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Protests hamper work on toll roads
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, April 20
With the “politicising” of toll collection on the Balachaur-Dasuya and Hoshiarpur-Tanda roads, which has been leading to frequent protests, the public-private partnership that came forwarded in developing this infrastructure in the state appears to have suffered a jolt.

The frequent protests by the locals and transporters against charging of toll on these two premier projects has virtually put by the concessionaires in a dilemma. The construction work on about 15 projects that were allocated by the Punjab government to different concessionaires in 2005-06 on BOT basis has been affected drastically following interference of the local administration.

The concessionaires have virtually been forced to slow down other projects following huge losses caused to them even after spending crores of rupees on these projects.

Sources in the PWD revealed that following the reaction and indifferent attitude of the Hoshiarpur district administration, Rohan Rajdeep Tollways Limited (RRTL), a company that completed the Balachaur-Garhshankar-Hoshiarpur-Dasuya and Patiala-Patran projects in just in 10 months and 18 months, respectively, against the stipulated period of two years, has slowed down work on its other projects.

Taking a lesson from the politically motivated protests in Hoshiarpur, the other concessionaires are in a quandary over the completion of their BOT projects, including that of Kiratpur Sahib-Anandpur Sahib-Nangal-Una, Dakha-Raikot-Barnala, besides the Ropar-Banga-Phagwara and the Jagraon-Nakodar projects.

Similarly, the project for four-laning of the Hoshiarpur-Tanda road was allocated to PD Aggarwal Infrastructures Limited for Rs 89 crore.

Talking to The Tribune, RRTL's project director (Punjab) Ajay Kulkarni claimed that frequent protests against charging of toll from road users had been causing huge losses to the company. The vehicle owners had been avoiding toll and using alternative link roads. Frequent traffic jams had also been affecting the company’s toll collection adversely.

“As per an agreement with the government, the concessionaire has decided to erect a temporary checkpost within 5 km on either sides of the existing toll plazas,” disclosed Kulkarni.

Meanwhile, more than 20 trucks of Mahilpur and Saila Khurd truck unions carrying wheat of the FCI blocked traffic for more than three hours on the Hoshiarpur-Chandigarh road at a toll plaza at Nangal Shaheedan from 10.30 am to 1pm today in protest against the imposition of toll by the toll-plaza company. 

 

Right to info: Record missing, probe ordered
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 20
The principal secretary, department of technical education and industrial training, Punjab, has written to the senior superintendent of police (SSP), Chandigarh, to register an FIR and subsequently investigate a matter pertaining to the misplacement of official record of the department.

Official sources said the principal secretary wrote to the SSP after the official concerned of the department failed to find the relevant record to supply information sought under Right to Information (RTI) Act by Lalit Mohan, a former employee of the local Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering and Technology (GZSCET), in connection with an alleged recruitment scam that took place in that college from 1997 to 2002.

The principal secretary mentioned that no official file regarding the complaint of the alleged recruitment scam in the GZSCET, Bathinda, could be located in the directorate of technical education, Chandigarh, and hence it was necessary to investigate the matter regarding the misplacement of official record pertaining to an important matter by way of registering an FIR.

Lalit Mohan has sought information under the RTI Act from the chief secretary as to what action has been taken by his office in connection with the complaint lodged by him.

When Lalit Mohan did not receive any information from the authorities concerned, he approached the State Information Commission.

After the State Information Commission came into the scene, the principal secretary, department of technical education, asked the staff to find out the relevant record so that Lalit Mohan could be supplied the necessary information. However, when no such record could be located, a formal application was moved to the SSP, Chandigarh, to investigate the matter. The authorities concerned also intimated the State Information Commission in this regard.

Lalit Mohan Sharma, who was the general secretary of the GZSCET Teachers Association in 2004, made a representation to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on June 1, 2004, and urged him to take appropriate action in connection with the alleged recruitment scam.

The president’s office asked the then chief secretary of Punjab to take necessary action on the complaint.

Lalit Mohan had alleged in his representation that about 3,000 candidates had suffered due to the alleged recruitment scam.

