P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Copying goes hi-tech
Education Department helpless
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 20
The age-old ‘parchi’ system which used to do the trick during the examination season is now a thing of the past. Enter the low cost hi-tech Chinese pens which students are using to take them through the examinations.

Though education minister Upinder Jit Kaur has said no instance of copying will be tolerated during the board exams and the erring officials will be dealt with strictly, a Chinese pen, costing around Rs 20 has come in handy for the inventive students who have added this “invisible-writing” pen to their cheating devices.

Sources in the education department said after it decided to go strict with instances of cheating and the staff on examination duty become vigilant no paper slips or chits were being allowed in the examination centre.

The sources said during one such frisking exercise during the exam of the plus-two science stream a few days ago, a teacher found that some of the students had pasted white-blank papers on their clip boards.

During questing, the students claimed that the paper had been pasted on the clipboard to help in writing neatly and the teachers didn’t suspect anything wrong as the paper was blank.

The sources said after the invigilators became relaxed once the exam had started smoothly, a student was found to be “playing” with his pen, rather than writing his answers. When the teacher examined the clip-board of the student, it was found that the seemingly harmless blank white paper had information relevant to the paper of the day. The writing on the blank paper could be read with the light emitted by a special bulb which gave blue light from the cap of the pen.

When confronted the student pleaded pardon and the staff on duty was also reluctant to frame a case under the unfair means case (UMC) as the same would have damaged the reputation of their examination centre. The student was let off with a warning and the staff became extra vigilant to check students cheating with latest gadgets, the sources said.

The sources said the pen had gained popularity as the examination staff generally paid attention to the ‘parchi’s’ only. The sources said the ‘harmless’ pen was easily available at gift shops and shops selling high-quality stationery items.

A section of bookshop owners in the city, when contacted by TNS revealed that this pen had been selling in good numbers during exam days, though they didn’t admit selling such pens.

The Tribune managed to procure one such pen from a local gift shop. The pen writes in transparent ink which can be read when the tiny bulb on the cap of the pen is lit. The pen has inbuilt button cells and a small light emitting diode bulb.

Surinder Kaur Kataria, DEO (S), Bathinda,when contacted, said so far no case of cheating in any examination centre of the district had come to her notice. She said a foolproof arrangement had been made to check the menace of copying. However, when asked about the usage of the Chinese pen by students, she feigned ignorance.

Meanwhile information gathered by TNS revealed that a flying squad had got registered two UMC cases at the local Khalsa school and SSD School examination centres.


Probe report exposes claims on curbing female foeticide
Doctors unaware of authorised MTP centres
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
"None of the doctors could inform about the legally operative medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) centres in the area". This is a crucial finding of Anjali Bhawra, commissioner of Patiala division, who has conducted the inquiry with regard to the female foetuses episode at Patran in Patiala district.

Linked to this finding is the question how the state health department could check the menace of female foeticide when most of its doctors have not been even provided with the basic information about legally operating MTP centres in the most vulnerable areas near the common boundary of Punjab and Haryana.

For the past many years the state health department authorities have been making tall claims with regard to the curbing of female foeticide that has become the root cause of the highly skewed sex ratio in the state. However, facts revealed by the Bhawra report tell a different story.

" Medical officers were asked whether they were aware of the provisions of the MTP Act and MTP centres legally authorised by the state-level committee or the district- level committee in and around Patran and the Shutrana area", states Bhawra in her report. " None of the doctors could inform about the legally operative MTP centres", she adds. As many as 13 senior medical officers and medical officers were summoned by Bhawra to explain the lapses, if any, on their part. And during the course of the inquiry, she came to know that there were only two legally operating centres-- one was at the civil hospital,Samana, and other the primary health centre, Shutrana-- in that area.

Though Bhawra has not stated it in her report, it is a widely known fact that illegally operating MTP centres are in fact money- spinning ventures for most of the senior doctors posted in the countryside. Most of the senior civil health officers have detailed information not only about such centres but also about how many hotels, marriage palaces, bakeries and dairies are operational in a district, etc.

One has to take a licence for running an MTP centre from the district-level committee headed by the civil surgeon. And the same committee is the licence renewing authority under the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules,2003. Earlier, there was a licensing committee at the state level but through a notification issued on February 14 last year, these powers were delegated to the district-level committees.

