P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Three labour courts revived
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 1
The Punjab government has revived three labour courts in Bathinda, Jalandhar and Patiala in addition to the already existing labour courts in Ludhiana, Amritsar and Gurdaspur. More than 11,000 labour cases of various nature are lying pending.

This was stated by Tikshan Sud, minister for labour, medical education research and forest, Punjab, while addressing a state-level function organised by the Labour Department, Punjab, in connection with International Labour Day here today.

Sud said two more labour courts in Ludhiana and Mohali would open soon. The labour lok adalats started during the last SAD-BJP regime, which were discontinued by the previous Congress government, would also be restarted very shortly.

After discussing with the representatives of various labour unions and industrialists, the minimum daily wage for a labourer would be announced very shortly, he added.

As many as 16,294 industrial units having 5,51,932 workers were existing in the state, of which 60 were hazardous and 456 were less hazardous.

The Labour Department would inspect hazardous on a half yearly basis and less hazardous units once in two years to check the implementation of labour laws.

The Labour Minister said as many as 259 posts including officers, inspectors and other staff were existing in the state, of which 66 were laying vacant. Recruitment for the same would be made soon. It had also been decided to constitute small scale, large scale and trade boards to solve problems of labourers

Self-certification scheme for industrialists would also be introduced. To provide relief to small-scale traders, especially shopkeepers, the time schedule for opening and closing of shops would not remain applicable to them in future, he added.

S.S. Channi, chief secretary, Labour Department, N.K. Wadavan, labour commissioner and director of factories, Punjab, D.K. Tiwari, deputy commissioner, Hoshiarpur, and many others also spoke on the occasion.

As many as 15 industrialists and six workers were honoured with safety and production awards, respectively.


Dhindsa, son absent at May Day function
Give up jealousy, CM to partymen
Tribune News Service

Kanjhla (Sangrur), May 1
Perhaps noting the absence of secretary-general of the SAD Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, his son Parminder Singh Dhindsa, and a national party vice-president Parkash Chand Garg from the function organised by a former Punjab Cabinet minister Gobind Singh Kanjhla on the occasion of International Labour Day here today, Parkash Singh Badal urged the SAD leaders to work for party unity.

Badal further said during the previous Assembly elections the SAD had been saved by the Majha and Doaba regions, otherwise it would have been difficult for it to form the government in the state. He said there were two main reasons of the SAD’s poor performance in the Malwa region. He asked the SAD leaders to ensure unity and give up jealousy.

As Kanjhla had not mentioned the name of Dhindsa on the invitation cards for the function, it was felt by many that Dhindsa and his group would not attend the same.

Today’s function was attended among others by Tamil Nadu Governor Surjit Singh Barnala and his wife Surjit Kaur Barnala, acting president of the SAD Sukhbir Singh Badal, Punjab information and public relations minister Bikram Singh Majithia, general secretary of the SAD Prem Singh Chandumajra and former MLAs Baldev Singh Mann, Gobind Singh Longowal and Ranjit Singh Ballian.

The Chief Minister, while paying tributes to the martyrs of Chicago said the government would start the supply of atta-dal to the poor within two months. He accepted many demands presented by Gobind Singh Kanjhla for Sherpur area. He also announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh for Durga Mandir and Manav Kalyan Kendra, Kanjhla.

AMRITSAR: Industrial workers here on Tuesday observed May Day by beating empty drums to protest against the delaying of ration at cheaper rates by the state government. The workers were addressed by leaders of CITU and other Leftist organisations, which called them to unite against the imperialistic forces. 


State of Finances
Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar
A self-sufficient university for a change
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
Punjab Technical University is the healthiest university in the state in terms of finances. Established in 1997 for advancement of technical education and its development, the university has over 141 colleges affiliated with it, offering undergraduate engineering, management, pharmacy, architecture and hotel management courses.

Other than these colleges, which have been the main source of income for the university, the PTU has a large network of distance education centres across the state.

The university handles over 67,000 students through its affiliated colleges and another 63,000 are enrolled with it through the distance education centres.

The university has run self sufficiently for the past many years. The university Act states that the government will pay an annual grant of Rs 2 crore to the university but over the years this grant has stopped. But the university has not felt the pinch.

S.K. Mishra, Controller, Finance, PTU, said the university charged an annual fee from students in affiliated colleges. Each student pays Rs 575 if he or she is a newcomer and Rs 275 if he or she is already a student of the university. Other than this, the college charges affiliation fee from the colleges, besides other charges. “This is expected to add up to Rs 12 crore this year,” said Mishra. The university’s distance education students add another Rs 30 crore to the university coffers while the annual entrance test conducted by the university earns it Rs 8 crore. “Our revenue is expected to touch Rs 50 crore this year while our annual recurring expenditure is about Rs 39 crore,” said Mishra, pointing out that the university was being run by only 200 employees.