 

Top cops out to implicate me: Virk
Manish Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
Former Punjab DGP S.S. Virk has apprehended that he will be implicated in fabricated cases.

In a representation submitted to the Union Home Ministry, seeking revocation of the suspension orders issued by the SAD-BJP government, Virk has claimed that he has information from “reliable sources that the Punjab government has deputed a few officers to fabricate some cases” in order to involve him in a serious criminal or disciplinary proceedings so that he can be retained and harassed in Punjab.

Not only this, Virk has gone on to name two cases in which he can be implicated.

“Issues which are likely to be raked up are about two consignments of RDX received from across the border and recovered after nearly a year-long operation carried out by the Intelligence wing of the Punjab police. This operation was carried out with the knowledge of the Central intelligence agencies, the Punjab government as well as the Border Security Force. Two hardcore militants were arrested in case of one consignment whereas no instructions were received from across the border about the second one. The officers monitoring the operation had no choice but to wait,” he has said.

Virk has claimed that instead of being praised for running a successful operation aimed at foiling the plans of Pakistan terrorist groups, the officers connected to the operation were now being intimidated.

He has also expressed the fear that the issue of surrender of militants and their joining the national mainstream can also be raked up to create hype and draw some political advantage and “fix” him.

Virk is also learnt to have met senior officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs and handed over a 14-page representation, alleging that his suspension was “totally illegal, arbitrary and carried out with utter disregard to suspension rules”.

Coming out in the open with names of three senior police officers of the state for “poisoning the minds of politicians” against him, Virk has stated that he is likely to be dragged in false criminal cases by “specifically deputed police officers”.

Alleging that ADGP (Intelligence) Shashi Kant, IGP S.K. Sharma and VB director Sumedh Singh Saini were inimical towards him, Virk has alleged that Shashi Kant was working like a “bureaucratic mercenary”.

“He has been instigating political bosses against colleagues and brother officers, blaming them for tapping telephones during the tenure of the pervious government by the earlier establishment. He is indulging in malicious propaganda poisoning the minds of the senior leaders in order to secure his own chair as the ADGP,” the former DGP has said.

As for IG Sharma, Virk has said Sharma’s brother was supplying uniforms and other provisioning articles to the Punjab police. “As the supplies did not meet the standards, consignments were rejected and his company was blacklisted by me as DGP,” he has claimed.

Referring to Saini, Virk has said the VB chief was “unhappy” with him due to his intervention in ordering the release of a journalist, who was picked up when Saini was heading the SIT, probing the infamous Nayagaon rape case.

 

Atta-dal: YC threatens stir from May 1
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 20
The Punjab Youth Congress has decided to take on the SAD-BJP government on the atta-dal issue. Its president Vijay Inder Singla while addressing a press conference today alleged that the SAD-BJP had taken people of the state for a ride on the atta-dal issue.

During the election campaign the parties had promised to give atta at Rs 4 per kg and dal at Rs 20 per kg immediately after taking over the reins of power. The date was later extended till Baisakhi. However, the subsidised atta-dal was nowhere in sight.

During the election campaign the SAD/BJP gave the impression that everybody would get subsidised food items. However, now they have limited the criteria to only those who have annual income of less than Rs 30,000 per annum. Under the present criteria very few people will become eligible for the scheme in the state. The minimum wage in the state is about Rs 2,800 per month. Even if a single member of the family is earning he would not be eligible under the scheme.

Even the deputy speaker of the Lok Sabha Charanjit Singh Atwal had demanded that the upper limit of income for deciding the beneficiaries of the scheme should be increased to Rs 60,000 per annum.

The government, though, had started the process to procure wheat for the scheme, no plan had been announced for providing dal at subsidised rates. If the government failed to fulfil its main election promise by April 30, they would hold dharna from May 1 at all district headquarters, the Youth Congress president further said.

 

Free power: Personal views, says Manpreet
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal today clarified that media reports about the impact of providing free power and other freebies on the state's economy were his "personal views".

However, in the same statement he added: “I firmly believe in the delivery of quality services to all sections, including farmers, and some restructuring of economic priorities is required in the long-term interests of the state's economic health.”

