P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


State of Finance
Guru Nanak Dev University
Waiting for the govt to wake up to its needs
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, has very few problems, which its officials believe they cannot sort out. Established in 1969 to mark the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the university has dealt with the Punjab Government for long enough to know that not much is to be expected. Confident of attaining self- sufficiency in the years to come, there is, however, one request they have for the state government: pay for the salaries of its staff.

Of its total budget of Rs 107.19 crore, the university gets Rs 17.82 crore from the state. When the university was set up, the government had assured payment of a progressively increasing maintenance grant to the university, but over the years the amount was fixed and now the state’s responsibility towards the university is limited to this 17 per cent of the total budget.

The university is generating half of its budget from tuition and examination fee collected from affiliated colleges, most of which is spent on staff salaries. “Salaries have increased over the years and so does the burden on the university,” said R.C. Bawa, registrar of the university and a professor of economics there. The government should at least pay for the salaries, the rest of the expenditure could be generated, Bawa added.

“Unlike colleges, universities focus on research and our faculty is being encouraged to generate funds from national and international research grant agencies,” said vice-chancellor Jai Roop Singh. The university’s department of sports, for example, recently managed to get Rs 90 lakh for excellence in sports.

Most of the money that the university earns is spent on teaching and allied activities another 5 per cent of the revenue earned is spent on conducting examinations and 14 per cent on general administration.

Despite the brave front and positive outlook, the university is sagging under the burden of an acute shortage of staff and basic infrastructure. “We need state of the art laboratories so that we can start new courses in emerging sciences. There is dearth of accommodation for both teachers and students,” admitted Bawa.

“More than 200 teachers in the university are working on ad hoc basis. The most important thing right now is to fill regular teaching posts. Once we have a dedicated faculty, we can expect them to take interest in research,” the VC said.

Stressing that the university faculty should focus on research, Jai Roop pointed out that there was no shortage of funds for those who wanted to undertake good meaningful research in any subject.

The university has applied for special projects to the Indian Council of Medical Research, Union Department of Science and Technology, Union Ministry for Human Resource Development and the Union Ministry of Health. Hopeful of getting these projects, the university understandably wants to first have everything in place to run the projects well.

“We have to show these agencies that we have the basic requisites like labs, equipment, etc. to see the project through. For that, additional funds are urgently required from the government. We have sent a proposal to the government with a request for some money and are waiting for the response,” he added.


Badal my enemy No. 1: Ravi Inder
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar,April 29
Dubbing Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal as his “political enemy No.1”, Shiromani Akali Dal (1920) chief Ravi Inder Singh has alleged that the Dera Sacha Sauda had helped SAD (Badal) candidates in the Lambi, Malout and Gidderbaha constituencies in the Assembly elections.He stated this at a press conference here today.

Ravi Inder Singh and other senior SAD(1920) leaders, including Bhai Jasbir Singh Khalsa, Tejinder Singh Pannu and Gurdip Singh, have also criticised Badal for not adhering to the Sikh tenet of partaking the ‘amrit’ and making his son Sukhbir Singh Badal the acting president of the SAD (Badal) without following these norms.

Ravi Inder Singh and other leaders demanded a fresh CBI probe into the ongoing corruption cases and in a case relating to Bhai Amolak Singh and Paramjit Singh Dhaddi. In reference to the Dhaddi case, Ravi Inder Singh also observed, “People achieved nothing after the assassination of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. We need civilised politics.Sikh religion is based on democracy and it has no place for violence.”

“Contrary to the common assumption that the dera helped the Congress alone, we have information that Badal and his party candidates were helped by the Dera Sacha Sauda in the Lambi, Malout and Gidderbaha constituencies. Badal ensures his regular attendance or presence at the dera. He and his party lost in the Malwa region due to lack of contact at the grassroot level and sidelining senior leaders of that party,”said Ravi Inder Singh.