But the university now needs the money for the ongoing construction of its own campus.

The university has a 100-acre piece of land on the Jalandhar-Kapurthala road on which the construction of the PTU campus began a year 
ago. While 75 acres of the campus will be utilised by the university, 10 acres have been set aside for the establishment of the Coparo-PTU centre for excellence in manufacturing and material technology, the dream project of Lord Swaraj Paul.

The university will admit the first batch of students for this centre this year.

“We have estimated a total budget of Rs 80 crore this year. Other than the Rs 39 crore for recurring expenditure, we need 41 crore for the construction. We will be asking the Punjab government for Rs 20 crore,” said vice-chancellor S.K. Salwan.

The university is running 12 regional centres for MTech courses and has established a school of entrepreneurship in total quality management in Mohali.

“We are also establishing two more centres of excellence in the coming years,” said the VC, adding that Rs 20 crore had been set aside for research and consultancy. 


Chaudhry Jagjit gets no relief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued a notice of motion for May 8 to Punjab while hearing the interim anticipatory bail plea of former minister Chaudhry Jagjit Singh in the Ludhiana City Centre scam case.

The notice, issued by the court of Justice Ranjit Singh, has asked the state government to come out with the entire record relating to the case on May 8. However, no immediate relief was granted to the former minister.

Counsel, appearing for the former minister, contended that some of the co-accused in the case had been granted anticipatory bail by different courts.

He pleaded that there was no significant allegation against Chaudhry Jagjit Singh except that he had revoked the orders of the principal secretary (local government).

The orders were revoked by the former minister only after due consultations with the then advocate-general, counsel submitted. The matter pertains to the award of contract for the construction of the controversial multi-crore project of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust to a New Delhi-based company, Today Homes.

Importantly, the former minister’s bail plea was turned down by a Ludhiana court in the case registered against him by the Vigilance Bureau in Ludhiana on March 23 under the Prevention of Corruption Act, among others.

Following the registration of the case, non-bailable arrest warrants were issued against him and other accused.

Incidentally, former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh had secured anticipatory bail in this case when he returned from Britain. A Ludhiana court on April 30 reissued non-bailable warrants against Chaudhry Jagjit Singh and five others in the alleged scam after the Vigilance failed to arrest them.

The warrants are returnable by May 15. The court had earlier issued non-bailable warrants against the six accused which were valid till April 28 but the Vigilance has been unable to arrest any of them.


Wheat Import
BKU dharna in Delhi on May 22
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 1
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) today announced to organise a dharna at New Delhi on May 22 against the Centre's move to import wheat. The decision was taken at the state executive committee meeting of the union, which was presided over by Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, BKU president. He is also chairman of the Punjab Mandi Board.

The union regretted the government was not prepared to pay Rs 1,150 per quintal for wheat to farmers here, but wanted to import it at Rs 1,200.

The BKU said if the government decided to enhance the price of wheat, there would not be any shortage. It said in case the wheat was allowed to be imported into the country, it would spell doom for the farmers.


New face of Khalistan?
Zaffarwal forms party
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 1
In a sensational statement to embarrass the present SAD-BJP regime in the state, former chief of Khalistan Commando Force Wassan Singh Zaffarwal said the Khalistan movement was still alive but with a different perspective and it would be achieved through peaceful and democratic means.

Zaffarwal, while talking to the media here today, said they had decided to establish their own political outfit - Shiromani Akali Dal (Jaffarwal) - as the SAD had failed to achieve its aim for which it was established. He said the SAD had also failed to fulfil the aspirations of the common masses in the state. He alleged that 60 per cent members in the SAD were drug addicts and most of the leaders and their families were not following the Sikh tenets.

He said his party would work for the setting up of a secretariat at Akal Takht, which will have top Sikh intellectuals as its members. Stressing the need to free the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) from the clutches of the members who had made it their family affair, Zaffarwal said even the members of the committee were not living up to the principles set by the Gurus.

He added that the party would educate the common masses about the new western culture penetrating into the rich cultural heritage of Punjab.


Statue of Beant Singh unveiled
Bhattal, Dullo project a united face 
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar May 1
The Punjab Pradesh Congress chief Shamsher Singh Dullo, leader of the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and more than two dozen MLAs projected a unified face of the party today, giving a ‘minor’ jolt to the Capt Amarinder Singh camp.

The top state Congress leaders, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Shamsher Singh Dullo, Iqbal Singh, a member of the AICC, Parminder Singh, a PPCC secretary, Rana Gurjit Singh, MP, Avtaar Singh Brar, a former minister and Gurkanwal Kaur, a former minister, used the ocassion of unveiling of a statue of late Beant Singh at BMC Chowk here for the purpose.