But Badal added that as the finance minister he was fully committed to the economic vision of the SAD-BJP alliance and would facilitate the implementation of all government policies framed by the cabinet, including free power to the farm sector.

Badal, who is known to do some plain speaking on core issues concerning the future of the state, said the "issues of free power to farmers, the shagun scheme, free domestic electricity to dalits and subsidised atta-dal are matters of state policy on which the cabinet alone is competent to decide.” He, however, added that he would be presenting his views on these subjects to the cabinet before finalising the budgetary proposals.

All commitments made in the poll manifesto would be fulfilled, he added.

 

Rebel Akali alleges threat to life
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 20
A veteran rebel Akali Jathedar Mohan Singh Matiya, president, Shiromani Akali Dal (1920) (Rural), has expressed threat to his life from the supporters of SAD member of Parliament and his MLA son, Amarpal Singh Boney, due to political vendetta.

Jathedar Matiya, while addressing the media here today, alleged that both the leaders were trying to grab his 20 acre agricultural land. They were not allowing him to harvest the wheat crop in connivance with Akali workers with police protection. He said false cases were being filed against him and his sons to implicate them in criminal cases. His son had already been arrested. Other members of the family were also being harassed by them.

When contacted, the SAD MLA said Jathedar Matiya was levelling false allegations against him and his MP father. He said that he (Matiya) had grabbed the land of the Rai Sikhs, who had been cultivating the land for last about 35 years. He said during the Congress rule Matiya had established police chowki to protect the grabbed land. Matiya along with his supporters had inflicted serious injuries on SAD workers and poor people of the area. Cases were pending in the courts in this regard.

Demanding appropriate action against the accused, Matiya said he and members of his family should be provided protection as he was fearing threat to life and property. 

 
 


Pollution: Paper mill faces closure
Tribune News Service

Patiala April 20
The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has ordered the closure of Rana Paper Mill owned by the family of the Congress MP Rana Gurjeet Singh under Prevention of Water Pollution Act. The mill was located in Mohali district.

As per the officials of the Pollution Control Board, the paper mill was spewing untreated waste into the Siswan rivulet flowing through Mohali and Ropar districts. The mill was agro-based and did not have fully functional effluent treatment plant.

People residing in the areas surrounding Siswan had been complaining of pollution being caused due to untreated effluents being released from the mill. They moved Punjab and Haryana High Court. The court in the recent past had appointed amicus curie to look into the alleged pollution being caused by the mill.

PPCB officials allegedly did not act against the mill despite numerous complaints and authentic reports due to alleged political pressure exerted by the owners.

However, right after the change of government the PPCB officials wasted no time in issuing the closure orders. They have also ordered the disconnection of the power connection to the mill.

 

Four taken ill after drinking cooler water
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 20
Four employees of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) had to be hospitalised this morning after allegedly consuming water from a cooler in the head office of the board.

The employees are Sunita Rani, Kulwant Kaur, Kuldeep Singh and Satpal. While three employees were admitted to a local dispensary, Sunita Rani was shifted to Rajindra Medical College as her condition was stated to be critical.

Sources said the employees started vomiting immediately after consuming water from the water cooler at about 9.30 am.

The PPCB authorities were in a defending mode on the development. Secretary to the board Barinderjit Singh ruled out the possibility of contaminated water resulting in the ailment of the employees. He said the employees might have fallen ill due to some other reason. 

 

Sabha seeks control of temple
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 20
Sri Sanatan Dharam Sabha here has demanded that the control of the Kali temple be handed over to it as it was the oldest religious institution of the city.

A resolution to this effect was passed at a general meeting of the sabha here today. It was presided over by its president Lal Chand Jindal.

The sabha has alleged that the temple is not being maintained properly. Devotees have to go through a lot of problems due to a lack of proper arrangements.

It has also been alleged that no proper account of the income or expenditure of the temple is maintained.

