P U N J A B    S T O R I E S

Congress for no-trust move against govt in next session
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 2
The Congress will move a no-confidence motion against the SAD-BJP government in next session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.This was stated by Rajinder Kaur Bhattal here today.

Addressing a rally organized jointly by the city and rural Congress Committees in the old grain market here, the leader of the Congress Legislature Party in the Assembly said the ruling parties had backtracked on the promises made in election manifestos and the electorate felt cheated.

The Congress committees had planned to organize a march to express resentment over alleged atrocities of the ruling parties, but chose to organize a rally as temperature rose above 45.9°C.

Congress workers and supporters from rural areas outnumbered people from towns. Bhattal regretted that workers of the parties in power were trying their best to implicate Congress workers and supporters in false cases besides unleashing terror by harvesting their wheat crop.

They had promised to give relief in electricity bills, but were harassing Congress workers by disconnecting their electricity supply. The government had failed in making proper arrangement for purchasing, lifting and unloading of wheat crop.

Farmers were getting Rs 100 per quintal as bonus on wheat, the SAD led government had not added even a rupee to it. Commenting on the law and order situation, the former Deputy Chief Minister said Akali activists had virtually replaced station house officers in the police stations all over Punjab and were calling the shots. Development projects had come to a standstill. So was with the administration. Cheques issued to the village panchayats for development projects had been withdrawn. 

The Chief Minister remained indecisive on most of the issues that needed immediate attention. She assured party workers of healing touch if members of the ruling parties harmed them. Warning the Badal government, she reminded that the Congress had stamped out militancy from the state. They should learn to behave. Jathedars must stop the “loot” of the state . Members of the Cabinet were confined to air-conditioned rooms, she said.

They had no knowledge of the dismal scenario. She regretted some elements in the present set-up were not sparing even the media and targeting it for having supported the Congress in elections.

Congress legislators Sunil Jakhar, Rana Gurmit SinghSodhi, Avtar Singh Brar, former MLA Hans Raj Josan and DCC president Gurnaib Singh Brar also shared the dais.

Though other former MLAs and a winner also were also expected to attend the rally but they were not seen. Jakhar also lambasted the leaders of the ruling parties and also condemned the authorities for registering a case against a a local journalist.

Punjab Youth Congress seeks dismissal of govt
Accuses SAD-BJP of not providing cheap atta-dal to people 
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 2
The BJP-SAD government came under fire from the leaders of the Punjab Youth Congress (PYC) for not providing cheap atta and dal to the people of Punjab. Accusing the state government of deceiving the people and ‘usurping’ power on the basis of ‘false’ promises, the PYC, led by its chief Vijay Inder Singla, sought its dismissal.

The PYC workers and leaders beat empty cans and utensils to lodge their protest against the government’s failure in providing cheap atta and dal from Baisakhi onward. They also held a state-level dharna in front of the District Administrative Complex (DAC) and marched to hand a memorandum for the Governor to deputy commissioner A.S. Pannu. In the memorandum, the PYC has sought the dismissal of the state government.

“The government has not only failed to provide cheap atta and dal from Baisakhi onwards, but has also discriminated against people in the ongoing survey. A large number of deserving people have been left out while a few chosen ones, particularly those close to the Akali leaders, are being included in the lists being prepared for grant of the benefits,” alleged Singla. 

He further stated that the police were harassing the PYC workers at the behest of the ruling SAD-BJP combine leaders. Meanwhile, three general secretaries of the PYC - Monty Sehgal, Abhay Singh and Adhiraj Bajwa - stated that PYC workers and leaders would educate the people about the ‘false promises’ of the government. Other PYC leaders present were district president of PYC (Urban) Rinku Sethi, Junior Avtaar Singh, Joginder Chopra, along with other members of the party’s state executive.


State of Finances
Panjab University, Chandigarh
Monetary wings needed to fly high
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service 

Chandigarh, May 2
Panjab University, Chandigarh, has a unique status among universities in the country. An inter-state body funded jointly by the Government of India and the Punjab government, this oldest university of North India has, however, been paying a price for this unique status. Punjab government tends to ignore the university when it comes to grants on the pretext that it is a central university.

 The Centre’s attitude is step motherly as PU is under the ministry of home affairs unlike the other central universities which function under the ministry of human resource and development. Between the state and the Centre, however, it is the grant from the Centre that has kept the university afloat. 

The Chandigarh Administration pays PU about Rs 32 crore each year as 60 per cent of its budget deficit. The Punjab government is supposed to pay 40 per cent of the deficit each year but it has fixed this grant at Rs 16 crore.