The somewhat rare congregation of these leaders left an impression among the party workers that the ‘good old days’ of the Congress were far from over, particularly, if the ‘deadly’ combination of Bhattal and Dullo managed to spearhead the party.

Together, they also gave ‘political sermons’ to Congress workers on how to improve their performance in the forthcoming civic body poll.

Meanwhile, Bhattal dropped a bombshell by saying that the state government was duty bound to inquire into the allegations levelled by Maninderjit Singh Bitta, chief of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front, that Capt Amarinder Singh was involved in a conspiracy hatched to eliminate senior Congress leader Harnam Dass Johar. If this was not enough, Dullo supported Bitta in a big way by saying that he was still a member of the Congress and that he had also fought the battle against terrorism.

“It is the duty of the government to get the allegations inquired into and to bring the truth in front of the people. We have to look around and confirm if some bad element is there or not? But, I strongly feel that such conspiracies, if any, are not possible without the SAD involvement,” said Bhattal. In the same breath, Bhattal added that the Congress was a unified force and that Capt Amarinder Singh was her ‘brother’.

“All of us will be there whenever he needs us,” quipped Bhattal when asked about her stance over extending a red carpet welcome to Amarinder Singh on his arrival to Punjab on Wednesday.

But on the other hand, Dullo intervened to assert that no programme had been chalked out at the party level to extend welcome to Amarinder Singh on his arrival to Punjab. “If anybody wants to go he or she is free in his individual capacity. As far as Bitta’s membership is concerned he is still a member of the Congress. He came to the ceremony of installation of statues of Late Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Beant Singh at Chandigarh. Anybody, could come to pay homage to martyrs,” said Dullo.

Bhattal and Dullo demanded that the minimun annual income limit for the ‘Atta-Dal’ scheme should be raised from Rs 30,000 to Rs 60,000 so that people from middle and lower middle income groups could also benefit from it . “The state government is scrapping major development projects initiated by us. Is it not a policy of vendetta? Land prices have crashed and who is responsible for the loss suffered by farmers on this account?” said Dullo and Bhattal.

Paying tributes to late Beant Singh after unveiling his statute senior Congress leaders, Bhattal, Dullo, Tej Parkash Singh, Rana Gurjit Singh, Parminder Singh, Iqbal Singh, Gurkirat Singh, Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Harminder Singh Jassi, Avtar Singh Brar, said Beant Singh was not only a leader of the masses but he was also a saviour of democracy in Punjab. 


‘Leave vendetta, then talk of bipartisan approach’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 1
Welcoming the suggestion of Finance Minister Manpreet Badal that Punjab needed a bipartisan approach to evolve a policy framework for sustained and viable development, secretary, All-India Congress Committee, Manish Tewari said today that the SAD-BJP government should give up its vendetta politics first.

Talking to The Tribune, Tewari said it was a welcome suggestion made by Badal as it would be in the greater interest of the state. He pointed out that for evolving consensus it was important that the politics of confrontation and vendetta were given up first and the government should take the initiative for the same.

Supporting Manpreet Badal’s suggestion, the AICC secretary said it was high time that the mainstream political parties in Punjab adopted bipartisan approach in handling various policy issues. Citing the instance of the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) survey data as a proof, Tewari said during the past decade Punjab had slipped down so much and was even behind backward states like Bihar and Orissa.

He pointed out that the CSO data related to 1993-2003 decade. During this period both the Congress and SAD-BJP alliance ruled the state. Obviously the blame for this downslide was to be shared by both. 


Respect Akali workers, Sukhbir to admn

Barnala, May 1
The Shiromani Akali Dal executive president Sukhbir Badal has directed the administration to respect Akali workers in the government office as they have toiled hard to form the government. Advocating the workers’ cause, Sukhbir said workers were the backbone of the party and it was the duty of the party to honour their hard work. For the same purpose he would open a party office in Chandigarh, he said and added that he would himself listen to their grievances.

Sukbir was in the town to address a program held to observe International Labour Day. Though he was here to observe labour day, he tried to avoid a question on the abolition of contract system of sweepers at the press conference. — OC


Patiala Cong gears up to receive Amarinder

Patiala May 1
The Congress of Patiala today has started making arrangements to receive the former Chief Minister,Capt Amarinder Singh,who is scheduled to return to his home city tomorrow.

Cutouts and posters carrying photographs and messages of Congress leaders welcoming the former CM have started coming up in various parts of the city.