A “sri sanatan dharam mandir prabandhak committee” has been formed to look after arrangements at the temple with Ravinder Dhir, senior vice-president of sabha, its organiser.
Meanwhile, eight office-bearers of the sabha were elected for a period of 
six years. 

 

Residents fear malaria outbreak

Patiala, April 20
Residents of Urban Estate, Phase II, here are a distressed lot. They have been troubled by mosquitoes for the past few days. Despite complaints to the health authorities, no fogging has been carried out in the area.

The Residents Welfare Association has said if some measures were not taken immediately, it might lead to an outbreak of dengue or malaria in the locality. — TNS

 

Improvement Trust records examined

Jalandhar, April 20
Officers of the Punjab Local Bodies Department, led by D.S. Bains, inspected the records of the local Improvement Trust yesterday. Administrator of the trust Sarojini Gautam Sharda was also present during the closed-door meeting.

Though the department divulged nothing, it is learnt that the exercise was aimed at determining if any scandals took place in the trust during the previous regime. — TNS

 

PSEB introduces spot billing

Patiala, April 20
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to introduce spot billing machines (SBMs) for domestic and commercial costumers.

Anurag Agarwal, member, finance and accounts, PSEB, said in a press note here today that SBMs would help consumer pay bills at their doorsteps. The consumers have been given the option of paying the bills on the spot either by case or cheque.

Payment in cash can be made only for bills not exceeding Rs 1000. He expressed hope that on-the-spot billing would ensure correct billing and timely payments.

Authorised representative of the firms (with PSEB identity card) shall be visiting the consumer premises on bi-monthly basis. By feeding meter status and current reading, the SBM would issue the bill and receipt of payment. The agent shall also obtain acknowledgement from consumer for delivery of bill. — TNS

 

 

13 PCS officers shifted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
The Punjab government tonight ordered the transfer of 13 PCS officers.

Ajmer Singh goes as ADC, Moga. Chander Gaind is the new DTO, Ludhiana. Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal, Jaswant Singh, Harcharan Singh Sandhu and Bhupinder Singh II have been posted as DTOs at Hoshiarpur, Patiala, Faridkot and Bathinda, respectively.

Devinder Singh has been posted as SDM, Balachaur, while Jasbir Singh goes as SDM, Shahkot, and Sukhdev Singh as SDM, Samrala. Amarjit Singh has been posted as DTO, Muktsar, and Balbir Singh as DTO, Mohali. Paramjit Singh Padda goes at the same post at Gurdaspur.

 

‘Retirement at 60’ revived
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
The proposal to enhance the age of retirement of employees of the Punjab government to 60 years from 58 has been revived.

Sources said the proposal had been sent to the authorities concerned in the finance department.

Before the state assembly elections, Shiromani Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal had categorically stated in the party manifesto that the age of retirement would be raised to 60 years.

The sources said if the retirement age was enhanced, the government would retain Rs 1,234 crore due to the employees who are to retire in the next two years. Employees who retire get about Rs 15 lakh to Rs 20 lakh as gratuity and other accumulated benefits besides a monthly pension ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000. Each year, about 4,000 employees retire , it is learnt.

General secretary of the all-India state employees co-ordination committee Ranbir Singh Dhillon has urged Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to implement the election manifesto in toto as far as the demands of the employees are concerned. He has written to Badal to increase the retirement age immediately.

Meanwhile, because of a large number of vacant posts in the Punjab civil secretariat, the functioning of various departments has been hit hard. Sources said that there were about 90 vacant posts of assistant and 200 of clerical staff in the secretariat. “ In many branches there are one or two clerks to deal with files whereas five or six clerks are required”, said Oma Kant Tiwari, chairman of the Punjab civil secretariat staff association.

A good number of assistants and other staff members had been withdrawn from various branches and attached with ministers and chief parliamentary secretaries. This had further hit the functioning of departments. “As a large number of employees have retired and vacant posts remained unfilled, the workload of the existing staff has increased tremendously”, said Tiwari.

Some of the administrative secretaries have also written to the state government drawing its attention to the shortage of staff in their respective branches which deal with important files.

Tiwari said the government should immediately fill the vacant posts of clerical staff and also of stenographer. As many employees were due to retire in the next few months, work would suffer further, he added.

