P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Budget to focus on health, education, power
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
Even as the coming budget of Punjab will be a delicate balancing act due to a combination of subsidies on account of various people-friendly sops, the SAD-BJP government will focus on education, health, power and infrastructure development by providing adequate funds.

The budget -- likely to be presented in June -- will be more of a vision document for the next five years, said officials. There will be no major changes or dilution in the agenda on these four core sectors. Already, groundwork has started for implementing the agenda on these four issues, said sources.

The sources said the thinktank in the government is working to focus on core areas and draw up long-term plans for these. Improving education will be a priority as the state has shown a decline and is now being clubbed among the worst states like Bihar in terms of standards of school education. Vacancies of teacher will be filled and budgetary support will be provided for the same. Already, the government has a plan to make science and mathematics compulsory subjects.

Health is another sector that will be in focus. The Sanjivini scheme introduced by the previous regime has been renamed and its scope widened to cover more people. This will provide a kind of health insurance and allow the treatment of various diseases in hospitals. On infrastructure, instructions have been issued to “speed up” all major undergoing projects like railway overbridges and road projects in the state.

The next major step relates to power. At present Punjab is one of most desperate buyers of electricity from the power grid, at times having signed agreements to purchase power at rates touching Rs 7 per unit. State finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal says “we have to generate more power for ourselves and slowly reduce buying from other sources as the state only ends up filling the coffers of others”.

Meanwhile, the finance department has calculated that the subsidy bill for free power to farmers and subsidy in the urban areas for the Scheduled Castes and backward classes adds up to Rs 1,900 crore for the current financial year. However, the biggest challenge to the new government will be on two counts: a rising subsidy bill and the interest accruing on long-term borrowing done by the state.

The total subsidy bill on account of schemes like the shagun scheme, cheap atta and dal, old age pension, pensions for handicapped persons and others add up to Rs 4,000 crore. The other big expense is Rs 4,000 crore that is required just to pay interest on the long-term borrowings. Punjab has borrowed about Rs 53,000 crore in the past decade or so just to “run the affairs of the state and Rs 4,000 crore is the interest accrual on it”.

This borrowing is usually done for development schemes. The only grace is that the “security loan” given to Punjab during the days of militancy has been waived. 


Seats in medical colleges may be reduced
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
There is bad news for those preparing for the Punjab pre-medical entrance test (PMET). The number of seats in the various medical colleges in the state is likely to be reduced for the forthcoming session, rendering the competition tougher.

While the Government Medical College and Hospital, Patiala, and Government Medical College and Hospital, Amritsar, have been found to be deficient by the Medical Council of India to admit students in the next session, reports of some other private medical colleges in the state is also expected in the coming days.

MCI reports regarding the two government colleges have been forwarded to the Union Government for necessary action.

Vice-Chancellor of Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences (BFUMS), Punjab, Dr Ravinder Singh, said there was every possibility that the seats for the upcoming PMET would be reduced. “Both these colleges have 150 seats each and even if the government does its best to meet the deficiencies pointed out by the MCI there will be a reduction of seats. The Government of India might recommend a cut of 50 seats in each college or more,” he said.

He added that other than having found some teachers ineligible the main deficiency pointed out by the MCI was an acute shortage of faculty members. The college principals, it is learnt, have given an undertaking to the MCI that further admissions will not be done to these institutes till these deficiencies are met.

Faced with a shortage of teachers in these colleges, sources added that the government was very seriously considering an increase in the retirement age of medical college faculty members from the current 58 years to 60.

Over 10000 class 12th students appear in the Punjab PMET each year for admission to almost a thousand seats in the medical, dental, ayurvedic and homeopathy colleges affiliated to Baba Farid Medical University. The date for the said test is yet to be notified by the Punjab Government.

While it has also not been decided which university will conduct the test, the Vice-Chancellor of BFUMS has made his position clear in the matter. “We are in no position to conduct the PMET. Last year we had requested the Panjab University to conduct the test for us,” said Dr Ravinder Singh.


PSHRC notice to govt on Home Guard's torture
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh,April 9
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) today sought report from the Punjab Government in a case of alleged police torture of a Home Guard jawan posted at Nabha and is subsequent suicide attempt inside the police station.

