P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



School Principal suspended
He had harassed girl to kill herself
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Khadoor Sahib, November 2
Baba Sewa Singh kar seva wale today suspended Mr Sukhwinder Singh Saini, Principal of ‘Baba Gurmukh Singh Baba Uttam Singh’ (BGSBUS) Senior Secondary School allegedly for creating circumstances which forced student of IX standard to commit suicide by hanging from a ceiling fan on Sunday.

The Principal was also accused of passing ‘indecent remarks’, amounting to sexual harassment of some girl students.

Talking to The Tribune, here today, Baba Sewa Singh, chief of the school management said a five-member committee, headed by Mr Bhagwant Singh, an educationist had been constituted to look into the charges.

When contacted Mr Saini denied ‘sexual’ harassment of any student. He said he always tried to be ‘fatherly figure’ but it was his rivals in the school always looked for an opportunity to tarnish his image. He said it was unfortunate that he had been suspended after character assassination. He would prove his ‘innocence’ before the inquiry committee, he added.

Earlier, the principal had allegedly beaten up Gurwinder Singh, IX standard student by calling him in his office. However, Mr Saini claimed the deceased was ‘caught’ while passing ‘indecent remarks’ against a girl student. On this, he said he (Mr Saini) had pulled up the student and asked him to bring his parents with him.

Today, students observed a strike and raised slogans against the principal. They were demanding action against the principal. The situation took a serious turn, when a few girl students levelled serious charges of indecent remarks by the Principal.

Medical college vice-principal chargesheeted
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 2
The Punjab government has chargesheeted Dr Jaswinder Kaur Shergil, Vice Principal and Head of the Department Surgery of Government Medical College following a high-level inquiry conducted by a retired IAS officer, into charges of preparing ‘fake files’ of patients there and causing loss to the state exchequer .

However, Dr Shergil has claimed the charges framed against her are “baseless and concocted” . She claimed the complainant was found to be ‘anonymous’ and letters sent to him (complainant) were ‘undelivered’ since the address given in the complaint was found to be ‘fake’.

The Inquiry was conducted by a retired IAS officer M.M. Obroi . The charge-sheet reads, that Dr Shergil had ‘destroyed official record’ and ‘misused’ government money from patients for doing operations. The second charge points out ‘arbitrary work’ while performing duty. Another serious charge, framed against Dr Shergil alleged ‘negligence of work’ that amounted to a violation of discipline .

Earlier, a high-level three-member inquiry committee comprising Dr J.S. Dalal (now Principal) Dr Kiranjit Kaur, then principal Medical College Patiala, respectively, and Deputy Controller Finance and Accounts (DCFA), Om Parkash Chaudhary, conducted a preliminary probe into the charges of admission of patients to Guru Nanak Dev Hospital (attached to Medical College, Amritsar) on the basis of “fake files”.

The inquiry committee had visited the medical college here on a specific complaint after the preliminary probe, which had indicted the professor of surgery in this regard. The committee had felt that “fake files” were also prepared in other units of the government hospital attached to the medical college.

Earlier, a three-member committee comprising Dr H.S. Gill, then Medical Superintendent, Dr B.B. Goyal, professor of surgery at Guru Nanak Hospital, and the DCFA of Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital in a preliminary probe had detected existence of “fake admission files” in the hospital. Meanwhile, Dr Jaswinderpal Kaur Shergill, professor of surgery, who was charge-sheeted for getting “fake files” ordered due to “professional rivalry”.

According to sources, Dr Shergil can not be considered for further promotion through the Departmental Promotion Committee till the charges are cleared . She has been given time to clarify her position and allowed to have look at relevant records . The charge-sheet also mentioned five cases of the “fake admission files”.


Mob backing ‘missing boy’ lathicharged
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 2
Family members of a missing child and their supporters were today lathicharged by the police when they were demanding action against certain religious persons, allegedly responsible for “kidnapping” of a three-year-old child.

It is alleged that Bindia, a resident of Panjgaranian village, near Batala, had lost her son, Karnbir (3), in a crowd when she had gone to pay obeisance in Gurdwara Baba Shaheedan a few days ago. The residents of the village also resorted to traffic jam near the gurdwara and raised slogans against the police.