Anther fact that highlighted the impaired functioning of the health department in the rural areas in the inquiry report was with regard to the frequent transfer of doctors. In Shutrana, none of the doctors posted there during the past four years had worked for more than six months in that area. And during their tenure they had not tried to gather information about the illegal activities going on in that area and most of the doctors were not aware of the provisions of the MTP Act, says the inquiry report. The shortage of medical staff is the other area the report has dwelt upon.

Who is responsible for such a dismal state of affairs in the health department ? " There is no need to hold an inquiry to find an answer to this question. It is clear that the top brass of the health department has failed at the administrative level to run its institutions in the countryside", says a senior officer of the health department.


Bill to repeal Punjab vigilance panel Act today
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
The SAD-BJP government is all set to repeal the Punjab State Vigilance Commission Act in next two days before the case on the appointment of Sumedh Singh Saini as the Punjab Vigilance Bureau chief comes up before the Punjab and Haryana High Court on March 23.

Sources in the SAD-BJP alliance maintained that the Bill to repeal the Act passed last year would be introduced in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha tomorrow, which is scheduled to start a debate on the Governor’s address.

“It is an important issue. And since the SAD-BJP government had announced to repeal the Punjab Vigilance Commission Act, 2006, because of its various discrepancies and infirmities, the government thought it proper to get it repealed on the floor of the House than through an ordinance,” said a source in the government.

Keeping in view the urgency in the wake of ongoing investigations in various memoranda of understanding (MoUs) signed by the previous government, the Bill to repeal the Act has to be given top priority so that no irreparable loss was done to the state, the sources said.

As such the Bill will get precedence over all other legislative business to be transacted on the floor of the House during the next two days.

Sources maintained that the Punjab Vigilance Commission Bill, passed in a hurry in the last session of the 12th Punjab Vidhan Sabha, had several discrepancies which are bad in law and unsustainable.

No other Vigilance Commission, including the Central Vigilance Commission, has the provision to appoint a retired judge as its chairman. Further, the Punjab Act does not provide any scope for associating the Leader of the Opposition in making appointments to the commission. Instead, it says that every appointment in the commission shall be made by a Committee comprising Chief Minister, the speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and the chief secretary.

Further, sources in the treasury benches maintain that in case of Punjab, the term in office for the chairman of the commission has been for six years while in all other vigilance commissions, including the Central Vigilance Commission, it is far less.

How can a Vigilance Commission can work effectively and objectively when it is an extension of the ruling party, ask treasury benches maintaining that the entire SAD-BJP was united in repealing the Act.

Though the ruling SAD-BJP has offered a hand of friendship and cooperation to the Opposition, the Congress will go all out to oppose the repeal of the Bill.


Bhattal seeks wheat bonus from state govt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
The Punjab Congress today demanded that the state government announce a matching bonus of Rs 100 per quintal on wheat and also accused the SAD-BJP-led government of indulging in political victimisation and of allegedly framing political opponents in false cases.

Leader of the Congress legislature party (CLP) Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, while talking to mediapersons outside the Vidhan Sabha, said: “ Though we responded positively to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal's suggestion seeking cooperation from the opposition, the government on its part has adopted a vindictive attitude towards us". Bhattal claimed that a fabricated criminal case was registered against a former Congress MLA. However, she had no answer when pointed out that the case against the former MLA (the reference was to Jasbir Singh Dimpa) was registered during the election campaign and when the Congress was in power.

The leader of the Congress said Dimpa was not an absconder.He was just seeking a legal remedy. May be he was to file an application in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Referring to the poll promise of the SAD-BJP of providing atta and dal at subsidised rates to the poor, she demanded that the government should honour this commitment. The government had promised to start giving this concession on Baisakhi. However, this was being postponed due to one reason or the other. The updating of data was no reason to hold it back. The government should start the scheme.


Representation for women in PSGPC
Decision on ‘palki’ after Takht nod
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Wagah, March 20
In a significant development, the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) has decided to give due representation to women at the time of the annual election scheduled to be held next year.

