P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


7 dists included in food security plan
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
Faced with a food security crisis, the union government has included seven districts of Punjab to enhance wheat production in the country. The districts are Bathinda, Ropar, Sangrur, Ferozepore, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur.

Owing to the lack of adequate buffer stocks of wheat in the national pool, the union government has placed an order to import wheat at a price much higher than that given to farmers in Punjab, Haryana and other states to procure the commodity for the national pool during the last procurement season. In fact, the wheat stock position is tight and the price of the commodity is ruling high in the international market. The union government has already rejected US wheat that has a high percentage of weeds and other unwanted material.

The union government has earmarked Rs 5,000 crore under the food security programme, the main components of which are to raise the per acre yield and cover more area under this crop in states. Though the union government has included the raising of the yields of rice and pulses in this programme, in Punjab the focus will be on enhancing the wheat yield.

The average yield of wheat in Punjab is 4,200 kg per hectare. However, in the districts, except Sangrur, selected under the programme, the yield of wheat is less than the state’s average. For instance, the per hectare yield is 4,143 kg in Amritsar, 3,927 kg in Bathinda, 3,981 kg in Gurdarspur, 3,546 kg in Hoshiarpur, 3,591 kg in Ropar and 4,065 kg in Ferozepore. In Sangrur district, it is 4,234 kg.

Asked in this regard, Balwinder Singh Sidhu, director, agriculture, Punjab, said though the average yield of wheat in Sangrur was higher than the state’s average, there was scope to enhance it in that district. Sidhu said farmers would be given certain incentives in the districts selected under the food security programme.

Sources said at the end of the wheat season, the union government would have only 3.8 million tonnes of wheat stocks in hand. There should be at least 4 million tonnes for food security purposes. About 46 millon tonnes of wheat would be released to states under various schemes by the union government this year, it is learnt.

To increase wheat production, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has instructed the authorities to replace at least 33 per cent of wheat seed. About 10.5 lakh quintals of wheat seed is required for replacement purposes. During the last season, about 2.5 lakh tonnes of wheat was damaged on 60,000 hectares because of inclement weather.


PCS Officers
Govt dithers on recruitments
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
While the Badal government continues to be in a tizzy with regard to the recruitment of PCS (executive) and allied cadre officers, for the aspirants it has been a long wait.

More than 100 officers are to be recruited to the PCS and allied cadres. In fact, government functioning has been suffering because of the inadequate number of officers .

Recruitment to the PCS cadre was last made about nine years ago. Since then several thousand youths have become eligible for recruitment to the PCS and allied cadres. However, dithering on the part of the political establishment — earlier by the Amarinder Singh government and now by the Badal government — has been denying an opportunity to the aspirants to try their luck. While awaiting recruitment, a good number of aspirants have already become ineligible because of the age factor.

At the behest of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal the state government had approached the union public service commission to recruit PCS and allied cadre officers for the state. However, there is no response from the UPSC in this regard so far. “ The response of the UPSC is awaited ,” said a senior state government officer.

The Badal government is not keen on getting recruitment done through the Punjab public service commission (PPSC), which is said to be dominated by members close to former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. A few years ago, the PPSC had come under a cloud following the uncovering of a scandal with regard to the recruitment of PCS and allied cadre officers.

No fresh recruitment of PCS and allied cadre officers has been made through the PPSC after the unearthing of the scandal. However, the PPSC was asked to re-conduct the test and interview of the candidates who had earlier appeared in the test and interview when Ravi Sidhu was the PPSC chairman.

Meanwhile, the state government authorities have recommended to the Chief Minister to conduct the test and interview for the PCS and allied cadre officers on the pattern of IAS officers. There should be the same syllabus and rules and regulations to select PCS and allied cadre officers as in the case of IAS officers. 


3-day police remand for Bittu
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 23
The court of justice Naval Kumar here today sent senior vice-president of the SAD (A) Daljit Singh Bittu to a three-day police remand.

While seeking Bittu's remand, the police contended that it was yet to verify as to which organisation had been funding his activities. The police stated that Bittu had not only raised provoking slogans during the protest march in the district, but had also distributed pro-Khalistan posters. The police stated that it wanted to know from where Bittu had got the protesters printed.

