P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Badal approves Rs 85-crore Ghaggar project
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 1
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today approved a Rs 85-crore project for the construction of embankments and widening of the Ghaggar from Khanauri to Karail in Sangrur district.

Badal said the Ghaggar caused a lot of destruction in districts of Sangrur and Mansa, including various parts of Haryana. Under this project, the embankment on both sides of the river would be constructed along with a metalled road.

The Chief Minister said to solve the problem of the Ghaggar causing extensive damage, carrying capacity of the river would be increased by widening it on both sides. He also stated that engineers had informed him that downstream of Khanauri, the Ghaggar would be widened in a stretch of 22.45 km.

Badal expects the project to be completed before the next monsoon and work would be allotted to a reputed company through national bids. He also asked officials to put up a plan to utilise the water flowing through seasonal rivulets during rains.

The Chief Minister has also asked the irrigation department to constitute a high level committee of experts to monitor the water being carried by various rivulets during rainy season.


Acute fodder shortage; 2 die
Rains wreak havoc
Tribune News Service

Ajnala (Amritsar), July 1
Heavy rains wreaked havoc in the Ajnala area, claiming lives of two teenaged boys, yesterday, throwing normal life out of gear. The excessive downpour has led to acute shortage of fodder in the area.

A pall of gloom descended as bodies of the two youths, identified as Sunny (17) and Sukha (19), were fished out today after the rain water started receding. The local administration handed over the bodies to the families after conducting a post-mortem.

While Sunny, who ran a shop in Ajnala, was on his way from his village when he joined his friends for a bath in the rain water and got drowned, Sukha was going to his fields when he slipped and fell into deep water.

“The two incidents have exposed the inefficient anti-flood measures of the district administration. The draining steps taken on the shores of Sacha Nullah, was breached by the locals, who dug out the mud lined up on the sides of the drain. This also resulted in the entire area being inundated with water,” said a local villager.

The locals today urged the state government to make arrangements for providing them fodder for their livestock as the heavy rains have destroyed green fodder in the villages falling under Ajnala.

Parshotam Singh Cheema of the Kisan Union said a large population in the area makes a living by selling milk in Amritsar and other townships and the non-availability of fodder has put their cattle’s health under threat. Immediate arrangements should be provide, he demanded.


SGPC meeting today
Sikh bodies divided over shifting of battle to Haryana
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 1
The executive meeting of the SGPC to be held at Fatehgarh Sahib tomorrow will discuss the call of the Sikh clergy to hold a conclave at Ratia in Haryana on July 11 even as various Sikh organisations are divided over shifting of the battle against Dera Sacha Sauda from Punjab to Haryana.

This will be the first meeting of the SGPC executive after the rejection of the fresh apology by the clergy and interim bail to dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The court had also issued a notice of motion to the Punjab government in this regard.

Though the Sikh high priests had announced that they would participate in the proposed conclave at Ratia , the SAD and the SGPC have also expressed their reservations on the “gurmatta” passed at the Akal Takht secretariat here on June 27.

However, it will become difficult for the Sikh high priests to back out of the “gurmatta” due to the pressure from hardliners. Moreover, the Khalsa Action Committee has also supported the call to hold a conclave at Ratia.

Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti was reportedly not interested in holding the conclave in Haryana but it was Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh who insisted that the Panthic congregation should be held in Haryana with a view to presenting a show of strength.

On the other hand some pro-Congress Sikh leaders met Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and suggested him that the Punjab border be sealed a day before the proposed conclave.

Tomorrow’s SGPC meeting would also discuss the statement of senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, who has equated the teachings of Guru Gobind Singh with that of Vedas and Upanishads. The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee president Paramjit Singh Sarna had urged Jathedar Vedanti to call a meeting of all Sikh organisations in this regard. He said Parkash Singh Badal should clarify his stand whether he had approved the statement of Joshi or not.


Sikh activists chase ‘premis’; no case registered
Neeraj Bagga
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 1
Timely police intervention today averted a showdown between followers of Dera Sacha Sauda and Sikh activists when the dera followers were chased by the activists in cars and motorcycles.

The chase, which started from Naam Charcha Ghar located at Moga bypass, concluded 15 km away at the railway crossing at Dagru village.

According to dera followers, three members of the 25-member state committee had arrived at the local branch of dera to hold a meeting.

The members were Harjit Singh, Mahinderpal Bittu and Jatinder Kumar. After the conclusion of the meeting they, along with five more members, boarded two cars and left for Ferozepur.

