined at medical camp
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 30
As many as 278 patients were examined and given free medicine by a panel of eminent doctors at the 184th medical check-up camp organised by the Dedicated Brothers Group here today according to a press release issued here today by Mr Chama Lal Dutt, project in charge.


HCS (judicial) interviews on June 19, 20
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 30
The Punjab and Haryana High Court will hold the interviews of the 39 candidates, who cleared the written test for the Haryana Civil Service (Judicial) posts, on June 19 and 20. The interviews would be conducted at the High Court.

According to informed sources, while 19 candidates would be interviewed on June 19, the remaining 20 would be interviewed the next day.

A committee under the Acting Chief Justice, Mr Justice H.S. Bedi, would conduct the interviews from 10 am to 1 pm and later from 2 pm to 5 pm.

It may be recalled that of the total of around 2450 candidates, who had appeared in the written test, only 39 had secured the necessary 50 per cent marks to enter the interview stage.

The High Court had been requested by the Haryana Government to conduct the selection process for selecting 31 candidates, who would fill 31 of the existing vacancies of judicial officers in Haryana.


Wireless ‘scam’: HC orders CBI inquiry
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 30
In a major decision, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ordered investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the alleged embezzlement of about Rs 2.58 crore in the purchase of wireless sets by the Punjab Police a few years ago.

Disposing of a PIL filed by two advocates, seeking a comprehensive inquiry by an independent agency into the alleged irregularities, a Division Bench headed by Acting Chief Justice H.S. Bedi directed the CBI to complete the inquiry expeditiously in the light of the fact that the purchase of the wireless sets was made by senior police officers and so that the guilty were brought to book.

The petitioners — Mr Ashok Chaudhary and Mr R.K. Kwatra —- had told the court that since top officers of the Punjab Police were allegedly involved in the matter, the investigation should be handed over to an independent agency.

They had claimed that the purchases were made "without technical evaluation of the wireless equipment,from a fraudulent company already blacklisted". This, they asserted, "was endangering not only national security but also undermining the integrity of the complete police force".

On May 23, the Bench had reserved its judgement on the PIL.

Earlier, the Punjab Government had informed the court that two senior police officers, former Additional Director-General of Police (Computers and Wireless) D.R. Bhatti and former Superintendent of Police (Telecommunications) Malwinder Singh Sidhu, had been charge-sheeted for their alleged involvement in the scam.

However, the two had also filed affidavits in the court, seeking a probe by the CBI into the alleged irregularities.

In his affidavit, Mr Bhatti had stated that he was willing to face the consequences if the CBI came to the conclusion that there was any misconduct on his part. He claimed that recommendations were made after examining the final report by ADGP R.K. Gupta. He had also asked the High Court not to permit the Punjab Government to make him and Mr Sidhu scapegoats.

Thereafter, the court had directed the Directorate of Quality Assurance, Bangalore, to examine the wireless sets supplied to the Punjab Police following the tender process. The Directorate was told to submit the inquiry report within six weeks, which it did.

Interestingly, during the hearing it had transpired that the previous DGP, Punjab, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, had also favoured a CBI inquiry into the matter. However, later his suggestion was turned down by the government. But the High Court in its order has referred to the DGP's letter.

In fact, the order directs the CBI to conduct the investigation on the basis of the recommendation made by the DGP, Punjab, in his letter dated September 17, 2005.

The Bench has also told the CBI not to be influenced by any observation or any interim direction passed during the proceedings in the PIL.


Construction of 8 flyovers to start soon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Construction work on the proposed eight road over bridges (ROBs) across busy level crossings in Punjab is set to start soon. Northern Railway is about to finalise the allocation of work for these bridges.

The ROBs would be built across existing level crossings at Beas, Tanda Urmur, Suchhi Pind, Maqsoodan (Jalandhar), Batala, Amritsar (near Jwala Flour Mills), Subhanpur and Dasuya.

The Railways will finalise the allocation of work by June end and actual work on the ground could start by July, sources in the government said.

The contractors will be given 11 months to complete the work.


38 Executive Officers transferred
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, May 30
In a sudden move, the Punjab Government has transferred 34 Executive Officers of muncipal committees and four of improvement trusts in the state.