Bittu was arrested yesterday from Bhullar villager near Muktsar on the Muktsar-Bathinda highway. The district police had booked him on May 31 on charge of sedition for raising provocative slogans during a protest march organised against the chief of Dera Sacha Sauda.


Regular Vs Contractual Staff
Sabotage bid at power plant
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 23
The northern power grid came razor close to a total collapse on July 18. The matter has the PSEB authorities here concerned.

The sources said some of protesting contract employees tried to sabotage Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal plant, Ropar. The contract employees allegedly switched off pre-heaters of generating units number 5, 4, 1 and 6 in a quick succession on July 18 night. They then switched off coal mills and raw coal feeders to the plant.

This could have stopped the generating units immediately and taking off a whopping 840 MW from the northern power grid. This could have led to the total collapse of the northern grid or at least of the Punjab circle that could have plunged the entire region into darkness.

However, the situation was saved as a few alert PSEB engineers saw a few persons running after switching off the generating units. They immediately switched on the alternative system and saved the generating units from shutting down.

The member generation, PSEB, G.S. Saran, admitted that it was a major attempt to sabotage one of the biggest thermal power plants of the region. The board would take strictest possible action against the employees, who were found involved in it. An FIR has been registered with the police.

The security at the thermal plant was being beefed up to prevent such an incident again, he said.

Saran also praised the engineers of the thermal plant, who saved the situation.
The contract employees of the thermal plant had been demanding pay parity with the regular staff. 

However, the PSEB had been denying them the pay parity on the plea that their work was temporary in nature and they could not be given salaries or other perks on a par with regular government employees.

Many of the contract employees of the thermal plant are inside the plant in temporary shelters. The security experts had many times suggested to the board management to shift them out of plant area. However, their shelters had not been shifted outside.

The former DGP, PSEB, Lalit Bhatia, had suggested to the board to get the credentials of those living inside the plant verified. However, no step had been taken in this regard.


PSEB staff’s strike on July 26
Our Correspondent 

Hoshiarpur, July 23
The Employees Joint Forum said today that the proposed strike of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) employees on July 26, 2007, would be observed in the state. This was stated by Om Parkash, a leader of the forum, in a press note here. 

Cash collection centres and complaint offices of the PSEB will remain closed during the strike.The forum has been demanding action on accepted demands which include closing of the contributory scheme, pay protection of the employees who had become RTM from work charged, release of arrears to LDCs for nine-year scale, release of 23-year scale to all employees without condition and employment to kin of deceased employees etc.


Attari Railway Station 
Of stray dogs, power failures, poor medical facilities...
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Attari, July 23
The increasing canine population at the Attari railway station has unleashed fear among passengers who travel between Attari (India) and Wagah (Pakistan) in the Samjhauta Express four times a week.

Train passengers are discovering that man’s best friend can be quite a menace. Stray dogs are found galore at both platforms where Indian and Pakistani passengers alight and board the trains. Passengers fear that if this menace is not checked, it can lead to a serious problem. Moreover, there are poor medical facilities at the station. However, the Customs officials have made private arrangement for medical facilities to meet any emergency.

This sums up the scene at the Attari railway station despite the fact that a high powered Border Management Committee, chaired by additional secretary, Government of India, visited the station last week. However, station master R.K. Mehta said he did not have much staff to check the increasing number of stray dogs at the platforms.

The power failure at the railway station about a couple of months ago had exposed the tall claims of the Central government for making Attari a model railway station. Sources pointed out that in absence of any back-up, senior officials had to make do with candles to clear the passenger traffic. The station has very few chairs for passengers, who had to sit on the floor, though it took hours for the Customs and immigration clearance. These checks proved tough for the passengers, especially when the computers of the immigration desks malfunction. The slow clearance also led to delays in train departures. The distance between Attari and Wagah was only 3 km, but it was one of the most tiresome journeys.

Assistant commissioner, Attari, V.K. Maharaj agreed that the railway station was lacking certain facilities. He, however, claimed that joint commissioner Sanjay Sharan had already taken up the matter with the higher authorities of the Railways and Immigration and efforts were being made to streamline functioning of different departments.