 

Two injured over land dispute
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 20
Two persons were injured in firing over a land dispute at the Loharka Road near the Jalandhar-Wagah bypass road here today.

According to sources, Harpal Singh Goldy had purchased a plot from Balgair Singh of Meerakot and had come to take its possession. However, Harjinder Singh, who along with others was present, claimed that they had already paid money advance to the plot owner. During the heated exchanges Goldy fired at Harjinder and immediately left the place.

The Sadar police has registered a case against Harpal Singh, Gurpartap Singh Harvinder Singh and Meerakot sarpanch Heera Singh, under the Arms Act. SHO B.S. Goraya said teams had been sent to various places to arrest the culprits. 

 

20 sentenced for sexually exploiting minor
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 20
District and Sessions Judge Atul Kumar Jain today sentenced 20 accused for sexually exploiting a minor girl. The victim had on October 18, 2001,told the police that three persons had raped her at a farmhouse near Behlolnagar village.They were charged with stripping the girl naked, taking her photographs and blackmailing her.The designate court for dealing with cases relating to atrocities on SCs and STs had earlier acquitted two accused, Rohtas and Sanjay,on benefit of doubt.

The court ordered action against Bimla Devi, wife of Suraj Parkash Narang for abstaining during the hearing.

The court sentenced Krishan Godara to 10 years’ imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 on him. Krishan Chander, son of Om Parkash, Subhash Chander, Sehdev, Vijay Pal, Dinesh Kumar, Mohan Lal, Rajesh Kumar, Raj Kumar, Harphool, Shakti Poonia, Suresh Kumar, Vinod Kumar, Subhash, son of Inderaj, Mohinder Kumar, Sushil Kumar, Sonu, Vijay Kumar and Bimla Devi were sentenced to five years’ imprisonment each besides a fine of Rs 5,000.

 

Drug pedlar in police net
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 20
A man was arrested for allegedly selling psychotropic drugs without a licence and bill here today.

The police laid a trap to arrest Jaspal, a resident of Masigan. He used to procure the drugs from Ambala and sell them to quacks and patients without any prescription, bill or licence.

Dr Navdeep Walia, along with a police party, arrested him with a large quantity of psychotropic drugs. Jaspal told the police that he had been selling the drugs for the past two-three months and earned a good money.

 

Two held with smack
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, April 20
The police yesterday arrested two persons with 100 gm of smack.

The police signalled the two persons, coming on a motor cycle from the Ambala side, to stop. They tried to flee but the police overpowered them. Small packets of smack were seized from them.

A case under the NDPS Act has been registered.

 

3 killed in road accidents

Bathinda, April 20
Three persons have been killed in two road accidents that took place in the district during the past 24 hours. The youths identified as Bohar Singh and Gurcharan Singh died on spot after a harvester combine hit their motor cycle near Mehma Sarkari village, today. The sharp cutters of the combine pierced the bodies of the youths, who died on the spot. A case has been registered against the driver of the harvester combine.

In another accident that took place near Naruana village of this district, Sukhminder Singh died after his motor cycle was hit by a tractor-trailer, yesterday. Bakhshish Singh, a pillion rider, was also killed in the accident.

Though, Sukhminder Singh was immediately taken to a hospital he died after some time. Bakhshish Singh was being treated at the local civil hospital. A case had been registered against the driver of the tractor-trailer. — TNS

 

7 students hurt in mishap

Barnala, April 20
Seven students were injured, three of them seriously, in a road accident here today. The students were returning after taking exams from a private academy situated at Sandhur village, about 10 km from here.

The Tata Sumo (No. PB-08 A F 4174), by which the students were travelling, went out of control near Bhagatpura village and hit the roadside tree. — OC

 

PTU to review fee refund regulations
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
Punjab Technical University(PTU) has decided to review its regulations regarding the refund of fee by students seeking admission to more than one engineering colleges in the state.

The move comes in wake of a directive issued by the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) yesterday.