This was stated by Bishan Singh, president, PSGPC, who reached here along with other members of the committee. They have come on pilgrimage to Sikh shrines, including Harmandar Sahib, Anandpur Sahib and Khadoor Sahib.

The PSGPC president said the government of Pakistan had already accepted the demand of the Sikh community to construct a corridor between Dera Baba Nanak (India) and Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib (Pakistan). He said Pakistan expected a reciprocal gesture from India so that Sikh devotees could undertake pilgrimage of these gurdwaras without any visa hassles. To a question, Bishan Singh said any decision to install 'palki' (golden palanquin), taken from New Delhi to Nankana Sahib, would be taken through consensus of Akal Takht, SGPC, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee and the PSGPC.

The jatha members were accorded a warm welcome by the SGPC members and senior officials, including Jaswinder Singh advocate, Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, Sawinder Singh Dobalia, Kuldip Singh Bawa, Jaswinder Singh Jassi and Ram Singh at Wagah joint check post. However, there was a minor scuffle when a leader of a Sikh organisation, Swarn Singh, came forward to garland the PSGPC chief. It was objected to by SGPC employees who had made arrangements for 'Langar' and refreshments at Wagah.

In yet another significant move, the PSGPC has approached the government of Pakistan to add Sikh history to the curriculum of different educational institutions.

Answering a question, Bishan Singh said more serais were being constructed at Nankana Sahib so that devotees did not suffer any inconvenience at the time of pilgrimage.


Saini as VB chief: Even CVC had raised objection
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
Even as four Congress MLAs have mounted a legal challenged to the posting of IGP Sumedh Singh Saini as Vigilance Bureau (VB) director by the SAD-BJP government on March 8, it now transpires that even Punjab chief vigilance commissioner (CVC) Justice Amar Dutt (retd) had objected to the move.

Sources told The Tribune that Justice Dutt, whose own continuation as CVC beyond this month is highly improbable as the state government is scheduled to introduce a Bill in the ongoing session of the Vidhan Sabha to repeal the Punjab State Vigilance Commission Act, 2006, wrote to the chief secretary on March 9 voicing serious objections to the posting of Saini.

A copy of a letter was also sent to the Punjab home secretary. In his letter, the CVC had pointed out that the removal of DGP Izhar Alam as VB chief director, CSR Reddy as director and posting of Saini as director was illegal as the same could have been done only by a committee comprising the Chief Minister, the chief secretary and the CVC. He said no meeting ever took place to even discuss the transfers.

Meanwhile, it is also learnt that Justice Dutt has sent a detailed report to Punjab Governor Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd). The report, which was received by the Governor’s office yesterday, contains a synopsis of the work done by the CVC since its inception about six months ago.

It is learnt that the report, which is mandated by the Punjab State Vigilance Commission Act, 2006, also contains a lot of data about the functioning of the VB as well as suggestions to make its working more transparent and free. The report could be tabled on the floor of the Vidhan Sabha as is required under the Act.

Incidentally, the Parkash Singh Badal Government, which has already decided to repeal the Punjab State Vigilance Commission Act, is busy giving final touches to the Bill in this regard. The same would be introduced in the Vidhan Sabha in the next few days.

It is learnt that advocate-general H.S. Mattewal has already held detailed discussions with the Chief Minister and other senior leaders about the objects and reasons that will form part of the Bill.


Cong has nothing to do with ‘Saini’s case’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
In a new twist to the case filed by four Congress legislators challenging the transfer of Mohd Izhar Alam, and the subsequent appointment of Sumedh Singh Saini, as director of the vigilance bureau, the chief of the Punjab Congress, Shamsher Singh Dullo, today clarified that the Congress had nothing to do with the case.

“The legislators may have filed it in their personal capacities and the party had nothing to do with it”, he said when asked if the Congress had given some kind of tacit approval to file the case in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Four MLAs Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, Naresh Kataria, Joginder Kumar Jain and Jasbir Singh Khangura, filed an application in court.

“Ask them why they have filed the case”, said Dullo while distancing the party away from the controversy. I have already resigned and cannot comment on it, he added.


Crime series: Police on hunt for 6 youths
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 20
The police has launched a combing operation in the Sriganganagar area to nab six culprits, aged 25-30 and believed to be residents of this district, official sources said. They had broken the police cordon using an Indica car last night after indulging in a series of crime.