The Centre is believed to be contemplating expanding facilities for the passengers at the railway station. There is no stoppage between Delhi and Attari for passengers and this makes the journey a tedious one. The only halt in Ambala has been cancelled for security reasons. 


Minister cancels DFO’s pact with wife’s NGO 
Says can’t ignore media reports 
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
The Punjab forest department is red in the face. After lauding Divisional Forest Officer (DFO Ludhiana R.R. Kakkar) for his “public-spirit act of signing an MoU with his wife’s NGO for afforestation”, Punjab Forest Minister has now ordered the cancellation of the MoU under question.

Minister Tikshan Sood confirmed to The Tribune from Hoshiarpur today that he could not ignore media reports on the matter and had ordered the cancellation of the MoU to avoid controversy.

It is significant to note that on July 17, Punjab’s Forest Secretary had told The Tribune that the department had decided to allow ‘Sahyogi’, the NGO in question, to function. Praising Kakkar, who had signed the said MoU on government’s behalf, when he was DFO Hoshiarpur, Forest Secretary R.N. Gupta had said, “it is commendable that a public-spirit DFO has come forward to espouse the cause of afforestation and we have decided to allow Sahyogi, to help in expanding the green cover”.

Sudden retraction of the government seems odd, considering it had legalised Kakkar’s action by deciding to empower all territorial DFOs to engage NGOs in plantation. The government had said its policy decision was driven by the Central government’s stand of involving ‘reputed NGOs’ in plantation work.

It could, however, not ignore the fact highlighted by The Tribune that ‘Sahyogi’ was yet to prove its reputation as it came up only on April 15 this year.

Gupta, today said, “This point had not been brought to my notice earlier. We are enquiring into this fact”. Meanwhile, the Forest Minister, while reiterating that the department would engage NGOs and draft a Model MoU for the future, said that he had cancelled the MoU with Sahyogi, “as it had generated much controversy”.

When asked if the government’s decision should be revoked merely because they had caused controversy, the minister said, “Should we ignore the media then”. The Tribune had earlier highlighted discrepancies in the MoU Kakkar signed with his wife’s Sahyogi.

It is strange however, that the minister remained silent on the real issues that created a controversy in the first place - That Kakkar, without being authorised by Punjab government had signed the MoU; that he never informed the government in advance; that his wife was chairing the NGO, even when he was bound by government employees conduct rules 1966 to do so. The rules clearly say, “no government employee shall, in the discharge of his official duties, deal with any matter or sanction any contract to any company or firm, if any member of his family is employed in that company or firm; that the government employee shall refer every such matter or contract to his official superior”.

In this case, Kakkar violated the rules by not informing the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests in advance of the chairpersonship of his wife in Sahyogi, with which he signed the MoU. It is strange that the forest minister should cancel the MoU merely because it created controversy and not because it violated prevailing norms.


City Centre Scam
VB grills ex-trustees
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 23
Vigilance Bureau officials today took statements of two former trustees of the dissolved Improvement Trust seeking information about the manner in which the controversial City Centre Project was passed.
The officials quizzed ex-trustees Sanjay Talwar and Surinder Bindra for nearly two hours. Another trustee Navkar Kala summoned today did not appear before the officials. Malkit Kaur, the fourth trustee, had appeared yesterday. They also questioned officials of Today Homes Infrastructure Ltd, who were accused in the scam. 


‘SGPC, Akal Takht bound to support KAC’
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 23
Bhai Mokham Singh, convener of the Khalsa Action Committee (KAC), today said the SGPC and Akal Takht were morally bound to support the KAC, which was seeking action against the chief of Dera Sacha Sauda for his having hurt the religious feelings of the Sikh community.

Speaking to the mediapersons on the premises of the District Courts here, Bhai Mokham Singh said since the SGPC and the Akal Takht were not constitutional bodies, these could not de-recognise the KAC. Playing down the statements issued by the SGPC chief Avtar Singh and the Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti, Bhai Mokham Singh said the KAC never sought any recognition from the two bodies. He said the KAC was only carrying out the directives issued by Akal Takht in regard with the dera issue.