The university’s annual budget is a little over Rs 116 crore and the university earns Rs 62 crore annually. The main source of income is the fee charged from the students, college affiliation fee and examination fee. The university spends almost 73 per cent of its budget on salaries of its over 3,500 employees and another about 8 per cent is used up in administration-related expenses. Almost five per cent of the budget is used for the conduct of examinations. As much as Rs 10 crore is given by the university for the pension corpus fund each year.

“The university would be very comfortable if the Punjab government starts giving its due share of the deficit. If we don’t take up any major development or construction work, we fall short of about Rs 10 crore,” said the Vice-Chancellor, Prof R.C Sobti, adding that steps were being taken to trim expenditure.

PU faculty complains that they have been suffering under anomalous working conditions. The age of retirement at PU continues to remain at 60 years despite the fact that all other major universities in the country has enhanced the retirement age to 65 years and more. 

The university’s infrastructure too needs renovation. In its diamond jubilee years this year the Vice-Chancellor has grand expansion plans as well. “Give me Rs 100 crore and I can change the face of the university. We are going to set up a medical college and four centres for studies in emerging areas. If we offer students good courses, they are ready to pay the fee also. And the university will still charge an amount less than what a private institute will charge,” he said. 

The Vice-Chancellor has sent a proposal to the Union government asking for Rs 250 crore for the university in its diamond jubilee year. “PU has achieved remarkable successes in teaching and research. We are a part of many national science projects. Many departments of the university have been recognised as centres for advanced studies by the UGC. The university also does not have a tradition of unhealthy student or teacher politics. I am confident that PU has reached a point of take off where all it requires is a one time monetary push to bring it on the international scene,” said the Vice-Chancellor. 


Badal to carry bagful of agenda items to Delhi
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
When Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal travels to the union capital on Friday, he will carry a bagful of demands for various central ministries besides seeking special schemes of the planning commission to accelerate development works.

From expressways to the upgradation and modernisation of Chandigarh, Sahnewal and Amritsar airports, a share in national power projects, setting up of ancillary petroleum units and more central schemes are some of the issues on which he is going to seek the central government’s help.From a one-to-one meeting with Montek Singh Ahluwalia, vice-chairman of the planning commission, Badal has fixed meetings with power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, petroleum minister Murli Deora, surface transport minister T.R. Balu and civil aviation minister Praful Patel.

Badal is also keen that communications, especially road and air traffic, needed to be upgraded so as to boost trade and business in the state. He is carrying proposals to get expressways, motorways and proposed elevated roads cleared.

Badal wants that roads like the Ludhiana-Ferozepore and Balachaur-Pathankot should be upgraded and declared national highways.

The Chief Minister is also keen that Punjab should be allowed new national power generation projects so that it could draw its additional demand from there. It also wants clearance from the centre of its proposal of getting a captive nuclear generation plant in collaboration with some other state, preferably Rajasthan.

 Punjab also needs the personal intervention of the union power minister to attract major private power generation agencies, including Enron, which have been in power generation in Maharashtra.

Badal wants the aviation ministry to clear the proposed international airport at Sahnewal besides expediting the upgradation of Amritsar international airport. Punjab is also keen on domestic flights both in the Malwa (probably Bathinda) and Doab regions (extension of civil aviation facilities to Adampur air base on the lines of Chandigarh). It also wants central approval for making Chandigarh airport an international airport.


Govt has ruined investment climate, say builders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Three days after a leading builder committed suicide, the Punjab colonisers and builders association today criticised the state government, especially officialdom, for allegedly ruining the investment climate by cancelling no-objection certificates and change of land use permission of colonisers on flimsy grounds.

 A general body meeting of the association was convened here, its president Kulwant Singh and general secretary Amardeep Singh Hira said. It was attended by almost all colonisers of Punjab who have been approved by the government. The association passed a resolution saying the crisis in the real estate sector was the creation of the Punjab pollution control board and the housing department which had recently cancelled the no-objection certificates and also the permission for change of land use. The association said the bureaucracy had failed in handling the situation following the interim orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. 

The pollution control board failed to understand the essence of the high court orders and went about cancelling the NOCs in February, 2007. The then chief secretary even gave an affidavit in court that he would get it examined how the NOCs were issued in the first place. Once the new SAD-BJP government took over, the housing department, without even consulting the state government, cancelled the permission for CLU in the case of more than 35 projects, throttling the “process of development”, alleged the association. 

This was a jolt to the real estate sector. The first step of the new government should not have been to cancel the CLU permission. It should have set up a committee in this regard, as had been formed now under the chairmanship of the chief secretary, said the resolution.