According to information, the armed culprits fired at Ashok Kumar Meghwal (25) and decamped with his mobile phone and currency last night near Kararwala Chowk in the Sadulshehar area less than 30 km from here.

The victim told the police that he was returning home, along with five labourers, after unloading rice bran at a brick-kiln when two persons intercepted the tractor-trailer he was driving on the pretext of seeking lift. Just then two more persons emerged from the fields and started thrashing the labourers. One of the culprits fired a shot from a revolver injuring him in the back. The police registered a case under Sections 395, 397, 307 and 323, IPC, and 27, Arms Act.

Meanwhile, the police learnt that the same gang had looted an employee of a liquor vend on the national highway. A police party tried to intercept their car near Pucca Saharan village, but the culprits succeeded in breaking the barrier and speeding away in the vehicle. They had looted the vend alleging that adulterated liquor was being sold there.

The police said some drug addicts from Abohar and Malout areas had been indulging in such acts for the past few months.

Reports received from other parts of the neighbouring Sriganganagar area today said Gurmeet Kaur, wife of Babu Singh, was shot dead yesterday due to a land dispute at Mohla village. The armed assailants identified as Dharampal Singh, Sukhpal Singh and Nek Pal were booked under Sections 302, 323, 396, 447 and 143, IPC, besides the Arms Act. In another incident, Jaskiran Singh was killed at Chahuwali village and thrown in a canal. The police was unable to recover the body. However, Amar Singh and Mukesh were rounded up and the police claimed they had admitted having killed Jaskiran without elaborating the reason for that.


Naresh Gujral set to enter Rajya Sabha
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
Naresh Gujral, son of former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral will be elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha in the by-election to fill the lone seat from Punjab, which fell vacant due to the death of senior Congress leader Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder.

The nomination papers of Gujral were found to be in order and there is no other candidate. A formal notification will be done at the end of this month to declare him elected.

Gujral, who was in Chandigarh today, said he would act as an effective lobbyist in Parliament for Punjab. He said the state was lacking a person, who could put forward its point of view in front of investors.

“I will be an Ambassador for Punjab and I have personal contact with almost all central ministers,” he added.

Gujral said the medical college at Jalandhar should get the status like the PGI.

He aimed to bring in an education city and the land between Ropar and Anandpur Sahib should be identified for the same. More than 50,000 Punjabi youth were studying in colleges in the southern states. Foreigners were ready to invest in Punjab, the right atmosphere needs to be created.

On other issues which need to be addressed immediately, Gujral said, “The sooner Pakistan realises that trade with India is beneficial through the Wagah border it will be nice for both the countries.”


Congress distances itself from Chahal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
The Punjab unit of the Congress today made it clear that it had nothing to do with B.I.S. Chahal, former media adviser to Amarinder Singh. President of the Punjab pradesh Congress committee Shamsher Singh Dullo and leader of the Congress legislature party Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said:“Chahal is not even a primary member of the Congress and the party is in no manner accountable for his actions.”

Chahal, in his capacity as media adviser, was an employee of the Punjab government and the Congress could not be asked to explain his conduct, Bhattal said when asked by mediapersons where Chahal was nowadays. Bhattal said: “ I do not know where he is at present”.

According to sources in the Punjab police Chahal is believed to be in a foreign country.

Dullo added that Chahal was never a member of the Congress and it was not a matter of shame for the party if Chahal was facing an inquiry.

Bhattal said the visit of Amarinder Singh to London for a health check-up and the unavailability of Chahal could not be equated. Amarinder Singh had informed the party before leaving the country and he had faxed a statement saying he would be available soon, she added.


House pays tributes to ex-legislators
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
Cutting across party lines, members of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha paid tributes to some parliamentarians, their ex-colleagues (legislators), freedom fighters and men of letters who had died since the last session of the assembly.

Manoranjan Kalia, who paid tributes on behalf of the ruling alliance later, explained that the Chief Minister was indisposed and the Speaker was informed of his inability to be present in the house. Cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh had a dig at the opposition, saying that it was not serious while remembering those who made a valuable contribution to the country, the state and the people.