Referring to the Dhaddi case, Ravi Inder Singh, Gurdip Singh, and Jasbir Singh Khalsa alleged that the police tortured Dhaddi and his associate Amolak Singh at the behest of Badal. “Senior police officials pressurised and tortured them to state that we (Ravi Inder Singh and Jasbir Singh Khalsa) had hatched the conspiracy to kill Badal. So much so, that the Ropar SSP was was pressurised in this context, but he refused to bow to the pressure. We have nothing against Badal on the personal level but he is our political ‘enemy No. 1’, who has converted the SAD into a ‘private limited company’ and wing of the RSS.

Badal has been demanding the transfer of this case to the CBI and we want the same thing to happen. Besides, we want that the corruption case against Badal should also be investigated by the CBI. “How can a person be a prosecutor and the proscecuted at the same time?”questioned Ravi Inder Singh.

The SAD (1920 ) leaders alleged that the investors were fleeing Punjab and land prices were crashing due to wrong policies of the government. “Not only this, as many as 10 farmers have committed suicide after Badal assumed power in the state,” said Ravi Inder Singh, Jasbir Singh Khalsa and Tejinder Singh Pannu.


SGPC likely to drop plan to install AC
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 29
Following world-wide criticism the SGPC is likely to drop the move to install AC in the sanctum sanctorum of Harmander Sahib.

Indications to this effect was given by SGPC Chief Avtar Singh while talking to The Tribune today. He informed that the report of the sub-committee would be presented in the meeting scheduled to be held on May 3 at Chandigarh.

He said the feelings and aspirations of the Sikh sangat would be kept in mind while taking any decision regarding air conditioning of the sanctum sanctorum.

He said he himself was a heritage lover and won't allow anything that would damage the ancient structure of Harmander Sahib.

Renowned conservationist Gurmit Rai has warned that the air conditioning system, if introduced in Darbar Sahib, would be an extremely destructive intervention. Sounding a note of warning, she informed the air conditioning system comprises a blower and a compressor and hence while the blower would need to be placed on the floor or mounted on the walls inside the building, the compressor will need to be fixed outside.

These blowers cannot be mounted on the walls or roof without damaging the structure and decorations because of drilling holes or inserting mounting system.

Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, a senior SGPC member, who is also a member of the sub-committee, has also expressed reservations over the move to install AC in the sanctum sanctorum of Golden Temple.

Veteran SGPC member Manjit Singh Calcutta described the move as “ill-conceived”.

He said air conditioning would earn the wrath of Sikh sangat who visit the holiest Sikh shrine for spiritual solace and not for physical comforts .

Conservationists said the walls of Harmander Sahib are made of burnt bricks and lime mortar.

The roofing system too is a masonry vaults. The surfaces are extremely decorative, with in-layed marble panel, frescoes, or clad with gilded copper embossed sheets. Not even a square inch of plain space can be found on the walls and ceilings to place the AC without damaging the original structure and decorations.

Decorations would also be at risk due to the variation in the micro climate zones (in temperature and humidity) that would be created inside the building as the doors have to be kept open.


Disproportionate assets case
Suspects stay away from probe
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
Apprehending arrest and harassment, some of key persons accused along with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his family in the Rs 78 crore disproportionate assets case, have been staying away from the investigations.

The hearing in the case started last month after charges were framed against the Badal family by the Ropar Special Court.

Hardeep Singh, former officer on special duty to Parkash Singh Badal, and Kamal Sidhu, a London-based businessman, who were named main suspects and accomplices of Badal family in the case, did not join the investigations.

While Hardeep Singh, after being denied bail, went underground, Kamal Sidhu’s business premises in Delhi and other places were raided and some of his staff members were arrested by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau soon after registration of case.

Kamal, Chairman of Wimpeys, a fast food chain, alleged that because of “illegal and arbitrary action of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau, not only his senior staff members were harassed and tormented but he was also made to suffer heavy losses because of the Vigilance Bureau actions.”

“I am considering filing a suit of damages against the Punjab Government for dilly dallying and unnecessarily harassing me and damaging my reputation and business.