Taking a suo-moto notice of a report published by The Tribune under headline "Home Guard jawan tortured at police station" on April 6, a full Bench of the commission comprising Justice RL anand, acting chairperson, KK Bhatnagar,BC Rajput and NK Arora, all members, directed the Principal Secretary to the Punjab Government, the Department of Home Affairs and Justice, the ADGP(IVC)-cum-Human Rights and the Patiala SSP to submit a report in this regard. The case will now come for hearing on May 17 this year.

Home Guard jawan Chand Singh had reportedly attempted suicide after allegedly been tortured in the sadar police station, Nabha, on the night intervening April 4 and 5 at the behest of SHO Bindu Bala, ASI Ajaib Singh, Kuldeep Singh and Lakha Singh.

Chand Singh's relatives, including his brother Ram Singh, had alleged that the Home Guard volunteer was " tortured" at the police station as he was found unconscious in his room on April 5. Subsequently, he was shifted to the civil hospital, Nabha, and was reportedly treated as a patient of the "suspected poisoning".

However, the police sources had claimed that Chand Singh was involved in anti-social activities and the authorities concerned were contemplating action against him. He had consumed excessive liquor in his room in the police station and concocted the suicide story along with his family, the source asserted.

Even SHO Bindu Bala had termed the "self-poisoning" incident as a "bundle of lies".


Poll-eve tubewell connections put on hold
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 9
Over 3000 tubewell connections issued by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) under the priority scheme just before the assembly elections, have been put on hold.

Sources in the board said most of these connections were issued on orders of current chairman YS Ratra on recommendations of Congress leaders contesting the elections.

Former Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, during his 'vikas yatra' recommended release of connections on priority basis in large numbers just a few days before the elections. Many ministers also recommended priority release of tubewell connections taking into consideration their respective vote banks.

Though the recommended tubewell connections were released on the orders of the PSEB chairman and recommendations of politicians, they were not operational in the field as the cash-starved PSEB did not have requisite material.

In most of the cases, priority connections were released without taking into consideration the needs of the allottees. Many persons were given three to five connections. This despite the fact there are a large number of pending cases in the general category.

According to sources, 25,000 applications for tubewells in the general category are pending with the PSEB. These applications are from those small farmers who do not have influence in the corridors of power.

Some of these applications are pending since the nineties.

After the change in government, the board decided to put on hold all the priority tubewell connections that were issued prior to the elections.

Member, operation and distribution, PSEB, JS Sekhon, when contacted admitted that about 3000 tubewell connections released on priority basis prior to the elections, had been put on hold.

Small farmers who had applied in the general category were suffering due to out-of-turn priority connections.

With limited resources, the PSEB could not carry out installation of both priority and general category connections at a time. 


Blind murder case solved
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 9
The police here today claimed to have solved a blind murder case within three days. An old woman was allegedly killed by her relative in her house on March 6 under the Islamabad police station.

District police chief S.S. Srivastava told newsmen that a four-member team headed by DSP Manjit Singh had been constituted to solve the blind murder case as the accused had left no clue. He said after thorough investigation, the police arrested Deepak Kumar, who had killed his grand maternal mother, Krishna Rani. After investigation the police found that the accused had stolen the gold bangles of the victim about a year ago and earned the wrath of the family. Feeling insulted the accused had decided to get rid of the old woman who used to insult on him whenever he visited their house. Unable to bear the continued insult, he strangled the woman and also took away Rs 3000 in cash which she had received as pension.

Srivastava said the police was working on various theories and managed to zero in on Deepak who was suspected by the relations of Krishna Rani and was subsequently arrested.

Earlier, too, the local police had solved a blind murder within 10 days with the arrest of two accused who had murdered Rajinder Singh, alias Raju, a resident of Katra Charat, Khu Suniara, in the walled city on March 23. The accused had decided to get rid of Rajinder who used to publicly humiliate the accused. He said they conspired and purchased a knife for Rs 100 before taking Rajinder with them in the evening to serve him liquor. He said thereafter they took him to an isolated place and stabbed him 17-18 times in his stomach and later dumped his body in the Gole Bagh area.

The police had also stepped up its campaign against the late night robbers by putting up nakas at various entry and exit points of the holy city and had recently arrested a seven-member gang of robbers who used to commit midnight robberies by brutally assaulting their victims.

