P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


State of Finances
Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences
This university gets no government grant
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
The Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences (BFUMS), Faridkot, has 73 medical and nursing colleges under it. But it runs on a meagre budget of Rs 7 crore with zero per cent grant from the Punjab government.

The youngest university of the state is doubtlessly also in the most wretched state. Established in 1998 to consolidate medical education under one umbrella, the university was, till two months ago, functioning from a four-room rented accommodation.

Running a university like this is no mean achievement. “We have never been given even a single penny by the government till date and even this amount has been raised by the university from its own resources,” said BFUMS vice-chancellor Dr Ravinder Singh.

The university’s earnings come from examination fee, affiliation fee, student certifications and interest of a corpus fund created in the initial years. It spends about Rs 4 crore, saving the rest for the enhancement of the corpus fund.

The university has only about 60 regular employees, all of whom have been working under most adverse conditions. Huddled together in a four-room hall rented by the university from the Punjab tourism department on the Kotkapura road, the university’s existence seemed almost like a cruel joke.

“We had no building, no office, no infrastructure, no accommodation and of course, no finances. The situation has now slightly improved as the Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital at Faridkot has been handed over to us and we are using vacant OPD hall space to sit,” said Dr Ravinder Singh.

The college was handed over to the university early this year. “The government has given us one month’s salary of the college staff. But the college is a dying institute. Posts of professor have been lying vacant for years. We desperately need funds to begin its revival. We are hiring staff on contract simply because we cannot make a long-term financial commitment in the absence of a permanent grant from the government,” the VC pointed out.

The state of the finances becomes exceptionally pitiable when one realises that this is one university which is heavily dependent on modern technology in the health care sector. A CT scanning machine, for example, costs Rs 2 crore and an MRI machine costs about Rs 3 crore and these are now considered essential for any medical college.

University officials have sent two proposals to the government requesting for Rs 200 crore for the development of the university to be spent over the next five years. Another Rs 65 crore is needed for the medical college. The university has listed the various priority works, including construction of its own building on the land it owns at Faridkot.

The university was granted 150 acres of barren land on the Talwandi-Faridkot road. The vast expanse is lying unused and efforts are being made to make the land usable. “We want to plant medicinal plants on a part of the land, but there is no source of irrigation there,” said the VC.


Farm loans
NABARD starves state of funds
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
Punjab is in a bind as the national bank for agricultural and rural development (NABARD) has not provided funds to advance loans in the farm sector.

Upset over the attitude of NABARD, the Punjab cooperation minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, has decided to meet union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on May 2.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh had brought the matter in the notice of Pawar earlier by writing to him in this regard. He has also written to the chairman of NABARD.

Sources said NABARD had not provided money to the state for four months. " We are running the show with the money recovered as instalments from farmers who were advanced loans earlier", said Capt Kanwaljit Singh.

He said because of the heavy cut imposed by NABARD in providing funds to the state, the functioning of the state agriculture cooperation bank, which provided money on loan to farmers on a long-term basis to buy tractors, etc, had been hit , said Capt Kanwaljit Singh. " As Punjab was heavily dependent on agriculture, the denying of adequate funds to the state will hit its farmers", said Capt Kanwaljit Singh.

He said it had happened so suddenly that the state government had not been able to make alternative arrangements Every year, NABARD provides about Rs 400 crore to Rs 600 crore to Punjab for agricultural loan purposes.

Earlier, NABARD had never denied funds to Punjab. In fact, it used to give preference to the state because the recovery of loans advanced in the cooperative sector has been far better as compared to that in many other states.


Illegal immigration
Five Punjabis deported to India daily
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 28
Despite the catastrophic consequences for many as the infamous Malta boat tragedy, illegal immigration of Punjabis is on the rise.

Punjabi youths, especially from Doaba and Majha regions, do not even hesitate to put their lives in danger by pursuing illegal means, that too after paying a hefty amount to settle in foreign countries.

This fact may easily be understood from the data procured by The Tribune, according to which, at least five Punjabis, hailing from the Doaba and Majha regions, are deported to India from the USA, the UK, Canada, Italy, Germany, Spain and Gulf countries daily.

As many as 10,156 residents of four districts, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr (Doaba region), and three districts, Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran (Majha region), have been deported to India since 2002.