“No political leadership has any right to use public money to settle its political scores against its political opponents. The established practices and norms worldwide indicate that in case of white collar crime, there is no need to arrest a man as long as he is ready to join investigations and cooperate.

“I was always willing to join investigations but the type of messages, threats and indications were coming kept me away from India for five long years. I have suffered tremendously,” he adds.

Talking to The Tribune from his London home, Kamal says that there should be a law that in case involvement of an NRI or a foreigner in a corruption or white collar crime case is suspected, he should be asked to join investigations after taking his passport as surety. He should be lawfully bound to remain in the country till investigations are completed. In case he is found guilty, he should be punished in accordance with the laws of the land.

But at the same time it should not give the political leadership, especially the ruling clan, the discretion to misuse its position and public funds to hound out people whom it does not like or considers close to its political opponents.

Kamal hoped that the new government would see reason and ask all those named “suspects” in various corruption cases by the previous “vindictive Congress government” to surrender, join investigations so as to help the state in reaching logical conclusions in all such cases.

Legal luminaries, however, maintain that Vigilance Bureau initially named Kamal and Hardeep as abettors in the case but in the charge sheet or challan, no case was made out against them. “The legal process is long and cumbersome, it takes its time,” they add admitting that “in such cases some persons get rubbed the wrong way.”


Badal unleashing ‘politics of vendetta’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Congress MLA from Bholath, today accused the Parkash Singh Badal Government of allegedly unleashing "politics of vendetta" against opponents.

"Complaints of political vendetta and witch-hunt against ordinary Congress workers by the Badal Government are increasing each day," said Khaira, who also heads the Kapurthala district unit of the Congress.
The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) in the state was collecting data of "fabricated cases" registered against Congress workers.

In a letter to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, copies of which were circulated to media here, Khaira said Badal's pronouncement on the floor of the Assembly that the government would shun politics of vendetta was "not genuine." He dared Badal to get him arrested for the case registered against him on April 18.


Amarinder likely to be PCC chief
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 29
The All-India Congress Committee (AICC) seems to have little option as far as appointing the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president is concerned. The choice might ultimately fall on former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh who is scheduled to return to the state on May 2 after staying in Delhi for about three weeks.

With Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, another former Chief Minister and a potential candidate for the PCC president’s post, already having been appointed as Leader of the Opposition and the former PCC president Shamsher Singh Dullo having been made to resign, there appears to be all likelihood of the high command handing over the reins of the party to Amarinder.

The general opinion within the party too appears to be in his favour. The party high command had put in abeyance the decision about the PCC president till the completion of the UP election .


BJP seeks Dy CM’s post
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
The newly appointed chief of the Punjab unit of the BJP Rajinder Bhandari today demanded that the BJP deserves the post of Deputy Chief Minister. The Punjab BJP, which won 19 of the 23 Assembly seats it contested in alliance with SAD, is ‘hopeful’of getting the post, he said.

“Keeping in view the performance of the party and aspirations of the people of Punjab, we deserve the Deputy CM’s post", Bhandari, who assumed charge at the party headquarters here today, said.

Seated alongside Bhandari was the local bodies and industries minister Manoranjan Kalia, who is tipped to the deputy chief minister. Bhandari hoped that the issue will be settled amicably adding that the BJP’s Central leadership had given the Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker’s post to SAD.

When quizzed, BJP’s Central leader RP Singh said the Punjab unit should first speak to Badal.

Asked about the BJP’s stand if Sukhbir Badal, a Lok Sabha member, replaces his father Parkash Singh Badal as the Chief Minister, Bhandari said “This was is a hypothetical question. We will react when faced with such a situation".

Referring to his priorities, he said his first duty would be to strengthen the party base. The party would be re-organised, first at the state level and then in the districts. Bhandari pointed out that the people of Punjab had given them a massive mandate and now it was the party’s duty to live up to the expectations of the people. SAD and BJP believe in collective thinking. This principle would guide the coalition in fulfilling the promises made to the electorate, he added.