Bittu said as soon as they left some vehicles began chasing them. He said smelling trouble they informed the police immediately.

He alleged that the activists armed with sharp-edged weapons and sticks came out of their vehicles at the crossing.

Meanwhile, the dera followers came out of their vehicles and mingled with the crowd to save themselves, he added.

The activists smashed windows of their vehicles and deflated tyres. The police arrived on the scene and brought the situation under control.

The SHO, Sadar police station, under whose jurisdiction the area fell, said it was a minor incident and no case had been registered.


Two SAD workers suspended
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 1
The on-going tussle between district president SAD (B) Thakedar Suinder Singh Bhulewal Rathan and former minister from Tanda circle Balbir Singh Miani took a new turn today when the former suspended Makhan Singh Meerepur, circle president of Tanda, and Surjit Singh Jaura, both supporters of the latter, from the party for protesting and demonstrating against him with their associates before the district party office on June 27, 2006. He had also served the show-cause notices to Gurmail Singh Sikri, circle president, Hariana, Charanjit Singh Rubi, Master Vikram Singh and Mohinder Singh, sarpanches of Daburji and Dumana, to clarify their stand for breaking discipline in the party office within 10 days failing which, disciplinary action would be taken against them.

In a press statement, Rathan said he had brought the aforesaid matter to the notice of Sukhbir Singh Badal, acting president of SAD (B), and under his instructions had taken the aforesaid action.

Balbir Singh could not be contacted on his mobile phone to know his views regarding the suspension and serving of show-cause notices to his supporters.


Moga bank: 92 employees in 48 branches
Neeraj Bagga
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 1
The woefully short strength of staff coupled with interference of politicians has compounded the problems of Moga Central Co-operative Bank. Out of a total of 48 branches across the district, 30 are being managed by a single person, who simultaneously dons the hats of a peon, clerk, accountant and manager.

However, the problem became more stark after directors of the bank sanctioned the promotion of 29 clerks to the posts of accountant on June 18. This resulted in the formation of two groups which provided a fertile ground to politicians to play politics, marring even the little working that went on there.

The eight-member directors of the bank are headed by a chairman. A majority of these members belong to the Congress. Congress MLA from Baghapurana Darshan Singh Brar is its chairman.

Without commenting on the working of the bank, district manager Kuldeep Singh Maan accepted that 30 branches were being run on the basis of “an employee for a branch” while only 92 employees were managing 48 branches.

He said the authorities had been intimated time and again about the dearth of staff, but nothing had been done in this regard.

Out of the eight sanctioned posts of senior manager, seven are lying vacant while six managers are in place against the required figure of 20.

Similarly, 14 seats of assistant managers are lying vacant out of 55 and 13 accountants are available against 42 posts. The bank is short of 93 clerks.


Upper Bari Doab Canal getting choked
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Madhopur (Pathankot), July 1
Throwing norms to the winds, scores of restaurants, dhabas and owners of other business establishments, besides the Sujanpur Municipal Council, have been dumping solid waste and discharging toxic and non-toxic effluents into the Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC). The canal water is being used for irrigation purpose in hundreds of villages.

The practice is going unchecked for the past many years and the canal water is getting polluted under the very nose of the Irrigation Department and the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) authorities.

Ironically, it is the Sujanpur Municipal Council that has been daily dumping trucks-loads of waste and sewage into the canal. In absence of any dumping yards, the civic body has virtually blocked its water flow.

Sources in the PPCB, however, disclosed that notices have been served to the president and the executive officer of the municipal council many times, but no to avail.

The branches - Beas link canal and UBDC hydel - of the main UBDC are being equally polluted at different places. Apart from the solid waste and toxic effluents, bio-medical waste can also be seen on the banks of these canals at various places.

Farmers using canal water for irrigation complain that polythene bags and medical waste often accumulate in their paddy fields. The polluted water has not only affected the yield but is also posing a health hazard for people and cattle, lamented Sohan Singh of Kotli village.

Member secretary of the PPCB Brinderjit Singh said no one could dump rubbish into the canal. “How can they do it? After getting information from The Tribune, I will ask the executive engineer of the board to conduct a survey and submit a report in this regard,” he added. Strict action would be taken against the violators, warned Brinderjit.

“Action against the Sujanpur MC is under process, while notices seeking reply in 15 days have already been served upon the owners of hotels, restaurants and dhabas located on the canal banks,” claimed Ashok Kalsi, executive engineer of the PPCB, Batala.