State president of the Youth Congress Vijay Inder Singla, mayor of the Patiala corporation Vishnu Sharma and Improvement Trust chairman K.K. Sharma will be among the Congress leaders scheduled to welcome the former CM. The leaders are mobilising their workers to carry out an impressive show of strength at the Shambu barrier. — TNS


29 years on, freedom fighter’s widow tells govt
Grant pension or be ready for my death
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
Ninetytwo-year-old Gurnam Kaur has waited 29 years for the Punjab government to wake up to her miseries. Widow of freedom fighter Tara Singh Brar of Moga who died in 1978, she has been fighting a battle of dignity with successive state governments that have denied her pension for three decades. She has been everywhere - to Parkash Singh Badal’s sangat darshans, to Capt Amarinder Singh’s Vikas Yatra last year, but nowhere has she found justice.

Today at chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s sangat darshan in Chandigarh, she shamed the government by giving an ultimatum, one which a woman of her condition (she is paralysed below the waist and has to be lifted) would think many times before issuing. “Grant my pension within two weeks or get ready to take responsibility for my death. I will observe fast-unto-death in front of the Moga DC’s office if my plea is turned down, yet again,” Gurnam Kaur stated in her representation to the CM, whose sangat darshan she had earlier attended on July 2, 2001. The request was the same even then.

Gurnam claims Badal knew her husband personally but the district authorities at Moga have been embarrassing her by asking her to produce evidence that Tara Singh was a freedom fighter. The fact that the then prime minister of India Indira Gandhi presented him with the Tamra Patra at a function in Ferozepore in 1972 moves them little, so does the fact that Tara Singh’s life history finds prominent mention on page 79 of Punjab government’s own publication, “Fadirkot zile de swatantrata sangrami”, published in 1974.

“I have given countless applications to Moga district administration, but they want affidavits of Tara Singh’s contemporaries who are dead. They want jail records of Attack in Pakistan where my husband spent six months and they want a copy of the arrest warrant issued against him -- so much for so small an amount as pension. I wish I were spared this wretched existence,” Gurnam Kaur told The Tribune today, upon her arrival from Nihalsinghwala where she now lives. Earlier on January 26, 2003, she had been so disheartened by official apathy that she deposited her husband’s Tamra Patra with The Tribune in protest. The Patra was sent to The Tribune office by post, with a request to return it to the appropriate authorities.

Ironically, Tara Singh Brar was a trusted colleague of Jathedar Atma Singh, father of the present minister for education Upinderjit Kaur. There are historical records to prove that Tara Singh worked under Atma Singh who led a morcha against the dismantling of the Delhi Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee in 1971.

With all the proofs supporting her case, Gurnam Kaur remains penniless. Her misery does not end here. Abandoned by three sons, she now lives with her daughters, afraid she might be abandoned yet again.


Custodial death: Police ‘gives itself’ a clean chit

Moga, May 1
Even as a judicial probe is pending, the district police today virtually gave itself a clean chit in the matter related to the custodial death of Congress worker Kewal Singh.

Speaking to mediapersons here today, superintendent of police Paramjit Singh Sidhu said leaders were trying to give political colour to the whole episode. Without disclosing the cause of death of Kewal Singh, who allegedly died due to police torture a few days back, the police stated that Kewal was a habitual offender.

Denying the allegation of vendetta, the SP said there were 20 cases registered against Kewal and 18 of these had been registered during the Congress regime. It was alleged that Kewal of Bukkanwala village had died due to police torture. Following the incident Congress leaders CLP leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and PPCC chief Shamsher Singh Dullo had demanded a probe. — TNS


PSEB releases payment for inferior imported coal
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 1
In a development which could create a major controversy, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) management has released payment to a private company, which allegedly supplied substandard imported coal to the board last year.

The payment to the private company in lieu of imported coal supplied to PSEB for its different thermal plants had been stopped by the vigilance bureau, Punjab, following the registration of a case in this connection after ‘imported coal’ scam came into light last year.

Y. S. Ratra, chairman, PSEB, while confirming the fact that payment had been released to the private company, said it had been done after the vigilance bureau found nothing against that company and asked the PSEB management to make payment after ensuring the fact that no loss was caused to it. He added that payment had been made about five to six days ago after making all sorts of cut over the same.

He said the payment had been made with his consent. He added that if any thing was not done according to the rules, then he would look into it after returning from Ahemdabad. He is leaving for Ahemdabad tomorrow.

The PSEB management had placed order for lakhs of tonnes of coal with a private company for using the same in Ropar and Lehra Mohobat Thermal Plants. When the samples of imported coal were tested in Shri Ram laboratory, they failed to meet the specifications laid down in the purchase order placed by the PSEB. The samples failed to meet even the minimum level of quality with regard to the gross calorific value and grindability index of coal stated in the purchase order placed with the private company.

The PSEB management made a significant part of the due payment to the private company, despite the fact that the coal supplied to it was sub standard, a few weeks after it reached different thermal plants.