A major demand of the BJP is to rationalise the VAT structure and generation of more funds for urban development, he said while pointing out that the Chief Minister had already made a move in this direction by announcing that development authorities would be established for the major cities of the state.


Panic over 4 jaundice deaths
Sanjay Bambroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 29
Jaundice has spread in the slums here and it is feared it may spread to other areas of the city if preventive measures are not taken. Four persons have been reported dead in the past four days and 125 cases were detected in the past 48 hours and admitted to private and government hospitals of the city for treatment.

The Health Department and the district administration have woken up to the tragedy and recently took some short-term measures to check the spread of the disease.

The civic system has almost collapsed and commissioner Hussan Lal on a month’s election duty to Uttar Pradesh and Congress mayor Sunil Datti is facing non-cooperation from the present government.

The affected area is Sunder Nagar where more than 100 persons have been reported affected with jaundice.

Ramesh Kumar,a vegetable shopowner,said the water supplied to their houses was contaminated. He said two women had died due to jaundice One of them married 11 months ago and was pregnant.

Surinder Kumar and Darshana Rani of Krishana Nagar near Johra Phatak said they were suffering from the disease and were bed-ridden for the past couple of weeks.

Other areas affected with the epidemic are Pawan Nagar, Tandong Nagar, Sawan Nagar, Amarkot, Krishna Nagar, Judge Nagar.

Meanwhile, Kahan Singh Pannu,deputy commissioner,has appealed to people of the city suffering from jaundice to report to the Civil Hospital for free of cost treatment.

He said directions to officers of the Health Department and the Municipal Corporation had been to check the epidemic besides supplying drinking water through water tankers treated with chlorine.

He also directed the health officers to organise medical checkup camps in various slums of the city.

Civil surgeon Lehmbar Singh said the Health Department was geared up to check the disease and chlorinated water was being distributed in the affected areas through water tankers.

He said no fresh case of jaundice was detected today and possibly the spread of the epidemic had been checked.


Disability centres face closure
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 29
The district disability and rehabilitation centres (DDRCs), established by the District Red Cross societies in the state, are facing closure.

The centres have not received any grant from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for the past one year. This has affected the help being provided to physically and mentally challenged in the form of artificial limbs, hearing aids and counselling through the DDRCs.The staff was being given salary by the societies after raising loan from the Sarv Sikhsha Abhiyan Fund.

Dr P. S. Sidhu, orthopaedic and rehabilitation expert at the Patiala centre, admitted that the centre had not received any grant from the past one year. “We are writing repeatedly to the ministry seeking grant, but to no avail”, he said.

The centres were opened at Patiala, Ferozepore, Bathinda, Sangrur and Amritsar. The Ferozepore centre had already closed down at Bathinda it was not functioning and the Amritsar centre existed on paper, sources said.

As per the conditions of the project, 90 per cent grant in the project was to be provided by the ministry while 10 per cent was to be contributed by the district societies.

Dr Sidhu said, “If the things continued the same way, we might be forced to close the Patiala centre also”.


Yoga has cure for all diseases: Ramdev
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 29
Reacting to the ongoing controversy about his claims of having a formula for producing male child, religious guru Baba Ramdev has clarified that it is just a medicine for curing infertility.

He said, “Incidentally, in ayurveda, there is a medicine called “putra jeewak” which is a remedy for infertility. Since it has the word putra, meaning son, people have misunderstood it to be a medication for producing a male child. It is simply a remedy to cure infertility”.

Speaking on the controversy involving Hollywood actor Richard Gere and Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, Ramdev remarked, “We should try hard to prevent the spread of AIDS and the celebrities should avoid being involved in such controversies”.

The guru is in town for a six-day yoga camp at Polo ground here from Monday.

He said, “I have been criticised on several issues, but now, after science having supported my theories for curing diseases like cancer, hypertension, heart ailments and asthma, the world is slowly coming to terms with the fact that I never made false claims. Even the famous John Hopkins’ Hospital in the US has supported my theory on the cure of cancer. I think this is enough to silent my critics and I am glad that what I have always said has now been scientifically proved”.