However, the Station House Officer, C Division, Mr Jagatpreet Singh, said the police was already investigating the case and had released pictures of the “missing boy”. However, it was not proper to arrest certain “babas”, holding them responsible for it.


Punjab economy looking up
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1
The Punjab economy is looking up. The growth rate has reached 6 per cent but is lower than the national growth rate of 8 per cent at present. The mid-fiscal review of the state’s financial health shows that the reversal of the excise policy — from monopolistic to a competitive one — has proved to be substantially good for the state’s revenue.

Revenue from excise registered an increase of about Rs 114 crore till September 30 as compared to the corresponding period in the last fiscal year. Revenue collection from excise during the last fiscal year till September 30 was Rs 754 crore and this year it is about Rs 869 crore.

Certain senior officers of the Excise Department had opposed the introduction of the competitive policy saying that revenue from excise would dip by Rs 200 crore to Rs 400 crore. However, they have been proved wrong. Because of their monopoly on the liquor business, certain liquor barons virtually made a fortune during three fiscal years (2003-04 to 2005-06) in the state. Consequently, people suffered a lot. Liquor consumers not only got poor quality liquor but were also made to pay high prices for cheap brands.

Revenue receipts have registered an increase of Rs 1,117 crore, touching Rs 7,153 crore till September 30 as compared to the corresponding period last year when it was Rs 6,036 crore. The collection from stamp duty was Rs 718 crore till September 30 during the last fiscal year but it is Rs 979 crore for the corresponding period this year. And collection of tax on vehicles went up to Rs 206 crore till September-end this year while during the corresponding period last year it was Rs 200 crore. Revenue from electricity duty was Rs 250 crore till September 30 whereas it was Rs 116 during the same period last year.

There is an increase in the share from central taxes. Till September 30 last year, the share from central taxes was Rs 519 crore and this year it is Rs 632 crore.

The collection of taxes from Punjab Roadways, however, has registered a decline of Rs 3 crore as compared to the period till September-end last year.

There is also a substantial increase in revenue expenditure. It was Rs 6,085 crore till September 30 last year whereas this year it is Rs 7,535 crore.

The revenue deficit till September 30 was pegged at Rs 382 crore. Last year it was only 49 crore. When questioned in this regard, the Chief Secretary, Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, told The Tribune that the state government had to spend Rs 250 crore on relief to riot victims.

However, this money would be reimbursed by the Central Government. Besides, the state government had to divert Rs 100 crore from VAT to the municipal committees. Actually, the revenue deficit was only Rs 32 crore if the money to be reimbursed by the Union Government and the diversion made to the municipal fund were taken into account, said Mr Lakhanpal.

Plan expenditure went up to Rs 1,407 crore till September 30 as compared to the corresponding period last year when it was only Rs 567 crore.There is an increase of 28.5 per cent in plan expenditure. “A good aspect of plan expenditure is that capital expenditure, which is spent for productive purposes, is about Rs 1,138 crore whereas during the same period last year it was only Rs 292 crore”, said Mr Lakhanpal. “We are spending a lot of money on improving all major roads and constructing flyovers,” he claimed.

Mr Lakhanpal said: “The state’s gross domestic product, which had been pegged at Rs 1 lakh crore, requires to re-assessed as this figure appears to well below the real one.”


CPCSEA issues notices to medical and educational institutes
Use of animals for research
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 2
The Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals, (CPCSEA), Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, has issued notices to a number of educational and medical institutes of the state for not convening a meeting of the Institutional Animal Ethics Committee (IAEC) that monitors the use of animals for experiments.

The notices have been issued to the Pharmacology Department of Punjab Agricultural University, Dayanand Medical College and Christian Medical College, Ludhiana, Government Medical College, Amritsar, Panjab University, Chandigarh, Government Pharmacy College, Barnala, Punjabi University, Patiala and the Central Research Institute for Ayurveda, Patiala.