However, after the coal scam came to light, the PSEB management swung into action and started getting samples of coal tested again from different laboratories. The PSEB management got contradictory reports about the quality of coal from different laboratories where the samples were sent for examination. A committee comprising three senior level engineers was also set up to work out a strategy to deal with the situation.

Sources added that the three-member committee recommended the payment in lieu of imported coal to the private company after making necessary quality control cuts on the same and hence according to that report, the PSEB management had started making payments to the private company in parts.


Ploughing the green of Summer Palace the MC way
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 1
Instead of developing parks by planting saplings or plants, the municipal corporation is these days busy ploughing the open space in Rambagh - the Summer Palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh - with a single motive to stop children from playing cricket, it seems.

An MC employee was seen ploughing the open space with a tractor even today, raising many a eyebrow. This practice has been going on for a long time. Deputy Commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu, who is holding the additional charge of the municipal corporation, however, expressed ignorance about the “ill-conceived” plan to plough the green cover. The executive engineer, landscaping, however, refused to comment on the plea that he was out of station.

The historic Rambagh, which was got constructed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh on the pattern of Shalimar Bagh in Lahore and is a protected national monument, is in a pitiable condition due to indifference shown by all concerned. Depinder Singh Mann, a local resident, said the corporation should immediately ensure proper landscaping of the historic garden.

What is worse, the district administration and other authorities concerned have failed to ensure the eviction of the three clubs, despite the site having been declared protected by the state government.

The lease period of the clubs have already expired. The lease of Amritsar Club (deputy commissioner is the president of the club) had expired on October 30, 1988, and of Lumbsdon Club on October 31, 1989. These clubs, including Service Club and Tennis Club, should be shifted from the bagh.

Even as the director of monuments, Archaeological Survey of India, has asked directors of archaeological departments of all states to make a provision so that shopping complexes, dwelling areas, high-rise buildings and hotels are not allowed within 500 m from the protected monuments, many such buildings have already mushroomed around the monument.

The heritage building has already suffered colossal damage since the British time and the unscientific alterations since Independence has shocked heritage lovers and conservationists. The brickwork done on the fenestrations on the first floor that overlooks the central hall of the Summer Palace prove an eyesore and should be removed during the conservation drive.

Earlier, the state government had denotified a part of Rambagh to pave the way for the construction of a Rs 5-crore panorama in memory of the Maharaja. Interestingly, in the notification the 20-kanal protected area had been rendered unprotected.


Punjab Round-Up
Planning panel to start traffic survey 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
To ascertain the volume of goods and passenger traffic in Punjab, the planning commission of India is conducting a survey in the state from tomorrow.

A total transport system study, to be conducted by RITES, Gurgaon, in two phases, will cover 12 districts in the first phase.

Stating this here today, an official spokesman said the first round of the survey would start tomorrow at 2 p.m. and end on May 4. The second round would be held later this year.

The first round would go on for 48 hours at a stretch and cover Amritsar, Bathinda, Ferozepore, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Mansa, Patiala, Mohali, Sangrur and Muktsar districts, the spokesman added.

However, in Mohali the survey would last for 168 hours at a stretch on national highway 21, he said.

BEd teachers to be recruited

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today announced the state government's commitment to complete the requisite modalities for the recruitment of BEd teachers.

Talking to a delegation of the BEd unemployed teachers’ front, Punjab, he said the government was keen on completing the whole process within the next two months to facilitate a smooth transition for the academic session beginning in July.

New policy on mini buses

The state government will frame a new transport policy within two weeks for the operation of mini buses in the state, the Chief Minister assured a delegation of the mini bus operators’ association here today.

The transport department has been asked to notify various routes in the state.

New jail policy

The Chief Minister today called for a comprehensive recast of Punjab’s policy on jails.

He said that jails should not be treated as punitive centres but as schools for reform.

The Chief Minister was presiding over a special meeting to review the conditions in jails in the state. Under focus were the jails at Nabha and Kapurthala.

He called for the modernisation and upgradation of the jail network in the state and said that special steps needed to be taken to decongest the jails.


World Asthma Day
2.5 lakh die of asthma every year
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 1
World Asthma Day was observed in collaboration with the AAASTHA International, an association working against asthma, smoking, TB and HIV/AIDS, at the TB and Chest Hospital here today.

Asthma morbidity and mortality is increasing day by day and it accounts for 300 million patients and 2,55,000 deaths from this disease per year. More than 80 per cent deaths are in low and middle income group of patients.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Jai Kishan, professor and head of TB Hospital and chairman AAASTHA International, said the patients of asthma felt cough, breathlessness, tightness of chest, and wheezing sound.