“The entire world can be made healthy through the means of yoga, only the world needs to wake up to it”, said Ramdev. “Yoga has remedies for all diseases. If the government can spend crores on the polio and AIDS campaigns, why it shies away from promoting yoga science as a means to cure deadly diseases?” he questioned, adding, “In fact, the government does not even consider it as a therapeutic science”.

“Our aim is to ensure that not a single person loses his/her life due to poverty and sickness that is why we provide free of cost treatment to the needy and the poor.”


Govt clips wings of revenue officials
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
The Punjab Government has decided to clip the wings of the revenue officials. In a significant decision that may benefit lakhs of property owners and land developers, the Punjab Urban Development Authority(PUDA) has clarified that "khasra nos" are no longer required to be entered in the execution of the sale deed of the plots purchased and sold in the approved PUDA colonies.

In a communication to all DCs of the state, PUDA authorities clarified that there was no need to enter "khasra nos" in the registry of the urban properties in the state.Till now the sub-registrars were insisting on the execution of sale deed against the khasra nos even though the colonies are sanctioned and its layout plan, indicating the plot numbers, sanctioned by the competent authority under the provisions of the Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act, 1995.

It was argued that after getting PUDA licence the land lost its agricultural/rural status and as such there was no need to register the plot by entering the 'khasra no".If the entry is to be made in the revenue records, the entire area of the colony is to be entered in the record of the respective "khasras" specially earmarked for the purpose, FS Nagra, president of the Zirakpur Commercial Association(Godown Area), had stated in a representation to PUDA.

Simply put the decision would mean that the registry of property in the PUDA-approved colony could now be done on the pattern of such cities as Chandigarh on the basis of the plot numbers.

"It would check corruption in the revenue department to a large extent. However, the authorities concerned should put in place a strict mechanism to supervise the compliance of the order so that it does not remain only on paper," Nagra added.



‘Large-scale corruption’ in Irrigation Department
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
Large-scale corruption in the Punjab Irrigation Department is mainly responsible for water not reaching the tail-end of various water channels and distributaries in the state.

Making the allegation, the Punjab diploma engineer’s association has urged the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to take action against the senior officers of the department, who were involved in corruption by syphoning off the funds released for the removal of silt and cleaning of distributaries.

Appreciating the decision taken by Badal to make the water reach the tail-ends of the distributaries, the association has urged him to ensure proper utilisation of funds meant for removal of silt.

Balwinder Singh, general secretary, and Rajinder Pal Sehna, press secretary, of the association, demanded transparency in the utilisation of funds in the Irrigation Department.

Funds were allocated in the most dubious manner. Senior officers should be held responsible for any bungling of funds. Action initiated against senior officers would help in removing corruption in the department, it was alleged.

They said the association was ready to provide work for the elimination of corruption from the department and to help farmers in getting adequate water at tail-ends. Balwinder Singh said contractor system introduced for the removal of silt had become a big source of misutilisation of funds in the department. No count was kept of the labour hired by contractors.

Earlier, the department officials used to engage labour and record was kept. He said that contractor system should be done away with. There are allegations that huge money in form of commission is syphoned off from the funds allocated for de-silting of distributaries.

The association has also urged Badal to stop the theft of water from distributaries. “Deputy commissioners and district police chiefs should be directed to help officials of the Irrigation Department posted in the field to check the water theft from canals. Strict laws should be framed to curb the growing trend of water theft, the association added. “Many a time, officials of the Irrigation Department have been given rough treatment by farmers found stealing water form canals and distributaries”, said association.

“If any harm is caused to any Irrigation Department official for preventing the theft of water, the government will be responsible”, association said.


Massive hunt for missing poppy husk
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 29
The police has launched a massive hunt to seize a few dozen poppy husk bags which have reportedly disappeared under mysterious circumstances even before the two trucks transporting the same from Jaipur to this district were impounded by a special team at a naka laid down in the Nahianwala police station area on Friday.