At least 650 Punjabis hailing from the Doaba and Majha regions have been deported till now this year, according to sources in the Regional Passport Office (RPO).

Interestingly, how Punjabis are desperate to go abroad by hook or by crook may be easily understood from the fact that at least one member, in some cases entire families, in Feroze Sanghowal and Tahli villages of Paramjeet Kaur’s parents and in-laws, Amarjeet Singh’s village Jalalpur, Paramjeet’s agent’s village Fatehgarh Seikri and Amarjeet’s agent Santu’s village, is settled abroad.

Meanwhile, chairman of the Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission Ballwin Singh Khera counted several reasons, including economic issues, adventure and charm, for Doaba persons’ desperation to go abroad.


VB after ex-Cong MLA for ‘helping’ brother
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 28
The Vigilance Bureau has tightened the noose around the neck of former Congress MLA and ex-chairman of the Improvement Trust Jugal Kishore Sharma for allegedly helping his elder brother in getting the plan of a multi-storeyed building on a prime commercial land near Town Hall here passed during the Congress regime.

SP (Vigilance) Sukhdev Singh in a missive to the district revenue officer has asked him to issue written instructions to revenue patwari Ravinder Kumar to record his statement in his office regarding the ownership of the land in question. He was asked to appear in the office of the SP (Vigilance) on April 30.

Though the inquiry was reportedly ordered during the tenure of the previous Congress government, it remained on a low pace for obvious reasons.

Earlier, the corporation had lodged an FIR on July 16, 2004, for violations in the bylaws for constructing the building by Kewal Krishan Sharma, the elder brother of the then Congress MLA, who showed “undue haste” in getting the plan passed.

The controversial building is a few yards away from the head office of the corporation.

Jugal Kishore has already refuted the charges that the bylaws were violated to construct the building by his elder brother. He claimed that he had nothing to do with the building since his brother had been working from the site for the past many decades and had regularly deposited the house tax.

However, the corporation had put a rider while passing the building plan in the past. The official noting reads, “.....the sanction of this proposed building plan will not mean that the applicant has become owner of the suit property. In case any dispute is raised with regard to ownership of the site in question at the later stage, the sanction so given will be deemed to have been revoked.”

Earlier, the FIR of the MC had stated that “the offender has started the construction which is against sanctioned plan vide No. 32/138.”

The sources said the revenue record was clear that the building was constructed on the encroached land and, hence, the former Congress MLA could be in the dock.


Chemical lab functions sans infrastructure
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 28
The chemical laboratory is the only facility in the state where medical evidence in nearly 2,500 cases of poisoning and 600 of rape from the state is verified annually. Besides, the narcotics seized by the police are also tested at the same laboratory. However, its condition illustrates the apathy with which the criminal justice is being handled.

The chemical tests of viscera relating to the said cases are done in the open at the laboratory . Chemical analysts work under a tent in the backyard of laboratory. They are able to work just for a few hours in the morning as it is not possible to work at noon in summer. When it rains, the work has to be suspended, officials of the laboratory told The Tribune on the condition of anonymity.

Lack of infrastructure in the laboratory affects the system of justice. According to rules, the report of the chemical examination of viscera has to be submitted to the police in 25 to 40 days. In cases of murder and rape, the accused are entitled to bail if the challan is not presented by the police within 90 days.

Usually challan is not presented by the police without receiving the chemical report of viscera. However, due to lack of infrastructure and tests being done in the open, chances of test reports getting delayed in the laboratory are more.

The security at the building is another problem. Viscera from across the state are kept in a ramshackle building open to intrusion. There is only one watchman to guard the viscera leaving scope for tampering with the reports.

The chief chemical examiner said, "We have written many times to the SSP, Patiala, for providing security for the laboratory, but no action has been taken”.

The laboratory at present has been functioning from a dilapidated building of the District Red Cross for which government pays Rs 30,000 rent a month. Till date, about Rs 30 lakh has been paid as rent of the building.


Bhog of Dimpa’s father
Senior Congress leaders absent
Tribune News Service

Amritsar , April 28
Second rung leaders of the Congress today criticised senior party leaders for absence at the death anniversary of the father of former Congress MLA Jasbir Singh Dimpa at his Lidher village near Rayya , today .