Meanwhile, the SSP has issued strict instructions to SHOs of various police stations in the city to be more vigilant with regard to drug peddling. He said they would be held responsible in case of seizure of contraband in their area.


Dist Planning Board seeks report on funds
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, April 9
To detect irregularity in the use of funds in development works taken up in the district during the Congress rule, the SAD-BJP alliance government has sought a report form the officer concerned by April 15. The issue was raised by SAD-BJP leaders at the first meeting of the District Planning Board held under the chairmanship of Punjab forest minister Tikshan Sud, here today.

The minister said details of works taken up in past five years be accessed and the money spent published. He added many cases had been detected where the officers in connivance with leaders and contractors had misutilised public money. Contractors were allotted works without following norms and cases had even come to light that contractors were given cheques twice for the same work.

It was also decided that an MLA might allocate works costing up to Rs 2 lakh. Details, regarding the date of allocation of work, name of contractor, amount and time of completion would be displayed on boards in future.

Deputy commissioner Vivek Pratap Singh, senior superintendent of police Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, MLAs from all 11 constituencies of the district and officers of all departments attended the meeting.


No phone-tapping machines bought, claim officials
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
Punjab police officials, who were posted in the intelligence wing during the previous Amarinder Singh regime, have clearly stated that “no phone-tapping machines were ever purchased in the past.” Hence, there is no question of handing over any such machine to anybody, well-placed sources said today.

The present chief of the intelligence wing, additional director-general of police Shashi Kant, had written to DGP N.P.S Aulakh saying the phone-tapping machines were not traceable and officers, who were working during the previous regime, should be asked to give information about this. He had based his theory about the existence of phone-tapping machines on speculation in the media and official circles about telephones being tapped.

In turn, the DGP had asked officials of the previous intelligence set-up to give a reply about the existence and present status of the machines. Now these officials have virtually put the ball in the court of ADGP Shashi Kant to prove that these machines existed in the first place. Sources said that in the international market a phone-tapping machine cost about Rs 2 crore and it was not possible that such a huge sum was spent from “secret funds” that were usually available with intelligence agencies.

Even these funds are accounted for, which means some kind of receipt has to be provided for any major spending. No audit is carried out of the said funds but accounting is done at the department level. In the first place, if such a machine exists with the Punjab police, it is illegal and even the officials using it can be arrested, as had happened in the case of officials of a private telecom company who had tapped Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh’s phone.

The sources said DGP Aulakh had been informed that a phone of an individual was tapped only after clear permission from the home department and the action was based on inputs regarding the background of that person. This could be done in the case of smugglers, drug traders or criminals. At least a few important cases have been cracked in the past using this method, called “technical inputs” in the parlance of intelligence agencies. These include cases of murder and also bank robbery. 


Summer brings water woes
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 9
The onset of summer has triggered off an acute shortage of drinking water in many parts of the city.

The lack of piped water supply coupled with contaminated underground water has forced a significant section of the residents to buy bottled water.

About 30 per cent of the populated area of the city does not have underground pipes to supply potable water forcing residents to make their own arrangements or rely on water supplied by the municipal corporation authorities through tankers.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that residents of the Deep Nagar, Lal Singh Basti, Balraj Nagar, Multania road, Surkhbi road, Beant Nagar, Dhobiana, Pukhraj colony, Hans Nagar and Kartar Basti areas queue up with buckets whenever a tanker carrying water reaches their respective localities.

Residents of Deep Nagar and Balraj Nagar alleged that though in some pockets of their localities, the Municipal Corporation authorities had started piped water supply, there was huge leakage in the underground pipes.

The corporation has been catering to the needs of about 70 per cent of the population with 8 million gallons of water available with it. However, with the increase in demand it has become difficult to meet the requirement.

Kamal Kant, executive officer, Municipal Corporation, when contacted, said work for covering the 30 per cent left out population with piped water supply was going on. He added that at present efforts were being made to supply adequate quantity of water to 70 per cent of the population through rationing.

He said Bathinda was having canal-based water supply for its water works. However, the frequent closure of the canal was affecting the supply of water.

He said the corporation authorities had pressed eight tankers into service to supply potable water to the residents of the localities, which were yet to get piped water supply and where the pressure in the pipes remained low.