Those to whom tributes were paid included former union minister and MP Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, former MP and Bahujan Samaj party supremo Kanshi Ram, former Punjab ministers Rattan Singh and Sardara Singh Kohli, former legislators Kartar Singh Pahra.


8 hurt as portion of temple collapses
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 20
Eight children were injured as the projection of the second floor of a temple collapsed here this afternoon. Nearly 500 devotees were taking langar at the time of incident, sources said. Some others sustained minor injuries.

A seven-day religious congregation was in progress in connection with the birth centenary of saint Jhule Lal at Atal Jyoti Mandir located in Street 8 of Nai Abadi. Langar was being served on the first floor of the recently renovated temple complex when the projection of the second floor collapsed causing hue and cry all over. Local residents and volunteers rushed to rescue the devotees but at least eight children were injured seriously as they were under the debris. They were rushed to Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital. The injured were identified as Anjali and Manju, daughters, and Priyank, son of Madan Lal, Aman and Rajni, kin of Mangat Ram, and Bhup Ram, Gurkeerti and Ravi Kant. All were admitted to the emergency ward. The police had a tough time controlling the visitors.

The doctors said some of the injured might be referred to other places if their condition was not found stable. The organisers decided to discontinue celebrations for the time being. The followers of saint Jhule Lal had migrated to East Punjab after partition from Sind province of Pakistan and they had been celebrating his birth anniversary every year.


Warning against buying church property

Amritsar, March 20
The Amritsar Diocese Trust Association (ADTA) has warned the general public against the so-called Bishop of the Amritsar Diocese Trust Church of Indian Anglican (ADTCIA) who was trying to mint money by selling the trust properties in connivance with the land mafia at throwaway prices.

Talking to media here yesterday, ADTA managing committee member Daniel B. Dass said so-called Bishop Tabir-ul-Haq had recently sold off 6 acres 17 marlas of land of the church worth crores in Tarn Taran at a throwaway price in connivance with the land mafia and corrupt officials. He said the properties of the ADTA could not be sold as the case was already pending in the Court.

When contacted, Bishop Haq said the ADTCIA was the original owner of the properties and alleged that ADTA members were trying to grab the money my taking control of various churches and educational institutions. He said whatever money he got from selling the extra land of the churches he spent it on running the orphanage and educational institutions. — TNS


Inside Babudom
Garcha first Olympian to be second time district police chief
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
Punjab may boast of hordes of Olympians and international sportsmen and women, but not many get into top echelons of civil services in the state.

Last week when the new SAD-BJP government ordered administrative reshuffle in the Police Department, Olympian Davinder Singh Garcha was named new police chief of Moga. Davinder, a deep defence and a penalty corner specialist, was a member of the Indian hockey team that won the gold medal in the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games.

Though the Games were boycotted by the western world, India did well to wrest back the gold it last lost in Mexico in 1968. Since then the gold medal has continued to elude Indian hockey.

For Davinder Singh Garcha, the Moscow Olympics were special as he emerged a top-scorer with his penalty corner conversions. Now he has scored yet another distinction. He is the first Olympian to be named a district police chief for the second time. Earlier, he had a brief stint as SSP of police district of Khanna. Davinder Singh was allotted the 1994 batch of the IPS.

It is not only in this Punjab that sportsmen in the Police Department do not reach higher echelons in the state; same is true in Pakistan’s Punjab. This correspondent vividly remembers playing a friendly cricket match against pace bowler and former Test player Fazal Mehmood at Atchison College in Lahore during the 1989 Reliance World Cup cricket tournament. Fazal Mehmood had risen to be the Inspector-General of Police, highest rank perhaps a sportsman reached in the civil service in the continent. Only other Olympian to be a district police chief in Punjab had been Surinder Singh Sodhi, who during the last term of the SAD-BJP government in the state, was the district police chief of Nawanshahr.

One may remember here that though the Punjab Police is full of Olympians, especially in hockey, yet not many have made it to the Indian Police Service from the state quota of Punjab Police Service (PPS) officers.

Other than Davinder Singh Garcha and Surinder Singh Sodhi, wrestler Kartar Singh is also an IPS officer. Kartar Singh was given the 1993 IPS batch seniority.