Signed by Dr C. Sivaperuman, Expert Consultant of the CPCSEA, the communication asked all these institutes to convene the IAEC meeting and review all experimental protocols and get these approved by the committee in the presence of CPCSEA nominee. Some of the institutes are learnt to have announced the date of next meeting after receiving the notice from the committee.

Sources in the CPCSEA said while all these institutes had not convened the meetings in the current academic session, there were other institutes which had not even constituted Ethics Committees though the provision was implemented in 2003.

The CPCSEA was constituted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1978, and all organisations or individuals that use animals for research, testing and teaching are required to have an animal ethics committee and the code of ethical conduct.

The animal ethics committee’s role was to consider applications for use of animals in research, testing, and teaching, monitor compliance with project approvals.

An institutional animal ethics committee includes at least four persons, appointed by the institution’s Chief Executive. At least three members of the committee must not be members of the institution and must include a Veterinarian nominated by the CPCSEA or a person nominated by an approved animal welfare organisation.

The Committee requires for maintaining records of animal use for at least five years, and submit information on numbers of animals used and nature of experiments or teaching to the CPCSEA annually.


AISAD (T) to contest poll from all segments
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 2
All-India Shiromani Akali Dal (Tohra group) will field candidates of public choice in all 117 segments of state Assembly in the forthcoming election in Punjab. This was disclosed by Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, President of the AISAD (T), here today.

He said that as many as 14 groups of five workers each had been formed to take public opinion about the candidature of their respective segments. Each group would conduct a survey in five segments to know the choice of voters. After considering voters' choice, choice of candidates would be finalized. The party would not take or provide money from or to the candidates in these election to avoid corruption.

Mr Mann said there was a dire need to make reforms in administration, judiciary, education and health care programme. Formation of an Administrative Reform Commission was badly needed.

Speaking about Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Mann claimed that people of state were fed up with both of them and wanted change.

He said that to get rid of religious corruption Gurdwara Prabandhak Act of 1925 should be amended and modified, adding that as many as 980 gurdwaras were under the control of the SGPC which had 27750 acres land.


2-term bar on contesting cooperative poll to go
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Sujanpur (Gurdaspur), November 2
The Punjab government has decided to do away with the two-term bar on contesting cooperative elections. Earlier, any elected director of the cooperative body had to abstain from election after two consecutive terms as director. He could contest the cooperative election again only after a one year gap. However, now the government was considering the proposal of doing away with two-term bar and allowing the candidates to contest elections without any break.

Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, Minister for Cooperation, Punjab, stated this while talking to The Tribune here today. He was here to participate in the mass contact program of the party.

He disclosed that the government would clear the dues of all the employees of closed cooperative sugar mills employees in the state this month. The government would bear financial burden of Rs 22 crore for making the payment of salary arrears of the employees.

Responding to a query, Mr Samra said this year also five closed cooperative sugar mills of the state would not be operated. The sugarcane plantation in the areas, where the mills are located, has gone down. Even if the mills are operated, enough sugarcane would not be available for crushing in these mills. The cooperative department officials have calculated that the mills might suffer an additional loss of Rs 34 crores if they are operated.

He said the government was working on repealing section 67-A of the Cooperative Act under which the farmers defaulting on loans are arrested and harassed. After the Act is repealed no farmers would be arrested for defaulting on agriculture loans.

Mr Samra along with the Transport Minister, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, also addressed a political rally at Sujanpur.


Badal for Rs 1,000 as MSP of wheat
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
The President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today demanded that the minimum support price of wheat should be Rs 1,000 per quintal as the cost of agricultural inputs had increased manifold. Already, in the open market, wheat was selling at a price higher than the just announced MSP of Rs 750 per quintal.

Since the country needed the foodgrain and the cost of inputs like diesel or fertiliser were fixed by the Central Government, the MSP for wheat should be directly linked to the price index. Mr Badal said a Political Affairs Committee (PAC) meeting held here passed a resolution in this regard.

Mr Badal pointed out that wheat was being imported at a price of Rs 1,250 per quintal while the MSP for the country’s farmers was revised and fixed at Rs 750. He said the MSP for wheat had been increased by Rs 230 in the five years of the erstwhile NDA regime.