Crucial meeting on housing projects today 
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
The issue of reframing the guidelines for housing projects near industries will come up at a meeting to be held under the chairmanship of the Punjab chief secretary here tomorrow.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has asked the chief secretary to reframe the guidelines by taking all aspects into consideration with regard to the checking of pollution in housing projects to be located near industrial areas. Recently, the Punjab pollution control board had cancelled the no-objection certificates (NoCs) given to housing projects following an order passed by a court in this regard. Changes made in the guidelines by the Punjab pollution control board from time to time were questioned through a writ petition.

Interestingly, Punjab was the first state to frame guidelines in this part of the country with regard to housing projects to check pollution. States like Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, where a number of residential colonies and industries are coming up, have no written instructions and guidelines for such projects.

Former chairman of the Punjab pollution control board Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa said :“ We were the first to take the initiative as far as framing the guidelines was concerned.” He said a large number of residential and commericial projects had been established near industrial areas in Gurgaon, Noida and Baddi but there were no written instructions and guidelines issued by the pollution boards concerned on setting up such projects.

In Himachal Pradesh the letter of intent was issued by the town and county planning department to colonisers and on the basis of that an NoC was granted by the state pollution control board. However, during the past two months a development authority had been set up for the Baddi area. As the authority was preparing the master plan of that area, no NoC had been issued by the board for the past two months.

Bajwa said that at the 125th meeting of the Punjab board on February 25, 2005, the board had decided to provide a buffer of 500 metres between an industry or designated industrial area and a residential colony. However, when the proceedings of the meeting came up for confirmation at the next meeting of the board on March 30, 2005, the board decided to reduce the buffer area from 500 metres to 100 metres. He said that there was reason behind it. The promoters of housing colonies were buying land from farmers. And they were not buying from farmers a 500 metre strip where the buffer zone was to be created. In the process farmers were suffering a loss.

He said that in the meantime the department of industries notified the industrial policy in March, 2005. Under the policy,the government made a provision for the development of industrial parks, estates, agro parks and IT parks where “ a minimum 60 per cent area will have to be developed as an industrial pocket, 30 per area as a residential pocket and 10 per cent area as a commercial pocket.”

As no specific distance was assigned between the residential pocket and the industrial pocket, the issue regarding the guidelines was reconsidered by the board at its 129th meeting held on September 21, 2005, and the next meeting on November 23, 2005. 


Residents force admn to stop work on court complex
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, April 9
The management of a mosque in the Quila Rehmatgarh area here today stopped the construction work by the administration in the area adjoining the mosque.

The administration wants to construct a courts complex in the Quila Rehmatgarh area. Muslims of the area claimed one bigha of land was donated by then Nawab of Malerkotla in 1877 to the mosque constructed on the said land.

Muslims of the area, including women, protested against the administration for construction in the mosque area.

The protest was stopped after intervention by tehsildar Rajinder Oberoi.

Police officials also visited the area in the evening.

Residents of the area were called by the administration to show documents as proof of the donation by the Nawab.


Dept cracks down on chemists
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 9
The health department today cracked down on chemists selling medicines illegally. The civil surgeon said in Moog Khera village Rajinder Singh was running a physician shop without any registration and licence. Twentyfive types of medicines were seized.

Gulzar medicos, being run in front of Punjabi University, was also raided. Bills for the drugs sold were not found at the shop. In the Tripuri area of the city, Arora Medical Hall was raided. Paramjit Singh, on whose license the shop was being run, was not present at the shop. 


2 killed as bus rams into tree
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, April 9
Two passengers died and 26 others sustained injuries when the bus they were travelling in rammed into a tree on the Gurdaspur-Batala highway at Mahadev Kalan village, near here, this morning.

The driver of the Punjab Roadway bus, carrying almost 65 passengers, reportedly lost control over the steering wheel while avoiding a head-on collision with a motorcycle approaching from the opposite direction and the vehicle rammed into the tree leaving one person dead.

Kulwant Singh, a resident of Gurdaspur, died on the spot, while Gurmukh Singh of Dera Baba Nanak succumbed to his injuries at local Civil Hospital. The injured, including six women, were rushed to the local Civil Hospital.

The bus (PB-13H-1907) was on its way from Gurdaspur to Bathinda when it collided with the motorcycle (PB-18H-1635) being ridden by Kartar Singh.