They alleged senior leaders had failed to come to the rescue of 'Dimpa family' in their crisis as the police had resorted to political vendetta against them. Though Harpartap Singh Ajnala and Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa were vocal in criticising senior Congress leaders for having failed to address grievances of the workers facing 'police repression' .

However, second rung leaders, including Congress MLAs expressed solidarity with Jasbir Singh Dimpa, who could not attend the death anniversary due to a case of murder registered against him. His younger brother Rajan Gill already is in jail. However, Harmanbir Singh Gill, an SP, was present .

Sant Singh Lidher, father of Dimpa was killed by militants 21 years ago and his Bhog ceremony was organised to rejuvenate the Congress Cadre.

Notable senior leaders present were Sunny Brar ,Surinderpal Singh Sabia - both MLAs , Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Harpartap Singh , Kanwaljit Singh Lalli - all ex- MLAs ,Harminder Singh Gill and Sukhbhinder Raj Singh Lalli, president, District Congress Committee (Rural) Amritsar and Sunil Dutti mayor Amritsar.

However, district president (Rural) Sukhjinder Singh Lalli advised Congress leaders not to discuss their grievances at public meetings . He , however, said he would bring problems of workers to the notice of party high command .

The congress leadership lauded the workers of Beas who came out in support of Jasbir Singh Gill Dimpa in assembly election despite alleged misuse of government machinery in favour of the Akali nominee. The margin of defeat of Dimpa was too small, they said .

Addressing the gathering, second rung leaders urged the senior Congress leaders to rise to the occasion and face the situation by standing with the Congress workers facing the vendetta politics of the Akali government. 


Govt to engage PR companies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
The Punjab government will frame a policy to provide recognition to public relations companies and private public relations (PR) men to ensure their involvement in some ongoing government PR activities, under public-private partnership .

Jagjit Puri, secretary, information and public relations, Punjab, said this while presiding over a seminar on achieving excellence in PR through information technology intervention organised by the local chapter of the public relations society of India( PRSI).

In his presidential address Puri advised the PRSI to bring out a directory with details of PR companies working in India and abroad along with a competitive rate list. He said that sometimes it became difficult for the department to ensure the proper coverage of some Punjab government activities and functions in other states or abroad and the directory would be of help in this regard.

Col Rajesh Dua (retd), general manager, IT, Punjab infotech, in his keynote address touched on the four- step process of research, planning, communicating and evaluating to be a successful public relations man. 


Thermal plants in pvt sector opposed
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, April 28
The plan of the Punjab government to set up two thermal power plants in this and Nabha area by private parties may run into rough weather as two employees’ unions of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) have started opposing the same and demanded that projects should be executed by the department.

While the PSEB Engineers Association, headed by H.S. Bedi, has already submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister to review the decision, the Council of Junior Engineers, PSEB, headed by patron Sukhdev Singh, in its meeting held today decided to press upon the state government to let the department execute the project.

Sukhdev Singh said the matter would be taken up in the meeting of the national coordination committee of employees and engineers to make a concrete policy on the issue. He added that though the union was in favour of increasing the generation of electricity in Punjab, it would go on lightning strike whenever it came to know that the PSEB management had started the unbundling of the board.

Amarjit Sodhi, president, Technical Service Union (TSU), PSEB, said it was too early to make a comment on the fact that whether the PSEB management had allowed its privatisation or not.

To set up two thermal plants of 1,200 MW capacity each on the built, own and operate (BOO) basis, the PSEB has formed two special purpose vehicles (SPVs) and has floated two companies under the name of Nabha Power Limited and Talwandi Sabo Power Limited. Anurag Aggarwal, member (finance), PSEB, has been made their chairman-cum-managing director (CMD).

H.S. Bedi said apart from asking Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to review the decision of setting up of two thermal power plants by private parties, which was taken by the previous Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, he had also been urged to allow the PSEB to set up one thermal plant out of these two on its own so that it could be ensured that if private players failed to implement the project, the PSEB could add more generation.

He added that they had also expressed their reservation over the appointment of a member (finance), PSEB, as the CMD of the companies as only technical member was the right person to handle the things.