Sources said the district police authorities got a tip-off that two trucks carrying 41 bags and 32 bags of poppy husk, respectively, were on their way from Jaipur to Bathinda. Special nakas were laid by the police on different points.

When both trucks were stopped at the naka laid in the Nahianwala police station area, the members of the police team got a rude shock when they recovered only 14 bags from the vehicles.The policemen deployed at that naka managed to recover eight bags from one truck and six from other.Three smugglers were arrested on the spot while three others managed to flee.

Sources said seven teams were set up to accomplish the task.

Naresh Arora, SSP,said there was information that the two trucks were carrying a particular quantity of poppy husk. Six bags of poppy husk, weighing 40 kg each, had been recovered.

Three persons,who were arrested,along with the two trucks carrying 14 bags of poppy husk,were identified as Karamjit Singh, Jinder Singh and Kulwant Singh Kanta.The three accused who managed to flee from the scene had been identified as Happy, Gurtej Teji and Chamkaur Singh.

Separate cases had been registered against the accused under the NDPS Act. 


Widow kidnapped, raped
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 29
A widow residing with her parents at Jalalabad village here was allegedly kidnapped and raped by three persons of the same area. However, the incident came to light when a case was registered under Sections 363, 376, 506 and 34, IPC, at the Verowal police station here last evening.

The accused were identified as Gurpartap Singh of the same village and two of his unidentified associates who were absconding after the registration of the case.

The victim in her complaint to the police alleged that she was kidnapped by Gurpartap and his two companions in a car on April 24 when she was going to Rayya for an interview in a private school.She alleged that she was taken to some unknown place when she was raped for two days by the youths.


3 held for making spurious cold drinks
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 29
The local police arrested three persons allegedly for making spurious cold drinks at Gajukhera village in the district today.

On a tip-off, Banur SHO Jagbir Singh conducted raids under the supervision of Rajpura DSP Bupinder Singh, on two soda water manufacturing factories at Gajukhera village.

The police arrested three persons, Jagdish Kumar, Ashok Kumar, and Ashok Kumar, son of Ganga Ram, claimed to be the owners of Jagdish soda water factory and Joginder soda water factory.

The owners were caught red-handed while making spurious cold drinks.

The police has seized a large number of bottles containing spurious cold drinks.

A case has been registered.

It may be noted that the district police has launched a special campaign against the anti-social elements under the direction of SSP S.K. Asthana.


Kanwaljit opens school’s block
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 29
Though the financial condition of the state was pitiable even then the state government was doing its best to provide every possible facility to residents. This was stated by minister for co-operation Kanwaljit Singh while addressing a rural gathering at mand area of Johal Dhai Wala village, 30 km from here.

The minister was here to inaugurate the first block of Government Elementary School constructed by Charan Devi Hari Ram Aggarwal Charitable Trust, New Delhi. The minister while addressing the gathering said the state government plans to restart the co-operative sugar mills besides filling the posts lying vacant in it.

He said the government was giving priority to elementary education and it was due to this that it had filled all vacant posts of teachers in schools. MLA Khadoor Sahib Manjit Singh also spoke on the occasion.

The minister while talking to newsmen said the Congress had failed to play the role of balanced Opposition as it had opened door of confrontation with the state government without keeping in view the interests of the people. 


STFI garners support for teachers’ demands
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 29
The School Teachers Federation of India (STFI) has launched a signature campaign for sending a memorandum to the President of India in order to urge the Centre to enact the law to ensure education upto 14 years of age as a Fundamental Right, controlling commercialisation of education, accelerating the process of pay commission and other teachers related demands.

Prem Rakker, district convenor of the signature campaign, said though the UPA government was going to enact the Act shortly, it was going to shift the burden to the states, which would consequently result in turning the long cherished dream into a mirage.

In the memorandum, the SFTI has raised demands relating to the implementation of the Right to Early Child Care & Education, setting up common school system, allocation of at least 6 per cent of GDP on education, etc.


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