The bus driver Kuldeep Singh of the Malot Mandi area and a passenger Shakti Kant were admitted to a private hospital.

Hearing a loud thud, passers-by and locals from a brick-kiln assembled at the spot and started rescue work. The rescuers had to extricate the passengers by cutting open the mangled remains of the vehicle. The police reached the spot after about an hour. The ill-equipped hospital further put the injured to great hardship.


One killed in accident
Manish Sirhindi 
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 9
One person was killed and 48 sustained injuries when a truck carrying a group of pilgrims overturned on the Ropar-Kiratpur Sahib national highway.

The truck collided with another vehicle coming from the opposite side. The pilgrims were coming back after paying obeisance at Baba Balak Nath. The victims were rushed to the local civil hospital, where one was stated to be serious and 32 were admitted with multiple injuries. One person was reported to have sustained head injury. 


MLA hurt in car accident
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 9
Manjinder Singh Kang, Beas MLA, was injured when his bullet proof car rammed into a stray animal today. He was going to his constituency. He was rushed to a private hospital for treatment.

According to details provided by the personal staff accompanying him in another car Kang along with his driver and gunmen was proceeding towards Beas when a stray animal came in the way and the car rammed into it.

He received minor injuries.


3 youths rob bank of  Rs 5 lakh
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 9
Three unidentified youths assaulted a bank security guard, opened fire on the bank premises and looted Rs 5 lakh from the cooperative bank branch of nearby Ghataron village here today.

As per information, three persons came there in a white Maruti car at 12.10 p.m. While one of them stayed in the car, the other two entered the bank with a bag in hands. They fired on security guard Gurcharan Singh and then fired two more shots into the air to create panic in the bank. They forced branch manager Mohinder Singh and cashier Ramji Lal to hand over the cash. They took Rs 2 lakh from the counter and Rs 3 lakh from the strongroom and fled in their car towards Ludhiana.

SSP B. Chandersheker, DSP Dilbagh Singh Pannu along with a police party reached the site and started investigations.

The injured bank security guard was referred to the PGI, Chandigarh.


Boy battling for life
Bus hits auto-rickshaw

Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 9
A collision between a PRTC bus and an auto-rickshaw, carrying schoolchildren, this morning has left 12-year-old Avneet Singh battling for his life at the Government Rajindra Hospital here.

Avneet is one of the seven children who were on their way to their school by the auto-rickshaw when the PRTC bus, in an attempt to overtake another vehicle, rammed into the auto rickshaw. The auto-rickshaw overturned.

Avneet, a Class VII student of the local DAV Public School, suffered severe head injuries, punctured lungs, fractures in ribs. His right ear got chopped off in the accident.

He has been put on artificial respiration after a surgery was performed on him.

Four-and-a-half years old Yuvraj, a student of LKG, has been admitted to the hospital with fracture in the right arm. The auto driver, Jhabar Mandal, has also suffered serious head injuries with multiple fractures in both legs.

Father of Avneet Gurmeet Singh Bhatia said: “The bus driver, along with the PRTC union, approached us with a request not to lodge any complaint against him. It was the fault of the bus driver. It is a clear case of rash driving.” Bus driver Mahinder Singh has been arrested.


Bribery case
SE to face suspension 
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 9
The Punjab Government has decided to put V. K. Setia, superintendent engineer working for the local Municipal Corporation, under suspension for his alleged involvement in taking bribe from an applicant for sanctioning the site plan for the construction of a building.

D. S. Bains, principal secretary, Local Bodies Department, said, however, the formal order for putting Setia under suspension would be issued in a day or so.He said the order to put Setia under suspension would be taken the moment the file in connection with the same would be put before him by the official concerned.

Setia was caught red-handed a few days ago by a team of Vigilance Bureau officials, led by DSP Vinod Kumar,while accepting a bribe of Rs 10,000 from Kewal Krishan, chairman, Modern ITI, for sanctioning the site plan of the building to be constructed by the complainant.

The accused was remanded to judicial custody for 14 days when he was produced in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate by the team.


Blue bull meat seized

Hoshiarpur, April 9
Nirmaljit Singh Randhawa, DFO (Wild Life), Hoshiarpur, said here today that a team of the wild life department raided the house of Rakesh Kumar in Sector-3, Talwara, last night and seized 25 kg of blue bull meat.