Manpreet plans to revive staggering economy of Punjab
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
Continuity in the economic policy, irrespective of the change in political leadership, is the only way to revive the staggering economy of Punjab. With an average growth of just 5 per cent, as compared to the national average growth rate of 8 per cent, drastic measures will have to be taken to get the state’s economy back on rails.

This was stated by the Punjab Finance Minister, Manpreet Badal, during an interaction with The Tribune, on the sidelines of a conference organised by Punjab State Council of CII here today. He said that he looked forward to working with the Opposition parties so that a common political agenda could be set for the state’s economic policy. “The economy of the state is sacred. So a common minimum programme or consensus by all political parties on reviving the economy is necessary. The political battles can be fought on other fronts,” he said.

It may be mentioned that in terms of per capita income, Punjab has slumped to a fourth position, after Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana. This year, Punjab’s GDP was just 6 per cent ( as compared to national GDP of 9 per cent). As compared to a national growth of over 11 per cent in industrial sector, Punjab’s industry was growing at just 5 per cent. Even agriculture sector, which is the backbone of the state’s economy, had shown a growth of 5 per cent.

Badal said the state’s debts had mounted to a whopping Rs 53,000 crore in the past five years, from Rs 32,000 crore in 2002. “For the past two years, the state is paying Rs 22,000 crore as salaries to its employees, who decide on how to spend an annual plan of just Rs 4000 crore. This means that the state has almost no resources at its disposal. The state is not just facing a fiscal deficit and but also a deficit in revenue generation,” he said.

The Finance Minister said that tax buoyancy was expected after the implementation of VAT in Punjab. However, the revenue growth was just 9 per cent, as compared to a growth of 20 per cent achieved in the neighbouring Haryana. “The reason for this slow growth in tax collection is lack of compliance. By just increasing tax compliance, an additional revenue of Rs 1500 crore can be mopped up,” he said. Asked about the SAD-BJP government’s decision to stop octroi collection in Punjab, the Finance Minister said they would think of other ways to make up for the revenue loss.

Badal said the government was looking at attracting some ‘star investments’ in the state, which could prove a catalyst for a new push to industrialisation of Punjab. He added that they would be looking at the knowledge industry for setting base in Punjab. “The state’s industry has been hollowed by the exodus to neighbouring states of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttaranchal. We will seek a special industrial package for Punjab, on the lines of the package extended to the hill states,” he added.


Trauma centres for Amritsar, Jalandhar, Pathankot
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 20
Health and family welfare minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla has said the state government will open three trauma centres at Amritsar, Jalandhar and Pathankot at a cost of Rs 1.5 crore.

Talking to The Tribune today, Chawla said she would ensure that no doctor was implicated in any false case. Instead, she would ensure that good doctors were honoured at public functions since she believed that they were serving humanity despite odd circumstances.

She said mobile vans with all facilities of first aid would be introduced all over the state so that needy persons could get immediate medical aid in case of emergency.


Chicken pox creates panic
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, March 20
The outbreak of chicken pox has created panic among residents of Dhira Jatta locality here.

Over 18 residents, including children and aged, have become victims of the disease in the past one month but the district health authorities are still ignorant about the facts.

A visit to the locality revealed that the affected persons were relying on traditional treatment.

A senior official of the health department said government hospitals and dispensaries were facing shortage of the vaccine.

Senior Medical Officer, Gharota, Dr Vijay Arora, when contacted said a team of doctors, including health inspector, had been sent to the area to monitor the position. "The disease is self limiting and I will visit the area tomorrow,” he claimed.


MC budget passed amid protests
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 20
The Rs 131.51-crore budget of the Amritsar Municipal Corporation for 2007-08 was passed amid protests and walkout by SAD-BJP municipal councillors here yesterday, showing a deficit of Rs 23.45 crore.

The BJP-SAD councillors also tore the budget documents, terming them as anti-development and anti-people.

The budget has left an allocation of only 18 per cent for the development works of the holy city which is in need of a major overhaul due to an increased tourist inflow and the rising urban population.

While 61 per cent goes into the high establishment cost, including perks of the employees, 21 per cent goes into various contingencies.