 The bureaucracy had not only played a cruel joke on the colonisers but also caused irreparable harm to the investment climate of the state, it said. The association demanded that the government should immediately restore the NOCs and permission for CLU besides ordering an inquiry against the officers who caused this damage. 

The inquiry should be conducted by a high court or retired judge. The atmosphere was such that NRIs and investors had been compelled to change their approach to investment in Punjab.The association wanted that Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal should convene a meeting of investors and also the association to resolve the crisis faced by the real estate sector. 


Majithia attacks Bhattal on atta-dal scheme
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Reacting to statements of leader of the opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal on the issue of providing cheap atta and dal, Punjab public relations minister Bikram Singh Majithia today said Bhattal and the Congress had no moral right to speak on such social welfare issues. 

Bhattal should stop messing around with such issues as her party had always betrayed the people. The Congress had openly opposed and ridiculed the subsidised atta-dal scheme when the Shiromani Akali Dal announced it in its poll manifesto, said Majithia in a statement here.

Bhattal had yesterday demanded that the income eligibility limit for the scheme should be raised to Rs 50,000. Majithia asked her whether any Congress government had ever thought of giving even 50 paise worth of relief to the poor sections. She should be the last person to speak on such issues as the government in which she remained the Deputy Chief Minister had stopped free power for farmers, the shagun scheme for dalits, the pension scheme for the poor and senior citizens and LTC and medical allowance for employees, said Majithia.


Mann opposes Punchhi panel 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) led by former MP Simranjit Singh Mann today rejected the setting up of a commission headed by former Chief Justice of India M. M. Punchhi on centre-state relations alleging it would not do justice to the interests of the states. 

Addressing a press conference here, Mann alleged that it was a foregone conclusion that Justice Punchhi and former union home secretaries Dharendra Singh and V.K. Duggal would " rubber stamp "proposals to have a completely unitary form of government in India. 

Mann said the setting up of the commission also showed the "arrogance" of the centre as before announcing it, public opinion was not formed and the states were not consulted. He said the party was also surprised that none of the provisions of the Sarkaria commission or the Rajiv-Longowal accord were enforced even though both were meant to assuage Sikhs' feelings and provide a healing touch to the community.

 Mann said the SAD (A) would mobilise public opinion in favour of Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee for the office of President "if the Left assures protection to the minorities". Mann said the SAD (A) also opposed the demand of the BJP for the post of Deputy Chief Minister in Punjab as that party was already exercising more power than its share in the SAD-BJP alliance. 

"We feel Parkash Singh Badal is a dummy Chief Minister and actual power is wielded by the BJP and Sukhbir Singh Badal," he said, adding that instead the BJP should take the post of Chief Minister. He opposed the proposal of the Badal government to exclude all families having television sets and refrigerators from the atta-dal scheme.


36 towns selected for development 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The Punjab government today did a reality check on how to benefit from central government-funded schemes and finally selected 36 towns for infrastructure development projects.

The criterion for selection was that the municipal bodies of these towns should be able to share a portion of the financial burden of the projects. The towns have been selected under the urban integrated development schemes of small and medium towns run by the government of India. 

The towns are Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, Mandi Gobindgarh, Nangal, Zirakpur, Batala, Gurdaspur, Majitha, Pathankot, Patti, Tarn Taran, Bathinda, Malout, Mansa, Gidderbaha, Abohar, Faridkot, Fazilka, Ferozepore, Moga, Zira, Barnala, Banur, Dera Bassi, Malerkotla, Patiala, Rajpura, Sangrur, Khanna, Kharar, Ropar, Sirhind, Dasuya, Nawanshahr and Phagwara.

Local government minister Manoranjan Kalia, while presiding over a meeting of commissioners of municipal corporations and regional deputy directors of his department, said these towns had been selected on the basis of the financial health of the municipal body and its capacity to contribute 10 per cent of the project cost. 

Under the scheme, the government of India would contribute 80 per cent and the state government and the municipal body concerned 10 per cent each. 


IMA to set up monitoring cell to fight female foeticide
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 2
In a significant development, which could put a check on malpractices prevailing in the medical profession, the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Punjab unit, has decided to fight against the female foeticide tooth and nail.

For accomplishing this task effectively, the IMA will constitute a monitoring cell at all its levels with representatives of ultrasonologists, gynaecologists and other related specialties or their organisations.

In its state council meeting held in this town, the IMA also decided to write to the authorities concerned to regulate the running of clinical laboratories as per the guidelines laid down by the Medical Council of India (MCI). The IMA said only pathologists were allowed to run the clinical labs. 