Rakesh Kumar has been booked under Sections 2, 9 and 39 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. — OC


Reader aspirants smell a rat, to boycott interview
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala April 9
Pandemonium is prevailing in Punjabi University, Patiala.The four candidates appearing for interview for the post of reader in the Department of Public Administration scheduled for tomorrow have decided to boycott the interview.

They have alleged that interview was being conducted to promote a women candidate. The candidate has already told them about the experts who are coming for the interview.

The panel of experts, according to them, comprises Dr S.L. Goyal from Punjab University, Dr S.C .Arora from MDU and Shiv Raj Singh from HPU,Shimla.

The candidates alleged that the panel of experts was a closely guarded secret.

The candidates Dr Rajesh Kumar, Dr Raj Kumar Siwatch, Dr Bhupinder Singh and Dr Rakesh Jindal have written to the Governor- cum-chancellor of the university that the interview should be postponed in view of the fact that the names of the panel of experts had been made public beforehand.

Vice-chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai, when contacted, said the panel of experts was forwarded to him by the department concerned . “I just selected three out of them who will form the panel of experts” he said.

When told about the names of the experts being made public, he said he would ask the visiting experts tomorrow. “Only if I am sure of their integrity, the interview will proceed” he said.

Regarding the leakage of the names of the panel of experts coming for the interview, the VC said, “Anything can happen in this university at the lower level”.


Varsity appointments on recommendations?
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala April 9
Were appointments at Punjabi University, Patiala, made on the recommendations of influential people? The appointment of a lecturer in the department of public administration points to this fact.

As per documents available with The Tribune, Kanwalpreet Kaur Virk, a resident of Salaria Vihar urban estate, Patiala, moved an application before the vice-chancellor in May last year.

In her application, she stated: “I have come to know that there are some vacancies for clerical staff in the university.” She requested the vice-chancellor to appoint her on one of the vacant posts.

The application carries a recommendation from SS Johl, former VC of Punjabi University and vice-chairman of the State Planning Commission. In the recommendation, the VC is referred to as Sardar Boparai. It reads: “SS Johl has stated that this is very needy case. I would be grateful if you may help this applicant as may be possible for you. Yadvinder Singh Virk would meet you. Kindly give him a hearing.” The recommendation bears the signature of SS Johl with the date 15.5.06.

On the recommendation of SS Johl, the VC made a recommendation to the head of department on 16.05.06. The VC in his recommendation has stated: “Please examine the case for lectureship.”

Though the applicant had demanded a clerical post, the VC referred her case for the post of lecturer. No post of lecturer was vacant at that time in the department of public administration. However, since the applicant had recommendation of an influential person, she was given an appointment as lecturer in the department of public administration against the post of reader. This, despite the fact that she did not have the requisite qualification for the post. She was just MA in public administration while the basic qualification for the post lecturer is either MA with UGC, M.Phil or PhD.

Though the initial appointment was for a period of six months, she was been allowed to continue.

The vice chancellor, Swaran Singh Boparai, when asked about the appointment allegedly made on the recommendation of an influential person, said he did not remember the case.

Later after verifying the facts, he said on recommendation, he had referred the case to the head of department (HoD), public administration. The HoD made a strong one page recommendation for employing the applicant. On the basis on the recommendation of the HoD the applicant was employed for a period of six months. After the six-month period, the HoD once again recommended the case for extension to Kanwalpreet Virk on the basis of which another extension of three months was given, the VC said.

The HoD, public administration, SS Tiwana, when contacted on the telephone, said “we have to make recommendations as the vice-chancellor desires. The VC is the person who decides on appointments.”

Members of the joint action committee who are spearheading an agitation against the VC, termed the appointment as a backdoor entry. There are many such appointments which will be exposed in due course, they said.


VC orders suspension of history dept teaching work
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 9
Acting on the report of the head of the department of history, Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University Swaran Singh Boparai has ordered immediate closure of the history department for an indefinite period.

Earlier in the day, a delegation of senior women teachers of the university led by Dr Sunita Dhir, Director, youth welfare, and Prof Kumkum Bajaj, head of the department of correspondence courses, went to the history department to sensitise it on the dignity and safety of women teachers and girl students on the campus. Agitators led by some members of the Joint Action Committee, including some teachers of the department, presented the requests of the delegation.