Asthma can be diagnosed on clinical examination supplemented by a test of lungs function using spirometer or peak flow meter. “The attack of asthma is triggered by indoor pollutants like pollen grains, house dust mite, cockroaches, molds growing in damp environment, smoking and outdoor allergens from factories and vehicular emission”, said Dr Jai Kishan.

Patients should avoid triggers and prevent the attack of asthma. He further said the treatment of asthma using inhalers was the best treatment. Inhalers were helpful in giving prompt relief but using minimal medication with minimal side effects. People should remove the myth from their minds that inhalers were habit forming and were strong.

“Most of the times the patients of asthma stop taking treatment, this leads to precipitation of acute attack of asthma and patient may have to be hospitalised and given heavy dose of drugs”.

“The regular use of asthma medication is of paramount importance and the goal of asthma treatment is not just control of symptoms but to achieve near normal lung function and to keep normal activity including exercise and sports, he said.

Dr Mohit Garg, Dr Piyush Goyal, Dr Manisha and Dr Charanpreet Grover were also spoke.

A slide show was also presented by Dr Jai Kishan to teach the technique of inhalation to patients for having a meter dose inhalers, baby mask and nebulisers. More than 250 patients attended this education-cum-check up programme.

On the conclusion of this programme, Dr Jai Kishan proposed the vote of thanks and highlighted the role played by television and the print media for generating awareness regarding the diagnosis of asthma. 


201 students donate blood
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 1
A blood donation camp was today organised at Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College, Fatehgarh Sahib. As many as 201 students donated blood.

College principal Dr T.P. Singh said income tax officer A.K. Kaul from Sirhind inaugurated the camp. He said the camp was jointly organised by the NSS unit of the college and NGO Bhart Vikas Parshid, Sirhind.

The principal said a team of doctors from PGI, Chandigarh, supervised the camp.

There was a great enthusiasm among the students who waited for hours for their turn to donate blood, he said, adding that it was due to the efforts of prof Lakhvir Singh, in charge of the NNS unit, that a large number of students came forward for the event.


Move to raze Ram Setu; protest on May 13
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 1
More than five lakh followers led by Shankaracharyas of all four Peeths, will demonstrate on May 13 in Delhi to move to demolish Ram Setu at Rameswaram in south Indian sea. Swami Varindranand Giri, state president of the Sanatan Dharam Math Mandir Suraksha Samiti, Himachal Pradesh,stated this in a fax message today afternoon.

Swami Giri said after demonstration at Delhi, a rally would be organised at Banglore in this connection under the banner of the Akhil Bharatiya Ram Setu Sangarsh Saimiti.

Swami Giri alleged proposed demolition of Ram Setu was a conspiracy of some foreign countries as a layer of thorium was being collected there which was an ingredient of uranium and these countries had been eyeing it.

Ram Setu had been constructed by Lord Rama 1.4 million years ago with the help of Banar Sena (monkey force) for going to Sri Lanka to free his wife Sita from the imprisonment of Ravana. Lord Rama also installed Shiv Lingam at Rameswarm at that time and since then it had become a place of pilgrimage for Hindus.


Colonisers’ meeting today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
The Punjab Colonisers and Builders Association will hold a meeting here tomorrow to discuss the situation that has arisen due to the cancellation of the change of land use permission for various projects, secretary of the association Amardeep Singh Hira said.


What ban? Thai Mangoor seed is sold here
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 1
The Supreme Court has banned the cultivation of Thai Mangoor fish across the country. However, here in Patiala its fish seed is being sold and carried across Punjab, Himachal and Haryana by fish farmers.

Farkhan, who is a supplier of the seed in the state was contacted by The Tribune team posing as fish farmers at his shop in Tej Bagh Colony today. The shop had a small pond that was being used to house thousands of Thai Mangoor fish seed. The workers of the contractor were openly selling the same.

Farkhan said fish farmers from Punjab and neighbouring states came to him for the said purpose. “Recently a farmer from Baddi area of Himachal took about 60,000 fish seed from me and produced 70 quintal of fish from just one acre”, he boasted.

When asked about the ban, he said there was none. The Department of Fishery officials have just spread the rumour to boost the sale of fish seed, he claimed. The seed comes from Kolkata. Had there been any ban then how could we have sold the fish seed in such large numbers openly here, he said.

Since fish is easy to rear and can survive even in dirty ponds, it is sold cheaper in market. Due to availability of mangoor the market for other fish varieties was shrinking, they alleged.

Many complaints have been given to the department concerned regarding the illegal sale of Thai Mangoor. However, no action had been taken.

The said fish was first imported to India from Thailand. The fish farmers started cultivating the fish due to it hardy qualities. Environmentalists allege that if the Mangoor escapes into the Indian river system it will destroy many Indian varieties.