The convener said instead the SGPC and Akal Takht should extend unconditional support to the KAC so that those who had hurt the religious feelings of the Sikhs could be suitably punished. 


Strike call

The 15-member KAC that held an emergency meeting here this evening, decided to hold a one-day hunger strike outside the official residence of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on July 26. This was stated by Kanwar Pal Singh, general secretary of the Dal Khalsa.


BSNL worker goes missing
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, July 23
A 44-year-old woman employee of BSNL, Pathankot, disappeared mysteriously yesterday.

A resident of Jodhamal Colony, Usha Khanna, a customer-care executive, had gone to attend a function in the Mission Road locality, but did not return till late last night.

Her family got suspicious and launched a search. The family members found her Activa scooter in a parking lot near the Patel Chowk.

Her husband Rakesh Kumar Khanna in a complaint to the police alleged that Usha was kidnapped by Raju, an auto-driver, of the same locality. 


Centre sets up groundwater award
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 23
The union ministry for water resources has instituted Bhoomijal Samvardhan Puraskar and the National Water Award for Innovative Practices of Groundwater Augmentation through Rainwater Harvesting and Artificial Recharge. According to the letter of the Regional Director Central Groundwater Board of North Western Region, Chandigarh, Sushil Gupta, these awards are for three categories namely NGOs, gram panchayats and urban local bodies.

The Bhoomijal Samvardhan Puraskar consists of a cash reward of Rs one lakh each and a plaque with citation. There will be 18 awards in total.

Besides, there will be one National Water Award consisting a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh along with a plaque with a citation and will be given for the best innovative practice of ground water augmentation through rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge.


Sunam to have Shaheed Udham Singh’s statue
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 23
A bronze statue of Shaheed Udham Singh will be installed soon at his native place at Sunam, about 13 km from here.

Punjab PWD B&R minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, who was on a visit to Sunam today, said the Punjab Chief Minister would visit Sunam to pay tributes to the great martyr at a state-level function on his martyrdom day on July 31.

He visited Shaheed Udham Singh College at Sunam. He also announced a grant from his discretionary funds for purchasing five computer systems.

The minister took a round of the Civil Hospital and assured the SMO that three doctors, including a surgeon and an orthopaedics surgeon, would be posted there before July 31. He also announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the purchase of medicines.


TB awareness through magic shows
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 23
Under the tuberculosis (TB) awareness through sources of entertainment programme of the District TB Control Society, Sangrur, a central government approved magician from Chandigarh, Ved Parkash, disseminated information on TB, AIDS and drug abuse through magic tricks at a programme at Government School at Duggan village, near here, today.

Ved Parkash asked the gathering to help control the spread of HIV/AIDS and drug abuse as TB was closely interlinked with HIV and AIDS.


MC: Stormy scenes over cheques to contractors
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 23
Stormy scenes were witnessed at the meeting of the municipal council here today as SAD councillor Vijay Nagpal and BJP councillor Suwarsha Narang took strong exception to the payment of Rs 20 lakh to a cooperative labour and construction society in violation of the ban imposed by the director, Local Bodies Department.

A team led by chief vigilance officer of the department and regional deputy directors were probing functioning of the council separately on the basis of complaints filed by Narang and Ram Kishan Mittal, state vice-president of the BJP local bodies cell, against the Congress-led council. The president of the council had not appeared before the vigilance team, which took many documents for continuing investigation after recording statements of the executive officer and other employees.

Nagpal questioned the issuing of cheques to the contractors when the council had cried hoarse that due to paucity of funds salaries to the sanitation staff had not been paid. There was no money to get main roads repaired. The council had deferred depositing instalments of LIC policies obtained by the employees, besides contribution to the employees provident fund. The council had not paid bills of newspaper vendors for a year for want of funds. But it preferred to flout orders with regard to issuing cheques to the contractors, he rued.

The treasury bench offered no explanation. The SAD and BJP members demanded withdrawal of all administrative powers from the executive officer. 