Some students and research scholars of the department have been demanding the reinstatement of two suspended research scholars, who allegedly misbehaved with a woman teacher of the Psychology Department when she was taking a class.

When the students started a dharna on April 6, all senior functionaries of the university led by dean, academic affairs, requested students to resolve the matter amicably. But the agitators did not listen to their pleas. Earlier on that day, the agitators locked the classrooms of the history department.

According to the university authorities, some of teachers of the history department were actively participating in these activities and instigating students and research scholars to disrupt the functioning of the university. In such a situation, the head of the history department expressed helplessness to run the department as the agitators had forced the closure of the department resulting in disruption of internal assessment tests of the department. 


103 recruited at job fair
Our Correspondent

Sangrur, April 9
One hundred and three students from over 40 engineering, management and pharmacy institutes of various parts of the country like Punjab, Haryana, HP, Bihar and UP were given jobs when they participated in a massive recruitment drive, Mega Job Fair-2007, which concluded on the campus of the Bhai Gurdas Institute of Engineering and Technology (BGIET) here today.

Chairman of the institute H.S. Jawandha said several national and multi-national companies visited the BGIET campus for student recruitments. 


Heritage trees for Rs 96,000 !
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 9
The district administration has auctioned as many as 47 green trees, some of them having heritage value, for Rs 96,000 only ! These trees were planted in the erstwhile Saragarhi Memorial School, which was demolished to pave the way for a multi-storeyed parking.

The trees were auctioned despite suggestions made by the Divisional Forest Officer, Amritsar, to preserve them. They include huge peepal and bohar trees, which are valuable from the environmental point of view. He had already written that the executive agency (Galliara Project) finalized the plan without involving any officer of the (forest) department.

The auction was carried out despite the 'chipko movement' launched by various NGOs against the move to fell old trees. The Society for Health and Environment had served a legal notice against felling of the green and shady trees.

The NGO stated that the 3-acre government land in the old Town Hall school, had about 100 green trees and shrubs, including 150 year-old banyan, peepal, neem and mulberry trees. It was the only green belt in the walled city. “These green trees were natural habitat to birds like pigeons, parrots, crows, sparrows, doves, robins, bush cats etc. These trees also provided shelter to hundreds of squirrels.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Saragarhi Memorial School was built in the memory of 21 Sikh soldiers of the 36th Sikh Regiment, who fell in heroic defence of Fort Saragarhi in Wazirstan on September 12, 1897, while defending the fort against an attack by 10,000 Pathans.


Centre’s yes to hike in FDI cap in Bathinda refinery
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
The Union Government has agreed to allow 49 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Bathinda oil refinery project.

Chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh, who held a meeting here today with senior officials of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited ( HPCL) ,which is a promoter of the project, told The Tribune that the issue of enhancing the FDI to 49 per cent from the existing 26 per cent would soon be taken up by the cabinet committee on investment of the union government.

India-born steel baron L.N. Mittal has bought 49 per cent stake worth Rs 3,300 crore in the Bathinda oil refinery. His investment is covered under the FDI. Mittal has already paid Rs 500 crore to HPCL, which also holds 49 per cent stake in the refinery project. The remaining 2 per cent stake will go to financial institutions. Ramesh Inder Singh said HPCL had sought about 150 acres more for constructing a residential colony for the staff to be posted at the refinery site.

Ramesh Inder Singh said there was immediate need of 1,500 skilled persons such welders, masons, plumbers, etc, for the construction of the project. The Punjab government has offered an industrial training institute ( ITI) to HPCL for training local youth as skilled workers. “ We have told them to train the skilled manpower required for the project at the ITI”, said Ramesh Inder Singh. The government has given an assurance to HPCL on repairing all roads around the refinery project and carrying out other improvements in the infrastructure there.

The project, which was to be commissioned in 2004, will now be completed by December, 2010. The delay of nearly six years has resulted in an added cost of Rs 6,000 crore, apart from the loss of various opportunities. The project would now cost around Rs 18,000 crore, he added.

The technology bids for the project would be completed by May, 2007, whereas the financial closure of the project would be done by July, 2007. The refinery would be built as per Euro IV product specifications, he added.


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