P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Retire from politics, CM advises Badal
Tribune News Service

Batala, November 24
Residents of this town which witnessed large-scale migration during militancy today came out on roads in a big number to welcome to the vikas yatra of Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh. The crowd emboldened the ruling party in this town. However, the culmination of the yatra was on poor note in Amritsar district since Congress leaders had sought help of orchestra groups to attract crowd.

After receiving good response in the Batala constituency, the CM advised Shiromani Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal to retire from politics and utilise services of old-age home set up by him at his Badal village.

Addressing mediapersons on the outskirts of Kathunangal during brief lunch break on his way to Verka, the CM said he would give this suggestion at the rally to be organised at Badal village on Mr Badal’s birthday as a fight from the Congress party.

He said response to the yatra had instilled and boosted confidence amongst the rank and file of he Congress and their morale to defeat Akalis in the election. He said though he was not a soothsayer but still could prophesy that his party would capture more seats than that it won in the last Assembly elections.

To another question about the incompletion of the auditorium in the memory of Shiv Kumar Batalvi renowned Punjabi poet since 1981, he said that Batalvi belonged not only to Batala but to whole Punjabi world. He said the Congress government would complete this auditorium on priority to give him befitting recognition for his contribution to Punjabi language and culture.

Start of the yatra was impressive with crowd in bazaars of Batala and other places.

Men, women and youth were seen standing on both sides of roads and on rooftops of houses and shops to have glimpse of the Chief Minister. Youth Congress workers led by Mr Vijay Singla and Mr K.S. Rintu, District Youth Congress president Amritsar (Rural) accompanied the Chief Minister throughout the yatra. The crowd accorded welcome to the Chief Minister on his arrival to the town with the performance of bhangra and gidha to the beats of drums.

A delegation of the Bharti Kisan Union (Mann) comprising at least 1000 workers welcomed the Chief Minister by presenting him a bunch of sugarcane to express gratitude to him for hike in the support price of sugarcane for the 2006-07. women and youth of the Baba Sri Chand Youth Club also welcomed the Chief Minister at Hardojhande village.

Earlier, the CM laid the foundation stone of Rs 14 crore Railway Overbridge through remote and also inaugurated Rajiv Gandhi Sport stadium of Rs 58 crore at Batala.


SAD, BJP seek early poll
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
As the Election Commission has started gearing up for holding the Assembly elections in Punjab, the state government has activated its official machinery to complete important tasks before the enforcement of the Code of Conduct in the state.

The top brass of the state government led by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is expected to meet the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, tomorrow in Delhi. As the Prime Minister’s visit is due to the state, pending issues of the state will be discussed with the Prime Minister, it is learnt. The date of the Prime Minister’s visit will also be finalised tomorrow.

Certain senior Ministers of Punjab are expected to have an informal interaction with the Prime Minister tonight at a social function in Delhi.

Sources said the Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP had built up pressure on the Election Commission to complete the process of constitution of the new Vidhan Sabha by February 15, 2007. In other words, the SAD-BJP combine has urged the commission to hold the elections before February 15 and enforce the Code of Conduct with immediate effect. Last time the Assembly elections were held on February 13 and the Code of Conduct was enforced on December 26.

While the SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, launched his election campaign months ago, the Congress started it only a few weeks ago. The apprehension in the SAD-BJP combine is that its prolonged election campaign could lead to fatigue among its rank and file and this could have an adverse impact in the elections. That is why the combine wants early elections. “ It is a hard job to sustain the interest and enthusiasm of party workers and leaders in the poll campaign for a long period. Moreover, it is a very costly affair”, said a senior SAD leader.

The sources said that if the commission accepted the SAD-BJP combine’s request, the poll could be held by February 15 and the Code of Conduct could be enforced by December 24. Otherwise, the commission, the sources said, had proposed to hold the elections on March 4, which is a Sunday.

Dr Daljeet Singh Cheema, secretary of the SAD, said the SAD-BJP deputation which recently met the Election Commission had told it that in the garb of the Punjab Vikas Yatra, Capt Amarinder Singh had launched an election campaign. “ The commission was told that official machinery is being used for the election campaign by the Congress and this should be stopped immediately by enforcing the Code of Conduct”, said Mr Cheema.