The IMA had also demanded that the Drugs and Cosmetic Act should be rigidly enforced to ensure that chemists could not sell the medicines without a valid prescription,thus, saving gullible patients from harms of self-medication and irrational drug uses. The IMA, Punjab, which expressed concern over the declining sex ratio in the country and its adverse consequences on the society, pointed out that prenatal sex determination needed to be strongly condemned.

 The IMA was committed to works on this issue proactively, for reversal of declining child sex ratio and ensuring a gender balanced and healthy society. Amrit Sethi, president, IMA, Punjab, said the IMA would continue to sensitise doctors at different forums on this issue.

The IMA was more than willing to collaborate and cooperate with appropriate authorities for the effective implementation of the PNDT Act, he added.

However, the IMA would approach the central and state governments to look into the aberrant section of the PNDT Act wherein the medical registration of the doctors were suspended without being heard or giving immunity to the implementing agencies against actions taken on doctors in good faith. In the meeting it was decided that H.S. Bakshi was unanimously made unanimously state secretary of the IMA, Punjab, by the council.


MP expresses concern over drug abuse
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 2
Avinash Rai Khanna, MP and former BJP chief Punjab, has expressed concern over the increasing use of narcotic substances by youths of Punjab. 

Talking to mediapersons here today, he said liquor and drugs had spoilt the robust health which was a symbol of the Punjabi youths.

He has written to Punjab Health Minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla to take an initiative to eliminate the scourge of drug abuse by some youths.

He has suggested that the Health Department be consulted to examine the feasibility of the proposal of introducing a dope test before admissions to educational institutions. This would help in screening the drug addicts who could be treated through counselling and rehabilitated.

He also expressed concern over the increasing number of HIV positive patients. He has suggested to the union government to bring out a legislation for making HIV test of boys and girls compulsory before their marriage.

Meanwhile, activists of the Shubh Karman Society, Hoshiarpur, have also expressed concern over the news item “Alcohal abuse taking toll on Punjabis” that had appeared in The Tribune on April 24.


Labourers hold rally
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 2
The Lal Jhanda Brickkiln Labour Union has demanded that the authorities concerned should implement the Factory Act, apart from fixing Rs 6,500 per month as minimum wages for the labourers.

Addressing a rally of the union here today, Sat Pal Bharti, president, and Chander Shekhar, general secretary, CTU, said labour laws were being violated in the contractor system in the country and the authorities should ensure that labourers get their dues.

They demanded 20 per cent bonus, uniforms, 14 items on subsidised rates through fair price shops, suitable compensation in case of death or accident and provident fund facility for the labourers.


Bring transparency in police force: PSHRC
Vishal Sharma
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 2
Expressing concern over the fact that custodial deaths, especially those in the police custody, were not being properly reported in Punjab, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) today stressed on the need to bring transparency and reforms in the police force.

“The commission has always felt that custodial deaths are not being properly reported by the police. In the year 2006, till October, the deaths notified by the police were 40 but we dealt with 47 cases,” said N.K.Arora, member, PSHRC.He was addressing a seminar on ‘Human Rights in the Perspective of Custodial Deaths’ organized by the PSHRC in the Army Institute of Law, Mohali, today.

Arora lamented the shoddy style of investigation and called for its urgent update. He rued the fact that use of third degree methods or torture during interrogation by police was one of the main reasons of custodial deaths.

Recalling his visit to the state’s police stations, Arora said many SHOs could not even remember what the 11 guidelines of proper police conduct were and thus seeking their compliance would be asking for the moon.

Buttressing his point, he said that in 2004, there were 53 custodial deaths in Punjab. As many as 32 of these were reported as natural deaths, despite large per cent of the victims falling in the age group of 30-40. Another 17 were attributed to negligence and four were dubbed as suicide by the police.

It was also pointed out that sanctioned capacity in the state’s 26 jails was 11,000 but the actual number of inmates was 16,000. The jail inmates were living in appalling conditions and no suitable medical services were available to them.

Justice R.L.Anand (retd), acting chairperson, PSHRC, too rued the police highhandedness and sought immediate change in the attitude of the police force. He stressed that custodial deaths were the worst form of violation of human rights.

The custodial deaths were taking place in prisons, in mental asylums, etc, with impunity and the law need to be strengthened to check the menace, he observed.

Echoing Justice Anand’s views, the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s Chief Justice Vijendra Jain said custodial deaths were rising in the country putting the role of the police force under the scanner.