After licence, petrol station owner ‘loses’ land
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 1
A Ludhiana resident faces a financial nightmare of sorts. Six months after the Supreme Court cancelled allotment of a petrol pump to Pawan Kumar Garg, he now faces the task of getting his prime land vacated from the oil company that allotted him the pump in the first place.

Two weeks ago, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) informed him that the land could not be vacated. He has been told that his selection as dealer (subsequently cancelled by the SC) and the process of taking land on lease from him were separate transactions. “Both cannot be combined and you cannot justify your request for restoration of land to you”, says HPCL.

Garg, in a letter to the union ministry of petroleum and natural gas, has questioned this saying since his dealership has been cancelled, he needs an alternative source of income from his land. HPCL has taken the land at a measly lease of Rs 1,500 per month and he had agreed as he was to run the petrol pump.

Garg points to the allotment latter issued in May, 2001 that had asked him to “ procure a suitable piece of land which could be his own” to operate the pump. Garg says it is one of those rare cases that the SC, after six years, cancelled the allotment and he could not be faulted for the same. Bolstering his claim further, Garg has produced an affidavit submitted by the government of India in 2005 in the hearing of these cancellations. It says: “ In case a licence is cancelled due to the allottee not transferring land, the oil company would dismantle its equipment and take it back.”

Officials of the company have asked Garg to continue the lease, which he has refused as he no more runs the petrol pump and would rather put his land to some other commercial use.


Health minister to meet PMHEU panel on July 5
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, July 1
Ravinder Luthra, chairman, co-ordination committee, Para Medical and Health Employees Union (PMHEU), Punjab, and Shashi Kant (Fazilka), president, Punjab State Pharmacists Association, district Ferozepur, in a joint press statement here yesterday, disclosed that Laxmi Kanta Chawla, health minister, Punjab, had invited members of the committee, PMHEU, on July 5 to the office of the Punjab Health Systems Corporation, Mohali, to discuss their long-standing demands.

Dr Sukhdev Singh, director, Health Services, Punjab, and Dr S. S. Sokhal, director, Family Welfare, Punjab, have issued an official letter to Lal Singh Dhannualla, convenor of the committee, in this regard.

Luthra and Kant disclosed that the letter was issued on Thursday evening as hundreds of para medical employees were sitting on a protest dharna in front of the office of director, Health Services, in Chandigarh on Thursday.

Both directors, while addressing the agitating para medicos, said the letter had been issued on the instance of the health minister.

According to the statement, the main demands of the para medical employees include transfer of control of 1,193 rural dispensaries from Zila Parishads to the Health Department, regularisation of ad hoc and daily wage employees, appointment of female multipurpose health workers, who have improved their qualifications, as staff nurses in the Health Department, creating promotional opportunities for Class IV employees and drivers, grant of promotional scale after 4, 9 and 14 years of service to all employees on the pattern of officers.


Doctors demand job regularisation
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 1
Doctors working on contract basis under Zila Parishads in the state, held a conference under the aegis of the Rural Medical Services Association on the occasion of Doctors’ Day at the Jallianwala Bagh here today .

Demanding regularisation of services, 300 doctors who had converged here from different districts, took a pledge to continue the agitation till their demands were accepted by the government.

Dr Aslam Parvez, president of the association, alleged that qualified doctors working under the Rural Medical Services Scheme were being discriminated against and not being treated at par with other government departments.

The doctors are being denied basic privileges like maternity leave for female doctors, sickness leave and post-graduate quota.

Due to insecurity of the contract system and still anti-doctor stance of the government, many doctors were quitting and more than 150 of them had already put in their papers, said district president Dr Parampal Singh.

“If the government does not wake up to our demands, the rural people, who are being denied medical services for the past 15 years will have to suffer more in future”.

Veterinary doctors and ETTs also took part in the conference.

The doctors took out a protest march from the Municipal Corporation Office to the Jallianwala Bagh.


CM, BJP leaders pay tributes to Verma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 1
Senior SAD and BJP leaders from Punjab, including members of the Parkash Singh Badal-led cabinet, today rushed to Delhi to pay their last tributes to former Chief Minister of Delhi Sahib Singh Verma, who died in a road accident yesterday. Verma was in charge of BJP affairs in Punjab and had been appointed last month.

Parkash Singh Badal, Sukhbir Singh Badal, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Rajinder Bhandari (BJP Punjab president ) and Manoranjan Kalia along with senior ministers and MLAs of the BJP and SAD too paid respects to the departed leader.

Parkash Singh Badal said Verma was a son of soil, seasoned politician, great social worker and reformer. He added that Verma always stood for the cause of Punjab.