Mayor of the corporation Sunil Datti said under the circumstances, the best possible budget had been presented. He assured the members that the present ruling dispensation would be able to maintain the momentum of development and funds would not be a constraint in the ongoing projects, including the prestigious elevated road.


Garhshankar DFO’s transfer cancelled

Hoshiarpur, March 20
The transfer of Garhshankar divisional forest officer (DFO) Paramvir Singh has reportedly been cancelled. Highly placed sources in the department revealed that the Punjab forest minister had cancelled the previous orders in which the forest secretary had directed Paramvir Singh to report at the office of the conservator of forest, Shivalik Range, Chandigarh, with immediate effect.

The DFO was shifted from his place of posting due to administrative reasons and for public interest on a complaint by deputy commissioner of Nawanshahr Krishan Kumar. The DC had earlier seized his recorded relating to the Japan Aided Punjab Aforestation Project and found bungling of huge funds.

The Forest Minister in an interview with The Tribune had claimed that Nawanshar DC was not entitled for seeking transfer to the DFO, Garhshankar, as the area do not fall under his jurisdiction. — TNS


PSEB trips on technical staff
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 20
The new government has declared power sector its top priority. However, the human resources situation in the PSEB remains a matter of concern.

The post of assistant electrical engineer (AEE) is vital in managing the power distribution system. However, just 5 per cent posts in the PSEB are being managed by the directly recruited engineers. The Rest are being managed by the staff promoted from lower cadres.

Besides, 140 posts of assistant engineer and assistant electric engineer are lying vacant. This comes to about 30 per cent of the total sanctioned strength of 473 posts. About 23 per cent sanctioned posts of engineer are lying vacant.

According to the data available from PSEB sources, 550 posts of engineer are lying vacant out of the sanctioned strength of 2,300. In the near future 900 engineers are due to retire.

The board recruited 263 assistant engineers through the NTPC, NHPC and the PGCIL in early 2007. With the change of the government, the fate of these engineers now hangs in balance.

The neglect of recruitment of technical staff has lead to cadre crisis. While there is clogging at the top rung, the lower posts are lying vacant. Most of the chief engineers have very short tenure of two or three months as heads of department. In such a short tenure, generally, they are forced to spend the period making arrangements for their coming retirement.

For unavailability of qualified engineers, most of the posts in the civil cadre are filled by promotions from lower cadres. This has affected the implementation of certain projects by the civil wing of the department. The Mukerain hydroelectric project has been delayed by over three years and its completion is not yet in sight.


high court
House of martyr Sukhdev: Notice issued to Punjab
High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 20
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising Chief Justice Vijender Kumar Jain and Justice Rajive Bhalla today issued notices to the Punjab government, Ludhiana deputy commissioner and the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation on a PIL seeking directions to the respondents to preserve and protect the ancestral house of martyr Sukhdev at Nau Ghara area of Ludhiana. Sukhdev was born and brought up in this house.

In his petition, advocate H.C. Arora, referring exhaustively to the efforts made by The Tribune which has been publishing news reports and articles on the day of the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev.

He has stated that successive state governments have never given serious attention to the matter. In this regard, the petitioner has referred to news reports carried by The Tribune as well as the cover story in Spectrum on March 18, which draws attention to the pitiable condition of the ancestral house of Sukhdev, which is in a dilapidated state.

He has also pointed out that even as the government has done nothing to preserve the memory of the martyrs, an NGO - Shaheed Sukhdev Yadgar Committee, Ludhiana - has constructed the front portion of the house without any financial assistance from the government to save it from crumbling. Arora has also pointed to the fact that a portion of the building is in the possession of a tenant and it is difficult to get it vacated.

The petitioner has also suggested in the PIL that a possible and practical solution for getting the ancestral house of Sukhdev vacated from the tenants can be to acquire the house under Land Acquisition Act and to preserve and protect the said house as a befitting memorial to the martyr.

After preliminary hearing and while observing that martyr Sukhdev was a great man, the Division Bench issued notice of motion to the respondents for July 17.


120 trained in self-job ventures
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 20
In the modern era when job opportunities in the public sector are decreasing, self-employment is the best way to solve problems relating to unemployment.