“Rules and laws will have to be changed according to the need of the society. Law cannot remain static; it has to change according to the needs of the modern times. The Punjab Police Rules were framed in 1934 when there was little scientific investigation and modern gadgets of communication,” the Chief Justice observed. He suggested that the best way to prevent custodial deaths was to check custodial torture.



Radio programme for NRI grievances
  Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
A radio programme, Asian connections, aimed at providing NRIs a platform to raise their grievances with a senior Punjab police officer has been restarted.

It is aired by Radio Toronto, Canada. A spokesperson of the state police said that during the hour-long programme, Kapil Dev, AIG, NRI affairs cell, listened to the problems of callers from countries like Canada and Italy.

The programme is aired every alternative Thursday between 10:00 and 11:00 (Indian standard time). Complainants can send their complaints through e-mail at [email protected] or fax at 0172-5000637.


State Round-up
4 gazetted officers booked for graft in March
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau registered 10 corruption cases in March. Cases were registered against four gazetted and seven non-gazetted officers for accepting bribes.

A spokesperson of the Punjab Government said the four gazetted officers included a chief agriculture officer, a PCS officer and an XEN of the Punjab Pollution Control Board.

Besides during this period 12 criminal cases were also registered against seven gazetted and 19 non-gazetted officers and 23 other private individuals.

The court of the district and sessions judge, Faridkot and additional sessions judge, Ferozepore, had convicted two non-gazetted officers in two corruption cases.

‘No laxity’ will be tolerated

The district authorities have been put on high alert in view of an outbreak of jaundice in some areas of the state, said chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh. He warned that no laxity would be tolerated on anybody’s part in taking remedial steps to stop the spread of the disease.

Addressing a high-level meeting of the Departments of Health and Family Welfare, Local Government, Water Supply and Sanitation, he said regular publicity campaigns to educate public to not consume contaminated water, uncovered/over-ripe fruits and vegetables were being carried out.

Doctors hold protest

The Rural Medical Services Association, Punjab, on Wednesday protested that they were being asked to send their attendance through sarpanches while demanding that the BDPOs or SMOs should be the authority to send the attendance of the doctors.

A delegation of the doctors called upon Ranjit Singh Brahampura, minister of rural development and panchayat here. Aslam Parvez, president of the association, said the minister had assured that the order asking the doctors to mark their attendance through sarpanches would be withdrawn.

Aslam said the association demanded regularisation of jobs, basic service privileges and maternity leave for women doctors. Brahampura promised to provide maternity leave and medical leave, it claimed.

Anganwadi workers

Swarna Ram, social security minister, said on Wednesday that more angaanwadi workers and helpers would be recruited soon for launching new development schemes in the state.

He directed all field officers to personally monitor all ongoing development schemes so that genuine beneficiaries were 
not left out.


Scribes pledge to maintain high standards
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 2
A meeting of the Press Club, Fatehgarh Sahib, was held under the chairmanship of president of the club Surjit Singh Sahi today. Sixty-two media persons from the district attended the meeting. The club members expressed concern over the entry of dubious elements into the profession. They took a pledge to maintain the high standards of the profession.

The members also passed a resolution to get the club affiliated with the Chandigarh Press Club and the Press Club, Patiala. They decided to submit applications in this regard. Press club stickers and identity cards were issued to the members.

Gurkirpal Singh Ashk, Harpreet Singh Gill, Gurwinder Singh Grewal, Rakesh Verma, Ganesh Dutt, Jagdev Mehra, Ravinder Modgill, Iqbal Deep Sandhu also addressed the members. 



Govt committed to poll promises, says Kairon
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 2
Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, minister for food and civil supply-cum-chairman of the district Planning Board, held a meeting with the district officials at Bachat Bhawan here today.

Though the planning boards have not yet been constituted by the government, no other member except MLA Didar Singh Bhatti attended it. Kairon took information from the officials regarding the achievements, requirements and ongoing projects and schemes of their respective departments.

Addressing the officials, he said the government was committed to fulfill all promises made during the elections.



Minister for good healthcare services
Our Correspondent

Mohali, May 2
State health and family welfare minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla reviewed the functioning of the Health Department and the Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC) during a meeting with program officers and senior functionaries here today.

Chawla reviewed the performance indicators and functioning of the department at length and quizzed the officers of various health programmes like RCH, national rural health mission, PNDT, revised national tuberculosis control programme, leprosy control, blindness control, vector borne diseases control etc.

She directed the officers to improve the functioning in order to provide good healthcare services to the people, especially the rural population.

The minister also directed the officers to speed up the establishment of three trauma centres at Amritsar, Jalandhar and Pathankot, since funds for the purpose had already been allocated. She added that six new trauma centres would be opened shortly. She also informed that the facility of private rooms in the hospitals will be provided to facilitate the public.