Martyrs’ Statues
SDM warns against defacing 
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 23
The SDM, Dr N.S. Brar, said today that strict action would be taken against commercial houses, which had defaced or disgraced memorials of martyrs located in different city crossings. The offenders would be slapped notices under the Defacement of Public Property Act soon. Some of them had already been identified.

Dr Brar said, “A fresh survey will be done on priority to initiate action.” He was speaking at a function organised by the manch at Swami Keshwanand Senior Secondary School complex here to celebrate the birth anniversary of Chander Shekhar Azad.

Manch chairman B.L. Sikka, SDM Hans Raj Arya, former MLA and city Congress president B.L. Nagpal, Saroj Nagpal, Jamuna Devi Chawla, Vidya Chaudhary, Sudesh Paruthi and M.D. Miglani were also present.


Chinks appear in Vikas Manch
Our Correspondent

Bassi Pathana, July 23
Differences have appeared among members of the Bassi Pathana Vikas Manch and it is heading towards a split. The manch was formed by eight out of the 13 councillors of the municipal council here under the leadership of Ramesh Gupta, a senior Congress leader, to oppose the working of then Congress MLA Harbans Lal and the then council president, Amita Tangri.

With the change of the government in the state, the situation also changed in the town and members of the manch became active with the support of local SAD MLA Didar Singh Bhatti and lodged a number of complaints with the vigilance against the council president and even moved a no-confidence motion against her, which she survived, and got a stay order from the High Court.

However, one of the leading social workers-cum-senior SAD leaders succeeded in getting the resignation of Amita Tangri.

Now, a majority of the members wanted to withdraw the complaints made against Amita Tangri but manch leader Ramesh Gupta, who is working as acting president of the council, is averse to the withdrawal of complaints.

He has refused to sign a letter addressed to the vigilance department by which the complaints made against the president are to be withdrawn.

Sources said nine councillors had signed the letter whereas they were also pressuring Gupta to sign or face the ire of the councillors, who wanted to remove him from the post of the acting president.

While talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Gupta said no one could dethrone him and he would play an important role in the election of the council president.

On the other hand the members of the manch are of the view that they want peace and development in the town. They alleged that Gupta was betraying them.


Chennai team visits TB hospital
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 23
As part of external quality assessment of sputum microscopy in Punjab, a team from the National Reference Laboratory, Chennai, visited the Government TB Hospital here today.

The team headed by Tuberculosis Research Centre, Chennai, joint director Dr Selvakumar; and accompanied by state task force deputy chairman and deputy medical superintendent, TB Hospital, Patiala, Dr Jai Kishen; WHO consultant Dr K.P. Singh; state bacteriologist Dr Vijay Kumar; and district tuberculosis officer Dr Bhupinder Singh; visited the hospital.

Dr Selvakumar visited the STDC, Patiala, and inspected the newly installed fluorescent microscopes that were a cost-effective measure in the hospital, which receives over 100 cases every day.

The team will also visit the DMC, Nabha, and other places like Nawanshahr and Amritsar.


Tree plantation drive
Our Correspondent

Bassi Pathana, July 23
The local unit of Bharat Vikas Parishad today celebrated the Van Mahotsav function and formally launched the tree plantation drive in and around the town by planting trees at Dusshera Ground, here.

President of the club, Ramesh Malhotra, planted the tulsi, neem and peepal saplings. Project chairman Kanhayia Lal highlighted the importance of the trees. He said Bharat Vikas Parishad would plant more than 10,000 trees this year in the town.


Kala parishad revived
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 23
Commissioner, Patiala division, S.K. Ahluwalia has revived the Patiala Kala Parishad.

The parishad, a registered nongovernmental organisation, will function under the presidentship of Ahluwalia for propagating traditional art and culture in the region.

The governing body of the organisation will have seven official and 20 non-official members.

The commissioner has convened parishad’s meeting on July 25 at his office.

The Punjab State Cultural Affairs Advisory Body and its district kala parishads were formed in 1991 with the efforts of Ahluwalia and N.S. Rattan, the then director and secretary of the Punjab Cultural Affairs Department.