Expressing grief over Verma’s untimely death, Sukhbir Singh said he had the privilege of knowing him for many years.


Cycle yatra for peace
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, July 1
Mohammad Ahmed has been on a cycle yatra since 2000, touring the country to give the message of peace and national integrity.

Ahmed, a resident of Neyoria village, Pilibhit in Uttrakhand, who was flagged off by DC Manoj Kumar on January 1, 2000, has covered more than 2, 00,000 km. Ahmed told The Tribune in Phagwara that he had covered Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Orissa, Kerala, Karnataka, West Bengal, Assam, Uttar Pardesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pardesh, Haryana and Punjab and now he was on his way to Jammu and Kashmir.

Ahmed said he met various organisations and held seminars to spread peace. He added that he was encouraged by people at many places. He has a radio on his cycle for entertainment during his journey.


Traffic cops to get gloves for AIDS prevention
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 1
On the recommendation of the Punjab State AIDS Control Society, the IG, Traffic Punjab, has instructed all SSPs in the state to provide hand gloves to all traffic police personnel as a preventive measure to avoid HIV/AIDS.

According to official sources here today, Dr Daler Singh Multani, joint director of the society, in his letter to the DGP said awareness camps regarding HIV/AIDS were being organised at the district police headquarters in the state and Mohali, Amritsar, Kartarpur, Jalandhar and Barnala had been covered.


Sidhupur re-elected BKU (E) president
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 1
Pishora Singh Sidhupur of Fatehgarh Sahib was re-elected the president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta) in the election that was held during the valedictory ceremony of the two-day annual delegate session that concluded on Sri Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib’s premises.

During the election, Mann Singh of Rajpura was elected senior vice-president, Bog Singh of Mansa general secretary, Hardev Singh finance secretary and Prem Singh press secretary of the union.

Speaking to mediapersons, Pishora Singh Sidhupur, who has been the president of the union since 1994, said the delegate session was usually called after every two years, but due to some unavoidable circumstances it was called after three years.

He said during the session all activities and accounts of the union were put before the delegates. He informed that 42 delegates from Faridkot, 26 from Patiala, eight from Barnala, 10 from Ferozepur, eight from SAS Nagar and 15 from Fatehgarh Sahib, participated in the state-level delegation session. These 175 delegates represented 1, 09, 375 members of the union.


6 held for possessing illicit liquor
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 1
The district police has arrested six persons, including women, in the past 24 hours. The police has also recovered a China-made .30-bore pistol and illicit liquor in a huge quantity from two persons.

Lok Natha Angra, SSP Gurdaspur, in a press note said Gurnam Singh and Jaspal Singh of Tung village had been arrested for possessing a pistol.

Besides this, the police has arrested Champa Devi of Gharota village, Asha Rani of Awankha, Kali Charan of Model Town Dhariwal, Pala Singh of Maujpur, for possessing illicit liquor.

Some illicit liquor was also recovered from Gulzar Singh of Maujpur in Kahnuwan and Balkar Singh of Antoor. The suspects have been arrested under various provisions of the Excise Act.


Nurmahal SHO arrested
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, July 1
Nurmahal SHO Shivdev Singh Kahlon was arrested today under Sections 306/217/342 of the IPC, Prevention of Corruption Act and Sections 3-4 of the S/C Act in connection with the deaths of Balwinder Kumar of Bahadurpur village, who was killed in police firing, and Sukhdev Singh, his wife Binder and daughter Kusum of Uppal Khalsa village in Phillaur subdivision,who committed suicide by jumping in front of a train.

Phillaur DSP Harpreet Singh Benepal said the SHO would be produced before a judicial magistrate tomorrow. A constable of the Goraya police, Kulwinder Kumar, who had opened fire on that day without taking permission had already been placed under suspension.


Parents threaten stir
Want re-evaluation of science papers
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 1
Dismayed by the poor results of their wards, particularly in science subjects, parents of matriculate students who appeared in board examinations conduction by the Punjab State Education Board (PSEB) have decided to launch a stir if the answer sheets are not re-evaluated.

Ironically, a large number of students who performed brilliantly in other subjects bagged poor marks in the written examination of science subjects. Navjot Singh, who scored 85 per cent marks in mathematics and 77 in English, was taken aback to see that he had secured only 19 marks out of 75 in the written science examination. Students who had secured good marks in the pre-board exams were shocked to see their board examination marks.