Inside Babudom
Ex-bureaucrat comes out with book on Banda Bahadur
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
For many in the Punjab Civil Service, Mr Manohar Singh Chandla, had been a colleague, teacher, friend, philosopher and guide. But many may not be aware that Mr Chandla of late has “inherited” the mantle of authorship from Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, his one-time trainee in the PCS (Executive).

Mr Chandla, who retired from the Indian Administrative Service in 1986 as a 1980-batch IAS officer, is now settled in Chandigarh. His latest book, “Banda Bahadur - Betrayal by his Lieutenants”, is not only a biographical compilation of that great warrior but also a step towards naming him as the first freedom fighter who launched a crusade against the invaders.

This, incidentally, is his third book. His first two books are on the life and religion of the Bishnoi community of Rajasthan. His association with the Bishnoi community probably started from his early days as he was born and brought up in undivided Ferozepore district.

His earlier books - “Jambhoji, Messiah of the Thar Desert” and “The Bishnois, Wildlife Protection an Article of Faith” - were the result of his basic training as a social researcher and keen observer of history.

He is also the co-author of “Towards the Starlit Dome". Besides, he has been contributing articles on current issues to various newspapers and magazines in the region.

Mr Chandla came into the limelight in his earlier years in the Punjab Civil Service when in undivided Punjab, in his capacity as Civil Magistrate , he was witness to the great escape of Akalis from the Bathinda jail. The escape attempt was followed by the police opening fire on the Akalis. At that time Mr Partap Singh Kairon was the Chief Minister and Mr Sant Parkash Singh the Inspector-General of Police.

Mr Chandla held various key positions in the Punjab civil administration, including his stint in training new entrants to the Provincial Civil Service. Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, who retired a couple of months ago as Commissioner, Ferozepore division, was one of his trainees.

And to some extent, it was Mr Sidhu who, besides Mr Mohinder Singh Badoshi, once Political Secretary to the Pepsu Chief Minister, Mr Gian Singh Rarewala, persuaded Mr Chandla to clear doubts of people about the man who ultimately came to be known as Banda Bahadur.

Civil servants who have turned authors include Mr Kuldip Kumar Bhatnagar, Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, Mr Ashok Kumar Gupta and Mr Robin Gupta.


Bhaddal students barred from exam, protest
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 24
Tension prevailed in Bhaddal Engineering College here today when more than 500 students of various engineering branches resorted to protest after many of them were barred from appearing in the internal examination commencing from November 27 due to the shortage of attendance.

The police used mild force to disperse the students, which led to minor injuries to some of the students.

One student was admitted to the Civil Hospital, Ropar, while others were given first-aid in the college dispensary.

Till 10.30 pm, many of the students were still protesting, while the college management was holding a meeting with the students' representatives to resolve the dispute.

The situation aggravated when a list of students having short attendance was displayed on the notice board. The students blocked all exit gates and did not even allow any of the college buses to carry students to their homes. Aggrieved students complained that if they did not get a chance to appear in the examination, then it would be difficult for them to clear degree with good aggregate marks. They alleged that the authorities did not even accept the medical certificates of the students.

The Chairman of the college, Mrs Kulwinder Gurcharan Singh, said they had given additional time to the students to complete their attendance, but they still ran short of attendance.

SSP Kapil Dev said they had deployed police in the college but denied using any force against the students.


Case registered against nursing home
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 24
The District Health authorities registered a case under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act against Satya Nursing Home here today.

Civil Surgeon Dr Rakesh Gupta, District Health Officer Dr D.C. Sharma and District Family Planning Officer Dr Kiranjot Kaur raided the premises of Satya Nursing Home, run by Dr Nishi Verma, and found various anomalies which included MTP instruments on the operating table.

On checking the home’s record, the team found two weeks ago a woman who was pregnant for 33 weeks, had been aborted.

Record of the home was sealed and a case under the MTP Act was made out against the owners.


Congress sweeps coop bank poll
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 24
Amid allegations of foul play by the SAD, the Congress today swept the cooperative bank elections and captured eight out of nine zones.