Gymkhana Club reverberates with music
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 23
The monsoon cultural evening organised by the management of Rajindra Gymkhana and Mohindra Club here last night proved to be a big draw, with a large number of members along with their families turning up for the show.

Renowned choreographer Jeet Brar and his troupe gave a performance, much to the delight of the audience.

A variety of dances on foot-tapping numbers left people asking for more. The show lasted over two hours.

Before the start of the cultural evening, a tambola was organised.

A beauty pageant for club members and their children was also held in various categories.

Former legislator from Samana Surjit Singh Rakhra was the chief guest.

Deputy commissioner Daramjit Singh Grewal, B.D. Gupta, Dr Naveen Saronwala, Niraj Vats, and Bhupesh Aggarwal were guests of honour.

Club honorary secretary Vinod Dhundia gave the vote of thanks.


Missing banker found dead
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 23  
Pritam Singh, a clerk with the co-operative bank at Bassi Pathana, who was reportedly missing since July 20, was found dead on the Bassi-Sirhind road today under strange circumstances.

Family members of Pritam Singh alleged that they had been running from pillar to post to get a case of kidnapping registered with the police, but in vain.

Manjit Kaur, wife of the deceased, said they suspected that her husband had been kidnapped and killed because of a property dispute.

She said despite their suspicions, the police had not taken action in this regard.

SHO Darshan Singh said preliminary investigations showed no evidence of murder.There were no signs of injury on the body of the deceased.

The cause of the death would be ascertained after a postmortem after which appropriate action would be taken.


Sewing centre for needy women
Our Correspondent

Bassi Pathana, July 23
The Nishkam Kirtan Sewa Society opened a sewing centre for the needy and poor women of the area today.

SDM Poonamjit Kaur inaugurated the centre at Gaddi Mohalla.

Trained instructors have been provided at the centre to train women free of cost.

Addressing the gathering, the SDM appreciated the efforts of the society in helping women earn their livelihood by giving them vocational training.

She assured of extending co-operation to the society.

Society patron Amarjit Singh Kohli gave information about the working of the society.

He said after the opening of society head office at Mandi Gobindgarh, branches had been opened in other towns as well.

Kohli said the society was involved in marrying poor and needy couples and so far had solemnised 87 marriages. He called upon people to help the society so that more social projects could be initiated.

Kohli said poor and needy women of the area would be trained free of cost at the centre.


High Court
Produce Chahal before HC, Judge directs Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
Justice Uma Nath Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ordered that B.I.S Chahal, media adviser to former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, should be produced before the court tomorrow.

The judge pronounced in the open court that given the allegations of beating and torture of Chahal, it appeared prima facie that apex court’s directions given in the D.K. Basu case was not being followed by the state. The guidelines seemed to be violated despite advocate-general’s assurance to the court that Chahal would not be tortured, he added.

Notice to Punjab

The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Mahesh Grover, today issued notice to Punjab, Punjab’s Financial Commissioner and others over a PIL by Kisan Wing of SAD (Amritsar).

The petitioner has sought directions to respondents to implement the recommendations given by Punjab State Farmers Commission and to regulate the measures so as to curb the indebtedness and suicides by farmers in Punjab.

Further directions were sought to Punjab Government to fix the prices of farm produce by taking 1966-67 as the base year and that passbooks be issued to farmers. Also, payment be made to farmers through cheques only.


Langah case
Witness turns hostile

Ropar, July 23
A prosecution witness in the disproportionate assets case against Punjab Agriculture minister Suchha singh Langah turned hostile during recording of evidence in a court here today.

Meanwhile, two prosecution witnesses deposed in the court of special judge, Rupnagar, G. S. Saran in a disproportionate assets case against former, education minister Tota Singh.

In the case against Langah, his former driver Lal Singh retracted from his earlier statement given to the Vigilance Bureau.

In the Tota Singh case, prosecution witnesses Patwari Balwinder singh and clerk Balwinder Singh deposed.