Chawla also reviewed the status of the various ongoing construction works of the hospital buildings. She passed directions to the officers to swiftly initiate the tendering process wherever new buildings are to be constructed.

Vijay Kain, principal secretary, health and family welfare, Tilak R. Sarangal, managing director, PHSC, Sukhdev Singh, director, health and family welfare, Y.C. Markan, director, PHSC, S.P.S. Sohal, additional director, and other senior officers of the department were present on the occasion.   


Nihangs leader not produced in court for security reasons
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, May 2
Even as hundreds of Nihangs expressing solidarity with the expelled and jailed Nihang leader Surjeet Singh stormed into local court complex, the authorities concerned did not produce him in the court of judicial magistrate concerned today due to security reasons.

The police authorities were supposed to produce the Nihang leader in the local court in connection with a criminal case registered against him and six others on the complaint of another Nihang, Balbir Singh, on April 15, 2007. However, police officials along with the assistant district attorney, made a request to the court that Surjeet Singh could not be produced in the court as it could create law and order problem. This was despite the fact that the entire court complex had been converted into a virtual police cantonment today. 

The judicial magistrate concerned directed the Bathinda jail authorities to produce the Nihang leader in his court on May 16.Surjeet Singh was remanded to judicial custody till May 2 by the judicial magistrate concerned on April 18.Meanwhile, hundreds of Nihangs, who stormed into the court complex, announced that if the criminal case registered against Surjeet Singh and others was not cancelled by the authorities concerned, then they would stage a demonstration in front of the Raj Bhawan in Chandigarh on May 7.

While alleging that a section of Nihangs had got a false case registered against Surjeet Singh with an intention to grab the properties of Budha Dal, they said the authorities concerned should launch a probe to reveal the truth.

They demanded that the authorities concerned should also make arrangements to restore all horses and vehicles, which had been taken into possession by a particular Nihang, to Surjeet Singh, who was the real claimant of the same.

The Nihangs came to support Surjeet Singh, who was once a close confidant of Baba Santa Singh, head, Budha Dal, and was also in charge of the horse wing of the Dal. They also submitted a memorandum to the local SDM. Earlier, they held demonstrations in Bathinda city twice.

A case was registered against Surjeet Singh and others when Balbir Singh, a Nihang, alleged that the Nihang leader and others had fired shots at him while he was offering prayers at Degsar Gurdwara here on April 15. After Surjeet Singh and others were arrested following the registration of a criminal case against them, Balbir Singh claimed that he had been appointed legal heir by Baba Santa Singh and this initiated a war of succession among various factions of Nihangs owing allegiance to Budha Dal. The Budha Dal sect owns properties worth hundreds of crores in various pockets of the country.


City Centre Scam
Mansa Bar Assn chief moves bail plea
Rajneesh Lakhanpal 

Ludhiana, May 2
Reverberation of the City Centre scam have reached Mansa district with the Mansa Bar Association chief fearing arrest in the case.Sources revealed that the Vigilance Bureau has issued a notice to Vijay Kumar Singla, chief of Mansa District Bar Association, for his alleged proximity with the Executive Officer of Ludhiana Improvement Trust D.C Garg, who has already been arrested in this case. He was directed to appear before the SSP, Vigilance Bureau.

Apprehending arrest, Singla today moved an anticipatory bail application in the Sessions Court in Ludhiana. In his petition, he has pleaded that the Vigilance Bureau was out to arrest him in the City Centre scam case, the offences of which were non-bailable. If arrested, he would suffer undue humiliation and harassment for no fault of his.

He further submitted that the Vigilance Bureau wanted to arrest him due to ‘political vendetta’ in spite of the fact that there was no evidence against him, which may connect him with the case. Sessions Judge Harbans Lal entrusted the bail application to the Special Judge Gurbir Singh. Subsequently, a lawyer representing Singla submitted before the Special Judge that his client was innocent and had not even been 'named' in the FIR (Number 5) registered by the Vigilance Bureau on March 23 involving several persons, including former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

 Taking cognisance of the anticipatory bail application, Special Judge Gurbir Singh directed the Vigilance Bureau to serve three days’ notice to the applicant, if it wanted to arrest him. Thereafter, the judge adjourned the hearing for May 12 and issued notice to the VB for producing its record relating to the case on the next hearing.

Sources revealed that on April 30, Vigilance Bureau officials had directed him to appear before the SSP on May 2. But instead of appearing before the Vigilance Bureau, he moved court seeking anticipatory bail.