Those elected unopposed include Mr Bhagat Singh Dhaliwal, Mr Gurnam Singh Sema, Mr Naib Singh, Mr Krishan Singh, Mr Sarabjeet Singh, Mr Amritpal Singh, Mr Tehal Singh Sandhu and Mr Gurmeet Singh.

The only consolation for the SAD was that the nomination of Mr Gurpreet Singh Malooka was accepted from Zone 3 without any hitch. Earlier, leaders from both parties thronged the bank premises for the scrutiny of nominations amid the presence of the police.

SAD activists raised slogans against the Congress government as soon as they came to know that the nominations of their five candidates had been rejected.

While the Congress termed it as a victory of the policies of the Amarinder government, district SAD chief Sikander Singh Malooka accused the Congress of resorting to unfair practices to win the elections.

He said their candidates had filed their nominations from all nine zones, of which five were rejected in the beginning. Later it was announced that the fate of six zones had been decided, while the elections to three zones would be held.

He alleged that though the time for receiving objections was from 10 am to 12 noon, officials received the same even after 3 pm and rejected two more nominations.

Electoral officials, however, refuted the allegations.


Avoid mudslinging, Dullo tells CM, Brar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, has urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the senior Congress leader, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, not to make controversial statements regarding putting up a candidate against the SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, or anyone else.

He has told both leaders to talk about the development of the state instead of resorting to mudslinging.

Mr Dullo said today that the Congress was strong enough to win the Assembly elections under the leadership of Mrs Sonia Gandhi. The nomination of a particular Congress candidate to contest against anyone would be of little consequence to the poll prospects of the Congress.

Mr Dullo said it was the prerogative of the party high command to decide the candidates for all Assembly segments and Mr Brar or the Chief Minister could not force anyone to contest from a particular constituency.

Meanwhile, sources said a number of complaints had been made by the Ministerialist group against Mr Brar with regard to his statements about the Chief Minister. 


Zero in the name of development
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, November 24
Various villages situated north of Hussainiwala barrage along the Indo-Pakistan border have nothing to boast of in the name of basic amenities. During the monsoon, residents of these villages pass their nights in the fear of death as they do not know when the river water will flood their homes.

Julloke, Chandiwala, Khunder Gatti and several others villages situated on an enclave formed between the Sutlej and the Indo-Pakistan border have seen nothing in the name of development. In the absence of any bridge connecting these villages to the rest of the area, wooden boats are the sole mode of transportation available to these villages for visiting the nearest town.

The boat owner charges the villagers on biannual basis. As the villagers are not in a position to pay cash, they pay him in kind in the form of foodgrain every six months.

These villages do not have basic amenities like schools, hospitals, water supply, sewerage and mettled roads. There is only one government elementary school at Chandipura village which caters to the need of students of three surrounding villages. For education beyond class V, there is a private school but everyone cannot afford to send his ward to that school due to financial constraints, says Mr Kartar Singh, president of the Zorawar Youth Club.

Shinder of Julloke village said they were promised that the land that they were tilling since ages would be transferred in their names but nothing had been done so far.

Jaswinder Singh, a class XI student of a private school, said as there were no avenues for higher education, so he would have to discontinue his studies from next year.

In the name of health care, the nearest government dispensary is located at Gatti Rajoke. However, there are few quacks who have opened their dawakhanas in these villages.

According to Rama, a widow, after the demise of her husband, all family members, including her two sons, have left the village leaving her there alone. Rama said she had no information about the waiving of electricity bills for Dalits.

Due to heavy discharge in the Sutlej during the monsoon season, these villagers had to spend sleepless nights as the river water may flood their katcha homes any time. The only silver lining is that due to frequent flooding of these areas and in absence of any bridge to connect these villages to the rest of region, the villagers, even the females and the children, have become very good swimmers.

Some of the villagers feel that due to strategic location of these villages in the sensitive border zone, the Army authorities may be having some reservations over the construction of bridges in the area. However, the BSF officials maintain the bridge, if constructed, would be rather helpful to them in discharging their duties.

Mr Parminder Singh, general secretary of the PPCC, who recently toured these villages to know about the problems of these villagers, said immediate steps were needed to ameliorate their problems. He promised to take up the issue of granting ownership rights to the farmers who had been cultivating the government land since years.