The court fixed August 27 and 28 for remaining prosecution evidence and ordered the summoning of two more prosecution witnesses on those dates for deposition. —PTI


Kanwaljit to ask Nabard for more funds for farmers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
The Punjab cooperation minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, will call on Nabard chairman and RBI deputy governor in Mumbai on July 25 to plead vital issues of raising the quantum of refinance, reduction in the rate of interest on refinance, funding of five district central cooperation banks and refinance facility for rural housing, besides financial assistance for water harvesting and women cooperatives. 

These issues were discussed in detail in a high level meeting of the cooperation department held here today under the chairmanship of the cooperation minister. It was decided in the meeting to impress upon the Nabard chairman to provide liberal finances through the state cooperative banks to meet the short term as well as long term credit requirements of all farmers under the cooperative fold and enhance the refinance from the existing 40 per cent to at least 70 per cent of the advances made by the district central cooperative banks. 

The minister would also plead to enhance refinance to Punjab state cooperative agri development bnks to the tune of 491.73 crore for the year 2007-08, which was limited to Rs 235.85 crore in the previous year. 


MDS Fee Hike Issue
Selected students may have to forgo seats
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 23
Students seeking admission to the Masters in Dental Surgery (MDS) course under free-category seats in private colleges are a harassed lot. Private dental colleges have refused them admission under the fee structure of Rs 1.5 lakh per annum.

College managements are of the opinion that it is not viable for them to run the courses with the present fee structure. The government is considering a fee hike on the request of private dental colleges.

However, students taking admissions under free seats have requested the government to take their interests into consideration while taking a decision on fee hike. They have said they would be forced to forgo seats in case the fee was increased.

Managements of private colleges have demanded that the annual fee for MDS courses should be increased to Rs 8 lakh. This means that even the students selected on merit will have to pay Rs 24 lakh for the three-year course.

There is a clause in the university prospectus that if a student is allotted a seat this year and if he fails to take admission, he will not be allowed to sit in the test for the next three years.

Presently, private colleges are charging Rs 1.5 lakh per annum as fees from MDS students. An MDS student, as per government rules, is entitled to a stipend of Rs 15,000 per month or Rs 1.80 lakh per annum during the course. However, private colleges do not pay the stipend to students.

The students also pay Rs 1 lakh as security to the college and a bank guarantee of Rs 2 lakh that remains with the college for three years. If the interest of the amount is taken into consideration, the total amount paid by the students to the colleges comes to more than Rs 3.5 lakh per annum.

The students, in a representation to the Chief Minister, have urged that, in case, the government intends to increase the fee, they should be allowed to forgo their seats and allowed to appear in the entrance test next year.

Private colleges hold the monopoly over the MDS course in Punjab. Government medical colleges have just seven MDS seats out which just one is available to general category students. The remaining seats are reserved for doctors who are already in government service.

The fee in the Government Medical College is just Rs 30,000 per annum.

All 39 seats for MDS courses in the state are with private colleges that are demanding a major enhancement in annual fee.


Saplings planted at school

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 23
The Lions Club of Bassi Pathana in association with Bassi Pathana branch of the State Bank of Patiala organised a tree plantation camp on the premises of Government Elementary School, Lohari Kalan.

Sweets, pencils and other stationery items were also distributed among poor students.

Bank manager S.C. Behal made an appeal to people to plant more trees to protect the ecosystem. — TNS


Library opened at Thapar varsity
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 23
Thapar University president Gautam Thapar inaugurated Nava Nalanda Central Library on the university campus here today.

The library, which has been shifted to its recently renovated air-conditioned building, will remain open for 24 hours on all working days.

Students and staff of the university as well as professionals and corporate bodies of the town will be able to avail of the services of the library.

He also inaugurated LM Thapar School of Business Management on the campus. It has started two new MBA courses - MBA (IT-NET) and MBA (manufacturing).

The inaugural lecture was delivered to students by Thapar.

Addressing mediapersons, he said the focus of the university was to provide quality education to engineering graduates.

He rejected any suggestion that Thapar Polytechnic College was being closed down.

He said in spite of all financial and regulatory odds, the college was doing well and remained one of the top polytechnic colleges in Punjab.

“This has been made possible by the infrastructural and financial support extended by the university and the Thapar Group,” he added.


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