HC asks Chahal to file medical reports
Vishal Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s media adviser B.I.S. Chahal to file medical reports on the basis of which his doctor had issued a certificate stating that he was suffering from blockage of heart arteries.

Making a rather harsh observation that it seemed that the respondent (Chahal) was making an effort to seek adjournments so as to evade personal appearance, the full bench, headed by chief justice Vijender Jain, directed him to file the medical reports, validating the diagnosis of blockage of arteries, on May 9.Earlier, the respondent’s counsel had filed an application seeking Chahal’s exemption from appearance for today as well subsequent hearings on medical grounds.

The counsel submitted that since Chahal was admitted in a Glasgow hospital in Scotland, United Kingdom, for the treatment of a heart ailment, he should be exempted from personal appearance in the court. The counsel attached a registration form of the hospital as evidence.

But the evidence was not hard enough to impress the chief justice who noted that no certificate from hospital’s doctor H. Itawa had been filed along with the registration form so as to corroborate its veracity.

The chief justice further observed that the certificate by some Dr Madhok, filed by the respondent, had stated that medical investigations had revealed that the respondent was suffering from blockage of coronary arteries and needed six or eight weeks of bed rest.

Taking a serious note of the said certificate, the chief justice observed that it was necessary for the court to scrutinize the medical reports/investigations, including the ECG and angiography, if any, on the basis of which the doctor had issued the said certificate of heart ailment to the respondent.

The Chief Justice had observed on March 14 that after going through the file relating to the alleged contempt of court committed by Chahal, he was of the opinion that it “was the worst case of contempt of court in the history of judicial administration”.


Atta-Dal Scheme 
Teams yet to visit Maqboolpura
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, May 2
Teams of the district administration detailed to identify the below poverty line persons are yet to visit the Maqboolpura area also known as locality of widows inhabited by poor people most of them addicted to drugs. Brij Bedi a social activist had been highlighting their plight. 

Bedi said during his visits to the area residents had approached him to request the administration to list them for the atta-dal scheme. Deputy commissioner K S Pannu said he would look into the matter and send the teams at the earliest and assured they would be covered under the scheme.


3 held with illicit liquor 
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 2
The local police yesterday arrested three persons from Sarala Kalan village in the district allegedly for possessing illicit liquor.

On a tip-off, Ghanaur SHO Satpal Singh conducted raid under the supervision of Rajpura DSP Bhupinder Singh in the village and arrested three persons, Gurvinder Singh, Bhagwant Singh and Pavitter Singh.

The police recovered 510 cases of illicit liquor of different brands from their possession.

A case under Section 61 of the Excise Act has been registered.   


Ex-lecturer seeks Governor’s help  

Gurdaspur, May 2
A former lecturer of SRPAAB College, Pathankot, has sought the Governor's intervention to get his gratuity and other arrears released from the college.

In a letter to the Governor, R.M. Sharma stated that despite getting specific orders from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, and the DPI, the principal and management of the college had not released his gratuity and other arrears amounting to Rs 5 lakh.

He has urged the Syndicate and the vice-chancellor to initiate proceedings for the withdrawal of rights and privileges to the college as it was openly flouting orders of the university and the DPI (Colleges), Punjab. — TNS


Counselling put off
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Counselling for admission to the MD, MS and MDS courses of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, which was to start from May 4, has been postponed till further notice due to a stay granted by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. This was stated by S.P.Dhawan, controller of examinations of the university, here today.


Stay on counselling for medical courses
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today stayed the process of counselling, scheduled to begin on May 4, for admissions to postgraduate medical courses in Punjab till the final order.

The stay order came following a writ petition filed last month which had sought the quashing of a clause introduced by the Director, Medical Education and Research, Punjab. The impugned clause stated that the candidates, who had done MBBS or BDS degree from Punjab’s colleges, would get a grace of 15 marks in the entrance examinations for postgraduate courses.

The petitioners had challenged this clause as the one seriously harming their or their wards’ prospects of making it to the postgraduate medical courses, including postgraduate diploma, in the state. They argued that in the entrance exams where every mark counted, the said clause had virtually killed their chances of success.

The counselling for MD, MS and MDS courses was to be done by the Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences, Faridkot. The two-judge Bench, comprising Justice Jasvir Singh and Justice Nirmal Yadav, stayed the counselling and reserved the judgement.

The counselling will start only after the judgement is pronounced. 


Minister blames PPSC for state of medical colleges
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 2
The Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) is responsible for the present state of medical colleges in the state. This was stated by minister for Medical Education Tikshan Sud who was here to preside over the annual convocation function of the Ayurveda Medical College.