This was stated by Dr MB Bera, Dean and chief coordinator of entrepreneurship management and development project of Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology (SLIET), Longowal, at the valedictory function of three courses at Longowal today.

In these three courses related to mobile repair, food processing, and repair and maintenance of electrical appliances, more than 120 students were trained at SLIET during short courses this month.

General manager of the district industrial centre Sarbjeet Singh, who was the chief guest, apprised the students of various schemes and motivated them to take up self-employment. He also promised that candidates trained by SLIET would be given priority at the time of sanctioning loans for self-employment ventures. He also offered to provide maximum help to SLIET in achieving the objective of motivating youths and inculcating entrepreneurial culture among them.

Manager of the Central Bank of India, SLIET branch, Narinder Singh Soch, iformed the students about various loan schemes of the bank.

Coordinator of the EMD project Sanjeev Bansal said in these three- courses youths from rural areas had been trained, so that they could start their own business.

Faculty in-charges of these courses Mandeep Ghai, Praduman Kumar and Asim Ali Khan were also present.


Ayurvedic college ailing
Charu Chhibber

Patiala, March 20
A majority of faculty members of the local Government Ayurvedic College have been involved in legal cases since long. Studies in the college have been badly hit and the staff fearing that it might close down in the near future.

In the absence of a seniority list, several junior teachers have allegedly been promoted, ignoring their senior colleagues. This has led to senior teachers moving the court.

A teacher, who joined the college in 1997 as lecturer, was promoted professor in 2003. On the other hand, the teachers, who have been on the rolls since 1978, are still awaiting the seniority list.

Following a meeting with the affected teachers, the joint secretary had prepared a detailed note and finalised a seniority list last year. Despite the government assurance to the teachers, a junior staff member was appointed principal.

A faculty member says, “There was a political reason and manipulation behind the appointment of the principal, who is much junior to a number of teachers.”

Neither the department nor the government has taken any notice of the complaints by the affected teachers. Now, the seniority list can be prepared once all pending cases of promotions are decided by the court, he adds.

Another problem the college staff faces is anomalies in pay scales. Ayurvedic Medical Officer is getting higher scale than that given to teachers, who are higher in terms of qualification and experience.

Moreover, of the 62 sanctioned teaching posts, 42 are lying vacant. Important clinical departments like ENT, gynaecology, surgery, paediatrics are being run by teachers of other departments.

The attached Government Ayurvedic Hospital is not provided with sufficient funds. The number of patients visiting the hospital has come down over the past few years.

“The college can be saved from closure only if the government pays heed to the problems of the faculty,” says a faculty member.


Walia chief of media teachers’ association
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 20
Head, department of journalism and mass communication, Punjabi University, Patiala, Harjinder Walia was elected president of the All-India Media Teachers Association at a meeting held at the university here today.

Head, department of journalism, Agra University, Girja Shankar, and head, department of journalism, Maharishi Dayanand University, Rohtak, Harish Kumar were appointed vice-presidents. Head, department of journalism, Purvanchal University, Jounpur, Anil Kumar Ankit was elected general secretary while Sapna from Mysore was made joint secretary.

Dr Sanjay Mishra and Ashish Diwedi, both from Jaipur, Sarabjit Singh, PAU, Ludhiana, and Ajay Singh Tomar from Gwalior were elected members of the executive.


Varsity to honour scientists
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 20
Guru Nanak Dev University will honour international rice breeder and Padmashri G.S. Khush of the University of California, Davis (US), and eminent medical scientist N.K. Ganguly, director-general, Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi, with the Doctrate of Science (Honoris Causa) degree in the faculty of life sciences.

Khush is being honoured in recognition of his contribution to plant sciences, especially science and genetics. Similarly, Ganguly is being honoured in recognition of his contribution to medical science.


Research scholar awarded
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 20
Priya Arora, a research scholar of Guru Nanak Dev University, was conferred with the Young Scientist Award by the Punjab Academy of Sciences at the 10th Punjab Science Congress held recently.

Priya of the department of botanical and environmental sciences was awarded for her research work conducted on “Understanding and evaluation of intrinsic factors involved in seed development of withania somnifera (L.) dunal” under the guidance of Pratap Kumar Pati.


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