Replying to a question on what policy the SAD would adopt on special economic zones if it was voted to power, Mr Badal said it would have its own formula and also take the consent of farmers. He refused to spell out the formula, but said it would be linked to the market price of land. He reminded mediapersons that special committees had been formed during his tenure as Chief Minister to decide the rates for land acquisition. “We will decide it on a case-to-case basis”. 


Special Braille machine for blind voters
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 2
The Braille voting machines would be installed for use by blind and physically challenged near for blind institutes in Punjab in the Assembly elections.

Stating this to reporters at Circuit House here today Mr Naveen Chawla, Election Commissioner of India, announced that work to complete voters’ lists and voter identity cards had been going on smoothly in the state. He said 72 per cent of the work had been finished and efforts were on to complete it before the election was announced.

Answering queries on the tentative election dates in the four states, going to the polls in next few months Mr Chawla said that Election Commission (EC) would announce dates only after completing the process of voters’ list in the states. The Punjab Assembly completes its five-year term in February next year. He said the EC had deletes names of more than two lakh voters who either had died or migrated from the state as verification of this crucial work was on.

Mr Chawla said the election officers were facing difficulty in the two industrial towns of Punjab - Jalandhar and Ludhiana - due to the presence of migrant labour. He said efforts were on to prepare accurate voters list by getting their names struck off from the voters’ list in their respective native places. He said the Election Commission was making serious attempts to prepare foolproof list before the commencement of polls in Punjab.

Commenting on plea of the Shiromani Akali Dal, which had demanded central paramilitary forces to supervise the law and order situation in the state, Mr Chawla said that the EC was monitoring the scenario and said a decision would be taken at an appropriate time.


Rajewal, Bhupinder Mann part ways
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
The farmers’ movement in Punjab got a setback as two senior leaders of the Bharti Kisan Union, Mr Bhupinder Singh Mann, and Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal formally parted ways today. At a meeting held here Mr Rajewal, was elected president of the Punjab unit of the BKU, which is separate from the BKU headed by Mr Mann.

In a statement released to the Press, Mr Onkar Singh Agaul, general secretary of the BKU headed by Mr Rajewal, said that Mr Baldev Singh Mianpur had been nominated as the Punjab unit’s representative on the national body of the BKU.

However, when contacted on the phone, Mr Mianpur said he was a senior office-bearer of the BKU headed by Mr Mann and had nothing to do with the organisation headed by Mr Rajewal. Mr Mianpur further said that he had attended the meeting convened by Mr Mann yesterday. He did not take part in the meeting convened by Mr Rajewal today.

Both Mr Mann and Mr Rajewal were founder-members of the BKU which over the years has spilit into several factions. However, both worked together till last year. For the past one year, they have been working separately but had not parted ways formally.

Mr Rajewal said Mr Agaul had been elected general secretary of the body headed by him and Mr Gulzar Singh Ghanur would be its treasuer. He said that his organisation would talk to different political parties to decide its role during the coming Assembly elections.

His organisation had decided to hold a march towards the private residence of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, at Patiala on November 18 to seek clearance of the dues of bonus on paddy that was announced in 2001. The government had announced Rs 30 per quintal as bonus but only payment of Rs 10 per quintal was made to the farmers concerned. He said the wheat MSP should be fixed at Rs 1,050 per quintal.

In a seperate statement, Mr Mann and Mr Mianpur said that their faction of the BKU wanted that the minimum support price of wheat should be Rs 1,115 per quintal on a par with the price of imported wheat. They said the government should frame a new policy on the acquisition of land, which should only be acquired for public purposes.

They also sought compensation for farmers whose crops were damaged by a hailstorm in the Banur-Fatehgarh Sahib area on October 22. The union also demanded solving of the problems faced by farmers in the cotton belt and the saving of farmers from the debt trap.


Dullo to accompany CM on ‘yatra’

Chandigarh, November 2
The president of the PPCC, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo,will accompany the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, during the first phase of the Punjab “vikas yatra” that will start from Nangal on November 8. — TNS


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