Perturbed by the results declared by the board, parents of many students are now seeking re-evaluation. As per information gathered, only 6 students out of a total of 77 from Government Senior Secondary School, Salana, have passed. At Government High School, Faizulapur, the situation is even worse. Only one student has passed out of a total of 60. At Government High School, Khanian, out of 70 students, only two could make it through. Again, it was only one student at the Government High School, Salaini, who passed in science out of 92 students.

Out of 80 students from Shaheed Bhagat Singh High School, Mandi Gobindgarh, only four have passed and from Government High School, Latour, all students have failed. Only one student has passed from Government High School, Sanipur, and from Mata Sundri Public School, Fatehgarh Sahib, only six have passed. Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Sirhind, saw 108 fail the written test.

A deputation of parents, led by social worker Dalbara Singh, have submitted a memorandum to Punjab minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh and chairman of the PSEB Harbans Singh Sidhu, demanding that the science papers of their wards be re-evaluated.

The parents expressed surprise as to how students who performed exceeding well in other subjects have failed in the written test. They stated that in case the answer sheets were not re-evaluated, they would launch a stir against the board.

It was learnt that Mata Sundri Public School of Fatehgarh Sahib has also written a letter to the secretary of the PSEB demanding re-valuation of the science papers.


Delay in results declaration
Affiliated colleges in a fix
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 1
Colleges affiliated to Guru Nanak Dev University are in a fix due to the undue delay by the university authorities in declaring the results of undergraduate and post-graduate courses. The college authorities are apprehensive that the delay in admissions due to the non-declaration of results will put the entire academic schedule out of gear.

Even though the admission process is usually completed in colleges by June 30, the results of the undergraduate classes, which have the maximum strength, including BA and BSc, are still not out.

To save themselves from desperate queries by anxious students and parents, certain colleges have put up notices outside the colleges, declaring that admissions will begin only after the results are out.

“This has been done to avoid giving clarification to students awaiting admissions. The colleges have no role to play in the declaration of results and we too can only wait for the results. So far, the results of only B Com I, II and III and BCA I and III have been declared. The results of post-graduate courses are also pending,” said Dr V.K. Sharma, principal, DAV College.

“The results of undergraduate classes like BA are yet to be declared. The admissions should have been completed by June 30. This is an unusual situation. There is a provision of extending the admission dates by 10 days, but it will definitely jeopardise the entire academic schedule,” said V.P. Lumba, principal, Hindu College.

Requesting anonymity, the principal of another college said though they planned to start admissions of first-year of undergraduate classes from July 5 as these are based on Class XII results, admissions to higher classes will be further delayed and start only after the results are declared.

“After the university’s tall claims of improving the examination system, the evaluation process should have been expedited, but this has not been achieved,” said the principal.

University in charge, Examinations, Batra, blamed the delay in the declaration of results on the tendency of college teachers to shirk examination duties and the fact that regular college teachers were in short supply. He, however, assured that all pending results will be out in a matter of days, hopefully by the end of this week.


Government-run medical institutes
Faculty shortage ails forensic dept
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July1
Students of the Department of Forensic Medicine at the Government Medical College in the state have been suffering on account of severe shortage of senior teaching faculty.

Five posts, including those of professor, assistant professor and lecturer, have been lying vacant for the past several years affecting the studies of students as the government has failed to fill the posts. By not taking any action in this regard the government is flouting the Medical Council of India’s rule of providing adequate number of professors and lecturers in government-run medical colleges in the state.

A senior lecturer said here, on the condition of anonymity, that the doctors with more than 15 years’ experience after post-graduation were due for promotion, but lack of the government policy in this regard had created this anomalous situation for the institutions and the students. Giving his own example, he said he hardly got any time to teach as he was busy conducting autopsies only.

Interestingly, after the SAD-BJP government came to power in the state, several high-level meetings were held in the local medical college to revamp and upgrade the infrastructure and the issue of filling up the vacant posts by promoting the existing staff was also taken up. The government, however, is yet to come up with short and long-term plan to streamline the functioning of the three government-run medical institutes in the state.

Repeated attempts to contact Dr J.S. Dalal, director, Research and Medical Education, failed to elicit any response.


35 colleges attend meeting

Patiala, July 1
Thirty-five colleges, affiliated with the Punjabi University, participated in a meeting held by the Association of Punjab Unaided Colleges of Education, here today.

The association thanked the Punjab government for accepting their main demands, requesting the government to accept the remaining demands.

President of the association Jaswant Singh Khaira thanked the chairman of the NCTE for convening a meeting to solve the lack of principals at BEd colleges. — TNS


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