Banks’ panel reviews govt schemes
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 28
To review the progress of various government-sponsored schemes for the agriculture, industrial and weaker sectors of the society, Mahesh Inder Singh Thind, ADC(D), presided over the meeting of the consultative committee of various banks, organised by the State Bank of Patiala, here yesterday.

He urged the banks to disburse the loans immediately and advised the bank manager to strengthen co-ordination with government departments and concerned officials so that loan seekers do not face any difficulty.

Thind called for the formation of as many self-help groups as possible.

Ashwani Mahajan, AGM, NABARD, said 992 self-help groups have been formed in the district and 858 have been provided loans. S.S. Kharaud, LDM, urged the banks to issue maximum number of credit cards upto Rs 25,000 for general purpose without any guarantee.

He urged that cases sponsored under PMRY schemes be sanctioned within 10 days so that the beneficiaries can avail of loans as soon as possible. 


Retirement benefits for Home Guards sought

Amritsar, April 28
Former MLA Satyapal Dang has made an appeal to Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal to give retirement benefits to Home Guards in acknowledgement of their services during the days of militancy.

In his letter to the CM, Dang said during militancy not only was the Army called in, a special force of SPOs was created in the state. For this, youths were trained and motivated. Many of them also laid down their lives to maintain peace. — TNS


Travelling in AC buses may go cheaper
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 28
Travelling in air-conditioned buses in the state is likely to become cheaper. The government is considering the proposal, submitted by the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC), to reduce the tax levied on the air-conditioned buses. The PRTC has requested the government to reduce the tax and bring it closer to what is levelled on general buses.

While the general buses pay a tax of 5 paise per km per seat, the air-conditioned buses pay more than 10 paise per km per seat to the government. This has led to an abnormal difference in the fare between the air-conditioned and general buses.

Minister for Transport Mohan Lal, when contacted, admitted that the government was considering the proposal to reduce the tax on the air-conditioned buses. Managing director (PRTC) Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon said if the government decided to reduce the tax, the corporation would transfer the benefit to the travellers.


‘Traders should seek X-ray machine’

Amritsar, April 28
Even though there is a pressing need for installing an X-ray machine at the Air Cargo Complex of the Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) at Rajasansi International Airport, the CWC authorities maintain that any proposal in this regard will be finalised only after traders make a formal demand.

CWC regional manager S.C.Batra, who was in the city recently, stated this. He said traders operating at the international airport could take up the issue by sending across a demand through their associations. — TNS


Taz of Stereo Nation to act now
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 28
“It is good to experience the flavour of everything,” said Taz of Stereo Nation, while interacting with media persons here on Saturday.

Soon after making his maiden appearance on the silver screen as one of the male leads in British crossover film “Don't stop dreaming,” Taz, better known as Tarsem Singh, is all set to take on the acting scene by storm. Talking about his debut venture, Taz said, “It is a film about social misfits based in England. I play the role of the lead singer of a multicultural band that tries to create a new sound by fusing Eastern vibes with the Western. It is basically the story of young boys and girls who want to make it big in life.”

Starring Bollywood biggies Rishi Kapoor, Suniel Shetty, the film is directed by Aditya Raj Kapoor (son of actors Shammi Kapoor and

Geeta Bali) and produced by Munir Ahmad. Besides showing his acting prowess in the movie, Taz has composed the musical score and lent his voice to the songs as well. The film is all set to hit theatres by June.

When asked about his sudden shift from singing to acting, Taz remarked, “Singing is a passion. I will continue to sing. Moreover, having been into music for the last 18 years, I am comfortable in front of the camera and think that acting is an extension of what I have always done. After all, I have done many music videos which also involve acting.” On offers from Bollywood, the talented singer-turned-actor said, “I have some very good offers on hand about which I cannot talk right now.”

Besides this, Taz’s band Stereo Nation is coming out with a new album ‘Jawani,’ which will be out in two months. “It is an album for music lovers and will bring out the party animal in you,” the singer adds.

When asked why does his albums come out after long intervals of time, Taz replied, “I believe in quality rather than quantity."

A pioneer in the field of fusion music, Taz believes in making evergreen music and has to his credit the introduction of jazz into Punjabi music and says, “The name ‘Stereo Nation’ signifies the sound of my music. It represents a different category of music.”