Commissioner’s absence affects MC
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 1
The functioning of local Municipal Corporation (MC) has been adversely affected following the failure of the Punjab government to appoint a commissioner for the past three months.

The situation has reached such a point where a major section of contractors have stopped the execution of civil works allotted to them through tenders floated before December 26, 2006, as no payments in lieu of the work done by them had been made.

A section of contractors did not start the execution of civil works allotted to them after they came to know that the MC would not be able to make the payments in the absence of a commissioner. Fed up with the indifferent attitude of the authorities concerned, the contractors today met D.S. Bains, principal secretary, Local Bodies, Punjab, and urged him to appoint the commissioner of the local MC at the earliest.

Sneh Bansal, a contractor, while talking to TNS, said he had been supplying drinking water to a number of localities through tankers on behalf of the MC. He added that though he was entitled for a payment of Rs 25 lakh from the MC for the work, he was being denied the same on one pretext or the other. He added that as he had been running short of money, he was left with no other option than to stop the execution of civil works worth Rs 15 lakh.

J.S. Brar, another contractor, pointed out that he did not start the execution of civil works at the local Rose Garden as he was aware of the fact that in the absence of commissioner he would not be made any payment.

Kamal Kant, executive officer, MC, said the MC authorities had been carrying out development works in the town in a proper manner. He added that payments to those contractors were being made whose payments were sanctioned by the last commissioner.

Meanwhile, Bains could not be contacted despite repeated efforts. 


Faulty demarcation of MC wards: DC told to probe
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 1
The Punjab government has asked deputy commissioner, Bathinda, Rahul Bhandari to probe the alleged mischief by the authorities when demarcating wards for election of local municipal corporation (MC) .

D. S. Bains, principal secretary, local bodies, Punjab, in a letter faxed to Bhandari has asked him to complete the probe in three days and send a report to him (Bains) .Bains in his letter has mentioned that objections had been raised against the demarcation of wards of Bathinda MC by people through a representation made to the Chief Minister and the local bodies minister, Punjab.

Election to the local MC , since it came into existence four years ago could not be held. Till January 31 affairs of the MC were managed by a commissioner appointed by the government. The election now was expected to take place in June .

Official sources said in the representation to the chief minister people had alleged the demarcation of wards of Bathinda MC, had not been done in a uniform manner. Some wards allegedly having 5000 votes had been carved out while in other wards, number of voters was not more than 1800.

They had also objected the demarcation of wards was not done clock wise and this could give advantage to a particular party in elections.

The principle of continuity was ignored when carving out wards, as some wards were cut into parts by another ward,they alleged. Some wards were 10 km long while boundaries of other wards were very small.


Constable held for graft
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, May 1
The police today nabbed constable Sukar Singh allegedly on the charges of accepting a bribe of Rs 20,000.

Acting on the complaint of Angrez Singh, a resident of Saidkheri village, a vigilance team arrested the policeman. It also seized the bribe money, a small quantity of poppy husk and a case of liquor from his possession.

Sources said Angrez Singh was arrested with poppy husk by the constable, who agreed to let him off for Rs 40,000. 


Two commit suicide
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 1
Two persons allegedly committed suicide by jumping in front of trains near the local railway station in the past 24 hours.

Baldev Singh, who was working as teacher, committed suicide by jumping in front of a train at Paras Ram Nagar railway crossing in the town.

Police sources said a case against his wife and mother-in-law had been registered under Section 306 of the IPC after a suicide note was recovered from him. A youth committed suicide near dry port near Katar Singhwala village.

A case under Section 174 of the CrPC had been registered.


Education board chief locks horns with govt
Chitleen Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) chairman HS Sidhu has locked horns with the Punjab government over the issue of appointment of SK Saroya as the controller of examinations (COE).

Saroya had replaced Avtar Singh as the COE on April 26 following orders of the department of education. Defying the orders, the chairman refused to allow Saroya to join and reportedly shot off a letter to the secretary, education, pointing out that the education department had no right to make any appointments to the board, which was an independent body.

Avtar Singh was one of the last-minute appointments made by former education minister Pratap Singh Bajwa before the election code of conduct came into force on December 29, 2006. Interestingly, Sidhu who is a Congress regime appointee, had not objected to Avtar Singh’s appointment on these grounds. Sources allege that in fact that day, the chairman kept his office open till late in the evening to adjust other last-minute appointments by Bajwa to the board.

While the minister of education Upinderjit Kaur is clear that the government is authorized to appoint persons to the board, the chairman has put his foot down. The board employees are also protesting against Saroya’s appointment on the grounds that she was facing a chargesheet.

Alleging that disinformation was being spread against her, Saroya said she would move the Punjab State Human Rights Commission against her alleged harassment.