The AICTE has ruled that colleges will retain only Rs 1,000 from students who leave the college before the course begins.In case a student leaves the course after classes have begun and the seat falling vacant has been occupied, the college will have to return the fee retaining only the monthly fee and the hostel rent for the duration the student was there.

Engineering colleges in Punjab are affiliated to PTU and follow the university guidelines in this regard.Talking to The Tribune, Dr S.K Salwan, PTU Vice-Chancellor said, “PTU will now be revising these rules keeping in view the AICTE order.We have written to the AICTE to send us a copy of the detailed order so that we can further issue these instructions to the colleges.”

At present, PTU allows the colleges to retain 10 per cent of the fee charged by the students who change colleges before a given date, fixed each year by the PTU. In case a student shifts from the college after the given date, the college retains the entire fee paid by the student.

Also, in case a student shifts from a PTU-affiliated college to a non-PTU college, the fee is not returned.“Since AICTE has clearly said that if the seat falling vacant due to the leaving of a student is filled, the college will return the fee, the PTU and non-PTU rule does not mean anything anymore,” said Dr Salwan.

Meanwhile,students and their parents have welcomed the AICTE initiative.“This is a welcome news.Some years ago,I pursued a long battle in the consumer courts against Chitkara Engineering College for the refund of my son’s fee.He had got admission to Panjab University and wanted to leave the college.But the authorities refused to refund the fee.The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission decided in my favour.We decided to battle it out but hundreds of parents let the whole thing be,” said Gurbir Singh Kochar, a city resident.

Madhu Chitkara of the college pointed out that they followed the norms laid down by PTU in this regard.“PTU norms state that 90 per cent of the tuition fee has to be refunded in case the student shifts from one PTU-affiliated college to another and that too before a stipulated date.For a shift from a PTU-affiliated college to one affiliated to another university, however, no refund is given,” she said.

The AICTE regulation is applicable to students who will be taking admissions to various AICTE-approved courses in engineering, MBA, fine arts, pharmacy and hotel management in the forthcoming session.

Edit : Refund muddle

 

Students seek grace marks
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 20
The students of BA (II), who attempted public administration (paper A) of Punjabi University, Patiala, yesterday, have alleged that the question paper was set in English medium whereas they opted for the Punjabi medium.

They said they approached the examiner and superintendent, but they said they were supplied with the English-medium question papers by the university.

Meanwhile, state president of the Old Students’ Union Gurinderjit Singh Peerjainin, in a letter to the vice-chancellor of the university, has demanded grace marks for the students. 

 

No takers for shopping complex
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 20
Did improvement trust Patiala waste crores of rupees in the construction of a shopping complex in the narrow lanes of Dharampura Bazar?

Though the construction of the complex, comprising 25 units, was completed around two and a half years ago, most of the shops in it have not been sold. Four shops, which were sold about two years ago, are still unoccupied.

The trust money spent on the construction of the complex could have been utilised to provide better amenities to the people. Moreover, it is fast turning into a dumping ground with heaps of garbage beginning to pile up.

Sources here said the trust was not finding any takers for the shops as there is no parking space in the area.

Executive officer, Improvement Trust, Patiala, Harjinder Singh said: “The property is liable to income tax. The trust sells its property if it needs money to buy more property or if money is required for any other purpose like payments to clients on maturity of schemes, etc.

“However, the trust has enough money at present. So it is no sense selling off the shops as the entire income generated through it will go the income tax department.”

“It is up to the owners to decide if they want to open or keep the shops shut. We do not have anything to do with it”, he added.

The officer said it was good that the shops in the complex were not sold at the time of the completion or later on as “the prices of property have increased manifold over the past couple of years. In a way, the complex has given us much more profit than what we had expected by selling the shops in it”, he added.

When asked about the cost of the project, the officer said, “I do not have the figures. It must be there in the files.” What happens to the complex, situated in the heart of the bazar, remains a mystery with the trust authorities sleeping over the project in the name of income tax hassles.

Moneywise

The trust has enough money at present. So it is no sense selling off the shops as the entire income generated through it will go to the income tax department.

— Executive officer

 

 


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