85 farmers released from jail
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 24
Eightyfive farmers, including village-level presidents of the BKU (Ugrahan) —Mr Darshan Singh of Tolewal village, Mr Gurcharan Singh of Jakhepal village and Mr Amrik Singh of Gandhuan village — were released from District Jail here this evening.

They were in the jail here in connection with the agitation of the farmers, related to acquisition of 376 acres of farmers in Dhaula, Sangherra and Fatehgarh Chhanna villages (near Barnala) by the Punjab Government for Abhishek Industries known as Trident Group.

Mr D.K. Sidhu, Superintendent of District Jail, confirmed release of 85 farmers. He said now only 12 farmers, related to the agitation, were in jail here. 


Remembering Surinder Kaur
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 24
The Punjab Arts Council is organising a function to commemorate the 77th birthday of the legendary Punjabi folk artiste and playback singer, Surinder Kaur, at the Punjab Kala Bhavan tomorrow. The secretary-general of the council, Prof Rajpal Singh, said noted scholars and artistes, who had worked with Surinder Kaur, will share their views on her life and achievements.

An exhibition of her recordings by Gurmukh Singh Lali and a documentary film depicting her illustrious career produced by Zee TV under the direction of Mukesh Gautam will be an added attractions.


Eight workers receive burns

Amritsar, November 24
At least eight workers received burns when a fire broke out in a factory on the Amritsar-Tarn Taran road near here today.

One of the injured workers, identified as Billa, was admitted to Guru Nanak Dev Hospital in a serious condition, while others were dischaged after first aid. — UNI


Increase in cotton prices brings cheer to farmers
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 24
Fall in arrival of cotton in the region’s markets coupled with purchase by ginners has led to cotton prices crossing Rs 2,100 mark bringing smile on farmers’ faces.

According to sources, markets in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, which were witnessing daily arrival of 40,000 bales, now are down to 20,000-25,000 bales. Ex-chairman of the North India Cotton Association Ashok Kapoor, said while a section of farmers was holding back its stock, sowing of wheat had also affected plucking and arrival of cotton.

He said shortage of labour had also hampered pricking of cotton and a large number of fields were yet to be picked. He said local mills were making a regular purchase as these were keen on building up stock.

He said the millers were aware of the fact that the demand was good and there was no risk involved in it. He said the farmers, who earlier got Rs 1,900-Rs 2,000 for the produce, also didn’t complain, as their crop size had compensated for the “below-expectation” prices. Sounding optimistic, he said now pressure of arrivals had gone past it was unlikely that the prices will fall. “The prices will only improve from here though the rise would be gradual,” he averred. He said it augured well for the state, as more farmers would switch over to cotton cultivation.

On last night’s rainfall, he said it would impede picking and arrival of cotton apart from hitting of ginning. Regarding overall cotton scenario in the region, he said markets had seen an arrival of 17 lakh bales till now, of which Punjab had a lion’s share of 10 lakh bales followed by Haryana with five lakh bales and Rajasthan with two lakh bales.

On prices in the other two states, he said it was Rs 2,125 per quintal in Haryana, while the same was Rs 2,020 in Rajasthan. He said quality-wise Punjab had premium cotton and it was more in demand among the region’s millers.


Net House Scheme for small farmers
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 24
The Farmers’ Commission, Punjab, has prepared a Net House Scheme to enable farmers to increase their income by using the same for growing vegetables.

Stating this at a function organised in connection with the distribution of loans to farmers under White Card Scheme by Allahabad Bank in association with Dairy Development Department, Punjab, here today, Mr G.S. Kalkat, Chairman, Farmers’ Commission, Punjab, said around 50 Net House plots had been set up in the state, while 50 more such plots were being set up as exhibition plots to attract the farmers.

He said it had become the need of the hour for small farmers to adopt agriculture-allied activities to supplement their income.

He added that farmers could adopt dairy and poultry farming to generate additional income as both these businesses had good future in the state.

Expressing concern over depleting water table, Mr Kalkat said the state government needed to take necessary steps to reduce area under paddy cultivation — from existing 65 lakh acres to 45 lakh acres.

Around 75 farmers were given cheques worth Rs 10 crore for setting up model dairy farms at the function.