Taz was in town as a special guest at a local computer institute which is an integral part of a welfare society SITD (society for information technology development), which works to spread computer education amongst students who cannot afford expensive IT courses.


Badal case hearing on May 19

Ropar, April 28
A local court today posted the hearing of a disproportionate assets case against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his MP son, Sukhbir Singh Badal, to May 19.

Special Judge G.S. Saran granted exemption from personal hearing to Badal and his son at the fourth consecutive hearing in the Rs 78 crore disproportionate assets case registered against them and eight others during the previous Amarinder Singh regime about five years ago. Saran took strong exception to the absence of Badal and his son during the hearing on April 9.

At the last hearing on April 18, when Saran was indisposed, Badal took exemption from personal appearance. Today also they took exemption from personal appearance, which the court granted.

Seven other alleged accused were present in the court today. Badal’s wife, Surinder Kaur Badal, and son, Sukhbir Singh Badal, were not present.

Surinder Kaur had already been granted permission from personal exemption as she had to go abroad. The judge did not accept the application moved by the prosecution for providing documents submitted by the Income Tax authorities in which Badals had declared all their assets.

The defence lawyers submitted an application stating that the charges framed against Badals were “improper”.

“Either the charges be altered, amended or disposed off...it has to be decided first whether it’s a case of fraud or not...,” the defence pleaded.

However, the judge directed the prosecution to file its reply on the contentions of defence by May 10. — PTI


Ways to raise milk yield discussed

Amritsar, April 28
At the state-level function organised to celebrate World Veterinary Day here today, veterinarians warned against the wait-and-watch strategy in dog-bite cases. They advised the victims to keep the dog under watch for eight to 10 days and recommended anti-rabies shots only if it developed symptoms.

It was pointed out that 95 per cent of the reported rabies cases were due to bites by an infected dog. Once symptoms of rabies developed, there could be no treatment and death was imminent, they said.

Veterinarian Sunil Dutt said this theory could go wrong in cases where the virus might take slightly longer time to travel to the brain of the animal. “Risk of rabies is a question of life and death and there cannot be any scope for taking chances,” he said.

The chief guest was Gulzar Singh Ranike, Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development minister, Punjab.

Doctors from different parts of the state took part in the function organised by the Department of Animal Husbandry Punjab, in collaboration with the Punjab Veterinary Council and the Punjab Veterinary Officers’ Association. — TNS


Three quacks arrested
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 28
During a campaign against drug sellers and quacks, the district police nabbed three quacks in the district and registered cases against them. While talking to media persons, Samsher Singh Boparai, DSP(D), said on the directions of SSP Nilabh Kishore, the police had launched a campaign to nab drug sellers and quacks who were running clinics in rural areas without registration. He said in the guise of clinics these quacks sell drugs to youths. He said the district police had identified 60 such quacks.

Those arrested are Jaspal Singh, resident of Ambey Majra; Jalaludin, resident of Mandi Gobind Garh, and Jarnail Singh, resident of Mulepur.


3 front-runners for post of PAU VC
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
A meeting of the board of directors of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, will be held on Monday (April 30) to appoint its vice- chancellor.

Sources said the meeting would be held in the Punjab civil secretariat. Chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh would preside over it.

The front-runners for the post of VC are Manjit Singh Kang from America, B.S. Dhillon, director, research, PAU, and Harcharan Singh Dhaliwal, professor of biotechnology at the Indian institute of technology, Roorkee.

Dhaliwal was earlier the director of the biotechnology department at PAU.

The sources said Kang had arrived here on April 25 from America. Gurdev Singh Khush, eminent rice breeder, who was offered the vice-chancellorship by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, has recommended the name of Kang for the post. Kang is a former student of PAU. His an expert on genetic science.

Khush (72), who is settled in the US, had declined the offer. However, sources said he was prepared to work as a consultant to improve the quality of research in the agricultural sector.

The sources said the search committee headed by the chief secretary had finalised a panel of three names for selecting the vice-chancellor. They are Manjit Singh Kang, Dhillon and Dhaliwal. Two others who have staked their claim to the post are Jaspinder Singh Kular and Paramjit Singh Kahlon, it is learnt.


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