Claiming that she had been wrongly charge-sheeted, Saroya said the government was probing the grant of three additional grace marks by the board’s chairman in violation of government directives last year.

She added that she was the only one in the board who had objected to the violation of the government’s directive in grant of additional grace marks. “My comments are recorded on a file and are with the government,” she said.

In December 2005, the government directed the board not to award any additional grace marks beyond what was provided in the regulations. This was done to improve the board’s standard and also curtail jacking up of pass percentages. The government also decided to review powers of the board to award additional grace marks. “In 2006, as COE, I got the senior secondary examination results prepared from the Delhi-based firm engaged by the board. Grace marks due to the students in accordance with the board’s regulations had already been added. However, a dominant lobby in the chairman’s office wanted additional grace marks to which I objected citing the government’s directive. The present chairman over-ruled my objection and directed the Delhi firm to prepare revised results adding 3 additional grace marks,” alleged Saroya. The firm revised the result and also sent a bill of Rs 1.6 lakh for the additional work.

The government ordered an inquiry into the matter. “Later the chairman issued me show-cause notice asking me to explain why this had happened, which was most absurd,” she said.

Alleging that she had been made the target of pre-meditated acts of vendetta, Saroya said she was even asked why she had given an interview to a Punjabi newspaper regarding steps taken to check mass copying and cheating. On another occasion she was asked to explain why she had endorsed a copy of her legal advice to the audit branch of the board.

The board’s chairman could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.


Fee structure on par with neighbouring states sought
Private dental colleges on verge of closure
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 1
The private self-financed dental colleges of Punjab are on the verge of closure due to resource shortage, mainly because of the “irrational” and low fee structure, fixed at Rs 1 .50 lakh per year per student by the Punjab government for the post-graduate dental courses,compared to Rs 5.50 lakh by the neighbouring states of Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

President of the Punjab Private Self Financed Dental Colleges Association and director/trustee of Guru Nanak Dev Dental College, Sunam,Vikram Sharma said today of this fee of Rs 1.50 lakh administrative expenses paid to Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, by way of affiliation fee for (Rs 50,000 per specialty per year), for inspection (Rs 50,000 per specialty per year), annual inspection fee of the Dental Council of India, New Delhi (Rs 50,000 per specialty per year) total to Rs 1.50 lakh for one speciality every year, while only two to three seats were given per specialty every year.

So Rs 75,000 was paid per seat every year by the dental colleges as administrative expenditure.

Sharma said apart from it,Rs 7,000 per post-graduate seat administrative expenditure was to be paid to the university by the colleges. After paying Rs 82,000 per student per year (out of the fee of Rs 1 .50 lakh ), it was not possible to run the college with a balance fee of Rs 68,000 per seat, he added.

Sharma added provisional fee structure for MDS courses in sessions 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07 was Rs 2.60 lakh, the same as it was for MD and MS clinical subjects. Usually, the fee was revised upwards after every three years. But the fee for MDS had been reduced to Rs 1.50 lakh per student per year by the Punjab government for 2007-08 session without assigning reason.

Likewise, the MDS courses, for undergraduate course BDS, the fee in Punjab was the lowest at Rs 55,000 per student since 2003-04 session compared to Rs 1 .40 lakh to Rs 2 .13 lakh in Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal and Rs 1.27 lakh in Punjab University Dental College, Chandigarh, he added.

Sharma urged Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to revise the fee structure for MDS course to Rs 2.60 lakh and then making it on a par with neighbouring states i.e. Rs 5 .50 lakh to save the colleges from closure.


Dance festival livens up Punjabi university
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 1
Verve, vigour and fervour marked the celebration of World Dance Day by the Punjabi University department of dance at Kala Bhawan here last night.

The unique feature of the show, which went on for about three hours, was participation by all students of the department and each member of its faculty, both in vocal and instrumental categories. Most of the performances were based on composition of Pundit Birju Maharaj.

In his presidential address, Swarn Singh Boparai, vice-chancellor, thanked the world famous artistes having agreed to join the department as its faculty, including a disciple of Pundit Birju Maharaj prof Madhukar Anand, flutist Mujtaba Hussain, vocalist Neeraj Gandhi and pakhawaj expert Arun Jha.

“We had to create new posts and scales to have them with us, while they have proved their mettle in no uncertain terms by bringing laurels to the university,” Boparai said.

Dr Sunita Dhir, director, youth welfare, proposed the vote of thanks. The VC also released two books written by Dr Simmi, lecturer in the dance department.

The show that started with “Ganesh vandana” by BA (hons) part-I student Karishma, reached its zenith with an exclusive performance “ghunghroo” in which all students and faculty members participated.

The show reached its climax with mesmerizing performances by noted danseur Sanchita Bhattacharya, prof Ananad and Deepanwita Singh Roy.


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