Three women, 2 men held for illicit acts
Our Correspondent

Barnala, November 24
The Tapa police arrested three women and two men for illicit activities. Tapa SHO Sukhminder Singh Chauhan said the police got an information that three women and two men were indulging in illicit activities.

The police raided and arrested Jasbir Kaur, wife of Buta Singh, Balbeer Kaur, wife of Mustak Khan, Birpal Kaur, wife of Bhola Singh and Narotam Kumar of Bhadaur and Bhola Singh of Jaimal Singh.

A case has been registered under Section 109 of the CrPc. All five persons were produced in a court at Tapa which released them after they furnished a bond of Rs 10,000 security. 


Probe ordered in bus-train collision
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, November 24
Divisional Railway Manager V.K.Gupta has ordered a high-level departmental inquiry and formed a three-member committee to find out causes of mishap on the Phillaur-Noormahal section.

He said, the railways would bear expenses of the treatment of the girls injured yesterday.

The DRM said today assistant mechanical engineer, the Assistant Traffic Manager, and the assistant engineer would look into the mishap.


Varsity starts Edusat programme
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 24
Guru Nank Dev University today celebrated its 37th foundation day by holding a seminar on Guru Nanak Dev. Vice-Chancellor Jai Rup Singh said the university planned to spread the message of the Guru at the global level.

The university also launched an Edusat programme on a trial basis. The celebrations were telecast live in Khalsa College, Amritsar, DAV College, Jalandhar, SDAM College, Dina Nagar, Guru Nanak Khalsa College, Ludhiana, and Guru Nanak Institute of Management, Delhi.

The VC honoured Dr J.S. Grewal, Dr J.S. Neki, Dr Sardar Anjum and Prof Monika Boehm Tettlebach on the occasion.

A folk art exhibition, besides photography and painting competitions, were held. In the exhibition, 15 teams from affiliated colleges displayed their exhibits.

The university granted 50 per cent discount on its publications, for which a special counter was put up. 


CM’s assurance to doctors on college’s recognition
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 24
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh yesterday reassured the doctors that the Government Medical College here would not be derecognised.

The delegation of the Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association led by Dr Baljit Singh Dhillon, Chairman, Dr Tejbir, state coordinator and Dr Amrik Singh Bhatia, secretary, met the CM here said the posts in the college be filled soon to save the college from de-recognition.

A Medical Council of India team recently visited the college and disallowed the authorities to make admission from new academic session after finding the college’s functioning unsatisfactory.

The delegation also requested the CM to raise retirement age of doctors to 62 years so that teachers got incentive to continue in government service.

The association lauded the government for releasing of Rs seven crore grant for the college.


Now, college teachers in Punjab need ‘good report card’ too
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
Government college teachers in Punjab, it seems, will get a taste of their own medicine. A new system of evaluating teachers has been introduced. The teachers will be given marks in their annual confidential reports. A consistently good ‘report card’ will be required for their promotion as principals.

Mr Harkanwarjit Singh, Director Public Instruction (Colleges), says the new system approved by the Punjab Government quantifies the achievement and performance of college teachers. It also introduces self-appraisal . The teacher is required to list his achievements before he is assessed.

Principals will mark the teachers for various aspects of their work as also their academic calibre. An assessment of the results of the classes taught by the teacher will be taken into account. If the teacher has papers published in referred and non-referred journals and authored books, he will get extra points. Similarly, participation in national or international seminars and conferences will get them marks.

“Each teacher will be evaluated on a six-item scale, each of which will fetch the teachers three points. The maximum number of points that a teacher can score is 16. Anyone who gets more than 14 points will be graded ‘excellent’, those who score between 11 to 13 points will be graded ‘very good’, those between 8 to 10 points will be graded ‘good’ and those who score between 5 to 7 marks will be graded ‘average’.

“Anyone who gets more than 12 points can be promoted as principal,” says Mr Harkanwarjit Singh. A similar exercise is being undertaken for assessing college principals. “The ACR of each principal will also be based on self-evaluation and a point system. Principals will be marked for integrity, disposal of work, working knowledge of civil and financial rules, action taken with regard to grants from the UGC etc,” he says.


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