He said though the government’s request to recruit 90 medical teachers for three government medical colleges in the state had long been pending with the commission, it had failed to do so. He accused the commission of bringing the government medical colleges on the verge of disqualification by the Medical Council of India.

The minister said the government would recruit medical teachers on an ad hoc basis in order to meet the guidelines of the Medical Council of India. They would, however, be replaced when the permanent staff takes over, he added.

The teachers who have recently retired have also been given the offer to rejoin the medical colleges on contractual basis and continue till they attain the age of 60, he said, adding that designation of medical officer was also being changed to assistant professor.

Talking about Baba Farid Medical University, the minister said about Rs 200 crore was required to equip it with proper infrastructure. The government was trying to arrange for funds to do so, he said. He said that the university would conduct the entrance test to MBBS course for admission to the medical colleges situated in Punjab this year. The notification in this regard will be issued very soon, he added.

While responding to a query, the minister said the government would make efforts to remove ad hocism from medical colleges and the criteria of ‘one-man, one-post’ would be adopted in these colleges.

Later, at a function organised at the college, the minister gave away degrees to the students passing out.

He said the SAD-BJP government would give due importance to the Ayurveda form of medicine as it was part of the country’s tradition.


Govt urged to reduce VAT on branded washing soaps
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 2
The All- Punjab Soap Manufacturers Association has urged the Punjab government to cover branded washing soaps under 4 per cent value added tax (VAT) commodities as the imposition of 12.5 per cent VAT on branded washing soaps is an “anti-people” act on the part of the government.

General secretary of the association Sumer Garg (Sunam) said today as washing soap was a hand- made product and used maximum by the middle class and poor sections of society, the government should include branded washing soaps in the list of 4 per cent VAT commodities to benefit the middle class and weaker sections of society.

Garg said the government had already put the unbranded washing soaps in the category of 4 per cent VAT, but VAT on branded washing soaps was being charged at the rate of 12.5 per cent due to which middle-class and weaker sections had been paying 8.5 per cent more VAT on the branded washing soaps as they used washing soaps for washing clothes and bathing , he added.

Garg added consumers could not get benefits of the Consumer Act if any unbranded soap caused harm to them.

So putting of unbranded washing soap in the 4 per cent VAT category seemed to be a joke on poor people, he added.

Garg asked the government to reduce VAT to 4 per cent from 12.5 per cent on branded washing soaps. 


Milkfed to open 100 dairy units in Punjab
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
With the aim to boost declining milk procurement by the state milk cooperative, Milkfed has decided to corporatise the dairy sector and set up over 100 dairy units across Punjab.

Milkfed has given a target to all its 11 milk unions across the state to open at least 10 such dairy units with a minimum of 20 milch animals. Milkfed has signed an MoU with Allahabad Bank for providing soft loans (at 3 per cent lesser rate of interest than the prime lending rate) for setting up these units. Already, 250 cases for setting up the units have been forwarded to the bank.

The additional managing director, Milkfed, Swaranjit Singh, informed TNS that after the verification of the applications by the bank, at least a 100 such units would be operational in Punjab. “These units will supply milk to the state cooperative and help us substantially boost the milk procurement,” he said.

It may be noted that with the entry of corporates in the milk procurement process in Punjab and increase in procurement by the private milk plants, the share in procurement by Milkfed has been declining rapidly. As against procurement of 7.78 lakh litres a day ( as on May 1) last year, the procurement this year is short by three per cent (7.51 lakh litres a day).

Officials inform that the daily milk production in Punjab is to the tune of 213 lakh litres a day. While 55 per cent of the produce is retained by the dairy farmers for self consumption and 20 per cent is procured by unorganised sector (dodhiyas), the remaining 25 per cent is the marketable surplus for milk plants (private and cooperative milk plants).

Officials in Milkfed informed TNS that though milk production in the state has increased, their procurement is less than expected as private dairy players have increased their share of milk procurement.

Over the past couple of years, private milk plants in Punjab have increased their capacities substantially. They are now offering higher returns to the dairy farmers and cooperative milk producer unions, than the rates offered by Milkfed, and thus increasing their procurement. Even then, the private milk producers are able to process only up to 50 per cent of their capacity.

Though Milkfed has increased the procurement price of milk, they have been unable to stem the decline in procurement.

The procurement price offered now is the highest ever price paid to dairy farmers in the state. As a result, Milkfed has been forced to increase the retail price of milk twice in less than one year. The prices of milk, with different fat content, has gone up by Rs 2 per litre since September last year and now vary between Rs 15 - Rs 22 per litre. 


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