As per the orders issued by the Prinicipal Secretary, Local Government, in the list of muncipal committes Mrs Gurwinder Kaur Randhawa has been transferred from Goraya to Phagwara, Mr Jagtaran Singh from Kotkapura to Phillaur, Mr Jagjit Singh from Phillaur to Ahmedgarh, Mr Paramjit Singh from Adampur to Goraya, Mr Brij Mohan from Jagraon to Ferozepore, Mr Subhash Joshi from Garhshankar to Baghapurana, Mr Diwan Chand from Ferozepore to Abohar, Mr Sukhdev Singh from Tapa Mandi to Goniana, Mr Bhupinder Singh from Maur to Bhucho Mandi.

Mr Satarjit is shifted from Rampuraphul to Sirhind, Mr Ved Parkash Singla from Ahmedgarh to Malerkotla, Mr Manjit Singh from Tarn Taran to Patti, Mr Rajesh Khokhar from Jandiala Guru to Tarn Taran, Mr Satish Kumar from Khannaur to Moonak, Mr Jagtar Singh from Patti to Jandiala Guru, Mr Rajesh Kalra from Zirakpur to Morinda, Mr Sarabjit Singh from Morinda to Rajpura, Mr Kulwinder Singh from Garhshankar to Anandpur Sahib, Mr Gurbax Singh from Anandpur Sahib to Garhshankar, Mr Surinder Kumar from Tanda to Adampur, Mr Sandeep Tiwari from Bholath to Batala, Mr Davinder Goyal from Abohar to Rampuraphul.

Mr Charanjit Singh has been transferred from Sirhind to Samrala, Mr Krishan Sharma from Bhikhiwind to Fazilka, Mr Hardev Singh from Batala to Kotkapura, Mr Kulbir Singh from Mullanpur to Handian, Mr Ram Nath from Jalalabad to Guruharsahai, Mr Varinder Jain from Ropar to Kurali, Mr Jagjit Singh from Samrala to Jagraon, Mr Avtar Singh Sodhi from Sangrur to Samana, Mr Ranbir Singh from Samana to Sangrur, Mr Rajbir Makkar from Gidderbaha to Sultanpur Lodhi and Mr Surinder Kumar from Goniana to Dhabba.

In the lists of Executive Officers of improvement trusts Mr Harjinder Singh has been transferred from Jalandhar to Patiala, Mr Gurinder Sodhi from Patiala to Phagwara, Mr Jatinder Singh from Phagwara to Jalandhar and Mr Gora Lal from Barnala to Bathinda.


Addl charge for Aggarwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Mr S.C. Aggarwal, Principal Secretary, Industries, Punjab, has been given additional charge of Financial Commissioner (Development) as Mr G.S. Cheema, Financial Commissioner (Development), has gone on leave for some days. Informed sources said Mr Cheema was to go abroad and he would be on leave till June 18.


Nod to course for dairy farmers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The Punjab Dairy Development Board today gave its approval for the introduction of dairy entrepreneurship training course at Dairy Training and Extension Centre, Ropar district, to impart training in milk processing.

The centre will impart training to dairy farmers on breeding, first aid, management practices, dairy animal nutrition, clean milk production and milk management to help them become self-reliant. The board also approved a collaboration with the IGNOU for setting up a study centre for the diploma programme in dairy technology. A tripartite MoU would be signed by Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, IGNOU and the board.

The board also approved a project worth Rs 93 lakh for strengthening/creation and upgrade of infrastructure for analysis of feed samples. Under this project four instant-feed analysers, one each for Dairy Training and Extension Centre, Bija, Phagwara, Tarn Taran and Chatamli, would be set up.


GND varsity launches job-oriented courses
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 30
Guru Nanak Dev University has introduced five one-year job-oriented courses for Class X and XII boys and girls under the self-employment scheme from July this year.

A press release here today said that matric pass girls were eligible for admission to dress designing, cutting and tailoring and Class XII pass girls could seek admission to diploma in textile designing.

Diploma in electronics and TV maintenance and servicing and diploma in computer hardware maintenance is meant for Class XII pass boys as well as girls, while diploma in cosmetology is only for Class XII pass girls.

These courses were being started on the university campus under the aegis of the Department of Adult, Continuing Education and Extension.


BCA (III), B.Com (II) results today
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 30
The results of the BCA (III) and B.Com. (professional) Part-II examinations of Guru Nanak Dev University held in April would be declared tomorrow.

Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar, said that the results would also be available on the university website, www.gnduonline.org after 5 p.m.

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